NBA Power Rankings: 5 Most Improved Teams Besides the Miami Heat
This offseason has had many discussions, arguments and analyses of the Miami Heat getting LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and company to improve its roster.
If anyone is tired hearing how great the Heat improved this 2010 offseason, here are the five most improved NBA teams besides those darn Heat.
5: Boston Celtics
Starting center Kendrick Perkins suffered a severe right knee injury during the NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers that could keep him out until February.
So the Boston Celtics were proactive and got centers Jermaine O’Neal and Shaquille O’Neal to replace Perkins.
Jermaine is a two-time All Star who averaged 13.6 points, 6.9 points and 1.4 blocks per game last year for the Miami Heat. Jermaine will start in Perkins’ stead.
Shaq is a future Hall-of-Famer who could still throw down double-doubles any given night.
He is a two-time scoring champion and 15 time All Star who averaged 12 points, 6.7 boards and 1.2 blocks a night in only 23.4 minutes for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Shaq brings a wealth of playoff experience four championships and three Finals MVPs.
Besides center, Boston upgraded its bench with signing Delonte West and drafting Luke Harangody, the 2008 Big East Player of the Year.
4: Houston Rockets
The Rockets look to return to the playoffs with the return of Yao Ming and the additions of Brad Miller and Courtney Lee.
Ming is the franchise player who has been plagued with injuries, including missing the entire 2009-2010 with a foot injury.
Ming has been having a productive preseason and says he is feeling healthy. With career averages of 19.1 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocks a game, Ming would bring a post-scoring presence the Rockets lacked last season with his 7’6” frame.
Miller was signed from the Chicago Bulls as an insurance policy if Ming is re-injured. A two-time All Star, he is a grisly veteran with a wealth of playoff experience.
An above average passing center who also sets good screens, Miller averaged 8.8 points and 4.9 rebounds a game in 23.8 minutes.
Lee was acquired by trading Trevor Ariza in a four-team deal. Ariza never could replace Ron Artest’s production, but Lee is a young shooting guard who played major minutes in the Orlando Magic’s 2008-2009 Finals run.
Lee will come off the bench and can play stellar defensively.
3: Washington Wizards
The Wizards’ backcourt had a complete makeover with John Wall, Kirk Hinrich and Gilbert Arenas.
Wall was the No.1 choice in the 2010 NBA Draft. He was picked because of his playmaking abilities and his exceptional one-on-one play. With his speed, Wall is superb finisher in transition and half-court.
Wall will work closely with Hinrich, former captain of the Chicago Bulls. Playing either point or shooting guard as a starter or sixth man. Hinrich mentored Derrick Rose in Chicago for two years.
Hinrich brings toughness and physical defense to the Wizards. He averaged 10.9 points and 4.5 assists for the Bulls in 2009-2010.
Arenas could be a tremendous lift for Washington.
Coming back from a serious injury and a 50-game suspension for breaking DC’s no gun ordinance, Arenas looks to return to his dominate form in 2004-2007.
Before his suspension, Arenas was extremely effective by posting 22.6 points and 7.2 assists a night.
2: Chicago Bulls
Signing Carlos Boozer more than replaces Brad Miller’s departure.
Boozer, a two-time All Star, is Chicago’s first consistent post-scoring threat since Elton Brand.
Averaging 19.5 points and 11.2 rebounds a game last year, Boozer will complement emerging center Joakim Noah’s energetic game on the boards.
Boozer also will help Rose because he is an excellent pick n’ roll player, having worked with Deron Williams for years.
Kyle Korver will be the Bulls’ sharp shooter. Korver hit 53.6 percent of his three-pointers last season, an NBA record. Playing shooting guard off the bench, Korver is a scoring threat could pour in 20 points a game if he is hot.
Ronnie Brewer is a player who replaces Hinrich’s defensive abilities nicely. With Noah, Boozer and Brewer, the Bulls’ defense will be top notch.
Additions of CJ Watson, Kurt Thomas, Omer Asik and former starter Taj Gibson gives the Bulls bench impressive depth.
1: Milwaukee Bucks
Milwakee had a quiet offseason compared to the Heat, but it made key additions that could lead them to an Eastern Conference title.
Small forward Corey Maggette brings a strong slasher who is a tremendous shooter. He hit 51.6 percent last year and is a career 45.8 percent shooter.
Maggette, coming off the bench, averaged 19.8 points a night in 2009-2010 and would provide a third scoring option to help Brandon Jennings and Andrew Bogut.
Power forward Drew Gooden and shooting guard John Salmons, both acquired at the trade deadline, sparked the Bucks to the playoffs.
Both underrated athletes, Gooden is a fundamental player who could throw down double-doubles while Salmons takes shooting pressure off Jennings by scoring 19.9 points a game for the Bucks.
The wild card is Michael Redd, the former franchise player.
Tearing his ACL and MCL in his left knee January 2009, he missed 114 games the last two seasons.
If he is healthy, Redd would strengthen the Bucks’ bench.
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