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Community Shootaround: Most Improved Lottery Team In West?

Earlier this week, we asked Hoops Rumors readers to identify the most improved lottery team in the East. While several teams received support, the general consensus was that the Sixers look like the strongest candidate to significantly improve their win total, while the Knicks might be the best bet of those seven teams to earn a playoff spot next spring.

In the Western Conference, the franchise that missed the playoffs by the smallest margin may be this summer’s most improved lottery team. The Jazz finished just a game out of the postseason, but were plagued by injuries all year. With better health, another year of experience for their young players, and contributions from offseason additions like George Hill and Joe Johnson, Utah looks poised to contend for a top-five spot in the West.

But is there another lottery team in the West that’s a strong candidate for most improved? The Kings, Nuggets, Pelicans, Timberwolves, Suns, and Lakers round out the conference’s non-playoff teams, and all six clubs have made some notable moves this offseason.

In the Pacific Division, the lottery teams relied heavily on the draft to improve their rosters, with the Lakers selecting Brandon Ingram, the Suns picking Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss, and the Kings adding three first-rounders. However, those teams also dipped into free agency as they attempted to upgrade their rosters — Los Angeles signed Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng, Sacramento added Arron Afflalo and a handful of role-playing veterans, and Phoenix brought back a pair of familiar faces in Jared Dudley and Leandro Barbosa.

The Timberwolves took a safe approach to the offseason, adding a highly-regarded prospect (Kris Dunn) and only delving into free agency to add complementary players like Cole Aldrich, Jordan Hill, and Brandon Rush. They’ll rely on their core players like Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins to take another step forward, and the same can be said about the Nuggets, who sat out free agency almost entirely.

The Pelicans, meanwhile, surrounded Anthony Davis with a handful of intriguing free agent additions, including Solomon Hill, E’Twaun Moore, Langston Galloway, and Terrence Jones.

What do you think? Which franchise is the most improved lottery team in the Western Conference? Do the Jazz deserve that title, or does another club have a stronger case, particularly if we’re looking at the largest projected increase in wins?

Take to the comments section below to share your opinions on the Jazz, Kings, Nuggets, Pelicans, Timberwolves, Suns, and Lakers. We look forward to hearing your thoughts.

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8 thoughts on “Community Shootaround: Most Improved Lottery Team In West?

  1. Jazz. They honestly should’ve made the playoffs above the rockets, but luck wasn’t on their side. Now that they made veteran help, they’re gonna be in the playoffs. They aren’t serious contenders like the Warriors or Spurs, but they’re gonna be pretty good. They are at the very least make the playoffs.

  2. aarongill

    Wolves. Dunn is a great draft pick(I know, too early to say). Rush provides shooting, Hill provides hustle, not to mention Lavine, Wiggins, and Towns still improving.

    • JayTeam

      Adding Thibs improves them more than anything else.

  3. Bobby Sweet

    I’ll say the Jazz, but I really like the Timberwolves. That team seems loaded.

  4. Grant Weddle

    I think the T-Wolves could have a Hawks like jump and contend either this or next year. The Jazz should take playoff spot also and I kind of like the nuggets, suns and lakers improvements to be competitive. My prediction is 1/Warriors, 2/Spurs, 3/Clippers, 4/Grizzlies, 5/Blazers, 6/Jazz, 7/T-Wolves, 8/Rockets, 9/Mavs, 10/Lakers, 11/Nuggets, 12/Thunder, 13/Suns, 14/Kings, 15/Pelicans

    • Warriors, Spurs, Clippers, Grizzlies, Jazz, Mavs, Rockets, Wolves, Blazers, Nuggets, Thunder (with Westbrook) Pelicans, Kings, Lakers, Thunder (without Westbrook), Suns

      assuming everyone is healthy. After the first four teams, the next seven are pretty much interchangeable, any of them can get 42+ wins. The Pelicans and Kings will be under .500, and the Lakers, Suns and probably the Thunder are destined for the bottom 3.

      • The Kings are my playoff sleeper, their improved bench and coaching change will buy them 5-10 wins, +8 wins will get them into the playoffs

  5. Joshua

    The Jazz have to be it. Consider this for a moment:
    After the all star break in 14-15 season, Jazz went 19-10 and allowed 94 points per 100 possessions which Id sustained over a full season would have been top 10 all time. They were this good because they had inserted Rudy Gobert and Dante Exum into the starting lineup. Exum’s defense at the point of attack made their defense stellar. Last season it was Trey Burke and Raul Neto that that started at pg in wake of Exum’s ACL tear. Jazz Were not as good because of this. infact, you could make a case Jazz had worst PG play in the league last year. Now after adding George Hill and Exum, the defense at Point guard will be awesome, and Gobert will be back healthy as well.

    Additionally, Trey Lyles and Rodney Hood will further develop which will raise the ceiling as they go into their 2nd and 3rd season respectively. Lyles had been awesome in summer league. The Jazz bench of Exum, Joe Johnson, Alec Burks and Trey Lyles should be quite formidable. And the starting lineup of Hill Hood Hayward Favors and Gobert should seriously be excellent. If the Jazz are healthy next year, they should be a top 4 seed. Would not surprise me if they were 3rd and even second. Though unlikely, I think they could be that good. But 4th sounds about right now.

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