Elliot Harrison breaks down where teams have moved in the power rankings after four weeks of NFL action.
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30. Philadelphia – What more can you say about the 76ers? To be honest I believe the season is still a big waste. You have two guys in Noel & Okafor who both play the same position (Noel is not a great fit at the PF) and I believe one will be traded after this season. You’ve got a point guard in Ish Smith who’s played great but you know won’t be the future PG for this team and you’ve got a whole bunch of expendable pieces. On top of that your other high potential player Embid plays Center as well.
29. Phoenix – This team was decimated by injuries, disgruntle players, and having the head coach in the hot seat for months. The Suns could have possibly made a playoff run without all of these issues but that’s part of the NBA. Maybe the Suns can pull off a top 3 pick and get an impact player to put along Eric Bledsoe. They do have some guys who have some potential in Alex Len & T.J. Warren but once again injuries are holding them back.
28. L.A. Lakers – The Kobe Bryant farewell tour is almost completed and the Lakers have pretty much forfeited this season. They do have some player with some potential in Randle, Clarkson, Russell, & Nance but with Byron Scott as their head coach it’s not guarantee that they will develop. Every team Scott’s coached he’s gave up on young players and focused on the veteran players.
27. Brooklyn – After the Joe Johnson buyout Brooklyn could possibly fall further back. I don’t find Brooklyn to have many weapons on the floor other than Brook Lopez & Thaddeus Young. It’s not much of a future for Brooklyn either. Unless they luck up and make some big moves in either free agency or the draft they’ll be in this position for a few more years.
26. Minnesota – Right now the T-Wolves are “ate up” in the paint. With only Dieng and Anthony Towns healthy to man the paint it’s going to be rough for the T-Wolves. To be honest they need to make decision on what they are going to do in the future. You have Wiggins, Rubio, Muhammad, Martin, LaVine, & Bjelica all with potential of starting but they need to decide who they are going to go with in the future. For the ones who aren’t starting I think they all have solid trade value and could make some moves in the offseason to help them out. For now they T-Wolves will continue to struggle but they at least have two of the best young players in the league in Wiggins & Towns to build from.
25. New York – At one point the Knicks had a chance to make a playoff push but now those dreams far gone. On paper the Knicks are a solid team but they’ll need for Porzingis to continue to develop into the player it looks like he’ll become. This season here is a wash but with an improved Porzingis and hopefully a solid pick up in free agency or in the draft could help the Knicks make it to the playoffs.
24. Denver – Denver has some upcoming players but need to make some decisions in the off season on what direction the team will go into. Not much to them other then that.
23. Milwaukee – The Bucks waited a little bit too long to turn up this season. Throughout the season the startling line up has changed constantly. You’ve got Carter-Williams starting then going off the bench, Parker coming back from an ACL injury, Monroe not fitting in with the team. It’s been issues after issues with this squad. They have a decent roster and talent that they could of made it to the playoffs but games aren’t played on paper and this team hasn’t shown the chemistry of a playoff team, at least early on in the season.
22. Orlando – The Magic already have made some crucial moves this season. They bought out Channing Frye and traded Harris. They’ve put Aaron Gordon into starting line which seems like is working out for them and their playing a rotation of Oladipo, Hezonja, and Fournier on the wing. They’ve added Jennings & Ilyasova which are solid veteran players who probably won’t be there for long. They still have plenty of work to do and probably could have made a push to the playoffs this year which is why they are at #22 on the Power Rankings.
21. Sacramento – You could argue that the Kings are underachieving or that they don’t simply have enough talent. I think it’s a combination of both. I think a team with Cousins, Gay, & Rondo should probably get you an 8th seed but it seems like whenever the Kings make one step forward they take two steps back. They could probably use more consistency from their role players but at the end of the day I’m not sure if the George Karl-DeMarcus Cousins combination works.
20. New Orleans – Injuries all day. Pelicans have been very inconsistent this season but that’s partly because of the rash of injuries suffered throughout the season. Everybody has been injured at one point or another including Evans, Gordon, Holiday, Davis, Anderson, Asik, etc.
19. Utah – Another team suffering from the injury bug is the Utah Jazz. While the Jazz are prevailing over their injuries a lot better than the Pelicans they’ve been hit with injuries even before the season started. A lot of key players in the lineup have gotten injured but they’ve still manage to pull out the factory and scratch for that last playoff spot in the West. With the full Jazz roster I do think they have potential but it’s going to be an uphill battle to get that last spot in the West.
18. Chicago – I think the Bulls are probably going to fall back even further than this. The Bulls should easily be a top 4 team in the East but instead are struggling for their playoff lives. With all the injuries and Rose not regaining his All-Star/MVP caliber play, the Bulls are going to be in for an uphill battle to stay relevant in the East. On top of that I don’t see Gasol re-upping with the Bulls for next season.
17. Houston – Houston is the definition of an up and down team. They picked up Ty Lawson in the offseason and have already let him go. Dwight’s complaining about touches, and James Harden is still not playing defense. While things are looking extremely bad for the Rockets they can still make the playoffs.
16. Washington – .Throughout the year they’ve had multiple injuries to many of their key players. With the additions they have made after the All Star break it looks like if they can keep it up they’ll make a push to playoffs because as of right now there on the outside looking in. Wall has shown he’s an all-star caliber player but it will be up to his supporting cast to make that final push to the playoffs.
15. Detroit – Detroit Basketball is almost back in the Motor City. Drummond has shown that he can be a monster on the boards; Jackson has shown that he has the capabilities to run a team from the PG position, and it’s shown that Stan Van Gundy can put his team in a winning position. A lot of people thought it was bad when he let Josh Smith go but it seems like that has worked out just fine.
14. Indiana – Pacers are a team that should make the playoffs but also they should be concern with the development of Myles Turner. Most of this particular team is consisted of veteran players who will most likely come and go, so it is important to develop your young players while you have a chance. The Pacers are prepared to make it to the playoffs but I don’t see much more out of them once the playoffs started.
13. Charlotte – With the additions of Courtney Lee and putting Batum back in his natural position it seems like the Hornets have solidified their wing positions. In addition to that they’ve gotten Al Jefferson coming back and as a team are known to play good team defense. The Hornets will be in the playoff picture but just like Indiana I’m not sure they are going to go far.
12. Dallas – Dallas is in the playoff picture but as of right now it’s going to be them going through the 3 headed monster of Golden State, San Antonio, and Oklahoma. The addition of David Lee will help but it won’t put them over the top. In the end the Mavs are a solid team but in the West they are simply going to need more fire power.
11. Portland – The Lillard & McCollum show is now airing in Portland. Pretty much the backcourt has been carrying this team on their backs this season. If there was a surprise team this season it would have to be the Trailblazers. After pretty much losing their whole starting line-up other than Lillard they have shown to be resilient and contend for a playoff spot once again even after such massive losses in the off season. While the playoffs are in their future going anywhere deep into the playoffs seems nonexistent, well at least for now.
10. Memphis – With Gasol going down Memphis should of easily went near the bottom of the rankings but instead they having been fighting strong. Even with Jeff Green trade people felt like that was the Grizz waving the white flag. Grizzles are a tough team and will make it to playoffs but once they make it to the playoffs it’s going to be rough.
9. Miami – To be honest, The Heat & Hawks are interchangeable in this power ranking with the Heat looking to possibly go down with the loss of Chris Bosh. While I do think the Heat have a real solid line up I’m not sure if everything will gel. For the most part they have decent depth and easily can put together a real good starting lineup but at the end of the day I’m not sure if the team can come together in order to go far in the playoffs. If they play Boston or Toronto I’m not sure if they can pull it off in a series even though on paper they might be equally talented.
8. Atlanta – Atlanta has shown that while they are good they aren’t as good as they were last year. People don’t realize that Carroll was a big loss for the Hawks, along with that you got trade rumors for pretty much all the starters in the Hawks line up. Millsap and Horford made it back to the All Star game but the backcourt hasn’t been the same this year. I don’t think this is a squad many teams in the East would want to see in the playoffs but the Hawks aren’t as powerful as they were last year.
7. Boston – Good coaching and solid players. While the Celtics don’t have a superstar they have a team full of solid players who are playing good defense and executing on offense. Boston might be the sleeper team in the East. They’ve shown a mentality that’s similar to the Detroit Pistons who upset the Shaq/Kobe/Malone/Payton Lakers winning by great overall team play rather then relying on stars.
6. LA Clippers – Winning without Blake shows to me that Doc might actually be a good coach. He’s shown that he can win without his star player and make adjustments to this lineup to make sure that they can get the W. With Blake back I’d like to see if the Clippers are going to go up or down.
5. Toronto – Good basketball defines the Raptors. They’ve shown to make progression in the last few years. Lowry & DeRozan have shown that they are dependable and can lead their team to a top seed in the East. Even with the injuries that have occurred, the Raptors have shown that they can still rack up the Ws even under those circumstances.
4. Oklahoma – Any other year this could possibly be a top 2 team but this isn’t the typical NBA season. Westbrook has been putting up monster numbers and Durant has simply been Durant. They have a solid squad around two superstars but their execution late in games has held them back from being the elite of the West. Great team but this will be war to make it out the West.
3. Cleveland – Lebron isn’t getting any younger. There aren’t many more chances for him to go home with the Chip. To be honest the Cavs are a great team but it seems like team chemistry might be the biggest issue. With the season winding down it seems like the Cavs are going down rather than up. Even with those issues the Cavs should make it to the finals but the real question is can they defeat the Spurs & Warriors.
2. San Antonio – Perennial winners. Great defense and good offense is a constant from the Spurs. Leonard & Aldridge are holding it down for the youth of the Spurs and when the playoffs come expect for Duncan & Parker to step it up as well.
1. Golden State – There isn’t much that needs to be said about the Warriors. There winning in a variety ways. The Warriors might have one of the best regular seasons of all time.
These power rankings have dramatically changed since the initial power rankings. A lot of teams who seem to have potential haven’t pulled through while a few teams expected to be in the gutter are playing a lot better than expected.
30. Utah Jazz –The beginning of the season has been pretty terrible for the Jazz. They haven’t shown much and are actually playing a lot worse than expected. While I don’t think anybody thought the Jazz were playoff bound I think that young starting 5 they had would perform a lot better than they have so far this season. Well, at least Trey Burke is back which could be a help. To be honest though, I’d hate to see any of the top college stars end up in Utah so hopefully Utah can pick up some Ws soon.
29. Milwaukee Bucks – I was offered free tickets to see the Bucks play. I declined. There isn’t much to be excited about when it comes to the Bucks. For one the Bucks hold the longest losing streak in the league right now. On top of that they have been chasing mediocrity supremacy for the last decade. Bucks getting blown out by the Bobcats at home shows why they are ranked at 29.
28. Sacramento Kings – First of all I don’t see what the big deal is with Cousins not wanting Thomas to shake hands with Clippers. Cousins is tired of having his team be beaten on and is trying to show some of that tough K.G. type love. Second, I simply think the Kings weren’t necessarily built to win this season. They don’t have enough pieces on their roster to make it happen. So far this season they’ve failed to truly impress. If things don’t turn around soon maybe trading Cousins is not that bad of an idea.
27. New York Knicks – The struggle. That’s something the Knicks know all about. It seems like once Tyson Chandler went down the Knicks went down with him. You have JR who’s chucking his life way, Shumpert who’s been struggling, older vets who can’t stay health or play extended minutes, the only thing they have going for them right now is Melo who’s not necessarily a facilitator to help his teammates around him. Maybe they can tank the season and go after Wiggins, Parker, or Randle.
26. Brooklyn Nets – Well, the Nets haven’t been scoring at a high level. They haven’t been defending at a high level. By the looks of things it appears that the Nets are simply just too old. Nets are penciled in for one of the top 5 seed instead they are at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to our power rankings.
25. Cleveland Cavaliers – The offense is simply terrible. While the Cavs are playing good Mike Brown defense they are also playing terrible Mike Brown offense. With Kyrie’s shooting being so inconsistent and so many people pointing the finger at Dion Waiters it shows that the Cavs still have a long way to go. Oh, and I almost forgot Anthony Bennett has been stinking it up. It’s to the point where I could honestly say he might be the biggest flop since Kwame Brown.
24. Washington Wizards – Wizards is another team who’s been a big disappointment so far this season. The Wizards even upgraded at the center position and got Gortat for a guy who wasn’t going to be playing in the first half of the season. To be honest John Wall has to take his game to the next level if the Wizards hope to make a playoff run.
23. Boston Celtics – Well, I think it’s a good chance that Boston will slide down even further. I think they are playing pretty hard with the talent they have but I think as the season progress things are going to be even more difficult than it already has been. With Jordan Crawford taking over point guard duties you would have thought they were purposely trying to tank but instead has backfired and now Crawford is playing pretty solid in the starting lineup.
22. Philadelphia 76ers – Michael Carter Williams at this point might already have ROY sewed up. There aren’t that many rookies producing and for the few that have been producing they haven’t been playing up to the level of MCW. While the 6ers aren’t necessarily a great team on paper they have been playing extremely hard and a lot of guys on this team are overachieving in ways I don’t think anybody could have predicted.
21. Orlando Magic – Well, the Magic recently got Big Baby & Tobias Harris back. While the Magic had a rough week last week I believe that things will get a lot better for the Magic. I believe Oladipo will improve and with other young talent getting better it’s possible that the Magic will stay or even come up in the rankings bar any kind of injuries.
20. Detroit Pistons – Floor spacing is very important is today’s NBA and the Pistons are showing you why. You have Drummond, Monroe, & Smith all on the floor at once. It’s easily one of those situations where all 3 guy scan play the big and none of them are truly stretching the floor. You’ve seen with the Rockets line up that in today’s NBA you really need to spread the floor to be effective. I could possibly see a trade for Monroe and slide Smith to the 4 real soon if they can’t find a solution to their spacing issues.
19. Toronto Raptors – Even though the Raptors can possibly make the playoffs I don’t see them going far based off how the season has started for them. They’ve pretty much let Gay & Derozan chuck them out of games hoping that someone sees their numbers and maybe trick someone into making a trade for one of them.
18. Charlotte Bobcats – Well, right now the Cats are playing decent basketball. The Bobcats have a solid starting lineup and with the East being so weak right now I could easily see the Bobcats sliding into the playoffs. Kemba has really improved this season, Al Jefferson is producing, and overall decent nucleus. The only thing that I’d hate to see is the Bobcats missing out on a good lottery draft.
17. Denver Nuggets – Well, the Nuggets have improved compared to what they were doing at the beginning of the season. While I do think the Shumpert trade could have possibly helped the Nuggets on the wings now that they have Wilson Chandler back and hopefully Gallanari back sometime soon I think the Nuggets will see a major improvement. Denver has a pretty good overall roster but they still need to gel in order to make a playoff push.
16. Los Angeles Lakers – Well, the good is that Kobe will be returning soon. The bad news is that their simply not that good. I think right now they are clearly overachieving. Jordan Hill has been balling so far this season. Even Steve Blake has been playing pretty good in Dantoni’s offense. Now, if they can keep up their play with Kobe it’s no telling where the Lakers might land. On paper they suck but games aren’t played on paper.
15. New Orleans Pelicans –Truly an up and down season for the Pelicans so far. Anthony Davis has been playing like he wants the title of best PF in the game already. He’s been a terror on both offense and defense. While on the other end the 3 headed backcourt monsters aren’t playing like expected. Holiday & Evans have been struggling a bit and if they could pick up the pace the Pelicans can possibly slip into one of the last playoff spots. Also, with Ryan Anderson returning maybe that’s the additional piece they need to really make a push.
14. Atlanta Hawks – Did anybody know that Lou Williams was back in the rotation? Better yet did anybody know he was out the rotation? When it comes to the Hawks I swear nobody gives them any attention. That’s positive or negative. The Hawks have been playing pretty solid so far this year and have shown that losing Josh Smith was maybe a good thing.
13. Memphis Grizzlies – Well, Gasol went down with an injury. With that happening I could see the Grizzlies turning into Polar Bears. Randolph is not much of a defensive Stallworth and it’s no guarantee that Davis & Kofus will step in Gasol’s place. This is a team who’s already pretty dependent on their bigs and with Gasol going down it’s not looking too good. Before that the Grizzlies were starting to pick up and play good basketball.
12. Phoenix Suns – Eric Bledsoe has shown that he has what it takes to be an every day starter in the NBA. I’ll admit I wasn’t that impressed by the numbers Bledsoe put up in limited time on the court. Being a sparkplug off the bench and being an everyday starter in the league is two different things. If the Suns can keep up this play up Hornacek will be coach of the year because nobody expected this.
11. Chicago Bulls – With Rose out for the season it’s a good possibility that the Bulls will slide back even further. Last year they had the insurance policy of Nate Robinson. This year that policy is gone. With a lot of their key players already suffering through injuries this would have been a good year to tank the season. Hopefully D Rose can come sooner than expected for the Bulls sake. Before the injury they were playing pretty decent now with Rose gone no telling what the Bulls can do.
10. Dallas Mavericks – Who would have thought the combination of Dirk & Monta would be one of the best 1-2 combos so far this season. Monta has been extremely efficient so far this season. He’s taken some of the scoring load off Dirk. Also, the Mavs seem to have pretty good veteran talent throughout the roster which will come in handy once playoff time hit.
9. Houston Rockets – Well, I guess the Twin Tower experiment is over with which I think was a bad idea anyway. In order for the Rockets to ascend up the rankings they will need to figure what they are going to do with Asik, will Dwight show some offensive skill, and will Lin keep up his solid shooting. On top of that Harden’s defense is starting to be criticized now that he has a telescope on him judging every aspect of his game.
8. Oklahoma City Thunder – If they Thunder can continue to let their young talent develop and with Westbrook returning early the Thunder could easily go up the rankings. Durant is still the second best player in the league, Westbrook is a top 5 PG, and Ibaka has been a pretty solid PF for the Thunder. If they can get Lamb, Adams, Jackson, & Jones involved a lot more and grow into real help they have the potential to come out the West once again,
7. Minnesota Timberwolves – It’s about time the T-Wolves take off. Kevin Love is trying to prove he’s the best PF in the league. Brewer has been playing passed his expectations, and Kevin Martin has been killing it from downtown. I don’t know if the T-Wolves can sustain this great play but if they keep this up they’ll have a pretty decent run to the playoffs.
6. Los Angeles Clippers – Paul has had a record setting start to the NBA season. He’s shown he is the supreme point guard of the league. Blake has had a pretty good start to the season as well. The only thing that is really hurting the Clippers are their defense. They’ve played pretty bad on the defensive end which you think would work well with Doc Rivers coaching them but they have shown that it will take a lot longer than expected for their D to gel.
5. Golden State Warriors – Warriors are already dealing with injuries early in the season. A healthy Golden State team will put them in contentions for a NBA finals appearance. With great shooting, improved defense, and improved players the Warriors should really make a push this year.
4. Portland Trailblazers – Probably the most surprising team so far this year has been the Blazers. The Blazers have a legit 1-2 combo in Lillard & Aldridge as well as a solid supporting cast in Batum, Lopez, Matthews, Williams, Wright, etc. Last year the Blazers had no bench. This year they stocked up on bench players so that they could make a push to the playoffs.
3. Miami Heat – Miami has picked back up from where they left off last season after a slow start to this season. Lebron is once again playing to MVP levels and their bench is playing pretty good. Michael Beasley in limited time has put up great numbers while the rest of the bench has been playing pretty solid as well.
2. San Antonio Spurs – Spurs are showing they don’t have a NBA Finals hang over. Even though Tim Duncan’s numbers are down this year the rest of the team is playing great and Leonard has taken over as a vital part to the Spurs.
1. Indiana Pacers – Pacers are going for the jugular this year. George is playing at a superstar level. Hibbert is defending at a DPOY type caliber and the rest of the team has been playing their role great. On top of that Granger has been out and when he returns he might be a great addition to an already great team.
I got the second half of the power rankings ready with the Hawks coming in at #15.
15. Atlanta Hawks (6th Seed) – The 15th spot is perfect for the Hawks. It seems like every year they get into the playoffs with no problem yet they are never a true threat to any of the top teams in the conference. I think they made some solid pick ups in the offseason with getting guys like Milsap & Brand and they’ll be getting Lou Williams back who’s coming off an ACL injury. I think the Hawks could be a very solid team but I don’t see them as one of the top forces in the Eastern Conference.
14. Minnesota Timberwolves – In reality the last seeds in the West are very interchangeable I got the T-Wolves in the 14th spot because they’ve added depth to their front court and added more scoring with Kevin Martin and hopefully Shabazz Muhammad. If Kevin Love stays healthy and Rubio steps up his shooting they have a chance to make it to the playoffs.
13. Denver Nuggets (8th Seed) – I’ve considered putting the Nuggets down further in the power rankings but on paper they still have great talent throughout their roster. While George Karl got them to a third seed in the West he didn’t really allow for a lot of their young players to grow into impact players. As much as their pick ups weren’t necessarily the smartest (Darrell Arthur, Nate Robinson, & J.J. Hickson) they are still good talents. One thing the Nuggets are going to have to do is let guys like Jordan Hamilton get some playing time to see if they are worth keeping around or at least make them trade bait.
12. New Orleans Pelicans (7th Seed) – When it comes to “young star power” the Pelicans have it. The only thing they don’t have any depth behind that. Anthony Davis, Tyreke Evans, Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon, & Ryan Anderson are all great young talents. If things mesh like projected they’ll have a lot of firepower to win games. Teams like the Spurs have gotten far for a long time building around the combination of Parker, Duncan, & Ginobili as their key players and signing the right kind of role players around them. If they can do the same thing with the guys they got now they have a chance to make it to the playoffs and get a decent seeding.
11. Houston Rockets (6th Seed) – Well, they got Dwight now. Now, I’m not saying Omer Asik is the player Dwight is but they pretty much do the same thing. They both defend well, rebound, and bring a little something to the offense. With the Rockets needing possibly a stretch power forward to play along Dwight it would be great if they could trade Asik (maybe for a Ryan Anderson) because that’s not going to work out on Asik’s behalf if he has to come off the bench again. The Rockets have upgrade some of their talent and with James Harden steadily improving I think they could have a real strong season.
10. Memphis Grizzlies (5th Seed) – To be honest I could see Memphis falling out the playoff picture all together. I know a lot of people don’t agree but I think it’s a great possibility. They really didn’t upgrade any positions other than Kosta Koufos at Center. Mike Miller is constantly hurt to where I thought he was on the verge of retiring. Also, they are going to have to hope that they pretty much have an injury free season because there isn’t that much depth on the team. They aren’t that many explosion scorers at either the SF or SG positions. They are going to have to defend well and depend on their bigs to get them through the season.
09. Brooklyn Nets (5th Seed) – Old. That’s something we are hearing a whole lot of lately. The Nets appear to be a pretty old team by adding Garnett & Pierce, but most of their old players play what I call “Old Man Game” anyway. From what I’ve seen last year Joe Johnson seems to still be pretty effective. Deron Williams when healthy seems to be still on top of his game, Brook Lopez is just reaching his prime. You got guys like Jason Terry, Andray Blatche, Reggie Evans, and Andrei Kirilenko all coming off the bench and even some sleeper players like Mirza Teletovic, Alan Anderson, Mason Plumlee, and Shaun Livingston that might prosper playing limited minutes. The Nets have potential to take on some of the top teams in the East.
08. Golden State Warriors (4th Seed) – I don’t think people realize the effect of losing Jarrett Jack will have on the Warriors. Curry has been dealing with ankle injuries off and on pretty much since being in the league. Looking at the roster now you have Tony Douglas as your undisputed back up PG. I don’t know if he’ll be able to perform at the level that Jack did this past season. Outside of that the Warriors have made some improvements. They’ve added Iggy on the wings, picked up Jermaine O’Neal & Marreese Speights to their front line which they didn’t really have much depth last year, especially with Bogut being out for a good portion of the season. Overall they’ve added a little bit more depth and they also have a better idea as to what a guy like Bazemore and Green can do on the court.
07. New York Knicks (4th Seed) – I think the Knicks have a lot weapons. The thing is will they figure how to use them. If the Knicks could pull everything together they could actually have a hell of a team. If Amare can shake back somewhat to what he use to be with additions like Bargnani, Metta World Peace, Beno Udrih, and Tim Hardaway Jr that seems pretty promising. You also have a guy like Iman Shumpert who’s steadily improving and regaining form after coming back from an ACL injury. All of this makes the Knicks look like a formidable team. From top to bottom they have a lot of pieces on this team, but with Melo running the show and JR as the side show will they be able to gel as a winning team.
06. San Antonio Spurs (3rd Seed) – I really feel that was the Spurs last shot at a championship if it’s based off Ginobili being a major part in them returning. While they did go to the Finals last year with a similar looking roster, depth issues could cause them to not go back this upcoming season. Even though there is not a whole lot of firepower to this team the other top teams in the West didn’t really make any improvements either to where realistically they could make another deep playoff run.
05. Los Angeles Clippers (2nd Seed) – It seems like everybody is hyped with the additions that the Clippers have made this past off-season. I personally think their best addition was getting Doc Rivers to coach them and replacing Bledsoe with another solid point guard in Darren Collison . I don’t think picking up J.J. Redick, Jared Dudley, and Antawn Jamison are going to be the game changers like so many people predict because what they bring in shooting (Redick & Jamison) they give up on defense and with Dudley coming from an open offense in Phoenix I don’t know if that’s going to translate over to LA.
04. Chicago Bulls (3rd Seed) – I have the Bulls up here this high for two reasons. Derrick Rose return and their defense. The Bulls play a great team game. Even last year without D Rose they played real good. With them adding Derrick Rose back he adds an X factor element they didn’t have last season. When you have one of the elite players in the league returning to your rotation there has to be an improvement. In the process of D Rose being gone we got to see the emergence of Jimmy Butler who’s proved he can play both sides of the court and add even more lock down defense to the team. There weren’t that many improvements to the roster but when you bring back a former MVP you have to believe that the Bulls are going to be a force.
03. Oklahoma CIty Thunder (1st Seed) – To be honest with the East improving so much the West is starting to look that much weaker. When it comes to creating depth and improvements the Thunder have been pretty stagnant the last few years. They’ve had plenty of high draft picks in the last 4-5 years and they only have 4 players in rotation right now and that’s Jackson, Westbrook, Durant, & Ibaka. Even with that being said Jackson only got solid play time when Westbrook went down with an injury. Scott Brooks is going to have to let Lamb, Jones, and some of these other guys get some playing time to see if they can develop and help the team in the long run. By Brooks shortening his rotation he’s going to wear his stars out by the time playoffs come around. Even with that being said Westbrook & Durant is one of the elite combinations in the league who can work their way to a top seed and possibly even make it back to the Finals.
02. Indiana Pacers (2nd Seed) – This team is steadily getting better. The Pacers are going to be getting Granger back, added Luis Scola, Chris Copeland (underrated shooter/scorer), and CJ Watson to the team. On top of that Hibbert, Stephenson, & George are still improving. This team is battle tested, they have depth, and they have an emerging star. The only thing I see from the Pacers that they could possibly use an upgrade is at the point guard position, but other than that they are a true power house.
01. Miami Heat (1st Seed) – To try and 3 peat won’t be easy. While the Heat did pick up Beasley & Oden there is no guarantee at all if these guys will be effective this upcoming season. While both have the potential to easily put the Heat back on top for another championship they also have the potential to not do a damn thing for the Heat. Even with all that being said they still have the best player in the league on their team which still gives them a great chance to win the championship. While I do think Wade is at the end of his road the Heat understand how to manage his time on the court so he can be ready for the playoffs. If they could get either Cole or Chalmers to step their game up this season it would be a great help and make that path to the Finals so much easier.
With the NBA season taking off in about a month we decided to go ahead and do ThaAntidote NBA Power Rankings.
30. Philadelphia 76ers – Talk about a depleted roster. First they lose Andrew Bynum who sat out the whole season big chillin on the bench. After that they traded their All Star point guard in Jrue Holiday. They also lost Nick Young & Dorell Wright on the wings. On top of that they have a rookie center who’s coming off an ACL injury with little offensive skills and a rookie point guard who was already considered to be shaky as hell in the draft. To me it comes off like the 76ers would like to tank the season and win the Wiggins sweepstakes. That’s why we have them coming in at #30.
29. Phoenix Suns – I don’t really see much hope in the Suns future. They have plenty of duplications on the roster. They picked up Eric Bledsoe and hope he works out at the 2 spot. They picked up Len with their first round draft pick when they already have Gortat. They got rid of Scola & Beasley. I don’t see many upgrades for the Suns. I gotta believe it’s going to be a long season in the desert.
28. Orlando Magic – Unlike many people I don’t think the Magic have improved enough to get out the gutter of the NBA rankings. While they do have plenty of good young talent with Harris, Oladipo, & Vucevic I don’t think that’s enough for them to have a solid season this season. Until they completely phase out Nelson & Turk I don’t think they’ll be able to make that move to the next level.
27. Sacramento Kings – The Kings started off last season pretty bad with a wasted pick in Thomas Robinson. They let Tyreke Evans walk, and they still have plenty of holes throughout their roster. On top of that they are depending on Cousins to be their franchise player when it appears he doesn’t really want anything to do with the franchise. They did pick up Ben McLemore in the draft, Grevis Vasquez through trade, and Carl Landry through free agency. While those could be great pick ups (or epic failures) it’s still not enough to even sniff the playoffs.
26. Milwaukee Bucks – To be honest there isn’t much I like about this roster. It seems like every year the Bucks GM strives for mediocrity. The Bucks lucked up on Larry Sanders being such a great defensive player. While adding OJ Mayo, Caron Butler, Brandon Knight, Gary Neal, & Zaza Pachulla might seem like great additions I don’t think putting them all on the same team is a great idea. Good pieces individually, but not on the same team. This is the reason why I think the Bucks will struggle throughout the season. Based off the talent I just named what kind of identity can they have?
25. Utah Jazz – Jazz are another team with a lot of good young pieces, but they don’t have the experience to win. You have Trey Burke, Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks, Derrick Favors, & Enes Kanter as your possible starting line up. Sounds great two years from now with them having the potential to win a lot of games down the road, but right now I see a lot of growing pains for the Jazz this upcoming season.
24. Boston Celtics – Well after a great run with the Big 3 it looks like the Celtics will return to being bottom feeders. With Rondo recovering for his ACL injury and a crew of new players the Celtics will struggle. The only thing I see in their advantage is that they do have a lot of pieces in place where someone could step up and be big. Maybe they could rally around their new head coach and pull out some wins to where their not possibly the worst team in the league.
23. Charlotte Bobcats – With the addition of Al Jefferson & Cody Zeller in the front court I think the Bobcats will improve this season. Kemba Walker is starting to emerge as a legit point guard and they still have Kidd-Gilchrist who still has some potential. The only thing is that I don’t have much faith in any team being ran by Michael Jordan.
22. Toronto Raptors – The Raptors have the potential to be better than 22 but at the same time they have the potential to be even worse. With a new GM in Toronto if the Raptors start slow I could easily see the GM blowing up this roster and getting rid of many of their top assets for draft picks, cap space, and other young players.
21. Detroit Pistons – The Pistons added Brandon Jennings & Josh Smith to their roster. At first glance it appears to be an improvement. The only problem is that they already have Monroe & Drummond in the front court. If the Pistons plan on putting Smith at the small forward position the Pistons could deal heavily with some spacing issues on the court. Josh has shown in the past he’s not as effective on the wing at all. On top of that you now have Jennings as your starting PG and he’s is known as a shoot first point guard who might not get the ball down low to your potential twin tower powerhouse.
20. Los Angeles Lakers – It’s all on Kobe this season. Losing Metta World Peace & Dwight Howard to the line up won’t make it easier for Kobe this year. On top of that they’ve picked up Jordan Farmar, Wesley Johnson, & Nick Young. Those aren’t necessarily key components to help them make a run to the playoffs. If Kobe comes back he could possibly will his team to a 8th seed run, but based on the roster overall they might of been better tanking the season and getting ready for the future.
19. Dallas Mavericks – Just like last season I see the Mavs fighting for a playoff berth. Adding Ellis & Calderon to the line up is really a question mark at this point. I don’t know if you could really say it’s an upgrade or downgrade from Collison & Mayo. With Dirk getting up there in age there is no telling if the Mavs can still compete in the West. They are well coached and they have plenty of veteran help to possibly make a playoff run but it won’t be easy. If the Mavs start off slow I could easily see Carter, Marion, and a few others out of there by the trade deadline.
18. Cleveland Cavaliers – I just don’t think this will work. Picking up Andrew Bynum on paper seems like a great move but he’s always hurt. With Bennett, Waiters, and Thompson all being young players it’s no telling if everything will click for the Cavs. Based off of potential they seem to be a playoff caliber team but you can’t win games simply off potential. If Kyrie & The Cavs stay healthy they have the potential of getting one of those last playoff spots in the East.
17. Washington Wizards – In the second half of last season John Wall really came to play. He put up some top notch numbers. With Beal having a season under their belt, adding Otto Porter to the line up, and those gang of bigs in the paint I think the Wizards have a decent chance of making the playoffs.
16. Portland Trail Blazers – Last season the Trailblazers had the worst bench in the league. This year they have improved that. They picked up Dorell Wright, Thomas Robinson, Robin Lopez, Mo Williams, and they got CJ McCollum in the draft. Last year they couldn’t get any type of solid production off the bench. This year it seems like the Blazers are loading up to hopefully make a playoff push.