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Movin' on up: 10 NBA Teams Who Will Be Improved This Season

Michael AkelsonCorrespondent IAugust 19, 2010

Movin' on up: 10 NBA Teams Who Will Be Improved This Season

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    Don't look now but the balance of power in the NBA is shifting.

    Now that the biggest free agency period in NBA history has offically cone to a close, it's time to look at the teams who will be moving up in the ever so fluctuating world that is the NBA.

    While certain teams like the Lakers and Magic will stay put atop their respective conferences they will be getting some new company.

    Here's 10 teams that will be improved in 2010.

Milwaukee Bucks

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    The Milwaukee Bucks came out of nowhere last season to become one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.

    While there are still the doubters who don't think they're for real, I personally think that they're not only for real, but they're also on their move to the apex of the East.

    The team finished sixth in the Eastern Conference last season, and gave the third seeded Atlanta Hawks trouble in the playoffs' first round as they pushed them to seven games.

    Still not impressed yet?

    Keep in mind the Bucks did this all while missing arguably their best player in Michael Redd.

    Do you still need more evidence that they're for real?

    Well just look at the fact that the player who performed best for them statistically and on the court in 2010-Andrew Bogut, was also out with an injury for the playoff series in which Milwaukee sent Eastern Conference juggernaut Atlanta to a decisive seventh game.

    Not to mention the acqusitions of Drew Gooden and Corey Maggette. Plus the progression of Brandon Jennings.

    If the key players can stay healthy, there's no reason why the Bucks can't leapfrog Boston, Atlanta, and Cleveland (of course) to become the third best team in the East.

Sacramento Kings

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    The Sacramento Kings have been the laughing stock of the Western Conference for quite some time.

    However, after striking gold in the 2009 NBA Draft with Tyreke Evans, they're laughing back.

    Although the Kings managed to win just 25 games last season with Tyreke on the roster, he is vastly improving as is the entire Kings team.

    Forward Jason Thompson is the best player you've never heard of, DeMarcus Cousins seems ready to make an impact at the NBA level, with Samuel Dalembert the talent is certainly there.

    And even Carl Landry has proven himself as a pretty damn good player in recent years.

    The Kings are a team that remind me a lot of the Oklahoma City Thunder of two seasons ago.

    If Tyreke Evans is able to catapult himself anywhere close to the Kevon Durant stratosphere, the Kings could certainly sneak into the playoffs.

    I'm not saying it's going to happen, but at the worst Sacramento should win 35 games this season.

New Jersey Nets

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    When you win just 12 games it's hard to get much worse, but in my mind the New Jersey Nets are a team with a legitimate playoff shot in the Eastern Conference.

    How the Nets only won 12 games last season is a mystery to me, they had two excellent young players in Brook Lopez and Devin Harris (Although he was hurt much of last year).

    However, now that the Nets have their two young studs back at full health they should be ready to take the East by storm.

    However, they won't be alone.

    The Nets have been very busy this off-season and have added some good players in Anthony Morrow, Travis Outlaw, Jordan Farmar, and Troy Murphy.

    These are all guys who can make impacts playing next to the dynamic duo of Lopez and Harris.

    Not to mention the huge addition of  Derrick Favors who could pair with Brook Lopez to make one of the NBA's best frontcourts.

    I know it sounds crazy, but there is no reason to believe the New Jersey Nets can't win 40+ games this season.

Indiana Pacers

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    I know, I know, it's tough to fathom, but the Indiana Pacers could actually be pretty good this season.

    For years now the Pacers have flustered and become almost irrelevant, but that could all change this season.

    In case you haven't noticed, Pacers' small forward Danny Granger has quietly established himself as one of the NBA's top talents, and almost single-handedly kept the Pacers competitive over the past few years.

    However, it is not Granger that makes me feel the Pacers will be better this season as much as it's the acquisition of Darren Collison to play alongside him.

    Collison established his status as a rising star last season when Chris Paul was injured, and the thought of him and Danny Granger playing together as they enter their primes (Collison isn't quite there yet) is scary to say the least.

    Seeing what Granger did without another star was amazing, god only knows what he could do playing next to Darren Collison. 

    Not to mention they still have a seven-foot three-inch Center who was the second overall pick in the draft just a season ago.

    I wouldn't say that his chance at being a superstar is completely over either. And at the worst the Pacers have a HUGE shot-blocking and rebounding presence at Center.

    Which is certainly always valuable.

    With other above average role players such as James Posey, Mike Dunleavy, T.J Ford and Tyler Hansbrough already on the roster, the Indiana Pacers could be a team that surprises some people in the Eastern Conference.

Oklahoma City Thunder

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    This should come as a surprise to no one.

    The Oklahoma City Thunder are the hot pick this season to shoot up the Western Conference after an impressive showing against the Los Angeles Lakers in the playoffs last season.

    The Thunder shot up the standings a season ago and leaped all the way to the playoffs as a surprise to many people.

    However, not so many people would be surprised to see them do it again this year.

    Kevin Durant has officially cemented himself as one of the NBA's top five players.

    Russell Westbrook is rapidly moving up the ranks when it comes to elite point guards, Jeff Green is starting to look more and more like the athletically gifted forward that the Thunder drafted, James Harden should only get better in his second season as a pro.

    There's a lot to like about the Oklahoma City Thunder, and they should definitely finish near the top of the Western Conference this season.

Washington Wizards

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    I know the Wizards are not a team most people would think of as anything but dysfunctional, but there's no denying the talent on their roster.

    If Gilbert Arenas, John Wall, and Kirk Hinrich were all to play up to their potentials, this could make for one of the best backcourts in recent NBA memory.

    We all know what Gilbert Arenas can do when he's healthy, but what we don't know is what he could do next to an elite point guard like John Wall.

    For all his time in Washington, Arenas has been forced to play point guard despite the fact that he was clearly a better fit at shooting guard.

    Some would argue that Arenas' will be nothing more than a locker room cancer. I couldn't disagree more.

    I'm well aware of the whole gun incident, but from the way it sounds it seems like nothing more than a harmless joke between friends. (The gun was unloaded.)

    And how quickly do we forget the fact that Gilbert Arenas took less money in free agency a few years ago so the Wizards could pursue other free agents alongside him.

    When Arenas is at his best there are few guys I'd rather have.

    John Wall of course has monster potential that could be shown this year, and Kirk Hinrich is far more than acceptable as a bench player.

    If Andray Blatche can perform the way he did last season and either Hilton Armstrong or JavVale McGee can step up, the Wizards could surprisingly be a force to be reckoned with.

New York Knicks

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    The New York Knicks have quietly improved by leaps and bounds from last season.

    Call me a homer, but this is a team that I'm extremely high on.

    They traded in David Lee for the slightly better Amar'e Stoudemire, who should be a serious offensive threat in Mike D'Antoni's system.

    However, that's far from the only key acquisition the Knicks made this off-season.

    The Knicks added underrated point guard Raymond Felton who should fit perfectly into Mike D'Antoni's run-and-gun system, sharpshooter Roger Mason Jr., and as we all know you can never have too many shooters with Mike D'Antoni as coach, and forward Anthony Randolph who has an all-around game similar to Stoudemire except he's better defensively, this guy has huge potential.

    They also brought in a rare true Center in Ronny Turiaf which is a huge addition with the defensive deficiencies of Amare Stoudemire and they added swingman Kelenna Azubuike whose heart and shooting touch will have Knicks' fans screaming John Starks all season.

    All five of those guys are excellent fits with the Knicks team and give Amare Stoudemire one hell of a supporting cast.

    However, if you don't feel those five guys with Amare are enough to bring the Knicks back, just remember two names:

    Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari.

    These two guys have been the face of the Knicks for two seasons now and are both very good players with even more upside potential.

    Danilo Gallinari has a case for best shooter in the league as of right now, which is pretty damn impressive considering his 6-10 build.

    Gallinari could see his point per game average jump to 20 this season.

    Wilson Chandler is another player who could be on his way to more improvement.

    He averaged 15 points and five rebounds per game last season and has great athletic ability. His defense is also about average.

    Considering Mike D'Antoni is known for an eight man rotation it makes sense that the Knicks are built with eight impact players.

    They can hurt you in so many ways, and Eddy Curry's expiring contract could net another great player at the trade deadline.

    I really like the New York Knicks for this upcoming season.

Los Angeles Clippers

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    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    I know people love to hate on the Clippers, but looking at their roster it's really tough to believe they only won 29 games last season.

    Baron Davis has solidified himself as an above average point guard.

    Eric Gordon is recognized across the league as one of the rising stars and he looks to be well on his way to putting up 20 points a game next season.

    Chris Kaman has established himself as one of the few legitimate NBA Centers, and he's been an All-Star at that.

    We all know what Al-Farouq Aminu is capable of.

    The real X-factor is a forgotten man with a whole lot of talent- Blake Griffin.

    We all know what he's capable of doing, and I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that if Griffin plays DECENT the Clips will be playing playoff basketball.

    You heard me!

Chicago Bulls

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    The Chicago Bulls are a team similar to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

    They snuck into the playoffs as an eight seed last season and gave the Cavaliers some trouble in the playoffs first round.

    It was then that people finally realized just how good the Bulls were.

    Derrick Rose is quickly rising to the Chris Paul/Deron Williams stratosphere, Joakim Noah is as good as it gets when it comes to hustle players, and Luol Deng is a very nice player himself.

    Taj Gibson is also on his way to becoming an above average player.

    However, the one thing that will make the Bulls a legitimate title contender is clear- Carlos Boozer.

    He is one of the leagues best scoring and rebounding forwards, and he should play very nicely next to Joakim Noah.

    Look for the Bulls to make a rise near the top of the Eastern Conference this season/

Miami Heat

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    Doug Benc/Getty Images

    Wow, where do I start?

    How about with the fact they brought in Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, and LeBron James on the same team.

    What else do you need to know?

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