As you all know, the NBA season got suspended on March 11th, 2020. Ever since, people have been desperate for NBA basketball. Here are 10 sleeper teams that can make noise in the NBA restart in Orlando.
10. Dallas Mavericks
Coming into the season, not a lot of people had faith in the Mavericks to do well. I had a bit of faith but not much. They proved us wrong. Everyone thought Kristaps Porzingis would not be the same after his injury. And this year, they have established themselves as one of the best teams in the Western Conference, thanks to Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis leading the way. Dallas has had great wins on the road this season in Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles. Do not be surprised if the Mavericks get past some teams in the NBA restart.
9. Toronto Raptors
The only reason this team is not higher is because they just won the championship last year and a ton of people know about them. Coming into this year, a lot of people thought the Raptors would be a 7-8 seed without Kawhi Leonard. and Toronto proved them wrong by being the 2nd seed in the East when the NBA season got suspended. Pascal Siakam is a top 15 player in the NBA. The Toronto Raptors have so much playoff experience. Veteran point guard Kyle Lowry will lead these young guys to success again like last year. I would not want to go up against this team if all of the guys will be healthy to play.
8. Memphis Grizzlies
When the NBA season got suspended, the Grizzlies were in playoff contention, they were the 8th seed. The Grizzlies young offense is electric with Jaren Jackson, Ja Morant and Brandon Clarke. The big question will be: Is their defense ready? The Grizzlies defense is really nothing but average. The reason Memphis is not higher is because they are a young team with not a lot of playoff experience. Jonas Valachunias will have to be the guy to help the Grizzlies in big moments. But the young and bright offense can easily win them some games.
7. Portland Trailblazers
You can never doubt Damian Lillard in clutch time. However, the Trailblazers are one of the worst teams currently in the bubble. Damian Lillard, C.J McCollum and Coach Terry Stotts have a ton of playoff experience together. I think all three of those guys will help out the young players in the most pressure-packed moments. Damian Lillard is known for his clutch shots in the playoffs sending teams home early. This year I can see him doing it again. Portland has not missed the playoffs since 2013. You can never doubt the Blazers playoff experience, and what they can do in the playoffs.
6. New Orleans Pelicans
This is a similar situation to the Memphis Grizzlies. A ton of young talent but the question is: Are they ready for the biggest moments? Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson and Lonzo Ball produce a nice young core. J.J Redick, Derrick Favors and Coach Alvin Gentry will have to lead the young guys to success. Don't be surprised if the Pelicans can make a decent run with their balanced offense and defense.
5. Orlando Magic
As you all know, the NBA bubble is in Orlando, Florida. The Orlando Magic are one of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference in the bubble. But, all of their games will be in their city which will give them a better chance at a deep run. The Magic have one of the most boring rosters in the NBA, not much to talk about. All the Magic have to do is protect home court and play well. The Magic do have a decent shot of making a shocking run this year.
4. Oklahoma City Thunder
Coming into the season, the Oklahoma City Thunder were noted as one of the worst teams in the league, and they proved everyone wrong. Oklahoma City was the 5th seed in the West before the NBA season got suspended. The Thunder have a lot of bad memories in their recent playoff history, but I don't think that can stop them from shocking the league with some upsets. Chris Paul, Danillo Gallinari, Shai-Gilgeous-Alexander, and Steven Adams form a very decent offense. Chris Paul will lead the young guys to success, do not be surprised if the Thunder make a deep run in Orlando.
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3. Denver Nuggets
The Denver Nuggets have a ton of young talent, the only player over the age of 30 is Paul Millsap. The Nuggets do not have a top ten player, but they have a lot of depth. Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Gary Harris are great, young pieces to help the Nuggets go far in the NBA bubble.
2. San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs were a pretty big disappointment this season. They were lucky to even get in the bubble. But the huge factor is the spurs history of playoff success. You can never doubt Coach Greg Popovich and his crew in the playoffs. They would be Number One if Lamarcus Aldridge was available for the rest of the season, but he will be out. The Spurs took the 2 seeded Nuggets to 7 games last year. The Spurs had a lot of great performers in last year's playoffs. This year, don't be surprised if some Spurs players can do it again this year. You can never doubt Coach Pop and his squad in the playoffs.
Miami is one of those teams who does not have a superstar, but they have so much depth. Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro, Kendrick Nunn...I can go on and on about how good this team's depth is. You have great two-way play from Jimmy Butler, great defense from Bam, Great three point shooting from Tyler Herro, and a Top 10 Coach in Erik Spoelstra. The Heat have pulled off some great wins this year, including: 2 vs Milwaukee, 2 vs Toronto. The Heat have all the tools they need to become a championship team.