Some would argue that every team that didn’t make the playoffs should be looking or redemption. Others would say just the worst teams in the league should be. There are bound to be some that think every team that failed to win the NBA Finals should be seeking redemption. But for the sake of argument, let’s say that those in need of redemption are just the ones who were disappointing last season.
In that case, can we say the Brooklyn Nets qualify? Not really since they were expected to be as bad as they were. The Lakers were better last season but still didn’t make the playoffs. Do they qualify? Since they were not expected to make the playoffs—no, not at all.
However, there were some teams fans thought were going to finally take the next step. There were some fans expected to breakthrough or even make a good run in the playoffs. Now those teams were disappointing.
There was hope for the Raptors last season after they won the East. After taking down a tough Wizards team in the first round, there were many that thought Toronto had a unit that could finally overcome the LeBron James-led Cavaliers in the Conference Semifinals. Cleveland had struggled for much of the year to find the right chemistry. But once again, they were swept by James and the Cavs. But now James is in the West. They lost DeMar DeRozan, but they gained Kawhi Leonard. Excuses? They don’t have any anymore.
San Antonio Spurs
It may be a little unfair to include the Spurs on this list since they lost their superstar to an injury for the majority of the season. The fact they were still able to win 47 games and make the playoffs is a testament to the quality of the organization. Losing 4-1 in the first round to the Warriors? No big deal. But for almost two decades the Spur had won 50+ games each season. It would probably mean something to the fans if they could start the streak again.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Anytime a team has a Big Three, the expectations are going to be pretty high. For Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony to not even make it past the first round was an insult to every Big Three ever made. But Carmelo is now Houston’s problem. As long as Westbrook and George can get on the same page, this season should be a lot better for the Thunder.
Portland Trail Blazers
After going on a tear to the end the regular season and earning the No. 3 seed behind Houston and Golden State, many expected the Trail Blazers to make a deep run. But instead, they were swept by the No. 6 seed, the New Orleans Pelicans. To add insult to injury, the Pelicans were not even at full strength (DeMarcus Cousins was out).
The organization thinks high enough about the team to bring it back largely intact for this season. No pressure there.
They T-wolves seemed ready to break out last season with a talented, young core of players including Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns. With a veteran of Jimmy Butler’s caliber added to the mix, the expectations were not necessarily high. But fans did hope for more than a No. 8 seed and a first-round exit. But the T-wolves may be hard-pressed to find redemption this season with all the internal strife going on.