With the NBA season one week away, team executives across America will be nailing down their expectations.
The elite sides want to be good enough to topple the two leading fancies for the Championship. Others want the possibility of picking up a high pick in next year’s draft, meaning they’ll have to be bad, while the vast majority will battle it out in the middle of those two groups for a playoff spot.
Focussing on the latter, we pick out three teams worth backing in their pursuit of the postseason:
Last season was the first in seven that the Bulls missed the playoffs. As a result, the winds of change blew across the Windy City.
Derrick Rose, as well as running mates Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol, has gone. He’s been replaced by former NBA champion tandem Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo.
Although both are household names, neither are famed for their three-point shooting. In fact, few on the Bulls roster are, which goes against the current NBA trend of winning by letting fly from deep.
There is more than one way to skin a cat though and if the pedigree Wade and Rondo bring to the table manifests in the rest of the (solid) roster, then this price will look too big quite quickly.
If you consider that there are five Western Conference superpowers guaranteed to make the playoffs (Golden State, the Spurs, the Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City and the LA Clippers) it leaves three spots up for grabs.
Minnesota were a mess defensively last season, owning the third-worst points-per-100-possessions mark in the league. They also haven’t been a playoff team since 2003/04. But this year stands to be different.
Not only is defensive guru Tom Thibodeau the new head coach, but the team is filled with some of the brightest young prospects in the NBA.
In John Wall, the Wizards have a leading candidate to join the ranks of NBA superstar this season and if that happens there is absolutely no reason why Washington won’t be in the playoffs.
Aside from their speedy point-guard, the Wiz have appointed a new coach in Scott Brooks, who was last seen nurturing Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden into the world beaters they are today in OKC.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing