Wednesday, October 29, 2008

NBA Pre-Season Power Rankings - Part II: Western Conference

[EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the second of a 3-pack of pre-season power rankings. Part I was posted yesterday and Part III will be posted sometime on Thursday. These power rankings will be used to determine draft order for our first NBA Mock Draft. Additionally, these rankings were done about two weeks; therefore, it does not factor certain injuries from a #1 overall pick from 2007.]


Southwest Division
1. New Orleans
2. Houston
3. San Antonio
4. Dallas
5. Memphis

In what it was the toughest division in the NBA and possibly ever, the Southwest carries four stellar teams and a Memphis squad who will be able to compete for the playoffs in two years. In the Big Easy, Chris Paul is the single most valuable player to any team and his supporting cast has only gotten stronger with the addition of James Posey. All eyes are on Ron Artest. If they actually win a playoff series in this millennium, look no further. San Antonio and Dallas will be stingy competition, but both may need to reload in the very near future.

Northwest Division
1. Utah
2. Portland
3. Denver
4. Oklahoma City
5. Minnesota

After dominating the Northwest Division last season, the Jazz are back at it again. While Portland and Denver will be competent adversaries, both lack the continuity and the ability to buckle down on defense. They also lack the consummate floor general in the form of Deron Williams. As for Oklahoma City and Minnesota, they are tough to watch unless you have Durant or Jefferson (or Miller) on your fantasy teams.

Pacific Division
1. LA Lakers
2. Phoenix
3. LA Clippers
4. Golden State
5. Sacramento

The Lakers are not only the cream of the crop in the Pacific Division, but also the Western Conference. To remain at the top of the heap, the Lakers need a healthy frontcourt in addition to a head-strong Kobe. In Phoenix, we know they're still good, but many questions are left to be answered. Is Nash still an elite point guard? Can Shaq be a factor at both ends of the floor? Did the team learn how to play defense over the summer? As for the other three teams, expect them to struggle. Golden State may finish third, but do not expect to see them in the playoffs.

Conference Rankings
1. LA Lakers
2. Utah
3. New Orleans
4. Houston
5. Phoenix
6. San Antonio
7. Dallas
8. Portland
9. Denver
10. LA Clippers
11. Golden State
12. Memphis
13. Sacramento
14. Oklahoma City
15. Minnesota

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