March 1, 2007

The Intern’s on: The West

by Dan Bilicki In: Basketball

Memphis Grizzlies

They have absolutely no chance of making the playoffs. They are in a tight race with the Celtics for the worst record in the league though. Their best case scenario is that they finish last, get the first pick in the Oden/Durant sweepstakes, draft Oden, sign Chauncey Billups in the off season and just like that, the Griz are back in the playoff hunt.

Sacramento Kings

This team needs to be dismantled. They might as well start tanking because this team is going nowhere. First order of business in the off season should be to attempt to find a suitable taker for Ronny. Since acquiring Artest it’s been downhill; Brad Miller is currently having his worst season ever and Mike Bibby is shooting a career worst 39%. Is there a team that could actually benefit from having Artest?

Seattle Supersonics

Seattle is going to be very hard-pressed to make the playoffs this year being 11 games out of the 8th spot. One positive is that I have been really impressed with the production from Nick Collison as of lately and Ray Allen is still the best pure shooter in the game. Hopefully they will get a high draft pick and not lose Rashard Lewis to free agency in the off-season.

Portland Trailblazers

They have a great, young nucleolus with a very high ceiling. Won’t make the playoffs this year but watch out for them next season. With Magloire’s expiring contract and a sea full of talented free agents, they have a lot of options.

Minnesota Timberwolves

You can never really count this team out based on the fact that they have the star power of the immortal KG. But you know you have a problem when your second third punches are Ricky Davis and Mike James. Ouch. At least they are giving Randy Foye the minutes he needs to develop into one of the future cornerstones of the franchise.

Golden State Warriors

This team will be in a four way race for the 7 and 8 spots against the Nuggets, Clippers and the Hornets. This team could be a fierce competitor if they could just win a game on the road. They have the largest home/away loss differential in the league. Two major flaws are their absent defense and they have no inside presence. Their run-and-gun style of play somewhat glosses over these issues but can still easily be exposed. Monta Ellis is turning into quite a baller and, more importantly, Stephen Jackson hasn’t shot anyone… Yet.

Los Angeles Clippers

I originally had this team pegged to grab the 8th and final playoff spot but that was before Livingston went down hard. They could still make the playoffs if Maggette ever gets on the same page as Dunleavy and if Brand can transform back into the MVP-caliber player he was last year.

Denver Nuggets

This team by default should make the playoffs on the sheer fact that they have two of the top scorers in the league. Also, to their credit, they have a healthy Camby and, over the last two weeks, Nene has put up some very nice numbers.

New Orleans/ Oklahoma City Hornets

It’s nice to finally see this team almost back to 100%. They should be able to secure 7th spot with CP3 leading them and the solid production from David West and the rest of the team.

Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers will finish 5th just on the raw talent of Kobe and Lamar. But this team could be a legitimate contender if they had a half-decent point guard. Instead, they have the worst starting point guard in the league being Smush Parker. Given he is also the cheapest starting PG in the league making only 600 G’s, but still, for all that’s good in the world, how can you average only 2.4 assists per game when you have Kobe and Odom on your team. I feel a migraine coming on.

Houston Rockets

With the way T-Mac has put the Rockets on his aching back and the possibility of Yao returning, they could catch the Spurs and finish either third or fourth, depending on how Utah finishes.

Utah Jazz

They have almost completely secured 4th spot in the West. They could make a push now for third spot because Boozer is back in the lineup but, alas, Deron Williams is now out with a groin strain. That’s a real kick in the pants for the Jazz.

San Antonio Spurs

The San-An Spurs are still one of the most boring teams in the league but, hey, it doesn’t really matter when you can dismantle opponents like they can. Personally, I think after you factor in all the characteristics that make up a team in NBA, they have the second best team in the league. They have all the pieces to make a serious run in the playoffs.

Phoenix Suns

What can you say about the Suns that haven’t already been said about a million times? Well, I don’t care; I’m going to reiterate it. They are the most fun team to watch in sports right now. The whole team is a walking highlight reel. They can score on demand and they have the best point guard in the game in Steve Nash. Now its going to take a lot for me to admit this but *sniff sniff* they do not have the depth nor the defensive intensity to get to the Finals. Excuse me while this Suns Fan boy goes and cries in the corner.

Dallas Mavericks

Dallas is definitely the team to beat in the league. They’re riding their 3rd 13+ game winning streak, Dirk is playing possessed basketball and, as a team, they get it done on both ends of the court. Major accolades should go to Avery’s coaching and I seriously feel sorry for anyone that gets stuck in the West’s 8th playoff spot.

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