Fall is just around the corner, which means that the new NBA season is upon us. The draft is behind us, the summer league is over and the big free agents have been signed. Some teams have improved others have weakened, there are old faces in new places, but who are the top teams heading into this new season. In my opinion theses are the Top 5 Teams in the Western Conference for the start of the 2010-2011 NBA Season.
5). Portland Trail Blazers. The Trail Blazers finished 6th last season in the Western Conference with a record of 50 wins and 32 loses. They were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Phoenix Suns but don’t be surprise to see them go deeper into the playoffs with hopefully a health Brandon Roy. Brandon Roy averaged 21.5 PPG last season but was injured during the playoffs and only averaged 9.7 points in the three games he played in. This team is very talented with player like Rudy Fernandez, LeMarcus Aldridge and hopefully a healthy Greg Oden that can help a talented player like Roy win playoff games.
4). Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder finished 8th last season in the West with an identical record as the Blazers. They were eliminated in the first round by the eventual NBA Champions the L.A. Lakers. The Thunder are one of the youngest and most talented teams in the NBA. Led by last years scoring champ Kevin Durant, who averaged 30 PPG 7RPG last season, the Thunder are no joke. With Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook coming off a great summer playing with Team USA and winning gold at the FIBA World Champions, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them bring that same desire to win to their team this season.
3). Houston Rockets. The Rockets are the only team on this list that didn’t make the playoffs last year. The team only won 42 to games last year but they were without their best player Yao Ming. This year he’s back but his play time will be limited to about 24 minutes a game. But his presents alone will help improve a defense that allowed on average 100 or more each game. The Rockets have one of the deepest teams in the NBA. They have last years most improve player Aaron Brooks, an amazing defensive player in Shane Battier, a scorer in Kevin Martin and Luis Scola who played great for this home nation of Argentina during the FIBA World Champions. The Rockets have also added veteran player Brad Miller, who will help take some strain off of Yao and they also acquired a great perimeter defender in Courtney Lee. This team will go deep into the playoffs and could make it hard on the defending champs the Lakers.
2).Utah Jazz. The Jazz finished 5th last season in the West with 53 wins. They were ousted in the 2nd round of the playoffs by the Lakers. They did lose key players like Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver but they also gained talented players. They acquired Al Jefferson from Minnesota via trade. Al Jefferson has shown that he can be a tremendous scorer and rebounder like Carlos Boozer. They also signed Raja Bell who is known for is defense abilities and ability to hit the three point shot. They still have one of the best point guards in the game in Deron Williams who averaged 18.7 PPG and 10 APG last season and veteran players like Adrei Kirilenko and Mehmet Okur. This team is going to be pretty dangerous in the West.
1). L.A. Lakers. The Lakers are the reigning NBA Champions. The core players of last year’s championship team returns this year. Lead by the NBA’s best Player Kobe Bryant, who was the Finals MVP, this team is the one to beat not only in the West but the entire league. The Lakers have arguably the best back court in Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Ron Artest. Artest and Bynum are key for the Lakers, Bynum has to stay healthy and Artest has to be the calm and collected person he shown he can be. The bench production was one of L.A.’s biggest problems last year. They signed FA Matt Barnes and Steve Blake to help Lamar Odom and the rest of the bench this year. As long as the Lakers have Kobe Bryant on their team they will be in the top 5 teams in the West every year.
Thank you for reading my Top 5 Western Conference Teams for the 2010-2011 Season and make sure to look out for my Top 5 Eastern Conference Teams.