Here at BlazersBlog we try and keep our flavor somewhat unique. Mix it up a little bit. Add a dash of salt. Go against the grain. So you wouldn't expect to see us roll out some everyday, run-of-the-mill Power Rankings would you? Dear god no.
Hence, we've decided to announce something new for this year: Tier Trauma. Rather than rank the teams top-to-bottom, we'd rather group them into tiers. Now the way I see it -- and this was alluded to in my Western Conference Preview, Part 3 -- you shouldn't look at a team as "the fifth best" or "the twelfth best", but rather more generic Tiers. I see the league as containing four tiers, and as I consider myself a fairly avid fan of Boxing, we're doing a little cross-sport overlap. Observe:
Tier 1: Heavyweights. Teams who have a legitimate shot at winning the whole shebang.
Tier 2: Cruiserweights. Not quite ready to be considered in the league's upper echelon, but close and very talented.
Tier 3: Middleweights. Teams that lack a bit of talent or are a few steps away from contention, but have enough to challenge for a playoff spot.
Tier 4: Lightweights. Bad teams who don't have a chance.*
*when we say "don't have a chance", that refers to the championship, not the playoffs. The reason for this caveat is that because the Eastern Conference is so weak, there will inevitably be a lightweight team or two who challenges for a playoff spot.
Now that we've got that established, I present to you the official introduction of Tier Trauma. The teams are listed very loosely within the Tiers in order of strength.
TIER TRAUMA VOLUME 1
Tier 1 - Heavyweights
Clearly the "big 4" in the NBA this year, and the favorites to hoist the trophy when all is said and done. All four are very strong, very deep and immensely talented. I wouldn't be surprised if Miami got off to a slow start this year and don't be surprised to see them demoted if they suffer a few bad losses.
Tier 2 - Cruiserweights
An interesting group to say the least. Until Detroit proves they can control the game defensively without Ben Wallace as well as they have the past three seasons, they aren't a top-tier contender in my eyes. Denver, the Clippers, or the Pacers (this writer's darkhorse pick to win it all) could each get promoted into that top tier by answering a few minor questions about their teams.
Tier 3 - Middleweights
Most of these teams have something in common: they're either old, aging teams on the way down or young up-and-comers still stuck in the Land Of Potential. The Nets are favorites to win their division , but mainly because their division is so crappy. (Seriously - take a look.) I expect inconsistency to be the theme with this group -- at times they'll look great, and at times they'll look lost.
Tier 4 - Lightweights
Sadly, the biggest group of the bunch. Now I'll acknowledge that teams like the 76ers or Kings could easily beat up on the lesser teams in their leagues and rise up to be a Tier 3 team. Heck, you could even add the Grizz or T-wolves to that list. You might even say those teams have more talent than, say, an Orlando. But I look at the rosters of teams like that and think, "yawn". I'm much higher on teams who are doing things the right way, building around high draft picks and finding diamonds in the rough -- teams with very high ceilings -- than I am teams who rely on past-their-prime starts who get most of their accolades by filling up the bucket with garbage time points. We know those team's ceilings.
So there you have it. The goal is to crank one these babies out every other week. Enjoy!