With less than a month of the regular season remaining, the playoff picture is becoming clearer and clearer. We all know that this means a tough post-season for the teams in contention, but what does it mean for the teams who have no hope in making the playoffs?
With this question burning, we look at the three worst performers in each conference and give a brief outline as to why they’ve fallen, and just how they can pick themselves up.
Charlotte Bobcats (16-53)
It is no surprise that the Bobcats won’t make the playoffs. In fact, it would’ve been a huge surprise if they did. Coming off the back of a dismal season last year, the Bobcats have nothing going for them. Although they had a flying start, they quickly came crashing down and have been burning since then. Currently sitting on a 16-53 record, it is obvious that the Bobcats need to make some huge changes. The current lack of depth and leadership in their roster calls for a high chance of getting a lottery pick in this year’s draft. Going with a strong guard or forward could be the answer for the Bobcats. With that being said, a high draft pick won’t fix Charlotte’s problems overnight.
New Orleans Hornets (24-46)
Although the Hornets had the number one pick in the 2012 draft in Anthony Davis, it would require a lot more than the explosive rookie centre to lift the team to its former glory in the Chris Paul era. This inexperienced side lacks both depth and balance, as the team’s personnel don’t complement each other’s skillsets. The Hornets also have high potential in receiving lottery picks in this year’s draft and it is essential that they select the right players and build around Anthony Davis in order to get the most out of him as both a player and leader on the court. Selecting the right guard come draft day could be just what they need in order to successfully marry the backcourt with Davis’ frontcourt leadership.
Orlando Magic (18-52)
It comes as no shock that the Magic have suffered this season, losing their star Dwight Howard to the Lakers at the beginning of the season. The current side is now more broken than ever, producing disappointing results on the court and the possibility of a rebuilding process that promises years of unsuccessful campaigns for the Magic. While they managed to retain many seemingly strong players in Jameer Nelson, Hedo Turkoglu and Glen Davis, the side’s current roster does not work well together. The lack of a franchise centrepiece makes the future for the Orlando Magic a cloudy one, and the side’s potential of obtaining a lottery pick could just as well change that.
Phoenix Suns (23-47)
The suns have had a terrible season, which can be solely blamed on the departure of star PG Steve Nash to the Lakers at the beginning of the season. Even before the loss of Nash, the Suns were a failing side, so releasing Nash may have been the side’s first step in a lengthy rebuilding process. The loss of Nash acted as Goran Dragic’s coming out party, as the player became the franchise’s centrepiece. Well, for this season at least. The Suns are currently dead last in the Western Conference, and that does not look likely to change. This can potentially increase the team’s chances in landing a lottery pick, but it is essential to select the right player and quite possibly start from scratch when they rebuild.
Sacramento Kings (25-45)
The Sacramento Kings are hurting in the worst of places. The Kings’ owners are bringing about the franchises demise. The Maloofs have managed to run the franchise into the ground, with a stadium that’s falling apart and a side that could use a few trades. In fact, this has gotten so bad that they franchise may be moved out of Sacramento and the NBA could potentially re-introduce them as the Seattle Sonics as early as next season. Before the Kings can focus on their problems on the court, ownership NEEDS to change, and sure enough, it will at the end of this season. Apart from that, the Kings may need only a few good trades in order to be a playoff team. DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans are the current centrepieces of the team, and continuing to build around them could prove successful for the Kings. Whether it be through draft picks or trades.
Cleveland Cavaliers (22-47)
The Cavaliers have made some recognisable progress from the past couple of seasons. All Star Kyrie Irving has become the team’s leader and a beacon of hope for the future. Paired with 4th pick Dion Waiters, the Cavaliers have a sustainable backcourt, but that’s where it ends. The Cavaliers have an inconsistent and unreliable frontcourt, bringing in C.J. Miles and more recently, Marreese Speights to find some form of short term success. This isn’t necessarily working, as poor shooting and defence is getting the better of the side. Apart from the backcourt, the Cavaliers are a side full of role players and no real standouts. The Cavaliers have high chances to get first round picks in this year’s draft, and these NEED to be used on sustainable forwards, of course they must also complement Kyrie’s current reign of the roster.
Six of the league’s worst performers are undoubtedly lottery bound. However, with eight more teams set to fall before the post-season begins, it will be interesting to see just who will make it and who will inevitably bite the dust.
Mohammad Safar is a second-year student currently studying a Bachelor of Sports Journalism at La Trobe University. You can follow him on Twitter: @MoSafar23