Throughout the 2008-2009 NBA offseason in the West, we have seen some moves that well, shocked us to put it bluntly. The San Antonio Spurs made a splash by acquiring Richard Jefferson from the Milwaukee Bucks. The defending NBA champions, the Los Angeles Lakers signed a Kobe Bryant rival in Ron Artest.
After Artest jumped aboard the Lake Show express, Ariza jumped ship to the Houston Rockets where he saw a spotlight with his name on it. We have also seen the Rockets dwindle down to a lottery pick team, and some select people could argue the Hornets have lost their playoff status.
Today (or tonight, depends where you are in the world!) I will be breaking down possible playoff seeds throughout the Western Conference.
Playoff Seed No 8. Phoenix Suns
The 2008-2009 will see the return of the high octane Phoenix Suns once again. The Houston Rockets have undoubtedly slipped out of the playoffs, losing Yao Ming for the season, Ron Artest to the Lakers, and McGrady for half the season. That leaves one team to make a push.
The West now has one less dominant team to play against, which should mean more wins for the other teams out in the West, and the East to. Let's not forget the Suns won 46 games last year. In my books that's pretty good.
They still have their core in Nash and Amar'e, and Grant Hill is back for another two more years. The team will now be able to run more, just like Alvin Gentry likes to do. With their promising rookie Earl Clark, the Suns can still be a contender. Trading Amar'e would be a bad choice.
Playoff Seed No 7. New Orleans Hornets
The Hornets gave up an athletic player in Chandler, for a less athletic Emeka Okafor. Chandler had no offensive game. He all got it from Chris Paul. Okafor now will play along side David West, another high volume rebounder. Both players are big and take up space in the lane. Chandler is a toothpick compared to Okafor, and Okafor will clog the lane for Paul.
Both are slow, and don't have the greatest footwork. Peja is also on the downside of his career. He can still shoot the ball, but that's it. He is a non factor for this Hornets team.
Playoff Seed No 6. Utah Jazz
It has been acknowledged that Boozer could possibly still be starting for the Jazz when November rolls by. Yes the Jazz are a mess right now, but it is a strong mess. They pretty much have the same team as last year.
People forget they won 48 games with Boozer only playing 37 of them, and Williams not being in his groove for half the season due to an injury he sustained.
This team went to the Western Conference Finals back in 2007 with pretty much the same team.
With their whole roster currently injury free, they can make a huge splash.
Playoff Seed No 5. Portland Trailblazers
I originally intend to have the Blazers at the fourth spot, but decided against it. I compared their team to the Denver Nuggets, and saw the Nuggets as superior. Nene played great for the Nuggets averaging more then his season averages and shooting 62 percent. The Blazers obviously don't have an answer for him.
Aldridge played the same against the Nuggets as he did in the regular season. Joel and Oden split time at the center position and were not as effective as the Nuggets front two, Nene and Kenyon Martin.
They did loose Channing Frye and Martell Webster should be ready to play at the start of the season. Adding Andre Miller certainly does help the Blazers, and him and Billups are very similar.
I do have a feeling though the Blazers and Nuggets will be in a neck to neck race for the Northwest title next year.
Playoff Seed No 4. Denver Nuggets
The Denver Nuggets were one of the biggest surprises last year. They made a blockbuster trade about four games into the regular season sending Allen Iverson to the Detroit Pistons for Chauncey Billups and other players.
Currently they have not done anything outstanding that helps them out next year. They lost Dahntay Jones and filled his void by adding Arron Afflalo. Ty Lawson is an okay addition for the future, but not really for the present. Malik Allen isn't very headlining either.
They were hounded by the bigs of the Lakers last year and had no answer for Lamar Odom. If they insert JR into the starting line up they would not see the same success. Keeping JR coming off the bench is vital. He ignites them when he checks in at the five minute mark along with Andersen.
Playoff Seed No 3. Dallas Mavericks
The Mavericks are going to be a force to reckon with. With the recent acquisition of Tim Thomas I had to put them over the Nuggets. Cuban certainly has drawn a lot of attention this offseason, but not from Kenyon Martin.
The Mavericks have gotten deeper by adding Gooden and Thomas, and also acquiring Shawn Marion to add to the starting lineup. Thomas can shoot the three ball very well and so can Quinton Ross when he has a good point guard running the show.
They certainly are deeper than the Nuggets and it seems they have solved their center dilemma.
Playoff Seed No 2. San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs should once again be healthy and roaring to go. They added some more offensive talent in Richard Jefferson this offseason. It's uncertain if Duncan is still able to bang bodies with Pau Gasol due to his age and knees.
It is also unknown if Manu can be kept healthy. That is a big reason why the Spurs are placed below...well you know who.
Playoff Seed No 1. Los Angeles Lakers
It was a coin-toss between the Lakers and Spurs for a while, but then I thought a little bit harder and saw who the clear winner was.
The Spurs lost an underrated defender in Bruce Bowen, and again they are getting older by the micro-second.
The Lakers currently don't have Odom, but they do have Artest. Artest will be given the assignment to guard either Ginobli or Jefferson, and will defiantly make their life harder than it should be.
Scratch that, Lakers just got Odom resigned.
This makes the Lakers favourites to repeat automatically.
From the Hedo U-turn, to the Nuggets not doing anything big, the stage is set for the 2009-2010 NBA season, and who makes the playoffs and who does not.
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