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Where they sit after summer

By John Schuhmann,
Posted Aug 17 2009 3:46PM

NBA rosters are not quite finalized for the 2009-10 season, and there are still guys like David Lee, Ramon Sessions and Raymond Felton out on the market.

But this is the time when coaches and general managers start to take their vacations, with most of their summer work completed. That makes it time to take a trip around the league and rank all 30 teams as they stand in the middle of August.

This has been a summer where the rich have gotten richer and the poor have gotten poorer, with trades and free agency creating an even darker line between the haves and have-nots of the league.

As we look at it, there seems to be lines of delineation after the top five, the top 13 and the top 19. Those lines may or may not become blurred come November. There will be a team or two that will surprise, and a team or two that disappoint.

Unfortunately, there are still 71 days before the season begins, so we'll have to wait until teams can prove us right or wrong.

Final Power Rankings of 2008-09: Still Much to be Determined

Hyperizin' Team of the Summer: Washington (+19)
Criticizin' Team of the Summer: Houston (-10)

Pace: Possessions per 48 minutes (League Rank)
Off: Points scored per 100 possessions (League Rank)
Def: Points allowed per 100 possessions (League Rank)
The league averages last season were 90.4 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 109.8 points scored per 100 possessions.

Last year's rankings were based on the following criteria:
1. Postseason results (how far a team made it in the Playoffs)
2. Regular season record
3. Record after the All-Star break.'s Power Rankings are just one man's opinion and are released every Monday during the season. If you've got an issue with the rankings, or have a question or comment for John Schuhmann, send him an e-mail. You can also follow him on twitter.

1 L.A. Lakers (1) 65-17 Pace: 93.1 (6), Off: 114.3 (3), Def: 106.1 (5)
Either you think the Artest-for-Ariza swap was a big upgrade for the Lakers, or you think the True Warier will become a major distraction and ruin the champs' chemistry. Either way, you know it's going to be an interesting season in L.A. For now, they're at the top.
2 Cleveland (3) 66-16 Pace: 87.6 (25), Off: 113.9 (4), Def: 103.8 (2)
It will be difficult for the Cavs to match last season's win total, but they've added Shaq and Anthony Parker without losing anybody of significance. LeBron James will be well-rested and more motivated, but can Mo Williams show up in the Playoffs this time?
3 Orlando (2) 59-23 Pace: 90.8 (12), Off: 111.0 (9), Def: 103.6 (1)
Otis Smith tinkered with what was a winning formula and went way over the luxury tax to do so. The Magic are deep in talent and have a little more versatility with the additions of forwards Matt Barnes and Brandon Bass, but the Cavs and Celtics got better too.
4 San Antonio (10) 54-28 Pace: 86.8 (27), Off: 110.6 (12), Def: 106.3 (6)
Richard Jefferson is not only a major upgrade at the three, but with an ever-improving catch-and-shoot jumper, he seems to be a perfect fit with the Spurs. If they keep Manu Ginobili healthy and Tim Duncan fresh, put the Spurs right there with L.A.
5 Boston (5) 62-20 Pace: 89.0 (18), Off: 112.2 (6), Def: 103.9 (3)
The addition of Rasheed Wallace makes the Celtics' frontline more intimidating than it already was. But more important to their quest for another title are the health of Kevin Garnett and the psyche of Rajon Rondo. You have to wonder about both.
6 Dallas (7) 50-32 Pace: 90.1 (16), Off: 112.2 (5), Def: 110.0 (18)
With a swap of Brandon Bass and Antoine Wright for Shawn Marion, the Mavs are still a step below the Lakers and Spurs. But Ron Artest's behavior and Manu Ginobili's ankles are forever fragile, so third in the West ain't a bad spot to be in.
7 Denver (4) 54-28 Pace: 93.1 (5), Off: 111.8 (7), Def: 108.1 (8)
Arron Afflalo was an underrated pickup, but the Nuggets lost some key depth with the departures of Dahntay Jones and Linas Kleiza. Did they have the ability to improve on last season anyway, or was '08-09 the perfect storm for Denver?
8 Portland (9) 54-28 Pace: 85.7 (29), Off: 115.2 (2), Def: 109.0 (11)
Andre Miller is an upgrade at the point, but the Portland offense was already very efficient. In order to take the next step they need to improve defensively. So if Greg Oden can stay healthy and out of foul trouble, they're in great shape.
9 Washington (28) 19-63 Pace: 89.7 (17), Off: 107.0 (26), Def: 115.3 (29)
With Gilbert Arenas looking spry in workouts and pro-am action and added depth with Randy Foye and Mike Miller, the Wizards should be the fourth best team in the East. But they're lacking beef on the frontline, which will really hurt them against the top three.
10 Utah (12) 48-34 Pace: 91.8 (10), Off: 111.7 (8), Def: 108.9 (10)
The Carlos Boozer situation clouds Utah's outlook for the coming season. Will the Jazz trade him? If not, can Boozer and his teammates possibly pretend like nothing happened and make the best out of what is certainly his final season in Utah?
11 New Orleans (11) 49-33 Pace: 86.4 (28), Off: 110.4 (13), Def: 108.6 (9)
Does swapping Tyson Chandler for Emeka Okafor make the Hornets a better team? Not necessarily. And trading Rasual Butler for nothing certainly doesn't. When the Hornets won 56 games two years ago, who knew their window of opportunity would close so quickly?
12 Atlanta (8) 47-35 Pace: 88.4 (24), Off: 110.9 (11), Def: 109.1 (13)
The additions of Jamal Crawford and Joe Smith give the Hawks added depth, but they still lack leadership and cohesion. With other teams in the East making bolder moves, Atlanta's four-year run of winning more games than the year before is probably over.
13 Toronto (22) 33-49 Pace: 90.7 (14), Off: 108.5 (22), Def: 111.6 (22)
Bryan Colangelo was aggressive and inventive in overhauling the Raptors' roster and Hedo Turkoglu fills a big need for a playmaker on the wing. This certainly looks like a playoff team again, but the defensive end of the floor will keep them from competing with the best in the East.
14 Chicago (14) 41-41 Pace: 92.0 (9), Off: 109.7 (18), Def: 110.0 (17)
Can a team improve after losing its leading scorer and adding only a couple of non-lottery picks? They can if they have Derrick Rose with a year of experience and Luol Deng, who can make them a tough defensive team again, coming back from injury.
15 Phoenix (17) 46-36 Pace: 94.5 (4), Off: 115.4 (1), Def: 113.4 (27)
How does the most efficient offense in the league miss the Playoffs? With a horrible defense, of course. Does a healthy Amar'e Stoudemire make the Suns a better defensive squad? Not really. This team needs a personality makeover to get the job done.
16 Houston (6) 53-29 Pace: 89.0 (19), Off: 109.9 (15), Def: 105.5 (4)
Signing David Anderson will help cushion the blow of losing Yao Ming for the season, but not enough. The Rockets can use this year (and perhaps Tracy McGrady's expiring contract) to strengthen Yao's supporting cast while he strengthens his body.
17 Detroit (16) 39-43 Pace: 85.5 (30), Off: 108.9 (21), Def: 109.5 (16)
Joe Dumars spent money and brought in talent, but was the money spent wisely? It remains to be seen if John Kuester can make a team out of the roster, if Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva can play some defense, or if the talent will mesh.
18 Philadelphia (15) 41-41 Pace: 88.9 (20), Off: 109.1 (20), Def: 109.1 (12)
Lou Williams isn't a point guard and Jrue Holiday probably isn't ready, so the Sixers will really feel the absence of Andre Miller. Andre Iguodala can take more of the playmaking burden on his shoulders, but we still don't know if he and Elton Brand can play together.
19 Miami (13) 43-39 Pace: 88.6 (23), Off: 109.4 (19), Def: 109.1 (14)
The Heat have done nothing to alleviate the burden on Dwyane Wade, and it's hard to imagine him having a better season than he did last year. So Erik Spoelstra has to hope that the light in Michael Beasley's head went on this summer.
20 Oklahoma City (27) 23-59 Pace: 92.3 (8), Off: 104.5 (29), Def: 111.0 (20)
Kevin Durant is ready to blow up and James Harden is a good fit. But the biggest key for the Thunder in the next two seasons will be the maturation and decision-making of Russell Westbrook, who has the talent, but needs to slow it down a bit.
21 L.A. Clippers (29) 19-63 Pace: 90.8 (13), Off: 103.7 (30), Def: 113.3 (26)
Blake Griffin looks like the real deal, trading Zach Randolph is addition by subtraction, Rasual Butler gives the Clippers some needed shooting, and they can't be any worse than last year, right? Let's see how Baron Davis and Mike Dunleavy get along any better.
22 Charlotte (19) 35-47 Pace: 87.2 (26), Off: 106.0 (27), Def: 107.5 (7)
The Bobcats went from the 23rd best defense in '07-08 to the seventh best last season, telling you how much of an impact Larry Brown had. Now, the question is: How do they improve offensively? Tyson Chandler isn't going to help much on that end.
23 Indiana (18) 36-46 Pace: 95.0 (3), Off: 109.8 (17), Def: 111.0 (19)
The Pacers added some solid role players in Dahntay Jones, Tyler Hansbrough and Earl Watson, but with Mike Dunleavy out for the start of the season, are they any better than they were a year ago? Not if Washington and Toronto make the East stronger overall.
24 Golden State (24) 29-53 Pace: 96.9 (1), Off: 110.9 (10), Def: 114.8 (28)
Was Anthony Randolph's performance in Las Vegas the preview of a breakout season, or was it just another Summer League apparition. Until we see what Randolph does against real competition, this team is tough to figure out (but still fun to watch).
25 Milwaukee (21) 34-48 Pace: 91.4 (11), Off: 108.1 (23), Def: 109.3 (15)
If the Bucks were healthy last season, they would have been a solid squad. But now, Richard Jefferson and Charlie Villanueva are gone, and they're left with a strange mix of the past (Michael Redd), the present (Andrew Bogut) and the future (Brandon Jennings).
26 New Jersey (20) 34-48 Pace: 88.6 (22), Off: 109.9 (16), Def: 112.6 (23)
After trading Vince Carter, the Nets aren't coming close to a playoff spot, but they could remain somewhat competitive if their young core takes a step forward and they make a new commitment to defense. That and a go-ahead on Brooklyn could entice a free agent next summer.
27 Minnesota (26) 24-58 Pace: 90.4 (15), Off: 107.5 (24), Def: 112.9 (25)
The David Kahn era is less than three months old, but he's certainly made his mark. His is a long-term plan and the Wolves have got the building blocks for a bright future, but Kahn may be the only one who thinks drafting two point guards back-to-back was a good idea.
28 New York (23) 32-50 Pace: 95.1 (2), Off: 110.0 (14), Def: 112.7 (24)
With the David Lee and Ramon Sessions situations still very much in the air, we don't know exactly where the Knicks sit in the Eastern Conference lower-archy. But even if both end up in New York, this team is still well short of playoff caliber.
29 Memphis (25) 24-58 Pace: 88.8 (21), Off: 105.1 (28), Def: 111.2 (21)
New acquisition Zach Randolph has essentially the same contract as Pau Gasol, whom the Grizzlies traded a year and a half ago for financial reasons. Would anyone in the league outside of Memphis rather have Randolph than Gasol, even if he was paid half as much?
30 Sacramento (30) 17-65 Pace: 92.9 (7), Off: 107.1 (25), Def: 116.4 (30)
There's nowhere to go but up for the worst team in the league last season, but while Tyreke Evans is a talent, the Kings need a lot more to start climbing the standings in the West.
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