Kids growing up in the modern world are able to play every single sport that the world has to offer, but like most things in life, some sports are more popular than others, and basketball is one of the more popular sports. It is popular because of the way in which points are scored, and because kids only need a ball and a hoop in order to play the game and practice. As a result of its popularity, the National Basketball Association has become one of the four biggest professional sports leagues in the world, capable of bringing in billions of dollars in revenue every single year.
The NBA has been around since 1946, and the reason why it has endured for so long is that it has consistently showcased the best and most skilled basketball players that the world has to offer. Like every other league/association, the NBA has changed a great deal over the decades, and as of right now, we are in an era where it is dominated by a handful of super-teams while all the other franchises are forced into an almost unending cycle of poor or mediocre play. There are only three or four teams that have a real shot at winning a championship, and even then, the Golden State Warriors are still the overwhelming favorites; but no matter how good or bad a team is, they will eventually get better or worse at some point in time, and this article will identify 10 NBA teams that will probably fall apart soon, and 10 that will improve during that same time frame.
20 Will Fall Apart: Washington Wizards
Many people believe that the only way to compete in the NBA is to have three big name/skilled players on your roster, and as far as the Washington Wizards are concerned, they believe they have those three pieces. Those pieces would be Bradley Beal, John Wall, and Otto Porter, all of whom are very good players, and the team has put together some pretty decent regular season records the past four years, records that resulted in some early playoff exists. Based on how they have played this year though, they will be lucky to even make the playoffs, and when a team like this performs below expectations with an established Big 3, major changes usually follow.
19 Will Improve: Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers are one the NBA's most successful and historic franchises, which is why it is so unfortunate that they have not finished the regular season with a winning record since the 2012-13 campaign. During the offseason, however, they went out and signed LeBron James, who is one of the best players to ever set foot on a basketball court, a move that essentially guaranteed them a playoff spot this year. LeBron plans on winning more championships, and with several big name players entering the free agency market at the end of the season, the team plans on making at least one more big acquisition that will greatly boost the odds of that actually happening.
18 Will Fall Apart: Minnesota Timberwolves
When the Minnesota Timberwolves traded for Andrew Wiggins in 2014, they believed that they had found their franchise player, and although he is a very good player, he is not a superstar. Minnesota tried to become more competitive last season when they traded for Jimmy Butler, and it worked seeing as they finished the year with a 47-35 record, but all that progress went out the window when Butler forced the team to trade him in November. The team may still have Wiggins, but they do not really have much else for the time being, and by the time they do get the pieces, they will not be able to afford Wiggins, leaving yet another hole in the roster.
17 Will Improve: Boston Celtics
The Boston Celtics are just as historic and successful as the Lakers, and they also had to go through a couple of lackluster seasons before putting together a team that is the right combination of young and old. The Celtics have Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Al Horford, Jayson Tatum, and Marcus Morris, who are all surrounded by very versatile bench players. Boston did well last season, but that was without Hayward who is now healthy, and if Kyrie stays relatively healthy, the team could make it back to the NBA Finals soon, especially if Brad Stevens does not lose his touch as head coach.
16 Will Fall Apart: Memphis Grizzlies
For years, the Memphis Grizzlies have been an obnoxious team to play against, mainly due to their defensive style of play, a style that has allowed them to remain fairly competitive despite the strength of all the other teams in the West. The Grizzlies actually have a fairly veteran team, one that is currently led by Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, and Chandler Parsons, all of whom are over 30, and have never won a championship. Both Gasol and Parsons have expiring contracts within the next two seasons, and based on Memphis' low chances of winning a championship in the next three years, they may be looking to move both players in order to acquire younger pieces, which would literally place them in a rebuild.
15 Will Improve: New York Knicks
The 2012-13 season was the last time the New York Knicks finished the year with a winning record, which is insane considering the team plays in one of the league's biggest markets. Based on their start this season, it looks like their losing ways will continue, which is to be expected this year seeing as Kristaps Porzingis, their best player, is still out rehabbing a torn ACL. New York has a lot of money to spend, and with several high-profile free agents hitting the market this year, they will be looking for a big signing to provide Porzingis with some much-needed help, a move that would finally lead to a long-awaited positive record.
14 Will Fall Apart: Miami Heat
The Miami Heat were the team to beat back when LeBron, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade were all on the team, but that time has come and gone, and the Heat are just trying to stay relevant. Wade may still be on the team, but their Big 3 is now comprised of Goran Dragic, Tyler Johnson, and Hassan Whiteside, which would be fine if Wade was not retiring at the end of the year, and if their big 3 were actual superstars. Aside from not being legitimate superstars, all three of them could potentially become free agents during the offseason if they decline their player options, and if at least two of them leave, the Heat will be lucky to finish the next couple of seasons with an even record.
13 Will Improve: Oklahoma City Thunder
Many people may not know this, but the Oklahoma City franchise has won a championship, unfortunately, that win came in 1979 when the team was still known as the Seattle SuperSonics. At one point, the Thunder had Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and James Harden on the same roster, and they were still unable to win it all, but since Durant and Harden's departures, the team has managed to put together a very good roster. Westbrook is still around, and he has something to prove, and now that Steven Adams and Paul George are signed for several years, they will start contending for the top spot in the West.
12 Will Fall Apart: Portland Trail Blazers
For years the Portland Trail Blazers have been a tough team to play against, and although they managed to compete pretty well in a stacked Western Conference, they were still able to land some pretty significant draft picks. Portland managed to draft both Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, and in 2016, they signed Evan Turner to a $70 million contract to solidify their second unit. The Trail Blazers have surrounded these players with decent young talent, but the team has been unable to make a splash in the playoffs, and with their two best players getting older, their slightly opened window is closing rapidly.
11 Will Improve: Los Angeles Clippers
The Lakers rightfully get a lot of attention, especially since the Clippers have never won a conference final, let alone a championship, but that all might change shortly after the upcoming offseason. As of right now, Danilo Gallinari is the Clippers' most high-profile player, but the team has managed to acquire a good amount of decent and cheap talent, which will allow them to make room for one or more big free agent signings. It is believed that Kawhi Leonard will be heading for the Clippers, and word is that Kevin Durant may be looking to move to an L.A. team as well, and if they manage to land one of them, they will fit in great with the system implemented by Head coach Doc Rivers.
10 Will Fall Apart: New Orleans Pelicans
So far, the New Orleans Pelicans have not performed all that well, despite the fact that they have the likes of Jrue Holiday and Anthony Davis on their roster. Davis is regarded as one of the best players in the NBA; in fact, he is a legitimate MVP candidate, and if the recent rumors are to be believed, we may see him wearing a new jersey in the very near future. There is talk about New Orleans trading Davis to the Lakers, which is highly possible given LeBron's need for star teammates, and such a move would give Davis a great shot at winning a championship, but when you trade someone of Davis' caliber, you are asking for several seasons of meaningless games.
9 Will Improve: Phoenix Suns
The Phoenix Suns have not had a winning season since the 2013-14 campaign came to an end, and based on their performance so far this season, they will be competing for last place in the league's overall standings. All of that losing has paid some dividends though, as the Suns have acquired several high first-round draft picks, including Josh Jackson, Devin Booker, Dragan Bender, and last year's first overall pick, Deandre Ayton. All of these players are not even 23-years-old, which means that they have A LOT of room to improve, and if they do, the Suns can become a powerhouse in the West.
8 Will Fall Apart: Houston Rockets
The Houston Rockets were almost able to defeat Golden State in last year's Western Conference Final, which is why so many people believed that they could pull it off this year with a healthy Chris Paul, but thanks to their poor start, they will be fighting just to get into the playoffs. Aside from Paul and a decent group of versatile players, the Rockets also have James Harden, one of the game's biggest offensive threats, which is why their poor performance is so surprising. Paul may be an important piece, but he is 33 and will be making over $35 million until 2022, which really handcuffs the team from adding another major piece, and if they fail to make a decent run, management could look to move a few pieces to shed some salary.
7 Will Improve: Detroit Pistons
2004 was the last time the Pistons won a championship, and the team has tried to get back to the Finals with several different looking teams, but their current incarnation has a very good shot at making that happen. The Pistons acquired Blake Griffin last January, and he has fit in well so far while playing alongside Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond, but the entire team is now playing a very different system. This is because of Dwane Casey, whom they hired during the offseason after Toronto fired him, and the reigning Coach of the Year has proven that he only needs a year to get his team to perform at a competitive level.
6 Will Fall Apart: Philadelphia 76ers
Last year the Philadelphia 76ers took a major step forward, which was a very welcomed sight considering how poorly they have performed this past decade. All of those losses, however, allowed them to draft Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, who have already become superstar players, and in an attempt to make it to this year's Finals, they traded for Jimmy Butler in November. The 76ers are good now, and Embiid is signed on a long-term deal, but Butler is looking to get paid this offseason, while Simmons' contract is up after next season, and he will be getting a major payday, and if they both end up leaving, the 76ers will be back to their losing ways.
5 Will Improve: San Antonio Spurs
From 1999 to 2014, the San Antonio Spurs were able to win five championships, yet no one really talks about them, which is a shame seeing as that team had three future Hall of Famers on it. Over the past four years, though, the Spurs have lost a great deal of talent, mainly due to retirement, but even with all those losses, Gregg Popovich is still around. Popovich is regarded as the best coach in the NBA, and he has the hardware to show for it. Although the team is entering into a minor rebuild, the Spurs are still a difficult team to play against, mainly thanks to Pop's style, and when they get two more pieces, that style will again lead to success.
4 Will Fall Apart: Toronto Raptors
The Toronto Raptors made a huge move during the offseason when they traded DeMar DeRozan to the Spurs in exchange for Kawhi Leonard, and so far, that deal has worked out for the Raps. Based on how Toronto has started the season, there is a good chance that the team will finish atop the Eastern Conference yet again, but that accomplishment may be short-lived once the season ends, especially if they do not win a championship. The deal was made despite the fact that Kawhi is in the final year of his contract, and it is highly likely that he will be signing with one of the teams in Los Angeles, and if he does leave, it will leave a giant hole in the Raptors' roster.
3 Will Improve: Denver Nuggets
In their first 30 games this season, the Denver Nuggets managed to go 21-9, which is pretty impressive considering they play in the Western Conference, and the front office should really be credited with putting this team together. The best decision that the Nuggets made recently was drafting Nikola Jokic in 2014, where they managed to get him in the second round, and he has so far proven to be an All-Star caliber player. Other than the Serb, Denver has a roster filled with promising young talent, and they are surrounded by veteran presences like Isiah Thomas and Paul Millsap, and if they can keep this group together for a few years, they will be troublesome in the playoffs.
2 Will Fall Apart: Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors are hands down the best team in the NBA, and although they seem to be having some type of issues, the chances of them winning a 3rd straight championship are still pretty high. When you have the likes of Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson on your roster, you are bound to be incredibly successful, but when next season rolls around, half of those players may not be wearing Warriors' jerseys anymore. Durant wants to opt out in order to sign a massive contract, and Thompson wants a big payday as well, and Golden State will not be able to afford such contracts, especially since Curry will be making over $40 million starting next season.
1 Will Improve: Milwaukee Bucks
1971 was the year the Milwaukee Bucks won their first and only championship, and in the 47 years since that win, their current team is arguably the best chance the franchise has of bringing home another title. The biggest reason for this is Giannis Antetokounmpo, whom the Bucks were lucky enough to steal in the 2013 draft when they picked him 15th overall, and he has gone on to become one of the best all-around players in the NBA. Giannis is now entering his prime, which means he still has room to improve, and he is currently playing with the likes of Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe, and based on how they play, there is a good chance that they will soon become the top team in the East.