Current Team Rankings and 2013 Playoff Predictions.
Oklahoma City Thunder – Durant, Harden and Ibaka were all out of form during the finals against the Heat. Great addition of Perry Jones III in the draft, expect bigger and better things from a revengeful Thunder team in 2013.
Miami Heat – Were on a high beating the Thunder, with players such as Shane Battier and Mike Miller in red-hot form. These players will not be able to repeat this in the 2013 Playoffs. Depth is still a problem, but the big 3 will get them to the finals.
Los Angeles Lakers – Nash will help the Lakers in 2013, but he does not immediately propel them into the best team in the competition. Who knows how Nash and Kobe will gel? Either way, the Lakers will be a force in 2013
San Antonio Spurs – The Spurs will still be a force in 2013. Despite their age, they won 20 games in a row in 2012, and that cannot be discounted. With Duncan and Parker still firing, expect another good year for the San Antonio team.
Boston Celtics – The Celtics are aging, but Garnett and Pierce will still have another crack at a title that they so desperately desire. Rondo will cement himself as one of the stars of the league and will carry the Celtics to the number two team in the East.
Indiana Pacers – The Indiana Pacers had a breakout season in 2012, and there is no reason they shouldn’t carry their form through to 2013. Even if Roy Hibbert doesn’t resign, the likes of Danny Granger, David West, Darren Collison and Tyler Hansbrough will be enough to get them to third in the Eastern Conference.
New York Knicks – Even without Jeremy Lin, the combination of Carmelo Anthony, Jason Kidd and Amar’e Stoudemire will be lethal for the Knicks in 2013. Expect Carmelo to have a standout season, after a below par one in 2012.
Chicago Bulls – Derrick Rose will miss the first half of the season. Don’t expect the Bulls to be fantastic until he returns. This is the only reason they will finish this low, but they may cause a playoff upset with the return of Rose.
Los Angeles Clippers – The Clippers have traded expertly through the offseason, gaining Lamar Odom and Jamal Crawford, to go with Blake Griffin and Chris Paul. The ‘second LA team’ will be right in contention in 2013. The Clippers have never been this good.
Memphis Grizzlies – The Grizzlies ‘Big 3’ of Rudy Gay, Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph will step up a notch in 2013, and will propel the Grizzlies into contention. The Grizzlies will likely make an early exit in the Playoffs though.
Minnesota Timberwolves – The Timberwolves will go quite well during the 2013 season, with Kevin Love still dominating this team. Up and comers such as Derrick Williams and Nikola Pekovic will hopefully step up this year. The signing of Brandon Roy was a clever move also for the Minnesota franchise.
Atlanta Hawks – The Joe Johnson trade was not a good one for the Hawks, but Al Horford, Josh Smith and Jeff Teague will still be able to play at a high level. The Hawks may drop a notch in the 2013 season, but will still make the playoffs.
Brooklyn Nets – Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and possibly Dwight Howard. What a big three! The Nets will make the playoffs with Howard or without him. The projected starting line-up without him still looks strong, Kris Humprhies and Brook Lopez both solid players. May cause a playoff upset.
Denver Nuggets – The Nuggets will be very hungry for success in 2013, with JaVale McGee, Ty Lawson, Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler, the Nuggets are a force to be reckoned with in 2013.
Philadelphia 76ers – Andre Iguodala will again lead this team to the playoffs, but this time, they will have limited playoff success. Spencer Hawes and Elton Brand will again contribute, but don’t expect a title run from the 76ers.
Portland Trail Blazers – Damian Lillard and Meyers Leonard were great additions in the draft, and will help LaMarcus Aldridge put the Trail Blazers into playoff contention. Expect a better 2013 season from the Portland team.
Milwaukee Bucks – John Henson was a good addition in the draft, whilst Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis will again be stars. The Bucks will push for playoffs, but will again miss out, by the smallest of margins.
Houston Rockets – Jeremy Lin is a vital addition, and is the only reason the Rockets will push for the playoffs. Jeremy Lamb, Royce White and Terrence Jones were all great selections in the draft, but sending Kyle Lowry to Toronto will cost them a playoffs birth.
Orlando Magic – Depending on what happens with Dwight Howard, they may finish higher or lower than this, but the Magic will still fail to make the top eight in a hotly contested Eastern Conference.
Utah Jazz – Despite players such as Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter being extremely talented, it’s hard to see this team making the playoffs with such improvement in the west. If they sign a point guard during the off-season, they may just make a run.
Dallas Mavericks – Losing Jason Kidd and Jason Terry has ruined the Mavericks playoffs chances for 2013. Nowitzki will try to carry this team, but he is getting old and there is not enough talent around him.
Golden State Warriors – If Andrew Bogut and Stephen Curry can remain healthy and if Klay Thompson can reach his potential, the Warriors look like a force. But the problem with this team is that there are too many ‘ifs’ and not enough certainty.
Phoenix Suns – With Steve Nash gone, this Phoenix team looks very different. Eric Gordon and Goran Dragic are good editions, and will do well to cover for the seasoned point guard, but the fact is, if the Suns couldn’t make the playoffs with Nash, what chance do they have without him?
Toronto Raptors – With Jonas Valančiūnas, the Raptors have a star in the making, and trading for Kyle Lowry was a clever move. Terrence Ross was also a good edition through the draft. But the fact is, in Toronto, the best just aren’t that good.
New Orleans Hornets – Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers were great picks in the draft, but Eric Gordon is gone and he was their best player. The Hornets do not have enough experience to vie for a playoff spot.
Sacramento Kings – Thomas Robinson was a potential number two pick in the draft, so he was a steal at five for the Kings! Nonetheless, this is a roster in dismay, with their best players Tyreke Evans misused and DeMarcus Cousins looking for a trade. Kings fans, book your draft tickets now.
Detroit Pistons – Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey are all good young players, and Andre Drummond was a good edition, but Knight and Drummond will not be overnight sensations. Corey Maggette and Tayshaun Prince aren’t that great, and this team has no depth. Will take a step backwards before moving forwards.
Cleveland Cavaliers – Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters will be a formidable back court pairing, but just not yet. The Cavaliers have a satisfactory roster, but will not immediately be contending for playoffs, the young players still need to develop before they can become a threat.
Washington Wizards – John Wall and Bradley Beal will be a great future combination for the Wizards and Emeka Okafor will pair nicely with Nene, but the Washington’s team has no real star power, and will struggle until they fully mature.
Charlotte Bobcats – This is a struggling team, which really needed a player like Anthony Davis to turn it around. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is a solid addition, and will be a star in years to come, whilst Ben Gordon will help the backcourt in defence. Expect another crack at the number 1 draft pick this year Bobcat’s fans.
Elliott Hoffmann is a writer and analyst for Point Forward. A basketball agnostic with a soft spot for the Thunder and Kings, he loves MVP Russell Westbrook. Elliott is a big fan of X’s and O’s and a user of analytics, but still believes in the value of team chemistry and longevity. He is the current owner of a Westbrook Christmas Day jersey, McGrady cartoon Raptor jersey and is looking to further that collection.