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Old 08-04-09, 02:51 PM
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Hoopsworld ranks the Western Conference

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HOOPSWORLD

Ranking the Western Conference


By: Susan Bible Last Updated: 8/1/09 3:30 PM ET




This offseason has seen plenty of roster shake-ups so far, and you know there's more to come, but we wanted to take a peek at how the 2009-10 ranking of the Western Conference could play out as of this moment. It's definitely a shot-in-the-dark to make such claims, especially when last season ended with only an eight-game margin between teams ranked No. 2 through No. 9 in the west. Crazy! It's also a challenge because of the number of players whose future has not yet been determined (looking at you, Mr. Lee, Mr. Boozer, Mr. Iverson).
As HOOPSWORLD's newest writer, I offer my opinion knowing some readers may be compelled to rip my rankings to shreds….but I can take it. I think. I know how personally diehard fans like us take criticism or what appears to be lack of respect toward our teams. Just understand that this is not a prediction of how the season's going to end up, simply a fun list as I see it right now, to spark some spirited debate. Remember, the goal here is to have fun!

1. San Antonio Spurs: Being eliminated in the first round last season did not sit well with General Manager RC Buford. Instead of saving cap space, the Spurs are concentrating on a "right now" scenario, cognizant that Tim Duncan's days are numbered. Athletic wingman Richard Jefferson should contribute significantly on both ends and relieve some pressure off Ginobili, who will reportedly be 100% by the start of training camp. Veteran Antonio McDyess, who averaged 9.8 rebounds last year, will slide in nicely. McDyess and No. 37 draft pick DeJuan Blair (aka, The Steal) will provide major help in the paint. ACLs or not, I see a great future in energetic, tough Blair. Pop gets to play I-told-you-so with Tony Parker's recent overseas injury, but he'll be fine. The likely starting five is ridiculously strong, and the bench is deep. The only concern is keeping everyone healthy, but couldn't that be said for every team?

2. Los Angeles Lakers: Lakers fans, put away your swords. Yes, I realize Lamar Odom is coming back. Adding Ron Artest obviously brings tough defense and help for Kobe's shots, but forgive me for stating the obvious…um, chemistry? One should not underestimate the importance of it. Phil Jackson will handle that, some say. Do they become complacent now that they have the ring? What about Andrew Bynum? It's hard to forget the significant contributions that Trevor Ariza made in the playoffs (47.6% 3-pointers/ 49.7% overall, strong defense and offensive sparks). OK, the following questions should really incite the crowd: How do the Lakers fare in a Finals with either of last year's top two Eastern Conference seeds, Celtics (with a healthy Garnett) or Cavs? Did they get a break by facing No. 3 Magic last season? Obviously this team remains top-tier with such an abundance of talent.

3. Dallas Mavericks: Legitimate scorer, defender, rebounder, etc. Shawn Marion upgrades the Mavericks, and Drew Gooden (doesn't he seem older than just 27?), taking over departed Brandon Bass' role, gives them some offense in the frontcourt. Re-signed PG Jason Kidd still feeds with the best of them, and can teach promising draft pick Roddy Beaubois the tricks of the trade. Beaubois impressed in the Las Vegas Summer League with a 17-point average in five games. Dirk Nowitzki remains viable (understatement there), but there's no time to waste. They just added Tim Thomas for some 3s, Josh Howard is projected to be 100% by the start of training camp, and along with Mr. Sixth Man (Jason Terry) himself ready for action, it's all good.

4. Denver Nuggets: The Nuggets have been somewhat quiet this offseason, and with their high-level showing in the playoffs last year, are they thinking "why fix what ain't broke?" They wisely re-signed Birdman, and basically swapped Dahntay Jones for strong defender Aaron Affalo. An improving J.R. Smith looks to start. They found a way to get the player they wanted in the draft, Ty Lawson, who will soak up every morsel of knowledge that Chauncey Billups dishes out. Lawson wasn't so hot in Vegas, but there's lots of time to develop, especially under a team that knows how to win. Frontcourt depth is questionable – can Nene and Kenyon Martin stay healthy? In any case, Carmelo Anthony got a taste of the good life, i.e., being on a legitimate contending team, and will be focused to get there again.


5. Portland Trail Blazers: The Blazers, finally reaping the benefits from their rebuilding process (such an overused term), gained invaluable experience from their playoff run. Did you see Brandon Roy's "this will not happen again" look when they were eliminated by the Rockets? Now they have self-described "peaking" Andre Miller on the scene to help Roy in the backcourt, and Steve Blake ready (but probably not thrilled) to back up. Miller averaged 16.3 ppg, 6.5 ast, 4.5 boards in Philly last season – and did you know he's only missed three games in ten seasons, including an NBA-high 530 straight games? Read that again. There's a lot of chatter about Jerryd Bayless either staying or going, so who knows? Travis Outlaw, too. Portland's got to be bummed about deals going south with Hedo Turkoglu and Paul Millsap, but should be somewhat comforted by the strong showing of forwards Dante Cunningham and Jeff Pendergraph in the Las Vegas summer league - LaMarcus Aldridge can get some rest with them around. Greg Oden assures that's he's mentally and physically stronger, so lay it on us.

6. New Orleans Hornets: The Hornets just got better with 26-year-old center Emeka Okafor coming to the Big Easy. He averaged 13.2 ppg, 10.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks last year, and hasn't missed a game in two years. I like their draft picks Darren Collison (to relieve CP3 a bit) and SG Marcus Thornton – both were excellent in the Las Vegas Summer League. New teammate forward Ike Diogu can give All-Star David West a breather every once in awhile. Peja's not going anywhere with that contract, but he can still provide good outside shooting in limited minutes. Julian Wright's been a project, but it may be paying off by the looks of his performance in Vegas. Coach Byron Scott is considering starting Wright with Peja coming off the bench. Yeah, I'm biased, but Chris Paul is still the best point guard in the league and that translates to wins.

7. Utah Jazz: With Utah's decision to match Portland's $32 million offer to Paul Millsap, he's assured just how valuable he is to the teams' future. Now he's looking to become a starter. Other good news: Mehmet Okur, Ronnie Price and Kyle Korver re-signed, Andrei Kirilenko has been ordered to beef up over the summer (with that salary, he should gladly do anything they tell him to do) and of course, talented Deron Williams isn't going anywhere. The back-and-forth on Carlos Boozer has become tiresome – someone let me know when it's all decided.

8. Phoenix Suns: There are some positives in Phoenix: Re-signing of Steve Nash and Grant Hill, return of the run-and-gun under Coach Alvin Gentry, the Channing Frye pick-up. I promise I'm not pessimistic by nature, but Amare' Stoudemire's eye injury, a partially detached retina, leaves me scared about his future. Do you realize just how serious it was (is)? (I'm a mother, I worry!) The surgery was declared a success in February, as was a recent "routine" surgery to drain residual fluid. Clearly I'm no expert on the subject, but my gut (and a little research) tells me this could have lasting adverse consequences for him. Nash appears to be relishing the underdog role, and earnestly accepting of the fact that they are no longer title contenders.

9. Oklahoma City Thunder: After a 23-59 season last year, it would seem quite a stretch to place the Thunder in the playoffs already - it will be close, but they probably need another year to develop their young players before having a post season. Rebuilding through the draft (with recent key additions of Shaun Livingston, Thabo Sefolosha, Nenad Krstic) around franchise face and future All-Star Kevin Durant is GM Sam Presti's plan, which should net them at least 15 more wins next year. Shooting guard James Harden, drafted third overall, will be an immediate contributor. PG Russell Westbrook's performance in the summer league was off the hook showing growing maturity in his play and decision-making. Acquiring defensive-minded Etan Thomas will provide needed frontcourt depth and bodyguard duties for Durant. Most of you know I cover the Thunder – surely you'll give me a little credit for not placing them in the playoffs just yet (believe me, other homers are not resisting the temptation) but you have to admit, they are a team on the rise.

10. Golden State Warriors: The incredible performance of forward Anthony Randolph in the summer league (averaged 26.8 ppg, shooting 60.9%, with 8.5 rebounds, 2.2 steals and 3 blocks) has undoubtedly lessened the Warriors' pain of not acquiring Amare' Stoudemire. The other Anthony (Morrow) was great in Vegas, too. No. 7 draft pick Stephen Curry didn't astound, but his shot will come, and he must focus now on developing strength and aggressiveness. Underrated Stephen Jackson will be a factor again. But they are guard-heavy as usual without even the minimum required defensive intensity….and we all know what wins championships. The continuing problem is unpredictable Nellie and his insufferable random rotating of the line-ups.

11. Houston Rockets: Man, this is a hard one, and I admit I could be dead wrong. I do know it's going to be strange without Yao all season. Tracy McGrady's exact return date is a mystery, and who knows what condition he's going to return in after micro-fracture surgery? Yes I saw the Lakers series, but I can't help but think that Rockets were riding high on emotion and adrenaline back then. The good news is that they still have some really good players in Luis Scola, Aaron Brooks and the ultimate glue guy, Shane Battier. Could draft pick Chase Budinger turn out to be a steal? He looked very strong in Vegas shooting at 68% from the field. One thing's for sure, Trevor Ariza's going to get a lot of playing time.

12. Los Angeles Clippers: I'm not going to place the Clippers way up high, even though they snagged Blake Griffin with the No. 1 pick in the draft. Even though he should win Rookie of the Year. Even though he was named Most Outstanding Player of the Las Vegas Summer League averaging 19.2 points, 10.8 boards and 3.2 assists. And this is coming from a fellow Oklahoman who has been enamored with Griffin for a long time. SG Eric Gordon impressed the heck out of me last year and he will be even better next season. Last week, they acquired guard Sebastian Telfair and forwards Craig Smith and Mark Madsen. There is no shortage of bigs with Marcus Camby, Chris Kaman and DeAndre Jordan. But this team will need some time to develop together.

13. Memphis Grizzlies: Hasheem Thabeet is a project, a worthwhile one to explore, but as long as everyone understands this, we can get on with life. Let's choose to believe Zach Randolph's claim that he's matured, done with the shenanigans and ready to set an example for his younger teammates. The fact is the guy can flat-out play. We know what we get with scorers O.J. Mayo and Rudy Gay, so that equals three for-sure commodities, which is not enough. They are still deficit in perimeter shooting and defense. The summer league did reveal promising play in DeMarre Carroll and Sam Young, even Marcus Williams, and all three will be on the roster this year. Also, they may not be done with summer acquisitions. In any case, they have some interesting pieces but are far from playoff contention.

14. Sacramento Kings: So they didn't get the No. 1 pick despite having the worst record last year, instead they ended up at No. 4 and picked combo guard Tyreke Evans. Confident Evans is quick and has that coveted ability to penetrate and get to the line whenever he wants. And they do still have Kevin Martin and Andres Nocioni. They made a nice move to land Sergio Rodriguez and gambled on signing Sean May. Coming-on-strong-but-has-a-lot-to-learn Jason Thompson looked good in Vegas (especially his fourth game) which is where Spencer Hawes should have been to work on his defense. The Kings are in a developing phase with their players along with new coach Paul Westphal, and it will take a couple years to get anywhere.

15. Minnesota Timberwolves: The team with no head coach. I think they've narrowed it down to 19 candidates and will make a decision by the third preseason game. It would behoove them to select a coach that can give instruction on defense. GM David Kahn said last month that the Wolves are undergoing a 15-month plan in addressing their roster needs, so with that, they get to be placed last on my list. Kahn's not afraid of change though and is definitely setting himself up for flexibility with all the moving around. I like draftee Jonny Flynn's potential and hope the Wolves throw their support behind him, because this Rubio drama is so draining. I'm over it and unconvinced he's worth all the hoopla. Scoring and rebounding phenom Al Jefferson is reportedly healing well and will report to training camp. And here's hoping Corey Brewer can show us what he's got.

So this at least gets us thinking of how the Western Conference may go, even though some GMs continue to tinker with their rosters. Let us know what you think about the upcoming season in this regard – we can meet back next year and check each other.

NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: We do not produce materials to "generate pageviews" or to "see if we can get 80 comments" The purpose of these two pieces, the Eastern Conference and Western Conference Rankings was to put out some early thoughts on how teams have done this off-season and how that might effect the balance of power. You may not agree with the individual writers' views, but thats what this process is about, sharing and debating especially in the dull days of August. The basketball world is viewed in different ways and putting these rankings out now shows that not everyone sees the world the same way, if you look deeply, beyond one position here or there both writers did a decent job shaping up each conference.
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Old 08-04-09, 07:47 PM
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Wow the Laker fans butts are all hurt by this article.

Check out the comments.
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Old 08-04-09, 08:02 PM
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Who is Susan Bible? I have never heard of her before.

Edit: Ok I found out.

http://boards.hoopsworld.com/user/Pr...px?UserID=2649

"Occupation: Paralegal / Rookie NBA writer"

Total Posts @ Hoopsworld: 36

She's an NBA fan writing her opinion from a fan's perspective.

Last edited by maldoror; 08-04-09 at 08:29 PM.
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Old 08-04-09, 08:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maldoror View Post
Who is Susan Bible? I have never heard of her before.

Edit: Ok I found out.

Susan Bible - The NEW HOOPSWORLD Message Boards

"Occupation: Paralegal / Rookie NBA writer"

Total Posts @ Hoopsworld: 36

She's just a NBA fan writing her opinion from a fan's perspective.
Since she's now published on an official site, wouldn't that mean she's now officially a writer? If she would have placed your "precious" on top...would this question of been asked?

Mal = -> [youtube]mF9qhQCGPMM[/youtube]
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Old 08-04-09, 08:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TodTango View Post
Mal = -> [youtube]mF9qhQCGPMM[/youtube]
Tod-put the whole link in.
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Old 08-04-09, 09:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TodTango View Post
Since she's now published on an official site, wouldn't that mean she's now officially a writer? If she would have placed your "precious" on top...would this question of been asked?
The rankings don't matter. I don't care what she said or who she put #1, people like her are just fans like you and me. Take that for what it's worth, which is nothing. I don't put all that much credence into many of the more noteworthy NBA writers either if they didn't play or coach.

The opinions of people like Sean Deveney, Mark Stein, Bill Simmons and Ric Bucher are close to meaningless. The only things they can contribute are reporting what other people said and entertainment value. If someone didn't play or coach for a living chances are their opinion should probably be ignored and treated along the same lines as yours or mine, which means it has no more value than a random posting on a message board.

Last edited by maldoror; 08-04-09 at 09:46 PM.
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Old 08-04-09, 09:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maldoror View Post
The rankings don't matter. I don't care what she said or who she put #1, people like her are just fans like you and me. Take that for what it's worth, which is nothing. I don't put all that much credence into many of the more noteworthy NBA writers either if they didn't play or coach.

The opinions of people like Sean Deveney, Mark Stein, Bill Simmons and Ric Bucher are close to meaningless. The only things they can contribute are reporting what other people said and entertainment value. If someone didn't play or coach for a living chances are their opinion should probably be ignored and treated along the same lines as yours or mine, which means it has no more value than a random posting on a message board.
Agreed. Any post about the Lakers that doesn't say FTL is meaningless.
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Old 08-04-09, 10:05 PM
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i don't understand how chemistry is in issue for la but not for sa?
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Old 08-04-09, 10:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spurs fan removed View Post
i don't understand how chemistry is in issue for la but not for sa?
i can only guess this would be the reason:

Jefferson & McDyess are not 1 or 2 options. Artest on the other hand wants to be the 1 option (even when he says he doesn't like in Houston). just a hunch though
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Old 08-04-09, 10:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maldoror View Post
The rankings don't matter. I don't care what she said or who she put #1, people like her are just fans like you and me. Take that for what it's worth, which is nothing. I don't put all that much credence into many of the more noteworthy NBA writers either if they didn't play or coach.

The opinions of people like Sean Deveney, Mark Stein, Bill Simmons and Ric Bucher are close to meaningless. The only things they can contribute are reporting what other people said and entertainment value. If someone didn't play or coach for a living chances are their opinion should probably be ignored and treated along the same lines as yours or mine, which means it has no more value than a random posting on a message board.
Soooooo, why go through the trouble of researching this writer then?
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Old 08-04-09, 11:39 PM
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I wouldn't take her word as gospel.

bad-um-pish!
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Old 08-05-09, 12:55 AM
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i dunno how anyone can claim that any western team is better than LA...they just won the championship, got their core pieces back and until somebody eliminates them they should always be ranked #1
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Old 08-05-09, 01:25 AM
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i dunno how anyone can claim that any western team is better than LA...they just won the championship, got their core pieces back and until somebody eliminates them they should always be ranked #1
TRUE, TRUE......
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Old 08-05-09, 01:36 AM
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Originally Posted by highplainsspur View Post
Agreed. Any post about the Lakers that doesn't say FTL is meaningless.
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Old 08-05-09, 01:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gin500 View Post
i dunno how anyone can claim that any western team is better than LA...they just won the championship, got their core pieces back and until somebody eliminates them they should always be ranked #1
Maybe the same way they put LA over the Spurs in 2003-2004.
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Old 08-05-09, 09:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dulce View Post
Maybe the same way they put LA over the Spurs in 2003-2004.
2004 was up for grabs..LA incorporated malone and payton...spurs brought in hedo, rasho, horry, mercer and a bunch of other guys...that's why pop vehemently hated the term "defending champs" coz he had to work with basically a new team
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Old 08-05-09, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by highplainsspur View Post
Agreed. Any post about the Lakers that doesn't say FTL is meaningless.
In a perfect world, you would be the NBA beat writer for the LA Times.
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Old 08-05-09, 11:05 AM
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Quote:
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i dunno how anyone can claim that any western team is better than LA...they just won the championship, got their core pieces back and until somebody eliminates them they should always be ranked #1
totally agree. also, isn't hoopsworld and wannabe writers the ones everyone rags on?
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Old 08-06-09, 09:37 AM
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C'mon folks, everyone has an opinion and is entitled to it. (just like buttholes) She appears to have justified hers (opinion)as well as many others. Also remeber this everyone has butthole, but they do not have to become one. Some here are coming very close. Put it another way and you have one of my favorite expressions, "There are more buttholes than people in the world because eveyone has one and some people are one." (Author or sourece unknown)
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