Who Will Be the Best Bad Teams in the NBA During the 2019-20 Season?
For better or worse, the Golden State Warriors’ stranglehold on the rest of the NBA appears to be a thing of the past. Kevin Durant to Prospect Heights, one of many high-profile stars to change homes this summer. An NBA Title hasn’t felt so up-for-grabs in years, while the Association also boasts a thriving middle class.
There is, of course, an underbelly of the forgotten and the unlucky. Clubs in limbo, rebuilding or reloading in an attempt to secure a new future. As such, not all bad teams are created equal.
Though many organizations are destined to have decidedly losing records, their true competitive ceilings could be considerably higher. Once again, let’s breakdown the best bad teams in the NBA for the upcoming season:
Last season the Atlanta Hawks won a surprising 29 games despite a slow start to the season and putrid team defense. If the team can build on the momentum it built during the tail end of the 2018-19 campaign, this club should be a feisty one.
The Hawks defense will need to improve, but they can hold their own on the defensive end. John Collins in particular could be an intriguing defensive asset. The Hawks also share the ball and shoot threes at an above average clip. There are things this team does well, certainly well enough to be a good bad team.
Atlanta also has an intriguing crop of players that could tilt the scales in that direction. How good Cam Reddish can be in his first year is interesting, as is the possibility of veterans like Evan Turner, Chandler Parsons, and Allen Crabbe making meaningful contributions on the wing.
The Oklahoma City Thunder
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What happens next with the Oklahoma City Thunder is anyone’s guess. OKC general manager Sam Presti is not one to sit on his hands, but when he makes his next move is unclear.
For that reason, newly-minted Thunder Chris Paul could be on his way out, triggering a firesale of the team’s remaining veteran players. At the same time, there is plenty of talent on the OKC roster; Presti could wait and let his players’ stock rise a bit.
A Chris Paul-Steven Adams pick and roll should be a deadly weapon, even in the loaded Western Conference. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, meanwhile, gives the Thunder a youthful edge.
Depth will be lacking for OKC, and the roster isn’t likely to last long as presently constructed. Until then, however, I expect the Thunder to be a tough out.
At present, Cleveland figures to be one of the worst teams in the NBA during the 2019-20 season. They’re expected to win less than thirty percent of their games.
Perhaps this assumes Kevin Love’s days as a Cavalier are numbered. He’s the team’s lone All-Star level player. Jordan Clarkson, Tristan Thompson, Larry Nance Jr., and others all severely under-performed last year.
But isn’t there a world where things click for the Cavs? Where this collection of talent somehow starts to gel?
New head coach John Beilein has found success during every step of his career, from coaching junior college to leading multiple deep runs in the NCAA tournament. If history serves, Beilein could be the right guy to turn things around in the Land.
Like Oklahoma City, the Cavaliers roster could change dramatically throughout the season. But for now, Cleveland may prove another good bad team.
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Last September the Timberwolves and Karl-Anthony Towns agreed to a five-year, $190 million extension that would - in theory - keep the Kentucky product in Minnesota until 2024. That doesn’t mean either parties can afford to be complacent.
Despite KAT’s individual performances, his Timberwolves have largely been inert in the last few seasons. Playing in the perpetually loaded Western Conference certainly hasn’t helped.
The West is as dangerous as ever, and as such, it feels unlikely the T-Wolves will even sniff a postseason berth. There’s little we’ve seen from the above core to suggest Minnesota is about to make a big leap.
Regardless, the Wolves have some really good players, even if putting all the pieces together has been elusive. Defense has been this team’s biggest weakness. Perhaps Jordan Bell and Robert Covington can help slow the bleeding, while KAT and Andrew Wiggins attempt to put together something of a competitive offense.
Constructing this list was difficult because before selecting the good bad teams, it has to be decided which teams deserve the “bad” label. Clubs like the Pelicans, the Kings, or the Bulls might actually be half decent.
A few teams, perhaps by design, are doomed to just be patently bad. Clubs like the Knicks, the Grizzlies, and the Hornets figure to live at the bottom of the standings barrel. Others, like the Suns or the Wizards have a few more questions than answers at the moment.