Blogtable: Playoff teams poised for a fall?

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

BLOGTABLE: Rising second- or third-year player? | Playoff teams set to stumble? | Your all-lefty team

VIDEOSteve Smith takes stock of the NBA offseason

> Which of last season’s playoff teams is in for the biggest dropoff in 2015-16? Name one from each conference, please.

Steve Aschburner, I could start by asking for our working definition of “big,” because in the East, the Brooklyn Nets could win 38 games again (or something close) and slip out of the playoffs with another sub-.500 record. Meanwhile, the Atlanta Hawks could fall from 60 victories down to 50 or fewer in the wake of roster changes, yet still claim a top-4 seed. In the West, the obvious candidate figures to do both: Portland will tumble from the playoffs and win a lot less often than last season (51-31). Four of five starters gone, that’s all the heavy analysis needed.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.comBrooklyn and Portland. The Nets will be down there scraping the bottom of the East barrel with Philly. Portland won’t fall as far, but the drop will be harder for a team that looked like a rising contender two seasons ago before losing 4 of 5 starters over the summer.

Shaun Powell, NBA.comWell, this is easy, like summertime. The Blazers are due for a sizable dip after losing LaMarcus Aldridge, Wesley Matthews and Robin Lopez. We’re talking a possible 20-game slide. And then there’s Brooklyn. While the Nets probably won’t fall much from winning 38 games a year ago, making the playoffs again as a 30-something-win team will be sketchy, even in the shoddy East. Just imagine how poor they’d be had they kept Deron Williams.

John Schuhmann, Brooklyn and Portland are the obvious answers. The Nets were the eight seed in the weaker conference and weren’t even that good. They had the point differential (minus-236 for the season) of a 31-win team, with a bunch of narrow wins and blowout losses. And though he had the worst season of his career, Brooklyn was a much better team when Deron Williams was running point than when Jarrett Jack (the new starter) was out there. Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez are quality players, but they need a real point guard to maximize their production. The Blazers have the point guard (used with a pick the Nets traded for Gerald Wallace), but not much else after losing four starters in free agency.

Sekou Smith, The Portland Trail Blazers will have to work a miracle not to take a giant step back given who and what they lost this summer. Damian Lillard is one of my favorite players in the game today, but without the core of LaMarcus Aldridge, Wes Matthews, Nic Batum and Lillard together this season, I can see some struggles for coach Terry Stotts and his crew. The Atlanta Hawks are going to be a playoff team and one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference, but a 60-win team again … I don’t know if they’ll be able to match the majesty of the finest season in franchise history. They had so many things fall into place last season. I just don’t know if they can count on all of those good things lining up the way they did for a second straight season, given all that has happened since they melted down against Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference finals.

Ian Thomsen, After dominating the East during the regular season, the Hawks are going to find it difficult to win 60 games again in the absence of DeMarre Carroll – especially with several conference rivals appearing to have improved this summer. Even so, Atlanta is certain to return to the playoffs – the same can’t be said of the Blazers, who have already gone younger since the departure of Aldridge.

Lang Whitaker,’s All Ball blog The obvious team to watch in the West is the Portland Trail Blazers, who lost LaMarcus Aldridge and Robin Lopez and traded Nic Batum, and now have to figure out a path to rebuilding around Damian Lillard. In the East, how about the Atlanta Hawks? Which is to say, I don’t think they’ll miss the playoffs entirely or anything like that, but last season they had that magical January, had a mostly injury-free regular season, and ended up winning 60 games. This year they’ll have to learn how to get along without DeMarre Carroll, hope they get lucky lucky with health, and have to play most of the season with a target on their backs. A 50-win season would still put them in the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference, and it would also be a significant drop from last year.


  1. jdfraed says:

    Beginning of last season, the “experts” all expected Portland to win 40 games… We would get worse, everyone else would get better… Wrong.

    We lost key pieces, but gained young athletic players, all with something to prove.

    We have a coach and a gm that know how to win.

    Teams with one or two solid all Stars will have to deal with an endless athletic rotation coming off Portlands bench.

    And every player we picked up loves to bam that rock.

    So spit your game and talk your ish all you want, RIP CITY is gonna be alright without your blessings…

  2. harriethehawk says:

    I don’t really know who will make a free fall this season. It certainly won’t be my Hawks even though everyone seems to think otherwise. I do believe these teams, however, will be the 5 bottomfeeders of their respective conferences: Least: Philly, Knickerbonker, Nets, Orlando and Indianapolis. West: Utah, Dallas, New Orleans, Minneapolis and Phoenix.

  3. vinsanefan says:

    I believe Dallas is also pretty likely to miss the playoffs this season. There’s just too much competition in the West, and losing DeAndre Jordan at the last minute has left them with some glaring deficiencies on their roster.

  4. G'dEagle says:

    Interesting commentary from some fans here that seem to not be very well studying the offseason. The Celtics should be a lock to make the playoffs and one of the top Eastern teams and can be expected to make more moves as they have the pieces to do just that with lots of bargaining chips. The Raptors also are solid in Atlantic, Nets not likely to return to playoffs. Wiz could find it harder than they expect as well since there are 4 strong contenders who are ready to push to get in and that pushes someone out.

    In the West obviously the Blazers not likely to make it and neither are the Mavs. Peilcans will be on the brink again and could go either way. Jazz and Thunder will push their way in and if the Suns will make it a battle to the finish.

    Another exciting end of the season with the spots coming down to the last game or two most likely.

  5. taekayo says:

    I think people are putting too much on the Nets. Losing a star in Deron is one thing, but he has been injury-prone and very uninspired during his tenure in Brooklyn. A supposed to be leader who doesn’t want to lead his team, the Nets may benefit in losing him. Hopefully they’d be able to get a PG that is concerned of running the offense, then I guess they have a chance in the East.

    Portland is now into rebuilding around Lillard. And as much as it pains him to lose every game, I think its is still better for them to “tank” for a better pick next year, rather than be a middle team that gets low picks but would not make it to the playoffs anyway (remember Houston post-TMac and Ming?).

    Atlanta may not win 60 games (as they’ve caught everyone by surprise last year), but they’ll be a better team. Even though they’ve lost a key piece in Carroll, I still see steady improvements from the remaining guys as they play in a very good system. Shroeder can vastly improve in increased minutes, Millsap and Horford are reliable anchors, and Teague can improve more as the team’s go-to scorer, the one they definitely lack when Cleveland exposed that weakness. Unless injuries derail the team’s growth, Atlanta is still a great team in the East.

    There are teams though that has the potential to be from bad to worse. NYK’s only bright spot this year is they’ve had a 7ft rookie, but as long as Melo has the ball, I don’t think they’ll be a better team. As for the West, Boogs and Rondo, along with that issue with Karl, could make this team implode. The talent is there, but as long as the culture and chemistry isn’t there, we’d be watching a telenovela rather than basketball.

  6. dustydreamnz says:

    I actually think the Blazers could finish last in the West. I can’t see them making the Playoffs without those 4 starters and the West is so strong that they’ll be struggling against some of the lottery teams from last season.
    Every team goes through a rebuilding stage though(except for the Spurs, it seems!).

  7. Harriethehawk says:

    Lets Go Hawks!!!!!!!

  8. RealMVP says:

    hah the Blazers will truly be a failed product with the begining of this season.

  9. mark says:

    Any team that loses 4 starters in the wild wild western conference will not make the playoffs. Portland will be a lottery team. They won’t be a 500 Team they will lose more games then they will win I see them as a 20 to 30 win team. 1 high point D. Lilard (all star pg) and they did get a few young players to develop there. maybe a few high picks and some key free agents(nobody wants to play in Portland LOL) and in a few years they could be a lower end seed in the west. But they need as much team grown help as possible. ) As for Brooklyn they have putting a band aid over all the holes in there team for some time. they put alot of money out there in free agency and traded alot of picks away with not a thing to show for it. No future all star no young up and coming player. Johnson(should be a all star) should be traded where all his skills can be used because he is and will still be a solid player Lopez is a solid big border line all star but has a fee injuries Brooklyn slides mid 30.s for wins. (Nets rebuild) I think they should anyways.

  10. Defdun says:

    When it comes to dropping out of the playoff picture its got be the Blazers (and maybe Dallas) in the West. In the East Brooklyn should make it again, but maybe Boston will drop out. Biggest drop should be Portland in the East and Atlanta or Toronto in the West.

    • dd def says:

      it’s almost a stupid question asking who will drop hardest in the west. a team going from the brink of absolute contention to a sudden youth movement/rebuild scenario, yeah, there will be hiccups, but even still, i’m predicting at least 30 wins for POR. we won’t make the playoffs because even a strong record in the west doesn’t guarantee a seeding, but i encourage everyone to keep your eye on McCollum, Leonard and Crabbe. i expect they’ll be turning some heads this year

    • jared says:

      Do you know your regions? Or conferences?