With Summer League wrapped up, it’s only fitting that we start making predictions for the upcoming NBA Season. With so many offseason changes it should make for a very interesting year. Without further delay, I will present this year’s preseason power rankings.
30. Philadelphia 76ers:
The 76ers downfall started when Coach Doug Collins decided to resign. After that it turned into a “snowball” effect, as the franchise traded away Jrue Holiday for Nerlens Noel. It was a head scratcher move because Holiday was really producing for the team, and Noel will be sidelined for quite some time while he recovers from an ACL injury. It seems that the 76ers will start to build a team through the draft for the next couple of seasons.
29. Orlando Magic:
Magic fans already watched their team this season, as the summer league will be about all they bring to the table this upcoming year. They signed veteran Jason Maxiell this offseason, which was probably a smart move for them. The biggest asset the Magic acquired was by drafting Victor Oladipo with the number two overall pick.
Oladipo performed very well in the summer league, and will be a force in the NBA for most of his career. With the 2014 draft class being loaded with superstar talent, Magic fans shouldn’t be discouraged by this season, as next year the franchise will add another piece to play beside Oladipo.
28. Phoenix Suns:
Doesn’t get much worse for the Suns than last season, as it was one of their worst in franchise history. The Suns are actually moving in the right direction however, as they now have a new coach, Jeff Hornacek, along with some other new faces such as Archie Goodwin and Alex Len. It will be interesting to see how Dragic and Gortat gel with the new players, but the Suns are headed in the right direction.
27. Charlotte Bobcats:
The Bobcats welcomed Big Al Jefferson with open arms, but did they overpay for his services? Either way the Bobcats still need a ton of help because Jefferson is just one man, and he definitely can’t do it on his own. By getting Jefferson, a new coach, and drafting Cody Zeller, the Bobcats will be better than recent years, but it looks like the lottery will be in their future yet again.
26. Milwaukee Bucks:
At some point the Bucks organization owes it to the fans to become competitive in the NBA because being an eighth seed all the time has to get old. Monta Ellis left for Dallas; Brandon Jennings has lost patience and finally wants out too. They went out and signed O.J Mayo, who will complement Jennings, Pachulia, and Delfino, but that still isn’t fixing the many problems the Bucks have.
25. Boston Celtics:
It seems like years ago since the Celtics fell to the Knicks, and man have some crazy changes happened for the C’s. Doc Rivers decides that he doesn’t want to coach the C’s anymore, which forced the rebuild to happen now. With Pierce, KG, and Jet headed to Brooklyn, most Celtic fans fear the dismal years of the 90’s coming back.
Don’t be quick to think that though, as the Celtics aren’t that far off because they have Rondo, Jeff Green, and Jared Sullinger on the roster. Through the draft the Celtics acquired the services of Kelly Olynyk and Phil Pressey, and both performed at a high-level during summer league.
Ainge decided to hire Brad Stevens (formerly the coach of Butler University), which in most eyes was a great hire. This year may be a tough one, or it may not seeing how weak the East is near the bottom. Either way it will be a couple of years before the C’s will be classified as contenders in the NBA.
24. Utah Jazz:
Wow is all most have to say about the Jazz roster at this point in the offseason. With Millsap heading to Atlanta, and Jefferson to Charlotte, the Jazz will be a completely different team this upcoming year. They do have some young talent that should allow them to compete in every single game.
Trey Burke was drafted by the Jazz this year, but struggled mightily during the summer league, but should find himself some time this upcoming season. With Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward, and Alex Burks still on the roster the Jazz definitely have a bright future ahead of them if those pieces continue to develop.
23. Sacramento Kings:
What in the world is going on in Sacramento? New ownership, new management, and new coaching is what’s in store for the organization, but will it be the same old Kings is the question that needs to be answered. The Kings drafted Kansas superstar Ben McLemore, who is ready to shine in the NBA right now.
But will DeMarcus Cousins become a cancer to him, like he did the rest of his teammates? The future of the Kings is still a bit murky, but they might be making changes that will better them sooner rather than later.
22. Los Angeles Lakers:
There is no doubt about it now, the Lakers wish they never would have taken a chance on Dwight “Selfish” Howard, as he left them high and dry. If there is any team that should be considering tanking, it has to be the Lakers. No Howard, then the team sent Metta World Peace an amnesty letter not too long after, which was just absurd if you ask me.
The franchise did make decent moves to bring in Chris Kaman, Nick Young, and old Laker friend Jordan Farmar, but it will still not be enough for them to be relevant this upcoming season. Yes, I know they still have Kobe “Bean” Bryant on their roster, but just like they say “one player can’t do it by himself.”
21. Cleveland Cavaliers:
How many people just passed out that the Cavs are ranked this high? Well changes are coming for the Cavs, as they have been making moves to get better. And it won’t just make the team better right now, but for a long time to come as well.
The Cavs bring back Mike Brown to the bench to coach the very gifted Kyrie Irving, while also adding Andrew Bynum, Jarrett Jack, and drafting Anthony Bennett. The roster looks a million times better than it did after LeBron James left the team, and it seems the Cavs could potentially get out of the lottery this year.
20. Toronto Raptors:
Please don’t throw things at your computer because the Raptors are ranked this high, but honestly they will be much better this upcoming year with the changes the organization has made. New GM Masai Ujiri will come in and change this team from top to bottom without thinking twice about it.
DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay will work very well together, and now that they have cut ties with Andrea Bargnani, they will have some space to make little moves here and there. The Raptors really came on strong after acquiring Gay last year, so most expect the Raptors to at least compete for the playoffs now.
19. New Orleans Pelicans:
It feels weird calling them the Pelicans now, but expect them to be much better because of the great offseason they have had. It still confuses people why the 76ers would trade Jrue Holiday to the Pelicans for an injured Nerlens Noel, but it happened and kudos to the Pelicans for that move.
The franchise didn’t stop there though, as they also added Tyreke Evans to the core of Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson, and Austin Rivers. If the Pelicans somehow find themselves having another down year, they will get another blue chip to add to their young, already impressive roster.
18. Dallas Mavericks:
Mark Cuban is doing everything possible to revamp his roster, and turn the Big D back to an impressive franchise. The Mavs made a good move to acquire Monta Ellis, but will he be enough help for Dirk ? Either way, at the end of the day Cuban and his ball club will be fighting for a seventh or eighth seed this upcoming season.
17. Washington Wizards:
The fans in Washington need something to cheer about when it comes to basketball. They have the Washington Redskins starting to make noise in the NFL, so is it the Wizards turn to give the fans there something to cheer about? It sure does seem that way because with a starting five consisting of John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Nene, and Emeka Okafor, the Wizards franchise are preparing themselves to at least make a tiny sound this upcoming season.
16. Detroit Pistons:
The Pistons have been a dreadful team to watch for quite some time, but it seems like GM Joe Dumars is determined to change that very soon. Dumars went out and snatched Josh Smith for four years, which was a pretty decent pickup if you ask most people.
With Drummond, Monroe and newly acquired Brandon Jennings in the lineup, the Pistons could actually be a fun team to watch now. Not sure how far this roster can take them, but at least now they will compete on most nights.
15. Portland Trail Blazers:
You heard it here first: the Blazers will make the playoffs this upcoming season, no question about it. The Blazers added C.J. McCollum, Thomas Robinson, Dorell Wright, and Robin Lopez to the roster this offseason, which means the Blazers will actually be a decently deep team.
Already having LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, Wesley Matthews, and rookie of the year Damian Lillard, the Blazers will be a much improved team compared to their recent past. The playoffs are in store for all the Blazer fans out there!
14. Minnesota Timberwolves:
Once again, you heard it here first: the T-Wolves will make the playoffs for the first time in over decade. The team’s defense may be questionable at times, but this team will get out and score every single night. With a squad consisting of Rubio, Derrick Williams, Corey Brewer, Kevin Love, Kevin Martin, Chase Buddinger, and Nikola Pekovic, the franchise should expect a huge improvement.
13. Atlanta Hawks:
The Hawks at one point looked like they were going to be a definite lottery pick team after Josh Smith skipped town, but somehow GM Danny Ferry managed to put together a decent team. Ferry added Jared Cunningham, and Paul Millsap to the roster, while also drafting Dennis Schroeder, who should be a tremendous talent for years to come.
Not only did Ferry do all of this, but he managed to retain Kyle Korver and Jeff Teague. The Hawks won’t be in the upper half of the East, but expect them to stay right around sixth or seventh place this upcoming season.
12. Denver Nuggets:
Celtic nation had a dreadful offseason, but not far behind them were the Nuggets. They cut ties with George Karl (who was coach of the year last season), GM Masai Ujiri left to take his brains to Toronto, and they lose Andre Igoudala.
The Nuggets sent Kosta Koufos out for the services of J.J Hickson, and Darrell Arthur, while also bringing in Randy Foye. The team may be hurt by all the offseason moves, but they still have a good roster, and should see the playoffs again this upcoming season.
11. Golden State Warriors:
Mark Jackson has done a superb job being the head coach of this squad, and it seems like they will be making noise in the Western Conference for a long time. Stephen Curry is just a straight monster, who also brings a high I.Q to the table. They also added Andre Igoudala to the line-up, which should do wonders for this team.
It wouldn’t surprise anyone if the Warriors found themselves in the Western Conference Finals this upcoming season, which could very well happen.
It’s now time to announce this upcoming season top 10 teams in the league, drum roll please……
10. New York Knicks:
The Knicks always seem to make moves that don’t make much sense, for instance signing J.R Smith for $18 million dollars. At the end of the day, the Knicks are set to make a lot of noise this upcoming season, especially now that they have added a player like Metta World Peace who always seems to perform well under pressure.
It won’t be an easy road for the Knicks though, as they are a few teams not mentioned yet that are set to make some noise in the East this upcoming season. It will all boil down to if Melo can continue to score in bunches, and the health of the older vets on the team can hold up throughout a grueling 82 game season.
9. Houston Rockets:
Houston seemed to welcome Dwight Howard with welcome arms, then again so did Orlando and L.A! The Rockets were a much improved team this past year, but it seems like they are set to be even better this upcoming season. It will all depend on how well Howard’s back holds up this season, and if Harden can continue to impress us all. With Harden, Howard, Osik, and Lin on the roster, look for the Rockets to make a deep playoff run.
8. Chicago Bulls:
Derrick Rose, America has been awaiting your return for quite some time now, and all I have to say is: BOUT TIME!
Tom Thibodeau was running his team ragged without Rose in the lineup, so now with Rose set to return, it takes some of the pressure off of players like Deng, Hinrich, and Noah. Not only is Rose important to this Bulls roster, but Jimmy “Buckets” Butler is just as important to this team’s success, and should be considered for a starting role.
Fans should expect the Bulls to be back in the same position they were in before Rose suffered that crushing injury in the playoffs.
7. Memphis Grizzlies:
For a while it seemed as though the Grizzlies were conceding this offseason? The reason I say this is because they didn’t do all that much. What the franchise did do was sign Tony Allen, had Jerry Bayless opt out of his final year, and sent Kosta Koufos out for Darrell Arthur. But they lucked out with Miami amnestying Mike Miller, and the sharp-shooter decider to return back home.
The Grizz still hang their hat on the defensive side of the court, and fans shouldn’t see too much change in that departmentm but some additional shooting will help. Expect the Grizz to make another deep playoff run this upcoming season.
6. Brooklyn Nets:
What a difference an offseason can make for a team, the Brooklyn Nets are living proof right now. After a very disappointing effort in the postseason this past year, followed by a coaching change, the Nets had to something to better bolster their roster.
Not only did they make changes to win now, but they inherited two future Hall-of-Fame players in the process. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are rare talents in this league, and will bring instant success to the Nets. If the Nets can find a good way to manage the two player’s minutes during the regular season, it will bode well for them in the playoffs.
The team’s bench will not be that bad either, as they are set to send out Andrei Kirilenko, Jason “Jet” Terry, Andre Blatche, and Shaun Livingston onto the court. The biggest concern for the Nets will be health, as Pierce and KG aren’t exactly spring chickens anymore.
It will be an interesting year in Brooklyn, and just beefs up the Knicks vs. Nets rivalry even more, as Pierce and Garnett are hated by Knick faithful, but look for them to be a pleasant surprise this year.
5. Los Angeles Clippers:
It has been an eventful summer for the Clippers organization to say the least, felt like a rollercoaster ride for sure. In the end, the organization got the coach they wanted in Doc Rivers, and got some role players like J.J Reddick and Jared Dudley that they feel will bolster their roster.
With CP3 and Blake Griffin set to have another stellar season, the Clippers seem ready to rumble in the West and rattle some cages in the process. Look for Darren Collison and Matt Barnes to become big contributors also because of the coaching that Rivers will give them.
4. Indiana Pacers:
The Indiana Pacers landed some big punches on the Miami Heat during the playoffs, but just never could knock out the bully. This offseason they made some impressive moves to better their chances in the East moving forward. First and foremost they got David West to stay, and on top of that they’re bringing in Chris Copeland, Luis Scola, and C. J Watson.
One thing that will surely be in question is the health of Danny Granger moving forward, and whether or not Roy Hibbert can continue his success from the postseason.
3. San Antonio Spurs:
What is in the water in Texas? The Spurs seem to keep getting better and better with age, and Greg Popp seems to be the best coach in the league without question. At the end of the day, the Spurs will pretty much be the same team this upcoming season (minus Gary Neal), which means America almost already expects the Spurs to be close to winning another championship.
It all depends on whether they can remain fairly healthy, and if Greg Popp keeps making the right decisions to rest his older vets on a weekly basis. Either way don’t be surprised if the Spurs are back in the Finals again this upcoming season.
2. Miami Heat:
Yes this just happened, and it really shouldn’t come as a surprise to people that the Heat aren’t the number one-seeded team. They did win back-to-back championships, and they deserve respect for that, but will they three-peat? Absolutely not!!
I understand that they have LeBron James, but people need realize that the Miami Heat are actually getting to be a pretty old squad. The franchise’s older players aren’t future Hall-of-Famers either (excluding Ray Allen), as they have Udonis Haslem, Shane Battier, and they just recently cut ties with Mike Miller.
What will the bench look like for Miami, Haslem, Battier, Allen, Norris Cole, plus the big question mark that is Greg Oden? If you ask me that’s not much of a bench at all (no disrespect to Ray Allen), and this will be trouble for the reigning two-time champs moving forward.
Dwayne Wade has been a shell of himself lately, and his health has just been diminishing in the past three seasons, so he can’t provide the necessary help for LeBron like he used to. Of course the Heat will still be a force in the league, but don’t expect another spectacular season like the world saw this past one.
1. Oklahoma City Thunder:
This just happened, yes it did! The days of Kevin Durant being “nice” are over, as he has learned that being nice won’t take you where you want to go. Kevin Durant is without question one of the best players in the league, but he has yet to have that “killer instinct”, but that all changes this year.
OKC would have found themselves back in the Finals this year if Russell Westbrook wouldn’t have fallen due to injury. The team learned that Westbrook is far more valuable than what they once thought, and fans should look for Westbrook to have a great season this upcoming year.
The loss of Kevin Martin will sting a little bit, but expect Jeremy Lamb to finally come out and perform at a high level, and be that sixth man that James Harden had become. This could be the last year we see this team together if they somehow fail early in the playoffs again, but don’t expect that at all.
By Adam Brent Bailey: @RealBrentBailey