The Playoff Hopefuls Tier to the 2020-2021 NBA season

The Playoff Hopefuls Tier to the 2020-2021 NBA season

by December 9, 2020 0 comments

The third tier of the NBA are teams that have playoff ambitions. These teams are not gonna have an easy road to the playoffs nor will they be considered contenders in the NBA. However, the chances of these teams filling out the rest of the playoff bracket are high. 

In this tier, the teams show that they have a competitive roster. The teams have either a deep roster filled with role players or multiple stars to carry a mediocre bench. Although teams could have talent, there are glaring weaknesses that hinder their stake at being a playoff favorite. 

Be sure to check out the other tiers in this series Title Contenders | Playoff Lock-Ins

Toronto Raptors

Most might think that the Raptors are one of the better teams in the east. But with the losses of Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol in the paint, the team has a major hole at the center position. What the Raptors provided in the playoffs last season showed that they can struggle offensively. Pascal Siakam blatantly struggled from three, shooting under 30% in the Boston series. 

Without a defensive-minded center and glue guys in Ibaka and Gasol, the team will have trouble protecting the paint. This team will also regress as they are slowly losing their championship core from the 2018-2019 season. 

Golden State Warriors

The Warriors can not seem to catch a break with Klay Thompson. As Thompson during a practice right before the recent NBA draft had torn his achilles. The all-star splash brother will now miss yet another season. The team will greatly miss what he brings to the floor both offensively and defensively. 

The Warriors will still compete for a playoff spot in the competitive western conference. Curry will be back after injuring his hand early into last season. The team still has Andrew Wiggins who provides athleticism. With Thompson out, and Draymond Green regressing the team will struggle to keep up against other powerhouses, especially on defense. But If Wiseman is the player everyone dreams that he is, this team can rise into a dark horse contender. 

Phoenix Suns

Chris Paul has turned every team he has played on into a playoff team. From his early days in New Orleans, to a young core in Los Angeles to a surprising Oklahoma City team that tried to tank. Paul brings the veteran leadership and experience to Phoenix that they have been missing since the Steve Nash era. 

Although this team is still rather young, the starting five will produce in this league. Devin Booker is an all-star guard who can drop as many points needed to win a game. Deandre Ayton is rising center who can run the pick and roll with paul, and protect the paint. The glaring weakness of this team though is a very bad bench. The bench will not hold leads against stronger teams, and that could provide some uncertainty entering the season. 

Indiana Pacers

The Pacers have a solid rotation. From their starting five to the twelfth man on the roster. Although they lack a superstar, the team does have potential all-stars in Victor Oladippo and Domantas Sabonis. Nobody on this team can stand out, and the health and commitment from their best player Oladipo is still in question. 

There is no doubt that this team will be bottom feeding this season, but the ceiling on the team is very low. The team tried to make an interesting move by inquiring about Gordon Hayward, in exchange for Myles Turner. That move would not have benefitted this teams placement. It seems the front office believes that they are a contender or is very content with being where they are. 

Atlanta Hawks

Since drafting Trae Young in 2018, the Hawks have been the most active and successful front office in the league. Surrounding their superstar in Trae Young with players that suit his elite shooting and passing style of play. Young will be in the MVP talk this year as he will take another step forward. Clint Capela will finally be able to join the Hawks since being traded to them in February from the Houston Rockets. 

The team is still a year or two away from contending, as their younger core are still inexperienced especially in the playoffs. However, this season for the first time in the Young era will be contending for a playoff spot. 

Washington Wizards

The Wizards’ biggest offseason move was trading John Wall to Houston for Russell Westbrook. They traded their former franchise player for a healthier Westbrook. It was reported that Wall had requested a trade this off-season, but were eventually dismissed. He was then traded two weeks later. Bradley Beal is now the team’s franchise player, and adding Westbrook allows Beal to come off the ball. 

The team can succeed with Westbrook and Beal, as they have shooters surrounding the duo. The bench however is abysmal. Deni Avdija could provide a spark off the bench, but it would hinder his development. The Wizards are forward heavy, which are definitely going to cause chemistry issues and interesting lineups. It is projected that the team will start Davis Bertans at the small forward slot. Which would be “BBQ Chicken” for any player being defended by him. 

Miami Heat

The Miami Heat over performed last season. Most of their success came through defense, and the team is nothing but spectacular in that regard. However, the Orlando Bubble of Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro could not indicate another title run. Robinson and Herro will not regress but teams will be better prepared for duo. Herro was just an average rookie during the season, but came alive in the bubble. 

With teams now knowing of what the Heat can do on offense, expect a tougher road ahead for them. The team is lacking another point guard, and when Dragic is unable to play in a game the team will struggle. It was shown in the NBA Finals when he went down with a foot injury in game one. The team is also lacking a power forward. Meyers Leonard is not a starting caliber player, and the team prefers Kelly Olynyk off the bench for offense. If the Heat can acquire one more forward who can rebound then this team can see their stock rise in the tier list. 

Utah Jazz

The biggest question for this team going forward is chemistry. Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell erupted over the recent global pandemic issue. In recent reports the players are saying that they made amends. The Jazz have been struggling to make it past the first round, as they are seemingly stuck there. The front office barely made any roster moves, indicating the team will not improve talent wise. 

Jazz are currently stuck where they are while other teams are showing improvements. If the Jazz do not make a move before the trade deadline to bolster the team the Jazz could seemingly find themselves on the outer rim of the playoffs. 

Dallas Mavericks 

Luka Doncic is an MVP caliber player. Porzingis is an all-star caliber player. The rest of the team are quality role players that can come in and out of the starting five. The biggest problem with this Dallas team is Porzingis. The Latvian forward has not played more than 60 games since the 2016-2017 season. Once Porzingis goes down with an injury the team struggles as a whole. There is not another star on the team that can come in and help Doncic when Porzingis is out. 

Defense is another weakness that Dallas is struggling with. Doncic struggles guarding faster guards. The team is also without a real paint protector. Porzingis when healthy is a great shot blocker but he is not the defender in the post. Dallas needs a center who can help Porzingis in the post, or a player that can fill Porzingis talent when he is out. 

Memphis Grizzlies

Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson are now a year older with experience. If not for the Orlando Bubble, this team would have made the playoffs last season. Morant was spectacular in his rookie campaign. The team will progress throughout the season as they have the intent of making the playoffs. With the young core developing, and the bench unit being average the team could find themselves in the same position as last season. 

Experience is everything in the NBA. It is very hard to replicate what the Boston Celtics have done with their young core and lack of experience in recent years. Morant can not single handley bring them to the playoffs. The team will need Jaren Jackson to stay healthy and take another step forward into becoming a borderline all-star. 

Portland Trail Blazers

Damian Lillard finally has some more help. Lillard who should have been considered an MVP caliber player for the past three seasons is finally awarded a great team. The front office brought in Derrick Jones Jr and Robert Covington who are excellent defenders and can provide some offense. Jusuf Nurkic will be coming back from his injury at a full 100%. The team even brought back Carmelo Anthony, who was a tremendous leader off the bench last season. 

The only downfall for this team is health. If Nurkic gets injured again, the team will not have a paint protector. Enes Kanter is one of the worst defenders at the position, and Harry Giles has yet to prove that he can take over. Even though Giles has tremendous upside he is still an unknown player. Currently Zach Collins is injured as well, and he will not be ready for the start of the season. Once the team becomes fully healthy, a rise in the tier will occur.

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