In professional sports, there’s always going to be good teams and bad teams. The NBA is no different.Every season, teams are either playing for the draft lottery or playing to win the Finals. While it’s true every team wants to win as many games as they can, not every organization is going to meet their expectations.

While it’s true every team wants to win as many games as they can, not every organization is going to meet their expectations.

Being at the bottom, though, does reap its benefits. Losing grants teams a higher likelihood to land a top pick in the draft, from which the team can begin a rebuild around a promising young player.

And, of course, being a contender grants the rewards of success that every player wants.

Then there’s the dreaded No Man’s Land, where the teams that are stuck in mediocrity suffer at the hands of time. Teams in the “No Man’s Land” isn’t good enough to make any progress in the playoffs, and aren’t bad enough to depend on the draft for fresh young players.

Worse still, the dreaded middle team’s arent very consistent, usually lack a true superstar and are tangled in a future that is still mostly unclear. These teams have no idea what they’re doing or where they’re going. Arguably, being stuck here is worse than being the worst.

Unfortunately for the teams on this list, the reality of their dire situation isn’t easy for them to swallow. Stuck, hopeless, and hurting, these 5 NBA teams are stuck in the middle, with no end in sight:

 

Orlando Magic

Since reaching the Finals in 2008 with Dwight Howard and Stan Van Gundy, the Magic have been starved of success. But as far as Eastern Conference teams go, they really aren’t the worst. They’ve got a decent roster (with Nikola Vucevic and Bismack Biyombo ) that just hasn’t been able to improve. The young talent they do have look like complete busts, and the system they have in place doesn’t look to be very consistent. The Magic have no identity, no clear vision for the future, and would need a miracle to even compete for a playoff spot out East. Simply put, the Magic are a complete mess. They’ve got a big mix players that don’t fit together while lacking star talent and young prospects to make it better. To fix this disaster, Orlando just needs to start completely over. Trade their remaining assets for draft picks, and rebuild the organization from the ground up.

 

Utah Jazz

What really stinks about Utah’s situation is the fact that they were almost out of the middle ground. Last year, they were making real strides with Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gobert at the helm. After beating the Clippers in the first round, many critics were ready to hail them as the West’s next big thing. But when Gordon Hayward walked out on the team for a trip Boston, the Jazz’s future walked out with him. Unlike the Magic, Salt Lake City is not a high market destination, meaning it’ll be quite difficult to attract Free Agents there. Additionally, the Jazz won’t be bad enough to warrant a lottery selection next summer. In other words, they’re stuck. With no plan or direction for the future, their only hope relies on the potential of Rudy Gobert, a 25-year-old Center who’s never averaged more than 14 points a season in his entire career.

 

Charlotte Hornets

It wasn’t long ago when the Hornets were bottom feeders. To put it plainly: they were a complete train wreck. Admittedly, things have gotten much better since the Bobcat days. They acquired Dwight Howard for a bag of chips, signed Malik Monk to a rookie deal, and have seen stars like Nicolas Batum and Kemba Walker flash some highlight reel plays on the court. But is all that good enough to challenge the Eastern Conference’s elite? In two words: Hell no. What exactly is their identity? Who’s their leader, who’s their fighter? The Hornets have an All-Star in Kemba Walker, but it’s already been proven that he can’t lead a team on his own. The Hornets lack an identity and honestly look like they’d sign just about anyone who wants to play there. While the Hornets are no longer bad, they’ve got quite a ways to go if they want to be truly good. They may quickly find out that being stuck in the middle isn’t as comfortable as they probably thought it would be.

 

Portland Trailblazers

One huge question asked over this year’s All-Star break was why Damian Lillard wasn’t selected to a team. Sure, the West is loaded. And sure, his team wasn’t a contender. But could part of the answer lie in the fact that nobody really cares about the Trailblazers? Let’s be honest here, Portland isn’t exactly a big market, and the Trailblazers aren’t exactly a historically great team. The organization has been at least in the playoff hunt for a number of years now, but they’ve just never been able to stand in the spotlight. They’ve been okay, but have absolutely nothing to show for it. It’s like the Blazers are allergic to attention. They’ve failed to sign a true superstar during Free Agency, they haven’t shown signs of mixings up, and they’ve yet to pull the team over the hump. As loud and proud as Damian Lillard can be, he plays for a team that is anything but.

 

Detroit Pistons

(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

It’s been a while since the old “Bad Boy” days. The success and personality of that team granted them the attention and swagger that made them the Center of the basketball world. Those days, unfortunately for them, are long gone now. What’s left is nothing but one star Center and a bunch of pieces around him that either doesn’t fit or aren’t good enough to make a serious difference. With Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond at the helm, this team is actually kind of fun to watch. The fans are roaring, the energy is electric, and the passion for the game is there. That, however, doesn’t make them relevant. For years, they’ve been desperately trying to claw themselves into the East’s elite. And for years, they’ve failed in that very thing. The only thing they can hope for now is that Andre Drummond’s presence will one day be enough to attract the eyes of another star Free Agent. But until that miracle happens, the Pistons will be right where they’ve been since 2005: that terrible No Man’s Land.

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