C - Emeka Okafor, Aaron Gray
PF - David West, Jason Smith, Pops Mensah-Bonsu
SF - Trevor Ariza, Peja Stojakovic, Joe Alexander
SG - Marcus Thornton, Quincy Pondexter, Marco Belinelli
PG - Chris Paul, Willie Green (oh my), Mustafa Shakur
Ryan: You are strangely high on New Orleans but I don't think I see it... Of course having all- world (please don't tell me you forgot already) point guard Chris Paul is the real key to their success but the rest of the roster has me only shrugging. Bringing Ariza is a big help on the wing but in the process they have no alternative if Paul got hurt.All they have currently is Mustafa Shakur(Watching U of Arizona for years it boggles my mind how he's on a NBA roster..sorry) and SHOOTING GUARD Willie Green...yeah...about that. The starting 5 is good but the bench is a little thin upfront and in the West you need 3-4 to compete...lets hear it..
Brad: I think my early-season conversations off-line with you brought me back a little... but Paul is electric and a top-5 player in the L... Ariza gives him the wing running mate he's never had... West is nothing but consistent and he's a 19/9 guy every night (while being a perfect pick-n-pop option)... Okafor gets murdered for underachieving because he's overpaid, but he's not below-average, he can rebound, is a good defender and a solid piece... I do think if NO is in contention they'll be able to flip Peja's expiring for some depth... and you're definitely right about the Green/Shakur combo behind Paul (the cutting of Pargo had me dropping NO a spot in my rankings)... No shades of the 50+ win team a few years back?
Ryan: Well I don't know what kind of depth you can get for Peja (and his contract) or would that player be any better than the bench they have now..but I can't give NO benefit of the doubt of something that they should be doing(that trade) until they actually do it.This roster as currently constructed is solid 7 deep and after that it's a real stretch...they'll be over .500 with injuries being tossed out the window but mid 40's seem more realistic to me.
Brad: Mid 40's would be about right where I have them at the 9th seed... I'm just lower on Phoenix than you are lol... If Paul is healthy (and I think he will be), this is definitely their best team since that team with Chandler that won 50+... I'm probably blinded by CP3-colored glasses... but I think he can carry them... Prediction: 9th in the West
Ryan: Yeah I think that I think that NO with their current lack of depth is playing on the edge of having a good season and a not so good season... that even the re-addition of Paul can't overcome... Prediction: 10th in the West