When my man Clint asked me to do an NBA Preview piece, I thought to myself “why preview the entire NBA?” I mean let’s face it, the league is top heavy, I can admit that. There are more bad teams than good in the league. It’s like that in most of the professional sporting leagues around the world, but it’s more prevalent in the NBA for some reason.
So with that being said, here is my list of Pretenders – teams that are on the verge of greatness and Contenders – those who can legitimately win it all.
Brooklyn Nets – you’re kidding yourself if you actually think this team of veterans can win it all. You have to admire the moves they made, or love the moves they made if you are the head of marketing for the Nets. However, when your starting lineup consists of a 37-year old power forward, 36-year old small forward and 32-year old shooting guard, you just aren’t going to have the horses to win a championship
Chicago Bulls – let me start by saying the Bulls starting lineup might be one of the best in the league. It’s the bench that scares me. Derrick Rose, when healthy, is as good as anyone at the point guard position. Chicago just isn’t deep enough to make a long playoff run.
Los Angeles Clippers – finally the Clips are the best team in La La Land. Finally. Too bad they still aren’t good enough to win a title. De’Andre Jordan needs to learn how to play at both ends of the floor at all times and Blake Griffin needs to elevate his game to the next level if this team thinks it’s actually a contender and not just the best team in LA, which nowadays , isn’t all that hard.
Houston Rockets – I always find it funny when people use the word “leader” in a sentence with Dwight Howards name in it. Howard might be the most selfish player to ever play the game, both on and off the court. (Consolation prize goes to Corey Maggette). Howard does put the Rockets in the conversation for a team that “could” win a title, but talk is all it really is.
Indiana Pacers – yep, that’s right the Pacers. Anyone who knows basketball and how it’s played loves this Indiana team. They are a throwback to the “bad boy” Detroit Pistons days, or the early nineties New York Knicks teams. They are bruisers with talent. Plus, they have a massive bargaining chip in Danny Granger and his expiring contract. If no contract extension is in the cards for Indiana and Granger, the Pacers could really stock up for the future with the right deal in place for the former all-star. Lock them in for an Eastern Conference Finals spot once again.
Oklahoma City Thunder – Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. That’s all that needs to be said. The two are like the Batman and Robin of the NBA. The Thunder will go as far as this dynamic duo will take them. Westbrook needs to be fully healthy, however, for OKC to win a title. If he returns from his current injury and get himself 100 percent healthy come playoff time, look out.
San Antonio Spurs – will this team ever die? I mean seriously! Yes, I said that a team like the Nets with its senior citizen starting lineup is too old to win a title, but in the case of San Antonio and its aging core, I believe they can still compete for a title. The reason why is simple. The Spurs are coached by Gregg Popovich, who by in my humble opinion is hands down the best coach in the NBA, and Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili aren’t human. They can’t be. How you can keep competing at such a high level at their ages is mind boggling. It also helps when a journeyman like Danny Green joins your team and almost wins the MVP of the playoffs. That sort of helps too.
Miami Heat – well duh! They knew they had to get bigger and deeper up front, so they rolled the dice on former first overall pick Greg Oden. Whether Oden even plays much is too be determined, but even without adding him, Miami is still the team to beat in the NBA. Oh, and Mike Beasley also returned to the team that drafted him second overall just five years ago. It’s not that relevant. He’ll probably smoke more joints than make jump-shots, but that’s why I just love “Be Easy” Mike Beasley. What’s the over-under for how long it takes before the Heat waive Beasley? Two – three months?
SOURCE: ANDREW WADDEN OF VANCOUVER BASKETBALL