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Offseason Power Rankings

Jul 29, 2010, 3:19 PM EDT

Well, that was fun, wasn’t it? Mix together equal parts of ego and cap space to throw around, and you get one wild off-season. Everybody was making moves. There were decisions and The Decision.

And at the end of it all, the Lakers are on top.

Since most of the moves have shaken out, we’ve decided to do an NBA off-season power rankings. This is a ranking of NBA teams as we see them lined up for the next NBA title. The teams are accompanied by the betting odds for them to win the next NBA title (from Bodog Sports).

1. Lakers (odds to win next title 11/4)
They are the two-time defending NBA champions and good luck prying that trophy out of Kobe Bryant’s fingers no matter what kind of shape they are in. Scarier yet for the league, these Lakers should be better. Steve Blake is a better triangle point guard than the departed Jordan Farmar. Matt Barnes brings more toughness. If Andrew Bynum’s surgically-repaired knees can hold up for a season, the Lakers will head into next playoffs better than the last two years. They are still the king of the mountain.

2. Heat (7/4) Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh make the most talented trio the NBA has seen since the 1980s. Those three made a financial sacrifice to play together and will do the same on the court — their fantasy value goes down but their winning will go up. Pat Riley did a fantastic job with the rest of the roster — Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller being the keys. Erik Spoelstra will be under a lot of pressure, but he is a coach who can handle it. Still, there are questions. How long will it take for the group to gel? (Not long.) Who defends the paint on defense? (This is a bigger issue — Joel Anthony has fight but is undersized, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Jamaal Magloire will try but are not young.) With those big men, can the Heat match up with Orlando and Dwight Howard, Boston and it’s long front line or the Lakers with Bynum and Gasol? They’ll be good, maybe very good in the regular season, but the title will have to be earned.

3. Magic (11/1) They didn’t do much this off-season, other than be involved in Chris Paul rumors. Oh, and they got Chris Duhon, let us never forget that. But as much as they get overlooked, the Magic did not have to do much. This team has been to the NBA finals and the Eastern Conference finals the last two years. They kept JJ Redick and you’ll see more of him and less of Vince Carter. They will stick with their system of Dwight Howard and guys who can shoot the three, because it works. Jameer Nelson is still good and will have a chip on his shoulder. They still play defense. Overlook Orlando at your own peril, they are contenders.

4. Celtics (12/1) I picture Danny Ainge like John Belushi in the Blues Brothers, running around saying “we’re getting the band back together.” Then doing whatever it takes to make that happen, including pissing off Aretha Franklin. One smart move was picking up Jermaine O’Neal, who gives them some front line depth until Kendrick Perkins returns, and a lot more offense down low than Perk ever could. But it all comes down to health around the playoffs — fully healthy they are a serious contender, if not they are gone early. And while that is true of every team, with the age of the Celtics it is more of a risk than most places.

5. Thunder (18/1) For OKC, it’s about growth, not additions. They locked up Kevin Durant for five years. They got a little size to help combat the Lakers by drafting Cole Aldrich. They got Daequan Cook to spell Westbrook some, plus added guard depth with Mo Peterson. But if the Thunder just improve along the trajectory they already are on, they are about to make a big leap next season.

6. Bulls (15/1) If it wasn’t for the Miami Miracle, everybody would be talking about what a great offseason the Bulls had. They needed scoring inside, they got Carlos Boozer. They needed better play at the two, they got Ronnie Brewer. They needed better outside shooting, they got Kyle Korver. They got a coach who will preach defense first again in Tom Thibodeau. Add that to the core of Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Luol Deng and you have a good team. With a new coach and new systems, it may take a while to gel, but come the playoffs this team should be scaring opponents.  

7. Spurs (28/1) I know, you’ve been hearing this for years and you’re done buying, but I really mean it this time — the Spurs have one more dangerous run in them. This season or next, the one year all the core guys can stay healthy, they are going to make one last big run in the Tim Duncan era. The key reason is Tiago Splitter, the best center for the last several years in Europe who the Spurs finally convinced to come to the states. He may not start, but you can bet he finishes games. And he will be the best big man Duncan has had next to him since the Admiral retired. Add in Tony Parker, George Hill and Manu Ginobili with a solid supporting cast and smart coaching and… it’s going to happen. Trust me.

8. Mavericks (18/1) It wasn’t for lack of effort. Mark Cuban busted it, Donnie Nelson tried everything, but the Mavericks go into the next season with the same roster that finished the last one. Which is not a bad roster. They kept Dirk Nowitzki and Brendan Haywood, look for Rod Beaubois to get more burn (he should have in the playoffs last year, but we’re letting that go and moving on now). They are on that tier one step back of the Lakers, but if for whatever reason the Lakers stumble Dallas is near the top of the West. And you can bet Cuban isn’t done trying.

9. Blazers (35/1) Their one big offseason move — essentially trading Kevin Pritchard for Rich Cho as general manager — is not going to have a big impact on the court. They added some good young talent with Wesley Mathews and draft pick Luke Babbit. The real key here is healthy — remember the Blazers were the up-and-coming young team two years ago, then injuries descended on them last season like they offended the basketball gods. If they can stay healthy — especially at center with Greg Oden and Joel Pryzbilla — they could surprise a lot of teams.

10. Rockets (35/1) It’s really simple: If Yao Ming is healthy, this ranking is too low. If not, it is too high. This summer the Rockets picked up some people to help keep Yao’s minutes down — Brad Miller and rookie Fredrick Paterson. They’re nice, but it is all about Yao. They have the backcourt (Aaron Brooks and Kevin Martin), they have the role players (they kept Luis Scola) but Yao is the key.

11. Jazz (30/1) They lost Carlos Boozer, they replaced him with Al Jefferson. They lost Wesley Mathews and replaced him with Raja Bell. Goodbye Kyle Korver, hello Gordon Hayward. This was really a fantastic offseason by the Jazz — it could have been a disaster but they replaced key losses and may have even upgraded a little. The Jazz remain in that tough middle ground of good (52 wins last season, probably just a few less this season) but not good enough to challenge the elite. Still, fantastic offseason to replace those that bolted.

12. Bucks (40/1) The senator/owner opened up his wallet and now the team nobody in the East wanted to play in the first round (until Andrew Bogut went down) is going to be better. Brandon Jennings will not be a rookie anymore, and the Bucks have paid to keep John Salmons. They added solid depth along the front line with Drew Gooden and draftee Larry Sanders. They got Keyon Dooling and Chris Douglas-Roberts to solidify the backcourt. This is a good team that can get a top four seed in the East and advance to the second round. Not sure they can beat the elite, but this is a very good team.

13. Hawks (28/1) Meet the new Hawks, same as the old Hawks. They kept Joe Johnson (at a steep price) but did not add any size around him. New coach Larry Drew may be able to get more out of this squad — maybe get them to
play better defense and conv
ert that to offense going the other way. Maybe Jeff Teague can give them a boost at the point. Even still, this is a good team – maybe a 50 win team again — that can’t beat the East elite. They are what we thought they were.

14. Nuggets (18/1) Kenyon Martin is going to miss much of next season, and they need him to come back right for the playoffs to have any chance. They tried hard to get more size but missed on all their attempts. They did land Al Harrington and Sheldon Williams, but that’s not the answer. They have Carmelo Anthony, they have Chauncey Billups. This is a good team. But they do not have the talent to beat the Lakers or the top of the West. Right now, they are what they are, good but not great.

15. Suns (35/1) They lost Amare Stoudemire, and the window for Steve Nash and his back will not be open that much longer, so the Suns took some risks. They had to. They traded for Hedo Turkoglu, who when motivated is a good fit in the Suns system. He can also take on some of the ball-handling duties for the team. I love the Josh Childress signing and having him back in the league. Hakim Warrick was a quality pick up. However, it’s hard to see how the Suns really got better, while teams around them did. It’s hard to see them back in the Western Conference finals with this roster.

16. Grizzlies (50/1) They didn’t make big moves this summer — Tony Allen is a nice signing for depth, and Xavier Henry can be a boost if they stop messing around and sign him. But mostly they are counting on what worked last year working better this year. A better O.J.Mayo, a better Zach Randolph, a better Marc Gasol. And new max-deal man Rudy Gay stepping up to really lead. Seems like the kind of thing that could fall apart, plus the Grizzlies will not be sneaking up on anyone this year.

17. Hornets (40/1) Trade rumors swirl and ownership is in transition, or isn’t, we can’t tell. Two things that usually spell trouble for a team. But this team still has Chris Paul, back fully healthy, plus David West. Draftees Craig Brackins and Quincy Pondexter can provide something their first year. Emeka Okafor gives you more than his reputation would suggest. Basically, this team isn’t that bad. It isn’t good, not nearly as good as Chris Paul wants, but it isn’t a train wreck either. And they have some big contracts coming off the books to give them some flexibility for the future.

18. Warriors (75/1) The biggest off-season move in the Bay Area was not the signing of David Lee, it was Joe Lacob and Peter Guber buying the team. This team desperately needed new ownership, and now with that will come some big changes on the basketball operations side (once the owners get full control). Gone will be Don Nelson, which means draftee Ekpe Udoh might actually get to play. They traded a way a lot of talent this summer, however still have Stephen Curry and Lee. It’s hard to predict how good or bad they will be exactly. But now there is hope for the future in the Bay Area, and that alone is a huge boost for the fans.

19. Sixers (100/1) The biggest thing that will speed the Sixers turnaround — players will buy into what new coach Doug Collins is selling in a way they never did with Eddie Jordan. They have some players, too. Philly drafted Evan Turner No. 2 and will pair him with Jrue Holiday in the backcourt. Turner looked a little lost at Summer League, but he is still figuring out how to fit his game into the NBA. They still have Andre Iguodala. They lost Samuel Dalembert but picked up Spencer Hawes and Andres Nocioni. If Collins can get something out of Elton Brand, this ranking will be too low.

20. Kings (150/1) This team is going to be very entertaining. Draft pick DeMarcus Cousins and Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans will play very well off each other. Samuel Dalembert is a good fit along the front line. The Kings got bigger and better and are building a nice foundation. Not sure how far it will take them this year, but they are building.

21. Knicks (35/1) Amare Stoudemire up front and Raymond Felton running the show make this team a lot better. Anthony Randolph could have a breakout year. New York is building a roster that fits with the Mike D’Antoni system. Things are looking up. But they won 29 games last year, there was a lot of room for improvement. They still need one more big piece like Carmelo Anthony or Chris Paul before New York will be all the way back.

22. Bobcats (50/1) They won 44 games last season then this summer they lost Raymond Felton and traded away Tyson Chandler. They got Erick Dampier in a trade, but will cut him to get under the luxury tax threshold. Sounds like they got worse, which means no return trip to the playoffs, unless Tyrus Thomas and D.J. Augustine really step up their games. We will be rooting for Shaun Livingston to do well also. But it’s hard to be very optimistic here.

23. Clippers (100/1) It’s like they get two first-round picks this season — Blake Griffin can finally play, plus Al-Faroqu Aminu. The Clippers also made some nice pickups by drafting Eric Bledsoe and bringing in Ryan Gomes and Randy Foye. All that with the core that includes Chris Kaman and Eric Gordon. Still, everything comes down to this: Can new coach Vinny Del Negro get Baron Davis to play well with others, and to care for 82 games? Or even 75 games would be good. On paper the Clippers have playoff talent, even in the West. But Davis has to be on board. And how much do you want to bet on that?

24. Wizards (50/1) They got the building block in John Wall. He is potentially that good and flashed it at Summer League. He is a blur end-to-end. Pair him with Gilbert Arenas in the starting backcourt, with Kirk Hinrich and Josh Howard coming in off the bench and you have a good guard rotation. Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee should get a lot of spectacular dunks in transition with feeds from Wall, who is a blur end-to-end. But that is the key — the Wizards have to run. They have to get Wall in the open court. Assistant coach Sam Cassell said that was the plan, we’ll see if the team follows through.

25. Nets (150/1) They swung for the fences this summer and struck out. Still, they should be better this year. Drafting Derrick Favors was smart, he has potential but like a lot of this team he still needs to grow. They made a great signing with Anthony Morrow plus picked up a solid backup PG in Jordan Farmar. Avery Johnson will have them playing hard. Still a lot left to do for Mikhail Prokhorov before they are in Brooklyn in two years.

26. Pacers (100/1) They want to run, they don’t have a point guard who is comfortable in that offense, and they didn’t get one. Second round draft pick Lance Stephenson is nice and could become the guy who can run the show at the point, and first-round draft pick Paul George has potential. But the Pacers stood pat. So for now, this team remains the Danny Granger show. They won 32 games last year, hard to see them improving on that now.

27. Pistons (100/1) They won 27 games last year, and they drafted a big man who needs some work in Greg Monroe. That’s basically it. They are bringing the same team back. Maybe they can’t make any big moves until the for-sale team has a new owner, but it is about time to blow this thing up and rebuild.

28. Timberwolves (150/1) They have Darko Milicic for four more years. They have the chance to rehabilitate Michael Beasley. We could spend all day mocking David Kahn and the Wolves because they seem to have no plan, at least not one that blends with the triangle offense Kurt Rambis wants to run. But there is some talent on the roster. They did draft Wesley Johnson to play the three, and they do have Kevin Love, a quality four. Luke Ridnour is an upgrade at the point. Martell Webster can shoot the rock. I have no idea what the master plan is, but the roster has a few nice pieces.

29. Raptors (150/1) They lost Chris Bosh. They have
put together a roster that looks like it’s in the EuroLeague. Things are going to get worse before they get better. Toronto fans are happy to see Hedo Turkoglu gone, but that is another offensive option now playing elsewhere. Look for DeMar DeRozan to have a big year, for Amir Johnson to get his chance, for draftees Ed Davis and Solomon Alabi to play well, but this team is about to take a step back.

30. Cleveland Cavaliers (60/1) Do we really need to go into what a bad offseason this was in Cleveland? Byron Scott is at the helm now of a major rebuilding project that is going to see some tough years until some good young pieces can be put in place.

  1. Richard - Jul 31, 2010 at 1:21 PM

    I think there is going to be some major shift in the strongest
    teams in the nba come next season.this is how i would rank the best.
    (1) lakers as a good chance of repeating as champ.
    (2) celtics are still the team to beat in the east
    (3) miami as gotten better but have to prove they can work together.
    (4) migic is still in there.
    (5) thunder will be in there.
    (6)hawks should now be consider a good contender
    (7)maverick need a little more help.
    (8) bulls need a few more years to get it together.
    (9) trailblazers have a good chance to move up on my list during the season.
    (10) sun/spurs are equal in chance of winning it all.

  2. Mr. Felix G. McMurray - Jul 31, 2010 at 3:12 PM

    I’m acually deeply offended there’s no mention of the Jazz on any of these lists. They’re better than the Spurs, Suns, Blazers and Mavericks. The only two teams better than them are the Lakers and possibly the Thunder. I’m reading the posts and losing my appetite for the delicious lunch I prepared for myself because of the disrespect y’all have shown my beloved Jazz.

  3. Jesse - Aug 1, 2010 at 7:24 AM

    Just so all you idiots know this writer IS NOT RANKING THE TEAMS FOR NEXT YEAR… THESE RANKINGS ARE BASED ON OFFSEASON MOVES!!!!! of course the cavs are not the worst team in the NBA but they lost the best player and gained nothing. so, not too good an offseason. How did not one person read the title of the artical!?!?!?!? wat a joke all you guys gettin all worked up

  4. luffy - Aug 1, 2010 at 9:38 PM

    Of course we know that idiot! Next year you say? like 2011? I think you meant next season IDIOT! anyways, the off-season moves are the ones that we’re gonna see next season so it doesn’t matter. In general this is simply the power rankings…
    Yes, Lakers all the way, 3peat, 4peat, 5peat if they manage to get Kirk Hinrich, just wishful thinking…

  5. Junmhar - Aug 1, 2010 at 10:36 PM

    JERKS! xD

  6. JM - Aug 1, 2010 at 10:38 PM

    JERKS! xD

  7. SEAN - Aug 2, 2010 at 10:43 AM

    YOU GOT TO KIDDING ME ,WHEN YOU PUT THE BULLS AND THUNDER AHEAD SPURS TO WIN CHAMPIOSHIP.BULLS DONT HAVE FRANCISE PLAYER AND DEREK ROSE AINT THAT,BOOZER IS OVER RATED.THEY HAD A PLAYOFF GUY WHO MAKE BIG SHOTS IN BEN GORDON AND WAS STUIPID TO LET HIM GO.YOU REMEMBER EXCITING PLAYOFFS WITH GORDON COMPARE TO LAST YEAR,WERE THEY IN PLAYOFFS!!! (haha)THE THUNDER IS STILL TOO YOUNG AND DONT HAVE A SHOT FOR THE NEXT 3-5 YRS.you got it right with tiago splitter,he be difference maker and remember another guy name gary neal from europe,i bet he win 6th man year..this is how it should be
    1-LAKERS
    2-MIAMI
    3-SPURS
    4-ORLANDO
    5- DALLAS
    6-ALL OTHERS IS JUST THEM TO WARM UP FROM ROUND TO ROUND FOR THESE TEAMS

  8. in FLORIDA - Aug 2, 2010 at 12:26 PM

    I love the Cavs fans trying to justify being better than they are. They seem to (conveniently) forget that one certain player scored their last TWENTY-FIVE (25) points in one of the biggest games in franchise history. Why? Because they couldn’t rely on anyone else! The Cavs could, possibly, set an all-time NBA record LOW for points-per-game average over an entire season. Every night will be a struggle to score 80. Face it Cavs fans, your run is over for a very long time. Dan Gilbert says they’ll win an NBA title before LeBron. And here I thought cocaine was illegal in every state…

  9. GOD - Aug 2, 2010 at 12:32 PM

    As a Palm Beach Florida Baller, spending time In Los Angeles every few years and driving the I-95 to the I-75 to the I-10 and back for the past 11 years, I have seen Shaq and K.O.B.E. win an almost 4-peat (FK DETROIT) from 2000-2003 and I was in Palm Beach, FLA for Shaq and D_Wade in 06…I can tell you it will be good!
    Kobe will win it in 2010-2011, then the HEAT will 3-peat right behind the LAKERS 3-peat and then in 2014-2015, they will have a 3-peat rubber NBA championship!
    love the OCEAN
    California Love!
    Florida Love!

  10. hhhhhhhhhh - Aug 2, 2010 at 12:46 PM

    Miami Heat all the way I can’t wait for the season to start so everyone can just shut the F*&^ up. All of you are scared to face the Heat. Enjoy all your trash talking for now but when the championships start coming try and remember what you were saying about how the heat can’t do it. By talking, all you are doing is fueling the fire down here in Miami. Enjoy the season, I hope for the best of luck to all your teams.

  11. whatthef - Aug 2, 2010 at 12:54 PM

    Ranking the Hawks, Nuggets, Jazz, Rockets and Bucks ahead of the Suns shows just how ignorant this writer really is. Under his own arguments the Suns are 10th at worst. Even the Bulls ranking defies logic being that they have become the Jazz with Rose instead of Deron Williams. I am not a Suns fan and think Nash is sometimes overrated but get real. The Suns pushed the Lakers in the conference finals, and the loss of Amare is being over thought. When Phoenix lost Amare a few seasons ago they didn’t skip a beat and had a great season with Boris Diaw (what a joke) filling in. If skirt wearing Diaw can replace Amare, then Hedo and Warrick will do just fine. Nash is the reason why every forward in Phoenix has had success. It is odd that the Thunder move to second in the west based on the idea that their young talent will continue to improve while the suns drop despite the fact that Dragic and Lopez still have huge upside and Childress is back in the league after polishing his already NBA effective game up overseas. Childress has never had point guards like Nash and Dragic and will take his scoring to another level with them. Lopez has the most upside of any center in the league after making a mental break through last season. As a Lakers fan the only teams I fear is the Thunder and the Suns. In the west it is the 1) Lakers, 2) Thunder, 3/4) Suns/Spurs depending on who impacts their team more Splitter or Childress.

  12. CLE - Aug 2, 2010 at 1:38 PM

    Not good enough that you think you have the dream team you also need to disrespect the city of Cleveland and quote stats from three years ago.
    That certain one player that scored the last 25 points was against Detroit and it was the only time he did it. Other than that he has his famous three over Turkeyglue and then lost the series to Orlando and I guess we can throw in the couple of triple doubles throughout his playoff career. Over seven years time he hasn’t matured mentally. He is a great physical player but he is also still a kid and had that, “I will take my ball and go home” look about him against the Celtics.
    The fact of the matter is, LeBeach does not want to be the scorer, he wants to pass the ball around. There has been enough written about this since the man child picked South Beach. The rest of this team did play decent ball without him and won’t be sitting in the cellar. I still say they will squeak in to the playoffs.
    Just as nobody knows how the Heat is going to play together, you can’t predict how the LeLoserless Cavs will play this coming season. Now that all the attention is off LeChoke the Cavs will still have at least an average team. There biggest flaw is not having a true center.
    What I really find hard to believe is LePrick not going to an actual sports town but that just proves the point.

  13. zaglossus - Aug 2, 2010 at 2:03 PM

    The Lakers barely survived a beat up Celtics team. Don’t expect anybody to beat the Heat this year. Three-peats are almost unheard of. Besides, who really can get worked up about basketball in August?? I’m surprised I even wasted my time looking at this so early in the year.

  14. whatthef - Aug 2, 2010 at 2:13 PM

    Lebron is the next Scottie Pippen not the next Michael Jordan. He just better hope D-Wade is close enough to MJ to get it done. My money is on Kobe getting his sixth ring with another 3 peat and then one more title before he is done. Then we will be waiting on the next Kobe.

  15. scir91onYouTube - Aug 2, 2010 at 2:23 PM

    dan glibert says he will win a title before lebron. he couldn’t do it with a superstar and he plans to do it without one? what an idiot.

  16. the shark - Aug 2, 2010 at 2:36 PM

    amen bruddah. u tell’em. i believe retracted back after that cuz he relized that he look like an idiot for sure.

  17. JoeBlow - Aug 2, 2010 at 2:44 PM

    The Bull-lonies won’t even make the draft they suck so bad

  18. exhelodrvr - Aug 2, 2010 at 2:57 PM

    Cavs lost a lot more than LeBron. It’s very reasonable picking them as one of the worst teams in the league.

  19. Lakers4Lyfe - Aug 2, 2010 at 4:09 PM

    NBCs power rankings had Lakers 10th last year weeks before the playoffs. No one pays attention to this anymore, and shouldn’t. Fantasyland.

  20. Steve - Aug 2, 2010 at 4:10 PM

    The Cavs lost more than LeBron. They are going to suck. And please, stop with the LeBron is the best player in the league. Kobe is hands down the best player in the league. LeBron has won the Ohio State boys High School basketball championship. That’s it. After this coming year, LeBron will Still have won the Ohio State boys High School basketball championship. He quit during the Celtics series. He’s got a LONG way to go before you call him the best player in the NBA.

  21. Speed - Aug 2, 2010 at 5:26 PM

    Excellent point!

  22. Speed - Aug 2, 2010 at 5:37 PM

    I just don’t see how you rank the Magic above the Celtics when the Magic were completely dominated by the Celtics this past playoffs.
    And I’m not sure I agree with OKC being ranked ahead of the Bulls.
    And lastly, I would probably put the Bulls ahead of the Celtics since the Bulls almost beat them in the 2009 playoffs (when both teams were missing their second-best players, Deng and Garnett respectively) and since then the Bulls have actually added some major pieces (Boozer vs. Gibson, Brewer vs. Hinrich, Korver vs. Ben Gordon) whereas the Celtics have lost more than they gained since then (gained Jermaine O’Neal but lost their defensive coach-leader in Tom Thibodeau).

  23. mike - Aug 3, 2010 at 12:28 AM

    Who Cares.

  24. RY - Aug 3, 2010 at 9:15 AM

    Hey “alets”…please make your next comment without consulting SportsCenter first.

  25. ry - Aug 3, 2010 at 9:20 AM

    Your knowlege of sports is obviously limited to information presented on SportsCenter. You should try shooting a ball at a hoop…if you are mentally tough enough.

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