Every year, playoff teams from both the Western and Eastern Conference in the NBA change from season to season. Especially nowadays, the landscape of a team can completely change in one offseason. This year in particular, there were a lot of notable moves which have the potential to elevate teams past some of the playoff teams from last season.
Which Teams Will Disappoint?
Below, I selected one playoff team from each conference that I believe will miss out on the postseason this upcoming season.
West: Memphis Grizzlies
This selection says more about the elevated level competitiveness of the Western Conference than it does about the Memphis Grizzlies.
Coached by Taylor Jenkins, the young Grizzlies snuck into the postseason in 2021 as an 8th seed with their young star Ja Morant leading the way. In order to get into the postseason, they impressively won back to back games in the new NBA “play-in-tournament”.
The first team they beat was Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs. Considering how young and inexperienced Memphis was, it is impressive that they were able to win despite having arguably more talent on the roster.
More impressively however, was their overtime road victory against the Golden State Warriors. Last year down the stretch, Stephen Curry joined the MVP conversation in a hurry. He was shooting a career clip from behind the arc and it seemed like there was no answer for him.
In this game however, the Grizzlies were able to swarm Curry which ultimately helped them pull out the win.
Ironically this season, I have the Warriors in particular leapfrogging the Grizzlies with the return of Klay Thompson in Golden State’s backcourt.
The combination of Curry and Thompson in the back court together is extremely lethal. No matter how well Memphis plays on defense, they will not be able to stop both. Not to mention, Andrew Wiggins emergence should help the Warriors.
In general, the Grizzlies’ future is bright, but I have them just slipping out of the playoffs next season.
East: Washington Wizards
After trading away Russell Westbrook to the Los Angeles Lakers this offseason, it was clear that the Washington Wizards were heading towards a rebuild. What was interesting however is that they decided to keep All-Star guard Bradley Beal.
After Westbrook was traded, I expected Beal to get dealt as well but luckily for Wizards fans he was not. Despite Beal’s immense talent, there is nobody on the roster surrounding him that will be able to compliment his play.
Last season, the Wizards got off to a terrible start but were able to get hot towards the end of the season and eventually made the postseason as an eighth seed.
Once they got in however, they lost to the Philadelphia 76ers in five games.
Looking at their roster this year, Montrezl Harrel and Kyle Kuzma who they got in the Westbrook trade are good players but they are nowhere near All-Star caliber players. Unless Washington makes a big trade, I not only expect them to miss the playoffs next year, but I am projecting them to finish as one of the three worst Eastern Conference teams record wise.