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Hollinger: Blazers And Nuggets Look Like Early Contenders In West

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John Hollinger of ESPN.com (Insider) writes that the Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets are the two Western Conference teams standing out in the first week of the 2011-2012 NBA season. --------------------------- The Blazers' transformation has been even more shocking. The league's slowest-paced team last season, Portland now ranks third in pace factor despite employing most of the same personnel. And the league's 14th-ranked defense from last season now finds itself third, a rather shocking state of affairs for a team for which the main offseason pickup was Jamal Crawford and which boasts centers who are a combined 76 years old. Given the small data samples, all of this can and will change, but the takeaway from the opening eight days in the Western Conference is an interesting one nonetheless. Miami and Chicago cemented the impression that they're a cut above the rest of the East, but the West seems more mystifying than ever. The teams that seemed most like contenders heading into the season have left us with more questions than answers, and the only two teams that have looked worthy of the mantle are the two that entered with the most dubious credentials. --------------------------- -- Ben Golliver | benjamin.golliver@gmail.com | Twitter
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