After a long off-season filled with roster moves and re-signings, the NBA season is upon us. Some teams have finally obtained the players they need, or have matured enough, to make it onto the list of the NBA’s elite ball clubs. Teams like the Nuggets are above their underrated title and are ready to support that statement. As well, teams like the Brooklyn Nets are ready to boast their star-studded roster and make some serious noise in the Eastern Conference. Now, the NBA’s five most improved teams entering the 2012-2013 season.
1. Denver Nuggets
Last season, the Nuggets showed signs of being an elite team by taking the Los Angeles Lakers to seven games in the first round and proved they could keep up with the stronger NBA teams. After obtaining Javale McGee, one of the most athletic guys in the league, right before the trade deadline, the Nuggets started to sculpt their core for the next several seasons. Bringing back Wilson Chandler to back-up his former teammate Danlio Gallinari, the Nuggets are bringing in some serious, proven depth this season. With Ty Lawson ready to prove that he is one of the best dual-threat point guards around, the Nuggets are ready to burst out onto the scene. To add to their key additions, the Nuggets added Andre Iguodala, lock-down shooting guard from Philadelphia as a part of the Dwight Howard deal. With Iguodala’s all-around talent, the Nuggets boast one of the best young nucleuses in the entire league. Look for the Nuggets to run in, and around teams all season long.
2. Brooklyn Nets
An organization that spent arguably the most money this off-season, the Nets bring back a completely different team this season. The team brings back star point guard Deron Williams, and work-horse power forward Kris Humphries to add to newly-acquired shooting guard Joe Johnson. As well they made key additions such as C.J Watson, a proven point guard who is going to back up Williams, and Reggie Evans, one of the best rebounders in basketball to fill in the frontcourt. Putting one of the best backcourts in basketball on the floor, Deron Williams and Joe Johnson, the Nets could keep themselves in any game, and one of the best scoring centers in the league, Brook Lopez, could take the title as the best scoring center in basketball. With solid bench play and great play by their core, the Nets may finally be ready to call themselves an elite ball club again.
3. Minnesota Timberwolves
A team similar to Denver, Minnesota began to shape themselves for the next several years last season. With one of the most complete players the NBA has seen in a long time, Kevin Love is the definition of a walking double-double. With Ricky Rubio set to return around Christmas time, the Timberwolves will be running up and down the floor with Rubio as the floor general. Rubio proved to all of the critics that they were wrong about him and he is indeed an NBA player, not just another European star that could not make it in the NBA. Signing proven veteran Andrei Kirilenko, and un-retired Brandon Roy, the T-Wolves added veteran leadership that they did not have. After showing signs of cracking the surface last season, the Timberwolves are ready to stabilize as a consistent playoff contender.
4. New Orleans Hornets
The Hornets had a terrific draft, taking the highly touted shot blocker Anthony Davis at number one, and Austin Rivers at number ten. With a healthy Eric Gordon and the signing of Ryan Anderson, all of a sudden the Hornets have come back to have a formidable roster. After losing Chris Paul to the Clippers in a trade last season, the Hornets were expected to have several years of troubling and poor play, but just like that the Hornets have risen again. If Davis and Rivers could pan out like every top ten pick should, the Hornets will definitely be in the running for a postseason bid until the final few games of the season.
5. Cleveland Cavilers
The Cavilers are coming off a very successful season that saw Kyrie Irving burst onto the NBA landscape with 18 points a game and 5 assists. Irving returns to Cleveland with incoming rookies Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller, each who can be solid role players and effective for this team. Waiters could mesh well with Irving because he is a scorer and take some of the weight off Irving’s shoulders. As well, Zeller, a second-round pick, is expected to back-up Anderson Varejo and will not have a heavy workload. In limited playing time Zeller will excel and benefit the team with his unselfish play and high basketball I.Q. With another year for Tristan Thompson, another second-year pro, he will learn and continue to mold and complement Kyrie Irving. With Irving only improving by the day, and players being formed and placed around him, this Cavs squad will return to NBA relevance as soon as this season.