1. San Antonio - They can't win 2 in a row, but they're very good at coming back and winning one. Manu and Duncan being healthy will impact the team more then people think.
2. Miami - Defending champs. Getting older & older though, and faced arguably the weakest of the West's big 3.
3. Phoenix - WCF two years in a row, injuries both years shut down dreams of rings. Amare coming back is huge. If they stay healthy they are my favorites to win it all.
4. Dallas - They've made a lot of lateral trades, I think the only reason they got to the Finals last year was because of Phoenix and San Antonio's injury problems. Still pulled off gutty wins against both teams, the Mavs go as far as Dirk will take them.
5. Detroit - Losing Ben Wallace was big, but Nazr will help and McDyess should get a more prominent role improving the overall offense. I don't think they'll contend with the lost defensive presence, but they are the team I imagine facing Miami in the ECF.
6. Houston - T-mac & Yao are the best inside-outside combo in the NBA at this point, if healthy. Battier was a good pick-up, Head and Alston shined at times last season, they are still horribly thin up front.
7. Denver - It's all about health, losing Leonard one year and Nene the next they still were 45+ wins. JR Smith helps their outside shooting woes and Melo has never looked better.
8. Cleveland - They were one rebound away from the ECF. Larry Hughes's health is a big concern, they were a much better team with him last year. The emergance of Verajo and to a lesser extent Pavlovic gives them added depth.
9. New Jersey - The trio + Kristic is enough to be a top Eastern team. Marcus Williams is a great pick-up, should give Kidd enough in the tank to go all-out when it matters.
10. Chicago - They will be the best defensive team in the leauge, but still have no go-to-scorer. Should have trouble winning close games. Could pull some major upset in the slowed-down playoffs though.
God damnit I forgot the Clippers. Put them somewhere in the 7-10 range.
Clippers - Elton Brand easily had his best year, Cassel/Mobley proved great signings, Livingston had his best year, Maggette seemed to accept his new role. I'm not sure if they will get much better, but last year they were good enough to beat Denver and push the Suns to 7, albeit both teams were injured.
Last edited by Zombles : 09-06-2006 at 03:15 AM.