Posted by: Ryan Martinez on July 20th, 2012The author's views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of the Utah Jazz.
The way I look at the NBA there are 3 tiers of talent: Bad, Good & Better for each conference. Lets figure out, if the season started today, where the Jazz would fit.
Let’s start with the Bad group: These are teams that likely won’t make playoffs or even be in consideration.
Bobcats, Wizards, Pistons, Raptors.
The Bobcats will improve, but not nearly enough for playoff hopes. The Wizards will need a while for their backcourt to solidify. The Pistons could make a run for the playoffs in a few years, depending on development. Toronto, could likely make some noise this year, but I’m not sure what they’ll be able to do with the players they have right away.
The Good: Teams that will fight for a lower playoff seed.
Hawks, Magic, Cavaliers, Bucks, 76ers, Celtics, Bulls.
The Hawks blew their team up too much to recover. The Magic can only go so far with a disgruntled Howard. The Cavs could be stepping up to the challenge, but their mostly young guys so, it’s questionable. The Bucks can make some noise if they’re healthy and able to play to full potential. The Sixers hurt themselves by essentially swapping Elton Brand for Kwame Brown. The Celtics will find it hard to win as their players are one year older, and they lost their sharpshooter. The Bulls will be in a tough spot with Derrick Rose on the mend, and possibly out until February.
The Better: Teams that have a chance to get a top-3 seed.
Heat, Pacers, Nets, Knicks
The Heat add two more 3-point threats to a championship team. The Pacers brought back their starting Point and Center, and for the most part, kept their team intact. The Nets added players that made D-Will want to stay, and made themselves a legit team. The Knicks let Linsanity walk, but they also added some good pieces that could help Melo and Amare actually play together.
Now let’s get to the west:
Hornets, Suns, Kings
The Hornets have potential, but I think it will take time. The Suns can’t replace Steve Nash and couldn’t even make it with him. The Kings are too log jammed at the guards, and too preoccupied with possible relocation discussions to be able to focus on trying to make the playoffs this year.
Trailblazers, Timberwolves, Nuggets, Warriors, Rockets, Mavericks.
The Blazers have pieces, but if Lillard doesn’t perform right, they’ll be out of luck. The Wolves are in a really good position, and if Love and Rubio can lead them all year, they’ll be fighting for a spot. The Nuggets are only being held back by the fact that they don’t have a leader, something that hurt them in the playoffs. The Warriors have a lineup with the potential of cracking the postseason. The Rockets have tried hard for Dwight, and came away with Lin, maybe not enough. The Mavericks let their team implode thinking they’d get Howard, Williams or both, they got neither, they did add nice pieces, but was it enough?
Thunder, Spurs, Lakers, Clippers, Grizzlies, Jazz
The Thunder come back with a finals-tested team that puts them in position to win-now the only question is how do they keep everyone after this season? The Spurs kept their team intact, and their unique fusion of youth and experience spells trouble for the rest of the conference. The Lakers added a much needed point-guard, but with Nash, Kobe, and Gasol all in their 30’s how long will they stay on top? The Clippers added a helpful piece in Odom as long as he performs better than he did in Dallas, with CP3 and Griffin playing well, they’ll be in a good position. The Grizzlies lost some momentum letting Mayo walk, but they’ll still be in the playoffs. The Jazz will be in a good position as long as our young guys progress, but that will only happen if they play, meaning we can’t be worried about the veterans feelings, we have to be concerned with trying to get better, even if that means benching Millsap.
1- Oklahoma City
2- Los Angeles Lakers
3- San Antonio
4- Los Angeles Clippers
8- Golden State
With that being said, I think the east will only have 5 maybe 6 winning records, while the west has up to 12. I feel like something may end up being discussed to alter this.
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