This may be a little early as there are still some deals left to be made, but since it's a slow news day and this topic usually get's the conversation going...
LET'S RANK THE TEAMS IN THE WEST!!!
I start my list with San Antonio. Dallas looks deeper and Phoenix more athletic, but these guys continue to be the best team in the league. Selfless and absolutely driven to execute on both ends of the floor. Boring as hell sometimes (unless you're a Spurs fan), but winning/boring beats the crap out of losing/boring.
I'll go with Dallas next, barely over Phoenix. I can't help but think that if the Clips beat the Kings in LA the last week of last season then the Mavs mow through the Clippers in the first round and then move on to Utah, and then maybe on to San Antonio. What did they win, 67 games last year? And they are roughly the same team this year.
Next is Phoenix. I like them a lot but they are so dependant on Nash's health. I know, San Antonio also relies on the health of Duncan. But Nash has been hurt more and is more likely to take the bigger beating during the season.
I'm going to give Houston the regular season nod over Utah because of Rick Adelman, and I'm going to give Utah the edge over Houston in the playoffs because of Jerry Sloan.
Denver is next. They are basically the palate cleanser between the good teams and the not so good teams.
I'm putting New Orleans at #7, but only if they can get 65+ games out of Peja. CP3 will win you some games, and wouldn't you like a Tyson Chandler in the middle of your defense?
The Lakers get the last playoff spot. Kobe and Odom will win them just enough games. Kobe's desire not to be in LA will not impact his on court game, and his talent alone is better than the sum of the remaining teams.
Golden State is next. They made the playoffs by one game last year. They finished great, but they have replaced J-Rich with Brandon Wright. This is also Stephen Jackson's 2nd year with the squad, the implosion year.
The Clippers are #10. They should be better but there is something just not right with their mix.
We come in at #11. I think that we could be in the hunt for a playoff spot if Bibby's shot is on again and Artest can be more of a contributor than a distraction, but #7 is the high water mark and #11 is the likely destination.
Portland is #12. They won fewer games than us last year and traded their 20/10 guy in Randolph. They added youthful talent and watching Roy/Aldridge/Oden this year will be very entertaining, at least until Aldridge and Oden begin to wear out halfway through the season. They could be a championship caliber team by 2009-10.
Seattle is #13. Allen and Lewis are gone, replaced by Durant and Green. This is another team that I really like in a couple of years, but not quite yet.
Memphis is #14, as I will take Conley/Gasol slightly over #15 Minnesota and Foye/Jefferson.
OK, your turn. Who do you like? Who is primed for a big run or a big fall?