With the NBA currently being dominated by the Golden State Warriors, there is a small handful of teams that are also in the “super-team” conversation, ready to contend and actually pose a threat to Curry, Durant, and the rest of the all-star team forming in the bay. On the flip side of things, there are also teams with incredibly bright futures, hoping to peak as soon as the Warriors’ reign ends. Teams like the Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings, Denver Nuggets, and many others come to mind when talking about potential future super-teams. However, there are some teams that have been stuck in the dreaded category of mediocre; not good enough to contend for a title, but also not bad enough to grab a top pick and build a future. Let’s look at three teams that need to realize that they aren’t winning any titles with what they have, and should blow up their rosters as soon as possible.
1. Memphis Grizzlies:
The Memphis Grizzlies are the epitome of an anti-rebuild team. At one time, they were a legitimate force in the Western Conference, reaching the conference finals in the 2012-13 season with a 56-26 record. However, the Grizzlies core aged, and they began to slowly lose pieces of their team. They are now hanging on to what is left in Marc Gasol, and a now injury-prone Mike Conley. Memphis has taken some steps in the right direction with the drafting of Michigan State forward Jaren Jackson, who looks very promising, and West Virginia guard Jevon Carter, who seems like a match made in heaven for the defensively oriented Grizzlies. For them to really have potential to be great in the future, however, they have to finally pull the trigger and deal away both Mike Conley and Marc Gasol. Gasol, 33, can still be a valuable piece to a team trying to contend, like the Lakers or Celtics, as he averaged 17.2 points per game and 8.1 rebounds last season. Conley, 30, will likely draw less interest because of his injury history, along with his contract size, but still could get a solid return from a team looking for a guard like the Timberwolves, Spurs, or Bucks. If the Grizzlies swallow their pride and finally go all in on the rebuild process, it shouldn’t take too long until we see them back in the hunt for a championship.
2. Detroit Pistons:
The Detroit Pistons are in an awkward place right now. This might be a different story if their draft picks panned out like they were supposed to, but as it stands right now, their future is not looking good. Their first mistake: paying Reggie Jackson, an average point guard, almost as much as Kyrie Irving and John Wall. The Pistons also took on Blake Griffin’s salary in an attempt to revive the team. After going a mere 17-17 to finish the season with Griffin, it’s time to accept their fate and blow up this roster. Granted, Dwane Casey is a fantastic coach and could completely turn the franchise around, but if there is no improvement by the all star break of this coming season, it’d be in their best interest to hit the restart button and try again. For starters, they need to trade Jackson and Griffin (who they gave up their 2018 first round pick for) to teams purely to dump their contracts, and try to get as much as they can for them. After that, Andre Drummond could be moved to any team in need of a center, with some very solid pieces in return. They could also move Stanley Johnson while he still has value to a team like the Rockets or another contender, and get a decent return for him as well. The key moving forward for the Pistons is to trust Casey, and to draft well enough to pull you out of the cellar and build a solid young core to hang your hat on for years to come.
3. Charolette Hornets:
Michael Jordan has had a rough time since officially being announced as the owner of the Hornets. Since selecting Kemba Walker with the 9th pick in the 2011 draft, the only 1st round draft picks that are still on the Hornets’ roster are Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Cody Zeller, Frank Kaminsky, and Malik Monk. With Monk being the only real elite prospect, and the others having a peak of just serviceable role players, the Hornets need a home-run in the worst way. The best move would be to finally trade all-star Kemba Walker, as well as forwards Nicolas Batum and Marvin Williams. The Hornets could gather draft picks, spend a couple years as the worst team in the NBA, and potentially land two to three more future all-stars to build the team around, along with Monk and newly drafted Michigan State forward Miles Bridges. Yes, it would be a rough time for the franchise until at least the 2021-22 season, but trading Walker away now to potentially land future stars like Duke’s RJ Barrett or Zion Williamson, and/or 2019 #1 prospect James Wiseman (Center, Undecided), would pay huge dividends and put the Hornets back on the map for a very long time.