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Sunday Topic: NBA’s Best Rebuilding Team?
Posted By HOOPSWORLD On March 24, 2013 @ 3:03 pm In NBA | No Comments
As the NBA season winds down, let’s take a look at some of the up-and-coming teams in the league.
All of the teams on the following list are lottery-bound, but they’re putting the right pieces in place so that they can be successful down the road. There are a number of rebuilding franchises in the NBA, but which team has best positioned themselves for long-term success?
We asked our writers to give their thoughts on this topic and the five teams that came up were the New Orleans Hornets, Orlando Magic, Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons and Toronto Raptors.
Here is this week’s Sunday Topic:
“Which rebuilding team has the brightest future?”
“The New Orleans Hornets may be a lottery team once again, but this time around they have been as tough to beat as any team on a nightly basis. They have proven that they can handle the teams they “should” beat, and won’t back down from the league’s elite. Their more impressive wins of the season include victories over San Antonio, Memphis, Atlanta and Boston – all of which are solid playoff teams.
There are still a few question marks, of course, starting with whether or not Eric Gordon is actually a long-term fit for the team. There’s also the issue that more nights than not the Hornets are better off with Ryan Anderson on the floor than with Anthony Davis. On the flip side, Greivis Vasquez looks like the floor leader of the future for New Orleans, and that’s one of the toughest positions to fill.
The Hornets have a few unanswered questions and are a couple of pieces away from the playoffs, but they are on the right track with some important foundational pieces already in place.” – Bill Ingram
“The Orlando Magic have assembled an excellent young core that features a wealth of talent in Nikola Vucevic, Maurice Harkless, Tobias Harris and Andrew Nicholson. These four players have shown flashes of brilliance at times this season and seem like long-term pieces for Orlando. The Magic also have one of most promising front offices of any organization in the league, since general manager Rob Hennigan and head coach Jacque Vaughn are the two youngest individuals at their respective position.
The Magic have stockpiled young talent, but the real reason they’re the NBA’s brightest rebuilding team is because they’ll only continue to get better over the next few years. Orlando will likely have a top draft pick over the next several years – Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker, come on down – and they’ll also have five additional picks that they acquired in the Dwight Howard trade last August.
Orlando will also have a ridiculous amount of flexibility going forward. They’ll have the necessary cap space to add two maximum free agents in the summer of 2014.
The Magic lost Howard and their streak of five consecutive winning season came to an end, but the future is very bright in Orlando. Hennigan has done a great job constructing this team and Magic fans should be excited about where this group is headed.” – Alex Kennedy
“The Cleveland Cavaliers have a bright future with the best young point guard in the league in Kyrie Irving. Others may be flashier or more athletic, but Irving is the next generation’s Chris Paul. He’s a true point with an incredible handle. He can hit from the outside or break a man down to get to the basket.
Tristan Thompson has matured significantly. Dion Waiters has had a solid rookie year. The Cavaliers have plenty of spending power and picks.
If they can keep Anderson Varejao healthy, the veteran center helps make everything easier for his younger teammates. If the Cavs look to move him, they have an asset a number of teams would love to have.
It’s in the best interest for the Cavaliers to lose – and lose a lot the rest of the way. Irving is so good, once Cleveland gets him some help they’re going to be a force in the Eastern Conference.” – Eric Pincus
“There are a solid handful of teams in the NBA that are rebuilding the right way, but no young team has as many talented young players as the Detroit Pistons. Between Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond and Brandon Knight, the Pistons have three players with All-Star potential, and the Drummond-Monroe frontcourt has looked especially promising. While none of those guys is on the level as someone like Kyrie Irving, a clear superstar in the making, the face that Detroit has more of their pieces already set in stone means they have less to do in terms of assembling the rest of their roster.
They’ve still got their amnesty provision, which they could use on Charlie Villanueva this offseason and drop their payroll down to only about $26.5 million. The following year, they could be in even better shape once Rodney Stuckey comes off the books, and let’s not forget that they’ve got what is likely to be a top-six pick in this June’s draft. Adding a prospect like Victor Oladipo or Shabazz Muhammad could give them yet another promising piece to the rebuilding puzzle, and with money to spend they could potentially make a splash in the free agency market, as well.
Assuming Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars doesn’t do silly things with that cap space like he did in 2009, the Pistons could be back in the playoff picture within a year or two. That will be tougher for teams like Orlando and Cleveland who, despite rebuilding in a similarly intelligent way, don’t look set up to have as complete a roster as the Pistons do. From there, all they have to do is get some butts back into the seats at the Palace.” – Joel Brigham
“This summer’s moves may well determine which of this year’s lottery teams has the brightest future, but today, no lottery team can claim to be better setup for a postseason run in 2013-14 than the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors were expected to be fighting it out with Philadelphia for eighth in the Eastern Conference this season, but injuries hit both teams hard and Milwaukee is the team in the eighth and final playoff spot. However, Toronto has the least amount of work to do this summer of the teams hoping to make the playoffs next season.
On January 30, Raptors president and general manager Bryan Colangelo finally acquired a 20-point-per-game skill player to replace former franchise player Chris Bosh when he completed a three-team deal to bring Rudy Gay to Toronto. From the day he arrived, Gay became Toronto’s go-to-guy and filled that gaping hole in the Raptors’ rotation. Gay finally gave Toronto a big athletic small forward that could cover the top scorers in the NBA at his position, a point he emphasized in the Raptors’ first home game against Miami with solid defense on LeBron James including a spectacular block on a layup attempt.
The Raptors have been filling in the holes at other positions as well. Although injuries have hurt Kyle Lowry’s performance this season, the 26-year-old point guard is the tough, physical player that Raptors head coach Dwane Casey has been looking for and he should have a bounce-back season next year. DeMar DeRozan’s game continues to evolve at the offensive end of the floor and he has been more effective playing beside Gay. In his eighth NBA season, 25-year-old Amir Johnson turned a personal corner after his team’s 4-19 start when he decided to do something about it. Johnson has become a beast on the boards and a reliable finisher around the basket this season. Rookie center Jonas Valanciunas has been brought along slowly by Casey, but as his playing time has increased, he has become a double-digit scorer in 24 minutes per game and a shot blocking presence in the paint. Despite Casey’s words of caution, the Raptors look set at center for next year.
Toronto does have work to do this summer and they hope to turn their injured forward Andrea Bargnani into a player that more closely fits the style of play Casey likes to use. The acquisition of a solid veteran player at any position in the offseason would also help the Raptors take the next step as this team is still very young. However, any moves in the summer should represent an improvement for a team that has been a .500 club since their injury created 4-19 start to the current season and in the NBA’s Eastern Conference, a .500 club is a playoff team.” – Stephen Brotherston
Honorable Mention: Portland Trail Blazers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Washington Wizards and Utah Jazz.
In your opinion, which team has the brightest future? Leave a comment.
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