LOS ANGELES LAKERS
The Lake show are our ‘Top Team Of 2010’. They’ve looked stronger than the rest throughout the year, even capping a mini-slump this week to close the year out. The Los Angeles Lakers once again got acquainted with Larry O’Brien as Phil Jackson’s zen controlled an elite group of talent. G.O.C.T, ‘Greatest Of Current Time’, Kobe Bryant led the way and Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom got tougher in the frontcourt, if only we had more of Bynum. Artest overcame himself and everyone else to have his greatest year. The Lakers were also strong, late in the postseason thanks to their playoff, clutch king, Fisher. The number one team even got better in the Summer re-tooling with Matt Barnes and Steve Blake. Los Angeles is fully deserving of this position, besides they are the champions after all.
Will people stop writing this team off as old? Sure second place is the first loser but they still beat everyone in the beast East to face the Lakers in the finals. An Eastern Conference Champion still raises a banner too. Coach Doc Rivers is still clinically great and the three tandem of Garnett, Pierce and Allen is still big. Sure their seasoned but they make the playoffs two. Boston also added some new faces to New England this Summer with two O’Neal’s and a fortified bench of household names. The pride of the Celtics rests on star Rajon Rondo, who is the present and future of this team, even showing this in years past. Still Boston have so much more. Paul Pierces mirror preseason/season buzzer beating heroics against the Knicks at the ‘other’ Garden can attest to that. Aint that the truth.
Even before the biggest Summer in the teams history the Miami where looking hot. Dwyane Wade was running a renaissance in South Beach putting the team on his back and almost shouldering a deeper run. Still once the biggest Summer of free agency of recent times hit that’s when it got real interesting. Miami fans thought they where about to lose Wade to Chicago, they had no idea. Boy, were they wrong first Wade re-signed than he passed the pen to Chris Bosh who escaped the cold of Toronto for the Heat of Miami. Then the rest was history, hate and a lot of Florida hope. “I’ve decided I will be taking my talents to South Beach”. With that prime time, televised deal LeBron formed voltron with his two new superfriends. The rest is history that so far is being written with a shaky hand. Still however after a great Christmas in Los Angeles and some king worthy flashes of brilliance, things are looking up. Besides these guys are young they can always improve their handwriting.
SAN ANTONIO SPURS
If critics were writing off the Boston Celtics as old and done then in terms of the San Antonio Spurs their declaration was signed, sealed and delivered. Still these same critics needed to take off the Stevie Wonder shades as San Antonio have been, are and will be still clicking through to 2011. They said they where passed it but San Antonio have opened their window of opportunity even wider with their umpteenth wind. Richard Jefferson and Bobby Simmons breathe new life into the team but this San An group is still strong from their big three to their bench. Tim Duncan still plays like a machine, Manu Ginoboli still plays like a young man and Tony Parker is still leaving tear drops everywhere. Sure they didnt go deep in the western championship this year, but everything was so tight they could of. Still to start this season the Texan titans have been almost perfect at home and right now post the leagues best win record. Lets put t is another way, clearly for you, as of right now the San Antonio Spurs are the best team in the NBA.
Still regarded as a Disney team, someone better warn a brother that this unit is one of the best NBA families around. Sure 2009 saw a finals appearance but 2010 was still a great year in the Magic kingdom. Sure Miami may now be heralded as Florida’s finest but the power of Magic is what makes this Orange rivalry that more colorful. Dwight Howard is still the reason the East is a beast, and the smiling, impressionable star is genuinely no joke. Jameer Nelson is still one of the strongest and quickest points around, just like he was in college. The bench is still strong, Stan Van Gundy is still one porn star looking coach who can’t be screwed with and this team is still a contender, Miami or no Heat. Orlando have even the tricks for a trade. Vince Carter has had a good year but he is now in Phoenix as Orlando exchanged him for a wealth of talent in Jason Richardson and Gilbert Arenas who landed via Washington. All this crowded talent could be a problem, but in Disney all characters are favourites. Especially returning star Hedo Turkoglu who gives Orlando yet another new option and an old friendly face. It’s beginning to look like 2009 again.
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
Sadly the Sonics may now be long gone but there’s still a Storm in Seattle in the form of the WNBA Champions. Still for the best bout of thunder, you need to look further west to the changing weather in Oklahoma. No longer Seattle, no longer Sonics and no longer scrubs, Oklahoma City have cleaned up their act. They’ve gone from looking like an expansion team to furthering their reach to contention. Apart from the Celtics, they where the only team that looked like they could take the Lakers. Seriously…their that good. Tough, talented and passionate, a young team with the whole city behind them sharing the same characteristics. They have the underrated, limitless talents of Jeff Green and Russell Westbrook rounding out the big three but it all starts and ends with star Kevin Durant. He finished last season as not only his teams but the leagues leading scorer. He begins this season right next to LeBron and Kobe as not one of the best in the NBA, but one of the best all time. He is that good and his team that much better. You better get your umbrella’s out there’s a storm coming. The Thunder are about to reign.
It’s almost looking like the mid 90’s in Chicago. OK so things haven’t developed quite to that extent yet but these Bulls are no longer babies. Chi-town is on the rise as their basketball franchise stampedes up the Eastern Conference standings, charging at contenders. If you thought that the frontcourt tandem of Brit Luol Deng and emphatic Joakim Noah was good then think again. They’re great but this duo even acts as a reserve to the partnership of big free agent signing Carlos Boozer and franchise point Derrick Rose. Now Boozer is no longer hungover from injury and Rose has bloomed from a sophomore, your now looking at the stronger Malone and Stockton for the new decade (sorry Deron). The pair could pick, roll and dunk their way to the top and with Deng and Noah still a potent second option. Chicago have an ark of options two by two. With the growth of super sophomores Taj Gibson and James Johnson and talent from 1 to 15, expect this number 7 team of the year to be even higher in 2011. Sure right now in the East it’s Boston and Orlando’s time but the Bulls will soon join the Heat as some of the hottest contenders not just in the East but in the league period.
San Antonio aren’t the only Texan team still in championship contention if only a little outside. Sure this other team has been plagued with early playoff exits ever since that infamous one in ’07 and they’ve been written off as old and past it but it’s time to put the pens away and keep the windows open. The Dallas Mavericks make the list because they have been the model of consistency and that hasn’t changed in twenty ten. Sure the Mavericks may have not won anything, but they are always here or hereabouts. They have no championships but they haven’t lost their pride or respect for a second or a series. Dirk Nowitzki is still one of the most versatile forwards ever. A scoring machine who has just passed Larry Legend on the all time list. Jason Kidd is still one of the finer points in the L, while Jason Terry is still one of the greatest spark plug talents in the NBA. With a wide variety of talent from Tyson Chandler to Caron Butler and DeShawn Stevenson, classic coach Rick Carslile has a lot on his dry erase board. Still this team are as unpredictable as their owner. Who knows mogul Mark Cuban just may finally get the chance to light his own cigar.
NEW YORK KNICKS
We’ve heard all the New York Knicks jokes and comments before. Still to end this year the Big Apple team bit back, taking bites out of everybody. Thanks to a great, realistic free agency the Knicks signed Amare Stoudemire and changed their ‘STAT Quo’. The renaissance man Amare, shook off eye and knee injuries and strapped on his brace and put on his Kareem goggles for some just like old times play. His game again was all new Kanye album, first single. The forward has powered his team to their best start post Ewing. Still it’s not just Amare making Madison Square Garden the mecca of basketball again. Raymond Felton is a true point and second option and these ‘bockers have a wealth of talent from the hardwood to the pine. There’s a flair of Italian also from sharp shooting swinger Danilo Gallinari to run and gun coach D’Antoni’s perfect design. More than any team in the L things are more than looking up for the Manhattan squad. Also with free agents to be Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul interested in giving old rival the Miami superfriends a run for their championship money the Knicks future is brighter than Times Square. Time to bring in the new year.
This top ten list will feature several Western Conference contenders who still, despite being written off have a wide open window of opportunity. Phoenix are one such team who are far from the ashes. These Suns may be old but they aren’t burnt out. Like their leader Steve Nash they just keep going at a high level. Sure Stoudemire may be gone, along with Richardson in a recent trade but now Vince Carter is making Air Phoenix his carrier. He joins like for like legendary heir Grant Hill who still turns back the clock and makes up for all the years his promising career spent on ice. Complete with a Lopez twin who’s coming into his own and a worthy coach and bench this team is solid this team is still well rounded. In 2010 they also made it to the Western finals only to be beaten by Ron Artest (finally) and his eventual NBA champion Lakers. Phoenix are still burning bright as one of the best teams this year. To add to that the donning of those ‘Los Suns’ jerseys in protest of Arizona immigration laws was probably the classiest gesture that any team in the NBA has made in recent years. These Sun’s truly are a team with heart.