With most of the league approaching the 25-game mark in the 2018-2019 NBA season, several teams continue to perform below expectations. Half of the teams that made last year’s postseason find themselves outside of the current playoff picture.
Most of the underachievers can be found in the Western Conference. That’s where the San Antonio Spurs (11-13), Houston Rockets (11-12), New Orleans Pelicans (12-13), Utah Jazz (12-13) and Minnesota Timberwolves (12-12) are all still fighting to get above .500.
Houston might be the biggest shocker of the season. After taking the Golden State Warriors (16-9) to seven games in the Western Conference Finals, the Rockets are 13th in the conference. Most of the team’s struggles are linked to Chris Paul and James Harden missing time, though Houston lost its last game with both players in the lineup.
San Antonio has been even worse than Houston. After losing to the Jazz by 34 points Tuesday, the Spurs are second-to-last in the West. Only the Phoenix Suns (4-20), who rank dead last in the overall NBA standings, have been worse.
If New Orleans can’t get above .500, rumors about Anthony Davis’ future will continue. The Pelicans could have a hard time signing the MVP candidate to a contract extension if they miss the playoffs.
The good news for all these teams is none of them are very far out of the postseason race. The West’s top 14 teams are all within 5.5 games of each other. The Denver Nuggets (16-7) and Los Angeles Clippers (16-7) are tied for the best record in the conference.
Over in the East, the Washington Wizards (10-14) and Miami Heat (9-14) are just outside of the postseason. Even with such disappointing starts, the Wizards and Heat are only two games in the loss column behind the No.8 seed Charlotte Hornets (11-12).
The Cleveland Cavaliers (5-18) are one of the NBA’s worst teams after losing LeBron James to the Los Angeles Lakers (14-9) in the summer. The Cavs have reached the NBA Finals in four straight years.