NBA Power Rankings
by Robert Ferringo and Nolan Sinclair - 10/27/2008
The NBA season is nearly upon us and I'm chomping at the bit to get started! Questions that have come up are: Will the Olympics have a negative affect on the players? Did they not get the rest they needed during the summer to be at their best for the season? Can Dwayne Wade get back to his superstar form and get Miami back to the playoffs? Can LeBron lead Cleveland to an NBA title? Will the New York Knicks actually explode from within and take Spike Lee with them? Will Oklahoma City make up for the fact that they named their team the Thunder? I am still mad at that! What an awful mascot. What are they going to have, Zeus running around the sideline in a toga? Ugh!
Looking closely at the 2008-09 season it seems as though the top two teams didn't improve that much but the next seven or eight did what they needed to do to close the gap. This season will not provide us with a 60-win team, in my opinion, but parity reigns and it will provide us with numerous 50-plus-win teams. The drama and excitement is close and hand and I actually have to agree with the terrible catch phrase of the NBA…I love this game!
Here is the initial version of Doc's Sports 2008-09 NBA Power Rankings:
1. Boston Celtics: Until someone shows that they are better than this team they will not leave the No. 1 spot. How can you go wrong with KG, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen? They will be like sharks with a hunger for blood now that they have won the title - if they stay healthy. And I am betting that they do not stay healthy this season. Losing James Posey will hurt in the long run.
2. L.A. Lakers: When you have the best player in the world on your team you can't be far from the top spot. A healthy Andy Bynum and a full season of Pau Gasol should help the Lakers stay in the first or second spot all season. If the Lakers can improve at the point, they are my top team in the NBA. But their execution is exceptional, and as long as Kobe is 100 percent they are the best in the West.
3. New Orleans Hornets: This Hornets team has some of the best balance in the league. Chris Paul is the best PG on the planet and his supporting cast, lead by West and Chandler, is outstanding. Adding Posey will be big throughout the season and especially come playoff time because it shores up the one area where they are weak: experience.
4. Detroit Pistons: This may be somewhat of a reach but I have always been one for a team that always wins, and the Pistons know how to win. Rodney Stuckey is getting better and better by the day, and that's just another added dimension of this squad. They have successfully built up their bench to where they don't have to lean so heavily on their aging core.
5. Philadelphia 76ers: This may be the highest ranking the 76ers will have but I am impressed with the moves they made during the offseason. The addition of Elton Brand to a .500 team last year immediately makes them a legit three or four seed in the East. The key here is Andre Iguodala, who still needs to find open-court attempts.
6. San Antonio Spurs: See: Detroit Pistons. They are getting older but I just can't drop Tim Duncan that far. Manu's ankle injury will keep him sidelined until mid-December. That definitely hurts. But they were a Top 3 defensive team last year (90.6 points allowed per game) and that is more a mindset than it is anything else.
7. Houston Rockets: I want to say that this team won't stay healthy, but when all of their power players are suited up they are one of the best teams in the show. Tracy McGrady, Ron Artest, and Yao Ming should lead the Rockets to high seed in the West. But they are kind of the Bizarro Big Three compared with the boys in Boston. If you were to take KG, Pierce, and Ray, eliminate their heart and ability to step up in big spots, you would have Houston's Big Three.
8. Utah Jazz: Just remember who was the one who said that Deron Williams would be a stud in my mock draft a few years ago. The key thing with this team is execution. They run their sets and execute defensively better than anyone in the NBA. The trouble is that there is little value left with this group because the word is out on how good they are.
9. Orlando Magic: Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis, and Hedo Turkoglu are a monster front-line. If their guard play can improve they will be one of, if not the top team in the Eastern Conference.
10. Cleveland Cavaliers: LeBron James. Enough said. Time is running out for Cleveland to build a winner around The King. Their roster was kind of in shambles heading into last season, so having some stability this year is a great benefit. The trouble is you are never going to get good line value on this team because everyone wants to bet on LeBron. Hence, a 37-45 ATS mark last year.
11. Phoenix Suns: How can someone possibly have a team with Shaq, Amare Stoudemire, and Steve Nash this low? We can. The loss of Mike D'Antoni is huge - you never realize how important a good coach is until he's gone - and Terry Porter wants to limit Steve Nash's minutes. This team is not very deep and is shifting philosophies. That worked in Dallas a couple years ago, but they had younger personnel. Oh yeah, and then it fell apart last year.
12. Portland Trailblazers: This team is SOLID! Greg Oden will have an immediate impact and will be this year's most impactful rookie. I think the best way to approach this team is thusly: look for games in which the public and the oddsmakers think they have no chance, and bet them big. But in games where they are heavy favorites or expected to win against a short spread against a weaker team, go against them. That's how you play against youthful clubs like this.
13. Dallas Mavericks: Dallas is trying to win 50 games for the ninth straight year and I think this season wins total comes right down to the wire. A healthy Dirk will get them close. PS…Someone tell Josh Howard to shut his mouth.
14. Miami Heat: The Heat are a team that on paper looks like they could be ranked much higher. Shawn Marion and Dwayne Wade are two of the best players in the league and Michael Beasley is a ROY candidate. Yet their bench is about as empty as my colon after a trip to the Mexican restaurant, and their backcourt is still suspect.
15. Toronto Raptors: Chris Bosh is becoming a superstar and the Raptors added Jermaine O'Neal to take some of the post pressure of him. O'Neal is only two years removed from averaging 19 and 10 through 70 games with the Pacers. But can he be counted on? And how happy are these players to be getting paid in Canadian dollars compared to the value of the U.S. dollar!
16. Washington Wizards: If it wasn't for the Gilbert Arenas injury the Wizards would be closer to 10 than they are to 20. Caron Butler becomes a completely different player without Arenas and Andre Blatche is an up-and-coming baller. The playoffs are still in their sights even if Arenas takes longer to come back than expected. This team has not won less than 41 games in each of the last four years. Not even the Heat or Celtics can say that.
17. Denver Nuggets: I don't get it. You want your team to play better defense so you let you best defensive player go during the offseason. Interesting. Or maybe Denver did know something because Marcus Camby is presently hurt - again. In related news, the sky is still blue. This club looks good on paper but is simply not effective on the court. They have no chemistry and are soft on the inside. I say stay away.
18. Atlanta Hawks: Josh Smith is an absolute freak. I wish that I could borrow some of his athletic prowess just for a day. Losing Josh Childress to Greece will hurt this team, but having Mike Bibby for an entire preseason will help heal some of the wound. Ronald "Flip" Murray will provide some extra scoring punch of the bench. Before anyone gets too excited about this team, try to remember that they went just 37-45 before taking Boston to seven games in the first round.
19. LA Clippers: Baron Davis and Marcus Camby are huge adds for the Clip joint. If they can get them on the court. They will definitely improve on last season's 23-59 mark, but it's going to take some time before this team gels.
20. Chicago Bulls: Derrick Rose will silence his critics and show he deserved the No. 1 pick in the draft. Just not right away. The Bulls made the right choice with that pick, and were lucky to get out from under that awful Ben Wallace contract. But this roster is still shaky.
21. Milwaukee Bucks: Even though they traded for Richard Jefferson, they still drafted Joe Alexander. It's like they absolutely have to draft players at positions they already seemed to have filled, like they did at center two years ago. Michael Redd can still fill it up, but he just doesn't seem have that moxy to lead the Bucks anywhere near the playoffs. Watch out for this team though. They have sleeper written all over them.
22. Indiana Pacers: I like the fact that the Pacers got rid of Jermaine O'Neal. He is an overrated malcontent and his production never matched his pay grade. This team will be ranked much higher in 2009-10.
23. Golden St. Warriors: Baron Davis was the engine that made this team run. Now he is gone, and they have to figure out how they will keep Stephen Jackson from losing his mind. Don't see it happening. They still want to play a chuck-and-duck style on offense, but they simply do not have the shooters to keep defenses honest.
24. Minnesota Timberwolves: Man this Wolves team is young. I think down the road people are going to be happy with the Mike Miller/Kevin Love for O.J. Mayo trade.
25. Charlotte Bobcats: Larry Brown is the devil in my eyes. He is an arrogant prick and he will suck the confidence from many of his young players. Is MJ slowing turning into Isaiah Thomas? God I hope not!
26. New York Knicks: I have a great idea…lets put a bunch of guys on a team that can't run, can't shoot, and can't pass, and then laugh as they try to run fast, shoot well, and pass effectively. Ladies and Gentleman, welcome to Madison Square Garden.
27. New Jersey Nets: Devin Harris getting schooled by a white-London-streetballer will be the only big press the Nets get all season.
28. Memphis Grizzlies: What has two thumbs and doesn't give a rat's ass about this team? This guy! I know, I know that isn't a great opinion to have, but can anyone truly say that this team will do anything this season. Anyone, anyone?
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Karma will define the Thunder's season. How dare they leave Seattle! Jack Sikma is sitting at a bar somewhere drinking himself stupid wondering where it all went wrong.
30. Sacramento Kings: Quick, name one player not named Kevin Martin on this team. Can you? That is what I thought.