2010-11 NBA Power Rankings: Lakers and Celtics Lead the Way

Eric Streller@1weekfantasyContributor IISeptember 27, 2010

EL SEGUNDO, CA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Kobe Bryant #24 and head coach Phil Jackson of the Los Angeles Lakers pose with NBA Finals Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy during  Media Day at the Toyota Center on September 25, 2010 in El Segundo, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

With training camp almost underway, it’s time for the pre-camp power rankings. The Los Angeles Lakers are the team to beat and I look for them to three-peat despite the top heavy Miami Heat making all of the off-season noise. There are still a lot of questions to be answered, mainly when and where Carmelo Anthony will end up. Like it or not, here’s how I see things right now.

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1. Los Angeles Lakers — Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Ron Artest, Derek Fisher, and Lamar Odom. That’s the main ingredient to winning their third straight championship and until someone knocks them off, they’re number one. Phil Jackson should have his fourth career three-peat. Prediction (60-22, NBA Champions)


2. Boston Celtics — They’re getting old, but they stormed through the East in the playoffs last season to reach the finals. They’ve added Shaq and this could be their last chance to make a run for one more ring. They have the motivation and they’re probably the smartest team in basketball. This season will be up and down, but they should be there in the end. Prediction (54-28, Eastern Conference Champs)


3. Orlando Magic — I refuse to put the Heat above the Magic. Maybe it’s because I can’t stand them, but I honestly think the Magic will go farther this year than the Heat. They’ve got the best big man in the league and a strong core around him. They’ve got the firepower to get back to the finals after taking a year off. Prediction (57-25, lose in Eastern Conference Championship)

4. Miami Heat — Call me crazy, but I strongly believe this will not be the year of the Heat. They will win a ring or two during their time together, but there’s just too many unanswered questions to put them any higher without them playing a single game. With that said, LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh have too much power not to have them high in the power rankings. It will be interesting to see if they can get guys 4-8 to play well enough for them to make any noise. A case could be made to flip flop teams 2-4, but for now I have the Heat here behind the Celtics and Magic, who have proven some things. Of course, the Heat could jump them once the season starts. Prediction (51-31, lose in 2nd round)


5. Oklahoma City Thunder — Kevin Durant. That’s really all that needs to be said. Durant is the future of the NBA.

The Thunder have made the most impressive jump in the NBA over the last two years. Let’s not forget they could have knocked out the champion Lakers in the first round last year if Nick Collison knew how to block out.

With the Durantula leading the way and the best young core in the league, watch out for the Thunder. Prediction (55-27, lose in Western Conference Finals)

6. San Antonio Spurs — The Spurs aren’t getting younger, but I think they’ll improve from last year. They’ve still got the players and they may be a surprise this year for everyone writing them off. Tim Duncan and crew know that there’s not a lot left in their tank and if they can stay healthy, they can take a final stand. Only problem is they got the Lakers in front of them and a young, upbeat Thunder squad breathing down their neck. Prediction (54-28, lose in 2nd round)


7. Chicago Bulls — I’m not sure if this is dumb to put them this high, but add Boozer and a few other off-season moves and they’re the Thunder of the East. They’ll finish 4th in the East and go to the second round of the playoffs. Prediction (46-36, lose 2nd round)

8. Phoenix Suns — The Suns were a surprise last season advancing to the conference finals. No one had predicted them to do anything at the start, but they found a squad that can play well together. With a full season under their belt, Nash will lead this team in a solid encore. Prediction (53-29, lose in 2nd round)

9. Portland Trailblazers — This comes with an asterisk depending on Greg Oden’s health. If he can stay healthy, they’ll be really good. I know he’s not what everyone had hoped for when he was drafted, but he can make a difference for this team. Prediction (52-30, lose in 1st round)


10. Milwaulkee Bucks — They’ve got a wealth of talent and they’re solid at nearly every position. With Brandon Jennings going into his second year, and Andrew Bogut due for an All-Star season, the Bucks will be in the mix in the middle of the East. Prediction (44-38, lose in 1st round)


11. Utah Jazz — I don’t know if I’m sold on them this high, but Al Jefferson is a huge fill in for the void that Boozer left. With Deron Williams running the show and Jerry Sloan calling the shots, this team could finish anywhere from 2-6 in the West. Prediction (50-32, lose in 1st round)


12. Denver Nuggets — This is the biggest question mark of the entire rankings. If Carmelo isn’t on the roster on day one, they move way down the list. If he is, they are in the race for the two spot in the West. Prediction (49-33, lose in 1st round)

13. Dallas Mavericks — This puts the Mavericks at my eighth best team in the West, and I think that’s right where they belong. They had a putrid off-season and once again we’ll see Dirk have a good season on an average team. Prediction (48-34, lose in 1st round)

14. Houston Rockets — A lot of this depends on Yao’s health. If he plays 82 games, I’ll put them around 5th or 6th in the West. This team won 42 games without him last season, so they’re not bad. Prediction ( 45-37, 9th in West)


15. Atlanta Hawks — I can’t decide if this is a bad spot for the Hawks. They could outperform this spot just as well as under-perform it. I think we’ll just have to wait and see, but this is where they are for now. Prediction (42-40, lose in 1st round)


16. New Orleans Hornets — This is a team that still has their staples, Chris Paul and David West. It’s not a stretch for them to finish around 6th or 7th in the West, but they’re going to have to play better than last year and Paul has to stay healthy. Prediction (42-40, 10th in West)

17. New York Knicks — This would be the Knicks highest power ranking of the last five or so years. Adding Amare Stoudemire will do wonders for this team. Losing David Lee does hurt though. Prediction (42-40, lose in 1st round)


18. Memphis Grizzlies — They have a lot of talent with O.J. Mayo, Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, and Marc Gasol. They do lack depth in the shooting category, but they should finish right around .500 which won’t be good enough for a playoff spot in the West. Prediction (41-41, 11th in West)


19. Los Angeles Clippers — Who else is excited to see Blake Griffin play his first NBA season? Who else is holding their breath? I hope he can stay healthy and these guys can play well together, because if so, they’re just a year or two at most from a playoff spot. Prediction (41-41, 12th in West)

20. Charlotte Bobcats — This team surprisingly won 44 games last season, and I could see a small step back. They’ll probably finish just under .500 and be fighting for a playoff spot late in the regular season. Prediction (40-42, lose in 1st round)

21. Sacramento Kings — I have the Kings a little higher than most, but I like their team. Demarcus Cousins and Samuel Dalembert give them a solid front court and Tyreke Evans is poised to follow up his Rookie of the Year campaign from last season. Prediction (38-46, 13th in West)


22. Philadelphia 76ers — This team has some young talent to go with Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand. Doug Collins is a good enough coach to make this team a possible playoff spot contender in the East. Prediction (36-46, 9th in East)


23. Washington Wizards — For the third straight year, a John Calipari point guard was one of the top picks of the draft. There’s a lot of excitement surrounding John Wall, but he won’t be enough to get this team to the playoffs in his first year. Prediction (32-50, 10th in East)


24. Indiana Pacers — The Pacers have a lot of young talent to complement Danny Granger, but they’re a year or two away from being a playoff team. Granger is one of the most underrated players in the NBA though. Prediction (29-53, 11th in East)

25. Golden State Warriors — I don’t like the way Don Nelson has been treated, and they may lose a few extra games because of it. Nelson was just getting this team to play the way he wanted and had Stephon Curry ready for a huge sophomore campaign. Prediction (29-53, 14th in West)


26. Detroit Pistons — The glory days are slowly fading away. This team needs to start rebuilding and adding talent while they can, but sadly I haven’t seen anything that proves they want to win now. Prediction (25-57, 12th in East)

27. Cleveland Cavaliers — What is there to say here? From potentially having the best record in the NBA again to one of the worst teams in literally one hour. They’ve still got talent and no matter how bad they perform, the city will be behind them and they will get plenty of sympathy cheers. Prediction (23-59, 13th in East)


28. New Jersey Nets — In his first season as team owner, Mikhail Prokhorov will probably be second guessing himself. For a man that knows basically nothing about basketball, this will be a tough season to endure. On a brighter note, they will be better than last year. There win total could increase if they land Carmelo. Prediction (19-63, 14th in East)


29. Toronto Raptors — These last two teams are pretty interchangeable. Losing Chris Bosh and Hedo Turkoglu really hurts this squad. When your best player is Andrea Bargnani, it’s going to be a long year. Prediction (18-64, 15th in East) 


30. Minnesota Timberwolves — They won 15 games last year and really did nothing to get better other than acquire Michael Beasley. On a positive note, David Kahn says Beasley just “smoked too much marijuana” in the past and he is clean now. Personally I think Kahn might be hitting the blunt with Beasley now. Prediction (16-66, 15th in West)



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