Preseason power rankings

The Heat won it all last year as LeBron James finally won his first championship. Will they win it again this year? Here’s a look at my top ten teams going into the 2012 season.

  1. Miami Heat- Last year’s champion hasn’t done anything to scare me away from putting them here. Adding Ray Allen gives them another veteran who fills a need as a lights out shooter. Chris Bosh will play down low this year, but I still expect him to float around and hit jumpers. If they stay hungry there’s no reason this team can’t repeat.
  2. Los Angeles Lakers- What an offseason they had. With Kobe and newly acquired Steve Nash in the backcourt they possess a lot of experience, but age is an issue. Howard’s move to L.A. gives him the championship oppity he craves. Their frontcourt, with Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard, is the best in the league. Nash is hungry to win his first title and retire having done it all, and if it comes down to these two teams he might just do it with the advantage down low.
  3. Oklahoma City Thunder- Their rivalry against the Heat is an exciting one, but may have to take a backseat this year as the Lakers have seemingly passed them. Durant is one of the best shooters I’ve ever seen, but he needs to become more of a vocal leader and get Russell Westbrook in check. If Perry Jones can reach his immense potential and Westbrook can control himself they could find themselves back in the championship.
  4. Los Angeles Clippers- Chris Paul and Blake Griffin have a season under their belt together and can now be the dynamic duel we expected. It’s unfortunate for the Clippers to be playing in the Western Conference with all the talent there, but they do have the pieces to make a title run. Chris Paul will compete for the MVP this year as he leads his team deep in the postseason.
  5. San Antonio Spurs- Like fine wine they just keep getting better with age. That being said the blend of young talent both in the frontcourt and backcourt will be the difference between a title contending season, and a first round playoff loss. Kawhi Leonard is a rising star and I fully expect him to take on a larger role this year. Tony Parker remains one of the most underrated players in basketball, but just gets it done year in and year out.
  6. Denver Nuggets- I’m really high on them after acquiring Andre Iguodala this offseason. He’s always been the type of versatile player that can help his team win in multiple ways. They still have a lot of solid players with no recognizable superstar, but when it’s all said and done they may have the best influx of team chemistry, which can be just as important.
  7. Philadelphia 76ers- They were right in the middle of the offseason’s blockbuster deal and now have the talent to make a deep playoff run. Jrue Holiday is an elite talent that will excel as the team’s lead point guard. The addition of Andrew Bynum could take them over the top. The Heat are weak down low, so if they can make it to the semi-finals it could be a favorable match up for them.
  8. Boston Celtics- Rajon Rondo has emerged as a star. His majestic passing and overall control of a game is ideal for his position. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are past their primes, but still have something to give. The addition of Courtney Lee, Jeff Green, and Terry gives the Celtics the bench they lacked last year.
  9. Indiana Pacers- Their rough showing in the postseason and lack of an improvement during the offseason are concerning, but the nucleus of last year’s team remains. I assume Granger and company will be hungry to show they have the talent to compete against the best this year.
  10. Brooklyn Nets- They missed out on Dwight Howard, but the addition of Joe Johnson is an under the radar steal. He brings veteran experience with unlimited range. Deron Williams must like him because he decided to stay in Brooklyn instead of going to Dallas. Brooklyn is no longer a pushover now that their backcourt is one of the best in the league. The only question now is will this be the year they turn the corner?

 

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