The first round of the NBA playoffs is always an exciting and intense time for fans and players, but unfortunately, not every team can make it past this initial stage. This year, eight teams were eliminated in the first round, leaving some fans feeling disappointed and hungry for more. However, just because a team didn’t make it past the first round this year, it doesn’t mean they won’t be able to bounce back and compete at a high level next season. Here, we’ll rank the eight first-round losers based on their likelihood of bouncing back next season.
1. Phoenix Suns – The Phoenix Suns are undoubtedly the most likely team to bounce back next season. Despite being eliminated in the first round, the Suns had an impressive season, finishing with a record of 51-21 and earning the second seed in the Western Conference. With a talented core of players like Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton, as well as a skilled coach in Monty Williams, the Suns are poised to continue their success in the coming years.
2. Dallas Mavericks – The Dallas Mavericks, led by superstar Luka Doncic, put up a good fight in the first round but ultimately fell to the Los Angeles Clippers. Doncic, who is just 22 years old, is already one of the most skilled and exciting players in the league, and he’s only going to get better. With some help from the rest of the Mavericks roster, Doncic has the potential to take his team to new heights next season.
3. Atlanta Hawks – The Atlanta Hawks surprised many by making it to the playoffs this year, and while they were ultimately knocked out by the Philadelphia 76ers, they proved that they can compete at a high level. With a young and talented roster, including players like Trae Young and John Collins, the Hawks have a bright future ahead of them.
4. Portland Trail Blazers – The Portland Trail Blazers have been a consistently competitive team in recent years, and despite their first-round exit this season, they have the potential to continue that success. Led by Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, the Trail Blazers have a strong backcourt and plenty of role players who can contribute. If they can add some depth to their roster, they could be a force to be reckoned with next season.
5. Memphis Grizzlies – The Memphis Grizzlies may have been eliminated in the first round, but the fact that they made it to the playoffs in the first place is an accomplishment. Led by talented young players like Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr., the Grizzlies have a bright future ahead of them. If they can continue to develop their young talent and build a deeper roster, they could be a serious contender in the future.
6. Washington Wizards – The Washington Wizards had a tough first round matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers, but they still managed to make it to the playoffs thanks to a late-season surge. With a talented backcourt led by Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook, the Wizards have the potential to be a playoff team next season as well.
7. Boston Celtics – The Boston Celtics had a disappointing season overall, finishing with a record of just 36-36 and being eliminated in the first round. However, they still have a skilled core of players, including Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, and if they can find some consistency and add some depth to their roster, they could bounce back next season.
8. Miami Heat – The Miami Heat made it to the NBA Finals last season, but they were unable to replicate that success this year. While they still have talented players like Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, they will need to make some changes to their roster and find a way to improve if they want to compete at a high level next season.
In conclusion, just because a team was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs doesn’t mean they can’t bounce back and compete at a high level next season. Of the eight first-round losers, the Phoenix Suns are the most likely team to bounce back, but all of these teams have the potential to improve and be competitive in the future. It will be exciting to see how these teams develop and grow in the coming years.