The start of the NBA regular season is just days away and much is expected from the up-and-coming Utah Jazz. With so much excitement surrounding the Jazz we have just enough time to see how they stack up against the other teams in the league as they try to find their way into the Western Conference playoff hunt.
Here is my preseason NBA power rankings
30. Philadelphia 76ers
Additions: Jahlil Okafor, Nik Stauskas, Kendall Marshall, Carl Landry
Subtractions: Jason Richardson, Luc Mbah a Moute, Glenn Robinson III, Henry Sims, Thomas Robinson
Another terrible season netted the 76ers another impressive young big man in the draft, but there isn’t enough around Jahlil Okafor to make the team successful. Another year without Joel Embiid will hurt the development of Philadelphia a great deal, but Nerlens Noel will continue to shine.
29. Denver Nuggets
Additions: Emmanuel Mudiay, Mike Miller
Subtractions: Ty Lawson
Off-the-court issues forced the Nuggets to part ways with their floor general and the team just may be better for it. They drafted Mudiay to take Lawson’s place and run the show for one of the most exciting young back courts in the league. While it will be entertaining, wins won’t come easy.
28. Minnesota Timberwolves
Additions: Karl-Anthony Towns, Tyus Jones, Andre Miller, Tayshaun Prince
Subtractions: Chase Budinger
While the Timberwolves are quietly building a young and talented roster, the sudden passing of head coach Flip Saunders could set the team back. On the court, Minnesota brought in a solid group of veteran leaders to help shape the exciting roster that includes No. 1 picks Wiggins and Towns.
27. Portland Trail Blazers
Additions: Al-Farouq Aminu, Ed Davis, Gerald Henderson, Noah Vonleh, Mason Plumlee, Maurice Harkless
Subtractions: LaMarcus Aldridge, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, Robin Lopez, Arron Afflalo
After another run to the playoffs, Portland lost four of five starters through trades and free agency. What was left is all-star Damian Lillard and a bunch of players who have a lot to prove in the NBA. On the bright side, newcomers Vonleh and Plumlee as well as returning contributors Meyers Leonard and C.J. McCollum have plenty of untapped potential.
26. New York Knicks
Additions: Kristaps Porzingis, Jerian Grant, Arron Afflalo, Robin Lopez, Derrick Williams, Kyle O’Quinn
Subtractions: Tim Hardaway Jr., Jason Smith, Cole Aldrich, Andrea Bargnani
Anthony is back and healthy, but another year under Derek Fisher won’t mean success in the Eastern Conference. Plenty of roster changes should help the Knicks move forward, but they missed out on the really big-name free agents who could’ve turned their fortunes around much quicker.
25. Los Angeles Lakers
Additions: Roy Hibbert, Brandon Bass, Lou Williams, D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle
Subtractions: Jeremy Lin, Carlos Boozer, Jordan Hill, Ed Davis
The Lakers improved their talent a great deal, but it wont be enough to compete in the loaded Western Conference. Kobe Bryant and Julius Randle are back from injury and will make a nice one-two punch for rookie point guard D’Angelo Russell to distribute the ball too.
24. Brooklyn Nets
Additions: Andrea Bargnani, Wayne Ellington, Shane Larkin, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Thomas Robinson
Subtractions: Deron Williams, Mason Plumlee
Brooklyn made some interesting moves in the offseason when they re-signed Thaddeus Young and Brook Lopez, but decided to part ways with Plumlee and Williams. Williams never reached the stardom he had while playing with the Utah Jazz, but did have some solid years. Now the offense (and a chance at the playoffs), rests on the shoulders of the oft-traveled Jarrett Jack.
23. Orlando Magic
Additions: Mario Hezonja, Jason Smith, Shabazz Napier
Subtractions: Kyle O’Quinn, Maurice Harkless
The Magic are young and fun and not quite ready to compete with the league’s best teams. They should be much better defensively under new coach Scott Skiles, but coud use more shooting so that double-double machine Nikola Vucevic won’t see a double-team on every possession.
22. Detroit Pistons
Additions: Ersan Ilyasova, Stanley Johnson, Marcus Morris, Aron Baynes, Steve Blake, Danny Granger, Reggie Bullock
Subtractions: Greg Monroe
Monroe was a huge loss on paper, but he never quite fit playing next to another inside player in Andre Drummond. Now that the front court has been sorted out, that just leaves the question of what to do with Brandon Jennings once he returns from injury. He was in the middle of an impressive run when he was hurt, and was replaced by Reggie Jackson. The problem is, both are at their best with the ball in their hands.
21. Charlotte Hornets
Additions: Frank Kaminsky, Nicolas Batum, Jeremy Lin, Spencer Hawes, Tyler Hansbrough, Jeremy Lamb
Subtractions: Lance Stephenson. Gerald Henderson, Bismack Biyombo, Noah Vonleh
The Stephenson experiment lasted just one season and it failed miserably. Also gone are recent first-round picks Henderson, Biyombo and Vonleh as the Hornets try to see if they are better at building a team through trades instead of the draft.
20. Sacramento Kings
Additions: Rajon Rondo, Kosta Koufos, Marco Belinelli, Willie Cauley-Stein
Subtractions: Jason Thompson, Nik Stauskas
The Kings have a bunch of individual pieces that should form an impressive foe if they can play like a team. They have one of the best centers in the game as well as some impressive scorers and a talented lead guard. Much of the season’s success will depend on how Rondo can run George Karl’s system.
19. Dallas Mavericks
Additions: Wesley Matthews, Deron Williams, Jeremy Evans, Zaza Pachulia, Justin Anderson, JaVale McGee
Subtractions: Rajon Rondo, Tyson Chandler, Amar’e Stoudemire, Richard Jefferson, Monta Ellis, Al-Farouq Aminu
Free agency didn’t treat the Mavericks well. They lost some key contributors while trying to secure DeAndre Jordan, but were left with next-to-nothing when he changed his mind and returned to Los Angeles. The addition of Williams will be the key if they have any shot of returning to the playoffs.
18. Phoenix Suns
Additions: Tyson Chandler, Mirza Teletovic, Devin Booker, Ronnie Price
Subtractions: Marcus Morris, Gerald Green
The Suns missed out on LaMarcus Aldridge, but did put together a nice roster. The back court will be manned by a pair of combo guards who bother need the ball in their hands which should make for some interesting situations, but if Brandon Knight can regain the form he had in Milwaukee a year ago, the Suns should compete for one of the last playoff spots in the West.
17. Indiana Pacers
Additions: Myles Turner, Monta Ellis, Jordan Hill, Chase Budinger, Glenn Robinson III
Subtractions: Roy Hibbert, David West
The Pacers will look a lot different from years past when they step on the floor to start the season. Gone are mainstays West and Hibbert as Indiana looks to play a much more uptempo style. How well that will work will depend on how George Hill, Ellis and Paul George will be able to play together.
16. Boston Celtics
Additions: David Lee, Amir Johnson, R.J. Hunter, Terry Rozier
Subtractions: Brandon Bass, Gerald Wallace
The Celtics have the weirdest roster in the league. While they have no stars, they are three-deep at every positions with players who could contribute on any team in the league. The benefit of not having a star is that coach Brad Stevens can ride the hot-hand during any game without worrying about upsetting his go-to guy.
15. Utah Jazz
Additions: Trey Lyles, Tibor Pleiss, Raul Neto
Subtractions: Jeremy Evans
The Jazz brass decided that no big moves in free agency was the best path for them to take in the offseason. That leaves a young roster that has already taken a huge step forward as they have grown together. Although the loss of Dante Exum will hurt core development, there are enough pieces in place for Utah to make some noise in the Western Conference.
14. Washington Wizards
Additions: Jared Dudley, Alan Anderson, Gary Neal, Kelly Oubre
Subtractions: Paul Pierce
While the starting backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal are intact, Pierce is off to Los Angeles and he took his big-shot-making ability with him. That leaves a big hole to be filled. Otto Porter will get more minutes and needs to show why the Wizards used a top 3 draft pick to get him. If he isn’t up to the task, Washington will more than likely take a step back.
13. Milwaukee Bucks
Additions: Greg Monroe, Rashad Vaughn, Greivis Vasquez, Chris Copeland
Subtractions: Jared Dudley, Ersan Ilyasova
The Bucks have length and athleticism at every spot on the floor. They also have a pair of go-to guys with the return of Jabari Parker and the signing of Monroe. If Jason Kidd can make all the pieces fit, Milwaukee will compete for a top seed in the Eastern Conference and be one of the most entertaining teams to watch.
12. New Orleans Pelicans
Additions: Alonzo Gee, Nate Robinson, Kendrick Perkins
Subtractions: Jimmer Fredette, Toney Douglas, Jeff Withey
Instead of making any serious roster moves in the offseason, the Pelicans decided that they would be better serviced by making a coaching change. Monty Williams and his mild offensive pace are gone after leading the team to the playoffs. Alvin Gentry and his uptempo style take over as New Orleans will try to run its way back into contention.
11. Atlanta Hawks
Additions: Tim Hardaway Jr., Tiago Splitter
Subtractions: DeMarre Carroll
The Hawks made some significant changes after having one of the best seasons in franchise history. Gone is defensive stopper and playoff star Carroll. While losing such a key piece will hurt on both ends of the floor, they did pick up two proven NBA players in Hardaway and Splitter. The addition of Splitter should allow Atlanta to more lineup options to combat bigger teams.
10. Toronto Raptors
Additions: DeMarre Carroll, Cory Joseph, Bismack Biyombo, Delon Wright, Luis Scola, Anthony Bennett
Subtractions: Lou Williams, Greivis Vasquez, Amir Johnson, Tyler Hansbrough
One disastrous playoff series erased much of the excitement from a great regular season and led the Raptors to make big changes. Gone are four players who played important roles, including sixth man of the year Williams. They were replaced by homegrown players Joseph and Bennett as well as defensive stalwarts Biyombo and Carroll.
9. Memphis Grizzlies
Additions: Brandon Wright, Matt Barnes, Jarell Martin
Subtractions: Kosta Koufos
Memphis didn’t make many changes (and they didn’t need to), after pushing the world champion Golden State Warriors to six games in the second round. The additions of Wright and Martin will add depth to an already tough front court and help soften the blow of losing Koufos to the Kings. They also got some wing help with the arrival of Matt Barnes as they try to stay in the upper echelon of the league.
8. Chicago Bulls
Additions: Bobby Portis, Cristiano Felicio
Subtractions: Nazr Mohammed
While the roster didnt change, the Bulls will look much different now that Fred Hoiberg is at the helm in place of Tom Thibodeau. That should open up more minutes for gifted offensive players like Nikola Mirotic and Doug McDermott. It will also put even more pressure on Joakim Noah to anchor the back line of the defense.
7. Miami Heat
Additions: Justise Winslow, Amar’e Stoudemire, Gerald Green
Subtractions: Shabazz Napier, Michael Beasley, Zoran Dragic
The Heat are built to win now. They re-signed Goran Dragic and brought in veteran contributors Green and Stoudemire, and got a gift in the draft as Winslow slipped all the way to No. 10. While all those acquisitions are nice, the key for the Heat to have success will be based on whether stars Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade can stay healthy enough to compete with the best in the East.
6. Houston Rockets
Additions: Ty Lawson, Marcus Thornton, Sam Dekker. Montrezl Harrell
Subtractions: Josh Smith, Pablo Prigioni, Nick Johnson, Joey Dorsey, Kostas Papanikolaou
After a great run to the Western Conference finals with a depleted roster a season ago, the Rockets should be even better this time around. They added Lawson in a trade as well as Dekker and Harrell through the draft. Lawson should help lighten the load on James Harden and give Houston another much-needed ball-handler while Dekker can provide a solid outside spark.
5. Los Angeles Clippers
Additions: Paul Pierce, Lance Stephenson, Josh Smith
Subtractions: Matt Barnes, Spencer Hawes
The Clippers made the most noise in the offseason, thanks to the debacle with DeAndre Jordan. While it was a total mess, his return was a must. Adding veterans Pierce, Stephenson and Smith gives them the necessary firepower to give Blake Griffin and Chris Paul plenty of rest as they challenge for the top of the West.
4. Oklahoma City Thunder
Additions: Cameron Payne, Josh Huestis
Subtractions: Jeremy Lamb, Perry Jones
The roster doesn’t look much different, but the Thunder will be a whole new team with the return of Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka from injuries. Russell Westbrook did his best to carry the load in their absence, but he didnt have enough help to earn a playoff berth. With Durant and Ibaka in the lineup, they will go from playoff contenders to finals contenders.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers
Additions: Mo Williams, Richard Jefferson, Sasha Kaun
Subtractions: Mike Miller, Shawn Marion, Kendrick Perkins
The offseason was a bit of a mess, but it worked out in the end as the Cavaliers were able to retain the services of talented forwards Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson. Add in the return of Anderson Varejao and the signing of Kaun, and Cleveland should have one of the most gifted front courts in the league. If Love, Kyrie Irving and LeBron James can make it back to 100 percent, the Cavaliers will be the best team in the East.
2. San Antonio Spurs
Additions: LaMarcus Aldridge, David West, Ray McCallum
Subtractions: Tiago Splitter, Cory Joseph, Marco Belinelli
The Spurs hit the jackpot in free agency with the additions of two of the best power forwards in the league over the last few years. However, It did cost them a handful of key pieces that helped then win a title just two years ago. If Aldridge and West fit in, San Antonio will have a very successful season.
1. Golden State Warriors
Additions: Jason Thompson, Kevon Looney
Subtractions: David Lee
The champions still have plenty to prove and a loaded roster to do it. Lee moved on to the Boston Celtics, but the Warriors replaced him with a better defensive player in Thompson. They were also able to keep breakout star Draymond Green in the fold as they make a push to reach the top of the league again.