NBA teams have transitioned from training camp to practice and preseason questions transition to regular season predictions in this season preview edition of the Fanalyst Rankings.
There are two sides to every NBA Power Ranking: the Fanalytical and the Fanatical. As a Miami HEAT blogger living on the east coast, MHI plays the fanalyst for the Eastern Conference. As a Denver Nuggets fan living west of the Mississippi River, Mrs. NBA plays the fan and provides the slander. The roles are reversed for the Western Conference.
1. Miami HEAT (4-4 preseason, prev. rank: 1)
MHI: The health of Dwyane Wade and Mike Miller was the biggest surprise of the HEAT’s preseason. LeBron James cruised through the exhibition games until he sprained his ankle against the Hornets and Chris Bosh looked strong when he picked his spots to dominate. The only lingering question from the preseason is Ray Allen. If he gets his shooting touch back, then the HEAT can win 60+ games. The HEAT will still have the best team in the East if he doesn’t.
Mrs. NBA: Yeah, Yeah, the Miami Heat are the best in the world, you want a cookie?
2. Chicago Bulls (5-2 preseason, prev. rank: 3)
MHI: The Bulls answered their biggest preseason question by agreeing to a contract extension for Tom Thibodeau. Without the lame duck status hanging over his head, he can continue to maximize the team’s potential on defense. That defense could be good enough to earn the #2 seed in a weak Eastern Conference - with or without Derrick Rose.
Mrs. NBA: In what world are the Chicago Bulls -- without Derrick Rose -- the second best team in the East? Are you on crack? It's time for an intervention.
3. Atlanta Hawks (3-4 preseason, prev. rank: 4)
MHI: ESPN Magazine predicted the Hawks would finish 2nd in the East. Al Horford and Josh Smith looked good in the preseason, but not THAT good. The team will be good enough for Hawks fans to scream, “I told you so!” at ownership for not trading Joe Johnson sooner.
Mrs. NBA: ZZZZZZZZZZZZ Atlanta Hawks ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ
4. Indiana Pacers (4-3 preseason, prev. rank: 2)
MHI: Paul George didn’t look like he’s ready to win the Most Improved Player Award in the preseason and D.J. Augustin didn’t look like he was going to be a productive replacement for Darren Collison, either. Add that to the constant pain in Danny Granger’s knee and it equals the Pacers losing the Central Division title to the Bulls and dropping two spots in the Eastern Conference.
Mrs. NBA: Preseason analysis is for pussies
5. Boston Celtics (3-5 preseason, prev. rank: 5)
MHI: No NBA team that loses to a Turkish squad can be good enough to get home-court advantage in the 1st round of the playoffs. The biggest secret of the Celtics is Rondo’s decline the last 3 seasons in shooting efficiency, rebounds and turnovers. And he’s their best player. ‘Nuff said.
Mrs. NBA: You hate Boston, don't you?
6. New York Knicks (3-3 preseason, prev. rank: 6)
MHI: Amare Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler and Marcus Camby went down with knee injuries in the preseason which means Mike Woodson may have to exhume the Sun God Rasheed Wallace at some point. As for the rest of the Knicks’ rotation, the starters got drilled by the reserves on an episode of NBA TV’s Real Training Camp. It’s gonna be a long season in Gotham.
Mrs. NBA: Although Amar'e is set to miss 6-8 weeks, this could be beneficial to New York if Woodson uses Melo at the four. Then again, it's New York and they seem to be the special education team of the East.
7. Brooklyn Nets (3-3 preseason, prev. rank: unranked)
MHI: The Bucks lost the 7th spot to the Nets because Brook Lopez played like he wanted to make Shaq proud this preseason. The health of Deron Williams’ ankle could negatively impact the Nets, though, so they go no higher than 7th for now.
Mrs. NBA: GTFOH! You're Brooklyn hate is deep-seeded; would you like a number to a nice therapist?
8. Toronto Raptors (6-1 preseason, prev. rank: 8)
MHI: The preseason showed Raptors coach Dwayne Casey is full of shit with a roster full of productive players. He professes to be a tough guy that wants his team to play that way, but he keeps giving minutes to soft, undproductive dudes like Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan. The tough, productive Raptor reserves were good enough to get the team a 6-1 record in preseason, though.
Mrs. NBA: What happened to the Bucks? I guess nobody fears the deer after all. Venison, anyone?