Eight NBA Teams to Watch in 2009-2010
We have already looked at individual players for the upcoming season so a natural progression would be to take a look at the powerhouses who will probably be competing for a championship come June.
Moreso than in the NFL or even MLB, the NBA has the same teams at the top with litle variation over the years. Of course, once in a while a non-traditional team will win it all (think Miami in '06), but the NBA is built on dynasties.
Since 1980 there have been only eight franchises who have won an O'Brien trophy.
The Celtics, Lakers, Sixers, Pistons, Bulls, Rockets, Spurs, and Heat have been the only championship teams over an almost 30-year period. The Heat and Sixers are the only teams that havent won multiple titles.
Every once in a while the basketball gods smile down on one of the lower 22 franchise and give that team a once in a generation player.
In the '84 draft, Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon went to the Bulls and Rockets, respectively, and forever changed the trajectory of those franchises.
Neither team had any championships before them and neither have had one since their retirement.
More recently, in 2003 the Heat chose Dwyane Wade with their top pick and three years and one blockbuster trade later the Heat added their name to the elite eight.
(Side Note: Lebron James was also taken in '03 and if there will be an addition to the list of eight, his team will most likely be the ninth)
So if you are a fan of one of the other 22 teams you could always hope for a run like the Magic had last year and thats about all.
If history is any indicator, the Celtics or Lakers will probably win it all and the rest of use will again be looking again to next year when the whole process can start anew.
But as Herm Edwards so eloquently put it, you play to win the game, and these are the teams that like to win the most this season.
Luxury In La La Land
What if I told you that the team that won the O'brien trophy last year added the best perimiter defender in the game to an already stacked front line. You would probably say that that was unfair. Well Ron Artest is a Laker and the Lakers are again the team to beat in the West, so get over it. Kobe Bryant leads what is probably the best team he has had since Shaq left into the 09-10 season as the hands down favorite to return to the finals. Add to that the development of Shannon Brown as the more athletic heir of Derek Fisher's point guard spot and you have the makings of a potential dynasty.
Only in San Antonio can you make it to the first round of the Western Conference playoffs and still be in the middle of a rebuilding year.
For the first time in a while the Spurs were not a contender in the West. This offseason changed all of that with the addition of Richard Jefferson.
Not only are they adding a 20-7 type player, they are also adding a young, athletic perimiter defender. If they can get healthy at the right time, watch out for the Spurs
The success of this team hinges on the continued devolopement of Carmelo Anthony. I know adding Chauncey Billups last year was a big difference maker for this team, but all of their fortunes are laid on this 25 year olds shoulders.
Can Anthony make the jump to the upper echelon that Lebron and D-Wade have already made or has he reached his peak. That answer directly correlates with how far this team can go.
They Keep Pulling Me Back In
The Mavericks window should have closed a couple of seasons ago. But the additions of Jason Kidd a season and a half ago and Shawn Marion this offseason puts them right back in the mix in the west.
Add that to the fact that they still have former mvp Dirk Nowitzki and Josh Howard who creates matchup problems for whatever team they face and you have a team poised to make it into the second round.
Return Of The King
This team is a perfect example of the rich getting richer. Not only did they add Shaq to their frontline, but they also added athletic swing men Anthony Parker and Jemario Moon.
Even at this point in his career Shaq still commands double teams in the paint, as does James on the perimiter. Add that to a team that has dead-eye shooters Mo Williams and Delonte West on the wings and size coming off the bench, ladies and gentlemen take a look at your NBA champions.
The only thing that kept the Celtics from repeating as champs last year was a late season injury to KG. After starting the season with a NBA record 27-2 mark the Celtics looked to have been the first team since the 95-96 Bulls to reach 70 wins.
It was not to be however and a year later the question is "are the Celtics any better." They are certainely a season older and have gotten even older with the addition of Rasheed Wallace to the front line. With that said the only team I can see derailing them is Cleveland.
David Blaine Has Nothing on Dwight Howard
The Magic basically traded Courtney Lee and Hedo Turkoglu for Vince Carter this offseason. While Vince Carter is a dynamic scorer who can create his own shot, there are questions as to whether he is actually an upgrade over Hedo.
Turkoglu often ran the Celtics' offense like a 6-9 pointguard from the top of the key. Carter, while a great scorer, has never run an offense.
Which is where Jameer Nelson comes in.
Maybe the thinking is that it is time for Nelson to take full control of the reins at point guard. Either way the Magic have some questions to answer if they are looking for a return trip to the finals.
Muddled In The Middle
The 4-6 seeds in the East this year are pretty much interchangeable. The Hawks, Raptors and Wizards will all be competing for the four seed and homecourt in the first round.
Add into the mix the Wildcards of the Heat and Sixers and the 4-6 in the East will be the most hotly contested seeds in the whole NBA.
With that said I see the Wizards bouncing back from a horrible season to take the fourth spot. We all know that Gilbert Arenas will be back on the floor (knock on wood) but other offseason acquisitions should excite Wizards fans.
Adding Mike Miller and Randy Foye was a shrewd move on the part of GM Ernie Grunfeld. Also the development of athletic true seven-footer Javale Mcgee adds even more depth to an already tall front line.