5. Philadelphia 76ers
The 2013-14 season for the 76ers was among one of the worst in the NBA. They were one win away from breaking the record for most consecutive losses in NBA history. But despite an unsuccessful season, point guard Michael Carter Williams was able to win Rookie of the Year, and is the hope that 76ers will return to the team they once were during the Allen Iverson era. One thing that really stopped the 76ers from performing well this season was injuries. Nerlens Noel, the #2 overall pick in the 2013 Draft, missed the entire season to recover from a knee surgery and should be 100% ready to go this upcoming season. Also, the veteran shooting guard Jason Richardson will be returning to the rotation as well as he missed the entire season. The 76ers are also likely to be choosing either Andrew Wiggins or Jabrari Parker in the first round of the NBA Draft, as they have the rights to the third pick, unless if neither the Cleveland Cavaliers or Milwaukee Bucks choose Joel Embiid. The 76ers can create a young, fresh trio consisting of Williams, Noel, or Wiggins/Parker that can lead the 76ers to a decade of success, and possibly even a championship somewhere down the road.
4. New Orleans Pelicans
Just like the 76ers, injuries were a big part of what stopped the Pelicans from being the force they were in the 2012-2013 season. Jrue Holiday, the team’s starting point guard, got injured half way through the season. Anthony Davis’, the number one overall pick in 2012, season was also affected by injuries, despite him improving greatly offensively. Anthony Davis lead the entire league in blocks, and averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds, ESPN says, so he’ll more than likely even get better when he’s completely healthy. Though the Pelicans aren’t a very intimidating name, the team itself will be intimidating next season and anyone who doesn’t think that will learn firsthand by the deadly duo of Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday. And let’s not forget that Tyreke Evans is starting to find his tenacity and skill back, while Eric Gordon is still an offensive banger.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers
You look at the Cleveland roster, and you wonder how they had bad season. Kyrie Irving is definitely one of the top point guards in NBA, and you also had the shooting ace Deion Waiters, as well as Luol Deng, Tristan Thompson, and the rising Spencer Hawes. In the Eastern Conference, making the playoffs is much more easier as opposed to the West, so some were shocked that Kyrie couldn’t lead the team to at least the eighth seed. But now that the Cavaliers once again have the first overall pick in the draft this year, they could fill in that one piece that the team needs to be valid threats, and whether it be Joel Embiid, Jabrari Parker, or Andrew Wiggins, all three of these players have proven to the team that they can do their part in its quest for success. And hey, if luck really does come for the Cavs, Lebron James might return back to Cleveland since he will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. Of course, though, if that were to happen, the team would be much more than threats; they’d be serious contenders.
2. Phoenix Suns
This year for Pheonix, Goran Dragic suddenly broke out and stepped his game up to levels no one ever thought he could reach. The Suns were predicted to go 16-66, by an NBA poll, when they actually finished 48-36; no one expected a second round draft pick to alter a team so much, but that’s what Dragic did. Though the team did not make the playoffs, Goran Dragic was able to lead the team after Eric Bledsoe injured his torn meniscus and missed 33 games. This team now knows what Dragic can give them, and it’ll play a big role next season, but will also play a big role is the fact that the Suns have three first round draft picks, so they can acquire some great young talent to back up Dragic and Bledsoe. Let’s not also forget that the team has plenty of cap space to acquire some free agents this summer, and the perfect time too as free agents will include Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Love, and much more.
1. Los Angeles Lakers
Hate them or love them, the Los Angeles Lakers are one of the greatest franchises in NBA history. It’s not normal for the team to have a bad season, but they had a horrible one this year. Though, Kobe Bryant wasn’t able to be on the floor to change that, which is more than likely why it happened. The Lakers have never missed the playoffs with Kobe Bryant active on the team, and this year, everyone knows that Kobe is going to be hungry to bring some sunshine and respect back to the franchise that used to be a greatest force that prospered in the Western Conference and NBA. Let’s not also forget that the Los Angeles Lakers have the seventh pick in the first round of the draft this year, so they can add a young, talented player to play under the wing of Kobe.