After the Dwight Howard Trade the NBA’s landscape has changed dramatically for the upcoming season.
Here is the first installment of the Power Rankings, with the teams that will not be making the playoffs this year. The top eight teams from each conference make the playoffs.
30. Charlotte Bobcats
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is one of my favorite players coming into the NBA, but the hard working defensive-minded swingman can’t turn the Bobcats into contenders overnight. Watching a Bobcats game this year won’t be as painful as last year, but even if they improve they have a long way to go to climb out of the NBA cellar.
29. Orlando Magic
The Magic have started their rebuild, and these next few years are going to be painful for Magic fans. Without Dwight Howard the Magic don’t have the start power to compete, as Jameer Nelson and Aaron Afflalo are their two bet players coming in to next year. Al Harrington is another good piece, but until the draft picks from this trade start paying dividends, the Magic won’t be able to compete.
28. Cleveland Cavaliers
I’m a fan of Kyrie Irving, as he’s one of the most promising young stars in the league. Unfortunately, the Cavs aren’t going to be scoring many points this year. Dion Waiters was a 6th man for Syracus last year, so whether he will be able to adjust to both the talent jump and increased minutes over more games is yet to be seen. Tristian Thompson and Alonzo Gee are the next two scorers on the roster, and while both are improving players they can’t carry the load by themselves.
27. Houston Rockets
Daryl Morey wasn’t able to bring Howard to Houston, so now the Rockets are stuck with an abundance of young talent but not much team cohesion. With Jeremy Lin, Kevin Martin, Goran Dragic and 23 other players currently under contract, the Rockets are going to have to make a trade or make some tough decisions with the roster.
This might not be there year, but the Rockets have a lot of young talent to build around for the future.
26. Detroit Pistons
The Pistons had a good draft, and have many talented young players. Brandon Knight and Greg Monroe will team with Andre Drummond to make a talented young core. I think they’re about a year away from breaking through in the Eastern Conference.
25. Toronto Raptors
With Valanciunas coming over from Lithuania and Kyle Lowry and Terrance Ross joining the backcort, the Raptors should be an entertaining team to watch this season. Valanciunas didn’t make much of a dent in the Olympics and may take some time to adjust to the NBA game. Lowry immediately makes the Raptors better, but the rest of the team may need a season or two to catch up.
24. Golden State Warriors
With Harrison Barnes added to the depth of shooters the Warriors already had, they should be a high scoring, fast-paced team. If Andrew Bogut and Steph Curry can return from injury plagues seasons in top shape, the Warriors should be a better team. The West is so deep that they probalby won’t be able to make the playoffs this season, but their plan for the future is set and they should be improving.
23. Portland Trail Blazers
The Blazers obviously tanked last season to improve, and ended up taking Damian Lillard in the draft. Lillard should work well with LaMarcus Aldridge, and with Nicholas Batum on the wing the Blazers have a few pieces to build around. Unfortunately, that’s most of the talent on the roster, and the Blazers are looking at another year of positioning for a good draft pick while not alienating fans.
22. Phoenix Suns
Most people are thinking that without Steve Nash the Suns are bound for the cellar of the Western Conference. Losing a two-time MVP and team leader is never a good thing, but the Suns have added some good talent this offseason. Luis Scola is the best player who will be amnestied, and as he showed in the Olympics, understands how to score the basketball down low. Kendall Marshall should be great in the up-tempo style Phoenix is famous for and Marcin Gortat will keep cementing himself as a top center in the league.
21. Sacramento Kings
The Kings have a tough choice to make going into the season. Isaiah Thomas turned in a spectacular rookie season, but Tyreke Evans is still a demanding presence who needs the ball.
With the addition of Thomas Robinson the frontcourt for the Kings is set for years to come.
20. Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks have their most exciting team in years thanks to the team of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis. With Ersan Ilyasova and Sam Dalembert down low Milwaukee is in place to have a very exciting season.
19. New Orleans Hornets
With Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers joining Eric Gordon in New Orleans, the Hornets are getting ready to make a leap in the standings. While they probably wont make the playoffs, the Hornets finished dead last in the WEstern Conference last year, and they should jump a few teams to get to the playoff bubble.
18. Utah Jazz
The last team out of the 2012-13 playoffs are the Jazz, a team that has a loaded frontcourt but not much firepower from their guards. The gropu of Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Derrickd Favors and Enes Kanter will carry the Jazz for most of the season, but Utah won’t make the playoffs again without better guard play.
17. New York Knicks
The first shock of the Power Rankings, the Knicks are the last team out in the Easter Conference. While they really only lost Jeremy Lin, that’s a big loss for New York. Are the new additions of Jason Kidd and Raymond Felton better than Lin? Most people are saying yes, but I’m not sure why. Kidd at this point is a spot shooter because of his age, and Felton is one of the most hated Blazers of the last ten years.
Carmelo Anthony just had a magnificent Olympics, but he is more suited to the international game than the NBA. When he is asked to carry a team, the results are not as high as a gold medal.