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And the beat goes on… And the 2012-2013 NBA season nears closer and closer.
This week, we have the lower end of the second tier teams of the NBA – those ranked from 20-16; teams that have a good chance of making the playoffs but certainly won’t create any noise unless they grow up quickly. Many are budding contenders, babies on the verge of birth in the womb not quite ready to breathe fresh air. Some represent the future of the NBA, others prideful veterans who’ll refuse to go down without a fight or two.
20. Phoenix Suns: This is my surprise pick. People generally think “Oh, since Steve Nash is gone, the Suns don’t stand a chance.” Wrong. They’ve revamped this offseason, replenishing their offense with scorers Michael Beasley and Luis Scola (below). The only question is who is going to get the ball to these two? Can the Suns rely on Goran Dragic? I think they’ll compete, considering the deep roster they have and the fact that Alvin Gentry is such a good coach. Don’t bet on them making the playoffs, but also don’t be surprised if they do. Team Grade: C+
19. Minnesota Timberwolves: Does anyone else feel bad for Kevin Love? It seems as if his career is following a near identical path to Kevin Garnett, as both debuted in Minnesota amongst teams that don’t have much potential at all – but that doesn’t mean we should count out Love and the Timberwolves completely. They did bring in Andrei Kirilenko to help the team defense, but acquiring that kind of negativity isn’t exactly a blockbuster move for anyone – and certainly newcomer Brandon Roy is only a fraction of what he once was coming out of early retirement. Team Grade: C+
18. New Orleans Hornets: The future of the NBA partly lies in New Orleans. After drafting Anthony Davis (below) and Austin Rivers, the Hornets also brought in sharpshooter Ryan Anderson and retained last year’s leading scorer Eric Gordon. The success of this team lies in its development – and although patience is a must when dealing with younger squads, I see them getting better sooner rather than later. Expect an Oklahoma City Thunder-like rise to greatness over the next three years, people – but don’t expect dominance yet. Team Grade: C+
17. Sacramento Kings: The Kings are surely young and inexperienced, however, you need to consider all of these college studs on their roster for a minute: Jimmer Fredette, Aaron Brooks, DeMarcus Cousins, Tyreke Evans and now Thomas Robinson are all sporting Sacramento jerseys this year. There’s a lot of diversity within these five guys in particular, and if they learn to play together they might not be an easy W to other teams anymore. They have a lot to prove, but in terms of potential, they hold as much as anyone else. Team Grade: C+
16. Washington Wizards: The nation’s capital could be making a claim to be the NBA’s dark horse this year, as they quietly brought in Emeka Okafor (below) to stabilize the frontline with Nené and drafted sharpshooter Bradley Beal to seal the strong, young backcourt of him and Johnny Wall. Don’t be surprised if these guys are a seven or an eight seed in the east. They have solid backups too, especially in Jordan Crawford, A.J. Price and Trevor Booker. Is John Wall the next great point guard of our generation? We’ll see this year, but I’m willing to bet that if he’s healthy, he’ll make an All-NBA team. Team Grade: B-
Next week, I'll be unveiling some of the real contenders.
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