NBA Power Rankings

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NBA Power Rankings

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By: Domenic Casparriello ’19 and Eric Gould ’19

With the NBA season underway, many teams throughout the league have made adjustments to their rosters that will benefit or hurt their chances during the regular season this year. Here is how we think the teams will line up record-wise at the end of the year:


30) Atlanta Hawks


Coming in at number 30 are the lackluster Atlanta Hawks; they are undisputedly one of the worst teams in the league, and they did not get much better this offseason. The offseason acquisition of PG Trae Young will definitely help this subpar lineup. However, standing at 6’2”, Young won’t be able to dominate and carry this team too far without help. Also taking in the fact that he has not played in a regular season NBA game yet, this team will most likely be a contender for the number one pick in next year’s NBA Draft.


29) Sacramento Kings


Since the loss of DeMarcus Cousins, the Kings future hasn’t looked too bright. However, they did have a key addition to their team this offseason, drafting Marvin Bagley III, who was the second pick in the draft. Along with other minor additions, this teams lack of success will most likely continue into this upcoming season, but it should be exciting for their fans to see their new, young talent develop.


28) Chicago Bulls


It’s weird to think that one of the most historic franchises in the league could be so bad, but here we are. The Bulls made almost few moves in the offseason. The only noticeable improvement was the addition of Jabari Parker, who is a solid starter but a poor defender. Drafting big-man Wendell Carter Jr. in the offseason was one of the steals of the draft. Having Zach LaVine as your best player is not a good sign. This team, best case, will get only a couple more wins added to their abysmal 27-55 record from last season.

27) Orlando Magic


Even though the Magic are ranked low to begin the season, I can easily see this team making their way up through the power rankings as the season progresses. One of my favorite picks of the draft, Mohamed Bamba will look to lead this team along with Aaron Gordon. People forget about Jonathan Isaac and Jonathon Simmons, who are solid young players that will make great additions to this team. With all these improvements to their roster, I still see the Magic falling short of the playoffs. However, look out for this team in future years.

26) Brooklyn Nets


It’s a miracle, Brooklyn isn’t completely awful. This team has had struggles the last couple years as a result from genius GM Danny Ainge of the Boston Celtics trading for all of their draft picks five years ago. Even though this team has struggled in recent years, I see the Nets making some headlines this season. D’Angelo Russell is an amazing young player who will lead this team throughout the year. The offseason addition of Kenneth Faried will lead to an improvement in the rebounding department. With all these things in mind, the Nets will continue to struggle, just not as much as past years.


25) New York Knicks


Even though the Knicks are rated so low on these preseason power rankings, this is another team that I could see making a jump towards the middle of the pack this season. One of the most impressive rookies in the preseason was Kevin Knox, some even say this young player could end up winning Rookie of the Year once the season is wrapped up. Along with Knox, the Knicks will also have Kristaps Porzingis back in their lineup. “Porzingod” is a 7’3” scoring machine. He will be scary for the Knicks matchups this season once he fully recovers from his torn ACL.


24) Cleveland Cavaliers


After being last year’s Eastern Conference Champions, now this year they’re rated 24th to begin the season. What happened? LeBron James. The undisputed best player in basketball signed with the Los Angeles Lakers and this put Cleveland’s hopes of even making the playoffs in doubt. Even with the loss of James, there is a tiny bit of light for this Cavalier squad. Number 8 overall pick in the draft was PG Collin Sexton. Sexton is an impressive young guard who will look to lead this team along with Kevin Love. The only thing this team has over some others is experience. It is hard to say the Cavaliers will move up from this 24 spot anytime throughout the season.


23) Los Angeles Clippers


This team quickly went down the gutter over the past couple seasons; losing Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan will prove to be 3 HUGE losses as this season gets underway. This team simply has no elite talent anymore. The only name worth mentioning is their 2 lottery pick rookies, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jerome Robinson. This is a team that I can easily see moving down the rankings as the season progresses. And who knows, they could end up being the worst team in the league. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.


22) Detroit Pistons


Detroit started off the season making headlines last year. Competing for the top spot in the east, this team has proven they can hang with some of the most talented teams in the league. Ending with a 39-43 record, this team fell short of the playoffs last season. With the help of both of their all star caliber big men, Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin, along with PG Reggie Jackson, look out for this team once the season hits mid December.


21) Charlotte Hornets

One of the surprises of the NBA each year, the Charlotte Hornets year in and year out always seem to be competing for that last playoff spot in the East. I would rank them higher, but with the loss of Dwight Howard, this team will struggle to get rebounds. The additions of Bismack Biyombo will help the Hornets remain in a similar spot to where they were last year at 36-46. Veteran and 4x NBA champion Tony Parker will look to lead a bench squad of talented, while Kemba Walker remains one of the better point guards in the league. Some of the young talent on the Hornets includes Malik Monk and Miles Bridges. With all this mind, I still see the Hornets once again falling short of the playoffs.


20) Phoenix Suns


The Phoenix Suns come into this year with tons of young talent including 24+ ppg scorer Devin Booker, second year player Josh Jackson, and this years number one overall pick, the towering DeAndre Ayton. Although they have been one of the worst teams in the league in recent years, they figure to be much improved this season, showcasing their younger talent and being a pest to the powerhouses of the West.

19) Memphis Grizzlies


Led by center Marc Gasol and PG Mike Conley, the Grizzlies will look to improve on a very rough season last year with a record of 22-60, this team can only go up. The addition of rookie Jaren Jackson Jr. will add some scoring that this Memphis team desperately needs. I can see Gasol, Conley, and Jackson all scoring enough to beat some subpar teams if these 3 players play well enough. We’ll see how well Jackson can squeeze into the rotation and his role with the Grizzlies.


18) Miami Heat


Unfortunately, Dwyane Wade’s last season is here. The 36 year old shooting guard announced that he planned to retire at the end of this season. Anyway, this Miami Heat team has some very solid starters and role players that, going into every game, each have a chance of scoring 20. These names include Goran Dragic, Dion Waiters, Josh Richardson, and James Johnson. Center Hassan Whiteside will lead this team with his paint protection and offensive domination. With all these things in mind, I see the Heat remaining a middle of the pack team with the highlight of the season being Dwyane Wade’s final game of his NBA career.


17) Dallas Mavericks


This is a team that I can see making their way up throughout the power rankings once the season is underway. The additions of rookie Luka Doncic and center DeAndre Jordan paired with Dennis Smith and Harrison Barnes make this an exciting, upcoming team. Doncic, who is a popular candidate for rookie of the year, is a 6’7” point forward who can dominate the game with his offensive ability. Jordan will implement a presence in the paint that Dallas has been looking for over the past couple of seasons. Along with Doncic and Jordan, the Mavericks have veteran Dirk Nowitzki to lead them. Additionally, they have Harrison Barnes and Wesley Matthews to help add some points to the total.


16) New Orleans Pelicans


Anthony Davis is playing out of his mind this year, averaging 27 ppg with 13 rebs. He is carrying this team to one of the top-seeds in the entire Western Conference. The improvement of point guard Jrue Holiday and acquisition of Nikola Mirotic make this team deadly, even in the West. They have a probable MVP candidate and despite the loss of DeMarcus Cousins to the Warriors, they haven’t lost a step.


15) Minnesota Timberwolves


It looks like trouble in paradise for the T-Wolves. Jimmy Butler recently stated he was fed up with administration and wanted to be traded. Young guns like Karl Anthony-Towns show at times they are disinterested in playing, and are seen sulking on the bench. Still, there is so much talent on the roster with Wiggins, Rose, KAT, and Butler, but until they put it all together, they will be a middle of the pack team.


14) Washington Wizards


The Wizards aren’t as good as we thought they were coming into the year, which seems to always be the case. The Wizards always talk a big game but have failed to reach the conference finals with this core. On paper, this team looks good, featuring John Wall, Bradley Beal, and the new addition of Dwight Howard. Starting the year 1-5 and losing blowout games to bad teams like the Kings and Clippers, things are not looking good. If the trend continues, it is quite possible they fall lower in the rankings.


13) Indiana Pacers


Victor Oladipo and Miles Turner make this team scary come playoff time. Oladipo is playing like an MVP candidate, and is definitely making his case for “best player in the East” scoring at a 22 ppg clip to go along with 5 rebounds and 5 assists. He can really turn it on at any time, and his athletic ability combined with his sweet shooting enable him to go off at any point in the game. Look for the Pacers, who lost in the playoffs in seven games to a LeBron led Cavs team, to make a bigger push this season with LeBron out West.


12) Milwaukee Bucks


The Bucks have started this season undefeated, and are a legit real to win the East. Giannis Antetokounmpo is a legit candidate to win the MVP award, and Khris Middleton should continue his streak of clutchness in the playoffs, capable of making virtually every shot. The Bucks should also get solid contribution from big men John Henson and Brook Lopez, and the point guard/shooting guard combo Eric Bledsoe and former rookie of the year Malcolm Brogdon is formidable. They could definitely rise in the power rankings significantly if they continue their hot streak.


11) Portland Trail Blazers


Led by Damian Lillard, the Blazers are always a good regular season team, but come postseason they never seem to have enough to squeeze by the competition. The two headed monster backcourt of Lillard and McCollum are undermined by an otherwise unimpressive supporting cast, so expect them to be a solid 5 or 6 seed out west.


10) San Antonio Spurs


The Spurs traded away a top five talent in the league this offseason, dealing Kawhi Leonard to the Raptors in exchange for DeMar DeRozan. Kawhi was unhappy in San Antonio, but DeMar seems to fitting in awfully well in his new city. With LaMarcus Aldridge dominating the post and Derozan scoring over 20 points a game, the spurs are a on the fringe of being a top team. The loss of upcoming guard Dejounte Murray to a torn ACL keeps the Spurs outside of the top tier.

9) Denver Nuggets


The Denver Nuggets are led by elite big man Nikola Jokic who is a prolific passer, shooter Jamal Murray, and veteran presence Paul Millsap. The Nuggets also made an interesting acquisition this year, bringing Isaiah Thomas to the city. He should finally be back from hip surgery soon, and the Nuggets should be in line for a playoff berth in the Western Conference.


8) Utah Jazz


The Utah Jazz epitomize what it means to play “team” basketball. They are a team composed of decent athletes and solid role players headed by Sophomore Sensation and ROY runner-up Donovan Mitchell along with Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert. The Jazz are very quietly a top ten talent in the NBA and should be feared by other teams in the Western Conference. They are a very sneaky pick to be a top 5 seed and guys like Ricky Rubio, Dante Exum, Joe Ingles, Derrick Favors and newly drafted rookie Grayson Allen should help a ton in this endeavor.


7) Los Angeles Lakers


The showtime Lakers are back in business. The NBA’s top player LeBron James making his way to LA marked the biggest splash in the NBA’s recent history. Any team with LeBron on it has to be considered a title contender, but James doesn’t have a cake walk to the Finals by any means. This is not a weak Eastern Conference anymore, and he will have uphill battles each and every night against new Western Conference rivals. With a young core including Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, and Josh Hart surrounding “King James,” he will look to mentor them to a title in years to come. A somewhat ironic note is that longtime leBron James’ rivals Rajon Rondo and Lance Stephenson are also on this Lakers team playing alongside LeBron, which might raise some question makes regarding team chemistry. In any case, enjoy watching an exciting and potentially dramatic Lakers season coming up.


6) Oklahoma City Thunder


The Thunder are one of those teams that are perennially considered a top 10 NBA team, but never a team that is favored to win multiple playoff series and advance to the NBA Finals. This year, it is tough to expect otherwise given the strength of the Western Conference. Russell Westbrook and Paul George do make for a deadly duo for this squad, and Steven Adams manning the middle is a scary sight for other offenses. With the addition of Dennis Schroder and the subtraction of Carmelo Anthony, who did not fit in well with the scheme, this team will be better than last year and should turn some heads out west. However, with the season ending injury to Andre Roberson lingering, the team’s defense will take a huge hit as he was one of their focal pieces on that side of the ball.   


5) Philadelphia 76ers


The 76ers are one of the up and coming powerhouses of the NBA’s Eastern Conference. Led by Joel Embiid, a much improved Markelle Fultz, now healthy from injury, and “Rookie” of the Year Ben Simmons, they are a team to be reckoned with. Although last year in the Eastern Conference Semifinals they were not too competitive with a banged up Boston team missing Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, they figure to be back in a similar position in the playoffs this year now with the experience to make the series competitive. Do not sleep on sharpshooter JJ Reddick either, as he is arguably their clutchest player down the stretch in big games.


4) Toronto Raptors

Toronto made arguably the biggest splash this NBA offseason after trading their star player DeMar DeRozan for an even bigger star–Kawhi Leonard. The Raptors finished first in the East last season and have only gotten better with the addition of Leonard. Kyle Lowry still mans the point guard position for this team, and role players like Jonas Valanciunas, OG Anunoby, Norman Powell, and Serge Ibaka figure to make a huge impact. They will fight against Boston and Philadelphia for control over the Eastern Conference.


3) Houston Rockets


Houston has quietly been an NBA powerhouse over the past few years. Although they haven’t been able to advance past the Warriors in the playoffs, they may have the talent to do so. With Chris Paul being in his second year with the team, his chemistry with James Harden will only have grown. Additionally, the rockets added Carmelo Anthony to the roster this year, a former top talent in the NBA who wants to prove he still has more to give. Combine all this with the fact that big man Clint Capela is returning to protect the middle for the Rockets and all of a sudden you have a scary team out West that will almost definitely be nearly a top seeded team.


2) Boston Celtics


The Boston Celtics are finally being given some respect around the NBA regarding their talented roster and brilliant head coach, Brad Stevens. With the return of Gordon Hayward from injury, and the expected growth of young players like Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and 6th man Terry Rozier, the Boston Celtics seem to be the NBA’s best chance at dethroning the Warriors. Another big win for Boston is the re-signing of Marcus Smart on a 4 year, $52 million dollar deal. Smart, the Celtics longest tenured player, is a ball of energy, and is a glue guy in the locker room according to his teammates. With Kyrie Irving also back from injury and verbally committing long term to Boston, this team will be a powerhouse for years to come in the NBA, starting with the 2018-2019 season.

1) Golden State Warriors


Were you really expecting a different team to be placed atop the NBA Power rankings? The Golden State Warriors swept a LeBron led Cavaliers team last season in the finals…then they added the best center in the NBA. The Warriors now boast a starting five who have all been to the all-star game multiple times in their respective career; this lineup is flat out scary. Few teams are capable of keeping pace with Golden State in a seven game series, and do not expect much to change this season, barring the emergence of an upcoming Boston team.