NBA Trade Deadline: Re-Ranking the Top 10 Teams in the West

Perry SchwartzCorrespondent IIIFebruary 25, 2011

NBA Trade Deadline: Re-Ranking the Top 10 Teams in the West

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    The 2011 NBA Trade deadline consisted of some significant deals and shocking developments. 

    The Western Conference may have gotten weaker over the last week after some of the biggest stars in the West moved eastward.

    While some playoff contenders have turned into pretenders after trading away their best players, some borderline playoff teams have significantly improved their chances of making the postseason.

    Here are the top 10 teams in the Western Conference to date.

10. Phoenix Suns

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    About the only thing that has remained the same for Phoenix this season is their winning percentage. 

    Phoenix has been the No. 10 seed throughout most of the season, but has a chance to reach the playoffs with Utah and Denver each losing their best player this past week.

    This season, Phoenix has made multiple large-scale trades, most recently trading guard Gordan Dragic and a first-round pick for point guard Aaron Brooks. Earlier this season, Phoenix traded Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkogulu for Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat and Mickael Pietrus.

    Steve Nash, now 37 years old, is still one of the best distributors and shooters in the NBA, and he has carried the team offensively.

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9. Utah Jazz

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    After two shocking developments, the Utah Jazz now find themselves without their star player and their long-tenured coach, Jerry Sloan.

    Point guard Deron Williams had put the Utah Jazz on his back through the first four months of the season, but he was traded just before the deadline in a deal that sent him to the Nets for point guard Devin Harris and New Jersey draft picks.

    While Devin Harris is a very good player and Derrick Favors has the potential to be successful, the combination of these guys does not add up to the impact that Williams brought to the team.

    Currently the No. 9 seed, Utah has lost five consecutive games and with the departure of Williams, it will be very difficult for the Jazz to stay in contention.

8. Denver Nuggets

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    Despite having to deal with distractions all season long regarding whether Carmelo Anthony would be traded during the season, the Nuggets remained in playoff contention.

    However, Denver finally traded Carmelo Anthony just a few days before the deadline in a deal that also sent away point guard Chauncey Billups for several role players and a first round draft pick. 

    On paper, the departure of Anthony appears to have enormous implications. The Nuggets missed the playoffs eight straight seasons before drafting Anthony, then made the playoffs during each of Anthony's seven seasons.

    Currently the No. 6 seed, Denver still has its heart set on making a playoff run. The Nuggets are now a team composed of zero big names, but a lot of quality players and depth. Denver has many athletic players and guys trying to prove themselves, so it will be interesting to see how the Nuggets close out the season.

    Denver cannot afford to slip up, as they are just two games ahead of Utah and 3.5 games ahead of Phoenix, who are the No. 9 and No. 10 seeds respectively.

7. Memphis Grizzlies

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    Last week, the Grizzlies were an underdog to make the playoffs. Now, it would be a major disappointment if Memphis missed the postseason.

    Utah and Denver, each of whom have similar records as Memphis, have both gotten weaker, so the Grizzlies have a golden opportunity to take advantage and reach the playoffs. 

    Just before the deadline, Memphis went out and got Shane Battier, adding defense and versatility to the team.

    In addition to Zach Randolph, who is having a great season, Memphis also has a lot of young talent on their roster including Rudy Gay, Mike Conley, Marc Gasol and OJ Mayo. 

6. New Orleans Hornets

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    At first glance, New Orleans looks comfortable as the No. 5 seed, but they are just 2.5 ahead of the No. 9 seed in a tightly packed Western Conference. 

    Chris Paul has been vital to the Hornets once again this season, racking up 9.6 assists per game, playing good defense and making his teammates better.

    New Orleans went out and traded for forward Carl Landry before the deadline, so they now have a fair amount of offense up front with with David West, Landry and Emeka Okafor. 

    New Orleans does not have the size nor the depth to go deep into the playoffs, but with Chris Paul they should remain in the thick of things.

5. Portland Trail Blazers

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    Serious injuries to Greg Oden, Marcus Camby and Brandon Roy have challenged Portland this season. Still, the Trail Blazers are the No. 7 seed and should get better.

    Forward LeMarcus Aldridge has done a magnificent job of carrying the team all year long, averaging 22.9 points and 9 rebounds per game.

    Portland traded for Gerald Wallace just before the trade deadline, which should strongly improve the Trail Blazers' defense, as well as add much-needed depth and athleticism up front.

4. Oklahoma City Thunder

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    After a 50-win campaign and a competitive playoff series against the Lakers last season, the young Thunder had high expectations coming into 2010-2011.

    Oklahoma City has played consistently well all season long with young superstars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook carrying the team.

    Just minutes before the trade deadline, the Thunder traded forward Jeff Green and center Nenad Kristic, in a deal for center Kendrick Perkins and point guard Nate Robinson. This should make Oklahoma City a better defensive team and a real threat to make it out of the Western Conference this season.  

3. Los Angeles Lakers

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    In their quest for a three-peat, the Lakers have been surprisingly inconsistent at times this season. But at 40-19, Kobe and company are the No. 3 seed in the West, just two games behind Dallas.

    Just before the All-Star break, the Lakers had a frustrating seven-game road trip in which they won four consecutive games against New Orleans, Memphis, Boston and New York before losing three in a row, two of which were against Charlotte and Cleveland. Los Angeles also won a game by 55 points in January, albeit against the Cavaliers.

    It is very tough to tell whether the Lakers have another championship in them. Many of their players are aging veterans, but with Bryant still playing well, anything is possible.

2. Dallas Mavericks

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    Led by Dirk Nowitzki, who is having another great season, the Mavericks are one of the best teams in the entire league.

    If you take away a three-week span in January when Nowitzki was injured and Dallas went 2-7, the Mavericks are 39-9, which would be the second highest winning percentage in the NBA this season.

    With very few holes on their roster, Dallas is one of the deepest teams in the entire league and a sleeper to win the NBA finals this season.   

1. San Antonio Spurs

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    At 47-10, the Spurs have gotten it done quietly this season, even for their standards.

    One of the least selfish teams around, San Antonio has been more of an up-tempo and offensive team this year than in years past. 

    A combination of the big three, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, along with a lot of size and depth, have carried the Spurs to the best record in the NBA by 5.5 games.