Top 5 NBA Teams Going Into the 2009/10 Season

Farooq Ahmed@@farooq09Correspondent IJuly 17, 2009

The NBA, Where Amazing Happens, the draft is over and we are midway through the Las Vegas summer league, where rookies and squad players will try to lock down a final roster spot in hope of glory in the form of the NBA for the upcoming season.

Teams are still vying for free agents most notably Allen Iverson who seems to be headed to LA with the Clippers, teaming up with no.1 pick Blake Griffin, Baron Davis and cast of talented young players.

Also speculation has Carlos Boozer and Lemar Odom headed to Miami to join Dwayne Wade.

However, none of those deals are confirmed yet and may take some time before they do get done. With that said, I have compiled a list of my top 5 NBA teams going into the 2009/10 season.

The list is based on last seasons performances, regular season and post season, the NBA draft and free agency.

So with that all said and done, here is my list of the Top 5 NBA Teams Going Into The 09/10 season.

5. Denver

A young and experience team at number 5 the Nuggets are very close to becoming a real force in the NBA with a superstar player in Carmelo Anthony, clutch shooter and future Hall of Fame player in Chauncy Billups...not to mention the ability of one of the more underrated big-men in the league in Nenê.

The Nuggets had a great NBA Draft where they nabbed the shifty North Carolina playmaking guard Ty Lawson in a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

However, there are some concerns with Lawson's ability and mainly his lack of height at only 5-11” some have pointed out their concerns with his height, but there is no doubting his quickness and skill.

The Nuggets main free agent signing was to re-sign Chris ‘Birdman’ Andersen to a new 5 year deal. Andersen proved his worth in the playoffs most notably in the series against the Dallas Mavericks.

Andersen replaced Marcus Camby's shot-blocking presence in the middle, adding a big dose of energy as well—swooping his bird winged-tattooed arms after big plays.

The Nuggets main loss was the recent signing of Dhantay Jones to the Indiana Pacers on a four-year deal. Jones gave the Nuggets a physical most notably for tripping Kobe during the conference finals last season.

Entering the 2009-10 season the Nuggets should have one goal in mind; win a championship. Last season they came in to prove a point by silencing critics, that they were only a ’scoring team’ by showing great defence on their way to the conference finals where they lost out 4 games to 2 to the LA Lakers

Now that the younger players have deep playoff experience under their belt, the Nuggets can be primed to make a championship run possibly taking the Western Conference on their way.

4. Cleveland

The Cavs coming off a franchise-best record in the NBA last season (66-16) powered by MVP LeBron James were a force to be reckoned with last season, but then their weaknesses showed in the conference finals series against Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic’s perimeter shooters.

This team didn't exactly lose a whole lot from the team that dominated the Eastern Conference last year, and they added veterans Shaquille O'Neal and Anthony Parker to add extra depth.

There isn't much to say about LeBron that hasn't been said already; the dude is straight up nasty, not to mention unstoppable. LeBron James is simply the best player in the league, and he has a very solid supporting cast led by PG Mo Williams and Delonte West; both players with range and scoring ability.

While Ilgauskas and O'Neal are both past their prime, they both still have good post moves and can grab a respectable number of boards.

However the additions don’t make the Cavs better or worse, without the presence of a prominent No. 1 center which could well be troublesome when and if they come against Dwight Howard in the playoffs.

This team will have to heavily rely on re-signed Anderson Varejao to be their No. 1 big man a develop into a more dominant, physical player.

The Cavs drafted guards Christian Eyenga and Danny Green as well as forward Emir Preldzic, who are unlikely to see a whole lot of action this season. Eyenga and Preldzic are most likely to play in Europe next season to continue development.

This team is in excellent position to remain championship contenders this year regardless of their situation at center, with cap-room will want too keep LeBron for the foreseeable future.

LeBron will continue to dominate, Williams will continue to provide the Cavs with a legitimate No. 2 option, only problem I have is the lack of a No. 1 big man, however it may be that Varejao develops into that player.

3. LA Lakers

The defending NBA champs have somewhat of a strange off-season with rumours of coach Phil Jackson planning to retire, then sharing duties with an assistant coach. 

However, Jackson confirmed that he would continue to coach the Lakers for another season and that his health problems weren’t a concern. With that being said, I believe that the Lakers have gotten worse this off-season.

Firstly the loss of electrifying play-maker Trevor Ariza to the Houston Rockets, some say that Ariza was a system player and will never be successful outside of Phil Jackson’s team.

However, there was no doubting Ariza’s presence in the playoffs becoming one of the most contributing players for the Lakers.

The loss of Trevor Ariza will not be the only loss of the Lakers this season however after the Lakers stated that they had retracted an offer to Lemar Odom after talks between the two had stalled.

Odom who turns 30 later this year is set on leaving LA possibly for Miami and joining friend Dwayne Wade.

It is widely rumoured that Odom rejected a $10 million contract in order to leave the Lakers where it is likely that he will not receive as much money.

The Lakers drafted forward Chinemelu Elonu from Texas A&M at the bottom of the second round and re-signed guard Shannon Brown who contributed from the bench last season and through the playoffs to a one-year deal.

The main acquisition of the off-season for the Lakers however was the signing of  former Houston Rocket and Indiana Pacer Ron Artest. Artest most famous for ‘The brawl at The Palace at Auburn Hills, Detroit’ and his confrontations with Lakers superstar and finals MVP Kobe Bryant.

However, despite this, Artest is widely regarded as one of the top defensive players in the league.  Kobe Bryant himself actually hailed the signing a ‘great move’.

The Lakers will continue to impress people like they did last season, however the losses of Ariza and Odom may be a major problem in the progress of the Lakers successfully defending their championship next season.

The addition of Ron Artest alone will make up for those to losses I assure you. I believe that the Lakers will struggle to get back to that elite level again next season  with the strength of the Western Conference.


2. San Antonio

The San Antonio Spurs are always a team that is there or thereabouts in the conversation for championship contenders under Gregg Popovich one of the best coaches ever in the NBA, they fell short of the mark last season struggling with injuries to all three of their star players.

The Spurs emerged from their first-round series 4-1 loss to Dallas knowing that they needed more depth and strength.

So the Spurs went out and traded for  runaway groom Richard Jefferson and role player Antonio McDyess without ruining the core group of all-stars in Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. That makes for a pretty stellar cast if you add Matt Bonner and Roger Mason Jr.

Not only were the Spurs active in free agency they also got what was probably the steal of the draft, picking top 20 prospect Dejuan Blair in the second round with the 37th overall pick.

Teams had noted Blair’s previous ACL injury from high school as a cause for concern, however Blair missed only one game during his two seasons at PITT.

Blair has however to deal with the fact that he isn’t as big as he looks, at only 6-7” not exactly big for a big man in the NBA, however he make up for in physicality as he has shown in the summer league games.

At Pitt, Blair recorded 21 double-doubles, including two 20-point 20-rebound games during his career his.

Blair appeared in 72 games for the Panthers, averaging 13.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 1.61 steals while shooting .568, and sure to continue that trend in the NBA.

With a whole off-season for the likes of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and especially Manu Ginobili to rest and recuperate from injuries, teams shouldn’t underestimate the threat of the Spurs in the West, 3 NBA championships in the last six years, the Spurs have been the Dynasty team of the decade and will look to make it a fourth this upcoming season.

1. Boston

And the No. 1 team in this countdown  goes to the Boston Celtics, yes the big three, the Boston three party or the three amigos.

Call them what you will there is no better threesome (no pun intended) than Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, throw in one of the best young point guards in the league in Rajon Rondo and you have four potential all-stars on your team. Headed by coach Doc Rivers.

The Celtics fell out in the second round where they faced the Orlando Magic and were defeated after an seven-game series.

This after possibly one of the greatest NBA playoff series of all time against my Chicago Bulls included four games that went into overtime, the Celtics would eventually win in game 7.

The Celtics had somewhat of an up and down season last season, with an overall record of 62–20 after a great start to the season somewhat tailed off later on in the season after it was rumoured that Kevin Garnett was having injury problems, he was immediately shut down for the playoffs, however the injury had become serious and caused KG to miss the post-season.

During the off-season the Celtics have tried to retain Glen ‘Big Baby’ Davis who is currently a restricted free agent. The Celtics have also managed to sign former Detroit Piston Rasheed Wallace to a three-year deal.

The Celtics were also after former NBA All-Star Grant Hill but were unable to sign the  Phoenix player who opted to stay with the Suns.

When healthy, this Celtics team can be an imposing opponent for the best of teams, especially with their depth on the bench with players like Eddie House, Kendrick Perkins and Brian Scalabrine not to mention Wallace.

So there it is, my top five teams in the NBA heading into next season, Thanks for reading my article and please post your opinions and comments below.


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