I know this post is late, but I'll do anything to take my mind off the Laker loss a couple nights ago and I still got a few hours before I head to tonight's game, so here goes......
I was at the RG almost a week ago enjoying a great game between OKC and our Portland Trailblazers. Despite a losing effort from our guys, the game was one of the best I've been to in recent memory. It wasn't the most flawless effort on our part, obviously, but it was an exciting game none the less. I took away a few things from the game as well.
One, I never would of thought I'd be saying this until I saw it with my own eyes, but Kevin Durant isn't the best player on the Thunder. He's behind Russell Westbrook, and it isn't even close. That's right I said it.
Two, OKC is hardly worthy of all the hype. They're good, but if they win the No. 2 seed in the west I'll eat my laptop, then I'll wash that down with my desktop, and have a little iPhone for desert. If we had even one of our centers we'd have beat 'em silly.
The media has seemingly anointed OKC heir to the Laker's throne atop the Western Conference. The same way they did for us after the 08-09 season. However, like I said OKC is not ready to take that step, and after OKC comes up short the media will be looking for a new darling to take to the big dance. There's no shortage of teams to choose from either. From Golden state to Sac Town, the WC is loaded with young and talented teams. So, I turn to the all knowing bloggers on Blazersedge to anoint the next Western Conference king. Are you still confident that a healthy Blazers squad is next in line or is there another team that keeps you up at night? We'll explore some options after the jump in no particular order.
Average Age: 23.75
Average Draft Position: 15.75
Number of All Star appearances: 0
Notable honors: NBA All Rookie 1st Team (Mayo '09)
The Grizz are a team loaded with talent. With Gasol and Conley they've filled the two largest holes for any basketball team. An athletic wing, versatile off guard and veteran PF fills out the starting five quite nicely. With a little more depth, seasoning and more of a team first attitude they could be a devastating.
Average Age: 24.67
Average Draft Position: 25.67
Number Of AllStar Appearances: 1 (Lee '10)
Notable Honors: Most Improved Player (Ellis '07), NBA All Rookie 1st Team (Curry '10),
Rookie Challenge MVP (Lee '07)
Amazing potential with a back court of Ellis and Curry. Despite questions about Monta's efficiency, he's off to an amazing start this season. Not playing in Nelly's side show offense should help his numbers as well. Throw in Lee, a walking double double, and it ain't hard to tell they got something brewing in OakLA. Still probably one more player away but GS is definitely on the rise.
Average Age: 20.67
Average Draft Position: 8.67
Number Of All Star Appearances: 0
Notable Honors: NBA All Rookie Second Team (Gordon '09)
The Clippers seemed to have struck gold with Griffin who appears to be a superstar in the making. Eric Gordon is a very capable player with a strong perimeter game. He spent the summer fine tuning his game with the U.S. Team and could be poised for a big season. Eric Bledsoe is a rookie PG. He'll have some highs and lows, but his play is already turning heads. If B. Diddy is hurt for a significant amount of time this season the Clips could have two players competing for ROY. With an already pretty good group of veterans in place the Clippers could be a lot closer than people realize.
Average Age: 21.67
Average Draft Position: 7
Number Of All Star Appearances: 0
Notable Honors: Rookie of the Year (Evans '10), Rookie Challenge MVP (Evans '10),
NBA All Rookie 1st team (Evans '10)
Sacramento is an interesting team. Tyreke Evans is already well on his way, but ultimately this teams success hinges on the development of DeMarcus Cousins. He's already a good offensive player, and if can continue to grow on the defensive end the Kings will be tough to beat. Thompson is PF with good ball skills. I'm thinking the Kings are still at least a year or two away which means they'll be able to add even more talent in the lottery.
Average Age: 21.33
Average Draft Position: 10
Number of All Star Appearances: 1 (Durant '10)
Notable Honors: NBA All Rookie 1st Team (Durant '08, Westbrook '09), Rookie of the Year (Durant '08),
All NBA 1st Team (Durant '10) NBA Scoring Champ (Durant '10)
2x H-O-R-S-E Competition Winner :) (Durant '09,'10)
FIBA World Championship MVP (Durant '10)
OKC will be a force in the years to come there's no doubt about that. Westbrook and Durant is a lethal dose for just about any team. Serge Ibaka, who I was wrong about, is a nuisance in the paint for opposing teams who like to get it at the rim. Serge is the Rodman type player that nearly every championship team seems to have. Should be interesting to see what they do with Jeff Green. IMO they need to get deeper but the future is bright in OKC.
-THE PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS-
Average Age: 23.5
Average Draft Position: 8.5
Number Of All Star Appearances: 3 (Roy '08, '09, '10)
Notable Honors: NBA All Rookie 1st Team (Roy, Aldridge '07) Rookie of the Year (Roy '07)
All NBA 2nd Team (Roy '09) All NBA 3rd Team (Roy '10)
Ya'll know the deal. From top to bottom the Blazers are stacked. When healthy we've got the size to compete with any team in the league. We get multiple draft picks every single year that our scouting department (Born and Buchanan) have turned into gold many times over. Infused with a good mix of youth and veteran leadership the Blazers have all the right pieces. The health issue has been talked about at length so I won't go in to it.
The Warriors have the oldest core group of players. They average 24.67 while the Clipps core of Gordon, Bledsoe, and Blake are the youngest at 20.67. In addition to having the second youngest core (21.67), the Kings also have the pedigree as their young group holds an average draft position of 7th overall (Evans 4th, Cousins 5th, and Thompson 12th). Oklahoma City is the most celebrated with Kevin Durant amassing a whole heap of awards (all individual awards). Memphis, Portland, and OKC appear to be the most complete teams each having at least four solid pieces to build around. The rest of the clubs still appear to be a work in process. So, I leave it to Blazersedge to decide who's really worthy of carrying the torch.
Side Note: I purposely left some teams off, but not to slight them, it's possible that Houston, Utah, Dallas, Phoenix, San Antonio or New Orleans could be that next team but they seem to be older and led by a more veteran core. I wanted to focus on the young guns. Left off Denver because Melo's future is up in the air. Minnesota was left off cuz they suck
*** AVG. Age, Draft Position, All Star appearances, and Honors are not meant to reflect the entire teams roster just the core players listed.
Which of these young up and coming teams has the best chance of dethroning the Lakers?
Memphis (2 votes)
Golden State (4 votes)
Los Angeles (1 vote)
Sacramento (3 votes)
Oklahoma City (5 votes)
Portland Trailblazers (19 votes)
34 total votes