The new NBA season is quickly approaching. Opening night is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 29. With the preseason already having started, here are our power rankings to start the season.
30. Charlotte Bobcats
The Bobcats are bad. Really bad. And it doesn’t look like they’re going to get any better any time soon. The only glimmer of light is Kemba Walker, but he can’t single handedly carry them. They added Al Jefferson, but he is a liability on the defensive end, and we don’t see him being a difference maker on such a bad team. Expect them to be a lottery team again this year.
29. Orlando Magic
The Orlando Magic are atrocious. They drafted a great talent in Victor Oladipo, but there is no way he can carry a team. He doesn’t have that much offensive firepower. He is a great defender but only an average scorer. They need to add more pieces before they even have a chance to contend.
28. Washington Wizards
With two young, high caliber guards, the Wizards are improving. They still have a long way to go though. As of now they are one of the worst teams in the NBA.
27. Phoenix Suns
Their best player is Marcin Gortat. That is all.
26. Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks had two of the best scoring guards in the NBA a year ago. This year they don’t. They lost their two leading scorers. Even though they acquired a solid offensive talent in O.J. Mayo, they will be a low-tier team in the league this year because of a lack of scoring.
25. Philadelphia 76ers
The Sixers traded their best young player this offseason, Jrue Holiday. This was a head scratcher for many, but we think it shows the confidence they have in the rookie out of Syracuse, Michael Carter-Williams. When they traded Holiday they also acquired rookie defensive specialist, Nerlens Noel. We believe they will be a good team in the future, but they need time to develop these players.
24. Utah Jazz
They have talent, but their talent is very young. In a few years they will be much closer to contending for a playoff spot.
23. Sacramento Kings
The Kings are essentially the same team they have been for the past five years. They replaced Tyreke Evans with rookie Ben McLemore, who will most likely be their go-to scorer. The rookie won’t be able to handle the load, at least not this year.
22. Detroit Pistons
The Detroit Pistons acquired two big names this year in Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith. We don’t think this combo will mesh well. They both have a reputation for poor shot taking and being selfish. With that being said we don’t see the Pistons doing much this year.
21. L.A. Lakers
Kobe Bryant is hurt, Dwight Howard is gone, and Steve Nash isn’t producing like he used to. The Lakers are taking a huge step back this year and for years to come. Buckle up for the ride, Lakers fans, because the glory days are over.
20. Dallas Mavericks
The Mavs would be higher up if they had a better outlook on the season. Dirk Nowitski wants out, and he’s been the face of their franchise for years. This offseason they acquired Monta Ellis, but he is shot happy and shoots a low percentage.
19. Atlanta Hawks
The key for the Atlanta Hawks is Jeff Teague. If he can take the next step forward, so will the Hawks. Sharpshooter Kyle Korver has made a reputation as one of the most productive shooters in the league, but it takes more than that to win games. They lost their best player, Josh Smith. That will hurt them this year.
18. Minnesota Timberwolves
The Timberwolves can do good things. The only thing that would hold them back is health. Kevin Love seems to get injured every year and so does Ricky Rubio. If those two can stay healthy good things will come, but we don’t think they will stay healthy.
17. New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans traded their draft pick, Nerlens Noel, for All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday. They have three solid guards in Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon, and newly acquired Tyreke Evans. The only question is how they are going to fit all three of those guards into the rotation.
16. Boston Celtics
Boston traded away the heart and soul of their team when they traded away Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Is Rajon Rondo next? They won’t make a huge splash this year, but don’t expect them to be terrible. They drafted (in our opinion) one of the better prospects this year, Kelly Olynyk. He is a 7-footer with a great offensive game. Maybe there is some hope in Boston still.
15. Toronto Raptors
DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay are great centerpieces for this franchise. They have a solid point guard in Kyle Lowry as well. If they can add one more big name they will be a serious contender, but until then they are a middle of the road team.
14. Portland Trailblazers
The Blazers young stud Damian Lillard is going to have another great year. They will be good and make the playoffs, but we don’t think they have any legitimate chance to win it all.
13. Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavs are a head scratcher. They have the potential to be very good this year, but the key is health. If Andrew Bynum and Kyrie Irving can stay healthy, this will be their best year in the post-LeBron James era.
12. Denver Nuggets
The Denver Nuggets are facing a lot of challenges because their management is awful. Who fires the Coach of the Year? Even though their management is awful, their talent is pretty solid. Once Danilo Gallinari comes back they might have a shot at being a solid team this year.
11. L.A. Clippers
They are now the face of Los Angeles. They have the best point guard in the league and two young, talented big men. They just never seem to get over that hump. They always make an early exit from the playoffs. Maybe this year will be different. We shall see.
10. Memphis Grizzlies
The Grizzlies are arguably the most overlooked, underrated team in the NBA. They play a slow game and have this era’s version of the “Twin Towers” in Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. This team will make a run this year.
9. Houston Rockets
Houston made the biggest splash this offseason, adding the best center in the game in Dwight Howard. Howard is going to come into this season a force. With James Harden and Chandler Parsons playing the wing and taking on most of the scoring load, this team has the potential to be very dangerous. The only question is who will play power forward?
8. Golden State Warriors
All I can say is watch out. The “Splash Brothers” Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are going to have a year to remember, and now they added talent in the form of wingman Andre Iguodala. They will contend for a title this year. You heard it here first.
7. Chicago Bulls
With Derrick Rose back and Jimmy Butler getting better and better, the sky is the limit for the Chicago Bulls. But how far can they go with D-Rose on a minutes restriction? We think they will win more than one playoff series, but only time will tell.
6. San Antonio Spurs
Every year people overlook the Spurs as title contenders. We’re not going to be those people. We think the age of their team will be a major factor this season. The fundamentals and chemistry they possess will take them far again this year
5. New York Knicks
The Knicks didn’t do anything big this offseason, but they did trade for Andrea Bargnani. They drafted Tim Hardaway Jr. who has been coming on strong as of late. They have one of the deepest—if not the deepest—benches in the NBA. With returning scoring champ Carmelo Anthony and defensive specialist Tyson Chandler, we expect good things out of the New York Knicks this year.
4. Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder are going to be a solid squad again this year, but will they finally get over the hump and win it all this year? Durant has to step it up, Westbrook has to facilitate and take smarter shots, and Ibaka needs more offensive touches if they are going to win it all.
3. Indiana Pacers
The Pacers are an absolute powerhouse in the East. Roy Hibbert is one of the best centers in the league, and Paul George really came on strong last year. David West was a very solid starting forward last year as well. With Danny Granger returning and the signing of Chris Copeland, they have added elements to their team. They will also be very good this year.
2. Brooklyn Nets
There are high hopes in Brooklyn this year. They had an absolutely huge offseason, trading for Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry from Boston. They also made a quiet pickup of Andrei Kirilenko and signed new coach Jason Kidd. They are expected to finish among the best teams in the league.
1. Miami Heat
The Miami Heat are looking to three-peat this year, a feat previous accomplished only by Shaq & Kobe’s Lakers, Jordan’s Bulls, and Russell’s Celtics (who won eight titles in a row). Miami added some talent such as Michael Beasley and Greg Oden. It’s also the contract year for their big three. Expect them to go very deep in the playoffs. They are the favorite to win it again this year.