The 2017-2018 NBA season is officially upon us. As the first games of year start tonight, we’ve released our power rankings. Take a look to see where we agree, and where we disagree. Feel free to leave your own opinions on our rankings throughout the year. Also, be sure to check out our awards predictions for this season and our 10 bold predictions for the Thunder this season.
- Golden State Warriors: How can you not put the Warriors at number 1? Defending champs and the most talented team in the league. It might take an injury for any other team to have a chance this year.
- San Antonio Spurs: The Spurs might surprise a lot of people this year. Kawhi Leonard has what it takes to lead a team to a championship. If he has the right pieces behind him, they could be a dangerous team.
- Cleveland Cavaliers: The Cavaliers made some improvements to their roster during the off season. Derrick Rose and Isaiah Thomas will certainly help LeBron James. The Cavs would be my sure pick to win the East this year.
- Houston Rockets: I’m not completely sold out on Houston yet, but they certainly have the fire power on the offensive end of the ball. It will be interesting to keep an eye on the team chemistry.
- Oklahoma City Thunder: The Thunder certainly had the best off season of any team. They are completely sold out on winning a championship this year. It may take some time to workout chemistry between the new “Big 3”.
- Boston Celtics: Adding Gordon Hayward to the Celtics roster gives them a definite scoring threat. Hayward is one of the best scorers in the league. Playing along side Kyrie Irving could be what Hayward was missing in Utah.
- Washington Wizards: The young guys for the Wizards aren’t so young anymore. John Wall and Bradley Beal now have experience and know what it takes to win. Scott Brooks has done an excellent job there, and I expect that to continue this year.
- Toronto Raptors: The Raptors have some of the best guard play in the NBA. Toronto needs these guys to show up every night. If DeRozan and Lowry can be consistent they should have a decent year.
- Milwaukee Bucks: The young lineup for the Bucks really excites me. They could be one of the more interesting teams to watch this year. Giannis Antetokounmpo has MVP potential and Jabari Parker has what it takes to be a star.
- Minnesota Timberwolves: Rounding out the top 10 is the Timberwolves. Minnesota is another young team with lots of talent. Acquiring Jimmy Butler over the summer was huge for this team and could help them make a push for winning the Northwest division.
- Golden State Warriors: The reigning champs are returning their core group from last season, plus they’ve added a quality role player in Nick Young. By all means, no team seems to be able to compete with the Warriors.
- San Antonio Spurs: I expect Kawhi Leonard to have another MVP-type season (who knows, he may even win it), and the Spurs added Rudy Gay to come off the bench. Every year I doubt the Spurs, and every year they prove me wrong, but not this year. I expect them to have a solid regular season.
- Oklahoma City Thunder: The league’s most active team in the offseason comes into the regular season mostly healthy. If the big 3 makeup of Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony can figure out chemistry early, this team will be dangerous on both ends of the floor.
- Boston Celtics: Isaiah Thomas is gone, and Kyrie Irving is in. I think the Celtics have the edge over the Cavs early with Thomas out due to injury, but chemistry will be key for this squad to excel. Adding Gordon Hayward and Irving were huge moves, so this team should win plenty of games.
- Cleveland Cavaliers: Don’t sleep on Lebron James. He continues to age, but his game continues to be at the top of the league. Isaiah Thomas being out until (probably) January is going to hurt this team, but adding a veteran like Dwyane Wade isn’t a bad thing.
- Houston Rockets: Chris Paul and James Harden sounds like a good idea, but I’m not convinced this squad will be able to do too much offensively besides shoot a bunch of threes. Defensively, they should be decent with Paul leading the way, but he isn’t getting any younger. The bench is solid, so their success will dictate the team’s success.
- Minnesota Timberwolves: Adding Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague, Taj Gibson, and Jamal Crawford to a team with Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins could mean good things. With so many new players coming together, you have to worry about chemistry and balancing of skill-sets, but if Tom Thibodeau can get things to mesh well, this team should win a lot of games in a talented West.
- Milwaukee Bucks: I might be a little high on the Bucks, but I’m a big fan of Giannis Antetokounmpo. “The Greek Freak” continues to blow my mind with what he’s able to do, and after the Cavs and Celtics in the East, I think the three-seed is up for grabs.
- Washington Wizards: Scott Brooks proved last season he was more than just an average coach, but he’s going to need to do even more this season to keep the positivity rolling. John Wall seems like he’s got a chip on his shoulder with all of the roster shakeups in the offseason, and with Bradley Beal and Otto Porter next to him in the lineup, the Wizards have one of the most talented backcourts in the NBA.
- Toronto Raptors: Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are a solid 1-2 punch, and with Serge Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas down low, this squad could make some noise in the East. I’m not convinced that they can overcome that obstacle of beating the Cavs or the Celtics, but who knows.
3 To Watch
- Charlotte Hornets: Charlotte kind of came out of nowhere last season. I expect their success from a year ago to carry over this year. Kemba Walker leaves it all out on the court. If he gets help from his teammates they might make it in the top 10 by the end of the year.
- Los Angeles Clippers: After sending Chris Paul to Houston, the Clippers will rely on Patrick Beverly and Austin Rivers to handle the ball this season. If they can stay healthy, lob city will still be in full force.
- New Orleans Pelicans: The Pelicans have two of the best big men in the entire NBA. Unfortunately, they still couldn’t figure out how to win games in the second half of the season a year ago. It will be interested to keep an eye on New Orleans to see if they can put some wins together
- Denver Nuggets: Adding Paul Millsap was brilliant, and Nikola Jokic might be one of the league’s next big stars, but this team has to prove what they’re made of if they want to break into the top 10.
- Utah Jazz: Losing Gordon Hayward was brutal, but the Jazz are still a young and talented team. Rudy Gobert is a legit candidate for Defensive Player of the Year, and adding Ricky Rubio certainly can’t hurt.
- Los Angeles Clippers: Long gone are the days of Chris Paul at the helm, but this team still has a lot of talent. If Blake Griffin can stay healthy, he and DeAndre Jordan can continue to wreak havoc in the paint, and who knows, maybe the Clippers won’t be so bad after all.
- Chicago Bulls: A few teams had a great summer when it comes to acquiring new players. The Bulls were not one of those teams. It will be up to Zach LaVine to lead the way for Chicago.
- Los Angeles Lakers: A lot of people are high on the Lakers after they drafted Lonzo Ball, I am not one of those people. It’s gonna take some time for Ball to figure out what it takes to win in the NBA. I don’t see the Lakers making the playoffs this season.
- New York Knicks: The Knicks didn’t have the best off season either. Porzingis is just about all they have, and it won’t be enough to compete this year. It looks like the Knicks may be looking to rebuild through the draft.
- Indiana Pacers: The Pacers are in for a bit of a reality check after being one of the best teams in the NBA in recent years. Unless Victor Oladipo can carry a team, I don’t expect the Pacers to see the post season.
- Brooklyn Nets: There’s not a whole lot going on for Brooklyn outside of DeAngelo Russell and Jeremy Lin. It looks like Brooklyn could be in for a rough year.
- Chicago Bulls: The Bulls are going for the “burn it all down” approach in Chicago as I’m not really sure what they think they are going to accomplish this season. I guess winning any games at all will be nice for them.
- Indiana Pacers: The Pacers were in a tough spot when they traded Paul George, but Sam Presti made light work of that trade as the Thunder really did not give up much to get George in Oklahoma City. Victor Oladipo will likely have his opportunity to be “the guy” because there’s not a lot of talent in Indiana right now.
- Orlando Magic: The Magic have a chance to improve this season, but they were so bad at the end of last season that I’m just not sure how far they are going to go. I want to see them win some games before they break out of the bottom five.
- Phoenix Suns: The Suns are young, and Devin Booker is on the brink of breaking out as a star, but the West is brutal, and this team is not expected to do well. Maybe low expectations will be a good thing for them.
- New York Knicks: Carmelo Anthony getting out of New York was a good thing for both parties, but Melo definitely got the better end of the deal by landing in Oklahoma City. The Knicks are in a tough spot, but they have some decent pieces, so maybe they will be able to put together some wins and break out of the basement of the NBA.
Article written by Craig Hofeld and Zack Low. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram.