The calendar just turned to 2017. We know that the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA Title in 2016, but were they really the best team last year?
These rankings are based on action from January to December.
30. Philadelphia 76ers (15-65)
Trust the Process? Rookie Joel Embiid has been better than expected. Jahlil Okafor and Dario Saric are also quality youngsters. What will they do with Nerlens Noel?
29. Brooklyn Nets (20-62)
Good thing that the 76ers are in the league.
28. Phoenix Suns (21-60)
November was the only month that the Suns earned more than five victories in a month (6). Devin Booker is one of the best young shooters in the game.
27. Los Angeles Lakers (23-62)
The Lakers had a horrible December, posting a 2-14 record. Nick Young is having a nice bounce-back year and Lou Williams is a contender for Sixth Man of the Year.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves (28-54)
The Timberwolves a trio of talented youngsters under 22 years old and a tough defensive-minded head coach in Tom Thibodeau. The question is… when they will play in the NBA Playoffs?
25. Orlando Magic (31-53)
The Magic had their worst month of the year in January (2-12) and their best month of the year in December (8-8). Orlando has gone four years without a playoff berth.
24. Denver Nuggets (35-47)
The Nuggets haven’t made the playoffs in three years.
23. New Orleans Pelicans (34-51)
Anthony Davis is a monster and the Pelicans are 12-8 when Jrue Holiday plays.
22. Dallas Mavericks (33-51)
The Mavericks reached the playoffs for the third straight year last season but, as has been the case the previous three times their postseason stay was short-lived. Dallas lost 12 of its first 14 games in 2016-17 as several players like J.J. Barea, Deron Williams and Dirk Nowitzki has dealt with injuries. Harrison Barnes has been a solid offseason pickup.
21. New York Knicks (33-49)
Kristaps Porzingis is one of the best young big men who can score a number of ways while and is also a quality rim protector. Derrick Rose, Courtney Lee, Joakim Noah and Brandon Jennings have proved to be good offseason acquisitions.
20. Sacramento Kings (35-48)
The Kings went 8-7 record in January, it was their only winning season of the year. DeMarcus Cousins is extremely talented yet just a volatile. Rudy Gay is having a fine 2016-17 campaign.
19. Milwaukee Bucks (36-44)
The Bucks had their first winning month of the year in November (7-6). Giannis Antekounmpo and Jabari Parker are becoming one of the best forward combinations in the league.
18. Chicago Bulls (40-46)
The Bulls have gone through a bunch in 2016. The good news is that Jimmy Butler has emerged as a bonafide star and leader of the team.
17. Washington Wizards (42-41)
Bradley Beal and John Wall have battled injuries in 2016. The Wiz went 10-5 in December to get .500 for the first time in 2016-17.
16. Detroit Pistons (41-43)
The Pistons were expected to compete for a top-four seed in the Eastern Conference but went 5-10 in December to put them behind the eight ball. Detroit did end its sixth playoff drought in 2016. Can Andre Drummond make a free throw?
15. Miami Heat (40-45)
The Heat earned the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference after posting the fifth most wins in the league (15) in March and April. No Heat player played 75 games in 2015-16. Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are not in South Beach anymore, enough said.
14. Indiana Pacers (49-41)
Paul George is a superstar and Myles Turner has become a force on both ends of the floor in year two.
13. Portland Trail Blazers (44-38)
The Blazers started the year 18-7, which tied for the fifth-best record over the first two months and helped propel them to their third straight playoff. They reached the Western Conference semifinals for the second time in three seasons. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum are a very dangerous 1-2 offensive punch.
12. Atlanta Hawks (44-37)
The Hawks had a fantastic 12-4 record in March which helped them earn the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference last season and home-court advantage over the Celtics. They reached the conference semifinals for a second consecutive year.
The Hawks brought in Dwight Howard this summer and the team started out with a 9-2 record. Atlanta struggled the rest of the year, posting an 18-16 overall record.
11. Utah Jazz (47-38)
The Jazz lost four of their last five to finish one game behind the Rockets for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference last season, marking their fourth straight year without making the playoffs. Utah was one of five teams to win 10 games in each November and December despite being without point guard George Hill for 20 games. Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gobert have taken huge steps in their development this season.
10. Memphis Grizzlies (46-38)
The Griz had several injuries last year and were forced to use an NBA record 28 players. Memphis signed a point guard to a record-setting contract and Marc Gasol has bounced nicely back from a disappointing 2015-16 campaign.
9. Charlotte Hornets (50-35)
The Hornets went 25-9 in the final three months of the season to secure their best finish (sixth) since re-entering the league in 2004-05. Kemba Walker is becoming one of the best players in franchise history.
8. Boston Celtics (50-34)
The Celtics went 5-2 in April to secure the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference, their best finish since 2011-12. The C’s went out and got Al Horford this summer in free agency and drafted Jaylen Brown with the No. 3 overall pick, via the Nets. Isaiah Thomas has become a borderline superstar and Avery Bradley has become a true threat on the offensive end.
7. Los Angeles Clippers (54-30)
The Clippers were upset in the first round of the playoffs by the Trail Blazers this spring. However, they got off to a strong start this season as they kept their big three together. The Clips got off to a 14-2 start but they scuffled lately with injuries to Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. They ended their year losing seven of nine.
6. Houston Rockets (51-32)
The Rockets snuck into the playoffs last season by winning their final three games of the season. It doesn’t look like they will have the same problem this season as they ended the year with the league’s third-most wins thanks to James Harden changing his game. As well as the additions of Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson and the development of Clint Capela.
5. Oklahoma City Thunder (53-30)
The Thunder were a surprise participant in the Western Conference Finals and took the Warriors to seven games. Russell Westbrook has kept the Thunder in contention for a playoff spot this season. Victor Oladipo has become a good Robin to Westbrook’s Batman.
4. Toronto Raptors (58-23)
The Raps have the second-best record in the Eastern Conference since Jan. 1. They reached the Conference Finals for the first time this summer. DeMar DeRozan has developed into a superstar this summer. DeRozan, Kyle Lowry and Corey Joseph form one of the best backcourt trios in the league.
3. San Antonio Spurs (72-15)
The Spurs had the second–best record in 2016. The Spurs had the best home record last season and owned the best road mark this season. They get high marks for replacing the retiring Tim Duncan with Pau Gasol, Dewayne Dedmon and David Lee. They were eliminated in the playoffs by OKC in the Conference semifinals.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers (61-23)
The Cavs dealt with a lot of drama with the struggles of Kevin Love and the coaching change from David Blatt to Tyronn Lue. But they were rewarded handsomely with a World Championship after coming back from 3-1 down. Now, Love is playing the best basketball of his career and Kyrie Irving has taken a step in his development as a superstar. Plus, they added Channing Fry in February and, of course, still have King James.
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1. Golden State Warriors (72-12)
The Dubs were by far and away the best team in 2016 as they didn’t lose back to back games all year. They reached the NBA Finals but couldn’t put the series away due to bad decision-making. December was the Warriors worst month, posting a 13-3 record.
The Warriors went out and snagged Kevin Durant off the free agent market this summer. The Dubs are 29-5 on the year. They have the most potent offense as well as the best starting lineup in the league.