NBA power rankings 2019: Offseason standings for all 30 teams
Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving ignored Madison Square Garden, so the response was to add four power forwards: Julius Randle, Taj Gibson, Marcus Morris and Bobby Portis. Each has something to offer, but this feels like overloading considering Mitchell Robinson is . . . a promising young big man. Ownership is not the only hurdle in NYC.
The only time they’ve been competitive or even relevant over the past 15 years is when LeBron James is on the roster. He’s not, so expect an excess of losses and tumbleweeds blowing through the Q. Until Kevin Love is allowed to escape, this is his professional hell.
A long look at this roster and the decisions being made lead to the singular conclusion that when Michael Almighty Jordan took off his jersey for the final time, he also shed his prodigious competitive desire.
After so many years of malignant ennui, changes are here. A new general manager, Tommy Sheppard, is widely considered a solid basketball man and his ASAP trade of Dwight Howard is testimony to that. Even as we root for an Isaiah Thomas comeback, there’s too much roster to fix in a year. Or two.
Love Ja Morant and hope he isn’t ruined by the avalanche of losses. Still can’t believe, won’t believe, that Andre Iguodala will wear this jersey. Dwight Howard is another matter. The thought of these two as teammates on a team going nowhere is ripe for drama.
New coach Monty Williams will bring as much sanity as possible to a franchise that teeters on the rails. Ricky Rubio and Dario Saric join Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton. Some nights will be great fun. Most nights will be long and empty.
They have two young keepers, Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. They have the bolt of lightning that is Zach LaVine. After bottoming out last season with 22 wins – the lowest total in 17 seasons – they should be good enough to get to 30.
We believe in youngsters Trae Young and John Collins. Rookies Cam Reddish and De’Andre Hunter can play. GM Travis Schlenk and coach Lloyd Pierce are onto something. If they patch their defensive holes, and we’re not sure they can, their fans will show up. Their development stage is about where the Sacramento Kings were last season.
They added Derrick Rose, who generally is superior to Reggie Jackson. They added Markieff Morris, who will play behind Blake Griffin, who is coming off his 97th knee surgery. Though these are not your father’s Bad Boys, being in the East means a run at a No. 8 seed can’t be ruled out.
Even with the addition of Chris Paul (at least for now), no 2019 playoff team had a more brutal July. The departures of Russell Westbrook and Paul George not only ends an era during which they posted at least 45 games for 10 consecutive seasons but also sends them to the outskirts of the NBA landscape.
Out goes Hassan Whiteside, in comes Jimmy Buckets. It’s a net gain, but it comes with a caution flag. If Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters can each suit up for 70-plus games, this will be a playoff team. If not, godfather Pat Riley can always admire the four rings won with the Lakers.
This is the year. Has to be, right? After 22 consecutive trips to the postseason, Pop’s crafty schemes and clever cajoling won’t be enough to make it 23 in a row. They won’t be fun to play because, well, Pop, but they will become familiar with the drop from bottom-tier playoff team to top tier spectator.
We love this team’s scrap, as requested by coach Nate McMillan. But they’re coming back without Thaddeus Young, Darren Collison or Wesley Matthews. Malcolm Brogdon will be a huge help, but this team has .500 written all over it – unless Victor Oladipo makes a miraculous recovery from a serious knee injury.
They lost roughly 2.2 starters (Taj Gibson, Derrick Rose, Dario Saric) and gained promising rook Jarrett Culver and ex-Warrior Jordan Bell, whose familiarity with the playoffs will be meaningless. They still have Andrew Wiggins, mostly because he’s not desired by anyone else. Ryan Saunders, the youngest coach in the league, is in deep.
New coach Luke Walton wants his team to play fast, and this roster is built for that. The run-and-gun backcourt is a delight to watch, but they’ll have to be skillful in their usage of young bigs Marvin Bagley and Harry Giles. It’s conceivable that the longest postseason drought in the league (13 seasons) will end.
Steve Clifford’s teams will defend, and this group is no exception. That’s what got them into the playoffs last season. After re-signing big man Nikola Vucevic and explosive wing Terrence Ross, a question continues to linger: Will they’ll ever know the feeling offensive efficiency?
Luka Doncic gets his sidekick, and he’s a 7-foot-4 forward named Kristaps Porzingis. They added a shooter, Seth Curry, and Delon Wright is another nice guard. We kinda like Dwight Powell. If KP is anything close to his pre-surgery level, the Mavs can inch toward .500. They were 16 under last season.
Get ready for more national TV games and wall-to-wall coverage, at least in the early going. Thank Zion. If the perpetually underrated Jrue Holiday stays healthy and JJ Redick still has his shot and ex-Lakers Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball bring their best, a playoff run is in view. They may not get there, but they could make March and April very interesting.
Until the KD and Kyrie Show is unveiled, Brooklyn will have to settle for a 4-seed, at best, along with being by far the best team in town. We’re on board with Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie, but we’re curious how they’ll rotate their best center, Jarrett Allen, with DeAndre Jordan, who makes more money.
The defending champs lost their best player, Kawhi Leonard, and a solid two-way wing in Danny Green. Those gaps cannot be adequately filled. If the Kyle Lowry-Marc Gasol-Pascal Siakam core can’t play .600 ball over the first half, vets may be moved.
They locked up Dame and CJ, added the enigmatic Hassan Whiteside and await the return of Nurk. They overachieved last season, securing the No. 3 seed and reaching the Conference Finals. It will be a much tougher climb in 2020, but if the perimeter defense holds, and it should with the addition of Kent Bazemore, they’ll be back in the playoffs.
Thanks to the arrival of Kemba Walker, they’re going to miss Al Horford more than they’ll miss Kyrie Irving. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown will get the opportunities they’ve been craving. Kemba will have to adjust to having so many legit threats. We believe he will. Do not be surprised if this team improves on its 49-33 record last season.
Losing Durant, an elite game-changer, and Klay Thompson (who likely will miss most of the season) means the decline is real. They’ll drop from the 60-win range to something closer to 50 – assuming Stephen Curry stays healthy, Draymond Green rediscovers his stroke and the youngsters, including D’Angelo Russell, make an impact.
We’re not on this bandwagon here because we’re not sure adding the dynamic Russell Westbrook is any more conducive to winning than Chris Paul, who is better at shooting, defending and decision-making. We could be wrong, but this is an experiment bound to have more than a few ugly nights.
As the oddsmakers smooch the Lakers, we’re keeping an eyebrow cocked. Don’t get us wrong. This is a very good team, with two of the top-10 players in the league. But they’ll open the playoffs on the road unless the three more talented players -- DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis and LeBron James – can average 70 games. We don’t like those odds.
The Rubio experiment ends, mercifully, and Mike Conley becomes the new floor leader. That massive upgrade helps everyone, most particularly Donovan Mitchell. With a top-10 backcourt and towering Rudy Gobert patrolling the paint, this team should top the 50-win mark it reached last season.
With the great work they did last season in winning 54 games – their second-highest total in the post-merger era – the Nuggets proved their youthfulness is without fear. The pain of their postseason baptism will result in the scar tissue needed to reach the elite. They’ll be better.
An interesting team, with a lot of yellow flags. Joel Embiid is a beast but requires constant maintenance. Ben Simmons is electrifying but can’t shot. Al Horford is terrific, but he has more than 900 games on his legs. Tobias Harris is nice, but he’s on his fifth team in seven years. If all goes well, they could win it all. It is tough, however, to ignore the “buts.”
Though they will miss Malcolm Brogdon, replacing him with a combo of Kyle Korver and Wesley Matthews is a decent recovery. The key is having MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo healthy and productive and getting consistency from Eric Bledsoe. The hunger meter should be in the red zone after the heartbreaking end to their postseason.
Adding Kawhi Leonard and Paul George – two superb defenders that also get buckets – to a squad with the prince of all pests, Patrick Beverley, gives LA perhaps the filthiest defense in the league. Montrezl Harrell is relentless in the paint. Lou Williams is a born scorer who gets craftier with age. This team is built to give opponents 48 minutes of misery.