Check out the preliminary rankings:
The throwaway season will allow players like Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner to clock in a prominent amount of time in the rotation. The focal point of the offense will be on them with the underpowered squad.
|29||Suns||They are looking toward the future with defaulting the team's overall duties onto Eric Bledsoe, who is an adequate defender. Additionally, Marcin Gortat was flipped for Emeka Okafor and his expiring contract and a protected first round pick, so the immediate future for the Suns is mediocre, but the big picture looks solid.||--|
Victor Oladipo has Rookie of the Year potential. He could potentially be a replacement for Jameer Nelson in the starting lineup and team up with Arron Afflalo in the backcourt, who provides energy on the defensive end.
With Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson on the outs, the reserve big men, Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors will get minutes to mesh together down low. The fruitful combination of those two can be a decent engine for the team.
|26||Bobcats||Al Jefferson will excel as the sole producer and focal point of the offense. His point and rebound numbers will increase substantially. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Kemba Walker are both better defenders than offensive players. Another season is what they need in order to get better.|
Rajon Rondo could very well be out of action until February. Even with him on the squad, it is a very lackluster and poor rotation. However, it does have standouts. Marshon Brooks can produce numbers with the right amount of minutes, Jeff Green can be very reliable when needed and Brandon Bass is a player who one can go to war with in a meaningful, late-game situation.
|24||Bucks||Carlos Delfino helps space the floor with his three point shooting, all the while Ersan Ilyaslova is a nice scorer who rebounds well. The addition of Gary Neal is also nice, but it is difficult to gauge what direction the team wants to go.||--|
|23||Kings||Look for DeMarcus Cousins to have a big year. With Tyreke Evans on the outs, Cousins has officially taken the mantle as face of the franchise. His defense leaves something to be desired, however. They seem rather chaotic in terms of how pieces fit and it will be something Michael Malone will need to figure out.||--|
|22||Raptors||DeMar DeRozan will make a leap this season. He's overdue and has the talent to prove it. He was mediocre last season with his shot selection, just like Rudy Gay. Gay shot poorly last season and look for him to be dealt before the trade deadline.||--|
|21||Lakers||Kobe Bryant will miss the season opener. The team needs to focus down low on Pau Gasol and Chris Kaman. They can't afford to get dry on offense when their defense is among the worst in the league.|
Jeff Teague and Lou Williams make up a really small backcourt. On top of that small forward Kyle Korver is undersized in his position as well. Millsap is a definite improvement above Josh Smith. Al Horford and Millsap will be stingy down in the post.
The team finds itself looking at Kenneth Faried and Javale McGee for the defensive load, but they're only average. Danilo Gallinari will miss the majority of the season as well, so the team is not in a good place.
Monta Ellis can be a capable scorer but his shot selection leaves a lot to be desired. Jose Calderon is decent at his position as well. Dirk Nowitzki will really have to gun it out with personnel that is lackluster.
The team is filled with scoring guards on the bench. Damian Lillard is a solid facilitator alongside Wesley Matthews, who can really defend well. LaMarcus Aldridge is also very versatile in his play. He benefits teaming with Robin Lopez near the rim. Lopez is a post up player while Aldridge has good mid-range aim.
It's difficult to judge an offense where the primary players need the ball at all times. Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon are absolutely going to have some pre-game talks in order to determine how that will work out. The beauty of it is that they all need the ball, but they all also differ in their offensive games. If it works out, this New Orleans team, along with Anthony Davis, will give the new-look Pelicans relevancy.
|15||Cavaliers||Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters will be a scoring duo; akin to Bradley Beal and John Wall. The only thing that will truly dictate the fate of the team is Andrew Bynum. His health means everything on this team. His production will determine if this team bottoms out or make a playoff push.|
Adding Gortat to a team that was already on the brink of making the playoffs helps things. The Washington Wizards are suddenly poised to be a guaranteed sixth seed in an Eastern Conference that is ripe for the picking. Beal and Wall are both going to show tremendous growth this season. Beal can shoot the ball well, and Wall is an energetic distributor.
Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe are an imposing presence around the basket. What really works is that Josh Smith likes to lurk around mid-range, so it fits. Brandon Jennings is also a decent shooter who will be ready at any given night.
If healthy, the combination of Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio and Nikola Pekovic can be dynamic. If healthy. Something that has long eluded Minnesota. Two shooters in Chase Budinger and Kevin Martin perfect compliment the team's structure as well. Stay healthy.
The addition of Andrea Bargnani provides some interesting rotation possibilities. Carmelo Anthony is better suited at the power forward position, but it will be interesting to see how beneficial a frontline of Tyson Chandler and Bargnani, while Carmelo fills the small forward slot. J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert can also briefly cycle around as shooting guards.
All the pieces fit well. with the key aspect being the bench, featuring players like Andrei Kirilenko and Jason Terry who benefit in short spurts. The production of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce hinges on controlled minutes and age. If that pans out, they can be very dangerous.
They have an excellent power forward and center rotation in Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and Ed Davis. The issue is that the rest of the bench is decent, but not reliable. Mike Miller constantly has nagging injuries and Tayshaun Prince is really going to have to will himself to have another productive season.
With Russell Westbrook out for a few weeks, Kevin Durant will shoulder the load. Kevin Martin provided 18 points a night for this team, and ended up splitting without anything in return for the team. There simply is no reliable scorer for this team besides Durant. It could get rocky.
James Harden and Dwight Howard will be a dynamic duo in Houston. The floor will be spread in order to give the likes of Chandler Parsons or Patrick Beverly some open looks, all the while Howard can set himself into position down low for commanding presence.
Derrick Rose looks fantastic. There's no denying it, he's attacking the basket with the same tenacity before his injury. Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer still compliment one another down low, and Jimmy Butler will replace Luol Deng, who will be traded before the deadline. The team looks ready for the Eastern Conference.
Stephen Curry lights it up on any given night. In addition to that, Klay Thompson and Curry can benefit from Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut providing hard screens in order for a quick pick and pop design. How will Barnes and Iguodala juggle the forward position slot, however? Can they play together at the same time?
Jared Dudley and J.J. Redick are efficient shooters from beyond the arc. The Clippers will be more grounded with head coach Doc Rivers. This team is set to be revitalized. DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin still need that extra lift in their games. They have both been bullied when playing defense, so some growth is needed for these two.
Unchanged from last season, the only addition to the team was Marco Belinelli. He is a marksman three-point shooter who can definitely fit in Gregg Popovich's rotation. All they need to do is get over the mental nightmares that they have from the NBA Finals.
Paul George will definitely take that next step toward one of the best forwards in the league. He finishes at the basket and shoots the three at a decent consistency. Roy Hibbert also showed significant growth last season, and it is looking to translate into this season.
Greg Oden is looking decent, which is good news for Heat fans. Dwyane Wade could be on the down spiral after an injury plagued season last year however. LeBron James and company looked strong in their preseason outings, so the defending champions should be on the same pace they were last season.
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Denny is a journalism student at Cerritos College, where he is the sports editor for Talon Marks, the school's news brand. He is a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers and watches a lot of basketball while eating his share of pupusas.
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