We are barely less 10% of the way through the NBA season, but we have already seen the true colors from the best of the best and the worst of the worst. When we look at the teams up top like the Cavs, the Warriors and the Spurs, one will notice that these teams are looking up, not just this year, but the years to come. One could argue that the Spurs have a lot of players that are not growing any younger, like Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Tim Duncan, but they drafted Kawaii Leonard a couple years ago who is only a few years away from being a top 5 player, and LaMarcus Aldridge to help keep the fort down for when their big 3 retire. But then we look at the teams that are in the clear basement in the league, and the 3 biggest losers down there are the Lakers, the 76ers, and the Nets. These teams have already shown little to no chance of making a run to the playoffs already, but is there any hope in the close future for any of these teams to show success?
Lakers: The Los Angeles Lakers are a team that is one of the greatest sports dynasties in the history of the United States. But over the last 3 years, Kobe Bryant, who has been their team leader for the last decade and a half, has been extremely injury prone, missing out on the playoffs in 2013, and missing most of the 2014 and 2015 season. The team finished 14th back to back years in the Western Conference, getting rid of key players over the years, like Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard, and Steve Nash. The team has had to rely on young players, but majority of them only had 1 breakout year, and were never able to return to that form while playing for this team (Jeremy Lin). Although this team looks like they have an impossible chance of making a run to the playoffs in the Western Conference, with an aging Kobe Bryant who doesn’t look like himself anymore, the team shows serious potential for the future. If Kobe is not able to turn his numbers around this season than it is most likely that he will retire, so let’s look at this team’s potential in the future. The starting lineup for this team will probably have Russell, Clarkson, Young, Randle, and Hibbert. This team would be built around 3 young name players, Russell, Clarkson, and Randle, who have all shown that they can run this league when they fully developed, with veteran players being added to the lineup, Nick Young and Roy Hibbert, who have shown in the past that they can perform. This team may not be able to compete for the next couple of years, but in about 5 years from now, I could easily see this team come back to its championship form.
76ers: The 76ers are a team that really hasn’t been able to return to a dominant form since the days of Iverson. And to be honest, I really don’t know what to expect from this team. Since the 2011-2012 season, this team has been building for the future, trading big name players for draft picks. But this team has made so many questionable decisions that it has come to a point that you don’t even know what their GM is thinking. Over the last 4 years, they have gotten rid of many of their big name players, such as Jrue Holiday, Thaddeus Young, Andre Iguodala, and Michael Carter-Williams to rebuild for the future. Many people thought that MCW would be a key role in the rebuilding process, but they traded him to the Bucks for even more draft picks. Over the last 3 years in the draft, they have drafted Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid, and Jahlil Okafor, who are all centers. It seems like their roster these days are only made up of centers so nobody knows what to think of the future of this team. Okafor shows serious upside, and a dominant career in his future, but there is not much around him so the future for this team is very skeptical. Hopefully because Okafor has so much upside, they will consider trading Noel and Embiid to get better players down low to help him.
Nets: 3 years ago, the New Jersey Nets wanted a fresh start to their franchise and moved to Brooklyn. The first year showed serious promise with the addition of Joe Johnson around Brook Lopez and Deron Williams, going 49-33, having one of the most dominant seasons that a Nets fan of my age can remember since the Jason Kidd and Vince Carter era. The next year showed even more promise with the edition of future hall of famers, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, and the addition of head coach Jason Kidd. The team dropped off in the aspect of their season record, going 44-38, but were able to defeat the Raptors first round, but lost to an over-dominant Heat team. The next year had serious decline, with Jason kidd leaving to go to the Bucks and Paul Pierce heading to the Wizards, and the team finished 8th in the eastern conference at 38-44. Age started to show with players Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson, and Kevin Garnett, but they ended up trading KG so that he could finish his career in Minnesota, and they acquired a young power forward in Thaddeus Young. The team was able to salvage 2 wins against the number 1 seeded Hawks, but they ended up losing the first round series 4-2. In the offseason they lost Deron Williams, and with age affecting this team even more, the start of this season does not look very promising at all. The team does not have a point guard, Joe Johnson cannot down the 3 anymore, the team is still questionable at small forward, and Brook Lopez is a ticking time bomb to get injured. The team shows some promise with Thaddeus Young at power forward and draft picks Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Chris McCullough, but they are not going to be able to rebuild any time soon, due to the fact that they gave up so many draft picks to the Celtics to get Pierce and Garnett. The team is technically playing for the Celtics draft pick this year, so they are not going to be able to put younger pieces around the veterans. This team is in for the long hall and is definitely going to have an uphill battle to climb for many years to come in the future with little promise, since they do not have many draft picks to work with.