Were just under two months until the NBA season officially tips off and were now at the point of the offseason in which rosters are truly becoming set. Each team can carry up to 20 players in training camp before cutting down the roster to 15 on opening night. With that being said, let’s look at a few teams that could be a dark horse and a potential sleeper team.
A sleeper team will classify as a team who didn’t qualify for the postseason last season or is currently projected to miss the playoffs according to the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook over/unders wins totals.
For more NBA predictions on NBA over/under check out our predictions for what the best bets may be here.
With that being said, here’s a look at a few teams who may surprise this year:
The Hornets finished with a 36-46 record a year ago and Westgate has them pegged at 35.5 wins for next season. Charlotte can easily be a .500 team this upcoming year and sneak into the Eastern Conference playoff picture. Kemba Walker is still around as he survived the offseason trade rumors and should be primed for an All Star caliber season. Charlotte lost Dwight Howard, who played fairly well for them, but should be more addition by subtraction due to his poor locker room presence. In the draft, Charlotte added Miles Bridges, a strong combo forward who can just do about anything on the court, and Devonte Graham, the unanimous Player of the Year in the Big 12 and an NBA ready defender/backup point guard. Offseason additions included brining Tony Parker to provide veteran leadership and control the second unit on offense and trading for Bismack Biyombo to help with rim protection (The Biyombo era in Charlotte now gets a second act). Willy Hernangomez and Cody Zeller will be the other Centers on the roster with Frank Kaminsky and Marvin Williams acting as stretch fours. Jeremy Lamb and Malik Monk should provide enough floor scoring/floor spacing at the two guard. Nicolas Batum and Michael Kidd Gilchrist and there horrid contracts are still around but both should provide decent enough value if they remain healthy. With new head coach James Borrego, brining a Spurs type culture to Charlotte, the Hornets should have enough depth, playmakers, and floor spacing to be a playoff team.
This only happens if Luka Doncic has a Ben Simmons type impact from day one. Even then, it may be a stretch with how talented and deep the Western Conference is. Westgate has the Mavericks pegged at 34.5 which is a fair number but crazier things have happened before and maybe the Mavericks push that win total up to get into contention for the 8 seed. In addition to Doncic, Dallas brought in DeAndre Jordan to be the rim protector and pick and roll man they desperately needed and Jalen Brunson who just won the National Player of the year award at Villanova. With Dirk Nowitzki and Rick Carlisle the steadying presence of the franchise, The Mavericks have an outside chance of sneaking in.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers have almost become forgotten about since LeBron James joined the Lakers. It was expected with the King being in L.A. the Clippers would once again become the second show in town. However, the roster the Clippers have is really not half bad. Westgate has them pegged at 35.5 wins and if all breaks right, the Clippers can exceed that number and contend for the 8 seed. The Clippers are a roster average to above average role players but the roster is deep on the depth chart. Patrick Beverley, Milos Teodosic, Lou Williams and, Avery Bradley are solid four guards to rotate each night. Toss in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jerome Robinson as two rookie wild cards who both can impact the game and the Clippers have as deep of a backcourt as you can find in the league. Danilo Gallinari and Tobias are perfect complements to the backcourt as floor spacing, scorers who can use their size to shoot over mismatches. Luc Richard Mbah Moute will back them both up as a defensive first wing. Marcin Gortat and Montrezl Harrell fill out the center position. If Harrell continues to improve his game and contribute more last season, he can find himself being a regular starter over Gortat. The Clipper have done a nice job rebuilding the roster as they progress to a new era and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the team flirt with a postseason spot.