THE Sports & Swag Report

NBA: Power Rankings 12/5/13 – Are the Portland Trail Blazers for real?

Even though they haven’t won an NBA Title (1977) since Bill Walton sported a full head of curly red hair and a full beard, The Portland Trail Blazers have been one of the more successful franchises in the NBA over they’re history. Included in that illustrious history is a run of 21 consecutive playoff appearances from 1983 to 2003. That period also included the franchise’s two other NBA Finals appearances (1990 and 1992). Since then, however, its been a downward spiral. Since 2003, the Blazers have made the playoffs only 3 times (2009, 2010, and 2011). All First round exits. Also during that time span, Portland completed their newest version of a Draft gone bad, when they opted to draft Greg Oden instead of Kevin Durant in 2007. I don’t have to point out how terrible a move that was. That move brought back Blazers’ fans horrific memories of the 1983 draft when the Blazers opted for Sam Bowie instead of Michael Jordan.That was then, this is now.

This season, the Blazers are off to one of their best starts in franchise history. Largely in part to a trio of draft day moves that the Blazers got right. LaMarcus Aldridge (Drafted in 2006), Nicolas Batum (Draft day trade in 2008), and Damian Lillard (Drafted in 2012) are clearly the centerpieces of the resurgent Trail Blazers, who with a 15-3 record are easily one of the most surprising team in the NBA. However, the question remains…….Are they for real? I think it depends on what level of ‘for real’ we’re talking about here. If you’re talking a playoff appearance and possibly advancing a round once they get there, I’d say they’re for real. I can’t see anything beyond that, but one thing is for sure. The future of the Trail Blazers is quite bright, and they will be a force to be reckoned with in an incredibly competitive Western Conference. Now, where do the Blazers place in this weeks NBA power rankings? Read on to find out.

Now, onto this week’s Power Rankings!

   1. Indiana Pacers: ( 17-2 )  The Pacers hit a bump in the road in Portland on Tuesday night, but there is no shame in that. Especially, the way Paul George is playing right now.

   2. San Antonio Spurs: (15-3)  Looking for a big game this week? Look no further than Saturday night when the Pacers visit The Alamo.

   3. Miami Heat: (14-4)  Lebron and the Boyz pretty much show up when they want to. Case in point; games this week vs the Pistons and Bulls. However, you know that a 10 game or so win streak is coming. Just a matter of when.

   4. Oklahoma City Thunder: (13-4)  Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant are in mid-season form. That’s bad news for the rest of the west, but will that be enough to get out of the west when it counts?

   5. Houston Rockets: (13-7)  Many may think this is a bit of a stretch, but when they’re healthy and Dwight hits his free throws like he’s done lately, I think this spot will prove to be about right. Biggest obstacle for Rockets is turnovers and current injuries to Parsons and Lin.

   6. Los Angeles Clippers: (12-7)  Blake Griffin has played pretty well overall, but the Clips are here because of Chris Paul. Overall disappointing start to the season makes it look like a pretty tough job for Doc Rivers to get this bunch ready for a title run this season.

   7. Portland Trail Blazers: (16-3)  Incredible start to the season, but still can’t put them ahead of teams with more proven options. Aldridge, Lillard, and Batum are a great place to start though. Wins over Pacers and Thunder this week have me trusting the Blazers more and more.

   8. Golden State Warriors: (11-8)  Disappointing start to the season in the Bay Area. Largely due to nagging injuries. However, I still question whether or not Steph Curry is the answer at point to get the Warriors deep into the playoffs?

9. Dallas Mavericks: (12-8)  Who woulda thunk it? The Mavs are one of the older teams in the league, but they have a nice mix of youth to balance things out. With Dirk looking better than he’s looked in a couple of years, look out.

10. Denver Nuggets:  (11-7)  Yet another surprise team, that’s really doing it on the sneak tip. No Gallinari. No Iguodala…No George Karl….No problem. Insert Brian Shaw as head coach and the Nuggets haven’t skipped a beat. Didn’t the Nets have a shot to hire Shaw? Just saying.

11. Washington Wizards: (9-9)  A bit slower start that I thought they’d have, things now seem to be on the right track. With the Wiz’s talent and such mediocrity in the east, its easy for me to see a second round playoff run from John Wall and company.

12. Atlanta Hawks: (10-10)  The Hawks are only .500 but it’s actually been a pretty good start for them. Even though Al Horford is still playing out of his natural power forward position, but the chemistry between he and Paul Milsap has been quite good.

13. Phoenix Suns: (10-9)  There are probably a couple of teams that could go in this spot, but I’ll give the surprising Suns the edge. Eric Bledsoe and Markeith Morris have been pleasant surprises so far.

14. Memphis Grizzlies: (9-9)  Not attempting to re-sign Lionel Hollins is still a bit of a mystery. Gasol is injured. No wonder the Grizzlies are off to such a slow start.

15. Chicago Bulls (8-9)  The only team below .500 in this week’s rankings. Bulls could still be dangerous if they can get any kind of consistent play from players like Marquis Teague, Jimmy Butler, and Tony Snell.

16. Los Angeles Lakers (9-9)  Even without Kobe for another week or so, the Lakers have played well at times and have been pretty competitive. If Kobe comes back close to form and Gasol can stay healthy, the Lakers should make the playoffs.

Close, but not close enough:  Timberwolves, Pistons, and Pelicans…….. 

Check back weekly to see where how your favorite team fares… Until then, thanks for reading… See ya next week!

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