By Jason Fryer
The 2012 year has only a limited number of days left and with that said, I feel now's a good time to look at teams that should be prepared to take off during the new year.
Minnesota Timberwolves: The Wolves have had a turbulent start to the 2012-2013 season that included players recovering from injuries (Rubio Torn ACL and Love Broken Hand), a number of reported internal fights, in addition to a number of new pieces added to their roster (Andrei Kirilenko, Dante Cunningham, Greg Stiemsma, Chase Budinger, Alexey Shved, and Brandon Roy). Minnesota features a great front court in Love and Nikola Pekovic along with Rubio, Kirilenko, and Roy in the backcourt, along with a solid bench. With such a new roster and a number of key players who were injured the frist two months of the season finally healthy, I feel Minnesota will be one of the best second half teams next year.
Boston Celtics: Like the Timberwolves, Boston has incorporated a number of new players to their roster (Jason Terry, Jared Sullinger, Jeff Green, and Courtney Lee) while having one of their best guards (Avery Bradley) hurt for the first half of the season. During the early parts of the 2012-2013 season, Boston has looked like an underachieving and confused team that last year came within minutes of reaching the NBA Finals. With all that said, Celtics fans shouldn't panic as last year the Celtics were a game under .500 (15-17) at the All-Star Break. With Boston one game over .500, starting to get healthy, learn everyone's style of play, and "turn on the switch," then like the last year, the Celtics should be at the top of the standings when the season comes to an end.
Chicago Bulls: Without the former league MVP on their roster, the Bulls have managed to stay afloat and are 1/2 game behind the Indiana Pacers for the lead in the Central Division. With Rose on the mend and getting closer to returning, it seems as if the Bulls will once again be a team to recon with down the stretch. In addition to Rose coming back, the Bulls should receive more additional help from Richard Hamilton once he returns, likely within the month of January. Quietly (before the past few games), the Bulls started to show signs of improvement and have started to learn how to incorporate all the new players (Belinelli, Robinson, and Hinrich) on their roster.
New Orleans Hornets: No NBA team has had to deal with as many injuries as the Hornets have had to deal with since the start of the 2012-13 season. The season started with 2-Guard Eric Gordon getting hurt after New Orleans matched a Maximum 4-year contract that was given to him from the Suns during the 2012 offseason. Following that, 2012 Number 1 overall pick Anthony Davis suffered a concussion that forced him to sit out a number of games and now with Davis healthy, Gordon close to returning, rookie Austin Rivers learning the NBA style of play, one of the most underrated coaches in the League in Monty Williams, and the rest of their roster coming together; I feel the Hornets will become a solid second half team that will be much improved from their dismal first half of the season.
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