Throughout the NBA, coaching camps have already began to open up, and groups are permitting themselves to consider of their best-case eventualities for this upcoming season.
Nearly everybody agrees that the Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Clippers, Milwaukee Bucks, Brooklyn Nets and Phoenix Suns are the league’s foremost championship contenders, and there’s the potential for the Cleveland Cavaliers becoming a member of that group in some unspecified time in the future within the coming months.
However one other intriguing group of groups is these that can shock observers or surpass expectations this coming season.
Yearly, it appears not less than one group does so, and generally it’s a squad that nobody ever thought would’ve performed what it simply did.
This 12 months, these three groups may find yourself changing into feel-good tales:
After reaching the 2021 Japanese Convention Finals, the Hawks completed 43-39 final season and obtained rolled within the first spherical of the playoffs by the Miami Warmth.
However they made a giant transfer this summer time by buying and selling Danilo Gallinari and 4 future first-round draft picks to the San Antonio Spurs for Dejounte Murray, a 26-year-old All-Star guard who solely appears to be getting higher.
A few years in the past, Murray appeared like nothing greater than a good rotation participant, however within the 2021-22 season, he put up 21.1 factors, 8.3 rebounds, 9.2 assists and a league-leading 2.0 steals per recreation.
He has additionally change into one of many extra explosive and thrilling gamers within the NBA, on each ends of the ground.
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) September 19, 2022
Now, Murray shall be teaming up with Trae Younger, one of many extra underrated stars within the recreation.
Younger recorded 28.4 factors and 9.7 assists per recreation final 12 months, and he shall be aided by younger, strong complementary gamers equivalent to John Collins, De’Andre Hunter and Bogdan Bogdanovic.
In a brutal Japanese Convention, Atlanta may find yourself pulling off one other playoff upset, simply because it did in 2021 when it knocked off the Philadelphia 76ers.
New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans have been a nasty group for a lot of the 2021-22 marketing campaign, however they surged late after making a few strikes.
A kind of strikes was buying and selling for CJ McCollum, who performed a few of his greatest ball after being traded to New Orleans, averaging 24.3 factors and 5.8 assists per recreation whereas capturing 49.3 % from the sector and 39.4 from 3-point vary.
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) September 16, 2022
The group then overcame a giant deficit versus the Los Angeles Clippers in its second play-in event recreation to make the playoffs, the place it took the closely favored Suns to 6 video games.
It did all that with out Zion Williamson, who’s now presumably wholesome.
The one factor they lack is a high-level level guard, however in any other case, they’ve all they should far exceed final season’s win complete.
Los Angeles Lakers
One purpose why the group did so poorly was the dearth of viable two-way function gamers, however for this season, it has a number of such gamers, together with Patrick Beverley, Thomas Bryant, Juan Toscano-Anderson and Dennis Schroder.
Key accidents to James, Davis and guard Kendrick Nunn, one other complementary participant the Lakers didn’t have final 12 months, contributed to their depressing season.
Many are choosing L.A. to solely attain the play-in event, but when they keep wholesome and new head coach Darvin Ham proves to be a powerful, competent chief, it may find yourself being a mid-tier playoff group that may be very aggressive.