The NBA features 30 teams competing for a chance to win the Larry O’Brien trophy at the end of the season and write their names in history, with the best athletes in the world going at it on a nightly basis to try and dominate the scene.
Nonetheless, some teams have far more chance to get things done at the end of the campaign, either because their system works better than others because they have build up nice chemistry or simply because they have a better player than the competition.
Even so, we still may be surprised along the way and find that some teams that weren’t supposed to compete actually make it tough for contenders, while others so called frontrunners in the race for the Championship wind up falling short.
Today, we’ll rank every team’s starting five, going from worst to best, and trying to predict how they’ll fare in this upcoming season.
30. Atlanta Hawks
Dennis Schroeder, Marco Belinelli, Kent Bazemore, Ersan Ilyasova, Miles Plumlee
After spending many seasons trying to contend in the Eastern Conference, the Atlanta Hawks are now a lost team. The Hawks tried and tried to be competitive in the less competitive Conference of the NBA, but they always failed at doing it.
Now they must start a rebuilding project after leaving big names such as Demarre Carroll and Jeff Teague. Right now they count with a very good point guard in Dennis Schroeder, but without any help –besides Belinelli’s 3’S, maybe- neither he or his team will achieve something remarkable this season and the next after that.
29. Brooklyn Nets
D’Angelo Russell, Allen Crabbe, Demarre Carroll, Trevor Booker, Timofey Mozgov
Brooklyn has been in a limbo since they gave in all their future to Boston Celtics to receive Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry and Paul Pierce. They started as an exciting project, but as soon as the front office began making awful decisions, everything fell apart.
Now they have D’Angelo Russell, one of the most promising players in 2016 draft, but Russell hasn’t shown any improvement so far and that doesn’t appear to change while in Brooklyn. Added to the fact that he will be teaming up with players who aren’t in their best shapes, Nets have to wait in order to build a competitive team.
28. Chicago Bulls
Kris Dunn, Dwyane Wade, Zach Lavine, Bobby Portis, Robin Lopez
Chicago seemed to be one of the teams who were going to rule this league, but after Derrick Rose’s injuries and the bad decisions from the directives, Chicago is now one of the worst teams in NBA. Past season they were supposed to have a decent season and maybe reach the playoffs by putting Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler and Rajon Rondo together, but none of that happened.
They struggled to make it to the playoffs and this season they will probably not achieve a positive record. Chicago Bulls is full of young players, players who are still in development and ones with experience, but at the same time with nothing impressive to show this season.
27. Sacramento Kings
George Hill, De’Aaron Jackson, Buddy Hield, Skal Labissiere, Willie Cauley-Stein
Sacramento has lost several opportunities to be a competitive team throughout its entire history and now with another mistake, they look set to have a team that will be able to inconvenience any team in NBA soon.
With great rookies and sophomores like De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield or Frank Mason, they have good young blood in their ranks and added to the experiences of Randolph and Hill, this team is set to make a statement in NBA, but it won’t happen that soon.
26. Orlando Magic
Elfrid Payton, Evan Fournier, Terrence Ross, Aaron Gordon, Bismack Biyombo
This is the team of players who didn’t show what everybody expected from them. Orlando has done nothing but messing up with its decision over the past years and nothing seems to get better for them.
This season will be the confirmation of that, as with only Elfrid Payton as the guy who can deliver some quality game, the Magic will surely struggle to obtain the results their fans want. Biyombo, Ross, Gordon and Fournier, a bunch of player with big expectations but at the end they were just flukes.
25. New York Knicks
Frank Ntilikina, Courtney Lee, Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis, Willy Hernangomez
Knicks is a team whose decisions have buried itself. Sure, they nailed it when they drafted Porzingis but besides that, they have only made more and more bad decisions, like drafting an unproven and rough prospect in Ntilikina.
This year appears to be a living hell for Knicks, as they will possibly face the departure of Carmelo Anthony and the senseless effort of Porzingis to bring some W’s to the team. Besides Melo and Porzingis, the Knick will rely heavily on Willy Hernangomez, who thrived after the All-Star break this prior campaign.
24. Dallas Mavericks
Dennis Smith Jr, Wesley Matthews, Harrison Barnes, Dirk Nowitzki, Nerlens Noel
After their championship in 2011, Dallas has been struggling to have a decent season. The Mavs tried and tried to repeat their former successes but nothing has happened, making the Mavericks one of the most unfortunate teams in the NBA.
Dirk Nowitzki indeed made history with this team six years ago but the German giant always wanted to experience that glorious again. Sadly for Dirk and the Mavs, several players have turned down Dallas’ proposals on various occasions. This year, they’re going to have one of the frontrunners for Rookie of the Year running their offense in Dennis Smith Jr, so they got that going on for them.
23. Indiana Pacers
Darren Collison, Victor Oladipo, Glenn Robinson III, Domantas Sabonis, Myles Turner
The Pacers were the biggest threat for LeBron James’ Miami Heat a couple of seasons ago, but after that Paul George’s injury, the Pacers were never the same. They tried to take advantage of drafts and actually picked some good players, but nothing has changed for them.
Now without PG and without Frank Vogel, Pacers are going to face one of their hardest seasons in recent years, as they definitely don’t have a strong team capable of competing for big things. Besides the addition of Darren Collison, Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis, there won’t be much help in this renewed Indiana Pacers team
22. Detroit Pistons
Reggie Jackson, Avery Bradley, Tobias Harris, Jon Leuer, Andre Drummond
Since their championship back in 2004, the Pistons have been roaming around in the league as that team that upset the Lakers but never could do something similar –and yes, we know they have good runs in playoffs after that-, and now are looking for players to rebuild the team but never find anything impressive.
Luckily for them, they still have Andre Drummond and with the addition of Avery Bradley can improve their game a little bit. Plus, they kept Reggie Jackson who hasn’t shown what Pistons expected from him after leaving OKC, but that’s still a dangerous player and a scoring machine. However, this isn’t going to be enough to even have a winning record in the Eastern Conference, and that’s a lot to say.
21. Utah Jazz
Ricky Rubio, Alec Burks, Joe Johnson, Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert
You can say the Jazz lost everything the exact moment when Gordon Hayward left, but that’s not exactly like that. Utah put together a bunch of talented players in past and they can do it again.
Despite the fact that Hayward was his franchise player, they still have good agents in their ranks. Alec Burks, Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert will lead the team and added to the good game of newcomer Ricky Rubio, the Jazz still has a good team to compete in the West. Plus, they acquired some good players during the offseason and that will surely help them.
20. Phoenix Suns
Eric Bledsoe, Devin Booker, Josh Jackson, Marquese Chriss, Alex Len
Phoenix seemed to have a project that would make noise, but at the end, nothing happened and they restarted everything and began building the team again. Luckily for them, they have found really good players in past drafts and although they aren’t one of the teams that can contend this term, they will be very soon.
With Devin Booker, Eric Bledsoe and Josh Jackson showing the path to follow, Suns will have future seasons full of pleasure, but this one will be the beginning of everything they will show us soon.
19. Los Angeles Lakers
Lonzo Ball, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, Brook Lopez
The Lakers always bring things to talk about and this season can’t be the exception. After trading D’Angelo Russell, Lakers found a gem in Lonzo Ball, a player who knows how to handle the ball and has great passing skills as well.
Lonzo will lead the team alongside sophomore Brandon Ingram in which will be one of the most promising young teams in the league. Both Lonzo and Ingram will take the responsibility of the transition of the team while they finish their development -and who knows, maybe the Lakers will bring some of the biggest superstars in the game. They will be backed up by players like Julius Randle, Brook Lopez and Larry Nance Jr.
18. Miami Heat
Goran Dragic, Dion Waiters, Justise Winslow, Kelly Olynyk, Hassan Whiteside
Miami is not the same team he used to be while having LeBron in their ranks, but LeBron couldn’t take one team from them: Erik Spoelstra. The coach has done a very remarkable job in Miami after losing all the components of his big three and also the role players that helped him to win two championships.
Now with Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside, Miami appears to be recovering its former shape, but they need another player if they want to be a real threat in the Eastern Conference. Goran and Hassan will team up with the sharpshooter Kelly Olynyk and the revelation of past campaign according to many people, Dion Waiters. Perhaps Miami is not the team it used to be, but they have the pieces to complicate the things for more than one team.
17. New Orleans Pelicans
Jrue Holiday, Ian Clark, Solomon Hill, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins
New Orleans is not the best city to play apparently, as the Pelicans have tried and tried to attract good players to their ranks, but they always fail at it. Nevertheless, past season they got one of the best players on both offense and defense in the league, DeMarcus Cousins.
Besides having Anthony Davis and now with DeMarcus Cousins, the Pelicans have never been a team to have in the count, but now with these two having the chance to play a full season together, things could be changing in New Orleans very soon. They will play alongside Jrue Holliday and Rajon Rondo in which will look as one of the best societies in the association.
16. Memphis Grizzlies
Mike Conley, Tyreke Evans, Chandler Parsons, JaMychal Green, Marc Gasol
With Zach Randolph’s departure, the Memphis Grizzlies are going to have a confusing season as the Grizzlies were used to be a playoffs team and now they are supposed to have troubles at the time of making it the playoffs.
Mike Conley and Marc Gasol are in charge of taking this team to the promise land and to do that they count with Chandler Parsons and injury prone shooting guard Tyreke Evans. Both Conley and Gasol won’t have an easy job, but having these two as teammates can make things a little bit easier.
15. Portland Trail Blazers
Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Al Farouq-Aminu, Ed Davis, Jusuf Nurkic
Portland is the kind of team that doesn’t even know where it is going. Right now they are pretty much Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum but with nothing else to offer at the time of making a statement.
Lillard and McCollum will be joined by Jusuf Nurkic and Al Farouq-Aminu among others. As you may see, there is nothing remarkable in Portland besides Damian and C.J. However, Portland has known how to upset teams in the past and you never know what is going to happen in this league.
14. Los Angeles Clippers
Milos Teodosic, Patrick Beverley, Danilo Gallinari, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan
Doc Rivers is going to face his first season in LA without his maximum figure, Chris Paul, and seeing Clippers’ movements, this term won’t be as exciting as the previous ones. Rivers will have a huge challenge in managing this team and find the best way to explore its virtues without CP3.
Luckily for him and the team, they signed arguably the best point guard in Europe, Milos Teodosic. In his first year in the U.S, Milos will have the responsibility of leading the Clippers to playoffs and make them a contender team. He will team up with Patrick Beverley, an outstanding backcourt defender that’s used to play off the ball, as well as the arch known DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin in which could be a fun season for Clippers’ fan, but you can’t expect too much from these guys this season.
13. Charlotte Hornets
Kemba Walker, Nicolas Batum, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Frank Kaminsky, Dwight Howard
Charlotte hasn’t had plenty joy with this team, but the Hornets’ front office has made interesting moves in order to have a more competitive team. Led by Kemba Walker and the suffocating defense from Nicolas Batum, the Hornets will have a good chance to contend in the Eastern Conference.
However, this won’t be enough for the Hornets, but Kemba has become an excellent player, being one of the best in his position in the entire league. Walker is the star of the team alongside Batum and now with the addition of Dwight Howard we have to keep an eye on this squad.
12. Philadelphia 76ers
Markelle Fultz, Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, Robert Covington, Joel Embiid
Philadelphia has been quite awful since they lost both Allen Iverson and Andre Iguodala, but thanks to the draft the Sixers were able to build a team. They started picking good players that never showed what they were expected to and now everything points that Philly will take on the NBA very soon.
Ben Simmons is going to make his debut in the league this season and finally play alongside the Process, Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor and the bunch of youngsters Philadelphia has at this point. Simmons, the fans and the team will have a very good season and who knows, maybe they can upset one of the favorite teams if they make it the playoffs.
11. Milwaukee Bucks
Malcolm Brogdon, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, Thon Maker
Jason Kidd’s team is going to thrive in this league if they’re able to keep their talent together. Maybe with some other teams such as Timberwolves and Philadelphia, Bucks have a great staff with agents who will rule this league very soon.
Giannis Antetokounmpo will be the face of this team and teaming up with Jabari Parker and Thon Maker, the Greek Freak will thrive this season and making his team one of the funniest to see. Malcolm Brogdon and Khris Middleton will also collaborate in this team in order to improve it.
10. Denver Nuggets
Jameer Nelson, Gary Harris, Wilson Chandler, Paul Millsap, Nikola Jokic
This is likely the most expected season for Nuggets’ fans since Carmelo days. Denver acquired some interesting pieces during offseason and they look like a team with really good chances to compete, but it will take some time before they can be looked as real contenders.
Paul Millsap landed in this team ready to take over the Western Division alongside the best passing big man in the league: Nikola Jokic. Besides, with Gary Harris continuing to grow as a dominant two-way guard, while Jamaal Murray leads the offense in the second unit, the Nuggets are in for a treat this upcoming campaign.
9. Washington Wizards
John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter Jr., Markieff Morris, Marcin Gortat
Despite having one of the best backcourts in the league in John Wall and Bradley Beal, the Wizards were one of the biggest revelations this past season, as they showed impressive things, even forcing a seventh game against Boston in the Conference semi-finals.
Bradley and Wall will surely be a lot better this season and with teammates like Marcin Gortat, Otto Porter Jr. and the additions from the bench, Washington could have a good shot against the favorite in the Conference.
8. Toronto Raptors
Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, C.J. Miles, Serge Ibaka, Jonas Valanciunas
Toronto is still a very good team in the Eastern Conference, but with the improvement of teams like Celtics or Wizards, they’ve lost the path apparently. Now with all their figures and his magical duo of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, Toronto knows it is now or never.
Dwane Casey is aware of this and he has to put all his best and pushing his players to deliver what Raptors’ fans are expecting from several seasons ago. DeMar and Kyle will be joined by Serge Ibaka, Jonas Valanciunas and C.J. Miles in order to reach playoffs and have a good run finally.
7. Minnesota Timberwolves
Jeff Teague, Jimmy Butler, Andrew Wiggins, Taj Gibson, Karl-Anthony Towns
The team’s front office has been developed this team from several seasons ago and this is going to be the perfect year to witness all the good things Minnesota can offer under the tutelage of Tom Thibodeau.
For this season they’re going to team up Jimmy Butler with exciting prospects Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins in one of the most promising teams in the history of the league. Butler will be the leader of the team alongside Towns. Plus, with the experience of Jamal Crawford and the endless list of talented players in their ranks, Minnesota might have a very good season.
6. Oklahoma City Thunder
Russell Westbrook, Andre Roberson, Paul George, Jerami Grant, Steven Adams
OKC has suffered too much. They have always been a good team but players don’t seem to like them. The Thunder put together one of the most explosive players in the past five seasons, Paul George and Russell Westbrook.
You can say you never saw that coming, but it really happened. Now George and Russ will take the reins of Oklahoma and try to steal the spotlight from the favorites. They have good prospects and very decent intern players in Enes Kanter and Steve Adams, and now with PG, OKC is ready to come back to the top.
5. San Antonio Spurs
Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol
Gregg Popovich is a genius. That’s it. The guy has known how to manage a team for more than 20 years and making it a successful one at the same time and seeing the huge expectations other teams have, San Antonio needs to state something.
Still having Manu Ginobili in their ranks, Spurs have a great chance to hit the table and win their sixth title. Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge will be the leaders of the team and with players like Manu, Parker and Green the Spurs will always have a good chance at the time of competing.
4. Houston Rockets
Chris Paul, James Harden, Trevor Ariza, Ryan Anderson, Clint Capela
Just like Boston, Houston made incredible movements during the offseason and if they were dangerous the previous season, now they will be unstoppable. Mike D’Antoni proved again that he is ahead of his time and now we can’t wait to see what his squad will bring us.
Chris Paul and James Harden will be MASSIVE playing together and we can’t be happier. D’Antoni will have a great time in Texas with these two plus the great collaborators they have in Capella, Ariza and Gordon. Houston can become this next season’s surprise.
3. Boston Celtics
Kyrie Irving, Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward, Marcus Morris, Al Horford
This is the most exciting team -alongside Houston- to see this upcoming season, as the Celtics and its front office keep demonstrating they are really good negotiators (despite what you think of them giving Cleveland more than necessary for Kyrie) and this term everything they started back in 2011 will pay off.
They assembled an extremely talented team with superstars like Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. Added to the talents of both Al Horford and Jayson Tatum, Celtics will surely make noise this season, and who knows, maybe we are going to witness a different matchup in finals this year.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers
Isaiah Thomas, J.R. Smith, LeBron James, Tristan Thompson, Kevin Love
With the hurtful loss of Kyrie Irving (and the staggering situation of LeBron James), Cleveland will face one of the hardest seasons in team history. Sure, they have a good team, but it’s not good enough to face the Warriors and actually compete against them.
LeBron James and Kevin Love will try to lead this team to another final but this time alongside Isaiah Thomas, one of the best players from last season. Cleveland has the obligation of winning the Larry O’Brien this season or all these changes would be senseless.
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1. Golden State Warriors
Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, Zaza Pachulia
The reigning champions of the league are keen to repeat the title and start something similar to what Bill Russell and his Celtics did back in the day. There are always things that can be done better or differently, but the Warriors are a team with almost none frailty.
Durant, Curry, Thompson and Green will be the team to beat. They only need an elite center to become a real dream team, but they’re pretty close for being one. This season is going to be pure and magical show in the Bay, as the Warriors don’t seem to have any competition.