2016/17 NBA Rankings

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Depending on which side of the fence you sit on, the 2016/17 NBA season will either be interesting or not interesting. If you’re on the side of the forlorn super team hater, you’ll more than likely view it as a cakewalk for 2 teams to the finals and not even with the 82 games each team will participate in. If it’s the other side you’re on, you’ll be looking forward to see how it all plays out.

With that in mind, here are some rankings leading into next season. MY rankings. One man’s opinion. Read into it what you will but here goes.

 

  1. Golden State Warriors:

It’s easy to remember them as losers. Squandering a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals will do that. I, as a GSW fan would like to remember them as the team that won 73 games in the regular season, with arguably the game’s best point guard and the 2 time league MVP, arguably the best shooting guard in the game and one of the better all-around players and stat sheet stuffers in the NBA as well.   Oh… And they had a pretty reasonable off season too. Although the loss of Andrew Bogut and a host of valuable contributors off the bench will sting a little bit, getting another MVP that can average 27 in his sleep in free agency will surely be enough of a lift to put them over the top. Hope they can handle the vitriol & villainy.

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers:

They’re the champs, and deservedly so. They handled the big moments better last June and earned that city their 1st title of any kind for 52 years. It’s essentially the same cast coming back, save for Dellavedova, who will be missed more than you think. I don’t think King James will allow them to get complacent. They’ll have hunger. Will they have the rabid hunger they had when they hadn’t won anything? The hunger they had to have to knock off Golden State? The hunger they need to have to possibly beat this version of Golden State?? We’ll have to wait and see…  Still… LeBron is still the yardstick, Kevin Love will have another year in the Land under his belt and Kyrie will only get better. Expect another Finals appearance. 

  1. San Antonio Spurs:

There is a Timmy Duncan sized hole in the Spurs… and no amount of Pau Gasols will fill it. This year’s Spurs will open our eyes more than ever. It will tell us how much of an effect a 40 year old PF/Centre has on an establishment such as this. It goes without saying that they are a class organisation, that Popovich is a master coach. They still have a great roster. Kahwi and LeMarcus are great starts to a competitive team. Parker and Ginobili are going around again. Which version of those guys are we getting? Anyhow, just their unselfish style and their culture alone should be enough to have them up there again… Without Timmy.   Shouldn’t it?

  1. Los Angeles Clippers

As dysfunctional as they seem, if these guys somehow get some health and momentum they can be anything. Sometimes an unstoppable force on offence, they have the inside and outside covered. They have a master orchestrator to start it all off. Where does it go wrong for them? Defence? They’re reasonable without being great. It gets them by. Their free throw shooting… Heck why should I say ‘their” free throw shooting, it’s blindingly obvious… YOUR BIG GUY CAN NOT SHOOT THEM… need that when it’s tight in the 4th quarter. Sorry LAC I’m out.

  1. Toronto Raptors

Can’t work this mob out… They don’t look or feel like a 2 seed in the east, but there they were… They’re pretty even across the board I suppose… Kyle Lowry is a bit of a myth to me. Every time I watch him he stinks it up and then when I’m not watching him I hear he’s scored 40 and won. Demar DeRozan will make a living shooting mid-range or dunking it. A pretty good living in fact. Jonas Valanciunas was missed in the playoffs and Demarre Carroll did… things… They’re good, but they bore me…next…

  1. Boston Celtics

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These guys are the most interesting squad of all I think. Without any superstars and with even contributions from 1 – 12, they just get wins and produce results. Brad Stephens is looking like an awesome coach and, with the addition of Al Horford, they can really challenge the best in the east. It was like there was park game, they just cobbled together any old Joe and said ‘Hey, come play’. With Evan Turner departing for Portland, at least there’s one less small forward… Maybe they should trade for Frank Kaminsky, because they don’t have enough tall white mid-range forwards……….

  1. Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies are always thereabouts. Their main problem last season was keeping guys on the floor. How in the hell they still ended up making the playoffs with Lance Stephenson leading the way is beyond me. They must have been really well coached by Dave Joerger.. Weren’t they? The Memphis front office mustn’t have thought so, because they fired him. Or maybe they heard he had one foot in Sacramento already and turfed him out. That’s the word on the street. Anyway with a healthy Z-Bo and Marc Gasol, plus Mike Conley collecting checks for the rest of his grandchildren’s lives, they should right back where they belong. Right back in the Conference Semi’s.

  1. Portland Trailblazers

Neil Olshley is a wizard. They lost all their starting 5 bar Damien Lillard, signed some guys nobody else wanted and ended up not only making the playoffs, but were lucky enough to be there when the Clippers had an injury crisis.. That Golden State series wasn’t as much of a walk in the park as the 4-1 score line suggested either… Lillard and C.J. McCollum gave Steve Kerr fits. Adding Evan Turner and Keeping Alan Crabbe should keep them up there because Dame will keep improving. On the court and on the mic.

  1. Indiana Pacers

The Pacers held it together pretty well last season. They nearly bounced Toronto out in the first round, with Paul George coming back from his snapped leg seemingly a better player. He was in the MVP conversation until that was a lock, which was in December. Now they add more talent to that decent core. Jeff Teague is an upgrade from George Hill, at least offensively. Al Jefferson will provide muscle in the post and Thaddeus Young will.  Well… do stuff that Thaddeus Young does… sometimes. So if it all clicks I can see them challenging. Will it click though is the question. Nate McMillan will have fun trying.

  1. Oklahoma City Thunder

To say that OKC’s off season was tumultuous would be putting it mildly. The franchise cornerstone deciding to take up a new challenge and bolt for the Bay rocked them to the core. They got nothing in return for Kevin Durant and would’ve had to offload Russell Westbrook too if they couldn’t get a commitment out of him. Thankfully Russ decided to re-up and extend for this and next season at least, making it his team. Maybe that’s what Russ really wants, his own team to run. Heck a regular Westbrook can damn near average a triple double on his own. Imagine what a pissed off Russell Westbrook could do?? Their bench might be a bit thin, but with the same big guys (the Stache Bros) plus Oladipo, they could still do some damage, but damage has been done to them by KD already. I can still barely believe it… as a Warriors fan, OKC with KD & Russ gave me nightmares they were so good… I wonder if Super Russ will too…

  1. Utah Jazz

I have the Jazz as my big movers for the 2016/17 season. They have signed some vets in Joe Johnson and Boris Diaw, turned Trey Burke into George Hill and will have Dante Exum returning from a knee injury. Missing the playoffs would be a disappointment for mine.

  1. Dallas Mavericks

It’s not that they’re mediocre, they’re quite okay. It just seems like they’ll be quite okay for a while now. Destined to hover around the 6-8 seeds in the playoffs for eternity, which is about how long I expect Dirk Nowitzki to keep playing. Their additions are nice in Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut. Quite okay…   Get used to it Mavs fans, it’s going to be like that for quite some time. They’ll be nice at some stages, then creep in about 48-51 wins and probably get bounced in the first round. It’s the NBA’s version of Groundhog Day except Deron Williams just gets weaker and weaker as each day goes by.       Nice.

  1. Charlotte Hornets

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MJ has put together quite a good squad in NC. They play hard for Steve Clifford so we’ll have to wait & see if Roy Hibbert destroys all that. I’m ready to see his 27 minute, 0 rebound games. They seem to have several small forwards or lanky, tall white guys to go with Kemba Walker. Plus Nic Batum doing 3’s and defence and stuff. Heck they might even make it out of the first round this year if they avoid LeBron, then Hibbert’s 0 rebound games will really bite em in the butt

  1. Atlanta Hawks

Have they upgraded? Have they improved?  I dunno… They’ve swapped Al Horford for Dwight Howard. Jettisoned Jeff Teague so they could start Dennis Schroder. Kept Kent Bazemore. Paul Millsap is still around. Horford opened things up on offense with his reasonable to good mid-range game. Dwight’s had a video of him on Facebook doing the rounds where he’s hit like 6 mid-range shots in a row and expects us to believe that he’s turned into Sam Perkins.  Sorry Dwight but you’re good at some stuff, like rim protecting and grabbing boards. Best you concentrate on those things and try not to clunk the odd hook shot. At least he won’t be staring at James Harden dribble the ball for 23 seconds I guess…

  1. Houston Rockets

Speaking of dribbling for 23 seconds, who knows how doing that will fit in new coach Mike D’Antoni’s 7 seconds or less offence. I’ve got news for you Mike, Steve Nash he ain’t.

Look, James is a stud I know that. He cops a lot of flak but the guy can play. He can score. D’Antoni likes scoring, doesn’t care for defence much. Seems like a match made in heaven, because Mr Harden excels at being a turnstile on D. He could do that and Mike wouldn’t really care. Trevor Ariza is on the decline, Montiejunas might stay on the floor. Clint Capella looks like a D’Antoni kinda guy. Dekker, Terry, Beasley and Eric Gordon could make offense easy. Pity that’s only one part of the game.

  1. Chicago Bulls

I could have had these guys much higher. Probably should have. I just don’t know how it’s going to work. They rid themselves of Derrick Rose’s melodramas, they might as well have nailed Joakim Noah to a wall last season because Fred Hoiberg had no interest in playing him. Now Hoiberg’s supposed revolutionary offensive strategy is in the hands of… Well I don’t know who it will be in the hands of, because they all want and need the ball. Uncle Dwayne Wade came home to die but is he going to happily relinquish the ball to Rajon Rondo? He says he’s more than willing to hand over to Jimmy Butler but that remains to be seen. And on offense what is Rondo going to do? Go and spot up? Will D-Wade go and spot up? They’re slashers, and the only thing that resembles shooting is Nicola Mirotic and Doug McDermott. Hardly has me shaking in my boots. So as far as the Bulls go, I just throw my hands in the air.

  1. Detroit Pistons

Stan Van Gundy has these guys on the right path. They’re on an upswing. Reggie Jackson will have another year playing alongside Andre Drummond. They added some more complimentary pieces in Jon Leuer and BOBAN… Caldwell-Pope and Stanley Johnson should naturally improve. But I just can’t see them making a big move up the standings unless ‘Dre makes himself into a special, other worldly, super-duper mega star. That isn’t out of the question mind you, because Stan Van loves to throw a big guy the ball and surround him with shooters. Hopefully he’s dominant enough to give them open enough looks. I’m Cautious about heaping huge expectations on them.

  1. Milwaukee Bucks

These guys could be fun to watch. They have a 6”11 point guard which is odd enough, so they go and draft another young athletic 7 footer to go with him. All this to go with a flat out scorer in Jabari Parker, walking trade bait in Greg Monroe, Khris Middleton (who will now miss 6 months) and new addition Matthew Dellavedova. Talk about interesting… I think Jason Kidd still wants Giannis to start at PG so I can see Delly doing essentially the same role as he was in Cleveland. Only collecting bigger checks. Defensively they’ll be solid. Seeing Thon Maker and Giannis on the court together won’t be regular, but I can’t wait to see it. Good luck shooting over them if they’re guarding the perimeter. They should push for a playoff spot this year, but I said that last year so who knows.

  1. New York Knicks

Derrick said it was a super team, and who could argue, he’s pretty spot on. Teaming Carmelo Anthony with Mr Rose and Joakim Noah is pretty super… The only problem is, it’s not 2011, it’s 2016. The 2016 version of the Knicks is an improvement on last season no doubt, and they’ll attract interest, the Big Apple always does. But interesting doesn’t necessarily mean good. Kristaps Porzingis should get better and Melo will be Melo, but D-Rose and Noah are a shell of their former selves. Not enough to put you over the top. Not enough to beat LeBron. Playoffs? Good possibility. 2nd Round? Maybe… 2011 NBA Finals? Certainty.

  1. Minnesota Timberwolves

I’m probably going to cop some flak for having these guys so low, but I have my reasons. Look… Minny are going to be regular visitors to the playoffs, conference finals and even finals real soon. They have too much talent not to. Their new Coach/GM will get them to places..

But not just yet. We see so many young teams that have expectations on them coming into seasons only to start horribly and end up missing the playoffs. I can see that happening here. There will be an adjustment period to get used to Tom Thibodeau. Maybe that won’t be too long, as talented as they are. Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins’ ceiling is unlimited, and once they get there they will be a major problem to the league. Ricky Rubio can get better too, Zach Lavine as crazy upside and Kriss Dunn will be coach Thib’s love child. I just think they’re a year away from a major jump in the standings. They didn’t exactly set the world on fire last season with essentially the same squad don’t forget.

  1. Sacramento Kings

Boogie Cousins is Boogie Cousins he will average 25 and 13 get tech fouls and crack the sads the complementary players won’t be enough to get them high up the standings they drafted WCS then drafted another centre because their meddling owner is stark raving bonkers and won’t (STAUSKAS) keep (STAUSKAS) his beak out of the draft room then suggest playing 4 on 5 with a cherry picker what the hell.. Phew that was a mouthful..

  1. Washington Wizards

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Another team I should probably have higher. They have studs. John Wall is an A grade point guard. Marcin Gortat is a tall, bald European who I’m sure does things but either I don’t notice or don’t care. Otto Porter should be on the verge of becoming a solid starting SF by now. Bradley Beal is, or has been broken, and will be collecting checks so it remains to be seen if he can reach his potential. I don’t know if he’s capable of it. They lost a washed up Nene and got a brick happy Trey Burke… I just don’t know what to make of them, or if I care enough to make anything of them at all…

  1. Orlando Magic

Don’t know what to make of this team either. What are they gonna do? Start Serge Ibaka, Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon and Bismack Biyombo to run with Elfrid Payton? Not sure who shoots on that squad. When Serge is your best shooter you’re gonna have a bad time. Ibaka I think will find it harder with the Magic. I myself could have as many open shots as I like when I’m running with KD and Westbrook. He’ll have to create his own offense a bit more, which I’m not sure he is capable of. He’ll have to prove me wrong. Mario Hezonja and Jeff Green will share minutes, so I’m not sure how that will work. Then they have to find minutes for D.J. Augustin, Evan Fournier, Jodie Meeks and C.J. Watson. I like to think of them as organised chaos. Whether that’s a good or bad thing I’m not sure.

  1. Miami Heat

Difficult to believe just a little over 2 years ago we were seeing them in the Finals. Then the guy they poached from Ohio decided to take his talents back home and there began the end. In my opinion, Pat Riley may just come out of this looking like a genius with the way they handled the Dwayne Wade situation. D-Wade was looking for the money he felt he deserved, he did deserve. And rather than give Dwayne his money and have his squad hovering around the 6-8 seed in the east. Pat let Dwayne walk in an effort to not have money tied up in a 34 year old with creaky knees. Don’t be surprised either if they 1. Trade Chris Bosh’s contract. Or 2. Make Bosh sit long enough to get his deal off the books. Chris’s health is still a major issue, and this ranking is predicated on him not being able to play, which right now the team isn’t allowing him to. If they can renounce him. Miami will have cap space, draft picks and will still have South Beach. So hats off to Pat for saying no to wallowing in mediocrity. I don’t expect them to be down for long. *UPDATE – Bosh won’t suit up and Riley is ensuring he won’t be able to play for anyone……

  1. New Orleans Pelicans

Don’t be fooled in to thinking Anthony Davis will come back fit and fix everything. The same holes are there that were there last season. AD should be able to get rookie Phenom Buddy Hield some open looks, but the supporting cast is essentially the same. Well, Jrue Holiday isn’t the same, he’s broken. Tyreke Evans isn’t really “broken” as they say, but just gets niggles. He’s like my Hyundai Excel, runs and runs but has a crack in the windscreen and the left tail light is held together by scotch tape. I give them hope by being in Alvin Gentry’s system for another year, but Norris Cole, Omer Asik and Dante Cunningham would hardly have me shaking in my boots. Hope AD is ready for a load.

  1. Denver Nuggets

They have a young point guard, a couple of handy European bigs and pretty much everyone else is expendable. Last season just about everyone on the Nuggets roster was discussed as part of some sort of deal (Blake Griffin must be relieved af). So they’re not sure what they are. Let alone me. Jamal Murray was drafted to back up Mudiay, wasn’t he? Maybe a bit of competition between the two of them will be healthy. Hopefully not Danilo Gallinari healthy. I expect them to deal Kenneth Faried before the deadline. He seems to have ran his race there. I can see a contender coming knocking and the Nuggets will listen. I have this experiment continuing much the same way as last season.

  1. Phoenix Suns

I don’t think the Suns like being mediocre either. They had a good thing going a couple of years ago with their 3 point guards. Trouble is you need 3 happy point guards if you’re going to make it work. Goran Dragic cracked it and demanded a trade. Before that they traded Isaiah Thomas for no reason. Eric Bledsoe may have done the same thing but had 70 million reasons to hang around. They jettisoned one of the Morris twins and the remaining brother went on a Batman vs Superman style rampage until he was moved. I guess when things were going okay management might’ve thought being just okay wasn’t going to cut it and let’s start again. Booker looks good. Len is ok. Dragan Bender has upside. Another look in the lottery is near certain.

  1. Los Angeles Lakers

Right Lakers, NOW it’s time to get to work. You had last season off, went on a farewell circus tour, said Goodbye to Kobe and his $27million, did exactly what you needed to do to try and win the Ben Simmons sweepstakes and in the process destroyed any prospect of free agents being attracted to you. And by big I don’t mean large. You gave Timofey Mozgov $60million? Really? I suppose just “being the Lakers” isn’t going to cut it any more in order to get a big name. After botching meetings with LeMarcus Aldridge last off-season, Kevin Durant didn’t even want a meeting with you. On the bright side, your young nucleus should stay together and grow. Brandon Ingram will learn together with D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson while Julius Randle might max out his limited game. Nick Young might even stay put..  and…  I don’t know, get buckets and b*tches??

  1. Philadelphia 76ers

I guess being flat out horrible for years and years will pay off eventually. The Sixers shamelessly didn’t hide “the process” they were sticking to. At least last season they got the ping pong balls they wanted. Being able to add Ben Simmons to start and learn and grow right from the get go will pay off for them. I have no doubt Simmons will be a star, his intangibles are too good. If he can develop a jump shot, which can be done, Philly has it’s superstar that the process called for. Now what to do with their 3 centres… I say trade Noel and Okafor, let new recruit Joel Embiid start alongside Simmons and newly Added Dario Saric and soon that’ll be a big 3. Sooner than you think. This year will still be a feeling out process, so expect losses, but expect wins eventually. Lots of them. I might also add Jarryd Bayless is a good pick up. He’s a point guard, but doesn’t need the ball every second of every play, so Ben Simmons will get to run plenty of possessions. Sam Hinkie might just end up a god eventually, how about that.

  1. Brooklyn Nets

I love it. They know they’re going to suck, so Sean Marks went and got a bunch of guys that can pay their minimum cap spend while sucking together. Lin, Bennett, Scola, Vasquez, Foye, Booker.. These are guys that could’ve stayed on the rosters they were on but their teams wouldn’t care. Now they’re going to suck side by side on a cobbled together near D-League team. Oh and Boston STILL has another one of their picks so there isn’t even a ‘process’ to trust. These poor souls. Jay Z won’t have a problem collecting the $300 for courtside season tickets. I reckon if I look hard enough I could sure find 99 problems with the Nets, but Brook Lopez ain’t 1.

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