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Cullen: Heat open in top spot of NBA Power Rankings

Scott Cullen
10/26/2010 4:41:44 PM
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The Miami Heat go into the 2010-2011 NBA season with the proverbial target on their back, billed a super-power team after acquiring LeBron James and Chris Bosh in free agency, and they open the season in top spot of the TSN.ca NBA Power Rankings.

The Heat are ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder, with the Dallas Mavericks and Boston Celtics rounding out the top five.

The Cleveland Cavaliers, on the other hand, are reeling from the loss of LeBron James and they are down at the bottom, with the Golden State Warriors and the Toronto Raptors.

As always, with the start of a new season, it's time to look at win totals to see where there might be some value in the 2010-2011 NBA campaign.

This year, there are four over/unders that present value, and one other that is made so uncertain because of the status of that team's star player.

New Orleans Hornets OVER 40.5 wins: Call this a vote for a big year from Chris Paul, who missed 37 games last season and the Hornets still managed to win 37 games.  Can't they win four more with a (presumably) healthy Paul?

Sacramento Kings OVER 27.5 wins: Won 25 games last season with a young roster and could be adding a Rookie of the Year candidate in C DeMarcus Cousins.  Cousins was considered a risky pick, but on their exceptional talent alone, he and Tyreke Evans should give the Kings a shot at more than 30 wins.

Cleveland Cavaliers UNDER 32.5 wins: It seems crazy that the Cavaliers could be 30 games worse than last year's 61-win team, but with their current roster, there just isn't the talent on this roster to suggest that that Cavs are better than, say, 32-win Indiana was last year.

Golden State Warriors UNDER 31.5 wins: Maybe a new style of play, with a greater commitment to defense will make a difference for the Warriors, but given their personnel, how much better will they be?  Five wins?  Ten wins?  They would need to be six wins better than last year's 26 victories to finish over and that seems like too much improvement to expect.

The one team that I couldn't bring myself to pick is:

Denver Nuggets OVER 43.5 wins: A risky play, for sure because, if he gets his way, Carmelo Anthony could be traded and who knows what the Nuggets' lineup would look like following that deal.  Given the roster that they have, the Nuggets could be a 50-win team, but the 'Melo situation makes it difficult.

For what it's worth, the Toronto Raptors look like they'll be life-and-death to reach their over-under of 27.5 wins.  Not enough proven scorers and a history of proven defensive shortcomings. 

I'd love to see a bunch of guys have breakthrough seasons but, as we sit here before the season starts, I have to side with the under.

Some other Forecasts for the 2010-2011 Season:

First Team All-Stars:
C - Dwight Howard, Orlando
PF - Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas
SF - LeBron James, Miami
SG - Dwyane Wade, Miami
PG - Chris Paul, New Orleans

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@ctv.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen.  For more, check out TSN Fantasy Sports on Facebook.

Final: Lakers over Heat
MVP: LeBron James, SF, Miami
Rookie of the Year: Blake Griffin, PF, L.A. Clippers
Defensive Player of the Year: Dwight Howard, C, Orlando
Sixth Man: Ty Lawson, PG, Denver
Most Improved: Jrue Holiday, PG, Philadelphia


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