With the NBA season ready to tip-off, there’s no time like the present to take a look at our first NBA Power Rankings of the season, a piece we will continue to update every two weeks throughout the 2012-13 NBA season.
How will all of the movement during the offseason effect the rankings? Are the defending champs still the team to beat?
Let’s answer those questions right now.
30. Orlando Magic- It could be embarrassing in the first year after Dwight Howard.
29. Charlotte Bobcats- Adding a couple vets and rookie Michael-Kidd Gilchrist will make the ‘Cats twice as good as last season. Unfortunately that would amount to only 14 wins.
28. Detroit Pistons- They finished the 2012 season strong and with Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight and Andre Drummond, there’s hope for the future; but that future might not be this season.
27. Cleveland Cavaliers- Speaking of young talent, the Cavs have a superstar in Kyrie Irving and a boatload of young and talented players, but they aren’t ready to contend yet and are still in search of a second scoring option.
26. Houston Rockets- Once again they missed out on landing the big man they needed and overpaid for Jeremy Lin and Omar Asik. The James Harden trade helps some, more for the future, but Kevin McHale’s team is young and has a long ways to come.
25. Toronto Raptors- I like what the Raptors have done as far as adding talent, but they are still the worst team in the NBA’s toughest division. It won’t be long though before the Raptors are challenging for a playoff spot.
24. Washington Wizards- The Wiz will be without John Wall to start the season, but when he returns they have a nice starting five. The Wall-Bradley Beal backcourt could become great one day and the additions of Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor makes this team better defensively, but they aren’t deep and it will cost them.
23. Phoenix Suns- The Suns had trouble winning with Steve Nash the past couple years, without him things should get worse. But they added some talented players in Goran Dragic, Michael Beasley and Luis Scola so they could turn into a bit of a surprise.
22. Sacramento Kings- DeMarcus Cousins is ready to become a star and the Kings have a ton of young talent. They have to start learning how to win together though.
21. Portland Trail Blazers- LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard are likely to be league’s next dynamic duo but the Blazers are likely a year away.
20. New Orleans Hornets- Anthony Davis will become a double-double machine for years and Monty Williams’ team has some very nice pieces in place. If Eric Gordon can stay healthy, the Hornets could surprise, but that’s a big if.
19. Milwaukee Bucks- Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis will keep the Bucks in games, but can their young frontcourt help get them to the playoffs?
18. Atlanta Hawks- Gone is Joe Johnson’s horrible contract as new general manager Danny Ferry has this team set up nicely for the future. They have a bunch of shooters and will lean on Al Horford and Josh Smith to try to keep them in the playoffs.
17. Golden State Warriors- I like the Warriors to be a surprise team if Stephen Curry’s ankle holds up. They are balanced with shooting and decent interior play. Now it’s time to make the playoffs.
16. Minnesota Timberwolves- Once Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio get healthy, the ‘Wolves are in a similar situation as the Warriors. It’s time to make the playoffs.
15. Utah Jazz- Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap can beat you on any given night. The Jazz are solid in all areas, and could be a sleeper this season.
14. Dallas Mavericks- Dirk Nowitzki is starting out the season injured, but the Mavs had added some youth and decent pieces around him. They won’t be title contenders but should be better than the 2012 team that suffered from championship hangover.
13. Chicago Bulls- Derrick Rose won’t be on the court for a while. Their depth needs to keep them afloat until he returns.
12. Denver Nuggets- If Danilo Gallinari, Ty Lawson and Andre Iguodala have banner years; the Nuggets have the talent to be a threat in the Western Conference.
11. Brooklyn Nets- The Nets rebuilt in a big way. They brought back everyone and added some key parts throughout the roster. I’m not ready to make them instant contenders though, but they certainly have the talent to do so.
10. New York Knicks- Will Carmelo Anthony ever win in the NBA? It doesn’t help that Amar’e Stoudemire is out six weeks to start the season. I actually bumped the Knicks up a couple spots to start the season because they are a better team with ‘Melo at the 4.
9. Philadelphia 76ers- They are talented and added Andrew Bynum, but do they have a leader now that Iguodala is gone? It’s not Bynum.
8. Memphis Grizzlies- The Griz suffered a disappointing first round playoff exit last season, but this team will be back and can do some big things. If there’s any team that can knock off the big boys in the league, Memphis is your best bet.
7. Indiana Pacers- The Pacers are physical, deep and excel at teamwork. They think they’re better than the Miami Heat and that is half the battle.
6. San Antonio Spurs- One more run for Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili. I think everyone learned their lesson last season not to write these guys off just yet.
5. Los Angeles Clippers- I like what the Clippers did in the offseason: bring back Chauncey Billups and adding the likes of Grant Hill, Lamar Odom, Matt Barnes and Jamal Crawford to the nucleus they already have make the Clippers very deep. A playoff run last season gives these guys some confidence as well.
4. Boston Celtics- They lost Ray Allen but got better by adding Jason Terry Courtney Lee and a returning Jeff Green. The question is if rookies Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo can give this team the size they need. Rajon Rondo could have an MVP-type of season and remember that this team was one game away from reaching the NBA Finals a season ago.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder- The Thunder got penalized by drafting too well and had to deal James Harden but got back a quality player in Kevin Martin and a young guy in Jeremy Lamb who I think will have a great career. Even without Harden, the Thunder are championship contenders.
2. Los Angeles Lakers- No team bulked up in the offseason like the Lakers, adding the likes of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. They may have the best starting five in the league but I’m not overly excited about their depth.
1. Miami Heat- The defending champs addressed their shooting weaknesses by adding Allen and Rashard Lewis. They aren’t the players they were three years ago but they are better than Mike Miler. If LeBron James is close to as good as he was a season ago, the Heat have a great chance to repeat.