The 2020/21 NBA season is one for the books given all of what happened this past year. Injuries and COVID-19 played a huge role as to why it is so. Hence, we’ve seen a handful of teams either overachieve or failing to meet expectations.
My SBOTOP colleague previously covered the five most surprising teams this season. So this time, we’ll discuss the clubs who have let us down with their lacklustre NBA 2021 results.
After making their third conference finals appearance in the last four seasons, it is easy to see why the Celtics have high expectations coming into 2020/21. The roster looks good on paper with stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown leading the way.
However, a multitude of issues have plagued them and now they find themselves at the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference standings.
Meeting the Nets or the Bucks early in the playoffs isn’t ideal at all for the Celtics as they lack the firepower to try and subdue the said juggernauts.
Frontcourt depth isn’t Boston’s strong suit, and for sure they will struggle against the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, or even Joel Embiid.
Upon acquiring the former Magic big man, the Bulls sat in 10th place and were primed to move up. However, they’re now headed to the lottery at 11th place.
The Wizards have been firing on all cylinders which didn’t help the Bulls’ chances. And also, they were haunted by injuries and inability to gel in such a short amount of time.
Zach LaVine missed 11 matches since he was placed under the league’s health and safety protocols, while Nikola Vucevic (hip) and Coby White (neck) also sat out games.
This season may have been a letdown for Chicago fans. But with the core that they have, there’s no doubt that they’ll contend for a playoff spot in years to come.
New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans entered 2020/21 with a lot of hype. However, their collective inexperience has doomed them as they are going to miss the playoffs again.
Inconsistency has been a recurring theme for New Orleans all season. On one night, they will dominate a contender like the Clippers. But on the other, they will lose to a tanking team in the Rockets.
Offence is not a problem for the Pelicans as they are being led by Zion Williamson, who is having an efficient shooting year, while Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram have shown flashes as well.
But the same can’t be said on the defencive end. Stan Van Gundy was brought in to instill a defencive mindset for the young Pelicans. However, it looks like he may need one more season to get it all together.
It wasn’t too long ago when the Raptors were on top of the NBA mountain, winning their first-ever championship in 2019. However, now they’re on a brink of a rebuild.
Many expected the Raptors to take a step back upon losing Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka to free agency, but not like this as they’re the fourth-worst team in the Eastern Conference.
Injuries and COVID-19 have took a toll on this squad especially since it forced their key players to sit out long stretches. Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, and Pascal Siakam all missed games which pushed Nick Nurse to rely more on his unestablished players.
The only bright spot this season for them is when they got Gary Trent Jr. during the trade deadline. The 22-year-old is cheaper and younger and he’ll definitely help the Raptors’ backcourt.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers’ playoff fate all boils down to the next two days, which is disappointing considering their star power.
Los Angeles need to win their final two games against the Pacers and the Pelicans, and it’ll also help if Portland loses to Denver tomorrow.
Just like the other teams in this list, the Lakers weren’t spared by the injury bug at all as LeBron James (ankle) and Anthony Davis (Achilles) missed a huge chunk of this season.
They did, however, get another solid player in Andre Drummond via buyout. However, the three stars have only played together in a handful of games.
Time is running out for the Lakers to create chemistry just in time for the playoffs, but it will be hard to count them out since they are the defending champions.