Fourth Quarter rank: 3
Third Quarter rank: 2
Second Quarter rank: 1
First Quarter rank: 4
Preseason rank: 2
Mission accomplished. There was nothing easy about their march to the championship except the final game of the 2011-2012 playoffs. The Heat shattered preconceived notions about the depth of their team and the ability of their three stars to come through in the clutch. The #gleam belongs to the Miami Heat.
Draft picks: (Round 1) 27th pick
2. Oklahoma City Thunder (47-19 regular season, 13-7 playoffs)
Fourth Quarter rank: 4
Third Quarter rank: 3
Second Quarter rank: 3
First Quarter rank: 1
Preseason rank: 4
In spite of the bitter disappointment of falling flat in the NBA Finals, the future is bright for the Oklahoma City Thunder. It's easy to forget that Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are only 23 years old. The bad news is that the team was exposed for their lack of depth. Depth was supposed to be their advantage against Miami and that turned out to be a myth. It's going to be a tough summer in OKC. And let me know if you see James Harden...he was last seen in the Western Conference Finals.
Draft picks: (Round 1) 28th pick
3. San Antonio Spurs (50-16 regular season, 10-4 playoffs)
Fourth Quarter rank: 1
Third Quarter rank: 4
Second Quarter rank: 4
First Quarter rank: 7
Preseason rank: 7
I hate to count them out, but I don't know if things get better for San Antonio. They rode the wave of a 20 game win streak that came to a screeching halt at the hands of the Thunder. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili are only getting older. They've been phenomenal in the regular season the past two years. However, they have also been upset by younger squads in consecutive years. I'm sure the San Antonio brain trust will devise a scheme to get them back to the championship, but I don't know how soon.
Draft picks: (Round 2) 59th pick
4. Boston Celtics (39-27 regular season, 11-9 playoffs)
Fourth Quarter rank: 9
Third Quarter rank: 15
Second Quarter rank: 16
First Quarter rank: 21
Preseason rank: 6
Just like the team ahead of them on this list, the Celtics are old. Older than dirt. They need an infusion of fresh blood as soon as possible. Fortunately for them, they will have some money to spend in free agency and few draft picks to consider. Ray Allen is widely considered to be the member of their big 3 that moves on. There are big decisions to make and if one thing is certain, it's that Danny Ainge isn't afraid to shake things up.
Draft picks: (Round 1) 21st pick and 22nd pick, (Round 2) 51st pick
5. Indiana Pacers (42-24 regular season, 6-5 playoffs)
Fourth Quarter rank: 5
Third Quarter rank: 7
Second Quarter rank: 12
First Quarter rank: 13
Preseason rank: 13
Heading into the 2012-2013 season, the Pacers are best positioned to be the second best team in the conference. They have cap space and will look to improve a team that took big steps forward this season. The team lacks a star player that can average 20 to 25 points per game. If they can manage to land one, they will be an even better team. But knock off the tough guy act.
Draft picks: (Round 1) 26th pick
6. Los Angeles Lakers (41-25 regular season, 5-7 playoffs)
Fourth Quarter rank: 6
Third Quarter rank: 5
Second Quarter rank: 9
First Quarter rank: 3
Preseason rank: 8
The Lakers didn't build their franchise on mediocrity but the last two playoff trips have definitely been mediocre. Kobe doesn't have very many top level years left in this league so it is imperative to develop a succession plan. In spite of their failed trade for Chris Paul, and the banishment of Lamar Odom, the Lakers still managed to get the 3rd seed in the West. They have decisions to make on whether they want to remain an elite franchise or become an also-ran.
Draft picks: (Round 2) 60th pick
7. Philadelphia 76ers (35-31 regular season, 7-6 playoffs)
Fourth Quarter rank: 15
Third Quarter rank: 14
Second Quarter rank: 7
First Quarter rank: 12
Preseason rank: 15
The Sixers made the most out of a bad situation. By that I mean the fact that as an 8th seed they knocked off a Bulls team that lost two of its best players to injury and then took Boston to Game 7 off the East Semi-Finals. They now have positive playoff experience that should give them confidence going forward. The Sixers are another team that needs a true go-to scorer to take their team to the next level.
Draft picks: (Round 1) 15th pick, (Round 2) 45th pick and 54th pick
8. Los Angeles Clippers (40-26 regular season, 4-7 playoffs)
Fourth Quarter rank: 8
Third Quarter rank: 11
Second Quarter rank: 6
First Quarter rank: 9
Preseason rank: 10
The Clippers are poised to take over Los Angeles. The fact that they have youth on their side makes me believe they can be a bigger threat in the West next year. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan have to work on their post moves. Chris Paul should start the season in better condition due to his upcoming participation in the Olympics. The flip side of that is he could potentially wear down towards the end of next season. This young team also got a positive playoff experience when they won a Game 7 on the road.Look for them to build on that experience.
Draft picks: (Round 2) 53rd pick
9. Denver Nuggets (38-28 regular season, 3-4 playoffs)
Fourth Quarter rank: 10
Third Quarter rank: 12
Second Quarter rank: 14
First Quarter rank: 11
Preseason rank: 16
Denver has to be tired of losing in the first round by now. Losing Andre Miller might hurt, but Ty Lawson, Aaron Afflalo and Kenneth Faried talented young players to have as a foundation. If the team decides to bring back JaVale McGee, that would be another young player for their roster. McGee has talent but needs coaching so hopefully George Karl can get through to him.
Draft picks: (Round 1) 20th pick, (Round 2) 38th pick and 50th pick
10. Memphis Grizzlies (41-25 regular season, 3-4 playoffs)
Fourth Quarter rank: 7
Third Quarter rank: 9
Second Quarter rank: 11
First Quarter rank: 15
Preseason rank: 5
This team took a step back. They will have to shake up their roster in order to be among the top teams in the West. Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph are like the West's light version of Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire. Neither duo is going to bring their franchise a title, so it's up to the organization to make the necessary moves to be a winner. OJ Mayo might be on the move as well.
Draft picks: (Round 1) 25th pick
11. Atlanta Hawks (40-26 regular season, 2-4 playoffs)
Fourth Quarter rank: 12
Third Quarter rank: 10
Second Quarter rank: 10
First Quarter rank: 6
Preseason rank: 14
The defending mediocrity champs of the NBA might be active on the trade front. Josh Smith is less than enthused with his current situation and might be out the door. Unfortunately, Joe Johnson's behemoth of a contract will prevent any type of real improvements to the roster. Go ahead and pencil them in right now for a second place finish in their division and a first round playoff exit next spring.
Draft picks: (Round 1) 23rd pick, (Round 2) 43rd pick
12. Chicago Bulls (50-16 regular season, 2-4 playoffs)
Fourth Quarter rank: 2
Third Quarter rank: 1
Second Quarter rank: 2
First Quarter rank: 2
Preseason rank: 3
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Literally. To say this season was a disappointment is a vast understatement. The future of the face of the Bulls franchise is cloudy at best. The team's best perimeter defender will probably miss a good chunk of next season healing from an injury suffered this season. The Bench Mob will almost certainly be broken up to prevent the Bulls from going into the luxury tax. Carlos Boozer's contract will continue to be the bane of the Bulls' existence. The main objective is to tread water until Derrick Rose and Luol Deng get back. Until then, it is going to be tough on me and my fellow Chicago Bulls fans.
Draft picks: (Round 1) 29th pick
13. New York Knicks (36-30 regular season, 1-4 playoffs)
Fourth Quarter rank: 11
Third Quarter rank: 16
Second Quarter rank: 15
First Quarter rank: 18
Preseason rank: 9
The New York Big 3 model was a failure in year 1 and I see no reason why things will change in year 2. The team needs to find depth at every position. They found a diamond in the rough in Jeremy Lin. Hopefully for him, he recovers fully from his knee injury. Iman Shumpert was having a solid rookie campaign until he tore up his knee. Hopefully, he comes back healthy as well. The pressure will ratchet up on Carmelo Anthony now that he is the only member of the top 5 of the 2003 Draft without a championship ring.
Draft picks: (Round 2) 48th pick
14. Orlando Magic (37-29 regular season, 1-4 playoffs)
Fourth Quarter rank: 16
Third Quarter rank: 6
Second Quarter rank: 8
First Quarter rank: 5
Preseason rank: 11
The Magic are in the midst of face transplant surgery. Or they're getting their faces eaten off by someone high off of bath salts. Either way, the team will be disfigured and won't resemble what was once a championship contending franchise. Gone are Stan Van Gundy and Otis Smith. Dwight Howard is probably next. The decisions that are being made will dictate the I reaction of their organization for years to come. No big deal.
Draft picks: (Round 1) 19th pick, (Round 2) 49th pick
15. Dallas Mavericks (36-30 regular season, 0-4 playoffs)
Fourth Quarter rank: 13
Third Quarter rank: 8
Second Quarter rank: 5
First Quarter rank: 14
Preseason rank: 1
Mark Cuban took a big gamble by wasting a year of Dirk's career in a feeble attempt to defend their championship. Letting Tyson Chandler and JJ Barea walk in order to clear cap space for this summer will either prove to be a great maneuver or a dumb idea. Their immediate future is dependent on the moves they make to get some help for Dirk Nowitzki.
Draft picks: (Round 1) 17th pick, (Round 2) 55th pick
16. Utah Jazz (36-30 regular season, 0-4 playoffs)
Fourth Quarter rank: 14
Third Quarter rank: 17
Second Quarter rank: 17
First Quarter rank: 8
Preseason rank: 21
Utah should have been happy just to be there. Sure they got smoked, but it was a nice accomplishment to even qualify for the playoffs. It's no secret they need help, the problem is finding players to uplift their system. Good luck finding top level free gents that want to play in Salt Lake City.
Draft picks: (Round 2) 47th pick
Lottery Teams17. Phoenix Suns (33-33)
Fourth Quarter rank: 17
Third Quarter rank: 18
Second Quarter rank: 23
First Quarter rank: 22
Preseason rank: 18
Life after Nash begins now. There is optimism in Phoenix that they can bring him back, but it's time to look to the future.
Draft picks: (Round 1) 13th pick
18. Houston Rockets (34-32)
Fourth Quarter rank: 18
Third Quarter rank: 13
Second Quarter rank: 13
First Quarter rank: 16
Preseason rank: 19
The city of Houston is prepared to see the Rockets select at least one undersized power forward in the 2012 Draft. Don't disappoint the city, Daryl Morey.
Draft picks: (Round 1) 14th pick and 16th pick
19. Milwaukee Bucks (31-35)
Fourth Quarter rank: 19
Third Quarter rank: 19
Second Quarter rank: 20
First Quarter rank: 23
Preseason rank: 23
The Bucks have an opportunity to slide in the playoffs next season. They choked away a chance this season, but depending on their offseason moves they can sneak in next season.
Draft picks: (Round 1) 12th pick, (Round 2) 42nd pick
20. Detroit Pistons (25-41)
Fourth Quarter rank: 20
Third Quarter rank: 25
Second Quarter rank: 25
First Quarter rank: 26
Preseason rank: 26
Another young team that can place themselves in playoff contention in 2013.
Draft picks: (Round 1) 9th pick, (Round 2) 39th pick and 44th pick
21. Portland Trailblazers (28-38)
Fourth Quarter rank: 21
Third Quarter rank: 21
Second Quarter rank: 18
First Quarter rank: 10
Preseason rank: 12
The Blazers have to shake things up. Out of all the teams that missed the playoffs, Portland was the most disappointing.
Draft picks: (Round 1) 6th pick and 11th pick, (Round 2) 40th pick and 41st pick
22. Minnesota Timberwolves (26-40)
Fourth Quarter rank: 22
Third Quarter rank: 20
Second Quarter rank: 19
First Quarter rank: 20
Preseason rank: 24
Hopefully, Ricky Rubio can come back healthy after his knee injury. He was vital to any success the Timberwolves had last season. His return is incredibly important.
Draft picks: (Round 1) 18th pick, (Round 2) 58th pick
Fourth Quarter rank: 23
Third Quarter rank: 27
Second Quarter rank: 26
First Quarter rank: 28
Preseason rank: 22
This is a make or break offseason for the Nets. The only way they can retain Deron Williams is if they can obtain a big name player. It just so happens that a big name center in Orlando wants to relocate. Don't blow this chance, Nets.
Draft picks: (Round 2) 57th pick
24. Toronto Raptors (23-43)
Fourth Quarter rank: 24
Third Quarter rank: 26
Second Quarter rank: 27
First Quarter rank: 25
Preseason rank: 28
Maybe they can convince Steve Nash to finish career in his homeland.
Draft picks: (Round 1) 8th pick, (Round 2) 37th pick and 56th pick
Fourth Quarter rank: 25
Third Quarter rank: 24
Second Quarter rank: 22
First Quarter rank: 19
Preseason rank: 30
Dan Gilbert, here's a message from Nelson Muntz (right):
They won't be winning the East any time soon, let alone the NBA title but they should be able to get a nice player or two in the draft.
Draft picks: (Round 1) 4th pick and 24th pick, (Round 2) 33rd pick and 34th pick
26. New Orleans Hornets (21-45)
Fourth Quarter rank: 26
Third Quarter rank: 29
Second Quarter rank: 29
First Quarter rank: 27
Preseason rank: 27
I said this in the Fourth Quarter rankings:
There was no tanking going on and it couldn’t happen if they wanted to. They trimmed fat on their roster, got a new owner that isn’t David Stern, and if they somehow manage to get Anthony Davis in the lottery then we’ll all have proof that the NBA is indeed rigged. Just kidding. I think.Guess what happened? And yes, I was kidding. This team is making shrewd moves and could be knocking on the door of the playoffs much sooner than expected.
Draft picks: (Round 1) 1st pick and 10th pick, (Round 2) 46th pick
27. Washington Wizards (20-46)
Fourth Quarter rank: 27
Third Quarter rank: 28
Second Quarter rank: 28
First Quarter rank: 30
Preseason rank: 20
They took Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza off of New Orleans' hands. They'll have a veteran presence in the locker room so that alone is an improvement. I don't know if this brings them out of the basement of the East.
Draft picks: (Round 1) 3rd pick, (Round 2) 32nd pick
28. Golden State Warriors (23-43)
Fourth Quarter rank: 28
Third Quarter rank: 22
Second Quarter rank: 21
First Quarter rank: 17
Preseason rank: 17
So far the biggest offseason news for the Warriors is that they'll be moving to San Francisco and they're building their new arena on a pier. The Warriors hate their fans.
Draft picks: (Round 1) 7th pick, (Round 2) 35th pick and 52nd pick
29. Sacramento Kings (22-44)
Fourth Quarter rank: 29
Third Quarter rank: 23
Second Quarter rank: 24
First Quarter rank: 24
Preseason rank: 25
Their main concerns are being able to stay in Sacramento and putting a product on the court worth seeing.
Draft picks: (Round 1) 5th pick, (Round 2) 36th pick
30. Charlotte Bobcats (7-59)
Fourth Quarter rank: -1
Third Quarter rank: 30
Second Quarter rank: 30
First Quarter rank: 29
Preseason rank: 29
There's no where to go but up. Hopefully. For MJ's sake, I hope he can turn things around so that some of the slander can subside. His career as an NBA executive is the polar opposite of his career as an NBA player. I don't know how they turn things around in the short term, though. Things will remain ugly in Charlotte for a while.
Draft picks: (Round 1) 1st pick, (Round 2) 31st pick