Stadium’s 2018-19 NBA Preseason Power Rankings

    There’s no debate at the top, or probably even at the No. 2 spot. However, we’ve got LeBron and the Lakers at a different spot than most will have them

    October 4, 2018

    There’s no debate at the top, or probably even at the No. 2 spot. However, we’ve got LeBron and the Lakers at a different spot than most will have them entering the 2018 campaign, and there are a few more surprises in store.

    These are Stadium’s NBA preseason power rankings.


    #1 – Golden State Warriors

    This obviously isn’t up for debate. The two-time defending champions have added a perennial All-Star in DeMarcus Cousins. Sure, he won’t be back for a while from the Achilles injury, but it doesn’t matter. Steph, KD, Draymond, Klay and Boogie will be fun to watch once Cousins does get back towards 100 percent.

    • Last season: 58-24 (NBA champions)
    • Key Addition: DeMarcus Cousins
    • Biggest Loss: JaVale McGee


    #2 – Boston Celtics

    Brad Stevens is an elite coach, and the Celtics came within a game of going to the NBA Finals a year ago… without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. Jayson Tatum is a flat-out problem, Jaylen Brown is much better at this point in his career than anyone anticipated, Al Horford does it all – and Boston has a bench that includes Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart and Marcus Morris. The Celtics are the clear favorites in the East, but still a notch down from Golden State.

    • Last season: 55-27 (Lost in Eastern Conference Finals)
    • Key Addition: Brad Wanamaker
    • Biggest Loss: Shane Larkin


    #3 – Houston Rockets

    The Rockets were terrific in the regular season and gave Golden State a run prior to the Chris Paul injury. They still have James Harden and CP3, but the loss of Trevor Ariza will be felt. Ariza was replaced by Carmelo Anthony, whose best days are clearly behind him. Houston will be able to put points on the board again, but the defense won’t be nearly as effective without Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute.

    • Last season: 65-17 (Lost in the Western Conference Finals)
    • Key Addition: Carmelo Anthony
    • Biggest Loss: Trevor Ariza


    #4 – Los Angeles Lakers

    Maybe I’m crazy putting the Lakers this high, but LeBron is still the best player in the world last I checked, and he’s taken some mediocre teams (i.e. 2018) deep into the postseason. Los Angeles has some young talent in Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma, and LeBron will find a way to make them better. The Lakers also rolled the dice on veterans Rajon Rondo, Michael Beasley, Lance Stephenson and JaVale McGee.

    • Last season: 35-47 (11th in the Western conference)
    • Key Addition: LeBron James
    • Biggest Loss: Julius Randle


    #5 – Philadelphia 76ers

    Philly brings back its core – Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and J.J. Redick – and while the organization didn’t add much, they should get a look at a healthier Markelle Fultz, the No. 1 overall pick in 2017. It’ll likely depend on the maturity of Embiid and Simmons in terms of whether the Sixers are able to take the next step after losing to Boston a year ago in the Eastern Conference semis.

    • Last season: 52-30 (Lost in Eastern Conference Semifinals)
    • Key Addition: Wilson Chandler
    • Biggest Loss: Marco Belinelli


    #6 – Toronto Raptors

    These guys made the bold move of the offseason by dealing away DeMar DeRozan for disgruntled two-way star Kawhi Leonard. Now it’ll be the duo of Leonard and Kyle Lowry that will see if it can claim the East.

    • Last season: 59-23 (Lost in Eastern Conference Semifinals)
    • Key Addition: Kawhi Leonard
    • Biggest Loss: DeMar DeRozan


    #7 – Oklahoma City Thunder

    Carmelo Anthony’s departure was addition by subtraction. Now it’ll be the Russ and PG show. Westbrook and Paul George will be the duo, with a solid, unspectacular supporting cast that includes guys like Steven Adams, Jerami Grant, Andre Roberson and now Dennis Schroder.

    • Last season: 48-34 (Lost in the first round)
    • Key Addition: Dennis Schroder
    • Biggest Loss: Carmelo Anthony (debatable)


    #8 – Indiana Pacers

    The Pacers were the surprise of the league a year ago after dealing away Paul George, but now they won’t sneak up on anyone. Victor Oladipo has become a star, and Myles Turner, Thaddeus Young and Domantas Sabonis form a solid frontline. Kevin Pritchard also upgraded the bench by adding Tyreke Evans, Doug McDermott, Kyle O’Quinn and rookie Aaron Holiday.

    • Last season: 48-34 (Lost in the first round)
    • Key Addition: Tyreke Evans
    • Biggest Loss: Lance Stephenson


    #9 – Utah Jazz

    This is basically the same Utah team that finished fifth in the west and beat OKC in the first round. Donovan Mitchell took no time to taste stardom, Rudy Gobert is a defensive force and guys like Joe Ingles, Ricky Rubio and Derrick Favors all thrive in their roles.

    • Last season: 48-34 (Lost in the Western Conference Semifinals)
    • Key Addition: Grayson Allen
    • Biggest Loss: None


    #10 – Washington Wizards

    John Wall and Bradley Beal are a dynamic backcourt, when healthy. But the key is whether the frontcourt stacks up well enough. The Wizards rolled the dice and added Dwight Howard to a group that has Markieff Morris and Otto Porter. It hasn’t worked out for Howard everywhere else, but this is his last chance.

    • Last season: 43-39 (Lost in first round)
    • Key Addition: Dwight Howard
    • Biggest Loss: Marcin Gortat


    #11 – Denver Nuggets

    Nikola Jokic has established himself as one of the NBA’s top big men, and there are some nice, young perimeter guys on the team with Gary Harris and Jamal Murray. The big question is whether Isaiah Thomas or talented Michael Porter Jr., are healthy enough to return to their old form.

    • Last season: 46-36 (9th in the Western conference)
    • Key Addition: Michael Porter Jr.
    • Biggest Loss: Wilson Chandler


    #12 – New Orleans Pelicans

    The Pelicans pulled off a shocking sweep of Portland before losing to Golden State. Anthony Davis is one of the NBA’s best, and Jrue Holiday played extremely well last season. New Orleans added Julius Randle, which will help, but it’ll be interesting to see if these guys can duplicate what they did a year ago.

    • Last season: 48-34 (Lost in Western Conference Semifinals)
    • Key Addition: Julius Randle
    • Biggest Loss: DeMarcus Cousins


    #13 – Portland Trail Blazers

    The Blazers have one of the best guard duos in the NBA with Damian Lillard and C.J McCollum, and also have Jusuf Nurkic up front. However, Terry Stotts could use another big-time wing and also another frontcourt player, but for now it’ll be Evan Turner, Mo Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu that will have to suffice.

    • Last season: 49-33 (lost in the first round)
    • Key Addition: Seth Curry
    • Biggest Loss: Shabazz Napier


    #14 – San Antonio Spurs

    Kawhi is gone. So is Manu and Tony Parker. Evan Danny Green and Kyle Anderson. Now it’s DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge who will try and keep the Spurs in the postseason. But the key will be the development of Dejounte Murray at the point guard position.

    • Last season: 47-35 (Lost in the first round)
    • Key Addition: DeMar DeRozan
    • Biggest Loss: Kawhi Leonard


    #15 – Milwaukee Bucks

    Giannis is capable of carrying the Bucks into the playoffs, but they are still not quite good enough to go deep in the postseason. Khris Middleton is a nice player, and the addition of Brook Lopez will help, but there are still too many holes to fill, including at the point with Eric Bledsoe.

    • Last season: 44-38 (Lost in the first round)
    • Key Addition: Brook Lopez
    • Biggest Loss: Jabari Parker


    #16 – Minnesota Timberwolves

    Jimmy Butler has played his last game in a T’Wolves uniform, and now the question is what Tom Thibodeau can get in return for the two-way All-Star. Minnesota has Karl Anthony-Towns as a promising star, but Andrew Wiggins has come up well shy of expectations. Depending on what comes back for Butler, look for the T’Wolves to take a step backward.

    • Last season: 47-35 (Lost in the first round)
    • Key Addition: Anthony Tolliver
    • Biggest Loss: Nemanja Bjelica


    #17 – Detroit Pistons

    Dwane Casey replaces Stan Van Gundy, and inherits a team with a couple of top-tier frontcourt guys in Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond. However, the perimeter is questionable – from the point guard situation (Is Reggie Jackson going to turn into a top-half-of-the-league point guard?) to the young wings (Luke Kennard, Reggie Bullock, Stanley Johnson).

    • Last season: 39-43 (9th in the Eastern conference)
    • Key Addition: None
    • Biggest Loss: James Ennis


    #18 – Miami Heat

    Erik Spoelstra is one of the top coaches in the NBA, and he showed it again last season. Dion Waiters is back healthy, the Heat have Goran Dragic and the enigmatic Hassan Whiteside. No team made fewer changes than the Heat this offseason.

    • Last season: 44-38 (Lost in the first round)
    • Key Addition: None
    • Biggest Loss: None


    #19 – Los Angeles Clippers

    The Clips are in rebuilding mode after trading Blake Griffin, but Doc Rivers will have Lou Williams, Patrick Beverley and Avery Bradley on the perimeter and Tobias Harris as a skilled four. None are stars, but they should be enough to keep the Clippers competitive.

    • Last season: 42-40 (10th in the Western conference)
    • Key Addition:  Luc Mbah a Moute
    • Biggest Loss: DeAndre Jordan


    #20 – Dallas Mavericks

    The Mavs improved significantly in the offseason with the addition of defensive big man DeAndre Jordan and versatile and mature lottery pick Luka Doncic. Add those to Harrison Barnes, Wesley Matthews and Dennis Smith Jr., and the Mavs should take a step forward back to the playoff picture.

    • Last season: 24-58 (13th in the Western conference)
    • Key Addition: Luka Doncic
    • Biggest Loss: Yogi Ferrell


    #21 – Memphis Grizzlies

    Mike Conley Jr. is back, but coming off a major injury and Marc Gasol turns 34 in January. Chandler Parsons has battled injuries since he signed with Memphis a couple years ago and while Jaren Jackson Jr., has a ton of potential, it’ll likely take him time. The wings on this team just aren’t strong enough as a group.

    • Last season: 22-60 (14th in the Western conference)
    • Key Addition: Jaren Jackson Jr.
    • Biggest Loss: Tyreke Evans


    #22 – Cleveland Cavaliers

    LeBron is gone… again. Now we’ll see if the Cavs can still remain relevant, at least in terms of being a postseason contender. They still have Kevin Love, but this team doesn’t have enough firepower. Collin Sexton is talented and will likely put up numbers, but he’ll also be up and down and it’ll take time for him to adjust to the NBA.

    • Last season: 50-32 (Lost in NBA Finals)
    • Key Addition: Collin Sexton
    • Biggest Loss: LeBron James


    #23 – Charlotte Hornets

    Dwight Howard is gone, so that’s addition by subtraction. But Kemba Walker just doesn’t have enough help. The last two lottery picks – Malik Monk and Miles Bridges – are solid, but likely not All-Stars. Just too many solid guys around Kemba.

    • Last season: 36-46 (10th in the Eastern conference)
    • Key Addition: Tony Parker
    • Biggest Loss: Dwight Howard (debatable)


    #24 – Chicago Bulls

    The Bulls fared better than expected last season with Lauri Markkanen having a nice rookie season and Kris Dunn taking a step forward. Chicago added lottery pick Wendell Carter Jr., and signed Chicago native Jabari Parker, who has dealt with knee injuries the last few years, to a two-year, $40 million deal. Fred Hoiberg has some nice young talent, but there are still plenty of question marks with this team.

    • Last season: 27-55 (13th in the Eastern conference)
    • Key Addition: Jabari Parker
    • Biggest Loss: David Nwaba


    #25 – Orlando Magic

    Orlando has pretty much the same team as a year ago, except for adding rookie Mo Bamba. Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier and Nikola Vucevic are all nice players, but the Magic lack a bonafide star as well as a top-tier point guard. That’s a bad combo to be without.

    • Last season: 25-57 (14th in the Eastern conference)
    • Key Addition: Mo Bamba
    • Biggest Loss: Mario Hezonja


    #26 – Phoenix Suns

    Devin Booker is an emerging star and DeAndre Ayton is ultra-talented, but the Suns still have a ways to go. The biggest stumbling block comes in the question of a legitimate point guard. They should win more games than a year ago, but how many more is the question?  Can Igor Kokoskov and the Suns compete for a playoff spot? Phoenix is probably a year or two away.

    • Last season: 21-61 (Last in the Western conference)
    • Key Addition: Deandre Ayton
    • Biggest Loss: Brandon Knight


    #27 – New York Knicks

    There are multiple questions with the Knicks: 1) When does Kristaps Porzingis return from the torn ACL suffered last February? 2) Is rookie Kevin Knox as good as advertised in the summer league? 3) Can Frank Ntilikina become the Knicks’ starting point guard?

    • Last season: 29-53 (11th in the Eastern conference)
    • Key Addition: Kevin Knox
    • Biggest Loss: Michael Beasley


    #28 – Brooklyn Nets

    Sean Marks has done a nice job with the organization, but he took over in such a hole. The perimeter has potential with D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie, but there just aren’t any stars on the roster. Some nice players, but I actually think they overachieved a bit a year ago.

    • Last season: 28-54 (12th in the Eastern conference)
    • Key Addition: Ed Davis
    • Biggest Loss: Dante Cunningham


    #29 – Sacramento Kings

    The Kings will be improved after adding Marvin Bagley III, and also Harry Giles, but they are still a ways away. They have some young pieces with De’Aaron Fox, Bagley, Giles, Justin Jackson and Buddy Hield, but there’s just not enough in terms of high-end talent and experience.

    • Last season: 27-55 (12th in Western conference)
    • Key Addition: Marvin Bagley III
    • Biggest Loss: Vince Carter


    #30 – Atlanta Hawks

    The Hawks are in major rebuilding mode and they drafted a guy in Trae Young who will take time to be able to physically adapt to the NBA. John Collins is a nice player, but if he’s your best player then you’re in trouble.

    • Last season: 24-58 (last in Eastern conference)
    • Key Addition: Trae Young
    • Biggest Loss: Dennis Schroder


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