Basketball is back. The NBA has capped off week one in exciting fashion. The league seems stronger than ever with 30 organizations ready to claim their spot in superiority… Or at least mediocrity. Since teams have only played four games at the most, this seems like the perfect time for Lakers Nation to categorize the NBA into one list: The NBA Power Rankings.
1. Golden State Warriors (3-0) – The Warriors have the best back court in the NBA. “The Splash Brothers”, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson are creating havoc for the opposition. With a healthy Andrew Bogut patrolling the paint and Andre Iguodala stabilizing an energetic bench, first year Head Coach Steve Kerr walked into a Gold(en) mine.
2. San Antonio Spurs (1-1) – Gregg Popovich has been the coach of the Spurs since Kobe’s rookie season. His second year on the job San Antonio drafted Tim Duncan. The rest is history. The NBA Champions have given LN no reason to believe that they can’t hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy once again.
3. Dallas Mavericks (2-1) – Simply put: The Mav’s are stacked. Dirk is playing at a high level once again and the team was built for him. Bringing back Tyson Chandler is everything the team needed defensively. With Jameer Nelson and Monte Ellis in the back court, instant offense shouldn’t be a problem for this squad.
4. Los Angeles Clippers (2-1) – Something crazy happened last year. Unfortunately for the rest of the NBA, Blake Griffin became one of the most dominant players in the league. Chris Paul takes over the game with his ability to run an offense and Jamal Crawford is just silly off of the bench. The Clips just might get over the hump this year.
5. Memphis Grizzles (3-0) – The Grizzlies play an unorthodox style compared to the rest of the league. They have this ridiculous notion that if you look inside to your big’s for easy looks and play strict and disciplined defense that you can win ball games. Shockingly, this formula has been successful ever since George Mikan’s name was displayed on marquee’s across the nation. The Griz are quiet, but hungry. Don’t sleep on this bunch.
6. Miami Heat (3-0) – If the season ended today, Chris Bosh would be in the running for MVP. OK, I’m getting ahead of myself. But, Miami’s early success has been largely due to Bosh’s 25 and 11 over the course of three games. D-Wade is doing everything and Luol Deng gives the squad a scorer with a sense of unpredictability. The point guard trio of Norris Cole, Mario Chalmers and Shabazz Napier has the potential to be the best in the Eastern Conference.
7. Houston Rockets (3-0) – Many assumed that Chandler Parsons signing with the Mavericks would hurt the Rockets for the 2014 campaign. However, Trevor Ariza is stepping back into his roll as Houston’s sharp shooter. Adding tenacious defense is a bonus for a club who’s best player is known for poor D. No, not Dwight Howard,(arguably the best center in the league) but James Harden,(arguably the best shooting guard in the league) who is averaging a healthy 25 points, seven assists, and 5 rebounds per contest thus far.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers (1-1) – Lebron James returned home this summer and the city has been bonkers ever since. While the King’s first game was full of nervous tension, he will undeniably settle into his usual roll of dominance. Playing alongside superstars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, the Cavs are primed to make a deep run into the playoffs.
9. Chicago Bulls (2-1) – The United Center held it’s breath on Friday night when its franchise player rolled his ankle after landing on an opposing players foot. That is how important Derrick Rose is to the Chicago Bulls for the 2014-15 campaign. If he is healthy, they are a contender.
10. Portland Trailblazers (1-2) – Portland’s starting lineup creates match up problems 1-5. They tested the Warriors on Sunday night in a battle that went down to the wire. While they lost that game, it is clear that the Blazers can compete with anybody in the league.
Scratching The Surface
11. Phoenix Suns (2-1) – In the time that this piece was written, the Suns have put up 100 points. With shooters stacked throughout their depth chart and star guards Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe, and Isaiah Thomas feeding them, Phoenix is flat out scary.
12. New Orleans Pelicans (1-1) – New Orleans is on their way to becoming the newest team in the spectrum of relevance in the NBA. Anthony Davis is established now as a superstar and is joined by former Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans and stud Eric Gordon.
13. Sacramento Kings (2-1) – Everyone expected DeMarcus Cousins to have a breakout season, but Rudy Gay has been on fire so far. His 40-point night preceded Boogie’s 34-17 stat line in back-to-back impressive wins against the Blazers and Clippers.
14. The Washington Wizards (2-1) – The Wiz Kids have established an identity over the past few years with John Wall leading the pack. Adding Paul Pierce gives them championship swagger and a go-to guy in crunch time.
15. Toronto Raptors (2-1) – If you haven’t watched DeMar DeRozan highlights yet, you are missing out. Many people forget that the Raptors were the third seed in the East last year, and so far they don’t look like they plan on giving that up just yet.
16. Oklahoma City Thunder (1-2) – Now that Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are injured, the Thunder’s lack of depth will be exposed. When the two phenoms return, the Thunder will once again be right in the thick of things in the tough Western Conference.
17. Brooklyn Nets (1-1) – Has anybody seen Deron Williams the past two years? This guy was a top five point guard not too long ago. The Nets will need him to play at a high level for them to make a deep run come April. For now, Joe Johnson is the star of this team full of talent, averaging 26 points in the two games the Nets have played.
18. New York Knicks (2-1) – Melo looks like Melo to begin the season. Knocking off the Cavs ruined LeBron’s homecoming and got the attention of the entire NBA. If Amar’e Stoudemire can consistently flirt with double-doubles and the Knicks can find a way to guard somebody(anybody, really) then they will find themselves in post season basketball.
19. Atlanta Hawks (1-1) – Jeff Teague is under the radar as one of the top point guards in the East. With a healthy Al Horford and three-point specialist Kyle Korver, the Hawks present a challenge on a nightly basis.
20. Charlotte Hornets (1-2) – The Buzz is back in Charlotte. The only thing that the team is missing are their retro jerseys from the 90’s(Grandmama anybody?). Al Jefferson spearheads a roster that put itself in a position to win all three of its contests thus far. Coming away with only one of three victories with the game in Kemba Walker’s hands. The Hornets buzz can turn into a sting very quickly.
Bottom Of The Barrel
21.Detroit Pistons (0-3) – The Pistons are talented 1-12 on their depth chart. Josh Smith, Andre Drummond, and Greg Monroe are one of the most imposing front courts in the league. The next step, is translating their skills into wins.
22. Denver Nuggets (1-1) – A few years ago this squad was making its case as one of the elite teams in the NBA. They have excellent depth, but lack a true superstar and go-to guy. The Nuggets will be clawing all year to be relevant in the brutal West.
23. Los Angeles Lakers (0-4) – The Lakers have shown some life in the past two games. Starting the year off with four games against playoff caliber Western Conference foes, the new look Lakers have been tested. While they are still trying to get acquainted with one another on the court, Kobe is finding his legs and looks poised to will his team towards its first win of the season.
24.Indiana Pacers (1-2) – Arguably no team has suffered the losses that Indiana has this off-season. Lance is gone, George is out for the year, and short-term injuries to West, Hill, and Watson have robbed the Pacers of nearly every shot creator on the team. Now is the time for Roy Hibbert to earn his money.
25. Boston Celtics (1-1) – This is Rajon Rondo’s team now. Fortunately for Boston, the healthy Rondo looks like one of the elite guards in the league to start the season. Joined by rookie Marcus Smart, this back court is competitive to say the least. In a weak East, Boston has a fighting chance.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves (1-2) – The Wolves have potential to be a top five team in the West… in 2018. For now, Ricky Rubio should have some fun dishing the ball to his array of talented youngsters including first overall draft pick Andrew Wiggins and Thaddeus Young, who could be the leagues most improved player by years end.
27. Milwaukee Bucks (1-2) – The Bucks do not lack in talent on this squad. Experience will be the factor that does not allow them to win ball games. Brandon Knight gets a lot of flack for being on the wrong end of big plays yet, ironically the bucks were on the right end of the trade that sent an under performing Brandon Jennings to Detroit in return for the young star.
28. Utah Jazz (1-2) – Trey Burke and Dante Exum make up a great rookie/sophomore duo in the West. With Derrick Favors healthy, look for the Jazz to make some noise in the near future.
29. Orlando Magic (0-3) – The Magic have an exciting team. They are still extremely young, but they have the talent and athleticism to compete. Nikola Vucevic is averaging more points and more rebounds than Dwight Howard thus far in the season. Just saying.
30. Philadelphia 76ers (0-3) – The 76ers are off to a great start in this years “tank” sweepstakes to try and get the most ping pong balls in next years lottery. Unfortunately for them, Nerlens Noel out of Kentucky might be good enough for the team to win a couple of games this year.[divide]
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