It's back! The NBA Regular season is finally upon us and that means the return of my NBA Power Rankings. Of course the defending NBA Champions have to start the season ranked number one. They still have the best player on the planet -- who's also still somehow getting better.
You'll see the teams that are poised to make vast improvements upon their finishes last year and which teams are prime for a fall.
The Eastern Conference will have as many title-contenders as the Western Conference this season.Ranking Team 2012-2013 Record Reason 1 Miami Heat 66-16 I wonder what LeBron James added to his game this offseason. Maybe people will finally accept his utter greatness and simply enjoy that we're witnessing something truly special. 2 San Antonio Spurs 58-24 I'm not sure they're going to be here at the end of the regular season, but I'm not going to underestimate Pop and the Spurs with the core still intact. 3 Golden State Warriors 47-35 I absolutely love the addition of Andre Iguodala. Adds more substance to the most fun team to watch. 4 Chicago Bulls 45-37 Derrick Rose is back after 18 months. He looks good. Like really, really good. 5 L.A. Clippers 56-26 Aside from the obvious talent on the court, the Clippers now add a championship-winning head coach in Doc Rivers to replace their weakest link from last season. 6 Indiana Pacers 49-32 They brought back every key player from last year AND added Luis Scola. This is a really deep team. 7 Houston Rockets 45-37 James Harden is the best shooting guard in the game right now. Dwight Howard seems poised for a bounce-back year under the tutilege of Kevin McHale and Hakeem Olajuwon. They could be the 2nd-best 1-2 punch in the NBA. 8 Oklahoma City Thunder 60-22 Even without Russell Westbrook for a bit of the regular season, Kevin Durant is good for 45 wins or so by himself. Get ready for a MVP season for KD. 9 Memphis Grizzlies 56-26 Maybe it's just me, but I think some folks are overestimating the impact of Lionel Hollins leaving as head coach. This is still a great defensive team. 10 Brooklyn Nets 49-33 Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce bring some moxy and at least on paper, make Brooklyn the team to beat in New York. 11 New York Knicks 54-28 Carmelo Anthony had his best season yet by PER. I'm also really excited to see a full season of Iman Shumpert. The offense and defense might be even better than last year even if they can't replicate their 3-point shooting accuracy. 12 Denver Nuggets 57-25 The Nuggets added some toughness by bringing in J.J. Hickson. Ty Lawson and company should keep the team afloat while Danilo Gallinari recovers from tearing his ACL this past April. 13 Minnesota Timberwolves 31-51 A full season of Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio? Yes please! 14 Washington Wizards 29-53 I was high on this team last year. I'm even higher on them after they just traded for Marcin Gortat. 15 Cleveland Cavaliers 24-58 If Bynum is healthy and even 80% of the player he was this team is going to be in the playoffs. Don't overlook the addition of Jarrett Jack as well. 16 Sacramento Kings 28-54 Out is Tyrke Evans. In is Greivis Vasquez who lead the NBA in assists last season. Ben McLemore will be the Rookie of the Year, and quite possibly the steal of the draft. Carl Landry brings a solid, veteran presence down low. Join me on the bandwagon! 17 Detroit Pistons 29-53 How will Josh Smith mesh with Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond? That's the biggest question outside of whether or not Brandon Jennings is ready to be more of a floor general instead of looking for his shot primarily. 18 Portland Trail Blazers 33-49 A lack of depth really hurt this team last year. Robin Lopez will really help Aldridge in the middle (especially since the center position was the weak point last season) and Mo Williams takes pressure of reiging ROY, Damian Lillard. 19 New Orleans Pelicans 27-55 Eric Gordon, Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans. Good luck finding a threesome of guards that's more talented. They're going to have to mesh soon with the lack of quality front court players. 20 Atlanta Hawks 44-38 When will the Hawks give Al Horford the proper center to play with?!?! Paul Millsap helps ease the pain of losing Josh Smith. 21 Dallas Mavericks 41-41 Kind of a sad end to Dirk Nowitzki's prime in Dallas. Monta Ellis and Jose Calderon will at least help make this team watchable. 22 Utah Jazz 43-39 Trey Burke should have a chance to start right off the bat at point guard. He'll have some growing pains, but should be in the ROY conversation. Definitely the foundation of a good team, but they're still a couple years away as Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter develop. 23 Charlotte Bobcats 21-61 I tried talking myself into ranking the Bobcats a little higher than this, but alas, I need to see it to believe it. Ben Gordon gives Kemba Walker a true backcourt mate to work with and a crunch-time scorer. I like the addition of Big Al Jefferson but this team need Cody Zeller to be an impact player and I'm not sure about the rookie out of Indiana just yet. This is the team of Michael Jordan. 24 L.A. Lakers 45-37 Yes, Kobe is out for a long time -- though that's not stopping the team from making a contract extension for the Black Mamba a priority. Pau Gasol is still one of the best scoring big men in the game, if not the best. It won't be pretty but it won't be as ugly as you may think. 25 Milwaukee Bucks 38-44 Classic Bucks. A team with a lot of players that I kind of like, but no one sticks out. And still no one plays D outside of Larry Sanders. 26 Orlando Magic 20-62 Victor Oladipo is proving to be stat-sheet stuffer and Nikola Vucevic had a breakout year last season, averaging 11.9 rebounds a game. But again, this team is still building for the future. 27 Toronto Raptors 34-48 A lot of pieces that weren't wanted on other teams. Oh Canada, you're in for another long season. 28 Boston Celtics 41-40 No Rondo, no shot. 29 Phoenix Suns 25-57 Eric Bledsoe will have a chance to finally run the show after watching Chris Paul orchestrate the offense for the Clippers the last three years. Wasn't sold on the draft pick of Alex Len, but clearly with four potential picks in the vaunted 2014 draft, this season doesn't really matter. 30 Philadelphia 76ers 34-48 The theme is "Riggin' for Wiggins" but this team doesn't really need to throw games to finish with the worst record in the NBA.