The NBA offseason has quieted down a bit but for a fan such as myself, it’s never over. Players were either traded, resigned or left on their own but this year was one for the ages. After the smoke cleared where did your team end up? Did you agree with the moves that were made or did you wish they would’ve done more to improve the roster?
I decided to do a 2016-17 NBA Power Rankings on where I see the teams heading into the start of the regular season. Not everyone will agree, that’s that makes these rankings so fun. They are just one man’s opinion. This might be the hardest one I’ve ever done due to the upswing of great talent in the league. After the Nets and 76ers, it got a little hard.
30. Brooklyn Nets: The Nets have one heck of an uphill battle to climb and the process may take a few seasons but it must be done. The Nets have one true go-to player in Brook Lopez but even he has his moments where he vanishes. This may be the year he balls out and becomes the best Center in the NBA.
29. Philadelphia 76ers: Yes, the 76ers are no longer last. They have a nice young nucleus but how long will they keep it that way? Too many trade rumors surrounding them, but we can expect a better record than last year’s 10-win season. Even with Ben Simmons out, Jahlil Okafor, Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid should be enough to hold off the Nets.
28. New Orleans Pelicans: I just don’t know. The Pelicans had their chance, but injuries and inconsistency have ruined this team and there may be no going back. Anthony Davis is a great player but the pieces around him don’t fit.
27. Sacramento Kings: The Kings let Rajon Rondo go and I guess they will hand the keys over to Darren Collison. There are reports of a Rudy Gay trade in the works and if that happens the Kings are done for the season. DeMarcus Cousins cannot carry this team alone, he needs help and there is none.
26. Houston Rockets: James Harden alone will not get you 30+ wins. The Rockets need help but if rumors are true, that won’t be anytime soon or at least until Harden becomes a better teammate, on and off the court.
25. Dallas Mavericks: I’m not buying in. Dirk Nowitzki is up there in age, Deron Williams is up and down, and don’t get me started on Wesley Matthews. The new additions of Andrew Bogut and Seth Curry will provide little help if any.
24. Los Angeles Lakers: I had to stop this list a few times and really think about where to place the Lakers. Had to remove my bias because I think they will be pretty good, but too many factors must take shape. The addition of Mozgov and Deng will prove to be great additions and if Russell can play solid, the Lakers will make noise.
23. Orlando Magic: Someone has to score. The Magic, in all honesty is a roster full of role players but who will step up and be that go-to guy in 2016? The frontcourt is loaded with defenders but there is a shortage of back-to-the-basket players.
22. Miami Heat: Hassan Whiteside cannot play five positions at once, but he may need to if the Heat wish to continue their winning ways post D-Wade era. Besides Whiteside their biggest snag was Dion Waiters, not an interesting offseason for the Heat.
21. Milwaukee Bucks: There is something missing with the Bucks. They have the talent to contend, at least in the Eastern Conference but fell short of expectations last season. The have a roster full of young studs and if the Bucks fail to reach the playoffs this season, HC Jason Kidd must be put on notice.
20. Oklahoma City Thunder: This is now the Russell Westbrook show. He has an average supporting cast with Victor Oladipo, Steve Adams and Enes Kanter but the loss of Durant’s firepower will hurt.
19. Charlotte Hornets: I must give the Hornets their proper respect for what they accomplished last season. 2016 will see a slightly different team and their record will take a hit in the process. The loss of Lin and Jefferson, while ignored will be felt by season’s end.
18. Phoenix Suns: The Suns have one issue, health. If they can manage to have their starters on the floor together for 70+ games they have a shot at a playoff berth. But if Brandon Knight or Eric Bledsoe miss more than 30 games, it’s Lottery time again.
17. Denver Nuggets: The Nuggets will put a scare into a lot of teams. But just like the Suns, can they stay healthy? If Chandler and Gallinari can manage 70+ games, you can expect the Nuggets to contend for that 8th seed.
16. Detroit Pistons: The Pistons will continue their rise up the Eastern Conference ladder. The starting unit is set, it was the bench that needed some attention. In the offseason that took care of that with the signings of Jon Leuer and Ish Smith. With Reggie Jackson sidelined, the scoring load will fallon th shoulders of Smith.
15. Memphis Grizzlies: I like the Grizzlies but Conley is not the PG for them. The Grizz need a guard that is feared, and Conley is not that guy. Randolph and Gasol will still be a powerful duo on the blocks if Randolph canmake it back to the starting lineup, if Parson can produce at a high rate the Grizz will turn heads.
14. Atlanta Hawks: Dwight Howard is now a Hawk. Does that mean Championship? No, it could very well mean the demise of the organization, but let’s say he keeps it together, there are still too many holes for them to be real contenders. In the East they are possibly 6th seed material.
13. Washington Wizards: The Wizards are the team on the fence, they can either be a force or disappoint like last season. Wall and Beal will produce but success will fall on the shoulders of Markieff Morris and newly acquired Center, Ian Mahinmi. If those two can put up valuable numbers expect the Wizards to be a threat to the Cavs.
12. Minnesota Timberwolves: Yes I have the Wolves in the top 12. They are young but gaining that valuable experience together. No big free agent signings, it’s all through the draft. If Rubio can make a few perimeter shots in 2016 and Zach LaVine can improve his turnovers, expect to see the Wolves in the playoffs.
11. Utah Jazz: The Jazz made two of the best moves this offseason. They fixed their PG situation by adding George Hill and added a valuable veteran as well in Joe Johnson. Maybe I should place them higher, but we will see on my next list. But how will they fair with the absence of Hayward?
10. New York Knicks: I want to put them higher, but I must step back and wait. Derrick Rose, Carmelo and Porzingis, on paper look good but the season will depend on the success of Noah and Courtney Lee. The Knicks were dreadful on the defensive end in 2015 but Noah and Lee are two of the best in the league. If Rose, Anthony and K.P. can do the heavy lifting offensively, the Knicks will have a great year?
9. Boston Celtics: Yes, I have the Celtics this low. The C’s will not be a top scoring team, Horford has a tendency to go missing during games. Thomas shoulders will be heavy this year and despite what many might think, they will miss Evan Turner.
8. Chicago Bulls: I’ve debated where to place the Bulls but after going through their roster they ended up higher than expected. The signing of Rondo was huge but snagging D-Wade was the key. If Butler, Wade and Rondo can build chemistry within the first half of the season, look out.
7. Toronto Raptors: The Raptors gained valuable experience last season during their run to the Eastern Conference Finals but the loss of Biyombo will hurt. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are good, if Valancinuas can stay healthy and Jared Sullinger lives up to his potential they can make it back.
6. Portland Trail Blazers: Call me crazy but listen closely, the Blazers are a team to be reckoned with. Lillard and McCollum are on the same page in the backcourt, Aminu is a defensive terror and they have a stable of young, athletic big men to hold the pain down. Turner was a great pick up but not letting Allen Crabbe or Harkless leave was the key pieces to their successful offseason.
5. Indiana Pacers: The Pacers might be the clear winners of the offseason. They landed Jeff Teague and Al Jefferson, both former All-Stars, still young enough to contribute. Paul George and Monta Ellis are the weapons.
4. Los Angeles Clippers: Every year, every year we place the Clippers in the top 5, and rightfully so but this year I was tempted to put them at #30 just because. Their talent level is off the charts but how does a team with Paul, Jordan, Griffin and Crawford continue to disappoint?
3. San Antonio Spurs: Yes, I get that Tim Duncan retired but in all honesty he wasn’t a major piece last season. If you’re worried about their age and decline in production, don’t. The Spurs still managed to squeeze out 67 wins last season with basically the same roster they will start the 2016 season with except for one huge piece, Pau Gasol.
2. Golden State Warriors: The Durant signing was huge, but they also lost key members as well. Festus Ezile, Marreese Speights and Andrew Bogut losses will be felt come playoff time but hey, they can score with the best of them, but who will defend?
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: The defending champs have earned the right to be #1. There was no need for them to go FA crazy, they have all the pieces necessary to repeat, or get to the Finals for a 3rd straight year. LeBron is still there, Kyrie and Love and with Tristian Thompson penciled in as the regular starter he can start to build chemistry with the rest of the unit.