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Top 5 Up-and-Coming NBA Teams Going into the 2020-21 Season

Given much of the uncertainty of the 2019-20 NBA season, a lot is still unclear on how basketball will continue. With that said, the NBA left off with multiple young and up-and-coming teams making a name for themselves while trying to solidify a spot in the playoffs. While there’s still a chance the season will resume, the 2020-21 NBA Season remains the only certainty in basketball.

Mavericks

After winning Rookie of the Year in 2019, Luka Doncic continued to show significant growth in his game during the 2019 Season. By pairing him with Kristaps Porzingis in 2020, Doncic was immediately put into MVP consideration by averaging 29-9-9-1. Similarly, Porzingis was able to bounce back from his injury and average 19 points with a career high 9.5 rebounds per game.

Not only were Doncic and Porzingis performing well, but the Mavericks also began to show team success. Finishing the year prior as the 14th seed in the West, the Mavericks moved to the 7th seed going 40-27 in 2020. With the Mavericks having a dominant young core and much more left to show, 2020 could be a year for the Mavericks to fully break out.

Grizzlies

Similar to the Mavericks, the Grizzlies also possess another exciting young core. With Ja Morant leading the Rookie of the Year race for most of the 2019 season, he displayed his mature patience and playmaking ability that was able to win his team games.

Along with a dynamic front court in Jonas Valanciunas and Jaren Jackson Jr., the Grizzlies have all the tools they need to succeed. With more time for growth and chemistry for young players, the Grizzlies may benefit from their time off from the NBA.  

Pacers

2021 should be an interesting year for the Pacers, as they have many questions they need to answer. First off, the Pacers will need to decide what they are going to do with Victor Oladipo who has one year left on his contract. Although Oladipo was widely considered a top combo-guard in the League a couple years ago, his return from injury last year was shaky. On top of this, Domantas Sabonis was able to step up in Oladipo’s absence by averaging 19-12-5 and becoming an All-Star.

As the Pacers have shown that they’re able to win without Oladipo, they shouldn’t feel immediately pressed to extend him should he not return to his full ability. This gives the Pacers a lot of power in what they want their future franchise to look like. If the Pacers do decide to keep Oladipo, they will need to determine how to run their offense around both Oladipo and Sabonis.

Regardless of what the Pacers decide, 2021 will be a big year for them in deciding their future.

Nets

While the Nets aren’t necessarily a young team, they should show tremendous growth in the 2020 Season. This is because we will finally see Superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving playing together after both return from injury. 

Although Kyrie Irving was adjusting well to his new team in Brooklyn by averaging 27-5-6, injuries cut his season short and the Nets left off as the 7th seed in the East. Next year; however, we should see the Nets become automatic championship contenders with Durant returning for the first time since the 2019 Finals. Also, with no extra pressure to return, him and Irving should have plenty of time to heal/rehab for the 2020 season. 

Hawks

Although the Hawks didn’t perform very well overall in the 2020 season, finishing 20-47 and 14th in the East, they are beginning to put together the pieces for a winning roster. With Trae Young becoming an All-Star and averaging 30-4-9, he is starting to become a leader on the Hawks in only his second year. 

On top of this, the Hawks front court will begin to look significantly better in 2020 as Clint Capela will debut as a Hawk after returning from injury. With John Collins at PF alongside Capela, the Hawks should have some much-needed size to help out Young. After an upsetting overall performance in 2020, the Hawks should make great steps forward in 2021.

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