15. Los Angeles Clippers
We’re about to acquisition out what happens aback an NBA aggregation collects almost a dozen playable bodies and no stars. Chances are, the Clips will parlay their abyss into a almanac about about .500 afore they advertise off assets afterwards in the year.
Danilo Gallinari averaged 17.2 credibility (in alone 21.2 account per game) while hitting 42.9 percent of his threes and 51.2 percent of his shots all-embracing in the preseason. If he’s advantageous afterwards duke and glute injuries aftermost year, L.A. could coquette with repeating as a top-10 offense. The added end will be problematic, though. A .500 almanac feels reasonable for the Clippers, who are walking the band amid competitiveness and rebuilding.
14. San Antonio Spurs
No aggregation boasts a added anachronistic abhorrent contour than the Spurs, who’ll allot the lion’s allotment of field-goal attempts to DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge, two players who ranked in the 99th and 98th percentile, respectively, in allotment of shots attempted from mid-range aftermost season.
Relatedly, the Spurs will accept a boxy time scoring.
Preseason injuries to Dejounte Murray (torn ACL), Derrick White (heel) and Lonnie Walker IV (torn meniscus) destroyed the bouncer rotation, and the departures of Parker and Manu Ginobili will now be abstract on the attic as abundant as in the locker room. This feels like the end of an era in San Antonio, but admiration a action cruise for these guys (which we are) has never been a adequate bet.
Wednesday’s season-opening win over the drama-addled Wolves came address of 21 credibility and 19 boards from Aldridge, and DeRozan bankrupt things with a scoring access in the fourth. It’s OK to bet that the Spurs will go down, but it won’t appear after a fight.
13. Portland Trail Blazers
Damian Lillard isn’t into actuality accounting off, as he told the Los Angeles Times’ Dan Woike:
“We’ve consistently been one of those teams that will acceleration up to it. Now, does that beggarly we’re affirmed to accomplish the playoffs? No. But I mean, I think, that it’s been abundant years of us assuming that we acceleration to it and accomplish it appear area I don’t see why bodies would attending at it and say, ‘The Trail Blazers are activity to be the aggregation that gets replaced.'”
Counterpoints: The West is bigger than it was a year ago, Maurice Harkless’ larboard knee charcoal a concern, and Portland fabricated no allusive additions to aftermost year’s roster.
This is a middle-of-the-pack agglomeration until it proves otherwise. On the ablaze side, as Lillard said, the Blazers accept fabricated a addiction of accomplishing that.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder
Sometimes, these things aren’t complicated.
Over the aftermost two seasons, the Thunder haven’t been acceptable after Russell Westbrook. Aftermost year, they were 11.4 credibility per 100 backing worse aback he sat. Aback Russ won MVP in 2016-17, the aberration in net appraisement was 11.8 credibility per 100 possessions.
No surprise, then, that OKC struggled adjoin Golden State on Tuesday.
Westbrook is already practicing as he works aback from his fourth appropriate knee anaplasty back 2013, but it ability be a aberration to accept the Thunder will breeze into appearance aback he returns. Guards who depend so heavily on athleticism don’t tend to age able-bodied as they hit their 30s; Westbrook crosses that bisect November 12.
11. Indiana Pacers
Indy aloof absent the top 10, admitting abacus Tyreke Evans, Doug McDermott and Kyle O’Quinn to a 48-game winner. Frame it right, though, and this feels like a huge win. Aftermost year, at the alpha of that 48-victory campaign, we kicked off the ability rankings by slotting Indiana at No. 28.
The Pacers bankrupt the Grizzlies by halftime in Wednesday’s 111-83 win, and the allowance prevented any Indy amateur from logging added than 28 minutes. Acceptable start.
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