Blogtable: Who Bounces Back in ’13-14?

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.

Week 25: Sacramento or Seattle? | Lottery team leap next season | Top 4 seed ripe for upset

Which non-playoff team makes the biggest leap forward next season?

Steve Aschburner: I’m giving Minnesota one more try. Injuries absolutely pole-axed a roster that had “playoff berth” written all over it. It wasn’t just that the losses of Kevin Love, Brandon Roy, Chase Budinger, Andrei Kirilenko, Ricky Rubio (at the start) and the others cost the Timberwolves the 15 victories or so they would have needed to claw into contention – it’s also that they wouldn’t have gone 1-13 against their primary competition (Lakers, Jazz, Warriors, Rockets) for a lower seed. Or 8-32 (with one left) against the 11 teams ahead of them in the West, compared to 22-19 against the rest of the league. Forget Roy, unfortunately, going forward, but Love needs to come back with a vengeance. And assuming they get one more season out of coach Rick Adelman, the Wolves could be revved by the sense that it’s 2013-14 or never .

Fran Blinebury: Of course, it will require the basketball gods to finally grant them good health, but a lineup with Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio available to play a full season with Andrei Kirilenko back in the fold and Rick Adelman back on the bench should put the Timberwolves into the thick of the West playoff race.

Jeff Caplan: In the West I think the most obvious non-playoff team to make a major leap next season has to be the Timberwolves. I picked them to finish sixth this season, but injuries derailed that instantly. Given full health (and re-signing Nikola Pekovic), the Wolves are primed for a big move. In the East, give me a healthy, young and talented Cavs squad that still has draft picks to make.

Scott Howard-CooperThe Trail Blazers. It may not be the biggest leap in terms of win total, although they are doing everything possible the last few weeks of the season to make that a relevant conversation as well. But Portland has clearly positioned itself as a team of the future, with a foundation in place, a lot of spending power in the summer to get some much-needed depth, and a smart GM. Whether the Blazers begin 2013-14 with a path to No. 8 in the West  depends on moves other teams make.

John Schuhmann: I look at the team with the best young star on its roster, and that’s Cleveland. After a summer of development, Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters should all come back as better players next fall. Obviously, it’s hard to count on a full season of Anderson Varejao after he’s played just 81 games over the last three, but a coaching change could help the Cavs take a step forward. This is the only team that has ranked in the bottom five defensively for each of the last three seasons, and they need someone to point them in the right direction. If they can just play average defense next season while taking a natural step forward offensively, they can be at least 10-12 games better.

Sekou Smith: Without an easily identifiable superstar in the 2013 Draft class, it’s hard to hypothesize about the sorts of leaps and bounds a team can make if they acquire the top (or one of the top three to five picks) in the lottery. That said, the Washington Wizards showed me glimpses (once John Wall got healthy and comfortable) of being a legitimate playoff contender next season if they have all of their main rotation players healthy. The climb’s a little steep in the Western Conference for teams like Minnesota, Utah and Portland. But in the East, the bottom half of the playoff mix should be wide open. And the Wizards, one of the top defensive teams in the league, should have a chance to fight their way into the mix next year if Wall and Bradley Beal are healthy and in attack mode.


  1. MIAMI1998 says:

    i think the cavs will do good next year i think they can get to the no. 8 or no.7 seed in the playoffs next season they have a lottery pick this years and Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters are young

  2. JAMES YAP says:

    trade bargnani for tobias harris.. just dreaming!

  3. Karlo Garcia says:

    Utah Jazz.

  4. ko0kiE says:

    Minnesota, Toronto, Washington are all teams on the rise.. I don’t see the cavs in the playoffs next year, maybe in two years..
    and I’m curious how a coaching change will help them, john schuhmann? let’s face it they have not the best players (except irving) leave out the promising young players (Waiters, Thompson, Zeller) who’s left? alonzo gee? are you kidding me? they clearly need another good veteran player beside always-banged-up varejo.

  5. Marco29 says:

    Given the huge discrepancy in competition between the two conferences, it will be easier for underperforming teams in the East to make the playoffs in 2014 than in the West. If healthy, Cavs and Wiz could be interesting next year and Raps and Pistons have shown some promises. Who knows what Boston will look like next year with their aging roster, how good Atlantta will be once Josh Smith is gone plus Milwaukee will always be on the edge. Miami, NY, Indiana, Brooklyn and Chicago are almost locked for making the playoffs in the years to come but there could be 2 or 3 spots to grab for the teams mentionned in this conversation.
    In the West, things look quite different. The Wolwes and Blazers, if healthy should improve. Don’t forget Utah who was in playoff contention till the season’s finale and Dallas where Cuban will probably force things on the market to build a decent roster around Dirk and the 2 or 3 seaons he has left and not live another year like this one. But for any of those teams to make it to the playoffs, it would need one of the teams qualified this year to take a step down which is less likely than in the East. OKC, Spurs, Memphis, LAC, Denver are well established. Houston and Golden State have made intressting improvements this year and maybe the Lakers will be a real threat again next year. So, I see maybe one spot that could be really challenged and a lot of contenders. Unfortunately, boucing back and improving will not be sufficient next year to qualify for the playoffs in the West where competition will be at its maximum.
    Too bad the best 16 teams in the league are not qiualified for the playoffs. Again this year, 2 teams in the West with records of 0.500 or above will not make the playoffs while in the East at team with a 0.463 record is qualified (not mentioning that Boston is at 0,506 because they played only 81 games).

  6. FirstTake says:

    Raptors and Wizards I think can make the playoffs next season. Obviously the Timberwolves as well but I can’t picture them with good health to all players.

  7. Mikes says:

    uncle drew

  8. Khanvict says:

    WOW Cannot believe this site did not mention the Raptors. Raptors never get any love from, cannot believe JV is not in the top 5 rookies this year, this guy has had a better year and will have a better career than the other rooks this year and Amir Johnson does not even get a mention for Most Improved even after his numbers improved drastically this season. Raptors are a sure shot at making the playoffs next season. They only misses by 3 games this year and that too after the refs cost them 5-10 games this season. Next Season with Rudy Gay, Demar Derozan, Kyle Lowry, Amir Johnson and Jonas Valunciunas, they would easily get into the playoffs. They just need some solid bench players and will be a force to be reckoned with.

  9. raptors says:

    The raptors have a great line up and developing big man jonas and amir. They will definatley be dangerous next year but are still overlooked. Like Kenny said if their healthy they can be the fifth or sixth seed in the east.

  10. Kal says:

    Wolves, Blazers, Wizards… agree with these picks…

    …and the .500 Rudy Gay Raps will be there around 8th.

    a healthy Dwight Howard comes back to L.A., Lakers add to their bench somehow so they can deal with injuries and work some more on team chemistry and coaching issues, they could over the course of a year improve as well (to the top rankings), even with Kobe sitting out the first third or half…

  11. Herr says:

    I’d go with Blazers. They’re obviously purposely tanking to get into the top 10 draft picks, and as long as it all plays out they get to keep their pick if it’s 12 or lower. They spent the last 20 or so games doing nothing but advertising their players that they plan on getting rid of or building growth (primarily in Will Barton and Meyers Leonard). They have a very strong starting crew, and if they can get a decent defensive center to join the starting crew all they need is a bench.

    They have some draft picks to use and a lot of money to use. I can see them becoming a threat in a few years. I trust Olshey, as he’s made LAC a near championship contender.

  12. Pulledin | Digital PR says:

    Toronto all the way. The coach needs to learn more plays than the players though.

    Colangelo deserves a gold star for turning that disaster into tangible promise – He inherited a cancered organization – Great players did not want to go to Canada – I doubt thats the case these days – Way to hang in there. If
    they loose next year, they’ll still be fun to watch.

    More Valanciunas, more Ross, less DeRo (he’s got the feet of a Clydesdale), perfectly happy with Gay. Acy –mmm – I’m not sure — Lowry needs pick up the pace (and work on his fitness – seriously – are there no dieticians over there? He could become a Kemp any day).

    This is going to be one of the top teams next year – Most exciting roster to watch in my opinion.

    This from someone who is not a fan of the city of Toronto – Zero bias.

    Oh ya – what’s with the reffing during Raps games – These guys suffered the short end of the stick a disproportionate amount of times this season -Is it because the NBA is American and people don’t want a Canadian team to shine? I seriously can’t think of another reason this would happen to them all the time. The NBA really has to look into that and change it – Fair is fair , competition is great, and besides, this squad is freaking awesome.Shame about the dumb logo.

  13. Tre' says:

    Cavaliers have the most potential on the list. The dynamic Waiters-Irving backcourt, along with the length and offensive rebounding prowess of Thompson/Varejao could be a real force in the upcoming years. And I agree with the coaching change suggestion, but the only thing is that Scott is an extremely good coach for point guards, evident by Chris Paul and Jason Kidd, and getting rid of Scott may be detrimental to the development of Irving.

    Another reasons for the Cavs lack of success is injuries. Varejao is an extremely good low-post defender and a brilliant rebounder, but his unfortunate injuries have prevented the showing of the Cavaliers true potential. As a Cavs fan, I have hope for the future. Go Cavs!

  14. MK says:

    Trailblazers. I know they’ve been on a downfall towards the end of this season, but with one of the best young point guards in Lillard as well as a very versatile Lamarcus Aldridge, they can grab a couple more role players to increase their bench depth and we could be looking at the Blazers grabbing a playoff birth.

  15. Shady says:

    NBA com might not mention the raptors too much but this article’s comment blog has been taken over by the Raptors fans!
    Go Raptors!!

  16. Act1 says:

    Raptors will be a playoff team next year even if they remain as is. Without that ridiculous losing streak early in the season they’d probably be 6th seed at least right now. With one or two decent off-season moves Toronto will no doubt be the team in the East that improves the most next season in the standings.

  17. Mateo says:

    I guess the experts are not always right, how can you pick wizards and miss the raptors. The wolves can definitely bounce back but the west is tough so I’d pick the raptors to be in the playoffs next season. Even I am die-hard miami.

  18. Savingprivatedunk says:

    The raptors looked over again. Once they put the current team into training camp the playoffs are a go.

  19. Kev says:

    all these writers over look the raptors, and continue to look down on canada. whatever, we got you

  20. 416 says:

    Nice to see many Raps fans! We won again with Boston tonite. Makes it 17-16? since the trade. Agreed with all, got no love from the site but don’t worry true fans are here after all.

  21. Kobes Achilles says:

    Cmon Give the raps some respect

  22. Klas says: HATES on Toronto!

  23. Ez says:

    Raptors fan myself! Raptors definitely have some potential. This latter off the season, Jonas has been improving alot. Demar has continued to get better and more consistent and puts up better %’s than Rudy. Rudy needs to adopt a more team-like mentality. The Raptors organization and the fan base welcomed him as the franchise savior and it affected his game play. Hopefully he will shoot a better percentage next year. Andrea needs to be dealt asap. And if we can acquire a big man that can play in the half court with his back to basket we should be a contender.

  24. tfdp22 says:

    I’d day that if the Pistons make the right moves over the offseason, they’re playoff-bound

  25. tfdp22 says:

    I say if the Pistons make the right moves over the offseason, they’re playoff bound

  26. Laker forever says:


  27. chhoris says: doesn’t care much for the Raptors. The most coverage the Raptors get on this website is negative.

  28. POMS says:

    Minnesota, definitely. They were great until Love was hurt. too bad for them this season. Cleveland too, loosing varejao also hurt them. Expect these teams to comeback next season with a flurry.

  29. arshdeep toor says:

    how can you not mention raptors when they are 16-16 since the rudy gay trade and next year with all the young talent they have they can only get better i guarantee toronto in a playoff picture nexx year

  30. HKahlon says:

    Aaron, the raptors dont get no love on As a raptors fan myself, i am excited to see what we can do next year, DeRozan has been picking it up of late, and Valanciunas looks like a nice prospect going forward. Rudy Gay is a good player too, and lets not forget about Terence Ross, who hopefully can turn into a sixth man of the year type player. If we can dump Bargnani, and manage to pick up a Paul Millsap in free agency, things are looking good for the future

    • hoyaguy says:

      Yeah, good young core. If Fields develops a shot, he will get more minutes, because he is also a decent wing defender. I’ve heard that the Raps will be making a play for Carl Landry at pf since Amir plays way too many minutes, hence his body has broken down. If we can get a decent backup pg, and another physical presence at pf, this team will be playoff bound next year, because I see the Raps core improving over the summer and into next year.

    • chalice says:

      Raptors stuck with Bargnani unfortunately. He really shot himself in the foot with his “worst team in the league” comments. He has one year (or so ) on his contract and if they couldn’t move him by the trade deadline, then who’s gonna take him in the summer? PHX?

  31. Aaron says:

    What about Toronto? They have a great duo in Rudy Gay and Demar Derozan and a good developing center in Jonas Valanciunas.

    • mj says:

      I think the raptors are one or two years out. Im a huge raptors fan but I think that if we get incredibly lucky with injuries and chemistry we will be fighting for the 8th spot.

    • 416 says:

      Same here with Toronto. I think they are a piece away from getting into good teams conversation. They got a lot to offer in trades as Barg, fields, Kleiza, pietrus are expanable now. Gay, Demar, Amir, Alan,Klye and Jonas are keepers. If they proper develop Ross and Acy, their future will be bright!

    • Craig says:

      They paid way too much for Derozan…he can get to the line any time he wants, he can get any shot he wants, but he has no jumper at all. most of the athleticism of kobe and 1/10th the jumpshot.