Tuesday, October 2, 2012

0 Shaee's NBA preseason power rankings

By Shaee Flatt
With the NBA preseason set to tip off this Friday, I figure it’s time to get the ball rolling with my early power rankings for the upcoming season. With all the moving of players and stockpiling of superstars, it could be one of the most exciting seasons the NBA has had in a long time. Here’s how I expect each team to turnout.
1.     Miami Heat – Don’t think that LeBron and the Heat are content to stop at one. The additions of Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis help add even more depth on the perimeter, a scary thought for the rest of the league. Miami is the odds on favorite to repeat as world champions again this year.
2.     Oklahoma City Thunder – The defending West champions are hungry and looking for revenge after a bitter Finals defeat. Even with the Lakers additions, they’re still the team to beat in the West.
3.     Los Angeles Lakers – Add Dwight Howard and Steve Nash to go a long side one of the best players the game as ever seen, and you have had yourself quite an off-season. It may take time to get going, but expect the Lakers to be heavy contenders this year when it’s all said and done.
4.     Boston Celtics – Yes, the Celtics are a year older, and yes, they lost Ray Allen. No, they aren’t done contending for NBA championships. It will be tough to overcome the Heat in the East, but if anyone has the talent and experience to do it, it’s Boston.
5.     Philadelphia 76ers – This may surprise people, but the Sixers are going to be a force this year. A young up and coming team got even younger and even better with the addition of Andrew Bynum. Look for Philly to make some noise this year in the East.
6.     Los Angeles Clippers – Year one was good, but I expect year two to be even better for CP3 in LA. CP3 is a dark horse MVP candidate in my opinion, and Blake Griffin is getting closer and closer to becoming the complete player that the Clippers need him to be.
7.     San Antonio Spurs – The Spurs have been the No. 1 seed out West each of the last two seasons. While I expect them to have a good year, I don’t see that happening for a third time. But who knows, they’ve proved me wrong before.
8.     Dallas Mavericks – The Mavs adding Darren Collison and O.J. Mayo will be quite enough to keep them in the Western playoffs. The West is deep, but Cuban and company won’t let Dallas fall far behind.
9.     Chicago Bulls – The Bulls would obviously be much higher on the list if it weren’t for the Derrick Rose injury. They’d probably be number two in the East, behind Miami. As it is, the Bulls will have to fight to keep pace until their all world point guard gets back into action sometime around New Years. If there is one thing Chicago can’t wait for, it’s the start of 2013.
10.  New York Knicks – This is a gut pick. Carmelo and Amare are too damn good to keep allowing the Knicks to play at such a mediocre level. Melo needs to step in and take control of the locker room if he ever wants to win a title in New York. Otherwise, the Knicks will be bounced in the first round yet again.
11.  Minnesota Timberwolves – Expect the Timberwolves to be the surprise team this season. Once Rubio returns from knee surgery, Minnesota, let by the best rebounder in the game, Kevin Love, could make a serious run at their first postseason appearance in years.
12.  Indiana Pacers – The Pacers missed out on a few free agents but they kept intact what they already had, which was huge. Indiana gave Miami a run for their money last year. The question is can they do any better this year? That remains to be seen.
13.  Denver Nuggets – The Nuggets gave the Lakers a seven game series last year, and that was before they had one of the league’s most athletic wingmen. Iguodala could be the missing link that Denver has been searching for since they were forced to trade Carmelo Anthony to New York.
14.  Golden State Warriors – The Warriors traded away their best player, Monta Ellis, last season but added a lot of depth. Rookie Harrison Barnes is very underrated, and I’m expecting Steph Curry and the Warriors to shock the world, and steal a playoff spot out West.
15.  Brooklyn Nets – Superstar Deron Williams decided to stay put in Brooklyn this offseason despite zero success since being traded there two years ago. He didn’t get the help he wanted in Dwight Howard, but he got some all the same in the form of All-Star shooting guard Joe Johnson. Johnson will add a ton of scoring depth to the team, something that has been lacking since Williams joined the team.
16.  Memphis Grizzlies – It may take some by surprise that Memphis is just now showing up on the list, considering their last two seasons of success. However, it seems the Grizzlies have too many players that want too much of the spotlight. It also hurts to lose a dynamite scorer off the bench like O.J. Mayo. I said the Warriors could steal a playoff spot out West, and the team they might just take it from, is Memphis.
17.  Milwaukee Bucks – While they have outstanding backcourt players in Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, the Bucks lack talented size after trading away Andrew Bogut. Lacking size is never good in the NBA.
18.  Utah Jazz – If you put the Bucks roster together with Utah’s, you’d have one hell of a team. Separately though, you have the Bucks with not enough size, and the Jazz, with not enough quality guard play. Two decent teams.
19.  Portland Trailblazers – Portland is better than most people think, and so is Power Forward, Lamarcus Aldridge. It amazes me the lack of attention Aldridge receives year after year. The guy’s a stud, and if he improves a bit defensively, could have Portland vying for a playoff bid.
20.  New Orleans Hornets – Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers make one heck of a draft for New Orleans, but matching Eric Gordon’s contract offer from Phoenix was just as big. The Hornets are a couple years away, but they’ll get there as long as Davis and Rivers pan out the way most believe they will.
21.  Atlanta Hawks – Losing Joe Johnson will hurt the Hawks a lot more than many want to believe. In two years, the Hawks have lost two of the NBA’s most underrated players in Johnson and Jamal Crawford. Josh Smith and Al Horford are good, but not good enough to carry a team to the playoffs by themselves.
22.  Sacramento Kings – Tyreke Evans and Demarcus Cousins lead a very talented group of young players in Sacramento. It may not happen this year, but the Kings could be something to talk about in the NBA’s near future.
23.  Cleveland Cavaliers – The Cavs are still a long way from filling the huge hole that LeBron James left them when he parted for Miami two years ago, but future star Kyrie Irving is a year older, and Cleveland should be at least a little improved compared to the past two seasons.
24.  Houston Rockets – If the Rockets ever learned what defense is, they’d have a pretty decent team. This year, they don’t even have the firepower to even form a dynamic offense. Houston, we have a problem.
25.  Toronto Raptors – The Raptors haven’t had a lot of luck with their high draft picks in recent years. Andrea Bargnani and Demar Derozen are pretty average, and unless one steps up tremendously this year, There will be yet another lottery pick in the Raptors future.
26.  Detroit Pistons – There is one thing I think about when it comes to this franchise, and that is possibly the dumbest trade in NBA history. Chauncey Billups, Mr. Big shot, still with good years ahead of him, for a washed up Allen Iverson. Nothing has been the same in Detroit since, and there’s no telling when they will rise to relevance again.
27.  Washington Wizards – The Wizards could use a little magic if they want anything good to happen to them this year. Meanwhile, expect John Wall to be doing his dance after making a layup while believing he lived up to the hype.
28.  Orlando Magic – Speaking of needing Magic, goodness. Maybe it’s time I change my mind about the dumbest trade in NBA history, because the Magic sure made a run at this summer when they dumped the NBA’s best center for virtually nothing.
29.  Charlotte Bobcats – There is only one world in which the Bobcats run a successful franchise, and that is the virtual world of my NBA 2k12 My Player. Unfortunately for Michael Jordan, his second coming won’t be suiting up for him this season.
30.  Phoenix Suns – The Suns are only behind Charlotte at number 30 because it is very rare to be the worst team in the league, two seasons in a row. That being said, two things are true. One, the Suns will be very bad, and two, if anyone can succeed at being the NBA’s worst team for two straight seasons, its Michael Jordan’s Bobcats.

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