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NBA Pre-Season Power Rankings

October 16, 2012

Basketball, User Submissions

Are you ready for some basketball? Well, if not, you better get ready. Because unlike last year, the NBA is not only scheduled to begin on time, but is scheduled to play its full battery of games this season. The Miami Heat walked away with an NBA title last year in the shortened season, but some have questioned whether they can repeat that feat after fighting through a full regular season schedule.

Add to that the revamped Lakers, the resilient Thunder, and a score of other up and coming squads, this NBA season is shaping up to be one of the most exciting ever. But who’s at the top of the heap this pre season? The answer is right here.

1. Miami Heat – The reigning NBA champions come into the new season as the NBA’s best team.  The Heat has arguably the NBA’s deepest and most talented roster and could challenge the 1995-1996 Bulls record of 72 wins.  An injury to Lebron James is the only thing that could derail this team as they look to bring home the franchise’s third title in the last seven years.

2. Los Angeles Lakers – The Lakers came into last season as a team in disarray after their attempt at trading for Chris Paul was blocked by David Stern.  What a difference a year makes.  The team acquired Dwight Howard and Steve Nash in separate deals and in doing so have given the Lakers new life and a chance to get Kobe Bryant that elusive 6th ring that would tie him with Michael Jordan for most all-time.

Dwight Howard looks to ascend to the top of the NBA along with the rest of the Lakers.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder – The Thunder got a taste of true success last season before falling to the Heat in the Finals.  The summer was fairly quiet for this team as they know that they have a Championship caliber roster.  The Lakers made significant upgrades and looks like they are the only thing standing in the way of the Thunder making a second straight trip to the Finals.

4. San Antonio Spurs – The Spurs seemingly begin every season with the same questions.  Are they too old?  Can they stay healthy?  Is this the year Tim Duncan takes a major step backwards?  This team has fought off father time for so long that I’m done asking those questions.  They have assembled one of the deepest teams in the league which will give Gregg Popovich plenty of opportunities to rest his stars.

5. Brooklyn Nets – Owner Mikhail Prokhorov kept his word to Nets fans and has brought them a Championship caliber team.  He had to spend a lot of money to do it but if it brings a title to Brooklyn then it will all be worth it.  Joe Johnson can now be the Robin to Deron Williams’ batman which is better suited for his overall game and style of play.  This team is good enough to challenge Miami in the East.

6. Los Angeles Clippers – We all knew that the Clippers would be good with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.  The question was how good.  After one lockout shortened season, we still don’t know.  The team looked good for stretches last season but struggled to find an identity with so many new faces.  Chauncey Billups returns this season to give this team a calming veteran presence that will take the pressure off of Paul and Griffin.

7. Boston Celtics – The “Big 3” era is officially over in Beantown.  Ray Allen has relocated to South Beach effectively ending a time that saw the Celtics hang banner number 17 in the rafters.  Call it addition by subtraction since the two guys brought in to replace Allen are more effective at this point in their careers.  Rajon Rondo is now the team’s best player and everything will likely flow through him moving forward.

8. Dallas Mavericks – The Mavs have been one of the NBA’s best teams in recent years and that trend should continue this season.  The team added some youth and athleticism to a roster that had gotten old pretty fast.  O.J. Mayo and Darren Collison will be key players in keeping this team in the upper half of the Western Conference.  The extra time off this summer should help to revitalize Dirk Nowitzki who looked a little worn down last season.

Look for Dirk to bring higher energy to Dallas than he did at the end of last season.

9. Denver Nuggets – The Nuggets have the talent to be one of the NBA’s better teams.  All that is left now is putting it all together.  The team now has a go-to player in Andre Iguodala which is something they had lacked since trading Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks.  They go two deep at every positions and have one of the more versatile rosters in the league that is going to be dangerous in transition.

10. New York Knicks – If there was a time where Carmelo Anthony could quiet all of his critics, that time is now.  The Knicks have a roster that can compete with any team in the league but as always, it is the play of Anthony that will ultimately decide this team’s fate.  He has to take a page out of Lebron’s book and make the decision that he is going to be the best player on the court every night.

11. Indiana Pacers – The Indiana Pacers might be one of the most boring teams in the NBA.  They play good defense, they play fundamental basketball and they lack any sort of flashiness that most fans want to see.  They remind me a lot of the Spurs but they aren’t as talented or as deep.  David West, Roy Hibbert and Danny Granger form a very tough front line but in a league built around stars, the Pacers come up just short.

12. Portland Trailblazers – The Trailblazers are a team that will be stuck in NBA purgatory for a while.  They are good enough to make the playoffs, yet not good enough to make a serious run.  LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicholas Batum are good players but neither of them can take over a game.  Damian Lillard will have to be as good as advertised or this team will need to seriously consider trading Aldridge and rebuilding.

13. Philadelphia 76ers – The 76ers finally have the big man that they have long coveted.  Andrew Bynum is a high risk high reward type player that cost them Andre Iguodala and Moe Harkless.  The move automatically makes them a top five team in the East but Bynum could bolt after the season and leave the 76ers with a gaping hole down low.  Doug Collins has done wonders with this team the last two seasons.

14. Chicago Bulls – There is a school of thought that things Derrick Rose should take this whole year off and completely heal.  I would tend to agree seeing as how he won’t be back in enough time to make a real difference for this team.  It will also give the team a chance to showcase Marquis Teague to other teams that are in need of a point guard.  Priority number one is finding a trading partner for Carlos Boozer.

Derrick Rose is the biggest question mark not just for Chicago, but for the NBA as a whole.

15. Minnesota Timberwolves – With a healthy Ricky Rubio, a refreshed Brandon Roy and Kevin Love, the T-Wolves should make the playoffs for the first time in the post-Kevin Garnett era.  Love called out management in hopes that they would upgrade the talent around him and that’s exactly what they did.  Roy, Andrei Kirilenko and Alex Shved were all brought in and are significant upgrades over the players they replaced.

16. Utah Jazz – The Jazz are very talented up front and on the wing but Moe Williams isn’t the answer at point guard.  He was brought in to replace the departed Devin Harris who was never a fan favorite in Utah.  Jazz fans should be careful what they wish for as Williams is far from an upgrade and isn’t known for his distribution skills on a team that runs its offense through the post.

17. Atlanta Hawks – It was evident after last season’s playoff loss to the Celtics that the Hawks had reached their ceiling and were in bad need of a makeover.  Enter Danny Ferry who in less than one month on the job completely altered the direction of this franchise.  The Hawks aren’t a bad team by any stretch and will remain competitive throughout the year but Danny Ferry is clearly focused on the future.

18. Memphis Grizzlies – The Grizzlies did absolutely nothing to make their team better this offseason.  The only significant move they made was trading O.J. Mayo to the Mavericks and replacing him with Wayne Ellington.  I can just hear the groans from the Grizz fans now.  This team reminds me a lot of the Atlanta Hawks with a lot of bad contracts to average players and we all saw how well that worked out for them.

19. Cleveland Cavaliers – Kyrie Irving is the real deal.  He proved all of his doubters wrong a season ago and thoroughly outplayed Derrick Williams who some thought the Cavs should have taken with the number one pick.  The team should have drafted Harrison Barnes instead of Dion Waiters but hindsight is 20-20 and this team still has plenty of talent around Irving to make a serious run at a playoff spot this year.

20. Washington Wizards – The Wiz will be a much better team than they were a season ago as long as the injury to John Wall doesn’t keep him out longer than expected.  Gone are the last remnants of the Gilbert Arenas era and in are a group of players that can lead this team back to the playoffs.  It will be a struggle early on without their floor general but the second half should represent a big step forward for this group.

21. Golden State Warriors – The Warriors had a disappointing season under new Head Coach Mark Jackson.  The team lost Kwame Brown and Seth Curry to injuries and ended up shipping Monta Ellis to the Bucks in a mid-season trade.  With Ellis gone and with a legitimate center in Andrew Bogut the Warriors finally look the part.  Now all they have to do is play like it.  Good luck with that.

22. Houston Rockets – Linsanity has come to Houston.  The Rockets signed Jeremy Lin away from the Knicks in a deal that will be criticized in the latter half of the contract.  The Rockets had three first round picks and spent them on players that, while talented, don’t necessarily fit with the current roster.  The Rockets aren’t shy about wanting a superstar and if one comes available they have the assets to bring him to Texas.

Will Lin’s magic from last season follow him to Houston?

23. Milwaukee Bucks – Brandon Jennings is a good, Monta Ellis is good.  The two of them on the same team?  Not so good.  Both guys are undersized and need the ball in their hands to be effective.  It will be a contest each night to see which one can put up more shots.  Neither player is very efficient in his ability to score nor is either guy as good as he thinks he is.  Congratulations Milwaukee, you just became the Warriors of the East.

24. Sacramento Kings – It definitely wasn’t Jimmer time last season in Sacramento.  The Kings first round draft pick was anything but what they were expecting when they took him that high.  Demarcus Cousins took a big step forward and showed that he can be a dominant player in the post moving forward.  If he and Thomas Robinson can co-exist and learn to play off one another this team could have a nasty one-two punch downlow.

25. Detroit Pistons – This won’t be the year that the Pistons get back to the playoffs but they are set up nicely for next season.  Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight and Andre Drummond are three very young and very talented players that, in the next few years, could have Detroit competing for a championship.

26. Orlando Magic – Losing a superstar is rarely a good thing for a franchise but that’s exactly the case with the Magic and Dwight Howard.  Howard handcuffed this franchise for more than two seasons and finally both management and the fans can move on.  Howard is gone and so are any chances of this team making the playoffs anytime soon but the team will have cap space and high draft picks moving forward to help with the rebuild.

27. Phoenix Suns – The Suns weren’t going anywhere anytime soon and the fact that they traded Steve Nash to a contender where he could get both a chance at a title and a fair contract speaks volumes to their organization.  What doesn’t speak volumes is the moves that brought Michael Beasley, Luis Scola and Wesley Johnson to the desert.  So-so players and bad contracts never amount to many wins.

28. Toronto Raptors – The Raptors offseason can be viewed in a number of different ways but fail is the word that comes to my mind first.  They failed in their pursuit of Steve Nash, they failed in their pursuit to land a star player and they failed in their signing of Landry Fields and Kyle Lowry.  Neither of those guys will make this team any better and both will cost a lot of money over the next few years.

29. New Orleans Hornets – The Hornets roster, while very young, is actually very good.  They will go through growing pains as do most young teams but by season’s end this team will be turning heads across the league.  Austin Rivers is a better point guard than people give him credit for and if he and Eric Gordon can coexist then this team will have a bright future ahead of them.

30. Charlotte Bobcats – Let’s just be honest.  The Bobcats are still really bad.  Even with the additions of Ben Gordon and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, I doubt that this team wins any more than 20 games.  The good news is that they should be in the drivers’ seat for the number one overall pick again.  Let’s just hope that the basketball God’s are kinder this time around and the ping pong balls fall in their favor.

Its lonely at the bottom. Its even lonelier being a Bobcats fan.

This article is a submission from writer Clayton Crowe. Make sure to comment below and tell him how you felt about the rankings or how your rankings line up!

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9 Comments on “NBA Pre-Season Power Rankings”

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  3. Anonymous Says:

    With Dirk and Amare out along with the James Harden trade I bet these will look a little different the next go around.

    Reply

  4. Josh Sund Says:

    I did a triple take when I saw Portland at the 12. Rookie starting point guard, although he has all the makings of a starter for years to come, and rookie starting center make me believe that Portland is once again lottery bound. They also have a weak bench, so if Aldridge goes down again, they might be front runners in the Shabazz Muhammad sweepstakes

    It’s a good list overall, but I’d argue that Portland is 10-12 spots too high, while Memphis, Phoenix and Toronto are all too low.

    Reply

  5. Curtis Dasch Says:

    Sigh. Yeah! I thought I signed in. 😦 Fail.

    Reply

  6. claytoncrowe Says:

    It does seem a bit off to have teams like Portland that high all things considered but that is essentially based on the fact that there are so many teams with question marks below them. No Derrick Rose really hurts the Bulls, the Timberwolves could be really good but Rubio is coming off of a major injury and is their most important player outside of Love. The Hawks are going through a transition year, the Jazz are talented up front but have weak guard play and, as a Hawks fan, their addition of Marvin Williams won’t help at all.

    I think the 76ers are better than people thing and will show that early on.

    The Suns could actually be lower than 27. If Wes Johnson and Michael Beasley couldn’t make the T-Wolves any better then I doubt they will make a Suns team better either. Luis Scola isn’t a go-to player, Goran Dragic is average at best and Jared Dudley is well…Jared Dudley.

    Love the feedback though. I hope you keep reading all season long.

    Reply

  7. Anonymous Says:

    And my fault, that above comment is mine. 😦

    Reply

  8. Anonymous Says:

    Really not sure I agree with a few of these rankings.
    -Portland all the way up at 12? I’m not really even sure they can hang with a mediocre Utah team.
    -Phoenix all the way down in 27..? I know PHX lost Nash, but they do bring in young talent. But to say teams like the Kings and the Magic are better than Phoenix…? I just don’t know about it.
    -Philadelphia at 13? That’s a tad high considering the future of their season rests on a guy who has yet to play a minute of pre-season basketball and is still dealing with knee injuries. That’s like picking Portland to win the division because of Lilliard being a ROY contender.

    I just.. I don’t know. There are a few points I definitely agree with though. The only one I’ll point out (cause I can agree with others) is trading Boozer. Chi-town must do that.

    Reply

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