Separating NBA Contenders from Pretenders Near the Quarter-Season Mark

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Separating NBA Contenders from Pretenders Near the Quarter-Season Mark
Cameron Browne/Getty Images
The Indiana Pacers and Portland Trail Blazers are leading their respective conferences nearing the quarter-season mark. But are they both contenders?

In today's day and age of superstar-laden NBA franchises, parity can be tough to find. Contraction has been a heated topic in recent years, but as Bleacher Report's own Grant Hughes alludes to, smart spending just might be what it takes to genuinely level the playing field.

If you predicted that the Indiana Pacers would be near the top of the league, raise your hand. If you had the Portland Trail Blazers in the same breath, now that's more impressive. 

Both of these teams are leading their respective conferences, but the question is: are both ready to compete as contenders for a championship?

For the purpose of this assignment, we'll analyze the chances of the top four seeds in each conference. We'll also look at a few honorable mentions outside the top four and a few not-so-honorable mentions as well.

The season is still in its infancy, but a quarter of the way through, we have a good idea of who can sustain their success and who is on a crash course to disappointment.

 

*Top four seeds were determined by record as of Dec. 10.

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