Wild’s Weekly NBA Power Rankings and Tiers
With pre-season coming to an end, it Is time for the first installment of power rankings and tiers. Here each tier will be broken down to show which teams are better or worse in that tear.
Tier 1: The Lakers
1. Los Angeles Lakers
This team is the real deal. There is no other way to put it. The Lakers hard arguably the best offseason in the league this and followed that momentum into a 4-0 pre-season record. Some of those games included rest nights for Lebron and AD showing that this team is good even without their best two players. Kuzma and Talen Horton Tucker came alive in the pre-season, and this team is only going to get better
Tier 2: Championship Contenders
2. Los Angeles Clippers
A lot of people are saying the Clippers got worse this offseason but switching Harrell for Ibaka and Landry Shamet for Luke Kennard are both pretty solid moves to fit the playstyle of this team. Similarly, Paul George saying that he owes this team a championship could signify a return to near-MVP form for the former 3rd place finisher. This team is still as strong as they were last year, or close to it, and will be a more serious threat with Ibaka in the playoffs than we saw last year.
3. Milwaukee Bucks
Milwaukee’s big offseason move was the trade for Jrue Holiday that saw them send three first round picks and two pick swaps back to New Orleans. That is a lot, but it got Giannis to resign. Without the Giannis drama hanging over their head and boasting a roster with some former all stars and a perennial MVP candidate, this team will be great in the regular season. The question comes in the playoffs, but we will have to wait and see on the impact Jrue can make.
4. Brooklyn Nets
I know that this might be getting a little bit ahead of myself, but this team looked amazing in pre-season. KD looked like the same KD with a little rust, while Kyrie showed his knee and shoulder injuries have clearly healed well. This team has one of the best players in the league with a great supporting cast. It is tough to see a result where they are not a top team in the east and win over 50 games.
Tier 3: Dark Horse Championship Contenders and Probable Top Seed Teams
5. Denver Nuggets
Denver was a true surprise in last year’s bubble. I get they were the three seed before, but no one could have expected the fire that was lit under Jamal Murray that lead the Nuggets to the western conference finals (further than the Clippers have ever made it as a franchise). While the loss of Jerami Grant will certainly hurt this team defensively, MPJ is a serious offensive threat and will be a steady third scorer for this team.
6. Dallas Mavericks
Last year in the games where Luka played, the Mavs had a win percentage similar to the third-place finishers (the Nuggets). Still, with Porzingis out, and less perimeter shooting (traded Seth Curry for Josh Richardson), this Mavs team will not be the same number one offense we saw last regular season and into the first round of the playoffs. Luka is the favourite for MVP this year, and this Mavs team will likely take a top-4 seed in the western conference making for a strong playoff team come June.
7. Miami Heat
Miami made noise last season as they pushed to their first finals appearance sine 2014 with the big three. The reason Miami is not higher after their performance is because they took their “jump” already. This team is not going to be better than they were in the playoffs last season, and losing Jae Crowder can foreshadow issues of a Giannis problem as Crowder was the primary defender. This team can still be great, but they have the same shot of making it to the finals as they did last year – a minimal one.
8. Boston Celtics
Boston lost Gordon Hayward for nothing this offseason, illustrating the end of the old Celtics with IT, Kyrie, Horford and Hayward all either being traded or leaving in free agency over the last four years. Tatum showed flashes of brilliance after the all-star break last season, but was not as dominant in the bubble. There is potential for this team to be great, but one of the young players needs to take a jump.
Tier 4: New Additions Can Make or Break
9. Portland Trailblazers
The Blazers finished last season on a tear, then got demolished by the Lakers in the first round. I believe had they not played the Lakers, and Dame not injured his hand, the Blazers could have made some noise in the playoffs. This season they have upgraded, trading for Covington and bringing in Kanter. They are deep, with Melo, Trent, Kanter and Simons all coming off the bench, this team is the best team Lillard has had since Aldridge left. However, instead of being lead by a slow power forward, this Blazers team will be led by a possible MVP candidate. Do not count this team out.
10. Phoenix Suns
Phoenix made some noise this offseason when they traded for CP3 after finishing 8-0 in the bubble. This team has hope and is on track for success this year. Booker and Ayton looked great during pre-season (even though Paul already got injured). If they can stay healthy, and not get suspended, this team will make the playoffs and if they gel right, this team could make a deep push. Do not underrate the depth this team has at wing with Bridges, Johnson and Crowder, this team is ready to take on the wing heavy Lakers and Clippers