Normally, when a team is in the lottery, it usually takes them two or three years before they can contend for the NBA Playoffs. That might not be the case for a few.
Some teams in last year’s lottery were there mainly because injuries hampered their season, or they are just too young for the moment and don’t have the necessary pieces on their roster to contend for the postseason. Others, like the New York Knicks, are just that bad.
Yet almost every year, a team comes out of nowhere and finds itself going on a run that culminates with an NBA Playoffs appearance. See the Minnesota Timberwolves last year (P.S. to all those who mocked their celebration, please be quiet and let them have their moment.)
That said, let’s look at three teams that were in the lottery this past year but could find themselves competing later in the calendar year as part of being in the playoffs. Oh, and sorry, Stephen A. Smith, this does not include your Knicks.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers could bypass the Play-In and make the NBA Playoffs
Yes. Cleveland. They are very well positioned to make a run for the postseason despite ending up in the Play-In Tournament last season. That is primarily due to the blockbuster deal that landed Donovan Mitchell from the Utah Jazz and now pairs him with Darius Garland to form a dynamic duo.
Cleveland boasts two potent, young scorers with Garland and Mitchell in the lineup. Moreover, the Cavaliers have Evan Mobley and his brother, Isaiah, along with Jarrett Allen. Together, they can stretch the court and be a force in the paint. Furthermore, Kevin Love is a seasoned veteran, and Caris LeVert can get to the basket.
There’s no reason to believe that the Cavaliers are a pushover. With a bit of luck and skill, they may not even have to worry about the play-in tournament and can secure an outright playoff berth.