Rankings already? Yeah I know it’s only been about a month since the end of the NBA championship, but there has been so much movement among teams it only seems right to start now. Feel free to argue whether a team should be higher or lower.
1. Los Angeles Lakers – The fact is the Lakers won the championship, and they didn’t lose any key players (Farmar replaced by Blake), which is the reason they have to remain number one.
2. Miami HEAT – How can we put them any lower honestly? With the players they acquired this off-season they should take over the number one ranking shortly after the season starts.
3. Boston Celtics – The Celtics as a team are starting to remind me of Steve Nash. They are getting older, but they keep on winning.
4. Oklahoma City Thunder – The Thunder took the Lakers to six this past year after not even making the playoffs the year before. If they improve anywhere close to what they did last year don’t be surprised if they become a truly dominant team this year.
5. Orlando Magic –It was hard putting the Thunder above the Magic, but I think the potential loss of Matt Barnes and maybe JJ Reddick will have a bigger impact than they think.
6. Denver Nuggets – Denver had a rough year last year with the team not gelling that well. Hopefully the return of Karl helps them rise once again.
7. San Antonio Spurs – The Spurs are a hard team to grade because one minute you think they’re getting old and the next they sign one of the best European players to solidify their front court.
8. Dallas Mavericks – Dallas got rid of Dampier and picked up Chandler, while resigning Haywood. They have solid players, but continue to get bounced out of the playoffs every year. Maybe it’s time for Rodrigue Beaubois to play a bigger role.
9. Chicago Bulls – The Bulls singed Carlos Boozer this off-season, which will help Derrick Rose tons. Boozer and Noah will form a very formidable front court, and Rose’s assist should go up this year from playing with Boozer (just ask Deron how much he’ll miss him).
10. Portland Trailblazers – Portland is still a fairly young team with some incredible talent in Roy and Aldridge. If everybody including Oden and Camby stay healthy and solid throughout this season I see Portland being a western contender.
11. Utah Jazz – Utah lost Boozer but did add Al Jefferson which should help keep them competitive this year.
12. Atlanta Hawks – I know the Hawks have improved every year for the past five or six years, but how much further can they truly go? Can Shaq put them over the top?
13. Milwaukee Bucks – Milwaukee to me is the Portland of the East. If they can stay healthy I see them being a surprise eastern contender. They did pay a little too much for some of their players (see Drew Gooden), but they will help add depth to a team that was clearly lacking.
14. New Orleans Hornets – New Orleans will be a much improved team this year with a healthy Chris Paul. People started writing him off and putting Williams ahead of him as the best point guard (as they did to Wade when he got hurt), but Paul will show why he does belong right up there with the best point guard in the league.
15. Houston Rockets – Houston was hoping they would land a Bosh or Stoudemire this but didn’t. If Yao can stay healthy (a HUGE if) they will remain competitive as a team, but don’t look for them to do any damage in the playoffs with the roster they currently have.