After an over-active offseason, the NBA landscape has undergone a severe makeover. Stars like point guard Chris Paul, small forward Carmelo Anthony and point guard Kyrie Irving changed teams, and just when it seemed as though the East couldn’t get any weaker, countless stars, including Anthony, small forward Paul George and shooting guard Jimmy Butler, moved out West. With the preseason underway, it’s time for some NBA power rankings. Here’s a look at how the top six contenders stack up this year.
No. 1 Golden State Warriors
In terms of talent, the Warriors were already ahead of every team in the league heading into the offseason. Just when we thought they couldn’t get any better, they added shooting guard Nick Young to their roster and drafted power forward Jordan Bell, who could be a potential draft steal. This team is just as intimidating as last season’s, and it will take little short of a miracle to take them down.
No. 2 Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder boosted their championship chances with the additions of Anthony and George. General Manager Sam Presti may as well be executive of the year. However, questions loom over the team’s depth on the bench and the ability of reigning MVP point guard Russell Westbrook, Melo and George to work as a unit.
No. 3 Houston Rockets
Paul and small forward P.J. Tucker are upgrades in their respective positions, helping the Rockets leapfrog past the Cavaliers and Spurs in the power rankings. The moves should keep them biting at the heels of the Warriors in the Western Conference.
No. 4 Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavaliers had a bumpy offseason with the news that point guard Kyrie Irving wanted out of Cleveland, but they seem to have improved their roster despite this loss. Koby Altman, the new general manager, has done well to right the ship with solid additions in small forward Jeff Green and legendary shooting guard Dwyane Wade. Also, the successful trade of Irving to the Celtics in exchange for all-star point guard Isaiah Thomas, small forward Jae Crowder and an all-important 2018 first round pick help secure a sound future for Cleveland regardless of where LeBron James signs in 2018.
No. 5 San Antonio Spurs
While the Spurs won more than 60 games last season, other teams’ additions of valuable talent may cause them to slip slightly. Small forward Rudy Gay will prevent them from slipping too much and, as we have seen for several years now, direction from Head Coach Gregg Popovich will help them to plug in various role players. And we can’t forget that small forward Kawhi Leonard, who is on the cusp of his prime, may get even better.
No. 6 Boston Celtics
The acquisition of Irving is a solid, young replacement for Isaiah Thomas. This team is built to contend now as well as in the future with solid, young talent in forwards Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. However, even with the inclusion of small forward Gordon Hayward, they are still not on par with the Cavaliers. Regardless, count on Head Coach Brad Stevens keeping them in the hunt for the conference finals.