Starters: Deron Williams, CJ Miles, Andrei Kirilenko, Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson
Rotation players: Earl Watson, Raja Bell, Gordon Hayward, Mehmet Okur
Key Additions– Al Jefferson, Earl Watson, Raja Bell, Gordon Hayward
Outlook:The Jazz come back in to 10/11 with another solid looking lineup, and a different style starting lineup. With all the talk that they’re going to start the two more skilled post players over the conventional lineup with Okur, the Jazz and Sloan are really trying something new and it should work so long as Jefferson fits in to the system and doesnt piss Sloan off by playing no defence. In saying that they’re still stuck in the same position they’ve been in in years past. They dont have another playmaker at the wing position when teams slow down the pick and rolls, and they still dont have good enough defence to do anything come playoff time.
6TH IN WEST
Starters: Chauncey Billups, Aaron Afflalo, Carmelo Anthony, Kenyon Martin, Nene
Rotation players: Ty Lawson, JR Smith, Al Harrington, Chris Anderson
Key Additions– Al Harrington
OUTLOOK:The Nuggets are coming back with the same team as last year, plus signing a talented yet erratic forward in Al Harrington. If the recent talks about Melo wanting out didnt happen you’d say this team is likely a top 3 seed again and one of the tougher outs in the NBA when healthy. But with all the Carmelo talk, and now with KMArt taking his time to come back and having his own issues with management, this season looks like a definite shit storm in Denver Like many I’m expecting huge changes come the deadline, thus the low seeding. And then it’s only downhill from there, rebuilding for the rest of the season and having Al Harrington and JR Smith take a million shots and all of us laugh at Denver again like in the pre Melo days.
9th IN WEST
Portland Trail Blazers
Starters: Andre Miller, Brandon Roy, Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge, Greg Oden
Rotation players: Jerryd Bayless, Wesley Matthews. (Rudy Fernandez), Marcus Camby, Joel Pryzbilla
Key Additions– Wesley Matthews
OUTLOOK:The Blazers are the one team that can absolutely challenge the Lakers when healthy with their size and backcourt playmaking abilities. The problem is their health obviously. If they have a Celtic like 2010 season where everyone stays healthy for the most part, this team will show that they’re a championship contender, but more likely at least one of their centers will go down again and their seed will fall, and then won’t have enough depth come playoff time.
4TH IN WEST
Oklahoma City Thunder
Starters: Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha, Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic
Rotation players: Eric Maynor, James Harden, Daequan Cook, Serge Ibaka, Cole Aldrich, Nick Collison
Key Additions– Daequan Cook, Cole Aldrich
OUTLOOK:The Thunder are coming off a great season and made a couple of minor additions to improve their bench. The main improvements will come internally though, with Russell Westbrook needing to take that next step to become an allstar PG, and Kevin Durant to become a better all around player with his playmaking and making others around him better. If their two best players do take those steps, which is very likely, and Ibaka continues to look like the next Mutombo(though a little undersized)the Thunder are going to be extremely tough to beat come playoff time. If they can’t win a couple rounds this year though they need to look in to moving Green and re thinking their 4/5 starting positions to become a legit title contender.
2nd IN WEST
Starters: Johnny Flynn, Corey Brewer, Michael Beasley, Kevin Love, Darko Milicic
Rotation players: Luke Ridnour, Wesley Johnson, Martell Webster, Anthony Tolliver, Kosta Koufos
Key Additions– Michael Beasley, Luke Ridnour, Wesley Johnson, Martell Webster, Anthony Tolliver, Kosta Koufos
OUTLOOK:I shouldnt even be writing an outlook for this team because everyone knows they’re going to end up last in the West, and they have absolutely no idea what the hell they’re doing with the team. The parts dont fit and a lot of the young talent hasnt proved much yet. Big years ahead for Flynn, Brewer, and Beasley to define the kinds of players they’re going to be in this league.
15th in West
Los Angeles Lakers
Starters: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Rotation players: Steve Blake, Shannon Brown, Matt Barnes, Lamar Odom
Key Additions– Steve Blake, Matt Barnes
OUTLOOK:The Champs got better in the offseason by adding 2 very solid role players in Blake and Barnes who will fit perfectly in to their systems on both sides of the ball. Both are very active on defence, and can hit the open shots on offence. Both will be huge especially during the regular season in keeping Fisher and Artests minutes down so they’re fresh come playoff time, something that they couldnt do last year. The only question again with this team is the health of Andrew Bynum, because if he’s out a long period of time there isnt ANY bench depth at PF/C for this team if Odom is starting as I dont think Theo Ratliff can be counted on to play more than 10 minutes a game effectively.
1ST PLACE IN WEST
Los Angeles Clippers
Starters: Baron Davis, Eric Gordon, Rasual Butler, Blake Griffin, Chris Kaman
Rotation players: Eric Bledsoe, Al-Farouq Aminu, Ryan Gomes, Craig Smith, Deandre Jordan
Key Additions– Eric Bledsoe, Al-Farouq Aminu, Ryan Gomes
OUTLOOK:This team has a lot of very good young talent, probably top 3 in the NBA with Gordon, Griffin, Jordan, and now Bledsoe and Aminu who have both looked good in pre season. Their main issue is the Clipper curse and their leader coming in to camp fat again. Hopefully Baron works hard in the upcoming weeks and gets it together because this team, yet again, has a good chance of making the playoffs if he gets his ass in gear with all of their talent in the frontcourt. But it’s the Clippers so it’s almost for sure not going to happen sadly.
10th IN WEST
Starters: Steve Nash, Jason Richardson, Grant Hill, Hedo Turkoglu, Robin Lopez
Rotation players: Goran Dragic, Josh Childress, Jared Dudley, Hakim Warrick, Channing Frye
Key Additions– Hedo Turkoglu, Josh Childress, Hakim Warrick, Channing Frye
OUTLOOK:Unless Nash pulls a miracle this team doesnt have a shot in hell of making the playoffs. Starting Hedo Turkoglu at Power Forward to balance out the lineups is not a good idea, and neither is benching Hill to make the lineup more conventional so Hedo can start at the 3 so they won’t have a bad situation on their hands with what they should be doing, which is bringing his fat ass off the bench. You know you had a terrible offseason when 2 of your acquisitions got signed to longterm deals worth 25+ mil and they’re coming off the bench(Frye/Warrick) and your prize acquisition took a year off and has played his pre season like he played his entire year last year. Hopefully Nash gets traded, he deserves better.
13th IN WEST
Golden State Warriors
Starters: Monta Ellis, Steph Curry, Dorrell Wright, David Lee, Andris Biedrins
Rotation players: Charlie Bell, Reggie Williams, Louis Amundson, ( Ekpe Udoh)Brandon Wright
Key Additions– Dorrell Wright, David Lee, Louis Amundson, Ekpe Udoh
OUTLOOK:Another transition year for the Warrriors and their fans. They’ll be an exciting team to watch yet again, but with or without Nelson they’re going to be a deplorable defensive team that needs to play uptempo to even stand a chance vs any team with half a decent frontcourt. Their bench is very weak and any injury to a main player will turn them in to a team that can compete on most nights in to a team where you can guarantee a win against them. Hopefullythe Warriors get good new management in place this year and they finally figure things out next offseason.
14th IN WEST
Starters: Beno Udrih, Tyreke Evans, Omri Casspi, Jason Thompson, DeMarcus Cousins
Rotation players: Francisco Garcia, Donte Green, Carl Landry, Samuel Dalembert, Hassan Whiteside
Key Additions– Demarcus Cousins, Samuel Dalembert, Hassan Whiteside
OUTLOOK:The Kings may have the most good to very good young players on their team in the NBA. They have too many guys that need minutes to grow though. This will be a good transitional year for them in finding out what they have and who will be in their future plans. Expect some moves at the deadline to shore up minutes for their core young players. I really like the look of this team though, as the Evans/Cousins duo could be one that will be talked about as one of the
better duos in the NBA come seasons end and going in to the future, and the players around them look promising as well.
11th IN WEST
Starters: Jason Kidd, Caron Butler, Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki, Brendan Haywood
Rotation players: Rodrigue Beaubois, Jason Terry, Tyson Chandler
Key Additions– Tyson Chandler
OUTLOOK:Expect Beaubois to take over either Kidds or Marions starting spot when he returns to the lineup. The Mavericks need a jumpstart to their starting 5 and something that will give them a chance to be more than 1st rd team this year, and right now Beaubois growth is the only thing that gives them that chance. Overall the team lacks bigtime in depth in the frontcourt as Chandler cant be counted on and there’s no one else besides him to backup the 4/5. This team will still make the playoffs and win a lot of games but they’ll be out in the 1st rd unless they make a few changes to their lineup at the deadline.
3rd IN WEST
San Antonio Spurs
Starters: Tony Parker, George Hill, Richard Jefferson, Antonio Mcdyess, Tim Duncan
Rotation players: Manu Ginobili, James Anderson, Dajuan Blair, Tiago Splitter
Key Additions– James Anderson, Tiago Splitter
OUTLOOK:The Spurs made an uncharacteristically terrible mistake in re upping Jefferson longterm when he looked like a really bad fit last year, but besides that they got a steal with Anderson in the draft, and Splitter finally comes over from Europe. I dont expect that their starting lineup will stay the same for long, as either Blair or Splitter is likely to take Mcdyess’ spot to give the Spurs a newer look and likely improve their starting 5, and I wouldnt be surprised if Anderson made his way into the starting 5 before seasons end as well. The Spurs like the Mavs dont look like they’re going anywhere this year, but they at least have more than 1 guy that can grow in to something special and maybe help catapult them into a longer unsuspecting run this season.
7th IN WEST
Starters: Aaron Brooks,Kevin Martin, Shane Battier, Luis Scola, Yao Ming
Rotation players: Kyle Lowry, Courtney Lee, Chase Budinger, Jordan Hill, Brad Miller
Key Additions– Courtney Lee, Brad Miller
OUTLOOK:The Rockets have one of the deeper benches in the NBA with the good offseason acquisitions of Lee/Miller and of course getting Yao back to ensure that no one is playing more minutes than they should. The key to their regular season is keeping Yao healthy with his 24 mpg limit, as well as their backcourt figuring out how to play together. Adelman is one of the better coaches in the NBA and has had extremely deep teams before, so I expect the Rockets will figure things out. Come playoff time, no one will want to play them if Yao is healthy with all of the talent, depth, and backcourt quickness around him.
5TH IN WEST
New Orleans Hornets
Starters: Chris Paul,Marcus Thornton, Trevor Ariza, David West, Emeka Okafor
Rotation players: Marco Belinelli, Peja Stojakovic, Quincy Pondexter, Aaron Gray
Key Additions– Trevor Ariza, Marco Belinelli, Quincy Pondexter, Aaron Gray
OUTLOOK:The Hornets come in to this season with a better starting 5 then last season, but their bench depth is awful and their overall talent level just is not good. Paul should reclaim his unanimous top PG in the league status this year, but I dont think there’s a chance in hell this lineup makes the playoffs despite Pauls play.
12th IN WEST
Starters: Mike Conley JR, OJ Mayo, Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol
Rotation players: Tony Allen, Xavier Henry, Sam Young, Darrell Arthur, Hasheem Thabeet
Key Additions– Zavier Henry, Tony Allen
OUTLOOK:The Grizzlies come in to this season with the same starting lineup which is a very good step in the right direction as their starting 5 was one of the better units in the NBA last year. The key for them is internal growth and meshing as a unit on the defensive side of the ball as this team is more than fine in the scoring and rebounding department. They still need to figure out who gets touches in certain situations and making sure everyone gets enough touches and minutes(which leads me to believe they’ll make a couple of trades to balance out their lineup), but the main thing that will decide whether this team makes the playoffs is their play on the defensive side of the ball. As my surprise pick, I’ll slate em in for the 8th spot as they look to have all the ingredients to make the playoffs in a weaker West this season.
8th IN WEST