How ‘bout that offseason? The most exciting offseason in NBA history has led to the most anticipated NBA season in ages. The opening night matchup of the Celtics and Heat is being reported as the most watched regular season game in the history of the NBA. Needless to say, people are excited. And with my introduction out of the way, let’s get to the rankings!
1. Los Angeles Lakers
2. Miami Heat
3. Boston Celtics
These are the serious title contenders. While the main storyline of the season will be the coalition of Lebron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami, it is still yet to be seen if they can handle the two finals teams of last year. Both the Celtics and Lakers match up favorably with the Heat, and they both have major advantages in the size department. And as my grandmother always told me, size matters. Shaquille O’Neal and Nate Robinson spent the offseason playing leapfrog and the Celtics chemistry looks better than ever.
4. Oklahoma City Thunder
5. Orlando Magic
6. Chicago Bulls
7. Portland Trailblazers
Kevin Durant is the odds-on favorite to win MVP. The Magic were the second best regular season team last year, and once Dwight Howard learns how to do a simple jump hook, he’ll be unstoppable. The Bulls finally added a post threat in Carlos Boozer, and the Trailblazers will be a threat once they’re healthy. But what keeps these teams away from title contention? They’re too likable. Notice how everyone in the world hates all the Tier One teams? Not a coincidence. They are hard-nosed, tough and do not yield to any team in the league. If the Tier Two teams want to contend for a title, they need to be tough.
8. Dallas Mavericks
9. Milwaukee Bucks
10. Denver Nuggets
11. Atlanta Hawks
12. San Antonio Spurs
13. Houston Rockets
A bunch of nice teams. If Melo gets traded, Denver drops into Tier Four or Tier Five, but as long as he stays they’ll be a staple in the top 10. Rockets general manager Daryl Morey continues to build his team based on his high-tech secret stats, and if the NBA was run on a spreadsheet the Rockets would break the ’96 Bulls record. These are all teams that will average anywhere from 42-52 wins, and won’t make it past the second round unless they make a midseason deal — see: Pau Gasol — or an unproven player steps up and surprises everyone — see: Rodrigue Beaubois.
14. Phoenix Suns
15. New Orleans Hornets
16. Utah Jazz
17. Memphis Grizzlies
These are the teams that will be clawing for a playoff spot, and accordingly will be some of the most fun teams to follow in the league. Not to mention we can all watch as the “does Amare need Nash or does Nash need Amare?” is finally settled. The Grizzlies are one of the teams that could easily move up in this list. O.J. Mayo is one of the best players no one talks about in the league, Rudy Gay gets a bad rap for being overpaid but is still a viable No. 2 option and Zach Randolph is the best offensive black hole in the league. If you want to see what’s holding them back, search YouTube for “Zach Randolph — Where Will Amazing Happen This Year?”
18. Indiana Pacers
19. New York Knicks
20. Golden State Warriors
21. New Jersey Nets
This is my favorite tier. While they might fight for a playoff spot, none are expected to make much noise in the grand scheme of things. But given how awful it was for them last year, their fans should be delighted with the teams they have currently. Even though the Knicks and Nets both missed out on the temptress Lebron, they both should significantly improve this year. The Warriors might end up with the No. 1 offense and the No. 30 defense in the league. They’re that great/horrible.
22. Los Angeles Clippers
23. Charlotte Bobcats
24. Detroit Pistons
25. Sacramento Kings
26. Philadelphia 76ers
The sweet, sweet smell of mediocrity. While the Clippers, Kings and 76ers have exciting young talent — Blake Griffin, Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins, Evan Turner and Jrue Holiday — the Pistons and Bobcats are just hovering in “OK.” Unless they think they can contend for the title with a Stephen Jackson/Gerald Wallace nucleus, which is unlikely, it’s time for MJ to shake things up and get some fresh young talent.
27. Cleveland Cavaliers
28. Washington Wizards
29. Minnesota Timberwolves
30. Toronto Raptors
The heartbroken teams. You have to feel for Cleveland and Toronto, especially Toronto, which actually has a great fanbase that loves basketball but is continuously screwed over by their superstars. Cleveland lost Lebron, but the team they have left isn’t as horrible as the media has made it out to be. Mo Williams and Antawn Jamison are both capable players, and J.J. Hickson will turn heads this year. They could crack 30 wins if everything goes their way. The Timberwolves are ripe with high risk/high reward talent, and it’s hard to predict that they’ll all come through — I’m looking at you Darko.
Most Valuable Player: Kevin Durant
Most Improved Player: J.J. Hickson
6th Man of the Year: Manu Ginobili
Defensive Player of the Year: Josh Smith
Rookie of the Year: Blake Griffin
Coach of the Year: Doc Rivers
Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard
Brandon Roy, Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki, Carmelo Anthony, Pau Gasol
Rajon Rondo, Monta Ellis, Danny Granger, Tim Duncan, Andrew Bogut