Half the 2018 NBA playoff teams would currently miss the 2019 playoffs

Half the 2018 NBA playoff teams would currently miss the 2019 playoffs

DunkWire

Half the 2018 NBA playoff teams would currently miss the 2019 playoffs

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After LeBron James switched teams, many expected the Cleveland Cavaliers would miss the playoffs. However, nobody could’ve predicted all the other drastic changes in each conference.

As of right now, eight teams that made the 2018 postseason are on pace to miss this year’s playoffs based on the current standings. According to our research, that would be the most playoff-turned-lottery teams since 1984 (when the NBA expanded the postseason to 16 teams).

The Western Conference currently has five former playoff teams outside of the postseason picture: the Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, San Antonio Spurs, Utah Jazz and Houston Rockets.

Meanwhile, the Eastern Conference playoff picture is missing three teams that made the postseason last April: the Miami Heat, Washington Wizards and Cleveland Cavaliers.

While a lot can change between now and the start of the playoffs, it seems possible that certain teams that have climbed the standings (like the Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies and Charlotte Hornets) could sustain their strong play.

We explained why each team has struggled thus far and what it would take for them to turn their season around.

Houston Rockets, 2017-18: No. 1 Seed (West)

Current Games Back: 2.5

Given their star power alone, the Rockets should be considered the team most likely to make the playoffs among all the squads listed below. However, they’ve had a tumultuous start to their season and they are three games below .500 (11-14) after 25 game. They’re currently ranked No. 25 in defensive rating after having the sixth-best defense last season. Offensively, they have been ineffective in the pick-and-roll and their three-point shooting is an issue. They lead the NBA in three-point attempts per game, but they making just 33.7 percent of those shots (which ranks 24th in the NBA).

Cleveland Cavaliers, 2017-18: No. 4 Seed (East)

Current Games Back: 6.0

Few can blame the Cavs for switching from powerhouse to bottom-dweller after losing a star like James. With that said, their start has been even worse than expected. They have already parted ways with head coach Ty Lue as well as veterans Kyle Korver and George Hill. They’ve also dismissed JR Smith from the team as they consider their trade options. Meanwhile, their best player (Kevin Love) signed a massive extension and then had to miss significant time due to toe surgery. Things went downhill very quickly in Cleveland.

Utah Jazz, 2017-18: No. 5 Seed (West)

Current Games Back: 1.5

While many have dissected why the Rockets have underwhelmed, the Jazz have been comparably concerning. We’ve previously written about their issues when the frontcourt consists of Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors. The front office recently landed Korver from Cleveland in an attempt to improve the team’s shooting since the Jazz currently rank No. 25 in three-point percentage. It’s hard to say which is a bigger shock: Utah winning 48 games last season as one of the NBA’s pleasant surprises or this year’s struggles.

Miami Heat, 2017-18, 2017-18: No. 6 Seed (East)

Current Games Back: 0.5

Their offensive rating (106.1) is currently the third-worst among all teams in the East. After swinging and missing on a trade to land Jimmy Butler, they are in an unusual position: Their roster is too talented to tank for a better draft pick, but it’s too thin to contend. The front office does not have desirable assets to make a trade nor the cap space to add a marquee free agent. At this point, they’re simply a mediocre team without much ability to improve.

New Orleans Pelicans, 2017-18: No. 6 Seed (West)

Current Games Back: 1.0

After trading away multiple pieces to land DeMarcus Cousins in February 2017, the big man left in free agency so New Orleans got nothing back in return. While the trade for Nikola Mirotic last season and the signing of Julius Randle this summer have both been fruitful, their lack of depth has stopped them from winning on a more regular basis. Don’t be surprised if they try to make another move to bring in some help. Perhaps they’ll bethe team to trade for JR Smith or sign Carmelo Anthony?

San Antonio Spurs, 2017-18: No. 7 Seed (West)

Current Games Back: 1.5

San Antonio making the playoffs is one of the most consistent trends in modern sports, as their active streak dates back to 1997. But this year, even under the leadership of Gregg Popovich, that run may soon come to an end. Injuries have been one of the biggest factors, considering the franchise expected 22-year-old guard Dejounte Murray to carry the squad before he tore his ACL during the preseason.

Washington Wizards, 2017-18: No. 8 Seed (East)

Current Games Back: 1.0

Chemistry issues abound, the Wizards have struggled to find their footing this season. Washington has somehow been outscored by 12.8 points per 100 possessions when John Wall has played alongside Bradley Beal and Kelly Oubre Jr. — which is one of the worst marks in the league. That’s not ideal, considering those are three of their best players on the team. Washington continues to surface in trade rumors, but it remains to be seen whether they want to tweak the roster or blow it up prior to the deadline.

Minnesota Timberwolves, 2017-18: No. 8 Seed (West)

Current Games Back: 1.0

Minnesota came into the season as one of the biggest question marks in the league considering no one knew how they would handle the saga surrounding the disgruntled star Jimmy Butler. However, since trading the All-Star to the Philadelphia 76ers, the Timberwolves are 9-4. In the deal, Minnesota acquired two starters in Robert Covington and Dario Saric, and both players have fit well with the Wolves’ core.

Alberto de Roa contributed to this article.

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