The NBA offseason has been filled with numerous trades, draft picks and signings, but which teams are poised to make the best improvements this season? Some teams have made themselves legitimate contenders and some are just trying to play meaningful games in April and further on. Here are five NBA teams who are ready to make a big impact, or in some cases any impact this season.
New Orleans Hornets (21-45 Last Year)
New Orleans struggled mightily last year as their star player Eric Gordon only played nine games. Once he went down things began to get ugly. The Hornets had an abysmal year after Chris Paul was traded away. Brighter days are ahead though, due to some lucky ping-pong balls the Hornets landed Anthony Davis and also drafted Austin Rivers. With New Orleans matching the offer to Gordon the team has the most promising core in the NBA. With this year being the first year that this core is together do not expect a playoff berth, but do expect them to be this seasons must watch on League Pass.
Toronto Raptors (23-43 Last Year)
Canada’s only basketball teams took some steps this summer to become a playoff team. The Raptors took a heavy swing at Steve Nash and missed. Landry Fields will be playing his first season under his very large contract and should make an impact. This year the Raptors took a surprising pick in Terrence Ross, who I believe will be amazing for this franchise. The biggest impact in Jonas Valanciunas, the 5th pick in last year’s draft. The Raptors are hoping this guy will live up to his potential this season. With high-flyer Demar DeRozan and excellent point guard in Kyle Lowry, the Toronto Raptors are looking to make the playoffs for the first time in 4 years.
Minnesota Timberwolves (26-40 Last Year)
This team is ready to become great. Kahn has made some nice moves this summer to make a scary looking young team. Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love were lighting it up while the Wolves still couldn’t sniff a playoff berth. Summer signings in Brandon Roy, the Russian duo of Andrei Kirilenko and Alexey Shved, and signing a backup big man Greg Stiemsma will make this team a lot more deeper. If Ricky Rubio can pick up where he left off and Brandon Roy can become his old self again, the Timberwolves will have no need to watch the 2013 draft lottery and will be ready to make some noise late in the season.
Golden State Warriors (23-43 Last Year)
Mark Jackson said the Warriors were going to make the playoffs last year, he should’ve waited a season to say that because this year’s team is more talented and deeper than last season. Andrew Bogut is a top 5 center in the league, with health pending. The Warriors do not have a star-studded team that is necessary to win in this lopsided NBA, but they have a deep enough team and amazing team chemistry to make the playoffs this year. You never know, maybe Golden State could pull off what they did in 2007 and get to the 2nd round. They have the tools to do so. Lots of questions can be asked about the Warriors but I think the two young men Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes will be hungry to help Golden State make the postseason.
Brooklyn Nets (22-44 Last Year)
This team is looking to make a giant step forward this season. The move to Brooklyn and the fact the Deron Williams did not move franchises over the offseason was a vital step. Pair one of the best point guards in the league with a prolific scorer in Joe Johnson and a solid front court player in Brook Lopez the new look Nets should see a vast improvement compared to finishing 22 games under .500 and causing some problems in the playoffs and have at least a fourth seed.
Morgan Grimmett is an NBA writer for The Sports Blitz and can be contacted at MGrimmett@TheSportsBlitz.com.