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NBA Power Rankings: Final Record Projections for All Teams

Ethan NorofCorrespondent IJanuary 2, 2012

NBA Power Rankings: Final Record Projections for All Teams

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    We are now officially in the beginning of 2012, and the first edition of NBA power rankings of the new year comes with some very surprising seedings.

    While the Dallas Mavericks continue to scuffle coming off of the first championship in franchise history, there are a number of teams that look like they could have used a full preseason to build some chemistry between the players on the roster.

    With this season being unorthodox due to the compressed schedule caused by the lockout, a slow start for some teams may not be as troubling as it is for others.

    Which team is going to make the biggest splash?

30. Detroit Pistons

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    Record: 1-3

    Previous Rank: 24

    Final Record Projection: 21-45

    Detroit has serious duplicity issues on the roster, and it's become blatantly obvious that Lawrence Frank has a ton of work to do this year.

    Greg Monroe doesn't appear to be ready to take control yet, and the lack of a premier scoring option is hurting this team late in the game right now.

29. Washington Wizards

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    Record: 0-4

    Previous Rank: 27

    Final Record Projection: 24-42

    Washington is off to a really rough start as an extremely young club looking to find itself, but they should go on a nice run once the pieces start to gel.

    Team captain Andray Blatche has to step up and be a more efficient player in order for the Wizards to fulfill their potential, while the combination of Nick Young and Jordan Crawford have to make a better effort to pick their spots on offense.

28. Utah Jazz

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    Record: 1-3

    Previous Rank: 25

    Final Record Projection: 23-43

    Despite the intriguing mix of talent and size, the Jazz just don't look like they have any semblance on the court right now.

    With Devin Harris struggling to do what Tyrone Corbin asks and inconsistent play from youngsters Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward, it could be a longer season for Utah faithful than initially believed.

27. New Jersey Nets

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    Record: 1-4

    Previous Rank: 26

    Final Record Projection: 24-42

    The loss of Brook Lopez just before the season really crippled the chances of this team finding success, and it may have killed the idea of dealing for Dwight Howard in the process.

    Deron Williams is struggling and the Nets are scraping the bottom of the barrel to find offensive production, and that's a bad sign this early in the campaign.

26. Phoenix Suns

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    Record: 1-3

    Previous Rank: 18

    Final Record Projection: 27-39

    It's hard to imagine the Suns looking this bad throughout the entire season, but thus far it's been an epic struggle for Phoenix to put together a cohesive attack on the floor.

    Steve Nash and other key pieces on the roster aren't exactly playing up to expectations, and if that pattern continues, the outlook is going to be awfully grim in the desert.

25. Toronto Raptors

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    Record: 1-3

    Previous Rank: 29

    Final Record Projection: 26-40

    The Raptors have shown some surprising defensive tenacity early in the year, but on the offensive end, there just isn't much that has changed from the 2010-11 season.

    Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan can each score, but those two can't carry Toronto on their own, and the rest of the team is struggling to find consistent success on the offensive end of the floor.

24. Charlotte Bobcats

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    Record: 1-3

    Previous Rank: 28

    Final Record Projection: 28-38

    The Bobcats have been a fun team to watch, but the difference in the level of play between home and road games has already been evident.

    As long as the club continues to rely on a big man rotation which includes a sizable role for Byron Mullens off the bench, they will struggle against more talented teams beneath the basket.

23. Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Record: 2-2

    Previous Rank: 30 

    Final Record Projection: 30-36

    The Cavs don't boast the most impressive collection of talent on the roster, but it's obvious that this is not the same hapless Cleveland club from the previous season.

    Kyrie Irving has played well and injected some life into the franchise, and these guys appear to be buying into what Byron Scott is selling in emphatic fashion.

22. Sacramento Kings

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    Record: 2-3

    Previous Rank: 17

    Final Record Projection: 30-36

    Sacramento can light it up on offense when everything is clicking, but their consistency in doing so has already appeared questionable.

    Things can really fall apart in a hurry for this team, and in addition to the health concerns surrounding Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins is already creating serious waves for this bunch less than a full month into the campaign.

21. New Orleans Hornets

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    Record: 2-2

    Previous Rank: 23

    Final Record Projection: 26-40

    The Hornets might be a lot more talented than many had expected this year, but despite the .500 start to the year, expectations shouldn't be too high here.

    Eric Gordon is already battling knee woes, and the lack of depth in the second unit is something that could really come back to burn New Orleans in the middle of the year.

20. Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Record: 1-3

    Previous Rank: 22

    Final Record Projection: 28-38

    The Timberwolves have had some close calls early with narrow losses to both Miami and Oklahoma City, and the Ricky Rubio bandwagon is quickly filling up.

    As fun as they are to watch at times, there are legitimate concerns about the perimeter defense as well as the lack of an interior presence, and both of those items put a serious cap on Minnesota's ceiling.

19. Milwaukee Bucks

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    Record: 2-1

    Previous Rank: 21

    Final Record Projection: 31-35

    Most of the attention in Milwaukee goes to Brandon Jennings and Andrew Bogut, but it's the successes (or failures) of Stephen Jackson and Carlos Delfino which will really define the Bucks.

    The supporting cast has to step up and provide support in order for the Bucks to reach the postseason, and Milwaukee's efficiency from the field is going to define how high this team can go.

18. Houston Rockets

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    Record: 2-2

    Previous Rank: 19

    Final Record Projection: 31-35

    The Rockets may very well wind up on the outside looking in for the playoffs, but if Kyle Lowry and Kevin Martin continue to show up, Houston could definitely sneak in through the back door.

    There are legitimate concerns about the small forward position and some questions regarding the depth toward the end of the bench, and staying healthy will be key for Houston all season.

17. Golden State Warriors

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    Record: 2-2

    Previous Rank: 20

    Final Record Projection: 33-33

    Mark Jackson doesn't have the ideal personnel for the style of basketball he wants to play, but the guys on the roster have done a good job responding to his message in the early going.

    The health of Stephen Curry's ankle will define just what the Warriors are capable of doing this year, but the combination of Andris Biedrins and Kwame Brown leaves a lot to be desired in the middle.

16. Dallas Mavericks

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    Record: 1-4

    Previous Rank: 15

    Final Record Projection: 36-30

    Dallas receives the benefit of the doubt for now, but all of the changing parts in the offseason has really made it hard for this club to find and create chemistry on the court.

    The real concern for the Mavericks is that their key contributors are rapidly aging, and in a crowded Western Conference, it's going to be very tough to climb up the ladder if the struggles continue.

15. Memphis Grizzlies

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    Record: 1-3

    Previous Rank: 13 

    Final Record Projection: 35-31

    Following a surprisingly successful playoff run last year, expectations were grossly overstated for the Grizzlies and what this team may be capable of doing.

    After a 40-point blowout loss to Chicago and Rudy Gay still very much still finding his rhythm in the offense, Memphis might not be as talented as some were expecting.

14. Philadelphia 76ers

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    Record: 2-2

    Previous Rank: 16 

    Final Record Projection: 35-31

    The Sixers didn't change the personnel on the roster from last year, but some of the guys who needed to step up early and often have done exactly that.

    Spencer Hawes is playing very well, Andre Iguodala looks a lot more comfortable, and a healthy Lou Williams off the bench really helps strengthen Philadelphia's rotation.

13. Orlando Magic

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    Record: 4-1

    Previous Rank: 14

    Final Record Projection: 41-25

    The projection for the final record comes with a Dwight-sized asterisk considering he's a strong candidate to be traded before the year ends, but as long as he's there, Orlando will win games.

    Ryan Anderson and Hedo Turkoglu have played well in the early part of the year, but Glen Davis has not, and the the contributors in the second unit could struggle to produce all year long.

12. New York Knicks

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    Record: 2-2

    Previous Rank: 4 

    Final Record Projection: 42-24

    The Knicks were picked by a few to be a 50-win bunch, but there are too many questions about the production from the backcourt to likely see that vision come to fruition.

    Tyson Chandler has to be more aggressive down low and Amar'e Stoudemire has to stay healthy in order for this club to really assert itself near the top of the Eastern Conference standings.

11. Los Angeles Clippers

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    Record: 2-2

    Previous Rank: 5

    Final Record Projection: 43-23

    Similarly to New York, the expectations for the production from "Lob City" may have been slightly too high at the onset of the season.

    There is too much talent on the Clippers roster for the team to scuffle, and the chemistry should continue to build between the new teammates as the year progresses as they breed more familiarity with one another.

10. Indiana Pacers

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    Record: 3-1

    Previous Rank: 9

    Final Record Projection: 42-24

    Roy Hibbert seems to have turned a corner for the Pacers, and the new additions in David West and George Hill have produced early and often for a surging Indiana team.

    There will be some unexpected losses along the way, but with their combination of talent and depth, the Pacers are going to be a lot more competitive than many people expected.

9. Boston Celtics

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    Record: 2-3

    Previous Rank: 12

    Final Record Projection: 42-24

    It's incredible how the concerns surrounding the Celtics have quieted since Paul Pierce's return, but all it takes is for one key contributor to go down and this team may really be in trouble.

    If one of Boston's big four were forced to miss extended time due to an injury, the Celtics could really struggle, and that would really damage their postseason outlook.

8. Atlanta Hawks

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    Record: 3-1

    Previous Rank: 11

    Final Record Projection: 43-23

    Atlanta might have an unforeseen advantage ahead of some other competitors due to the chemistry and familiarity on the roster between players, and the Hawks have stayed true in their promise to run the floor this season.

    Jeff Teague appears to be the real deal at point guard, and early signs indicate that Joe Johnson is very capable of having a bounce-back campaign for an Atlanta team that sorely needs him to do just that.

7. Denver Nuggets

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    Record: 3-2

    Previous Rank: 10

    Final Record Projection: 43-23

    The only thing that may hold back Denver from really turning heads is the team's consistency, because the talent and depth of the roster is undoubtedly impressive.

    With several players capable of contributing on both ends of the floor as well as a very strong second unit, the Nuggets could really be a dangerous club as the season moves forward.

6. Los Angeles Lakers

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    Record: 3-2

    Previous Rank: 8

    Final Record Projection: 45-21

    The difference a healthy Andrew Bynum makes in this Lakers lineup is obvious, and Los Angeles is going to need him to be a difference maker if the team wants to have any chance at sustained success.

    Despite the departures of Lamar Odom and Shannon Brown, the Lakers are a little deeper than many believe, but there are certainly areas (backup shooting guard, small forward) which need to be addressed before long.

5. San Antonio Spurs

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    Record: 3-1

    Previous Rank: 7

    Final Record Projection: 42-24

    San Antonio was quickly written off due to the age and health concerns of Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, but this veteran group is proving that there is still plenty left in the tank.

    Although they may not finish with the most polished regular season record as they look to get their key cogs some rest throughout the year, the Spurs have enough talent that they can certainly compete with most teams on a nightly basis.

4. Portland Trail Blazers

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    Record: 3-1

    Previous Rank: 6

    Final Record Projection: 44-22

    Portland has flown under the radar for some, but there is no doubt that this is one team very capable of making a serious playoff push.

    Arguably the deepest team in the league, the Trail Blazers are going to be a lot of fun to watch at both ends of the floor and it wouldn't be shocking to see them finish near the forefront of the Western Conference.

3. Chicago Bulls

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    Record: 4-1

    Previous Ranking: 3

    Final Record Projection: 48-18

    Chicago has one of the more formidable defensive attacks int he entire league, and the offensive firepower is on display regularly when the Bulls take the court.

    It's scary to see just how good Derrick Rose is, and the progressions he makes every season in his overall game give him a nearly limitless ceiling.

    That is a downright scary thought for the rest of the league.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Record: 5-0

    Previous Ranking: 2

    Final Record Projection: 50-16

    There have been some close calls early for Oklahoma City, but the three-headed monster of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden is going to be very tough to slow down.

    In order for the Thunder to take the next step, the club has to get a solid season from Serge Ibaka, and although that has yet to happen, there is plenty of time for him to find his game.

    With an incredibly deep roster, this team could very well represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals.

1. Miami Heat

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    Record: 5-0

    Previous Rank: 1

    Final Record Projection: 52-14

    The Heat look like a completely new team this year, and it's incredible to think what this team is capable of doing if everybody stays healthy throughout the entire season.

    With LeBron James averaging nearly 30 points per game, Chris Bosh stepping up in a big way and Dwyane Wade continuing to be the most versatile player in the game, opponents will have their hands full against Miami every single night.

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