NBA Power Rankings: A Way Too Early Look at the Top 10 NBA Teams for 2011-12

Adam SpencerCorrespondent IJune 12, 2011

NBA Power Rankings: A Way Too Early Look at the Top 10 NBA Teams for 2011-12

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    MIAMI, FL - JUNE 12:  (L-R) Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki #41, Jason Kidd #2, Jason Terry #31 and Shawn Marion #0 of the Dallas Mavericks celebrate with the Larry O'Brien trophy after they won 105-95 against the Miami Heat in Game Six of the 2011 NBA Finals at
    Marc Serota/Getty Images

    The 2011 NBA Finals have just ended, but it's never too early to look forward to next season.

    Assuming the NBA and the Players' Association are able to agree to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement and avoid a lockout, professional basketball will enter a new golden age in 2011-12.

    LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade's Miami Heat provide a common enemy for the 29 other teams, with the three superstars bound to start getting better.

    That leaves the other stars like Dirk Nowitzki, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose and the Boston Celtics combination of Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett with the tough task of keeping the Heat from reaching the NBA Finals for the second year in a row.

    It should be a fun ride. Let's take a look at which teams will be at the top of the heap in the NBA next season.

10. New York Knicks

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    MIAMI, FL - FEBRUARY 27:  Carmelo Anthony #7 and Amar'e Stoudemire #1 of the New York Knicks talk during a game against the the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on February 27, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agr
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Will Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire be able to coexist for a full season?

    My guess is yes, they will, but Melo’s style of play will ultimately cost head coach Mike D’Antoni his job.

    D’Antoni wants his team to run, while Melo prefers to play a slow, one-on-one style of offense. But, even without D’Antoni, the Knicks will be good enough to be the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference.

9. Memphis Grizzlies

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    MEMPHIS, TN - MAY 13:  Zach Randolph #50 of the Memphis Grizzlies against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Six of the Western Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at FedExForum on May 13, 2011 in Memphis, Tennessee.  NOTE TO USER: User expressl
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The Grizzlies are a young team primed to make a leap next season.

    With veterans like Tony Allen, Shane Battier, Zach Randolph and Rudy Gay leading the way for younger guys like Mark Gasol, O.J. Mayo and Mike Conley Jr., the Grizzlies have a nice balance.

    Plus, they showed what they are capable of this year, upsetting the No. 1 Spurs in the playoffs.

8. San Antonio Spurs

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    PHOENIX - APRIL 27:  Tim Duncan #21, Tony Parker #9 and Manu Ginobili #20 of the San Antonio Spurs sit on the bench against the Phoenix Suns during Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2008 at NBA Playoffs at U.S. Airways Center Ap
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker have all seen their best days pass them by.

    There’s no way they’ll repeat as the top seed in the Western Conference in 2011-12.

    They’ll still make the playoffs, but younger teams like the Thunder and Grizzlies will be their kryptonite.

7. Orlando Magic

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    ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 24:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic walks downcourt after a turnover to the Atlanta Hawks during Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on April 24, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The Magic simply have to be good this year if they want to have any shot of keeping Dwight Howard.

    That means better seasons from Hedo Turkoglu, Jameer Nelson, Gilbert Arenas and company.

    If they get off to a slow start, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Howard demand a trade midseason.

6. Dallas Mavericks

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    DALLAS, TX - JUNE 07:  Dirk Nowitzki #41 (R) and Jason Terry #31 of the Dallas Mavericks talk on court in the fourth quarter against the Miami Heat in Game Four of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Center on June 7, 2011 in Dallas, Texas. NOTE TO U
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Jason Kidd, Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry aren’t getting any younger. And, J.J. Barea will be a free agent after the NBA Finals end.

    If the world champs lose Barea, this team probably won’t make a return to the Finals.

    Even with him, they’ll have a hard time matching the success they’ve had this season.

5. Los Angeles Lakers

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    DALLAS, TX - MAY 08:  Kobe Bryant #25 of the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 8, 2011 at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agre
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    The Lakers and new head coach Mike Brown are holding firm that the Lakers can contend with the team they have right now.

    That’s not going to happen.

    They need to find a point guard this offseason, because Derek Fisher simply isn’t cutting it anymore.

    If they can convince J.J. Barea to play with Andrew Bynum after their “confrontation” in the playoffs, he’d be a great fit for the team.

4. Boston Celtics

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    MIAMI, FL - MAY 01:  Rajon Rondo #9  of the Boston Celtics points during Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2011 NBA Playoffs against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on May 1, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressl
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    The Celtics have enough left in the tank for one last hurrah. Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen will be in the last year of their contracts and Paul Pierce isn't getting any younger.

    In 2012-13, the Celtics are going to be Rajon Rondo's team. But, the original "Big Three" still has 2011-12 to win their second ring.

    But, they are going to come up short if they can’t find a decent big man to keep LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose out of the lane.

    Dwight Howard, anyone?

3. Oklahoma City Thunder

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    MEMPHIS, TN - MAY 13:  Russell Westbrook #0 and Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder react after their 95-83 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies in Game Six of the Western Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at FedExForum on May 13, 2011 in
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The Thunder are set to take over the Western Conference next season.

    As the Lakers, Spurs and Mavericks continue to get older, the Thunder are growing into their primes.

    With last season’s addition of Kendrick Perkins, Oklahoma City will play enough defense to stop the run-and-gun teams of the West. And, with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook leading the way on offense, the sky is the limit for this team.

2. Chicago Bulls

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    CHICAGO, IL - MAY 26:  Derrick Rose #1 of the Chicago Bulls drives for a shot attempt against the Miami Heat in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 26, 2011 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    If the Bulls can get a shooting guard this offseason, they could repeat as the best team in the regular season in 2011-12.

    Simply put, Keith Bogans is not a starting shooting guard. Kyle Korver is a decent player, but he’d be better suited coming off the bench. Ronnie Brewer is a defensive stopper, but his offense is about as bad as Korver’s defense.

    Therefore, the Bulls remain one piece away from becoming a legitimate championship contender.

    But as long as they have Derrick Rose, anything is possible.

1. Miami Heat

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    WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 30:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat stands with teammates Chris Bosh #1, and  Dwyane Wade #3 against the Washington Wizards at the Verizon Center on March 30, 2011 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and
    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    LeBron James has learned how to be a closer in this year’s playoffs, Game 2 of the NBA Finals aside.

    As he and Dwyane Wade continue to learn to play together, they’ll continue to improve.

    And Chris Bosh has shown during these playoffs that he does indeed deserve to be mentioned along with James and Wade as a member of “The Big Three.”

    The Miami Supervillians are going to be a force in the 2011-12 season and will be the team to beat.

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