As the countdown to NBA Opening Night is finally down to hourly status, as opposed to days, we consider the storylines upon storylines that hover over this NBA season: Can the Heat repeat? Can the re-loaded Lakers dethrone the Thunder in the West? Will Rose return this season? How will the rest of the injuries (Dirk, Love, Rubio, Stoudemire, Wall) play out? Who will get the better of the new ‘Battle of New York?’ Can Damian Lillard or anyone challenge Anthony Davis for Rookie of the Year? The list goes on and on.
These rankings are compiled and averaged out through the collective opinions of our writers. We research box scores, consume analysis, follow social media and most importantly, we watch the damn games.
Welcome to The Skyook’s NBA Power Rankings, where any given week, things can change faster than a James Harden trade to Houston.
Preseason – October 30, 2012
Note: These rankings were compiled before the Harden trade and before last night’s games.
1. Miami Heat | 0-0
The question isn’t necessarily whether they’ll make it back to the Finals, it’s “how many games can they win?” doing it. If LeBron is in eff-you mode, Wade is completely healthy and the new outside shooting (Allen, Lewis) comes through, could they challenge Jordan’s Bulls?
2. Oklahoma City Thunder | 0-0
Even after the Harden deal, it’s too soon to remove the Thunder from the #2 spot. If you think it’s a conference-changing drop for OKC to drop from Harden to Martin/Lamb, think again, these guys are still contenders.
3. Los Angeles Lakers | 0-0
Reloaded” may be an understatment when considering who the Lakers brought in this offseason. But after an 0-8 preseason, Kobe hobbling before the first regular season game and a thin bench, are expectations already too high for the new Lake Show?
4. Boston Celtics | 0-0
Make no mistake, now that we’re past the Celtic era of the “Big Three,” this is Rajon Rondo’s team now. Can he make the new pieces and the old veterans mesh together? He will certainly keep fantasy owners happy. Celtics have a deep roster, especially for the East.
5. San Antonio Spurs | 0-0
You think Greg Popovich is tired of hearing “watch out for the Spurs,” like they’re some kind of sleeper? These guys are good every season, and this one will be no different. The Duncan-Parker-Ginobili trio is still performing at a very efficient level and the pieces around them are always high quality.
6. Denver Nuggets | 0-0
The classic sleeper team, everyone loves them. And why not? They led the league in offense last season, figure to again this year and have a collection of exciting and entertaining players. George Karl at the helm can never be a bad thing either.
7. Los Angeles Clippers | 0-0
The Clippers had a good squad last season and then went out and added a pile of veterans to the mix. Grant Hill, Jamal Crawford, Lamar Odom, Matt Barnes, Willie Green, Ronny Turiaf and the return of Chauncey Billups should all help the Clippers win at least 50 games in the West.
8. Indiana Pacers | 0-0
The starters in Indy are among the best in the league, but the depth took a hit in the offseason. However, we still have them as the 3rd seed in the East. The Danny Granger injury is concerning.
9. Memphis Grizzlies | 0-0
Perhaps the last run for these Grizzlies? The Gasol-Gay-Conley-Randolph combination has been together for a few years now, with the peak coming in their playoff upset of the Spurs two years ago. If they can’t advance in the playoffs this time around, it may be time for a blow-up.
10. Philadelphia 76ers | 0-0
Unfortunately for a team with loads of talented young players, it all rests on the shoulders of one Mr. Andrew Bynum. We know he looks like Gary Coleman with that mini-fro, but when will he hit the court? Sixers fans won’t wait forever. Definitely a playoff team in the East.
11. Brooklyn Nets | 0-0
The inaugural season in Brooklyn is sure to be an interesting one. Some big names are there and the Nets look good on paper, but will it translate. They did pick up enough depth with Watson, Blatche, Childress and Evans to be a playoff team. Which seed they’ll occupy is anyone’s guess.
12. Chicago Bulls | 0-0
The Bulls tied for the NBA’s best record last season, but I’ll state the obvious. This ranking is WAY too high if Rose does not come back. If he returns earlier than projected, they have a shot to be a Top 12 team. The Hinrich/Robinson combo is nowhere near Rose/Watson from last season.
13. Dallas Mavericks | 0-0
Two years removed from the Championship, the Mavs aren’t used to the “Dallas can nab the 8th seed” kind of chatter. After losing out on D-Will (and Dwight to an extent), Cuban did a good job rallying to put together a formidable lineup of veterans. Jae Crowder will be a fun watch in this league.
14. New York Knicks | 0-0
I may or may not have placed a wager last night on the Knicks Win Total Under at 46.5. With Amare already out, Chandler banged up and well, it’s New York, I like the chances. Melo rekindled his love for the 3-ball in the preseason and let’s face it, as great as he is, he’s no Steve Novak from out there.
15. Golden State Warriors | 0-0
Let’s be brutally honest here. It will take a perfect scenario (Bogut and Curry both healthy, Barnes shines, Thompson breaks out) for the Warriors to be this high. Most would love to see it happen, but like the Stones said, “you can’t always get what you want.” Shoutout to David Lee’s nice preseason.
16. Utah Jazz | 0-0
The Jazz are like the anti-Warriors. There’s a great chance that they’ll be better than the Warriors, but always fly under the radar while the Warriors get preseason hype every year. Utah’s bigs, even the young ones (Favors, Kanter) are going to be a force to be reckoned with.
17. Minnesota Timberwolves | 0-0
The Timberwolves are such a hard team to place, given their big injuries to their main tw0-man core in Love and Rubio. There are big “what ifs” on the return of Brandon Roy, Kirilenko’s comback of sorts and if last year’s #2 pick Derrick Williams will step up. High upside is them stealing the 8th seed, but realistically it’ll be another long and cold one in Minny.
18. Atlanta Hawks | 0-0
Speaking of mixed bags, that what the Hawks are right now. They completely flipped most of their roster in the summer. With Josh Smith and a healthy Al Horford leading the way, the Hawks have now surrounded themselves with some good shooters (Kyle Korver, Anthony Morrow) and some energy scorers (Lou Williams). So while the defense will take a step back, the offense should be better.
19. Milwaukee Bucks | 0-0
There is nothing sexy about the Milwaukee Bucks. Obviously their backcourt of Jennings and Ellis is the feature, but they do have some major shot blockers not named Andrew Bogut, in this lineup. Thankfully the East is wide open, so if they can hang around .500, they always have a chance.
20. New Orleans Hornets | 0-0
The young Hornets being ranked #20 is a perfect example of how much hype Anthony Davis brings to the table. Without even knowing if they’re leading scorer, Eric Gordon, will be healthy, (some of us) think they can be fiesty.
21. Toronto Raptors | 0-0
A very intriguing team this year, the Raptors are basically in playoffs-or-bust mode with their new pieces in Kyle Lowry, Jonas Valanciunas, Terrence Ross and even John Lucas III. Andrea Bargnani, their primary scoring threat, is also back healthy. Recent history is not on their side, but they may surprise some people.
22. Portland Trail Blazers | 0-0
Portland has some really interesting pieces. Aldridge, Batum, Matthews and the rookie Damian Lillard (who’s the biggest threat to Davis’ Rookie of the Year chances) all bring such diverse skill sets. They may not be a serious threat to make the playoffs this year, but they’ll sure be fun to watch.
23. Washington Wizards | 0-0
The Wizards continue the battle with irrelevancy. The injuries don’t help their cause, especially John Wall. They have a nice collection of bigs with Okafor, Nene, Booker, Vesely and Seraphin in the fold. A not-so-bold prediction: Jordan Crawford will lead this team in field goal attempts.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers | 0-0
Kyrie Irving should easily be in the running for Most Improved player and even with a deep guard situation in the East, should make his first All-Star Game. The Cavs will need big years from Tristan Thompson, C.J. Miles and Anderson Varejao to compete for a playoff spot.
25. Houston Rockets | 0-0
Note: These rankings were compiledbeforethe James Harden trade. Although, even with that deal, they would only get bumped a couple of spots up. There’s too many questions about this roster, particularly, who is going to score in the Rockets frontcourt? Asik is nice defensively, but him and Patrick Patterson? Also, they have 11 players that have no more than 2 years experience. Scary.
26. Phoenix Suns | 0-0
The finally Nash-less Suns are about to embark on some rough times, especially facing some giants in the West. The have a very random collection of role players and Goran Dragic will have to prove he can handle running the show and log 35 minutes a game consistently.
27. Detroit Pistons | 0-0
I could rave all day about the Pistons version of the Twin Towers in Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, although we only got a glimpse of Drummond so far. The backcourt is more a concern, where after Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey, the Pistons bench gets thin in a hurry.
28. Sacramento Kings | 0-0
The Kings are a team with zero structure to their roster. There’s no denying they have some talented players, with DeMarcus Cousins being the pinnacle, but they are young and really have no identity. Expect some up tempo play, but another obvious losing season.
29. Charlotte Bobcats | 0-0
That’s right folks, the Bobcats are NOT last! Adding a few veterans should make a difference in the form of a few in wins. Ben Gordon, Ramon Sessions and Brendan Haywood will all fill key holes. And kudos to the Cats for finally not messing up a draft pick. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was a great pick at #2.
30. Orlando Magic | 0-0
The Magic will be in prime position for have the most ping pong balls in next year’s draft. Aaron Afflalo and Glen Davis should have nice, progressive years but rarely will this team be competitive each night. Even the Bobcats are probably looking forward to playing this Howard-less Magic squad four times this season.