NBA Early Power Rankings

It is November now; football is in its prime, hockey has begun, baseball is over, and if you are like me your fantasy football season is over as well! The National Basketball Association is here and two weeks in! Just in time to distract me from my football team and the ever frustrating fantasy football.

Oh, and there is also that election thing happening….to sports we go!

This may be the most difficult power rankings I do all year. The Western Conference hasn’t really settled out. How does the team that set the best record ever for a regular season open their season? With a loss at home!! This season will be so fun to watch with so many teams having chips on their shoulders. The East has become stronger but with so few games played, most have only played 7 games, these rankings will surely change around. Currently we have no undefeated teams and two completely defeated teams.

The East

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers (6-1): The Eastern Conference will be going through Cleveland. Currently the best record in the East and the defending NBA Champion – Clevelanders seem happy with that championship as they sold half their World Series tickets to Cubs fans. And I don’t blame them. Good news though! This team looks even better as the big three have really started to click and Kyrie Irving coming into his own averaging 23 ppg and LeBron doing LeBron things, like averaging a 22-10-9 right now.
  2. Toronto Raptors (4-2): DEMAR DEROZAN!  He is averaging nearly 36 points so far. It helps when you get to thrown down 55 points against the Wizards. This team goes unnoticed at times because they play basketball with the Starks. They will make the playoffs and should have the second or third best record.
  3. Boston Celtics (3-3): Like I said, it’s early but this team plays with pace and is a nightmare for opposing guards as Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley smother them. Al Horford also helps.
  4. Detroit Pistons (4-3): A bit of a brave choice right now but they are playing well and I believe in Stan. Tobias Harris is their leading scorer. I expect they will be falling in the rankings.
  5. Charlotte Hornets (5-1): Have made the most of having an easy early part of the schedule (got to play both Brooklyn and Philly). Kemba Walker has blossomed into a solid starting point guard with Ramon Sessions finding his way to this team as the back up. Nicolas Batum is making over $20 million – the new salary cap is crazy.
  6. Atlanta Hawks (5-2): The return of Dwight Howard! Paul Millsap so far has been more important to the team as the leading scorer and with the ability to make free throws.
  7. Chicago Bulls (4-3): This team has been reloaded with veterans making them quite competent. Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo have decided to make their backcourt much older but they still seem to have the goods. Just not from further out than 20 feet.
  8. Indiana Pacers (3-4): Paul George  made a triumphant return last year and more is expected from him this year. The addition of Al Jefferson gives them more inside and they appear to be a balanced team. I still think it was a mistake to fire Frank Vogel.
  9. Milwaukee Bucks (4-3): This is a young team that needs to start paying dividends and stop being that “break out” team. Giannis is a god send and will be great for years.
  10. Orlando Magic (3-4): After a rough start they won three in a row. Evan Fournier is making $17 million a year – who is Evan Fournier? Get that money. Serge Ibaka is now on the Magic and teams up with the athletic Aaron Gordon and the young Elfrid Payton. Payton is a handicap for them right now (shooting 38% from the field and 15% from 3); they will have to upgrade at point guard in order to contend.
  11. Miami Heat (2-4): The loss of Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh still hasn’t played officially ends that era. This team is now led by Goran Dragic and the big mane Hassan Whiteside. Whiteside is a block party but his detractors point towards his lack of effort to down grade him. He is a 7′ footer and they do that sometimes.

Teams who are at the bottom:

Washington Wizards (1-5) – if Scott Brooks does not get them into shape that hiring with his huge salary is going to be a big black eye for them.
New York Knicks (2-4) – breaking news, Derrick Rose still can’t shoot outside. Is Melo on the downtrend? His last four years in PPG – 27, 24, 22, and 22 so far. Thank you for Porzingis.
Brooklyn Nets (3-4) – I try not to watch these games but all Boston fans must be in heaven knowing they own their draft pick.
Philadelphia 76ers (0-6) – what can be said of this team that hasn’t been already? Embiid looks good after 2 years of not playing. 2 years. To be fair they really have been playing teams close and I think they will get over 20 wins.

 

The West

  1. Golden State Warriors (5-2): Guess what is not going to scare me off of thinking the Warriors are the team to beat – two early losses. Kevin Durant has seamlessly moved into the offense but it remains to be seen if Klay Thompson will suffer because of it.
  2. Los Angeles Clippers (6-1): A quality win over San Antonio wins them the second spot. They have been moving the ball well and playing good defense.  Their only loss came in a close game against the Thunder but their depth earns them a higher spot than Oklahoma.
  3. San Antonio Spurs (5-2): I will never be foolish enough to rank the Spurs out of the top 5 in the West. Tim Duncan’s retirement will not affect this team moving forward. They will keep doing Spur things – great movement, good defense, and resting stars when needed. Kawhi Leonard is a star and he will be using his octopus arms to deflect balls all year to prove it.
  4. Oklahoma City Thunder (6-1): They got blown out by Golden State on the second day of a back to back in order to move up in these ranking they will have to be more than Russell Westbrook. He will try his best to average a triple-double though. I worry for their bench, the pace of the offense slows noticeably when Westbrook isn’t on the floor.
  5. Portland Trailblazers (5-3): Two of their losses have come from the Clippers and the Warriors. Damian Lillard is averaging over 34 points and should be an All-Star again. They have not been able to replace LaMarcus Aldridge with a good offensive big man.
  6. Los Angeles Lakers (4-4): I have decided to reward an exciting and young team with the 6th spot in the power rankings. Now that Kobe Bryant the team has embraced their identity of being young and fun, and snatching up the best available coach in Luke Walton helps. They did also just beat the Warriors by 20 points.
  7. Houston Rockets (4-3): A hot pick for MVP is James Harden (averaging over 31 points) this year especially if the Rockets finish this season in the top 5. Losing Dwight Howard may be an addition by subtraction since Harden won’t have the paint all crowded with Dwight allowing him to slash to the basket.
  8. Utah Jazz (5-3): Everyone’s dark horse pick; this team is being led by George Hill in points, assists, and field goal percentage. Their most interesting  player is Rudy Gobert who has become a defensive star and continues to dominate. Gordon Hayward is just now returning to the team so look for this team to rise in the rankings.
  9. Memphis Grizzlies (4-4): This team has to prove that they will belong as they have an aging front court (how is Vince Carter still playing??) in Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol needs to stay healthy. It’s going to be a long season but you can’t say this team doesn’t have the experience.
  10. Denver Nuggets (3-4): Currently being led by Nurkic and Jokic in the front court. What’s not to like? Most of the other positions unfortunately. This team will get eaten up by by the other back courts in the West.

Teams at the bottom:

Sacramento Kings (4-5) – Boogie Cousins can only do so much but which is good and bad because he can just as easily bring them down.
Phoenix Suns (2-6) – I guess the tanking continues for this team because I don’t think TJ Warren is getting you the playoffs.
Dallas Mavericks (2-5) – they have had a rough start but they no longer have Chandler Parsons and overpaid for Harrison Barnes. They raided the Warriors closet for any goodies and have so far come up short.
New Orleans (0-8) – Anthony Davis may be the best big man in the game, he has already had a 35-15 and  a 45-17 line in two games. Alvin Gentry will be fired if they do not win more than 30 games.
Minnesota Timberwolves (1-5): The second best young big man is Karl Anthony-Towns but unfortunately his point guard is Ricky Rubio.

I am ready for this season to get crackin’! Will Westbrook break someone on a dunk!? Will Anthony Davis score 70 points!? Can anyone in the East beat Cleveland!? We have roughly 75 more games and I will most certainly enjoy as much of it as I can! Except for any Wizards games – why is Ernie Grunfeld still employed?

I will be writing a piece like this every two weeks so look for updates and other pieces on the NBA if the Redskins drive me to it. Enjoy the week! My prescription to taking your mind off of politics – the Oklahoma City Thunder with Westbrook’s intensity and break neck speed.