I think out West, the Blazers can be a real dark horse contender for the playoffs. I don't think they'll make it this season, but if they did I wouldn't be surprised. They were right there the entire season until the horrible run at the end, and they've improved the bench TREMENDOUSLY. They had absolutely zero production off the bench, but now with McCollum, Robinson, Barton, Dorrel Wright, Earl Watson, Leonard, Claver and Freeland, the Blazers all of a sudden have a pretty good bench in my opinion. They have a nice mix of experience, youth, athleticism and scoring off the bench. McCollum would be the first guy off the bench, followed by Thomas Robinson. Also, with continued improvement from guys like Barton (who played like a monster toward the end of the season) and Leonard combined with the veteran experience of Watson and Wright, I think they could have a bench that can come in an produce, something they didn't have last year. The only noticeable loss was losing Hickson, but Lopez should fit in better with Aldridge as a low post defender.
Out East, the Raptors should be able to make a run at the playoffs. Them making it should be more possible than the Blazers, due to the weak teams at the bottom end of the East playoff picture. Valanciunas is playing great in the summer league, and they've added some depth during the offseason. They lost Bargnani, but he was a non factor all season long for the Raptors. Their starting lineup of Lowry, Derozan, Rudy Gay, Amir Johnson and Jonas V features a lot of hard play, defense and most of all, athleticism. THey have DJ Augustin, Terrence Ross, Fields, and Hansbrough coming off the bench, so they don't lack for depth. They could come out of the East as a seventh or eighth seed.
Who else do you guys see as dark horse playoff teams?
I really don't want the Raptors to make the playoffs as an 8th seed.
They have a chance with a full year with gay a bigger V and with 2 playoff teams (Boston bucks) getting worst they may be able to sneak in
Bucks. Yeah you read that right. They will keep Jennings for better or worse, Henson will be better, Sanders will be productive, delfino is a good replacement for reddick, losing Ellis will be a non factor (trust me) and the East is extremely competitive outside the top 6...
Is there such a thing as a dark horse playoff team in the east?
The Wizards have the talent to contend for a low seed.
Killer frontcourt with Andre Drummond, Josh Smith, Greg Monroe. If the 'Stons pick up Brandon Jennings or Brandon Knight improves, I think the Pistons could sneak into the playoffs.
The celtics. Watch them win games with rondo and Jeff green.
I like the first part of your post. Portland have assembled a Nuggets-like team improving from a team with no bench to one having 9-10 contributors. Raptor going for the playoffs is a bit of a reach. I would not deny they will improve their record from last season and their starters look really solid. I'm really high on Jonas but not that much on Kyle Lowry and Rudy Gay (he's close to all-star but I don't see him become one).
Bottom line - in my opinion Portland are a legit contender (so is Minny) out west,and in the east a dark horse could be Boston,fighting with Wizards and Pistons for the low seeds. I presume that last year's top five will be the same + Cleveland being a lock 6th seed.
Lakers are out.
I think the Pistons will make a 7th or 8th seed. The following season they should continue to improve and maybe make it to the second round of the east playoffs....
Could screw around and make the playoffs instead of tanking like the should. (If half the teams are tanking it means your really going to give alot of effort to be bad
It would seem there are a lot of people that don't know what "darkhorse" actually means...