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NBA Power Rankings

Published on 25 December 2020 at 15:01

Below is the power ranking of all 30 NBA teams. Explanations are written underneath each team. This is not projection for the whole season but as of the start of the NBA season this is where the teams stand. Hopefully, this will be coming out a couple times a month as my opinion changes. 

(Photo By: Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

1. Brooklyn Nets
The Brooklyn Nets have looked incredible throughout the preseason and on opening night. Kevin Durant is as spry as ever, and Kyrie Irving is as great as always. I can not remember a team that has that much talent and depth. It reminds me of the Warriors 73-9 season. Every player in the rotation was dangerous and could be the X-factor for the team any given night. Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, Jeff Green, Landry Shamet, and Timothé Luwawu-Cabbarot are the bench five for this team. That team is better than some starting fives in the league right now. While they are not my favorite to win the championship, it is hard to imagine any team is more talented and set up to have a more impressive season than Brooklyn.

2. L.A. Lakers
The Lakers are fresh off a championship and have had the shortest off-season in major league sports history. I expect that lack of rest to catch up to this team to start the season. They are my favorites to win the whole thing this season, but LeBron is not indestructible. He will be resting more this season and play fewer minutes per game than any other season. On top of that, the Lakers just threw a bag at Anthony Davis, and it will be in their best interest to lead him back into a heavy workload slowly to prevent injuries from happening as they have in the past. Luckily, the Lakers made massive moves in the off-season, acquiring Dennis Shröder and Montrezl Harrell. They should be able to keep a solid record while the other guys get some much-needed rest.

3. Milwaukee Bucks
Giannis Antetekounmpo is the beginning and the end for this team. They have performed well in the regular season every year, and I expect that to continue. Jrue Holiday is also a great player that they added in the off-season. Jrue, Middleton, and Giannis will lead their team to the best record in the NBA. Giannis does not even need to overdo the minutes played to make this happen, so a short off-season should not hinder this team. Everyone will forget about Antetekounmpo's playoff woes soon and watch him lead his team to an incredible start of the season.

4. L.A. Clippers
The entire Clippers staff had an overhaul once the team blew a 3-1 lead over the Nuggets in last season's playoffs. The coaching staff got switched, the team lost their sixth man of the year, Montrezl Harrell, and the team failed to meet expectations. However, this season, the team looks to regain their stature as a top contender out of the west. Luke Kennard, Serge Ibaka, and Tyronne Lue were all added to the team in an attempt to do so. They looked energized and ready to play in the season opener against their rival Lakers. Paul George seems unbothered by the tough ending he had to last season and is performing well. I'm sure watching the Lakers get their championship rings the other night lit a fire under them to get off to a hot start this year as well.

5. Dallas Mavericks
Luka Doncic is one of the greatest young players we have seen since LeBron James. For this reason alone, they are a top ten team at any point in the season. His feel for the game and passing makes everyone better, and his prolific scoring ability is generational. On top of Luka, the team has great shooters like Tim Hardaway Jr, Maxi Kleber, Trey Burke, Josh Richardson, and Jalen Brunson. His co-star Kristaps has battled injuries through his young career, but if he can stay healthy, he is a true Dirk style big man that can stretch the floor and protect the rim. The duo will give the league problems for years to come, and this year is just the beginning.

(Photo By: Getty Images)

6. Denver Nuggets
Even after a poor opening night for Denver, this team is one of the best in the league. Jokic needs to cut down the turnovers, but Murray had the worst game of his career, and they still almost won. The roster is deep and has a legit duo in Murray in Jokic. From what every outlet is saying, Michael Porter Jr., is looking to become their third-best player and build an organic big three. Denver is near their ceiling because of their lackluster defense, and unless they can figure that out, they will not win a championship. However, that does not make this team worse or easy to beat on any given night as they can give any team a run for their money.

7. Philadelphia 76ers
I can concede that this team is starting a little high on this rankings list. I do this because people are not giving the 76ers the credit they deserve. They were four bounces away from making it to the finals two years ago when Kawhi hit a miracle game-winner. Last season, the Sixers took a significant step back and still squeaked out the 6th seed amongst locker room issues, trade rumors, bad chemistry, and system issues. They now have Doc Rivers as a coach and Daryl Morey making moves in the front office. They have made strides in the off-season to improve the spacing for Simmons and Embiid. They got rid of Horford and added shooters like Danny Green and Seth Curry. The team already looks to have better floor balance and plays smoother together. I believe they will return to a top-three seed in the east if all goes well and no more trades affect the roster's core.

8. Boston Celtics
The Celtics lost Gordon Hayward this off-season with only a trade exception to show for it. While Celtics fans may not realize it, he was valuable for the team and took over the offense when he was in the game with great tempo and distribution. Since the team lost him, and only got Thompson and Teague in free agency, their growth will need to be internal. Tatum and Brown are young and still developing so that growth is possible. Sadly, a poor preseason displayed exactly what they lost and their young stars have not seemed to have taken much of a step forward. the good news is that it was a short off-season and the two young stars have made their jumps during the season each season. There is hope that they still can grow. With Kemba out to start the season, maybe that will thrust them into situations where they can develop the skills necessary to take on the Titan teams like the Nets, Lakers, and Clippers. Only time will tell, but this year does not seem like the window for the Celtics to win a championship.

9. Phoenix Suns
The Suns made the most impactful move of the off-season, according to NBA GMs across the board. Chris Paul is a certified leader and star in the league. They acquired him in a trade for Kelly Oubre Jr., Ricky Rubio, and some picks. Phoenix is looking to capitalize on their 8-0 bubble run and the great drafts recently. Mikal Bridges, DeAndre Ayton, Devin Booker, and Cam Johnson are great surrounding pieces for Chris Paul. He will be able to distribute to these young guys and put them in positions to succeed. DeAndre Ayton and CP3 will be the most dangerous pick-and-roll threat in the NBA this year behind LeBron and Anthony Davis. The efficient scoring from Devin Booker and great two-way play from Mikal will come together to make a playoff team even in the competitive western conference.

10. Toronto Raptors
The Toronto Raptors have gotten worse in two straight off-seasons. They have great player development and hit on many of their late draft picks, but at some point, if you hope to compete you need to get stars. Overpaying VanVleet, overpaying Pascal Siakam, and holding on to the aging Kyle Lowry ties up their money. The lack of money caused them to lose Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka in the off-season. They did get Aaron Baynes, who will be great for them, but that is still a downgrade from two guys who helped them tremendously last year. This team will be a good regular season team that falls apart in the playoffs. This year should focus on developing O.G. Anunoby into the star wing necessary to win in the NBA today. Otherwise, this team has no hopes higher than last season and are projecting downward.

(Photo By: Getty Images)

11. Portland Trail Blazers
Finally, Damian Lillard gets a chance to play with a healthy roster. With Nurkic finally back to start the season, this team is poised to have one of their better seasons. CJ McCollum is healthy, and with the new addition, Robert Covington, this will allow Carmelo Anthony, Enes Kanter, Rodney Hood, and Gary Trent to bring production off the bench. This team runs nine deep and has some of the best depth in the NBA. On top of that, they have a legit number one superstar in Lillard and co-stars like Nurkic and CJ to take the pressure off. A tough Western conference and poor defense hold this team back from the high aspirations that come with this much raw talent and depth. This will still be an exciting year for Portland that could turn them into a top 8 team in the league.

12. Miami Heat
The Miami Heat are ranked 12th but do not let that deceive you. Due to how the Heat is built from the roster to the coaching to the front office, they will always be a tough out on any night. They are a grit and grind team that beats teams through ball movement and scheming. They will go far in the playoffs because of this, but the lack of star power makes them lower on the regular season power rankings. They have great young players and made some great acquisitions in the off-season, so I look forward to watching them compete this year.

13. Utah Jazz
The Utah Jazz is one of those teams that always seems to end up in the playoffs. They get a good seed and fight against the better team, but never much more. This season, fresh off resigning Rudy Gobert to a lucrative extension, they look to do more than that. For this team, it starts and ends on defense. Gobert holds down the inside, and they feature great perimeter defenders all over the roster. They did not get Mitchell much offensive help this off-season, so it is hard to envision them being better than they always are. Just stuck in the middle once again this year for Utah.

14. Atlanta Hawks
Trae Young and the Hawks made some incredible moves in free agency, taking advantage of all the cap space they had. Danillo Gallinari and Bogdan Bogdanovic will bring nearly 30 points per game to the team, Rajon Rondo will add some experience and IQ. To boot, the team is so young that stars like Cameron Reddish, De'Andre Hunter, Kevin Hurter, and John Collins are all still growing alongside Trae Young. They will be one of the most improved teams, and they look to make a playoff appearance in an uncharacteristically competitive easter conference.

15. New Orleans Pelicans
With all of the movement in the NBA during the off-season, it can be easy to forget the changes made to the Pelicans roster. The additions of Steven Adams and Eric Bledsoe are great for this team. They lost Jrue Holiday, but the way he was utilized in New Orleans will be replaced by Bledsoe well. Adams will also add some great height and rim protection for the team in return for losing Derrick Favors. I loved the roster last year, but I may like the fit this year even better. Under new coach Stan Van Gundy, the team is going to make a playoff run this year. A great combination of young stars, veterans, and play styles will come together to create a surprising season.

(Photo By: NBA Media Day)

16. Indiana Pacers
The Pacers are an interesting team. They have a ton of talented players, all nearing all-star level. However, none have broken into being legit stars. Sabonis is incredible, but his impact is limited due to his athleticism and the way the offense has run in recent years. The new coaching staff will look to break him out of his shell and make him their leader. Sadly I do not think this will go well due to the difference in opinion between the players. Each starter is good enough to be a second option on the team, but only one can be the second option. Oladipo seemed to be the choice, but he has regressed since his injury. Brogdan has the talent but took a step back in his efficiency last season and is not aggressive enough. Warren had a great bubble appearance but fizzles out when the team needs him most. They all want to be the next best player, but until one steps up and order is set in that locker room, they have a ceiling as a mid-tier team.

17. Golden State Warriors
The Warriors did not look good on opening night. I hate to overreact to one game, especially after a solid preseason showing. Sadly, the things that I expected to hold this team back did. The lack of shooting and defense around Curry hurts his impact. He was so great because Klay Thompson was the perfect running mate for him. He will still be a fantastic player statistically this season but can not lead this team as he once did. The playmaking was also lacking on this roster. Wiggins, Oubre, and Curry were often shooting off the dribble and not off of the catch. Something the Warriors used to do so well. On top of that, the spacing is poor. Paschall and Wiseman can shoot but are not most effective sitting on the three-point line. The team will get better and end higher than this on my power rankings, but coaching adjustments need to be made. Personally, moving Wiggins or Oubre to the bench with Paschall would help this team out. Focusing on a Wiseman and Curry pick and roll offense. The second unit will then be able to come in and make an impact with Oubre and Paschall. Draymond, once healthy, would start at power forward to improve ball-movement and defense. Then Kent Bazemore should slide into shooting guard play aside Curry in the backcourt to add defense and mediocre spacing. I do not see this team as a top 5 seed, but they should be good enough to make the playoffs when it's all said and done.

18. Houston Rockets
I love this roster. The Rockets will end up higher on the list as the year goes on. However, until Harden is traded or the controversy surrounding that situation dies, I do not see this team succeeding. There are great players on the team, and once new coach Stephen Silas gets his final roster in order, I have full faith that he will create a flowing offense and a great team. John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins are looking to prove themselves again after injuries have riddled their past few seasons. The addition of Wood gives the team some young talent to be excited about too. The talent is there, but chemistry needs to build, and a final team needs to form before ranking them any higher.

19. Washington Wizards
The Washington Wizards were a borderline playoff team last season. They also made the John Wall for Westbrook trade in the off-season to improve their roster. They are better talent-wise, but the problems with this team have not changed. Westbrook can take the pressure off of Bradley Beal, but John Wall would have done that anyway. The defense on the interior is still soft. Thomas Bryant and Davis Bertans can not defend the inside. Bryant is not tall enough and has poor defensive instincts. Bertans is simply not athletic enough to stay with smaller guys or body up bigger guys. This all adds up to leave them vulnerable on the inside. Until that problem is fixed they will =struggle against easter conference teams. Players like Giannis, Embiid, and Siakam will kill them in the interior, and even proclaimed shooters like Tatum, Brown, Durant, and Irving will cut them up and get inside. They got better, but so did many other east teams. They still may sneak in the playoffs due to the star power, but I do not expect much unless a move is made to bolster up the inside defense.

20. Minnesota Timberwolves
The Timberwolves are in an interesting situation. By all accounts, they have a talented roster with a mix of veterans and young players. Karl-Anthony Towns is one of the league's best big men and D'Angelo Russell is a talented perimeter threat. Sadly, the league today has so much talent, that they just may not be enough. The hope for this team is that first overall pick Anthony Edwards can make an impact. He increases their ceiling tremendously as he contrasts the other stars well. For them to make some noise in the tough western conference, they need a defensive scheme overhaul and for Towns to embrace his leadership role to bring along Edwards quicker.


21. Sacramento Kings
The Kings had a morale-boosting win on opening night against the Denver Nuggets. However, this only proved that the team has not changed from last year. They added Whiteside, but the results stay the same. Many of their wins last year came from stars performing well down the stretch against teams that underperformed. Jamal Murray had an awful night, and the Nuggets blew the game at the end. I give credit to the Kings for resiliency and the talent they have, but this team is still not good. Their defense is poor, as many of these bottom teams are, and they have no superstar to rely on night in and night out. Fox and Hield are great players, but if this team ever wants to compete, they need to make a move. Looking like another disappointing year for a disappointing franchise this year.

22. San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs will compete every night as long as Popovich is the head coach. He is schematically one of the greatest coaches of all time and has talent on this roster. DeMar DeRozen is the most underrated player in the NBA, and LaMarcus Aldridge has been Mr. 20 points and eight rebounds for his entire career. To boot, he has young defensive-minded players like DeJounte Murray and Derrick White to hold down the backcourt. Lonnie Walker is also a solid young player that is looking to make some significant strides this year. It is not hard to imagine this team even making the playoffs, but for now, with all the other great teams, they rank at 22.

23. Orlando Magic
The Magic have been a bottom seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs for years now. They have not been able to land any big free agents or make any significant trades. Players like Vucevic, Fultz, and Fournier lead the team to an average record every year. The injury to Johnathan Isaac and the loss of D.J. Augustine in the off-season will make it tough for the team to show any improvement. Isaac was key for the team defensively, and Augustine had a similar impact for the bench. This team only got worse and, with injuries involved, have a slim to no chance of improving.

24. Chicago Bulls
Chicago is another talented roster that does not play well together. They are getting Otto Porter Jr. back and made a great pick in Patrick Williams, but they still did not address their problems. Zach LaVine is a great player, but if he is not going to contribute defensively, then this team can never be in the playoff conversation. All great players in the league impact the game in more ways than just scoring. It feels that without defending or any playmaking ability, LaVine makes the team worse. The Bulls need another star to take the leadership role. It would allow LaVine to be at his best as just the scorer for the team. Without that done, this team can only go as far as LaVine's offense will bring them, which is not far enough.

25. Memphis Grizzlies
This team is terrible. Ja Morant had 44 points on efficient shooting for them on opening night, and they still lost. Without Jaren Jackson Jr., they may have the worst depth in the NBA. Dillon Brooks was the player that took the second most shots, and Jonas Valanciunus was third. Otherwise, this team has no offensive ability. Until Jaren returns, I feel bad for Ja Morant as he will be single-handedly willing this team to any wins they can scrap together. He is said to return in a month or two, so strap in and get ready to watch some awful basketball with a side of Morant in Memphis.

(Photo By: Jacob Kupferman of Getty Images)

26. Charlotte Hornets
It has been tough to be a Hornets fan of late. Letting the greatest guard in franchise history walk a year ago in free agency was tough to watch. To waste his career not surrounding him with any talent to end up losing him for Terry Rozier is not ideal. Sadly, the team has not improved much since last year. The addition of Gordon Hayward is significant but not going to make them much better record-wise. He has the potential to be an all-star this year, but the team is still bad. They will be an exciting team to watch with high flyers like Miles Bridges, Terry Rozier, and Malik Monk to supply exciting plays. The Hornets also have playmakers like Hayward and rookie Lamelo Ball to set up these guys with alley-oops. If style-points were rewarded, I would rank this team higher, but as it stands, the team will not be a playoff team any time soon.

27. Cleveland Cavaliers
When the Cavaliers have not had LeBron James on the team, they have been terrible. Since Mark Price dawned the jersey, no one else has been able to bring the team to the playoffs except for The King. This year will be no different. They made a great pick this year in Isaac Okoro, a player I think will end up being the best on the roster in a few short years. The future is bright behind Sexton, Okoro, and Drummond if they stay in Cleveland. But they lack the star power, the proper coaching, the depth, and the experience to be anything but a high lottery team this year.

28. New York Knicks
Ah, New York. Another year of tanking for the number one pick. At least they have started to build a nice stash of young talented players. The roster is flooded with guys still on their rookie contracts. Mitchell Robinson, Obi Toppin, R.J. Barrett, Immanuel Quickley, Kevin Knox, and Omari Spellman. Robinson has shown his worth over the past two seasons, and Barrett has the potential to grow into a star someday. However, this will have to wait. These players are not ready yet to go out and win games. This year will be good for their internal growth and to allow the young guys to gain experience. Also, they should have a chance to get a top one pick in the draft. Do not look for them to do much other than excite the fans about the years to come.

29. Detroit Pistons
The Motor City has had a tough time revving up any playoff teams over the past decade, only making it once since 2009. The team has progressively gotten worse and worse since they last made it in 2016. But, this year the team made a valuable addition, Jerami Grant. They also drafted a point guard in Killian Hayes to learn under Derrick Rose. This is not the worst the team has been, but a lot would need to go right for them to be competitive in any capacity. I expect another year of development and poor play ending with a high draft pick.

30. Oklahoma City Thunder
Of all the teams in the bottom half of this list, even though the Thunder are at the bottom, they are the team I would want to be the most. They have acquired so many assets in draft picks that it is ridiculous. It may be the worst roster in the NBA, but a year allowing Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to be the leader will be great for his development. OKC can take this year as a time to develop Darius Bazely, Lu Dort, and Hami Diallo into rotational players for when they are contending again. Otherwise, Thunder fans should sit back and watch GM Sam Presti make use of the millions of draft picks they have stockpiled. To compare, I would say it reminds me of the Celtics in 2014 when they ransacked the Nets for everything they had. The Celtics have turned into a contender with young talent leading the team, and I expect the Thunder to end up doing the same.

Author: Daniel O'Donovan

Rating: 5 stars
2 votes

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