NBA Power Rankings

NBA Power Rankings: Playoff picture starting to take shape

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USA TODAY

NBA Power Rankings: Playoff picture starting to take shape

The NBA has intense playoff picture that is starting to clear up in both conferences. Teams desperate to make a postseason splash, like the Nets and Lakers, are hanging onto the No. 8 seed in their respective conferences with plenty of pressure on a daily basis.

And at the top of the league, the Raptors, Bucks, Nuggets, Warriors and Thunder all jockey for the No. 1 seed in their respective conferences.

James Harden continued his scoring onslaught to get the Rockets closer to home court advantage in the first round of the postseason. He is putting up over 33 points a night while leading the league’s most explosive 3-point attack.

Elsewhere around the league, the the trade market is heating up as the February trade deadline approaches.

The Bulls moved Justin Holiday to the Grizzlies for a few second round picks, before trading for and waiving Michael-Carter Williams for some financial savings.

Look for bigger trades to start to take shape as it becomes more and more clear which teams that started the year with playoff hopes are headed for the lottery (looking at you Wizards).

As the Lakers await LeBron James’ return from a groin injury, look for them to make small maneuvers to add depth, while keeping a watchful eye over Anthony Davis and the Pelicans slow descent in the standings. L.A. has only won 2 of their 7 games since James went down, and if the Lakers struggle too much in their national TV games against the Pistons and Jazz this week, we could see James return to a very different Lakers team around late January (assuming he returns ahead of their date with the Warriors on the 21st of January).

This week the Bucks gear up for a tough intra-conference matchup against the Rockets, and the woeful Southeastern division–where the best team has a record of 19-20—plays some tough competition that should help clear up the standings.

Take a look at how all 30 teams in the league stack up in our latest NBA Power Rankings update right here.


 

2018-19 NBA Power Rankings: Opening Week edition

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USA TODAY

2018-19 NBA Power Rankings: Opening Week edition

The theme of the 2018-19 NBA season will be: “old faces in new places”. Like a season-long game of the NBA on TNT crew’s “Who he play for?” game, this year will be about fans trying to get used to the idea of LeBron James in purple (I won’t call it ‘Forum Blue’)-and-gold, DeMarcus Cousins being on a championship-contending franchise and Kawhi Leonard being the new face of Toronto.

The Warriors are still the easy favorite to make it four NBA championships in five years, but they will be tested perhaps more than any year before in a loaded Western Conference, where even the lowliest of teams (here’s to you Phoenix and Memphis!) made solid offseason moves geared towards winning games.

Over in the now-LeBron-less East, there is hope amongst at least four-to-five teams that they could actually have a shot to win the conference. The Pacers still have budding superstar Victor Oladipo, the Sixers still have Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, and the Raptors and Bucks made head coaching changes that could lead to deep playoff runs. But with the rest of the Eastern conference being stuck between lottery contention and middle of the pack, expect the half-experienced, half-youthful Celtics to takeover as East juggernaut.

But whether or not your favorite franchise is aiming for a high draft pick or a postseason berth, there is tons to be excited in a 2018-19 NBA season that will surely be an intriguing one. Check out Week 1 of our NBA Power Rankings right here.