The NBA is back, and 22 teams will now be competing for spots in the NBA playoffs. While there are already foregone conclusions for the top-seeded teams, other teams will be fighting for chances to sneak into the playoffs. Since the season has been interrupted and players have had plenty of rest, every NBA team feels like they have a shot to win it all.
While title odds are the more realistic for some over others, there are still 22 teams that will be competing over an eight-game regular season. As such, it is time to rank the 22 teams that will be competing in Disney World to complete the 2019-2020 NBA season.
22. Brooklyn Nets
Kevin Durant has been out for the season, and Kyrie Irving seems like he will not be returning to play inside the new NBA “Bubble”. Without these two superstars, the Nets have zero chance of winning an NBA title. To Make matters worse, Spencer Dinwiddie is also not playing in the Bubble, although they signed Jamal Crawford and Michael Beasley to pair alongside Caris LeVert. Still, they won’t be enough to get past some of the top teams in the East including the Bucks and Raptors and will not move the needle this year at all.
21. Washington Wizards
The Wizards are not a threat to any of the top teams in the league, mainly because John Wall is injured and Bradley Beal is the only player that has to carry the load for a very weak team. Beal is averaging 30.5 PPG this season, but the Wizards don’t have much talent beyond him. Unless Beal can somehow turn into Michael Jordan, the playoffs are out of the picture for Washington.
20. Phoenix Suns
Phoenix has an exciting core led by the likes of Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton, but they like any sort of playoff experience and this will come back to haunt them. As a matter of fact, it is extremely unlikely that they’ll even be in the playoffs. They still cannot find any sort of consistency on the floor and will struggle against better teams ranked in the top-10, even if Booker is averaging 26.1 PPG this season.
19. Orlando Magic
Even if the NBA has resumed in Orlando, The Magic don’t have the benefit of home-court advantage. This means that the chances of winning a title are extremely slim to nil, although they will be fighting for a playoff spot. Jonathan Isaac seems to be coming back, the team has some bright spots especially in the frontcourt. But the Orlando Magic will struggle as they have done in years past and won’t make it out of the first round if they make the playoffs.
18. Sacramento Kings
The Kings will go as far as De’Aaron Fox takes them. He’s an ultra-speedy point guard that has All-Star potential and can be a driving force for a franchise that probably would love to be in the playoffs. Still, they will struggle against some of the better teams in the West and it is likely the season ends early for them.
17. San Antonio Spurs
It’s a shame to see the Spurs ranked so low, but that is the reality of the situation. LaMarcus Aldridge is out for the season, all the pressure is on the margarine in Gregg Popovich to lead this depleted Spurs team into the NBA playoffs. Without Aldridge, Spurs should be ranked even lower, but a benefit of the doubt is given to them because of Popovich as the head coach. But the Spurs aren’t very good, ranking 24th in defense 18th in rebounding.
16. Memphis Grizzlies
Ja Morant, 17.6 PPG and 6.9 APG for the season is slowly morphing into a superstar point guard. There isn’t anything he can’t do on the floor, and we would love to see him in the NBA playoffs. As a matter of fact, the Grizzlies have an excellent chance of sneaking into the 8th spot. While they won’t worry the top teams in the West that much, they still will be a tough opponent and the Grizzlies will bring some excitement to the city of Memphis (for those watching at home at least).
15. New Orleans Pelicans
In terms of pure excitement factor, the Pelicans rank among the top 10 teams in the league easily. Mainly thanks to Zion Williamson, everybody who watches the NBA wants the Pelicans in the playoffs. But even if they get there, they will not have much of a shot in competing with the best teams in the Western Conference. Still, this NBA restart might have helped the Pelicans get a playoff berth and we all cannot wait.
14. Portland Trail Blazers
Out of all the lower-seeded teams, the Portland Trail Blazers have the best chance of knocking off any of the top teams in the West. That’s not saying that they certainly will, but they have the highest chance. Damian Lillard is a superstar, C.J. McCollum is an All-Star quality player, and the team has tremendous depth with the return of Jusuf Nurkic. Nobody really wants to play the Blazers, so it will be fun to see them play again. The Blazers rank 8th in scoring but last in assists, so it will come down to the play of their sensational backcourt.
13. Indiana Pacers
The Pacers will be in the playoffs this year, mainly thanks to their amazing play throughout the season without their star Victor Oladipo. They have Domantas Sabonis, who was an All-Star averaging 18.5 PPG and 12.4 RPG, but they need an extra star that Oladpio would have been. Without him, they can’t really progress deep in the playoffs but anything can happen.
12. Dallas Mavericks
The Dallas Mavericks seem to be building a championship contender, many things to young sensation Luka Doncic. He has arrived as a superstar already in his second season and certainly has no weakness offensively. He is averaging 30.5 PPG for the Mavericks who are 3rd in scoring and 5th in rebounds. The Mavs will be tough, but not good enough to be a top-10 team right now.
11. Oklahoma City Thunder
The Oklahoma City Thunder have been a surprise all year. Chris Paul has basically risen from the dead and is playing at a very high level. He’ll have to be at a superstar level to take the Oklahoma City Thunder past the first round. Anything can happen but they just miss out of the top 10, because they lack any real sort of star power outside of CP3.
10. Utah Jazz
All the rumblings of the beef between Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert seem to be brushed aside, and the Jazz want to win now. They certainly have a lot of big-time players, but they are lacking a bit of a higher gear that makes them among the cream of the crop. They are ranked 17th in points and 9th in defense, so they will be tough but not quite good enough.
9. Miami Heat
Jimmy Butler has given the Heat new life. He plays hard and doesn’t back down from anyone, and the youngsters on the team are playing very well. But the biggest surprise has been Bam Adebayo, averaging 16.2 PPG and 10.5 RPG while being a point center in the post. The Heat are tough, currently 4th in the East, and will provide a challenge to the best teams in the East.
8. Philadelphia 76ers
Say what you want about Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, but they are too All-Star players who provide a lot for their team on the floor on both ends. Embiid is still 7 feet tall and is putting up 23.4 PPG this season while Simmons is holding his own with his 16.7 PPG average. If Tobias Harris can be a legitimate secondary scorer to Embiid and if Horford starts playing like a star again, the Sixers will be very tough to beat.
7. Boston Celtics
The Celtics seem to have been written off as title contenders once Kyrie Irving bolted for Brooklyn. But Jayson Tatum has arrived as a star, and Kemba Walker is a better fit for the squad than Kyrie. If Hayward can find his footing before his injury, and Brad Stevens finally lives up to his coaching potential, the Celtics can fight into the Eastern Conference Finals and no one would bat an eye.
6. Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets are a very good team, although they may be lacking another star to make them a truly great team. They are built off-ball movement, ranking 4th in assists, and currently hold the third spot in the West. The Nuggets are playing well because their star player is an amazing passer and they have a ton of depth, but time will tell if it’s enough to win a title.
5. Toronto Raptors
The Toronto Raptors might not have Kawhi Leonard, but they have Pascal Siakam and a host of other experienced players to help them make a deep playoff run. The Raptors 1st in defense so they have a ton of bodies to throw at the opposition’s best offensive players, making them a tough outing to play against every night.
4. Houston Rockets
Everybody seems to be forgetting about the Houston Rockets. They have beaten the top contenders in the NBA in the regular season, and probably have the most unstoppable offense thanks to the superstar abilities of James Harden and Russell Westbrook. Everybody on this team can practically shoot, and they are going to live and die by the three. While they may be very undersized, they have the potential to shock everyone and win the NBA title.
3. Milwaukee Bucks
My goodness, nobody wants to play the Milwaukee Bucks. Actually, nobody wants to play against Giannis Antetokounmpo. He’s too difficult to guard because he has tremendous handles and is unstoppable inside the paint. When the defense collapses around them, he kicks it out to his array of shooters including Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez. The Bucks rank 1st in points scored, 1st in rebounds, and 7th in assists. As the best team in the regular season, they have a top-three chance of winning the title but fall short due to two pairs of dynamic duos residing in Los Angeles.
2. Los Angeles Clippers
It’s certainly not bad to have the second greatest chance of winning an NBA title, especially when you have the likes of Kawhi Leonard on your team. Leonard has proven to be one of the best playoff performers in the NBA in the past decade, so the Clippers have a very good chance of finally winning the NBA title. If Paul George is healthy, and the entire team clicks on all cylinders, they will be almost impossible to beat. The Clippers rank 4th in points and 3rd in rebounds, but they are still one notch behind the best team in the NBA.
1. Los Angeles Lakers
No doubt, the Lakers have the best chance of winning an NBA title this year. LeBron James is fully rested and motivated to capture his fourth ring, while Anthony Davis is the best sidekick in the NBA right now. The Lakers have a good overall team that includes solid defenders and shooters, but it is all about Davis and James. They are simply too good for any other team and they will most likely be hosting the championship trophy over their heads.