Posts Tagged ‘Toronto Raptors

18
Aug
09

NBA Offseason Power Rankings

Every two weeks during the offseason, we at the Haven, will rank the Top 10 teams based on free agent moves, player development, and trades.

Celtics big 3

1) Boston – Adding Rasheed Wallace to a talented team that took Orlando to 7 games last season without Garnett means trouble for the NBA.  Resigning “Big Baby” Davis helps offset the loss of Leon Powe.  The only thing that can stop the C’s is the I word………………injuries.

2) San Antonio – Another already talented team that adds Richard Jefferson and Dejuan Blair through the draft to play off the bench.  Injuries to Parker and Ginobili are a concern.  If healthy, they are better than the Lakers out West……..at least on paper.

3) LA Lakers – You can at least book a return trip to the Western Finals.  Ron Artest will help especially on defense.  Getting Odom back was crucial.  Factor in the Zenmaster and Kobe’s quest to “Be Like Mike”and LA may be playing for another title.

4)Orlando – You know Dwight Howard is the best big man in the game when other teams bring in players to stop YOU(See Cleveland).  At age 32, Vinsanity finally doesn’t have to carry a team since this is the best team he has ever been on.  A healthy Jamir Nelson, former NCAA POY and All-Star is a difference maker.

5) Cleveland – Adding the 4 time champion,”Big Shaqtus” from Phoenix to get past Orlando is a good move……..but not enough.  An older and slower O’Neal might clog the lane and  get in an even better, Lebron’s path to the basket.  Winning 66 games again may be tougher in an improved Eastern Conference.

6) Portland – The addition of Miller at the point should do wonders for a young Blazers squad in need of a veteran leader.  The move should take the some pressure off of the underrated Roy who can concentrate on scoring and defense.  Portland could have the best young developing frontcourt in the league in Aldridge and Oden,…………… if healthy

7) Denver – The Nuggets return essentially the same team from last season’s Western Conference Finals squad.  The drafting of Ty Lawson from UNC gives a good change of pace for Billups who’s not getting any younger………………………..Nuggets stay the same+Lakers, Spurs, and Blazers improve=Not good!

8) Washington – It’s not a typo………..With a little luck on the injury front, the Wizards could be the 4th best team in the East.  Don’t underestimate the additions of Foye and Miller to an already great nucleus of Arenas, Jamison, and Butler.  An improving JaVale McGee will help defensively against opposing big men.

9) Toronto – The EuroRaptors and Chris Bosh will be good but not great.  Adding the playoff proven Turkoglu helps but doesn’t come close to other teams improvements like the top teams in the East.

10) Atlanta – The young Hawks have something good brewing in Atlanta.  An aging Bibby is a good architect to a nest of budding stars in Smith, Horford, and a resigned Williams.  The Hawks did right by waiting for their players to develop since their wasn’t a free agent move out there to put them in the title hunt.  The best is yet to come………….  

Next 5Dallas, Utah, Miami, New Orleans, and Philadelphia

17
Aug
09

Is the Eastern Conference Stronger Than the West?

Garnett

Since the ’98-’99 season, the Western Conference has produced the eventual NBA Champion 8 times in 11 seasons. Only Detroit in ’04, Miami in ’06, and Boston in ’08 have won an NBA title from the East. In addition, the West has just been a deeper conference from #1 through #8 from teams making the playoffs. Case in point being Phoenix last season winning 46 games and missing postseason play where 46 wins would have been the 5th seed in the Eastern Conference. Whether it was parity or good competition, the East’s final #5 through #12 seeds were constantly in flux right until the regular season finale, with the final 3 spots finishing with record of .500 or under. The West’s top seeds beat up on the bottom teams within the conference as evidence of their conference records and that the #10 – #15 teams all had winning percentages below 36%.

The ’09-’10 season should see a swing in power to the East. Through player movement in free agency, prime talent returning from injuries, or young nucleuses maturing, the East could have upwards of 6 teams winning 50+ games. Boston, Cleveland, Orlando, Toronto, Atlanta, and Washington are all capable of reaching the 50 win plateau.

Boston, Cleveland, and Orlando should be legitimate title contenders through free agent acquisitions. Boston has now has the “Big 4″ for teams to contend with since adding Rasheed Wallace to the ’08 Championship trio of Garnett, Pierce, and Allen, along with budding star Rajon Rondo, who may challenge for an All-Star spot. Cleveland has added “Shaq Diesel“, “The Big Cactus”, or whatever O’Neal, the 7 foot, 4 time NBA Champion calls himself these days along with a slew of new supporting players to add to a team that won 66 games and had the best record in the league. Orlando chose addition by subtraction by choosing not to resign Hedo Turkoglu and bringing in Vince Carter, an 8 time All-Star from New Jersey, to a team that advanced all the way to the Finals last season.

The second tier teams in the East, Washington, Atlanta, and Toronto, have improved in different ways to almost certainly reach 50 wins as well. If healthy, the Wizards could vie for a #4 seed since they have made a decision to win now by trading their draft selections to Minnesota for a few good role players to compliment a talented trio of Jamison, Butler, and the oft injured Arenas. Toronto has two reasons for trying to improve in the standings. The Raptors have brought in Orlando Magic castoff Turkoglu and a few supporting players to try and move from mediocrity to contender and to persuade 2010 possible free agent Chris Bosh, to stay North of the border. Atlanta kept it’s young but talented nucleus intact for another run by resigning veteran Mike Bibby to be paired with newly re-upped Marvin Williams, Joe Johnson, and talented big men Josh Smith and Al Horford.

Miami, Philadelphia, and Chicago, while mired in mediocrity, have done little to this point to improve on their near .500 records and should be in the mix for the final two playoff spots with a noticeable dropoff with the rest of the East’s bottom tier teams.

Out West, only San Antonio and the LA Lakers are legitimate title contenders. The Lakers essentially return the same roster as last season’s championship squad with the exception of another adding by subtracting scenario. The Lakers allowed Trevor Ariza to defect to Houston while recruiting former Defensive Player of the Year, Ron Artest to Hollywood which is an obvious upgrade. San Antonio may now boast of having the deepest and most talented roster in the league by adding one of the NBA’s all around talents in Richard Jefferson and Antonio McDyess to future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan, and explosive guards, Parker and Ginobili. The West’s top two have improved to a greater degree than the rest of the conference and should separate themselves accordingly.

Although other Western teams are good, they aren’t on par with the NBA’s top contenders or even some of the second tier teams of the East. Denver through experience and veteran leadership, and Portland with their plethora of future young stars will hopefully prove me wrong by season’s end. The Denver Nuggets proved they are close by advancing all the way to the Western Finals last season and will try to improve after adding depth to an already talented roster through the draft. Although Portland, who with the addition of floor general Andre Miller should take some of the pressure off of the underrated and newly extended, Brandon Roy, are probably still a year or two away but would like to improve on their 54 wins and #4 seed last year.

In my opinion, the teams out West will see a drop off in wins after the top 4 teams. In the lead for the #5 seed should be the Dallas Mavericks. By resigning their on-court leader in Jason Kidd and bringing in Shawn Marion and other sharpshooters to be paired with Nowitzki, Terry, and Howard, the Mavs should be again be a very potent offensive quad but even things out by not playing much defense. New Orleans, while having arguably the best point guard in the league in CP3, better scorers in Doug West, and now having one of the best defensive big men in Okafor, are hamstrung by finances and will be hard pressed to duplicate their 49 wins last season. The consistently good Utah Jazz may have a decrease in wins depending on where they will undoubtedly dump their talented but unhappy leading scorer, Carlos Boozer and who or what they get back for him.

Two of the annual playoff participants in past seasons, Houston and Phoenix, should experience a major decline in wins because of injuries and player defections through free agency. This could create a logjam for the final few playoff spots which is similar to what the East has experienced the past couple of years. Young and talented squads like Golden State, Oklahoma City, and even the LA Clippers may contend for a spot in the postseason.

For the first time in a long while, I look forward to this wide open NBA season since so many teams have improved and have a shot at the title, especially in the Eastern Conference. I just wish my 76ers could compete with the big boys. Well, as long as we beat the Knicks……..!

lebron




About the Author:

Allen Moll is an avid NBA and College Basketball fan who watches and studies games religiously and coaches youth basketball in his native Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania. Allen also writes for thehoopdoctors.com, Bleacherreport.com, and UpperDeckblog.com.

Favorite teams include everything Philly, like Sixers, Eagles, Phillies, Villanova , St. Joe's , Hoops, LaSalle, and Lehigh University Hoops.

Contact info: mollallen@yahoo.com

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