SCIC NBA Power Rankings: Can Toronto Make It The Big 4 In The East?


Look out for the RuPaul of Big Men and the Raptors

The NBA off-season has slowed to a crawl and it’s a perfect time to take a look at how all 30 teams currently stack up.  Here is the second edition of the SCIC Power Rankings (prior rank in parenthesis):

Western Conference:

1)  Los Angeles Lakers (1) - Inking Odom was essential and the Lake Show is still the team to beat.  Garnered 12% of the vote in the right sidebar poll question which surprised me.  Is Ron Artest really that big of an upgrade over Trevor Ariza?   

2)  San Antonio Spurs (2) – Richard Jefferson is obviously the key acquisition and the best fourth wheel in the league.  RJ should take a lot of the offensive pressure off of Tony Parker.

3)  Dallas Mavericks (3) – Failing to land The Polish Hammer and losing Brandon Bass hurt a bit, but the Mavs should still have enough talent and experience to lock up a #3 seed. 

4)  Denver Nuggets (4) – The departure of Linas Kleiza is a big blow and bringing in Wally World isn’t the answer.  Portland is breathing down Denver’s neck and Melo will need to take his game to the next level.

5)  Portland Trailblazers (6) – The addition of Andre Miller solidifies the backcourt, but Greg Oden really needs to step it up this year for Portland to win the division and overtake the Nuggets.

6)  Utah Jazz (5) – The talent is still in place for the Jazz to contend, but an overcrowded frontcourt is a concern.  Where will Carlos Boozer land once the inevitable trade goes down?

7)  New Orleans Hornets (7) - Chis Paul, David West and newly acquired Emeka Okafor form a nice trio, but question marks abound elsewhere on the roster. 

8) Los Angeles Clippers (10) – I hate to say it, but Mike Dunleavy deserves props.  The additions of Rasual Butler, Craig Smith and Bassy Telfair move the Clips into the playoffs ahead of the Rockets. 

9)  Houston Rockets (8) – Without Ming, Houston is going to be mighty thin at center.  Does Daryl Morey really think David Andersen and Pops Mensah-Bonsu are the answer?  I sure as hell don’t. 

10)  Phoenix Suns (9) – Will Amar’e be able to return at full strength and remain healthy all year.  If not, the Suns might not win 40 games.

11) Golden State Warriors (11) – I don’t think Golden State has a prayer of reaching the playoffs, but at least they will be exciting.

12) Oklahoma City Thunder (12) – Evidently, Sam “The Golden Boy” Presti is content with Etan Thomas and Kevin Ollie as his key off-season acquistions. 

13) Memphis Grizzlies (13) – Shrewd move to steer clear of Allen Iverson.  Solid starting five should make the Grizzlies competitive.

14) Sacramento Kings (14) – Call me crazy, but I just don’t think Sean May is the answer.  It’s going to be a very long season for Paul Westphal…that is if he makes it through the entire season.

15) Minnesota Timberwolves (15) – Without Ricky Rubio around, Jonny Flynn may challenge for ROY.  Other than that, there is absolutely nothing to be excited about in Minnesota.   

Eastern Conference

1)  Boston Celtics (1) – Only injuries can keep the Celtics from a division crown and top three seed. 

2)  Cleveland Cavaliers (2) – Anthony Parker and Jamario Moon are nice additions, but will it be enough?

3)  Orlando Magic (3) – Adding White Chocolate could give the Magic enough depth to make it back to the Finals.  Can Boston or Cleveland keep them from getting there?

4)  Toronto Raptors (8) – Other than San Antonio, Toronto had the best summer of any team in the league.  RuPaul should be very happy about his new supporting cast.  50+ wins this season is not out of the question.

5)  Washington Wizards (5) – The return of Gilbert Arenas and Brendan Haywood make the Wizards a viable threat.  If the injury bug can be avoided, Washington matches up pretty well with almost everyone.    

6)  Chicago Bulls (4) - Adding Jenaro Pargo was a nice move, but other than that it has been eerily quiet in the Windy City.

7)  Atlanta Hawks (6) – A lot of firepower and athleticism on the roster, but the team still lacks size. 

8)  Philadelphia 76ers (7) – Downgraded due to the departure of Andre Miller and the return of Elton Brand may hurt more than it helps.

9)  Indiana Pacers (9) – Danny Granger & Co. should hang around the .500 mark all year and contend for a playoff berth.

10) Detroit Pistons (10) – Sorry, but the three-headed monster of Kwame Brown, Chris Wilcox and Ben Wallace just isn’t good enough.   

11) Miami Heat (11) – This is the team with best chance to make a jump.  If Pat Riley can find a way to acquire Carlos Boozer, the Heat could easily become a solid 7th or 8th seed. 

12) Charlotte Bobcats (12) – Larry Brown is going to need a lot more than Tyson Chandler to be a playoff contender.  It’s not a perfect fit, but the smart money has Allen Iverson landing in Charlotte. 

13) New York Knicks (13) – There are a few quality young pieces in place, but not enough talent to compete for a playoff berth this season. 

14) New Jersey Nets (14) – 2009 will be a lost season. The only question of concern in New Jersey is whether a big name free agent or two will be there in 2010.

15) Milwaukee Bucks (15) – It has been an absolutely horrific summer in Milwaukee. The team’s new slogan for the upcoming season is: In Roko We Trust 

Drew is also the lead blogger of Pacman Jonesin’.  Look for a new SCIC Poll Question this weekend.

Tags: Boston Celtics Chris Bosh Danny Granger Elton Brand Toronto Raptors

  • wsg

    as a Raptor fan, I take offense to the ‘RuPaul’ thing … and way more importantly, I would guess that Chris Bosh would, as well. why taint the good work you did here with crap like that? really?

  • khandor

    1. Although the newly-configured Raptors have a chance to be improved this coming year, at this point of the off-season, after changing this many players in one fell swoop, IMO, it is both premature and somewhat imprudent to think that this team … which finished 13th in the EC last year with only 33 wins … is destined to finish 4th this go-round, given the current state of the other teams in this half of the league. While 4th place might be accurate as their ceiling, somewhere from 6-10th might also be their more realistic destination.

    2. Because Shaq is a prankster who doesn’t like being told that he is afforded certain advantages by some officials in the league due to his status as one of the all-time great players, which allows him to camp out in the lane for long stretches of time, seemingly without being flagged for a 3-sec violation, and lays the smack down on Chris in the form of a remark like that “RuPaul” reference … I agree with wsg … doesn’t mean that this is an accurate reflection of either Shaq’s assessment of CB4′s ability as a first-class Big Man or Chris’ stature in the league today. “Ribbing” of this sort should not be used to form the basis of opinion when determining a player’s proper standing in the league amongst his peers and the coaches whose job it is to try and stop CB4 night-in and night-out. NBA All-Star designations and Gold-Medal-winning Redeem Team members simply do not grow on trees.

  • james

    Toronto fans (I am one) are so insecure. Who cares if people don’t like your team. Personally I can’t figure out how many games they will win. Just like Washington and Atlanta. I could see any one of those teams winning 55 games. But I wouldn’t be shocked if they collectively only won 130 games.

  • wsg

    spk 4 urself, james. nothing to do with ‘insecure’.

  • Drew

    Your comments are appreciated and concerns duly noted.

    Frankly, when Shaq made the remark about CB4 I thought it was funny. Even rapturous Raptors fans have to admit that Bosh looks a little feminine. I wouldn’t go so far as to say he needs a gender identity test like that South African runner, but maybe his estrogen level is higher than the norm. Also, I wouldn’t call Raptors fans insecure…sensitive probably is a more apt description.

    Bottom line: I really like what Bryan Colangelo has done this off-season…and think Toronto could really be a force in the league. If the Raptors don’t win 45-55 games then maybe it’s time for Bosh to look in the mirror.

  • kpax

    I’m sure some will see this as an over-reaction, fan-base insecurity, personal compensation, etc… Regardless, I feel Drew D’s comment on Bosh was so incensing that it actually motivated me to post. And you’ll have to take my word, that in 7+ years of blog reading, it’s an extremely rare.

    When Shaq (with his public persona and personal accomplishments) makes that comment it’s NBA entertainment, when Drew D does, it’s the height of hubris. So thick is this line that I’m very puzzled and vexed at how easily it was crossed.

    I’m not posting to request a public or private explanation or retraction, nor do I feel in a position to ask for one. This is a simple request, from a simple reader and ball fan for some self-reflection on Drew’s part…

    Perhaps future blog posts and other works published into the world will show a higher respect for Drew’s subjects, platform and craft…

    And I sincerely hope someone will be there to read them, because after this one, I regret that it won’t be me :)

    Be well.

  • Drew

    kpax – Perhaps it’s a combination of fan-base insecurity, over-reaction and personal compensation. It also may simply be a case of hypersensitivity.

    All I did was make an observation and speculate about the possibility of an elevated estrogen level…in an attempt to be humorous. Nothing more and nothing less.

  • Dave

    I think the #7 or #8 seed in the East is the Raptors ceiling … unless one of the team’s ahead of them gets devastated by injuries.

    The teams I have ahead of Toronto at this point:

    Top three — Boston, Orlando and Cleveland
    #3-#6 — Washington, Atlanta and Chicago

  • wsg

    it has nothing to do with ‘fan-base insecurity’, Drew, mixed with any measure of any other dynamic that you want to pull out of your back-side … it has to do with D I S R E S P E C T . and not the readers or anybody else’s … yours.

    while Shaq (and maybe a few others) MAY have earned the right to say such an insulting thing about another player and get away with it (and still, I would not agree) there’s probably not a writer on the planet that could get away with saying the same (insulting) thing that Shaq said without sounding like a pimply fifteen year old pecking away on a laptop in his mother’s basement.

    that may or may not describe you accurately, but the bottom line is: you just haven’t earned it, dude. saying it like you have is just plain bogus.

  • Drew

    wsg – I moved out of my mom’s basement and into a studio apartment earlier this summer. So far so good, but I really miss mom’s home cooking. I guess I hear what you’re saying, but I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree.

    Dave – you could be right. I had Toronto at #8 six weeks ago and they still could end up at 7 or 8. I think the Raptors are really solid though and should do much better.

  • wsg


  • coolguy101

    NO waYs. raPtUr r 100 perSentiJ bEast teMe in teH lEeg Rite nOw. fiRs pLase for sHure. caHmpinsIop in rAptuRlanD.

  • toasterhands

    I will write a 5000 word post if Toronto ends the season with more wins than Detroit.

    Ok, I’ll reconsider the above, but I WILL write 5000 words on the issue if any of the following squads are ahead of Detroit in the standings after 82 games: Chicago, Philly, Freakin’ Indiana (are you insane!!)

    Indiana, really?

    And as for Atlanta, they should be a 5th seed at worst. Crawford is a big addition and Horford is getting better and better.

  • Drew

    Good thing you reconsidered about Toronto…the Raptors will definitely win more games than Detroit.

    Atlanta and Chicago are interchangable. Could go either way at 6 & 7.

    The Bulls will almost certainly win more games than Detoit so you may want to start working on an early draft of that 5000 word post.

    If Granger plays 75 games than the Pacers will almost certainly finish ahead of Detroit. Right now I’d take Indiana’s roster over the Pistons and I think most non-Joe Dumars apologists would as well.

  • toasterhands

    Indiana’s roster over Detroit’s? Really?

    Granger, Ford, Murphy, Hansbrough, Dunleavy, Rush, Foster…

    Oh hold on, my bad, Dahntay and Solomon Jones will put them over the top.

  • Drew

    Actually Travis Diener will put them over the top.

    Earl Watson is a solid backup point guard and Hibbert gives them 15-20 quality minutes at center (an offensively superior Kwame Brown…if you will)

  • toasterhands

    Forgot about Roy there. But I’m laughing at Earl Watson. Will Bynum > Watson or Diener (there’s a reason I didn’t include him) always.

  • Drew

    I’d still take Watson over Bynum…it’s very close though.

    Be sure to check out Pacman Jonesin’ bright and early tomorrow morning. There will be a post about your Pistons and I even give a little love to Mr. Bynum. Not much, but a little.

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  • Patrick

    Drew, it’s three shades of crazy to call the Clippers a playoff team next season. You’ve got balls, my friend.

    I can’t wait until the Kings murder the Grizzlies this season and prove you wrong about the bottom portion of your Western Conference rankings.

  • Drew

    Brass ones, Patrick!

    I don’t feel supremely confident about the Clips because of Dunleavy, but right now they should sneak in ahead of Houston & Phoenix.

    Memphis is flat out better than Sacramento. The Kings have a ceiling of 30 wins this year and Z-Bo & Company’s ceiling is about 40.

    We’ll see what happens…

  • Mark

    Diener will put them over the top? I sense much in this one.

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  • Drew

    What…does RealGM hype Diener a lot?

    I was actually just kidding about Indiana’s 12th man.

    From 1-11 the Pacers are reasonably solid though (assuming Dunleavy is healthy and can give them 25-30 minutes off the bench)

  • Short White Boy


    I’m with others in thinking that the Raps are a 7-8 seed at best. I’m with you though in saying that da Bulls will definitely win more games than Detroit and that toasterhands might as well start writing right now. My question, toast, is are you gonna write an article for each of those teams that ends up doing better than Detroit, or just one article no matter how many of ‘em outdo the Pistons? That being said, I could easily see them doing better than Indy & Philly. But I could also see ‘em doing worse.

    But back to you Drew — Miami as 11th? Sure they didn’t improve, but they didn’t really lose anyone semi-decent except Jamario Moon. Shouldn’t they do as well as last year when they were 5th? Or do you think Wade’s not gonna make it through the year without getting injured? ‘Cuz that’s the only way I see them not making the playoffs.

    I also think the Blazers should be one spot up and ahead of Denver. Only a few games separated them last year, and between Kleiza being gone, Billups being a year older, and on the other side Andre joining the Blazers, Oden having another year under his belt, and all their key players actually improving by being a year older, I think that’ll be enough to edge out the Nugs. But I do think all them teams in the middle will be tightly packed and separated by one a few games here and there.

    Oh, one other question mark is the Knicks since they still haven’t signed Nate, David Lee or potentially Ramon Sessions to even 1-year deals. With the players who actually are currently signed, the Knicks’d be lucky to be 13th. I mean who’s the young talent otherwise? Chris Duhon? Al Harrington? Jared Jeffries? Eddy “I Eat Gallons Of” Curry? Darko? The only one they’ve got is Wilson Chandler. Maybe Gallinarionnioni might be good but he’s yet to show it in the NBA.

    Lastly, of course, me at thanks you for putting my boys at 8. I think you might be right about them. And I am in no way biased.

  • Drew


    As far as the Heat are concerned, I could see them getting an 8th seed and possibly better (with the addition of Boozer or another big-time player).
    However, Wade needs to play 80 games again and the odds of that happening are likely at least 10:1. Jermaine O’Neal staying on the court is even more of a longshot.

    If Miller gels with the team and Oden gives them something more than 6 rebounds and 6 fouls a game then Portland could be a #4 seed. Until that happens, I’m going to stick with the Nuggets…even though I don’t think their record will be nearly as good this season.

    I hope I’m right about your Clips. It will be a lot more fun watching the games!