WE SAW top players change locations during the off season yet there are still a few notable players trying to find a home – small forwards, a few guards and some serviceable bigs.
Leading the homeless are Carmelo Anthony, JR Smith, Iman Shumpert, Andrew Bogut, Kenneth Faried, Joakim Noah, and Zaza Pachulia.
They had seen better days but they could still provide valuable minutes in their team’s rotation during the regular season to manage the playing time of their stars which they would need if they reach the post-season.
Teams had made trades, had chosen their picks in the recent rookie draft and are getting prepared for the opening of the new season. The off-season moves of high-end talents somehow made their new teams serious playoff contenders, if not legit title chasers.
Aside from the two Los Angeles teams, here are six other teams that just might surprise everyone:
INDIANA PACERS – They sure missed Victor Oladipo but they held their own even without him and in fact finished fifth in the Eastern Conference. They lost volume shooter Bojan Bogdanovic but added shooting guard Malcolm Brogdon. Their frontline got deeper as aside from Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner, they added TJ Warren and Jeremy Lamb. When their main man Oladipo reports for duty, he will have an improved supporting cast.
UTAH JAZZ – Talking about Bogdanovic, he will provide instant scoring for the Jazz and would be their third scoring option behind Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. They lost Ricky Rubio but added Mike Conley and most likely will be Utah’s starting point guard. With most of the players returning, the Jazz could be the biggest surprise in the loaded West.
PHOENIX SUNS – If Rubio plays like what he’s doing now in the FIBA Worlds playing for Spain, the sun could be shining bright in Phoenix. Devin Booker will still be Devin Booker but with a legit point guard beside him. Likewise, Aaron Baynes will be DeAndre Ayton’s principal back-up and he’s also doing well for Australia in the FIBA Worlds.
The Suns added depth to their frontline with Dario Saric and Frank Kaminsky. The last time the Suns were in the playoffs was in 2010, where they lost to the LA Lakers in the Conference Finals. This could be their playoff season.
BROOKLYN NETS – The stars have almost aligned in Brooklyn. Kyrie Irving will now have a team he can call his own and when Kevin Durant comes back from injury, the Nets will finally have true alignment.
DeAndre Jordan might be on the downside of things but he still is springy and could easily average in double-doubles every playing night. Providing solid support will be Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie.
NEW ORLEANS PELICANS – Anthony Davis went to his preferred destination and teamed with a dream teammate. His departure gave the Pelicans new blood including top pick Zion Williamson, not yet exactly in AD’s level but the rookie has the potential and the hype.
Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart will likely start alongside Zion and with the future first round picks they have at their disposal, they’ll be getting better in the long run. New addition JJ Redick will provide the veteran presence and be the stabilizing factor on a young team.
PHILADELPHIA 76ers – The addition of Al Horford gave the Sixers one of the league’s best defensive frontcourt with Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris and Mike Scott. Reportedly, Ben Simmons is working on improving his jump shooting and that is good news for the Sixers. Jimmy Butler is gone and new addition Josh Richardson must learn to pick up the slack./PN