NBA Power Rankings: Week One

Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

1) Miami Heat

2011-12 record: 46-20 (NBA Champions)

Until proven otherwise, they are the defending NBA champions with the reigning MVP of the league on their roster. It’s going to be hard to knock them off their pedestal.

 

2) Los Angeles Lakers 

2011-12 record: 41-25

Preseason or not, 0-8 has to be disheartening. Kobe Bryant is expected to miss the teams opener against Dallas Tuesday night. Injuries will be the only thing holding the Lakers back in 2012/13.

 

3) San Antonio Spurs

2011-12 record: 50-16

It seems like the popular thing every year to write off the Spurs from championship contention, yet every season they’re right there in the thick of things. I won’t make that same mistake again.

 

4) Oklahoma City Thunder

2011-12 record: 47-19 (Western Conference Champions)

Losing James Harden was huge. Perry Jones III and Jeremy Lamb have future potential, but the Thunder need someone to compensate for Hardens offense immediately to spell Durant/Westbrook.

 

5) Boston Celtics

2011-12 record: 39-27

The Celtics were just one game (well, one half) away from the NBA finals. A healthy Jeff Green and newly acquired Jason Terry will make a world of difference.

 

6) Denver Nuggets

2011-12 record: 38-28

You might as well rename this roster “The Marianas Trench” (Look it up) for how deep the talent pool is. Andre Iguodala should help improve a defense that allowed over 101.1 points a game last season.

 

 7) Los Angeles Clippers

2011-12 record: 40-26

The Clippers need the “Lakers” Lamar Odom, not the “Mavericks”. This team advanced to the conference semis with no real depth, but that changes this year with Hill, Odom, Crawford and a returning Billups.

 

8) Indiana Pacers

2011-12 record: 42-24

Paul George must take that next step as a player to turn the Pacers from a “quiet contender” to a championship threat. Otherwise, a 50 win season and early playoff exit is their ceiling.

 

9) Memphis Grizzlies

2011-12 record: 41-25

With O.J Mayo now out the door, Memphis will need Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph to say on the court injury-free. Don’t let last years collapse against the Clippers frown you on the Grizzlies chances.

 

10) Utah Jazz

2011-12 record: 36-30

Enes Kanter averaged 12.0 points and 9.0 rebounds over 20.0 minutes a game during the preseason. His continued growth could make Derrick Favors or Paul Milsap expendable sooner rather than later.

 

11) Brooklyn Nets

2011-12 record: 22-44

A new logo, new building, new star (Joe Johnson) and a new hope for the franchise is enough to create a much needed buzz around the Nets. The bottom of the East is the last place they’ll find themselves this season.

 

12) Chicago Bulls

2011-12 record: 50-16

With Derrick Rose out of action until at least the all-star break, Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer will need to step up to keep the Bulls playoff hopes alive until their fearless leader returns.

 

13) New York Knicks

2011-12 record:

Injuries are already becoming an issue with the leagues oldest team, losing Amare Stoudemire (6 weeks) and Marcus Camby (7-10 days). Good health could be the difference in a wide-open Atlantic Division.

 

14) Philadelphia 76ers

2011-12 record: 35-31

The 76ers season rests on the shoulders of Andrew Bynum. His knees are a huge red flag. If he misses a prolonged period of time, Philadelphia’s run at a title will go up in smoke.

 

15) Atlanta Hawks

2011-12 record: 40-26

Josh Smith and Al Horford need all-star seasons to keep Atlanta afloat. Joe Johnson is gone, but newly acquired Lou Williams leading the teams second unit will help replace some of his scoring.

 

16) Dallas Mavericks

2011-12 record: 36-30
Eddy Curry will be the Mavericks starting center opening night. “sigh”. Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Kaman are hurt and Delonte West just got waived. Not a good start for the 2011 NBA champions.

 

17) Milwaukee Bucks

2011-12 record: 31-35

Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings are tiny little buggers, but they can score in abundance. Ilyasova is the only front court player who can put up points. John Henson’s development will be huge.

 

18) Golden State Warriors

2011-12 record: 23-43

The Warriors are a playoff team, but that’s only if Andrew Bogut and Stephen Curry avoid ankle injuries. History tells me not to put much faith in that notion. Harrison Barnes is a superstar in the making.

 

19) Portland Trail Blazers

2011-12 record: 28-38

Welcome to the Damian Lillard era. LaMarcus Alridge is still one of the 5 best power forwards in basketball. If everyone meshes with new coach Terry Stotts, Portland could shock some people.

 

20) Houston Rockets

2011-12 record: 34-32

Trading for James Harden may have saved the Rockets season. Jeremy Lin + James Harden = Jeremy Hardlin? They’ll be fun to watch, at the very least.

 

21) Toronto Raptors

2011-12 record: 23-43

15 of the Raptors first 22 games of the season will be on the road. Will know afterwards if Toronto has truly improved or if its “Destination: Lottery” once again.

 

22) Minnesota Timberwolves

2011-12 record: 26-40

The Wolves got a lot better quickly this summer by acquiring Andrei Kirilenko and Brandon Roy. Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio will be out for quite a while unfortunately. Is it playoffs or bust in Minnesota?

 

23) New Orleans Hornets

2011-12 record: 21-45

Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers are the present and long-term future of this franchise. Not to shabby. How will fans react to Eric Gordon, a man who desired to play in Phoenix instead on opening night?

 

24) Phoenix Suns

2011-12 record: 33-33

Goran Dragic and Kendall Marshall now are in the drivers seat in the post-Nash era. Luis Scola and Marcin Gortat form quite the underrated front court. Michael Beasley could be the X-factor.

 

25) Washington Wizards

2011-12 record: 20-46

Don’t let this low ranking discourage you. The Wizards could grab that final seed in the Eastern Conference, but that’s only if Nene and John Wall get healthy, and if Bradley Beal is the real deal.

 

26) Detroit Pistons

2011-12 record: 25-41

The Pistons haven’t won more than 30 games since 08-09. Rookie Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe will need to carry this team, as the backcourt is still highly questionable.

 

27) Cleveland Cavaliers

2011-12 record: 21-45

I love me some Kyrie Irving. The jury is still out on if the Cavs made the right choice selecting Dion Waiters in the draft. It will be another year or two before they see postseason action again.

 

28) Sacramento Kings

2011-12 record: 22-44

There is so much solid, young talent on this roster (Cousins, Thompson, Evans, Thomas, Thornton, Robinson), but will it all finally come together to form a winning team? Not yet, I don’t think.

 

29) Orlando Magic

2011-12 record: 37-29

Dwight Howards departure was the final nail in the coffin. Aaron Afflalo is arguably their best player. No shot against him, but Orlando has no chance with Aaron as their #1 option. Hedo Turkoglu then?

 

30) Charlotte Bobcats

2011-12 record: 7-59

You don’t finish with the worst record in league history and expect anything higher than spot #30 to begin the season. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist offers hope, but how much hope?

 

Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports

Topics: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Charlotte Bobcats, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Hornets, Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, Toronto Raptors

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