NBA Preseason Power Rankings: Who Can Stop The Heat?
A lot of noise echoed throughout the off-season for most teams as marquee coaches and players were dealt; franchises tore down their rosters to start anew.
The 76ers and the Celtics are two teams that have crippled their roster in order to try and attain a powerhouse player in a superstar-infested 2014 off-season, in addition to tanking the entirety of the season in order to to receive a high lottery pick for a stacked draft next season.
Oh, it’s true, Danny Ainge, you’re ‘Riggin’ for Wiggins,’ and you know it. I make reference to Andrew Wiggins of course, who is projected to be the top pick in next June’s NBA Draft.
Superstars such as Brandon Jennings and Jrue Holiday, have been dealt left and right in surprising fashion this off-season, while others have returned to former teams, like Michael Beasley and Mike Miller, and ultimately others have decided to leave teams off their own accord.
Yes, Dwight Howard, we’re talking about you.
As players have yet to truly showcase their interactions and cohesiveness with one another in on-court action, it is difficult to gauge where teams truly rank among the 30 teams in the NBA.
As time passes, one will get a better feel for how teams truly rank, but for now, here are the preseasons power rankings for the NBA season.
|30||76ers||Andre Iguodala, Evan Turner, Elton Brand and Holiday were among the many players who were on the verge of giving the Celtics a run for their money a couple years ago in the playoffs with the 76ers, nearly edging the team out in the conference semifinals.|
Fast forward to today and you see nothing of what once was.
The team took a gamble and traded Iguodala for Andrew Bynum, who would not once don the Philadelphia uniform throughout the season.
It is apparent that the 76ers have given up hope after a surprising trade of Holiday to the Pelicans, but the objective clearly is to build for next season.
|29||Suns||The Phoenix Suns are a team who are showing no intent to hide their intentions of losing this season.|
Shedding players off of the roster such as Beasley, Luis Scola and Caron Butler, who never touched a Phoenix jersey, the objective of the Suns is to lose, plain and simple.
New addition Eric Bledsoe provides a nice look for the Suns in the future, in addition to Goran Dragic showing promise at point guard, so if this whole tanking thing works out, look for the Suns to climb a few spots ahead in a few years.
|28||Magic||Victor Oladipo was the biggest highlight for the Orlando Magic during the offseason, which leads one to consider if the team truly even cares at this point.|
Oladipo will have to make an adjustment toward the guard position, a spot he is not comfortable with. Even further adjustments are needed for a team that cannot afford any more.
Like many others, tanking is clearly an objective, and it would be no surprise if the team's pep talk centered around how to make it seem like it isn't trying to lose.
|27||Jazz||Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson, two prominent players and the primary focus for offense and defense for the Jazz the previous season both left for the Hawks and Bobcats, respectively.|
Tough blow, but it gives the likes of Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter to shine, in addition to Gordon Hayward who is a decent player for the Jazz.
|26||Bucks||'Fear the deer,' a moniker attached to the Bucks when the team was in playoffs contention back in 2010.|
Now, the team is down at the bottom of the barrel after trading away its superstar Brandon Jennings to the Detroit Pistons and making its goal known to all: time to rebuild.
Butler is a decent pickup for the team, but the team truly needs a facilitator, as Ersan Ilyasova will be a focal point for the team's offense for this season.
|25||Bobcats||Oh, the Bobcats. Back in the 2010 playoffs, the team showed signs of going in the right direction after Gerald Wallace made a heroic effort of leading the team to the first round, only to get bounced by the Magic.|
A few bone-headed deals here and there, not to mention questionable picks in the draft, and you have a team that has been officially labeled as the worst team in NBA history during the 2012 lockout season, and a team that looks no different from last season, aside from the new addition of big man Al Jefferson, of course.
In a attempt to bring relevancy back to Charlotte, a desperate Michael Jordan has instituted a name change back to the Hornets, starting next season.
So, how long until Jordan breaks down and makes that comeback at 50 years old he teased about back in his 2009 Hall of Fame speech?
I'll give it until December.
|24||Celtics||Ainge insists that the Celtics are absolutely not tanking this season and are ready to compete and build anew.|
Whatever you say, Danny.
The destruction of the 'Big 3 era' with the loss of Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, and the hiring of college head coach Brad Stevens, along with the continuous rumored shopping of Rajon Rondo, are more than enough proof that the Celtics are looking to make some noise next off-season as opposed to this upcoming season.
|23||Kings||With Tyreke Evans leaving Sacramento, it leaves DeMarcus Cousins to lead the charge with a team that was thought to have been leaving Sacramento for a few years now.|
Incredible potential is within Cousins, but constant immaturity issues plague his judgment.
Cousins needs to make an adjustment to not only his game, but his personality, in addition to that, the team needs to consider options in a trade in order to improve.
|22||Raptors||There is nothing the Raptors have done to improve themselves beside the addition of Tyler Hansbrough this off-season. The team still has Rudy Gay, whose shooting ability leaves a lot to be desired. Yet, the team still might make the playoffs despite most likely having a losing record.|
The Eastern Conference, ladies and gentleman.
|21||Wizards||John Wall and Bradley Beal are both fitting to have breakout seasons and if Emeka Okafor can stay healthy, the team might just be able to sneak into the playoffs.|
Pieces are missing, but with an extension signed by Wall, building off of this squad serves hope for fans.
|20||Nuggets||How strange it is to have your head coach George Karl win coach of the year and then get rewarded by getting fired. It's even stranger how a team with a bright future and a legitimate western conference presence lost its way so quickly and was quietly replaced by the Warriors as the team to watch.|
A team that had 57 wins the previous season might possibly miss the playoffs this season.
|19||Pistons||The Pistons have acquired two central pieces this off-season with Jennings and Josh Smith. The only problem is that Smith doesn't fit quite well with a team that needed development in its young big men, especially when Smith adores mid-range shots that he has decent range with.|
The team might make the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference, but if the team wants to truly be competitive, an extra piece is needed and adjustments in the front court need to be made.
|18||Mavericks||Strangely, the Mavericks still managed to be relatively average in a season where Dirk Nowitzki missed a few games with injury and the team had no true standouts in terms of talent.|
Adding Jose Calderon and Monta Ellis, the Mavericks could quietly creep their way into the playoffs this season.
|17||Trail Blazers||A weak bench is the biggest factor in the team's woes this past season, and from the looks of it, this season as well.|
The Blazers should consider making a deal before the trade deadline in order to get some pieces in return, as the center position is undermanned and LaMarcus Aldridge can't handle all the slack himself.
Making a trade to compliment Damian Lillard and Nicolas Batum will be one step forward for the Blazers.
|16||Lakers||The departure of Howard only continues the woes for the Lakers that have carried over from all of the previous season.|
An almost surreal season where everything went the exact opposite of what was expected, the Lakers are in a rough patch where Kobe Bryant is in limbo when it comes to his Achilles injury and the uncertainty of not only Mike D'Antoni, but the entire roster's potential, has many fans scratching their heads on what can be expected this season.
|15||Timberwolves||The Timberwolves have been a sad case. The team has constantly acquired talent and the structure to be a competitive, playoff team. Yet, the injury bug continues to plague the team the same way it attacks Portland.|
Health is the biggest factor, something each individual on the team has limited control over, so Timberwolves fans will have to pray for the well being of Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio and others if the team will seek to make the playoffs.
|14||Cavaliers||The Cavaliers' woes from the departure of LeBron James may finally be coming to an end as the team has made good additions in the off-season.|
The team made the gamble the 76ers did a year ago, but with a limited contract as to not impair the team's financial structure. Jarrett Jack is also a great pickup for the team.
Include top draft pick Anthony Bennett, and you have a team who might just make the playoffs after a four-year hiatus.
|13||Pelicans||An interesting offseason and a chance for a fresh start for New Orleans after a name change and an abundance of talent to the roster.|
But who will handle the ball?
Holiday, Evans and Eric Gordon all require the ball in their hands in order to play the game their accustomed to. This still leaves the structure on offense and how shots are allocated, especially down low with Anthony Davis.
Adjustments will need to be made.
|12||Hawks||Millsap provided a nice bolster for the Hawks' roster, but the team still lingers in mediocrity. The team remains in an average plane, right in between good and bad, the worst place to be as an NBA team.|
The team still needs to make a few moves, but as of now, the team is truly still in the same spot as last season.
|11||Knicks||Metta World Peace and Andrea Bargnani have joined the Knicks in an attempt to provide the roster some depth, yet the team really needs to stay healthy after Amar'e Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert have both been plagued by ongoing injuries.|
The Knicks need to be careful, or else another team in New York might dethrone their place.
|10||Nets||The Nets have a new look and feel to it yet again this season as Garnett and Pierce have joined the team, in addition to an interesting hiring in former player Jason Kidd as head coach.|
The continued bickering between the Knicks and the Nets have many excited about a potential rivalry in New York, and the Nets might have the edge, but the team is still not as good as it may seem on paper as previous experiences have entailed.
|9||Bulls||The return of Derrick Rose has many basketball fans excited about the possibilities for the Bulls, and many even have aspirations for championships.|
Do not expect Rose to be the same explosive man he once was, however, as injuries like the one Rose suffered one has a tendency to make one very tender and sore.
The rugged roster of the Bulls remains intact, but the lowered productivity of Luol Deng and the diminished roster in comparison to that of the one Rose last played with in 2012, has the Bulls slightly lower than where they once were when Rose was healthy.
|8||Rockets||The addition of Howard has suddenly directed the attention toward Houston, who have high expectations placed upon itself.|
A pick and roll combo of James Harden and Howard has exciting possibilities, in addition to the talents of Patrick Beverly, Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin.
The West is not a friendly place to be, however, and Houston's rise in stock has it floating around with Memphis and Golden State.
|7||Grizzlies||A shocking move for Memphis this offseason was the firing of head coach Lionel Hollins. Whether or not this was a wise decision is yet to be decided, but head coach Dave Joerger has plenty to work with in Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol.|
The team largely remains unchanged, however, and if it wants to deal with the Spurs, the team who knocked them out in the playoffs, or even Houston or Golden State, then its time to unveil some new strategies.
|6||Thunder||That James Harden deal is looking worse and worse for the Thunder as each day goes by.|
Kevin Martin has split, while Russell Westbrook will unexpectedly miss an extended period of time during the beginning of the season.
Kevin Durant is a killer, but if the playoffs matchup with the Grizzlies was any indication, the Thunder can only go so far with only Durant leading the forefront.
|5||Clippers||The 'lob city' gimmick is no more. Now is the time for a championship.|
Los Angeles truly belongs to the Clippers this season as the team has acquired the savvy head coach Doc Rivers and has also made perimeter shooting additions with guards Jared Dudley and J.J. Redick.
If Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan season their talents and hold some go-to post moves to their name this season, both of them and Chris Paul can make a valiant stretch throughout the West this season.
|4||Warriors||Incredible coaching efforts from head coach Mark Jackson and the arguably the best shooter in the NBA, Stephen Curry, have propelled the Warriors to a place that not many basketball fans thought they would see.|
This is a team that gave the steaming-hot Spurs any real trouble out West during the playoffs.
The loss of Jarrett Jack hurts some, but the addition of Iguodala and productivity from Andrew Bogut and Klay Thompson will truly give teams out there matchup nightmares.
|3||Spurs||Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals is something the Spurs will never forget. A mere seconds away from a championship slipped away from the veteran team.|
One of the greatest shots in NBA history from Ray Allen sealed the deal for the Spurs.
Largely untouched and unscathed from the previous season, the Spurs have done nothing to build off of last season, and this isn't exactly a problem.
Overlooked time and time again, who is one to argue that the Spurs are done for sure this time around? The team can very well be back to compete for a championship and prove doubters wrong again this season.
|2||Pacers||The only true threat to the defending champions are the Pacers, who have bolstered and already impressive roster and already posed a threat to begin with.|
Scola provides not only an additional and necessary big man for the Pacers off the bench, but this is a big man who has a finishing touch and a nice hint of post moves.
Paul George has yet to reach his potential and Roy Hibbert provides a presence down in the paint. If the Pacers can get efficiency from the likes of Danny Granger and Lance Stephenson, then the Pacers could be a legitimate replacement for the defending champions in June.
|1||Heat||The reigning, defending, back-to-back, NBA champion Heat has proven that the team is the best in the league.|
The team has only become better in the off-season.
Aside from Miller, the roster is unchanged from the previous season, but has added the likes of Greg Oden and Beasley.
If Oden has his minutes managed and strengthens his knees and Beasley strays away from his off-court issues, while Dwyane Wade can stay healthy himself, with the addition of an in-his-prime James, the Heat will be major favorites to win three straight come June.
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