Monday, October 25, 2010

Iverson is Turkey bound

Looks like Iverson has agreed to a 2-year deal to play in Turkey.  My favorite part of the process was when Iverson's agent said that one of the appealing things about playing in Turkey was that it was "close to the United States".  Yeah dude, it is close in the sense that it is not on Neptune. 

I am glad for Allen personally because I don't think that guy is programmed to do anything besides basketball.  He needs it.  Can't fathom what will happen to this guy when his playing days are over.   

I know he still harbors a desire to play in the NBA.  Don't see that happening.  He couldn't do much with Philly after their one run to the Finals.  Denver instantly got better after he left, and the impact he had at his remaining stops were negative.  I think teams would be more inclined to take a chance on a young guy to see if he can play rather than on an old guy to see if he can still play. 

Heat sign Stackhouse

Mike Miller hurt his thumb guarding James in practice.  Thus, the Heat signed Stackhouse.  I get it...but I don't.  Miller is a shooter, Stackhouse is a slasher.  The Heat already has 932 guys who can slash to the basket.  Pretty stupid signing, especially since he was in the same graduating class as Bea Arthur.  There are plenty of spot up shooters with fresh legs that could have fit in nicely until Miller returned. 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

New Orleans gets Jerryd Bayless

He's been just a'ite in the NBA, but Bayless should get a chance to do some things in New Orleans, who got him for a 2nd round pick.  Not a bad move by the Hornets seeing as how they would have ended up wasting that 2nd round pick on some piece of garbage who doesn't belong in the NBA anyway. Heck, this is the same franchise that used a lottery pick on Hilton Armstrong, who happens to suck. 

Bayless will come in and be expected to back up Chris Paul at the point.  But also don't be surprised to see Bayless at the 2-guard.  He's an athlete dude that can handle the ball, finish at the room, and shoot 35% from 3 point range.  Paul will be able to max out his talent.  Listed at 6'3", he would be a fairly small shooting guard.  But this will work in spurts.

With the additions of Bayless and Ariza, this team has become more athletic and dynamic.  They still need an athletic big to complement these pieces.  Unfortunately, there are not a lot of athletic 7-footers who are on the market.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Here are a bunch of teams that'll suck this year.  But if it's your local team, feel free to root for them.  Buy tickets.  They need it.  Heck, they might get lucky and make it to the playoffs.  Even a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and then.  Hopefully, very few of these teams will be on television because they will be awful to watch (although I am intrigued a little bit by Minnesota). 


STRENGTHS:  Michael Jordan is at the helm.  That should at least keep them in the news.  Larry Brown is a great coach, but as we know, he gets tired of his projects very quickly.  Don't be surprised if this is his last year.  Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace are fake star players.  By that I mean that they may make it to an all-star game or two, but that would be more to acknowledge their team's success and not their own individual merits. 

Stephen Jackson is the best player on that team and he is basically what Kobe Bryant would look like with a sprained ankle and a bum knee.  He might possibly be the fourth best player on a championsip team.  Wallace might possibly be the fifth.  But those other four better be really good.

WEAKNESSES:  They made the playoffs last year and then got rid of Chandler and Ratliff (their interior defense) and replaced them with the might Kwame Brown (he of the airballs at the free throw line).  They also got rid of Raymond Felton who, granted, was a poor decision maker and an average athlete, but he did lead them to the playoffs.  They better hope DJ Augustin has a breakout year.  And they are also depending on the Shaun Livingston reclamation project.  At his best, Livingston was an overhyped player.  Now, I need to see what he looks like before I make any judgments.  I just know that no other team in the league seemed to want him (must be a reason)


I have a good feeling about this group.  I don't know what it is.  Kahn has the weird belief in his team, even though he traded his best player (and one of the best low post presences in the league) for absolutely nothing.  That is stupid in every conceivable way.  However, they have a more balanced team now.  Instead of having a 6'9'' guy playing center, they now have a 7-footer in Darko who can block some shots.

STRENGTHS:  Kurt Rambis is an experienced champion, both as a player and a coach.  He has two guys - Kevin Love and Darko, who are big men that are great passers and can fit in well with each other and in a triangle type offense.  Michael Beasley is a guy who can create his own shot (but will get schooled on defense), and Martell Webster will keep defenses honest with his shooting.  Luke Ridnour is a solid pick up at point guard and there's a good chance that Wesley Johnson can have an outstanding freshman year. 

WEAKNESSES:  No real star power.  Kevin Love is the best player on that team and I am not convinced that he is good enough to be a starter on a championship team (unless he is able to improve defensively).  There's a losing culture that needs to be changed around.  In addition, they traded Jefferson for nothing and there's still plenty of garbage (see Sebastian Telfair) on this roster.  They really need to turn things around if they are going to entice Ricky Rubio to come over. 

All that said, I've got a good feeling about this group - at least in the sense that I think they will be better this year than last.


What a mess.  I just don't see this working.  The pieces don't fit.  Elton Brand plays a slow down game and it is an uptempo roster.  Evan Turner hasn't wowed anybody yet.  Igoudala is really good, but will never be the best player on a championship team.  He might be the 3rd best, but that's it. 

STRENGTHS:  Igoudala had a good summer with USA basketball.  Jrue Holiday is the type of player who can have a break out year this season.  Young is a good player, and they are hoping for a lot from Turner.

WEAKNESSES:  Elton Brand is no longer Elton Brand.  Let's see if this year is any different.  The team is strapped by Brand and Nocioni's contract.  So let me get this straight.  You wouldn't sign Andre Miller to an extension after he led your team to the playoffs?  But you'll trade Dalembert's expiring contract for Nocioni's long term mess?  I hope you enjoy not getting any free agents in the next 5 years or so.


The good news is that there is new ownership.  Old ownership pulled the plug on the first team that took them to the playoffs (and the 2nd round) after approximately 948 consecutive years of being a lottery team. 

Stephen Curry's career is going to go to waste if they don't get help.  Monta Ellis is too ball dominant to play alongside him.  Ellis has value that the Warriors need to exploit.  They almost traded him last year for OJ Mayo.  That's not a bad trade, but I think they should try and get more size on this roster - especially at the shooting guard position.  I personally don't like the idea of a shooting guard being under 6'5". 

STRENGTHS:  They traded for David Lee, who will hopefully get to play power forward instead of center (where he was a huge defensive liability).  Brandon Wright is supposedly talented, but plays the same position as Lee.  Either make him a stud off the bench or trade him while he still has value.  Stephen Curry has potential to be good.  There's even talk that he might be an all-star one day.  Slow down.  Let's see them win some games first.  Also, let's not forget the change in ownership.  The last owners sucked more than anyone else has sucked before.  These new guys can't do any worse.

WEAKNESSES:  Not enough size and athleticism.  Biedrins is overrated and doesn't do enough to make up for his abysmal free throw shooting.  They are way too high on Dorell Wright.  That dude sucks less than Devean George, but he still sucks.  And all the guards are listed at 6'3", which in NBA-speak means that they are 6'1".  Also, there is plenty of junk on this team - Radmonovic and Gadzuric, to name 2.  Finally, your best player is David Lee.  Lee would not be a starter on a championship team.  Period.


Oh my...

STRENGTHS: Derozan and Bargnani have potential.

WEAKNESSES:  You're banking on Derozan and Bargnani having potential.  Perhaps the worst roster in the league?


What was Byron Scott thinking?  He should've just sat around and waited for Phil Jackson to retire so that he could take his dream job with the Lakers.  Someone needs to tell Dan Gilbert that he will not win a championship before LeBron - even if LeBron never wins a championship.  They just need to blow this thing up.

STRENGTHS:  Byron is a great coach at turning around a franchise, but in each case, he had a great hall of fame level point guard to help him.  Mo Williams is not that.  There are plenty of trade pieces on this team that could bring back some value.  I'm sure a contender wouldn't mind getting their hands on Jamison or Varejao, or even Williams.  We also get to see how good JJ Hickson really can be now that he will be required to do more.

WEAKNESSES:  Mo Williams is your point guard + Ryan Hollins is your only center = this team just sucks.  The pieces don't fit and there isn't a whole lot of talent.  Blow it up now! 


What is going on here?  Joe Dumars took a bunch of castoffs and built a champion back in 2004.  Now he's taking a bunch of castoffs and building a crappy team. 

STRENGTHS:  Um....I think your best player is Rip Hamilton?  Not really sure.  He'd be the 7th man on a championship team.  At least your positioning yourself for a high draft pick. 

WEAKNESSES:  You have 643 wing players, and most of them are old and disinterested.  PS - I'm better than Chris Wilcox.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


These are the teams that will create some sort of buzz due to their personnel.  One or two may even shock us and make the playoffs.  But that's where the magic stops.

These teams have their fans.  And these fans have major mental issues if they think any of these clubs will wow anybody.


They have a roster stacked with size and talent.  They are certainly good enough to make the playoffs.  But guess what?  They're the Clippers.  On paper, they look great:  Baron Davis, Ben Gordon, Blake Griffin, and Chris Kaman.  They should be able to do something.  But they won't.  Griffin looks really good coming off of his knee injury.  Ben Gordon had a stellar summer with USA basketball.  Why can't they make something happen?  Oh yeah, they're the Clippers.  When he is healthy, Baron Davis can probably be the 3rd best player on a championship team.  But that's asking a lot.

A team like Oklahoma City could really use a player like Chris Kaman.  I wonder if they'll dangle Jeff Green to get him.  If so, the Clippers may be just dumb enough to bite on that deal.

STRENGTHS:  They have a 7 footer who can play.  Blake Griffin has shown some pretty amazing athleticism thus far.  And Ben Gordon can light it up.  I also feel like Vinny Del Negro will have a stabilizing effect on this team.  Randy Foye, Rasual Butler, Jake Voskuhl, and Ryan Gomes are good pieces coming off the bench.

WEAKNESSES:  They don't have a small forward that is a legit starter.  Eric Gordon is a stud, but an undersized 2-guard.  Baron Davis already showed up to camp overweight and is fast on his way to injury.  Brian Cook should not even be in the league anymore.  And oh yeah, this the Clippers.      


The Kings did some good things this summer.  They added size in DeMarcus Cousins and Samuel Dalembert while getting rid of Nocioni's contract.  This roster still has a long way to go until it is complete, but you have to be intrigued with a Cousins-Evans pairing.  Both can flat out play the game.  Lots of questions about what goes on between their ears and if they will be able to make it work.

Cousins has the potential to be an MVP candidate some day.  But he also has the potential to be Derek Coleman.  Maybe Sacramento will get something in between - Rasheed Wallace.

Evans was compared a lot with Dwyane Wade.  The question around him is whether he can make his teammates better.  If so, this can be a legit duo to be reckoned with in future years.  Until Evans shows that he can play without the ball, and that he can make the game easier for his teammates, he is not quite ready to be good enough to be a starter on a championship team.  But I suspect his game will eventually get to that level.

STRENGTHS:  Cousins and Evans are loaded with talent. 

WEAKNESSES:  The other 10 guys on the team are not. 

Remind me again why anybody outside Indiana should care?  The good news is that Mike Dunleavy's contract is almost up.  Even at his best, he wasn't that good.  Danny Granger is their best player and he would probably be the 4th best player on a championship team. 

STRENGTHS:  They traded for Collison - a guy who can really play point guard in this league.  Danny Granger is an all-star.  And the Pacers are hoping that Hibbert keeps improving. 

WEAKNESSES:  Oh where do I begin?  They need better talent.  And they need the marginal talent that they have to stay healthy.   


Everybody is excited to see John Wall.  Will he be at the same level of a Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, or Deron Williams?  All the experts seem to think he has the talent for it.  The question is whether the Washington party bus is the best place for him to develop as a player.

And the driver of that bus is Gilbert Arenas.  He has already faked a knee injury in the preseason.  This is not the act of a guy who has all of his marbles.  The whole gun thing undeniably rocked him really hard.  Even if he is physically able to play at a high level, the emotional scars may not allow him to.  But until John Wall shows otherwise, Gilbert is the best player on this team.  Is he good enough to start on a championship team?  He was at one point.  We'll have to wait and see what he has left...

The Wizards wisely brought in Kirk Hinrich's stability to balance out any nuttiness that may be on that roster.  They may be a little small in the backcourt with Hinrich, Wall, and Arenas.  They need a decent 6'5"-6'6" player or they won't be able to guard the bigger 2-guards in the league. 

STRENGTHS:  They've got talent.  Aside from the 3 players listed above, I expect Yi Jianlian and Andray Blatche to have big seasons.  Andray Blatche showed some tremendous skills last year as the focal point of the offense.

WEAKNESSES:  They lost a ton of talent when they traded Butler and Haywood.  And the talent they acquired, Josh Howard, blew out his knee.  They are going to need their players to develop internally, particularly Javale McGee, Al Thornton, and Nick Young.  They don't have much interior talent at all.  Hilton Armstrong sucks.  Aside from being tall and being able to walk upright, he brings nothing to the table.

Our billionaire owner learned this summer that you cannot simply buy talent because you are the coolest guy in Russia.  Turns out that New Jersey is still one of the sweaty crevices of America and nobody really wants to go there.

This team will be a lot better than last year.  First, they have stability now with the ownership and with an accomplished coach in Avery Johnson.  Another benefit is that Avery Johnson has already coached Devin Harris and loves Devin Harris.  Johnson should also be able to get the best out of Jordan Farmar, Harris' new backup fresh off back to back championships with the Lakers.  Brooke Lopez has looked like a bad ass in his short career.  Both he and Devin could be started on a championship team.  But they would be the 3rd or 4th best player on that team.  Or maybe even the 5th. 

I watched a little bit of preseason.  Terrence Williams surprised me with his size and athleticism.  I would be curious to see what happens with him this season.

The big curiosity is Derrick Favors.  As the 3rd pick, he was hyped.  But is going to flourish like a Chris Bosh?  Or is he the next Brandon Wright?  His preseason has been on the pitiful side, but time will tell.  He deserves a shot.

STRENGTHS:  They have a fresh start with a new owner and new coach.  Devin Harris and Brook Lopez are definite players in this league.  Joe Smith will be a stabilizing veteran force. 

WEAKNESSES: Not enough talent.  Have to change the losing culture that developed last year.  Did I mention that they need more talent?


Amare Stoudemire gets the opportunity to see how good he is not.  I know Stoudemire thinks he is a first tier superstar.  Little does he know that first tier superstars can play stifling defense.  Hopefully D'Antoni will keep Amare at the power forward spot instead of making him an undersized center.  He will get rocked at the center position.  My hat's off to the guy, though.  Amare has come off several injuries and keeps adding dimensions to his game.  Assuming Felton can get him the ball in the right places, he will be really effective this year.
Felton was a nice upgrade from Duhon, but he is not a starter on a championship team.  The only guy who really is is Stoudemire.  And he would probably be the 3rd best player on a championship team.

Turiaf was a good pickup, but the intriguing one to watch will be Anthony Randolph.  If he plays as well as everyone thinks he should, then this Knicks team will make some really solid strides.

STRENGTHS: Finally got out of their salary cap nightmare.  Essentially upgraded David Lee and Chris Duhon by getting Amare Stoudemire and Raymond Felton.  Gallinari is supposedly good.  He needs to be more consistent, though.

WEAKNESSES:  With all due respect to Roger Mason, they do not have a starting shooting guard.  They would love to get their hands on Rudy Fernandez, but Portland is asking more than they can give.  Eddy Curry has been deadweight since he left Chicago.  The good news is that his expiring contract may be exchanged for something of value.   


These are teams that will win some games, probably even make the playoffs.  But let's be honest, they're not gonna scare anybody in June.  If you are a fan of any of these teams and truly believe that they have championship ability in the 2010-2011 season, may I suggest you lay off the pipe.

This illustrious list of semi-watchable teams includes:

Portland Trailblazers
Milwaukee Bucks
Houston Rockets
Denver Nuggets
Atlanta Hawks
New Orleans Hornets
Phoenix Suns
Memphis Grizzlies


Is there a more injury-riddled team?  It's not just injuries, but injuries to key guys.  If this team has any championship aspirations, both Brandon Roy and Greg Oden need to be healthy.  Brandon Roy, Andre Miller, LaMarcus Aldridge, and potentially Greg Oden can all be starters on a championship team.  Just not sure if they can be starters on the same championship team. 

The Andre Miller/Brandon Roy experiment did not work.  Both players need to dominate the ball to be effective.  Brandon Roy is already insisting on the ball and the season hasn't even started yet.  I would give it to him because he can be the #1 player on a championship team.  So this means that Miller will need to be traded - likely for a point guard who can hit threes and play defense. 

To add further fuel to the lack-of-chemistry fire, Rudy Fernandez wants to go home.  He is a talented player who can really help this team, but he doesn't feel like Portland will give him the playing time he desires.  And he probably won't get it now that they have signed Wesley Matthews away from Utah. 

This team might make the playoffs, but I don't see them getting past the first round.  A second round appearance would be a major feat for this group.

STRENGTH:  Great coaching by Nate MacMillan.  Talented roster with Roy, Aldridge, Miller, Oden, Camby, and Matthews.  When healthy, they have lots of size in the front court with Pryzbilla, Oden, Camby and Aldridge

WEAKNESS:  This team has never been completely healthy.  There is no reason to think that will magically change, unfortunately.  That is too bad because, as a basketball fan, you want to see Greg Oden and Brandon Roy to be healthy and let their games do the talking. 

Also, this team has major chemistry issues.  Andre Miller is a sensational point guard, but a horrible fit next to Roy.  And Rudy Fernandez hasn't helped matters.


This team has Scott Skiles written all over it.  Hard-nosed, no nonsense team that almost pimp slapped the Hawks, even with Andrew Bogut, their best player, out.  The team made some interesting moves this summer - overpaying Drew Gooden, letting Luke Ridnour go, and bringing in Corey Maggette, Keyon Dooling, and Jon Brockman.  Brockman is an afterthought to most fans, but he will definitely help this team rebound.  Maggette is a magician at getting to the line - something this team desperately needs.  Letting Ridnour go may have been a mistake, but haven't Dooling be the back up point won't hurt them much. 

The big key is the health of Andrew Bogut.  If he is healthy and can stay that way through the playoffs, this team can make it to the second round (where they will likely get thrashed by Boston, Miami, Chicago, or Orlando).  I am also very curious to see if Brandon Jennings improves and takes the next step in his career.  Tough to say who is better - Bogut or Jennings.  I am going to side with Bogut because I believe he can be a starter on a championship team right now.  Of course, he would be the 4th or 5th best player on that team.

STRENGTH:  Good mojo after last year's playoff appearance.  Improved in areas that were weak last year.

WEAKNESS:  Is Michael Redd still alive?


Yao is back.  And Houston holds its collective breath.  Kudos to the Rockets for insisting that Yao plays no more than 24 minutes a game.  He can still be very active in that time, and it will help save him from injuries.  Signing Brad Miller, another big dude, to man the middle while Yao sits will help this team tremendously.

My question is when will Rick Adelman finally get the credit he deserves as a coach?  He did a great job in Portland, Sacramento, and here.  The guy knows how to get the best from his players. 

He also has some nice talent on this roster.  Aaron Brooks is a speedy, athletic point guard, and has an excellent back up in Kyle Lowry.  Kevin Martin, shooter extraordinaire, is like a recessive gene Reggie Miller.  If he can do it in the playoffs, then we can start talking about what a stud he is.  Speaking of studs, Scola is going to bring it at the power forward position night in and night out, and is the perfect compliment to the Yao/Miller center combination.  And don't underestimate how valuable Battier can be to a winning team.

The best player on this team is probably Kevin Martin at this point.  Could he start on a championship team?  Probably.  But he would be the third or fourth best player on that team.

STRENGTHS:  Coach Rick Adelman.  He will have this team playing the right way.  The team also has beef up front to compete with the Lakers/Celtics/Mavs.  Martin's shooting will keep collapsing defenses honest and Scola is a definite difference maker.

WEAKNESSES:  The biggest is obviously Yao's health.  Without Yao, they are a lottery team.  They also don't have a lot of athleticism, especially with Ariza gone.  There is also not enough depth on this team.  The bench looks pretty thin. 


Basketball-wise, this is a very sad team and a sad situation.  Last year, they certainly had the talent and ability to be a legitimate contender for the NBA championship.  Then they lost Kenyon to more knee problems.  They could not afford to lose him and still compete for the title.  And sadly, George Karl spent all season battling cancer. 

This year has not gotten any better with Carmelo's trade request.  Carmelo can definitely be the #1 player on a championship team, but he really needs a guy like Chauncey Billup in order for that to happen.  I have no idea why he would want to be traded to New York.  That team is going not going to win a title, even with him and Amare.  If Carmelo is really serious about winning a title (which he is not), then he would play out this year and sign with the Chicago Bulls. 

STRENGTHS:  Karl is healthy and this roster is very talented.  They have Chauncey, Melo, Nene, JR, the Birdman, Ty Lawson, Kenyon, and Al Harrington.  That's a lot of talent to throw out on the floor.

WEAKNESSES:  Shelden Williams?  Really?  How is that guy still in the league?  He was on the Celtics roster last year and it seemed every time he was on the floor, he significantly reduced their chances of winning. 

Also, this is a team of headcases.  Melo wants out, Kenyon is barking about his contract, and JR Smith is...JR Smith. 

If Melo signs an extension and tells his teammates that he definitely wants to stay, and if Kenyon's knees cooperate, and if George Karl can coach all season, this team can make some serious noise - probably get to the Western Conference Finals.  But I wouldn't bet on all three of those things happening. 


In the summer of Lebron, Chris Bosh, and the rest of the heavyweight free agents, Joe Johnson quietly landed the largest contract of all of them.  That's nuts.  He is good, but not good enough to cripple the franchise with a contract like that.  He can start on a championship team, but would be the 3rd best player on that team. 

This team got really exposed last year in the playoffs.  They did little more than run isolation plays for JJ and Crawford.  Maybe the coach felt that was his only option, given the lack of options.

There are a lot of people playing out of position on this team.  Horford wants to play power forward instead of center, but Josh Smith is there.  Smith plays okay at that position, but is built like a small forward.  They will manage through the season just fine, but the second round is about the max to expect from this team.

STRENGTHS:  Joe Johnson, Al Horford, Josh Smith, and Jamal Crawford can really get this team going.  I love Smith's athleticism and Horford's competitiveness.

WEAKNESS:  There is no legitimate size on this team.  When you're playing against the Gasol/Bynum duo, who on this team is going into the post to get a basket?

Also, have you ever seen Mike Bibby play defense?  Me neither. 


Chris Paul is healthy and they got someone for him to alley oop with in Trevor Ariza.  That alone should be enough to get this team to the playoffs.  Chris Paul really is that good - good enough to be the best player on a championship team.  But then what?  Peja probably leads the league in airballs shot during the playoffs, and Okafor leads the league in having his shot blocked. 

David West and Emeka Okafor are both good but undersized players.  It will be interesting to see if either of them are dangled as trade bait as the season progresses. 

STRENGTHS:  Chris Paul is awesome.  Ariza has championship experience.  West and Okafor are solid.

WEAKNESS:  This roster is crap.  Nuff said.


Poor Steve Nash.  All he does is keep this franchise is exciting, watchable, and winning, and how is he rewarded?  They keep getting rid of the talent that makes this team go.  Instead of retaining Stoudemire, they traded for the uber-crappy contract of Hedo Turkoglu.  At least he Nash still has Jason Richardson and Grant Hill.  Robin Lopez also looked promising as an enforcer in the paint. He would look great next to Stoudemire.

Nash deserves better than this.  He can potentially be the #1 or #2 player on a championship team.  His skill set has not eroded with time.  Of course, his defense has never been great, so any loss in quickness and athleticism will not showS up on that end.  He's still probably good enough to get this team to the playoffs.  League-wide injuries will determine how far they can go after that. 

STRENGTH:  Mister Phoenix himself - Steve Nash

WEAKNESSES:  Exchanged Stoudemire for Turkoglu?  HAHAHAHAHA!!!!


They had a heck of a season last year (for them).  Not exactly sure who the best player on this team is.  I think most would say Rudy Gay, but we really can't discount what Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol bring to this team.  Any of them could be a starter on a championship team, but they would be ther 4th or 5th best player on that team. 

Who knows?  If Zach Randolph can keep from getting arrested this season, this team has the potential to make the playoffs.  Not sure they have enough bench to make it happen.

STRENGTHS:  If Zach Randolph plays nice, he is all-star caliber.  Marc Gasol brings toughness, size, and a high basketball IQ, and Gay & Mayo are solid perimeter players.

WEAKNESSES:  Weak bench.  No shooting.  Mike Conley will not take a team very far.  And how is Acie Law still in the league?



The pretenders are teams that will have a lot of hype.  Their teams will sell their fans on championship aspirations and fans will be holding up signs that read "We Believe" throughout the team's playoff run.  Theoretically, these teams should go pretty deep in the playoffs, but, unless there are injuries to the contenders or there is a large trade, these teams do not quite have what it takes to win a championship this year.  Nonetheless, they will be fun to watch.  These teams include:

San Antonio


There is something very special happening in Chicago.  And his name is Derrick Rose.  I just saw him hit a 3 pointer at the end of regulation to tie Dallas in a pre-season game.  The summer he had with USA basketball brought him up to another level.  This guys is something else.  In fact, I really wanted to put the Bulls on the "Contender" list because of this guy.  Not only is he a legit starter on a championship team, but he's a legit #1 or #2 player on a championship team.  He is lightning quick, has excellent size for his position, and knows how to compete.

I've always thought Carlos Boozer was an overrated player.  He gets numbers, but is undersized and limited on defense.  However, putting him alongside Noah is going to make both of those guys better.  They complement each other as well as any frontline in the NBA.

Rose, Korver, Deng, Boozer, and Noah make for a formidable lineup.  Chicago FINALLY has a post player and go-to scorer in Boozer.  Korver is a shooter with size (no offense Ben Gordon).  Noah is a mobile legit center.  And I think this team has the personnel to adjust to Thibodeau's defensive-minded strategy. 

My major concern for this team is depth.  Ronnie Brewer and Taj Gibson are okay...but you have a team with two injury prone starters in Boozer and Deng.  They need more help off the bench.  That being said, the Eastern Conference Finals is a legitimate goal for this team.

If Carmelo Anthony  is serious about winning a championship in his career (which I doubt), then he will play out his contract and sign with the Bulls next year.

STRENGTHS:  Derrick Rose, solid starting five, and they finally have a go-to scorer in the post.

WEAKNESSES:  Thibodeau is a new head coach.  He has been a very respected assistant, but that does not always translate to the head coaching position.  Also, Boozer is made out of glass.  The season hasn't even started and he is already out until Thanksgiving with a broken finger. 


A lot of people will be pissed that I did not put this team on the contender list.  Cry me a river.  There are two ways to get better: either your roster improves or your players improve internally.  Does anybody think either has happened?  Yes, I'm sure Dwight Howard has been working out all season, but deltoids don't win championships.

However, the title hopes for this team are dependent on Dwight Howard.  People keep comparing him to Shaq (even though he looks like a small forward standing next to Shaq).  If Dwight truly wants to be one of the all-time greats, he needs to do it on the offensive end of the floor, too.  I know he has been working on his offensive game all summer, but we here that every year and nothing changes.  Heck, I've seen Kwame Brown take this guy out of his offense.  Kwame Brown. 

Let me break it down for you.  Last year, Howard averaged 10.7 shots per game and a 61% field goal percentage.  If the Magic truly want to be a contender, Howard needs to demand the ball every time down.  He needs to average 18-20 shots a game and 60% from the field.  Howard can be the #1 player on a championship team, but he needs to do it on both ends.  You do that and this is an elite team.  Otherwise, it is a jump shooting team that will live and die by the 3-pointer.

STRENGTHS:  This is a solid roster.  Don't really need to shake it up.  Jameer, VC, Rashard, Gortat, Pietrus, and Redick can all play.  Howard's interior defense is the team's calling card.

WEAKNESSES: Howard's offense & free throw shoot and the team's reliance on the 3-point shot.  This offense needs to get statistically easier shots to take.  Also, Orlando needs to reduce expectations on Vince Carter.  He is a superstar talent without a superstar mindset.  He will be up and down all season.  Just pray that he is on a roll come playoffs.


 Don't sleep on these guys.  They don't have quite what it takes to be a contender, but they are seriously good.  Caron Butler will be in a lot better shape this year than last year.  If he, Haywood, and Tyson Chandler stay healthy, they give this team a pair of balls the Mavericks haven't seen since Nick Van Exel.  Throw in the greatest shooting 7 footer ever in Dirk, Jason Kidd's passing abilities and new found 3 point accuracy, Jason Terry's scoring, and Marion's tempo changing athleticism and you have quite a team.  Heck, I am almost tempted to make them a contender.  If Kidd was at his peak, that would certainly be the case.  Another thing that makes he hesitate is that I am not 100% that Dirk can be the best player on a championship team.  Remember how Golden State shut him during his MVP season?  Golden State should not be able to shut down your best player if you have championship aspirations. 

STRENGTHS:  Legit size.  With Tyson Chandler, Brendan Haywood, and Dirk, this team matches up better sizewise than perhaps any team in the league.  They also have some versatility with Barea, Marion, and Beaubois able to change the tempo.  And if Chandler is healthy, he and Kidd will form a formidable alley-oop duo.

WEAKNESSES:  This team is still identified primarily as a jump shooting team.  They need to be able to get more baskets in the post.  Also, Jason Kidd is not what he once was.  He can run the offense, but will have a harder time getting to the rim, and will get torched by the quicker guards in the league.  Still, it would not be a huge surprise to see this team make it to the Western Conference Finals. 


This team is done suprising people.  Everybody knows how good Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are.  And if you don't, then watch out.  Their playoff experience and then the summer they spent with USA basketball has helped them take their games to another level.  The leadership of Kevin Durant and Coach Scotty Brooks has created a very strong team culture in Oklahoma City.  And that is translating into wins. 

I also like some of the role players.  Sefolosha plays stifling perimeter defense, and Ibaka showed some nice things last season.

I still do not think that they have the fire power or the interior game to beat the elite teams.  But I think they are only one good post player away from being a true contender.  You already have KD and Westbrook, who can easily be the #1 and #2 players on a championship team.

STRENGTHS:  Future Hall of Famer Kevin Durant just keeps getting better and better.  Westbrook is an unbelievable athlete who can turn that talent into wins for his team.  Scotty Brooks has done an excellent job of building and sustaining a winning team-first culture.

WEAKNESSES:  Still need a legit big man in the post who they can go to for easy buckets.  Not convinced Cole Aldrich is the guy, but it will be interesting to see how much he can contribute this year.  Also, not really sure what position Jeff Green plays.  He is built like a small forward, but seems to spend a lot of time at the power forward to make room for Durant.  He is a productive player and excellent trade bait.


Anyone who loves basketball has to love Tim Duncan's San Antonio Spurs.  Even if you hate them because they have been beating your team, they have been the class of the NBA for the last 10 years.  Unfortunately, Tim Duncan is at the stage of his career that David Robinson was in when Duncan was drafted - still a formidable presence, but not quite what he once was.  And unless Tiago Splitter is all-star material, then the run is over for these Spurs.  Let's just hope that they stay healthy throughout the year.  Duncan is still good enough to be the #1 player on a championship team.  And it would not be a huge surprise to make it to the Western Conference Finals.  However, they don't have the size to compete with the Lakers and Mavericks in the west.  Not sure they have the dynamism to compete with Oklahoma City, either.

STRENGTHS: Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili can still play.  Popovich can still coach.  They have championship experience and know how to pace themselves throughout the season.  Also, I think Splitter will be a really nice addition for a team desperate for some interior length.

WEAKNESSES:  Health, health, and health.  The big 3 need to stay healthy.  Aside from them, they have major concerns.  Jefferson is a knucklehead who has never been as good as he thinks he is.  Blair is a beast, but an undersized beast.  He will get gobbled up by the bigger teams.  McDyess is 248 years old.  And George Hill will be worrying about his contract now that Parker is healthy and taking up a bunch of his minutes.  Maybe he will keep himself in the news by mailing out more nude photos of himself to NBA groupies.


We are about to find out how good Al Jefferson is.  Was he a guy who just got numbers on a bad team?  Or can he really play?  The Jazz are hoping for the later.  They essentially let Boozer go and picked up this guy to replace him.  As a basketball fan, I would really love to see Coach Sloan win a championship.  But it ain't gonna happen this year.  Even if Kirilenko plays out of his mind and Al Jefferson dominates in the paint, they just do not have a championship roster.  Deron Williams can easily start on a championship team.  Heck, he's arguably the best point guard in the league.  But my gut tells me that he would be the second best player on a championship team. 

 STRENGTHS:  well coached team - Jerry Sloan teams always play tough.  Can't get much better than Deron Williams at the point.  Kirilenko, when he is on, is one of the best defenders in the league.  If Al Jefferson gets to play his natural position at power forward instead of center, he could be very productive.

WEAKNESS:  This team has talent, but it is just not as scary as past Jazz teams.  They need one more ELITE player to help out Williams.  This team might be one and done.  It will be an accomplishment to make the second round of the playoffs.  Kirilenko showed a couple of years ago that he is a basket case.  I'm sure the Jazz are just waiting for his contract to expire.