The NBA’s regular season gets underway next week, and every team in the league has reason to feel optimistic right now. There are a whole host of contending teams, while organizations such as the Orlando Magic and Sacramento Kings will believe that they have improved enough to be within striking distance of the play-in tournament.
Even the worst franchises in the NBA, the Utah Jazz, and San Antonio Spurs have the carrot of the alien-like generational talent that is Victor Wembanyama to tank for. No matter who you are a fan of, this promises to be a season where a lot has the potential to go right for your team.
Nestled in between all of this are the small cluster of teams that are in line to make the most fun jumps, the huge leap from one category to the next.
The Memphis Grizzlies were this franchise last season. Behind an MVP-caliber campaign from Ja Morant (and a 20-5 record without him), they powered up the standings to go from fun up-and-comers to fringe contenders. There is every reason to believe they will remain there this season, but the chasing pack is always catching up.
What follows here are the two most likely organizations to follow in that trend. To take a surprising leap from a good team to one that could get homecourt advantage in the first round of the postseason. A third group has been included, and although moving into contending won’t happen this year, they are capable of making the kind of leap that is too significant to ignore. We will start with them.