NBA Preseason Power Rankings
By Michael Elesinmogun
After an offseason of many moves, it’s finally time to get into the 2018-2019 NBA season. I will only be giving an extensive description for the top 10 teams and certain teams I feel are noteworthy for more than a sentence or two.
1. Golden State Warriors
This was obviously a no brainer. After winning back to back championships with Kevin Durant and 3 out of the last 4, the Golden State Warriors decided to add DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins to their already amazing team. Although Boogie won’t be available until later in the season, the Warriors have more than enough fire power to stay the number 1 team in basketball.
2. Houston Rockets
Coming off a season in which they were the best team by record in the Western Conference, the Houston Rockets lost in 7 games against the Golden State Warriors. Despite losing starting small forward Trevor Ariza, the Rockets went out and traded for former all star Carmelo Anthony. It’ll be interesting to see if Carmelo helps or hurts their team. Nevertheless, for now the Rockets are coming in at number 2.
3. Boston Celtics
At number 3 we have the Boston Celtics, who are the deepest team in the Eastern Conference by far. They’re coming off of a season in which their star free agent pickup played less than one quarter of a game, and the best point guard in the East battled injuries all season and was eventually shut down in the playoffs. Despite these injuries, the Celtics had the second best record in the conference and lost to the best player in the world in the Eastern Conference Finals. With that being said, the Celtics are getting both all stars back healthy, along with the players from last year who took them to the Eastern Conference finals. This is going to be a hard team to take down in the East.
4. Utah Jazz
This may come as a surprise to many people, however at 4 I have the Utah Jazz. Utah is a team that has found their star player, who exploded in the second half of the season and the Western Conference playoffs. Utah was ranked as the best defensive team in the NBA last year and have the reigning Defensive Player of the Year in Rudy Gobert anchoring that defense once again. All signs point to the Jazz as the 3rd best team in the stacked Western Conference.
5. Philadelphia 76ers
TRUST THE PROCESS. We finally got to see “The Process” come to fruition last year, as the Sixers finally had great luck with health. Ben Simmons, the reigning ROTY, and Joel Embiid led the Sixers to the second round of the NBA playoffs. This is a team that is only going to get better with the emergence of Markelle Fultz, who has supposedly fixed his shot and is ready for a breakout year.
6. Toronto Raptors
The Raptors have always been a good team, despite that they have never been able to make it to the NBA Finals. After seeing LeBron James leave the Eastern Conference to go out west to the Los Angles Lakers, the Raptors know this is the time to go after that NBA Finals appearance. In the offseason, the Raptors traded DeMar DeRozan for Kawhi Leonard. Kawhi only played 9 games last year for the Spurs in their messy breakup, but when he did play the year before, he was arguably the best two-way player in the league. If the Raptors can figure it out, look for them to move into my top 3 in Power Rankings.
7. Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder had a disappointing postseason, but they were able to keep Paul George and trade away Carmelo Anthony for a quality point guard in Dennis Schroder. With their best defensive player Andre Roberson coming back from injury, the Oklahoma City Thunder should be a lot better than they were last year and could potentially find themselves in the mix for the Western Conference Finals.
8. Los Angeles Lakers
LeBron James. It doesn’t really matter how irrelevant the Lakers have been for the past 5 years, the Lakers now have the best player in the league. If Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Kyle Kuzma can all take that next step, LA can make a deep run in the playoffs because it’s hard to beat LeBron 4 times in 7 games. One thing to note is how exactly their many personalities will mesh together and if that will cause problems throughout the season.
9. Indiana Pacers
Victor Oladipo is coming off an all-star season. After almost beating the Cleveland Cavaliers last year, there’s a lot of excitement in Indiana. If Victor and Myles Turner can keep improving, the Pacers could find themselves as a top 3 team in the Eastern Conference.
10. New Orleans Pelicans
This is definitely going to be the most debated ranking. How exactly can I put the Pelicans at 10 after they lost all-star DeMarcus Cousins? Well it’s because they have the 2018-2019 MVP Anthony Davis! The Pelicans also saw Jrue Holiday take a big step in the playoffs, and if he can keep it up, the Pelicans can be a dangerous team. It’s also worth noting that in the offseason Julius Randle signed with the Pelicans.
11. Denver Nuggets
Nikola Jokic, Paul Millsap, and Jamal Murray make the Nuggets very interesting. After barely missing the playoffs, the Nuggets will definitely be hungry for a playoff appearance.
12. Washington Wizards
Yeah I know this is high for the Wizards, and yes I know this is biased. The Wizards had a disappointing year last year after losing in the first round to the Toronto Raptors. They lost John Wall for half of the season which definitely affected their record, but the Wizards will bounce back this year. After signing Dwight Howard and having Bradley Beal and John Wall both healthy in the offseason, the Wizards have a chance to have one of the best backcourts in the NBA, which, in turn, could lead to a potential 4 or 5 seed in the Eastern Conference. See, I can be semi-realistic, I didn’t say 2 or 3 seed. Although, if the Wizards have a hot start to the season they will be shooting into the top 10. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
13. Portland Trail Blazers
The Trail Blazers did nothing in the offseason and had a terrible postseason. A 5 or 6 seed at best, and they will be bounced in the first round.
14. Milwaukee Bucks
Giannis has to be a MVP favorite, the problem lies in his jump shot and the Bucks’ lack of another star. It’ll be hard for the Bucks to make any type of jump in the East.
15. San Antonio Spurs
I had the Spurs higher until injuries ravaged their guards, so I had to push them down the list to start the season. I do know that Pop always has something up his sleeve, so I can never count them out.
16. Miami Heat
If the Heat get Jimmy Butler they are going to be a lot higher, but talks have stalled for right now, which is why Miami is at 16.
17. Minnesota Timberwolves
This team is very messed up, and I do not see them making the playoffs. Nevertheless, if they keep Jimmy Butler, they will be back in the playoffs.
18. Detroit Pistons
Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond should be looking at a 7 or 8 seed. They don’t really have anything else going for them.
19. Dallas Mavericks
Luka Doncic and Dennis Smith Jr. will be fun to watch for years to come, but as of right now, they are just too young and the West is very packed.
20. Charlotte Hornets
I feel so bad for Kemba. Charlotte should be looking to trade him because there is absolutely no way he re-signs with them in the offseason. If he does become available, look for the Pistons to be aggressive in acquiring Kemba.
21. Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavaliers are going to be the Wolves from 6 years ago, where Kevin Love has crazy stats as the Cavs don’t make the playoffs.
22. Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers need a superstar, this is definitely a rebuild year.
23. Brooklyn Nets
Same old Nets. Maybe Russell can make things interesting for the Nets…. Sorry I couldn’t finish the sentence without laughing.
24. Chicago Bulls
Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. will be fun to watch, but similar to the Mavericks, they are just way too young to make any noise right now.
25. Phoenix Suns
Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton are both good players, but the West is packed, so they won’t make any noise at all.
26. Memphis Grizzles
With Mike Conley coming back, the Grizzles should be better, right? Yes, in theory. Nonetheless, I just don’t like the way the team is constructed, and I feel like they will struggle.
27. Orlando Magic
After re-signing Aaron Gordon and drafting Mo Bamba, the Magic have pieces to build on. This is definitely a rebuilding year.
28. New York Knicks
No Porzingis for the season makes the Knicks a terrible team. They should be looking at developing Kevin Knox and trying to make New York a go-to destination for Kevin Durant next season, as he will be hitting free agency.
29. Atlanta Hawks
Trae Young is going to be electric to watch, and John Collins looked impressive during summer league. They just don’t have enough to be competitive at all this year.
30. Sacramento Kings
This team is a disaster. That is all.