This NBA season is setting up to be one of the best in recent memory. With many of the league’s top stars moving teams and conferences, the league is wide open for the best teams. Grabbing one of the higher seedings will greatly impact a team’s success in the playoffs, so it is essential for almost every team (except some notable tankers) to perform at their best throughout the season.
Without further ado, here is the entire projection for all 30 NBA teams leading into 2019-2020.
30. Charlotte Hornets (22-60)
Charlotte had a disastrous offseason, mostly by losing their franchise star Kemba Walker to Boston. They failed to replace him with anyone who can match his scoring production, and even lost rotation pieces in Jeremy Lamb and Frank Kaminsky as well.
With such a horrific offseason, they will most likely be bottom-dwellers as the worst team in the league.
29. Cleveland Cavaliers (24-58)
Cleveland are clearly in a rebuilding phase, and this will continue into 2020. The Cavs have a nice selection of young players including Collin Sexton and Darius Garland, so the goal will be to maximize their growth by giving them as many minutes as possible throughout the season. Cleveland still cannot defend anybody, and they will struggle for wins.
Kevin Love will likely be moved for a collection of young players and draft picks, and it will be interesting to see what Cleveland does with Tristan Thompson who is still a very serviceable center. Expect the Cavs to be at the bottom of the league in the East.
28. Phoenix Suns (29-53)
The Suns will struggle once more in the 2019-2020 season, mostly due to inexperience and lack of chemistry. The Suns keep changing coaches, and the movement of players in and out of the organization does not help either. Phoenix will struggle to defend teams, and will give up a lot of points to teams throughout the season.
Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton will keep the team competitive, but they lack killer instinct on defense so far in their young careers. They will still be fun to watch nonetheless, especially with Rubio pushing the ball on the break.
27. Washington Wizards (29-53)
The Wizards will be without John Wall for most of the season and will continue to receive interest around the league for Bradley Beal. In the meantime, the Wizards are praying that Isaiah Thomas can re-discover his MVP form from his Boston days, and keep them relevant in the East. This is clearly unlikely, and the Wizards will most likely undergo a season of change instead.
Expect some players to be moved via trades, and hopefully the start of the rebuild process. Washington has been disappointing, and this must be addressed in the coming season.
26. New York Knicks (30-52)
Leave it to the New York Knicks fans to tell you how disappointed they are about the Offseason. The Knicks had to settle for Julius Randle as their major Free Agent signing after striking out on Durant, Kyrie, and Zion.
Randle looks to be a star in the making, and the other players coming in including Taj Gibson and Bobby Portis will likely help the Knicks improve their record from last season. Nonetheless, this is most likely another season without the playoffs for the Knicks.
25. Memphis Grizzlies (30-52)
The Grizzlies finally moved on from their Grit and Grind era by moving Conley, Gasol, Randolph, and Allen over the past few seasons. For the time being, they will look to develop an assortment of excellent young players that includes Ja Morant, Tyus Jones, and Josh Jackson.
The Grizzlies will expect a great season from Morant who was drafted second overall after Zion. The Grizzlies will have a bright future, but will most likely be a poor team in the coming season.
24. Oklahoma City Thunder (31-51)
The Thunder surprised the NBA universe by pulling the plug on their potential title-contending team. They clearly felt that they could not win with Westbrook at the helm, whether that is fair or not, and decided to move almost their entire core including Westbrook, Paul George, and Jerami Grant. The Thunder strengthened the other contending teams in the West while deciding to build for the future.
Thanks to the George and Westbrook trades, they have collected an assortment of young players (including Gilgeous-Alexander) and many valuable draft picks. Whether they decide to keep Chris Paul and Gallinari or not, the Thunder will not be a factor in the West.
23. Chicago Bulls (33-49)
Chicago had a decent Offseason, drafting Coby White and adding Thaddeus Young and Thomas Satoransky. The Bulls have great young players in Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. as their cornerstones, and White could be their point guard for the future.
The young players will continue to get better, and the Bulls will continue to improve as the season progresses.
22. Atlanta Hawks (34-48)
Atlanta made a surprising move by exchanging picks with the Mavs last year and opting for Trae Young instead of Luka Doncic. Young really came into his own towards the end of last season and had a shot of actually snatching the Rookie of the Year award from Doncic who was spectacular all season.
Young is developing into an excellent player, and the Hawks collected some more nice pieces including Jabari Parker and Allen Crabbe. The Hawks drafted two exciting prospects in DeAndre Hunter and Cam Reddish, and they still have an excellent young player in John Collins. The Hawks are clearly heading in the right direction and will continue to get better.
21. Sacramento Kings (37-45)
Sacramento opted to improve their squad this Offseason, by bringing in veterans Trevor Ariza and Cory Joseph. The Kings also re-signed Harrison Barnes to a large contract in order for him to be a team leader in scoring, and still have Bagley III as a developing star. The Kings won’t be too bad, but they will fail to make much of an impact this season.
The Kings, much like many other teams in the league, are focusing their season on developing their young stars.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves (38-44)
The Wolves should be ranked higher on this list since they have two young players who should be developing rather quickly. Unfortunately for Minnesota, things have not worked out as expected. The addition of Butler was a disaster, as he clashed with young stars Wiggins and Anthony Towns throughout the season last year.
Getting rid of Butler will allow the stars to develop, although they will most likely struggle to make an impact in the West. Adding Jarrett Culver is very interesting, and could possibly be another franchise cornerstone for Minnesota. Expect the Wolves to make some changes to the roster this year (possibly moving Wiggins), as Anthony-Towns continues his path to superstardom.
19. Detroit Pistons (39-43)
Detroit was thinking in the right direction by trading for Blake Griffin and hoping for a smooth transition alongside Andre Drummond. Needless to say, that has not happened yet and Detroit lack any scoring outside of Griffin. Reggie Jackson is in the final year of his big contract and has not made any impact for the Piston’s franchise up to this point.
If this was 2011, then the addition of Derrick Rose would have made the Pistons one of the best teams in the East. But they will have to settle for a banged-up Rose and Markieff Morris to hopefully lead them back into the playoffs.
18. Dallas Mavericks (40-42)
Dallas is hungry as ever to add star power following the end of Dirk Nowitzki’s storied NBA career with the Mavericks. Pulling off the trade for Porzingis gives Dallas an incredible 1-2 punch for the future. Doncic was the best rookie last season and seems to be a perfect star in today’s NBA. He plays like an NBA veteran, taking and making the big shots when his team needs him most.
Porzingis still has the makings of a Hall-of-Famer and has a perfect skill set to match with Doncic. Expect Dallas to continue to improve their roster, while the additions of Seth Curry and Delon Wright add some depth to a promising Mavericks roster.
17. Orlando Magic (40-42)
Orlando can’t seem to get over the hump, even with the rise of Nikola Vucevic as a legitimate All-Star big man. Aaron Gordon continues to improve, and they still have the potential of Jonothan Isaac and Mohamed Bamba. Not to mention, the hope that Markelle Fultz actually solves his obscure shoulder problem and can live up to his hype of a first pick in the draft.
Adding Al-Farouq Aminu adds to their cast of strong defenders, but lack of perimeter scoring could hurt Orlando as the season progresses.
16. New Orleans Pelicans (41-41)
If this was a list of projected record after 5 seasons, the Pelicans might be first. They have an incredible core of young budding stars, including Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram (acquired in the Anthony Davis trade) and franchise cornerstone Zion Williamson.
Let’s be honest here, Williamson was the biggest addition to the Pelicans this season and will replace (and even exceed!) the excitement that Davis has been to New Orleans. Finally, the Pelicans can focus their energy on building a championship team behind young guns who want to be great. Ball has the makings of a championship-level point guard, and being out of the L.A. spotlight might help his progression.
Additions such as Derrick Favors and J.J. Redick will keep New Orleans very competitive while their young stars develop. The Pelicans will be very fun to watch this season.
15. Miami Heat (42-40)
Miami found their star after Jimmy Butler decided to sign with the Heat. Butler brings a mix of hard work, passion, and dedication to the game of basketball- a perfect player for the Pat Riley and Heat system.
Expect Miami to remain very busy in the trade market, possibly looking to add more talent around Jimmy Butler. While they let Whiteside go, after a poor season, they drafted Tyler Herro and also added Meyers Leonard to an otherwise average Offseason. Expect Butler to flourish in Miami, as the Heat hustle their way into the playoffs.
14. San Antonio Spurs (44-38)
San Antonio might be relishing the final moments of the great Popovich era. Pop is getting up there in age and might be riding off into the sunset very soon. Yet, the Spurs have an interesting mix of win-now players such as DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge and young franchise cornerstones in Derrick White and Dejounte Murray.
For the Spurs, they might be looking to maximize their final Playoff push and did their best by agreeing to contracts with DeMarre Carrol and Marcus Morris. Unfortunately for the Spurs, Morris decided to renege on the agreement and sign with the Knicks instead. Losing out on Morris hurts, but the Spurs will always be a threat in the West thanks to Pop’s coaching brilliance.
13. Toronto Raptors (44-38)
With all due respect to the Toronto fans, losing Kawhi Leonard immediately takes the Raptors out of the championship conversation. However, they will still be good following the additions of promising players Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Stanley Johnson.
The Raptors will return with the same All-Star quality players including Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam, and an aging Marc Gasol. Expect the Raptors to still be relevant in the East, while hoping to progress past the First Round in the playoffs.
12. Brooklyn Nets (44-38)
Brooklyn will patiently wait upon the return of Kevin Durant, who will most likely sit out all of the 2019-2020 season. Brooklyn will still rejoice at the addition of Kyrie Irving, who will put on a show every night for the native Brooklyn fans.
The additions of DeAndre Jordan, Wilson Chandler, and Taurean Prince will keep the Nets relevant until Durant returns. Not to mention, the Nets still have excellent young players including Caris Levert and Jarrett Allen. Brooklyn has a good enough squad to reach the playoffs, and possibly be a first-round upset.
11. Indiana Pacers (46-36)
Indiana had one of the better Offseason acquisitions this summer by adding Malcolm Brogdon. Brogdon is a fantastic shooter, stout defender, and has plenty of room to develop into a potential All-Star next to Victor Oladipo who is expected to return from his injury in the early part of the season.
The Pacers also managed to replace the loss of Bogdanovic with solid role-players T.J. Warren and Jeremy Lamb who are able to get hot and get buckets. Indiana has seemingly flown under the radar once again, and they might be a surprising team as they make their way into the playoffs.
10. Portland Trail Blazers (48-34)
Portland believes they have improved their championship aspirations by adding Hassan Whiteside as a quality center while Nurkic nurses an injury he suffered last year. While they lost Aminu, Harkless, and Kanter who all played major minutes, Portland did a good job by adding Kent Bazemore (a quality 3-and-D player) and also hoping that new addition Mario Hezonja can show more flashes of promise.
Overall, Portland will go as far as Lillard and McCollum go, but many players need to step up this season (including Rodney Hood) if Portland wish to make some serious noise in the West.
9. Boston Celtics (49-33)
Boston needed to make a change following last season’s drama-filled failure to progress deep into the playoffs. Despite being an incredible talent, Kyrie was simply not capable of leading this team to the promised land and decided to move elsewhere during Free Agency. While not as good as Kyrie, Kemba is an excellent replacement that will burden much of the scoring responsibility.
Tatum and Brown will both return hungrier and ready to take the next step as some of the more experienced members of this Boston cast. While losing Horford will hurt, new signing Enes Kanter will replace much of his scoring while he tries to find his footing defensively in Brad Steven’s system. Despite losing two stars, Boston should do well enough during the season to finish the season as one of the Top 10 teams in the league.
8. Utah Jazz (50-32)
While not the most glittering team in the league, the Utah Jazz have assembled one of the best teams in the league. There probably isn’t a more underrated player than Michael Conley Jr., who will be a leader for this team and will thrive next to star Donovan Mitchell. The Jazz also managed to grab Bogdanovic and Jeff Green, two more key rotational pieces who seem to love performing in big moments.
Utah will enter the season with a fantastic defense, led by defensive stalwart Rudy Gobert, and a more proficient offense thanks to the addition of Conley. Utah is a legitimate threat out West and should be a lock to win 50- games this season.
7. Golden State Warriors (53-29)
Even without Kevin Durant, the Warriors are still incredibly deep. In fact, they replicate the legendary 73-win team that featured Steph, Klay, Green, Bogut, and Harrison Barnes. Well, instead of Bogut they have a young Willie Caulie-Stein and D’Angelo Russel instead of Barnes.
While they might not be as unstoppable defensively, they will have a ton of scoring while Klay Thompson begins to return from his ACL injury. Steph (who will be an MVP candidate) and Russel will likely keep the Warriors afloat while Thompson rehabs. Not to mention, Draymond Green finally got deserved payday and will provide his renowned leadership on the court throughout the season.
6. Denver Nuggets (55-27)
Denver took a massive leap last season and was able to grab the second seed in a crowded Western Conference. They have all the makings of a Top-5 team in the league; including a bonafide All-Star and MVP candidate in Nikola Jokic, depth including sharpshooters and experienced defenders, and an excellent coach who was able to push Denver to the brink of a WCF.
Denver was able to improve thanks to the addition of Grant from OKC, and the draft of prospect Bol Bol. It is surprising how Bol fell so far in the draft, and Denver did an admirable job in “taking a leap” for the second season in a row after drafting Porter Jr. who has yet to play an NBA game. Denver returns with an even improved cast from last year, and have experienced some growing pains in the playoffs. Expect the Nuggets to be a Top-3 seed in the Western Conference.
5. Philadelphia 76ers (55-27)
The 76ers lost Jimmy Butler in the Offseason but were able to grab Josh Richardson and Al Horford to minimize Butler’s loss as much as possible. Richardson is a promising 3-and-D guard, while Horford is one of the best leaders and locker room guys in the league. Adding them to a core of Simmons, Embiid, and Harris (who re-signed with Philly) will make them a legitimate threat in the Eastern Conference.
It will be interesting to see if Simmons has developed a jump-shot, and can take the next leap to become a superstar player. Expect the Sixers to have one of the Top 5 seeds in the league while setting fans up for another exciting season.
4. Los Angeles Lakers (55-27)
The Lakers made a historic move by adding Anthony Davis to LeBron James. The Lakers have been hungry for an All-Star pairing since Kobe and Pau won the last two championships for the Lake Show. LeBron is a physical specimen, while Anthony Davis might be the scariest big in the league thanks to his size and skill-set.
LeBron and AD will dominate teams offensively, thanks to an incredible mix of height, power, speed, and skill. If the Laker's role players can step up and remain healthy, the Lakers might find themselves higher on this list. LeBron might rest some games and that might affect their seeding, but the Lakers will be primed and ready for the playoffs.
3. Milwaukee Bucks (57-25)
The Bucks had a fantastic season last year, boasting an incredible talent in Giannis Antetokounmpo leading the charge in the East. Expect them to place first or second in the East again, with Giannis a favorite for his second MVP award. The Bucks went through an interesting offseason, re-signing key players in Brook Lopez, Khris Middleton, and George Hill.
Losing Malcolm Brogdon and Nikola Mirotic in Free Agency hurts, but sacrifices had to be made to in order to retain Middleton with a max contract and re-sign Lopez who was an absolute beast last year in the playoffs. Even with the key losses, most of Milwaukee’s crew is coming back hungrier and more experienced following last year’s defeat to the Raptors.
2. Los Angeles Clippers (59-23)
The Clippers added Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to an already impressive roster boasting the likes of Patrick Beverley, Montrez Harrel, and Lou Williams. Adding in these two superstars have instantly made the Clippers one of the favorites to come out of the West. When Kawhi and George are on the court together, they will dominate teams offensively and defensively similar to how Pippen and Jordan used to.
While the defense has been marginalized in today’s NBA, they will be able to defend at an extremely high level while getting buckets on the other end. Led by head coach Doc Rivers, the Clippers have a complete roster paired with excellent coaching that will make them the second-best team in the West. Even if Kawhi misses a few games, the Clippers will be a problem throughout the season.
1. Houston Rockets (60-22)
While the majority of the NBA community is looking towards Los Angeles for the best teams in the season, the Rockets may have surprisingly flown under the radar despite adding one of the best point guards in the league in Russel Westbrook. The Rockets are almost built for the regular season, thanks to their high octane offense led by James Harden.
Adding Russell Westbrook will make them unstoppable on offense, and Houston will most probably do their best to finish first in the West. They know, perhaps more than any other team, the importance of home court in the playoffs. With Kawhi and LeBron taking load management time off, the Rockets might find themselves as the number one seed in the West.
More From Fadeaway World: