With the NBA season about 20 games into the 2020-21 season, we are starting to see which teams are for real and which teams are a fake. We are seeing a ton of teams underperform and we are seeing a ton of teams overperform. Some notable underachievers are the Heat, Mavs, Raptors, Nets, and the Pelicans and some overachievers are Pacers, Cavs (yes), Grizzlies, Knicks (yes!), and Warriors. But, who is more likely to miss and make the playoffs?
Who will miss the playoffs?
I think the easy answer here is either the Cavs or Knicks for the East and the Grizzlies and Warriors for the West. But I am going to give a hot take here and give you a real team to look at who is sliding: the Toronto Raptors. This is a young team who really relied on their veterans last year. When Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol left for LA, that left Kyle Lowry as the veteran in the locker room. I mean, all in all, Lowry is a great player but he has always taken second. He was second to DeRozan, Kawhi and like it or not but Ibaka and Gasol very much commanded that locker room last year. The Raptors sit at 7-10 and tied for ninth in the East. For all I know they could sneak in as the 7 or 8 seed, but as of right now they don’t look like a playoff team. This is a team who is lead by Siakem, who in all areas of his game is on a down year. He’s down on points, FT percentage and 3 point percentage. This is a team who needs him to score and that’s just not what he is doing right now.
As for the West, I think the Mavs have it locked in. This team needs someone else around Luka and it needs to happen soon. The Porzingis trade has been an F due to his lack of staying healthy and his contract takes up a lot of cap space. Not to mention they lost Seth Curry who was their main shooter. Luka leads them in 4/5 main stats… I mean he just does it all. But he won’t be leading them to the playoffs. He needs some serious help. Hardaway Jr. is a good player who plays his role to perfection. But outside of him and Luka this roster is one of the worst in the league and won’t be seeing much playoff time until they can make some moves.
Who will make the playoffs?
Now for the better side of this, who will make the playoffs this year? And no, I won’t be saying any obvious choices – all hot takes. I think the Knicks are due. They finally are putting the pieces together to make a legit team. Thibs is a great coach, they have the young guys finally playing well, and Julius Randle is proven to be the veteran in the locker room who can lead them. Not to mention, they are fun! I love the amount of talent they have on this team and it’s scary… No joke they have done a great job the last 3 drafts with picking players. But they all need to work out and play to that potential. If Thibs can get this team playing to their potential they will make the playoffs with ease and contend for a title within the next year! Don’t believe me? Check out the roster. It is filled with raw young talent.
As for the West, I have a similar take as the Knicks. I love the Suns to finally get back there. Trading for Chris Paul was an excellent decision. With what he has been able to do with Houston, OKC, and now the Suns has been awesome. He also is a great mentor to Devin Booker and Mikal Bridges, both leading the team in points. And we all tend to forget that they have DeAndre Ayton too who is averaging 15ppg/12reb. They are stacked and lead by a great coach in Monty Williams. I think the Suns will hold onto a spot and even move up. I can see them as high as four and securing a home playoff series.
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