Blogtable: Surprise teams

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

Before free agency starts, before camps even open, name a team that could go either way this season – could be bad, could be pretty good.

Steve Aschburner: One obvious answer is Orlando. If the Magic not only hang onto Howard but acquire someone who might convince their MVP candidate to stick around long-term, they continue as an East contender. If not, they’ll be counting the days till they get lottery lucky again. But a dark horse here could be Boston, which went 11-11 after March 4 last season, has an aging core of stars, a disjointed roster and probably a crankier-than-ever Rajon Rondo. If, early in the schedule, a title chase seems beyond their grasp, things could unravel.

Fran Blinebury: The most obvious candidate here is New Orleans.  If they find a way to re-sign David West and go into the season with Paul on the roster, the Hornets can be playoff contenders.  But if West leaves or Paul becomes distracted/disenchanted, there is the potential to plummet right to the basement.

Scott Howard-Cooper: Indy. I like the George Hill acquisition on Draft night a lot. I like that the Pacers are in the East, a conference soft enough to always allow for big jumps. I like that they’re pretty good defensively. They could add an important free agent. But there is so much to prove coming off a 37-win season. Indiana won’t be bad. It could miss the playoffs, though, and that would be bad enough.

Shaun Powell: New Orleans with Chris Paul = pretty good. New Orleans without Chris Paul = 1980s New Orleans Saints. The Wizards also have some swagger because of John Wall, but you just never know with this young crew and if they have a clue. Do you really think the light bulb is on yet with JaVale McGee, Nick (if he re-signs) Young and Andray Blatche? OK.

John Schuhmann: Well, obviously Orlando if they trade Howard. But New Jersey is another easy choice. As they stand right now, the Nets might have a tough time making the playoffs. But if they’ve got Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, and either Tyson Chandler or Nene, they’re a top-six team in the East. And if they somehow pull off a deal for Howard, they’re in the top three or four, with the best point guard-center combination that we’ve seen in a long time.

Sekou Smith: Since my cupboard of pet teams is already overflowing this season (the Hang Time Grizzlies, L.A. Clippers and now the Minnesota Timberwolves),I’ll channel my dark side and say that this is the year the Hawks hit the skids. (And I realize we’re talking about one of just three teams, along with the Lakers and Celtics, to make the second round of the playoffs in each of the past three seasons.) They’ve operating on borrowed time with all of the subtle tweaks the franchise has made the past four years. But without Jamal Crawford (free agent) and a healthy Kirk Hinrich to start the season, the Hawks will start the season in neutral without making a splashy move during training camp. The fact is, they’ve done just about all they can with the current roster, all the while resisting the urge to make any significant changes to their core. This is the year that inactivity comes back to haunt them.


  1. Charlie says:

    The Clips are in for a far run down the playoffs with the Paul, Butler and Griffin swing. Too bad they had to give up a more then decent SG and a big bigman for the PG. Bulls with Hamilton on starting SG instead of Bogans is a good thing, bogans’ offense wasn’t nearly good enough for a team like the bulls. Jamal Crawford could replace Roy in Portland. Knicks are going to kill it in the east, a shame about Rony Turiaf, I liked him. But staying objectively, they did a good thing acquiring Tyson Chandler, now, with Iman Schumpert as a second center they have a solid frontcourt. I’m really looking forward seeing Jimmer Fredette’s playing time with Tyreke (probably) at the 1 position and Salmons (?) at the shooting guard. If the Nets could land Dwight Howard, I can see the future Brooklyn Nets go far. That doesn’t mean orlando shall be bad, they’ll probably get Brook Lopez, who isn’t a bad center at all.

    We’ll have to wait for Christmas to find out.

  2. bk says:

    if the clippers can land paul they gonna win it all

    i think jordan could become one of the best centers

  3. omid says:

    I think that the thunder might go all the way.

  4. The Hammer says:

    I am a devoted Spurs fan and I’m confident that they will go back to the finals this year. By allowing RJ out of option the Spurs has some good leaverage and money to get an experienced and talented PF. On the other hand we still have the problem of size and inside game, therefore I pick the Memphis Grizzlies to be in the playoff and make it another competitive first round. The Grizz have a young talented group and they play a really good inside game and they can shoot very well. If they retain Marc Gasol and allow Rudy Gay, Conley, Zach and Mayo to play they will be threat to any western conference team on the first round. Go Spurs but don’t forget Memphis.

  5. Alex says:

    WHAT ABOUT THE NUGGET THEY LOST THREE OF THEIR STARTERS!!! J.R. Smith, Wilson Chandler, and Kenyon Martin

  6. Max. W says:

    It seems like up till now the only names involved with the Knicks have been CP3, Superman, and Grant Hill. Now it seems like Tyson Chandler is going to end up in the Big Apple. Although, he’s not a superstar like Cp3 or Dwight Howard he is the key to the Knicks’ success. Let’s examine why they are the match made in heaven.

    To read more go to

  7. Surprise says:

    Boston Celtics old big three will be dismantled this season, with the departure of the rest of the crew with the exception of some rookies and Paul Pierce to obtain Chris Paul and Dwight Howard. They would attempt to resign Glen Davis as well.

    Minnesota Timberwolves is the most interesting team to watch on the West, I can’t wait to see how they would play.

    Tyson Chandler will share the same fate as James Posey, going for the millions and will sign with the Golden State Warriors.

  8. TerraJ says:

    People post the funniest blogs.
    1st off T’Wolves are way to young(but also has alot of talent and potential) for the west to make the playoffs. Clippers might make the playoffs if all their players stay healthy.
    Pacers will not go far without a reliable allstar(danny g. is good but not that good) Same goes for Sixers.
    Bulls will not make the finals next year unless they get another all star(should prob trade boozer). Bcuz, D.Rose cant do it by himself, already proven that hes no Kobe Bryant or MJ, and his team got swept after winning game one.
    If Manu and Parker gets their heads out of their….. then u might have a shot at making conference finals(winning championship, almost no chance)
    Lakers, if they get Dwight, then of course theyre goin to the Conference finals(winning it all, is a good chance but you still have miami.
    Boston, might make one last run for it, like the 87′ Lakers, where everyone tried so hard and all the stars alined. So maybe.
    Grizz, will not make the finals this year, you guys are smoking weed prob, whoever sed that. With Rudy gay, maybe the conference finals.
    Dallas, Im sure Dirk and Jkidd wants another one, their team is 8months older, but the chemistry and experience is there. Dont underlook that.
    Hawks, unless JJohnson starts acting like a star, they wont go far in playoffs.
    OKC, have a really good chance of winning conference. If Blazers can manage their talent better(like roy, off the bench? u serious?) they mite make the west conference finals, but will lose due to lack of experience.
    Knicks, if they have a better bench, and healthy billups and amare, then theyll make it the east finals or seriously have a good game almost making it to the east finals.

  9. EC says:

    Hard to tell. Nobody has mentioned OKC so far (or I just didn´t notice). But they have Durant, Westbrook and Harden… that´s TOP, with Robinson backing up. Perkins was injured before the trade and had only 17 RS games with OKC so he´ll be much better than 5/8 once he´s healthy and in the system. Then you have Ibaka who has still more potential than 10/8. Let OKC add some PF like David West plus some defender like Kirilenko, Battier, Prince plus some veteran like Carter or Hill that either are unrestricted or under an amnesty regulation… and you´ll have a top contender. They were in the WCFs last season and due to the low rookie contracts of Harden, Westbrook and Durant have a lot of financial potential. It might create problems to keep these 3 for a longer period but only Westbrook becomes a RFA before 2013 giving them at least 2 seasons to win it all. And Durant is potentially not seeking for a maximum contract as he wants to play, win and not to have himself in the media all the time. Could be a “no noise”-free agency as it was with Duncan. Would like to see DAL make it again but Dirk seemed tired mentally and physically in the Euros and in German media… we´ll see.

    • Dude says:

      Dude, Durant has signed an extension and he’s maxed out through 2015/2016. OKC have some cap space, but not a whole lot.

  10. Belgianfan says:

    I´m sorry for all the haters out there. But Miami still has the biggest chance of winning it all. If they could add a center (i reallllly like sam dalembert here) and a pg better then Mr Noshow Bibby then there´s absolutely no way that you guys can say that they are not the favorites to win it all… Don´t be hating them, just look at the facts…

    Chicago is a great team, top5 for sure! But last play-off you could see that when Bron defended Rose, chicago was completely stopped. If Deng could play like he did for the UK then they have a good thing going but they really need a GOOD option next to Rose. Not J. Crawford caus he will just dribble to much and play no defence at all. Don´t ruin that part of chicago!

    Lakers always a force! If Gasol could man up and play a whole season like he did at the start then he is a top 3 PF and could change the game. (dont need ot tlak about Kobe… He´s still Kobe :p )

    I personally think Dallas won´t make it that far this year. I think they were just riding a hot streak at the play-offs but won´t have that luck a second time. Especially if chandler doesnt resign and if they give Barea a way too big contract. (dont overpay that shorty) I´d say the griz have a bigger chance of getting that far then Dallas.

    Celtics get too old, forget them guys 🙂

    • Matser says:

      Ja ok dan ik ben Miami Fan maar ik zie het ni snel gebeuren, Grizzlies winnen dees jaar, toch een goeie poging om over te komen als ne kenner.

      Yep ok then, I’m a miami bandwagon slut as well but i don’t see it happen, Grizzlies will come with the upset this year.

  11. Vincent says:

    If David West signs with the Magic that can make Howard change his mind. For New Orleans, the set is clear Chris Paul will not be playing there any longer even if David West re-signs but the Paul contributed a lot to the community so he won’t experience a lot of backlash like Lebron James experience.

  12. hoover says:

    Twill your an idiot, try fill out the rest of your roster before you go trading 10 guys for one bloke. Miami is becoming a farce mate. you expect it all bud, guess what? aint gettin pal

  13. James says:

    I think the teams in the West that will reach the playoffs who didn’t last year were Clippers and T’wolves.

  14. 17,6 says:

    this yr it is tough 2 tell who will prevail as the world champ…i am a laker fan but if they stay old and don’t aquire some young legs they will not win especially with the super tight schedule…the spurs, celtics, and even the defending champs r all old so we just gotta wait and see if the tightened schedule will affect them…if my theory holds true then some young legs that could win r chicago miami(unfortunately) oklahoma or orlando if they keep howard and acquire cp3…sorry knicks i love melo and stat is alright himself but wit no supporting cast, an offensive minded coach, and horrible defense then u got no chance…even if they aquire cp3 (which i don’t even think is possible right now) they will have nobody else on the team as did miami last yr…i know melo is capable of playin D he just needs a coach 2 force him 2 play that end of the floor like Karl did in 09…but yeah regardless lets go lakers they still got the black mamba and pau gasol the dynamic duo who won 2 in a row so yeah u never know!!!!

  15. DrPepper434343 says:

    What about T-Mac??

  16. Blackmamba24 says:

    @T-Will, Who will want those Heat free agents anyway…I wont take em free if you offer it to me let alone get them for CP3, LOL. You Miami Heat fans are delusional, why don’t you try adding another superstar to your team too cus 3 aint enough, lmao.

    • HeatWave says:

      Speaking for the sensible fans, we don’t want Howard or CP3. I loved that Miami had players that came out of their shell. We can produce the same results with other guys too but we gotta drop some dead weight like Dampier, Howard and Mangilore or whatever his name is. I’m hoping we can get Mo Williams for point and pick up a young center.

  17. HAHA says:

    … LOL no comment dude

  18. Blackmamba24 says:

    @Hello, Only if Pistons were dumb enough to give all those players for an overrated PF in Boozer Lol.

  19. Anthony says:

    Im a spurs fan

  20. TWill says:

    Sleeper….The Heat have 6 free agents ( Chalmers, Bibby, James Jones, Dampier, Howard, Magloire ) !
    For a team looking to rebuild and clear their salary….the Heat can send ALL these dudes to N.O.

    Picture this:

    PG – Paul
    SG- Wade
    SF – Bron-Bron
    PF – Bosh
    C- it won’t matter, pick anybody

    Smell the Championship ……ahahahahahaha !!!!

    I know that thought has made some of ya’ll wet yourselves. But the possibilities are REAL.

    • bigs says:

      You must be the stupidest person to ever comment on any blog ever.
      You must be 10 and ahve only just started watching basketball in the past year and decided to go for the heat.
      Words can’t explain how dumb your post was. Stop posting…seriously dude.

  21. Stewart Love says:

    The Grizzlies will win the championship this year.

  22. Dom says:

    I like how NO ONE ever mentions the Sixers. Didn’t we play the Heat just as good as the Bulls did, IF NOT BETTER!!!!! I’m sick of this crap. Everyone will find out the hard way. Sixers are a forth or 5th seed. Bostons old, we match up nice with Atlanta, New York needs to play defense although they are a threat…I juss think the Sixers are over looked too often.

    • helloo says:

      What really is there to talk about?? Is E. Brand still on your squad? what really? I have an Idea why dont yall trade Iggy for Carlos Bozzer and have two Pf’s eating at your cap! Ok, im sorry! too much… all jokes aside, the Sixers for me are kind of in stand still, they reached their ceiling with the team last year, I seriously dont think they will go beyond that with the team they have right now; with these other younger teams growing and getting better!…. yall still need to resign Thad Young to be the same team as last year… will that happen? Yall have a great tradebait chip in Evan Turner, Try getting rid of Brands contract with that chip and get a star in return! yall can also use sign and trade with Thad and maybe include him in a deal! Do you think the Atlanta hawks will bite with Josh smith??? probably not, but if they do then we will really have something to talk about!!

      • Dom says:

        I really feel that the Sixers are a fifth seed team in the East. Yeah, we need improvements, as do other teams but I feel totally disrespected when we’re talking about the PACERS or teams that DIDN’T make the playoffs PERIOD before the Sixers! Come on, really?! Jrue is going to get better, Evan is going to get better, I feel Iggy’s going to be everything he’s always been: A great defender that can give you 15 a game. Honestly, I don’t wanna trade Elton, he was pretty consistent this season and if it weren’t for him would we had been as good? I don’t think the Bulls are CHAMPIONSHIP good with their current lineup, I think they’re a paper team and I feel that if Boozer doesn’t step up then the team can’t and won’t do anything BUT make the playoffs. I guess we’ll all know what’s what once the season begins.

      • ATLHAWKSFAN says:

        you might be wrong about atl and trading j smoove our staff is horrible they dont know what we need For EXAMPLE: if atl had lets say chris paul they would trade someone(not chris paul) to have drose on the team they are that stupid so josh smith to your team would be likely they trade him for anyone

    • ATLHAWKSFAN says:

      yes the sixers could be good if they add couple of bench players and an all star iggy to me is declining jrue has potential and so does my hometown louis get brook lopez and still keep iggy

  23. Phil D says:

    I believe the Hawks are a breakout team especially with addition of tracy mcgrady he was overlooked last year as a very decent player and will replace jamal crawford or even possibly replace marvin williams as the starting sf but I believe joe johnson will bounce back from the subpar year last year and josh smith will keep improving so I look for the hawks to turn a lot of heads once playoff time rolls around

    • HeatWave says:

      If hawks stay healthy and McGrady is there I say they will be in the ECF vs Miami this year. They had the Bulls in panic mode, but Joe didn’t show up. Much like Lebron for us vs Dallas.

      • ATLHAWKSFAN says:

        yes but they need a center that plays defense and can rebound but doesnt have to score like howard maybe 14 pts a game

  24. Oscar says:

    The Big Apple is going to at least make it to the second round this time! If Chauncey and Stoudemire can stay healthy! Let’s go Knicks! o_O

  25. helloo says:

    @ ralph…. you kidding I love the Bulls! Just people are putting too much presure on them to win now! I agree with you a hundred percent… they need to mature 1st… They will get there people just give them a bit more time! another bit about the Bulls… I would trade Bozzer “NOW” while he is still worth something… He will hold them captive with his contract very soon while sitting on the bench healing his wounds! Bulls fans start signing a pettiton to trade him now and suround D-Rose with real talent!…

    • DRose#1fan says:

      I agree that the Bulls still might need more time, but it all depends on who they get as a shooting guard. The one thing I love about this Bulls team is that there is no drama and they are a real team. If Boozer can’t deliever in the beginning of the season, I say trade him for someone. Honeslty, Omer Asik is playing better than him lol.

      • helloo says:

        agreed! but I would trade him before… who wants him when he shows his true collers? Right now the Bulls could get a slashing SG or a good perimeter G/F or both! WHY NOT??? thats what they need yes?? Im thinking in fact why not do this trade with the Pistons… Pistons get Boozer and a gaurd (who can you think of?), Bulls get RIP Hamilton (vetren who can move without the ball and slash around) he still have it yes???? Ben Gordon (great shooter, used to play in Chicago so yall are familiar).. and Greg Monroe, a solid young Big man.. now that is some value right there!! I see a more mature Bulls team with great depth who dont have to deal with Boozers contract in 2 years or so (when ROSE will need to resign)

  26. helloo says:

    Sam, I agree!! the Pacers are very well rounded squad… but If I got to look for any real flaws I would have to say that they need a veteren PF who can anchor the team Deffensively and demand respect from his young teamates… the #1 option would have to be K.G. …. he is a great deffender and he demands respect… imagine Hibbert and him down low! Hibbert will grow up faster and become even better deffenisvily… Offensively the Pacers will be well rounded as well with Garnett being a force downlow with Hibbert (Garnett is also decent on the baselines)… Granger shooting lights out on the perimeter ad the quick gaurds slashing around….with Garnett you will win now, and you will have your young bigs grow up quicker (hansbrough and Hibbert)… NOTE TO PACERS: get Garnett

  27. Ralph Ronald says:

    @ hello . definately ur not a bulls fan . lol . but u do have a point . the bulls can compete now , but maybe a couple of years of maturation and a few line up change can make u think differently ? godbless .

  28. helloo says:

    The Bulls cannot win it all (not yet)…. too many players with similar games… you want to test my point??? ask D-Rose to sit out the first week of the season… they will lose all of their games scheduled… you will then see that they have no chemistry at all! The only thing that makes them run is D-Rose! This years deffenses will clamp down more on Rose and he wont be able to repeat last years success just becasue teams will prepair for him all the time.. who will then step up as the secondary option?? You mentioned all the big names they have… notice they are all Pfs with similar games (except Deng) who is a small forward with again a similar game… they need more slashers and more people who move without the ball!!

    • Sarkies says:

      That’s just like saying if Kobe sat out, the Lakers would lose all their games. If Dwight sat out, the Magic would lose all their games. If Pierce sat out, the Celtics would lose. Every team has their best player and of course if he sat out for a week, the team could take a big fall for those few games. But look at Rose. Noah/Boozer were out 57 games last year. That’s a lot of games for Rose to carry a team and still get the best record. They might not be the best players but they are the next couple options. It’s common sense when the best player of your team sits out you’re going to lose some games.

      • HeatWave says:

        Rose didn’t carry them for 57 games. Boozer missed 23 and Noah missed 34. He carried the team for 23 games. That’s still a lot but go count the losses during that time and then look at the wins once Boozer and Noah returned.
        Your right that anytime the star is out you’ll lose more games but what hello is saying is that stopping Rose completely takes the Bulls out.

  29. Sam says:

    I believe that the Pacers have a pretty good chance of at least being 6th or 7th in the East. They have a very talented starting lineup that will probably include Darren Collison, George Hill, Danny Granger, Tyler Hansborough, and Roy Hibbert. They also have a very good bench with Paul George, which had some very good games last year in the playoffs. Their new coach Frank Vogel is very good at motivating his team before a game and in the final few minutes. One thing that could harm the Pacers is the shortened training camp with a new coach and some new players that haven’t practiced together very much. Other than that I feel like the players could be a playoff contender.

    • Sarkies says:

      Being a playoff contender and a championship contender are two completely different things. Nobody cares about the team that got the 7th overall seed that lost. Nobody wants to be known for making it to the playoffs. They want to be known for making it to the NBA finals and winning it all!

      • Samuel says:

        Sorry, but I’m not the Sam who posted about the Pacers. I didn’t notice the name above the post. So, just let me respond under a name that won’t confuse me with the other Sam, who obviously is a rather bright fellow. I repeat: I CARE!

  30. Ralph Ronald says:

    yeah . thats alryt . the whole bulls franchise is like how rose is . kip it quiet and just play . simple basketball no drama .

  31. DRose#1fan says:

    I have been a huge bulls fans since the 90s, and I think its weird how nobody is mentioning the Bulls to win it all this year. Derrick Rose is only going to get better and hopefully Noah and Boozer will stay healthy and improve from last season. We also have an amazing player in Deng and I believe that Omer Asik and Taj Gibson are going to have another good year. This Bulls team have what a lot of other teams don’t have and that is chemistry. They are only going to get better. If we get a good shooting guard before the season, we can definitely win it all this season. We have all the pieces but a good shooting guard.

    • Sarkies says:

      THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Finally somebody else realizes what the Bulls can do and that is WIN!!!!!!!!!!!!! Everybody better pray we don’t get Jason Richardson because if we do, it’s game over!!!!!!!!

      • cavemon says:

        one bulls got sweep after winning game one
        two jason richardson dosen’t play defence

      • Duthu says:

        What about maybe a Patty Mills who is killing it in China. he doesn’t have a get out clause in his contract but with the game time he will be getting over there he can only improve. In saying that he is only a fringe player not getting much time in Portland, and he needs game time and alot more of it

  32. chris says:

    Teams on the way up:

    Caviliers(well do they have any place to go but up, really?)

    Teams on the way down:
    Pistons(its rebuilding time for them)
    Suns(its almost time to rebuild that team.)
    Hornets(without CP3)
    Msgic(without Suprerman)

    Teams that can go either way:

    Bucks(which team will show up? the 46 win 09-10 version or the last year 34 game winner last year?)

  33. kyle says:

    Here is my unbiased oppinion. PORTLAND FOR THE WIN:)

  34. NBAer says:

    I still go for Portland.

    This is the team that for the past 5-6 years is still about to fulfill what they can do. They have a good system, they have their core intact, and each year at least one player steps up. These made them survive the past 6 years and be in the playoffs in the western conference. this is how dangerous this team can be. its just that they never had a season where all their players can play together.

    Give this team just one healthy season and they can go the distance of even winning it all. Another injury-plagued year, another year of mediocrity.

    • Brandon Clark says:

      Just watch out for Gerald Wallace! I think he is going to be comfortable and he is going to explode! He is a beast and isn’t scared of anything or anyone! He carried the Bobcats since they drafted him so if Portland goes through another injury-plaqued season Wallace can carry the load of a good team like he did a bad team!

      • NBAer says:

        Agree. But if Wallace was to carry the load on his own, it would be another playoff heartache for Portland. I just wish they’re healthy this year. Roy doesn’t have to be the old Roy because of how LaMarcus, Batum and Matthews improved in his absence. Oden doesn’t really have to play as top picks should be, he just have to play all year, concentrating on defense. Wallace and Felton don’t have to play as hard as they did in Charlotte, they just have to be the right pieces for this team.

        Just one year of good health, and if they didn’t go the distance, then i’d be at peace when Portland decides to break them team up LOL

      • Ryan laveder says:

        he was drafted and played with the kings

      • Jimmy says:

        true NBAer, with nolan smith this young squad can get this job done

  35. johnny says:

    Since I am a Laker fan and do live in California I would say the lakers and the clippers could go either way. The Clippers could surprise everyone and start out hot out the gate and make the playoffs especially if Griffin comes back the way he ended last season. Now with the Lakers usually when you change head coaches it takes a minute to buy into the new system, but if it is anything llike the one that Brown ran in Cleveland then things could go on without skippin a beat. But as we know in L.A on losing streak could change the whole landscape..we will see

    • Jimmy says:

      agreed with you on clips. addidtion of butler is huge but they need to resign deandre jordan and/or use pieces to get dwight. Mo, Gordon, Butler, Griffin….Dwight will probably sign an extention with them

  36. Ralph Ronald says:

    things are not looking good for the hornets and the magic .

  37. Mark says:

    The celtics & magic could go either way. as cold the lakers & spurs
    wizards might be good if they play defense.
    i got the heat winning it all.

  38. CHAVALIER says:


  39. Phillip Tubb says:

    I think the Grizzlies could be great, but if the stumble out of the gates much of the momentum the team and their fans are riding from last post season could be lost. This is a team that has struggled to find its place in a competitive Western Conference over the years, but really established an identity last season.I am a Memphian, and saw first hand the borderline euphoric atmosphere that the Fedex Forum provided for this Grizzlies team. It could be one of the best home court advantages in the league, seeing as they went 30-11 in the regular season and 5-1 in the playoffs at the Grindhouse last year. This team is at a crossroad. They could be the next Spurs if they continue in the direction they seem to be going,or they could underwhelm and fall victim to the ‘losing team’ connotation that has so often plagued this franchise.