Tag Archives: Oklahoma City Thunder

Are The Clippers Poised For No.1 Next Season

Clippers 2014-2015

CLIPPERS

The Los Angeles Clippers have still not sorted out their ownership situation. Steve Ballmer is the person who will most probably be next owner of the team, hopefully, next season, but Donald Sterling is not giving up the fight just yet. Assuming that the ownership situation will be sorted out by the beginning of the 2014 – 2015 campaign, the Los Angeles Clippers will be one of the strongest teams entering the upcoming season. But are they the favourites for the championship? In other words, how far can they go?

The answer is unknown. And that’s not mainly due to the ownership instability. It’s not even about the assets Lob City possesses, its roster and the way it plays. It’s because we currently have no clue how the competition will shape up next season. We don’t know where megastars like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony will play next season and as a result, we don’t know which teams will highlight the top spots when it comes to championship contention.

Blake Griffin Chris Paul

BLAKE & CHRIS

Nevertheless, what we do know, again assuming that the ownership situation gets resolved, is that the Los Angeles Clippers possess a superb roster and one of the best head coaches in the league. They do have two All-Stars, in Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, an emerging star center, in DeAndre Jordan, the Sixth Man of the Year 2014, Jamal Crawford and several other quality role players. And of course, this entire group is orchestrated by Doc Rivers, who seems to be a head coach capable of leading Lob City to the top of the NBA.

Lob City LA Clippers

Lob City

At the moment, apart from the Oklahoma City and the San Antonio Spurs, who will be one year older, there is no team which seems to stand better chances to win the Larry O’Brien trophy. And even the OKC Thunder are not looking that lethal. In fact, unless the Thunder makes some changes in their style of play and become more of a team rather than a two – headed “beast”, which heavily relies on Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, they seem anything but invincible.

Blake Griffin LA Clippers Super Star

GRIFFIN

This summer offseason might be one that includes lots of star movement but it might also be a very silent one. But even if we see LeBron, Carmelo and other big-name players like Luol Deng and Pau Gasol changing teams, the Clippers will hold the advantage. This group has been together for three years now, and they have now managed to develop their game. Especially since the arrival of Doc Rivers last summer, Lob City further improved its game and reached a championship-contending level. The Clips fell short against OKC in the Western Semis but be certain that they will come back even stronger next season.

There is not much room for changes for the Clips this summer. The Clips have most of their core players under contract for the upcoming season, and we can only expect a few correcting moves unless a significant surprise occurs. But this roster, this group seems to have enough to make it to the top and the upcoming season will give a big opportunity for Lob City to celebrate its first title eventually.

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BY: Chris M.

Clippers Look To 2014-2015

Clippers 2014-2015

CLIPPERS

Despite of all the changes and additions the Los Angeles Clippers did to start this season, they didn’t go much further than one more round in the playoffs, comparing to their 2012-2013 course. Lob City fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder after six games in the Western Semis and those championship dreams will have to wait for at least another year. But can the Clips really stay at the top next season? Will they really be championship contenders?

First and foremost, the ownership issue will have to be resolved. It might be a long and tough process for the Clipper Nation but it’s also a necessary one. Only after Donald Sterling is removed from the owner’s position can the team truly focus on its ultimate goal for the upcoming season but also for the ones to come after that.

Assuming that the league and the people taking care of the issue eventually find a solution, the Los Angeles Clippers can start building their future. And of course, you might wonder, they do have a great team even now, right? So do they really need to plan on the future or just the upcoming season?
As head coach Doc Rivers stated after the elimination in Game 6, this is not the end. This is the beginning.

Clippers Blake Griffin Chris Paul

Clippers

The Los Angeles Clippers have one of the greatest and most powerful star cores in the NBA. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are under contract at least for the next three seasons, J.J. Redick is in the books until the end of the 2016 – 2017 season, Jamal Crawford for one season less and DeAndre Jordan will be with the team at least for the next season. Doc Rivers was also signed in a long term contract and assuming that Donald Sterling will be removed prior to the start of the 2014 – 2015 season, he will have no reason to not use up his contract.

Of course, we might see the Clippers performing a few moves during the offseason to try and find those missing pieces, those players who can further increase their chances to seriously contend for the title next season. But the team’s core will be the same. When it comes to changes in the style of play, Chris Paul might want to eventually start utilizing and trusting Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan more. As Rivers stated through the season, Jordan has superstar potential and if the Paul manages to find a way to utilize him more, he could emerge as the third pillar in the superstar line of the Clips.

LA Clippers Tickets

CLIPPERS

If the Los Angeles Clippers achieves what they did in Year 1 under Doc Rivers and after all they went through during the last month, it will be really interesting to see how far this team can go. The Clips improved in almost every aspect of their game this season both as a team and as individuals and they are projected to continue getting better.
The Los Angeles Clippers are here to stay.

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BY: Chris M.

Emerging powers in NBA’s Wild Wild West

Western Conference

NBA WEST

The Western Conference has been the more powerful of the two in the NBA for several years now. This current season is no exception. Apart from the powerhouses, which were expected to dominate and they eventually did, we also saw several underdogs making their presence felt. The San Antonio Spurs, the Los Angeles Clippers and the Oklahoma City Thunder are considered as the three elite teams in the West, but the Portland Trail Blazers and the Golden State Warriors are also powerhouses, emerging ones. We could even say that the Los Angeles Clippers are an emerging powerhouse, given that it’s been just a couple of seasons since Lob City has made it to the top. Let’s examine each emerging power in the West.

Golden State Warriors

GS Warriors Tickets

WARRIORS

The Warriors are definitely an emerging powerhouse. Although the Dubs experienced several ups and downs this season, they also showed their potential. The Warriors entered the 2013-2014 campaign as one of the strongest championship contenders in the Western Conference, and the truth is that it took them a while to showcase their abilities. Playing without their starting centre, Andrew Bogut, the Dubs did manage to drag their first-round series against the Los Angeles Clippers in seven games. They eventually fell to Lob City, but the future seems to be bright for Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, David Lee, Andre Iguodala and the rest of the crew. Every core member of the team is under contract for at least one more season.

Portland Trail Blazers

Blazers Tickets

BLAZERS

Rip City made it to the second round of the playoffs this year and but it also managed to made its presence felt across the NBA world. The Blazers have now found their new face of the franchise, in Damian Lillard. The second-year point guard as already reached a superstar level and although he is just 23, he seems to be ready to make it to the list of the elite point guards in the NBA, together with Chris Paul, Tony Parker and Russell Westbrook. On top of that, LaMarcus Aldridge has managed to revamp his career, and although he had some cold streaks during the playoffs, he seems to be capable of being the second-star pillar, alongside Lillard. Nicolas Batum is the third member of Rip City’s Big Three and things in Portland now look better than ever in the recent history of the team. Look for the Blazers to continue emerging in the seasons to come.

Los Angeles Clippers

LA Clippers Tickets

CLIPPERS

Forget about the Lakers. The next big thing in LA is the team called “Los Angeles Clippers”, also known as Lob City. The Clips possess every single element a true powerhouse; an elite team needs to have. They’ve got two megastars, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, an emerging star, in DeAndre Jordan, the best sixth man in the NBA, in Jamal Crawford and also one of the handfuls of guru coaches in the league, Doc Rivers. The Clippers have already emerged as a powerhouse in the West, but they are continuing their upward course. If they don’t win the NBA Championship this year, they will certainly have the chance to do so in the seasons to come.

Should the Lakers Pursue Kevin Ollie?

UCONN Kevin Ollie

Kevin Ollie

Writing in the New York Times columnist Eric Pincus wrote a compelling piece on whether the Lakers could target University of Connecticut Head Coach Kevin Ollie as a potential replacement for Mike D’Antoni. With the Lakers mired at the bottom of the Western Conference and at least another year of rebuilding ahead of them, should the Lakers make a move for Ollie?

Mike D’Antoni is a lame duck coach. Even if he does coach the Lakers next season, it’s hard to imagine D’Antoni keeping his job beyond next season. The Lakers have battled injuries all season, but have also shown the negative characteristics of previous D’Antoni coached teams, mainly the inability to play defence. With a high draft pick in the coming draft, the Lakers may choose to move on a candidate like Ollie to inject some life into the franchise and maximize the Lakers upcoming draft pick. The former Connecticut star and now head coach is from Los Angeles, playing his high school basketball at Crenshaw High School. In just two seasons in Connecticut, he’s capably replaced a legend in Jim Calhoun and has the Huskies playing for yet another National Title on Monday night versus the Kentucky Wildcats.

Kevin Ollie UCONN

Kevin Ollie (AP Photo/Bill Wippert)

Ollie is compelling not because of his coaching resume, which is impressive albeit with limited head coaching experience. What makes Ollie compelling is his reputation around the league, especially from current Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant. As Pincus pointed, out Ollie received major accolades from Durant during a recent interview with Bill Simmons. Durant called Ollie at “game-changer” for his impact on the culture of Oklahoma City during their evolution as a contender in the west. It’s a big stretch to think that the presence of Ollie would draw Durant to Los Angeles but is indicative of Ollie’s reputation around the league. Durant pointed to the mindset and professionalism that Ollie brought to the Thunder organization each day.

Would Ollie take the job? Considering his instant success at Connecticut it’s questionable why he would leave the college ranks, but a factor that may impact a decision by Ollie to go could be Connecticut’s conference situation. The Huskies ended up lost in the shuffle of the conference realignments over the past two seasons and now find themselves in the American Athletic Conference, a far cry from the former Big East they were a member of for over two decades. The American Athletic is far less prestigious than the old Big East and the ACC and could impact Ollie’s decision to stay at Connecticut.

UCONN Kevin Ollie

Coach Ollie

If the Lakers were to attract Ollie it doesn’t guarantee they make a run for Durant but it would satisfy the fan base and potentially usher the Lakers into a new era. A solid draft pick in the offseason and the acquisition of Kevin Love after next season can do wonders for the Lakers near-term outlook. How a franchise is perceived nationally can have a major impact on potential free agents, for example look at the LA Clippers and their decision to replace Vinny Del Negro with Doc Rivers. The presence of Rivers immediately upped the prestige of the Clippers organization and made them a desirable target for a player like Danny Granger when he was amnestied this spring. Ollie can have a similar impact as Rivers with the Lakers. Chris M.

Blake Griffin and Joakim Noah are two dark horses for MVP

Clippers Blake Griffin Bulls Joakim Noah

BLAKE & JOAKIM

There is no denying that the MVP title is a two-man one this year. LeBron James and Kevin Durant will be apparently fighting chest to chest till the end of the season for the award and at the moment, things look really tight. However, it’s worth taking a look at some of the dark horses in the race for MVP. Although several players have been involved into the discussion for the MVP award this season, at the moment, Blake Griffin and Joakim Noah are the two best underdogs.

Noah is the main reason the Chicago Bulls have managed not only to save the 2013-2014 season but to also emerge up to the third spot in the Eastern Conference. The Frenchman center is doing it all for his team at the moment, playing defense, scoring, dishing assists and rebounding. Although Noah has literally no chances to make it to the top of list of MVP candidates, as LeBron and KD are playing in a whole different level, he is one of the most over performing players this season.

LA Clippers Blake Griffin

BLAKE

If there is one player who deserves to be considered as a third strong candidate for the MVP award this season, that is Blake Griffin. The highflying forward has not only improved his game in almost any aspect but he has also emerged as the true leader of the Los Angeles Clippers, taking the team on his shoulders during the time Chris Paul was out with an injury.

Griffin is averaging 24 points per contest, almost three more than his career-average and he is also securing 9.6 rebounds and dishing out 3.6 assists, while shooting 53.2 percent from the floor. He just recently got hurt, during the Clips’ last game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, but he is projected to return to action soon and be ready for the Clips’ playoff push. Despite Griffin’s improvement, he will still not be able to reach the duo of LeBron and Durant.

LeBron is recording a career-best 57.0 percent shooting from the field and he is also putting up 26.7 points, 6.9 rebounds and 6.4 assists per game, which are too much for Griffin to get close. Durant is also recording similarly impressive numbers, maybe even more impressive. He is leading the NBA in scoring with 32.2 points per game and he is also putting up 7.5 rebounds and 5.7 assists. His shooting is also great but slightly lower than LeBron’s rates, 51.2 percent from the floor and 41.2 percent from deep.
The MVP race will be coming to its end soon and we will see either Durant or LeBron earning the crown. However, we also have to recognize the efforts of players like Griffin and Noah. Chris M

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The Clippers Are Getting Healthier At The Right Time

Clippers Tickets

LA Clippers

The Los Angeles Clippers have dealt with an array of costly injuries this season. Key players like Chris Paul, J.J. Reddick, Darren Collison and Jamal Crawford have all missed a good chunk of games late in the season. When the week started, the Clippers had played the most games in the NBA, making it even harder for the team to get healthy.

Clippers Blake Griffin Chris Paul

Clippers

With the toughest part of their schedule now behind them, the Clippers got some much-needed rest this week. The rest gave their injured players time to recuperate. As the end of the season nears, the Clippers will need a healthy roster in order to pose a serious threat to the elite teams in the Western Conference.

News broke today that both Collison and Crawford will be healthy enough to return to the court when the Clips play the Detroit Pistons on Saturday. It will be as healthy as we have seen this team in some time.
The good thing for the Clippers is that they have found a way to remain competitive through their hardships this season. They are in position to make a strong push towards the playoffs.

Chris Paul, their most coveted player, has dealt with some bothersome injuries this season. He tweaked his ankle in the team’s last game against the Nuggets, but is expected to be on the floor Saturday. While it remains to be seen whether Reddick will return soon, this team can still manage to do a lot of damage without him.

Clippers Vs OKC Thunder Tickets

Durant Griffin

Currently holding the No.3 seed in the conference, the Clippers have a chance become the top team in the West, depending on how the end of the season plays out for them, the Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs are streaking right now, winning 11-straight games, and the Thunder are playing below their potential. It may be hard for them to catch up with the Spurs, but they are clearly in the running to beat out OKC for that second spot.

The fact that they are getting healthier at this right time, should put fear into the hearts of every team in the league. It will be very interesting to see exactly how the Clippers finish off the regular season, and how far they can go in this year’s playoffs. As of now, things are looking better than usual for Lob City and their Playoff Run. Chris Michaels.

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Can the Clippers win the nba championship

Can the Los Angeles Clippers win the NBA Championships

Can the Los Angeles Clippers Win the NBA Championships?

Doc Rivers is entering his fourth season as the head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers. He was brought in because of his championship pedigree, however the Clippers have yet to break through to the Western Conference Finals. With a healthy “Big Three” of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, a steadily improving bench and the support of owner Steve Ballmer, the Clippers are poised to make it to their first ever NBA Finals.

Keep on reading!

CP3 Returns To Clippers Lineup

The Los Angeles Clippers had an outstanding finish to the week, welcoming back Chris Paul in the process. After losing to Denver and Miami to start the week the Clippers rebounded with consecutive victories over Toronto and Philadelphia, the latter marking the return of Chris Paul. The Clippers star point guard returned earlier than expected, helping the Clippers blow out the 76ers 123-78.

Blake Griffin has monster Dunks

Blake Griffin

Week Recap: The Clippers kicked off a week with a visit to Denver to take on the Nuggets at Pepsi Center. Blake Griffin had another massive game but the Nuggets pulled out the victory on Randy Foye’s three point shot at the buzzer. Foye’s deep three pointer came just six seconds after Matt Barnes hit a three on the other end of the court to give the Clippers a 115-113 lead. Griffin, playing the best basketball of his career in the absence of Paul had 36 points and 11 rebounds in the loss. Following the tough defeat in Denver the Clippers had the tough task of returning home to STAPLES Center to face Lebron James and the Miami Heat. The NBA was treated to one of its best games of the season as James and Griffin put together tremendous individual performances. The Clippers made a valiant effort to overcome a big Miami third quarter lead, but they couldn’t quite make it all the way back. The story for the Clippers was Griffin who had a season-high 43 points in the loss. It was Miami’s first win at STAPLES Center in six seasons. James had 31 points, 12 assists and 8 rebounds for Miami. It was a tough second consecutive loss for the Clippers, putting them a half a game behind the Houston Rockets for the fourth playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Clippers rebounded from the Miami loss with consecutive victories over Eastern Conference foes, Toronto and Philadelphia. Saturday night Blake Griffin again scored over 30 times, this time with 36, to become the first Clippers player ever to score more than 30 in three straight games. The Clippers momentum continued into Sunday night when they scored an incredible 46 first quarter points en route to easily defeating the 76ers behind another strong performance from Blake Griffin.

LA Clippers Vs Blazers

Clippers Vs Blazers

The Week Ahead: The Clippers have a light schedule heading into next week’s All Star weekend with just one game, an important matchup with the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night. The Blazers are currently a game and a half on top of the Clippers for the third playoff spot in the west. Los Angeles is a half a game ahead of the Houston Rockets, currently on a five-game winning streak. Following the All Star Break the Clippers return home for a key game versus the San Antonio Spurs before heading off on a three-game road stretch that includes a key game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Over the next two weeks the Clippers will face each of the three teams ahead of them in the Western Conference standings, giving them an opportunity to make up ground. Chris Michaels.

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Should the Lakers Trade Pau Gasol?

Pau Gasol Trade

Pau Gasol

Amidst the excitement around the return of Kobe Bryant, recent comments by Pau Gasol have reminded the Lakers organization that the veteran big man is still not 100% comfortable in the Mike D’Antoni offensive system. Thursday Gasol vented to the press his frustration about not getting the ball in the post and how that directly affects his aggressiveness. Even with Dwight Howard in Houston and not taking up space in the post it’s clear that Gasol still isn’t completely happy with his role in the current incarnation of the Lakers offense.

With one-year left on his contract and an option for next season the Lakers have a decision to make that could directly impact the remainder of this season and have big implications on the club’s immediate future. On one hand the Lakers have a proven commodity in Gasol, a veteran big man who’s still among the top 10 centers in the National Basketball Association. The Lakers are still in contention, albeit battling a large group of teams for the final couple of playoff positions in the ultra competitive Western Conference. Due to his expiring contract Gasol is a prime trade target. He can help a contending team immediately and the fact his contract can be off the books after this season makes him an interesting commodity. In re-signing Kobe Bryant for two more seasons at a dollar amount that many nationally thought was a bit steep the Lakers have reduced their flexibility to attract immediate offseason help. The decision on whether or not to keep

Gasol will likely rest on how he plays out the season and whether or not he finds a comfortable place in the D’Antoni system.

According to published reports the Lakers haven’t had any trade discussions with other teams, but there are a few compelling options out there. The Lakers will have to balance the need to get production from Gasol but also weigh any interest to move him for future flexibility, or immediate talent. All indications are the club has interest in Gasol beyond this season, but they also want to maintain their ability to attract a top free agent over the next handful of off-seasons when several such players may become available, including Lebron James and former UCLA star Kevin Love. The issue with trading Gasol immediately is the reality that the Lakers may not get a solid return. One compelling potential option is Los Angeles native Tyson Chandler. The Knick big man has two years and just over $28 million left on his contract. The perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate provides energy and shot blocking and doesn’t require the club to run plays for him.

According to ESPN Carlos Boozer is also available and has a similar contract as Chandler, but the value of Boozer at this point is questionable. Any other trade speculation is nothing but rumor at this point since there are no indications the Lakers have had discussions with anyone.

Pau Gasol

Gasol

Gasol’s own comments on Friday indicated that his venting may have been more frustration and not an outright plea to be traded. During Friday’s shoot-around prior to the Oklahoma City game Gasol indicated that each individual player has to make themselves responsible for their energy and play on the court, a shift in tone from the day before. Any decision to look to move Gasol in the near term would be a foolish decision by the Lakers. With Kobe Bryant back in the lineup the club will need a solid month to integrate their superstar back into the rotation. Bryant’s style of play since his return, with a much greater emphasis on getting his teammates involved, could bode well for Gasol. The eventual return of Steve Nash can also be a big factor in the Lakers realizing the lineup they envisioned when they went out and signed Steve Nash before last offseason.

The onus is also on Gasol to up his game. Until he proves that he’s the player he’s been in the past his trade value may suffer. The career 51% shooter is making shots at just over a 40% clip, an extremely poor conversion percentage for a big man. The 33-year-old Gasol has played a lot of basketball over the last decade, between deep Lakers playoff runs and a number of international basketball tournaments with Spain. With Kobe Bryant back the pressure is now on Gasol to step up and help the Lakers superstar put together a winning streak that can give them some breathing room in the playoff race. If Gasol can prove he’s still the player he was three years ago the Lakers will have a valuable asset to sign to an extension or convert into assets to build for the future. By:Chris Michaels

Western Conference Contenders and Pretenders

Western Conference

Western Conference

Two weeks into the 2013-2014 NBA season the Western Conference is taking shape. The usual contenders, San Antonio and Oklahoma City are at the top, but with Denver and the Los Angeles Lakers struggling there’s an opportunity for some new contenders to make a playoff run. Here’s a look at the elite, contenders and pretenders of the early NBA season.

The West Elite: (San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors)

The veteran San Antonio Spurs picked up where they left off and are off to a fast start to begin the season. They’re well coached, experienced and deep and should contend for the top record in the NBA all season. If Tim Duncan and Tony Parker can stay healthy, the Spurs are the favourites for a return trip to the finals. The Oklahoma City Thunder welcomed back Russell Westbrook early, and their star point guard seems to be the same explosive player he was before his meniscus tear. The Thunder is 5-1 on the season with their lone loss versus the Minnesota Timberwolves. The presence of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook guarantees 55 to 60 wins—how that translates into the postseason is the big question. The Thunder still misses that extra scorer that James Harden once provided. The Los Angeles Clippers are still adjusting to the coaching style of Doc Rivers, but have a deep lineup and bench and an elite point guard in Chris Paul.

The Next in Line: (Minnesota, Memphis, Dallas, Houston)

The Minnesota Timberwolves are finally healthy and displaying the potential that many predicted when Ricky Rubio arrived in the United States. In Rubio, Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic the Wolves have one of the best trios in basketball and an elite Head Coach in Rick Adelman. The Wolves acquisition of Kevin Martin, who thrived under Adelman in Sacramento, has given the club the strong perimeter shooting two guards they missed. Look for the Wolves to challenge the 50 win mark and reach the playoffs for the first time under Love. Memphis switched Head Coaches, with Dave Joerger taking over for Lionel Hollins. They’ve struggled initially in the transition but still feature the same big and physical lineup that’s worked for them the past three seasons. Marc Gasol is one of the league’s best centers, and he forms perhaps the best center/power forward combination in basketball with Zach Randolph. The Dallas Mavericks, who missed the playoffs last season, have rebuilt to make another run. The newly minted backcourt of Monta Ellis and Jose Calderon is working so far, giving Dirk Nowitzki the guard play he hasn’t had since the Mavs title run. The key for Dallas, like San Antonio, is the health of their veteran players. Over in Houston the Rockets have the potential to be in the elite group but have struggled defensively so far this season. Dwight Howard is showing many of the same inconsistencies he displayed in Los Angeles last season, and he’s not yet providing the interior defensive presence the Rockets desperately need. Houston can score points on anybody; the big question is whether or not they can defend like an NBA title contender. Right now the jury is still out.

On the Upswing: (Portland)

The Blazers are off to a fast start (5-2), although only one victory is over a legit playoff contender (San Antonio). That being said the Blazers look to be a club that can occupy the playoff position(s) that the Lakers and Denver may be vacating. LaMarcus Aldridge is one of the premier power forwards in the game, while Damian Lillard and Nicolas Batum are consistently improving their game. The Blazers have been efficient, reducing turnovers, and are second in the conference in field goal attempts per game. Their +4.0 scoring margin is good for 5th in the conference.

Bubble Teams: (Los Angeles Lakers, New Orleans)

Putting the Lakers in the bubble team category may be a stretch. Their success hinges on how close to .500 they are when Kobe Bryant returns. Los Angeles has improved their overall depth and the youth of their roster, but still lacks the quality depth of most NBA playoff contenders. It’s questionable whether or not Steve Nash has anything left in the tank as he battles persistent injuries. If Nash can’t provide the minutes, the Lakers need they may plummet down the standings. The Pelicans are an exciting club. They’ve had some good victories this season as well as some bad performances. They’ve injected some talent into their roster, but it’s still not clear how the backcourt trio of Tyreke Evans, Eric Gordon, Jrue Holliday will co-exist due to their high ball usage rate. Inside though the Pelicans have the emerging Anthony Davis who’s quickly becoming the superstar many predicted. Davis alone could be the difference maker that vaults the Pelicans into playoff contention.

The Pretenders: (Sacramento, Denver)

The Sacramento Kings have a talented roster that once again looks like a bunch of spare parts. DeMarcus Cousins is one of the most skilled big men in the game, putting together a solid season. His checkered past though makes it hard to rely on him day in and day out. Ben McLemore has excellent potential, but he’s young and finding his place in the NBA. The Kings have nice depth inside and some solid role players, but due to the consistent roster overhaul, it’s been hard for them to find consistency. They’ll be a lottery team again. Denver, a Western Conference power last season is off to a slow start in the post-George Karl era. Losing crucial several roster components, like Andre Iguodala, Corey Brewer and Kosta Koufus have disrupted their rotation. They still have Ty Lawson to lead the team, but the recent injury to JaVale McGee is another blow to their depth. Denver has a significant home court advantage at Pepsi Center that could make them a fringe playoff contender, but it’s hard to see them making much of a run.
Andrew Wiggins Contenders: (Utah)

The Jazz are the NBA’s worst right now. With Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson playing for other teams the Jazz are relying on the young of Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward and Enes Kanter to provide the bulk of the scoring. The trio has potential but they’re young and overmatched against the rest of the Western Conference. Utah is solidly positioned to get a high lottery pick with the ability to add a significant piece next June.