With NBA Media Day on Monday, and training camp opening on Tuesday, this week is a big one for the NBA. With claims to having the best team already, players are trying to begin the season on the right foot.
With teams 30-16 trying to find their identity, and some still in rebuilding mode, let’s see how they rank in the first part of the preseason power rankings
30. Charlotte Bobcats
The obvious choice, the Bobcats had the worst win percentage in NBA history, and still have work to do to make strides forward. Despite the drafting of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, this team just lacks talent. The Bobcats are going to try to avoid last year’s debacle, and begin to shape their team that could become a winner in the future. However, this could be another difficult year to succeed in Charlotte.
29. Washington Wizards
This ranking would have been higher if John Wall did not go down with an knee injury that will keep him out the first month or two of the season, but unfortunately he did and the Wizards could be stuck in the basement of the league once again. The Wizards do have some solid players to win some games like Nene and rookie Bradley Beal, but their potential is limited with Wall being out for the beginning part of the season.
28. Orlando Magic
The Dwight Howard saga has finally ended, and now the Magic have to rebuild. With solid role players to build around, the Magic just need to play through all the scrutiny and silence the critics. The Magic will remain down here for majority of the season and need to build some chemistry to try and put together a consistent playoff team they were over the past several season.
27. Sacramento Kings
A team loaded with talent such as Tyreke Evans and Demarcus Cousins, the Kings are looking to take a step forward this season. As well, they have swingman Marcus Thornton who can fill up the scoring column, and Isaiah Thomas who became a starter after being the last pick in the 2011 draft. Loaded with talent, but loaded with internal issues, for example the ongoing saga with Tyreke Evans and his future home, and if Demarcus Cousins can develop into the franchise center the Kings need. If all goes right, they will soar up this list, or all hell could break loose in the organization and the team could sink even lower.
26. Houston Rockets
After stockpiling draft picks and adding players in free agency, the Rockets looked to be in prime position to add Dwight Howard, but then everything collapsed. Howard went to the Lakers and the Rockets have a roster filled with young talent that critics are not sure if they will pan out or not. With rookies such as Jeremy Lamb, Terrence Jones, and the anxiety-filled Royce White, the Rockets have collected a roster filled with role players. This roster formation could end up meshing well together, or the Rockets could have dug their own grave for the next several years.
25. Detroit Pistons
After an impressive second-year out of Greg Monroe, the Pistons continue to try to build themselves back to the title contenders they were in the early 2000’s. Adding Andre Drummond will make this a defensively strong squad, and after cutting ties with Ben Gordon, Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey can take control of the backcourt. If Greg Monroe can continue to lead the Pistons, Lawrence Frank and the rest of the team are looking for another improving season.
24. Toronto Raptors
After striking out on the likes of Steve Nash and Jeremy Lin, and overpaying on Landry Fields to try and attract these two highly touted guards to Toronto, the Raptors landed with Kyle Lowry. Lowry, one of the best value players in the NBA, averaging a salary of about 6 million a year is an all-around stud. On both sides of the ball, and has a great shot and can pass the ball and run an offense. The Raptors are also banking on Jonas Valanciunas to come in and be affective for the team, and hoping that Andrea Bargnani can finally turn into the player they took with the first pick in the 2006. The Raptors believe that this squad could finally make some noise in the postseason, but they could be thinking a little to optimistic.
23. Phoenix Suns
For a team that had such a terrible start to the off-season by losing their leader for several years, Steve Nash, the Suns salvaged their offseason. They went out and grabbed Goran Dragic, who had a great season in Houston. As well, they grabbed his teammate Luis Scola to add to their frontcourt talent with Marcin Gortat. The Suns are trying to rebuild and compete at the same time, and everyone will look to see what will be the more noticeable path throughout the season.
22. Cleveland Cavilers
Behind the great play of Kyrie Irving last season, the Cavs proved they were in good hands behind the young point guard. This season they will continue to make strides forward. With such a young nucleus of players, only time will benefit this team. Another year of experience and time together will lead the Cavilers to climb in these rankings.
21. New Orleans Hornets
With such young, raw players, it is hard to rank the Hornets much higher. The drafting of Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers will definitely make it easier for Eric Gordon to get back from his lingering knee injury. Gordon is the key to success for this team, and they could return to the playoffs much more quickly then expected when the got rid of Chris Paul. This will be one of the most interesting teams to watch throughout the season.
20. Atlanta Hawks
After years of being stopped in the second-round of the playoffs, the Hawks had enough. They began a soft rebuild by dealing Joe Johnson to the Nets for several role players, and dumping Marvin Williams off to Utah for Devin Harris. So now the Hawks core consists of Al Horford, Josh Smith, and Devin Harris. Yes, this team could get into the bottom half of the East, but the Hawks might have set themselves up for a down-year.
19. Golden State Warriors
One part of the Andrew Bogut deal, the Warriors are one of the most talented, young rosters on paper if healthy. That is their problem though, health. With injury-prone players such as Andrew Bogut who I spoke of already, and Stephen Curry, this teams talent may be hindered. After drafting Harrison Barnes, the great play of rookie Klay Thompson, and the always-consistent David Lee, this team may shock some teams in this campaign.
18. Milwaukee Bucks
After gaining Monta Ellis in the other half of the Andrew Bogut trade, the Bucks have high hopes for him and his backcourt partner Brandon Jennings. Milwaukee just missed the playoffs last season and are looking to make a move this season by using their speed and scoring abilities to run teams out of the gym. This squad is loaded with potential; the question is when will they reach it.
17. Portland Trail Blazers
Nobody is sure what to make of Portland. They are indeed very talented with Lamarcus Aldridge leading them on the floor. The had a fairly successful draft by adding Damian Lillard, a trendy rookie of the year pick, and Myers Leonard who is a project for Portland to work on hoping he is not the next Greg Oden. This could be the year Portland makes a leap into a consistent playoff team.
16. Utah Jazz
This team is a wild card. They are very talented, but lack star power that could carry them through the league and deep into the playoffs. The Jazz are led behind a very deep frontcourt with Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Enes Kanter, and Derrick Favors, and a sub-par back court. Expect them to make moves throughout the season and add some star power, but right now they are stuck in the middle of the pack.
Check back tomorrow for teams 15-1