Driscoll’s NBA Power Rankings Heading Into the Playoffs

NBA, Knicks, Thunder, Chet Holmgren

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: the NBA playoffs.

Check out Driscoll’s final NBA Power Rankings heading into the playoffs.

Stats Glossary

Offensive Rating: Points Scored Per 100 Possessions
Defensive Rating: Points Allowed Per 100 Possessions
Net Rating: Point Differential Per 100 Possessions
Simple Rating System (SRS): Combination of Strength of Schedule and Net Rating)


10. Phoenix Suns (Not Previously Ranked)

This might be a little too high, but I am projecting how good the team will be in the playoffs. They are the sixth seed in the significantly better conference, so they should be on the list based on that alone. In addition, there are not many guys I want on my team more than Kevin Durant and Devin Booker. They have a tough first-round matchup against the Timberwolves, but they had no problem against them on Sunday. I will probably take the Wolves, but I also would not be surprised if Booker and Durant are too much to handle.

9. Cleveland Cavaliers (No Change)

The Cavs might be the hardest team to rank. On one hand, they have a super solid defense and a reliable star in Donovan Mitchell. On the other hand, outside of six weeks around the All-Star break, they have been unimpressive. They are playing the Orlando Magic in the first round. I think the Cavs are the better team, but it will be interesting to see how the Magic respond to the pressure.


8. Los Angeles Clippers (No Change)

My preseason pick to come out of the West ranks eighth. The Clippers’ entire season has been a roller-coaster. After a rough start with James Harden, they went on a massive two-month run from December until about the trade deadline and even reached the No. 1 seed at one point. Since then, they have been very inconsistent. However, I trust the playoff version of Kawhi Leonard more than anyone in the league. I will likely pick Los Angeles to make the Western Conference Finals. Though I believe in Leonard’s ability to carry, he will need help from the rest of his supporting cast.

7. Dallas Mavericks (No Change)

The Clippers’ first-round opponent comes in at No. 7. This is a team that proved a ton of people wrong. After a hot start to the season, they were the No. 8 seed on March 16. They went 12-3 since then. Though I am probably not picking them to win against the Clippers, do not be surprised if you see this team make the Western Conference Finals for the second time in three years.

6. New York Knicks (No Change)

The Knicks continue to prove me wrong. After I thought they were a fraudulent team last year, they won a playoff series. Then, when I projected them to be a No. 7 seed this past preseason, they proved me wrong again and are now the No. 2 seed. Lastly, I projected Jalen Brunson to be just inside the top 30 in the league, and he will likely make Second Team All-NBA. Well, hats off to the Knicks for proving me wrong every step of the way. Yet, even with all of this, I am still projecting them to underachieve in the playoffs. I think they will win in the first round but then lose to the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round. Of course, don’t take my word for it. I have been wrong about this core every step of the way.

5. Milwaukee Bucks (-1)

I am one of the only people who still believe the Bucks can make a run at the title, but it will take a lot of luck on their end. There is some pessimism about Giannis Antetokounmpo’s status heading into the playoffs. While I still think Damian Lillard can carry Milwaukee throughout the first round, the Pacers gave them a lot of trouble at the beginning of the season. They have been worse since replacing Adrian Griffin with Doc Rivers. However, just like the Bucks as a whole, I am one of the only people who still trust Doc Rivers in a playoff series. Only time will tell to see how right or wrong I will be about this team.


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4. Minnesota Timberwolves (+1)

The Wolves have been one of the more interesting NBA teams all season long as they finished first in defense and third in net rating. Even though defense wins championships, their offense has held them back from being the best team in the league. The Wolves finished 17th in offense. Even though I trust Anthony Edwards to elevate his game come playoff time, it will take more than just him on the offensive end to do that.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder (No Change)

The top seed in the West comes in at No. 3. Oklahoma City surpassed expectations like no team I have seen before. Besides the Celtics, they are the only team to finish in the top four in both offensive and defensive ratings. They were also second in SRS. However, like I have been saying all year long, they will not get full credit from everyone until we see what they do in the playoffs. There is a chance they will have to run into either LeBron James or Stephen Curry in the first round. Let’s see what this team is made of.

2. Denver Nuggets (-1)

The defending champs come in at No. 2. They are the second seed in the West, but I think 99 percent of NBA fans would confidently take Denver over Oklahoma City in a possible Western Conference Finals matchup. At the end of the day, when you have the best player in the league with a solid supporting cast, you can compete with anyone. Many probably think the Nuggets should be first, but the team I have ahead of them has just been too dominant all season long.

1. Boston Celtics (+1)

While many do not see Boston as the favorite to win the title, they have objectively been the best team all season long. At the end of the day, they have the best record, offensive rating, net rating, SRS, and point differential, and they also rank second in defense. But none of that matters now. All that matters is how they will play the rest of the way. The first round will offer a big test as they face Philadelphia or Miami. It’ll sure be interesting to see how things pan out for the Celtics.

Main Image Credit:

Embed from Getty Images


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