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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Jackson's NBA Power Rankings Part 2

Here is part 2 (20-11) of the NBA Power Rankings. For part 1 (30-21) just scroll down, or click here.

20. Charlotte Bobcats (18-30): They have some good young talent, but still don't have the players to make a true playoff run. They have a great young player in Gerald Wallace, and have a decent nucleus of talent, but nothing close to what they need to be truly considered contenders. I would say they are one or two players away at this point. Unfortunately, 8 teams in the East have to make the playoffs, and this team may be one of them.

19. Sacramento Kings (22-24): They are really in a similar situation to the New Jersey Nets. They are a team that is good enough to potentially make the playoffs, but are nowhere near good enough to really make any noise. Guys like Brad Miller, Ron Artest and Mike Bibby are getting to be past their prime (all in the late 20's, early 30's), and unless they think they can compete for a championship now, they really need to trade those types of guys off. Artest also announced today he would like to be traded. It seems like rebuilding around Kevin Martin, Francisco Garcia and Spencer Hawes may be their best option.

18. Chicago Bulls (18-28): This team makes absolutely no sense to me. The last two years they were considered dark horse contenders to make it out of the East, and now all of a sudden they can't even maintain a winning record. Normally you could blame things like that on injuries, but right now that hasn't been it at all. They needed to get Pau Gasol, and for what the Lakers gave up to get him it seems as though they missed an easy upgrade. I still think they have the talent to have a good second half of the year, and I expect them to look more like the team they have been the last two years. They are still one piece away from really contending though, someone like Brad Miller would really help.

17. Atlanta Hawks (19-24): This is one of my favorite teams to watch. Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Marvin Williams, Al Horford and Josh Childress is a great young nucleus. Right now they need a point guard. Imagine if this team had made the right choice and taken Chris Paul in the 2005 draft. Sure, Marvin Williams has become a good player and has yet to become what he can be, but Chris Paul is one of the best point guards in the league. Personally, I would make a run at Jason Kidd. He's got a few good years left, and this team has the talent to contend with a player like Kidd. Right now they have no true point guard that is playing significant time, and that isn't going to cut it.

16. Washington Wizards (24-22): I can honestly say watching them live that they have a good team, and their record without Gilbert Arenas is not a fluke. That being said, it is ridiculous to think that they are better off without Arenas. When he comes back in a months time they will be a team to watch for. They definitely have the talent to make a strong playoff push in the East.

15. Toronto Raptors (25-21): Yet another team that has a good young nucleus, but is one or two players away from really being a contender. They could really use a center that is great defensively and can score around the basket. Obviously easier said than done. They do have a trade chip now in either Jose Calderon or TJ Ford, as both are capable of running a team well, and both are similar players. At some point they will have to decide which one to go with, and given Calderon's recent All Star Game push you would have to think it is him. Obviously trading Ford is tough however given his recent injury history.

14. Cleveland Cavaliers (26-20): Lebron James is obviously one of the best, if not the best, players in basketball. His post-season performance last year was Jordan-esque, and while most people think he has nothing around him, he does have a good nucleus around him. Daniel Gibson is a great young shooter, Zydrunas Ilguaskas is still productive and Drew Gooden/Anderson Varejao are both good players. Sure, a guy like Jason Kidd would help, but I believe they have enough now to contend if Lebron actually makes his team fear him rather than be his best friends. We all saw how well it worked for Michael, and I am willing to bet it would work for Lebron.

13. Golden State Warriors (29-19): This team has worked despite the multiple issues that are always lying under the surface. Stephen Jackson is mildly crazy at the very least, Baron Davis is healthy now but is always an injury risk, and guys like Monta Ellis, Kelenna Azubuike, Matt Barnes and Andris Biedrins seeming to play over their head. I really don't think this team can compete once the playoffs start. They caught lightning in a bottle last year, and that is something that is near impossible to do two years in a row.

12. Houston Rockets (27-20): It seems like every year now this team has a decent regular season, is picked as a dark horse in the playoffs because of Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming and then is bounced out of the playoffs early. Personally, I don't see any reason why this would change. McGrady is always injured, and Yao can't dominate every game. He just doesn't seem to have that extra level that the greats have.

11. Portland Trail Blazers (27-19): This team had their hot streak, and I don't think they make the playoffs in the end. I do however think they are a good team, and in the East they would be a title contender right now. Personally, I think they should have taken Kevin Durant, but they went with the allure of the big man in Greg Oden. I don't think he will ever be the player they want him to be, but if he can prove me wrong this will be a great team for years to come. Great to see a team that was considered a black mark in the NBA turn it around as quick as they have.

Stay tuned for 10-1 this weekend.

~Aaron Jackson

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