Obviously there are still a lot of things that can happen during the off-season. I expect the Cavs will make another move, the Lakers will resign both Ariza and Odom, and that a lot of injured guys like Jameer Nelson, GArenas, ABynum, KGarnett, TMac, Ginobli etc. etc will come back healthy. But here are my top 10 title contenders for next year. I'm sensitive, so if you disagree, please do so politely.
1-Los Angeles Lakers- Fisher is the only guy on his way down. Kobe is hungry to secure his legacy while in his prime. Guys like SBrown, Ariza, Bynum, and Farmar are only getting better. As inconsistent as they were, they always stepped up when they had to. Let's just hope they don't run into the Bobcats.
2-Orlando Magic- Addition of VCarter will help as well as the return of Jameer Nelson. They should be hungry after the dissapointing Finals. Howard is probably as motivated as anyone in the league right now.
3-Boston Celtics- I was surprised to see how well they did without KGarnett. With him back and the benefit of young guys like GDavis and Rondo taking more pressure off the big 3, and they are serious contenders again.
4-Houston Rockets- This might be kinda high considering that expecting TMac and Yao to both be healthy in the playoffs never seems to happen. But if they are, then this team has as much talent and toughness as anyone. Also, keep an eye on ABrooks, he is emerging as a very good pg.
5-Cleveland Cavaliers-Shaq will help, but they probably still need to make another move at the pf position. Even if they don't, LBJ can put a team on his back as well as anyone. MoWill should have another good year after performing poorly in the playoffs.
6-San Antonio Spurs-Duncan only has a few high quality years left and I expect him to continue to be the best pf in the game. With a healthy Manu, RJefferson coming in and a steal in the second round with DBlair, they are gonna make sure they don't go out without a fight.
7-Denver Nuggets- They lost their composure down the stretch of the Western Confrence Finals, but believe me as a Laker fan, the Nuggets were the toughest team the Lakers played all season and had a very real chance of beating them. Bench players like JRSmith and Birdman must show more consistency to push this team over the top.
8-Washington Wizards- I know some of you might think this is a stretch, but With Arenas coming back and the additions of MMiller and Foye to go along with Butler and Jamison, this team is loaded and has a chance to beat anyone. The key is the play they get out of the center position with Haywood and McGee.
These are the only teams I think have a legitimate chance at the title. Teams like Portland and New Orleans just miss out becuase I think they have some work to do on their rosters before they are legit contenders.
I think Portland is a rising team that can be a contender in a couple of years, they have so many young and improving players, i dont see washington rising to the top, a playoff team maybe but nothing more.
right now I like the Cavs vs. Spurs in the finals
I don't know if you ranked these or are just saying in general. In my opinion, it would be
1) Lakers: Kobe, Gasol, good role players and bench
2) Cleveland: I don't think Shaq will help them too much, but they had a stellar season last year.
3) Boston: I don't care about Rondo... as long as Garnett, Pierce and Allen are there they will be in the running.
4) Denver Nuggets: Great momentum last year. I think they need to re-sign Anderson/Kleiza and replace Martin. Let's see how motivated they are this year. Great pick-up in Ty Lawson.
From here on I see second tier teams:
Orlando: Hedo is their playmaker. I think he is more valuable than VC because he is not as injury prone. I'm glad VC is back home in Orlando though. I don't see them being as good without Hedo, Rafer and Lee.
San Antonio: I don't think one player will put them on that same level as the Lakers. Duncan is getting older and Manu is somewhat overrated. Great pick-up in DeJuan Blair.
Houston: I think they had a great run in the playoffs (w/o McGrady and then eventually Yao), but I don't see it happening next year. I don't think McGrady will be in a Houston uniform.
Wizards: Why are they on this list lol?
Portland realisticly should be thinking about just advancing in the playoffs this next season. I think winning a title is a few years down the road, but they are definitely a very tough team.
I'm not a Washington fan by any means, but I just think that team is gonna be awesome next year. They got young guys like McGee, Blatche, Young, and Foye who are gonna be very strong. They have a great forward combo in Butler and Jamison. And Arenas needs to step up and prove he is worth the money they gave him, which if healthy, I think he will. Mike Miller is underrated and should benefit from not having to be a focal point on offense. The key as I said is gonna be what they get out of the center position. I truly believe they will be title contenders next year.
Young is the man. He will be a all-star.
But other guys like Blatche have been developing for 3 years already.
You need a great big-man to win championships. They are overstacked with small forwards and guards.
Well I do have them 8th, so I'm not completley drinking the Washington Kool-Aid, but I think they will suprise a lot of people next year. If i'm wrong, then it won't be the first time.
This is an excellent list llperez. It's not just who is in the list, but the positioning. I am a fan of none of these teams except Orlando but I objectively agree with it. The only debate I could have is Boston. Yes they are getting Garnett back, but they are getting him yet another year older and will the Rondo trade rumor fallout effect the team negatively? Good post man.
Thanks man. Just looking at this list has me really anticipating next season. I seems like half the league is dumping salary and the other half are in an arms race. The TV ratings for Cavs vs Lakers next year will be out the roof.
this is my list
1. San Antonio
2. Los Angelos
I think Nick Young is the rawest player on their squad. He has swag. He plays like Kobe to me, without the raw competitiveness. But I think he will be a great scorer. I like them in the East alot, esp. with Foye and Miller. Also, they get Arenas back. But my darkhorse team is the Hawks
2 years ago, none of the "pro's" thought the Lakers would make the Playoffs, and they ended up going to the finals. And this last year, raise your hands if you predicted the Magic to get to the finals or the Nuggets to get to the confrence finals?
I think the Wizards are gonna be that surprise team this year. I think the Hawks will be competitive, but they looked bad in the playoffs. JSmith does'nt have enough heart and Zaza is not gona get it done as a starter. Hopefully Crawford injects some life into those guys because they don't play hard enough.
Man I agree about the Hawks not playing hard enough. Also you could be right about the Wizards....they have to stay healthy though. I didn't pick the Nuggets or the Magic too make it as far as they did so that is a good point.
I really like the 76ers to make it to the Conference finals assuming they re-sign Andre Miller or sign another good PG like Sessions.
I like the Cavs vs. Spurs in the finals right now. We will have to see what happens in free agency though.
spurs vs magic in the finals.
I like Philly a lot. They have one of the better GM's in my opinion. I heard both TYoung and Iguodala were getting invited to try out for the select team next month with a chance to audition for a spot on the Olympics. They defend and run the court well. But they have to figure out a way to win with Brand on the court. They should definitely resign AMiller for another 3 years while Holiday improves. But I think Confrence Finals is a bit of a reach. I definitely would'nt want to play them though.
I like them and assuming Manu gets healthy, as well as the additions of RJefferson and Blair, they can definitely win it all. But I just can't put them ahead of the Lakers right now. With Kobe Bryant and the way Ariza played in the playoffs, I don't see the Spurs passing them. But all my 1-8 teams are very competitive and I can see any of them getting to the Finals. Next year should be fun.
the hornets- now that they have collison and thornton, they can use antonio daniels and rasual butler's expiring contracts for a good big man of the bench
They would probably be my 9th team. Peja and Chandler are'nt living up to their contracts. They still don't have a shutdown perimeter player, they have a weak bench and they rely too much on Paul to create the offense on every trip. Unless Peja goes crazy like he did in Sacramento, I just don't see them winning a title.
i dont remember so many teams being championship contenders. The Cavs and Magic with their additions will only get better and if Garnett gets healthy than the Celtics will be back to last years championship shape. Add rising young teams like the Bulls and Hawks and the Eastern conference playoffs are gonna be a thrill to watch. As for the West, well you got the defending champs the Lakers. But if the Spurs get healthy(tim duncan and manu ginobili) than they are the team to beat. Nuggets and Rockets proved they are tough as well. The Blazer, Mavericks and the Jazz are also competetive. As for the lottery teams well there is a nice crop of talent that will be available for the 2010 draft. The league is gonna have a memorable year in 2009-10.
4. San Antonio
I think it's close with the top 3. SA is better than orlando because they add Blair and Jefferson and the Magic lose Hedo and add Carter, which at best evens out. If they really get Rasheed then they will be really good but i'd still have them below San Antonio.
I would say that Carter is a slight upgrade over Hedo, especially since Carter should be really motivated having his first chance to compete for a title. Also, Pietrus should see more minutes with Lee gone, and that is probably a good thing since he is a very good shooter and defender. Also, they still have an advantage with Lewis at the 4 over most teams. Jameer was nowhere near 100% in the finals, and he could have a huge impact on running that team next year.
As I said, 1-8 is all very close, so I would'nt argue with someone who disagrees about the order, but I feel pretty good about my list as far as right now. If I had to add a 9th and 10th team, they would be New Orleans and Portland in that order.