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Five NBA Teams That Improved The Most During 2015 NBA Draft

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The NBA draft is designed to introduce new talent to the Association, and there are a handful of teams that fared better than the rest when the big night came to a close in June.

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Will all of the teams on this list be championship contenders? Not a chance. The best players typically go to the worst teams, but that doesn’t mean these squads are going to be right back where they were last season.

Here’s a look at five teams that improved the most courtesy of the 2015 NBA draft.

Miami Heat (33/1)

The Miami Heat were one of many teams last season to lose their championship contention due to injuries. It’s true that they were never going to be anyone’s favorites following the departure of LeBron James, but in a watered-down Eastern Conference, a team led by Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and Luol Deng certainly stood a chance.

Not only will Miami be improved this next season with a healthy roster, but it snagged arguably the steal of the draft in Justise Winslow. The Duke small forward will come in and play a significant role off the pine behind Deng, and he has a chance at becoming the best small forward of the rookie class a few years down the road — if not sooner.

Minnesota Timberwolves (150/1)

Are the Minnesota Timberwolves championship contenders? Not a chance. But they may have pushed themselves into fringe playoff hopeful, which is huge considering how hopeless this group was last season.

Andrew Wiggins is a stud. Ricky Rubio, when healthy, is a masterful distributor. And, of course, Karl-Anthony Towns will give this team something it lacked last season with Nikola Pekovic’s glass ankles manning the middle — a reliable center.

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This team is still a few years away from becoming a potential top-tier — or even second-tier — franchise. But if you’re looking for teams that improved, there’s no question the Wolves are on the list entering free agency.

Los Angeles Lakers (66/1)

Like the Wolves, the Los Angeles Lakers aren’t going to contend for a title in 2015-16. The only way that script flips is if the team lands a big-time free agent this summer, which could actually very well happen.

Free agency aside, this team has improved. Kobe Bryant will (presumably) be healthy, so will Julius Randle and the selection of D’Angelo Russell (leaving Jahlil Okafor on the board) prepares this team for both tomorrow and all the years down the road.

The Lakers are simultaneously getting younger and more competitive, which is an unreal combination. Look for the Lakers to be improved — look for them to contend if any of the top-tier guys sign with them in July.

Houston Rockets (18/1)

Sam Dekker was an absolute steal at No. 18. Don’t get me wrong, he certainly has some “bust” potential that comes with the “boom” — he just has enough boom in him to justify a selection anywhere outside the lottery.

Not only did the Houston Rockets get a steal in Dekker, but it got another steal with Montrezl Harrell at 32. The Rockets have had a glaring hole at the 4, and Harrell — and possibly Dekker — will help fill that hole.

Houston is still seeking for a big name like LaMarcus Aldridge, but even if it swings and misses this summer, it’s slowly building a roster that can complement its stars en route to a title in 2016.

Denver Nuggets (100/1)

Emmanuel Mudiay is not better than Ty Lawson. Not right now, at least.

But the selection of Mudiay allows the Denver Nuggets to trade away their star point guard without worrying about who’s next up in the rotation. Lawson has been on the block since the season ended, and it’s no secret at all that he’s going to have a new home once 2015-16 tips off.

Will the Nuggets be better? Odds are, they can’t be much worse than they were last season. This is a talented roster without much continuity, and while bringing in a new name doesn’t help the roster jell, there may be an addition from subtraction when it comes to Lawson and possible Kenneth Faried.

Denver’s new point man has a ton of potential, and that’s what this team is banking on. The Nuggets have lacked a star for a long time, but it’s rookie has the potential to become that guy not so far into the future.

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