The NBA: Power Rankings: Off-Season Edition

The regular season is still over two months away but the NBA is constantly on the news especially with LeBron James joining Cleveland and working as part-time general manager as well (see signings of Mike Miller, James Jones and the trade for Kevin Love). Anyway, here is the Power Rankings for the summer as of August 13, 2014.

The standings refer to the 2013-2014 regular season standings.

The rankings from Last Week refer to Week 24 which was the last Power Rankings before the 2014 playoffs.

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Kevin Love for Andrew Wiggins is a great trade for both the Cavs and Timberwolves
(Image from: www.howlintwolf.com)

1. San Antonio Spurs | 62-20 | Last Week: 1 | Same
The current NBA champions had their best signing of the summer when the best coach in the league, Gregg Popovich agreed to a contract extension that could last another 4-5 years. The Spurs also improved their roster by NOT allowing Tony Parker (France) and Manu Ginobili (Argentina) to play in the FIBA World Cup this September. The extra rest should do them good. 


2. Oklahoma City Thunder | 59-23 | Last Week: 2 | Same
Kevin Durant will be the cover athlete for the 2nd year in a row for the NBA2K15 franchise. KD withdrew from Team USA just weeks before the start of FIBA World Cup because he felt mentally and physically fatigued. His partner, Russell Westbrook also skipped Team USA. OKC is hoping that both of them return fresh and healthy.

3. Los Angeles Clippers | 57-25 | Last Week: 3 | Same
Blake Griffin was another Team USA player who withdrew from them to rest and heal. Griffin had a MVP-type year last year and he should continue to improve. The additions of Jordan Farmer and Spencer Hawes strengthens their backup PG and C positions. Hopefully, the impending sale of the Clippers pushes through before the season starts to avoid off the court distractions.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers | 33-49 | Last Week: 21 | +17
The Cavs jumped 17 spots higher in the Power Rankings and are projected to finish as the #1 seed in the East. How did this happen? Adding the best player in the league does wonders to your team. It also helps a lot that LeBron James can work as part-time general manager due to his influence and recruiting skills. When the trade for Kevin Love is finalized, the Cavs might be the most exciting team to watch.

5. Chicago Bulls | 48-34 | Last Week: 12 | +7
Derrick Rose is back again after a lengthy recovery from knee injury. Judging from his performances during Team USA practices and the scrimmage, D-Rose looks explosive and downright scary. IF he can stay healthy, the Bulls can challenge the Cavs for top spot in the East. Chicago also upgraded from Boozer to Pau Gasol and the arrivals of rookies, Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic improves their roster.

6. Dallas Mavericks | 49-33 | Last Week: 10 | +4
Tyson Chandler is back in Dallas to anchor their defense and protect the paint. Too bad that the Mavs had to give Jose Calderon away, their best PG (Raymond Felton replaces him) to acquire Chandler. The Mavs also signed Chandler Parsons who will be their new starting SF. He adds shooting range and versatility to their team while weakening their rivals in Houston.

7. Portland | 54-28 | Last Week: 5| -2
The Blazers have a dynamic duo in Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge. However, only Lillard joined Team USA while LMA will have the summer to rest. Lillard joining Team USA should be beneficial for his growth and improvement. It's arguable that aside from Steph Curry, Dame is the best shooting PG out there. The addition of Chris Kaman also boosts their thin bench.

8. Houston Rockets | 54-28 | Last Week: 7 | -1
The Rockets missed out on Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh during free agency. They also lost Jeremy Lin, Omer Asik and Chandler Parsons while their main acquisitions were Trevor Ariza and the rookie Nick Johnson. Ariza can do some things that Parsons does but Houston got weaker in that position. The Rockets are still a good team but losing Parsons should hurt them even if Harden feels that the others are just "role players". 

9. Golden State Warriors | 51-31 | Last Week: 8 | -1
The Dubs did not make any major changes to their roster. Their biggest change happened on the bench where rookie head coach Steve Kerr will take over Mark Jackson. Kerr has no previous coaching experience but he will take over a playoff-caliber team with dreams of advancing further in the playoffs. Steph Curry will participate in the FIBA World Cup which is always good for a player's growth.

10. Miami Heat | 54-28 | Last Week: 4 | -6
Losing the best player in the world for nothing may not be the worst situation for Miami IF Dwyane Wade remains healthy and Chris Bosh can average 20-10. Getting Luol Deng, Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger will help compensate for the loss of LBJ. Their bench is somewhat weak but if Ray Allen decides to come back and play for them, he would be a great help.

11. Phoenix Suns | 43-34 | Last Week: 13 | +2
The Suns missed the playoffs by 1 game but they did not maintain the status quo. They wanted to improve their team and the arrival of Isaiah Thomas helps a lot in that aspect. A good problem to have would be the distribution of minutes in a very crowded back-court that has Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe and Gerald Green. A slight problem could be the potential departure of Bledsoe via trade or free agency next year.

12. Toronto Raptors | 48-34 | Last Week: 11 | -1
Toronto almost reached the 2nd round of the playoffs and their roster was mostly retained which started with Kyle Lowry re-signing with the Raps. They lost shooter Steve Novak but gained the services of Lou Williams. As a bonus, DeMar DeRozan has been excellent as part of Team USA. If before he was an afterthought, things have changed now and it appears that DeRozan will definitely be on the team.

13. Washington Wizards | 44-38 | Last Week: 14 | +1
John Wall got cut from Team USA and he was not happy about that. He felt "snubbed" and he vowed to make believers out of the doubters. That's great news for Washington. A motivated John Wall can dominate any game. Bradley Beal also got cut from Team USA and maybe he feels snubbed as well. The Wizards lost Trevor Ariza but they signed Paul Pierce to replace his minutes.

14. Memphis Grizzlies | 50-32 | Last Week: 9 | -5
Memphis made re-signing Zach Randolph their number 1 priority and Z-Bo will be back for at least 2 more years. Next, the Grizzlies targeted Vince Carter to bolster their shooting and scoring. Carter is an upgrade from the departed Mike Miller. Expect VC to play a lot of minutes as the SG or SF after having a solid year with Dallas last season.

15. Charlotte Bobcats | 43-39 | Last Week: 16 | +1
The Bobcats made the playoffs last season before being swept by Miami. They made a big splash by signing Lance "Look at ME" Stephenson away from the Pacers. Lance brings play-making skills and he can defend perimeter players well. Of course, there's the arrogance and histrionics which could hurt his chemistry with the rest of the Bobcats. Watch out for rookie Noah Vonleh who could be a dark horse ROY.

16. Atlanta Hawks | 38-44 | Last Week: 18 | +2
Atlanta gave the Pacers a scare in last year's playoffs. They will come back this year with minimal changes in their roster. However, they expect Al Horford to be healthy and ready. They're just hoping that he does not get injured AGAIN. The Hawks also discovered that Mike Scott and Pero Antic can deliver quality minutes if given the opportunity to play.

17. Brooklyn Nets | 44-38 | Last Week: 15 | -2
The Nets lost Paul Pierce to the Wizards and they lost Jason Kidd to the Bucks. Anyhow, they hired Lionel Hollins as their new head coach and he is a solid defense-minded coach. Brook Lopez is healthy but everyone is worried that another foot injury might mean the end of his career. Kevin Garnett has not announced his retirement yet so it looks like he will play.

18. New York Knicks | 37-45 | Last Week: 19 | +1
Carmelo Anthony chose the money and stayed in New York. He had better opportunities to win in Chicago or Houston. That means he won't be winning any rings and probably not seeing the playoffs again this year. The Knicks lost Tyson Chandler (their best defender) while they have two poor interior guys in Amare and Andrea Bargnani. They also have Derek Fisher as rookie coach.

19. New Orleans Pelicans | 34-48 | Last Week: 22 | +3
The Pelicans are a playoff team if they played in the East and if Ryan Anderson is fully healthy (expected to be back later in the year). They added Omer Asik to play center which allows Anthony Davis to play more PF minutes, a position he prefers. Davis is starting to become one of the better players in the NBA and he is one of the trusted guys on Team USA.

20. Minnesota Timberwolves | 40-42 | Last Week: 17 | -3
Losing an All-Star and double-double machine is very hard to replace (assuming the Love trade happens) but by acquiring Andrew Wiggins, the blow is somewhat lessened. Wiggins immediately becomes their #1 option and he just might be their best perimeter defender as well. Just imagine the highlight reels he will conduct with Ricky Rubio and another high flyer in Zach Levine.

21. Denver Nuggets | 36-46 | Last Week: 20 | -1
So, Arron Afflalo is back with the Nuggets where he forms a solid back-court duo with Ty Lawson. Denver can make the playoffs once more IF their core guys all recover nicely from injuries. Danilo Gallinari missed all of last season while JaVale McGee only played 5 games. Their injury list is quite long with Nate Robinson and JJ Hickson expected to miss most (if not all) of the season.

22. Los Angeles Lakers | 27-55 | Last Week: 25 | +3
The Lakers downsized with Carlos Boozer while losing Pau Gasol. They also acquired Jeremy Lin as insurance for the oft-injured Steve Nash who will most likely be playing his final season. The Lakers will only go as far as Kobe Bryant can carry them. Kobe Bryant is ready to begin the season already. He has been resting for awhile and that down time might be a blessing in disguise.

23. Sacramento Kings | 28-54 | Last Week: 24 | +1
Isaiah Thomas is gone (replaced by Darren Collison) but Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins are still here. DMC trained with Team USA and could still be an active player for the FIBA World Cup. As long as he is playing with other All-Stars, Cousins will only get better. Meanwhile, Ray McCallum will be given the chance to battle Collison for PG minutes.

24. Detroit Pistons | 29-53 | Last Week: 23 | -1
Stan Van Gundy will try to bring the Pistons back to respectability. That will be very hard since the roster barely improved over the summer. It is even arguable that they got weaker. They lost Rodney Stuckey while Greg Monroe remains unsigned. Heck, even Andre Drummond is not playing that well with Team USA. Among their new additions: an overpaid Jodie Meeks and DJ Augustin.

25. Indiana Pacers | 56-26 | Last Week: 6 | -19
What happened to Paul George is a major loss to the Pacers. Losing both PG and Lance Stephenson (their top 2 players last season) assure that the Pacers will not make the playoffs this season. Scoring will be a problem for them. Rodney Stuckey can score some points but he is not a primary option while CJ Miles can hit some threes but defense is his stronger skill.

26. Utah Jazz | 25-57 | Last Week: 26 | Same
The Jazz re-signed Gordon Hayward which was the right move even if he became overpaid. They also drafted Dante Exum which gives them a young back-court with Trey Burke. The Jazz are among the youngest team in the league with only three guys in their team over 25 years old (Trevor Booker, Steve Novak and Jeremy Evans).

27. Boston Celtics | 25-57 | Last Week: 27 | +1
The Celtics added Evan Turner, Tyler Zeller and rookies Marcus Smart & James Young to their team. Will their arrivals add 5 more wins or will it become 5 more losses? Hard to tell right now because their win total depends on Rajon Rondo. How motivated and focused is he to lead this team? Will Rondo demand a trade? Probably but if the Celtics remain competitive (0.500 ball), he might stay the course.

28. Orlando Magic | 23-59 | Last Week: 27 | -1
The Magic improved with the drafting of Aaron Gordon, a superb athlete and Elfrid Payton who might be their new starting PG. They also upgraded their outside shooting with Ben Gordon and Channing Frye but on defense, they got weaker on the perimeter with the loss of Arron Afflalo and Jameer Nelson. If Tobias Harris and Nic Vucevic can stay healthy, the Magic can win more games this year.

29. Milwaukee Bucks | 15-67 | Last Week: 29 | Same
Jabari Parker was drafted to be their leader and #1 option on offense. Parker would be the safe bet to win Rookie of the Year but that doesn't mean the Bucks will win a lot of games. New coach Jason Kidd will experience growing pains with the young Bucks (six players are 22 and under). However, this team could be exciting to watch if Giannis and Middleton develop their offensive arsenals.

30. Philadelphia 76ers | 19-63 | Last Week: 30 | Same
The Sixers drafted another injured big man, Joel Embiid to solidify their chances of finishing with the overall worst record next season. They are also rumored to be part of the trade talks that will send Thaddeus Young (one of their best guys) to the T'wolves in exchange for Anthony Bennett. Some good news, Nerlens Noel started playing limited minutes during the Summer League and he acquitted himself well.

Biggest Jump of the Week: Cavs +17

Biggest Drop of the Week: Pacers -19


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Mason Plumlee was chosen as part of USAB select team not Miles.

http://www.usab.com/mens/national-team/roster.aspx

Balas