Injuries & trades have a way of dislocating teams from these spots, but here's the West at the close of 2006:
Stackhouse's brief absence will hardly impact the Mavs
2 Suns* 1.5
Can survive any injury other than to Nash and make the playoffs
3 Spurs 0.5
Team-wide Flu will only be a ripple; unless Duncan goes down for some reason they're a lock too
4 Jazz* 1.5
Fear nothing but a first round Spur matchup will sicken Utah's playoff hopes
5 Lakers 4.0
Can Kobe carry Laker playoff hopes without Odom? (and Mihm)
6 Rockets 5.0
Yao's broken leg will hurt them - how much? They could fall far ...
7 Nuggets 5.5
Melo will return and with AI Nuggets could shine if Nene and Camby are not out too long
8 Warriors 8.0
Just lost JRich for up to 8 weeks and have already suffered numerous bumps and bruises - can we hang on to #8?
9 Clippers 9.0
Maggette trade would will mean a transition and until Cassell returns Livingston is running the show ...
10 Timberwolves 9.0
Without McCants it's more difficult to climb - is a blockbuster KG trade even possible?
11 Kings 9.0
Will Artest stay? Will a trade bring the much needed post player for Sacto to climb into the playoffs?
12 Trail Blazers 10.5
Miles' injury probably helps as much as hurts, and Blazers are only 2.5 games out of the 8th spot - yeesh!
13 Hornets 11.0
Hard to see them overcoming injuries to Paul (4-6 weeks), David West (2-8 weeks), Bobby Jackson (2-3 weeks) and Peja (2-3 months)
14 SuperSonics 11.5
If they had a chance after Swift's season ending injury, RLew's 2-3 month hiatus probably puts the kibosh on any remaining playoff dreams
15 Grizzlies 16.5
Jerry West fired Mike Fratello - just as Paul Gasol was returning - can they emerge from 8.5 games back of the 8th spot?
The next month will be pivotal - do we have enough to feel confident about hanging on to the 8th spot or should the Dubs swing a trade to prop up their playoff hopes?
Who would you target if you were Mully? Post some realistic trades!