Here we are on New Year's Day, the NBA's season already a little bit more than a quarter of the way through.
It's been a while since I dipped my toes into the NBA pool, I've been focusing on the Dolphins. But I'm tired of being depressed by the possibility of Tony Sparano coming back.
So why not do an NBA power ranking article, like everyone else has done?
How will mine be different? Well, I'll try adding a sense of humor. And away we go.
Unlike the other bad teams in the league, whom I'm grouping together, my first slide goes to a team that honestly, I expected better from.
We hear all the time about this being a "team" game. So how come the loss of one player leads to a team just bottoming out like this?
Its almost as if they wanted to prove that LeBron was the team. If that was the case, then its working.
If I were Cleveland, I'd be more upset at the team for playing this badly than LeBron for leaving, as all the team is really doing is just making LeBron look more like an MVP candidate.
Both of these teams have good players, so why are they so terrible?
I agree with LeBron, take Kevin Love off of Minnesota and make him a contributor on another team. Wouldn't he be one of the top five centers in the NBA, if he isn't already?
Love is a double-double machine, but his talent is being wasted on the T-Wolves. I'm not the only one who thinks that though.
As for the Kings, owners of the worst record in basketball, Samuel Dalembert could help any other team coming off the bench, and Tyreke Evans seems more like a good bench spark plug than a starter.
NEW JERSEY: (9-24)
LA CLIPPERS: (10-23)
These teams have great young cores and could probably use a few more years of rebuilding.
Will John Wall ever be healthy? If he is then Washington will be back. Even better would be if they changed their name back to the Bullets.
The Nets will be a playoff team by the time they move to Brooklyn. Granted, it might not happen for anywhere between three and 20 years, but they'll show up to Brooklyn competitive.
Then there's the Clippers, and as soon as they can get rid of Baron Davis' poison pill contract, look out. Then again, the Clippers engage in this suckering in every season, so who knows.
How come Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince are still Pistons?
Couldn't these guys help out a contending team instead of remaining on a sinking ship?
Is it an issue of Detroit not getting any offers for them, or Dumars just being stubborn?
So many questions about this team, its clear that they're main focus is on rebuilding.
Well, why not rebuild instead of being stuck on days of yore, when they were the Atlanta Braves of the NBA?
It was no surprise to me that Larry Brown resigned from the Bobcats.
Not so much because of his history, but because, where the hell is this team headed?
Why are they making the moves that they're making?
What is going on in the Queen City?
Does their owner, pictured above, even know what he's doing?
So what are these teams doing exactly? It just feels like they're stuck in neutral.
I hope you didn't actually read this slide, its terrible and boring.
GOLDEN STATE: (13-20)
Phoenix just made a bunch of deals so it will be interesting to see where they go once all of the pieces start to fit.
The Warriors have yet to be healthy all year and put up a spirited fight against the Heat on Saturday, at one point leading by as many as 20. If they had some interior size they'd be a true contender in the West. If they played east of the Mississippi, they'd be a true contender in the east.
Memphis just has bad geographical luck. That's a good team. Not great, they still need a couple of pieces, but good enough to be a six, seventh, or eight seed in the east. But they are in the death division known as the Southwestern division, so they won't be seen after April.
The purpose of a trade, in theory, is to make your team better, correct?
That's exactly what the Pacers did with their acquisition of James Posey and Darren Collison.
It would help them out more to trade TJ Ford for a bit more experience, especially on the wings, but for right now, I would not want to be the number two seed in the East come playoff time and have to face these guys.
Wait, my team, the Heat, would be the number two seed if the playoffs started today? Yikes!
These two teams seem to be intertwined in centers whose injuries have derailed the team's progress.
In Houston's case, it seems like they knew they couldn't depend on Yao this year (a certain team in Southern California with their own injury-plagued big man should take note).
The Rockets are a team that attacks you on the perimeter. This might get them into the playoffs, but that doesn't necessarily mean they'll make much noise.
As for Portland, injuries aren't just hurting Oden, their prized former number one pick center, but have caught up to Brandon Roy. The fact that they're still a contender for a playoff spot is downright miraculous.
Where is this man going to go?
Does he know? He knows where he wants to go, but not where he's going to go, at least not until the off-season.
Despite all of the distractions, the Nuggets are still a sixth seed in the west. If they are able to get enough in a deal for Carmelo, they might just be able to stay at that position.
In Denver the question is if Carmelo Anthony will stay.
In New Orleans the question is will the Hornets stay.
The Hornets started off strong, however being in a division with Dallas and San Antonio caught up to them and they've leveled off to where they should be; fighting for the sixth or seventh seed out west.
However, with the prospect of leaving New Orleans and being run by the league hovering over the franchise, will they be able to keep it up? Will they be able to make mid-season moves that could push the team to the next level? How long will the NBA be willing to hold onto the team before selling it to the highest bidder, regardless of where they want to move the franchise?
Only time will tell.
Imagine if instead of inking Joe Johnson to a six year, $119 million deal, the Hawks would've made a play for Rudy Gay?
How much would they have saved even if they lost out on both and could've gone after a J.J. Reddick or Kyle Korver instead? Or even if they lost out on all and were able to swing a deal for Gilbert Arenas?
Johnson has been out for the last month, and the Hawks have continued chugging along. This should be a better team and could've been.
But, sadly by signing Johnson to the deal they did, they stuck themselves in being a perennial second tier team in the East, always looking up at Boston, Miami, Orlando, Chicago, and soon, the Knicks.
Now for my NBA top 10.
These teams will be the top 10 teams in the league, not just now, but going forward.
First off, let me say that Amare IS NOT the league MVP, but he'll probably get it because of the fact that he's the face of the Knicks, who've been so bad over the last decade that losing in six games to Boston in the East semis will constitute a great season for them.
That being said, they're fun to watch, and its great that they're a good team again.
They won't be the sixth seed for long, I see them passing Atlanta and settling for the fifth seed and a juicy first round match-up against the Bulls, who the Knicks are currently 2-0 against.
However, it should be mentioned that the first game was without Carlos Boozer, and the second game was without Joakim Noah.
"What? How Dare you put the Lakers so low! You're just a stupid Heat homer! The Lakers are the champs, still the best team in the NBA. They won it all last year, and just wait until Bynum is 100%! Team Lakers baby!"
Yeah yeah yeah Lakers fan, ignore the facts and cite the excuses.
First off, I think it might be time to cut the cord with Bynum. You can't count on him to be healthy, and that whole putting off knee surgery to see the World Cup was stupid. You mean to tell me he couldn't wait another four years? I wouldn't trust him. He's hurt too much and doesn't appear to have his head in the game.
And this has adversely affected his teammates, mainly Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, who've had to play more minutes than they should because of his selfishness. Yeah, because that's not going to affect them come playoff time when they have to face Duncan and Dirk.
Then there's their atrocious record against winning teams. I've had yet to see the Lakers beat a winning team, but I'm not like you guys and troll on Lakers articles saying that like you did with the Heat back in November.
Speaking of the Heat, boy was that a GREAT Christmas! Oh I know, I know, the Cavs blew you guys out in Los Angeles last season, and you still went on to win the finals...because Perkins got hurt. But no, you can't say that. You have to keep the myth that the Lakers are the greatest team to ever hit the basketball court.
I swear, you people think you're entitled and beyond reproach and should never be questioned as contenders, but in reality, here's what the Lakers are. Notches below Dallas and San Antonio. In fact, notches below the Heat and Celtics as well. The Lakers have had the easiest schedule to start off the season and their record against teams above .500 is 2-6. I put Chicago ahead of you guys too just out of basic principle, and because you guys lost to the Bulls.
Try this and you might be able to get past the Spurs and Mavs: trade Bynum for Marcus Camby straight up, maybe exchange draft picks for their troubles. Camby will take up minutes now being played by Gasol and Odom, and they'll be fresher for the playoffs. With Bynum, the Blazers can continue their legacy of big men who are never healthy.
Wouldn't that be better than continuing to play Odom and Gasol for big minutes while waiting for Bynum to "get his legs?" It feels like when he came back, he's been trying to do that forever.
Plus, both Camby and Bynum's contracts expire the same year, and Dwight Howard's contract expires that year too. This means that if Bynum improves in Portland you could just sign him, or instead you could go with a more known commodity in Dwight Howard. Where as if you hold on to Bynum, you're pretty much going to be stuck with him.
Now, I originally had the Lakers at six, but after seeing their performance against Memphis at home last night, plus Phil publicly calling out Kobe, this team looks like its in bad shape. Thats why they're down to 9.
Lakers fans haven't gotten to this slide yet, they're either too busy writing their hate comments towards me or they're skipping over to see and analyze and re-analyze what I wrote about the Heat. Oh well, time for more reason and rationale.
Durant and Westbrook have been one heck of a dynamic duo.
I know everyone has said that but its true.
The Northwestern division is there's for the taking. Can they get past Utah? I'd say yes.
Can they beat the Lakers, Mavericks or Spurs in a seven game series? Lakers and Mavericks I'd say maybe but the Spurs, no.
Millsap and Jefferson have created a great front court that will have the Jazz contending, especially with Deron Williams continuing his great play.
But I see Oklahoma City having more of a shot to advance in the playoffs than the Jazz.
A Mavericks team that can play defense and close out games. Sounds intriguing.
Will it last into the post-season? That remains to be seen.
What is interesting though is that the other night they hung in there against the Spurs when they were missing Dirk Nowitzki. That's big.
The Mavericks might have the best front court in the league, even if they did overpay Brendan Heywood.
Their victories are mighty impressive too.
I see them getting past the Lakers, but what about the Spurs? Well, we shall see.
UPDATE: Since writing this article its been reported that Caron Butler might be out for the season. If that's the case, its not looking as good for Dallas as it was before, hence the drop to #6.
OK, so my attempt at humor in this article was a bit of a futile effort. So I'll let Superman and Dr. Ken handle that. Enjoy the video you've probably seen quite a few times while I discuss the Magic.
First off, Dwight Howard would only leave Orlando if the Lakers have the cap room to sign him. (Note, I'm only putting that in so that Lakers fans can drool over the possibility of a Gasol-Howard front court, I don't even think that will happen.)
Second, they've adjusted well to the deals they've made. How far they'll go in the playoffs, we shall see, but I think its safe to say they'll be a contender in the East. I don't know what to expect from them right now in a seven game series, but so far in the regular season I like what I've seen since making those trades.
While the Lakers struggle to integrate Bynum back into the lineup, the Bulls have done very well while missing either Boozer or Noah.
This team will be extremely scary once they have both of them back, but sadly, I have this nagging feeling (or hope, I'll be honest and say its one of the two) that this team will never be at 100%.
But even if they aren't, they're still scary, and if they could flip Deng and his humongous contract for more help at the wing, watch out Eastern Conference.
Good defense, plus good rebounding, plus a great point guard usually equals a championship. The Bulls have those ingredients, so let's just see how they cook them come playoff time. I feel sorry for any team that might have to play them in the second round.
(Looks at the standings again and sees that the Heat would play the Bulls in the second round)
Yes, I included video of the Heat's most important victory of the season.
In December they answered almost every question everyone had about their team. I mean, how often does any team go a month and only lose one game, which was only a two point loss to an elite team?
Ten consecutive road wins in the same month? Never been done before. Miami did it.
Erik Spolestra went from being on the Hot Seat to Coach of The Year Candidate (not going to win it though).
The Heat have done it with defense. They're currently third in the league in points allowed. As for having problems rebounding? They're seventh in that department. And that's without their best rebounder, Udonis Haslem.
On Saturday, they trailed Golden State by 20. Yet I never for one second thought they'd lose that game.
They won 114-107.
That's been this team. They have character that no one thought they would have. They've shown great resiliency, and they're coming together as a team, which everyone
prayed thought wouldn't happen.
Now for the Heat comes its third (and final) West Coast trip of the season, then the waters get a little bit calm until February.
I could see them passing Boston for the top seed in the East, but that won't mean they're the better team just yet. I still have to see them beat the Celtics in order to say that, more importantly, I have to see what they do in the playoffs.
Based off of some of their injuries, this season could wind up like last season for the Celtics.
But it won't. Garnett will still be relatively healthy when he comes back, and when Rondo gets going they're still the best team in the East.
As big of a Heat fan as I am, the Celtics are still the team to beat in the East and possibly the NBA. But there's still one team better than Boston at this point in time.
Don't sleep on the Spurs. From now until Duncan retires, I will always heed that advice.
I know Charles Barkley calls them overrated, but in the words of
false prophet and charlatan legendary NFL Head Coach Bill Parcells, "You are what your record says you are."
The Spurs' record says they're the best team in the NBA right now.
The Spurs are the best team in the NBA right now.
See you at the all star break.
Thomas Galicia is a Miami Dolphins Featured Columnist on Bleacher Report who also writes about the Miami Heat, Chicago Cubs, Miami Hurricanes and Pro Wrestling. For more of his opinions on thoughts other than sports, visit www.thomasgalicia.com. Follow him on twitter, @thomasgalicia.