NBA Power Rankings 30-16

Basketball season is among us! I feel it is necessary to have a great basketball preview, since our football preview didn’t really come to fruition. Sadly my passion for basketball left when LeBron left and didn’t really return when he did. But luckily I have the marvelous Alec Kwait to write this. You can follow him on twitter here. He’s got a lot more followers than me, and Dwight Howard follows him so he must be cool.

30. Philadelphia 76ers; 13-14 Offensive Rating (ORtg) 99.4 Defensive Rating (DRtg) 109.9

PG: Michael Carter-Williams
SG: KJ McDaniels
SF: Hollis Thopson
PF: Nerlens Noel
C: Henry Simms

The 76ers are taking the phrase “tanking” to a new extreme. In what looks to be one of the weakest starting lineups in NBA history, this proud franchise is the joke of professional sports. Another season of losing is on the way in the City of Brotherly Love. Joel Embiid’s twitter feed is more entertaining than what will be displayed on the court this year in Philly. Example:

29. Orlando Magic ORtg 101.7 DRtg 107.4

PG: Elfrid Payton
SG: Evan Fournier
SF: Maurice Harkless
PF: Tobias Harris
C: Nikola Vucevic

The Magic are a young and up and coming squad who will suffer from major growing pains this season. Until they find another player to score on the perimeter to take the place of Arron Afflalo, they will struggle to win. With the recent news that Victory Oladipo is out for an unspecified amount of time after suffering a facial fracture, the Magic will rely heavily on Nikola Vucevic who  has proven to be a consistent low post scorer. Magic fans should also be excited about Elfrid Payton’s ability to defend and distribute the basketball at a high level.

28. Milwaukee Bucks ORtg  103.0 DRtg 111.8

PG: Brandon Knight
SG: Giannis Antetokounmpo (I think)
SF: Jabari Parker
PF: Ersan Ilyasova
C: Larry Sanders

Under new head coach Jason Kidd (how the hell that happened, the world may never know) the Bucks will grow as the season progresses. The lack of proven talent could have them spill down to the bottom of the standings like Jason Kidd’s drink. Look for the Bucks to establish an identity of length and athleticism as the season goes on. If Giannis insert last name can take the next step, Milwaukee has the potential to be a fun team to keep an eye on.

27. Boston Celtics ORtg 102.9 DRtg  107.7

PG: Rajon Rondo
SG: Avery Bradley
SF: Jeff Green
PF: Jared Sullinger
C: Kelly Olynyk

The writing has been on the wall ever since the Celtics selected Marcus Smart in the NBA Draft. The Celtics will be trading Rajon Rondo at some point before the trade deadline. The rest of the lineup lacks scoring besides for Jeff Green who has been inconsistent at best during his time with the Celtics. Brad Stevens has his work cut out for him this year.

26. Utah Jazz ORtg 103.5 DRtg 111.3

Starting Lineup

PG: Trey Burke
SG: Alec Burks
SF: Gordon Heyward
PF: Derrick Favors
C: Enes Kanter

I really thought the Jazz could make a move in the offseason but I am not a fan of their pick of Dante Exum in the NBA Draft. I still think their mammoth frontcourt of Favors, Kanter, and Rudy Gobert will be the focal point. Combine that with a young trio like Burke, Burks, and Heyward and you might have something if all goes well for first year head coach Quinn Snyder.

25. Minnesota Timberwolves ORtg 108.9 DRtg 106.2

PG: Ricky Rubio
SG: Kevin Martin
SF: Corey Brewer
PF: Thaddeus Young
C: Nikola Pekovic

Despite the most interesting player on the Timberwolves starting the year on the bench, (number one pick Andrew Wiggins) the Wolves have one of the most unproven rosters in the NBA. The presence of former NBA Champion Flip Saunders could expedite the growing process, but the fate of the organization lies on the shoulders of Andrew Wiggins when it’s all said and done.

24. Sacramento Kings ORtg 105.7 DRtg 108.8

PG: Darren Collison
SG: Ben McLemore
SF: Rudy Gay
PF: Jason Thompson
C: DeMarcus Cousins

I’m not a fan of loosing Isaiah Thomas and replacing him with Darren Collison. It’s going to be another long year in Sacramento, especially given their last two number one draft picks play the same position (Ben McLemore and Nik Stauskas). DeMarcus Cousins is the lone bright spot in this starting five as Boogie is on the brink of stardom. I don’t think the Kings are ready to make that next step given their unsuccessful offseason.

23. Los Angeles Lakers ORtg 104.2 DRtg 110.6

PG: Jeremy Lin
SG: Kobe Bryant
SF: Wesley Johnson
PF: Carlos Boozer
C: Jordan Hill

In what might be the worst defensive lineup in the NBA, the Lakers will rely heavily on Kobe along with the rebirth of Linsanity amidst the news the purple and gold lost Steve Nash for the season. Kobe remains a question mark given his recent injury history but new head coach Byron Scott believes Kobe will bounce back in a major way this year. When it’s all said and done, 23 wins might even be too high if Kobe cannot stay healthy.

22. Indiana Pacers ORtg 104.1 DRtg 99.3

PG: George Hill
SG: Rodney Stuckey
SF: CJ Miles
PF: David West
C: Roy Hibbert

The Pacers will be one of the most intriguing stories to monitor as the season progresses. In what was a summer to forget for Pacer fans, the squad lost Lace Stephenson in free agency, and Paul George went down in a FIBA World Cup game and is likely lost for the season. What the Pacers can offer this year is a few intriguing trade scenarios involving big men David West and Roy Hibbert. If things do not go well for the Pacers early in the campaign, look for them to be active sellers once the trade deadline looms.

21. Denver Nuggets ORtg 106.0 DRtg 108.2

PG: Ty Lawson
SG: Arron Afflalo
SF: Danilo Gallinari
PF: Kenneth Faried
C: Timofey Mozgov

With the acquisition of Arron Afflalo, the Nuggets hope to bolster an already exciting backcourt, which features Ty Lawson. Denver’s undoing will be the tough life as a young team in the western conference and the lack of consistent scoring presence down low.

20. Detroit Pistons ORtg 108.2 DRtg 109.7

PG: Brandon Jennings
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF: Josh Smith
PF: Greg Monroe
C: Andre Drummond

The Pistons have a chance to make a jump this year if they buy into new head coach Stan Van Gundy’s system that will revolve around promising big man Andre Drummond. Josh Smith could turn out to be an expendable piece if things are not going well early on for Detroit. Andre Drummond could be the next Dwight Howard if all goes well in Motown.

19. Brooklyn Nets ORtg 106.7 DRtg 107.7

PG: Deron Williams
SG: Joe Johnson
SF: Andrei Kirilenko
PF: Kevin Garnett
C: Brook Lopez

We are entering year four of the Prokhorov ownership era in Brooklyn. The Nets have been extremely underwhelming since moving to Brooklyn and I do not see any reason why that trend will not change this season. The Nets will be counting on a comeback year from all-star center Brook Lopez who missed all of last year’s campaign with a foot injury. One of the strangest stories of the offseason was Jason Kidd’s mysterious departure from Brooklyn. Lionel Hollins is the new headman in Brooklyn and will bring a new defensive mindset to the Nets, one of the older teams in the NBA.

18. New York Knicks ORtg 108.3 DRtg 109.1
PG: Jose Calderon
SG: Iman Shumpert
SF: Carmelo Anthony
PF: Amar’e Stoudemire
C: Samuel Dalembert

The Knicks are going into the first year of Phil Jackson running the show and will look to show steady improvement from an extremely disappointing season a year ago. Jackson’s selection of Derrick Fisher as coach was one of the most interesting hires of the offseason and  like Jason Kidd, Fisher got a head coaching job his first year retired as a player. Getting Carmelo to buy in was a huge win for the Knicks as they were in danger of losing the all-star forward in free agency. While the Knicks are still being held back financially by Amar’e Stoudemire’s monster contract, look for the Knicks to be active come the trade deadline to make a push for the playoffs in the eastern conference.

17. Miami Heat ORtg 109.1 DRtg 105.8

PG: Mario Chalmers
SG: Dwayne Wade
SF: Luol Deng
PF: Udonis Haslem
C: Chris Bosh

I hope Miami fans enjoyed their four-year rental of LeBron James, because this season could turn into a major disaster if Dwayne Wade cannot stay on the floor. Luol Deng was a colossal disaster in Cleveland, and Chris Bosh is going to have to carry the load offensively. While the proud organization will most likely get more out of Deng than what Cleveland did, Miami’s attempt to rebuild on the fly could turn out to fail miserably (we hope ).

16. Atlanta Hawks ORtg 105.9 DRtg 106.4

PG: Jeff Teague
SG: Kyle Korver
SF: DeMarre Carroll
PF: Paul Milsap
C: Al Horford

Atlanta will look for a big bounce back year from center Al Horford who missed nearly all of the previous campaign with injury. Jeff Teague is one of the sneaky good point guards in the league who showcased just how good he can be in last year’s first round playoff exit against Indiana where Teague averaged nearly 20 points per contest. If the Hawks can remain relatively healthy they could easily make the playoffs, but its about as certain as death or taxes that they won’t make it past the second round.

Click here to see 15-1.

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