Post Trade Dealine Western Conference Rankings

The trade deadline has expired and  teams seem set for the stretch run.  So now that the dust has settled, which teams are top 5 in the West?
1.  Lakers:  Stealing Pau Gasol was huge for this team.  Kobe got another low post presence.  Pau has meshed quickly with his new team and with Bynum coming back soon, a frontcourt of Gasol and Bynum will be causing many teams headaches in the playoffs.  With a starting five of Kobe, Fisher, Gasol, Bynum and Odom and a nice young bench, the Lakers will be a force in this years playoffs.
2.  Hornets:  Their bench had been suspect this year and it just got some life injected into it when they traded for Spurs killers Bonzi Wells and Mike James.  Their starting five is crazy:  Paul, Peja, Chandler, West, and Mo Pete.  Now their bench sports Wells, Pargo, James.  Nice quick bench upgrade for this team.
3.  Spurs:  Gone is Elson and arriving is Kurt Thomas!  Let the celebration begin for Spurs fans.  Spurs traded for Kurt Thomas to shore up the interior defense and to allow Duncan to focus more on offense.  A defensive team just got more defensive if you ask me.  Expect Thomas to eventually start over Oberto.
4.  Suns:  Yes they got Shaq and this will be of great benefit for Amare, but can Shaq survive in the run-and-gun system?  Playing 1 game already he looked good and did everything the Suns could ask for but how long will this last?  GM Steve Kerr took on a huge contract, and lost Marion which will hurt this team long term.  Still when the playoffs begin, and the game slows down, the Suns finally have a presence in the middle and someone with tons of playoff experience.  When Shaq is in the game, expect teams to run on the Suns to wear him out.
5.  Chokers (Mavericks):  The Chokers added Jason Kidd recently but took a huge step back in losing Devin Harris and Diop.  They are thin in the front court (Dampier, Dirk) and if they don’t remedy this, they are in for a short playoff run with teams like the Lakers, Spurs and Suns adding size.
Rounding out the next 5:
6.  Utah Jazz
7.  Denver Nuggets
8.  Houston Rockets
9.  Golden State Warriors
10. Portland Trailblazers

About Michael A. De Leon

Michael founded Project Spurs in 2004. He started The Spurscast, the first Spurs podcast on the Internet, in 2005. Michael has been interviewed by the BBC, SportTalk, the Sports Reporters Radio Show, MemphisSportLive, OKC Sports Wrap and ESPN radio among others. He is a credentialed member of the media for the San Antonio Spurs and Austin Toros. He is also the founder of Project Spurs' sister sites, Toros Nation and Stars Hoops.

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