The season is already underway and teams have already shown what they’re capable of. Even despite some injuries, early struggles and coaches still figuring things out, we can go ahead and make some predictions about the outcome of the season.
And with some teams entering nice winning streaks while others haven’t been able to maintain their success, let’s go ahead and take a look at our latest Power Ranking, with an unlikely team at the top of it.
30. Phoenix Suns (4-17)
The Phoenix Suns are a mess. They lack depth, they need a starting point guard, and Trevor Ariza hasn’t done much to fix their defensive woes. Watching Deandre Ayton and Devin Booker is a treat for the eyes, though, although there’s got to be a point where the tanking ends and the winning starts.
29. Cleveland Cavaliers (4-16)
The Cleveland Cavaliers are blatantly tanking, and other from a couple of nice performances against top-tier teams, they have nothing to show for this season. They’re a lock to finish the season with the worst record in the league in order to get either RJ Barrett or Zion Williamson in the Draft.
28. Atlanta Hawks (5-17)
The Atlanta Hawks have nothing to play for this season other than developing Trae Young and John Collins. Those two have been great all season long, especially the rookie point guard, but the team has been a complete mess, especially in the defensive end of the hardwood. They’re going to land the 2nd best player in next year’s Draft.
27. Chicago Bulls (5-17)
The Chicago Bulls need another head coach. Fred Hoiberg shouldn’t be coaching an NBA team, not even to develop young talents. On the bright side, Zach LaVine and Jabari Parker continue to shine in the offensive end, while Wendell Carter Jr looks like a star in the making in this league.
26. New York Knicks (7-15)
The New York Knicks don’t have much to play for either this season, as they’re already planning ahead to the 2019 summer. Still, their logjam at the point guard spot has brought some interesting performances from Emmanuel Mudiay and Trey Burke. Who’ll end up being the Knicks primary ball handler?
25. Miami Heat (7-13)
The Miami Heat has been a mediocre team for years and they need an All-Star if they intend to compete in the Eastern Conference. Bam Adebayo is stepping up big time again, but they need a scorer and Dion Waiters isn’t going to be that guy when he comes back from injury. Josh Richardson can ball, though.
24. Brooklyn Nets (8-14)
The Brooklyn Nets are truly missing Caris LeVert, but fellow Jarrett Allen has been quietly stepping up to become a solid rim protector. Still, they lack playmakers and D’Angelo Russell is not looking like the right guy to offer a huge deal next season. Also, they’ve lost 4 of their last 5, and have quite a tough schedule ahead of them.
23. Washington Wizards (8-13)
The Wizards haven’t been able to buy a three-pointer all season long, and their defense has been one of the worst in the league as well. But what bothers me the most about this team is the fact that they struggle against subpar teams and then stick it to contenders. They don’t have any motivatioñn at all.
22. Houston Rockets (9-11)
It looks like the Houston Rockets are finally finding some rhythm following a terrible start of the season, but they couldn’t even get past the Washington Wizards despite James Harden’s 54 point effort. They truly miss Mbah A Moute and Ariza, and Carmelo Anthony wasn't the main cause of their struggles.
21. Orlando Magic (10-12)
The Orlando Magic has been getting a huge boost from Nikola Vucevic, who’s playing at an All-Star level and is going to get paid a lot of money next season. Other than that, they don’t have much to brag about, as Mo Bamba has been a bust and Aaron Gordon has regressed this season.
20. Utah Jazz (10-12)
What the hell happened to the Utah Jazz? This team has been one of the biggest disappointments of the season, as their top-tier defense has been torched over and over and they’ve struggled to score without Donovan Mitchell. They’d be ok, though, but they need to turn things around pretty soon.
19. San Antonio Spurs (10-11)
Following a strong start of the season, the San Antonio Spurs are going through a bit of a tough stretch right now. LaMarcus Aldridge has been ice cold over the last couple of years, and DeMar DeRozan hasn’t been able to single-handedly carry them to a victory, losing 8 of their last 11 games.
18. Sacramento Kings (10-10)
The Sacramento Kings have cooled off a little bit after a red-hot start of the season, but still, this team looks like they’re in a much better position now than before the DeMarcus Cousins trade. The Kings are finally entertaining to watch, and even though they won’t make the playoffs, the future looks bright for them.
17. Minnesota Timberwolves (11-11)
The Timberwolves are looking good even despite trading Jimmy Butler away to the Philadelphia 76ers. Robert Covington and Dario Saric are really going to improve this team’s defense, but it’s still going to take a while. Also, if Andrew Wiggins doesn’t step up any time soon, can we call him a bust already?
16. New Orleans Pelicans (11-11)
The New Orleans Pelicans need Elfrid Payton back and healthy right now. They have a strong frontcourt and enough talent to make it to the playoffs, but still, they need a true point guard. Either way, they have proven that they just can’t win without Anthony Davis, who’s likely to force a trade at the end of the season.
15. Dallas Mavericks (10-9)
The Mavericks have been getting a huge bust from JJ Barea over the last couple of weeks, and Luka Doncic looks like a lock to dominate this league for many years to come. Even so, they’re unlikely to make the playoffs and should look to tank yet another season to complete their promising core.
14. Charlotte Hornets (11-10)
Kemba Walker is playing like an MVP and currently leading the league in scoring, as he refuses to miss the playoffs again before hitting free agency next season. They’re unlikely to transcend in the postseason, but they’ve upset some good teams so far, and Kemba isn’t showing signs of slowing down.
13. Boston Celtics (11-10)
You never know which Celtics’ team is going to show up. Either they blow you out, or they get blown out, there’s no in-between with this team, and that lack of consistency may bite them in the rear come playoff seeding time. Still, they have the talent to turn things around and are still a frontrunner to rule the East.
12. Detroit Pistons (11-7)
The Detroit Pistons are on a roll right now, but they’re likely to find a way to shoot themselves in the foot like them - and Dwane Casey - always do. Still, Andre Drummond is looking like the most dominant rebounder in the league and Blake Griffin is finally fully healthy and keen to take them to the playoffs.
11. Los Angeles Lakers (11-9)
Following a shaky start of the season, it looks like the Los Angeles Lakers have finally clicked in both ends of the hardwood, especially in defense upon Tyson Chandler’s arrival. LeBron James is not up to an easy task this season, but they’re a lock too, at least, make it to the 2nd round of the playoffs.
10. Memphis Grizzlies (12-8)
We just don’t get how the Grizzlies are winning games, but they are destroying everybody at home. Even without their personnel, their grit-and-grind defense still stands, and Jaren Jackson Jr looks like a guy that can lead the league in blocks in no time. Still, they need one or two more players to be a threat in the West.
9. Portland Trail Blazers (13-8)
Everybody thought the Blazers were ready to call it quits and just trade either Damian Lillard or CJ McCollum if they started the season on a low note. Needless to say, they don’t want any part of that anymore, and are looking like one of the best teams in the league with a new look Jusuf Nurkic that’s dominating down low.
8. Indiana Pacers (13-8)
The Indiana Pacers keep winning even without All-Star shooting guard Victor Oladipo, with Bojan Bogdanovic, Domantas Sabonis and Doug McDermott surging as their offensive go-to-guys. Myles Turner continues to be a disappointment in the glass, but the team is running and gunning.
7. Oklahoma City Thunder (13-7)
The Oklahoma City Thunder has been on a roll all year long, even when Russell Westbrook was down with an injury. Dennis Schroder looks like a Sixth Man of the Year candidate and their defense is only going to get better when they get Andre Roberson back. Can they make an upset in the West?
6. Los Angeles Clippers (14-6)
The Los Angeles Clippers just keep on winning. Despite being underdogs almost every time, they’ve impressed with their hustle in both sides of the glass. Tobias Harris and Shai-Gilgeous Alexander have really taken a step forward, but we still need to see if they’re able to maintain those performances over time.
5. Philadelphia 76ers (15-8)
The Philadelphia 76ers were quite aggressive by trading for Jimmy Butler but it has definitely paid off so far, with Jimmy G Buckets proving he’s the closer they needed so much. Now that they finally have a guy that can create off the dribble, they’re my pick to make it to the NBA Finals.
4. Denver Nuggets (14-7)
The Denver Nuggets got off to a red-hot start of the season before regression hit them, but they’re still a lock to put an end to their playoff drought this season, especially if Isaiah Thomas comes back at full strength. They need a primary ball handler, though, although Nikola Jokic has been great in that regard.
3. Golden State Warriors (15-7)
It’s really weird to see the Warriors at the 3rd spot, but still, they’re trending up right now, and are only going to get better once Stephen Curry and Draymond Green get back. Also, it looks like DeMarcus Cousins is going to get back right after Christmas, so… yes, they’re going to have 5 All-Stars in their starting 5.
2. Milwaukee Bucks (15-6)
The Milwaukee Bucks keep on winning and Giannis Antetokounmpo has put himself at the top of the MVP conversation. Brook Lopez looks like a perfect fit for Mike Budenholzer’s system, and their defense is also catching up. Nobody gives them credit, but they could make some serious noise in the playoffs.
1. Toronto Raptors (18-4)
And the best team in the league so far has been the Toronto Raptors, even when Kawhi Leonard has been forced to sit due to rest. We’re still not buying their success, and they’re likely to choke as they always do, but they’ve been great so far. Also, that young man Pascal Siakam is a beast.