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NBA: Contenders or Pretenders?
At this point in the season, we have an idea of the best teams in the NBA. Some are actual contenders that have a chance of winning it all, and some are pulling the wool over all our eyes. Teams that are just hot right now, or teams with a record that is a cake walk. And I’m going to go though and tell you who are pretenders or contenders.
Atlanta Hawks (Pretenders)
The Hawks year in and year out are the team that are content with a good record, and making the first round of the playoffs, and being bounced by a better team. This will stay a pretender until they pull the trigger on the trade I’ve been yelling for. Trade Josh Smith! I know he is having a great season, but I think you could get a lot for him right now, and I think that he could be moved for sereval good centers that can play along side Al Horford. You can trade Smith for centers like JaVale McGee, Andrew Bogut, Anderson Varejao, etc. (of course other players and draft picks will be involved in the move). I think until they do that, can get a solid front court, I dont believe in this team. They are pretenders.
Philadelphia 76ers (Pretenders)
The sixers are a up-in-coming team, that has a lot of upside, but they dont have enough pieces right now. I think they are the most balanced team in the NBA, but they dont have the Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki, or Dwyane Wade to carry them in the 4th quarter in tight ball games. And this amazing record early might be all smoke and mirrors. They have only beaten one team over five hundred. But they will be put to the text in early Febuary when they have to play Orlando, Chicago, Miami, Atlanta, LA Lakers, San Antonio, LA Clippers, and Dallas Mavericks. That will be a true test. But for right now, they are pretenders.
Orlando Magic (Contenders)
The Magic as long as they have Dwight Howard, they are contenders. They will have to make a tough choice with Dwight at the all-star break, and see if they want to trade the big man, but for right now they are contenders. Dwight is not the only one who is playing well for the Magic as they have Ryan Anderson, and JJ Reddick playing at high levels, and Hedo Turkoglu starting to come back alive. If the team around Dwight starts to play better, watch out for the Magic to make a 2008 run once again.
Indiana Pacers (Pretenders)
The Pacers are a balanced team as well, but I do not think that they are one of the best teams in the East. I see the same problem with the 76ers, they have no superstar, and I hear you Pacers fans, DANNY GRANGER! Sorry, I’ve seen that one before. Granger is a proven scorer but he is not a superstar. I dont think you can depend on him late in the playoffs, and too make a run at a championship. I think the Pacers at best get to the second round and win 2-3 games, and get bounced out. They are playing well, and the same thing with the 76ers, they have only beaten one team over five hundred. Overall, right now, the Pacers are pretenders until they prove me otherwise.
Cleveland Cavaliers (Pretenders)
As of right now, the Cavs are the eight seed in the playoffs for the East, but I dont see them being their for every long. The Celtics who are struggling right now, will come back and take that spot from them. The Cavs should be happy if they keep the eight seed, with a rookie point guard in Kyrie Irving, who is my rookie of the year behind Ricky Rubio. Jamison and Varejao are playing much better, and they are helping the young point guard.
New York Knicks (Pretenders)
The Knicks are not the team I thought they’d be. With the struggling offense, and defense this team is the 8th seed, and I think this is not just a early season slump. The Knicks are average in scoring and defense, but they are getting smashed on the boards, and 26th in the league in assists. Too much Isos, and early shots. Also, I’m not one to call for someones job but I think Mike D’Antoni is done in NYC. He needs to leave, because I think the players have stopped listening, and dont want to hear what he has to say. The Knicks in my opinion are not a championship contender.
Boston Celtics (Contenders)
This is the last year I will back the Celtics with the current core. I think that the Celts have one last shot at it, and its now. All the Celtics need is too make the playoffs on a 6-8 seed, and get healthy, and they might, and that is a HUGE might be able to make some noise in the playoffs. Rondo is playing great, and the play of Brandon Bass, and Mickael Pietrus. The key for the Celts is that they need to keep the game in the low to mid 80s and 90s because they just dont have enough scoring to get wins in the hundreds, and high 90s. Their defense is still good at 7th in the league but they need to get a scoring threat at the deadline. I never bet against the Celts. They proven me wrong too many times.
Utah Jazz (Contenders)
As I thought this season, the Jazz are looking good lead by former all-star in Al Jefferson, and Devin Harris. I thought they would finish with the eight seed, but I did not think that they would be the second seed in the NBA. They have a lot of good pieces to make a run at a wide out western conference. Like Raja Bell, who is a solid defender, Gordon Haywood, Paul Millsap, and Derrick Favors, along with rookies in Enes Kanter, and Alec Burks. Overall I think this team does everything well, but not great, and this season, that is just good enough to make a run at the Western Conference title. The Jazz are a cotender once again.
Los Angeles Clippers (Contenders)
In the West this season, any playoff team can win it. I think that the combo of Blake and CP3 is one of the best in the NBA. I think they have a loaded backcourt with Chris Paul, Mo Williams, Eric Bledsoe, Chauncey Billups, and Randy Foye, and even Caron Butler who plays a little two at times, they have the deepest backcourt in the NBA, and that will be great when the end of the season rolls around. The Frontcourt is where I see problems. I dont know if they have enough depth at the four and five. DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin are great, but after that I dont know who is going to score and give the Clips minutes. Brian Cook, and Reggie Evans will not last in the playoffs, and they both can not create for themselves, and dont look for the shot. Overall the Clips are contenders based on the superstar power of BG32, and CP3.
San Antonio Spurs (Contenders)
The Ole’ Spurs are in it again. At the top of the Western conference, they are doing it again with out Manu Ginobili, and a thin front court. I think that this is the Spurs last chance with the core they have in Tim Duncan, Manu, and Parker era. After this season, they have to look toward the future, and make moves to get younger, and get players that run, and play 35 minutes plus. Duncan will give you his 12 points, and 8 rebounds, but he is not the same guy defensivly, and doesnt play with the same hop in his step. Parker is still playing well, and young players like Kawhi Leonard, DaJuan Blair, Tiago Splitter, Gary Neal, and Danny Green, who by the way has played at a very high level, and is one of the focus points of this offense. They are the main reasons they are at the top of the West.
Denver Nuggets (Pretenders)
The Nuggets are a good team, but they are lacking one of the most important thing, and that is a CLOSER. Someone who is going to score 10 points in the 4th, and carry you to a win. Someone who is going to slow the game with a iso, and do the job of a Kobe or Dirk. They lost that when they traded Carmelo Anthony. I am one of the guys who thinks that they were better with Carmelo, than without. They had someone to score 25 points a game. No one on this team averages over 17 points a game. This team is number one is assists, and number two in points, and they remind me of the defending champs in the Dallas Mavericks, but the difference is that the Mavs have Dirk Nowitzki, and the Nuggets dont. Overall, I think they will be a 3-6 seed in the playoffs, and maybe get to the second round, but that is all.
Portland Trail Blazers (Contenders)
The Blazers are the most underrated team in the NBA. They have now have all the pieces to win a title. But they once again NEED TO STAY HEALTHY! I feel like their name should be the Portland Trail Blazers (Need to stay healthy). The Blazers are a under the radar team, that can very well win it all. I think that the Blazers can get anywhere from 2-7, and they are capable off upseting teams like the Lakers, Thunder, Mavs, or Clippers. I am a huge fan of their superstar in LaMarcus Aldridge. He is finally embrasing the role of being the Star, now that Brandon Roy is gone, as Aldridge is averaging 22.5 PPG, and 8.1 RPG. He is very good, and the team with Gerald Wallace, Nick Batum, Raymond Felton, Jamal Crawford, and Marcus Camby. This team if they stay healthy will be their in the end.
Memphis Grizzlies (Pretenders)
I dont feel the same way about the Grizz, because they lost their star Zach Randolph. He was their low post threat, and now they do not have one. Rudy Gay is very good, but he is lacking something a SUPERstar needs. The drive, and the killer mindset. I love Marc Gasol, and OJ Mayo, but they just dont have enough this season too win it all.
Dallas Mavericks (Contenders)
The defending champs are without a doubt contenders. People dont really know what is wrong with the team at his moment. They think that it is the defense without Tyson, but it is BETTER. They are 3rd in the NBA in points allowed. Its the offense that is hurting. As no one on the team is shooting over 50% with at least 5 shot attempts. Dirk Nowitzki is not himself as it seems that he has a knee injury this isnt allowing him to give the full extension on his shot. He is averaging 17 points a game, and 5.5 rebounds (a career low). I think this team will find its grove, and go on one of their 15 or 18 game winning streaks, but it will be more like 10 with the season shortened. I feel good about the Mavs, and I think they are contenders to repeat.
Without a doubt contenders:
- Miami Heat
- Chicago Bulls
- Oklahoma City Thunder