There's still a good two months before the season starts, and some players (David Lee, Allen Iverson, Ricky Rubio) still have their futures undecided in the NBA. But here's a good stab at how they stack up 'after' the 2009 offseason.
DISCLAIMER: These aren't the typical use of the word "power rankings." This is my personal prediction of how the teams will stack up at the end of the season.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers—It's very hard to pick a true No. 1 because all of the top teams got better. But the Cavaliers got the most without really loosing anyone of extreme significance. I'll seat them here for now, but it's a big toss up.
2. San Antonio Spurs—Have a nack for going far in the playoffs without being seeded high. They did what they needed to do this offseason though, they found another star player to play alongside Duncan, Parker and company.
3. Boston Celtics—KG is back, and if he goes down again they have Rasheed there to step in instead of Leon Powe. And if KG doesn't go down, well then the Celtics may be a lot higher than No. 3 when the season starts.
4. Los Angeles Lakers—Hard to say where they stand. On one hand, they won the championship, and didn't change too much as a team after that. But is Artest going to be better than Ariza, or is he just going to be a distraction like the Shaq and Kobe fight that caused the team to eventually go out of the playoffs a few years ago; that is the question.
5. Orlando Magic—Brandon Bass is good, Matt Barnes was a good pickup, but Hedo was a matchup that most teams couldn't match, however Vince Carter is a better player. Plus, Jameer is back from injury, but it's hard to say where the Magic stand as a team this season. But they went to the Finals, so they're obviously well equipped.
6. Dallas Mavericks—Third best in the West sounds pretty good with a team of Dirk, two Jason's, Shawn, Josh, Drew, and Erick. A team of veterans who'll be in the playoffs for two years, and then they'll all retire.
7. Portland Trailblazers—Andre Miller solves the problem of no point guard. Get a good small forward and the team is perfect. Not really though, but they do need a better small forward. Without one though, the Trailblazers will see themselves in the top half of the playoff seeds in the Wild, Wild West(ern Conference).
8. Utah Jazz—The Jazz don't need to trade Boozer. Honestly, if he is all right with his current position as a bench player, you're looking at the Sixth Man of the Year right alongside a team with the potential to move past the first round of the playoffs. So keep him! Most of the teams in the West lack a solid bench.
9. Atlanta Hawks—Jamal Crawford and Joe Smith were just what the team needed. A way to match the NBA's craze of adding more and more stars to each already good team from last season. Well done, but will it be enough?
10. Chicago Bulls—Derrick Rose is a year older, Luol Deng is back from injury, they drafted James Johnson, and only lost Ben Gordon. If you can say only. It's a tough loss, but the Bulls are still a good team, and they become a better defensive team with Deng, and without Gordon.
11. Denver Nuggets—Last time I said that Denver got lucky someone blew up in my face, but honestly, the Denver Nuggets look exactly like the 2008 Hornets. They had a solid year because of a new star, and they had few injuries. If K-Mart can stay healthy, along with the rest of the injury-prone team, they'll be just fine, if you don't count the losses of Kleiza and Jones. Other wise they'll stay right here. At No. 11.
12. Miami Heat—Miami...was silent. They have the same team, with the exception of Quentin Richardson, who was traded a few times over the course of the offseason.
13. New Orleans Hornets—Emeka Okafor is better than Tyson Chandler, but not for the Hornets. He's too short to be their center, we don't know how he fits in, but he's not a terrible addition to the team. He's a team player, and with the rest of the league just fishing for some new star players to add, I'd say it was a fine pickup.
14. Toronto Raptors—Hedo Turkoglu is one of the most underrated players because while his skill isn't Hall of Fame worthy, his height makes his impact on a team All-Star worthy. He's going to give the Raptors the small forward they've been looking for and they'll try to nuzzle their way into the postseason before they lose Bosh to the 2010 free agency.
15. Washington Wizards—Let us take a moment of silence and pray that they're aren't any injuries, let's knock on wood, let's make sure we don't step on cracks, go under ladders, and don't spill any salt. Just be very careful DC, and you have a playoff team. Just don't schedule any games on Friday the 13th.
16. Detroit Pistons—What can you say about Detroit? It's an entirely new team from last season, and no one knows what the future holds with it. My guess is that they'll fluctuate around the eighth seed, but ultimately not make the playoffs. The East is just too good.
17. Los Angeles Clippers—Can't put them much higher because...come on! They're the Clippers! Still though, Blake Griffin is a premiere All-Star this season, and they have some solid players to back him up. Whoever is competing for the eighth seed won't soon forget the Clippers. Unless, you know, they get injured. Again.
18. Oklahoma City Thunder—Out of the bottom teams in the West (Sac, Min, Mem, Lac) they have the quickest strategy to a young team with a solid core of Kevin Durant. They are going to be the first team of that new generation that'll probably include the Wolves, Bulls, Grizzlies, and Warriors. But drafting one new player a year is pretty much been their only strategy the past few years, and last year everyone was excited about Westbrook, and the Thunder couldn't win 25 games. Hopefully, Harden can really be the final piece the Thunder are looking for.
19. Philadelphia 76ers—My personal prediction in the East to really fall flat on their faces. Every team needs a point guard, and Andre Miller was a really good one for the team. Yes, Elton Brand is back, but they found a way to replace him last year, but they didn't replace Andre Miller this year. Jrue Holliday has some work to do.
20. Houston Rockets—If I put them any lower, people would kill me, but they deserve to be lower. They're going no where without Yao and Ron, and I'm not sure, but I think Tracy McGrady is injured? If he isn't, give it three days and he will be. They're on a slippery slope going straight downhill.
21. Phoenix Suns—Steve Nash is 35. Grant Hill is 36. So when they die of old age midway through the season, good luck to Amare Stoudamire, Robin Lopez, Channing Frye, and Earl Clark. Gee, you'd think they'd have a guard somewhere in that mix. Sorry, a sober guard.
22. Indiana Pacers—Let me be honest, I have no clue who's on this team other than Danny Granger who I had never heard of before last year, and T.J. Ford who was traded for the other O'Neal after being traded for Villanueva. So with Tyler Hansborough and Earl Watson they can probably do it again? Someone help me out with this team, how did they win 36 games last season?
23. Golden State Warriors—Stephen Curry, Andris Biedrins, Monta Ellis, Anthony Randolph, Kelenna Azubuike, Acie Law, Anthony Morrow, and Ronny Triad all have something in common other than playing for the Warriors. They all COULD be great, but none of them have really proved it yet in the NBA. Randolph scored over 50 in the Summer League, Ellis and Biedrins led a bad team to a worse record, and Stephen Curry had a poor Summer League but was a high draft pick for a reason. But none of them have proved themselves in an NBA game.
24. Charlotte Bobcats—The Bobcats gave away their franchise player for a player that does not fit in well with the rest of the team, and forgot to sign their best point guard. Oy vey.
25. Minnesota Timberwolves—The man with the plan doesn't have a plan for this year. The Wolves will not be a very good team, and this year is all about waiting and seeing if a player will stand out, or if certain players work well with certain players and getting Rubio and all that jazz. Don't use wins and losses as judge of whether or not they had a successful '09-'10. Oh, and by the way they got they got some coaches who are pretty good or something...something about like multiple championships in the WNBA and with the Lakers.
26. Memphis Grizzlies—If they can acquire Allen Iverson, they have made a smart move in getting two solid veterans to surround their young team. This, however, had around a 15:1 chance of working. They could compete for the either seed if it works, but if not, the Grizzlies just spent a lot of money they should've saved for later.
27. New Jersey Nets—Terrence Williams was a 'B+' draft pick, but Courtney Lee is not Vince Carter. We've slowly seen this team starting over, and hopefully they'll do it, but this team lacks being a team. Instead Jersey is left with a jumble of raw talent.
28. New York Knicks—I believe Eddie Izzard said it best when he said they are going to "slowly collapse like a flan in a cupboard." He wasn't referring to the Knicks, but that is what the Knicks are going to do. They won't get the free agents they want in 2010 because of the new salary cutbacks in the NBA, and they aren't looking like they're getting David Lee or Ramon Sessions, and if they did it wouldn't be a quick fix for the team. They're getting rid of their overpaid veterans in 2010, but for now, it's not going to be pretty in NYC.
29. Milwaukee Bucks—The Bucks have to figure out what they're going to do with their team. They have a trade asset in Michael Redd, and they have a high 2010 pick (their own), but Andrew Bogut and Brandon Jennings aren't the highlight squad of the future, but they're a start.
30. Sacramento Kings—Ok really Sacramento? You choose another shooting guard instead of Ricky Rubio and say, "Oh Tyreke Evans IS a point guard." As far as I'm concerned the Kings have two shooting guards and some near half decent players. Start over.