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Hoops Rumors Community Shootaround 10/12/15

Every season seems to have at least one team that exceeds all expectations and challenges for the top spot in its conference. Last season, we saw that occur in both conferences.

The Warriors were considered a team on the upswing entering last season but there were still serious doubts about their ability to contend. They had a first-year head coach, Steve Kerr, who had no previous experience running an NBA club. The core of the team was young and talented but had yet to make a deep playoff run. Everyone knew their backcourt of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson could shoot but would a perimeter-oriented team thrive throughout an 82-game schedule? Could Andrew Bogut stay healthy for most of the season and carry their interior defense? And just how much more could Draymond Green, a second-round pick, expand his game?

The Warriors answered all the questions with an exclamation point and carried that success over to the postseason during their dream season.

Don’t forget that a similar story unfolded in the Eastern Conference. While the Hawks had a disappointing playoff run, they enjoyed a regular-season run that nearly matched the Warriors’ dominance. The Hawks won 60 games, seven more than the much-heralded Cavaliers.

What made it even more impressive was that the Hawks did it with a core group that even today, most casual fans would have trouble naming. Who considered DeMarre Carroll to be one of the better small forwards in the league prior to last season? How many people thought Jeff Teague and aging gunner Kyle Korver would form one of the league’s most potent backcourt duos? Who thought center Al Horford could make it through a season without another significant injury?

Atlanta’s sudden rise was an eye opener. But that was last year. Somewhere out on the NBA landscape, another team without much hype is about to make a charge toward the top spot.

That brings us to today’s question: Which team will be the league’s biggest surprise and emerge as a contender this season?

Take to the comments section below to share your thoughts and opinions on the matter. Also, be sure to check back later on, as we’ll be responding to readers throughout the evening. We look forward to what you have to say!

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12 thoughts on “Hoops Rumors Community Shootaround 10/12/15

  1. Chuck Myron

    I’ll say the Pelicans, as long as their preseason injuries don’t linger for too long. Anthony Davis is a threat to win the MVP as soon as this season, and Alvin Gentry’s offensive wizardry could work wonders. Plus, Gentry is bringing over some of the techniques that Steve Kerr used when he was Kerr’s lead assistant in Golden State, so some of that Warriors magic could rub off. I’m a little skeptical because they made an 11-win jump last year, and it’s hard to make two double-digit gains in wins back-to-back, but this team has true potential.

  2. Jama

    I know this is optimistic, but I think the Nuggets could have a good season. They’re facing a tough Western conference, but they looked well coached in the pre-season action I’ve seen. They aren’t being forced into a system they don’t want to be in, they’re coached in a fast, athletic way, almost similar to what George Karl did. They’ll live and die by how Mudiay looks, but he looks promising. They’ll just hopefully do better than they did last year.

    • Dana Gauruder

      If Mudiay is the real deal, the Nuggets will be on the upswing. But it’s tough to rely on a rookie point guard and the club must improve its defense to make a significant move in the standings.

  3. Eddie Scarito

    I’ll take the Bucks. That is a team that is packed with young talent, and Milwaukee added a solid big in Monroe over the summer. Really think they will be near the top of the East this season.

  4. soul

    Milwaukee, Sacramento or both. Because I already consider New Orleans a contender. P.S. Orlando?

    • soul

      Lakers will be better than expected, but I don’t see them at 40 wins.

    • Dana Gauruder

      The Bucks could certainly surprise, especially if Parker comes back strong from his injury. I also like the Magic with Skiles creating an improved defensive mindset for the young club.

  5. Jacob Jackson

    I’ll go with the Celtics. Some team is gonna face the Cavs in the ECF, and basically, no matter what that team that is, it’s gonna be a surprise. That team won’t be favored to win, but I guess making the conference finals makes you a contender, right?

    Between the Bucks and Celtics, one of those teams needs to get on the other side of the bracket to avoid the Cavs as long as possible. If they do, that’s my surprise ECF pick/surprise contender. They both have elite coaching.

    Washington and the Raps have unimaginative coaching and won’t advance past the second round. Atlanta probably took a 1/2 step back, and wasn’t athletic enough to hang with Cle last year. The Heat and Bulls can’t get four great games out of 7 from Wade or Rose at this stage of their careers. So, I’ll go with the young, athletic, well-coached teams. Bucks and Celtics.

    Btw the East is sneaky-good this year, right? 8 good teams! I’ll bet all eight are above .500 for once.

    • Dana Gauruder

      The East does have more depth — I especially see the Central as being a lot more competitive beyond the Cavs with the Bucks, Pistons and Pacers on the upswing. The Celtics have a shot to make it to the conference finals if Stevens can figure out a rotation. Lots of good players, but they lack a star to build around.

      • zack

        It’s not even clear to me that the Celtics will make the playoffs this year. The only team I can see them making it over is indiana and that a coin flip for me

  6. Based on some of the other comments, it sounds like the Raptors will once again be a team that is going to have to smack some teams in the mouth to get some respect. I get it though, a poor finish to the year makes many feel as if they were pretenders. I however think that that poor finish makes them stronger coming into this season. Carroll and Biyombo alone change the face of the defense. Kyle Lowry actually looks like an NBA point guard which will only help with his on ball defense. Jonas Valanciunas was also given a harsh wake up call by coach. Casey often opted to go small late in games and got killed on the glass. I don’t see that happening this year. This team is bigger but also more athletic. I’ll take the new cast over last years all day. It appears Patrick Patterson is the starting 4. If he has a good year, the Raptors will win the Atlantic again and be a force in the playoffs. By the way people are talking, that will be them exceeding expectations

    • Dana Gauruder

      The Raptors are certainly in the conversation. The Celtics are their only true competition in their division. If the Raptors show more intensity on the defensive end this season, they have the talent to get to the conference finals.

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