NBA Power Rankings
NBA power rankings, rating the entire league from top to bottom. Our NBA power rankings are based mostly on how good teams really are, with recent performances taken into partial consideration. Updated regularly during the regular season, InsideHoops.com's NBA power rankings focus on the big, season-long picture.
2015 NBA POWER RANKINGS
Updated July 27, 2015
We're not doing full NBA power rankings yet. But here are some quick thoughts as to who we think the best teams in the NBA are for, not for the season that just ended, but looking forward to the 2015-16 season.
1) Golden State Warriors: They're the champs, and aside from David Lee being gone are just as strong as they were last season. There's no reason to bump them from the top spot right now.
2) San Antonio Spurs: Yes, they are old, but they also had a fantastic offseason, adding several incredible frontcourt pieces. They've added a star power forward in LaMarcus Aldridge, and a backup in David West that, although past his prime, is good enough to start for most teams.
3) Cleveland Cavaliers: Clearly the best in the East, especially with the Atlanta Hawks getting a bit weaker this summer after losing DeMarre Carroll to the Toronto Raptors.
4) Los Angeles Clippers: They wound up keeping center DeAndre Jordan and added a whole bunch of talent in Josh Smith, Paul Pierce and Lance Stephenson. Pierce is well past his prime, Smith is inconsistent and makes questionable decisions, and Stephenson also has his flaws, so it's not a total home run. But if managed correctly, this is a lot of helpful talent.
5) Houston Rockets: Ty Lawson is on board, adding depth to the point guard spot. He'll probably wind up as their starter, though it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world to keep defensive-minded Patrick Beverley in the starting lineup and using Lawson as a super-sub off the bench.
Expanded NBA power rankings coming soon.
And who is the worst team in the league on paper right now, you ask? The Philadelphia 76ers, who added Jahlil Okafor in the Draft but otherwise still have a virtually empty roster. It's Okafor, Nerlens Noel, and players who are either hurt or simply not up to making a difference in the win column at this time.
2015 NBA POWER RANKINGS
Updated April 13, 2015
John Schuhmann of NBA.com writes: Hero Team of the Week: San Antonio (4-0) -- The Spurs played spoiler in Oklahoma City and swept a home-and-home with the Rockets to move up to second in the West... Zero Team of the Week: Charlotte (0-4) -- The Hornets played the Heat close on Tuesday, but then lost their next three games by a total of 85 points... East vs. West: The West is 261-187 (0.583) against the East in interconference games, but was 0-3 last week. Two East-West games remain: Houston at Charlotte on Monday and Indiana at Memphis on Wednesday.
Here's John Schuhmann of NBA.com writing about the league's best:
1) Golden State (65-15)
Pace: 100.6 (1) OffRtg: 109.4 (2) DefRtg: 98.0 (1) NetRtg: +11.4 (1)
The Warriors have lost a little bit of their defensive edge down the stretch (they rank 14th on that end over the last two weeks), and probably aren't catching the Clippers for the No. 1 spot in offensive efficiency. They'll still finish as just the third team (with the 1995-96 Bulls and 2009-10 Magic) in the last 38 years to rank in the top two on both ends of the floor.
2) San Antonio (55-26)
Pace: 95.9 (17) OffRtg: 106.2 (7) DefRtg: 99.4 (3) NetRtg: +6.8 (3)
The Spurs have moved up one spot in the rankings each of the last five weeks, but won't reach No. 1, because the Warriors have been too good all season. San Antonio has outscored its opponents by a ridiculous 20 points per 100 possessions over its 11-game winning streak, but Golden State was better (plus-20.9) over an 11-game stretch after Christmas.
3) Atlanta (60-20)
Pace: 96.2 (15) OffRtg: 106.4 (6) DefRtg: 100.6 (6) NetRtg: +5.8 (4)
Thabo Sefolosha's injury is tough to swallow in regard to both how it happened and what it means for a potential Hawks-Cavs, conference finals matchup. Sefolosha was a part of a second unit that built on leads with defense (the defensive numbers were best when he was on the floor) and would have been a long defender to throw at LeBron James.
4) Cleveland (51-29)
Pace: 94.8 (25) OffRtg: 107.5 (4) DefRtg: 104.1 (20) NetRtg: +3.5 (7)
The Cavs must like lobster rolls, because they may have booked another trip to Boston by losing twice to the Celtics over the weekend. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love won't get their first real playoff experience until at least the conference semis. If they get to The Finals, they'll be the first below-average defensive team to get there since the 2001 Lakers.
5) L.A. Clippers (54-26)
Pace: 96.9 (10) OffRtg: 109.8 (1) DefRtg: 102.9 (15) NetRtg: +6.9 (2)
The Clippers are 12-2 since Blake Griffin's return and rank as an above-average defense for the first time since Christmas. Despite Griffin's absence for 15 games, their starting lineup has played almost 300 more minutes than any lineup in the league, and has been dominant. But their dreadful bench will need to step up at some point in the postseason.
6) Houston (54-26)
Pace: 99.2 (2) OffRtg: 104.1 (11) DefRtg: 100.8 (7) NetRtg: +3.3 (8)
Two losses to the Spurs have dropped the Rockets from second to sixth in the West, though they could still get all the way back up to second in the last three days of the season. Dwight Howard has recorded three straight double-doubles and has averaged 23.0 points and 15.0 points per 36 minutes since his return, but will sit out Monday's game in Charlotte.
7) Memphis (54-26)
Pace: 94.2 (26) OffRtg: 103.0 (13) DefRtg: 99.8 (4) NetRtg: +3.2 (10)
Mike Conley (foot) and Marc Gasol (ankle) have joined Tony Allen (hamstring) on the list of Grizzlies limping into the playoffs. They've held six straight opponents under a point per possession, but have shot 30 percent from 3-point range over their last nine games. For the season, they've shot worse from outside the paint than they did last year.
And here's Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:
8) Portland Trail Blazers (Record: 51-29; last week: 8): The Blazers landing the Westís fourth seed by virtue of winning the weak Northwest Division gives credence to the thought of getting rid of divisions.
9) Dallas Mavericks (Record: 49-31; last week: 9): It would seem to be a reward for the Westís second seed to play the Mavs in the first round, but Dallas has won three straight and has some talent.
10) Toronto Raptors (Record: 48-32; last week: 12): If the Raptors remain the Eastís third seed, they will play Milwaukee in the first round of the playoffs. Toronto won the regular-season series 2-1.
11) Chicago Bulls (Record: 48-32; last week: 10): Derrick Rose is averaging 14.3 points, 4.0 assists and 4.0 rebounds in 22.4 minutes per game in the three contests heís played since returning from knee surgery.
12) Washington Wizards (Record: 46-34; last week: 11): Have the talented yet up-and-down Wizards finally woken up with the playoffs arriving? Washington has won four of its past five.
13) New Orleans Pelicans (Record: 43-37; last week: 14) The playoff hopeful Pelicans own the tiebreaker over the Thunder and finish the regular-season at Minnesota and against the visiting Spurs.
Here's Marc Stein of ESPN.com rankings the league's worst:
25) Orlando Magic: Only our Elias pals could come up with the gem about the Magic's involvement in the sorriest quarter of the 209,888 quarters in the shot-clock era to that point. Couldn't resist signing off with that one knowing we'll be writing again about Orlando (and its coaching search) soon enough.
26) Sacramento Kings: So much chaos to chronicle in this lost season of three coaches, loads of front-office friction, porous D and so little to cheer beyond DeMarcus Cousins' first All-Star berth that we've been shamefully delinquent in trumpeting the progress of our beloved Omri Casspi.
27) Philadelphia 76ers: Gained a new appreciation for Philly (and its fans) this season by watching my Buffalo Sabres play out a similar script. The highest possible pick is obviously management's focus, but credit to the Sixers for ignoring all the noise, Sabres-style, and playing their guts out. No. 13 in defensive efficiency!
28) Los Angeles Lakers: We're probably guilty of relying too much on Kobe Content in this space, given that he played only 35 games, but don't forget Kobe was on pace to shatter the league scoring record for players in their 19th season or later (Kareem's 14.6 PPG in 1987-88 at age 41) when he was shelved.
29) New York Knicks: After so many weeks of misery in this corner of cyberspace, it's time to remind long-suffering Knicks fans that the forthcoming draft is not only the 30th anniversary of the Patrick Ewing draft but also the first time since 1986 and Kenny "Sky" Walker that New York will be making a top-five pick.
30) Minnesota Timberwolves: It's not worry No. 1 these days -- not with Ricky Rubio following Nikola Pekovic into surgery -- but this is when you start wondering about Kevin Garnett's future. Despite the fact KG has logged just 98 minutes in his Second Sota Act, we hear he's still leaning toward playing next season.