NBA Power Rankings: Preseason

We’ve been waiting for this day. Since the Finals ended, since the Warriors choked away their 3-1 lead, since we saw LeBron capture the title Cleveland sports fans have been waiting for their entire lives, since Kevin Durant abandoned his partner in crime in OKC for the bright lights of Oakland, California (maybe the night life wasn’t the reasoning, but oh well), since basketball went on its mandatory hiatus, we have been waiting patiently. And now, the day has come. We get to see both NBA Finals teams in action on national TV. We get to see the new big 4 in #DubNation and the King and his teammates raise their championship banner. What a day.

We will continue with weekly updates to the Power Rankings as the season rolls on with breakdowns on the top 10. As useless as preseason predictions can be, they can be a measuring tool for the rest of the season. You can come back to this and see how the teams live up to their hype and expectations.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers

King James. Kyrie Irving. Kevin Love. Defending Champions. Little to no roster turnover. Need we say more? The Cavs are still our favorites to win the title again.

2. Golden State Warriors

Many have GSW as the #1 team, and it’s not hard to understand why. Adding Kevin Durant to a record-setting team, coupled with the back to back NBA MVP in Steph Curry, and two other legitimate NBA superstars in Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. BUT until we see them play in a game that means something, we still have to believe the Warriors are still chasing LeBron and Cleveland.

3. San Antonio Spurs

Tim Duncan not suiting up this year will be tough to get used to. But the Spurs aren’t as lost as most teams would be when the best player in franchise history. Kawhi Leonard is poised to step into the conversation with the NBA elite. Alongside one of the best scoring big men in the league, LaMarcus Aldridge, and the most successful active coach in the league in Coach Pop, the Spurs are in position to not only continue their postseason streak, but compete for the title come April.

4. LA Clippers

Time is ticking on the Clippers chance to win a title with this core. CP3 isn’t getting younger, and teams atop the West are only growing and gaining ground. If this isn’t the year for Doc and the Clip show, we will always remember this Clippers team as the ones who couldn’t take the next step for the franchise.

5. Portland Trailblazers

Damian Lillard is one of the top point guards in the NBA. His all-star snubs are baffling to me. After coming into the 2015 season with a completely new lineup and low expectations, Portland hopped on Lillard’s back and rode him to the postseason anyway. Paired with Mccollum, Portland is primed to compete this year, do not write them off.

6. Toronto Raptors

Toronto fought hard to make the Eastern Conference Finals tough for the Cavaliers, but no one was getting in LeBron’s way last year. Toronto returns Lowry and Derozan, so the plan is the same; ride your stars and try to take down the Cavs. Young talent and an impressive fan base shows signs that the Raptors will be around for a while.

7. Atlanta Hawks

Dwight Howard coming home may be the perfect opportunity to lay to rest his troubled past he’s left around the NBA. At least that’s what Hawks fans are hoping. Dwight hasn’t left on good terms anywhere he has been, but he really does seem like a genuine guy who wants to win. Could coming home to one of the most stable line ups the NBA has offered in the last few seasons revitalize the Dwight we saw in Orlando? Just another story line that makes the NBA so interesting.

 

8. Boston Celtics

Landing Al Horford wasn’t exactly the prize Boston was looking for in free agency, but he will be a valuable addition to this team. A veteran leader who has postseason experience will be a welcome addition to a locker room with some of the youngest stars in the NBA. The Celtics took a step forward last year, with Isaiah Thomas having a career year. Horford may be the piece the Celtics need to return to the greatness.

9. Minnesota Timberwolves

Perhaps the highest ceiling of any team in the league, the T Wolves boast the last two Rookie of the Year recipients in Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins. They have young, talented players at almost every position, and are poised to take the next step into NBA relevancy this year.

10. Indiana Pacers

With the injury to Reggie Jackson, the Central Division in the East is in the hands of Paul George and the Indiana Pacers. Myles Turner had a very intriguing rookie campaign, and the addition of Jeff Teague make the Pacers even more dangerous. Look for Paul George to assert himself into MVP conversations if they do well enough.

11. Utah Jazz

12. Detroit Pistons

13.  Memphis Grizzlies

14. Charlotte Hornets

15. Houston Rockets

16. Oklahoma City Thunder

17. Miami Heat

18. Washington Wizards

19. Dallas Mavericks

20. Chicago Bulls

21. Milwaukee Bucks

22. New York Knicks

23. Orlando Magic

24. New Orleans Pelicans

25. Sacramento Kings

26. Denver Nuggets

27. Phoenix Suns

28. Philadelphia 76ers

29. Los Angeles Lakers

30. Brooklyn Nets

 

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