The Raps traded Rudy Gay on December, they were expected to be tanking to try and select native son, Andrew Wiggins in this summer’s NBA draft. After the trade, they were the best team in the NBA going 41-22, winning 65% of their games.
Casey deserves a lot of credit for getting them to play together as a team. It certainly didn’t hurt that DeMarr DeRozan established himself as a budding superstar (22.7 points per game, 4.3 rebounds per game and 4 assists per game), Terrence Ross showed he could play when given an expanded role (12.3ppg, including a 51 point in January against the Los Angeles Clippers), and Kyle Lowry continued to show he’s a very good point guard (17.9ppg, 7.4apg and 1.5 steals per game). Lowry will be an attractive free agent once he hits the open market after the season ends.
Nobody expected the Suns to be fighting for a playoff spot, but they were as they won 48 games and were the biggest surprise in the Western Conference. Hornacek had his players running an exciting brand of basketball and they do have talent, but they didn’t have the type of talent that would have them winning as many games as they did. They were another team that was expected to be in prime drafting position for a franchise player in the NBA draft.
Goran Dragic (20.3ppg, 5.9apg and 1.4spg, 50.5% on FGA’s and 40.5% on 3-pointers) improved a lot and gave Phoenix a great 1-2 duo in the backcourt along with Eric Bledsoe (17.7ppg, 5.5apg and 4.7rpg, 47.7% on FGA’s and 35.7% on 3’s). Gerald Green was another player that had a career season (15.8ppg) and benefitted from Hornacek’s free-flowing offense (105.2ppg, 7th in the NBA).
The Charlotte Bobcats have been bad for a long time and they finally made the playoffs this season and Clifford is the main reason for it. Their main off-season free agent acquisition in big Al Jefferson (21.8ppg, 10.8rpg and 1.1 blocks per game) paid big dividends as he gave them a legit presence in the low post and Kemba Walker (17.7ppg, 6.1apg and 1.1spg) continued to develop as a PG.
The Blazers got off to a hot start and were 32-9 in the first half of the season before injuries hit the team hard and their lack of depth was exposed, but they responded by winning their last 5 games of the season to go into the playoffs with a little momentum.
The Nets got off to an awful start as injuries mounted and Kidd struggled to adapt to coaching on the sideline. Once the players got healthy and Kidd adjusted, Brooklyn started winning games.
My top 5 doesn’t have the flashy names you would come to expect in Pop, Spo and Thibs because I think the COY is the coach who does the most with the least amount of talent. Miami, San Antonio and Chicago all have some excellent players and they should do well. The coaches I listed got the most out of their talent and in Brooklyn’s case, Kidd was able to help coach them out of an awful start.
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