Posted on: October 13, 2010 3:07 pm
2010-2011 NBA Atlantic Division Preview
As the phrase has long been applied to life is recited: for every action there is a reaction. Three teams in this division were greatly affected by free agency this summer, even though they all ended up empty handed when it came to their pursuit of any of the prized free agents this July. Two of the teams, though, plotted for two years with hopes of landing LeBron James, only to be spurned as he left for the Miami Heat. Another one of the teams had one of the prized free agents, and his leaving for the Miami Heat left them in freelance as well. Meanwhile, the three-time defending Atlantic Champions lost in the NBA Finals and had to react promptly. The loss of Kendrick Perkins did not help either in the NBA Finals or at the start of this season, and the Celtics looked to add to their list of established veterans for what feels like one last run at a championship. And then there’s the Philadelphia 76ers. After years of being an afterthought in the league, one of the league’s most prominent cities is taking huge steps towards relevance again. They reached back and hired Doug Collins to return to Philadelphia to help advance this process and it will be interesting to see how those new players mesh.
All in all, the Atlantic Division had a lot of turnover on most of the rosters and could see significantly new change among the production of three of the worst teams from last season in New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia. With all three of those teams now positioning themselves for victory and with Boston continuing to add players primed for one last run, the change could be even more evident in the coming seasons. But even though there’s a reaction for every action, the Celtics reacted accordingly to last year’s NBA Finals loss to the Lakers, and are still the team to beat in the Atlantic Division.
1) Boston Celtics
Incoming Players: Avery Bradley, Luke Harangody, Semih Urden, Jermaine O’Neal, Shaquille O’Neal, Von Wafer, Delonte West
Outgoing Players: Rasheed Wallace, Tony Allen, Brian Scalabrine, Michael Finley, Shelden Williams
Team Report: The Celtics walk into this season as the clear favorites in the division and are among the favorites for an NBA Championship this season as well. The Celtics were up by 13 points in the 3rd quarter of last season’s Game 7 of the NBA Finals before conceding to the Lakers in a heartbreaking defeat. A lot has been made of their age in recent years, but they showed last postseason that they’re one of the few teams capable of flipping a switch on and off. Whether they would want to walk that tightrope again this season remains to be seen, but the players on the team don’t necessarily give any encouragement of a change of the times coming in Beantown.
Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal are the most high profile additions to the team. The two big men fit right into what the Celtics are looking for: smart, seasoned veterans willing to use what’s left of their ability to contribute to the ultimate goal of the team. Both come at an opportune time as well with the injury to Kendrick Perkins. Perkins injured his knee in Game 6 of last year’s NBA Finals and should be out until January. His loss will be greatly felt across the board in Boston, but the Celtics will hope it’s offset by the continued improvement from point guard Rajon Rondo. While it’s hard to argue that at least Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett aren’t more important to a championship for the Celtics, it’s also hard to argue that Rondo isn’t currently the team’s most talented player. Overall, the Celtics still enter this season with a chip on their shoulder and with a lot to prove. They also are the most stable of the rest of the teams in the division, and that’s why they’ll be winning the division title come next April.
2) New York Knicks
Incoming Players: Larry Fields, Andy Rautins, Jerome Jordan, Timofey Mozgov, Kelenna Azubuike, Patrick Ewing, Jr., Raymond Felton, Roger Mason, Jr., Anthony Randolph, Amar’e Stoudemire, Ronny Turiaf, Shawne Williams
Outgoing Players: Earl Barron, David Lee, Chris Duhon, Sergio Rodriguez, J.R. Giddens, Al Harrington, Jonathan Bender, Tracy McGrady, Eddie House
Team Analysis: The Knicks have been bad for years now, it seems. Since 2004, the Knicks have regularly been among the worst teams in the league. A fantastic city and fan base has really been negated by the lack of overall production on the court and the turmoil that occurred off of it. However, after Isaiah Thomas left New York, Donnie Walsh was hired to clean the mess. He hired Mike D’Antoni, rid himself of some of the ridiculous contracts on the team, and built towards the famed 2010 NBA Free Agent class. The Knicks have been telling their fans to accept defeat the last two seasons, a hard sell to New Yorkers, because a great star was on the horizon. After whiffing on LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, the team signed Amar’e Stoudemire to a big max contract this offseason instead. It still may be a hard sell to New Yorkers that he was worthy of being the light at the end of the tunnel.
But the Knicks made other moves this offseason to reshape the roster. They brought in the extremely promising Anthony Randolph over in a trade with Golden State and hope that he can partner up with Stoudemire to create the ideal frontcourt for head coach Mike D’Antoni. But, for the first time since D’Antoni was hired in 2008, the pressure is now on for him to win in New York. After being patient with a struggling team the last two seasons, the Knicks were told they would be much better in 2010. It’s fair to say they will be much better, but it’s debatable if they’re a lock to make the postseason. D’Antoni has h is work cut out for him, as do the rest of the Knicks franchise.
3) Philadelphia 76ers
Incoming Players: Evan Turner, Tony Battie, Craig Brackins, Spencer Hawes, Andres Nocioni, Darius Songaila
Outgoing Players: Samuel Dalembert, Rodney Carney, Willie Green, Jason Smith, Francisco Elson, Allen Iverson
Team Analysis: The Philadelphia 76ers traded Allen Iverson in 2006 and have been largely irrelevant since. Sure they’ve made the playoffs a couple times since that trade, but they’ve been no real threats among the NBA’s elite and the team really wasn’t in Iverson’s last years with the team either. So it seems a tad ironic now that the 76ers are building towards and selling hope; again at a time when Iverson is leaving. The 76ers brought Iverson back last season in an attempt to sell tickets and regain relevance, but it went for nothing as Iverson couldn’t stay on the court due to injuries and other factors and was a large non factor in the team’s horrendous 27-55 season. After only one season, Eddie Jordan was fired and the 76ers again went back to the drawing board.
The Sixers interviewed a lot of candidates and wound up with Doug Collins as the team’s new head coach coming into this season. Collins isn’t “new” by any means. He’s been a coach for three different franchises before and had mild success with all of them. His name is largely important because of his broadcasting gig with TNT moreso than what anyone remembers him doing as a coach. But Collins is a 76er at heart. He was drafted by Philadelphia and made an NBA Finals with the team in 1977. He wants, just as much as the rest of the city, for the 76ers to be relevant. How quickly that happens will largely land on the shoulders of second overall pick Evan Turner. Turner is a “do-it-all” type talent who led the Big 10 in scoring and rebounding last season. The Sixers will look to him to possibly spearhead a new era in Philadelphia. Andre Iguodala remains the man in Philadelphia, but for how long is anyone’s guess. How he and Turner mesh this season will go a long way towards determining how quickly Philadelphia can turn around in a shallow Eastern Conference. The 76ers are still a team with a lot of uncertainty, but they’ll take that as long as it can generate a lot of excitement.
4) New Jersey Nets
Incoming Players: Derrick Favors, Damion James, Jordan Farmar, Anthony Morrow, Troy Murphy, Travis Outlaw, Johan Petro, Joe Smith
Outgoing Players: Courtney Lee, Yi Jianlian, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Chris Quinn, Josh Boone, Trenton Hassell, Bobby Simmons, Keyon Dooling, Tony Battie, Jarvis Hayes
Team Analysis: The Nets were close to becoming, historically, the worst team in NBA history last season. A late season “surge” by the Nets helped them avoid the NBA’s futility mark and allowed the team to finish 12-70 last season. There wasn’t a lot to be happy about in Jersey last season, but at least there’s hope on the horizon for this upcoming season. The Nets have a new owner now in the hugely interesting and insanely rich Mikhail Prokhorov as their brand new owner, the impending move to Brooklyn (which seems like it’s been in the works forever) is finally going to happen by 2012, and they’ve introduced a new coach to the team in Avery Johnson. Johnson, who won an NBA Championship as a player with the Spurs and went to the NBA Finals as a coach for Dallas, will at least command the attention and respect of the young talent in New Jersey.
Speaking of that new talent, nobody is more promising on the team than the third overall pick in the draft: Georgia Tech PF Derrick Favors. Favors has drawn early comparisons to Dwight Howard in terms of body structure and athletic ability, but is still very raw and will be brought along slowly by the Nets. The team lacked a lot of fortitude last season, and it’s no guarantee that they’ll develop that toughness just from the presence of their new coach. But they will be better. Troy Murphy, Jordan Farmar, Travis Outlaw and Anthony Morrow all make great additions to the team. Will it be enough to make them a playoff team? Probably not. But after last season’s 12 win season, everything is looking up for New Jersey.
5) Toronto Raptors
Incoming Players: Ed Davis, Solomon Alabi, Leandro Barbosa, Linas Kleiza, Julian Wright
Outgoing Players: Chris Bosh, Hedo Turkoglu, Marco Belinelli, Rasho Nesterovic, Patrick O’Bryant, Antoine Wright
Play Analysis: Although the Knicks and Nets cut salary and lost games on purpose to be players this offseason, the Raptors signed and traded for talent to please one player who was going to be on the market: Chris Bosh. Bosh, however, never was going to stay in Toronto and he now resides in South Beach. The Raptors didn’t respond as harshly as Cleveland did with LeBron, but they’re going to move along with life after Bosh anyways. The talent that the team acquired last season did not gel at all, and with more turnover this season as well, chemistry will still be a huge problem with this Toronto team.
With the selection of Ed Davis in the first round, the Raptors hope to have found Bosh’s replacement immediately. Davis is a North Carolina product who is a very solid offensive talent. However, they can’t expect him to replace Bosh’s production right away. Andrea Bargnani should be primed for a huge break out year for Toronto, but I feel like that’s been said for about three straight seasons. But the talent gap between him and the next best player on the team is huge. The Raptors deserve credit for not going into complete firesale mode without Bosh and trying to still compete even though they lost their best player. But the moves they made this offseason won’t do much to help the team make the postseason. Coaching, chemistry and defense were the biggest problems last year; they’re still problems this season.
Tags: 76ers, Al Harrington, Andre Iguodala, Andrea Bargnani, Andres Nocioni, Andy Rautins, Anthony Morrow, Anthony Randolph, Antoine Wright, Avery Bradley, Bobby Simmons, Brian Scalabrine, Celtics, Chris Bosh, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Chris Duhon, Chris Quinn, Courtney Lee, Craig Brackins, Damion James, Darius Songaila, David Lee, Delonte West, Derrick Favors, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade, Ed Davis, Eddie House, Evan Turner, Francisco Elson, Heat, Hedo Turkoglu, J.R. Gidden, Jason Smith, Jerome Jordan, Joe Smith, Johan Petro, Jordan Farmar, Julian Wright, Kelenna Azubuike, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett, Keyon Dooling, Knicks, Leandro Barbosa, LeBron James, Linas Kleiza, Luke Harangody, Marco Belinelli, Nets, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Raptors, Raymond Feleton, Rodney Carney, Ronny Turiaf, Samuel Dalembert, Shawne Williams, Shelden Williams, Solomon Alabi, Spencer Hawes, Spurs, Timofey Mozgov, Tony Allen, Tony Battie, Tracy McGrady, Travis Outlaw, Troy Murphy, Von Wafer, Willie Green, Yi Jianlian
Posted on: May 28, 2010 12:13 pm
I figured since I didn't do a playoff preview this season for each team as I did last year, I'll do a fun little countdown to this year's draft, since that's where my team is going to be instead of the postseason. Mercifully, for some of you, this countdown is almost over. It's been a blast typing them up and it was fun looking at some of the way teams have fared in the draft and how well some players have panned out, regardless of where they were selected. We've covered a lot of ground the last decade. From the high schoolers taken abound in 2001 and 2004, to the new one and done rule in 2006, to the amount of foreign players taken in 2002, to the University of North Carolina setting a record with 4 players taken in the lottery in 2005, to now. Overall, this draft class has drawn comparisons to legendary classes of 1984 and 1996. It's changed the courses of franchises, may have put handcuffs on another's chance at a dynasty, and features players who will be at the top of the list when it comes to free agency this summer (since that's what everyone wants to talk about). But here it is, ladies and gentlemen, the number one draft on our countdown of the top ten drafts the last years. Coming in at number one is none other than the 2003 NBA Draft.
Tags: 76ers, Boris Diaw, Bucks, Bulls, Carlos Delfino, Carmelo Anthony, Cavaliers, Celtics, Chris Bosh, Chris Kaman, Clippers, Dahntay Jones, Darko Milicic, David West, Dwyane Wade, Grizzlies, Hawks, Heat, Hornets, James Jones, James Singleton, Jarvis Hayes, Jason Kapono, Jazz, Josh Howard, Keith Bogans, Kendrick Perkins, Kirk Hinrich, Knicks, Kyle Korver, Lakers, Leandro Barbosa, LeBron James, Luke Ridnour, Luke Walton, Magic, Marcus Banks, Marquis Daniels, Matt Bonner, Mavericks, Mickael Pietrus, Mo Williams, Nets, Nick Collison, Nuggets, Pacers, Pistons, Quinton Ross, Raptors, Sasha Pavlovic, Shaquille O'Neal, Spurs, Steve Blake, Steve Nash, Suns, T.J. Ford, Thunder, Timberwolves, Trail Blazers, Travis Outlaw, Trevor Ariza, Udonis Haslem, Vince Carter, Warriors, Willie Green, Wizards, Zaza Pachulia
Posted on: April 16, 2009 11:45 pm
Rookie of the Year:
Most Valuable Player:
Coach of the Year:
Executive of the Year:
Defensive Player of the Year:
Sixth Man of the Year:
Most Improved Player:
Tags: Brandon Roy, Brook Lopez, Bulls, Cavaliers, Celtics, Chauncey Billups, Chris Andersen, Chris Paul, David Lee, Derrick Rose, Devin Harris, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade, Eddie House, Grizzlies, Heat, Hornets, J.R. Smith, Jason Terry, Kevin Durant, Kevin Garnett, Kevin Love, Knicks, LeBron James, Magic, Marcus Camby, Mavericks, Mo Williams, Nene, Nets, Nuggets, O.J. Mayo, Paul Pierce, Russell Westbrook, Spurs, Thunder, Timberwolves, Tony Parker, Trail Blazers, Travis Outlaw
Posted on: April 6, 2009 12:48 am
Well now that teams are clinching divisions and spots in the postseason I thought it would be cool to go ahead and preview each team that is going to be a part of the 2009 NBA Postseason. I will do one for each team as they clinch a playoff spot and since we already have teams that have clinched, we will start with them. Now we will continue with a proud franchise making its first appearance in the postseason since 2003: the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Blazers are an energy, hustle team that really flourishes playing at home in Portland and that never takes their foot off of the pedal. Rudy Fernandez and Travis Outlaw spearhead a really talented bench and give tremendous energy whenever they step onto the court. Coach Nate McMillan really has this team playing together as a unit, and they know how to attack the opposition and where to attack the opposition. They're very well prepared, so even with their youth and reckless abandon, they're still organized and put their skills to good use. Whenever the Blazers play at home, they're almost unstoppable and they can really put pressure on you to win at home. If they steal a game on the road, they're in prime position when they return to Portland. Also, this team is very good at rebounding the basketball, which helps start off on the breaks for the offense and limits second chance opportunities to the opponent.
Steve Blake is solid, but he's not going to blow anyone away at the point guard position. Brandon Roy is more effective with the basketball anyways, so this hasn't been a problem as of yet for Portland, but teams will really attack Roy in the postseason and the onus will be on Steve Blake and Sergio Rodriguez to not be liabilities out on the floor. They're going to be relied on to hit big three pointers and Blake has shown that he can do it (even being the starting point guard on a Denver team that went to the postseason a couple of years ago). Also, youth and inexperience can pose a huge problem for Portland. As always, there seems to be a learning curve in a team's first season in the playoffs. That doesn't mean a series victory or two is out of the question, but usually teams have to learn how to win in the postseason and nobody on this squad has any experience at being successful in the postseason. So that could pose a problem when the squad is on the road and in tough situations in the postseason against teams that know how to win on an opponent's home floor.
Why They Will Win It
Why They Won't Win It
Coming up next: the Utah Jazz.
Posted on: December 29, 2008 1:45 am
1. Cleveland Cavaliers (2) - The Cavaliers rallied for an impressive win against Miami today and remain the only team this season to be undefeated at home. They hold home court admirably and they also are getting fantastic play out of Mo Williams lately. This team is playing a consistent brand of basketball, and although the assortment of players and the list of victories doesn't blow you away, they are the hottest team so far this season and they play fantastic defense and win basketball games at home. Those are three qualities of great teams.
2. Boston Celtics (1) - I know with two losses this week you could make arguments about them falling behind either Orlando or the Lakers, but they still have the best record in the league and last week people were questioning when exactly this team was going to lose. They had a tough western swing but the Celtics are still the best team in the league. I think it would be entirely irrational to drop them too far down the list.
3. Orlando Magic (3) - The Magic are the second hottest team in the league right now and are frequently blowing teams out of the arena. That performance against New Orleans on Christmas day was impressive. Getting Mickael Pietrus back from injury is going to help this team immensely in the near future. They continue to perform at a high level regardless of doubts concerning their ability to consistently perform at this level. Currently, they're at this level so I can't drop them.
4. Los Angeles Lakers (4) - The Lakers gained an emotional and emphatic triumph over Boston on Christmas day in one of the most anticipated regular season games in recent memory. Kobe Bryant, as of late, has been playing near his MVP level from last season and the Lakers have to love what they're getting out of players like Sasha Vujacic as of late. They've seemed to turn the corner on the difficult stretch that they seemingly were having and inner turmoil over their defense had to be addressed with that performance against Boston. They clearly are the best current team in the Western Confrence.
5. Atlanta Hawks (6) - Joe Johnson is playing at an amazing level currently and this Hawks team is clicking on both sides of the basketball. Their quick start has proved to not be a fluke as they continue to play great basketball even going into January. The team may lack true depth at the point guard position, but Johnson runs the offense so much that it masks that problem. Overall, Mike Woodson has this team playing at an unbelievable level.
6. San Antonio Spurs (10) - Tony Parker has elevated his game to an unbelievable level this season. His offensive game is as polished as any point guards in the league. That shot from Roger Mason was huge on Christmas day and Tim Duncan is quietly having an unbelievable season. Matt Bonner has really slowed as of late, and as a result I look for the Spurs to look for some inside scoring around the trade deadline. Knowing them, they'll find a team to give them an outcast and I look at Eddy Curry (don't laugh) as being someone who could fit in good with the Spurs. But they need another force in the paint to take some pressure off of Tim Duncan.
7. Denver Nuggets (9) - The team played great basketball without Carmelo Anthony in the lineup and then carried it over with a big win at Madison Square Garden today when Carmelo returned. This team continues to stay around the top and are getting fantastic production out of J.R. Smith as of late. Kenyon Martin has shown flashes of the player we all loved in New Jersey as of late but it's a shame that a lot of his explosiveness has limited him. He had the potential to be a really, really good player in his career.
8. Portland Trail Blazers (7) - They're getting production out of Brandon Roy, but they have to love the contributions they're getting night in and night out from players like Steve Blake, Travis Outlaw and Joel Przybilla as those types of role players are what help a team become a consistent threat night in and night out.
9. New Orleans Hornets (5) - Their performances against Los Angeles and Orlando revealed they still have not yet turned that corner and become a really good team. They're still playing maddingly inconsistent basketball but Peja Stojakovic and Antonio Daniels returned this week and that is reason enough for optimism in New Orleans.
10. Houston Rockets (8) - Ron Artest has been great off of the bench since his return from injury and I look for the Rockets to continue to play him at that spot. Tracy McGrady has been really inconsistent this season and continues to be in and out of lineups with nagging injuries. It's a shame he could indirectly ruin the best chance the Rockets have had at a championship since Charles Barkley and Scottie Pippen were wearing Rockets uniforms.
11. Dallas Mavericks (12) - The Mavericks are playing tremendous basketball as of late and have gotten past that slow start to develop into a fun, cohesive unit. That suspension for Dirk Nowitzki is laughable but it didn't stop them from being the lowly Clippers. I know Jason Kidd's numbers are down, and he's not the player he once was, but I feel as if he's delivering so far this season for Dallas. No he's not the player that Devin Harris is but he's done a fine job keeping this team together this season and they're slowly getting healthy as well. The Mavericks have played above expectations so far this season and it'll be intersting to see them continue to try and do so.
12. Utah Jazz (11) - Injuries to Carlos Boozer, Deron Williams, Ronnie Price, Mehmet Okur and Paul Millsap have held this team back and they've still yet to field a consistent and healthy squad for an extended period of time so that we can fairly evaluate the legitimacy of this Utah squad this season. Overall, I believe Jerry Sloan has done a fantastic job keeping this unit at where they're at even though they can't get continuity in the lineup.
13. Phoenix Suns (13) - The Suns had one game this week and lost it but they played strongly against the Spurs on Christmas day. They're winning games and at this rate will put up a soild record for the season but they don't seem to have any sort of spark to them this season that makes them feel like a legitimate threat to a team in a seven game series. Amare Stoudemire, for all the talent that he posseses, is becoming a quiet 20 point 8 rebound guy and you never want to fall into that category.
14. Miami Heat (14) - A tough loss at Cleveland is the only problem the Heat have experienced the past couple of weeks. Their defense keeps them in every single game and they find ways to hang around and win ball games. Jamaal Magloire would be a nice boost to this team if he could ever get consistently healthy but I don't know if that's in his capabilities any longer.
15. Detroit Pistons (15) - The Pistons found ways to beat bad teams this week and it's still a step in the right drection. They've been around .500 since acquiring Allen Iverson but they've still got time to right the ship and become a threat come the postseason. But looking at the energy of this squad, you have to wonder if they will.
16. New Jersey Nets (18) - The Nets still refuse to go away. Devin Harris and Vince Carter, night in and night out, carry this squad and keep them playing at a competitive level. Brook Lopez has done a fine job and has settled in nicely at the starting center position but I think this team still lacks the overall talent to stay in the playoff race all season long. But they've exceeded expecations so far this season so it's not outside of the realm of possibility for this team to stay at this level.
17. Milwaukee Bucks (17) - The Bucks continue to stick around regardless of a lack of fanfare or consistency. Michael Redd has struggled a tad this season and Richard Jefferson's game has dropped a bit as of late but Andrew Bogut has done a great job keeping this team afloat. I'd also like to give some kudos to Charlie Villanueva for being voted the world's sexiest bald man, giving the Bucks their first player to win an award in the past couple of decades. Congratulations!
18. Chicago Bulls (16) - This squad, much like the team in Utah, continues to deal with inconvenient injuries and have not yet fielded a consistently healthy squad. Everyone can't seem to get cohesive on this team because of the injury problems. Derrick Rose and Ben Gordon have done a great job of keeping this team together but overall they are a perimeter based squad and unfortunately, when shots don't fall they have no shot of victory and that won't hold up all season long.
19. Philadelphia 76ers (19) - I've been wanting to say it the past few weeks so I will give credit this week, Marreese Speights has done a great job this season, especially in the recent absence of Elton Brand. Andre Iguodala has shown flashes of the player that he was last season but overall he and this squad have vastly underacheived this season.
20. Memphis Grizzlies (23) - I wonder what happened to Marc Gasol to see his minutes being reduced as the season has progressed. Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo are nightly constants for this young squad and they finally have a sense of direction in Memphis for the first time since the first season they made the playoffs in 2003-2004.
21. Golden State Warriors (24) - The Warriors had a very impressive victory over Boston this week that was quickly forgotten after their performance against the Lakers tonight. Stephen Jackson has been playing better as of late but this team still misses Monta Ellis. Corey Maggette was a questionable addition when he signed with Golden State and word is the Warriors are listening to offers for the swingman. His contract may make it hard for him to be moved, but I don't believe it's going to work for him in Golden State.
22. Charlotte Bobcats (25) - Emeka Okafor has played great as of late, giving the Bobcats a consistent threat at the center position that they've lacked majorly this season. Boris Diaw gives him a body to work with down in the paint and Raja Bell has finally picked up his play after being traded from Phoenix. They're playing good, hard basketball at the moment and still have time to salvage the season by making a late season push for the playoffs.
23. Toronto Raptors (26) - The Raptors, mainly spearheaded by Jermaine O'Neal, responded in a big way this week after that dreadful previous couple of weeks that they played. This team still is a question mark as to whether or not they're going to right things this year but there's no denying how tough it's been to get a grip on this team.
24. New York Knicks (20) - The Knicks were never known for their defense even before the arrival of Mike D'Antoni, but the laziness on the defensive side of the ball has quickly spread in that locker room and has since grown to become a laughable ailment for this team. The team doesn't even try to guard you, which is what keeps them from pulling potential upsets over better squads.
25. Indiana Pacers (22) - The Pacers have yet to really get it together this season and after spending all season waiting for them to do so, I've finally come to the conclusion that it just may not happen. Mike Dunleavy has started to become more active after missing all season due to injury but I believe it's outside of his capabilities to turn this season around in Indiana. I said Brandon Rush would be a rookie to look out for this season and in turn he's played very underwhelming basketball this season.
26. Los Angeles Clippers (21) - The Clippers are such a Dr. Jeckyll/Mr. Hide squad. You have no idea if they're going to be competitive or susceptible to being blown out. They've recently given minutes to raw project DeAndre Jordan as of late and you have to wonder what that spells for oft injured but extremely talented center Chris Kaman with the now recently crammed frontcourt in Clipper land.
27. Sacramento Kings (27) - Their offense is so anemic without Kevin Martin in the lineup and I'm tired of waiting for him to come back and make this team competitive again. It has to be dissapointing that after such a strong season last year this team has played at the level it has this season, but injuries and inconsistency within the organization can derail a team on the rise and that's exactly what's happened to this identity-less team.
28. Minnesota Timberwolves (28) - The Timberwolves finally got a victory for coach Kevin McHale this week but still lack any true power on their squad. Rashad McCants and Ryan Gomes are two pieces of this team that would truly flourish on better squads but they basically serve no purpose for this horrible team. If you look at the current roster, you can't even say that they're rebuilding. They don't have any young projects in place aside from Al Jefferson. They're just an assortment of bad players.
29. Washington Wizards (29) - Now that Caron Butler is injured (and we all saw that coming), Antawn Jamison is all alone now as far as options for the Wizards. He was good enough for a victory over Oklahoma City but there's not much more he can do for this squad. He's played unbelievable basketball but it will and should go largely unnoticed around the league because this franchise is so poorly operated.
30. Oklahoma City Thunder (30) - I looked at the Thunder playing Joe Smith at the center position with concern but after looking at the level of center play around the league, I guess it's a gamble for the worst roster in the league. Nick Collison's injury obviously doesn't help matters but for the most part it really doesn't matter. I don't see Joe Smith (who would be a nice fit in San Antonio) or Desmond Mason finishing February in Oklahoma City jerseys.
Tags: 76ers, Al Jefferson, Allen Iverson, Andre Iguodala, Andrew Bogut, Antawn Jamison, Antonio Daniels, Ben Gordon, Bobcats, Boris Diaw, Brandon Roy, Brandon Rush, Brook Lopez, Bucks, Bulls, Carlos Boozer, Carmelo Anthony, Caron Butler, Cavaliers, Celtics, Charlie Villanueva, Chris Kaman, Clippers, Corey Maggette, DeAndre Jordan, Deron Williams, Derrick Rose, Desmond Mason, Devin Harris, Dirk Nowitzki, Eddy Curry, Elton Brand, Emeka Okafor, Grizzlies, Hawks, Heat, Hornets, J.R. Smith, Jamaal Magloire, Jason Kidd, Jazz, Jermaine O'Neal, Joe Johnson, Joe Smith, Joel Przybilla, Kenyon Martin, Kevin Martin, Kings, Knicks, Kobe Bryant, Lakers, Magic, Marc Gasol, Marreese Speights, Matt Bonner, Mavericks, Mehmet Okur, Michael Redd, Mickael Pietrus, Mike Dunleavy, Mo Williams, Monta Ellis, Nets, Nick Collison, Nuggets, O.J. Mayo, Pacers, Paul Millsap, Peja Stojakovic, Pistons, Raja Bell, Raptors, Rashad McCants, Richard Jefferson, Rockets, Ron Artest, Ronnie Price, Rudy Gay, Ryan Gomes, Sasha Vujacic, Spurs, Stephen Jackson, Steve Blake, Suns, Thunder, Tim Duncan, Timberwolves, Tony Parker, Tracy McGrady, Trail Blazers, Travis Outlaw, Vince Carter, Warriors, Wizards
Posted on: December 1, 2008 4:02 pm
Edited on: March 21, 2009 1:26 am
1. Los Angeles Lakers (1) - They've been number one all season long, and even though a part of me really wants to move them behind Boston, I simply can't. They've been winning, they've been winning consistently and they've been winning with a new player stepping up every night (ironically, the same can be said about Boston). They, though, have been great since the start of the season and I can't move them behind Boston. Not yet.
2. Boston Celtics (2) - Kevin Garnett is having probably his quitest season. Paul Pierce has been wildly inconsistent and Ray Allen's been a steady version of last year's diminished Ray Allen, yet this team continues to win. Kendrick Perkins and Rajon Rondo, the two unheralded starters, are giving this team quality starts and they compliment what the big three do so well. Perkins' game has really improved this season.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers (3) - I hear people asking "who have they beat", well they've only lost 3 times this season-all on the road. A mark of a good team is winning games that you're supposed to win and that's what the Cavaliers are doing. Charles Barkley is right in saying that LeBron James needs to shut it and start diverting all of his attention to the game and to his team, but a part of me believes that LeBron is more infatuated with the money and stardom than he is actual results on the court, which is why he'll always be a notch behind Kobe Bryant.
4. Denver Nuggets (4) - Even though they had a dissapointing loss at home to New Orleans on Thursday, this team continues to chug along with Chauncey Billups in the lineup. This past week J.R. Smith really heated up and if he regains the form he had for much of last season then this team can only get better. Chris Andersen coming back helps, but he can't be a savior for this frontcourt.
5. Orlando Magic (6) - Rashard Lewis is starting to play really good ball (even if you would like to see better rebounding numbers out of someone his size) and Dwight Howard is improving on his free throw shooting. Losing Mickael Pietrus for three weeks will hurt but this team continues to do what they did last year, quietly win ball games.
6. Portland Trail Blazers (9) - I got some criticism putting them as high as I have the past couple of weeks but they proved me right this week. Brandon Roy is one of the hottest players in the league and they're getting great production out of players like Travis Outlaw and Joel Przybilla. They're deep and they're talented.
7. Houston Rockets (5) - They get Shane Battier back and now Tracy McGrady is having problems with his knee (he's looked dinged up all season, what with his shoulder and whatnot). They are still winning, though, and they're doing it without any of their players playing consistently great ball. Luther Head has stepped up the past couple of games, but Adelman's system allows this team to make up for whoever is struggling on that given night. That's the sign of a good team.
8. Utah Jazz (8) - They had a bad loss to New Jersey but Deron Williams is slowly regaining some of the form he showed last season. It's slow, but steady, progress. Meanwhile, Paul Millsap has been outstanding in Carlos Boozer's absence and you have to believe he's going to see an amazing increase in minutes even when Boozer comes back.
9. Atlanta Hawks (10) - They're getting better play out of Mike Bibby (which is good because teams are starting to double Joe Johnson consistently) and they're surprisingly getting great contribution from Maurice Evans lately. This team just continues to stay around.
10. Phoenix Suns (7) - I've had this team high all season but the intensity and execution they showed the first couple of games has worn off and the honeymoon period has already ended in Phoenix. Amare Stoudemire is now complaining about coach Terry Porter's system and the team is searching for an identity all over again. A tailspin may be in this team's future.
11. Detroit Pistons (11) - Allen Iverson is already missing practice and Rasheed Wallace continues to jack up three pointers. Michael Curry was supposed to bring needed change in attitudes in Detroit but the players and player styles and attitudes continue to hold this talented team back. They should be in better shape than they currently in.
12. New Orleans Hornets (12) - A good win at Denver and a quiet four game winning streak have gotten the Hornets back on track, but they still need some consistent ball out of anyone not named Chris Paul.
13. San Antonio Spurs (19) - Despite the loss to Houston, this team is above .500, they're getting good production out of their young players, and both Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are back. Those pesky Spurs just never go away.
14. New Jersey Nets (17) - People said I had them too high last week, I probably have them too high this week, but they're playing tremendous basketball. Devin Harris has played tremendous basketball so far this season and he and Vince Carter have consistently been there every night. They're supporting cast is hit and miss but they're getting a different person to contribute each and every night.
15. New York Knicks (14) - They need to get this Stephon Marbury situation over and done with, because it's clouding what's been a good season so far for the Knicks. David Lee has played great and Tim Thomas has been lights out since coming over from Clipper land. His best season came with D'Antoni in Phoenix, though, and his increase in production doesn't surprise me, and it won't surprise me when his production dips.
16. Dallas Mavericks (18) - There's not a hotter player in the NBA, currently, than Jason Terry and he's keeping this team afloat lately. They still can't get consistent production out of the small forward position and aside from Terry they can't really get an answer at shooting guard either, but Jose Juan Barrera looks like a solid backup at the point guard position.
17. Toronto Raptors (21) - They turned a horrible last week into a solid week this week until they ran into the Lake show. Chris Bosh has been outstanding this season and currently there's not a better big man in the league. They're getting great play out of Andrea Bargnani lately which is very encouraging, though the injury to Jermaine O'Neal isn't.
18. Miami Heat (13) - The Heat have been wildly inconsistent this season and it has to be frustrating for any Heat fan to watch this team win one, and then lose the very next game but at the same time they have to be happy with Dwyane Wade's production. This team is still relatively young and still has room to improve and should probably be around the playoff picture all season long.
19. Chicago Bulls (20) - All things considered, I believe Vinny Del Negro has done a solid job with this team. They're slowly starting to get healthier (and will be better when Kirk Hinrich returns) but they still are an inconsistent bunch. Drew Gooden has played well lately and Luol Deng is slowly returning to form as well.
20. Philadelphia 76ers (15) - Andre Iguodala has played like a guy with a fat new contract, in other words he's definitely underperformed but I think with the offense having to adjust to the half court offense that Elton Brand flourishes in takes away from the strengths of both Iguodala and Andre Miller. Maurice Cheeks needs to succeed this season if he wants to keep his job and it looks increasingly difficult for him to do.
21. Milwaukee Bucks (16) - They're struggling without Andrew Bogut but Richard Jefferson is quietly having a solid season. Charlie Villanueva has put up good number this season but still hasn't brought it consistently like he should in a contract year. He needs to develop a solid game and put that tremendous talent to use but he plays like a small forward and is too slow to play that position. He should look at a player like David West and try to emulate a version of his game and then he can fully reach his potential.
22. Indiana Pacers (22) - The Pacers are puzzling because they just can't seem to get over that hump and win basketball games. Danny Granger has been great, proving last year was no fluke, and Marquis Daniels has continued to play encouraging ball but they can't seem to get going as a unit. Early in the season it was T.J. Ford playing while everyone else was struggling and now Ford has lot a step lately. They need to get it together and I believe they will in the coming month.
23. Minnesota Timberwolves (25) - It feels weird putting them this high but I believe they're the best out of all of the lower tier teams. Sebastian Telfair has been a steady force at point guard with Randy Foye and Mike Miller has had a couple of good games lately. They won't make the playoffs, but winning nearly 30 games this season would be a huge step in the right direction for this squad.
24. Charlotte Bobcats (27) - Jason Richardson has returned and rumors are circling whether or not he will be shopped around. Gerald Wallace has also been rumored to be out the door lately as well and this team looks to be in questionable shape. D.J. Augustin has continued to play great and looks to be the best draft pick the team has made, which is ironic because he was not drafted at a position that needed filling and therefore his selection was criticized.
25. Golden State Warriors (24) - This team has been stuck in reverse all season long and they have to be hoping that when Monta Ellis returns they will make some progress this season because this team is young and in need of a step in the right dirction. Andris Biedrins has cooled off lately and Jamal Crawford, though a need at guard, can't run the offense like they need someone to.
26. Sacramento Kings (23) - This team is reeling and is doing so in a hurry. Even with Mikki Moore's return, this team still needs Kevin Martin as he's not only their best player, he's the team's leader. John Salmons will be a great running mate when Martin returns and if Beno Udrih plays as well as he has without Martin in the lineup then this team can take off. Until then they will continue to struggle.
27. Memphis Grizzlies (26) - The team is slowly reaching irrelevance again and they're really struggling to find ways to win basketball games. I don't think coach Marc Iavaroni has any chance to retain his job which is sad as he was once a promising candidate around the league.
28. Los Angeles Clippers (28) - Zach Randolph was a good acquisition and Al Thornton has played as well as he did last season but this team is missing something. I don't know what it is, but I think this team would be making a horrible mistake in ridding themselves of Chris Kaman. Even though he and Randolph don't mesh well, Kaman is a better player than Randolph and is a much better player than Marcus Camby. They should find a way to keep him on this roster even though they could get a lot for him. Eric Gordon has played great this week.
29. Washington Wizards (29) - As predicted last week, Eddie Jordan was fired but nothing has changed with this team. They have Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler and not much past those two players. Because of the guaranteed contracts, this team is in such a deep hole that they're going to be stuck in this position for the next few seasons and may lose their best player (Butler) soon.
30. Oklahoma City Thunder (30) - The 14 game losing streak is over and Kevin Durant and Jeff Green have played great ball this week. The offense looks a lot more fluid with Scott Brooks running the show. Why is Earl Waton still starting and how many chances is this team going to give themselves to draft a productive center in the lottery?
Tags: 76ers, Al Thornton, Allen Iverson, Andre Iguodala, Andre Miller, Andrea Bargnani, Andrew Bogut, Andris Biedrins, Antawn Jamison, Beno Udrih, Bobcats, Brandon Roy, Bucks, Bulls, Carlos Boozer, Caron Butler, Cavaliers, Celtics, Charlie Villanueva, Chauncey Billups, Chris Andersen, Chris Bosh, Chris Kaman, Chris Paul, Clippers, D.J. Augustin, Danny Granger, David Lee, David West, Deron Williams, Devin Harris, Drew Gooden, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade, Elton Brand, Eric Gordon, Gerald Wallace, Grizzlies, Hawks, Heat, Hornets, J.R. Smith, Jamal Crawford, Jason Richardson, Jason Terry, Jazz, Jeff Green, Jermaine O'Neal, Joe Johnson, Joel Przybilla, John Salmons, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Durant, Kevin Garnett, Kevin Martin, Kings, Kirk Hinrich, Knicks, Kobe Bryant, Lakers, LeBron James, Luol Deng, Luther Head, Magic, Manu Ginobili, Marcus Camby, Marquis Daniels, Maurice Evans, Mavericks, Mickael Pietrus, Mike Bibby, Mike Miller, Mikki Moore, Monta Ellis, Nets, Nuggets, Pacers, Paul Millsap, Paul Pierce, Pistons, Rajon Rondo, Randy Foye, Raptors, Rashard Lewis, Rasheed Wallace, Ray Allen, Richard Jefferson, Rockets, Sebastian Telfair, Shane Battier, Spurs, Stephon Marbury, Suns, T.J. Ford, Thunder, Tim Thomas, Timberwolves, Tony Parker, Tracy McGrady, Trail Blazers, Travis Outlaw, Vince Carter, Warriors, Wizards, Zach Randolph