NBA Power Rankings: The Teams To Beat In The 2010-2011 NBA Season

Ryan VirginCorrespondent IAugust 8, 2010

NBA Power Rankings: The Teams To Beat In The 2010-2011 NBA Season

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    This article courtesy of Rip City Report

    Hello and Thank you for reading.

    This is a power ranking of each and every team in the National Basketball Association. For this article, many of the decisions are based off of last year's success and this offseason's roster changes.

    Many teams have moved players in an attempt to make themselves better, or to simply shave off unwanted salaries, each move has a ripple affect throughout the league and can change the standings in each division.

    This article is the first of many that will happen throughout the NBA season.

    Thank you for reading and enjoy.

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30th- Detriot

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    Over the past couple years, the Detroit Pistons have been dismal at best. Their lack of a clear direction from management could be one of the reasons they have not improved, but for this season, they just don't have the talent.

    With offseason acquisitions of Greg Monroe (Draft) and Terrico White (Draft), the team hasn't gotten better, but just younger.

    I guess you could say that getting younger is just part of rebuilding, but at this point, it seems as if no one wants to utter those words.

    The Detroit Pistons need to rebuild.

    They have talent that is just young enough that they don't have to completely blow up the team, but they have older players that have outlasted their welcome.

    So if I were a Detroit Pistons fan, I would get ready to watch the ping pong balls bounce next offseason.

    Hope you're lucky.

29th- Cleveland

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    Without LeBron James, this team is nothing.

    They spent years building around him and drafting players that would fit into the LeBron James system only to keep the King happy and in Cleveland.

    But when the LeBron James system is without a LeBron, what is a team to do?

    Is it now the Mo Williams system in Cleveland?

    Look, I could continue to list the failures and mishaps of the Cleveland area, but what would that really do? You already saw what happened in a hour long television show meant to torture the Cleveland area.

    So what are you going to do? Are you going to root for the Cavaliers because they are the underdog?

    Or just ignore them because they will be one of the worst teams in the NBA next season?

28th- Toronto

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    The loss of Chris Bosh will definitely set the Raptors back a ways.

    A long ways.

    And considering that they were a bad team with Chris Bosh, why should we think that they will suddenly become playoff contenders?

    The team dropped the cancer that was Hedo Turkoglu and gained Leandro Barbosa, Solomon Alabi, Ed Davis, and Dwayne Jones so the offseason wasn't a complete loss, but it wasn't a victory either.

    The Toronto Raptors will be one of the worst teams in the league next season.

    And there is no arguing that. 

27th- Minnesota

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    The Minnesota Timberwolves are the definition of mediocre.

    Even though they drafted well and signed a few choice free agents, the Timberwolves will remain mediocre until they decide they will take chances.

    I understand that the fans will always want more than mediocre, but the ownership and management groups have to be on the same page and willing to spend money.

    Two things that the Timberwolves are not.

    Aside from the money, the Wolves dropped their best player, acquired a head case, drafted an NBA ready small forward, but also traded for a starting caliber small forward to further logjam that position, and then to top it off, they signed a once starting point guard to fill a backup role behind their future point guard and gave Darko a decent contract.

    If you know what to make of this, please enlighten me.

    It seems as though the Timberwolves don't have a plan.

    And if they want to find wins, they are going to need to make changes.

26th- Washington

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    The Washington Wizards will have some telling decisions to make regarding how they will play their all-star caliber Gilbert Arenas with their recent acquisition of John Wall.

    Will they end up playing the two side by side? 

    Is Wall going to take this year to learn the game and develop?

    Or will Wall come off the bench at first, but eventually be given the reigns?

    There are going to be tough decisions to make, but these are the tough decisions you want if you are a Wizards fan.

    The Wizards had a solid offseason outside of drafting John Wall with the first pick in the 2010 NBA draft.

    They got Kirk Hinrich for next to nothing and they drafted a potential guy in Kevin Seraphin.

    Things should be interesting in Washington this next season, but I wouldn't count on them being playoff contenders anytime soon.

    Give them a few more years.

25th- New Orleans

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    The whole Chris Paul ordeal has caused turmoil within the organization.

    And whenever your superstar is unhappy, the fans will be unhappy and the rest of the team will suffer.

    Chris Paul wants out, but he isn't interested in telling that to the fans of New Orleans. The only thing that the team has done in terms of changing their roster, is the addition of Aaron Gray.

    Yeah, not exactly the steps toward championship contention that both Chris Paul and the fans were searching for.

    Look for the Hornets to be on the outside looking in when the playoffs start.

24th- Phoenix

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    The Suns could be one of the worst teams in the NBA, or they could be a borderline playoff team.

    I picked them to be a basement team because they haven't done a lot to replace what they lost in Amare Stoudemire.

    Sure Hakim Warrick could become something that he wasn't in prior years because of the uptempo Suns system.

    And I'd accept that Channing Frye could be a solid second option on offense.

    But there are just too many question marks surrounding the Suns.

    Steve Nash is a year older. How will his back hold up?

    Hedo Turkoglu was once a golden boy in Orlando, but will he fit into the Suns system?

    Will Robin Lopez be able to stay healthy?

    And if so, is he a good enough option at center for this team to make a playoff push?

    This team could surprise, but at this point I can only say they will struggle this year unless they can replace what they lost in the offseason.

    Defense is never an issue in Phoenix, or rather the lack of it, so many of the questions revolve around where their offense will come from.

    Richardson may have to take on a superstar like role to replace Amare's scoring, but that is unlikely.

    In short, don't expect them to be in the Western Conference Finals again this season.

    Or even relatively close.

23rd- Memphis

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    Money is an issue for the Grizzlies.

    And, i'm sorry to say, money issues and cutting costs don't equal NBA success.

    The Grizzlies have a solid core of talent starting with their double-double machine (and drug dealer) Zach Randolph.

    After that, the Grizz have players like OJ Mayo, Rudy Gay, Marc Gasol, and Mike Conley that would be big pieces to a playoff team if the team and ownership decide they would like to go in that direction.

    But, much like the Timberwolves, the Grizzlies seemingly don't have a plan.

    They have a solid center with Marc Gasol.

    So what do they do? They draft a high profile center in  Hasheem Thabeet.

    They have a solid shooting guard, so what do they do? They draft a highly touted shooting guard in Xavier Henry.

    Sure, the team has built a very nice young nucleus of talent. But do you (Grizzlies fans) trust ownership and management to remain on that positive path and not allow that to be affected by their pocketbooks?

    Memphis will not be a playoff team this season, but they will have a chance to get better through the draft.

22nd- Philadelphia

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    The Philadelphia 76ers have a promising young core of talent. Aside from Elton Brand and Andre Iguodala, the 76ers already have the foundation of a very good team.

    Starting with Evan Turner and moving from Jrue Holiday, Thaddeus Young, Marreese Speights, and Spencer Hawes, the 76ers have built a young core through the draft that could eventually be good enough to compete in the eastern Conference.

    They just need to rebuild, but not in the conventional fashion.

    The 76ers need to cut ties with Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand. They need to welcome in a new era of Philly basketball by allowing Evan Turner to flourish and other young talent to come into its own.

    But first, they must cut ties with the 76ers of old and welcome the new.

    This upcoming season will prove to be a difficult one for 76ers fans to swallow. The lack of a clear direction is a problem.

    The 76ers won't be anything formidable next season.

21st- Golden State Warriors

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    The Golden State Warriors are promising, but are still missing key pieces to becoming a perennial playoff team.

    In reality, they will be competing for a lottery pick until they can find that missing piece that will put them over the top without breaking the budget.

    Good playoff teams that play in a half court system and have a commitment on the defensive end, can find players at bargain prices because they fit into the system.

    Maybe you get a hard nosed defender that is rough on the edges offensively, but is serviceable.

    For example, a Nic Batum or a Shane Battier.

    Players that never stood out in their playing time before the pro's, but can be incredibly valuable to a successful team.

    The story is different for uptempo squads because in this era of basketball, teams are looking for the most athletic young men out there.

    Jumping ability and agility beat out basketball IQ and intangibles in today's drafts.

    So for the Golden State Warriors to find a player that fits into their system is going to be difficult, especially since they have shooters that are athletic at the one and two positions.

    Like the Phoenix Suns, defense isn't going to be a main talking point,  but getting the ball up and down the court will be.

    Mainly speaking about where the offense will come from. Who will get the larger number of shots in the offense?

    Is this the beginning of the Stephen Curry era or will it continue to be Monte Ellis' team?

    The Warriors won't be good anytime soon, unless they are able to get another big name talent and that is something that won't be happening by the 2011 season.

20th- New York

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    I will not believe that a team who loses its best player and sole rebounder, and obtains a solid offensive player will suddenly become a playoff team.

    The Knicks won 29 games last season. Ramond Felton, Anthony Randolph, Timofey Mozgov, Kelenna Azubuike, and Ronny Turiaf will not catapult this team to 40+ wins.

    It just wont happen.

    Amare Stoudamire is a good player. But he isn't good enough to pull off a 10 win improvement by next season.

    He is very athletic, allowing him to look good on defense even when he isn't moving his feet,but David Lee is a better player than Amare Stoudamire.

    His rebounding abilities are not the result of his (lack of) athleticism. He knows how to box out and do the dirty work.

    David Lee is an old school style player and I like that.

    Sure, Amare may fit into the New York system perfectly, but David Lee was everything for the Knicks last season.

    Stoudemire is going to have to be everything and some if the Knicks are going to be in the playoffs.

    Look for the Knicks to sit right around the 11th seed at the end of next season.

19th- Sacramento

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    The Kings had a great offseason.

    Sure they have some questions to answer about DeMarcus Cousins, but if Cousins decides he wants to be something more than the class clown, the Kings have paved their road to the playoffs for quite some time.

    Everything, and I mean everything will revolve around DeMarcus Cousins this next season.

    How will he handle the pressure, the money, the fame, the excitement?

    Will he be content with decent or will he put in the work to be great?

    Is he going to be the class clown or is he going to take things seriously?

    DeMarcus Cousins has a few questions to answer himself, but if Tyreke Evans can play above what he did last season. The Kings will be just fine.

    They won't be a playoff team just yet, but they have set themselves up to be successful in a year or two.

    Heck, I would put them as a dark horse playoff team this season depending on how much they get from Hassan Whiteside and DeMarcus Cousins.

18th- Indiana

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    The Indiana Pacers are confusing.

    On one hand they have a solid front court led by Danny Granger. Bolstered by the likes of Troy Murphy, Roy Hibert, Jeff Foster, and Tyler Hansbrough.

    I'm not sure if that is a good enough core front court to propel them into playoff contention, but I know for sure that their back court is nothing to write home about.

    It's mediocre at best.

    Sure TJ Ford is serviceable and Brandon Rush is alright, but that isn't good enough.

    Maybe having Granger for an entire year will be enough to propel them into the playoffs, but that could be too far fetched.

    Only time will tell for this Pacers crew, but for now I keep them just out of playoff contention.

    Prove me wrong.

17th- Houston

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    I'm not entirely sure Yao Ming will come back and be the same unstoppble 7'6" force that he was before the injury.

    Actually, I am entirely sure that Yao Ming will not be the same player from two years ago.

    He will struggle.

    The team will struggle.

    But if they can find a rhythm in the middle of the season, they might just be able to stay relevant in the playoff picture.

    It all hinges on how quickly Yao Ming can find his groove and how well he plays once he does.

    The Rockets do have a solid backup to Yao if things don't work out (Brad Miller), but Yao Ming is just that important to how far this team goes.

    So much that I don't think Brad Miller is that much of difference maker.

    Either the Rockets will take the eighth seed in the playoffs or they will crash and burn.

    Take your pick.

16th- San Antonio

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    Part of me wants to believe that the Spurs will stay young forever, but they just won't.

    Eventually Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli, and Tony Parker will slip and the San Antonio Spurs as we know them will slowly come to a halt.

    And I believe that day is closer than most of us think.

    The Spurs will sputter out soon, but not next season.

    They will squeeze by, grabbing the seventh or eighth seed in the playoffs as long as Tony Parker and Tim Duncan can stay healthy.

    Larger contributions from George Hill, Dejuan Blair, and Tiago Splitter would ease the pain of the teams aging bodies and could possibly begin the turning of the page from the Spurs of old to the Spurs of new.

    This next season we will learn a bit more about the future of George Hill and Dejuan Blair as the replacements for Tim Duncan and Tony Parker.

    So Spurs fans should expect to see less from the stars of old and hope to see promising play from the torch carriers.

15th- New Jersey

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    Going from the worst team in the NBA to a playoff team the next season isn't something that happens every year.

    A year ago, the No Good Nets were really, really bad. So bad that they were risking history.

    On the verge of Breaking into the record books as the worst team to ever play the game (Read: Most Unbreakable Records ).

    But with a few key additions to the offense and a good draft, the Nets will be in a good position to add a tremendous number of wins to their end of season total.

    Try 30 wins.

    It may not be as hard as you would expect because of the weak division they play in.

    With Toronto, New York, and Philadelphia all missing the playoffs with sub- .500 records they should have an easier time dominating the division play.

    Boston is their only real threat, but don't expect them to surpass the Celtics anytime soon.

    The Nets, with the additions of Travis Outlaw and Anthony Morrow, the Nets now have five players that have averaged 10 points or more in their last full season.

    New Jersey needs Brook Lopez and Devin Harris to play well and they will need something out of Derrick Favors.

    The Nets should start off with the lineup of Devin Harris, Anthony Morrow, Travis Outlaw, Derrick Favors, and Brook Lopez.

    This gives them an excellent three point shooter in Morrow (46 percent last season) to counteract Devin Harris' awful three point touch (27 percent).

    Travis Outlaw isn't a terrible three point shooter either at just under 40 percent last season.

    I'm not sure what defense the Nets will bring, but it should be interesting to watch.

    The Nets will finish second in their division and eighth in their conference.

14th- Los Angeles Clippers

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    The Clipper curse will finally be lifted... but only for one season.

    With the talent that the little brother club has, you would expect them to be competing for more than a lottery pick each and every season.

    Starting with Baron Davis, the team has something to build off of.

    You don't average 15 points and 8 assists on accident.

    Eric Gordon is a player that can fill up the scorecard on any given night.

    Ryan Gomes and Randy Foye are good role players that can fill in where needed.

    Blake Griffin and Al-Farouq Aminu are relatively unknown in terms of what they will provide this upcoming season, but both are full of potential.

    Completing the 1-5 connection is Chris Kaman who was awesome last season.  The seven footer averaged 18 points 5 rebounds.

    The combination of young talent and proven talent is going to be successful. They have the right players to make the playoffs, but they need to get something out of Blake Griffin at the power forward spot.

    If they get that, the Clippers will make the playoffs.

13th- Charlotte

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    The Bobcats had a less than stellar offseason, but they didn't lose any pieces that aren't replaceable.

    Unfortunately, they didn't replace anyone.

    Raymond Felton was a serviceable point guard for the Bobcats, but he wasn't anything special.

    But Shaun Livingston isn't what he was once expected to be (Read: The Worst Sports Injuries Of All Time)

    So at this point, the Bobcats have to hope that D.J. Augustin plays particularly well.

    Of course the Bobcats will be worse off with the loss of Raymond Felton, but it is nothing that they can't overcome.

12th- Milwaukee

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    I have been out in the open in saying that I believe Brandon Jennings will have a very off year.

    Whether it be the sophomore slump or just plain more scouting, Jennings isn't going to improve head and shoulders above what he was last year.

    With that being said, the Bucks will be just fine.

    They will make the playoffs ahead of the eighth seed.

    What we should look for from the Bucks is how Brandon Jennings plays.

    If he struggles later in the season like he did last year, the Bucks will have a difficult time making a playoff push.

    Also, how will former number one pick Andrew Bogut perform? Is he going to fully recover from his nasty injury or is he going to have a slow year?

    Bogut is a big part to what this team does. Without him, the Bucks lack size in their front court and conversely, depth within their big men.

    So the return of Andrew Bogut to his original form is crucial to the Bucks' success.

    Also, something (anything) out of Michael Redd wouldn't hurt. If the Bucks can get 16 points a game out of Redd, along with solid three point shooting, the Bucks would be in a position to take home court advantage with the fourth seed.

    At this point, there are a few question marks for the Bucks. But since they had a great offseason in acquiring Corey Maggette and Drew Gooden, Bucks fans can rest easy.

    The Bucks will be just fine.

    And could make a second round playoff appearance depending on how well Brandon Jennings plays.

    Fear the deer.

11th- Atlanta

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    The Hawks are dysfunctional.

    They fired their coach Mike Woodson, hired a guy that the players dislike (an assistant in Woodson's staff), and then overpaid for a player that quit on his team and fanbase last season.


    Even with their troubles, the Hawks still posses talent.

    Joe Johnson isn't a scrub by any means, Josh Smith can still ball, and Al Horford will still be a rebounding machine.

    The Hawks still have Crawford, who is critical to this team's success, and Mike Bibby who has fit into the Hawks system as well as anyone could have imagined.

    The core is still there in Atlanta, so we must wait to see if they implode due to petty issues.

    Right now the main question for the Hawks is how quickly the players will buy into the new system.

    That is something we will know right off the bat.

    Look for the Hawks to either stand pat with their success of last season or implode.

    My bet is on them winning the fourth seed.

10th- Utah

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    Utah is just that tug boat that keeps on tugging.

    The Jazz haven't ever really been great in recent memory, but they haven't ever been terrible either.

    They aren't mediocre and they certainly aren't content with par.

    This will be a typical Jerry Sloan Utah Jazz performance next season.

    Nothing special and nothing out of the ordinary.

    Sort of like the city of Salt Lake.

    The Jazz lost a lot in free agency, but they also got enough back.

    Kyle Korver will be missed with his tremendous three point shooting and Carlos Boozer's post presence and old school mentality will be a loss for Jerry Sloan's system.

    So will Wesley Matthews defensive prowess.

    But the Jazz will have to make due with Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, and Mehmet Okur in their front court.

    Andrei Kirilenko needs to be the do everything player he has been and Deron Williams will continue to be Deron Williams.

    What we should be looking for with the Jazz is how they replace the three point shooting lost with Kyle Korver and Wesley Matthews.

    Are Raja Bell and Gordon Hayward going to be enough?

    The biggest question of all revolves around how well Al Jefferson will fit into Jerry Sloan's system.

    Those two things are the biggest issues for the Jazz, but I think that Sloan has been around long enough to make things work.

    Look for the Jazz to finish in the upper half of the playoff seeding.

Ninth- Dallas

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    The Dallas Mavericks are the same team they were last season. Except, we need to swap Erick Dampier for Tyson Chandler.

    The Mavericks of last season were good, possibly even a little bit better than good. But Dirk will not be this good forever.

    As Nowitzki slowly moves past his prime, Jason Kidd continues to move further from his glory days, and Shawn Marion does the same, the Mavericks get worse.

    Eventually, maybe not next season, but soon the Mavericks will need to look to begin rebuilding.

    They need to forget about their championship window because it is all but shut.

    Dirk only has two or three more years left of this kind of production and Kidd shouldn't have any more years left(but he does).

    This season, the Mavericks will continue to be right in the mix leading up to the playoffs, but nothing more than that.

    It may be time to start giving the young players time to grow, but I don' think that Maverick fans are ready to accept that their run of goodness is all but over.

    The Mavericks will win over 50 games this season... again.

    But being good will have to be good enough.

Eighth- Denver

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    The Denver Nuggets need to win, for Carmelo Anthony's sake.

    If the team wants to keep Carmelo past his contract, they will need to do more than second round appearances.

    They need to set their sights on the Lakers next season and strive to be in the Western Conference finals.

    At the least.

    And while I don't think that will happen, I cannot ignore that the Nuggets have the talent to do it.

    Adding Al Harrington is a good move to solidify their front court scoring and if Kenyon Martin can stay healthy and Nene plays as often as he did last season, the Nuggets should be in a position to make a deep playoff run.

    The problem is that Nene won't play in 82 games next season. In fact, last year was an anomaly in Nene's career.

    The last time Nene played in 80 games was his rookie year, eight years ago.

    Nene also only plays in over 70 games every five years.

    In short, don't expect Nene to play in 82 games again next season.

    Or even 70 games.

    But that isn't really enough to keep them from achieving.

    Carmelo Anthony is still with the Nuggets and he is still one of the best players in the league.

    Alongside Carmelo, Billups is still spectacular.

    Those two players will dictate how far they go in the playoffs (as usual). Aside from the players, the coach could easily be the biggest factor in how far this team goes.

    And as great of a coach that George Karl is, the importance of having their leader on the sideline at ever game will do wonders for the morale of the team and will eventually lead to more success on the court.

    The Denver Nuggets will see more wins this season and a better seeding heading into the playoffs, but if they want to keep Carmelo from going to New York in a couple of years, they are going to need to win soon.

Seventh- Oklahoma City

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    Kevin Durant is to Oklahoma City as LeBron James was to Cleveland.

    He is everything for the OKC franchise.

    So it was a good thing they signed him to a five-year deal to keep him in town and to continue the success they have had.

    And success they will continue to have in the 2011 NBA season.

    Looking at their offseason, you can say that the Thunder had a good one.

    OKC didn't lose anyone important and they gained Cole Aldrich, Tibor Pliess, Daequan Cook, and Mo Peterson.

    All good role players to surround Kevin Durant will serviceable role plays both now and in the future.

    Although only Aldrich should see significant time next season, his presence could improve the Thunders weak big-man rotation.

    Even if it only gives them more depth.

    As long as Kevin Durant is putting up 30 a night, the Thunders offense is pretty much set. I would look for improvement out of James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and Jeff Green to propel them into home court advantage in the playoffs.

    The improvement of those players will lessen the load on Kevin Durant and will give the team more balanced scoring.

    The only question I have is about the defense.

    Who is their defensive stopper?

    If they want to advance in the playoffs, they will need someone to step up to the plate and slow down the likes of Kobe, Dirk, Carmelo, and Roy.

    But even with the defensive questions, I have no problem stating that the Thunder will be a team to beat next season.

Sixth- Portland

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    This article courtesy of Rip City Report

    The Blazers making the playoffs last season was a victory in its own.

    For all of the NBA insiders that believe the Blazers shot themselves in the foot this offseason, you are wrong.

    Sure, they had a PR mishap with the firing of fan Favorite Kevin Pritchard. An event that caused much of Blazer nation to panic .

    But guess what? The Blazers still have their all-star guard, Brandon Roy .

    LaMarcus Aldridge, a guy that averaged 18 points, eight rebounds, and two assists while playing completely out of position as the teams only big man due to injury.

    Everyone tends to think LaMarcus is a soft player, but forgets that he banged around in the paint for much of last season once both centers (Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla) to season ending injuries.

    LaMarcus went through the season pulling down rebounds at the pace of 10,11,12, and even 15 a game.

    Sure, LaMarcus doesn't remind us of Brian Grant or Buck Williams.

    And yeah, LaMarcus does tend to gravitate towards the perimeter.

    But he has some killer post moves and when he is facing a bigger, more powerful forward, he uses those post moves to get to the foul line.

    LaMarcus is just fine.

    The Blazers are just fine.

    Greg Oden is set to return to action and I believe he will play in 65 games or more next season.

    This is a feat that the former number one pick has never accomplished. He came close in his first NBA season (not his first year) but was sidelined because of a chipped kneecap among other injuries.

    Greg played in 62 games that season.

    The Portland center has been very good while he is on the court.

    Averaging 11.1 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks in just 23.9 minutes a game.

    Plotting his per 48 numbers at just around 22 points, 17 rebounds, and 4.6 blocks.

    Again, Greg Oden is dominant when he is on the floor, he just needs to get one healthy year under his belt to build confidence in his body. (read: Former Golden Boy Looks To Return To Golden Form )

    That will happen next season.

    They've added a young defensive specialist with Wesley Matthews, who, when paired along side Nicolas Batum , will form a formidable defensive lineup that will challenge the likes of the best offensive threats.

    A tag team between Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews is sure to slow down Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Paul.

    Combine that with the length of Marcus Camby, Greg Oden, or LaMarcus Aldridge and you have a very solid lineup both offensively and defensively.

    But most certainly defensively.

    Again, the Blazers are just fine.

    They will steal the second seed in the western conference and advance to the western conference finals.

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Fifth- Boston

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    Boston may be old, but they are not out.

    Ray Allen showed what he was made of in the finals, of course he also showed that he could miss quite a bit as well.

    I'm not completely sure that Kevin Garnett's body is completely tattered either. He still has enough left in the tank for a couple more playoff runs and he will help this team continue its all out, hard nosed, bare boned defensive tenacity.

    And well, Paul Pierce will continue to be Paul Pierce.

    The core is still good and they are still hungry.

    Boston may not be as athletic or as talented as the Heat, but they have been there done that.

    They play smart basketball and they have chemistry and confidence within their team.

    Rajon Rondo has become an elite talent as well. A true point guard that injects a bit of his own youth into this aging squad.

    Rondo will begin to take on a larger role as time goes by and the Celtics' success will largely hinge on him, with the help of Paul Pierce.

    If Rondo can play like he did in the Finals, this team is a lot better off. Unfortunately, it seems that Rondo has a difficult time getting himself up for games that don't mean anything.

    On the biggest stage, Rondo will be there. But if you are playing the Pacers on a Wednesday afternoon, you might see a different player out there.

    Rondo needs to be consistent if the Celtics want to take the third seed in the Playoffs.

    But right now, I have them marked down for the fourth seed, fifth best team in the league.

Fourth- Chicago

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    Chicago has done a number to their roster this offseason.

    And to put it bluntly, they have propelled themselves from mediocre to above average.

    Taking Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver from Utah is just the beginning of plan B.

    Of course plan A was singing LeBron James to a long term contract and hopefully getting Chris Bosh as well.

    But that didn't work out.

    Although, it is easier to swallow when plan B is a close second.

    Looking at the frontcourt of Joakim Noah, Kurt Thomas, Carlos Boozer, Taj Gibson, and Luol Deng, I can say that group can compete with any other frontcourt in the NBA.

    The combo of Noah and Boozer is the perfect combination of paint brutality and hustle.

    Noah is the type of player that makes everyone better and he will do the same for Boozer.

    Luol Deng has been widely criticized even though he adds a valuable scoring option to a potent Bulls offense.

    Eighteen points and 7 rebounds isn't bad production.

    Derrick Rose needs to be consistent throughout the entire season if the Bulls want to give themselves an advantage heading into the playoffs.

    And I'm sure that Bulls fans would rather have Rose scoring 20 points every single night that scoring 37 one night, seven the next, and then 12 the one after that.

    You need to know where your offense is going to come from each and every night or else the season is going to ware on you quickly.

    Consistency is the key ingredient to a good basketball team.

Third- Miami

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    The Miami super trio has changed the way we think about competition.

    The phrase "If you can't beat em' join em'" really comes alive when talking about the Heat.

    Whether you like it or not, there is no denying that the Heat have set themselves up for success through the five-year contracts each player has.

    LeBron James on a team is enough to get you into the playoffs, add Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, well is that enough to get you into the Finals?

    I'm not sure.

    Actually, I don't see the Heat holding the trophy next season.

    Chemistry will be an issue and so will the game plan.

    Will each player be willing to accept a smaller role for the good of the team?

    We will have to wait and see.

    As far as we know right now, the Heat are a very talented team, whether or not they can put that talent together into a working machine has yet yo be seen.

    I give them the second seed in the east by default.

Second- Orlando

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    The Orlando Magic have built a team the right way.

    They started with big man. Built up quality players around him, adding veteran leadership, and a good coach and then released them to let them blossom.

    They didn't fall into this big three movement where each team needs to have three big name guys.

    They just built a team that was balanced on the offensive end and committed on the defensive end.

    They are a team.

    And what is good about having a team that is built around a big man, is that it is difficult to stop a big man.

    And the competition have no answer for Dwight Howard.

    The Heat have no answer.

    The Celtics have no answer.

    The Bulls don't really have an answer.

    Well, actually no one has an answer.

    I feel comfortable listing the Magic as the best in the Eastern Conference.

First- Los Angeles Lakers

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    Is there a reason to not expect the Lakers be the best team in the NBA next season?

    They have the best talent, the best coach, and the best player.

    And well, in my recent article I have the Lakers pulling off the three peat.

    Kobe Bryant was ailing last season with the knee injury and the torn ligament on his ring finger and guess what?

    The Lakers still won the NBA Championship.

    Now with an offseason of rest and an offseason of acquisitions, the Lakers have put a larger target on their own back.

    The additions of Steve Blake, Theo Ratliff, Matt Barnes, Devin Ebanks, and Derrick Caracter have given them youth and veteran swagger.

    In Steve Blake alone, the Lakers get a guy who will do anything to win.

    A guy that will fit into the Lakers system flawlessly.

    And a guy that does all that at a cheap price.

    It is a very shrewd signing to say the least.

    Ratliff gives the front court added depth if something were to happen on the Bynum front. He is a proven shot blocker and is a serviceable center when needed.

    Then there is Matt Barnes who brings everything a two time defending championship team needs.

    Tenacity on the defensive end.

    Matt Barnes will solidify the second unit defensively and allow Kobe to take longer breaks during the regular season.

    Each move inched the Lakers that much further ahead of the competition, making them clear favorites to win it all in 2011.

Rip City Report

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    This article courtesy of Rip City Report

    Thank you for reading.

    Don't be afraid to drop me a line in the comment box or on my website


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