NBA Power Rankings

1] Milwakuee Bucks

        It’s hard to not put the defending champions at the top slot going into a new season, prior to any sort of transactions or the draft occurs. Namely when said team is projected to return the key pieces that propelled them to making it to the promised land and coming out victorious. To boot, the Bucks will get a, hopefully, healthy Donte DiVincenzo along with further internal improvement and avenues to add to their title winning squad.

2] Brooklyn Nets

       Like most teams, the Brooklyn Nets experienced the injury bug first hand, as Kyrie Irving and James Harden missed time throughout the postseason run, while Spencer Dinwiddie never recovered from a season ending injury during the regular season. Nets will return the services of the one of the greatest trio’s to join up together, and hope that they can get in the good graces of the basketball Gods en route to a title run in 2021-22.

3] Denver Nuggets

       Despite having the reigning Most Valuable Player, the Denver Nuggets bowed out in the Western Conference Semifinals against the surprising Phoenix Suns, and found out that JaMychal Green and Will Barton decided to decline their respective player options. Good news for Denver is that Jamal Murray, should be good to go for the start of the season, while Michael Porter Jr. should continue to add to his game.

4] Utah Jazz

       Despite consecutive seasons ending in disappointment during the playoffs, the Utah Jazz are still among the league’s best two-way teams and have an entire summer to put finishing touches on their roster, as they build around Donovan Mitchell, a dynamic scoring guard, and Rudy Gobert, one of the league’s premier defensive players.

5] Los Angeles Clippers

       Speculation surrounds Kawhi Leonard’s status, as he has the ability to opt out and leave the franchise. However, I believe the odds of Leonard opting out to remain for the minimum, and give the franchise the opportunity to improve via S&T or the full Mid-Level exception without triggering the hard-cap is higher, and both are at 0%. Los Angeles had a thrilling run to the conference finals, fueled by grit, and with the young guys improving further, they could be set for another solid campaign, despite Leonard’s injury projected to keep him out the majority, if not the whole, season.

6] Los Angeles Lakers

       After a short summer, thanks to the bubble championship run, the Lakers get some extended rest. Said rest will pay dividends as LeBron James is entering the final few yards of his lengthy career, while Anthony Davis has never been an iron-man. Lots of questions remain on how Rob Pelinka will round out the roster with a lack of assets, similar to his neighbor, Lawrence Frank.

7] Phoenix Suns

      While the Nuggets, Nets and Clippers faced the injury bug, the Suns ended up benefiting as they made the NBA Finals, and even lead 2-nil before their ultimate defeat. Questions arise as the Suns need to figure out what is going on with both their point guards, as both Chris Paul and Cameron Payne could leave as free agents. Improvements from Devin Booker, DeAndre Ayton, Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson will continue their upward trajectory.

8] Atlanta Hawks

       Trae Young had a dazzling post season performance, leading the Hawks to the Eastern Conference Finals before faltering to the eventual champion Bucks. A full summer under Nate McMillan at the helm, and Cam Reddish being healthy, the Hawks could be right back into the thick of things once again, especially if they are able to retain the services of John Collins.

9] Philadelphia 76ers

       An absolute let down in the city of brotherly love, the 76ers were unable to fend off the soaring Hawks. With questions surrounding the fit of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, and some second guessing of Doc Rivers being the head coach, it’s still hard to not foresee the 76ers as one of the best in the East based on sheer talent.

10] Golden State Warriors

       With Klay Thompson, hopefully, returning to form, the Golden State Warriors may not be the dominant team they once were, yet, will be battling among the leagues elite as they look to get back into the finals. Having the 7th and 14th overall pick, along with James Wiseman entering his sophomore season could be very scary for the remainder of the association.

11] Boston Celtics

      Boston shook things up, moving Brad Stevens from Head Coach to General Manager, and bringing in rookie NBA Head Coach, Ime Udoka to take over the reigns. They also brought back a familiar face in Al Horford, hoping the big man helps them get back into the top echelon of the league.

12] Dallas Mavericks

       Featuring one of the premier young players in Luke Doncic, Dallas is sure to be a thorn in the side of any team as they head into the playoffs. Letting go of Rick Carlisle for Jason Kidd was a risky move, but one that could pay dividends if Kidd is able to get his players to buy into the game plan, much like he did when he ran the point for the, then, New Jersey Nets and Dallas Mavericks, during his playing career.

13] Miami Heat

        Pat Riley will be anxious to prove that the bubble run for Miami wasn’t a fluke, as Miami will look to bounce back behind Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. If they are able to retain a combination of Kendrick Nunn, Goran Dragic and Duncan Robinson, while Tyler Herro continues to improve, the Heat will be a tough out for any team in the East.

14] New York Knicks

         New York finally got to experience an appearance in the playoffs, for the first time in what seemed forever, and the Mecca of Basketball will be expecting to host said games during the 2021022 campaign as well. A plethora of cap space does exist in New York to improve the roster, but the decisions to be made aren’t going to be easy and New York has work to do to put themselves a step higher.

15] Indiana Pacers

       Snagging Rick Carlisle after the Mavericks let him go could be one of the best moves of the summer, and the Pacers still having some top notch talent with Myles Turner, Domantas Sabonis and Miles Brogdon, Indiana should get back into the post-season after a six-year run ended last season. The Pacers could be one of the league’s dark horses to make a run deeper than most are projecting.

16] Memphis Grizzlies

        It seems like only yesterday, Memphis was known as the Grit-n-Grind Grizzlies, and the rebuild has been done relatively quickly, namely thanks to the amazing development of Ja Morant, and the supporting cast excelling at their roles. Going into the summer, the Grizzlies have many different roads they can go down, coming down to the contract of Justise Winslow. Declining the option would give them roughly $21-22M in cap space, while picking it up would have them operate as an over-the-cap team and have the Mid-Level to use.

17] Charlotte Hornets

       Charlotte hit out of the park with the play of LaMelo Ball, the youngest of the Ball Brothers, leading to a ton of buzz in North Carolina. Another year of development for Ball, alongside key cogs like PJ Washington, Miles Bridges and Malik Monk, along with a chance to add a solid starting center, and giving Rozier time to develop chemistry with Ball, and Charlotte should battle for a post season berth. Oh, and they also have a nice player named Devonte Graham, who could stick around to give more of a scoring punch.

18] Portland Trail Blazers

       Any team led by a player as dynamic as Damian Lillard will have more than a punchers chance to win any game, during the regular season. During the playoffs, the game gets tighter and Lillard is going to need a ton of help from CJ McCollum and Norman Powell, while Jusuf Nurkic remains healthy. Neil Olshey might have the hottest seat in the entire association, and the General Manager needs to improve the supporting cast.

19] New Orleans Pelicans 

       Pelicans moved on quick from a mistake hire in Stan van Gundy as they hope to give Zion Williamson a taste of the playoffs, while convincing their franchise player to stick around in the bayou. Management has decisions to make, as both Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart are poised to be restricted free agents, and they hold the 10th pick. Rookie head coach, Willie Green, has his work cut out for him, coming in from Phoenix.

20] Toronto Raptors

        After spending a year in Tampa Bay, the Raptors will be ecstatic to, hopefully, finally return back home to Toronto and will bring the 4th overall selection with them, pending any sort of trade of course. The potential thought of adding Jalen Suggs or Evan Mobley to a team that already has Fred van Vleet, Gary Trent Jr., OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam should get the Canadian fans salivating.

21] Chicago Bulls

       Have to give credit to the Bulls front office for their mid-season acquisition of Nikola Vucevic, even if it led to them missing the playoffs. With a full season of the Zach LaVine and Vucevic duo, along with improvements from Coby White and potentially Lauri Markannen, Chicago shouldn’t be overlooked.

22] Sacramento Kings

       Holders of the longest playoff drought in the NBA, the future does have its silver linings in the Capitol of California. De’Aron Fox has proven himself to be a legit talent at the guard spot, while Tyrese Haliburton had an impressive rookie campaign. Questions are a plenty in the 916, as Buddy Hield is reportedly on the trading block and Richuan Holmes will be an unrestricted free agent.

23] Washington Wizards

        Washington said good bye to the John Wall era and ended up sneaking into the playoffs behind spectacular play from Russell Westbrook. With speculation a-plenty surrounding what happens with Bradley Beal, the Wizards will look to keep the stud guard around, combined with improvements from Rui Hachimura, Daniel Gafford and Deni Avidja and some good health to Avidja and Thomas Bryant and get themselves into the playoffs without needing to go through the play-in stages.

24] Minnesota Timberwolves

       Anthony Edwards really started coming on towards the end of his debut season in the association, and the Wolves fought well against the majority of the leagues elite, just coming up short. Toss in a years development for Edwards, continued chemistry growth between Karl Anthony-Towns and D’Angelo Russell with a GM that isn’t shy to make moves to improve the roster, and the Wolves could potentially shoot up these rankings right quick.

25] Cleveland Cavaliers

       During the past three campaigns, the Cavaliers won 60 games, a number they are going to try to match in a single season, sooner rather than later. Doing it during the 21-22 year will be quite a long-shot, but with the third overall pick, Cleveland has the opportunity to build a foundation in order to get into the thick of things.

26] San Antonio Spurs

       It feels….wrong and unnatural to put the Spurs this low on the totem pole, but it isn’t without reason. San Antonio’s streak of 22 straight playoff appearances was snapped, as they have missed the post-season over the past two seasons, with a third seeming very likely. It’ll be interesting to see if the Spurs decide to finally bottom out and secure assets for some of their veteran players.

27] Oklahoma City Thunder

        During the history of the association, it’s hard to pinpoint a time where any franchise built a war chest quite the way Sam Presti has, and the Thunder seemingly are going to brace in for another long season, as they hope the ping pong balls drop in their favor during the 22 lottery. Only question is, will Shai Gilgeous-Alexander be willing to sign an extension with a team that isn’t looking to get themselves into the playoffs.

28] Orlando Magic

       Magic finally stopped being a treadmill 6th-10th seed side by dealing away Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic during the deadline. The roster, however, still remains somewhat bare as Markelle Fultz and Jonathon Isaac are often injured, while Cole Anthony had an okay rookie campaign. With the 5th and 8th picks in the draft, it’ll be interesting to see the route Orlando goes.

29] Houston Rockets

       Rockets struck well by signing Christian Wood during the summer, however, it didn’t stop Harden from demanding out of the Lone Star State, dropping the Rockets from one of the league’s feared sides, to one of the worst. Houston did get good play from Kevin Porter Jr. and Kenyon Martin Jr., hoping to team them with a great lottery pick.

30] Detroit Pistons

        Days of the Bad Boy Pistons are getting further and further in the rear view, with it not projecting to change anytime soon. Jerami Grant was a pleasant signing for Detroit, who also has the top selection in the draft. The Motor City has to wait a bit longer for another chance at bringing home the Larry O’Brien trophy.

About MikeK520

Avid sports fan looking to share opinions and thoughts. Fan of the NBA (Los Angeles Clippers), Soccer/Football (Armenian National Team, United States National Team, Los Angeles Galaxy, FC Tucson), College Sports (UCLA Basketball/Football, Cal State Northridge Basketball), NFL (Green Bay Packers), NHL (Detroit Red Wings), MLB (Atlanta Braves).
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