The NBA this season is going to arguably be the most competitive season we have seen since the Lakers and the Celtics met up in 2010, except this time around the league has a much bigger group of stars spread out throughout the league. With the season starting in a little over a week, let's break down the best and worst teams this year.
#30 Cleveland Cavaliers
Colin Sexton, Darius Garland, Isaac Okoro, Kevin Love, Andre Drummond. To make this one quick as I don't think it will be disputed, Andre Drummond won't be a member of the Cavaliers come the end of this season. Look for a contender to trade for him, Kevin Love will either be average or off the roster by the end of this season, Colin Sexton is basically the same as D'aaron Fox but worse, and I don't know if Darius Garland is good but I am pretty sure he isn't. Along with the Knicks and Hornets, the Cavaliers are up there as the worst run Franchises in not only the NBA, but all of sports. Look for the Cavs to be terrible this season, I wouldn't be surprised if the only televised games to come from them is when LeBron comes to town.
#29 Orlando Magic
I was tempted to put the Knicks or the Hornets here, and it very well may be the Knicks or the Hornets sitting in this spot come seasons end. But, the Magic are such a Joke of a Franchise, its where all rookie potential comes to die. Although we saw flashes of Markelle Fultz looking like his old self last season, I don't think Aaron Gordon will last the rest of the season there and he will request a trade around the midway point. That being said the key players on this roster are: Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon, Mo Bamba, Johnathan Issac and Markell Fultz. If the Magic are to be any good next season Mo Bamba, Johnathan Issac and Markell Fultz all need to make the jump from young with potential, to star or consistent starter at the least. With the way this team is set up, and the east only getting more competitive this season I don't think its possible for those jumps to happen with all three. I wouldn't be surprised if they decide to blow this team up yet again and restart, the Magic are Fucked.
#28: Charlotte Hornets:
The Charlotte Hornets are one of the worst run teams in the league, and would be the worst run team in the League if James Dolan fell off the face of the earth (every Knicks fans dream). The team has some potential however, Devonte Grahma should've been the most improved player this past season, but the NBA decide to give it to Pelicans F Brandon Ingram instead. Graham in my opinion should've been given the keys to this team, there was no star they could've signed or traded for this offseason and they needed to go into full rebuild mode. They should've given him a chance to become a superstar and shoot the ball 20+ times a game but they didn't, instead they signed Gordon Hayward, who isn't THAT bad (see Tied Up Pod Episode 8 with Jeff Nelson NBA Scout). Despite Haywords slightly above average game, he takes looks away from Miles Bridges whose potential needs to be more focused on. Lamelo Ball was the perfect pick for them, a purely gifted facilitator who has above average scoring potential... Lamelo Ball - Miles Bridges - Devonte Graham, and some help from a few Bigs is what this team should've been. Instead there's going to be a lot of negative media attention surrounding them and the only star they have to take the blame is Lamelo, look for them to either have an amazing season (fringe playoff team) or completely implode.
#27: Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder made headlines all offseason for blowing up their entire roster, going into full tank mode, or so we think at least. Personally I think the Thunder blew this roster up with one goal in mind. Giannis Antentukumpo. Giannis seems to want out and if he does before the deadline look for the Thunder to be the obvious trade partner for them. They are about to have endless cap space and a million picks to give to the Bucks if Giannis is to be traded. The Thunder could potentially trade for both Harden and Giannis if they really wanted to in my point go view, but that said they still only have Shai Gilgeous Alexander (if I spelt it wrong I am sorry but I am not changing it). I think the Thunder are just a better Team than the teams ranked worse than them, and they consistently play better than they're supposed to. Now that Shai has the keys look for him to be a star this season if he wasn't already one, and with the amount of touches he could get per game I think he actually may have perennial all-star potential following this season (he'll grow exponentially as a leader, soarer and facilitator since no one else is there to help him).
#26: San Antonio Spurs
I know, ranking them this low is probably a hot take. That being said this team has zero fire power on this roster. Dejounte Murray is good, obviously Demar Derozan is good, and lastly Lamarcus Aldridge is good, but Derozan hasn't looked like himself since he was traded for Kawhi and Aldridge has to be getting close to 50 years old at this point. Other guys surround this mediocre 3 (Patent Pending) are Paty Mills and Rudy Gay... so basically below average role players that probably would see less than 10 minutes per game on a winning team. At this point I think Pop is just enjoying his time as a head coach, not really interested in building a roster but more interested in coaching in the NBA. The clock is ticking on Pop and this roster, I think this season the inevitable task time bomb will go off. If it were up to the spurs I assure they would've fired Pop and blew the roster up already, but because Pop won't retire, there's not much they can do.
#25: New York Knicks
The Knicks are an embarrassment of a franchise looking to hopefully turn things around not this season but next season. They've got a good young core in RJ Barret, Mitchell Robinson, Obi Toppin, Kevin Knox and hopefully Myles Powell. The coaching staff is certainly improved adding Thibs and Kenny Payne, along with a MUCH improved Front Office in World Wide Wes and Leon Rose (two well liked and respected figures in the basketball world). Adding Austin Rivers and Nerlens Noel is also a plus for the Knicks in my eyes as I think Noel may have a big year this year, but still... the Knicks have held onto Julius Randle and Dennis Smith Jr, who are two tocos players to this roster. Both guys need to have the ball in their hands and take away touches from some of the young guys who need the development (RJ, Myles, Immanuel Quickley, Obi Toppin, Mitch Robinson etc). Look for Thibs to completely demoralize these two until they request a trade. According to insider info from NBA Scout Jeff Nelson, Stream episode 8 of the Tied Up Pod, Thibs has a great vision for the Knicks and will draw a pretty thick line in the sand between guys who want to buy in, verse guys who are simply there for the paycheck.
#24: Detroit Pistons
Derrick Rose and Blake Griffen are certainly fun to watch, and Seddiw Bey also looked pretty good in the reasons so far, but the Pistons are stalling right now. Blake Griffen needs to go to a contender and Derrick Rose also should be moved to a contender, but put these two third or fourth options on a team together and expect them to make the playoffs is a bit of a stretch. Looking back at the history of these two guys, neither can stay healthy, and I am not saying that to be a dick I am saying it because its objectively true. When healthy these are two top 30-35 players in the league *potentially* and I actually think I am higher on them than most, but with just these two guys on the roster who will probably playa. third of the season without the other star and expecting them to make the playoffs is ridiculous. Blow. Up. The. Team.
#23: Chicago Bulls
The Bulls aren't as bad as most people think, but they still aren't very good. Their Roster Standouts are Zach Levine, Lauri Markhennin, Wendell Carter Jr., Otto Porter Jr, Coby White and the rookie whose name I have already forgotten and am too lazy to look up. This team has talent, and if it weren't for dogs hit coaching I think they could've been the 8 seed in an awful eastern conference. But, with the East being more competitive and only getting more and more top heavy there isn't really any room for them to get into the playoff despite what Billy Donovan may have in store. Next Year the Bulls will be a playoff team, but I think they'll either in the best case scenario scrap an 8 seed, or just get left out
#22: Minnesota Timberwolves
The T-Wolves have talent, and adding Anthony Edwards was certainly a bust for them. But after interview NBA Scout Jeff Nelson who currently works for the 76ers, as well as discussing his relationship with former Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibedeau (Knicks current Head Coach), my opinion on that whole situation has shifted. Thibs is a cut throat coach for sure, but all him and Jimmy wanted to do was win together, and KAT was the sole reason as to why they didn't. According to Nelson and I guess you could say Thibs himself, he would challenge KAT to be better, to be the perennial All Star he should be and he folded and whined like a child. He whined so bad they needed to get his best friend D-Lo on the roster to save him. That being said I think D-Lo and KAT in a normal conference could make a 7 or 8 seed, but with no fire lit under them I just don't see it happening. Look for a lot of 'me first' ball with D-Lo and Kat probably in a lot of Isolation, and than Anthony Edwards crying about touches. This team may implode after the all star break even if they get to that point playing good basketball. KAT is one of the most gifted players in this league, and he's wasting it.
#21: Indiana Pacers
The Pacers are the opposite of a flashy team. Oladipo and Sabonis headline the team, and I don't see bubble TJ Warren coming back, although that was probably an insane time to be alive for Pacers fans. Look, I don't really know how the Pacers are. as good as they usually are but somehow they sneak in the playoffs/the mix in the eastern conference every year, which is why I actually think this way. That being said I feel like this spot is probably the dead middle of what this league looks like, this is the end or the beginning of the end (one more spot) of bad teams. The pacers are the best bad team is what I think I am trying to say here, and they either need to trade for a star or restart and move all their key guys, its put up or shut time.
#20: Sacramento Kings
Believe it or not I actually like the Kings a lot more than this, De'Aaron Fox is very good, Buddy Hield is good, Nemanjia Bjelica is good, Harrison Barnes and Jabari Parker are good role players, and lastly Marvin Bagley III has some real potential. This team is a good team, and if they were in the east I would have them higher in my power rankings strictly because they would be a playoff team, but in the west they aren't. I don't know what the move is with this team though and I think they'll need to re access after the season, if they finish in this spot but Bagley heats up at the end of the season keep the team together and add a few more role guys and depth, but if he doesn't they'll need to move him in package to get a good pair with Fox. Wasting his talent is something the Kings can't do and it seems as though they won't.
#19: Memphis Grizzlies
The Grizzlies heated up last year at the end, and have a decent core but simply put they cannot compete with the good or playoff teams of the west this season. Ja Morantin my eyes is a better version of Russel Westbrook (Westbrook is better, but Morant has a higher ceiling than Westbrook ever had), but other than Jaren Jackson and maybe Valencinus there's not many other positives. The team still needs a good head coach and a real full season for them to evaluate what players to surround Ja with. I love the potential of Jaren Jackson and Ja, but its just not there yet.
#18: Washington Wizards (8 Seed in East)
Now we get into the playoff teams for the eastern conference and we start in Washington. I think I might be the only human on planet earth who likes the pairing of Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook. If we look at Westbrook and his career, yes he is a ball hog, but he also fucking hates to lose... and so does Beal. The two are similar, but Beal in my eyes is the better scorer, and Westbrook is better at the rest. If the two can sit their man to man, which since they are both very open about how they feel on the court I believe they will or already have, and discuss where they need to be and the roles of the offense this can work. However it all depends on whether or not Westbrook can bear the burden of losing late game touches, if he could I would put them higher, but since he probably won't I have them as the 8-seed, which is what I believe their floor potential to be due to the fact that in the regular season, they both fucking HATE losing.
#17: Portland Trailblazers
The Portland Trailblazers got hot in the bubble, we all know that. And honestly I think if they were to play the Clippers in the first round they would have beaten them, but I think the strength of the Rockets, Suns, Pelicans and Jazz are too much for them in trying to fighter the final spots the playoffs. The Blazers whether they like it or not have a decision to make. Blow the roster up don't after this season with or without Dame. For some reason Damian Lillard refuses to want to leave portanlnd and I have to respect it, and the Blazers Front Office I am sure is incredibly grateful. But, unless Giannis or one of these other big names that may want out other current teams wants to come to Portland, I don't see the Blazers making any noise with their current core.
#16: Houston Rockets
I don't know if Harden is going to play but we are a week out of the regular season and he still thinks hell be traded. If he does play this team is certainly a top-6 seed in the west, Harden Wall and hopefully a healthy Boogie are certainly that good. But without, the west is just too strong for them to sneak in over the Jazz and the Pelicans. Of all the takes I have made I think this is the probably the biggest hot take, so let me know in the comments how you feel, I am ready for the heat.
#15: Toronto Raptors (7 seed in East)
The Toronto Raptors a really well coached... that's about it. Siakam is not what everyone thought he would be, Kyle Lowry is getting older, Marc Gasol is gone, Serge Ibaka is gone, and they already payed Vanvleet so I don't expect him to have as a good a year as he did last year. Nick Nurse gets the best out of his players with a great game-plan, but the players themselves from this point on are frauds, and for the next 5 season they're going to have to rebuild.
#14: Atlanta Hawks (6 seed in East)
The Hawks are a playoff team this year, there's no debate, and if somehow they aren't than there's a serious problem with the structure of the team. Trae Young is an all star ready to become a super star. They added Bogdonavic (the guy Giannis begged the Bucks to go out and get), they added Galinari and they added Rondo probably for his high Basketball IQ. Their young core is in tact with Huerter, Redish and Hunter, and if Clint Cappella can go back to being good they will be an even higher seed. I am a big believer in this team and the way it is built, if you ask me all they're missing is a Nick Nurse, Brad Stevens, Steve Kerr type coach. I know that sounds like a lot but all the teams that blow up get a coach like that, the Hawks should be actively looking if they want to see the success their players have the potential to have.
#13: New Orleans Pelicans (8 seed in West)
Before I get into it I wanna say I think the Pelicans will be much better than their rank, and the strength of the NBA right now as a whole is what makes me have to leave them out of the top ten. This year I believe will be a massive growth year for Lonzo. I think he has second or first team all defense, not an all star yet, but will average 15-10-7 which is great-pin guard numbers if you ask me or anyone else really. Zion I don't think has the season everyone hopes he does, he will probably load manage since he's just too big, and Brandon Ingram will probably have a very similar if not, better year than last due to the uptick in Lonzos production. The season after this though... they will be a forced to be reckoned with.
#12: Utah Jazz (7 Seed in West)
I think this Jazz team is better than people think. Donovan Mitchell is very good, and so is Rudy Gobert, that said I actually think the team will gel better after the bubble. The beef between Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert had been festering, and now that they got their feelings out like little babies their chemistry is going to be better. That said regardless of if they like each other or not, at this point these are two vets who have won together before, they will win together again... and be knocked out in the first round... but lets not do that yet.
#11: Golden State Warriors (6 Seed in West)
The Golden State Warriors dynasty appears to be over, but not because they lost. The Warriors have 3 Championships with Steph, Klay and Draymond (one with KD), and if Klay didn't get hurt this past year I think they would've had a very good chance at another this year. With Klay out, Steph is going to need to average 30+ points and Draymond is going to have to be first team all defense again if they are to be serious contenders. I know drafting Wiseman and adding Oubrey is big for them, on top of having Wiggins (whose a big time bust), unless one of them is to be come a left 2nd or 3rd option, this team isn't going anywhere other than at most a 5 seed, but more probable a 6 seed in the West like I have them ranked here. The Warrior have no more time to waste with Klay out for the second consecutive year, and its a legacy year for Steph, despite this I still think they are a mid team in the highly competitive western conference.
Top 10... Whose Left:
For the East: Bucks, Nets, Celtics, 76ers, Heat
For the West: Nuggets, Suns, Lakers, Clippers, Mavericks
#10: Phoenix Suns (5 Seed in West)
This may be Chris Paul's last chance on a contending team. He is 35 years old and if he's anywhere near as durable as Lebron he has until he is 38 to get to the Finals and win one. Over the next three season with this team, Chris Paul may actually get the title he's desperately craving. But, this season isomer of the breakout year for the duo that is Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton. These two in my opinion will have years of their career being skipped and jump rightist the heat of their primes with Chris Paul running the offense, and passing is Basketball IQ onto them. The Phoenix Suns are a good team and have a decent shot off making a deep playoff run on paper, but only time will tell if they are real or not. At some point potential needs to be thrown out the window with Booker, and although he's obviously a gifted scorer its time to see him be better on defense and other aspects of the game. Although Ayton is young we also need to seem step up, this Is his third year in the league now and we need to see more from him. Personally I think we will, and this team may turn out to be the Miami Heat of last season. The only reason they are not higher is because they aren't proven
#9: Miami Heat (5 Seed in East)
We know the Miami Heat and what they're capable of, as well how good Jimmy can be as a leader. With Bam, Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, Goran Dragic and more of the supporting cast all coming bak completely healthy, the Miami Heatare the real deal and may even finish as a 1 seed strictly because they are probably a better regular season team than most of the teams ranked above them. That said they are not the best team in the east, and are a little overhyped after last season.
#8: Dallas Mavericks (4 Seed in West)
The Mavericks have two of the best European Players the league has seen in years, and potential the best European player of all time in Luka Doncic. Luka is one of those guys like Lebron, Steph, Chris Paul and others who just make every single player around them much better with their vision and leadership. Add a talent like *HEALTHY* Porzingis to the mix and you have at the very least a Western Conference Finals Contender. Dallas showed last season when they took the Clippers to game 7 that they could compete with the best, and that Luka was ready to play on a real deal contender, and this season with a hopefully healthy porzingis we will see that come into fruition. Oh and by the way, if my power rankings are correct and the Suns play the Mavs in round 1.... Holy Shit we are in for a good matchup.
#7: Denver Nuggets (3 Seed in West)
The Nuggets are riding hot after their deep playoff run, which ended in defeating the Clippers but losing to the Lakers in 6. At the end of the day we learned two things, Jamaal Murray can be a superstar in this league and him and Jokic are a legit lethal pairing. I have them ranked kind of low in my opinion, I think their TEAM is better than some ranked above them but as far as title odds go I would say this spot for them is about right. If they can find a way to get Michael porter Jr more involved in that offense more, as well as keep his outgoing media personality (which starts a lot of shit), your gonna seed team with three guys that can score 25+ a nightie their sleep. I don't care what era your in and what team your playing, a team with a gifted passer at the Center spot who can score anywhere on the floor and guard almost anywhere on the floor, a cold blooded killer at point guard who can lock up anyone he's up against, and a small forward who although may be slightly selfish can put up 30 in 8 FGA can beat anyone. If the Lakers, Bucks, Clippers, Nets, Celtics, 76ers or whoever is contending in the end better hope they don't bump into a hot Nuggets team in the Playoffs.
#6: Brooklyn Nets (4 Seed in East)
Im not here to jerk the Nets like everyone else is, instead Ill give you a real evaluation. The Nets have one of the best, if not the best scorer of all time on their team, but I think he may be paired with the wrong guy. Kyrie Irving as much as I love his game is a bit of a head case, and I am not just saying that because the media portrays him that way... I am literally saying that because he portrayed himself that way on his Instagram Live earlier this week. He said he was Kevin Durant in his past life to Kevin Durant,to which Kevin responded by saying "uhhh yea I can see that...". He also claimed he wanted to post up 9 times a game, to which KD said "hey man I think it would be a bad look to have our Point Guard under the rim that many times"... Kyrie than responded by saying "oh Yeaaa the media would run with that... so what we thinking's like 7?". If that Dialogue alone doesn't tell you that either A) Kyrie is a mental patient or B) The Media has an insane amount of real estate in his head, than your just an idiot. It is for this reason I need to see the full season from Kyrie and KD to put them in my top 5, and man does KD have a lot to deal with this season.
#5: Philadelphia 76ers (3 Seed in East)
The 76ers are poised to have a great regular season with the signing of Doc Rivers as well as Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid Ropertedly moving in together. That being said the moving in together could throw everything off the rails when Ben is trying to bring Kendal Jenner back to the room but Joel is in the living room of the apartment eating pizza and playing Fortnite with his friends with loud music on. All bullshit aside these two desperately want to win, and seeming with each other which is a rare case in the NBA when a duo doesn't have a lot of playoff success (see Mitchell and Gobert, Shaq and Kobe as an example). Either way in the regular season look for these two to click with Doc at the helm, and Tobias Harris to get into rhythm. However no promises about the playoffs, we all know Doc hasn't been good when in the mix lately
#4: Los Angeles Clippers (2 Seed in West)
The Clippers are good, lets not ignore it. Paul George gets a lot of shit and all that but he has been a super star in this league and come back from tragedy way worse than his recent playoff blemishes, I think he will wbouncback motivated. He claimed on "All The Smoke" Podcast he has been back with his MVP year trainer and listens to Kobe during workouts instead of music, which I guess says something about how seriously he's taking preparation. Kawhi will go back to being Kawhi with maybe a little more personality. We saw him talking shit to Montrez Harrell during preseason so I am interested to see how that turns out, but overall load management will kill this team. If they want to overcome anyone in the top 6 they need to be game ready, which they can be, but they need the regular season to prepare for the playoffs. The talent is there, the coach is there, the depth is there: They just need to go out and make it happen.
#3: Boston Celtics (2 Seed in East)
Before everyone says I am way too high on the Celtics I would like to point out I am not a Boston Fan, I fucking hate the Celtics so much, butI expect them to come out crazy this year. They lost to the Heat this past season and as an objective fan that series didn't even feel like it was close at any point. I would attribute their lack of success to mediocre preparation in the regular season. They need to go harder in the 82 games, and build that chemistry there rather than attempt to do it in the playoffs. Other than that the clock is ticking on Brad Stevens and I think he knows that. With the talent on his team and the guru or (young Popovich) which he has been labeled as he needs success not just in the playoffs (which he really has none of), but also in the regular season. A lot of people will say Murray, Boston isn't better than the Nets for the 2 seed in the east, to that I would say their coaching and chemistry are. This team has been through heartbreak not only last year in the playoffs but also against Lebron the years prior. They need a big year, or they may have to rebuild around Tatum yet again, making my theory that Tatum is just a glorified and young Carmelo Anthony more and more valid.
#2: Milwaukee Bucks (1 Seed in East)
The Bucks have everything. The superstar forward, good coaching, good defense, good backcourt and front court, and there is no excuse for them not to reach the Finals this year. However, in order to do that the Giannis leaving rumors need to go away, and his barber certainly needs to shut up or be fired from the Bucks Staff. They got Giannis Jrue Holiday, they picked up another forward, everything is there for the taking if they can block out the noise put their heads down and just fucking go. If the Bucks don't make it to the Finals Budenholzer is done and Giannis is gone, sending the Bucks back to NBA Purgatory to wait for their next chance at a Franchise Savior.
#1: Los Angeles Lakers (1 Seed in West)
Lebron James. Anthony Davis. Marc Gasol. Dennis Shroeder. KCP. Kyle Kuzma. The list of players, and even depth players, who would be starters on other contending teams and even second or third options on those teams is pretty wild. Adding Marc Gasol and Shroeder to a Lebron James and Anthony Davis led team is completely unfair, but it is the world we live in. Lebron is chasing 6 rings, he's chasing the ghost of MJ and its looking like he may just do it. There is a lot of competition for the Lakers, and every team is going to bring their "A" game against them, but that almost better prepares them. They will play in more intense games than anyone will this whole season because of how desperately every contending team wants to beat them. To put an end to it, they have the best player in the world, the best roster in the league, they play in the best city in the league, and are chasing history with a three peat in mind. I am not counting anyone out, every team I would say in the top 8 has a chance at dethroning them, but man is it going to be hard
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