The NBA season begins on October 22nd, as the Pelicans travel to Toronto to take on the defending champions. We should be in for a crazy, wild NBA season. For the first time in a while there will be no clear cut favorite to make it to the NBA Finals. Many teams believe that this will be their year to raise the Larry O’Brien Trophy, but only one will. Here is a quick power ranking of all 30 NBA teams before the season kicks off.
30. Charlotte Hornets
The Hornets will be relying heavily on their youth this season, after losing the best player in franchise history this summer in Kemba Walker. Charlotte is hoping that Terry Rozier can fill those shoes that Kemba Walker left. Rozier has shown in the past that he can step up in the big moments when he was in Boston. The difference will be that now he will be the main focus on scouting reports, which I think Rozier will struggle with. The Hornets have some promising pieces to build off of but none of them really have that star quality yet. The players to watch out for the Hornets this season will be Dwayne Bacon and Miles Bridges. Charlotte will be in the running for the number one pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.
29. Cleveland Cavilers
The Cavs have said that they are trying to win now. That’s not happening. The roster has a strange mix of players that need playing time in order to develop and then they have a bunch of players that should be a playoff team rosters. I think they will try to win early but realize that they are not there yet. This will begin the yard sale in Cleveland of players like Tristan Thompson, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr. and Kevin Love should hope that they get dealt to a winning team this season. Cleveland needs to let players like Darius Garland, Colin Sexton and Kevin Porter Jr. playing time together in order for this organization to grow.
28. Memphis Grizzlies
The Grizzlies have a clear direction that they are going, after trading away the franchises two best players within the last year. They are building through the draft with their young players they now have. The young duo of Jaren Jackson Jr. and Ja Morant should be the new one-two punch in Memphis for years to come. The key to this season is to find the players on their current roster who can be apart of the future for the Grizzlies. With a nice mix of veteran players the Grizzlies will have some trade able assets come the deadline. Memphis is in a good position for the future.
27. Washington Wizards
Washington has a lot of new faces this season which usually results into not a lot of winning. While All-Star point guard John Wall is still sidelined with injuries, the Wizards should be happy that they just recently locked up their other All-Star guard Bradley Beal to an extension. The best part of the extension is that Beal cannot be traded this season. This means, for some reason, that Beal is buying into what the Wizards are trying to build. Thee Wizards have some nice young pieces that they can look at, while they wait for Wall to come back. The Wizards won’t be very good this year and will use it to see who they can keep for the future while having a chance to land that number one pick.
26. Phoenix Suns
The Suns say they are trying to win this year and make the playoffs, but there is no way they can do that in the west. They have some nice pieces to build around, but then they have some players you don’t understand why they have them. Phoenix made a couple questionable moves this off season. One was signing Ricky Rubio to a lengthy and large contract. Rubio, who last played for the Jazz, was not brought back because they needed another guard who can shoot it from outside alongside Donovan Mitchell who is used very similarly to Devin Booker. Then they let one of their better defensive big men walk away, Richaun Holmes, in favor for Frank Kaminsky who plays little to no defensive. Phoenix has some nice young talent but they won’t be able to do much with it.
25. New York Knicks
Plan B for the Knicks was to add a bunch of vets on short term deals, along with inking Julius Randle to a nice deal. The Knicks look like they are starting to build the right way. They have a bunch of young talent mixed with some solid vets, the Knicks look like they are beginning to make a team that has a decent roster and will be at least able to compete this year. The Knicks will play hard this year, but not sure if it will turn into wins just yet. New York is still looking for that star power that they desperately need. They are hoping that they already have that star with some of their recent draft picks. This will be an important season for the Knicks.
24. Atlanta Hawks
Year 2 for Lloyd Pierce should see much improvement for his young Hawks team. They have brought in some vet wings to try and help possibly make a playoff push this season. Their youth will be one thing that will hold them back this season, which will make it hard to make the playoffs, even in the east. Trae Young and John Collins will both be looking to try and make the All-Star team, in what is a pretty weak eastern conference in terms of star power. The Hawks will have a chance this year to try and make some noise, let’s see if they can do it.
23. Oklahoma City Thunder
After moving on from Russell Westbrook and Paul George this summer (almost forced), it puts the Thunder in a strange situation. They are not good enough to make the playoffs, but they are not bad enough to be one of the worst teams in the league. The Thunder will be trying to showcase some of their assets early on like, Chris Paul, Steven Adams, Andre Roberson and Danillo Gallinari. Adams has drawn the most attention so far as he is still a young player and can bring a nice big body. The hardest one will be Paul, who can really help a lot of teams in desperate need of a point guard. His contract will be the issue, as it is one of the highest in the NBA and not to mention Paul is 34 years old. Hopefully they can move on from their older players and focus on the youth that they have.
22. Minnesota Timberwolves
A lot of talk has come from Wiggins and Towns about not being respected around the league. We have heard these two talk before but not much has come of it, in terms of wins. Minnesota made the playoffs two seasons ago thanks in large part to Jimmy Butler. They have some pieces but they need some more depth and an upgrade at the point guard position. They have been one of the teams thrown around in the Chris Paul sweepstakes but it would take a lot to get him. They will be a competitive team but the west is to talented and will miss out on the playoffs. The Timberwolves would most likely be a playoff team if they were in the east, but unfortunately they are not.
21. Chicago Bulls
I like the Bulls a lot this year, everyone on their team is finally healthy. They have built a strong young core and have added key veterans to show them how to win by playing. Thaddeus Young might be one of the best moves that no one talked about this summer. He was a key piece to the success that the Indiana Pacers for years. Zach LaVine and Lauri Marrkanen should make the next step in their developments as player and hopefully it means that Chicago is back in the playoffs again.
20. Detroit Pistons
Pistons have the talent down low to compete with almost anyone in the NBA. The question has been can they get some shooting around them. Luke Kennard, I believe is poised to have a breakout year and will help spread the floor for Blake Griffin and Drummound. The addition on Derrick Rose will help with the Piston’s lack of players who are able to create their own shot. Pistons will be one of those team that will be competing for the final playoff spot again in the eastern conference. Maybe, if they make the playoffs the Pistons will be able to make some noise rather then the result of last seasons playoff experience.
19. Dallas Mavericks
NBA fans have been waiting to see Kristaps Porzingis back on the floor for some time now and they will finally get the opportunity to see it now in Dallas. Porzingis and Luka Doncic make for one of the most exciting duos to see this upcoming season, mainly because we do not know what to expect. While Doncic and Porzingis bring a lot of excitement to Dallas, unfortunately after that you find yourself wondering who the other consistent scorers will be on this team. They have some nice pieces but not that third guy that puts Dallas over the top in what is a crazy western conference. If Dallas is floating around the playoffs close to the deadline I would not be surprised if they decide to make a move to push them into the playoffs.
18. Miami Heat
Pat Riley run teams always play hard and always try to win, this year will be no different. The Heat bring in Jimmy Butler, who always wants to win and is the exact player Miami wants to lead them. Health will be key for Miami this season, especially at the point guard spot because after Goran Dragic they are pretty thin. Tyler Herro has looked very good so far in the pre-season and we will see if that continues throughout the season. Miami is one of many eastern conference teams who will be in the mix for the final playoff spot. The Heat can be a real contender in the east if they make the move that everyone has talked about and acquire Chris Paul. If they don’t get him then Jimmy Butler is going to carry a lot of the load for the Heat.
17. New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans would probably be a little higher on this list if it wasn’t for the recent news about the injury to Zion. But regardless the Pelicans still have a boat load of talent who is hungry and ready to prove that they belong. The group of former Lakers players will be locked and ready to go this season. I expect big seasons for all three former Lakers, that would be Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart. The still have Jrue Holiday who is a very underappreciated player in this league. The Pelicans should be able to stay in the mix while Zion is nursing his injury. It will be hard to make the playoffs, but I think everyone is hoping that the young Pelicans will be able to do so.
16. Sacramento Kings
I think people forget that the Kings were very close to making the playoffs last year, only falling a couple games short. They are still extremely young and have added some necessary depth this off-season and brought in players that know how to win. Although they overspent on Harrison Barnes, he still brings championship experience. As does Trevor Ariza, who went under the radar this summer as a sneaky signing for Sacramento. The Kings might not make the playoffs this season in the west, I would not be shocked if they surprised more people this season. Much like the Denver Nuggets of two seasons ago, I think the Kings will just miss the playoffs again.
15. Orlando Magic
Orlando is bringing back the same core of a team that was the most improved in the NBA last season, along with a couple new additions. They played most of last season without first round pick Mo Bamba and will get a healthy Markelle Fultz to look at to see if he can finally live up to being the number one overall pick. The Magic are looking to move up in the east standings this year and will have a great chance of doing so. What the Magic lack in star power they make up for on the defensive end of the floor and taking care of the basketball. Steve Clifford lead teams do not usually shoot themselves in the foot. Expect big years for Aaron Gordon and Jonathan Issac.
14. Brooklyn Nets
A big summer happened in New York, it just wasn’t the team that everyone thought it would be. The Nets, even without Kevin Durant, should still be a playoff team in the east. They bring back the same core of a team that made the playoffs last year they just added Kyrie Irving and got rid of D’Angelo Russell. Brooklyn will be a tough out this year and they are looking to try and be in contention for one of those top 4 spots in the east. The only thing that stands in their way will be themselves.
13. Toronto Raptors
Despite losing Kawhi Leonard this summer, the Raptors return almost all of their championship team from last year. Danny Green is another big loss to this team, but I think they will be able to bounce back. The Raptors have been a good regular season team and had an impressive record when Leonard did not play last year. They are hoping that Pascal Siakam can take the next step to becoming a superstar and I think he could do that. The Raptors will make the playoffs again but they won’t make it any further than the second round.
12. Indiana Pacers
Victor Oladipo is still recovering from last seasons injury, but many believe could be back sooner than anticipated. This will help Indiana tremendously make a push for one of the top spots in the east. They made significant changes to their core this summer, in signing Malcolm Brogdon and Jeremy Lamb. Also trading on draft night for TJ Warren is another move that not a lot of people are talking about. The new additions will be able to keep the Pacers at the top of the east while they wait for Oladipo to come back. They will rely heavily though on their low post duo of Sabonis and Myles Turner.
11. San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs are good ever year and this year is no exception. Probably have the most underrated youth in the NBA. San Antonio has a nice mix of youth with established players. DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge lead this team and are the two go to options for the Spurs. Those two alone should be enough to get the Spurs into the postseason. Not to mention we can see if Derrick White and Dejounte Murray can develop to becoming better all around players.
10. Golden State Warriors
The Warriors might have a different look to them this season but the key parts still remain. Although Klay Thompson won’t play this season, the Warriors still have Stephen Curry and Draymond Green. Not to mention the addition of D’Angelo Russell. They lost a lot of their main players from their championship seasons and probably won’t win it this season. But the Warriors are still going to be a team no wants to see in April. Their defensive of struggles are a little bit of a concern going into the regular season but I think that is something that they can easily fix. People will be reminded why Curry was a two-time MVP.
9. Boston Celtics
Boston is still loaded with a lot of talent. The addition of Kemba Walker should help them rediscover the magic they had in the postseason two years ago. Walker will be able to give up a lot more to some of the younger players like, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, something that Kyrie was never really able to do. Losing Al Horford will be the biggest blow this team will have to deal with this season, as he pretty much did everything the Celtics needed from him. In a weak eastern conference the Celtics should be a serious threat to push Philly and Milwaukee in the standings.
8. Portland Trail Blazers
Everyone always doubts the Trail Blazers going into the regular season and then once April comes around they are one of the top teams in the west. Lillard and McCollum bring the night in and night out scoring for this team, they will need to find that third guy while Nurkic is out if they want to have any say in the loaded west. Newly acquired Hassan Whiteside will need to find his edge again for Portland to be successful. It is a contraact year for Whiteside so you know he will be motivated which is great news for the Trail Blazers. Hopefully some of their younger players that they are really high on show improvement.
7. Houston Rockets
Westbrook and Harden part two is either going to really good or really bad. I think that it will be really good, these are two of the most explosive scorers in the NBA. They are teaming up again to try and win a championship, something that they were unable to do in Oklahoma City. This issue they will have is are they willing to share the ball with each other and does Houston have enough depth to last them throughout the playoffs. These are the question the Rockets will face throughout the season. Hopefully part 2 will be even more successful then part one of Westbrook and Harden.
6. Utah Jazz
Big expectations this season in Utah. The Jazz have surround Donovan Mitchell with a cast of players that fit very well next to him. Adding Mike Conley was the biggest help that he could ask for, now Mitchell has a point guard who can create his own shot and someone who is a reliable knock down shooter. Rudy Gobert is the best defensive player in the NBA and the new cast of shooters around Mitchell sets Utah up to be a serious championship contender. Their depth could become an issue down the line, which is why Utah should be aggressive at the trading deadline with the Jazz having a real chance of winning a championship.
5. Los Angles Clippers
A lot of excitement in LA right now as both teams have a real shot at winning the title this season. The Clippers would be higher on the list if there wasn’t some concern about Paul George’s shoulder. The Clippers will definitely be a playoff team, they play hard defense, depth and multiple players that can go and get their own shot. The beginning of the year they should look like a better version of last years Raptors team. The Clippers are loaded and should be able to get far in the postseason thanks to all the players they have on this roster.
4. Philadelphia 76ers
Philly will be going against the norm of today’s NBA, by having one of the biggest lineups in the league. I think this will be very beneficial because there big men can do it all. It also allows them to have multiple lineups with different big men. Shooting has always been the problem for Philly, most notably Ben Simmons. If Simmons just to start to attempt open jump shots it will go a long way for this 76ers team. Both him and Joel Embiid should be considered MVP candidates this season. Depth will be an issue but they have some real talent on this team. Al Horford will be huge for this team, especially if Embiid gets hurt at some point.
3. Denver Nuggets
Denver might end up with the best record when it is all said and done. This team is loaded at every position and the scary part is just how young this team still is. They will be a force in the west for years to come. Nikola Jokic looks like a serious MVP candidate which makes Denver one of the best in the NBA. They have great wings and scorers at the guard positions. A big year should be in store for Jamal Murray and new addition Jeremi Grant. The Nuggets can be scary good if Michael Porter Jr. becomes the star most people believe he could be, after coming off an injury his rookie season. What will stand in between Denver and a championship is their youth and inexperience in the big moment.
2. Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks should be the favorite to represent the eastern conference in the NBA finals this season. They have the reigning MVP in Giannis and a lot of return pieces of their team from last season. Losing Malcolm Brogdon was a huge blow to this team but it should not hinder them in the regular season. They bring back Khris Middleton which should make Giannis happy, with his free agency looming. But the Bucks will go only as far as Giannis will take them. He got exposed in the postseason last year for his lack of offensive moves besides driving. Giannis will have to have an improved performance on the offensive end of the floor this year if the Bucks want to win the Larry O’Brien.
1. Los Angles Lakers
LeBron will be on his revenge tour and that’s a scary thought for the rest of the NBA. The Lakers have built a team around him that LeBron has historically won with. Los Angles has all the pieces to win a championship, can they just make it all work. Anthony Davis will be able to do what he does best and that is just being a monster of an NBA player. LeBron will not have the pressure of all the scoring because of Davis and will allow LeBron to put his energy to other aspects that the Lakers will need help in (defense). The Lakers have to make sure that they stay healthy throughout the season as well. The player that will be the key to the Lakers winning the championship will be Kyle Kuzma. We know what Davis and LeBron will do night in and night out but they will need that third guy. Kuzma has be appointed the role of the third star, let’s see if he can fill that role. If he can’t you better believe that the Lakers will be looking to move him to get that third guy. I believe that Kuzma will be able to get the job done, which probably makes the Lakers the favorite to win it all.