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NBA Power Rankings 2016-17: Week 1 “The Start of A Season”

NBA 30 Teams

The 2016-2017 NBA season is finally underway, and not a moment too soon. For months we have been preparing for this moment, fantasizing what these newly shaped teams might look like. And even though there has been a lot of change this offseason, the chase for the crown this year ultimately lies with the two teams that were fighting for it in June. All roads must go through them. The question is, can any of these teams get through those roads?

1. Cleveland Cavaliers

Pre-Season Record: 2-4

It would be outright disrespectful not to put the reigning NBA champs at number one. Despite what is going on over in Oracle, the Cavs have managed to stay together (which is important to chemistry), and enjoy the moment. Good thing they figured out the whole J.R. Smith situation, because he will be key for the Cavs if they want a chance of repeating as NBA Champs.

2. Golden State Warriors

Pre-Season Record: 6-1

This team is pretty scary. When you add the second best player in the game to an already super stacked roster, it spells fear for the rest of the league. While adding KD definitely helped their roster, they gave up much of their depth to get him. That might come back to haunt them during the long and grueling 82 game season. We will see if this team is one for the history books or another failed “super-team” experiment. Should be interesting.

3. San Antonio Spurs

Pre-Season Record: 4-2

If anything ever came close to defeating Father time, it has to be the Spurs. Year after year, they always seem to be riding near the top. With Kawhi and LaMarcus being the new dynamic duo, it doesn’t look like that ride will stop anytime soon. The only question for the Spurs is how their defense will hold up without Tim Duncan and Boris Diaw there to keep the thing stable inside. We will see.

4. Los Angeles Clippers

Pre-Season Record: 3-3 

Any team that has three of the top three players at their position is going to be pretty good. That being said though, they don’t seem to look any different than they did last year. Something has to change in LA for their fortunes to turn around. They STILL have to be near the top of the rankings, just because of how much talent this team really has. On paper, this might be the second best team in the NBA.

5. Boston Celtics

Pre-Season Record: 5-2 

Let me clarify that I am aware pre-season play ultimately doesn’t matter in the end. But I simply cannot ignore the way Boston has looked thus far. They seem to be everything their fans imagined, and then some. Al Horford seems like a perfect fit. And they still have rookie Jaylen Brown, to either trade for a good vet player, or keep him and develop his talents.

6. Memphis Grizzlies

Pre-Season Record: 4-2 

The Grindhouse has returned. While everyone is busy forgetting about the Grizzlies, they got healthy and made a big move. Now, the same roster that got to the Western Conference Finals in 2013, has finally gotten right. When you add Chandler Parsons to the mix, it only spells disaster for any team who is unprepared. Simply put, this team has all the tools to challenge the Western Conference crown. That’s right.

7. Toronto Raptors

Pre-Season Record: 4-3 

There’s usually an agreement among NBA experts that if you don’t make any changes during the offseason, the team probably got worse. And a quiet offseason may be a bit of an understatement for Toronto. One could argue they don’t need to make any changes, but it still never hurts. Nevertheless, they still have one of the best backcourts in the league, and some key players getting healthy. So expectations will continue to be sky high.

8. Indiana Pacers

Pre-Season Record: 3-3 

Indiana just went from “possible playoff team” to “Eastern Conference contender” in about one month. Paul George will be leading the show, of course, and we should keep our eyes open on Myles Turner who might just be ready for a star-studded year. While it is yet to be seen what new coach Nate McMillan will bring to the table, it is clear that the Pacers have more talent on the roster now then they have in a long, long time.

9. Portland Trail Blazers

Pre-Season Record: 4-3 

Dame will still be Dame, CJ will still be CJ. When you have those two leading your backcourt, you're going to be at least semi-relevant. But with the very underrated additions of Festus Ezeli and Evan Turner, this team could start making some noise. They are still at least one piece away from being a true contender, but the Blazers are definitely gaining some traction in the standings.

10. New York Knicks

Pre-Season Record: 4-2 

If you haven’t seen Brandon Jennings “shimmy” yet, you need to check it out. It accurately describes the vibe in New York, after revamping their roster this summer. Health is a big concern, but the talent and experience are there for the Knicks to make a serious run. With Carmelo not getting any younger, the clock is ticking for this team to make it’s final push.

11. Atlanta Hawks

Pre-Season Record: 5-2 

Dwight Howard may have finally found his home. He has looked sensational in the pre-season games he’s played in so far. Speaking of looking good, Dennis Schroder seems to be thriving in his new starting role for Atlanta. Could we see that 60 win team we saw just two seasons ago? Unlikely... but still possible.

12. Houston Rockets

Pre-Season Record: 5-2 

Right when we were all ready to write off the Rockets, they impress us with their spectacular play in pre-season. And while it IS just pre-season, it is hard to ignore just how good the team looked. Ryan Anderson seems to be picking up where he left off in New Orleans, and that will take a lot of pressure off James Harden. Let’s not forget about Pat Beverly and Trevor Ariza, who will still provide that valuable defense on any given night.

13. Utah Jazz

Pre-Season Record: 3-3 

The Jazz surprised a lot of folks last year with how well their defense played. Well, that defense will surely continue to prove why it’s on of the best. But this time, with a little more firepower on offense. Joe Johnson is old, but hasn’t lost his stroke yet. And, of course, ex-Pacer George Hill, who can really make it splash from deep. Add that along with the sharp shooting of Gordon Hayward, and you have a team who can be REALLY dangerous.

14. Chicago Bulls

Pre-Season Record: 3-4 

The Bulls showed flashes this preseason of what they could be if everything clicks. While the Butler-Wade-Rondo combo will admittedly be fun to watch, they do have one glaring problem: their lack of formidable big men. Sure they have Taj, Mirotic, Portis, and Robin Lopez. But will they be able to compete with the likes of Dwight Howard, Al Horford, Hassan Whiteside, or Nikola Vucevic? Probably not.

15. Oklahoma City Thunder

Pre-Season Record: 3-3 

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All eyes will be on Russell Westbrook this year, and with good reason. As an early MVP favorite, him alone might be enough to squeak the Thunder into the post-season. But if he wants to get anywhere, he will still need to have help from guys like Steven Adams and Victor Oladipo. Even in the best-case-scenario though, this team definitely got knocked down a huge peg from where it was last year.

16. Charlotte Hornets

Pre-Season Record: 3-4 

The Hornets spent a lot of money keeping forward Nicolas Batum this summer, and it was a smart move. He seems to really fit alongside Kemba Walker quite nicely. However, they also lost long-time center Al Jefferson, and I think it will hurt them more than they realize. A record similar to last seasons is a reasonable expectation for this franchise, who may finally be headed in a winning direction.

17. Dallas Mavericks

Pre-Season Record: 2-5 

The acquisitions of ex-Warriors Andrew Bogut and Harrison Barnes might be enough for a middle seed in the mix of the Western Conference. That’s only if Barnes plays up to his contract, and we see another big year from Dirk. How much can we really expect from the 38 year old German? I HOPE a lot, but history tells us otherwise.

18. Orlando Magic

Pre-Season Record: 2-5 

The Magic have surrounded their young talent with veteran big men this offseason. But what they failed to do was add a true all-star who would help get this franchise back in the right direction. So while Orlando will almost certainly be in the playoff hunt, the Magic still have a lot of issues to manage before they become a true title contender.

19. Detroit Pistons

Pre-Season Record: 3-3 

Detroit would have been a lock for the playoffs this year. But with Reggie Jackson out for some time, the Pistons may not have enough firepower to keep themselves afloat. Meanwhile, everyone is waiting to see a breakout season from Tobias Harris. This might be the year, as he seems to really thrive under VanGundy’s system. Also, unless Drummond has fixed his little free-throw shooting problem, there remains to be a giant hole in his game, and the team’s offense.

20. Washington Wizards

Pre-Season Record: 4-3 

What was called “DC Rising” has now become a complete disaster. Just getting a healthy season from Bradley Beal might even be above expectations at this point. As good as John Wall is, he can’t do it all himself. So in a season of regrouping, we shouldn’t expect anything to high for this team, who at this point is just trying to get their guys on the hardwood.

21. Minnesota Timberwolves

Pre-Season Record: 5-2 

KAT is proving to be a true star, Andrew Wiggins is finally getting his feet underneath him, and Kris Dunn might end up being the steal of the draft. Things are looking up for the T-Wolves, and they might find themselves in the playoffs for the first time since the KG era. Who knows, maybe we’ll soon find ourselves calling Zach LaVine the three-time reigning KIA slam Dunk contest winner.

22. Miami Heat

Pre-Season Record: 4-4 

With all of the “Big Three” gone from Miami, this Heat team now finds itself in the start of a rebuild. They could still win a couple games with Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside leading the show. But if those trade rumors have any truth to them, Goran could find himself out the door… which would only slow things down even further. Either way, it’s going to be a pretty long season for the Heat, who were once the crown and jewel of the NBA.

23. New Orleans Pelicans

Pre-Season Record: 1-5 

When this team was first brought together a few years ago, they had pretty high expectations. Jrue Holiday was an elite point guard, Eric Gordon was an elite shooter, and Tyreke Evans was an ELITE shooting guard. Now, Gordon is in Houston, Jrue can’t stay healthy, and Tyreke seems to have forgotten how to be an all-star. Even Anthony Davis seems to be in a bit of a black hole (with injury issues), who just last year was considered to be an MVP candidate.

24. Sacramento Kings

Pre-Season Record: 3-3 

The Kings can just never seem to get it right. They failed yet again to add any star players to pair with DeMarcus. That being said though, they did add some other notable players that should help improve the team: Arron Afflalo, Ty Lawson, and Matt Barnes. Not the BEST guys available…. but still something.

25. Los Angeles Lakers

Pre-Season Record: 2-6 

The playoffs might be a bit of a stretch this year for LA, who still has a couple years before their young players break out. But they should be much improved from last year, with Luke Walton running his high-powered offense, and D’Angelo Russell leading the show. Some valuable vets will help as well, which is why they overpaid for Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng.

26. Milwaukee Bucks

Pre-Season Record: 3-3 

The Bucks weren’t in for a superior season to begin with. Then an injury to their best player, Khris Middleton, was the final blow to a season they will likely want to forget. Will Jason Kidd and Giannis Antetokounmpo be able to bring some positive vibes and salvage something from this year? Chances are they will, but it doesn’t change the likelihood of a losing season.

27. Denver Nuggets

Pre-Season Record: 4-4 

Rookie point guard Emmanuel Mudiay impressed last season. Whether or not he can continue that play remains to be seen, but it’s not too far-fetched to say that the Nuggets future relies on him. So while this may be a wasted season, all spotlights will be on the Mudiay and if he can show any signs of being a true star.

28. Brooklyn Nets

Pre-Season Record: 1-5 

The “Brook-Lin” saga is officially underway, and is probably going to be the only reason to see the team this season. While their new GM Sean Marks is certainly bringing a new system in Brooklyn, this team is going nowhere in the present. Honestly, not much to say here. What you see is what you get.

29. Phoenix Suns

Pre-Season Record: 4-2 

The Suns are far removed from their short run at playoff contention that started just a few years ago. Their young talent just hasn’t seemed to pan like like they'd hoped (besides Booker, who might just be their savior), and now they fit themselves with an injury prone Eric Bledsoe, Shaq-tin a fool star Brandon Knight, and a WAY overpaid Tyson Chandler.

30. Philadelphia 76ers

Pre-Season Record: 2-5 

Just when the Sixer’s fortunes began to turn around, news broke of the Ben Simmons injury. It's kind of crazy to think how much this has happened to them over the years. Now their only hope for a salvageable season lies with any of their three big men, who are still trying to find their place in the NBA.

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CHECK: NBA Preseason Awards