OKC_EYES ON THE PRIZE

NBAwithBEE 2012 WESTERN CONFERENCE POWER RANKINGS

NBAwithBEE 2012 Western Conference Power Rankings

Took a long look at the Western Conference and from top to bottom this is another talented bunch of teams but the elite powerhouse’s will rise again.  The Thunder added some big men but no quality low post threat, the Lakers bring in Steve Nash, Dwight Howard and Jamison which on paper gives them the best starting 5 in the league.  The Mavericks and Nuggets improved and the Spurs will be the Spurs, continue to fly under the radar and be near the top of the West.  The Timberwolves really improved and should be a dark horse team in the West. 

It will be a tough battle for the #1 seed and for Oklahoma City to go back to the NBA Finals, but with their young nucleus of Durant, Westbrook, Ibaka and Harden they’ll be tough.  I believe Lin will do alright in Houston and Gragic will run Phoenix just fine.  The biggest thing for the Clippers is health, a lot of veterans on that squad and CP3 must remain healthy for majority of the season, if Odom bounces back to old-form then it’ll cause problems for opposing teams running with their 2nd unit.  Looking forward to a couple rookies in Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard and Meyers Leonard and I doubt Perry Jones gets much playing time early on as he’s on a contender.  But, let’s get right to it, from 1 to 15 I rank the western conference teams for the 2012-2013 NBA Season.

RANK TEAM NOTES
1 OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER Nobody likes to be the loser in the NBA Finals, especially not after the season OKC had.  After signing Ibaka to an extension in the off-season, you got to wonder if they can afford to keep their 6th man (Harden).  Vital part of this team and offense, if they want to remain atop the west they definitely need to keep Harden.  OKC still lacking a low post scorer, if Ibaka stops talking and just plays maybe he could be it? The Perry Jones development will be interesting as it seemed a gift for him to fall to OKC in the Draft. They have a bunch of teams in the west to battle, but i like their chances on getting back to the Finals, rematch.
     
2 LOS ANGELES LAKERS LA made not 1, not 2 but 3 moves in the off-season that got everyone hating on LA.  They went ahead and acquired Future HOF’er PG Steve Nash, then went on some high school affair where talks would be on, then off to only have it turned back on, then off once again and then finally cut the deal where Dwight Howard got sent to LA while Lakers traded away Bynum.  The third move that is the x-factor is bringing in savvy vet Jamison, who’ll be a solid stretch 4.  If Metta can get his act together this team will be dangerous, can the chemistry work?
     
3 DALLAS MAVERICKS People were saying Dallas is getting old and their championship window has closed (even though they already won one) but their back in serious contention after this summer.  They got younger and more athletic with the acquisitions of Darren Collison (PG), OJ Mayo (SG), Dahntay Jones (SG) and Chris Kaman (C) who each bring a different element to the team.  If Kaman can remain healthy he’s arguably the best Center Dallas has ever had.  Mayo will finally get starter minutes and his numbers and play will rise, Jones is the defensive specialist that can keep up with quicker players Vince Carter cannot.  Collison takes over for Kidd, and is much quicker and is just 2 years removed from averaging 18/9 while starting for the Hornets.  Keep an eye on this squad, their flying under the radar.
     
4 LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS The other side of LA has the “win-now” attitude being that it could be CP3’s last year there.  This is arguably thee most talented roster Clippers put together, but they still lack a Center.  They added quite a few vets in Odom, Jamal Crawford, Grant Hill and Matt Barnes they bring a new intensity to LA a new “swag”.  Billups expected to be back in December only makes this team even more dangerous.  Griffin needs to take the next step and improve his FT % and work on his jumpers, get that Amar’e type jumper.  They got the talent on paper, can they mesh together on the court and Crawford and Odom bounce back from a very poor 2011 season?
     
5 DENVER NUGGETS This is my darkhorse team in the West, this roster got better defensively and all around with the addition of Andre Iguodala and Wilson Chandler now back.  Lawson and Miller form a potent 1-2 punch at PG, especially when their on the court together.  Iggy brings his defensive presence and add that in with Faried, Randolph and McGee and you possibly have the best defensive unit in the league.  Danilo will be back healthy, and if Randolph develops into anything on what he’s supposed to be then DEN got a steal with him.  Fourier will develop and learn on the fly, should be a solid guard in near future.  When Ty Lawson said there a top 3 team, i believed him and i still do, this could be a team no team wants to face come playoff time.
     
6 SAN ANTONIO SPURS Same old story with the Spurs, but I have them dropping to 6th this season.  Rightfully so though many will think they belong somewhere near the top as they were the #1 seed just a season ago.  They’ll keep on truckin and fly under the radar but I just like the other teams above skillset and talent on their roster better.  They got a young star in Kawhi Leonard who will improve this season, but Duncan, Manu and Parker also get 1 year older and how much years left in the tank?  Splitter still has potential but will it ever be reached/seen? Can Danny Green keep up the success he’s found in San Antonio? They’ll remain one of the top 3point shooting teams again but they’ll go as far as their young guns take them. 
     
7 MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES This will be a big season for the Minnesota Timberwolves as they worked hard in the off-season to acquire pieces that’ll help Kevin Love remain a Wolve.  Brought back Brandon Roy, who I hope is back healthy as he’s my favorite player and I’m rooting for him.  They also signed Andrei Kirilenko, who looked like his early 20’s again during the Olympics, Pekovic is about to be one of the better halves of Centers in the league.  Kevin Love is Kevin Love, boards, points, 3pointers made – he’ll do it all, he just has to stay healthy towards the end of the season, past 2 seasons he’s been injured down the stretch.  Rubio should be back in December and will Derrick Williams improve in his 2nd season?
     
8 PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS Tough call here but I believe the Blazers can make it as the 8th seed barring any injury, especially to Aldridge.  They lose Aldridge they lose their season, Lillard is the franchise PG and will be the rookie of the year as he’ll help lead this team.  Hickson has done well in his short stint in Portland and will be needed early on as POR lacks front court depth behind Aldridge, Hickson and Meyers.  Meyers has all the tools to be a good starting caliber Center in the league.  How will Batum feel now that he’s back in POR and not in MIN with Roy.  Their other weakness is SF, after Batum there’s nobody capable of filling in so that’s something to keep an eye on too.  Portlands ceiling is the 8th seed and they could drop to 11th or 12th at seasons end.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rounding out the remaining teams I have at 9th (Memphis Grizzlies) 10th (Houston Rockets) 11th (Golden State Warriors) 12th (Utah Jazz) 13th (Phoenix Suns) 14th (Sacramento Kings) and 15th (New Orleans Hornets).  Grizzlies will miss OJ Mayo because they have a hole to fill at SG now; Tony Allen is just a defensive specialist.  For Golden State, if Curry and Bogut stay healthy they’ll rise in rankings and flirt with the 8th seed in the playoffs.  Warriors are right there (for playoff contention) the pieces are there, just need to be consistent now.  The Jazz have one of the best Front Courts in the NBA with Favors, Millsap and Jefferson but lacking at SG and PG play will hurt them throughout the season.  Suns will start their Nash-less era but they have some talent on this squad with Beasley (can he bounce back?) Scola and Gragic, don’t forget about Jared Dudley (who turned himself into a solid role player) and Shannon Brown (probably wishing he stayed in LA).  To round it out, you got the rebuilding Hornets; Gordon’s health is the key here and will remain an issue if he can’t recover.  Rivers and Davis will develop into a nice inside/outside threat as both grow together.

Now with my NBA Finals pick on who’ll represent the West and once again, I’m picking the Oklahoma City Thunder to go back to the finals and have a rematch with the Miami Heat, can they avoid the same result or will they flip the script this time around? Stay Tuned.

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