NBA Power Rankings – Pre Season Edition

LeBron James Miami HeatBy Al Greenan | @algreenan
Welcome to the first ever Hoopsfix NBA Power Rankings, which will be posted every week, keeping you up to date with all 30 teams, all season.

The best thing about the NBA is that everyone has their opinion. This is just one opinion, so feel free to start the debate in the comments section below!



Miami (46-20)
This year’s incarnation of the Miami Heat might just be the scariest yet. Instead of settling for their championship roster, the Heat added the greatest shooter of all time in Ray Allen and a versatile forward, perfect for Miami’s small ball, in Rashard Lewis. You can never really be sure what kind of shape Dywane Wade is in, but if he can keep his knees alive, the Heat can look forward to a meeting with OKC or LA.



L.A. Lakers (41-25)
The LA Lakers were last seen walking out of Chesapeake Energy Arena having been subjected to a brutal 4-1 series defeat by the Thunder. Oh how things change! Nash, Bryant, World Peace, Gasol, Howard; How does that sound? Incredible, potentially. Much like the 2011 Heat, everyone will be gunning for these guys. However, much like the Heat, their talent is undeniable and, this time next year I could be talking about the defending champs.



Oklahoma City (47-19)
The defending Western Conference champs in third? I know, I know. The Thunder will thrive as the ‘underdogs’ in the west this season. They know what their goal is and no matter what anyone says, they believe that the Larry O’Brien trophy is theirs. In the short term, Harden-palooza could be a huge distraction. Their defence took a step back last year, so they’ll be aiming to put that right. A healthy Kendrick Perkins and more improvement from Serge Ibaka are essential if they’re to concede around the 97.0 PPG mark.



San Antonio (50-16)
You know what you’re getting with the Spurs: an impeccably coached group of disciplined players, somewhere near the top of the western conference. What have they done to overcome the Thunder and Lakers? Not a lot, but that’s not their style; they’ll believe that they can still outplay anyone. A big plus? The potential of rookie Nando De Colo  The big minus? Their new grey uniforms.



Boston (39-27)
How many ‘one last shot’ season’s have these guys had now? The departure of Ray Allen was a potential stumbling block, but Jason Terry is a more than adequate replacement. Terry can create his own shot, which will inevitably lead to a few more easy buckets. Expect to see large contributions from Jeff Green and Jared Sullinger as the C’s aim to keep their veteran players healthy for the post-season.



L.A. Clippers (40-26)
It’s make or break for Blake Griffin this year. There’s a chance that, if he doesn’t develop a consistent jumper/post game, his effectiveness will free fall. I believe he has the character to ignore the media and keep making posters. The addition of veterans Lamar Odom and Grant Hill gives this team the strength in depth which could worry the top teams out West.



Indiana (42-24)
There’s no reason that the Pacers can’t aim for the 2
nd seed in the east, especially with Derrick Rose on the sidelines in Chicago. The pacers were 10th defensively 9th offensively last season and could have sent Miami fishin’ if a few things had gone their way. DJ Augustin and Ian Mahinmi give the Pacers the depth which they needed to put the Heat away last year.



Denver (38-28)
Ty Lawson claims they are “the best team in the west”. He’s wrong, but not as wrong as you’d think. The Nuggets model is to create a deep roster full of talented non-max deal players; this year’s team is the best yet. Andre Iguodala brings some welcome wing defence and if JaVale McGee can avoid being an idiot and find some constency, why can’t they finish the regular season at the summit of the west?



Dallas (36-30)
There was a genuine chance that the Mavs could have ended up with both Deron Williams and Dwight Howard. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be, but they made some decent additions in Elton Brand, Darren Collison, Chris Kaman and O.J. Mayo. Only three players remain from the 2011 Championship team: Rodrigue Beaubois, Shawn Marion and Dirk Nowitzki.



Brooklyn (22-44)
This time last year, the biggest news surrounding the Nets was Kris Humphries and Kim Kardashian. Needless to say, the situation has improved! Expect a newly motivated Deron Williams to squeeze him self back into the ‘best PG in the league debate’ now he has an All Star running mate in Joe Johnson and an All Star (if healthy) in Brook Lopez. The first season the in the Barclays Center will last until May if they can step up on D.




New York (36-30)
New uniforms, OLD team. Jason Kidd, Rasheed Wallace, Marcus Camby and Kurt Thomas would have been tremendous acquisitions in 2003. Despite the OAP’s, Melo, Amare (if healthy), Chandler, Shumpert and the returning Ray Felton should be enough to comfortably secure the 7
th or 8th seed in the East. Rasheed Wallace might do some weird stuff, which is fun,



Minnesota (26-40)
The waiting game. It all hinges on when, and how effectively, Ricky Rubio returns. The Wolves were on track to make the Playoffs before he tore his ACL last season. Kevin Love asked for reinforcements and the additions of Brandon Roy, Andrei Kirilenko, Alexei Shved and Chase Buddinger will really help them stay in the race until Ricky’s return. Anything other than a trip to the post-season will be deemed a failure for the Wolves.



Chicago (50-16)
Much like the Wolves, the Bulls are without their banged up point guard. The big difference between the two, is that Chicago don’t know when their point guard will be coming back. You can count on Coach Thibadeaou getting their defence in shape, but you have to wonder where the offence is going to come from. Luol Deng is much more comfortable as a third option offensively, whilst Rip Hamilton and Carlos Boozer define inconsistency.



Memphis (41-25)
A full season of Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph is a must for the Grizz. The inevitable departure of O.J Mayo leaves the grizzlies a little thin in terms of perimeter scoring, which could be a problem against the bigger teams in the league. An entertaining series with the Clippers ultimately led to an extended summer; something I’m sure the Grizzlies will want to put right this year.



Philadelphia (35-31)
This season marks the beginning of yet another new era for the sixers. It was no secret that they wanted to deal Andre Iguodala, and with the addition of All Centre Andrew Bynum, they more than got their deal. Bynum is currently in Germany having the same experimental treatment Kobe had last summer. The Sixers are still lacking a player to take over in the 4
th, but offensive contributions from Nick Young will help,



Toronto (23-43)
In my opinion, the most ‘under the radar’ team in the league. The acquisitions of Landry Fields, Kyle Lowry and Terrence Ross make this team much, much better. People forget that before Andrea Bargnani got injured last year, he was playing at an All-Star level. The dish coming out of Toronto is that he’s in the shape of his life. If DeMar DeRozan can score efficeniently and Jonas Valanciunas is as good as he is on YouTube, the 7th or 8th seed is a realistic goal



Utah (36-30)
I really like this team. The youthful core of Hayward, Favors and Enes Kanter is surrounded with a good group of productive veterans. Mo Williams thrived in his sixth man role last year, so it will be interesting to see how Ty Corbin uses him. One thing’s for sure; things are going to have to tighten up on defence.



Portland (28-38)
Re-signing Nicolas Batum was huge for the Blazers. However, the size of the deal means they are set with this group for relevant future. Rookie point guard Damian Lillard is an outside bet for Rookie of the Year, and will start from the outset. There is also the small matter of Joel Freeland’s rookie season!



Golden State (23-43)
One of these years, the Warriors have to start playing defence. Right? Mark Jackson’s defensive record as player speaks for itself, but without a real training camp last year, he wasn’t able to make much of an impact on last year’s 27
th worst defensive team. The health of Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut will be huge for the Warriors this year.



Atlanta (40-26)
Atlanta did well to unload a couple of huge contracts in Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams. Whilst this gives them lots of room to manoeuvre in Free-Agency, it might mean saying goodbye to the Playoffs this year. Josh Smith is in a contract year, so if he can put up numbers, and Al Horford can stay healthy, they still have a decent chance of getting there.



New Orleans (21-45)
With #1 pick Anthony Davis, newly acquired Centre, Robin Lopez and Coach Monty Williams, expect the Hornets to be a top 10 team defensively this year. Offensively, a lot of responsibility will fall on Greivis Vasquez, but if Eric Gordon can live up to his price tag and Ryan Anderson can shoot a high percentage, this team could be quite useful.



Cleveland (21-45)
Ever since this video of Kyrie Irving tearing up USAB training camp came out, I’ve been craving the return of the guy. Irving should have been an All Star last year and I think we’ll see him make that jump this year. Consistent minutes from Anderson Varejao and Tristan Thompson will play a huge part in how far this team goes.



Orlando (37-29)
It requires a particular set of skills to orchestrate a trade which involves three All Stars, and end up with almost nothing *slow claps*. Expect an awful lot of three point shots and not an awful lot of defence. As I write this, I can’t believe they gave away their all time leading scorer, rebounder and blocker for Aaron Afallo, Al Harrington, Josh McRoberts, Mo Harkless, Nikola Vucevic and Christian Eyenga. If Big Baby can average 20-15-5, everything will be fine!



Milwaukee (31-35)
Lots of questions. Can Ellis and Jennings play together after a proper training camp? Can Ersan Ilyasova continue to put up last year’s ridiculous numbers? Can they consistently play defence? A lot of the pressure will be on Scott Skiles, but he’s up to the task.



Phoenix (33-33)
The Suns are definitely going to be one of the league pass teams of the season. With Goran Dragic, Marcin Gortat, Luis Scola and Michael Beasley on court together, lots of cool stuff is going to happen. I feel like they will be like the Timberwolves last year: great to watch, but ultimately short of being a playoff contender.



Detroit (25-41)
I’m not sure I’ve ever enjoyed watching a team as little as last year’s Pistons. Getting rid of Ben Gordon’s contract was a big plus, but Charlie Villanueva;Tayshaun Prince; Corey Maggette and Rodney Stuckey will cost them $34,248,183 this year – OUCH. The guys to watch are Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe inside.



Sacramento (22-44)
It’s time for this team to grow up. DeMarcus cousins needs to transform raw talent in production; night in, night out. The arrival of PG Aaron Brooks should make for an exciting battle with last season’s bright spot for the Kings, Isaiah Thomas.



Washington (20-46)
This has been touted as a ‘make or break’ season for John Wall, having not quite lived up to his early promise and all-round raw talent so far. Unfortunately, Wall’s knee injury went the ‘break’ route, keeping him on the sidelines for the first month of the season. If Nene, Trevor Ariza, Jordan Crawford and Bradley Beal can keep the team competitive, the Wizards will have a fighters chance of some kind of playoff race involvelment.



Houston (34-32)
The Rockets’ front office has always been good at putting a competitive product out on the court. Not this year. After breaking up last years group in hope of attracting an All Star, they’re left with a pretty shallow roster, built around Lin and Asik. On the plus side, Lin will probably be an All Star!



Charlotte (7-56)
Unfortunately, one of the worst teams in NBA history has done very little to change their reputation as the whipping boys of the league. Ramon Sessions will feel he has a point to prove and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is an exciting prospect, but ultimately that won’t be enough.

What do think? Agree/disagree? Let me know in the comments!

Image Credit: NBAE/Getty Images

  • Top of my list is pretty similar…… but I have the Mavs down at No 14 due to Dirk being injured… apparently his knee is still swollen and if he misses time that will be a huge hole to fill… personally I prefer the T-Wolves and Grizz over the Mav’s.. I have the Hawks, Jazz, Blazers and GS all above the Raptors with GS in at number 18, if Bogut can stay healthy with Curry they will be awsome, a starting line up of Curry, Klay, Harrison Barnes, David Lee and Bogut!..I also have Orlando further down, at least below the Bucks who I think with Ersan will surprise a ot of teams. My bottom 3 are Washington, Detroit and the Pussy Cats.

  • Alex D

    Mine is fairly similar, but i would have the Rockets higher up the list, certainly not a play-off side, but not in the bottom 5 of the league!

  • Al Greenan

    Thanks for your opinions guys!

    Sam – You’re definitely on to something now that Dirk has had surgery. “If Bogut can stay healthy” is one of the biggest ‘ifs’ in the league. It’s also impossible to know how much, if at all, Klay Thompson will improve.

    Alex – I hope you’re right, simply because I feel like Jeremy Lin is being unfairly criticised. Look at this roster though Then take into account that it’s possibly Kevin Martin will be shipped. They’re already watching lottery balls.

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