And the beat goes on. I’ve covered seeds 15 and 14 for each conference. Today we’ll take a look at the 13 and 12 seeds.
13. Toronto Raptors
Last season: 23-43 (11th in East)
PFPG: 90.7 (28th)
PAPG: 94.0 (9th)
Key Losses: None
Key Additions: Terrance Ross (Draft), Kyle Lowry (FA), Landry Fields (FA)
The Raptors are still looking to re-build their team after losing Chris Bosh in the 2010 free agency frenzy. The team drafted Terrence Ross who they will look to to help get the Raptors back into the playoffs since 2008. Toronto bolstered its offensive game with the trade for former Rockets point guard Kyle Lowry.
The franchise seems to be headed in the right direction as they put forth their best defensive effort in years. The Raptors were once a team that couldn’t stop children from scoring years past, but shored up the effort on the defensive end and finished in the top 10 in points allowed.
I expect the Raptors to play well throughout the season, but with some of the new pieces and general youthfulness of the team, the team probably won’t compete for a playoff spot. Things are looking up in Toronto nonetheless.
12. Detroit Pistons
Last Season: 25-41 (10th in East)
PFPG: 90.9 (27th)
PAPG: 95.7 (14th)
Key Losses: Ben Gordon (trade w/ CHA)
Key Additions: Corey Maggette (trade w/ CHA)
I was tempted to pick this team as a potential dark horse in the playoff hunt in the Eastern Conference. The Pistons played pretty well in the second half of the season and picked up some wins against quality opponents after the All-Star break.
The team has a quality core to build around featuring Rodney Stuckey, Greg Monroe, and Brandon Knight. If the franchise plays their cards correctly, and these young players develop to their potential, the Pistons could be back in the playoff discussion much earlier than anticipated.
Overall I believe the Pistons will compete for a playoff spot throughout the season. The team can give Detroit fans something to cheer for, but in the end, they just don’t have the firepower to keep up with the more seasoned playoff seeking teams in the East.
13. Golden State Warriors
Last Season: 23-43 (13th in West)
PFPG: 97.8 (12th)
PAPG: 101.2 (28th)
Key Losses: None
Key Additions: Harrison Barnes (Draft)
For Warriors fans it may feel like decades ago since their magical playoff run in 2007. Golden State missed the playoffs in 2008 while recording a 48-34 record that year. Since then it’s been back to mediocrity for the fans in Oakland.
As usual the Warriors lack of defense proves to be it’s biggest issue heading into the new year. The Warriors also saw a decline in scoring as they finished in the middle of the pack last year. Mark Jackson will look to imprint his style of play on this young group in his first full 82-game season as a head coach.
Expect more of the same in the Bay Area as the Warriors probably won’t make the playoffs. The roster still has too many holes to compete for a playoff spot. Hopefully the young guys can gel and improve as the season goes on into 2013.
12. Phoenix Suns
Last Season: 33-33 (10th in West)
PFPG: 98.4 (8th)
PAPG: 98.6 (21st)
Key Losses: Steve Nash (trade w/ LAL), Robin Lopez
Key Additions: Luis Scola (FA), Michael Beasley (FA), Goran Dragic (FA)
As the cornerstone of the Phoenix Suns moved six hours westward, a new era is underway for the Suns. Goran Dragic, Nash’s backup during their WCF run in 2010 returns as the full time point guard for the Suns. With the additions of Luis Scola and Michael Beasley, the Suns are primed to build something in the post-Nash era.
The concern for Alvin Gentry and his team is the transition from a point guard who did it all for the team to a new (somewhat) quarterback calling the plays. The Suns finished the season at .500 after a pretty poor start to the lockout shortened campaign. Nash had much to do with the comeback with his veteran savvy and experience, but with the overhaul, a lot of that leadership needs to be found in other places.
Phoenix can be a player in the West, but I believe it will take a year of cohesion and chemistry to return to the playoffs.