NBA Season Tip Off Power Rankings

28 10 2008

by Michael DeLuca

Preseason commences, cuts are made, stars get injured, and I post ridiculously early rankings.  With the NBA season tipping off tonight, I have ranked each team and provided my projected 2008-2009 record, along with their 2007-2008 record.

1) Los Angeles Lakers – Projection (60 -22) – Last Season (57-25) – A healthy Andrew Bynum along with a younger corps than the Celtics make them the team to beat in the coming season.

2) Boston Celtics – Projection (58-24) – Last Season (66-16) – Defending champs have an aging but spectacular corps.  Expect another step back from Ray Allen.  The losses of Posey and PJ Brown won’t be as significant as many media heads are making them out to be.

3) New Orleans Hornets – Projection (58-24) – Last Season (56-26) – Chris Paul, David West, and Tyson Chandler are three young studs that will keep the Hornets relevant for years to come.

4) Houston Rockets – Projection (57-25) – Last Season (55-27) – Louis Scola got into gear as the year went on and should make significant strides in his sophomore season.  Artest will be a great fit.

5) Philadelphia 76ers – Projection (54-28) – Last Season (40-42) – The Sixers made the most significant offseason acquisition in Elton Brand.  They also managed to add some nice role players in Donyell Marshall, Theo Ratliff, Kareem Rush, and Royal Ivey.  Add that to a solid and extremely young nucleus and you’ve got this year’s breakthrough team and perhaps the deepest bench in the NBA.

6) Utah Jazz – Projection (52-30) – Last Season (54-28) Deron Williams will miss the first several weeks of the regular season with a sprained ankle.  Carlos Boozer is a beast on the boards and Mehmut Okur is still one of the most underrated players in the game and is only getting better.  CJ Miles appears set to start with Andrei Kirilenko coming off the bench, I’m sure AK47 will love that.

7) Orlando Magic Projection (52-30) – Last Season (52-30) – Dwight Howard’s continued improvement is enough to vault the Magic to the #7 spot in the rankings.

8) Cleveland Cavaliers – Projection (48-34) – Last Season (45-37) – Lebron James continues to improve his game, unfortunately not much to compliment him.  Up until their recent trade, retaining Daniel Gibson was Cleveland’s biggest move of the offseason and at just 4.2 million a year, he’s a steal.  Netting themselves Mo Williams in a three way with the Bucks and Thunder was a brilliant maneuver and he should be a nice compliment to Lebron.  Mo’s primary problem in Milwaukee was turnovers.  In Cleveland, Lebron is the primary ballhandler and Williams will be the secondary scoring option the Cav’s have so sorely needed.

9) Portland Trail Blazers – Projection (46-36) – Last Season (41-41) – Excelled early last season but flamed out as the year went on.  Roy is a stud in the making and Jerryd Bayless should be a nice point guard to compliment him in the backcourt.  Greg Oden, last year’s #1 overall selection, comes in with big expectations after sitting out his rookie year due to injury.

10) San Antonio Spurs – Projection (46-36) – Last Season (56-26) – Ginoboli’s injury will last through mid December.  Even then, there will be an adjustment phase in which Manu will miss his trademark explosiveness.  The dynasty is over.  Don’t expect another every-other-year championship out of this aging crew. 

11) Detroit Pistons – Projection (45-37) – Last Season (59-23) – They were supposed to shake up the roster this offseason…then did nothing.  Still a solid cast that can get the job done, but their act seems stale and really could have used some new faces.

12) Toronto Raptors – Projection (44-38) – Last Season (41-41) – Jermaine O’Neal acquistion could potentailly be huge for the Raptors.  TJ Ford was shipped out and Calderon gets full time pg duty.  Bargnani should improve.

13) Washington Wizards Projection (43-39) – Last Season (43-39) – Caron Butler continues to improve.  Gilber Arenas signed a huge contract, subsequently began construction on a huge pool, and then opted to have “proactive” knee surgery.  His season may not begin until December, possibly January.  Sans Arenas, the team opened the preseason and only minutes later, Antawn Jamison was sidelined with a knee strain.  He’s back and seems to be moving well.  This team’s got all the talent in the world, but it doesn’t help when their dressed in expensive suits and seated on the bench.

14) Los Angeles Clippers – Projection (43-39) – Last Season (23-59) – Elton Brand didn’t play last year so you can’t really call that a loss.  Adding Baron Davis in free agency and Marcus Camby via trade salvaged what was looking to be a disastrous offseason.  Chris Kaman came on strong before getting injured last year, Al Thornton should improve in his sophomore season, and rookie Eric Gordon can be a special player.

15) Dallas Mavericks – Projection (43-39) – Last Season (51-31) – Dumb trade costs good team 10 wins this year.  After some early season struggles expect Cuban to begin dealing.

16) Phoenix Suns – Projection (43-39) – Last Season (55-27) – Fat Cactus and company are in for a long season.  After trading Marion this team lost their identity.  Now their coach is gone as well.  Nash can still play and Stoudamire’s a stud, but this team’s just going in a hundred different directions.

17) Miami Heat – Projection (42-42) – Last Season (15-67) – Dwayne Wade should return to form after a phenominal performance in the Olympics.  Shawn Marion, who’s still an elite player, has somehow been overlooked after getting an unfair wrap in Phoenix.  Michael Beasley should be able to help contribute in his rookie season after displaying his skillset through a phenominal preseason.

18) Denver Nuggets – Projection (39-43) – Last Season (50-32) – I’m still baffled at Denver giving away Marcus Camby and getting nothing in return.  “Ball Hogs” isn’t really a good team identity but that’s what the Nuggets have decided to go with…so they shipped away the only player who was willing to pass.

19) Golden State Warriors – Projection (39-43) – Last Season (48-34) – The Warriors season will hinge on the continued development of recently resigned Andris Biedrins.  Losing Baron Davis will hurt. Maggette’s a decent addition. Monta Ellis will be sidelined at least three months after injuring his ankle. It will have to be immobilized for six weeks, followed by at least six weeks of off-court rehab.

20) Atlanta Hawks – Projection (37-45) – Last Season (37-45) – Losing Josh Childress is going to hurt.  Josh Smith will be re-signed and should continue to improve.

21) Chicago Bulls – Projection (36-46) – Last Season (33-49) – I don’t know what happened last year, but they lucked out and got the number one pick in the draft (Derrick Rose) and that should help.  Sefelosha will start alongside the rookie phenom, with Ben Gordon and Kirk Hinrich coming off the bench. 

22) Milwaukee Bucks – Projection (34-48) – Last Season (26-56) – Richard Jefferson was a nice addition and when you add him to a roster with Michael Redd, Andrew Bogut, and Charlie Villanueva some good things can happen.  Mo Williams loss will hurt a bit, but was a good move for the future.

23) New York Knicks – Projection (31-51) – Last Season (23-59) – They suck, but Mike D’Antoni doesn’t.  There is talent on this roster, let’s see what D’Antoni can get out of it.

24) Charlotte Bobcats – Projection (30-52) – Last Season (32-50) – Combine Michael Jordan and Larry Brown and you’ve got two of the worst talent evaluators in league history.  Luckily, Brown can coach.

25) New Jersey Nets – Projection (30-52) – Last Season [34-48] – No Jason Kidd.  No Richard Jefferson.  I like Devin Harris, but Vince Carter is the only guy he’s got to pass the ball to.

26) Indiana Pacers – Projection (29-53) – Last Season (36-46) – Rebuilding year, nothing much to be excited about.  Danny Granger is a nice player who should continue to improve. 

27) Minnesota Timberwolves – Projection (29-53) – Last Season (22-60) – On paper, this team looks good.  Unfortunately, they don’t play that way.  Having a healthy Foye should help.

28) Sacramento Kings – Projection (22-60) – Last Season (38-44) – No Artest, no team identity, no hope.  Kevin Martin is a nice player, the rest of this roster shouts BLAH.

29) Oklahoma City Thunder – Projection (22-60) – Last Season (20-62) – The relocated SuperSonics can expect to see Kevin Durant improve on a nice rookie season.  Through a three way trade with the Cavs and Bucks the Thunder paved the way for Russell Westbrook to be handed the reigns of this raw young squad and some major growing pains can be expected.

30) Memphis Grizzlies – Projection (19-63) – Last Season (22-60) – Yeah, I think it’ll get worse.  Rudy Gay’s the only bright spot.  Marc Gasol could be interesting.  OJ Mayo is years away from contributing.




One response

28 10 2008

I dont think I disagree with one selection. Like those rankings, for what pre-season is worth anyhow.

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