NBA Season Preview Series – Part 8

As we mentioned in Part 1 of this series, we will be previewing the NBA season by ranking the clubs in reverse order and revealing those clubs two at a time. Here’s what those rankings look like at this point:
30. Atlanta Hawks
29. Sacramento Kings
28. Orlando Magic
27. Phoenix Suns
26. Chicago Bulls
25. New York Knicks
24. Brooklyn Nets
23. Charlotte Hornets
22. Memphis Grizzlies
21. Dallas Mavericks
20. Cleveland Cavaliers
19. Los Angeles Clippers
18. Detroit Pistons
17. Miami Heat

Here are the next two clubs:

16. Washington Wizards

Last Season: 43-39 (0.524) (2nd in Southeast Division, 8th in Eastern Conference)
Head Coach: Scott Brooks (3rd season with team, 92-72 team; 430-279 overall)
Major Off-season Acquisitions: Troy Brown Jr. (15th pick), Austin Rivers (trade with Clippers), Jeff Green, Dwight Howard
Major Off-season Departures: Marcin Gortat (trade with Clippers) Mike Scott, Tim Frazier, Ty Lawson, Ramon Sessions
Salary Cap Info: $134.9 million ($33M over cap, $11.1M over luxury tax threshhold)
Narrative: Dwight Howard has been a non-factor for most of the past five seasons, and a new team probably won’t mean different results. The Wizards limped into the playoffs as the 8th seed in the East last season, and they should be expected to be around the same spot again this season. The team will look different, but they don’t have much cap flexibility if things should go awry, limiting their upside regardless of the weaker Eastern Conference.
Scott Brooks has done well in Washington, and seems to be secure in his position with the team regardless of results. However, I would expect that ownership and other leadership would like to see more consistency from the team, and expects them to be a little higher in the conference. But the Capitals winning the Stanley Cup last season may have slowed the need for the other Washington teams to have decent seasons this year.

15. Minnesota Timberwolves

Last Season: 47-35 (0.573) (4th in Northwest Division, 8th in Western Conference)
Head Coach: Tom Thibodeau (3rd season with team, 78-86 team; 333-225 overall)
Major Off-season Acquisitions: Josh Okogie (20th pick), Anthony Tolliver, Luol Deng
Major Off-season Departures: Cole Aldrich, Menanja Bjelica
Salary Cap Info: $122.2 million ($20.3M over cap, $1.5M luxury tax room)
Narrative: The “TimberBulls” didn’t have any major changes in the roster during the offseason, but that could change in the next few weeks. Star wing Jimmy Butler has requested a trade, and while coach Tom Thibodeau want to keep him around, ownership wants to move on from a player that no longer wants to be there. The Wolves returned to the playoffs last season, only to lose in 5 games to the Rockets. The West remains loaded, and with the Lakers adding LeBron James, some of the teams at the bottom of the playoffs may shift down a spot, the Wolves among them. Nevertheless, if Butler does get traded (depending on the return), the Wolves may be back on the outside looking in when the playoffs roll around this season.
Until next time… 
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