This Monday through Friday, I’m going to give my season predictions in a countdown from worst to first. The format will be three teams per post, one post in the morning and one in the afternoon. Whichever team you’re a fan of, there’s a good chance you’ll feel like I’m disrespecting them. I understand this, and I promise you I won’t take your insults personally.

27. Cleveland Cavaliers
Kyrie Irving is the favorite to win the 2011-12 Rookie of the Year award, but I expect him to have the standard growing pains that come with being a rookie point guard in the NBA, including a high rate of turnovers and a low shooting percentage. He has top-five point guard potential when he hits his prime years, but he’ll struggle along with his young supporting cast this season.

That supporting cast includes rugged rookie power forward Tristan Thompson, who will provide a much-needed boost to the Cavs’ interior defense and rebounding. Unfortunately, Thompson will be competing for minutes with Antawn Jamison and his $15 million expiring contract. Jamison’s presence makes no sense on this team, but Cavaliers GM Chris Grant would be wise to hang on to that expiring contract for the cap space it will create after the season.

The Cavs are in the same boat as the Raptors this season, as both teams need to develop their young talent and preserve their cap flexibility going forward. The Cavs have the edge, for the moment, because they have a potential franchise player in Irving. During what should be another challenging season, there will be reason for hope for the future.

26. Minnesota Timberwolves
Is this the season where the Timberwolves will have to make a significant leap forward in order for team president David Kahn to keep his job? They’re coming off their sixth straight sub-.500 season and they haven’t played in the postseason since 2004. The T-Wolves’ two seasons under Kahn’s watch were the worst two consecutive seasons (with a combined 32-132 record) in franchise history. You can only keep accumulating prospects for so long in pro sports before the owner expects to see some progress in the win column.

Looking at the parts, there certainly seems to be a chance that this team could show significant improvement this season if those parts can work together effectively. Kevin Love is a legitimate superstar, Michael Beasley could be poised for a breakout season, Derrick Williams could be a stud if he can get enough playing time and Anthony Randolph continues to tantalize with his tools even while he continues to disappoint fantasy team owners like myself. And let’s not forget new coach Rick Adelman, who only has two losing seasons on his record in 19 full seasons as an NBA coach.

Of course, the main reason you’ll be seeking out T-Wolves games on League Pass once the season kicks off is rookie point guard Ricky Rubio. His arrival in Minnesota has been highly anticipated since Kahn took a chance on selecting him fifth overall in the 2009 draft, and how Rubio performs on this stage will most likely determine how Kahn’s legacy is judged. There’s no denying Rubio’s flair and court vision, but his outside shooting is beyond suspect. If he can’t shoot 40 percent from the field — and I’m highly skeptical that he can — it’s going to be hard for him to hold down a starting job in this league. Regardless, the T-Wolves figure to be the worst compelling NBA team this season.

25. Sacramento Kings
What a fun, wacky bunch of players we have here: DeMarcus! Tyreke! Jimmer! I’m forecasting a lot of 114-110 games in this team’s immediate future, but they’ll probably be on the wrong end of that score more often than not.

Jimmer’s getting the lion’s share of attention right now, but let’s be clear that DeMarcus Cousins is the straw that stirs Sacramento’s mango iced tea. While Marcus Thornton emerged as a 20 points per game threat after he was traded to the Kings in February, Cousins has legitimate top-five center potential if he can improve on a few minor deficiencies such as shot selection, discipline and maturity. There’s no question in my mind that Cousins could average 20 and 10 if he learns to avoid foul trouble. but a fat lot of good that will do the Kings if he’s shooting 43 percent from the field and turning the ball over four times per game.

Even with their offensive weaponry, the Kings finished 25th in offensive efficiency last season because they were 23rd in field goal percentage, 26th in three-point percentage and they had the third-most turnovers in the league. Cousins led the team with a 27.3 percent Usage Rate last season, and if that’s not likely to change this season then he needs to get a lot smarter with his possessions. He needs to cut down on the turnovers, obviously, but he should also take advantage of his size to get a higher percentage of scoring opportunities close to the rim as he made just 36 percent of his shots from 10 feet and beyond last season. The only thing those bricks figure to build is a place to watch other NBA teams play meaningful basketball beyond April.

Comments (16)

  1. I look at these 3 teams and i feel they have a better looking future then the raptors… Three years from now these will be talked about as playoff teams. sigh

  2. Sadly, as Andre said all the three teams above have atleast two solid All Star prospects. Right about now Raps have zero (Sorry guys, Demar’s ceiling isn’t that high).

  3. The Raptors might lack All Star prospects, but are building in the right direction at the moment. Focusing on devloping Ed Davis, JJ, and Demar while preserving cap space, and landing a good pick in this years draft, will assist in the re-build. That is also the reason the Raptors were ranked 29th instead of 25th, etc.

  4. Its pretty obvious Scott… that you did not rank the Raptors at #30 because you would be afraid of being crucified by toronto homers. Toronto Raptors will be the worse team in the NBA for the next 5 years (or as long as we have Bargnani’s contract). Call it a coincidence, but the Raptors continue to draft poorly. Two top 5 picks in the last 5 years, and for whatever reason Brian Collangelo continues to roll the dice and draft non-black players. Although Toronto Canada is known for being “multi-cultural”, they draft european players which hope to draw in european fans but european fans are the softest by far when it comes to basketball fans. The post-vinsanity era has been a total disaster. We drafted Bosh but surrounding him was white players from europe. Dirk Nowitzki will be the only euro to ever win a finals MVP + Ring. If Toronto fans think Bargnani is the key to success… you have to be completly mental. He has 5 seasons under his belt, With a terrible roster surronding him, he is only able to avg 21 PPG.
    The Raptors franchise has been ugly and painful to watch at the same time since he has been drafted. Toronto has by far the worse fan base. Its sad to see that Toronto is the most populated city in Canada as well. Dont count on the city of Toronto to be relivant in the 3 major sports for the next 20 years. Atleast the blue jays have an excuse to be sub-par. They are in the same division as two of the richest franchises in their respective sport (who care about winning).

  5. wow.. haters haters haters
    obviously someone’s been sipping on the haterade and turning into the grinch during the xmas holidays.
    first off scott its a joke you have these teams ahead of the raptors. cleveland? why just because tristan thompson is canadian? sacramento? with a team iq of 1, this must be a joke. i’ll give you minnesota but those other 2 teams are NOT better than the raptors.

    secondly, sukhdeep you are the biggest hater ever. while i agree euros are soft and for the most part trash with the exception being nowitzki it’s fans like you and scott that are giving toronto a bad name. I think you’re the one that is mental.

    This is a joke, the raps will make the playoffs and i doubt you guys will be here eating crow.

  6. Sak,

    Why stop at making the playoffs?

    I think the Raps will beat the Bulls 72 win record (not just match), Demar will win the scoring title, Bargs will be DPOY, LB will avg a triple double and James Johnson will cure cancer while becoming the UFC HW champ. And that’s just the regular season.

  7. @Sukhdeep Alota-Ghundi

    You actually believe the Raptors draft based on the color of skin?
    You believe you know the future of all MLSE Toronto teams for the next 20 years?

    It’s shocking you actually think like this, and even worse that your not ashmed of posting those thoughts.

  8. Another toronto homer. Sak when you mean playoffs, you’re talking about hockey right?? Because there’s no way in the world that the Raptors make the playoffs unless the miami heat gms are drunk and trade their entire roster for the raptors. I can bet my soiled turban that they will NOT make the playoffs. Andrea Bargnani and Jose yogi-bear calderon are not even capable of leading a team to the easter egg hunt playoffs.

    On another topic…
    I respect the fact that the score network does a tremendous job on trying to cover the NBA (and ncaa basketball). its just unfortunate that many of the staff just write something from the words of other pro sports media writers.. they do not have the courage to write columns/blogs that spell out: “original” or “controversial”… but easily spell out loud and clear: “soft”.

    Soft just like Toronto sports fans.. in fact toronto media may very well be the reason Toronto sports fans are so soft. They don’t know which direction to go because they follow the soft and weak writers opinions that have no back bone. Lebron James’ soft -ego is stronger than the toronto writers opinions.

    Although when it comes to hockey, toronto media are top. with all the insider information etc.. Unfortunately when it comes to sports with athletes of majority color. (NBA, NFL).. writers dont know much except for what they have read and absorbed from other sports media (its painfully obvious)…. write something that we have NOT already read… scott is as soft as it gets when it comes to sports writing.

  9. Adam, you gotta take responses from the hormonal teens like Sukhdeep at about 1% of face value.

    Poor guy is suffering from know-it-all syndrome/schizophrenia.

  10. @DukeN

    You’re obviously a frustrated single middle-aged Leafs fan who thinks the Leafs have a shot at the cup every single year…. sigh

  11. not to mention… you probably STILL think wrestling is real too.. since you’ve been watching it since the 80′s… got some news for you… wrestling is fake… so is santa clause…. and so are the Toronto sport fans

  12. Duke there is no way that would happen, we all know James Johnson spends most of his research time pursuing HIV research. Thats highly unlikely that his tireless efforts in the field of HIV/AIDS will lead to a breakthrough in cancer. GET REAL PLEASE!!!

  13. I agree with Sak except for the playoff part. y’all are just too negative on the Raps. they are the 25th worst team definetly not bottom bottom dwellers. Detroit, Charlotte, Cleveland, Sacramento, and possibly Minnesota are going to have a worse record. i

  14. Toronto was placed right where they should be. They lack potential while these teams all have something going for them whether they´re rookies, sophmores or have a better roster then the Raps. Also this is a season prediction and why are you talking about the Raptors when they´re not even mentioned on this page, press the back button and bitch there.

  15. LOL at everyone underestimating the Kings. We will make everyone believers when we sneak into the Playoffs. Don’t say you weren’t warned when Thorton or Jimmer suck the soul out of your arena when they knock down a game winner three.

  16. Unless Walker proves to be a transcendent player in his rookie season, it appears that Corey Maggette will be the Bobcats

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