THE 4TH QUARTER

We Champions Baby! Where Our Trophy At?

NBA Power Rankings (10/26-11/1)

Posted by Jo$h on October 27, 2009

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In the pre-season edition of the power rankings, the defending champions begin the season on top followed by the teams you’d pretty much expect to end the season near the top. The Spurs have made their way back to the upper echelon after a quick exit from the playoffs last year. These rankings are predictions based on the assumption that the key components of the teams remain healthy for the duration of the season. However, although there are a few players that we could put our money on to get injured, it would be bad karma and in bad taste to predict injuries, so if some of these predictions are completely off the mark due to an all star tearing his ACL *knocks on wood* then don’t look at these predictions and blame it on a lack of basketball knowledge. Drum roll please…..

1. Los Angeles Lakers – The defending champions return all of their core pieces with the exception of SF Trevor Ariza, whom they’ve upgraded by adding Ron Artest. Now the only question is will Ron Artest fit into his role as perfectly as Ariza did. If the answer is yes, then the rest of the league is in serious trouble.

2. Boston Celtics – After watching the Cavs fold against the Magic, then the Magic fold against the Lakers, you can’t help but feel that the Celtics would have provided the best competition for the Lakers in the finals had Kevin Garnett been healthy. With the return of KG and now having Rasheed Wallace backing him up, the Celtics are looking like the team to beat out East, if not the favorites to win it all.

3. San Antonio Spurs – The Spurs are aging and have been injured lately, however, people seem to forget how effective Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker are next to the greatest PF of all time. Add some fresh blood with Richard Jefferson now in the mix as well as another solid season from Roger Mason, factor in the championship experience and what you have is the team with the best shot out West to challenge the Lakers once the playoffs come around.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers – For Cavs fans this should feel like now or never. In James last season before he can opt out and decide whether he’ll remain a hometown kid or head for the bright lights of New York (or Brooklyn). By adding the Big Shaqalier or whatever he’ll call himself this season, Lebron finally has some much needed muscle down low. However, will Shaq in 2010 be nearly enough to help Lebron get over the hump, when the rest of his teammates have proven time and time again that they’ll disappear when he needs them the most?

5. Orlando Magic – As one-sided as the 2009 Finals looked, what’s often overlooked is that the Magic were a Courtney Lee layup and a Derek Fisher “Where Amazing Happens” three-pointer away from leading the series 3-1 and changing the way the entire NBA views Dwight Howard as well as Kobe Bryant. Unfortunately for Courtney Lee the Magic front office realized that as well and shipped him off to New Jersey in exchange for Vince Carter who still has enough gas in the tank to help out the team. However, when Jameer Nelson was out for most of the season, control of the offense was relegated to Hedo Turkoglu, who is now in Toronto.

6. Denver Nuggets – Trading Allen Iverson for Chauncey Billups last season was one of the best front office move ever made in NBA history in terms of immediately improving team chemistry. And like the Magic, the Nuggets were just 2 end of game plays of changing the entire dynamic of their series with the Los Angeles Lakers. Look for Billups to continue to guide the younger players on this squad throughout the season. The Nuggets say they’re better than the Lakers, but it’ll be tougher to prove that this year than it would have been last year.

7. Portland Trailblazers – This team looks scary good. What’s even scarier is that the key players on this team are still years away from reaching their prime. Brandon Roy is steadily developing into a superstar, and while Greg Oden is still a few years away from making an impact, Lamarcus Aldridge provides sufficient length and athleticism down low. If the Trailblazers added an experienced point guard I wouldn’t want my team facing them. Oh wait. . . They just signed Andre Miller. Watch out.

8. Dallas Mavericks – Jason Kidd is old, but he still knows how to be effective. Dirk Nowitzki fades when it matters, but he’s never been anywhere that has mattered with Jason Kidd alongside him. Jason Terry might be the best 6th man in the league Josh Howard missed 30 games last season. Shawn Marion and Drew Gooden have been added to the line-up. And their boss is Mark Cuban? If they can find chemistry, this team can be a serious contender out West, and if they can’t look for the team to go into rebuilding mode after this year.

9. New Orleans Hornets – Just two seasons ago, the New Orleans Hornets were the Portland Trailblazers. Their exciting young guard along with his relatively young crew took the defending champion San Antonio Spurs to a climactic seventh game before finally being eliminated in the Western Semifinals. This year’s team is different, most notably as the Chris Paul-Tyson Chandler combination is now Chris Paul-Emeka Okafor. While that may not sound as exciting, remember that they still have all-star David West as well as sharpshooter Peja Stojakovic. However, for a franchise who’s ownership and fanbase aren’t as stable as some of the names above it on this list, success is needed a lot sooner before the team is taken in another direction.

10. Washington Wizards – This high ranking hinges on Gilbert Arenas’ comeback and his ability to perform at a high level once again. Along with Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, as well as some outside shooting from newly acquired Mike Miller and Nick Young, Randy Foye, and Javale McGee leading their youth movement, and the Wizards are miles ahead of where they finished the season last year.

11. Atlanta Hawks – The team that made it to the 2nd round adds Jamal Crawford and Joe Smith to try to build on last season. Unfortunately for Atlanta… Orlando, Boston, and Cleveland will make it virtually impossible for the Hawks to get any further than they did last year.

12. Detroit Pistons – Allen Iverson and Rasheed Wallace are gone and have been replaced by Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva. Are They going to sit Rip Hamilton or did they just sign Ben Gordon (who plays the same position) to a huge deal to sit him. What about Tayshaun Prince? Management has a few questions that need answering, but this team has some pieces that can be strong if they can mesh together.

13. Phoenix Suns – Steve Nash just signed a 2 year extension, but he’s 35. Grant Hill also resigned, but he’s 36. Their best young player, Amare Stoudemire was a subject of trade rumors all season, and figures to be once again once its determined that the Suns are a middle of the pack team (which they are).

14. Utah Jazz – Not many people expected Carlos Boozer to be in a Utah Jazz uniform for the start of the 2009-10 season (including himself) and if he is remains to be seen. This is another team that will be dealing with trade rumors throughout the season if the results are mediocre. Deron Williams great talent will keep the Jazz above futility, but how long will he be ok with that? If Boozer departs, whoever he’s traded for along with Paul Milsap will have to step up big time.

15. Miami Heat – Dwayne Wade is one of the 3 most talented players in the entire league. He is unfortunate however, to be stuck with the same issue facing Kobe Bryant circa 2005-07. For the Miami Heat to succeed, Wade will have to shoulder a load that no one player can carry for the time needed to be successful. Adding Odom would have helped Wade immensely, but since they we’re unable to, Wade will be forced to rely upon a fading and often injured Jermaine O’Neal and 2nd year forward Michael Beasley who will have a tough enough time convincing the public he isn’t insane.

16. Toronto Raptors – Hedo Turkoglu spurned the city of Portland to come to Toronto. Will Chris Bosh spurn the city of Toronto for greener pastures in free agency after this season? Hedo might wish he had stayed in Orlando before the season is over.

17. Chicago Bulls – The 2009 First Round of the NBA Playoffs… Where Amazing Happens. Ok, the Bulls didn’t beat the defending champion Celtics, but if u saw at least one 4th quarter of any of the games then you know firsthand that was the greatest first round series in NBA history. Last season saw Rookie of the Year Derrick Rose cement himself as a top 3 point guard in the league and may have his sights set even higher this year. The downside this year, Ben Gordon, who was just as clutch as anyone in that first round series, has left Chicago to be a Detroit Piston.

18. Philadelphia 76ers – Last season the Sixers were everyone’s darkhorse pick to come out of the East, however, the plans were derailed with the near season-long injury to Elton Brand. This year look for them to slide a bit as they’ll lack the leadership provided by Andre Miller who left Philly for Portland.

19. Indiana Pacers – Danny Granger can flat out play. He’d be a bona-fide star in a larger market. However, without some teammates that are anywhere near his caliber, the Pacers will remain bottom feeders.

20. Los Angeles Clippers – On paper, the Clippers look like they should be able to compete with just about anyone. However, them being the Clippers means they’ll somehow figure out a way to mess it up. I’m not sure which was a better move, lucking into the #1 draft pick Blake Griffin, or getting someone to take Zach Randolph off their hands. This team will either be really good or really horrible. Unfortunately for them, history is not on their side.

21. Oklahoma City Thunder – If you emptied all the NBA rosters and had all the teams start from scratch with a draft to determine the future of the league, in not unconvinced that Kevin Durant would be taken with the 2nd pick (behind Lebron). KD is already one of the most talented players in the league, has as much upside as anyone, and has one of the prettiest jumpers that you’ll ever see. His talent doesn’t seem to be wasting away either as OKC has him surrounded with young players who should have a bright future if they stick around and develop together. OKC Thunder 2013 NBA Champions? Its not as crazy as you may think.

22. Charlotte Bobcats – They have Gerald Wallace, they acquired Tyson Chandler, they didn’t make the much anticipated acquisition of Allen Iverson. Another year, another trip to the lottery for the Bobcats.

23. Golden State Warriors – Coaches feuding with former employers. Team captains making trade demands. This team has talent, but more distractions than they may be able to handle. At least they have Stephen Curry.

24. Memphis Grizzlies – Rudy Gay, OJ Mayo, Marc Gasol, Allen Iverson, Zach Randolph. Sounds like a pretty good squad, but how will they do together. This reminds me of one of those Isiah Thomas Knick teams where a bunch of talent is thrown together with little regard to chemistry. Look at the roster, how is the shot distribution going to work? This team has implosion written all over it.

25. Houston Rockets – Ron Artest is a Laker. Tracy McGrady is a walking injury. Yao Ming is a sitting injury, Trevor Ariza is the new James Posey. Sit tight Rockets fans, scaring the Lakers in 7 games last year is the closest thing to glory you’ll see for a while.

26. New York Knicks – David Lee and Nate Robinson are only signed to one year deals. This season is just killing time until the off-season for the Knicks. Be rewarded with Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, or Chris Bosh or see the gameplan that was in place for the last few years scrapped for a new plan. Either way, a high draft pick will be a plus for the Knicks as its all about 2010 anyway right?

27. Minnesota Timberwolves – The Wolves don’t have a bad squad at all. However, they’ll need some time to mesh with each other as well as rookie head coach Kurt Rambis before positive results will be seen. Swooping in out of nowhere to steal Ramon Sessions from the Bucks, Knicks, and Clippers definitely helped soften the blow from the Ricky Rubio fiasco.

28. New Jersey Nets – The best news coming out of New Jersey is the prospective sale to a Russian billionaire. Vinsanity is gone. This franchise still has its fingers crossed for Lebron to come save them from futility. But hey, Devin Harris throwing you dimes doesn’t sound like a bad idea at all.

29. Milwaukee Bucks – Michael Redd was injured for most of last season, and it wouldn’t be surprising if his name resurfaced in trade rumors again this year. Aside from rookie Brandon Jennings who should provide some off the court entertainment as he did around draft time, there isn’t much of a reason to watch this team.

30. Sacramento Kings – Ummm… They have Kevin Martin. He’s good, but he barely played 50 games last season. Maybe that’s why the Kings used their lottery pick on a player that plays the same position. That move is still confusing considering they have four other positions that need improving.  Tyreke Evans should be a bright spot as well.

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