Matt graduated from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in May of 2007 majoring in TV Production. Matt is currently a writer at StaticMultimedia.com, TheBleacherReport.com, NationalSportsNation.com, SportsMixed.com, FanFever.com, Filmcatcher.com, and TheHoopDoctors.com. Matt will provide you with insightful wit and an eager eye for sports.
Although there are still plenty of free agents available and trades to be made, there has been enough player movement to gauge what teams will be contenders and pretenders next season.
The Detroit Pistons made the biggest splash by signing Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva to lucrative long-term contracts. The Rockets and the Lakers seemingly traded Ron Artest for Trevor Ariza. The Mavericks got better by adding Shawn Marion and the Orlando Magic are clearly trying to win now by adding Vince Carter and Brandon Bass.
Do these moves make your favorite teams better or is your team still at the bottom of the barrel?
Let’s take a look.
1. San Antonio Spurs
The best team in the NBA will undoubtedly be the San Antonio Spurs. They will hopefully have a healthy Big 3 and added much needed athleticism by acquiring Richard Jefferson. San Antonio now boasts the best starting five in the NBA (Parker, Ginobili, Jefferson, McDyess, Duncan).
2. Orlando Magic
The Magic started the off-season with a bang by pulling Vince Carter out of their hat (lame magic joke). They now have frontcourt depth as they signed free agent PF Brandon Bass and re-signed Polish big man Marcin Gortat. GM Otis Smith has invested all of his money in the next two years and the Magic are legitimate contenders for the NBA title next season.
3. Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers may be in some trouble if they lose Lamar Odom, as he was vital to their championship run. He did the dirty work the rest of the team refused to do and if the Lakers lose him, they will not win the title next season. They still have 24 and Pau Gasol but their role players (Artest, Luke Walton, Andrew Bynum, Sasha Vujacic, Adam Morrison) will need to make much more of an impact next season if they want to repeat.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers
It was between Boston and Cleveland and I wanted to pick Boston due to their veteran presence and the Rasheed Wallace signing. It was a tough decision but when I thought about how upset LeBron James is after last season and how hard he is probably working this off-season, I had to give the advantage to Cleveland. The Cavs added veterans Shaquille O’Neal and Anthony Parker to help take the pressure off of their young superstar.
5. Boston Celtics
The big question about Boston is how good will Kevin Garnett be this season? He is no longer The Big Ticket but is the consummate teammate and makes those around him better. Boston will be better than last season and this is likely the last season with KG, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen.
6. Dallas Mavericks
The Mavs already had an impressive roster and added another element to their fast break game as they acquired Shawn Marion. Marion excels in the fast break and the Mavericks have the best fast breaking PG of all time in Jason Kidd. Kidd may not be able to do what he used to be able to do but he can still run the break. Even though the Mavs are old and will play minimal defense I think they will be one of the better teams in the NBA next season and wonderful to watch.
7. Denver Nuggets
The Denver Nuggets are the best team in the second tier of teams. They had the Lakers on the ropes last season and blew their best chance to win a championship and will likely not see a chance like that for a long time. If the Nuggets want to contend they need Carmelo Anthony to average nearly 30 PPG.
8. Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks were a solid team last season as they rallied around Olympian Joe Johnson and Mike Bibby. The kids (Marvin Williams, Al Horford, and Josh Smith) are finally growing up and the Hawks added sharp shooter Jamal Crawford to the mix. They are deep and very talented and may be able to reach the 50-win plateau this season.
9. Chicago Bulls
Derrick Rose will lead the Bulls for the foreseeable future and the rest of the NBA is jealous. Already a top ten NBA talent Rose’s numbers will only ascend as he and the Bulls do the same. After a mediocre 2009 campaign, 2010 will be Chicago’s first step to a long prosperous future.
10. Los Angeles Clippers
That is not a misprint and yes, I do watch the NBA. I think the Clips are one of the most talented teams in the NBA and may be more talented than their LA counterparts. Their starting lineup was injured throughout last season and if they can stay healthy in 2010 they will be a contender for the Western Conference crown. Oh yeah, they drafted some kid named Blake Griffin. I can hear my college roommate already, “Clips 500-1? Take it.”
11. Portland Trail Blazers
Brandon Roy is not the greatest athlete in the world but the future Olympian still finds himself in the top ten NBA players. It should be the Brandon Roy and Lamarcus Aldridge show all season long and that will be hard for opponents to stop. If they get anything from Greg Oden besides 5 fouls in 4 minutes, the win total will only increase.
12. Utah Jazz
The Utah Jazz will most likely be without stud PF Carlos Boozer but should be able to get some decent players in return. They resigned double double machine Paul Milsap and will likely build around him, Deron Williams, and whomever they get in the Boozer trade. Right now the Jazz are a good team but without Boozer they will slide a few spots.
13. Washington Wizards
After nearly a two-year hiatus the Wizards are finally getting a completely healthy Gilbert Arenas. Arenas is likely to average over 25 PPG and the Wizards have a very nice supporting cast. Washington held onto Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison during last season’s trade deadline for this very season and they acquired Randy Foye and Mike Miller on draft day. The Wiz will have a much better 2010 and will likely be the most improved team.
14. New Orleans Hornets
Throughout last year all I heard was how bad the Hornets were and how bad they were struggling. Well, they nearly won 50 games and starting Center Tyson Chandler was injured last season. Currently, the Hornets are a good team with a lot of stilly contracts and because of those silly contracts (i.e. Peja Stojakovic, Morris Peterson, and James Posey) the team is in dire financial trouble. They will likely unload one of those players for close to nothing and the talent level will go down in New Orleans. This will be an interesting year in New Orleans and Chris Paul will be unhappy by season’s end.
15. Toronto Raptors
The only good thing that happened to Toronto last season was the development of former number one pick Andrea Bargnani. The Raptors rewarded Bargnani with a lucrative long term deal and also signed stud SF Hedo Turkoglu. Turkoglu and Bargnani will take a lot of the pressure off of their best player Chris Bosh and the Raptors are in for a fine season. With Turkoglu, Chris Bosh, Jose Calderon, and Andrea Bargnani the Raptors have a nice starting lineup.
16. Indiana Pacers
The Pacers should be thanking the rest of the NBA because for some reason Danny Granger fell all the way to the 17th pick of the 2005 NBA draft. Without Danny Granger this team has no chance to make the playoffs but with him and the surrounding nucleus they have a decent chance. Troy Murphy is going to do his double double thing and the team will be even better if Mike Dunleavy can stay healthy.
17. Philadelphia 76ers
The Sixers had high hopes last season but Elton Brand’s injuries derailed those expectations. The roster is still talented but they will likely lose starting PG Andre Miller and may have to depend on a young PG. Brand’s career may be starting to descend but that only means more opportunity for young studs Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young, Lou Williams, and Marreese Speights. The Sixers have a bright future and may struggle to make the playoffs this season.
18. Oklahoma City Thunder
This will be the last season the Thunder are not in the playoffs. The team is loaded up and down with young talent and Kevin Durant has already supplanted himself as one of the best players in the NBA. He may win the scoring title next season as a 21 year old and the supporting cast is also very talented. The Thunder are the future of the NBA.
19. Miami Heat
The Miami Heat have what every NBA team wants: a top ten NBA player. Dwyane Wade can lead a team to the highest of levels but cannot with this roster. Jermaine O’Neal is not very good anymore and the second best player on the team does not currently start and cannot legally drink (Beasley). If the Heat acquire Carlos Boozer and Lamar Odom, they easily become one of the best teams in the NBA.
20. Golden State Warriors
The Warriors are one of the most talented teams in the NBA and if you look at this roster 20 years you will say, “Wow. Nearly all those players made an impact at the NBA level.” Head Coach Don Nelson is enigmatic and rotates lineups at his discretion. Golden State has a plethora of SGs and G/Fs but none can run the point. This will be another fun Warrior team to watch but the lack of defensive intensity will inevitably be their demise.
21. Charlotte Bobcats
Like most NBA teams, the Bobcats are a superstar away from being a contender. They move the ball, play defense, but lack a go to scorer with the game on the line. Charlotte is a good team and will likely battle for the 8th spot with Indiana, Philly, Miami and Detroit.
22. Minnesota Timberwolves
The T’Wolves were finally playing well last season when their big man Al Jefferson went down with a torn ACL. They fired their coach and reacted well to Kevin McHale. It has been an eventful off-season for Minny as they did not retain McHale as coach, drafted three point guards, and are involved in an international soap opera with Ricky Rubio. I am not so sure they will be any higher in the ranking if Rubio plays but they will be a lot more fun to watch.
23. Phoenix Suns
The Suns have been descending the last two seasons and it started with the Shaq trade. Their future is not very bright with this current collection and they will be looking to unload anyone and everyone. Phoenix should be able to get a king’s ransom for Steve Nash, Jason Richardson, and Amar’e Stoudemire and if GM Steve Kerr plays his cards right the Suns should be good again after he is fired.
24. Detroit Pistons
The Pistons made all the headlines as they stole Ben Gordon from their perpetual rival Chicago Bulls. Detroit also signed Charlie Villanueva and still have some remaining cap room this season and next. The problem with the Pistons roster is the lack of an interior presence and nobody plays defense on this team other than Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince. I do not think Detroit is done making moves and I think GM Joe Dumars knows this is not a very good roster right now.
25. Memphis Grizzlies
The Griz have a nice young team and when they decide to play some defense this team will take off like Rudy Gay with an open lane. Mike Conley, O.J. Mayo, and Gay is one of the best young cores in the NBA and rookie Center Hasheem Thabeet will only help their defense. GM Chris Wallace better hope PG Mike Conley is a great PG since they passed on phenom Ricky Rubio.
26. Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks are a team in transition. Former GM Larry Harris did not put Milwaukee in a good position and they are currently paying for it. Michael Redd will likely be traded this season as the Bucks go into a youth movement. Rookie PG Brandon Jennings looks great in Summer League and they may have a nice combo with Center Andrew Bogut and Brandon Jennings. The Bucks are a few years away from the playoffs.
27. Houston Rockets
Understatement of the Year: The Houston Rockets were dealt a tough blow when Center Yao Ming went down for the season months before the 2010 season even started. They will be actively trying to trade Tracy McGrady who seems more interested in promoting his new movie than winning playoff games. Houston signed everyone’s favorite role player Trevor Ariza to a long-term deal but he will not make much of an impact. The T-Mac and Yao project has come to an end and the Rockets are rebuilding.
28. New Jersey Nets
The Nets traded Vince Carter in order to clear cap space for the Summer of 2010! (Coming to a theater near you). New Jersey now has close to $40 million in cap space and their owner, Jay-Z, is a good friend with LeBron James. Olympian hopefuls Devin Harris and Brook Lopez will carry this team to the NBA Lottery. Imagine their next off-season, possibly the number one pick and LeBron James. Wow.
29. Sacramento Kings
The Kings have a nice future but this year will be a learning lesson for the kids. Tyreke Evans will learn how to run the PG position and he will make plays for the young Kings but there will be a learning curve. Lucky for Evans he does have good players around him they are just young. Spencer Hawes will be a nice player in a few years and Jason Thompson as well. Kevin Martin will score close to 25 PPG and the Kings will be a very nice team in two years.
30. New York Knicks
It is going to be a bad basketball season in New York metropolitan area. The Nets are bad and the Knicks are terrible. Their roster is loaded with over paid idiots who play no defense and do not care about winning. They are trying to trade Chris Duhon for Andre Miller but the Sixers think that trade is hilarious and they are botching the David Lee contract situation. GM Donnie Walsh has done a good job of cleaning up Isaiah Thomas’ mess but there is still a lot of work to do.