1. Utah Jazz
Under Quin Snyder, the Utah Jazz have become a defensive juggernaut led by the stifle tower Rudy Gobert. But the departure of Gordon Hayward to the Boston Celtics will see the 28th best offense in the league struggle mightily this season. Their new signings in Thabo Sefelosha, Ricky Rubio and Jonas Jerebko don’t really wow the masses, especially on the offensive end of the floor. The West has moved impressively with OKC, Minnesota and Sacramento all bringing in key pieces, Utah could unfortunately see themselves on the outs this season.
2. Chicago Bulls
The first Eastern Conference team on the list is the Chicago Bulls. After a 41-41 record last season which saw the Bulls scrape into the play-offs on the final day of the regular season, Chicago would eventually go down to the Celtics 4-2 in the first round. Their offseason has been questionable at best, trading Jimmy Butler to Minnesota for literally nothing whilst allowing the disgruntled Rajon Rondo leave for New Orleans.
We expect the Bulls to buy out Dwayne Wade’s contract as the 35-year old looks to win another ring before he calls time on his NBA career. The East may be the weaker of the two conferences, but there is no questioning that Chicago will be a 20-win team at best this season.
3. Atlanta Hawks
It seems like an age ago when the Atlanta Hawks were a 60-win team and had four all-stars in a single season. But now, none of the players that were in the starting line-up remain on their roster as Paul Millsap was the last player to leave as he joins Denver. It’s difficult to point at why the Hawks have gone in this direction as it would seem their owners have gone super cheap, which will see Atlanta drop out of the playoff race. They do have a promising young center in John Collins but for Hawks fans, it’s going to be a disappointing season with Atlanta winning around 20 games this campaign.
4. Indiana Pacers
The Indiana Pacers shot themselves in the foot this offseason by trading Paul George to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Domantas Sabonis and Victor Oladipo’s horrendous contract. They did bring in Cory Joseph from Toronto and bring Darren Collison back from Sacramento, but neither is a clear starting point guard in the NBA. Myles Turner is officially running the show as the star of the franchise but their lack of options all round will see the Pacers skittled out of the playoffs.
5. Memphis Grizzlies
Similar to the Utah Jazz, the ‘grit and grind’ Memphis Grizzlies have built their franchise on a strong defensive core. However, this season could be a struggle for the Grizz who haven’t done much to improve their roster this offseason, only bringing back Mario Chalmers whilst signing Tyreke Evans and Ben McLemore.
The latter fractured his foot in a pickup game and could miss the start of the season. Dave Jaeger will miss locker room guys in Zach Randolph and Vince Carter, who will be taking their talents to Sacramento. Can Memphis maintain its defensive sturdiness whilst improving on offense?
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