Power Ranking All 30 NBA Teams: Can Durant Knock Off The Lakers, Heat?

Matt RavidaCorrespondent IAugust 8, 2010

Power Ranking All 30 NBA Teams: Can Durant Knock Off The Lakers, Heat?

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    In the NBA, there are many aspects of the game when it comes to ranking the top teams in the league.

    Just because the Heat have the LeBron, Wade and Bosh tandem, does make them the best team on paper, but it does not necessarily guarantee their chances of being the top team at the end of the regular season heading into the playoffs.

    So here is a list, ranking all 30 NBA Teams based on the teams roster, camaraderie, the direction the club is headed, and lastly the flat out skill the team possesses on their roster.

30. Indiana Pacers

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    Projected Starting Line-Up

    PG: Darren Collison

    SG: Lance Stephenson

    SF: Danny Granger

    PF: Tyler Hansbrough

    C: Roy Hibbert

     

     

    Bench

    PG: A.J. Price

    SG: Brandon Rush

    SG: Dahntay Jones

    SF: Mike Dunleavy

    SF: Paul George

    SF: James Posey

    PF: Josh McRoberts

    PF: Magnum Rolle

    C: Solomon Jones

    C: Jeff Foster

    Analysis: The Pacers are a struggling franchise, and will continue to do so for at least a few more years.

    The Pacers only have Danny Granger going well for them as of late. Their point guard situation is by far one of the worst in the league, along with their shooting guard position.

    We all know, that when you do not have a good back court, things are not going to be good.

    Arguably their third-best player plays the same position as Danny Granger, and his style of game is that the same of Granger's.

    They have two overpaid players in Murphy and Dunleavy who cannot seem to get rid of the injury bug.

    Roy Hibbert is the only thing besides Granger that is going well for the Pacers.

    He is young and is starting to grow into his body and play like the big banger down low that the Pacers were hoping for.

    But the Pacers need a total makeover before you can even mention their name in the playoff hunt.

    So for that reason, I have the Pacers at the bottom of the league.

29. Toronto Raptors

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    Projected Starting Line-Up

    PG: Leandro Barbosa

    SG: DeMarr DeRozen

    SF: Sonny Weems

    PF: Amir Johnson

    C: Andrea Bargnani

     

     

    Bench

    PG: Jose Calderon

    PG: Marcus Banks

    PG: Jarrett Jack

    SF: Julian Wright

    SF: Linas Kleiza

    PF: Ed Davis

    PF: Joey Dorsey

    PF: Dwayne Jones

    C: David Andersen

    C: Solomon Alabi

    Analysis: Yes, the Raptors do not have Chris Bosh anymore. But the Raptors are not going to be as bad as everyone is saying they will. They still will not be in the playoffs come next season, but they will still be able to compete with some teams.

    I do have them near the bottom of the league, but even with Bosh on their team, I would have them that low anyways.

    The Raptors do have a few things going for them.

    The team is not Andrea Bargnani's team. Most of the offenses will be going through Bargnani. Bargnani has been developing his low post game, and is improving very well on the turnaround jumpers, thanks to his height of 7 feet.

    The Raptors also have a young core wing player in DeRozen who is a freak athlete, but needs to improve on his jumper. Sonny Weems has been developing very well ever since taking the starting role of Hedo Turkoglu last season.

    As well, Amir Johnson is starting to come into his own, and drafting Ed Davis will be a good power forward force for years to come.

    The Raptors also brought in Leandro Barbosa from Phoenix. Barbosa did have a disappointing year least season, but he did only average less than 20 minutes a game.

    So with a starting role in Toronto, Barbosa could flourish, and bring back the vintage Barbosa we all saw in Phoenix.

    But until they can draft another star in the near future, it is going to be hard for the Raptors to compete at a high level.

    For next season, they will be competing for the first overall pick.

28. New Jersey Nets

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    Projected Starting Line-Up

    PG: Devin Harris

    SG: Anthony Morrow

    SF: Terrence Williams

    PF: Derrick Favors

    C: Brook Lopez

     

     

    Bench

    PG: Jordan Farmar

    PG: Ben Uzoh

    SG: Anthony Morrow

    SG: Quinton Ross

    SF: Travis Outlaw

    SF: Damion James

    PF: Kris Humphries

    PF: Sean May

    PF: Troy Murphy

    C: Johan Petro

    C: Brian Zoubek

    Analysis: The Nets could be the team that surprises me most next season. I might not be giving them enough credibility that they deserve.

    But still, I think the Nets are a very young team going into the off-season that brought in even more young players, in Derrick Favors, Damion James, Anthony Morrow, Johan Petro, Jordan Farmar, Travis Outlaw, Ben Uzoh and Brian Zoubek.

    So I think the Nets need another season under their belts to get more experience and bond as a team.

    I do think what they have in their favor going into the 2010-11 season is that Devin Harris cannot have any worse season then he did last year. Look for him, if healthy, to reshape into his All-Star form from the 2009 season.

    Brook Lopez is one of the few younger players, that just keeps getting better. Lopez improved on every statistically stat last season from his rookie year.

    And with the Nets gradually becoming Lopez's team, he could do some serious damage next season and make a case for an All-Star reserve.

    Another bonus is that Favors will likely be the starting power forward, (I do not see anyone else ahead of Favors).

    This will allow him to grow as a player and gain the maturity needed to be in the NBA. Then his sophomore season, he will be one of the few who will not have a sophomore slump.

    Lastly, the other great thing the Nets having going, is that their team is very, very young, they all can play, and if Avery Johnson is able to mold this team together, the Nets might be able to grab a top free agent next year...Carmelo Anthony maybe. And then be able to compete at a high level the following year.

27. Detroit Pistons

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    Projected Starting Line-Up

    PG: Rodney Stuckey

    SG: Tracy McGrady

    SF: Tayshaun Prince

    PF: Greg Monroe

    C: Ben Wallace

     

     

    Bench

    PG: Will Bynum

    SG: Richard Hamilton

    SG: Ben Gordon

    SG: Terrico White

    SF: Austin Daye

    SF: Jonas Jerebko

    SF: DaJuan Summers

    PF: Charlie Villanueva

    C: Chris Wilcox

    Analysis: It is very tough to sense the direction the Pistons are going in. They have young players like Stuckey, Daye, Summers, Jerebko. and Monroe. But they are still holding onto Hamilton, Prince, and Wallace.

    So it is tough to pinpoint the exact direction. If they are rebuilding, but doing slowly without many noticing.

    Or, Dumars really thinks that this team can compete for a playoff spot come next season.

26. Philadelphia 76ers

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    Projected Starting Line-Up

    PG: Jrue Holliday

    SG: Evan Turner

    SF: Andre Iguodala

    PF: Elton Brand

    C: Spencer Hawes

     

    Bench

    PG: Lou Williams

    SG: Jodie Meeks

    SG: Willie Green 

    SF: Jason Kapono

    SF: Andres Nocioni

    SF: Thaddeus Young

    PF: Marreese Speights

    C: Tony Battie

    C: Jason Smith

    Analysis: The 76ers have been rebuilding quietly over the past few seasons. Adding Lou Williams, Jrue Holiday, and bringing in Elton Brand, Andres Nocioni and Elton Brand.

    The 76ers have also drafted shooting guard Evan Turner and if he produces as expected, the 76ers could have their backcourt set for the next 10 years. Iguodala is going to be the player he is every year, so you can count on him.

    The wildcard is Elton Brand. If he is able to stay healthy and if has fully recovered form his injury enough to contribute next season.

    If Brand can stay healthy, the young players like Holiday and Turner produce, Iguodala continues to do what he has been doing his whole career, and if the newly acquired Spencer Hawes can bring to the 76ers what he did in Sacramento, the 76ers could have a good little team for the future.

25. Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Projected Starting Line-Up

    PG: Jonny Flynn

    SG: Corey Brewer

    SF: Wesley Johnson

    PF: Michael Beasley

    C: Kevin Love

    Bench

    PG: Luke Ridnour

    PG: Sebastian Telfair

    SG: Wayne Ellington

    SF: Lazar Hayward

    SF: Martell Webster

    PF: Anthony Tolliver

    C: Kosta Koufos

    C: Darko Milicic

    C: Nikola Pekovic

    C: Greg Stiemsma

    Analysis: The Timberwolves are a very, very, very young team. The teams eldest player is Luke Ridnour who is 29.

    The Wolves have many players on their team that can play, they are all very skilled.

    They have players that can score (Beasley, Flynn, Love, Johnson, Webbster, and Brewer). They have players who can rebound and block shots (Milicic, Love, and Pekovic).

    The Wolves have the young players in place, it is just now up to Kurt Rambis to try and mold these players around the triangle offense.

    The Wolves are far from being able to compete. They need a few more seasons under their belts to mature and play as a team with one another.

24. Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Projected Start Line-Up

    PG: Mo Williams

    SG: Christian Eyenga

    SF: Antawn Jamison

    PF: J.J. Hickson

    C: Anderson Varejao

    Bench

    PG: Daniel Gibson

    PG: Ramon Sessions

    SG: Anthony Parker

    SG: Danny Green

    SF: Joey Graham

    SF: Jamario Moon

    PF: Leon Powe

    PF: Samardo Samuels

    C: Ryan Hollins

    Analysis: Never would have thought I would have seen the day so early when LeBron James leaves. But that is the past and now we have to focus on the Cavaliers now.

    The Cavs do not have a terrible team, but by no means is it that team that they have had for the past seven years.

    The Cavaliers still have All-Stars in Mo Williams and Antawn Jamison. Both will be looked upon to put up big numbers and carry this team come next season.

    Eyenga could be the wildcard for the Cavaliers. He was drafted in 2009, and when I was watching him in summer league and in overseas games he seemed like a Roddy Buckets-type player.

    So, if Eyenga is able mimic Rodrique Beaubois, the Cavaliers would be getting a steal.

    Varejao is going to bring it on the defensive side every night, he will be hustling and diving after every loose ball not afraid to risk his body.

    Varejao will be active on both the defensive and offensive boards, but he is more efficient in getting those offensive boards.

    As for the bench for the Cavaliers, it is not the strongest bench, but there is some talent on the bench. Sessions will come in and be a true point guard, which Williams is not.

    Gibson will come in and provide some outside scoring for the Cavaliers, along with Anthony Parker. Moon will be the athletic wing player that will crash the boards on every possession. 

    Leon Powe could give some good minutes for the Cavaliers now that he is pretty much 100 percent  healed from injury.

    Lastly the big surprise that could be for the Cavaliers is Ryan Hollins. Hollins was acquired from the Timberwolves in the Delonte West deal.

    And Hollins is a big body that will grab boards, battle with the other bigs, and has a pretty decent touch around the rim.

    He is only 25, so look for him to give some good minutes and maybe grab some attention from opponents.

23. Sacramento Kings

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    Projected Starting Line-Up

    PG: Tyreke Evans

    SG: Omri Casspi

    SF: Donte Green

    PF: Carl Landry

    C: DeMarcus Cousins

    Bench

    PG: Beno Udrih

    PG: Pooh Jeter

    SG: Francisco Garcia

    SG: Antoine Wright

    PF: Darnell Jackson

    PF: Jason Thompson

    C: Samuel Dalembert

    C: Hassan Whiteside

    Analysis: The Kings are a favorite of mine, they are a young team that has tons of potential with a young nucleus of Evans, Casspi, Thompson, Landry, and Cousins.

    Evans is a stud in the making already, he has the ability with the ball to blow by defenders, which many do not possess.

    He is able to use his physical frame to finish around the rim. Casspi surprised many last season and it will be interesting to see how he does next season.

    Landry came over from Houston and had a stellar half a season with the Kings. And if he can continue that into next season, the Kings could make some damage.

    The Kings are going to be a top 5-7 team in the West in a few years, once they get the young pure wing scorer, via free agency or draft.

    But until that happens, the Kings will be likely on the outside looking into the playoffs, or battling for that final eighth playoff spot.

22. Golden State Warriors

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    Projected Starting Line-Up

    PG: Stephen Curry

    SG: Monta Ellis

    SF: Reggie Williams

    PF: David Lee

    C: Andris Biedrins

    Bench

    PG: Charlie Bell

    PG: Jeremy Lin

    PG: Jannero Pargo

    SG: Deven George

    SF: Vladimir Radmonovic

    SF: Dorell Wright

    PF: Ekpe Udoh

    PF: Brandon Wright

    C: Dan Gadzuric

    Analysis: The Warriors are going to be a team to watch out for come next season. They have one of the best young back courts in the league with Curry and Ellis.

    Curry is becoming the sharpshooter he was at Davidson, and is becoming a top point guard in the league. Ellis is the slasher of the two, and he is one of the best at doing it. He can score with the best of them and will continue to score 25 points a game.

    The Warriors also added David Lee in a sign-and-trade from the Knicks. Lee will bring his rebounding and his offensive game to the Warriors.

    His ability to face up to the basket and hit the jump shot from 10-15 feet will make his job easier in the Nellie offense.

    Then there is Biedrins, who had an awful year last season. But if he is able to turn that season around and bring in his offensive rebounds and blocks back to the Warriors, he is going to do good for the Warriors.

21. Washington Wizards

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    Projected Starting Line-Up

    PG: John Wall

    SG: Gilbert Arenas

    SF: Josh Howard

    PF: Andray Blatche

    C: Javale McGee

    Bench

    PG: Kirk Hinrich

    SG: Nick Young

    SF: James Singleton

    SF: Yi Jianlian

    SF: Al Thornton

    PF: Kevin Seraphin

    PF: Trevor Booker

    C: Hilton Armstrong

    Analysis: John Wall and Gilbert Arenas on paper seems as if they could be one of the best back courts for years to come. The quickness, scoring, and swagger are all there.

    As for the rest of the Wizards, they are all very young and improving. Blatche and McGee are turning into a nice young front court that compliment each other very well.

    Nick Young is a great spark off the bench at the two spot, he can score in bunches and is a very good three point shooter.

    The Wizards also brought in Kirk Hinrich who will come in and play both positions, the one and two positions. Hinrich will bring in veteran leadership, and qualities that you want in the player running your offense.

    Howard will be coming off a serious injury, and it will be interesting to see how he can recover come next season.

    As for the rest of the Wizards, they are all very young but can all play. I am really hoping that Kevin Seraphin can come in and make an impact for the Wizards.

    I really like this kid, he is my favorite player of this year's draft, he is going to be a great big man in this league with his athleticism and soft hands around the rim. I am rooting for him!

20. New Orleans Hornets

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    Projected Starting Line-Up

    PG: Chris Paul

    SG: Marcus Thornton

    SF: Trevor Ariza

    PF: David West

    C: Emeka Okafor

    Bench

    SG: Marco Belinelli

    SF: Quincy Pondexter

    SF: Peja Stojakovic

    SF: Julian Wright

    PF: Darius Songalia

    PF: Craig Brackins

    C: Aaron Gray

    Analysis: Any time the Hornets, or any team for that matter has Chris Paul, one of the leagues best player on their team, you can always give that team a chance.

    The Hornets are not the best looking team on paper, but that does not mean anything. The Hornets have Chris Paul running their offense, and that always means good things.

    Marcus Thornton had an excellent rookie year campaign last season. He took the starting role away from Peterson, and look what happened to him.

    Thornton is going to be the starting shooting guard next come next season, have an increased role on the offensive side.

    Pondexter is going to come in and give around 20-25 minutes and mature and take the next step as an NBA player.

    David West is the second All-Star the Hornets have. He is a proven power forward in this league for many seasons, and West along with Chris Paul create one of the best duos in the league.

    The bench for the Hornets has the talent, Collison proved during the injury of Chris Paul that he could start for an NBA team. But when your point guard is Chris Paul, it is going very hard to start over him.

    They have the shooters in James Posey and Peja Stojakovic, the bruiser down low in Sonaglia, and the great spark off the bench, Julian Wright.

19. New York Knicks

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    Projected Starting Line-Up

    PG: Raymond Felton

    SG: Kelenna Azubuike

    SF: Danilo Gallinari

    PF: Anthony Randolph

    C: Amar’e Stoudemire

     

    Bench

    PG: Toney Douglas

    SG: Andy Rautins

    SG: Bill Walker

    SF: Wilson Chandler

    SF: Landry Fields

    PF: Ronny Turiaf

    C: Eddy Curry

    C: Jerome Jordan

    C: Timofey Mozgov

     

    Analysis: The Knicks did miss out on LeBron, Johnson, Bosh, and Wade. But they did pick up Amar’e Stoudeire.

    The Knicks right now have a pretty good team in place. They have a very talented front court with Amar’e in the middle, and we know and have seen what he is capable of doing when given the opportnites in Phoenix.

    Anthony Randolph has had a solid two years in the league so far and is improving very well, and starting to mature a bit on and off the court.

    He brings athleticism and quickness to the front court alongside Amar’e. He will grab boards and block many shots. He just needs to work on the offensive game a bit.

    Gallinari is very liked by D’Antoni and for good reasons. He is a very good three point shooter. If you leave him open it is almost automatic to go in.

    He has great size for a wing player, and uses his physical frame to get past defenders.

    But Gallinari’s downfall right now in his career is his defense for sure. He does not have much, if any lateral quickness to guard the LeBrons and the Durants in the league.

    Felton is a good pickup for the Knicks. He is not the top tier point guard that many think of, but Felton can play. He is a true point guard. (which is very hard to find in the league nowadays).

    He gets the job done and is also looking to find the open guy. He does have the ability to score as well, using his quickness to get by defenders, and finish at the hole.

    Azubuike was brought over from the Warriors in the Dave Lee trade, and could turn into a bargain if he is able to recover from injury. Azubuike was a great player for the Warriors.

    He could shoot the three, drive the basket annd finish with contact, defend with the best of them, rebound, and create turnovers.

    He is the whole package. I am just hoping he is able to recover from injury and play at a high level again.

    As for the bench for the Knicks, they have it all.

    The Knicks have the shooters in Andy Rautins and Toney Douglas. The slashers defensive stoppers in Bill Walkers and Wilson Chandler. The hustle type player that will go after the boards hard, and dive after loose balls in Turiaf, and the shot blockers in rookie Jerome Jordan and Timofey Mozgov.

18. Phoenix Suns

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    Projected Starting Line-Up

    PG: Steve Nash

    SG: Jason Richardson

    SF: Grant Hill

    PF: Hedo Turkoglu

    C: Robin Lopez

    Bench

    PG: Goran Dragic

    SG: Matt Janning

    SF: Josh Childress

    SF: Jared Dudley

    PF: Earl Clark

    PF: Gani Lawal

    PF: Hakim Warrick

    PF: Channing Frye

    Analysis: When Steve Nash is on your team, you will always be put into a situation to win, and his ability to make other players around him that much better.

    Even though the Suns lost a perennial All-Star in Amar'e Stoudemire, they did bring in some pretty good ball players in Turkoglu, Warrick, Childress, and Gani Lawal.

    As well with Goran Dragic becoming one of the best bench players in the league, and Robin Lopez proving that his ability to block shots, play good defense and intimidate others, can get him a starting position.

    The additions of Childress brings a crafty wing player that proved he can score when playing in Atlanta. Hakim Warrick is an underrated power forward that still needs time to prove to everyone that he can play.

    Lastly, the addition of Turkoglu is a hit and miss. He will bring a second facilitator on the offensive side, and is not afraid to take big shots, and handle the ball under pressure.

    But he lacks already on the defensive side of the ball, and now you want to push him to the four spot?

    The Suns may not make the playoffs, but they should do fine without the services of Amar'e Stoudemire.

17. Los Angeles Clippers

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    Projected Starting Line-Up

    PG: Baron Davis

    SG: Eric Gordon

    SF: Al-Farouq Aminu

    PF: Blake Griffin

    C: Chris Kaman

    Bench

    PG: Eric Bledsoe

    SG: Randy Foye

    SG: Willie Warren

    SF: Ryan Gomes

    SF: Rasual Butler

    PF: Brian Cook

    PF:Craig Smith

    C: DeAndre Jordan

    Analysis: The Clippers are one of the few teams that I like one right through thirteen, players wise.

    The management did a great job this off-season I think had one of the best drafts to top all that off: drafting Aminu, Bledsoe, and Willie Warren, as well bringing in Randy Foye, Ryan Gomes, and Brian Cook.

    The Clippers back court is electrifying, with Baron Davis and Eric Gordon. There is no signs for lack of scoring with these two.

    The small forward could be a tossup between Aminu, Butler or Gomes. But I am going to give it to the rookie because he has the size advantage, and is the better defender of three.

    Aminu can also play offense, he is a great slasher and with his large frame and huge wingspan, he can finish around the rim with contact. He just needs to work on his jump shot, if he wants to excel his game.

    The front court of Griffin and Kaman is going to be unpredictable. This front court could turn into a top 5-8 front court if Griffin is able to bring his college game into the NBA.

    We all saw last season in Summer League and pre-season how dominant he looked. The a nasty knee injury kept him out his rookie season. But look for Griffin to have a stellar season and win the Rookie of the Year trophy. 

    The bench for the Clippers is very good in the guard department for the most part. Bledsoe is a going to be a great point guard in this league someday.

    He may be undersized according to many, but his physical body shape more than makes up for it. He can hit the three as we saw in college, going for seven in one game.

    Foye and Gomes are two fantastic pickups in my opinion. Foye is flat out scorer and has proven that when playing for the Wolves and Wizards.

    Gomes is another great scorer, he is more of the slasher type player, and is also a good defender.

    Butler is going to come in and do what he has done his whole career, and knock down three point shots.

    Jordan is a young center that is starting to come into his own. He is athletic and is always crashing the boards. He needs to really work on his offense production and his free throw shooting.

16. Charlotte Bobcats

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    Projected Starting Line-Up

    PG: D.J. Augustin

    SG: Stephen Jackson

    SF: Gerald Wallace

    PF: Boris Diaw

    C: Erick Dampier

    Bench

    PG: Shaun Livingston

    PG: Sherron Collins

    SG: Gerald Henderson

    SG: Matt Carroll

    SF: Derrick Brown

    SF: Dominic McGuire

    PF: Tyrus Thomas

    PF: Eduardo Najera 

    C: Nazr Mohammed 

    C: DeSagana Diop 

    Analysis: The Bobcats lost Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler. Two key components from their top five finishing last season.

    You are replacing them with Augustin and Dampier, who are decent players, but not reaching Felton and Dampier's caliber.

    Augustin is a good player, it just depends how well he will be able to produce now that he is the starting point guard.

    He had a very good rookie season, but had a terrible sophomore season. He is as quick as it gets, and uses that speed to blow by defenders.

    He can step back and hit the three if needed to. But he needs to improve his point guard skills.

    Stephen Jackson will always be the same old, flat out scorer that can score with the best of them in this league on any given night.

    He will play good defense when needed to, and has a passion for the game that exceeds many at this level.

    Wallace did make his first all-star appearance last season. And it was great to see that his hard work had finally paid off.

    Wallace is not known as the "pure scorer" type, but he will give you 17-23 points a night.

    Wallace is the hard nose type, both on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. He is always crashing the boards on both sides, and he is always among the top in steals per game every season.

    The four spot is going to be a toss-up between Diaw and Thomas. But I think it will be Diaw, because he has the better polished offensive game, and Thomas always brings a great spark off the bench on both sides for the Bobcats.

    Dampier is not the scoring type center, but he will get tip backs and points off of offensive rebounds. He will block shots and play defense as well.

    As for the bench for the Bobcats, they have good, young point guards in Collins and Livingston. Look for Livingston to make an impact for the Bobcats next season.

    Thomas will be the spark off the bench that brings the intimidation factor on defense. Whether he is blocking shots, getting big rebounds of stealing the ball. Thomas will always bust his butt for you.

    Mohammed and Diop will come in and give the Bobcats some solid minutes and block a few shots.

    The Bobcats will have a decent team next season, but I do not think they will be as successful as last season, even with Jackson playing a full season in a Bobcats uniform.

15. Houston Rockets

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    Projected Starting Line-Up

    PG: Aaron Brooks

    SG: Kevin Martin

    SF: Shane Battier

    PF: Luis Scola

    C: Yao Ming

    Bench

    PG: Kyle Lowry

    SG: Jermaine Taylor

    SG: Courtney Lee

    SF: Chas Budinger

    SF: Mike Harris

    SF: Alexander Johnson

    SF: Jared Jeffries

    PF: Jordan Hill

    C: Chuck Hayes

    C: Brad Miller

    Analysis: The Rockets had a very good season last year without arguably the team's best player, Yao Ming.

    Now, with him back from injury, Brooks is emerging into a superstar, and Kevin Martin will be in his first full season as a Rocket. The Rockets' future is very bright.

    Brooks has turned into an all-star talent, he is lightning quick. Everyone thought that he was too small to play, but with his speed and ability to shoot the three; he has made those critics into believers.

    Martin, even though with his weird looking shooting stroke, he is still able to knock down many shots. He has a very tiny and thin frame for a shooting guard, but does hold his own when driving into the paint.

    Ariza is becoming the player he was in Los Angeles, and then some more. With a more offensive role since coming to Houston, Ariza has flourished in the new role. 

    Scola is the perfect player that everyone wants on their team. He is a hard-nosed player that goes after it all. He has soft hands around the rim, and can finish in contact, and he has no off-court baggage with him.

    Yao is the big wild card, if he is healthy and back to the old Yao, I think that Rockets will make the playoffs, and give a good run against whoever they are playing.

    The bench may not be the biggest names of other benches in the league, but Kyle Lowry is a great young point guard who has come on last season.

    Battier is still the defensive specialist and a great three point shooter.

    And Brad Miller will come in and be a great addition to the Rockets, either being a starter if Yao is still not 100 percent, or being a great back-up that can come in and give the Rockets good minutes. 

14. Memphis Grizzlies

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    Projected Starting Line-Up

    PG: Mike Conley

    SG: O.J. Mayo

    SF: Rudy Gay

    PF: Zach Randolph

    C: Marc Gasol

    Bench

    PG: Acie Law

    PG: Greivis Vasquez

    SG: Tony Allen

    SG: Xavier Henry

    SF: DeMarre Carroll 

    SF: Sam Young

    PF: Darrell Arthur

    C: Hamed Haddadi

    C: Hasheem Thabeet

    Analysis: The Grizzlies surprised many last year with their young squad coming in 10th place and almost making the playoffs.

    The Grizzlies are very young like many other teams, and are starting to see those young players emerge.

    Conley is a young point guard in the the terms that he is very inconsistent, especially when handling the ball. At times he seems like he could be an All-Star, while at other times he seems as if he should be on the bench.

    But again, he is only 22 and is improving almost in every category. If he is able to learn how to keep his composure and play like the leader a point guard should be, this could help put the Grizzlies over the hump into the playoffs.

    O.J. Mayo did suffer a bit of a sophomore slump as many would say. But nothing drastic where it should affect his play come next year.

    Mayo is one the few pure scorers the game has. He can score, and score in bunches. When he's hot, there is no stopping Mayo.

    Gay is another great young player the Grizzlies have. Gay is the leader of this Grizzlies team, and does it without all the egos involved.

    He is a very athletic wing player that can score, play defense, and is always active when it comes to getting steals and loose balls.

    Randolph was the surprise story for the Grizzlies last season. He was dumped off from the Knicks in what was to be a salary dump off.

    But Randolph was able to shut his mouth, stay out of trouble, and finally show the basketball world why the Blazers were so high up on this guy.

    Randolph has completely turned his career around and will be a big part for the Grizzlies come next season.

    Marc Gasol is always going to be known as Pau's little brother, unless you're a Memphis fan, or a consistent NBA fan that acknowledge talent. If many of you do not know, Marc was drafted by the Lakers and then traded to the Grizzlies for Pau.

    So it is kind of ironic.

    But anyways, it turned out great for Marc, where he got his chance to start for the Grizzlies in his rookie season. He improved very much so in his sophomore season. And will continue to shine for the Grizzlies.

    The Grizzlies bench is also very young, but they all have tonnes of potential as well.

    Acie Law was just signed by the Grizzlies and will be a good back-up to Conley. He has not gotten his chance yet in the NBA, so being a back-up could give him so more minutes, boost his confidence, and show everyone why he was such a good college player.

    Tony Allen was brought over from Boston and will bring his defensive specialty over to the Grizzlies, while scoring 6-8 points a game.

    Henry is going to come in and knock shots down, and attack the rim. Carroll will be the energy guy off the bench, Young and Arthur will both come in and pay great defense and battle down low on the boards.

    Thabeet will hopefully grow into the shot blocker and defensive presence the Grizzlies had hoped for in his rookie season.

    The Grizzlies have a ton of young talent on the table, and if they can all work together and grow as a whole, you will see the Grizzlies make the playoffs come next season, and be a team to reckoned with for years to come.

13. San Antonio Spurs

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    Projected Starting Line-Up

    PG: Tony Parker

    SG: Manu Ginobili

    SF: Richard Jefferson

    PF: Tim Duncan

    C: Tiago Splitter

    Bench

    PG: George Hill

    PG: Curtis Jarrells

    SG: Alonzo Gee

    SG: James Anderson

    SG: Gary Neal

    SG: Garrett Temple

    PF: DeJuan Blair

    PF: Ryan Richards

    C: Matt Bonner

    C: Antonio McDyess

    Analysis: The Spurs have the same old trio of Parker, Ginobili, and Duncan. Having that trio always gives the Spurs a chance at something big.

    The trio is pretty much self explanatory. The only thing to really mention is, will Ginobili come off the bench or finally start? Because Popovich is realizing that Manu on the bench is not working.

    Richard Jefferson was an all-star but had a very rough year last season coming over to the Spurs from the Bucks. He took the initiative to not exercise his contract, opt out and re-sign for less.

    Hopefully, this is a sign that Jefferson is taking it as a new chapter in his career, and is able to bounce back and have a good season to support the trio.

    Tiago Splitter could be this team's X-Factor come next season. He has played overseas in Spain, for the past three seasons since being drafted back in 2007.

    Splitter is not the most skilled offensive player, and does not have many moves outside of the paint. But his strongest asset is on the defensive side.

    He is a good one-on-one defender, boxes out very well for a big guy, and has great instincts on when he needs to make rotations. 

    Adding Splitter to this team could really be a big bonus, and the player that may put them over the top, since they have not really had a true center since the David Robinson era.

    As for the Spurs bench, it may not seem very strong on paper, because they have many names that are not household names. But do not let that fool you.

    We all saw George Hill's ability to score the ball. Just one concern is the consistency in his shooting percentages, and his ability to be a true point guard. (Averaged less than one assist last season).

    James Andersen in my eyes could turn out to be one of the biggest steals in this year's draft. He is a pure scorer, he can slash to the basket and he can shoot the three.

    He can also play good defense, and being 6'6, helps when playing smaller two guards.

    McDyess and Bonner will be the veteran leaders off the bench. McDyess will bring toughness and fierceness on the boards, especially. Bonner will come in and hit down a few threes.

    Neal was a flat out scorer in the college and in Italy, he along with the other low key players should give the Spurs some good minutes next season.

    Overall, the Spurs will likely be a top six team like they are every year. But if Jefferson and Splitter can pull their own weight, and Andersen and come in off the bench and give some added scoring.

    The Spurs could be even higher in the Western Conference standings.

12. Atlanta Hawks

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    Projected Starting Line-Up:

    PG: Mike Bibby

    SG: Joe Johnson

    SF: Marvin Williams

    PF: Josh Smith

    C: Al Horford

    Bench:

    PG: Jeff Teague

    SG: Jamal Crawford

    SG: Jordan Crawford

    SF: Maurice Evans

    PF: Josh Powell

    C: Jason Collins

    C: Zaza Pachulia

    Analysis: The Hawks are pretty much exactly the same team as last year. No significant changes. Their only addition was rookie guard Jordan Crawford. What a coincidence, it is Jamal Crawford's younger brother.

    Not adding any other player may seem like a bad idea for most teams, but not the case with the Hawks. 

    Their starting line-up is as good as it gets when it comes done to what they could have done this off season.

    Their real only need for improvement would have to be their point guard, Mike Bibby. Bibby has had a great career, but he may only have one or two more years where he can actually contribute to the Hawks.

    Joe Johnson is still the team's leader and key player to success in the up coming season. He did just come off a massive lucrative contract extension, so it will be interesting to see how he handles that.

    Marvin Williams will still always be remembered for being the player taken before Chris Paul, when the position the Hawks needed was a point guard.

    But if you do watch basketball and the NBA, Marvin is not as bad as a player as many make him out to be.

    He is an a good player to have on your team, he complements Johnson and the other players very well. He is an athletic wing player who can score when he is given the chances.

    Josh Smith will be Josh Smith like every year. Give us thunderous and powerful dunks, while leaping out of the gym from nowhere to block three shots a game.

    Horford, in his short career has been given the name of being to small to play center. But I think he is the best option the Hawks have, and well simply he is a very good player and has held his own this long in his career.

    He has a strong physical presence in the paint, is a good rebounder, and has a good jump shot for a center.

    The Hawks bench is one of the best in the league, simply because of Jamal Crawford. What he brings to the team is nothing short of spectacular.

    He is prolific scorer and a great three-point shooter when it matter most. He is not afraid to take the big shot, and even though he comes off the bench, he is always in the game during crunch time.

    The Hawks also have Jordan Crawford, who is an exact model of Jamal, a pure scorer.

    Jeff Teague will likely talk over the helm at point guard either sometime during this season or next season for sure.

11. Milwaukee Bucks

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    Projected Starting Line-Up

    PG: Brandon Jennings

    SG: John Salmons

    SF: Corey Maggette

    PF: Drew Gooden

    C: Andrew Bogut

    Bench

    PG: Keyon Dooling

    SG: Michael Redd

    SG: Chris Douglas-Roberts

    SF: Carlos Delfino

    SF: Luc Mbah a Moute

    PF: Jon Brockman

    PF: Larry Sanders

    PF: Ersan Ilyasova

    Analysis: It was last season that not many people could even name the Bucks starting line-up other than myself, and of course the people who follow the Bucks.

    The Bucks main area of concern going into this off-season was depth at the guard position and wing spots, as well as needing a true starting power forward.

    They accomplished all of that by getting Maggette, Douglas-Roberts, Dooling, Gooden, and drafting Sanders to add more depth.

    Jennings is going to be the best point guard in the league in a few years time. I can bet on that.

    Salmons came over to Milwaukee from Chicago, and did nothing but help them win games and play at a very high level.

    Maggette was acquired from the Warriors and had a great year with the Warriors. Maggette is going to bring veteran leadership and scoring to the Bucks.

    Adding Maggette and putting him alongside Salmons on the wing will create dynamic scoring duo on the wings.

    The Bucks suffered at the power forward and was their weakest part by far last season. By adding Gooden, he brings a savvy type veteran that will battle under the boards, and will score 10-12 points a game.

    Bogut had a nasty injury at the end of last season and could hinder his abilities to  produce at the level he produced at last season. I still think he will have a productive season and help the Bucks out a lot next season.

    The Bucks bench could be a good bench depending on how Redd will play next season? If he is able to come back from injury and give some good minutes then the Bucks will have an added bonus.

    Moute will come in off the bench and play great defense.

    Sanders will be the super athletic forward that will fly for the boards. He is also able to step outside the key and knock down shots.

    Ilyasova will come in and be a power forward that can knock down many three-pointers.

10. Utah Jazz

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    Projected Starting Line-Up

    PG: Deron Williams

    SG: Raja Bell

    SF: C.J. Miles

    PF: Al Jefferson

    C: Mehmet Okur

    Bench

    PG: Sundiata Gaines

    PG: Ronnie Price

    SG: Othyus Jeffers 

    SF: Jeremy Evans

    SF: Gordon Hayward

    SF: Andrei Kirilenko 

    PF: Paul Millsap

    C: Kyrylo Fesenko 

    Analysis: The Jazz did lose Carlos Boozer and rookie spark, Wesley Matthews. But the loss of Boozer could be a blessing in disguise, since they were able to pick up a better and younger version in Al Jefferson.

    As for Matthews, he was better off staying in Utah, but not for the $35 million he was offered from Portland. Instead, the Jazz went out and drafted Hayward, signed Bell, Evans, Jeffers and re-signed Gaines.

    Deron Williams has proved on many occasions that he does deserve the reign of being a top five point guard in this league.

    Raja Bell is great pickup in my opinion by the Jazz, because he will come in and play great defense on other teams best players. And he will also come in and score 10 points a game, and knock down some threes.

    Miles came onto the scene last season as a reserve. Miles is an athletic wing player, that is always looking to attack the rim. He is a crafty lefty, which for some reason always causes problems for defenders.

    Like I said before, I really think the addition of Jefferson is better than having Boozer. They are both very similar players, but Jefferson is younger and is more of a force down low.

    Jefferson is Mr. 20-10, he is guaranteed almost every night to get 20 points 10 rebounds a game. He is a force on defense and will help clog the paint next season.

    Okur will be coming off of a ruptured Achilles, so I do not even know if he will be ready to start the season. If he is able to play, he will bring a great outside-inside presence with Jefferson.

    Okur's ability to shoot three and being 7'0 tall is a great combination to have. Take that and put it beside the inside presence of Jefferson. You have a pretty good front court.

    The Jazz's bench consists of the last second hero Gaines, a solid back-up point guard in Ronnie Price.

    The rookie Hayward will be asked to come in and shoot the ball, attack the rim and try and place defense.

    Millsap could actually be the teams starter depending on how Okur is and if he is healthy enough to start on opening night or not.

9. Chicago Bulls

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    Projected Starting Line-Up

    PG: Derrick Rose

    SG: Ronnie Brewer

    SF: Luol Deng

    PF: Carlos Boozer

    C: Joakim Noah

    Bench

    PG: C.J. Watson

    SG: Keith Bogans

    SG: Kyle Korver

    SF: James Johnson

    PF: Taj Gibson

    C: Kurt Thomas

    C: Omer Asik 

    Analysis: The Bulls may have had one of the best off-seasons, adding many components to an already good team.

    They filled the need of a true starting power forward in Carlos Boozer, added a sharp shooter in Kyle Korver, a defensive specialist in Keith Bogans and a young scoring point guard in C.J.Watson.

    Rose is turning into an elite point guard in this league.

    The Bulls brought in Ronnie Brewer from Utah/Memphis had a disappointing season last year. Coming to Chicago should give him fresh new start.

    He will bring his athletic abilities and his good defense to a team that lacks good wing defenders.

    Deng had an all-star caliber season last year, and will look to continue onto having a similar season, and trying to stay healthy at the same time.

    Boozer will come in and be the same old Carlos Boozer. A low force down low that you can count on every night to score 18 points and grab 10 rebounds.

    Boozer could be the missing piece to the Bulls hopes at making it past the second round.

    Noah, I am not a big fan of. I personally think he is overrated, but that is just me. Though I do not like him, does not mean he can contribute.

    Noah will be the guy that will do all the dirty jobs down low. He will grab rebounds, and is always active on the offensive boards. He will block shots and get steals, even being a center.

    The Bulls have a good bench, Watson came over from Golden State and will be a great back-up point guard to Rose. He is a quick guard that can score in bunches. 

    Bogans will come in and bring a defensive presence to the Bulls, and is a great three point shooter.

    Kyle Korver was brought in to do what Korver has done his whole career: shoot threes. Korver is one of the best pure shooters in the league, and was brought in by the Bulls to do just that.

    Gibson had a good rookie year, and surprise many with his efforts last season. But now that Boozer is in town, it is going to be hard for Gibson to put up similar numbers he did in his rookie season.

    The Bulls are going to be a team to no one will be able to walk over come next season, even the top teams, the Lakers, Magic, Thunder, Heat, and Celtics will all have troubles with the Bulls.

8. Portland Trail Blazers

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    Projected Starting Line-Up

    PG: Andre Miller

    SG: Brandon Roy

    SF: Nicolas Batum

    PF: LaMarcus Aldridge

    C: Greg Oden

    Bench

    PG: Jerryd Bayless

    PG: Patty Mills

    PG: Armon Johnson

    SG: Rudy Fernandez

    SG: Wesley Matthews

    SG: Elliot Williams

    SF: Luke Babbit

    PF: Jeff Pendergraph

    PF: Dante Cunningham 

    C: Marcus Camby

    C: Joel Pryzbilla

    Analysis: The Trail Blazers are one of the deepest teams in the league based on young talent. The Blazers have built most of their team on draft picks, and it has done the team very well. 

    Andre Miller is a great veteran point guard for this young squad. He brings in the veteran leadership and also has the ability to score and play good defense.

    Miller will also be looked upon to be a mentor to young point guards, Bayless and Mills.

    Brandon Roy is a proven scorer in this league in the four years he has been in the league. He is a great scorer, and has fantastic composure. He is not afraid to take the big shot as we have seen in his career, that he has hit a few game winners.

    Batum has turned into en elite defender, and a freak athlete. He can defend multiple positions due to his size and athleticism. Batum has also shown that has the ability to shoot the three.

    Batum was injured for most of last season but came back on the scene during the later part of the season and going into the playoffs.

    Batum has improved his offensive game very well over the past two seasons and if he is fully healthy, he is going to be a key part for the Blazers next season.

    Aldridge has turned into a powerful big man that can play face-up to the basket as well as his back to the basket. Aldridge has great hands around the basket and can finish well with contact.

    He has improved his jump shot since coming into the league and is able to score from around12-17 feet from the basket.

    Oden, has been a wildcard ever since coming into the league. This is for obvious reasons, being injured so much.

    Oden, last season in 21 games he played he showed the Blazers and everyone else why he was drafted first overall. He was a beast down low, and on the defensive side he block shots like no tomorrow.

    There were questions about his offensive game, but he silenced the critics when he was able to shoot 61 percent from the field. But, then he got injured and was done for the season again.

    So going into next season, Oden could be an All-Star center, but only if he is healthy.

    The Blazers bench is as deep as it gets. Their point guards (Bayless and Mills). Are both two dynamic players. Both are as fast as it gets, and both can light it up on any given night.

    The problem is, there is not enough rotation time for these guys to show their real talents. Though it seems as if Bayless could be the stater come mid-season.

    Fernandez is a sharp shooting guard that could be starting if he was on any other team. But playing for the Blazers his time is split.

    Matthews is a weird scenario, he had a good thing going for him in Utah, their starting shooting guard. But then decided to come to Blazers where there is already a crammed back court and wing positions. 

    Pendergraph and Cunningham will come in and give good hard-nosed defense minutes behind Aldridge. 

    Camby could also be the starter for the Blazers if Oden is injured. Camby has been in the league for many years now, and is known for blocking shots and playing good defense. And that is what he will continue to do for the rest of his career.

7. Orlando Magic

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    Projected Starting Line-Up

    PG: Jameer Nelson

    SG: Vince Carter

    SF: Rashard Lewis

    PF: Brandon Bass

    C: Dwight Howard

    Bench

    PG: Chris Duhon

    PG: Jason Williams

    SG: JJ Redick

    SG: Mickael Pietrus

    SF: Quentin Richardson

    PF: Ryan Anderson

    PF: Stanley Robinson

    C: Daniel Orton

    C: Marcin Gortat

    Analysis: The Magic are basically the same team as last season other than gaining Chris Duhon and Quention Richardson, and losing Matt Barnes. 

    Nelson is improving as a point guard ever since coming back from injury a few seasons back. He needs to work on his shot and his true point guard skills. But overall he is becoming a top point guard. 

    Carter is starting to hit a spiral in his career and is not the same old Vinsanity, but he can still play.

    He will put up the scoring numbers and will take the big shots if needed. But he is starting to become a liability on defense due to his shot knees.

    I really like putting Lewis back at his original position, the three. Because ever since coming over to the Magic he has played at the four, and has done nothing but disappoint.

    So by sliding him over to his natural position, I think he will be able to put up similar numbers.

    This could be one of three players. Bass, Anderson, or even Gortat. But I like Gortat coming off the bench because he just brings that spark coming on for Howard.

    Bass will bring the defensive aid, while scoring a decent amount of points. Whereas Anderson will bring the offense, but he can not defend to save his life.

    The of course there is Howard. Enough said.

    The bench for the Magic simply has a lot of shooters. Williams, Redick, Richardson, Anderson and Pietrus (who will also bring defense). But all those guys will be asked to come in and shoot the three.

    Robinson is a freak athlete and will always be crashing the boards.

    Orton will be a wildcard, if he is able to give the Magic some minutes by rebounding and block shots. The Magic will be happy.

6. Dallas Mavericks

25 of 30

    Projected Starting Line-Up

    PG: Jason Kidd

    SG: Caron Butler

    SF: Shawn Marion

    PF: Dirk Nowitzki

    C: Brendan Haywood

    Bench

    PG: Rodrique Beaubois

    PG: Joe Barea

    SG: Dominique Jones

    SG: Jason Terry

    SG: DeShawn Stevenson

    C: Alexis Ajinca

    C: Tyson Chandler

    C: Ian Mahinmi

    Analysis: The Mavericks are going to surprise many come next season. Caron Butler and Haywood, will both be in their first full season as a Maverick.

    Roddy Buckets will come back in his sophomore season and become a household name, and the rookie Dominique Jones will come in off the bench and just put up monster numbers on the offensive side.

    Kidd is going to be the true point guard he always is, and be a pass-first type player. Next season could be his best shot at a title. So we could all see some vintage Kidd.

    Butler will be in his first full season as a Maverick and he will looked upon to make a big difference for the Mavs next season. Butler is one of those pure scorers that could go off for 30-40 points on any given night.

    Shawn Marion will be the guy on defense and be able to guard other team's top wing players. Marion will go after the boards, and will always be active on creating turnovers.

    Dirk has not won an MVP for no reason. He is a 7'0 forward that can pretty much score from anywhere on the floor. Dirk, time after time, will be asked to carry this team. But with the likes of Butler and Haywood added to the mix. It should be a bit more easier on the Big German. 

    Haywood has been an underrated center for man years. But not after his great performances since coming over from Washington, mid last season.

    Haywood is a banger down low and will grab board after board until the whistle blows. He is a step above Dampier and could be the reason why the Mavericks make a run in the playoffs.

    The Mavericks bench has tons of talent. Especially the guards. Rodrique Beaubois is going to be a great player in this league some day. He will most likely be the starting point guard once Kidd retires.

    Terry has been a proven scorer off the bench for years. He is not afraid to take the big shot, and will be key to the Mavs' success next season if he is able to continue his success coming off the bench.

    Jones is going to be the surprise rookie next season, and make Mark Cuban look like a genius when he bought this pick. Jones is another pure scorer that can light it up from anywhere on the floor.

    Ah, at last. Tyson Chandler. This to me could be on of the best center duos in the league. Chandler will come in and bring energy on the defensive side. Blocking shots and grabbing a tonne of boards.

    As well of you remember his days in New Orleans when he played with Chris Paul. We all saw how many alley-oop dunks we say them create. Now, put Chandler and assist man crazy in Jason Kidd. You will see some more highlight-reel alley-oops.

5. Boston Celtics

26 of 30

    Projected Starting Line-Up

    PG: Rajon Rondo

    SG: Ray Allen

    SF: Paul Pierce

    PF: Kevin Garnett

    C: Jermaine O'Neal

    Bench

    PG: Avery Bradley

    PG: Oliver Lafayette 

    PG: Nate Robinson

    SG: Von Wafer

    SG: Marquis Daniels

    SF: Tony Gaffney

    SF: Luke Harangody

    PF: Glen Davis

    C: Semih Erden

    C: Shaquille O'Neal

    C: Kendrick Perkins

    C: Rasheed Wallace

    Analysis: As much as I do not like the Celtics, they did get better than what they were last season with the additions of J.O., Shaq, Von Wafer, and drafting Avery Bradley.

    Though the injury to Perkins will hurt the Celtics, they should do fine until he is able to get back into game shape.

    Rondo is another point guard that is turning into an elite player based on his playoff performances. He just needs to put it together during the regular season. Then the Celtics could be on another playoff run.

    Allen has been Allen for years, and will continue to knock down threes until he retires.

    Pierce is the leader of this team and has been the main scorer for years.

    Garnett is the unspoken leader in the locker room. He is intense and just lives and dies for this game.

    J.O. was brought in by the Celtics to bring a much needed void for the loss of Perkins until December. J.O. will bring the offensive side while Perkins will bring the defensive side.

    The Celtics bench consists of Robinson and Glen "Big Baby" Davis who simply massive sparks off the bench that just love playing together and having a good time competing at a high level.

    Wafer is a pure scorer, but is very underrated.

    Daniels is a defensive specialist and will step in the role of the missing Tony Allen, who left to Memphis.

    Shaq was brought in for more depth at the center position. He will not get nearly as many minutes as he has had in the past. But he will score 10 points a game, grab 7 rebounds and just be a huge body in the paint on both sides.

4. Denver Nuggets

27 of 30

    Projected Starting Line-Up

    PG: Chauncey Billups

    SG: J.R. Smith

    SF: Carmelo Anthony

    PF: Al Harrington

    C: Nene Hilario

    Bench

    PG: Ty Lawson

    PG: Anthony Carter

    SG: Coby Karl

    SG: Aaron Afflalo

    SF: Renaldo Balkman

    PF: Kenyon Martin

    PF: Sheldon Williams

    C: Chris Anderson

    C: Brian Butch

    Analysis: I really like this team as you can all see. I think that the Denver Nuggets are going to be the team that will surprise everyone come next season.

    They have got shooters, play makers, veteran leaders, shot blockers, and a decent bench.

    Chauncey Billups is the most underrated point guard in the NBA in my opinion. And for some odd reason I do not see why people over look him. He was the outright leader of a Pistons team that won a NBA Title back in 2004.

    And ever since he came over to the Nuggets, he has done nothing but help them win games. He had a career year last season and will look to add to his repertoire next season by competing for a ring.

    Smith as another example of a pure scorer that can score from anywhere on the floor. He attack the rim with the best of them, and give the crowd some thunderous dunks, because of his athleticism.

    Smith is also a very good three-point shooter and a very good defender. When Smith gets it going on both ends of the floor, it is very hard to stop him.

    Carmelo Anthony is improving every season since getting drafted back in 2003. And not necessarily in the points department, but the intangibles.

    Carmelo is learning to be more of a team player, and that individual stats do not lead to victories. He has learned to play better defense, has improved on his rebounding abilities and his shooting stroke.

    Carmelo will have a MVP-type season next year, which will help the Nuggets get over the hump and get out the first round. 

    Al Harrington was the most underrated free agent of this years class. No one ever really talked about him, and the Denver Nuggets cashed in on him to replace the injured Martin.

    Harrington is a proven veteran that can multiple positions due to his height, his dribbling abilities, and ability to shoot the ball.

    He can defend positions from the three all the way to five position as he did in Golden State. I really think that Harrington could turn out to make the biggest impact for his new team next season over any other free agent.

    Nene is a big bruising body that is not afraid to battle under the boards with the likes of Howard, O'Neal, and Bynums of the league. Nene also has the ability to put up decent numbers on the offensive side. But he is most valuable on the defensive side.

    As for the bench goes for the Nuggets. Ty Lawson is a stud in the making and a great back-up for Chauncey Billups. Lawson uses his speed to his advantage, and is one of the few players that can use it well.

    He does not have a consistent jump shot but he can knock them down. He is a great defensive guard, though he is undersized. He has quick hands is always active in the steals department. Look for Lawson to play a bigger role come next season.

    Afflalo is a defensive player that will come in and guard the top two guards in the league. He also is a good three-point shooter.

    Martin if he is even able to play this season, will be the defensive presence he always is. A shot blocker, and he will intimidate down low. 

    Anderson is the ultimate energizer off the bench and a fan favorite. The "Birdman" as he is known around the league. May actually have wings, based on his ability to block shots.

    Overall, I really think the addition of Harrington could put the Nuggets that much closer. As well, with Martin being injured, the Nuggets may get grievence money that could be used to grab another piece to the puzzle.

3. Miami Heat

28 of 30

    Projected Starting Line-Up

    PG: Mario Chalmers

    SG: Dwyane Wade

    SF: LeBron James

    PF: Chris Bosh

    C: Joel Anthony

    Bench

    PG: Carlos Arroyo

    PG: Patrick Beverley

    PG: Eddie House

    SG: Kenny Hasbrouck

    SG: Mike Miller

    SF: Da'Sean Butler

    SF: James Jones

    PF: Udonis Haslem

    PF: Shavlik Randolph

    PF: Juwan Howard

    PF: Jarvis Varnado

    C: Dexter Pittman

    C: Zydrunas Illgauskas

    C: Jamal Magloire

    Analysis: Sure this is going to cause up a lot of drama. But I hope that I am ready for it.

    I know on paper, this team looks like one of the best teams you could ever possibly put out there. But I just do not think they will live up to such high expectations. But I can always be wrong!

    The point guard scenario to some, think there is a dilemma. Well there is no dilemma. Chalmers will be the starting point guard.

    Whether it is the right decision, only time will tell. But he is better then the rest of the options at point guard. Chalmers for sure will be the weak link of this team, along with their other point guards.

    If any team is able to pressure Chalmers and the Heat's other point guards, it could be one way to take down the Heat.

    Dwayne Wade. (Enough said).

    LeBron James. (Enough said).

    Chris Bosh (Not so Fast). Bosh is going to disappoint in my opinion. Not because he is going to be the third option (because he knew that coming in), but rather because he is going to put up even worse numbers then the low numbers people having get attaining.

    There is just not enough shots and minutes for Bosh to get his chances.

    Joey Anthony is going to be the surprise for the Heat next year. I really think he is the Heat's best options at center. His knees and ankles are not shot like Big Z, and he can run the floor better than Z.

    Anthony is a terrific shot blocker, one of the best in the league. He is a workhorse on the boards and on the defensive side. And with Wade and LeBron, you will not need to worry about him scoring.

    The Heat have a pretty balanced bench as well. House and Miller will come in and shoot the three at great percentages.

    Arroyo is going to the veteran back-up point guard.

    Haslem is the tough nitty-gritty player, that will battle with the bigs in the post. Even if many say he is undersized. 

    Howard, Ilgauskas, and Magloire are veteran big men who will contribute a bit. Moreover, they are there to try to win a ring.

    Overall, on paper they will seem to be the best team. But I just think that their is too much talent to go around for them to be successful.

    I really do hope that I am wrong, because it would be fun to watch them destroy everyone in their path.

2. Los Angeles Lakers

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    Projected Starting Line-Up

    PG: Derek Fisher

    SG: Kobe Bryant

    SF: Ron Artest

    PF: Pau Gasol

    C: Andrew Bynum

    Bench

    PG: Steve Blake

    SG: Shannon Brown

    SG: Sasha Vujacic

    SF: Matt Barnes

    SF: Devin Ebanks

    PF: Lamar Odom

    PF: Luke Walton

    PF: Derrick Caracter

    C: Theo Ratliff

    C: D.J. Mbenga

    Analysis: At last! The defending NBA Champs! Too bad they are not my No. 1 team heading into the regular season!

    Fisher's career is starting to wind down a bit. But as we saw last season and every other season. Fisher always steps his game up to another level in the playoffs.

    Which is why until he retires, he is the Lakers main guy setting up the triangle offense.

    Kobe Bryant. (Enough Said).

    Artest did not have a fantastic year offensively as many would have expected. But the intangibles and defense was always there. And that was what the Lakers were expecting and hoping for when bringing Artest in last summer.

    Besides, he did come up big in Game Seven last year in the Finals to help seal the victory.

    Pau Gasol. (Enough Said). He will come in and give you 18 points and 10 rebounds. Has great hands around the rim, but hurts on a defense a little bit when he needs to guard quicker forwards.

    Bynum if healthy could be the best center in this league. But ever since coming into the league, he has never been able to get a full season under his belt.

    He has great size, and is starting to develop a post game in the low block. But unless his knee is pain free and he has no other nagging injuries. Bynum could have great year next season.

    The bench for the Lakers has, and is always good. The veteran Steve Blake was signed this off-season. He will come in and learn from Fisher to take over in a few years. Blake will also bring a great three-point stroke.

    Shannon Brown will come in and bring you high flying dunks, he will crash the boards, and plays high-level intensified defense.

    Matt Barnes was also brought in this summer. Barnes will be asked to play great defense, and shoot some threes.

    Lamar Odom. (Enough Said). Between him and Jamal Crawford as the best bench player.

    Ratliff was the last signing by the Lakers this off-season. Ratliff will come in and block shots, play defense and clog up the paint. A great pick-up for the Lakers.

1. Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Projected Starting Line-Up

    PG: Russell Westbrook

    SG: James Harden

    SF: Kevin Durant

    PF: Jeff Green

    C: Serge Ibaka

     

    Bench

    PG: Eric Maynor

    PG: Royal Ivey

    SG: Daequan Cook

    SG: Thabo Sefolosha 

    SG: Morris Peterson

    SF: Ryan Reid

    PF: Nick Collison

    PF: D.J. White

    PF: Latavious Williams

    C: Nenard Kristic

    C: Byron Mullens

    C: Cole Aldrich

    Analysis: Now, it is time to announce the top team in the NBA. The Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder have the exact same core guys that they had last season.

    All getting another year of experience, and another year to grown together as a team.

    The Thunder are my pick to take it all the way and upset both the Lakers and the Heat. They did bring the Lakers to six games this past playoffs.

    Russell Westbrook is a stud in the making. He has elevated his game drastically since his rookie season. He had a major problem with turnovers. He fixed that. He had a terrible shooting shooting stroke. He has improved it a bit.

    Westbrook became more of a true point guard, rather than the scoring guard he was at UCLA. He boosted his assist totals to 8.0 a game.  In the playoffs he took his game to another level playing against the Champs.

    Giving in solid minutes, averaging 20 points, 6 assists, 6 rebounds and 2 steals, Westbrook is as quick as anything. He uses his great speed to blow by defenders and finish at the rim.

    Wesbrook, along with Jason Kidd are the two best rebounding point guards. that helps Westbrook to lead the charge up court using his great quickness.

    James Harden had an up-and-down rookie season. But as the year went on, and going into the playoffs, he was starting to come into his own. Harden is a lethal shooter if left open, and with his craftiness ability, and being left handed.

    He drives middle when on the right hand side, breaks down the defense, and uses his high basketball IQ, to find the open player.

    Harden should have a ton of confidence going into next season, and should be more involved in the Thunder's offenses.

    Kevin Durant is turning into the leagues most deadly scorer. He did earn himself the scoring title last season with an average of 30.1 points a game.

    Though Durant's game is all about the slashing and attacking the rim, He does have the ability to shoot the three. But his strengths are driving. Durant uses his body and wingspan very well when attacking the rim. With his long lanky arms, and his athleticism.

    He is able to sky up above the defender and lay the ball in, or dunk on the poor defender. Durant has a great feel and instincts for the game, which is a part that helps him out a lot while playing.

    Jeff Green is another underrated player in my eyes. Many people to not give him credit. and I do not know why? First of all, Green is playing out of position at the power forward position, when his natural position is the three.

    But when Durant is on your team, and you have such a skilled player like Green, you have to slide him to the four.

    Green is a great defender that can guard multiple positions. Anyone from the shooting guard position to the power forward position.

    Due to his lack of size, be does not get enough credit for his low post game, but his post game is starting to pickup. He has a deadly turn around jumper, which helps when he is playing against taller defenders.

    He is an underrated scorer, but he will get you 15-17 points a game, and ha been a key contributer along with Durant since they both were drafted.

    Krstic is an underrated center and does not get enough credit as an enforcer. The Thunder took a big risk in signing Kristic a few years back when he was coming off a serious knee injury.

    But he was able to turn it around and be a great center for the Thunder. Krstic is able to block shots on the defensive side.

    He is not the big banger done low like the Shaqs, Perkins, and Howards in the league.

    But, Krstic does have great hands and anticipation when blocking shots. He has soft hands around the rim and has a decent jump hook.

    The Thunder's bench is a great young bunch that with another season under their belts, and gaining playoff experience last season. You will see their bench step it up a notch come next season. 

    Maynor is a great back-up point guard. I thought he was a great pickup for the Thunder when he came over from the Jazz.

    He is a true point guard and is always looking to set up all his teammates. Maynor has great composure and is a fighter when on the floor.

    He is not afraid to take the big shot either, as we have seen when he played in college for Virginia Commonwealth.

    Daequan Cook came over from the Heat and will be a great addition for the Thunder. He is a great three-point shooter and will come in and do exactly that, hit threes.

    Sefolosha is a great defender and has proven it time after time against Kobe Bryant and other top wing players. Sefolosha also has a decent shot and uses that ability to knock down a few threes.

    Serge Ibaka is a player that just absolutely love! He came over from overseas after a year being drafted. And has been a great addition to the Thunder.

    He is a freak athlete that blocks shots, grabs monster boards and intimidates others when in the paint on the defensive side.

    Ibaka is still very raw on the offensive side, but he is most valuable on the defensive side, blocking shots and intimidating others.

    The Thunder have some other young pieces like Mullens and Aldrich who will come in and be difference makers on the the defensive side. But both are raw on the offensive side.

    Overall I really think that Thunder will be the team that will surprise most when they are able to knock off the Lakers in the playoffs next season.

    Then they will make their way all the way to the finals and pull a victory over the Heat.

    I think Westbrook and Green are going to step it up and play on another level like their counterpart Kevin Durant.

    Harden is going to step it up as well he will be asked to play a bigger role on the offensive side.

    Ibaka, Maynor and Cook will be asked to come off the bench and play big minutes in relieving Westbrook, Kristic and Harden.

    The Thunder have a mixture of a lot of young talent, and a superstar in Durant. If they are able to bring that all together and play as whole. I really do think that the Thunder will champs in the 2010-11 NBA Season.