By: Derik McKinney
After what was one of the most cinematic offseasons of all time, this NBA season was the most anticipated one to date. For a quick run down, Kevin Durant signed with the Golden State Warriors, Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah joined the New York Knicks, Dwyane Wade and Rondo signed with the Chicago Bulls, and Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen retired. So far the first few weeks of the NBA season have lived up to the excitement set up by an offseason that completely changed the landscape of the Association. Here are my power rankings through the first three weeks of this dramatic season.
- Philadelphia 76ers
The 76ers acquired both of their wins this week, and hold a two game home winning streak. Although starting the season 2-10 is nothing to be excited about, the 76ers have a lot to look forward to. Joel Embiid looks like the early favorite for rookie of the year and the 76ers should have another top five draft pick.
- New Orleans Pelicans
The only reason I place the Pelicans higher than the 76ers is Anthony Davis. AD is averaging 30 ppg & 11 rpg. Granted that Jrue Holiday will be looking to make his season debut in the next few weeks, the Pelicans may get a few more wins, and climb from the bottom of the tough Western Conference.
- Washington Wizards
The Washington Wizards have completely lost whatever fueled them to a 500. record, and three games out of the playoffs. Bradley Beal missing a few games has a lot to do with the early record, but the lost to the 76ers set a new low for the franchise that has found success in the Eastern Conference in recent years.
- Miami Heat
After losing a superstar like Dwayne Wade, it is expected for a team to go through a year or two of rebuilding. The Heat seem to be preparing for next year already when they can add a lottery pick to a young team of Hassan Whiteside, Justice Winslow, and Josh Richardson.
- Dallas Mavericks
The Mavericks have been the most disappointing team this season. Although it’s not too late to turn it around, the Mavs did not expect to start the season 2-8. The Mavs added the Warriors 2.0 (Barnes, Bogut, and Seth Curry) but an injury to Dirk Nowitzki has slowed the chemistry from being built that is necessary to compete in the West.
- Phoenix Suns
Same old Phoenix Suns, a good basketball team that’s just not good enough to compete in the Western Conference. Devin Booker has picked up right where he left off at, which will be the bright spot all year for this team.
- Brooklyn Nets
Although the Brooklyn Nets are not in the bottom five of my ranking, the Nets are set to have another disappointing season. Brook Lopez continues to put up All Star esque numbers, when Jeremy Lin returns not much will change.
- Sacramento Kings
It’s something about an organization that every year, has talks about trading their star player but never does it. The Sacramento Kings are in a state of turmoil they just refuse to push the panic button.
- Denver Nuggets
I didn’t think that the Nuggets were a playoff team before the season started. With Gary Harriss and Will Barton currently out, things seem like they will only get worse for the Nuggets.
- Minnesota Timberwolves
The T-Wolves posses a team full of young talent, but that’s about it. The lack of veteran influence is the reason why the second most promising young core in the NBA have a losing record.
- Orlando Magic
The Magic’s offense has been absolutely terrible. Orlando scored 69 points against the Pacers this Monday, indicating that their season is slowly going down the drain.
- New York Knicks
The Knicks starting five is playing well, and playing together, but the bench is an episode of “Shaqtin a Fool” waiting to happen. Derrick Rose is showing flashes of the past & Kristap Porzingis is looking like the next Dirk Nowitzki. Expect the Knicks to rise the power rankings quickly.
- Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks lost both their games this week, dropping them to a 5-6 record. Giannis Antetokounmpo leads the team in every statistic but, they’ll need a 4th quarter finisher in order to compete in the east.
- Detroit Pistons
The Pistons went 2-2 this past week with wins against the Heat and Nuggets. Besides Andre Drummond, the rest of the team is inconsistent. At 6-6 the Pistons are hoping to stay near 500. until Reggie Jackson returns.
- Indiana Pacers
Before the season I thought the Pacers were the team that could give the Cavs a run for their money. Early on in the season the Pacers have lost their defensive identity, and have no chemistry on the offensive end. I expect them to get things figured out soon.
- Utah Jazz
The Jazz went 2-2 in the past 7 days and look like they’ve gotten better. With Gordan Hayward missing the first few games, George Hill has helped will this team to a 7-6 start.
- Portland Trail Blazers
Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum have the potential to be the most danger scoring duo in backcourt history. If the rest of the team could put up buckets the Blazers could become a scary team,
- Boston Celtics
The Celtics have made it obvious they are still
one move away from being serious title contenders. They lack a go to scorer, specifically to finish games. If the C’s can finally get fully healthy, they will be a very scary team.
- Memphis Grizzlies
The Grizzlies haven’t had an ideal start to the season, but they capped off a good week with a thrilling victory against the Clippers. If the Grizzlies can find an offensive identity, in a deep western conference they could compete for the Western conference title.
- Houston Rockets
Houston has been led by the one man triple double machine that is “The Beard” James Harden. Harden is averaging 28ppg, 12apg, and 8 boards a night. Harden is looking to singlehandedly lead the Rockets to the playoffs.
- Los Angeles Lakers
In what is the shocker of the year, to everyone except me apparently, the Lakers are actually good this year. The true test starts with their next 5 games being against the Spurs, Bulls, Thunder, and Warriors twice. The Lakers have the highest scoring bench in the NBA, the last two teams with that made it the NBA finals. I’m not saying the Lakers are a championship contender but they will make the playoff this year.
- Chicago Bulls
All summer all I heard was the Bulls have no one that can shoot. I thought that was absolutely absurd, and on opening night Dwayne Wade shut those critics up. Going winning three straight on the week, the Bulls look to have chemistry & have each others back, which can only make this team better.
- Charlotte Hornets
Kemba Walker is leading this team much like he led UConn to a national championship. Kemba is an elite shot creator, and is becoming a better passer. Hopefully he continues the run because as he goes, this team goes.
- Oklahoma City Thunder
The one man army that is Russell Westbrook has been in full effect this year. The problem is, who besides Westbrook is going to step up to lead this team in the playoffs. After losing two games this past week the Thunder are losing some of that intensity and execution they had in the beginning of the year.
- Toronto Raptors
Demar Derozan is having a historic start the NBA season. He’s averaging 30ppg and if it wasn’t for a ridiculous back to back game night, of the Cavs then the Warriors, the Raptors would have two losses and be tied for 1st in the east.
- San Antonio Spurs
It took a moment for the Spurs to get fully adjusted to life without Tim Duncan, but after implementing Pau Gasol look to be hitting full stride. The Spurs are on a four game win streak. Even with the two time Defensive Player of the year the Spurs are, yet again, flying under the radar.
- Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks are the surprise of the Eastern Conference. Dwight Howard hasn’t returned to 2009 form but he has meshed perfectly with this Atlanta team. I don’t see them holding the second best record in the east for long but if the chemistry can reach its maximum potential, the Hawks could be more dangerous than anyone assumed.
- Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers sit at 10-2 with everyone asking if this is their year. I’m not sold on this team being any better than the previous two teams they put out.
- Golden State Warriors
Not much to say about the Warriors. Still my pick to win it all this year. Although they started off slow, the chemistry seems like it is building rapidly, which is what makes them so dangerous.
- Cleveland Cavaliers
A 9-2 start, and the dominance displayed by the Cavs have them looking to be the sure favorite in the East. Everyone is expecting a Cavs vs Warriors rematch in the finals. With Lebron resting on a back to back, questions arise on if they can keep up this pace and domination.