I’m not a big fan of power rankings, especially when it comes to the NBA in January, so lets take a look at some of the teams in what their strengths and weaknesses are and how far they can go:
Miami Heat – Still the best team in the East, but it’s not just the rebounding they need to improve, they have to get better defensively inside overall. That includes help defense and post presence. Their rotation is great on the perimeter, but not inside. Their biggest problem is when they face a team with two solid big men (Memphis, Indianae, Chicago). I still don’t think it’s possible to say any team in the East is better though.
Indiana Pacers – This is still the second best team in the East to me. They have the best defense, the offense is coming together and they have a solid bench. Once Danny Granger returns, the offense will become more dynamic over 48 minutes. If they make they make the Eastern Conference Finals and play the Heat, it’s going to be a war.
Brooklyn Nets – Currently they aren’t the third best team in the East, but they will be. There is fantastic balance with this team and they are more effective playing at a faster pace because of Derron Williams. Joe Johnson is finally stepping up and the Nets have four players with tremendous size that can all rebound. The chemistry is developing and the coaching change (so far) seems to have been the correct move.
The rest of the teams still have major flaws to me. Chicago is getting a lot better offensively and they are really learning how to play together. But I have serious doubts on how everyone is going to fit once Derrick Rose returns and how the offense will change. The Knicks don’t rebound outside of Tyson Chandler and Amare Stoudemire is already having soreness from returning from him injury. Carmelo and JR Smith can’t carry the entire team offensively with pure isolation. Boston has massive issues all over the place. Rondo can’t generate enough offense and needs to have a greater attack mentality. Paul Pierce needs some help on the perimeter not named Jason Terry. There is no consistent help in the post with Kevin Garnett. Jeff Green is starting to come around and if Boston wants a shot at the title, he’s going to have to take his game to the next level. Atlanta still plays too much isolation. Philadelphia needs Andrew Bynum and Jrue Holiday is the only person showing up every night despite Evan Turner’s hot run.
As for the West:
LA Clippers – The Clippers needed two things in the offseason. A better fundamental postgame, and better depth. Blake Griffin has turned into one of the best power forwards in the game and DeAndre Jordan has some post moves and a jump hook. Then they brought in Jamal Crawford as a scoring spark off the bench. Chris Paul is running the show beautifully with lob city as well as an effective and efficient offense. They are currently have the best record in the NBA and it’s well deserved. The key will be defense for 48 minutes for them down the stretch in the post season.
San Antonio – Incredible balance on offense. Solid defense inside but needs some work on the outside. Second best team currently in the West and chemistry is their strength. Also helps that Pop is their coach.
Denver – I love the balance of this team and by balance I mean they take care of business in just about every single category. They have a ton of great scorers and a ton of fire power. They have reboudners and they have passers. They are a small step behind the Spurs because they break down sometimes a little too easily defensively.
Oklahoma City – OKC really needs a great passing guard. Yes that’s what James Harden was, but they really need just someone who can distribute off the bench who isn’t even a good scorer. I’ve spent too much time saying how stubborn Russell Westbrook is despite how great the player is and I give in. He’s an amazing scorer and defender but if he’s gonna be stubborn and have his games where he’s 5-19 from the field, so be it. The Thunder need someone to distribute backing him up.
Memphis and Golden State have the talent to be the best in the West but they are lacking depth which is effecting their consistency. It’s great to see James Harden play this well this often, but the bench again is an issue and they need to get fully healthy. Utah is in a similar boat.
As for the Lakers…lol…I’ve never said “I told ya so” in early January in an NBA season for anything because it’s way early…but I told ya so.