It is time to finish off the Power Rankings for the beginning of the season with teams 10-1. This will also count for the Week 1 rankings, which will run on Monday starting next week. One note, my previous power rankings did not take into consideration the James Harden to Houston trade, but these rankings do. It did drop the Thunder a spot in our mind.
Hot 2012-2013 Storyline: Can Andrew Bynum be the franchise player Philadelphia is expecting him to be?
-The Sixers come into the year with a new roster and a redifined image. They are through being the doormat of the Atlantic, but are still coming into this year with a lot of questions. While we have them ranked high, they will only stay this high if Andrew Bynum can stay on the court. Recent news says that might already be a struggle. We also didn’t like that within Free Agency they essentially let go of Lou Williams(their top scorer last year) and Elton Brand(many said he was the unofficial leader of the team behind Andre Iguodala) for Nick Young and Kwame Brown. Another nice subplot is to see how Evan Turner will take over as the athletic combo player now that AI is in Denver.
9. Brooklyn Nets
Hot 2012-2013 Storyline: Are the Nets the new kings of New York?
-We may have them ranked a little high, but honestly anything Jay-Z gets his hands on turns to gold. While this is obviously an opinion that has no basketball relevance whatsoever, this team needed a change in identity badly. Joe Johnson and Deron Williams easily become one of the top 5 guard combos in the game, but they will have to learn to share the ball the right way, as both look to score first. This team also needs to improve defensively badly, as they won’t be able to outscore everyone in the East, especially the Pacers, Celtics and Heat.
8. Indiana Pacers
Hot 2012-2013 Storyline: Are the Pacers good enough to make the next jump into the East’s elite?
-A number of teams got better in the East, but unfortunately it look like the Pacers stayed put. While they made sure to keep Roy Hibbert, his asking price may have been a little too high for a player who comes with injury risk. Paul George is going to have to prove he is worth all of the buzz he has been getting, and Danny Granger needs to prove he is an all-star or the Pacers may need to lok elsewhere for a prolific scorer. The Pacers look like they are starting to become the next Atlanta Hawks, and that is not a good thing. This team is still good enough however to contend for a top 3 seed in the East.
7. Denver Nuggets
Hot 2012-2013 Storyline: Is the most athletic team in the league one of the best?
-The Nuggets will be in our opinion, the most exciting team to watch this season. Andre Iguodala finally is in the open court offense which he thrives in, and he gives them yet another great defender. This team is going to frustrate many NBA offenses with their ability to cover ground on the defensive end of the ball. It wouldn’t be a surprise to anyone if they led the league in fast break points as well. The question surrounding the Nuggets is who takes the last shot? Many people would say Galinari, but he will need to prove that he can take a defender one-on-one on a consistent basis to make the Denver fans feel safe.
6. Los Angeles Clippers
Hot 2012-2013 Storyline: Are they more than just a middle of the pack playoff team?
With the Clippers developing into a legitimate West contender, the battle for LA is back and should be exciting. Chris Paul is still the best point guard in the game, and Blake Griffin has claimed to have improved his outside shooting and post defense(time will tell if this is true). While these two stars should push the Clippers into the playoffs, two questions remain. Did they pick up too many pieces, and who becomes the third scorer? Grant Hill, Matt Barnes, Lamar Odom, Jamal Crawford, Chauncey Billups, and Caron Butler are all veterans who expect minutes. While Chauncey and Caron are slated as the starters right now, where does Vinny Del Negro(a coach already being questioned) find the time and right situations to play all these guys? Also, is Chauncey healthy enough to be the 3rd scorer? If the veterans can mesh, this team could be scary but if not, watch out for drama in LA.
5. San Antonio Spurs
Hot 2012-2013 Storyline: Is this finally the year the Spurs drop off?
Every year people count the Spurs out, and every year they prove they are still worthy of mentioning. They ran into a buzzsaw OKC offense last year in games 3-6 of the Western Conference Finals, and probably feel as though they simply had a string of bad luck. A full season of Boris Diaw and Stephen Jackson on the roster makes this team better, but they will need a huge leap from second year player Kwahi Leonard as well. With no major additions in the offseason, are the Spurs good enough to hang with the Lakers and Thunder? And could they compete against a younger, more athletic Denver squad? While the West’s old guard is as steady as ever, teams have caught up and may be passing by.
4. Boston Celtics
Hot 2012-2013 Storyline: Are the Celtics the one team that can beat the Heat?
While is our mind’s the Celtics are always number one, the 4th spot seems like an appropriate position with three teams left. The loss of Ray Allen has been the storyline of the offseason, however picking up Jason Terry and Courtney Lee has seemed to offset that loss. In many ways, Terry will be a better fit with a point guard like Rajon Rondo who looks to get players the ball in positions where they can then make a move themselves. Speaking of Rondo, the Celtics will go as far as he takes them. An MVP season is needed from Rondo to help the aging Celtics catch the Heat, and to gain that title his shooting is going to need to improve. Teams have to be afraid of his shot in the playoffs, or else the Celtics could find themselves going home one round too early once again.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder
Hot 2012-2013 Storyline: Who are the Thunder now that they have traded Harden?
2. Los Angeles Lakers
Hot 2012-2013 Storyline: Are the new Lakers good enough to bring the title back to LA?
Hot 2012-2013 Storyline: Can Lebron get even better?
-The Champs proved that the lack of a true center is not needed to win a title in the new, athletic up-tempo NBA. While the Heat are easily the best team in the league on paper and on the court, there are holes. If Ray Allen, Shane Battier and Mike Miller struggle to stay healthy or finally start to fall off in their latter years, this team will have to lean on Lebron anymore. And while he proved in both games six and seven of the Eastern Conference Finals, The NBA Finals, and in the Olympics that this is no issue, the Heat could be one injury away from being in serious trouble. When it comes down to brass tax, Lebron and Wade are pretty much unbeatable when healthy, and Chris Bosh has happily taken on the Robin role to Batman “A” and Batman “B”. Unless someone can figure out how to stop the freight train, or an injury occurs, the Heat are the heavy favor to be lifting hardware again come June.
Until Next time, an awesome NBA youtube clip.