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BBNews: 5 Lottery Teams That Can Make the Playoffs Next Season

Via Yahoo Sports

Hi all, this is Rookie, back with the continuation of BBNews!

The 2012 NBA Draft was full of surprises and brought hope to teams looking to reach the postseason next year. Without question, the New Orleans Hornets have made major strides by bringing #1 pick Anthony Davis and #10 pick Austin Rivers to Bourbon Street. There are many other teams planning on not repeating as lottery teams by making the playoffs. Here are 5 lottery teams likely to make some noise next season with help from their newly drafted players…

1. New Orleans Hornets

After acquiring Eric Gordon from the blockbuster deal that sent Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Clippers, the Hornets are expected to retain restricted free agent Eric Gordon. With a roster that includes Austin Rivers, Anthony Davis, and Gordon, the Hornets should have enough talent to earn the eighth spot in the tough Western Conference. Rivers is undersized as a shooting guard, but will likely be incorporated as a scoring point guard off the bench. Davis will start right away and be the anchor of the team’s defense. Unlike other players in this draft, Davis and Rivers will find their roles right away which will benefit the team from the start. The Hornets gave up plenty of size recently, letting go Emeka Okafor, Chris Kaman, and David West last offseason. If New Orleans can address their size issue and attract veterans to join the team, the Hornets will make plenty of buzz next season. Unsurprisingly, the Hornets finished as the worst team in the West. The Hornets have a long way to go, but they are on the cusp.

2. Portland Trailblazers

Portland was off to a hot start early in the 2012 season, but then collapsed later into the year. Brandon Roy called it quits and retired. Raymond Felton failed to live up to expectations which prevented the Trailblazers from having a reliable point guard to run the show. With the imminent departure of Jamal Crawford and Nicolas Batum, Portland won’t be a lock to make the playoffs. Nevertheless, the Trailblazers still have LaMarcus Aldridge and now have Damian Lillard and Meyers Leonard for the future. Portland selected two fast draft risers who were nobodies just a month ago. All the major voids have been filled. Leonard will replace Greg Oden as the center and Lillard will be the point guard Portland has wanted for years. Lillard has an incredible upside due to his unlimited range and athleticism. Leonard is one of the rare true 7 footers with raw talent that can quickly become a threat in the NBA. The Trailblazers must improve their play on the road to reach the postseason. In comparison with the worst team in the league last season, Portland had only five more wins on the road than the Charlotte Bobcats.

Coming out of Weber State, Damian Lillard was a nobody. The Trailblazers hope this nobody will be a star. Via CBS Sports

3. Houston Rockets

Houston has a very capable front office, often performing well with each draft. However, with this draft, the Rockets’ strategy was confusing. The Rockets came away with Jeremy Lamb, Terrence Jones, and Royce White. Adding Jeremy Lamb should come as a surprise since Houston still has Kevin Martin – for now. Acquiring Terrence Jones and Royce White just makes a logjam issue at the forward positions. The Rockets have a hole at the center position but didn’t exactly address that problem. It was clear that Houston went with the “best available” strategy and also with the “great ballhandlers” strategy. Royce White is a unique and rare point forward given his size and Terrence Jones is a promising Lamar Odom styled player with a good handle, range, and IQ. While I do not think the Rockets did a phenomenal job addressing their needs, they still collected great talent. For many team statistics like points per game, field goal percentage, and assists, Houston was in the middle of the pack. If these new pieces from the draft can help push Houston ahead of the pack, the Rockets will be playoff bound.

4. Golden State Warriors

Every year we wait to see if the Warriors will finally take their game to the next level. With new ownership, the franchise has undergone some drastic changes including trading Monta Ellis for oft-injured Andrew Bogut. Golden State has always coveted a big man and now the wish has been fulfilled. The Warriors have also craved for a star small forward after Dorell Wright couldn’t cut it as the starter. Harrison Barnes comes in looking to take Wright’s spot and guarantee himself to be a part of the project that consists of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Bogut. The Warriors have a lot of work to do and head coach Mark Jackson still needs more experience, but the Warriors have done well to build a roster that can potentially fight with the bigger, badder boys in the West. Barnes is an elite shooter and a crafty scorer. The only problem is he will just be another copy of Curry and Thompson who are pure shooters. The Warriors must find a way to diversify its offense and prevent their young players from only shooting from the perimeter even if that is their strengths. They also must play better defense to balance their scoring abilities.

Golden State wishes Harrison Barnes will be their last lottery pick for a while. Via CSN

5. Washington Wizards

The Wizards round out the lottery teams I think will steal a spot in next season’s playoffs by improving from the draft. If D.C.’s team makes the playoffs, it will surely be a miracle, but after throwing away players from a dismal season the Wizards are ready to turn a new leaf. Players who contributed to an embarrassing season like Javale McGee and Nick Young were sent packing last season. Overpaid Rashard Lewis was sent to New Orleans in return for veterans in Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza. Former head coach Flip Saunders was sent home and interim head coach Randy Wittman will return as the full time head coach. The Wizard’s organization must be praised for making moves to expel the losing culture from the team. On draft night, the Wizards picked Florida’s Brad Beal to complement rising star John Wall. Beal comes with great size and exceptional shooting ability. With a lineup mixed with young talent and veterans like Nene, Okafor, and Ariza, the Wizards will be taken more seriously next season. Remember, the Wizards won’t need to rack up as many wins as the four other teams in this list because they play in a weaker conference. If Wittman can change the culture of this team, the Wizards will be on the right track.

Note: I would include the Brooklyn Nets, but since they did not have a lottery pick in this draft, I did not think it would be fair to add them on to this list.

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