There is a lot of hype around the NBA playoffs, but not enough buzz about what could be one of the most important changes in sports history. It’s time to take a look at how urgency levels stack up for each team currently on pace for making it back into the post-season.
The “new nba playoff format” is a change that has been made to the NBA Playoffs. The new format will have teams seeded 1-16, with the first round being best of 3 games and the second round being best of 5 games.
The NBA Western Conference is notoriously tough, resulting in just a few really competitive teams making the playoffs. Six clubs in the conference are currently rebuilding and/or attempting to turn a corner with a youthful core. San Antonio Spurs, New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings, Minnesota Timberwolves, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Houston Rockets are the clubs in question.
The NBA rebuilds of some of these clubs will certainly fail, while one or two will triumph. As a result, some of them are more pressed for time than others.
The six NBA clubs are ranked according to their urgency to reach the Western Conference playoffs this season.
Rebuilders in the NBA:
6) Rockets of Houston
The Rockets went from being a championship contender to a rebuilding squad in a matter of months. It’s amazing how fast things in the NBA can change. In terms of the Rockets’ 2021-22 season, they are planning an experimental campaign.
Stephen Silas, the team’s head coach, has a plethora of players to be excited about. Christian Wood has developed into one of the NBA’s top scorers. Jalen Green, a rookie, has a knack for scoring. Last season, Kevin Porter Jr. shown his ability to both assist and score off the dribble. Jae’Sean Tate showed signs of potential. Alperen Sengun and Usman Garuba, both rookies, are expected to gain some playing time.
This season, the Rockets’ youthful core will focus on competitive defense and offensive cohesiveness. They aren’t a squad that will be competing for a spot in the NBA Play-in Tournament.
Oklahoma City Thunder (#5)
The Thunder have a lot of exciting young players and they trade assets all the time. Outside of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, they must now find players with whom they can collaborate. Darius Bazley, Luguentz Dort, Aleksej Pokusevski, Josh Giddey, and Theo Maledon are among the candidates who can instill trust in the company.
Bazley is a talented frontcourt player who might see his productivity rise. Dort is a calm and collected winger. Pokeusevski is a huge, strong guy with a lot of experience. Giddey has a deft touch with the ball. Maledon is a versatile player who can play both sides of the field. Because this squad has few veterans in rotating positions, all of the aforementioned players have the opportunity to become more productive and effective.
Oklahoma City must make significant improvement after finishing as the 14th seed in the Western Conference last season. Making the playoffs, though, isn’t a requirement for the team’s long-term success.
4) Spurs of San Antonio
In this jumble of playoff prospects, the Spurs are the sneaky NBA club. What they have going for them may not be electrifying in comparison, but it is quietly progressing and has potential.
Dejounte Murray and Derrick White are both talented ball-handlers who are developing as scorers. Keldon Johnson is a rising star on the wing. Jakob Poeltl has developed into a dependable inside player. Over the previous two seasons, Lonnie Walker has made significant progress. Drew Eubanks burst into the scene at the conclusion of last season. Joshua Primo, a rookie, is a decent shooter. Head coach Gregg Popovich has a plethora of halfcourt scorers and defenders at his disposal.
Simultaneously, the Spurs are approaching a stage where they will have to make difficult roster choices if they fail to reach an NBA best-of-seven series for the second time this season. Their reckoning is unlikely to happen in a year, but continuous playoff failures might result in a major retooling transaction or two during the following two years.
Sacramento Kings (#3)
The Kings were a rising power in the West two years ago. They’ve really declined in back-to-back NBA seasons. Luke Walton and the Kings must climb the Western ladder as they enter their third season as showrunners.
This is an NBA roster with a lot of top-tier talent that has been very productive, but has also lost a lot of tight games and wasted individual development. De’Aaron Fox is a fantastic goal scorer. Tyrese Haliburton plays both sides of the floor and does a little bit of everything. Richaun Holmes, the center, has only gotten better with age. Buddy Hield is a seasoned marksman. Davion Mitchell, a rookie guard, is a two-way player that offers the Kings a lot of guard depth.
Sacramento has had the potential to reach the NBA playoffs for the last three years, and their failure to do so in the expanded playoffs adds salt to injury, since it is their 15th season without a postseason berth. If the Kings don’t get over the hump soon, it may be time to start overhauling the squad.
2) Timberwolves of Minnesota
The Timberwolves are a mystery, but they have youth on their side. The T-Wolves have the offensive arsenal to be a headache with a healthy Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell, a second-year Anthony Edwards, and the rising Malik Beasley.
Towns is a versatile and effective scorer. Russell is an excellent scorer and shooter off the dribble. In recent years, Edwards and Beasley have become fearless NBA scorers. Josh Okogie, Jake Layman, and Taurean Prince, all teenagers, have had their moments in the past. Patrick Beverley has a strong track record as a defender and shooter.
This squad has NBA veterans in their early twenties who have a lot to show. Towns and Russell are expected to be a formidable tandem. Minnesota is in a situation where they may be tempted to trade the pair of 2015 first-round picks in order to genuinely rebuild after another poor season in the standings. They will reach a point when they will be unable to continue with this effort.
1) Pelicans of New Orleans
With the Pelicans’ organization, Zion Williamson’s position is uncertain. Last season, there were rumors that Brandon Ingram and the coaching staff and/or front office weren’t on the same page. In the summer, the Pelicans basically exchanged Lonzo Ball for Devonte’ Graham at point guard. This NBA season, New Orleans must reach the playoffs.
The Pelicans, like the majority of these NBA clubs, have a very appealing core. Williamson and Ingram are both high-scoring players. Graham and Trey Murphy III, a rookie, are also capable shooters. Jonas Valanciunas scores from both inside and outside the box. Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Kira Lewis Jr., both young guards, have quickness and a penchant for going inside off the dribble. Josh Hart is a tenacious rebounder. From a talent aspect, this is a playoff roster that has missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons.
The Pelicans’ frontcourt is too strong, and their roster is too deep, for them to miss the playoffs again again. With things looking shaky, a rocky season might see the Pelicans trade their top scorers.
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