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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    CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 21:  Teammates Kevin Durant #35 and Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma Thunder celebrate after a basket as D.J. Augustin #14 of the Charlotte Bobcats walks away during their game at Time Warner Cable Arena on December 21, 2010 i
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    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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    PHOENIX, AZ - JANUARY 28:  Steve Nash #13 of the Phoenix Suns drives the ball during the NBA game against the Boston Celtics at US Airways Center on January 28, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Celtics 88-71. NOTE TO USER: User expressly ac
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    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.


9. Utah Jazz

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    HOUSTON - MAY 5:  Head coach Jerry Sloan talks with Deron Williams #8 of the Utah Jazz in Game Seven of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2007 NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center May 5, 2007 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowle
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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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    NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 23: New York Knicks new players (L) Carmelo Anthony and Chauncy Billups are introduced to the media at a press conference at Madison Square Garden on February 23, 2011 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and
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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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    PHOENIX - DECEMBER 08:  Rudy Gay #22 of the Memphis Grizzlies high fives teammate Zach Randolph #50 after scoring against the Phoenix Suns during the NBA game at US Airways Center on December 8, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Grizzlies defeated the Suns 10
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    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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    OAKLAND, CA - FEBRUARY 15:  Chris Paul #3 of the New Orleans Hornets in action against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena on February 15, 2011 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    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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    CHICAGO - FEBRUARY 26: LaMarcus Aldridge #12 of the Portland Trail Blazers dunks the ball against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on February 26, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading a
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    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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    BOSTON - MARCH 31:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder goes in for the dunk as Marquis Daniels #7 of the Boston Celtics defends on March 31, 2010 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Boston Celtics 1
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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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    SACRAMENTO, CA - NOVEMBER 03:  Kobe Bryant #24 and Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers walk off the court for halftime after the Lakers made a last second shot against the Sacramento Kings at ARCO Arena on November 3, 2010 in Sacramento, California.
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    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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    DALLAS, TX - FEBRUARY 23:  Forward Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks takes a shot against Paul Millsap #24 of the Utah Jazz at American Airlines Center on February 23, 2011 in Dallas, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees th
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    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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    AUBURN HILLS, MI - JUNE 19:  (L-R) Tony Parker #9, Tim Duncan #21 and Manu Ginobili #20 of the San Antonio Spurs wait for the start of overtime against the Detroit Pistons in Game five of the 2005 NBA Finals at The Palace of Auburn Hills on June 19, 2005
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    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.