Real Talk On Sports: Midsummer Night’s NBA Power Ranking
If the NCAA can throw unfortunately influential Preseason Polls, then I should be able to throw a somewhat tongue-in-cheek (but resolute in feeling) Real Talk Power Ranking at you. Without further delay…
1. Miami Heat: Do I really need to explain this? I know we’ve nearly forgotten about them winning the title, as their accomplishment was pretty much swept beneath the rug by ESPN’s coverage/obsession of all-things #TeBOW or finding another way to compare and belabor the Dream Team vs. Team USA non-debate. Well, in case Bron’s first ring is too much of a distant memory, I feel obligated to remind you of the look of removing anchor from your back James left us with. Heat fans were ecstatic over the additions of Ray “Can’t Beat’em, Join’em” Allen and Rashard Lewis. Not only do the moves solidify the bench, but they offer the Big-3 a much-needed reprieve. Miami is still lacking in front-court depth, but have proven the lack of a consistent post-presence does not necessarily constitute a reason to panic. With all of the player movement, the 2012-13 season will be all about whether Miami can find a way to defend their throne.
2. Los Angeles Lakers: Do I really…wait, already used that one. Seriously, though? Did Mr. Kupchak really have to #MitchSlap the league? Any lingering agony from David Joel Stern‘s veto of the Chris Paul deal was eased with the addition of Steve Nash. Kupchak and Jim Buss weren’t done, as they convinced Antwan Jamison to bring his scoring punch off the bench for lesser money than he would have received from other teams. Kupchak was far from done, as he literally smashed a home run into Chavez Ravine with his acquisition of Dwight Howard. Following that up by getting Jodie Meeks to reconsider that $3 million over 2 years offer (wonder what that might have been?) was simply Kupchak circling back to remind the league he had just done it again. I was right to excuse Coach Brown for being unable to make a flawed roster to beat the burgeoning beast in OKC. I won’t be so kind if he isn’t able to work with all these new tools. I expect a fast start with a few blips along the road, but fully expect to contend for a title if they are fortunate enough with health. #PotentialNationofDomination Still, in shock.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder: I didn’t forget about you, young bucks. KDSmooth and his ridiculously fluid jumper punishing Euro’s for Team USA won’t allow it. His running mate, injury-scare (ankle) aside hasn’t done poorly for himself either. I jokingly chided Durant for replying with such a salty-sounding answer of “I really don’t care” to questions of what he thought about the Dwight Howard trade reeked of exactly the type of confidence and focus it takes to be considered one of the all-time greats. It is precisely the type of answer a young Kobe Bean would have given…in fact, it’s precisely the answer an older Bryant would give at the very moment if the purple/gold/white Magic Johnson Converse sneaker were on the other foot. I actually commend Durant for displaying that type of steely resolve. Not to be confused with Steel Reserve, although Durant could certainly pull off a modern-day Billy Dee as a pitch-man…but I digress. All the respect in the world doesn’t negate the fact that as currently constructed, they are still looking slightly up at that newly-tooled roster that plays at 1111 South Figueroa . I’m looking forward to seeing their continued collective improvement and see if they can maintain their stronghold on the Western Conference.
4. Boston Celtics: Tough to imagine how all of the positive moves GM Danny Ainge made since falling at the hands of the eventual NBA Champions in a thrilling 7-game Eastern Conference Finals could be ignored, but it has been. Trouble is, Boston swung first, and landed a favorable draft with Fab Melo and Jared Sullinger for Garnett to nurture. Ainge followed that up by absorbing the loss of Ray Allen (signed in Miami) by signing Jason Terry’s O’Brien Trophy tattoo. Fortunately, his clutch shooting and championship experience com along with it. Celtics fans will also be excited for the returns of Avery Bradley and Jeff Green from injuries as well. Courtney Lee‘s addition rounds out an improved lineup that not only got younger and healthier, but also got much deeper. They pushed Miami to the brink a few months back, and still look like the only thing standing between Miami and the Finals, yet again.
5. San Antonio Spurs: While Tony Parker‘s eye injury (#It’sABarFight) wasn’t career threatening, his necessary protective eye-wear seems to have hindered his play for his native country of France as the Olympic tournament. He still has several months to improve, but leave it up to arguably the best coach in the league (Gregg Popovich) to have already implemented a method to lighten the load for Parker by utilizing 2nd-year forward Kawhi Leonard in a point-forward role during Summer Pro League earlier in July. Yearly, he Spurs may be the same team everyone wants to forget about, but their first place finishes over the last two regular seasons keep them in the picture.
Honorable Mention: Clippers (Odom/Crawford), Sixers (Bynum), Nets (Joe J), Nuggets (Iguodala)
Jabari A. Davis
@RealTalkOnSprts on Twitter