Pre-Season NBA Power Rankings, Part 1

With the NBA season right around the corner, it’s time to unveil the first NBA Power Rankings of the season. There was a lot of roster changeover this offseason and some of these teams will eventually jump into the top 10 and some will plummet to the very bottom. So without any further ado, let’s get started!

30. Philadelphia 76ers- The 76ers have been the worst team in basketball for a few years now. They have yet to land the first overall pick, but it certainly isn’t due to a lack of effort. First round picks have been spent on Nerlens Noel (via trade), Joel Embiid, and Jahlil Okafor, all of whom play center. Embiid is expected to miss his second straight season after a setback in his rehab. Nerlens Noel is inept offensively and Jahlil Okafor didn’t play much defense last season at Duke. Expect Philly to stay near the cellar for the entire season.

29. Minnesota Timberwolves- There’s something brewing in Minnesota. Unfortunately, it’s going to take a couple of years to be ready for serving. The potential core of Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Zach Lavine could be one of the best in the league in a few years. However, this team will be more about potential rather than production this year.

28. Denver Nuggets- The Nuggets were a worse team than most people anticipated last year. With the trade of Ty Lawson to the Rockets, it might only get worse in the Mile High City. First round pick Emmanuel Mudiay could win the rookie of the year after taking over for Ty Lawson, and he’s one of the bright spots on this team. To make matters worse, Kenneth “The Manimal” Faried could get moved during the season.

27. Portland Trailblazers- Damian Lillard must be upset with the Portland brass. They couldn’t manage to keep one of the other players in the starting five. Robin Lopez, LaMarcus Aldridge and Wesley Matthews all left via free agency and Nicolas Batum got traded to the Hornets. Lillard could lead the league in points and the Trailblazers would still be lucky to win 25 games. It’s gonna be a long year in Rip City.

26. Los Angeles Lakers- The Lakers made some good moves and took some good risks during the offseason. Brandon Bass and Roy Hibbert will be mentors to young players such as Jordan Clarkson, D’Angelo Russell, and Julius Randle. But obviously the main man on this team is Kobe, and it will be Kobe until he is gone. Like the teams above, the Lakers could be in the cellar for a while.

25. Brooklyn Nets- Times are a changing in Brooklyn. After trading the farm for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, the Nets are in for more changeover this year. Signing Brook Lopez and releasing Deron Williams were great moves, but unfortunately they still have Joe Johnson and his expensive contract on the books. Not to mention, they don’t have a first round pick this year.

24. New York Knicks- The Knicks were a mess last season. Bringing the triangle to Madison Square Garden didn’t work in year one, but there is promise for year two. Robin Lopez was a good addition and hopefully Carmelo Anthony can stay healthy. However, the pick of Kristaps Porzingis was widely ridiculed and he’ll have a lot of pressure on him in year one.

23. Sacramento Kings- Demarcus Cousins is the best center in the NBA, and for my money its not close. Before he was hurt, Boogie had the Kings above .500. If he stays healthy, the Kings could put a competitive roster on the court for the first time in a long time. The expected progression of Ben McLemore, and newcomer Rajon Rondo are both pieces that could contribute to a core of Boogie, Rudy Gay and Darren Collison.

22. Detroit Pistons- Stan Van Gundy didn’t really try to keep Greg Monroe, but it may have been for the better. Monroe is a player who could be an All-Star this year, but he just didn’t fit the scheme that Van Gundy likes. Monroe couldn’t spread the floor like Van Gundy likes to do and the addition of Ersan Ilyasova will provide better shooting. I loved what the Pistons did in the draft by filling a need and getting the best player available in wing Stanley Johnson. In a weak Eastern Conference, Detroit could be a sleeper team.

21. Charlotte Hornets- The Hornets were an awful three point shooting team last year. They added Frank Kaminsky and Aaron Harrison via the draft, Jeremy Lin was signed and Nicolas Batum was added via trade. Unfortunately, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist could miss the season after shoulder surgery, and he is a promising young defender out on the wing. Maybe next year, Charlotte.

20. Phoenix Suns- The Suns have some intriguing pieces on their roster. Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight are two of the best combo guards in the league and will thrive in Jeff Hornacek’s offense. Tyson Chandler will be a mentor to Alex Len. It’ll be interesting to see how Markieff Morris will play, after his disagreements with management. The Suns could be a sleeper team, there’s talent, they just need to put it all together.

19. Utah Jazz- I’m buying into the Utah Jazz. Their young core is something to get excited about. Rudy Gobert single handedly turned this team around with his interior defense. The loss of Dante Exum is a bummer, as he was looking forward to a breakout sophomore campaign. Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward are two rising young stars and Rodney Hood played well down the stretch last year. Things are looking up in Utah.

18. Orlando Magic- The Orlando Magic are building a monster, slowly but surely. They also have a young core but the thing that puts them above Utah is that its more proven, and healthy. The Magic have focused on athleticism and defense. Elfrid Payton and Victor Oladipo make for one of the best young backcourts in the NBA, Tobias Harris is a jack-of-all-trades kind of player, and Nikola Vucevic is one of the better centers around.

17. Dallas Mavericks- Too many questions facing the Dallas Mavericks this season. Wesley Matthews tore his Achilles last season and was a solid player before that injury, but who knows how he’ll play this year. Future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki is another year older and the addition of Deron Williams would have been what owner Mark Cuban wanted five years ago, but not today. Chandler Parsons is as underrated as it gets but the Mavs don’t have enough to get back into the playoffs this year.

16. Indiana Pacers- The return of Paul George might be the best story of the offseason throughout the entire NBA. He suffered a brutal leg injury that I don’t want to provide a link for because it’s gross. Another big addition is Monta Ellis, who is one of the more gifted scorers in the league is also a positive. The losses of Roy Hibbert and David West will be larger than anticipated, even though General Manager Larry “Legend” Bird wants to play at a faster pace, and that helps with their scheme. Look for Indiana to get back into the playoffs this year.

15. Boston Celtics- As I already wrote about, I am a believer in the Boston Celtics. Brad Stevens is a great coach already and this team loves him. They’re deep, skilled and play smart basketball.  The additions of David Lee and Amir Johnson will be huge and they’ll likely play a lot of minutes, with Johnson being a starter. Marcus Smart could bring home Most Improved Player honors this year. The pieces are here for the Celtics to make a big time run in the playoffs.

14. Milwaukee Bucks- The addition of Greg Monroe could help the inside punch of this team. The Bucks are wicked young and fun to watch with Giannas Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and John Henson really taking steps forward last year. Number two overall pick last year Jabari Parker tore his ACL early in the season and he is another young piece to this team. Nobody expected the Bucks to be good last season, and now the pressure is really on them to take the next step.

13. New Orleans Pelicans- Anthony Davis is the second best player on the planet, outside of LeBron James. The Brow affects the game more than Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, and James Harden. He is the sole purpose for the Pelicans making the playoffs last year and for my money he was the real MVP last season. The pieces around him are quality, but they’re never on the court. Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday are essentially made out of glass. If they, along with Omer Asik, can stay healthy, New Orleans would boast one of the best starting lineups in the NBA.

12. Washington Wizards- John Wall will make a run as the leagues top point guard this season. Him and Bradley Beal are an elite backcourt. With Nenê and Marcin Gortat, the bigs are solid too. The only thing that the Wizards are lacking is play on the wing. Paul Pierce isn’t an elite player anymore but he was still very valuable. The starting small forward will be a revolving door, with Otto Porter Jr.,  Jared Dudley and Alan Anderson all likely getting starts throughout the season. Until that problem gets fixed, the Wizards will be just outside the top 10.

11. Miami Heat- Health and the loss of LeBron James derailed Miami’s playoff hopes. Dwayne Wade was once again often injured and Chris Bosh had a major scare when doctors discovered a blood clot in lungs. Bosh is now healthy and will get to play alongside Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside, who pulled a John Cena and came out of nowhere last year. If Bosh and Wade can stay healthy, Miami is a serious contender in the Eastern Conference this year.

The Top 10 will be released tomorrow, stay tuned!

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