NBA Power Rankings 2018: The Lebron Effect.

  1. Sacramento Kings

The Sacramento Kings landed the 2nd pick in the NBA draft and selected Marvin Bagley III. The Kings passed up on players such as Luka Doncic and Michael Porter Jr as they saw potential in Bagley’s athleticism. With a relatively stacked frontcourt, Bagley will hope to experience impactful minutes.

Sacremento’s current squad are significantly far from having the quality to compete for a playoff spot and will most likely land a high draft pick in 2019.

  1. Atlanta Hawks

Atlanta traded their starting point guard Dennis Schroder to Oklahoma but nominated the alleged “new Stephen Curry”, Trae Young the role. He shot 36% from behind the arc in his first year at college but impressed with his elite handling and shooting off the dribble. Major flaws in his defense and physicality of the professional league could overcrowd his college successes.

The Hawks have entered a rebuilding stage and aren’t likely to spark a sizable turnaround next year.

  1. Brooklyn Nets

In 2019 the Nets will have 2 max salary slots to acquire elite players. With youngster D’Angelo Russell, they still hope for him to unlock his all-star potential. Recently paired with Dwight Howard they also hope for Dwight to reach his previous heights in the NBA and resign in Brooklyn.

With 2 slots for franchise players available, the nets are likely to want to pair that up with a top draft pick which would mean a season of tanking.

  1. Orlando Magic

The magic started the season firing which unfortunately fizzled out throughout the season as they sat outside the playoff picture. Star for the Magic Aaron Gordon has agreed a deal worth $84 million over a 4-year period.

The Magic will need a lot of attention to detail to prevent glaring inconsistencies they experienced last year in order to thrive as an organisation.

  1. New York Knicks

The Unicorn Kristaps Porzingis tore his ACL in February this year an injury which initiates a deep decline for most players such as Bernard King. He will most likely have a slow drawn out return to the NBA although will be the best for his career.

This year will be attempting to unlock potential in draft pick Kevin Knox and fit Porzingis back into the frame.

  1. Memphis Grizzlies

A 22-60 season doesn’t foresee a bright future for Memphis. They harbor one of the biggest NBA contracts in Mike Conley’s deal and a contract they have received little from its value in Chandler Parsons contract. They obtained Jaren Jackson with the 4th overall pick a 6”11 forward that was essential.

Although Conley will return making the team stronger, still dealing with heavy contracts there is no clear path for what the Grizzlies are trying to achieve this as well as the upcoming years.

  1. Phoenix Suns

The Sun’s addition of wing players creates a decrease in the likelihood of mismatches on defense. This was a must after sitting at the bottom of the defensive rankings last year. 1st overall pick Deandre Ayton will be brought in with the hope of dominating the forward position standing at 7”1 hopefully pushing aside his struggles in Summer League.

  1. Chicago Bulls

Zach Lavine also suffered from a torn ACL for the Chicago Bulls. As they enter a rebuilding stage after trading Jimmy Butler, Lavine was meant to take on the role of sparking hope in Chicago. However this year Markkanen surprised the city taking a vast step up in his capabilities.

The Bulls join the rest of the teams that are currently rebuilding and will seek hope in draft picks to allow them to return to top level of the NBA.

  1. Charlotte Hornets

Kemba Walker wants to remain a franchise player although there have been big discussions surrounding loyalty in the NBA. It will be hard as his surrounding cast doesn’t support them to make any advances as a team anytime soon.

Kemba is a valuable piece and talking point around trade discussions for the head office in Charlotte to spark a reboot.

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavs have already overspent on players such as Thompson and JR Smith which they will likely struggle to move this season. Love will become the focus point of the team after Lebron’s move to L.A. but has had a leading role since the Timberwolves.

This year will allow Cleveland to see where they stand in the league as the East has become weaker to see where they stand with rookie Sexton and without the League’s best player Lebron James.

  1. Los Angeles Clippers

It was thought the Clippers were going to blow it up when trading CP3 and Blake Griffin. Furthermore trading Jamal Crawford and Deandre Jordan seemed to be a move that would send the Clippers to landing a higher pick in the lottery. However this isn’t the case as they’re sitting in the mid-section of the NBA table. No significant draft pick or chance of being in the playoffs will surely see the franchise move further down the power ranking in upcoming years.

  1. Detroit Pistons

Dwayne Casey will lead the Pistons into 18/19 NBA season with stars such as Griffin and Drummond. The absence of Reggie Jackson did not help the Pistons but with his swift return and new coach, they will have a test season and hopefully expectantly harmonize to make a more robust NBA side.

  1. Dallas Mavericks

Dallas are on their way up from the rebuilding stage in the NBA as they have acquired some prospects with high ceilings such as Luka Doncic and Dennis Smith Jr. They have also recruited Deandre Jordan to pair up with the youngsters on a 1-year deal. This puts Dallas in a power position as if Jordan does not work out in Dallas, they will have money to pick out stars in 2019 free agency.

  1. Minnesota Timberwolves

The situation in Minnesota seems to be worsening as comments from Butler question his future commitments to the team. Reports say that Butler is “fed up” with Towns and he doesn’t match his work rate. Butler still hasn’t signed an extension with in Minnesota and after insightful Instagram antics suggest he would be interested in the Knicks in 2019.

  1. Miami Heat

Dwayne Wade’s future will be in question over in Miami, although their main focus is on the age of the players. The heat has on an old roster which did manage to win 44-games last season although will most likely prove to not be sustainable.

  1. Portland Trailblazers

The Blazers finished 3rd in a stack Western Conference but were swept by the New Orleans Pelicans in the first round. They are a guard-heavy team that has struggled to fit the right pieces around their strong backcourt. It seemed to of worked in the regular season but in the post-season found themselves humiliated by a lower seed team. Portland must now recuperate and pick themselves up for next season.

  1. Washington Wizards

John Wall was not himself last campaign taking a step back to his counterpart Bradley Beal. Luckily Beal had one of his best seasons in the NBA, however, it is hard to see where this backcourt gets stronger from here. Unless more impactful players are recruited to support them, they will struggle to grow as a team.

  1. New Orleans Pelicans

Superstar Anthony Davis can play the centre and forward role for the Pelicans at an elite level. Other players such as Jrue Holiday provide support for “the brow”. The addition of Boogie Cousins last year was meant to take the Pelicans to another level in the NBA but his season-ending injury and trade to Golden State put that to a halt.

The Pelicans may struggle in the stacked west but are a higher tier than other NBA teams.

  1. Indiana Pacers

Who thought trading Paul George would leave the Pacers in this position. Most improved play 2018 Victor Oladipo took his game to the next level nearly leading his team to knocking out a Lebron team in the first round. With Lebron leaving the East has opened up new opportunities for all teams in the eastern conference.

  1. Denver Nuggets

Denver took a chance on Isaiah Thomas hoping he can prove his worth and sign the contract he deserves. The Nuggets also took a chance on Michael Porter Jr. which 13 other teams were not willing to. This will be an experimental season but has potential as players such as Jokic have already established themselves as stars in the league.

  1. San Antonio Spurs

The Kawhi Leonard saga is finally over and he is now officially a Raptor. In return they received Demar DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl. Most NBA fans would agree Kawhi Leonard is a higher calibre player then both they received. Contrastingly, the Spurs most likely won this trade. With a player who wants to leave as bad as Kawhi on an expiring contract it was better they get something out of his trade value while they still could, rather than him leaving in free agency. To be able to land another all-star has put the Spurs in a better situation.

  1. Milwaukee Bucks

Antetokounmpo has shown he can and wants to be a franchise player in Milwaukee. However recent acquisition Eric Bledsoe has shown flashes of brilliances but has been clouded out as he has been struggling with consistency. Milwaukee also bought DiVincenzo’s College finals performance and saw NBA potential in him which was no doubt a risky selection.

It’s doubtless this team has potential, but converting this potential into wins is easier said than done.

  1. Utah Jazz

It might sound ridiculous to have Utah this high up when there leader is only a rookie and has one season under his belt. The runner-up rookie of the year carried his team to the 2nd round of the NBA playoffs in his first year. The offensive firepower of Mitchell and defensive player of the year Rudy Gobert complement each other and the team. Another season like this can attract other stars only strengthening this team.

  1. Oklahoma City Thunder

Paul George resigning with the Thunder without having Carmelo Anthony there feels like a brand new signing. The tipped “new big 3” last year saw their season not go as planned as they had a worse year then the year previous when it was only Westbrook. Schroder does add to the quality of the roster but their success will rely on how well George and Westbrook can work in tandem for team success.

  1. Toronto Raptors

Toronto have been haunted by Lebron as his team has managed to come out the East in 7 consecutive years knocking the Raptors out multiple times. The shift of Lebron to the West and Kawhi to the Raptors, (assuming Kawhi returns back to his form before his injury) the Raptors will have the best player in the East. The likelihood of Kawhi resigning at the moment is slim but the potential for success this year is high which might sway his opinion.

  1. Philadelphia 76ers

The Sixers didn’t sign anyone significant this off-season, although Lebron switching conference has allowed every other team in the East to feel revitalised. Although they didn’t land the big signings they hoped for, they did resign JJ Reddick an influential piece from last year. Their success from last year with a young roster is likely to only improve assuming Embiid stays healthy.

  1. Los Angeles Lakers

The Lebron effect. Lebron has been in the previous 7 NBA finals and can turn any team into an instant championship contender. Although the Cavaliers fell down the Eastern conference table last year, he would always take his game to a new level in the post-season. Although this is his first year in L.A. he has worked with less talent around him before. Critics will watch him closely to see how he copes with his first year in this stacked Western Conference.

His wisdom and playoff experience will benefit blooming players like Lonzo but expect a huge turnaround from this team.

  1. Houston Rockets

Houston finished off last year with the best regular season record in the league finishing top seed of the West. CP3 finally made it to the conference finals although missed game 7 due to injury which was the bout that ended the Rockets postseason. There were huge questions surrounding whether 2 primary ball handlers in Paul and Harden could fit on one team which was shortly silenced during the regular season. On the other hand, the inclusion of Carmelo Anthony may be detrimental to the team’s success as there has been a swift decline in his ability not matched by a willingness to harbor a lower role.

  1. Boston Celtics

They are currently the best team in the East. With young stars such as Tatum and Brown stepping their game up this year and making the ECF, even in the absence of their main stars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. With the return of these 2, retaining their young pieces and the missing presence of Lebron James, the East is surely theirs for the taking.

  1. Golden State Warriors

5 all-stars? Whilst the NBA already experienced great disparity the Golden State Warriors added another all-star! Although Demarcus Cousins is battling an ACL tear one of the most career-threatening injuries, he will find the workload more spread out then at any other team as he is accompanied by 4 all-stars. The gap between first and second is bigger than ever. Betting on the Warriors is more a safe investment than a bet as they are undoubtedly the favourites for the Championship this year.

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