Even basketball teams undergo corporate downsizing. The Portland Trail Blazers should be a lot worse next year, but does that mean they don't belong in our NBA picks?
There's only so much you can do to build an NBA franchise. Even the best GMs are bound by the luxury tax, the whims of their owners, and the realities of their particular market bases. All five of the following teams are expected to lose a lot more often next year, but don't automatically reject them when you're making your NBA picks – some teams will bounce back much more quickly than others.
Portland Trail Blazers
Case in point. Of all the players who switched uniforms this summer, none was more productive than LaMarcus Aldridge (22.8 PER, +0.3 BPM). The Blazers also shed Wes Matthews (16.1 PER, +3.9 BPM), Nicolas Batum (13.1 PER, +3.1 BPM) and Robin Lopez (16.2 PER, +2.1 BPM). However, they made out like bandits by adding Mason Plumlee (18.0 PER, +0.8 BPM), Ed Davis (20.0 PER, +3.0 BPM) and Al-Farouq Aminu (14.4 PER, +2.4 BPM). And if Noah Vonleh makes the leap this year, watch out.
Simple regression tells us that Atlanta should take a step back after winning 60 games last year at 50-30-2 ATS. Pro Basketball Reference gave the Hawks a +4.75 on their Simple Rating System, putting them in between the 51-31 Blazers (+4.41 SRS) and the 55-27 San Antonio Spurs (+6.34 SRS). The Hawks are also minus swingman DeMarre Carroll (15.9 PER, +2.9 BPM), who was integral to Atlanta's success last year.
We don't mean to pile on the Nets, but they're the one team on this list who's aggressively moving down the standings. Brooklyn decided to cut its losses with Deron Williams (15.7 PER, +0.1 BPM), which is understandable given the luxury tax, but the Nets also shipped Plumlee to the Blazers to grab No. 23 overall pick Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and they signed a metric boatload of bad-stat scrubs to fill out next year's lineup – which features Jarrett Jack (14.6 PER, –1.5 BPM) starting at point guard.
The Mavs got burned when DeAndre Jordan walked back his decision to leave the Los Angeles Clippers. They had already started building next year's team around Jordan, signing Matthews away from the Blazers and letting Tyson Chandler (20.1 PER, +4.2 BPM) escape via free agency. Dallas rebounded nicely by picking up Williams on the cheap, along with Zaza Pachulia (15.6 PER, +1.4 BPM) and Jeremy Evans (20.5 PER, +3.5 BPM), but this is still a makeshift team that will struggle to contend for a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Golden State Warriors
Surprise! The Warriors (67-15 SU, 47-34-1 ATS) had a season for the ages, and while they're bringing back nearly every player from that magical 2014-15 team, the defending champions are very likely to finish somewhere closer to 60 games next year. And that's if they stay healthy. What will happen if Stephen Curry (28.0 PER, +9.9 BPM) and Klay Thompson (20.8 PER, +2.7 BPM) get concussed again? Don't lose your head, my friends.