By Lamar Battle
Can we say without a doubt that Cleveland and Golden State will meet again for the NBA Title this year?
Well, probably not, but don’t bet the mortgage money against it happening for a 3rd straight year.
How are the challengers shaping up? Check out these rankings of the top ten teams in the NBA at this point of the season.
1. Golden State Warriors-41-7:
Sporting the top record and win margin the Warriors are starting to look like the team to beat as they addressed size issues with the addition of Zaza Pachulia (brawn) and Javale McGee (length). The Warriors could be on track for some serious history making.
2. San Antonio Spurs-36-11:
With only four games in the lost column separating them just like last season the Spurs are hanging close to the Warriors. The Spurs are big but the Warriors are fast. Only time will tell.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers-32-14:
Don’t let that slight mid season swoon fool you. When the lights come on the Cavs will be ready. The addition of sharpshooter Kyle Korver(36.8-3pt%) will pay huge dividends. However, the size advantage that the Cavs enjoyed last is negated with the absence of Timofey Mozgov. Tristan Thompson is an absolute beast on the offensive boards but at the end of the day he is still an undersized power forward. And so is Kevin Love.
4. Houston Rockets-35-16:
Talk about a marriage made in Vegas? The pairing of an athletic three point shooting roster with the father of the pace and space offense is potentially a first round playoff nightmare for somebody.
Can the Raptors overthrow the Cavs? …Well no, but here are a couple of things they can do.
Develop a low post series of plays around underutilized center Jonas Valenciunas and Change their name to the Toronto Huskies.
Nothing like a identity and uniform change to get the juices flowing.
6. L.A. Clippers-30-18:
Many feel that the window has shut for this team that can’t seem to escape the injury bug. Just when star Power Forward Blake Griffin returns Star point guard Chris Paul goes out with an injury all while the Warriors may have assembled with the recent acquisition of Kevin Durant a dynasty for the next three to four years.
Clipper Nation, hope that the proposed deal for Knick’s forward Carmelo goes through to at least make things interesting.
7. Utah Jazz-30-19:
Steady improvement by building through the draft and timely free agent pickups have put the Jazz right in the middle of the Western Conference race.
First time All Star Gordon Haywood leads this young and defensively solid (95.5 OPPG) team.
8. OKC Thunder-28-20:
The Thunder will go as far as team star/leader/cyborg Russell Westbrook will take them which will probably be as far as the second round of the playoffs. One interesting side note will be Westbrook’s pursuit of history as he attempts to match Hall Of Famer Oscar Robertson’s feat of averaging a triple double for the season.
9 Memphis Grizzlies-28-21:
Everybody pretty much gave up on the Grizzlies for the usual reasons; Too old and plodding. We should have known any team with a top shelf point guard and center would always be in the mix..The Grizzlies could be a dark horse in the west.
10. Atlanta Hawks-28-20:
After starting slowly the Hawks have rebounded to 4th place in the east. All Star Paul Milsap is the real deal and the no frills leader of this team. Look for a second round loss to the Cavaliers.
Photo courtesy of SI.com. and The new big thing aka Joel “The Process” Embiid.