Friday, September 25, 2009

NBA: Power Rankings Top 15

Here we go again, with training camp within reach and the season about to start, it's always nice to rank our favorite NBA teams. ESPN's Marc Stein as usual has his complete Power Rankings. I almost agree with his Top 5, but we're a little different the rest of the way. And my ranking is limited to the Top 15 teams (although, I added an OLI section at the bottom of this post). You can also submit your own rankings here.

Here's my take...

(1) Los Angeles Lakers
If Ron Artest fit in nicely to a team that already includes Kobe, Gasol, Odom and a healthy Bynum they are favored to repeat. But if he starts acting up that's an entirely different story; loosing Ariza may prove too costly.

(2) Orlando Magic
Last year's runner-up just added Vince Carter, Bass and Barnes. Although they lose Hedo and Lee; Rashard can now play his natural position and they should be better on offense and solid upfront. How about developing some post moves Dwight?

(3) San Antonio Spurs
They are right back in the title hunt after getting Jefferson and adding McDyess, DeJuan Blair, Ratliff and to a lesser extent Haislip … But then again they need Timmy, Manu and Tony healthy to win the crown.

(4) Cleveland Cavaliers
The team that reached the Eastern Conference Finals last year got Shaquille O'Neal. Then included Anthony Parker, Jamario Moon and Leon Powe to their roster. They should be better right? But It still depends on how LeBron leads this team; plus can Shaq defend the pick n' roll?...

(5) Boston Celtics
Picking up Rasheed Wallace and adding Daniels is nice. Rondo is still getting better and they also retained the services of Glen Davis. But how much does Ray Allen have left? and KG's knees is a cause for concern.

(6) Portland Trail Blazers
The team remained intact; Andre Miller providing veteran presence in the backcourt can only help. This team is young and loaded with talent. And after getting to the playoffs last year, they gained needed experience and should be a dangerous team.

(7) Denver Nuggets
Last year's accomplishment could be tough to duplicate. I might have ranked them a little low but they didn't make a big move in the offseason then loose Danthay Jones and Linas Kleiza to free agency. In my opinion this will hurt their perimeter defense and bench production. But I like the acquisition of Lawson because it will definitely give Billups much needed rest making him more effective down the stretch. Carmelo Anthony is getting more consistent and their front line is solid with Nene, Martin and Chris 'Birdman' Andersen in the fold.

(8) Dallas Mavericks
The Mavs slightly improved their frontcount because of Drew Gooden. Marion will never be the same, Kidd is aging; rookie Rodrigue Beaubois might provide solid contribution at the backcourt. But their success still lies on Nowitzki, Josh Howard and Terry playing at a high level.

(9) New Orleans Hornets
They still have Chris Paul and David West. I think Ike Diogu will surprise a lot of people, and Darren Collison looks promising. But giving Butler away and trading Chandler for Okafor is a head scratcher...

(10) Utah Jazz
This team is solid and plays hard with a possible starting 5 of Deron Williams, Kyle Korver, Kirilenko, Millsap and Okur you can go wrong right? Although the Carlos Boozer situation could be a distraction. But with Jerry Sloan as coach, they should be focused.

(11) Atlanta Hawks
They should get better. Jamal Crawford gives them another scorer (Joe Johnson's prayers are answered!) and Joe Smith is a veteran prensence at the post who could mentor Al Horford. They also kept their key guys Bibby, Pachulia, Josh Smith and Marvin Williams from last season's playoff run.

(12) Chicago Bulls
Luol Deng coming back healthy, Derrick Rose gaining tremendous experience in last year's playoffs, and Brad Miller and Salmons in training camp are all good news. But they might miss the spark and offensive production Ben Gordon provides.

(13) Miami Heat
I might be ranking them too high but they still have Dwayne Wade, Jermaine O'Neal (if healthy) and Haslem. A year of experience for Beasley and Chalmers certainly helps and they have solid backups in Quentin Richardson, James Jones, Cook and Magloire

(14) Phoenix Suns
May make or miss the playoffs (again?!). Yes they have Nash, Jason Richardson, Barbosa and Grant Hill. But the bottom line is will Amare return to his old self? that remains to be seen...

(15) Detroit Pistons
They lost Iverson and Rasheed. But this team has an exciting core. Hamilton, Prince, Charlie Villianueva, Rodney Stuckey and Maxiell or Kwame should start. Then they've got Gordon coming off the bench (which fits him). Chris Wilcox is an underrated acquisition and Austin Daye and DaJuan Summers are possible steals. After last season's disappointment, the Pistons will go nowhere but up.

Outside looking in:
In my opinion these teams can possibly make the playoffs this upcoming season,

Raptors because they now have Hedo Turkoglu, Jarret Jack and Belinelli. That's additional firepower.

Wizards Arenas returning healthy. Randy Foye will give them a reliable 'true' point guard and the possible contribution of Oberto to a lesser extent should not be overlooked.

76ers main key is Elton Brand staying healthy. Andre Iguodala, Marreese Speights, Young and Willie Green are all good. They also picked Holiday but loose veteran point guard Miller to the Blazers.

Thunder thier young core of Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic, Thabo Sefolosha, and Russell Westbrook looks good on paper. They also have added James Harden and Serge Ibaka. If their talent translate on the court, watch out!

Clippers they got Blake Griffin but more importantly, Eric Gordon and DeAndre Jordan has a year of experience. Veterans Baron Davis, Chris Kaman and Marcus Camby should play inspired basketball and they also got Rasual Butler.

Bobcats after a year trading their players, Coach Brown molded this team the way he likes it. They showed improvement last year. So will they finally be make the playoffs? It's still a long shot although Tyson Chandler and Flip Murray's arrival can help.

Agree with my ranking? Feel free to voice your opinion @ the comments section of this page. This should be a very exciting season NBA fans!

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