2014-15 NBA Preseason Power Rankings
1. San Antonio Spurs – The Spurs are the defending champs and return every player from last year team and added two more players in the draft. No other team in the NBA plays with as much unity as the Spurs. Final MVP Kawhi Leonard returns as the starting small forward and he is just 23 years old, and they have the best coach in all the NBA in Gregg Popovich. I expect the Spurs to have the best record in the Western Confernence and compete to defend their title.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers – The Cavaliers added the best player in the world in LeBron James. They traded their number one pick, Andrew Wiggins, for one of the best power forward in the game in Kevin Love. Cleveland already has one of the best point guards in the league in Kyrie Irving. The Cavs had been one of the worst teams in the NBA the past four seasons, and now they are a team built to win a championship. If I had to predict today, I would say that the Cavs would win the NBA title, they have the best big three in basketball, and the greatest player of our time in his prime.
3. Chicago Bulls – The Bulls went out and made some major moves this offseason. They signed Paul Gasol and traded for the rights to Doug McDermott. Chicago traded both of their first round picks for McDermott. With a healthy Derrick Rose and the addition of Gasol, to go with Joakim Noah, makes this a dangerous team this season. I see the Bulls making it to the Eastern Conference Finals, but if Rose or Gasol were to go down, I see this team having a tough time getting past the first round.
4. Los Angeles Clippers – The Clippers have been so close the last few season. Los Angeles has two of the best players in the NBA in Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. Can these two players plus DeAndre Jordan lead the Clippers to their first Conference Finals in organization history? I think that it’s possible if they stay health. They now have the playoff experience, after three straight years of making the playoffs. Right now I have the Clippers losing in the Conference Semifinals, but I do think that this team will have a great regular season, and be a top three seed.
5. Oklahoma City Thunder – The Thunder will be without their star player, Kevin Durant, until at least December. Can this team win without him? I think they can, they have star point guard Russell Westbrook to go with one of the best front courts in the NBA. When healthy this is a top three team in the NBA. I have the Thunder playing the Cavs in the NBA Finals.
6. Portland Trail Blazers – The Trail Blazers made the playoffs last season, after missing the playoffs two straight seasons. Portland starting point guard Damian Lillard, is only getting better and is entering his third NBA season. Lillard has quickly become one of the better players in the NBA. The Trail Blazers also have star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who was great during the postseason last season. Last season, Portland won their first playoff series, since beating the Jazz in the Conference Semifinals in 2000. The Trail Blazers knocked off Houston in the first round last season and got beat in five games against the Spurs. This season I expect Portland to return to the Conference Semifinals, but I don’t know if this team is ready to advance further than that.
7. Houston Rockets – Dwight Howard is one of the best centers in the game. James Harden is a great player, but is not a top 20 player. The Rockets went out in the first round last season to the Trail Blazers. They added Trevor Ariza, who is a great defender, but lacks on the offensive side. Houston will have to find their identity early on, if they want to be a top tier team all season. I look for Houston to make the playoffs, but I don’t think they get past the first round.
8. Dallas Mavericks – What an offseason for the Mavs, they added Chandler Parsons, Tyson Chandler, Raymond Felton, and Jameer Nelson. They already have the legendary power forward Dirk Nowitzki. Dallas opponents will also have to deal with Monta Ellis, who is entering his second season in Dallas. I look for Ellis to have a big season and Nowitzki, well to be Nowitzki. Dallas lost in the first round, last season to the Spurs in a seven game series. I expect Dallas to be at the top of the West this season, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them in the Finals.
9. Golden State Warriors – Golden State welcomes a new coach, Steve Kerr, and you should expect to see a much different team this season. The Warriors have the best three point shooter and one of the best players in the game, Stephen Curry. The Warriors are a very skilled team, with a solid front court, with Curry, Klay Thompson, and Andre Iguodala. Golden State lost in the first round last season to the Clippers, in a great seven game series. With the Western Conference being so strong, I see the Warriors getting anything from a sixth to an eighth seed this season.
10. New Orleans Pelicans – The Pelicans have finished fifth in their division the last five seasons. But, that isn’t a bad thing because it gave them the chance to add Anthony Davis, who is arguably one of the best players in the game. The Pelicans have a solid back court, to go with Davis. The Pelicans will need to stay healthy this season. Eric Gordon has only played in 115 games the last three seasons combined. Jrue Holiday only played in 34 games last season. If this whole team stay healthy and with some other teams struggling from injuries, I can see them anywhere from a third to an eighth seed.
11. Washington Wizards – The Wizards had one of their best seasons in recent memory last year, beating the Bull in the first round. Washington lost in the Conference Semifinals to the Pacers. The Wizards have a great back court, with John Wall, Bradley Beal, and new addition Paul Pierce. Pierce isn’t the player he use to be, but I still expect him to have a solid season. The Wizards weakness is their front court and thats why I have them behind the Pelicans. The Wizards just like the Pelicans, will be anywhere from a third to an eighth seed.
12. Phoenix Suns – The Suns missed the playoffs by one game last season, and haven’t made the playoffs since 2010. The Suns have to great guards in Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic. If both of these players repeat their success from last season and stay healthy I expect the Suns to have a great season. I see the Suns as a seventh or eighth seed in that strong conference, but wouldn’t be surprised if the barley missed the playoffs again.
13. Memphis Grizzlies – The Grizzlies lost in the first round last season to the Thunder, and return every starter from that team. Memphis also added veteran Vince Carter. The Grizzlies have a dominate starting rotation, but outside of Carter, they lack the skill on the bench to take them all the way. I predict that Memphis will make the playoffs, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they barely missed the postseason with the strength of the Western Conference.
14. Miami Heat – The Heat lost their star player to the Cavs, but they still have two great players in Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. Miami also added Luol Deng to take LeBron place, he is no LeBron, but will be a solid player for the Heat. I think that the Heat will struggle this season, until they start to gel. I see the Heat getting anywhere from the third to fifth seed in the postseason, and it would love to see them square off against the Cavs.
15. Denver Nuggets – I expect Kenneth Faried to have a breakout season, and become on of the more dominating post players in the NBA. Denver also has one of the most underrated players in the league, Ty Lawson. Lawson and Faried will have big seasons, but will it be enough to put this team in the playoffs. The Nuggets are one of the teams that are right on the edge of making the playoffs, but the strength of the Western Conference will make it very difficult.
16. Brooklyn Nets – Brooklyn added a new coach in Lionel Hollins, after trading Jason Kidd coaching rights to Milwaukee. The Nets also lost Paul Pierce, but they still have a Deron Williams and Joe Johnson. Brooklyn lost in the Conference Semifinals last season to Miami. I see the Nets making the playoffs, but not making it past the Conference Semifinals.
17. Toronto Raptors – Toronto shocked everyone in the NBA last season, getting a third seed in the playoffs. They lost in the first round last season to the Nets, after leading the series 3-2. The Raptors return every starter from last years team and they have one of the most underrated back courts in the league. The Raptors should be a playoff team yet again and I can see them making it to the Conference Semifinals.
18. New York Knicks – Carmelo Anthony is one of the best players in the game, but he can’t do it all. Amar’e Stoudemire is not the same player he was in the 2010-11 season. The Knicks will be one of the teams competing for the eight seed in the east, and as long as Anthony stays healthy they have a chance.
19. Indiana Pacers – The Pacers lost Lance Stephenson to free agency, and they didn’t pursue him because they have Paul George one of the best players in the NBA. Unfortunately, George suffered a compound fracture in his lower right leg during a scrimmage with the US National team. He is expected to miss the whole season, and without him the Pacers will have a tough time winning. C.J. Miles is expected to take his place, he has only had one full season as a starter and it was in the 2008-09 season, with Utah. The Pacers will still have a strong post with David West and Roy Hibbert. I don’t expect Indiana to make the playoffs this season.
20. Atlanta Hawks – Like all the other Atlanta professional teams, the Hawks are choke artists. Every season they put an ok roster together and lose in the first round of the playoffs. Atlanta snuck in the playoffs last season, after winning four of their last five games. I don’t expect this team to make the playoffs this season.
21. Charlotte Hornets – Charlotte has put a roster together that is built to win, and they made the playoffs last season, losing to the Heat in the first round. The Hornets added Lance Stephenson and have a great young player in Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. This is a team that I’m still not sure about, and I can see them sneaking in the playoffs.
22. Los Angeles Lakers – The Lakers announced that Jeremy Lin will be their starting point guard this season. Kobe Bryant will return and be healthy, and the Lakers added power forward Carlos Boozer. They added a strong post player, Julius Randle, with their seventh pick in the draft. Can Bryant lead this team back to their old ways? Is Lin the answer for the Lakers at point guard? This season will mostly be question instead of answers for the Lakers. I see them missing the playoffs.
23. Sacramento Kings – Sacramento could be the sleeper team in the NBA this season, with DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay leading the way. Cousins is a top 15 player in the league and Gay is also a top player, but is it enough for the Kings to make their first playoff, since 2006. If this team can play together and take advantage of having one of the best big men in the game, I can see them sneaking in the playoffs.
24. Detroit Pistons – Andre Drummond had a great sophomore season in the NBA, and Greg Monroe has been consistent the last three seasons. The Pistons also added Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith last season. The Pistons haven’t made the playoffs since 2009 and haven’t won more than 30 games since that season. I think that could change this season, but this team has some chemistry issues. The good news is they have a new coach, Stan Van Gundy. The only time that Van Gundy didn’t take his team to the postseason, was when he resigned as the coach of Miami.
25. Minnesota Timberwolves – Minnesota traded Kevin Love, their best player, to the Cavs for the number one pick Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins has a lot of potential and some have called him the next NBA superstar. The Timberwolves also have a young point guard in Ricky Rubio. The T-Wolves have a bright future ahead of them, but this season will be another tough one for Minnesota fans.
26. Utah Jazz – Utah has the third youngest team in the NBA, and they lack the depth at center and small forward. Trey Burke is a future star, but he is still young and Enes Kanter is improving. I’m also excited to see what Dante Exum can do, after shocking everyone with his play before the draft. Look for the Jazz to end up with another top five pick.
27. Orlando Magic – Orlando drafted Aaron Gordon, who I think is the most NBA ready player from the draft last season. Victor Oladipo enters his second season, and I expect big things from him this season. The Magic are the fourth youngest team in the NBA, and I still think they are a few seasons away from contending.
28. Milwaukee Bucks – The Bucks drafted Jabari Parker, with the second pick in the draft. Parker is their future and Brandon Knight had a breakout season last year. Milwaukee did add Jason Kidd, as their head coach, but he will have a tough time this season, coaching the second youngest team in the NBA. Look for the Bucks to get another top five pick and add a post player to complement Parker.
29. Boston Celtics – Boston is trying to trade away their star player, Rajon Rondo, but Marcus Smart will start the season for them, since Rondo is injured. Brad Stevens enters his second season as the coach of the Celtics, and I think he is doing a great job with what he has. Boston is currently the fifth youngest team in the league and will more than likely be the youngest, if they trade Rondo and Jeff Green. The Celtics will most certainly be a lottery pick.
30. Philadelphia 76ers – The 76ers are the youngest team in the NBA. Nerlens Noel is back, after missing last season, and will look to have a great rookie season. Philadelphia also has the 2014 NBA Rookie of the Year, Michael Carter-Williams, but this team is missing veterans to help lead the team. The 76ers will get a lottery pick, and should get a top five pick.