NBA Blog | StumptheSpread

2013 NBA All-Star Rosters and Snubs

NBA2013-01-28

With the NBA All-Star game just around the corner it is always fun to talk about which players deserved to make the roster. First here is a list of who made the team in the East:


Eastern Conference

Carmelo Anthony
Lebron James
Kevin Garnett
Rajon Rondo (injured)
Dwayne Wade
Chris Bosh
Tyson Chandler
Luol Deng
Paul George
Jrue Holiday
Kyrie Irving
Joakim Noah


Eastern Conference Snubs:

Brook Lopez- I find it hard to believe that Lopez was left off the All Star team this year. He probably has the largest case in the East as he leads all centers in scoring at 18.6 points per game and he is averaging 2.1 blocks which ranks as 7th best in the NBA. His team is also having a great season and he is one of the main reasons why. The Nets look very fortunate to keep Brook Lopez in what may have been a disasterous trade for Dwight Howard, who is shockingly an All-Star in the West.

Greg Monroe- Monroe who is referred to as "Moose" in Detroit is having another workman like year on a bad team. Greg is averaging close to a double-double with 15.4 points and 9.1 rebounds and throw in 3.3 assists and 1.3 steals to boot. If guys like Kyrie Irving and Jrue Holiday can slide in playing for bad teams then Monroe should have been able to as well. Look for Monroe to make many All-Star games in the East for years to come.

Josh Smith- Josh is filling up the stat sheet every night for the Atlanta Hawks and he is clearly the guy running the show in Atlanta now that Joe Johnson is gone. His numbers are even better than Monroe's as he is averaging 16.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 2.0 blocks, and 1.0 steals. Smith is clearly an all around player but what hurts him is he settles for jump shots when playing tougher opponents.

Paul Pierce- Perhaps he can replace Rondo on the East roster but it is difficult to understand how Pierce doesn't make it in while Garnett does. Pierce is averaging 18.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 3.9 assists. The fact that the Celtics are struggling this year is probably why Pierce doesn't make it but he is clearly still one of the best players in the Eastern Conference.


Now lets take a look at the West:

Western Conference

Kevin Durant
Blake Griffin
Dwight Howard
Kobe Bryant
Chris Paul
LaMarcus Aldridge
Tim Duncan
James Harden
David Lee
Tony Parker
Zach Randolph
Russell Westbrook


Western Conference Snubs

Serge Ibaka- Serge has finally turned into an all around player instead of just a defensive specialist. His reputation as only a defensive player probably hurt his chances at making the All-Star team but this guy is averaging a respectable 14.0 points per game this year which is higher than Tyson Chandler in the East. OKC Thunder traded Harden in part so they could keep Ibaka and he is proving his worth on the court this year. Ibaka has a strong case to make the West All-Star team over a guy like Zach Randolph.

Stephen Curry- Steph probably has the strongest case to be made for being on the All-Star team in the West. Curry is leading the resurgence of the Golden State Warriors who currently sit as the 5 seed out West. Curry is averaging 20.9 points, which is second among point guards in the West, and he is averaging 6.6 assists. His three point shooting percentage is third in the league at over 45% and without him Golden State would not be in contention. I hope Curry finds a way onto the West's roster as he deserves it more than any other snub at this point.

NBA Preseason Rankings / Preview - #1 Miami Heat

NBA2012-10-05

No surprise here. The defending champion Miami Heat are returning the same roster with the addition of Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis. Ray Allen made the right choice to go to Miami as they give him the best chance to win a title. Allen is going to have to get use to knocking down open threes because with the double and triple teams on Lebron, he is bound to get open shots. This is a perfect fit and it makes the Heat that much harder to beat. Lebron is now an NBA champion and he will be playing with extra confidence and swagger throughout the entire year. The best player on the planet is now playing with confidence, beware to the rest of the league. Dwayne Wade had one of the worst years of his career last season and the Heat still won the title. If Wade steps up there is no reason this team shouldn't earn the 1 seed in the East. Every team will give the Heat their best effort every night but this is something the Heat are use to. Should be another title or bust year for Miami.(picture from Makulits)

NBA Preseason Rankings / Preview - #2 Oklahoma City Thunder

NBA2012-10-05

The OKC Thunder are reigning Western conference champions and they bring back the same cast to make another run at the title. I like the fact that Harden, Durant, and Westbrook played together on the US Olympic team and this experience will only pay dividends as these guys got to train with former NBA champions. The starting 5 plus sixth man Harden that reached the finals will be the same rotation we see this year but there will be some interesting additions. Eric Maynor is back and he gives this team a great second option at the point. This also makes the roster more flexible as Westbrook can move and play the 2 where he is very comfortable. Also it will be interesting to see how the Thunder work in rookie Jerry Jones III into the rotation. It should be another fun year for the OKC fans and this team will be in the thick of the title race all year. In the end the Thunder can only go as far as Kevin Durant takes them and that could be to a title.(picture from Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE)

NBA Preseason Rankings / Preview - #3 Los Angeles Lakers

NBA2012-10-05

The Los Angeles Lakers made the biggest slashes this offseason adding Dwight Howard and former 2 time mvp Steve Nash. The biggest question going forward is will Kobe like how he fits in the new offense with Steve Nash running the show. Kobe is use to getting the ball and having the offense end there. Now with Nash handling the ball the pass is going to the open player. It will be an interesting transition for this team but it should make them better in the long run. The Lakers may go through some growing pains as the new additions get acclimated but make no mistake, this is a team that will heavily contend for the title. This is an old team and their window to win a title is going to close quickly. There are not a lot of intriguing young players to build around for the future but the Lakers generally build through free agency anyways. A weak bench may cost this team in the long run but that is yet to be seen. (picture from los-angeles-laker.org)

NBA Preseason Rankings / Preview - #4 Denver Nuggets

NBA2012-10-05

The Denver Nuggets are built for regular season success as this is the deepest team from top to bottom in the league. This roster could form 2 starting lineups that would make the playoffs. With that type of insurance the Nuggets don't have to worry about injuries or fatigue slowing down this unit. I expect this will be the highest scoring offense in the NBA and it will be hard for teams to keep up during the grind of the 82 game season. The Nuggets were apart of the Dwight Howard trade and they ended up getting Andrea Iguodala for Aaron Afflalo. Not to bad in my opinion. I also expect Kenneth Faried to add on to his break out year last year along with the continued improvement of Galinari, Lawson, McGee, and Mozgov. It is almost insane how many quality players the Nuggets have stockpiled and they will be a force to be reckoned with all year. This is my dark horse to reach the NBA finals. (picture from SBNation)

NBA Preseason Rankings / Preview - #5 Los Angeles Clippers

NBA2012-10-05

The Clippers lost Nick Young and Randy Foye this offseason but they have more than enough to replace and maybe even improve this team overall. The bench has guys like Jamal Crawford, Ronny Turiaf, Grant Hill, and Eric Bledsoe to supplement this great starting crew. Chauncey Billups is back after falling early last year to an Achilles injury. Many people thought this really hurt the Clippers chance at a title and we should see how much Billups helps this group baring another injury. The imposing frontcourt of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan have another year of experience under their belt and they will only get better going forward. This team will ultimately go as far as Chris Paul carries them and I expect more out of Paul this season. The Clippers have a great shot at making a title run and they will be apart of a two headed monster in L.A.(picture from BSO)

NBA Preseason Rankings / Preview - #6 Indiana Pacers

NBA2012-10-05

The Pacers came out of nowhere last year and they came very close to upsetting the Heat in the second round of the playoffs. They will run the same starting lineup this year and I like that this talented young team has so much experience playing together. The Pacers signed George Hill and Roy Hibbert to huge deals this offseason and this will be the pieces the Pacers will have to continue to build around. Paul George is next in line to get a big deal and he will be playing to earn that contract. Add the proven veteran presence of David West and Danny Granger and this is a team to look out for in the East. Indiana was the 3 seed in the East last year and with the Bulls slipping this team could realistically get the 2 seed. If this happens the Pacers will have home court advantage until the Eastern Conference finals where anything could happen. The Pacers have an outside shot at the finals and that is what they should play for this year. (picture from Michael Hickey-US PRESSWIRE)

NBA Preseason Rankings / Preview - #7 San Antonio Spurs

NBA2012-10-05

I didn't want to rate the Spurs this high but I have no choice given the success they had last year. The core of Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili aren't getting any younger and one of these years we will see a significant decline in their abilities. That might be this year but with the way Popovich manages the minutes of his aging players it probably won't be. The Spurs need to continue to invest in their young talent and if the young guys don't step up the Spurs could fall out of playoff contention in the next couple years. Patrick Mills played great for Australia in the Olympics and he should be a huge spark off the bench. The success of the Spurs this year may hinge on how well Kawhi Leonard plays and that is a lot of pressure to put on a young man. If Leonard isn't successful in the starting lineup the Spurs can always fall back on the veteran Stephen Jackson. I don't expect the Spurs to contend for the title this year and the anti flopping rules may hurt this team more than any other. (picture from ballerstatus)

NBA Preseason Rankings / Preview - #8 Utah Jazz

NBA2012-10-05

The Utah Jazz are so loaded in the frontcourt it is almost unfair to the rest of the league. The Jazz will have to make some tough decisions on who will get the bulk of the playing time and it may be in their best interest to trade away one of their low post assets to get better in the backcourt. The Jazz have Derrick Favors, Al Jefferson, Enes Kanter, and Paul Millsap who are all deserving of starting minutes but only 2 of these guys will get the nod in the starting lineup. League veterans Mo Williams and Marvin Williams will also get time in the starting lineup most likely with Gordon Hayward being the focal point in the backcourt at the 2. I think this team will have a strong regular season with their great home court advantage and depth and this will get them into the playoffs. If this group gets a top 4 seed in the West with home court in the first round this team could make a run in the playoffs. Jazz fans have a lot to look forward to this year. (picture from Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE)

NBA Preseason Rankings / Preview - #9 Philadelphia 76ers

NBA2012-10-05

The 76ers were one of the surprise teams last year and Doug Collins has done a phenomenal job getting the maximum production out of his players. In my view Collins has been the best coach in the NBA since he was hired and I like him to coach this team up to be a contender by the end of the year. Philly was a key part of the Dwight Howard trade and they were able get Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson in the deal. Both of these guys are just what the doctor order as the 76ers now have a dead eye 3 point shooter and one of the best centers in the league. They had to part ways with Iguodala but I think they came out way ahead in this deal. This team has great depth and it looks like they will get sparks off the bench from guys like Thaddeus Young and Nick Young while Jrue Holliday, Evan Turner, and Spencer Hawes get the nod as starters. The 76ers are one of the most intriguing teams in the league and it will be interesting to see were this team ends the year if Bynum stays healthy. (picture from Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE)

NBA Preseason Rankings / Preview - #10 Memphis Grizzlies

NBA2012-10-04

The Memphis Grizzlies have one of the best starting frontcourts in the league with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. According to offseason reports Zach Randolph has put in extra work and he could be gearing up for a great year. The Grizzlies have let former high draft pick O.J. Mayo go and if things don't go well for this group Rudy Gay could find himself on the trade block. It seems like the Grizzlies were worse last season with Rudy Gay playing than the year prior when he was out with an injury. Maybe this is the motivation Gay needs to improve his game. There are some intriguing young pieces that will come off the bench with guys like Jerryd Bayless, Wayne Ellington, and Quincy Pondexter. If this group wants to contend they need to slow the pace of the game and try to win in a half court set to utilize their bigs and above average defense. This is a playoff team but I don't see them making a run at the title.(picture from Spruce Derden-US PRESSWIRE)

NBA Preseason Rankings / Preview - #11 Brooklyn Nets

NBA2012-10-04

There is a lot to like about the Brooklyn Nets this year and the main thing holding them back is a lack of experience in playing together. This should be remedied throughout the regular season baring some major injury. I also think the Nets are set at head coach with Avery Johnson running things. It will be interesting to see how the backcourt of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and Gerald Wallace will fit. I am still high on Deron Williams and I think he will make the transition with this new group of guys a lot easier. Brook Lopez is the center of the future for the Nets but I don't like his injured past. If Lopez can stay healthy this team will be a contender in the East. If the Nets lose Lopez they will be forced to start Reggie Evans and that is when things could go south for this group. The Nets are head and shoulder above where they have been over the past few years and there is reasons for excitement with this team. (picture from Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire)

NBA Preseason Rankings / Preview - #12 Dallas Mavericks

NBA2012-10-04

The Mavericks fell short on the Deron Williams and Dwight Howard sweepstakes and Cuban decided to supplement this roster with a ton of decent veterans. The Mavs added guys like Darren Collison, O.J Mayo, Chris Kaman, and Elton Brand in an effort to capture magic in a bottle like they did 2 years ago building around NBA level proven players. Like 2 years ago this team will go as far as Dirk takes them, but the German isn't getting any younger. It seemed like Dirk took a step back last year and the team was bounced in the playoffs as a result. It will be tough to develop a winning formula with this mesh of players but Rick Carlisle has done this sort of thing before with the Detroit Pistons and Dallas Mavericks and I have confidence that he can turn this group into a playoff bound team. It will be important for the older guys like Brand and Kaman to stay healthy or the Mavs could slip this year. Should be an interesting year in Dallas.(picture from Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire)

NBA Preseason Rankings / Preview - #13 Boston Celtics

NBA2012-10-04

The Celtics lost one of their most important pieces with Ray Allen going to the Miami Heat and this veteran core is only getting older. Courtney Lee and Brandon Bass could see time in the starting lineup and these guys would be coming off the bench if this team was a real contender. A lot of experts are high on the Celtics but I'm just not seeing it, at least as far as the regular season goes. Doc Rivers will look to manage the minutes of this older roster and if the unproven bench, minus Jason Terry, doesn't step up this team will struggle to get the 4 seed they earned a year ago. Unlike the Knicks at least this team has some young pieces that they can build the future around in guys like Fab Melo, Jared Sullinger, Avery Bradley. The Celtics will be one of the more boring teams to watch but their experience and coaching will win them enough games to get in the playoffs by seasons end. Once the playoffs start anything can happen and the Celtics were surprisingly only one win away from the finals a year ago. (picture from ballerstatus)

NBA Preseason Rankings / Preview - #14 New York Knicks

NBA2012-10-04

The Knicks have gotten a lot older in the offseason and it will be interesting to see if this formula works for them. In the short run the moves the Knicks have made over the past 3 years should give them a greater opportunity to win a title now but I think they have given up too many of their young assets. New York will be the oldest team in NBA history this season and if this group doesn't have success now things will only go down hill going forward. Carmelo and Amare have been unable to mesh over the past season plus and the only reason the Knicks made the playoffs last year was because Jeremy Lin took this team on a winning streak with Key Knicks out with injuries. Raymond Felton is suppose to be this groups saving grace at the point but this is yet to be seen. There are too many personalities and not enough shots to go around. I think the Knicks will struggle in the regular season but they have a chance to make a run in the playoffs. Knicks fans should be wary of the future and enjoy whatever success this team has now.(picture from turnonthejets.com)

NBA Preseason Rankings / Preview - #15 Chicago Bulls

NBA2012-10-04

The Bulls will be a very different team without the injured Rose. We saw a preview in the playoffs last year as the Bulls fell to the 8 seed in the first round. Carlos Boozer has been a huge bust in Chicago and his salary obligations are really hurting this franchise. Chicago doesn't have a lot of intriguing pieces to build around for the future other than the question marked Rose and it will be up to guys like Noah and Deng to take this team back to the playoffs. Richard Hamilton has been on a gradual decline over the past 5 years and he is a shell of his former self. I do like Taj Gibson coming off the bench but other than him the Bulls don't have a lot of weapons coming from the second unit. The Bulls should be able to compile victories against the weaker opponents in the East but I think this group will struggle against teams that are above .500. This group's experience and solid coaching staff could allow this team to play above their skill level but at this point I have to put the Bulls as a lower playoff team in the East. (picture from Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire)

NBA Preseason Rankings / Preview - #16 Golden State Warriors

NBA2012-10-03

The Warriors continue the transition toward a more traditional style of play under head coach Mark Jackson. The trade that sent Monta Ellis to Milwaukee for Andrew Bogut was not popular amongst fans but it may make this team better in the long run. The Warriors now have a solid starting front line with David Lee and Andrew Bogut and there are a number of solid veterans scattered throughout this roster. The development of Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson are essential for this team but there will be older guys competing for playing time with the young players. Mark Jackson has a tough job of putting together a winning rotation with this group, but it appears there are enough pieces to make a run at the playoffs. Stephen Curry needs to be the leader and with Ellis out of the way there is no question this is his team. (picture from Brad Mills-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire)

NBA Preseason Rankings / Preview - #17 Milwaukee Bucks

NBA2012-10-03

The Milwaukee Bucks might have the most dynamic scoring back court in the league with Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis. This team will go on a roller coaster ride this year and they will only win when these guys are putting the ball through the hoop. If either of these guys has a poor shooting night it will be hard for the rest of the team to make up the difference. The Bucks also have decent options in the front court with Ekpe Udoh, Drew Gooden, Samuel Dalembert, and Ersan Ilyasove but their is no questioning this team will only do as far as the front court takes them. Mike Dunleavy will probably get the starting job as the 3 and he needs to be a steady contributor in this lineup. John Henson is pretty raw at this point but he could find his way into the rotation throughout the year. This will be a fun team to watch and the Bucks finally have some play makers back in their roster. (picture from Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire)

NBA Preseason Rankings / Preview - #18 Portland Trail Blazers

NBA2012-10-03

The Portland Trail Blazers shed a lot of underperforming pieces from last years squad and now they will build around Lillard, Aldridge, and Batum. It hurts that Portland had to match huge qualifying offers to retain Aldridge and Batum but this team had no other choice. If these guys would have left town Portland might have been the worst team in the West this year. A lot will be expected of rookie Damian Lillard and it is almost certain the young kid out of Weber State will be starting for the Blazers who are thin of talent at the guard spot. J.J. Hickson will probably get the nod at the 5 to allow LaMarcus to play in his more comfortable spot at the 4. Rookie Miles Leonard will be slowly worked into this lineup at the 5 and he could earn at lot more playing time as the season goes along. I am not expecting the playoffs for Portland this year but it isn't out of the question. LaMarcus Aldridge is one of the most underapreciated players in the NBA and he has the talent to take this team to the next level. (picture from Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire)

NBA Preseason Rankings / Preview - # 19 Minnesota Timberwolves

NBA2012-10-03

The Minnesota Timberwolves were in the playoff mix until Rubio went down with a knee injury last year. Rubio needs to stay healthy if this team wants to take that next step. The addition of the Russians Kirilenko and Shved will really boost this team going forward and these Olympic teammates should start. The Timberwolves don't have a great option to start at the 2 with Brandon Roy still being a huge question mark and Luke Ridnour being undersized. This is why I would stick Alexey Shved and let him get comfortable playing with his Russian teammate Kirilenko. Kevin Love has earned his spot as a top 15 player in the league and he will be the most consistent aspect of this team. There is a lot to be intrigued about with the Timberwolves and it will be interesting to see how this group of foreign players mesh together. There should be a lot of hope for the Minnesota fans going forward. (picture from Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire)

NBA Preseason Rankings / Preview - #20 Washington Wizards

NBA2012-10-03

Believe it or not the Washington Wizards have actually formed a competent lineup. They have finally removed the toxic assets of Gilbert Arenas, Rashard Lewis, among others and they are moving forward with some promising young talent. It is unfortunate that John Wall is going to have to sit out the next eight weeks with an injury but the Wizards just might have enough horses to hold the fort in his absence. The addition of Jannero Pargo will help at point and maybe Shelvin Mack will be able to develop into a starter in Wall's absence. The Wizards have added veterans such as Okafor, Nene, and Ariza and even though these guys are overpaid at least they will bring a good demeanor to this group. I am excited to see what Bradley Beal will be able to do early in his career and I also look for Jan Vesely to improve in his second year. If the Wizards can manage to not collapse until Wall comes back we should be looking at a team that has the potential to sneak into the playoffs. (picture from Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire)

NBA Preseason Rankings / Preview - #21 Atlanta Hawks

NBA2012-10-02

The Hawks are going forward without Joe Johnson and the future of this team is now on the backs of Josh Smith and Al Horford. The Hawks also rid themselves of perennial underachiever Marvin Williams and added guys like Anthony Marrow, Lou Williams, and John Jenkins to fill the void. Jeff Teague will start at point for this crew and he is going to have to continue to improve if this team wants a shot at the playoffs. It seems like the Hawks have been a decent team over the past few years but they were never ever to make that jump to the next level. Now it appears they are getting worse while other teams in the East are getting a lot better. I do not have confidence in Josh Smith being the face of the franchise and I expect a gradual decline in the future for the Hawks. Unless the new additions play above expectations this team will be in the lottery by seasons end. (picture from Joshua S. Kelly-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire)

NBA Preseason Rankings / Preview - #22 Detroit Pistons

NBA2012-10-02

The Detroit Pistons could be one of the more improved teams in the league this year. After starting last season 4-20 the Pistons quietly ended the year going 21-21 and playing a lot better under new head coach Lawrence Frank. Now that the sale of the team is well in the past the Pistons can focus on the future which looks quite bright. The Pistons have a solid core of young talent in Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight, Andre Drummond, and Jonas Jerebko and these guys will have a great chance to showcase their talent this year with increased playing time. Veteran guys like Prince and Maggette will instill a good work ethic into this group and the fact the Pistons have a respectable head coach will increase morale in the locker room. The wild card for this team is going to be Rodney Stuckey. At times Stuckey looked like a top 15 player in the league but he lacked the consistency to get such accolades. If Stuckey can consistently put up good numbers this team could make the playoffs this year. (picture from Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire)

NBA Preseason Rankings / Preview - #23 New Orleans Hornets

NBA2012-10-02

The New Orleans Hornets are a lot of guys dark horse this year to sneak in as the eight seed in the West but I want to see this young group in action before I hand out that kind of praise. The Hornets added the prize of the decade Anthony Davis with the number 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft and they also added Austin Rivers with the tenth overall pick. Austin Rivers will have to beat out Greivis Vasquez to get the starting job at point but I don't mind Rivers coming off the bench for this group. The addition of Ryan Anderson also stands out as one of the more underrated moves of the offseason. Anderson could have came back and been the star in Orlando after earning Most Improved Player but he went on to greener pastures. The success of the Hornets probably hinges on what Eric Gordon can do and if he puts up an all-star type year things could get interesting in New Orleans. Start getting excited Hornets fans because the future looks bright. (picture from sactownroyalty)

NBA Preseason Rankings / Preview - #24 Phoenix Suns

NBA2012-10-02

The Steve Nash era is over for the Phoenix Suns and they are probably kicking themselves for not trading him during last season. The Suns are now betting their future on former high pick busts and this strategy hardly ever works. Wes Johnson and Michael Beasley are both former top 5 picks that the Suns acquired and these guys could both be starting once the regular season comes. Dragic will have to take over where Nash left off and the Suns probably overpaid the young point guard. There hasn't been enough consistent play by Dragic for him to get the kind of deal the Suns gave him. The only thing I really like about this group is the inside presence if Scola and Gortat. The Suns are probably going to fall further away from the playoffs this year and it could be awhile before Phoenix sees the playoffs. (picture from - Christian Peterson/Getty Images)

NBA Preseason Rankings / Preview - #25 Toronto Raptors

NBA2012-10-02

Toronto made 2 moves in the offseason in an attempt to get better and that was adding Kyle Lowry and Landry Fields. I like the addition of Lowry as he is coming off a break out year but it is yet to be determined if this will be the trend with his career going forward. The Raptors way overpaid for Landry Fields and I believe this was a desperate move after their efforts to get Steve Nash fell short. It will also hurt the Raptors because now they will probably have to start Fields over lottery pick Terrence Ross which could stunt his growth. The Raptors have quite a few lottery picks now in their lineup and it is time for these guys to make the next step. Former number 1 overall pick Andrea Bargnani had the best year of his career last season but Bargnani being the face of this team leaves much to be desired. There is a lot of enthusiasm surrounding the Raptors in the city of Toronto but I am not sold on this group yet. (picture from theex.com)

NBA Preseason Rankings / Preview - #26 Sacramento Kings

NBA2012-10-02

It is nice to see the Kings are still playing in Sacramento but nobody knows how long it will last. There may not be a more exciting low ranked team to watch and it is really up in the air whether this team will make big strides forward or continue to be a lottery team. DeMarcus Cousins is a beast down low and with the addition of Thomas Robinson the Kings could be a rebounding force. The future of this team hinges on the development of young players like Jimmer Fredette, Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton, and Isaiah Thomas. I also like the veteran presence of Chuck Hayes teaching these young big guys work ethic. Getting Thomas Robinson in the draft was the perfect scenario for this team as they now have a guy that can do all the dirty work while the rest of the guys put up the statistics. This could be a fun year for the King's passionate fans if everything goes right. (picture from freehrs)

NBA Preseason Rankings / Preview - #27 Houston Rockets

NBA2012-10-02

Houston put the full court press on getting Dwight Howard but they fell short and now they must go forward with an underwhelming group of guys that have a lot to prove. Currently the Rockets have 22 guys on their roster but that number has to be trimmed to 15 by the start of the regular season. It is almost impossible to sort through this mess of players and it is clear the Rockets will have a hard time sorting out a winning rotation with this group of guys. I like the addition of Jeremy Lin and Houston has put a ton of money in this kid becoming the future of the franchise. Kevin Martin is by far the largest salary on this team and when the year is done these parties will probably be parting ways. Houston has too many combo forwards and there just isn't enough minutes to pass around to get all these guys a fair shot. It will be interesting to see if young guys like Royce White, Terrence Jones, and Jeremy Lamb can find a niche. The Rockets have a lot of roster decision to make but if they can cash in on a few of their young guys this team could be better than expected. (image source: Getty Images)

NBA Preseason Rankings / Preview - #28 Cleveland Cavaliers

NBA2012-10-01

The Cavaliers are a team that is still trying to recover from the loss of Lebron James and they are going to build around Kyrie Irving going forward. I don't see the playoffs in the near future with the Cavs as they lack a strong veteran presence but at least there will be plenty of minutes to go around for the young guys. This is a team that is building for the future and if their guys stick around the playoffs may not be to far down the road. It will be interesting to see how the Cavs progress this year as they try to find a winning formula. I am intrigued to see how the young guys like Tyler Zeller, Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, and Kyrie Irving mesh together. I also hope that the Cavs give Jeremy Pargo a shot to prove himself at the point as I believe this kid was overlooked by the NBA scouts. There are a lot of reasons to be optimistic about the Cavaliers and things will get better for this team going forward. The main thing I am worried is about is the lack of quality players at the small forward position. The Cavs may have to give Kelenna Azubuike significant minutes at SF and he only played in 3 games last year. (Picture left from nba.com)

NBA Preseason Rankings / Preview - #29 Orlando Magic

NBA2012-10-01

It's a sad sight to see what has happened to the Orland Magic. These poor fans are going through deja vu as the Lakers snatch up the best big man in the league in Dwight Howard, just like they did with Shaquille O'Neal 2 decades ago. All the Magic got in return was Aaron Afflalo, Moe Harkless, some draft picks down the road, and minimal cap relief. They couldn't even shed the Hedo Turkoglu contract. This may go down as one of the worst trades in the history of sports if the draft picks don't pan out for the Magic. To top it all off Orlando lost arguably their second and third best players Ryan Anderson and Jason Richardson. Starting the year with Aaron Afflalo as the face of the franchise doesn't exactly bring hope and it will probably be at least 5 years before the Magic can even think about getting back to the playoffs. A casual NBA fan might look at the Orlando roster and not be able to identify what sport team these players represent. The only reason I put the Bobcats lower was based on the fact they had the worst record in the history of the NBA last year and they earned the right to claim the bottom spot. It will be a long season for Orlando but I wish them the best going forward. (Picture left: Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire)

NBA Preseason Rankings / Preview - #30 Charlotte Bobcats

NBA2012-10-01

Charlotte had one of the most disappointing offseason when they lost out on getting Anthony Davis in the draft. They will have to build their future around Michael Kidd-Gilchrist who isn't as much of a sure thing. The Bobcats added veterans like Ben Gordon, Ramon Sessions, and Brendan Haywood but these players could take away precious minutes from young guys like Kemba Walker and Bismack Biyombo. Things are a mess in Charlotte and it is clear "His Airness" is over his head when it comes to assembling a team that can compete. I have to rank the Bobcats at dead last going into the regular season because they had the worst winning percentage in NBA history last year and they didn't do anything drastic to make me change my mind about them. They will have a chance to prove me wrong once the season starts. (Picture left from nba.com)

NBA Outlook

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Sleepers

The Memphis Grizzlies are poised to have a break-out year in an ever changing NBA. In the past, this Memphis team would be my dark horse to make the championship but in this era of ‘super-teams’ it is almost impossible for an above average team from top to bottom to make it that far. This is due to the fact that sooner or later one of the now many super-teams will knock them out eventually. With that said I see Memphis making a strong push for one of the top four seeds in the West. I feel Memphis is an underestimated team since Marc Gasol recently got an extension and Rudy Gay is starting alongside Tony Allen this season. However, be warned Memphis’ bench recently lost Darrell Arthur to a season ending Achilles injury.

I look in the same division to find my next sleeper, the San Antonio Spurs. The only reason I have them as a sleeper is plain and simple- the lockout. Where the lockout has hurt many teams trying to put new pieces together the Spurs stayed pat with what they had. Any team this year that returns a similar lineup is in for an above average season. This is because those teams will already have chemistry whereas teams with new additions may get off to a slow start due to the shortened preseason. Another lockout benefit was rest. San Antonio is the oldest playoff bound team in the NBA and a longer offseason/ shorter regular season means a healthier Parker and Duncan. The only question is will they be able to hold up, my opinion is yes. They have the talent to win it all if healthy and with how this season has been set up it is the ideal situation for this type of team.

The Philadelphia 67ers went 38-28 in their final 66 games after a 3-13 start. If the 67ers end up with a 38-28 record I think that would be considered a vast improvement over last year. On top of that reports are that Evan Turner as improved greatly over this past off season. If those reports are true, which will be easy to see within the first 4 or 5 games, the 67ers look poised to push forward this season assuming the team has grown together after last year. This is the team to gamble early on because the odds makers may not be convinced yet about the 67ers reported new continuity.

I know the Bulls are some peoples champion pick so it is hard to call them a sleeper, however, with the Cavs, Pistons, Bucks and Pacers in the division the Bulls will have won their division after the first game is played- win or lose. Outside of their mediocre competition the Bulls did add Rip Hamilton who will take enormous pressure off of Chicago’s big men. I thought Boozer was going to have a rebound year even before the signing of Hamilton but now I am virtually guaranteeing it. The Bulls are one of a handful of teams that could win 50+ games in a 66 game season. The Bulls are my pick to win it all this year. That is how important this one addition was to the team.

Failures

My top team for failure is the Detroit Pistons. Their only good player, Rip Hamilton, has left for the Chicago Bulls. Their three top players are Monroe, Daye and Knight. Never heard of them? No one outside of Detroit has either and although I do not expect a locker room blowup like last year I do not see good things for the Pistons entering the season.

The New Jersey Nets are another team I see underperforming this year. Although I do not think it will effect them the entire season, the failure to acquire Dwight Howard from Orlando plus the recent injury to Brook Lopez seems like this team is almost destined to underperform. They are definitely heading in the right direction and will land Howard or some other superstar next year but unless a miracle is worked to get Howard (which would implode their team due to not being able to trade Lopez due to injury) I see a sub .500 team this year unless the Nets work some magic and fill their now glaring need of a center.

The Atlanta Hawks lost the best 6th man in the NBA in Jamal Crawford to the Portland Trail Blazers. The rest of the team remains in tack which in a lockout year is ideal but the loss of Crawford will be the Hawks undoing. Crawford single handedly won at least 5 games last year. From 10 points in 2 minutes to last second shots to win the game Crawford seemingly never disappointed under pressure. I do not see the Hawks in the playoffs unless the Magic trade Howard because of the Magic being in their division. The Magic have Howard, the Heat are the Heat and the Wizards did not get much worse. The Atlanta Hawks have a long and tough road ahead this year.

Gamble of the Year

The Sacramento Kings are my gamble of the year. They have great young talent but do not have a passing point guard to distribute the ball. This one fact is why they could be one of the worst teams in the NBA or the biggest sleeper of the year. If their talent shines they will have a respectable playoff seed with even a possible home game in the first round. Or their passing point guard woes and young selfish talent could implode the team if they start off bad due to all of the different personalities on the team. My advice is if they get off to a good 5 or 6 game start they will be a safe bet this year with long winning and losing streaks that frequently happen to young teams (and will be better at home).