MH’s NBA Start of the Season Power Rankings
1. Miami Heat –
If you are shocked in this pick you might want to assess your standing as a basketball enthusiast and rethink things since you have clearly taken a 3-year hiatus from American sports. Miami is in the driver’s seat again and looks ready to head for a 3rd straight title and 4th straight championship appearance. LeBron James and a great supporting cast that allows for the Heat to dominate in almost any way imaginable the Heat are only left with one key weakness. This is the lack of a true big man that can eat minutes and play physical D. Until someone can actually exploit this weakness the Heat will continue on virtually unrivaled.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder –
This might seem to be somewhat of a questionable pick since Westbrook is out for now but Durant looks primed for a big time season with legitimate championship aspirations. If Ibaka can step up and handle some of the scoring duties in making up for Westbrook the Thunder will be in great shape with a young team with enough role players to keep them amongst the elite until Westbrook returns.
3. Indiana Pacers –
Some of the stiffest competition for the heat right here. The Pacers come in blessed with a talented big in Roy Hibbert as well as a dominate wing player in Paul George. The combination of the two multi-faceted stars and a strong supporting class that plays intense physical defense that wears down opponents will make them an elite team again.
4. San Antonio Spurs –
The Spurs benefit from facing some weakened opponents while also being a perennial contender with a budding star in Kawhi Leonard, a star Point Guard in Tony Parker, and a future Hall of Famer that somehow continues to perform at a high level in Tim Duncan. These pieces along with some solid role players and phenomenal coaching keep them amongst the NBA’s elite.
5. Golden State Warriors –
The new kid on the block in terms of the NBA’s elite teams. The relative newcomer, the Warriors armed with a scoring machine in superstar Point Guard Steph Curry alone keeps them in most games but they also have a healthy big man in Bogut, a phenomenal lengthy defender and decent offensive player in Iggy, as well as the sharp shooting number two to Curry in Klay Thompson. This group of talented players looks to carry the Warriors into continued relevance.
6. Memphis Grizzlies –
This pick is a bit of an odd one since the Grizzlies aren’t really a title contender but they are a top team. A bit of an oddity. They have the pieces to win a ton of games with the supporting cast they have assembled around one of the best defensive players and all-around big men in the game in Marc Gasol. But they don’t really have enough star power to compete for a title so unless they really surprise this will probably be as high as they get all season on the power rankings.
7. Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers are an established top team that hasn’t exactly dominated come playoff time. The combo of Blake Griffin and Chris Paul should be enough to keep them in contention. This is especially true with a decent supporting cast. They certainly have some glaring weaknesses to address though which is what keeps them from being higher.
8. Chicago Bulls –
The Bulls look set to return to being a competitor in the East after what was essentially a throw away year with the injury to Rose. With Rose back and supposedly ready to step right back in without losing anything from his game the Bulls tough D and scoring potential make them a top 10 team. The questions surrounding the injury keep them on the lower end of the top 10 though.
9. Portland Trail Blazers –
The first real shocker of the top 10. The Trail Blazers look like a team ready to finally reach its potential behind an incredibly talented cast of players. Lillard, Aldridge, Batum, Matthews, Robinson, Wright, Williams, and the promising rookie McCollum give them a great shot at making a statement this year.
10. Denver Nuggets –
A team similar to the Grizzlies in my opinion. Loaded with very good players but only 1 true star caliber player in Manimal. They look to win plenty of games but not necessarily challenge for a title.
11. Brooklyn Nets –
The Nets made some rather bold offseason moves giving them one of the most talented starting 5’s in the NBA, although this is true they are fairly old and don’t have incredible depth so minute management will be key and until that issue is settled they are held back in my power rankings. If they are managed well the ranking could skyrocket and they could contend for a title.
12. Houston Rockets –
The Rockets. Where to begin? They have what looks like a top 5-10 player in James Harden but I still have my doubts and question whether he can keep Dwight satisfied and in check. Dwight… I think we all know Dwight by now, not much to add on him. The Rockets definitely have the talent but how it fits together remains to be seen.
13. New York Knicks –
The Knicks still have Melo and that is enough to keep them just above the middle of the pack in the NBA. Melo is a scoring machine who, when motivated, can take over in all facets. Motivation though, is a big issue for him. Smith and Chandler look to be featured contributors as well.
14. Detroit Pistons –
The Pistons look to have one of the more underrated teams especially with some early injury troubles but the combo of Drummond, Smith, and Monroe is a force to be reckoned with and should win them their fair share of games. A few more years of picking up decent pieces and they could find their why amongst the elite.
15. New Orleans Pelicans –
The Pelicans also look a bit underrated but have a few very talented players in Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, and Tyreke Evans. If they find a way to incorporate Gordon well they could definitely be a force.
16. Cleveland Cavaliers –
The Cavaliers look to improve upon a quite lackluster season and fully emerge from the LeBron loss. Irving, Waiters, Bennett, and Bynum might be just what the Cavs need to do so. Look for them to surprise people this year.
17. Washington Wizards –
If the Wizards can stay healthy they should look much improved from last year. Wall appears to be a dominant player who, if he ever finds a jump shot, will be a top 5 player in the NBA. Beal, Gortat, and Nene provide a decent set of contributors around Wall.
18. Dallas Mavericks –
Dallas would be higher if it weren’t for the fact that they decided to field a team that plays literally no defense. Luckily they packed on the offense with Dirk, Monta, and Jose Calderon. Dallas should be able to score plenty but I doubt they make the playoffs this year.
19. Minnesota Timberwolves –
The T-Wolves have a ton of potential but are just filled with question marks. Love and Rubio need to come out of the gates strong for the Wolves to perform well. They also need to avoid injuries that have killed the team in the past.
20. Milwaukee Bucks –
The Bucks have a relatively young team with a strong defensive presence that should keep them in games. They may have a future star in Giannis but that remains to be seen and won’t really help them this year. Until then the Bucks should be scrappers with a lot of perimeter shooting and nothing more.
21. Atlanta Hawks –
The Hawks have some decent pieces in Horford, Teague, and Millsap. They also have a budding rookie in Schroeder but he is not expected to be a big contributor at the moment. The Hawks just have too many glaring weaknesses to be successful this year.
22. Toronto Raptors –
The Raptors seem to be in a bit of a pickle. Stuck with some budding youngsters but still way too terrible to really compete for anything and keep everyone happy while adding the right pieces. Look for the Raptors to be bad again this season.
23. Sacramento Kings –
One of my 2 teams to watch this season. Cousins, Vasquez, and McLemore look to lead this young potential filled team this season. With some strong performances out of their big three and some support from Luc Richard, Patrick Patterson, and Isaiah Thomas the Kings look poised to make a statement this season.
24. Charlotte Bobcats –
Team number 2 of my 2 teams to watch this season. The Bobcats have been bottom feeders for a while now and now is their chance to emerge. MKG has been working all offseason to fix that wicked looking jumper and if it has been even moderately successful he should look like a complete player and one of the best youngsters in the game. Accompanying him is the reliable and dominant post player, Al Jefferson. Those two alone should improve their standing over last season. But they also have a very good point guard in Kemba Walker, a gifted shot blocker in Biyombo, and a rookie with potential in Zeller.
25. Utah Jazz –
The Jazz have some talented young players in Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors that look to carry the team basically. Alec Burks and Trey Burke need to step up for the Jazz to make any real noise. Other than that the Jazz don’t have much to look forward to this year.
26. Los Angeles Lakers –
Kobe and Pau can’t do it all… They won’t be the worst but they will suck. The Lakers outlook in a nutshell.
27. Orlando Magic –
Not much to say here… The Magic certainly aren’t a passable team. Definitely an unfortunate start for Oladipo…
28. Phoenix Suns –
They have a couple of busts in the Morris brothers, 4 decent but unspectacular guards, and 1 potentially passable big man in Len. Not exactly the building blocks of a good year.
29. Boston Celtics –
… It could be worse. Could be the 76ers. Forced to start without Rondo they essentially have role players leading this young and unproven bunch for the most part. Should be interesting to watch. Once Rondo returns they should jump up substantially, but until then.
30. Philadelphia 76ers –
The only really redeemable players on the roster are Thad Young, Evan Turner, and the rookie who probably won’t play at all, Nerlens Noel. Michael Carter-Williams, Arnett Moultrie, and Tony Wroten don’t look like anything overly special at the moment. Definitely a poor outlook for the 76ers. Better luck next year.