Wednesday , Nov , 03 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Points in the Paint

By Warren Blatt, Sports Network NBA Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) – The 2004-05 NBA regular season is
underway. Even though there were just three games played on the first night of
the new campaign, it’s still a good time to put out a power ranking list of
this year’s 30 franchise’s in the league.

The rankings are based on what the team looks capable of doing in the
upcoming season. Trades, free agent signings, draft picks and head coaching
changes are all taken into account. The Eastern Conference and Western
Conference teams have been grouped together.

TEAM RANKINGS:

1.SAN ANTONIO SPURS – With Tim Duncan leading the way, the Spurs could
capture their third title in seven year

2.DETROIT PISTONS – The defending champions are ready to be put to the test
every game. When you are the champs, everyone wants to beat you!

3.MIAMI HEAT – The Heat will go as far as a healthy Shaquille O’Neal can take
them.

4.MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES – Kevin Garnett has drive to win his second MVP in a
row and get the Timberwolves back into the Western Conference finals.

5.INDIANA PACERS – All-Stars Jermaine O’Neal and Ron Artest hope Stephen
Jackson can score like he did for Atlanta last season.

6.SACRAMENTO KINGS – There is still a lot of talent on this roster, but the
Kings have not shown that they can get to the next level.

7.HOUSTON ROCKETS – Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady could become the next Shaq and
Kobe of the West.

8.DENVER NUGGETS – The addition of Kenyon Martin makes the Nuggets a team
that is not just happy with making the playoffs.

9.DALLAS MAVERICKS – Erick Dampier gives the Mavs the center that they have
needed for a long time. Dampier and Dirk Nowitzki will be tough down low for
Dallas.

10.MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES – The Grizzlies proved last season that they are no
longer a joke.

11.UTAH JAZZ – The Jazz spent their money on Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur in
the offseason. Point guard Carlos Arroyo is ready to breakout, while All-Star
Andrei Kirilenko is no longer a mystery.

12.PHOENIX SUNS – Steve Nash and Quentin Richardson will team with Amare
Stoudemire and Shawn Marion to help the Suns make a run at returning to the
postseason.

13.LOS ANGELES LAKERS – Can Kobe Bryant win without Shaq?

14.NEW YORK KNICKS – The Knicks should be able to win a very weak Atlantic
Division.

15.CLEVELAND CAVALIERS – LeBron James is going to keep getting better!

16. MILWAUKEE BUCKS – All-Star Michael Redd is the real deal, and head coach
Terry Porter gets the most from his players.

17. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS – If new head coach Jim O’Brien can keep Allen Iverson
in check, the 76ers could make it back to the playoffs.

18. BOSTON CELTICS – Gary Payton was a decent addition, but Paul Pierce is
still a one-man show. Will Doc Rivers be happy he decided to work for Danny
Ainge when the season is over?

19. NEW ORLEANS HORNETS – Realignment hurt the Hornets big time. The loss of
Jamal Mashburn for the entire season and playing tough team from the West more
often will take its toll on All-Stars Baron Davis and Jamaal Magloire.

20.ORLANDO MAGIC – Trading T-Mac was tough, but Steve Francis and Cuttino
Mobley can play and rookie Dwight Howard wants to show that he deserved to be
picked No. 1 over Charlotte’s Emeka Okafor. The Magic could surprise!

21.NEW JERSEY NETS – Without Kenyon Martin, the Nets will take a huge step
back. Does Jason Kidd still want to play for the Nets?

22.PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS – With the exception of Zach Randolph, it’s time to
completely rebuild this team.

23.SEATTLE SUPERSONICS – They are in the wrong conference!

24.WASHINGTON WIZARDS – Reuniting Gilbert Arenas and Antawn Jamison may help
the Wizards win 30 games.

25. ATLANTA HAWKS – Al Harrington and Antoine Walker will help the Hawks win
some games.

26. CHICAGO BULLS – A solid draft, but Chicago management is still having
trouble deciding which players they want to build their team around.

27. GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS – Another confusing offseason! New head coach Mike
Montgomery is a big question mark.

28. LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS – This should not surprise anyone, but Corey Maggette
and Elton Brand are still talented players.

29. TORONTO RAPTORS – New head coach Sam Mitchell has his hands full with this
team.

30.CHARLOTTE BOBCATS – They will be lucky to win 20 games in their first
season in the league.