So we've rundown the lottery teams, now we can dive into the playoff teams.
8) New Orleans Hornets
I put them ahead of Denver because Denver doesn’t have anyone who can carry the team on a nightly basis. They made out pretty well for a franchise held hostage by their star player. Eric Gordon is already the third best 2-guard in the league. And if you don’t believe me, try naming a 2-guard you would take over him other than Kobe “HGH” Byrant and Dwayne Wade. You can’t. He shoots, he creates his own shots, he can distribute, he can defend, and he looks like a pug. I love Eric Gordon and I wanted him to grow into Blake’s right-hand man. Unfortunately every team thinks you need two bonafide superstars to win championships now.
All this rabble rousing small markets teams are making over star players not wanting to play in Milwaukee or Cleveland ranks up there with the most annoying aspects of sports right now. You know how you keep star players? Put them on good teams. When you hit jackpot in the lottery (Duncan, Lebron, Durant) try assembling a squad that can support that player and elevate his game. What the Spurs did and what the Thunder are doing are examples of how it should be done. Don’t follow the Cleveland Cavalier model, they won a lot of games because they defended well, but Lebron had no help talent wise on that team whatsoever, of course he wanted to leave. The problem is not every executive is as intuitive as Sam Presti; and as Jalen Rose said, you can’t legislate intelligence.
7) Portland Trailblazers
Hearing off Bradon Roy’s retirement is upsetting. You never wanna see a talented player be forced to retire too soon. RIP Bradon Roy’s NBA career. I enjoyed watching LaMarcus Aldridge turn himself into a top five power forward last year. It’s a wonderful thing to watch someone with talent fulfill that potential and become a star.
My top five PFs coming into this season are (in no particular order): Aldridge, Kevin Love, Amare, Pau, Dirk. Randolph and Blake are right there as well.
6) LA Lakers
I’m worried about Kobe and the gang. Although if that mysterious blood procedure works out and he looks like he’s 28 again I take this ranking back. I can’t figure out why the Lakers organization values Andrew Bynum so much. He plays 50 games a year, he runs funny, he assaulted a helpless Puerto Rican in the playoffs last year, and he really isn’t that good. Then I hear some stupid shit like, “He’s young.” When you’ve been in the league six years that excuse can’t be used anymore. So after Kobe and Pau, this team has little to nothing.
How much better would that prospective deal had made this team? The hell is going on in Laker Land? Why is nobody talking about Kobe’s blood doping?
5) San Antonio Spurs
Duncan, Parker, and Ginobli are gonna receive a lot of DNP’s: coach’s decision this year. Sources tell me a 66 game season over 120 days is not gonna help this veteran squad. They kept Richard Jefferson because they were unable to sign any of the free agent impact swingmen, he ended up being their best option. I’m surprised Tony Parker is still on the roster after calling the team old and slow last summer, and I’d bet he won’t be there after the trade deadline.
4) LA Clippers
NBA sources tell me the starting backcourt will be Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups. Hahahaha. At the same time, your grandmother could drop 15 playing with Chris Paul. They’re not title contenders yet, but couldn’t you see them making a run to the conference finals before Chris Paul and Blake Griffin fall to the Clipper curse and tear both their ACLs?
I love Chris Paul, he’s definitely one of the three best point men in the NBA. But I’d be wary of that knee brace he was wearing most of last year. And the haul the Hornets received for a guy who was leaving in the summer anyway was a bit too much for my liking. Chris Paul is definitely a top-10 guy, but is he top five?
The undisputable top 5 (in no particular order): Lebron, Wade, Durant, Dirk, Dwight
And while we’re at it, let’s look at the rest of the top 15: Pau, Derron, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Carmelo, DJ Augustine (just kidding, I’m making sure you’re paying attention), Kobe, Amare, Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, and LaMarcus Aldridge.
3) Memphis Grizzlies
Now here’s a team to look out for. I don’t know what to think of this team. We know last year’s playoff run wasn’t a fluke, that frontline can ball. I have them so high at number three because the difference between #7 and #2 is thinner than the actresses featured on Showtime.
Oh yeah, the team that took the Thunder to seven games didn’t have a baller named Rudy Gay on the squad. Now they do. You should always be wary of a team that excels as much as the Grizzlies did without their best player, but I reckon the addition of Gay is gonna help more than it hurts.
2) Dallas Mavericks
This is a much weaker team than last year’s champions. It is also a much weaker western conference. Nabbing Odom from the depleted Lakers will help. Signing Vince Carter won’t really matter. He’s been washed since the Bush administration. Losing big man Tyson Chandler hurts like, a lot. That’s the toughness that NBA people were raving about when they ran through the western conference and eventually, the Miami Heat. Less notable but still important is the loss of Deshawn Stevenson, who often made terrible decisions and took shots he had no business taking. He was another tough player who they will miss.
1) Oklahoma City Thunder
They’re the western conference favorites by default. A Westbrook- Durant media saga isn’t enough to stop this team from winning the west. Westbrook is in no way, shape, or form a point guard, but the Thunder organization will continue to deny the truth. In style, he’s more similar to Dwayne Wade then Chris Paul, which is why there are serious questions about his ability to be the point man on a championship team.They do have a dude on their roster by the name of Durant who's ceiling is practically nonexistent. Watching this team last year, you get the sense that they genuinely enjoy playing together. After the Mavs schooled them in the conference finals last year, Kendrick Perkins apologized to Durant for letting the team down, he has come back this year thinner and quite possibly meaner. If any team in the west is gonna beat the Miami Heat, it's these guys.