1. Dallas- Definitely a default pick, unless Lakers are able to pull a Howard trade. Odom gives them another dimension but losing Chandler is big. If they can make a late run for Samuel Dalembert, I would feel better. (note: if they can pull a move for Howard, they become favorite to win the whole thing)
2. Los Angeles Lakers- Losing Odom is huge blow to not only the talent but the chemistry, Josh McRoberts will help them with size and toughness but Lakers still need help in the backcourt.
3. Oklahoma City- Youth isn't wasted on the young as OKC continues to progress. The big question is can a team with so many players under 25 win a championship. History says no
4. Memphis- The return of Rudy Gay, along with Z-Bo and Marc Gasol gives Memphis claim to best frontcourt in NBA (sorry NY). Mike Conley has to progress from "serviceable" at point guard. A tough, battletested team could be a darkhorse contender for Finals
5. San Antonio- I know you shouldn't count out Popovich, Duncan, Manu, and Parker but at some point enough is enough. Just call them Tex-Mex Boston. Out of respect for what they have done, there "know how" will let them not fall to far
6. Los Angeles Clippers- The Staples Center may have playoff double headers this year as the Clippers with CP3 in the fold after the long drama. Chauncy Billups, despite his grumblings, is too much of a pro to be disruptive despite what now looks like a role as a backup. Losing Gordon hurts but look for Mo Williams to be moved to find an adequate replacement. Big Key: Paul opted in until 2013
6. Denver- Resigning Nene was huge and resigning Arron Afflalo is important. With all the "knuckleheads" in China, the Nuggets still have an interesting collection of depth if not having a main guy. The x-factor is Danilo Gallinari. If he emerges as the 20-point scorer many feel he can be Denver will be something to watch
7. Portland - A Mash unit before the season even starts as Brandon Roy had to retire and Greg Oden is likely done again. Add on LaMarcus Aldridge's heart and Rip City will have a tough start to season. Gerald Wallace is rumored to be on the way out. If all pieces were together, they were a conference finals contender but now eight is about all I see
8. Denver- Resigning Nene was huge and resigning Arron Afflalo is important. With all the "knuckleheads" in China, the Nuggets still have an interesting collection of depth if not having a main guy. The x-factor is Danilo Gallinari. If he emerges as the 20-point scorer many feel he can be Denver will be something to watch
Western Conference All-Stars
Starters: Kobe Bryant, Marc Gasol*, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin.
Reserves: Zach Randolph, Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, Gerald Wallace , Rudy Gay, Eric Gordon, Manu Ginobili
* If Bynum or DeAndre Jordan starts at center, I boycott the game... Yeah I'm Lyin
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