We are already more than a quarter through the 2023-24 NBA season. The Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks currently sit on top of the Eastern Conference standings as expected. The defending champion Denver Nuggets remain among the West’s elite teams. LeBron James led the Lakers to winning the inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament Cup.
There have been some surprises as well.
Who had the Minnesota Timberwolves and Oklahoma City Thunder as the top two teams in the West in mid-December? Anyone? Me neither.
Who had the Orlando Magic tied for third in the East with the Philadelphia 76ers in mid-January? Absolutely NO one.
What do the Timberwolves, Thunder, and Magic all have in common? They are young teams who are led by young, emerging stars. Each of those teams will only get better. The Timberwolves, Thunder, and Magic now seem like they are prepared to contend for years to come.
The same can’t necessarily be said for the other 27 teams in the NBA.
Sure, teams like the Celtics, Bucks, 76ers, and Heat should contend for the East crown for at least the next couple of years. The same goes for the Nuggets, Lakers, Suns, and Mavericks. There are others like the Knicks, Pacers, Rockets, and Kings who should fight for playoff positioning during this period.
That covers 15 of the 30 NBA teams. What about the other half? Will they be contending for a playoff berth, let alone an NBA title for the next couple of years?
Maybe. Maybe not. The other 15 teams are either in “win-now” mode or won’t even sniff the Play-In tournament this season.
I decided to focus on five NBA teams that are at a crossroads. In my opinion, they need to decide to either attempt to make one last run with their current roster and add a piece to win now - or undergo the painful process of rebuilding their roster. Here we go…