NBA Preseason Power Rankings for the 2019-2020 Season

The+Clippers+instantly+became+favorites+to+win+an+NBA+championship+after+signing+Kahwi+Leonard+%28left%29+and+trading+for+Paul+George.

Photo courtesy of NBA.com

The Clippers instantly became favorites to win an NBA championship after signing Kahwi Leonard (left) and trading for Paul George.

Anthony Goldsmith, Staff Writer

Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers had a tremendous offseason in which they acquired two star players in F Kawhi Leonard, and F Paul George.  They also were able to hold on to PG Patrick Beverley and keep most of their roster intact. The Clippers also have a great young asset in Landry Shamet, who they acquired in a trade for Tobias Harris with the Sixers last season.  The Clippers were the 8th seed last season in the Western Conference and lost to the Warriors in the first round. The addition of Leonard and George pushes the Clippers to the top of the West and in these Power rankings.

Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks made many decisions this offseason that put them at the top of the Eastern Conference again. The Bucks were able to re-sign Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe to contract extensions. They were also able to trade away their 30th overall draft pick and Tony Snell in order to sign Brook Lopez. They also re-signed George Hill and Robin Lopez to be their backup center for the upcoming season. The Bucks have been dominant the last couple of seasons, and this season should be no exception. 

Los Angeles Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers were a very disappointing team last season and did not make the playoffs, even with Lebron James. The Lakers fixed the problems this season by acquiring Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins to give Lebron some help. The Lakers also signed Rajon Rondo, Jared Dudley, JaVale McGee, Troy Daniels, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. The Lakers will find themselves near the top of the Westren Conference.

Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets made a handful of moves this offseason while retaining their strong core. The Nuggets kept Paul Millsap and Jamal Murray, and traded a first-round pick for Jerami Grant while drafting BolBol with a late second-round pick. The Nuggets lost Trey Lyles, Isaiah Thomas, and Tyler Lydon to free agency. The Nuggets had an amazing playoff run and almost made the Western Conference finals.

Philadelphia 76ers

The Sixers made many great moves during the offseason that make them a title-contending team. The Sixers acquired Josh Richardson by a sign-and-trade for Jimmy Butler, and signed PF Al Horford for a four-year contract. The Sixers also re-signed Tobias Harris and extended Ben Simmons’ contract for 5 years. The Sixers also drafted Matisse Thybulle with their 20th pick and Marial Shayok with their 54th. The Sixers lost in the Eastern Conference Semifinals to the Raptors by a Kawhi Leonard quadruple doink in Game 7. The absence of Leonard and a weaker Eastern Conference opens the door for the Sixers to make a big run this season.

Houston Rockets

The Rockets made a shocking move this offseason that could benefit or hurt their team. The Rockets traded for All-star Guard Russel Westbrook for Chris Paul to play alongside James Harden. This move allows the Rockets to be able to dominant anywhere on the court on offense; however they are both very ball dominant players, and team chemistry may be an issue with both stars. The Rockets also grabbed two young players in Ben McLemore and Anthony Bennett, and re-signed Danuel House Jr, Gerald Green, and Austin Rivers. 

Utah Jazz

The Jazz made many great moves during the offseason that keep them in the playoff race.  The Utah Jazz started their great offseason by trading for Mike Conley Jr from the Memphis Grizzles. The Jazz also drafted Jarrell Brantley, Justin Wright-Foreman, and Miye Oni by trading a second round pick for three second-round draft picks. The Jazz kept the pedal to the medal at the free agency opening and signed Jeff Green, Emmanuel Mudiay, Ed Davis, and Bojan Bogdanovic. 

Boston Celtics

The Celtics had a rocky offseason, but were able to make decisions that keep them in the top 3 of the Eastern Conference standings this year. The Celtics lost both Irving and Horford to rivals the Nets and Sixers. However, Boston was able to to sign Kemba Walker to a four-year deal, and picked up Enes Kantor on a one-year deal. The Celtics were also able to hang onto Daniel Theis, and draft Carson Edwards with the 24th pick which brings great young depth for future seasons. Boston should be able to stay a contender due to a weakened Eastern Conference, and additions in Walker and Kantor.

Portland Trailblazers

The Trailblazers will make the playoffs this season. The Blazers first re-signed Rodney Hood, and then made smart a trade for Hassan Whiteside from the Heat. The Trailblazers also acquired Anthony Tolliver and Mario Hezonja, which will help the second unit. The Trailblazers had an amazing run in the playoffs last season, making it to the Western Conference Finals before losing to the Warriors. Portland may not have a great run like last season, but they will make an appearance as the 6th seed. 

Dallas Mavericks

The Maverick’s last season went better than their record shows. Dallas saw Rookie Luka Doncic make an impressive season that landed him Rookie of the Year last season. The Mavericks also traded for Kristaps Porzingis during last year’s regular season, but his ACL tear does make him a player to watch. During the offseason, the Mavs brought in Delon Wright, Seth Curry, Bobon Marjonovic, and Isaiah Robey. 

Miami Heat

The Heat grabbed some star players during their offseason, and they will most likely reach the playoffs. The Heat had lost the retired Dwyane Wade, as well as Richardson and Whiteside. However, the Heat acquired All-Star Jimmy Butler and Myles Leonard in the same trade that got them Butler. The Heat also drafted Tyler Herro. Herro is a very promising player that will definitely be an amazing asset for this team. The Heat made great decisions, but will Butler get the heat to the Finals?

Indiana Pacers

The Pacers made many moves that kept them on top of the East for this season. They made many trades and signings that brought in Malcolm Brogdon, TJ Warren, TJ McConnell, and Jeremy Lamb. The Pacers also held on to their main guys in Victor Oladipo, Miles Turner, and Domantas Sabonis. However, the Pacers will not bring back Darren Collison, Bojan Bogdanovic, Thaddeus Young, and Cory Joseph. The team has lots of potential this season, but the Bucks, Sixers, and Nets are going to make the Eastern Conference Finals a slim reality this season.

Toronto Raptors

The Toronto Raptors went from winning the NBA title to being in the middle of the pack of NBA teams. The main reason is Leonard leaving to the Clippers. Some other players that departed with Leonard are Danny Green, Jordan Loyd, and Jeremy Lin. The Raptors did hold on to Kyle Lowry and Patrick McCaw this offseason, and added Cameron Payne to the team. 

Brooklyn Nets

The Brooklyn Nets made a major splash this offseason after making the worst trade in NBA history five years ago. The Nets brought in three All-Stars this offseason, adding Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and DeAndre Jordan. The Nets did lose DeAngelo Russell to the Warriors, but they’ll take that trade. The Nets will finally get another chance to compete this year. Kevin Durant’s injury will set them back in the regular season but they will definitely have a serious postseason run.

San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs made very few moves this offseason and did not change the team that much, re-signing Rudy Gay and signing DeMarre Carroll. The Spurs also attempted to sign Marcus Morris, but he backed out to join the Knicks instead for a two year agreement worth 20 million. The Spurs have not missed the playoffs in over 20 years, but that streak will be in jeopardy.

Sacramento Kings

The Kings have a chance  to make the playoffs this season. The Kings made a change in coaching with Luke Walton, drafted Justin James, and acquired the draft rights to Kyle Guy. The Kings also brought in Harrison Barnes, Trevor Ariza, and Cory Joseph. The Kings did let go of Willie Cauley-Stein, Kosta Koufos, and Frank Mason. 

Golden State Warriors

The Warriors were the kings of the West and the NBA ever since Kevin Durant joined them. However, the Warriors dynasty has ended by losing Kevin Durant, DeMarcus Cousins, and Andre Iguodala last season. The Warriors were able to make moves again this free agency in signing D’Angelo Russell. The Warriors were also forced to let go Shawn Livingston, Jordan Bell, Quinn Cook, Jonas Jerebko, Damion Jones, and Damion Lee to sign Klay Thompson to a Max. With former MVP Steph Curry likely out for the season with a broken hand, they may be hard-pressed to make the playoffs. 

Orlando Magic

The Magic held on to their original core of Johnathan Issac, Mohamed Bamba, and Eric Gordon. They also resigned Terrence Ross to a four year deal, and former Sixer Michael Carter-Williams returned on a one year deal. Another former Sixer, Markelle Fultz, will also get a chance to see serious playing time. 

New Orleans Pelicans

The Pelicans were thought to be in a major crisis situation when Davis announced he wanted to leave. However, the Pelicans won the lottery and Zion Williamson to make up for it. The Pelicans also traded Davis for Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Graham, and three firsts. The Pelicans also picked up former Sixer JJ Redick in free agency. The Pelicans will have a slim chance of making the playoffs this season, but the team looks like a real contender in future years to come. 

Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks made many great decisions this offseason that could put the Hawks in the playoffs. The Hawks first began in the draft by acquiring the draft rights to DeAndre Hunter, and drafting Cam Reddish in the first round. These two players could be very great players in the near future, and along with Trae Young and John Collins, this team may not be as deadly now but will be in one or two years. 

Minnesota Timberwolves

Minnesota had an offseason of moves that helped build around their star player Karl Anthony-Towns, but despite their efforts they will probably fall short of the playoffs. The T’Wolves started by trading Saric and the 11th pick to the Suns for the sixth pick, that ended up being Jarrett Culver. The Wolves also rounded up many players like Jake Laymen, Noah Vonleh, and Jordan Bell that will help benefit the team. 

Detroit Pistons

The Pistons made no massive moves this offseason, and stayed under the radar. The Pistons made a few signings in free agency by acquiring Derrick Rose, Markieff Morris, and Tim Frazier. The Pistons have been in and out of the Playoffs with Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond.

Washington Wizards

The Wizards missed the playoffs last season, and will probably miss it this season as well. Washington did however bring in Isaiah Thomas, a former All-Star who has had terrible seasons after being traded to the Cavs for Kyrie Irving. Thomas, 30, does bring lots of NBA experience to a team that could become younger in the next few years. Bradley Beal re-signed with the Wizards for a two year deal worth 72 million. 

Memphis Grizzles

The Grizzles went through many front office changes and lineup changes this offseason and have reshaped the team. Memphis sent out star players Mike Conley, Justin Holiday, Avery Bradley, and Chandler Parsons to be able to bring in Jae Crowder, Annre Iguodala, Tyus Jones, Josh Jackson, Solomon Hill,  Miles Plumlee, and Dwight Howard. 

Oklahoma City Thunder

The Thunder have already announced that they are beginning to rebuild after several attempts at trying to win the title the last couple of seasons. The Thunder sent Paul George to the Clippers in order to obtain Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, and five first-round picks. Later, they sent MVP Russel Westbrook to the rockets for Chris Paul, two firsts, and two pick swaps. 

Chicago Bulls

Chicago continued to build their young team this offseason. They first brought in Coby White from UNC. White was an absolute brute force in college, and he will be great in the NBA as well. The Bulls also brought in Luke Kornet, who will be a young solid big man for years to come. Chicago did acquire Thaddeus Young, who can help mentor this young and prospering team as time goes on. 

New York Knicks

New York had one of the worst offseasons. After much hype that the Knicks were going after top free agents, the Knicks decided they were not ready to make a run for the playoffs. The Knicks decided to sign Julius Randle, Bobby Portis, Taj Gibson, Wayne Ellington, Elfid Payton, and Reggie Bullock. The Knicks drafted RJ Barrett with the 3rd overall pick after not winning the Zion lottery, which leaves them with no stars after DeAndre Jordan went to go sign with Brooklyn to join Durant and Irving.

Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavaliers are still trying to transition into a rebuilding team, after Lebron James left to go play for the Lakers last season. The Cavs still struggle with some old veteran contracts that will not expire until after this year. The Cavs did however draft Darius Garland and Dylan Windler in the draft. They also let go of JR Smith, and Channing Frye retired last season.

Phoenix Suns

While it is hot in Phoenix, the Suns will be anything but that this season.  The Suns opened the offseason by sending the draft rights to Jarrett Culver to Minnesota for Dario Saric and the draft rights to Cameron Johnson. They later drafted Ty Jerome that night, a solid shooter that will fit with the organization. When free agency opened, the Suns signed Ricky Rubio and resigned Kelly Obure. The Suns, led by Devin Booker, will still struggle in a dominant Western Conference and will have to play the waiting game until an opportunity emerges that can put the Suns ahead of the other teams.

Charlotte Hornets

The Hornets are obviously transitioning into a rebuilding team this year, after letting go of many great players. The Hornets have sent Kemba Walker to go play for the Celitics and obtained Terry Roizer.  Rozier, 25, will be the Hornets’ starting PG this season. The Hornets have also let go of Jeremy Lamb and Tony Parker to make their team younger and free up cap space. The Hornets drafted PJ Washington in the draft, who could be a decent sixth man in the upcoming seasons