Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Much Awaited Power Rankings
By Zach

So here they are, the promised SportszillaPower Rankings. Here's the way they work. I list the teams in the order I think they belong. I explain why I put them where they are. Lance Medow, the resident NBA expert, gives you his thoughts on the teams. And you read it.

Lance knows more about NBA rosters than anyone I know. The guy can name all 12 active players on any roster. Yes, even the Atlanta Hawks. Plus, he loves basketball. So there ya go.

Rankings as of 2/16/05

1. Seattle SuperSonics (35-14)
Zach says: call me a homer, but no one's better against the NBA's top teams.
Lance says: Right now Seattle has shown that their front court is the best suited to face the Spurs in a seven-game series.
2. Phoenix Suns (41-12)
Zach says: Loss at home to the Supes hurts...they have no bench.
Lance says: Two key acquisitions, Jimmy Jackson and Walter McCarty will take some pressure (and minutes) off the starters down the stretch.
3. Miami Heat (39-14)
Zach says: Great win against San twosome in the league.
Lance says: The Heat have proven that they have clutch players down the strech, as guys besides Shaq and Dwyane Wade are stepping up.
4. San Antonio Spurs (40-12)
Zach says: Off week, but probably still the best bet to win the title.
Lance says: Someone still has to prove that they can beat the Spurs, but without a fully-healthy Tim Duncan, they're very vulnerable.
5. Dallas Mavericks (33-16)
Zach says: Great comeback against Seattle, but they'd better show that defense more often...and Dirk is amazing.
Lance says: Dallas continues to show that they have plenty of offensive weapons, but until they show good fundamental defense, they're not a title contender.
6. Detroit Pistons (31-19)
Zach says: Don't look, but they're rounding into form, and you know the Wallace Bros. don't fear Shaq.
Lance says: The Pistons have been heating up since the acquistion of Carlos Arroyo, but Rip Hamilton has to become the go-to-guy night in and night out.
7. Houston Rockets (32-21)
Zach says: T-Mac and Yao both playing well? Yeah, but it's Bob Sura that makes this team go.
Lance says: Hottest team in the NBA by far, Jeff Van Gundy has finally found the players and system to support Tracy McGrady.
8. Memphis Grizzlies (32-21)
Zach says: No, I won't talk about Mike Miller's haircut...but I will say that just like last year, this team needs to find an identity quick if it wants to win a playoff series.
Lance says: A team with no real go-to-guy, but never underestimate the heart of the Czar, he knows how to get the best out of his players at crunch time.
9. Sacramento Kings (33-19)
Zach says: Rough road loss to the Bulls...another team that's suffering from an identity crisis.
Lance says: Kings should be playing with more passion and fire after getting no all-stars. Don't sleep on them, they're the most overlooked team in the West.
10. Chicago Bulls (25-23)
Zach says: Lance might kiss me for this one. Shh, don't tell him, but Eddy Curry is making himself some serious free-agency money.
Lance: Although Curry may be having a career year, the play of the Babiest Bulls (Gordon, Deng, and Duhon) is the reason this team is the in the playoffs. Congrats to John Paxson.
11. Cleveland Cavaliers (29-20)
Zach says: This is the year LeBron makes the conference semifinals, at least.
Lance says: LeBron James and Zydrunas Ilgauskas compliment one another very well, but the team's success has been due to the play of Jeff McGinnis at the point of late.
12. Washington Wizards (30-22)
Zach says: Just got thrashed by the Rockets, but hey, at least they have something to root for in the D.C. area that doesn't involve Sammy Sosa doing steroids or a minor-league baseball team.
Lance says: Gilbert Arenas is having a stand-out season, but unless the Wizards solidify their bench, they're in for a first-round ouster.
13. Orlando Magic (28-24)
Zach says: Again, the return of Grant Hill is my favorite non-Sonic story of the year. 39 points last night against the Clippers.
Lance says: Although I still don't understand the Cuttino Mobley-Doug Christie trade, Steve Francis' numbers are up from last year and Grant Hill is back to his healthy self. Those two alone will allow the Magic to scare someone in the East.
14. Boston Celtics (26-26)
Zach says: My preseason Atlantic pick is merely the least-bad team in a bad division, but they've got enough young talent to keep Boston fans excited (as if Super Bowl and World Series championships weren't enough).
Lance says: Gary Payton has finally found a place where he can play as if he were still a Sonic, Paul Pierce's shot selection has to improve, but watch out for improved play for Kendrick Perkins, especially without Al Jefferson.
15. Philadelphia 76ers (26-26)
Zach says: First, this team needs to move Glenn Robinson before the deadline...they're never gonna sign anyone in free-agency anyhow. Second, Andre Iguodala had better win the Slam Dunk Contest.
Lance says: Although Iverson never passes the ball, the bright spot of the 76ers has been the spot-on shooting of Kyle Korver, and expect Samuel Dalembert to be moved before the deadline, possibly to the Phoenix Suns.
16. Los Angeles Lakers (26-24)
Zach says: So, Kobe scored 40. So they beat the Jazz. So, they're still a first-round exit at best.
Lance says: The best thing that ever happened to this team was Kobe's injury, because it helped players like Chucky Atkins, Lamar Odom, and Caron Butler get more confidence.
17. New Jersey Nets (22-30)
Zach says: The loss last night against the Wolves exemplified their woes. They got a total of 5 points out of the 4 and 5 positions, and those guys went 0-18 from the floor. Never has Cliff Robinson looked so good.
Lance says: The biggest disappointment this season will be if the Nets don't win the Atlantic. Getting Robinson was a great move, since they gave up next-to-nothing, and he'll help that frontcourt. Nenad Krstic's play this week has shown that he needs a lot of work in the low post, but with a health Vince Carter, the Nets will raise a lot of eyebrows in the playoffs.
18. Denver Nuggets (24-28)
Zach says: I guess someone has to go here, and I'll make my buddy Aaron happy. But then again, they needed a Carmelo Anthony buzzer-beater to beat the Hawks, so I suspect they'll be dropping quickly.
Lance says: Anyone who says that Marcus Camby is better than Brad Miller is out of their mind. Denver has started to play better under George Karl, because his up-tempo system fits these players, but until Carmelo learns that winning takes more than one player, the Nuggets aren't going anywhere.
19. Indiana Pacers (24-26)
Zach says: I guess winning a title for Reggie Miller isn't gonna happen. Then again, it didn't the last 17 years either.
Lance says: Unfortunately, the Pacers are still feeling the effects of The Brawl. Jermaine O'Neal has been phenomenal, and they could be a very dangerous 8th seed.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves (26-27)
Zach says: This team exemplifies everything right(Kevin Garnett) and wrong(everyone else) with the NBA.
Lance says: A team that focuses more on off-the-court issues than their play on the court. Sam Cassell's injury has hurt them of late. Wally Szczerbiak's finally staying healthy, but Kevin McHale naming himself coach was ill-advised, considering the chances to save the season were slim. They might as well have had Sidney Lowe take over.
21. Milwaukee Bucks (20-29)
Zach says: Boy, I dunno...Michael Redd is good. Also, does anyone else remember when Dan Gadzuric (Gahd-zur-reach) was Dan Garzuric (Gad-zurik)?
Lance says: A team that surprised many last year, but they need a healthy T.J. Ford and Keith Van Horn. Mike James can't carry them forever.
22. Portland Trailblazers (21-29)
Zach says:I can't help but think that the Blazers are nothing but a parallel-universe version of the Sonics...where everyone on the Sonics is playing for stats and a contract, not for wins.
Lance says: The most exciting thing this year for the Portland Trailblazers was the illegal pitbull fighting in Qyntell Woods' backyard. Unsolicited advice for Mo Cheeks: start Sebastian Telfair.
23. Los Angeles Clippers (23-29)
Zach says: Another lottery pick for Elgin Baylor, and yet another wasted year in the Staples Center. But I can't wait for the return of Shaun Livingston...if only so I can break out Heart of Darkness quotes.
Lance says: Mike Dunleavy has really turned this team around despite the lack of talent and multiple injuries. Clipper fans need to respect the play of Rick Brunson
24. Toronto Raptors (21-31)
Zach says: It'll be an all-out dogfight between the Raptors and the Knicks to see who can stay out of the Atlantic cellar. My money's on Bosh and the Dinosaurs.
Lance says: Credit the team for buying out Alonzo Mourning's contract, considering he was never going to wear their uniform. Chris Bosh has had a great sophomore campaign. Look for Rose or Marshall to get traded by the deadline. And whenever a player demands an apology from the organization, you know you have issues.
25. New York Knicks (20-32)
Zach says: Yes, they needed a miracle to beat the Bobcats. But they're not worse than anyone below them.
Lance says: Give Herb Williams a jersey, and start the Bruno Sundov chants.
26. Utah Jazz (17-35)
Zach says: They only team on here who should be higher. But if AK-47 and Boozer are hurt, yikes.
Lance says: A team that started off hot, but fell oh-so-quickly. They still haven't recovered from Andrei Kirilenko's injury. Boozer can't carry the team by himself. And we still don't know why Arroyo was in Sloan's doghouse after he was a key starter for the first part of the season. The best news in Utah this week was that Karl Malone will go into the Hall of Fame as a member of the Jazz.
27. Golden State Warriors(14-38)
Zach says: Is it any surprise that Jason Richardson is having his best year when Richard Jefferson is hurt? Maybe the NBA should investigate this.
Lance: The team's front court is mediocre, and they've had to deal with too many injuries this season. What's the latest date on Mike Montgomery's firing.
28. Charlotte Bobcats (10-39)
Zach says: Should have beat the Knicks. If they can add talent over the next couple of years, they'll be able to give LeBron a challenge.
Lance says: At least the Bobcats have given players like Brevin Knight and Jason Hart a chance to show what they can do. But they have to compliment Emeka Okafor with other talented players
29. New Orleans (11-41)
Zach says: Well, at least they won more than 9 games. And Northwest boy Dan Dickau is having a coming-out party.
Lance says: Why is ESPN having a discussion as to whether Byron Scott should get a contract extension. This team has dealt with more injuries this year than some franchises have in their history. Nobody wants to play for this team.
30. Atlanta Hawks (10-40)
Zach says: Maybe they should trade for Dikembe Mutumbo. Or fold the franchise.
Lance: Josh Smith has shown tremendous potential coming out of high school, Al Harrington is having a career year, but the fact that they're actually paying Kenny Anderson to wear a jersey is very troubling to me.


Blogger Zachary Geballe said...

Of course I jinxed my boys...damnit

1:29 AM  

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