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The Oklahoman's preseason NBA power rankings

by Anthony Slater Published: October 1, 2013
The Heat remain on top but there's plenty of challengers coming for their trophy. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
The Heat remain on top but there's plenty of challengers coming for their trophy. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Media Day is behind us and training camp is in full swing.

So, as we enter the early stages of the NBA preseason, here are our way-too-early power rankings, based mostly off the offseason moves made by teams:

#1
Miami Heat
(Darnell Mayberry): If Greg Oden and Michael Beasley pan out, look out.
Miami Heat (Anthony Slater): No reason to bet against LeBron James at this point.

#2
Oklahoma City Thunder
(DM): It’s crazy how many doubters are out there. This is still an elite team.
San Antonio Spurs (AS): Four months ago, this team was one rebound from a title. Write them off at your own risk

#3
San Antonio Spurs: 
As long as Popovich, Parker, Duncan and Ginobili are in the mix they have a shot at the title.
Oklahoma City Thunder: 
Of the Thunder’s six postseason losses, all were by single-digits and none came with Russell Westbrook.

#4
Chicago Bulls
(DM): Think of Derrick Rose’s return as the Bulls landing the best free agent available this summer.
Los Angeles Clippers 
(AS): Hard to overstate the difference between Vinny Del Negro and Doc Rivers.

#5
Indiana Pacers (DM): I love the additions of Luis Scola and C.J. Watson, and the return of Danny Granger can’t hurt, either.
Indiana Pacers
(AS): Nightmare matchup for Miami. But can Roy Hibbert play as effectively against everyone else?

#6
Brooklyn Nets (DM): Lots of questions in Brooklyn but lots of talent, too.
Houston Rockets (AS): If the star-stockpiling Big 3 era has taught us anything: It takes time to gel, no matter the talent.

#7
Los Angeles Clippers
(DM): They’re still one player away from title contention, but they’ll make noise in the regular season.
Memphis Grizzlies
 (AS): Lionel Hollins is gone, but the defensive-minded roster remains intact.

#8
Houston Rockets
(DM): Can James Harden and Dwight Howard coexist?
Brooklyn Nets
(AS): See: Houston Rockets explanation.

#9
Golden State Warriors (DM): The questions here will be how will the departed players alter team chemistry, and how will the new pieces fit?
Golden State Warriors (AS): Not a much more entertaining team, especially when Steph Curry is unconscious from 30 feet out.

#10
New York Knicks (DM): You can pencil them in for another 50-win season.
Chicago Bulls
(AS): Remember when Derrick Rose’s brother went off about the lack of surrounding talent in Chicago? It’s essentially the same.

#11
Memphis Grizzlies (DM): Letting go of Lionel Hollins made zero sense, and it could be costly this year.
New York Knicks (AS): Fifty wins, three or four seed, disappointing early exit. Rinse, repeat.

#12
Minnesota Timberwolves (DM): The only question at this point is can they stay healthy.
Minnesota Timberwolves (AS): They haven’t made the playoffs since 2004. This team has a legit change to change that.

#13
Portland Trail Blazers (DM): They had perhaps the most underrated offseason. But what’s the deal with LaMarcus Aldridge? Is he happy?
Denver Nuggets (AS): Little Nate Robinson and you-never-know-what-he’ll-do-next JaVale McGee. Should be entertaining, if nothing else.

#14
Cleveland Cavaliers
(DM): Kyrie Irving is by far the best player 21 or younger. He will get the Cavs into the playoffs.
Atlanta Hawks
 (AS): Josh Smith’s steady production was extremely underrated the past few years. He’ll be missed.

#15
Dallas Mavericks (DM): The Mavs quietly had a nice little summer, adding scoring, size and depth.
Dallas Mavericks (AS): This franchise has been .500 or better for 13 straight seasons. Dirk and Rick Carlisle should find a way to make it 14.

#16
Denver Nuggets (DM): They could be horrid defensively. But their offense will be incredible.
Cleveland Cavaliers (AS): Really like Kyrie Irving. Really like the supporting cast they’re building around him.

#17
Washington Wizards (DM): John Wall got the max deal he coveted. Now it’s time to prove he’s worth it.
Portland Trail Blazers (AS): Thirteen losses in a row to end last season. They’re not as bad as that sounds.

#18
New Orleans Pelicans (DM): The new nickname does nothing for me. But the talent they’re assembling sure does.
Los Angeles Lakers (AS): A 35-year-old, coming off an Achilles tear, with 17 years of mileage on his tires. Sounds daunting, but we’re talking about Kobe Bryant.

#19
Los Angeles Lakers (DM): Get well soon, Kobe
Washington Wizards (AS): John Wall showed plenty of promise at the end of last season.

#20
Detroit Pistons (DM): If you’re hitching your wagon to Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings you’re in trouble.
Detroit Pistons (AS): Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings bring plenty of talent to Detroit. But will that translate to more wins?

#21
Toronto Raptors
(DM): Looking for a reason for optimism? They went 17-16 from Feb. 1 on last year.
Sacramento Kings (AS): DeMarcus Cousins just got a four-year max deal, meaning his development, both physically and mentally, could make or break the franchise.

#22
Milwaukee Bucks
(DM): Bucks just can’t get off the treadmill of mediocrity. This year will be no different.
Milwaukee Bucks
(AS): O.J. Mayo in Milwaukee. Sounds kinda interesting.

#23
Atlanta Hawks
(DM): Some people actually like the Hawks going into this season. Not me.
New Orleans Pelicans 
(AS): New name and a new backcourt. Will be interesting to see how Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday mesh.

#24
Sacramento Kings (DM): DeMarcus Cousins dictates which direction the Kings go. So far, that’s still a bad thing.
Toronto Raptors (AS): Man, the bottom of the league is truly terrible this year.

#25
Boston Celtics (DM): Sure, it’s the Boston Celtics. But surely Brad Stevens could have held out for something better.
Boston Celtics (AS): The biggest early-season storyline will likely surround Rajon Rondo’s trade value.

#26
Orlando Magic (DM): Outside of Maurice Harkless and Victor Oladipo’s Rookie of the Year tour, there won’t be much to get excited about here.
Phoenix Suns (AS): Eric Bledsoe’s going to finally get big minutes. Let’s see how good he is.

#27
Charlotte Bobcats (DM): In his nine seasons, Al Jefferson’s teams have gone 281-441. And now he’s a Bobcat.
Orlando Magic (AS): Tons of young talent, but still a couple years away.

#28
Utah Jazz (DM): Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter will be fun to watch.
Charlotte Bobcats (AS): Do they have a player who could beat their owner 1-on-1?

#29
Phoenix Suns (DM): This is just a bad, bad basketball team.
Utah Jazz (AS): When you willfully take on the expiring contracts of Richard Jefferson and Andris Biedrins, well, I’m not sure ‘this season’ is at the forefront of your plans.

#30
Philadelpia 76ers
(DM): Hope Andrew Wiggins likes cheesesteak.
Philadelphia 76ers (AS): A blueprint on how to properly tank before the season even starts.


by Anthony Slater
Thunder Beat Writer
Anthony Slater started on the Thunder beat in the summer of 2013, joining after two years as NewsOK.com's lead sports blogger and web editor. A native Californian, Slater attended Sonoma State for two years before transferring to Oklahoma State in...
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