Updated NBA Championship Odds, Post-Summer League

Bryant WestCorrespondent IJuly 23, 2012

Updated NBA Championship Odds, Post-Summer League

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    With NBA free agency winding down and the summer league over, activity in the association will slow to a crawl as we enter the NBA's true quiet months. Thank goodness for the Olympics, huh?

    Unless/until a Dwight Howard trade materializes, the most we can do is look ahead to the 2012-2013 season. Since the goal of every NBA season is to win the championship, let's start talking about the 2013 title already!

    The Orlando/Las Vegas summer leagues certainly don't have a ton to tell us about who can win a championship next season, but with the free-agency period almost run dry, we can realistically expect teams are beginning to cement their rosters.

    Let's take a look at my post-summer league championship odds for next season.

Atlanta Hawks

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    Projected Starting Lineup

    C: Al Horford

    PF: Josh Smith

    SF: Tracy McGrady (free agent)

    SG: Anthony Morrow

    PG: Jeff Teague

    The Hawks had been one of the more stable playoff teams for years but were never able to break out and become one of the East’s dominant teams.

    Danny Ferry made an immediate impact upon arriving in Atlanta, shipping out Joe Johnson and his gigantic contract in exchange for a collection of players and cap space from Brooklyn.

    The Hawks still have Al Horford and Josh Smith, giving them one of the scarier big men corps in the league (when healthy), but without Johnson the Hawks will have even less bite then they had in recent years. It may pay off next summer, though, when they have big-time cap space.

    Odds: 50:1

Boston Celtics

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    Projected Starting Lineup

    C: Kevin Garnett

    PF: Brandon Bass

    SF: Paul Pierce

    SG: Avery Bradley

    PG: Rajon Rondo

    The Celtics proved this year that we should never count them out. They were a LeBron James takeover away from a trip to the NBA Finals, and while they lost Ray Allen to the Heat, they gained Dallas’ Jason Terry, re-signed a hopefully healthy Jeff Green and added a top-15 draft prospect in Jared Sullinger.

    Even with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce knocking on Father Time’s door, this team is one of the better defensive squads and is still relatively deep. Don’t count the Celtics out, but don’t bet money on them beating Miami either.

    Odds: 18:1

Brooklyn Nets

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    Projected Starting Lineup

    C: Brook Lopez

    PF: Kris Humphries

    SF: Gerald Wallace

    SG: Joe Johnson

    PG: Deron Williams

    The re-signing of Deron Williams and the acquisition of Joe Johnson combined with a hopefully healthy Brook Lopez could make the Nets the better New York team at this point. While they struck out in the Dwight Howard race, any time you combine two All-Star guards, you’re going to see results.

    The big question is Lopez, who signed a max contract to stay with the team. Can he stay healthy? Can a 70" center average more than six rebounds a game this year? Is he worth a max-contract deal? (I can answer that one...NO.) Williams will likely be more efficient than last year, and Johnson may be overpaid, but he’s dependable. It’s basically up to Lopez at this point.

    Odds: 30:1

Charlotte Bobcats

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    Projected Starting Lineup

    C: Bismack Biyombo

    PF: Tyrus Thomas

    SF: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

    SG: Gerald Henderson

    PG: Ramon Sessions

    The Bobcats did the right thing and drafted Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who will shine thanks to his defense and incredible tenacity. Still, you have to figure the Bobcats will be at the top of the draft next season. Nothing in this lineup screams "top 10 in the East," let alone playoffs.

    Odds: 200:1

Chicago Bulls

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    Projected Starting Lineup

    C: Joakim Noah

    PF: Carlos Boozer

    SF: Luol Deng

    SG: Richard Hamilton

    PG: Kirk Hinrich

    This may seem a bit high for the Bulls, but if Derrick Rose can return healthy at any point of the season, the Bulls instantly become contenders again.

    The big thing to watch, though, is what will happen in Rose's absence. Kirk Hinrich is a decent band-aid, at least for the time being, but this team screams "eighth seed" without Rose. Can Carlos Boozer step up in Rose's absence and be the scorer we saw in Utah?

    Odds: 7:1

Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Projected Starting Lineup

    C: Anderson Varejao

    PF: Tristan Thompson

    SF: Omri Casspi

    SG: Dion Waiters

    PG: Kyrie Irving

    The Cavaliers added Syracuse guard Dion Waiters with their first-round pick, surprising most of the media and fans considering Waiters hadn't worked out with any team and hadn't spoken with the Cavs before the draft.

    Otherwise, the Cavaliers haven't made any big moves, although there are rumblings that Cleveland may get Andrew Bynum for facilitating a deal that would send Dwight Howard to Los Angeles.

    Kyrie Irving is a special talent, but he can't do it alone.

    Odds: 100:1 

Dallas Mavericks

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    Projected Starting Lineup

    C: Chris Kaman

    PF: Dirk Nowitzki

    SF: Shawn Marion

    SG: O.J. Mayo

    PG: Darren Collison

    The Mavericks’ gamble for Deron Williams didn’t pay off, and while their championship window has slammed shut, they improved in the offseason.

    Collison was a very smart pickup from Indiana, and while I don’t expect O.J. Mayo to break out, he is a very solid second or third option. Chris Kaman, if healthy, provides in ways that Dirk Nowitzki doesn’t or can’t.

    This team looks like a fifth or sixth seed on paper, but that could always improve if they find some way to swing a Dwight Howard deal.

    Odds: 25:1

Denver Nuggets

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    Projected Starting Lineup

    C: JaVale McGee

    PF: Kenneth Faried

    SF: Danilo Gallinari 

    SG: Arron Afflalo

    PG: Ty Lawson

    The Nuggets are a deep, resilient team that runs super efficiently but lacks a one true go-to scorer. If they had a true No. 1 option, this team would be a top-four squad in the West. As they are, they’re very, very solid, but nothing more than that.

    Ty Lawson is an excellent point guard, Danilo Gallinari has all the skills to be a great second option and Kenneth Faried busted out as a top rookie last year. All great pieces, but none of them stars.

    Odds: 30:1

Detroit Pistons

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    Projected Starting Lineup

    C: Andre Drummond

    PF: Greg Monroe

    SF: Tayshaun Prince

    SG: Rodney Stuckey

    PG: Brandon Knight

    No, I’m not sure Andre Drummond will be a starter next season, but I’ll pencil him in anyway. It's not like the Pistons will be a playoff team.

    Detroit has excellent potential in Brandon Knight and Greg Monroe, and even more if Drummond fulfills his enormous upside. That said, they’re all young, and with the exclusion of Monroe, nothing about the Pistons roster looks playoff-ready. Anchored with Monroe, however, this is an excellent team for the future. Props to the Pistons organization for rebuilding the right way.

    Odds: 200:1

Golden State Warriors

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    Projected Starting Lineup

    C: Andrew Bogut

    PF: David Lee

    SF: Harrison Barnes

    SG: Klay Thompson

    PG: Stephen Curry

    Health keeps the Warriors back. If both Andrew Bogut and Stephen Curry can play full seasons healthy, then the Warriors may very well be a playoff sleeper. One of them being completely healthy would be a big surprise, and having both healthy would be a miracle.

    Combing Curry with Klay Thompson and rookie Harrison Barnes may make one of the scarier shooting guard/wing combos in recent history, but with the exception of Bogut, no one in the Warriors starting lineup is even decent at defense. Can the Warriors be healthy and play defense? Keep dreaming.

    Odds: 75:1

Houston Rockets

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    Projected Starting Lineup

    C: Omer Asik (signed offer sheet)

    PF: Royce White

    SF: Terrence Jones

    SG: Jeremy Lamb

    PG: Jeremy Lin

    After ditching two top-15 point guards in Kyle Lowry and Goran Dragic, the Rockets took a gamble on Jeremy Lin and stole him from New York. Combined with the very likely signing of Omer Asik, that gives the Rockets a likely starting five of Lin, Asik and three rookies.

    Houston could still nab Dwight Howard from Orlando, but signing both Asik and Lin (when they may have expected only to get one) cuts into the Rockets' cap space to take back Orlando’s bad contracts. Without Howard, this isn’t a playoff team.

    Odds: 75:1

Indiana Pacers

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    Projected Starting Lineup

    C: Roy Hibbert

    PF: David West

    SF: Danny Granger

    SG: Paul George

    PG: George Hill

    The Pacers had to overpay to keep Roy Hibbert, but they certainly didn't have to overpay for George Hill. They also traded away Darren Collison, who was just as good as Hill most of last season and was marginally better in the playoffs. Put me in the camp of people who would rather have Collison running my team than Hill.

    Depth-wise, the Pacers are still a well-built team, sporting D.J. Augustin, Gerald Green and Ian Mahinmi as their new bench depth. They surprised the Heat last year, and they should be a top-four team again this year.

    Odds: 20:1

Los Angeles Clippers

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    Projected Starting Lineup

    C: DeAndre Jordan

    PF: Blake Griffin

    SF: Caron Butler

    SG: Chauncey Billups

    PG: Chris Paul

    The Clippers made some excellent moves this offseason even without having a GM. They gave Blake Griffin an extension, re-signed Chauncey Billups and signed Grant Hill, Lamar Odom and Jamal Crawford.

    Can Griffin be a true go-to guy in the post? Can he spend more time scoring and less time scowling? Can old men Billups and Hill stay healthy? Can DeAndre Jordan make his free throws? The Clippers have the talent, but they have tons of questions.

    Any time Chris Paul is your point guard, though, you have a chance. Please, basketball gods, give us a 2013 playoff matchup between the Los Angeles teams.

    Odds: 14:1

Los Angeles Lakers

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    Projected Starting Lineup

    C: Andrew Bynum

    PF: Pau Gasol

    SF: Metta World Peace

    SG: Kobe Bryant

    PG: Steve Nash

    The odds for the Lakers will jump even higher if they successfully pull off a Dwight Howard deal. They'd certainly be favorites at that point. As they are now, I'd peg them just below Oklahoma City to come out of the West.

    Advantage Lakers: Steve Nash will do wonders for the Lakers offense, which stagnated last year. As long as he and Kobe Bryant can coexist (and you won’t find a better guy to try to get Kobe to play a bit less ball-dominant than Nash), the Lakers offense looks worlds better. They still have a huge size advantage in Gasol and Bynum, and Nash will likely get those two guys the ball more than they saw last year. The Lakers are also deeper than last year.

    Advantage Thunder: Young legs. No one, not even Metta World Peace, can stop Kevin Durant. Russell Westbrook would make mincemeat of Nash offensively, and they have James Harden off the bench. Bryant and Nash are both old, old, old.

    I’d rank the Lakers just below the Thunder at this point, but it could easily be a toss-up.

    Odds: 7:1

Memphis Grizzlies

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    Projected Starting Lineup

    C: Marc Gasol

    PF: Zach Randolph

    SF: Rudy Gay

    SG: Tony Allen

    PG: Mike Conley

    The Grizzlies took a bit of a depth hit, losing O.J. Mayo. They did re-sign Darrell Arthur and Marreese Speights, both very solid players.

    Memphis has talent at every starting position, but like Atlanta for many years, I doubt the Grizzlies will get to the NBA Finals with this squad. Depth is one thing, but you need a star to win a ring (unless your team is Detroit), and no one on Memphis' squad is a star.

    That said, the Grizzlies are a deep, well-build squad who will continue to make noise for years to come.

    Odds: 25:1

Miami Heat

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    Projected Starting Lineup

    C: Chris Bosh

    PF: LeBron James

    SF: Ray Allen

    SG: Dwyane Wade

    PG: Mario Chalmers

    The Heat were already favorites to win next season and still improved this offseason. The addition of Ray Allen from the Celtics is an excellent steal. Aside from getting a defensive center, there may not have been a better fit for Miami than Allen.

    Imagine Chris Bosh, LeBron James or Dwyane Wade crowding the paint and finding an open Allen in the corner...scary, scary thought for any team hoping to beat the Heat.

    James got the monkey off his back with this year's championship, and suddenly his previous claim of "eight championships" doesn't seem completely insane. Still crazy, but not so much as six months ago. 

    Odds: 5:2

Milwaukee Bucks

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    Projected Starting Lineup

    C: Samuel Dalembert

    PF: Ersan Ilyasova

    SF: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute

    SG: Monta Ellis

    PG: Brandon Jennings

    Milwaukee has successfully built a seventh/eighth seed team...for the next four or five years. Nothing about the Bucks looks more than mediocre, even with a very nice backcourt of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis.

    Ersan Ilyasova is a very well rounded player, but the Bucks really need to get a above-average center. Dalembert is nothing more than a temporary fix.

    They could easily see the playoffs, but they'll be out in five or six games. 

    Odds: 75:1

Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Projected Starting Lineup

    C: Nikola Pekovic

    PF: Kevin Love

    SF: Derrick Williams

    SG: Brandon Roy

    PG: Ricky Rubio

    If the Timberwolves are completely healthy, they could easily be a dark horse in the West. But that's a pretty big if.

    They have the star in Kevin Love who can score from anywhere on the court. They have the floor general in Ricky Rubio, the defensive center in Nikola Pekovic and now the wing scorer in Brandon Roy. They're moderately deep, efficient and very well coached. Rick Adelman remains one of the most underrated coaches in the league.

    Their second- and third-best (Rubio and Roy) players are both coming off major injuries, and that could seriously keep this team from reaching its true potential. If they’re healthy, I think they can be the fourth seed in the West and give the top seed a run for its money.

    Odds: 50:1

New Orleans Hornets

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    Projected Starting Lineup

    C: Anthony Davis

    PF: Ryan Anderson

    SF: Al-Farouq Aminu

    SG: Eric Gordon

    PG: Austin Rivers

    The Hornets have their star in Anthony Davis, and they managed to keep a disgruntled Eric Gordon. New Orleans has managed a quick rebuilding job, and props to the organization for pulling it off. That said, don’t expect the Hornets to contend immediately. I’ll be shocked if they even contend for the eighth seed.

    Davis is certainly a candidate for Rookie of the Year, but he needs to develop offensively before he can be a real star. I also have humongous doubts about Austin Rivers as a point guard. The kid had more turnovers than assists in his one year at Duke and never looked like a floor general.

    They're well coached (Monty Williams is an excellent young leader), and they certainly have the pieces. Maybe in two to three years they’ll compete, but not right now.

    Odds: 150:1

New York Knicks

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    Projected Starting Lineup

    C: Tyson Chandler

    PF: Amar'e Stoudemire

    SF: Carmelo Anthony

    SG: J.R. Smith

    PG: Raymond Felton

    I'll just get this out of the way—I think Jeremy Lin was a better player than Raymond Felton. I’m not a huge Lin fan by any means, but after the stinker of a season Felton had last year (11.4 points, 6.5 assists, 40.7 percent shooting), I’m concerned that he’ll crack under the New York pressure. Don’t even mention Jason Kidd—he’s done and should have retired.

    If Amar’e Stoudemire can play more like the 2010-2011 Amar’e, the Knicks are contenders. But you could see the star power leak out of him last season. This team will go as far as Carmelo Anthony can take it, and that is a first- or second-round playoff exit.

    Odds: 35:1

Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Projected Starting Lineup

    C: Kendrick Perkins

    PF: Serge Ibaka

    SF: Kevin Durant

    SG: Thabo Sefolosha

    PG: Russell Westbrook

    The Thunder didn't change much this offseason. In fact, aside from drafting Perry Jones and signing Hasheem Thabeet and Hollis Thompson, they haven't made any noise.

    Not that they needed to. They re-signed coach Scott Brooks and (for now) kept an NBA Finals squad squarely intact. When you have Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden, you'll be in competition every day.

    They lost the 2012 finals in five games to a surprisingly deep Miami squad, but if they have one advantage over every team in the league, it's potential. Can they make another step forward next year?

    Odds: 5:1

Orlando Magic

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    Projected Starting Lineup

    C: Dwight Howard

    PF: Glen Davis

    SF: Hedo Turkoglu

    SG: Jason Richardson

    PG: Jameer Nelson

    Dwight Howard should not and will not be in Orlando next year. We can only hope the basketball gods will take pity on the Magic and send them a fair deal in exchange for the headache-inducing Howard.

    Hopefully any deal that sends Dwight out of town will also ship out Orlando’s bad contracts, which would leave the Magic to rebuild with a high pick in the next few drafts.

    Of course, if they get a win-now type of player (Andrew Bynum, anyone? Can anyone explain to me why the Magic would allow Bynum to go to Cleveland in any Howard deal?), then they’ll have to rebuild on the fly...but we saw how well they did that with Howard. Hopefully new management fixes things up quickly.

    Odds: 75:1

Philadelphia 76ers

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    Projected Starting Lineup

    C: Spencer Hawes

    PF: Kwame Brown

    SF: Andre Iguodala

    SG: Evan Turner

    PG: Jrue Holiday

    The Sixers remain exactly who they were at the end of last season, although they shifted some pieces around. They are a talented group with some nice players that will never really contend.

    Andre Iguodala is a great, underrated player, but he's not a go-to star. He's a Scottie Pippen to a Michael Jordan who doesn't exist. Jrue Holiday is above average, and Evan Turner could very well explode this year. Nothing about the Sixers looks like a true championship competitor, though.

    When your big men core is Spencer Hawes and Kwame Brown, something is very, very wrong. Thaddeus Young could start, as could Nikola Vucevic or rookie Arnett Moultrie. But when Kwame figures to get any significant playing time, especially next to Hawes...yeah, you aren't competing.

    Odds: 40:1

Phoenix Suns

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    Projected Starting Lineup

    C: Marcin Gortat

    PF: Luis Scola

    SF: Michael Beasley

    SG: Shannon Brown

    PG: Goran Dragic

    The Suns seem to be looking to rebuild on the fly when they should be rebuilding the old-fashioned way—accept you're going to suck and stick with it.

    Goran Dragic is an excellent signing, and Luis Scola off amnesty from the Rockets is a steal. But those are moves you make when you're a borderline contender, not a team whose top scorer figures to be Michael Beasley.

    If the Suns stink this year, snag a top draft pick and draft a superstar, then this could be a very well built squad. As they are, I expect they'll be out of the playoff hunt in March and getting a No. 8/9/10 draft pick come next June.

    Odds: 100:1

Portland Trail Blazers

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    Projected Starting Lineup

    C: Meyers Leonard

    PF: LaMarcus Aldridge

    SF: Nicolas Batum

    SG: Wesley Matthews

    PG: Damian Lillard

    Damian Lillard looked like a star in summer league, averaging 26.5 points, 5.3 assists and 4.0 rebounds a contest. The Blazers are, and have been for some time, a scoring star away from true competition.

    They have the talented big man in LaMarcus Aldridge. They have the defensive stopper/do-everything man in Nicolas Batum. With some more depth and a Lillard explosion, they could be a contender in two to three years.

    The big question is at center, where they have rookie Meyers Leonard and...Dan Gadzuric. Woohoo. They could easily make the playoffs this year, or they could be in the lottery again. Either way, the pieces are really coming together.

    Odds: 50:1

Sacramento Kings

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    Projected Starting Lineup

    C: DeMarcus Cousins

    PF: Jason Thompson

    SF: James Johnson

    SG: Tyreke Evans

    PG: Isaiah Thomas

    The Kings are still very young and failed to get any valuable experience in free agency, but they certainly improved this offseason. Thomas Robinson was a steal at the No. 5 selection, and even if he struggled in summer league (his averages were very close to DeMarcus Cousins' rookie summer league stats), he will combine with Cousins to provide a dominant big man corps for years to come.

    That said, as a full-time, diehard Kings fan, I doubt they'll make the playoffs this year. When James Johnson is a refreshing change at the small forward spot, you know something is wrong. Aaron Brooks was a nice addition, but he shouldn't start over Isaiah Thomas. As for Jimmer Fredette...your guess is as good as mine (and I'm really not optimistic).

    The talent is there; the experience is not.

    Odds: 100:1

San Antonio Spurs

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    Projected Starting Lineup

    C: Tim Duncan

    PF: Boris Diaw

    SF: Kawhi Leonard

    SG: Danny Green

    PG: Tony Parker

    The Spurs proved last year that we should never count them out. They didn't make any serious upgrades this offseason, but until Tim Duncan hangs up his jersey and retires, they should always be in the discussion.

    Can Tony Parker keep up last season's brilliance? (Sure.) Can Kawhi Leonard really be that perfect a role player? (Absolutely.) Can Boris Diaw remain motivated? (Certainly.)

    Will the Spurs really be a true contender? You got me on that one. They deserve to be mentioned, for sure.

    Odds: 7:1

Toronto Raptors

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    Projected Starting Lineup

    C: Andrea Bargnani

    PF: Jonas Valanciunas

    SF: DeMar DeRozan

    SG: Landry Fields

    PG: Kyle Lowry

    Kyle Lowry was a steal of a trade, even if he cost the Raptors their draft pick for next season. The rest of the squad? Big question marks.

    Jonas Valanciunas is coming over, and his potential has made Raptors fans drool since they drafted him last year. DeMar DeRozan is a fine talent, but his inefficiency holds him back. Landry Fields was vastly overpaid, and Andrea Bargnani would be great if he could seriously rebound...and defend...and play tough...and actually pretend he was an NBA center.

    The Raptors could very well make some noise as a late seed, but I doubt they'll make the playoffs, and they certainly won't compete next season.

    I have them lower here than some teams (Golden State, Sacramento) whose playoff potential I have bigger doubts about, mainly because the Raptors lack any sort of star power. You need a star to contend, and even if they made the playoffs, they'd be out in four, maybe five games.

    Odds: 150:1

Utah Jazz

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    Projected Starting Lineup

    C: Al Jefferson

    PF: Paul Millsap

    SF: Gordon Hayward

    SG: Alec Burks

    PG: Mo Williams

    With Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter in the paint, the Jazz have a fantastic collection of big men. Too bad that doesn't translate as well to their guards.

    Mo Williams is no long-term fixture, and they'll be held back until they get a real point guard who can get their big men the ball. Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks are both solid starters, but neither is more than a strong role player.

    The Jazz are a good team, but they are a step down from being a great team. Until they get a real point guard, they won't go anywhere.

    Odds: 50:1

Washington Wizards

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    Projected Starting Lineup

    C: Emeka Okafor

    PF: Nene

    SF: Trevor Ariza

    SG: Bradley Beal

    PG: John Wall

    I actually liked the Wizards' offseason moves and think that they could make the playoffs this season. Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor really cost cap space, but combined with Nene they make a pretty decent forward/center trio.

    How far the Wizards go will depend on John Wall, and to a lesser extent rookie Bradley Beal. Beal is a picture-perfect fit next to Wall, the shooter to Wall's slashing abilities. Combined they make a very scary guard combo who will be fun to watch for years to come.

    While I doubt they make any real noise, Wall could explode this year, and if he pulls off a Derrick Rose 2010-like year, Washington could be a real dark horse in the East.

    Odds: 75:1