NBA Power Rankings: Lakers clearly forward of the pack; Nets look scary with Kevin Durant; Hawks are nonstop enjoyable


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1.6k shares, 418 points


  1. Lakers

In addition to an incredible offseason during which they added the highest two Sixth Man of the Year finishers and two wiley veterans, it now seems the Lakers have a possible budding rotation player in Talen Horton-Tucker, who has displayed abilities on each ends of the floor in preseason games that ought to translate to the actual factor. Kyle Kuzma additionally seems assured as ever, shooting 10 for 21 from the 3-point line in his first three preseason games. With newfound depth, the defending champs ought to have the ability to keep afloat whereas intermittently resting LeBron James and Anthony Davis in order that they’re able to go come playoff time.–0-02

2. Bucks

Giannis Antetokounmpo signed his extension and all is true in Milwaukee … for now at the very least. The Bucks now flip their consideration to the on-court product as they appear to include Jrue Holiday right into a team that is been a regular-season winning machine over the previous two seasons. In preseason news which will or might not imply something, offseason addition Bobby Portis has regarded good to this point, averaging 13 points and 7 rebounds in lower than 20 minutes per game.–0-03

3. Heat



The Giannis pipe goals are within the rear-view mirror for now, and the Heat can concentrate on getting again to the NBA Finals with just about the entire squad again once more. With the anticipated enchancment of Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo, who regarded very snug along with his midrange jumper within the preseason opener, Miami needs to be thought-about one of the favorites within the Eastern Conference. Losing Jae Crowder may damage, however Moe Harkless is a stable substitute and the Miami entrance workplace has loads of wiggle room to make a trade (huge fish or complementary piece) because the season progresses.–0-04

4. Clippers

The Clippers’ chemistry issues clearly acquired the very best of them final season, leading to a new coach, Tyronn Lue, and changing Montrezl Harrell with Serge Ibaka. Kawhi Leonard quietly put up career numbers final season and Paul George needs to be wholesome to start the season after battling shoulder issues, so the Clippers ought to as soon as once more be a regular-season powerhouse.10-05

5. Nets

The championship speak that got here early and infrequently from fans through the Nets’ first preseason game was a bit untimely, however it was hard to look at Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving placing on an offensive clinic with out getting excited for Brooklyn’s season. Things might take some time to get rolling as Steve Nash spends the yr figuring out the rotations and the entrance workplace will determine out what, if something, to do with Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert, however this team has the items to be very particular if it may possibly keep wholesome.30-06

6. Nuggets

Losing Jerami Grant hurts the Nuggets, however that clears the best way for extra enjoying time for Michael Porter Jr. It stays to be seen whether or not he can fit into the stating unit subsequent to Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray or if he is finest served as a brilliant sixth man, however he is prepared for a breakout season as Denver tries to construct on is momentum from the bubble. A wholesome Gary Harris and Will Barton to begin the 2020-21 season are a sight for sore eyes for Nuggets fans.10-07

7. Celtics

Boston begins off the season with some huge holes within the lineup, attempting to interchange Gordon Hayward and coping with the absence of Kemba Walker till at the very least January. The Celtics have loads of younger players who will probably get a shot at these minutes, however they’ll depend on Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown for many of their offensive creation. Preseason hype alert: Rookie point guard Payton Pritchard has drawn rave critiques in camp, and put up 16 points in his preseason debut.30-08

8. Raptors

On paper the Raptors needs to be worse this season, however they had been additionally alleged to be worse final season and ended up with a greater winning proportion than that they had with Kawhi Leonard. The ethical of the story is to by no means depend out Nick Nurse, Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam and Co., even with the departures of huge males Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka. If OG Anunoby continues to progress, Toronto may very well be proper again among the many Eastern Conference elite.20-09

9. 76ers

Daryl Morey wasted no time revamping the Sixers’ roster, slicing bait on the failed Al Horford experiment and including shooting with Danny Green and Seth Curry. James Harden trade rumors abound, however it could make sense to see how Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid fare with the new additions beneath Doc Rivers earlier than doing something too drastic. If issues work and everybody stays glad, not like final season, this team as soon as once more has the expertise to make the NBA Finals.–0-010

10. Jazz

The Jazz took a step forward on offense final season, however their defense suffered because of this. Bringing again Derrick Favors will enable Quin Snyder to often pair him with Rudy Gobert within the frontcourt, a lineup mixture that has been extremely stingy prior to now. Offensively they nonetheless have the identical firepower with Donovan Mitchell, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Mike Conley, who needs to be extra snug after a tough begin to his first season in Utah final yr.–0-011

11. Warriors

Steve Kerr needs to play quick, and he has the items to do it with Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Oubre flanking Steph Curry and Draymond Green. Without Klay Thompson, Curry goes to have to show in a monster season (and keep wholesome), whereas the veteran acquisitions of Brad Wanamaker and Kent Bazemore ought to assist stabilize the second unit as Kerr figures out his finest five-man lineups. It’s hard to gauge the Warriors since only a few of them have truly been on the court collectively, however with Curry and Green wholesome they need to be within the combine amongst Western Conference contenders.10-012

12. Trail Blazers

Finally wholesome with a revamped wing rotation that includes Robert Covington and Derrick Jones Jr., the Blazers seem to have surrounded Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic with the required items to get again into the highest half of the Western Conference after a down 2019-20 season. Carmelo Anthony needs to be immediate offense off the bench, whereas Gary Trent Jr. will look to construct off of his robust bubble efficiency to develop into a key contributor. If Portland ends up with a No. 3 or No. 4 seed, Lillard will probably be on the prime of the MVP dialog.10-013

13. Mavericks

The Mavs aren’t fairly as potent to begin the season with Kristaps Porzingis anticipated to overlook some time, however the league’s finest offense ought to have the ability to put up wins with out their prized huge man. Luka Doncic is the MVP favourite in lots of consultants’ eyes, and with him and Porzingis on the helm, Dallas goes to be a harmful playoff opponent irrespective of the place they land within the standings. The addition of Josh Richardson and rookie Josh Green offers them two extra stable wing defenders to go together with that stellar offense.20-014

14. Pacers

Metaphorically voted because the “team most likely to drop out of the East’s top five,” the Pacers hope {that a} full, wholesome season from Victor Oladipo and the continued improvement of Malcolm Brogdon, TJ Warren, Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner will assist them shock naysayers as soon as once more. New coach Nate Bjorkgren will diversify the offense, which completed nineteenth in effectivity final season, and so they have all of the instruments to stay elite defensively. Indiana’s ceiling could also be decrease than among the East’s prime teams, however they’re completely stable from prime to backside.–0-015

15. Suns

The Suns clearly need to make the playoffs, and bringing in Chris Paul and Jae Crowder ought to go a good distance in reaching that aim. Devin Booker is able to make the superstar leap, and Paul ought to deliver out the very best in him, like he did with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander final season in OKC. Phoenix is a stylish choose to make the playoffs within the West with Oklahoma City and doubtlessly Houston dropping out, however we have to see all of it work on the court first.–0-016

16. Rockets

It seems James Harden will begin the season in Houston, however after that it is anybody’s guess. John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins have set Twitter on hearth with their robust play within the preseason, so there is a world during which these two, together with Christian Wood, make the Rockets aggressive sufficient to alter Harden’s thoughts about eager to bail. But that appears unlikely at this point, and Harden’s departure would nearly actually imply lacking the playoffs for the primary time since Harden arrived previous to the 2012-13 season.10-017

17. Hawks

If you have not watched a Hawks preseason game, you are lacking out. They have the potential to be one of the very best offenses within the NBA this season, with Trae Young surrounded by shooting (Danilo Gallinari, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Kevin Huerter), lob threats (Clint Capela, John Collins, ultimately Onyeka Okongwu) and promising younger wing expertise (DeAndre Hunter, Cam Reddish). Time will inform whether or not the defense will probably be adequate to get them into the playoffs, however dropping 150 points in a game is not out of the realm of potentialities with this group.10-018

18. Grizzlies

Ja Morant seems as explosive and thrilling as ever, however the Grizzlies will probably be hindered by beginning the season with out Jaren Jackson, a key element on each ends of the floor. Unfortunately for Memphis, the margin for error within the West is razor-thin, to allow them to’t afford to get off to a sluggish begin. On the plus side, Jackson’s injury ought to open up minutes for Brandon Clarke, who turned in an outstanding rookie marketing campaign final season.20-019

19. Pelicans

As hard a team to undertaking as any within the NBA, an offense led by Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball with JJ Redick ready behind the 3-point line is a tantalizing prospect. That being stated, they had been a bottom-10 defense final season and misplaced their finest particular person defender in Jrue Holiday. The greatest wild card is Williamson’s well being. He’s confirmed that he can impression winning even in restricted minutes, so if he’s wholesome and in form for a whole season, New Orleans needs to be in playoff competition.10-020

20. Spurs

The Spurs’ insane 22-season playoff streak ended within the bubble, however it hasn’t sparked a rebuild. Quite the opposite, San Antonio may very well be within the combine for a playoff spot with LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan in contract years, surrounded by rising expertise in Derrick White, Dejounte Murray, Keldon Johnson and Lonnie Walker. If that is going to occur, nonetheless, they’re going to have to lock down their defense, which was slipped to among the many league’s worst over the previous two seasons.10-021

21. Magic

With Jonathan Isaac out for the season and a few Eastern Conference lottery teams making a bid for the playoffs, the Magic elected to not have a fireplace sale this offseason and can run it again with Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier … at the very least for the time being. Orlando is a stable defensive team, however that they had one of the worst offenses within the NBA final season, with no discernible enhancements through the offseason. The finest hope is that Markelle Fultz takes a giant leap and Gordon hits another degree with extra offensive duty. Otherwise we might see some roster modifications earlier than the trade deadline.20-022

22. Wizards

We do not know precisely what the Wizards’ document will probably be this season, however they’re going to actually be enjoyable to look at. Russell Westbrook is an offense by himself, and he appears to be in the suitable scenario surrounded by shooting in Washington. He and Bradley Beal comprise one of the very best backcourts within the NBA, and the query is whether or not they’ll have the ability to enhance the atrocious defense sufficient to get into the playoffs. If they wrestle mightily to start the yr, the Beal trade watch will probably be resurrected rapidly.30-023

23. Kings

The Kings have expertise, led by De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield and Marvin Bagley, however discontent and injuries have prevented them from making the jump to a reputable playoff contender. Losing Bogdan Bogdanovic in restricted free agency for nothing actually hurts, and a loaded Western Conference means the postseason could be a pipe dream for Sacramento, which could not be the worst factor on this planet. Trading their veterans earlier than the deadline and discovering enjoying time for their younger core, together with No. 12 total choose Tyrese Haliburton, could be their finest plan of action.10-024

24. Bulls

The Bulls are nothing if not thrilling, with a dynamic backcourt of Coby White and Zach LaVine. White is supposedly the point guard, however that is going to take some time to work itself out, if it ever does. Meanwhile players like Otto Porter, Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. will want shots as effectively, making Billy Donovan’s job fairly troublesome. The expertise is there, nonetheless, and it seems like Patrick Williams’ late jump on draft boards was completely justified.–0-025

25. Hornets

LaMelo Ball has introduced a jolt of pleasure to Charlotte with is aptitude and charisma, however an injury to Gordon Hayward is the final approach they wished to begin their season. Hayward should not be sidelined lengthy, if in any respect, however it’s a stark reminder that the $120 million man has had problem staying on the court over the previous few seasons. The Hornets’ offense needs to be vastly improved, however it’s hard to think about their defense being robust sufficient to really compete for a playoff spot.20-026

26. Timberwolves

It will probably be good to hopefully see a full season of Karl-Anthony Towns, who made 41 p.c of his 3-pointer in 35 games final season on super quantity. He’ll now have a co-star in good good friend D’Angelo Russell, a prolific scorer in his personal proper. Defense goes to be a significant situation and the supporting forged is not there but, however with these two stars and No. 1 total choose Anthony Edwards, at the very least the Wolves have a basis from which to construct.–0-027

27. Pistons

Easily the strangest team of the 2020 offseason, the Pistons have constructed an odd roster whose success is completely depending on the well being of Blake Griffin, who has regarded good within the preseason after enjoying simply 18 games final season. Rookie Killian Hayes goes to take some time to develop, and letting Christian Wood stroll to sign Jerami Grant for $60 million was a perplexing transfer, however the Pistons most likely weren’t going to be good both approach. Keep your eyes on Derrick Rose, who needs to be a trade goal for contending teams because the season progresses.–0-028

28. Knicks

The Knicks aren’t going to win quite a bit this season, however the franchise took steps in the suitable path this offseason with some shrewd strikes for future picks and what seems like a stable draft choose in Obi Toppin. Now Tom Thibodeau and the font workplace have to see what they’ve in RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson and the opposite younger prospects as veterans like Julius Randle and Elfrid Payton assist hold the scores respectable.–0-029

29. Cavaliers

The rebuild is on in Cleveland, and so they hope having Andre Drummond within the center and drafting Isaac Okoro will assist flip off the tap defensively. Really, nonetheless, the season is concerning the development of their younger guards. Collin Sexton is coming off a breakout second half of final season, and Darius Garland has regarded good within the preseason. Finding a trade accomplice for Kevin Love could also be an unattainable activity, however he is nonetheless productive and an excellent veteran to assist mould a bunch of younger basketball minds.–0-030

30, Thunder

Who’s prepared for a gentle dose of Aleksej Pokusevski? The Thunder kicked off their rebuild in earnest, eliminating Chris Paul and Steven Adams whereas watching Danilo Gallinari to sign elsewhere, and now they’re going to construct round Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Lu Dort and no matter comes from their kajillion draft picks over the subsequent a number of years. The close to future, nonetheless, most likely will not have a lot winning in it, because the aim will probably be to construct up the trade value of Al Horford, George Hill and Trevor Ariza sufficient to ultimately trade them away for — you guessed it — extra draft picks.–0-0


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