NBA Power Ranking Week 8: Re-Evaluating Remainder of 2019-20 Season

During my preseason ranking, I predicted where each team would end up at the end of the season. Now, seven weeks through the season, it’s time to re-evaluate those predictions. 

  1. Milwaukee Bucks
    Previous: 1
    Record: 20-3

The Bucks have been unstoppable lately, winning 14 consecutive games, and each of their last four by over 24 points. Giannis is an MVP favorite, and he should be able to carry the Bucks to the top seed in the East.  

Prediction: 1st in the East | Preseason: 1st in the East

  1. Los Angeles Lakers
    Previous: 2
    Record: 21-3

Anthony Davis and LeBron James went off in their rout of the Minnesota Timberwolves Sunday night, combining for 82 points. I questioned the Lakers’ backcourt coming into the season, but clearly, the Lakers have enough star power to earn the top seed in the loaded West.  

Prediction: 1st in the West | Preseason: 4th in the West 

  1. Boston Celtics
    Previous: 5
    Record: 16-5

The Celtics had a great week to put themselves in the second spot in the East after they beat Miami and Denver at home. While the Celtics will have a better record than I expected, I still think the 76ers and Bucks are the more well-rounded and deeper teams, so I’m keeping them at the third spot in the East.  

Prediction: 3rd in the East | Preseason: 3rd in the East

  1. Philadelphia 76ers
    Previous: 4
    Record: 17-7

    The Sixers had a blowout win over Cleveland and a close win over Toronto last week, but dropped a game they should have won against the Wizards. Philadelphia’s defense is finally coming together, and they have been incredible at home, having gone 12-0 at the Wells Fargo Center so far this season. 

Prediction: 2nd in the East | Preseason: 2nd in the East

  1. Los Angeles Clippers
    Previous: 3
    Record: 17-7

The Clippers suffered their worst loss of the season last week, getting blown out in Milwaukee by 28 points. While I do have the Clippers only earning the second seed in the West in the regular season, I still believe the Clippers will ultimately make it to the NBA Finals as Kawhi Leonard and Paul George get more time on the court together.  

Prediction: 2nd in the West | Preseason: 1st in the West

  1. Dallas Mavericks
    Previous: 8
    Record: 16-7

Luka Doncic broke Michael Jordan’s previous record by recording 20-5-5 in 19 consecutive games. The Mavericks are a team I significantly underestimated in the preseason, as behind Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, the Mavericks should be able to earn home-court in the first round of the playoffs.  

Prediction: 3rd in the East | Preseason: 11th in the West 

  1. Houston Rockets
    Previous: 9
    Record: 15-7

Russell Westbrook stinks; per 100 possessions, the Rockets are 9.8 points worse with him on the court this season. He has missed shot after shot late in games, and he’s the reason Houston won’t win a playoff series this season. However, with Portland, San Antonio, and New Orleans (among others) struggling, James Harden should be able to carry them into the playoffs.   

Prediction: 6th in the West | Preseason: 9th in the West

  1. Miami Heat
    Previous: 10
    Record: 17-6

While many thought the Heat would make the playoffs with the acquisition of Jimmy Butler, most people did not see them being this good. With Kendrick Nunn, Tyler Herro, and Duncan Robinson all exceeding expectations, the Heat will make the playoffs this season.  

Prediction: 6th in the East | Preseason: 9th in the East

  1. Denver Nuggets Previous:7 Record: 14-7

The Nuggets had a down week, going 1-3 and dropping games to the Lakers, Celtics, and Nets. Nikola Jokic has been very underwhelming this season, but the Nuggets are still very solid and should earn a top-four seed in the West.  

Prediction: 4th in the West | Preseason: 2nd in the West 

  1. Indiana Pacers
    Previous: 11
    Record: 15-8

The Pacers have been on a roll as of late, having gone 8-2 over their last 10 games, with Victor Oladipo still waiting to come back from injury. The Pacers should only rise once Oladipo comes back, and they could spell trouble for some teams come playoff time. 

Prediction: 5th in the East | Preseason: 7th in the East

  1. Toronto Raptors
    Previous: 6
    Record: 15-7

The Raptors take a decent fall on this week’s ranking after they dropped games against good teams last week with losses to Miami, Houston, and Philadelphia. Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet have each significantly improved, and the Raptors will be an issue for several top teams in the East, specifically Philly, come playoff time.  

Prediction: 4th in the East | Preseason: 5th in the East

  1. Utah Jazz
    Previous: 12
    Record: 13-10

The Jazz are in a slump as they’ve gone just 2-5 in their last seven games and haven’t beaten a team currently in position to make the playoffs since Nov. 12 when they defeated the Nets. Despite their struggles, Mike Conley and Rudy Gobert usually hit their stride in the second half of the season (probably from being snubbed from the all-star game), so the Jazz are still a force to be reckoned with in the West.  

Prediction: 5th in the West | Preseason: 3rd in the West

  1. Brooklyn Nets
    Previous: 14

The Nets continue to flourish as they have won eight of their last 10 and are 9-3 on the season without Kyrie Irving. They should look to acquire some more defenders at the trade deadline to clinch a spot in the playoffs this season.  

Prediction: 7th in the East | Preseason: 4th in the East

  1. Orlando Magic
    Previous: 18
    Record: 11-11

The Magic beat up on some bad teams last week, going 4-0 by beating Golden State, Washington, Phoenix, and Cleveland. Despite their tough start, I believe the Hawks will earn a playoff spot by winning 35 to 38 games while the Magic don’t strike me as a real contender. I think Orlando finishes with around 35 wins, shy of the playoffs.  

Prediction: 9th in the East | Preseason: 9th in the East

  1. Oklahoma City Thunder
    Previous: 19
    Record: 10-12

Despite their recent run that positions them seventh in the East right now, I expect the Thunder to ultimately not come close to earning a playoff spot. The reason for this is because I see them as massive sellers during the trade deadline, likely shipping off Steven Adams and Chris Paul, while other teams will be looking to add more pieces.  

Prediction: 13th in the West | Preseason: 12th in the West

  1. San Antonio Spurs
    Previous: 20
    Record: 9-14

The Spurs were aided by a blown call on James Harden as they beat the Rockets in double overtime last week. While the Spurs got off to their worst start in the Popovich era, they’ve begun to pick it up, and I expect the Spurs to make the playoffs once again this season.  

Prediction: 8th in the East | Preseason: 7th in the West

  1. Phoenix Suns
    Previous: 15
    Record: 10-12

After a surprisingly hot start, the Suns have struggled as of late, having gone 3-8 in their last 11 games. While the Suns are far from the laughingstock of the NBA like they have been in recent years, they don’t seem experienced enough to earn a bottom playoff spot.   

Prediction: 9th in the West | Preseason: 15th in the West

  1. Minnesota Timberwolves
    Previous: 13
    Record: 10-12

The Timberwolves had a horrendous week, going 0-4 and dropping out of playoff position in the Western Conference. Despite Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns having career years, I don’t think Minnesota has enough talent on their roster to get a final playoff spot this season. 

Prediction: 10th in the West | Preseason: 13th in the West

  1. Portland Trail Blazers
    Previous: 16
    Record: 9-15

Despite their awful start to the season, the Trail Blazers will make the playoffs this season. Carmelo Anthony has been a big pickup, and they will likely look to acquire more talent at the deadline. Unfortunately for the Blazers, Rodney Hood is out for the year after he tore his Achilles on Friday. 

Prediction: 7th in the West | Preseason:5th in the West

  1. Sacramento Kings
    Previous: 17
    Record: 9-13

The Kings picked up their best win of the season on Sunday, beating the Mavericks as Nemanja Bjelica dropped 30 points on 13 of 18 shooting. While Sacramento isn’t a complete scrub, their roster doesn’t have enough talent to get a playoff spot in the loaded Western Conference.  

Prediction: 11th in the West | Preseason:10th in the West

  1. Detroit Pistons
    Previous: 23
    Record: 9-14

The Pistons had a solid week, going 2-1 and beating the Pacers at home off a 25-point, 22-rebound performance from Andre Drummond. The Pistons simply don’t have enough scorers on the roster, so I can’t see them earning a playoff spot this season.  

Prediction: 10th in the East | Preseason: 11th in the East

  1. Charlotte Hornets
    Previous: 24
    Record: 9-16

Devonte’ Graham continues to flourish with the Hornets as he tied Kemba Walker’s team record by hitting 10 three-pointers against the Warriors on Wednesday. Surprisingly, the Hornets may win close to 30 games this season, but they still aren’t good enough to compete for a playoff spot.  

Prediction: 12th in the East | Preseason: 15th in the East

  1. Chicago Bulls
    Previous: 25
    Record: 8-16 

My sleeper pick to make the playoffs at the start of the season has not looked good so far as Lauri Markkanen appears to have taken a massive leap in the wrong direction this season. While the Bulls are not the worst team, they don’t have enough talent to make the playoffs this season.  

Prediction: 11th in the East | Preseason:8th in the East

  1. Washington Wizards
    Previous: 26
    Record: 7-15

Davis Bertans has been an excellent acquisition for the Wizards as he has been the best three-point shooting power forward this season, nailing 3.8 three-pointers per game since the start of November on 45.2 percent from deep. The Wizards are snake-bitten by John Wall’s contract and likely won’t be earning a playoff spot this season.  

Prediction: 13th in the East | Preseason: 14th in the East

  1. Memphis Grizzlies
    Previous: 21
    Record: 6-16

With Ja Morant sidelined by back spasms, the Grizzlies have struggled, going 1-3 since his injury. While Morant and Jaren Jackson, Jr. have bright futures, the Grizzlies aren’t there just yet as they’ll once again have their eyes set on the draft lottery. The Boston Celtics would receive their draft pick if it falls outside the top six. 

Prediction: 14th in the West | Preseason: 14th in the West

  1. New Orleans Pelicans
    Previous: 22
    Record: 6-17

It’s been a rough week for the Pelicans as not only have they lost eight straight games, but they are also expected to be without Zion Williamson until 2020. Knowing Williamson is out, the Pelicans will have a difficult time making the playoffs, meaning J.J. Redick will miss the playoffs for the first time in his career. 

Prediction: 12th in the West | Preseason: 8th in the West

  1. Atlanta Hawks
    Previous: 29
    Record: 6-17

Now, here’s my bold take of the ranking. Despite the Hawks’ current 21-win pace, I do believe the Hawks will make the playoffs. The East is weak outside the top seven, so the eighth-seed likely needs only 35 to 38 wins to make it. With John Collins returning Dec. 23, the Hawks will significantly improve and the organization should look to add people at the trade deadline. If they can finish the season 31-28, barely above .500, they’ll end with 37, which could be enough to get them a playoff spot in a horrible Eastern Conference. 

Prediction: 8th in the East | Preseason: 6th in the East

  1. Golden State Warriors
    Previous: 28
    Record: 5-19

While many thought the Warriors would miss the playoffs, few could have seen it turn out this bad. With Steph Curry possibly gone for the season, this is a lost season for the Warriors, who can now focus on next season. 

Prediction: 15th in the West | Preseason: 6th in the West

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers
    Previous: 27
    Record: 5-17

The Cavaliers have been atrocious as of late, losing by 48 points to Philadelphia and 33 points to Detroit last week. There are reports that players are unhappy with coach John Beilein and Kevin Love may get traded, so the Cavaliers are nowhere near a playoff team this season.  

Prediction: 14th in the East | Preseason: 13th in the East

  1. New York Knicks
    Previous: 30
    Record: 4-19

Finally, Fizdale was fired! The Knicks, who are now coached by Mike Miller, are on a 14-win pace for this season and should continue playing their young players in hopes of building for the future. 

Prediction: 15th in the East | Preseason: 12th in the East


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