Miami Heat: 10 Teams That Are Better Right Now
The Miami Heat super-team losing 88-80 Tuesday to the Boston Celtics is not a total shocker.
Even though the Heat are extremely talented with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and a solid bench, they still need to develop into a cohesive unit.
Part of the problem may be at point guard, where Carlos Arroyo is not the cat's meow, averaging just 6.8 points and 3.2 assists a night for his career. Mario Chalmers is in the wings if Arroyo fails.
With team cohesiveness and point guard as the criteria, at the moment there are better teams than the Heat.
Which 10 make the list?
10. Phoenix Suns
Amar'e Stoudemire may have left for the Big Apple, but any team with two-time MVP Steve Nash at point will be a tough one to defeat.
Nash still has the abilities to make his teammates better, and Grant Hill and Hedo Turkoglu can still bring the heat.
Offensively, the Suns are the team, though their defense needs some work.
Look for the Suns to rack up points galore as in seasons past.
9. Portland Trail Blazers
A playoff team the last two seasons, the Portland Trail Blazers are a hard team to beat.
Led by its star point guard Brandon Roy, and power forward LaMarcus Aldridge providing a strong post game, Portland can not only score but also defend.
Center Marcus Camby, a late 2009-2010 pickup, filled Portland's hole at center and, as a two-time member of the NBA all-defensive team, is a defensive stopper.
8. San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs have been a force under Gregg Popovich, always perennial Finals contenders and quietly winning four NBA titles from 1999-2007.
Tim Duncan is getting older, but he still is a solid defender who could average 18 points and 10 rebounds a night. He has been with the team since the 1997-1998 season.
Tony Parker has been an above average point guard since taking over in as starter in 2001-2002, leading the Spurs to three championships.
Mano Ginobili is still one of the best sixth men in the NBA, providing a tremendous spark when on the court.
7. Denver Nuggets
The Denver Nuggets have commonly been called the "Los Angeles Lakers of the Rockies.”
That’s no an exaggeration.
The Nuggets have made the playoffs seven consecutive years with George Karl at the helm. They made the Western Conference Finals in 2009.
Chauncey Billups at point has helped expand small forward Carmelo Anthony’s game. Billups averaged a career-high 19.5 points a night.
Kenyon Martin and Chris Anderson provide top defense to harass opponents.
6. Chicago Bulls
Derrick Rose is ready to take the next step. He made the All-Star Team last year and is a more confident leader at point.
He will be working again for a third straight year with Luol Deng and Joakim Noah, who both have found some consistency.
Carlos Boozer, when healthy, will give the Bulls’ a solid post scorer with good defense.
Tom Thibodeau is known as a strong defensive-minded coach, so look for Chicago to be a top five defense.
5. Utah Jazz
Coaching the Utah Jazz for 22 years, Jerry Sloan has guided his team to 19 playoff appearances and two NBA Finals.
Sloan’s continuity is a strong point for the franchise, as players know who is ultimately in charge.
Sixth-year point guard Deron Williams has career marks of 16.7 points and 9.0 assist a game on 46.7 percent shooting.
Williams will have a good pick n’ roll partner with Al Jefferson coming to the Jazz.
With the Jazz adding six new players like Gordon Hayword and Raja Bell to the mix, Williams is very capable of getting them up to speed in the Jazz’s offensive system.
4. Dallas Mavericks
Having Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki on a roster automatically makes a team a title contender.
Kidd has a wealth of experience and still averages close to a double-double a night. Plus, he is a lock down defender.
Nowitzki was the 2006-2007 NBA MVP while mixing in effective post and perimeter games.
The Mavericks have been in the playoffs 10 consecutive years, including a 2006 Finals appearance.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder
Kevin Durant is a monster.
Being the youngest NBA scoring champion in league history is certainly an accomplishment, and Oklahoma City pushed the Lakers to the limit in the playoffs.
But Durant and the Thunder want more.
Emerging point guard Russell Westbrook, who averaged 16.1 points and 8.0 assists last year, and Jeff Green will take some pressure off Durant.
Rookie center Cole Aldrich, and veteran sharpshooters Morris Peterson and Daequan Cook add to the team’s depth.
2. Boston Celtics
The Boston Celtics took down the Heat in both the playoffs and the 2010 NBA opener. They could do it again.
Rajon Rondo had triple-doubles in last year’s playoffs and dominated both sides.
Rondo has now made himself worthy of joining the Celtics’ “Big Three” of All-Stars Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.
Offseason additions Jermaine O'Neal, Shaquille O’Neal, and Delonte West are grisly veterans who know what it takes to win.
The team’s core that won the 2008 NBA Finals and went to the 2010 Finals is still intact.
Despite aging, Boston knows how to pace itself in the regular season so its veterans will be at full strengthen when it counts.
1. Los Angeles Lakers
Is this really a surprise?
The Lakers have won consecutive titles with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol leading the championship campaigns under legendary coach Phil Jackson.
Bryant is still arguably the best player in the game and is complemented with the league’s strongest front court in Ron Artest, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum, and Gasol. These players add height and impressive skill.
The Lakers’ bench has Matt Barns, Luke Walton, Sasha Vujacic and Steve Blake to give the Los Angeles the NBA’s deepest rotation.