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5 NBA teams that will shock you next season (for better or worse)
The 2016-17 NBA regular season is coming to a close — which is a perfect time to look ahead to next year.
After all, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors once again look like they’re on a collision course for a Finals rematch. There’s not a whole lot of intrigue heading into the postseason.
In 2017-18, though, the entire landscape of the Association could shift. Here are five teams we expect to surprise the basketball world next season, by either exceeding or coming up short of expectations.
MILWAUKEE BUCKS: TRENDING UPWARD
If you’re not paying attention to this scary-good young team, you’ll be in for quite the surprise next season.
The Bucks are solid playoff contenders already, and that’s with Jabari Parker sidelined, Thon Maker still developing, and Khris Middleton having missed much of the season due to injury. A fully healthy Milwaukee squad with another training camp’s worth of practice and chemistry under its belt would be the second-best team in the Eastern Conference next season.
That’s right — forget the Celtics, Wizards, Raptors, or anyone else. The biggest threat to the Cavs’ supremacy in the East resides in Wisconsin.
LOS ANGELES LAKERS: TRENDING UPWARD
The Lakers are on the brink of putting together a Warriors-esque superteam — according to Metta World Peace, who sat down this week with Chris Broussard on FOX Sports’ “In The Zone” basketball podcast:
“With time, if this group can stay together, you’ll see a Golden State situation, because you’ll start to see Brandon Ingram take over games, where there’s nothing anybody can do, similar to what Stephen Curry’s doing. You’ll see. Guys have no chance.
“Then D’Angelo Russell, you can’t make mistakes against him, similar to like Klay Thompson. He’s a different player, but you cannot make a mistake against a fourth-year D’Angelo Russell. Right now, he’s in his second year, right?
“And then Julius Randle, with the improvement, look at Draymond Green, pushing the ball. Julius had triple-doubles this year, he had [games of] eight assists, and he’s still raw. So with that being said, you’ve got guys that if they stay together, they’ll win, and they’ll be All-Stars.”
I’m not quite as bullish on the young Lakers as Metta, but there’s definitely something here. I have faith Luke Walton can push his squad into the playoff picture next season by unleashing Russell and Ingram.
That’s assuming the Lakers defy the odds and keep their lottery pick this summer, of course, which is absolutely going to happen. The universe tends to work out for Los Angeles.