Oct. 30, 2018
ESPN Releases NBA Power Rankings For The Restart in Orlando
ESPN just released their power rankings for the upcoming and anticipated NBA restart in Orlando. The restart is expected to resume July 30th with the Jazz-Pelicans and the Clippers-Lakers tipping it off. Each player should be fully rested and recovered from any minor injuries they had during the season since the NBA has been suspended for a total of five months going into Orlando. So we are going to go in-depth to see if these ESPN power rankings are a big hit or a big miss.
THE BIG HITS ( Ranks That I Strongly Agree With )
Milwaukee Bucks (Rank - 1) - Before the suspension of the NBA season the Bucks were on pace to having a historic regular season record (67-15). Milwaukee also ranks 1st in the NBA in Defensive Rating and 7th in Offensive Rating. One question remains though, can the Bucks supporting cast help Giannis fulfill his dream of becoming an NBA champion. With no Brogdon this season the Bucks are without a key scorer, Bledsoe hasn't developed a reliable jump shot yet, and Middleton can be a hit or miss come playoff time. But considering the fact that the Bucks doesn't have any key player sitting out for the restart, they would be at full strength and a matchup nightmare for any team in the league
Remaining schedule: BOS, HOU, BKN, MIA, DAL, TOR, WSH, MEM
Toronto Raptors (Rank - 4) - Kawhi's decision to abandon the north, and jet to the west was a major hit to the Raptor's franchise. Many people didn't believe they would even be a top 3 seed in the east without a major superstar presence. This season the Raptors have proven everyone wrong, they have solidified their spot as the 2nd seed and were on track to having a better record then the record they had when Kawhi was on the team. Even though some of the Raptors' key players sustained injuries during the season, the long and draining 5 month hiatus should be enough to wipe away any fatigue the players had. You should expect Nurse and the Raptors to flip the switch and attempt to defend their NBA title.
Remaining schedule: LAL, MIA, ORL, BOS, MEM, MIL, PHI, DEN
Houston Rockets (Rank - 5) - When the Rockets traded away their all-star caliber center Clint Capela in a 3 team trade in exchange for Jordan Bell and Robert Covington, their game plan didn't change, it just, shrunk. The Rockets took small ball to a whole another level, so much of another level that it's not even called small ball anymore, it's mini-ball. Since the trade, the Rockets went 8-6 and with Westbrook averaging 30, 8, and 5 in the last 10 games, space is the limit for the Rockets. The Rockets Mini-Ball game plan will be tested to it's fullest in Orlando but with 2 MVP's and a great supporting cast, the Rockets actually have a chance to make a deep run in the playoffs.
Remaining schedule: DAL, MIL, POR, LAL, SAC, SA, IND, PHI
THE BIG MISSES ( Ranks That I Strongly Disagree With )
Los Angeles Lakers ( Rank - 3) - The Lakers will go into Orlando without one of their best perimeter defenders, Avery Bradley. During the season Bradley sat out 14 games for the Lakers, during those 14 games the Lakers went 13-1, with half of those wins being against playoff teams. Not to mention it was just announced that Dwight will return with the Lakers for the NBA restart, so the defensive presence Bradley brought to the team can easily be filled, especially when LeBron turns on that switch. Out of the last 10 games the Lakers played before the hiatus, they went 8-2, with Lebron averaging 30 points in 9 of those games. Not to mention the Lakers defeated Philly, Milwaukee, and the Clippers back to back. When both LeBron and AD are playing at their best, there is no stopping the Los Angeles Lakers. New Rank - 2
Remaining schedule: LAC, TOR, UTAH, OKC, HOU, IND, DEN, SAC
New Orleans Pelicans ( Rank - 15 ) - Zion Williamson has been great for the Pelicans this season, averaging 24, 6, and 2, he seems to be, in most fans eyes, the future of the league. The Pelicans are one of the best offensive teams in the league when everyone is playing, the Pels rank 4th in PPG ( Tied w/ Clippers), 3rd in AST/G, 2nd in OREB, and 3rd in 3P%. With all of their players healthy and ready to go, especially Zion who has seemed to have gotten slimmer and gained back that weight in pure muscle, the Pelicans are expected to snag that 8th spot and hopefully give the Lakers a run for their money in the first round. New Rank - 13
Remaining schedule: UTAH, LAC, MEM, SAC, WSH, SA, SAC, ORL