These are the teams with the best chance to overachieve
Training camps are officially open around the NBA after Monday's media day festivities, and for some teams, expectations are simply too low.
Here's a look at the five teams that are most likely to overachieve based on their preseason projections.
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New York Knicks
There are plenty of Knicks fans who weren't at all happy with the offseason acquisitions of Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose. They believe the moves were short-sighted, and won't do anything to help the franchise achieve sustainable, long-term success.
Whether that's true or not, as long as Carmelo Anthony is around, a traditional rebuild simply won't be possible. And if the core can stay healthy under the guidance of new head coach Jeff Hornacek, this is a playoff team in the East -- which is something virtually no one is predicting.
Just like the Knicks, no one believes in the 2016-17 version of the Chicago Bulls. Oddsmakers are projecting a sub-.500 season, even with plenty of talent in place on the roster.
Dwyane Wade may be nearing the twilight of his career, but Jimmy Butler is entering his prime. Rajon Rondo proved he can still play last season, and Robin Lopez is an above-average defensive center. This Bulls team also has a good shot at the playoffs, as long as Fred Hoiberg can figure out a way to do a much better job in his second season as the team's head coach.
NBAE/Getty ImagesGary Dineen
James Harden put up better numbers last season than he did the year before when he finished second to Stephen Curry in the MVP voting. But it largely went unnoticed because of how dysfunctional the Rockets were last season.
Harden has taken on more of a leadership role this summer, and seems focused on getting the team back to its winning ways. Houston addressed its shooting issues with the additions of Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon in free agency, and installed Mike D'Antoni as the new head coach. If the team can figure out its obvious defensive issues, the Rockets could very well be much better than expected.
NBAE/Getty ImagesBill Baptist
Paul George feels like he's ready to make a leap this season, and that (combined with Indiana's offseason moves) leads us to believe the Pacers might be pretty good, too.
Indiana traded for Jeff Teague and Thaddeus Young this summer, and signed Al Jefferson in free agency. There was no good reason to move on from head coach Frank Vogel, but sometimes a team needs a new voice. Nate McMillan is experienced and will do well in his new role, and we could see the Pacers challenging for a top-three spot in the East if everything comes together just right.
Full disclosure: I attended Suns media day on Monday, and after speaking with GM Ryan McDonough and hearing from head coach Earl Watson and the team's key players, I may be guilty of drinking in too much Phoenix Kool-Aid before seeing the product on the floor. But this year's Suns remind me of last year's Blazers -- a team that no one projected to make the playoffs, but ultimately finished as the fifth seed in the West.
Players and coaches have spent months together building chemistry in offseason workouts, which have included hiking, yoga and spin classes in addition to the more traditional stuff on the court. Everyone is under the team's control contract-wise for a while, so there will be no secondary agendas in play. And, not only is Watson one of the most positive and motivational forces in the NBA coaching ranks, but he was smart enough to surround himself with experienced individuals like Jay Triano and Tyrone Corbin to help him on the bench.
The Suns are primarily a young team, and they may very well need some time to get things figured out. But there also might be the right combination of youth and experience in place for the team to fare far better than anyone expects.