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Michael Conroy/Associated Press
For a few of the offseason’s most disappointing teams, the 2017-18 NBA campaign can’t come soon enough.
Not necessarily because hopes are high, everyone’s healthy and the entire franchise is itching to get on with its teardown or championship chase (as the case may be), but because at least on-court competition will divert attention away from shaky summers.
Because expectations are relative, offseason losers come in all shapes and sizes. You’ll see lottery teams, fringe playoff squads and 60-win juggernauts here. And though they earn placement on this list for botching free agency, the trade market, the draft or all three, the one commonality is this: Each of these teams has hope.
That hope will be relative, too—specific to each organization and its goals. For some, optimism means still having a shot at the conference finals, despite a blown summer. For others, the silver lining lies in a single young talent, or even the painful but necessary embrace of a rebuilding plan.
For these teams, it’s not all bad.
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Darron Cummings/Associated Press
Paul George had the Indiana Pacers over a barrel, but trading him for Domantas Sabonis and the right to pay Victor Oladipo $21 million per year still stands out as one of the worst returns for a departing star in memory.
The Bright Side
The runway is clear for Myles Turner!
As building blocks go, Turner, a floor-stretching center who can defend the rim and run, is tough to top. Entering his age-21 season, the 6’11” big man is suddenly Indy’s unquestioned alpha. And while it’s fair to expect dwindling efficiency in an expanded role, Turner’s counting numbers are primed to explode.
Last year, Turner became just the fifth 20-or-younger player to average at least 14 points, seven rebounds and two blocks. And he’s the only player to ever post those averages before age 21 while hitting more than six threes (he hit 40).
Plus, there’s his willingness to accept a leadership position to consider.
“I want to start establishing myself as a leader in this league and on this team,” Turner told Matthew VanTryon of the Indianapolis Star. “I know I’m quite young compared to a lot of guys on this team, but the best time is to start young.”
After an ugly offseason in which Jeff Teague and CJ Miles followed George out the door, Indy may struggle to reach the playoffs in a depleted East. But Turner’s star trajectory will ease that sting.
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Michael Dwyer/Associated Press