2012-2013 NBA Power Rankings: Looking Ahead To Week 1
2012-2013 NBA Power Rankings Week 1
The NBA season is almost upon us, it's three weeks away to be exact, and with the upcoming season the entire Internet world is going to be putting out their own version of NBA power rankings. While I do not claim to be all knowing, I do feel that I am somewhat smart in the area of basketball. Instead of ranking teams where they are currently positioned, I like to combine my power rankings with current situation, and where a team is likely to be.
For these power rankings I will be looking at where each team should be standing come October 30th, 2012, the start of the regular season. In this version it’ll be where teams stand in come week 1, but in future installments I’ll look at varying rankings such as top playoff contenders, championship contenders, and top potential dynasty rankings.
The last thing that I like to factor into my power rankings is some potential sleepers. Everywhere I look I see NBA power rankings with every team ranked somewhat the same. Nearly every guy has the same team ranked last, and the same team first. While many will be right, a lot won’t. Mixing up some teams in the middle of the rankings has to be done once in a while. The same teams don’t make the playoffs every year, yet so called NBA “experts” seem to have the same rankings, and projections each year.
Well I may not be an “expert” but I could probably do just as good a job as them in terms of power rankings. But, in this first set of rankings, I am not aiming to be just as good, I want to do better. And I strongly feel that if you keep checking back throughout the NBA season to RantSports.com you will not only get the best NBA power rankings on the internet. You will get the best NBA content around from our staff of exceptional NBA writers. So, without further ado, here is my first set of NBA power rankings: a look ahead to week 1.
30. Orlando Magic
Losing the best center in the NBA will certainly not help the Orlando Magic’s cause. Getting the worst end of a deal that they waited so long to pull the trigger on also does not help. While fans may not want to hear that the Magic are indeed building for the future that became evident once they traded away Howard for a stockpile of draft picks. At the start of this season the Magic will have a few good players on their team, but nothing that will reap them a lot of wins, and another playoff spot. They won’t be as bad as the 2011-2012 Charlotte Bobcats, not even close really, but fans will be upset, even if it’s only been 1 week.
29. Detroit Pistons
For Detroit Pistons fans there’s really not much to look forward to. This past draft was, in my opinion, a bust as I do not believe that Andre Drummond will turn into the sort of front court player the Pistons want him to be. Luckily the Pistons have Greg Monroe in the front court, as he will be able to solidify things down low. If I turn out to be wrong, which happens more often than not, and Drummond turns into the player that the Pistons think he can be, then the Pistons will be a team to deal with for the foreseeable future. But as for this season, and specifically week 1 of the NBA regular season, the Pistons will have a very tough time stacking up wins.
28. Phoenix Suns
While Phoenix Suns fans may be upset at the fact that Steve Nash decided to part ways with their team and take his talents to Los Angeles, the break up hardly felt like a one way street. As a free-agent this past off-season Nash was garnering attention from a number of teams, including the Suns, but the New York Knicks, and Toronto Raptors, were throwing out very lucrative offers. Meanwhile the Suns seemed to low-balling Nash, and seemingly making his decision for him. The icing on the cake was owner Robert Sarver’s decision to accommodate Nash, and allow him to compete for a title for the next year or so by trading him to the Los Angeles Lakers. Signing Goran Dragic, and Luis Scola off of the amnesty waiver wire certainly will allow the Suns to put some good games together. But let’s not kid ourselves here, while Dragic is a very crafty point guard, he is no Nash. The absence of Nash in this Suns lineup is going to be huge, he made everything easier for everyone around him, and made good players out of Marcin Gortat. The Suns have a bright future, with the stockpile of draft picks they attained from the Lakers, but for this season alone, it’s going to be hard to envision the Suns as anything more than a cellar dwelling team.
27. Houston Rockets
If I were to pick a team that had the most disappointing off-season this past year it would be the Houston Rockets. The Rockets struck out on the Dwight Howard sweepstakes, and lost a very good player in Luis Scola in the process. Losing Goran Dragic, and trading away Kyle Lowry in the process was not good either. But on the bright side the Rockets did pick up some very good pieces in the draft, and may indeed have a decent team this coming season. But, with all of the moving pieces that the Rockets have, I just don’t see how they can put it all together by week 1.
26. Sacramento Kings
For Sacramento Kings fans it’s very simple, DeMarcus Cousins. That is the only guy that you need to remember. For all the negatives that Cousins has surrounding his character, and work ethic, he is immensely talented, and can be an elite low-post player if he could simply put it all together. But with that being said Cousins does not exactly play on a team with a great supporting cast. Thomas Robinson should be able to contribute right away and will, in my opinion, turn out to be a very good draft pick. The Kings are still uncertain about where the future will take them, Virginia Beach possibly? But for the purposes of looking at week 1 power projections, the Kings should be at the bottom of the league.
25. Charlotte Bobcats
Seven wins a season is not something you aim for, or hope for, especially when you’re as competitive as Michael Jordan is. But for all of the troubles that the Charlotte Bobcats have gone through, Jordan only has himself to blame. Surrounding himself with nothing but yes men, and not surrendering basketball decisions to guys that actually know what they’re doing in an NBA front office is Jordan, and only Jordan’s fault. But I digress. The No. 2 overall pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has played very poorly in his first few preseason games but I still believe that he will grow into a very good forward in the NBA. The Bobcats may turn out to be only slightly better than last season, but through one week of the NBA season I believe they will be the surprise team in the NBA.
24. Toronto Raptors
While many people may not believe it, there is quite a sense of optimism around the Toronto Raptors front-office that they can indeed somehow pull off being the No. 8 seed in the East this season. Then again it is the Raptors front-office and what else are they supposed to think? Acquiring Kyle Lowry was a very good move. But, what seems to be the never ending bad luck for the Raptors continued as they had to strike-out twice before acquiring their home-run of the off-season in Lowry. The two strike-outs I’m speaking of are 1) acquiring Landry Fields from the Knicks, in an effort to acquire Steve Nash, and 2) putting all their chips in for Steve Nash and not getting him. Nevertheless, Fields still should still contribute somewhat this season, and the Raptors had a great draft, the eight seed in the East may not be too far-fetched after all.
23. Washington Wizards
It’s not usually the case that a lottery team is actually fun to watch, but that is just the case with the Washington Wizards, and it all starts with point guard John Wall. Wall suffered a left knee injury that will force him to sit out for at least eight weeks. Still, though the Wizards possess some very interesting players in Trevor Ariza, Nene, and Bradley Beal. With Beal at the helm the Wizards have, in my mind, put themselves in the conversation to possibly steal a playoff spot. The only reason I do not have them ranked higher is because, as I said, these rankings are looking at week 1 of the NBA regular season only. Come week 1, with Wall out, the Wizards will struggle but stay afloat.
22. New Orleans Hornets
If there is one team who will be hit or miss it is the New Orleans Hornets. If Eric Gordon stays healthy, Anthony Davis is the front-court player that NBA scouts think he can be, and Austin Rivers can provide a legit scoring threat, then the Hornets will be deadly this season. The Hornets possess the talent to creep up into the 5, 6, or 7 seed area in the Western Conference, which is saying a lot for a team that just had the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. But, like the Wizards, putting it all together by week 1 will be extremely hard to do.
21. Portland Trail Blazers
Is Damian Lillard the real deal? Can he do the impossible and overcome the unibrow phenomenon and win ROY? Well Trail Blazers fans really hope so. But I get a feeling that what Trail Blazers fans really want is for Meyers Leonard to stay healthy, and shun the Trail Blazers center curse. Immediately after the draft Leonard scared fans with a minor injury, but it was nothing serious and he got right back to work. New head coach Terry Stotts will certainly have the talent to build a Western Conference contender, the only question remaining is if he can do just that.
20. Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks are one of the few teams that underwent a major overhaul this off-season. GM Danny Ferry pulled off one of the best off-seasons any team has had, getting rid of the enormous contract of the overrated Joe Johnson. It wasn’t only Johnson either, Ferry also got rid of a few other contracts that will allow him to have immense financial flexibility moving forward. Adding Lou Williams didn’t hurt either. But, while many NBA power rankings have the Hawks ranked in the 15-17 range, it will take the Hawks a while to reach that potential. Week 1 won’t be the same sort of scenario. Ferry may be criticized early on, but his moves will pay off in the long run.
19. Utah Jazz
It has always been known that the Spurs, when Popovich was a young coach in the NBA, have tried to model their franchise around the Jazz. Now that Dennis Lindsey has been brought in to the Jazz front office, it is safe to assume that the Jazz will do the same. In the pre-season Enes Kanter has looked like a completely different player, and is playing very well. Tyrone Corbin helped turn around a Jazz team last season that played awful in the first half, and surged in the second half. Derrick Favors, and Gordon Hayward should improve, but questions still linger if they are in fact the keys to a successful Jazz future.
18. Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavs are just two years removed from having the No. 1 pick in the draft. At the time I felt that Kyrie Irving was not the best pick at No.1, which goes to show why I’m not an NBA GM. Irving played exceptionally well in his rookie season, and should only improve from here on out. Add in the controversial pick of Dion Waiters, and a first round steal in Tyler Zeller, and you have the pieces to a team that I believe will make the playoffs this year. If it were overall NBA rankings I was doing I would definitely have the Cavs higher, but for the first week of the season the Cavs will probably play just well enough to get by. The second half of the season will be key for this young Cavs team.
17. Milwaukee Bucks
Last season when the Warriors traded away Monta Ellis for the injured Andrew Bogut many Warriors fans were upset. Trading for an injured player? Who does that? Well I believe it was a very smart decision as Bogut, when healthy will give the Warriors a legit low-post option, but more on them later. The Bucks may have made one of the worst decisions in recent memory by trading away Bogut, still, though they acquired the electric Ellis, and he provides a great scoring punch alongside point guard Brandon Jennings. The center position isn’t too strong with Samuel Dalembert, and Joel Pryzbilla, thus the reasoning behind their No. 17 position. I believe the Bucks will start off hot, and then fade late in the season.
16. Chicago Bulls
For some people 16 may be too high for a Chicago Bulls team that, in the off-season, only got older, and will not have Derrick Rose for about half of the season. Really the only thing clinging the Bulls onto playoff contention is the hope that D-Rose will make a return to old form. If the Bulls play defense like they did last season, allowing fewer than 95 points per 100 possessions, then they will definitely be in good shape come playoff time, especially if D-Rose has returned by then. As for the start of the season, Rose won’t be back, the roster will be in a little bit of a flux, and they may struggle. But with an exceptional coach like Tom Thibodeau the Bulls are certainly in good hands. Then again a coach can only do so much.
15. Golden State Warriors
The Warriors had a great draft. I believe that Harrison Barnes is the epitome of an NBA player, although once he has to take a few dribbles he’s toast. But Barnes can hit from nearly anywhere on the floor and has a very high basketball IQ. Likewise the addition of Bogut last season, and the overhaul to bring into the season an exceptionally deep team, will put Barnes in a great position to succeed as a rookie. Once healthy Bogut will allow David Lee to play his natural power forward position, and give the Warriors a legit low-post threat, something they have been lacking for a while. With a big man who can play in the post in Bogut, guarding all those snipers on the Warriors will not be so easy for opponents any longer. The Warriors should start off fine, play consistently throughout the season, and lock up a playoff spot late.
14. Minnesota Timberwolves
Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love, Derrick Williams, and Brandon Roy. There's no question that the talent is there for the T-Wolves. Rick Adelman will be able to work his magical ways with a team that, while young, is certainly capable of making a playoff push. Last season if Rubio does not suffer a season ending knee injury the T-Wolves probably make the playoffs. The only reason I’ve got the T-Wolves at 14, and not in the top 10, is because it is still uncertain when Rubio will be back from his knee surgery. In the meantime, though K-Love and company will certainly be able to hold down the fort.
13. Brooklyn Nets
The Brooklyn Nets are certainly an interesting team this season. Keeping Deron Williams, and Gerald Wallace was huge, striking out on Dwight Howard, and acquiring Joe Johnson was not. I know the second part of that sentence may be shocking to some but I do not feel that Johnson is that good. A healthy Brook Lopez, and a new addition in Mirza Teletovic will be key for this Nets team to be successful as Deron Williams and Joe Johnson won’t be able to do it all. I expect the Nets to start off strong and fade late into the season, barely holding onto a playoff spot.
12. New York Knicks
The oldest team ever, on average, is the 2012-2013 New York Knicks. Jason Kidd and Marcus Camby may not be able to get it done for the Knicks, but I believe that Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire will. Raymon Felton will certainly help, as well as Steve Novak, J.R Smith, and Pablo Prigioni, although the latter not so much. The biggest key to this season will be if Melo and Amar’e can develop some chemistry together. A not so promising stat is that while on the court together, 1,880 minutes altogether, they are a minus 123. I’m banking on the fact that this is the year they turn it all around, play consistently throughout the season, and once again make the playoffs.
11. Dallas Mavericks
Possibly the second biggest loser of the 2012 NBA offseason was the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavs lost out on Deron Williams, apparently Mark Cuban not being at the D-Will meeting sealed his decision to stay with the Nets, and they lost veterans Jason Kidd and Jason Terry to the Knicks and Celtics, respectively. But they also made a late offseason surge to trade for Darron Collison, sign O.J Mayo, Elton Brand, and Chris Kaman. Pairing them alongside Dirk Nowitzki, although he may have to have surgery on his ailing knee now, will put the Mavs right back into the thick of things in the Western Conference. I expect the Mavs to do what they always, or seem like they always do. Play ugly the entire season and make the playoffs yet again.
10. Boston Celtics
If there is one team I’m just not buying into this year it is the Boston Celtics. The Celtics have only gotten a year older, and lost their No. 1 outside threat in Ray Allen. Additionally everyone is banking on the fact that Kevin Garnett will play an entire season like he did in last years playoffs. I guess what everyone is overlooking is that Garnett didn’t play that way all of last season until the playoffs, why would this year be any different? Garnett may still have a lot in the tank, but he also knows that using all of that gas won’t be necessary until the playoffs, just like last season. The Celtics will play consistently throughout the season, but not as good as everyone thinks they will.
9. Memphis Grizzlies
Reading through Grizzlies articles online it has been said throughout camp that Zach Randolph looks far better this season than he has in many years past. Rudy Gay will come into the season like he always does, focused and determined, especially after last season’s first round playoff loss to the Clippers. Getting rid of O.J Mayo may also turn out to be a blessing in disguise, too many times have guys had a bad attitude, it was never released to the media, and it greatly affected the locker room. I fully expect the Grizzlies to play well all season, possibly even creeping up into the top four seeds in the Western Conference playoffs.
8. Denver Nuggets
The Denver Nuggets are one of two teams that got the better end of the Dwight Howard blockbuster deal, the other team that benefitted was of course the Lakers. Adding Andre Iguodala will certainly bolster an ok backcourt for the Nuggets. Adding to that is the sense that, after having a very good offseason working out with Hakeem Olajuwon, JaVale McGee should improve dramatically. Hakeem even went as far as to say that McGee should dominate the NBA. If the Nuggets can stay healthy, and improve like they should, they just might end up meeting the Lakers in the playoffs, and end up finding out if they did in fact aid in creating a dominant Western Conference force.
7. Indiana Pacers
Usually your biggest offseason acquisition is a player, but for the Pacers it was Donnie Walsh, which wasn’t exactly a bad acquisition. Trading away Darren Collison for basically nothing certainly doesn’t help, but re-signing George Hill and Roy Hibbert does. Frank Vogel is a great young coach and it looks as if he’ll have the chips to try and build an Eastern Conference power. David West will continue to be solid as always, and adding Gerald Green, if he can produce like he did last season, will make this team a legit contender for the No. 2 seed in the East. Expect the Pacers to play very well this season.
6. Los Angeles Clippers
It’s not often that the Clippers make the playoffs, but when you have the best pure point guard in the NBA not making the playoffs would have been hell for even the Clippers, a fan base who has come to expect mediocrity. While adding Lamar Odom was certainly a good idea, I get the feeling that the departure from the Lakers has left his psyche in an irreplaceable state. Jamal Crawford will continue to be consistent as always, and Blake Griffin will continue to get way more credit as a player than he deserves. Once Griffin develops an offensive repertoire then you can start labeling him as the best power forward in the NBA. Meanwhile Chris Paul will continue to be the dominant PG that he is. The one player on this team that will be a disappointment this year is Chauncey Billups. The guy is like 90 years old and to produce at a level like he was last season, before his injury, is ridiculous.
5. Philadelphia 76ers
Before the 76ers acquired Andrew Bynum this past offseason, seeing what they planned on doing was hard. Elton Brand had only one year left on his contract and, initially, it looked like he was amnestied to make room for Nick Young. While Young is a very good three-point shooter, they still needed more. What people did not see coming was the part that the 76ers would play in the Dwight Howard mega deal. Acquiring Andrew Bynum was a huge move, and if he can stay healthy, he is the second best center in the NBA. But, just like 76ers fans found out, he can’t. Bynum recently got injured and had to be shut down for three weeks, but will most likely be available for the start of the regular season. With Bynum back the 76ers will be a force in the Eastern Conference.
4. San Antonio Spurs
It seems as if every player on this Spurs team is about 100 years old. Yet they keep on winning, and nobody really knows how. But Gregg Popovich is an exceptional coach and as long as he’s there the Spurs will be relevant. There will be many people to write off the Spurs this season, just like they did last season, but I’m making sure that doesn’t happen to me again. The Spurs basically have the same guys back who looked like they were unbeatable for most of last year’s postseason. Once again they will play consistently throughout the year.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder
While many people have the Thunder as their second best team heading into the season, I don’t believe that they will play that way this year. The Thunder may wind up being the model example of a team that came around at the wrong time. And while there are very few weaknesses in Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant’s game, the one curious note is how they can go through immense cold stretches. Heading into the NBA finals last season it looked as if the Thunder would steam roll through the Heat. But Durant sort of hit a brick wall, and every shot he threw up wasn’t falling like it had in previous rounds. On top of all this the Thunder now have a revamped Lakers team to deal with. Kendrick Perkins can talk all he wants, but we all know that he can’t guard Dwight Howard. Expect the Thunder to be their usual selves, ok early, very good late.
2. Los Angeles Lakers
Placing the Lakers as the second best team in the NBA, before they have even played a regular season game together, may be a little premature. Since these are week 1 rankings it may seem even more ridiculous that I have them No. 2. But it looks as if Dwight Howard will be ready to start the season on October 31st. The questions surrounding whether or not these guys can make it work is just ridiculous. Kobe has on his team for the first time in a long time a guy who has just as smart a basketball IQ as his. They’ll figure out a way to make it work. Expect the Lakers to play strong throughout the year, eventually taking down the Thunder as Western Conference champs.
1. Miami Heat
Anyone who does not have the Heat No. 1, whether it be week 1 rankings, or overall rankings, is just nuts. LeBron James is the best, most dominant, player in the NBA. But he can’t do it alone. Dwayne Wade is only getting older, and he hasn’t exactly held up through injuries the past few years either. Chris Bosh is open to the idea of playing some center, and will apparently do just that this season. Still, though they have a few questions regarding depth. If Wade, or Bosh were to go down, it would be extremely hard for the Heat to repeat. Even harder is the fact that, for the first time ever, James has the label of defending champion on his back. As he’ll soon find out, it doesn’t matter who you play, when you are the defending champion, everyone plays harder. The Heat will start off well, have a few rough patches throughout the season, and most likely be back in the NBA finals at the end of the year. The only question is if they can win it once again.