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1. Golden State Warriors
2018-2019 Record: 57-25 Previous Rank: 1
Golden State finished the season strong, although they fell short of the last few season win totals. It is time for this group to flip the switch, and you have to think this is the last we see of this group with Kevin Durant likely moving on. They averaged 117 points per game, which was second best to Milwaukee.
2. Milwaukee Bucks
2018-2019 Record: 60-22 Previous Rank: 2
The Bucks were the only team to win 60 games, and dominated within their own conference going 40-12. Offensively this team was extremely talented, putting up 118 points per game. They will now face the tough task of playoff basketball, but come in a bit shorthanded due to injuries.
3. Toronto Raptors
2018-2019 Record: 58-24 Previous Rank: 3
Going 7-3 to close out the season, Toronto is one of elite teams in the Eastern Conference, but isn’t getting any respect. You have to think this suits them, putting a chip on their shoulder for the postseason. They finished the season healthy, and will make some noise in the playoffs.
4. Houston Rockets
2018-2019 Record: 53-29 Previous Rank: 4
Houston ended up the 4th seed in the Western Conference, which may not be the best case given they would play Golden State in the second round. Either way, this team got healthy when it mattered, and played their best basketball in the second half. With Chris Paul and James Harden, they can take down any team if the secondary players get be at their best.
5. Denver Nuggets
2018-2019 Record 54-28 Previous Rank: 5
Denver looked a little rocky down the stretch, going 5-5 to round out the year. They were the only team in the Western Conference playoff picture to not finish above .500 in the last ten. This is still a team that held teams to 106 points per game. They dominated at home, which was crucial to end up the two seed.
6. Philadelphia 76ers
2018-2019 Record 51-31 Previous Rank: 6
Philadelphia went 4-6 to end the year, and struggled on the road. Those were really the only two flaws for this team, as they wrapped up the season with 51 wins and the three seed in the Eastern Conference. We will now see how they take on a pesky Brooklyn Nets team and try and assert themselves over the teams above.
7. Portland Trail Blazers
2018-2019 Record 53-29 Previous Rank: 8
Despite losing Jusuf Nurkic for the season, the other important piece is that they got C.J. McCollum back. Portland closed out the season extremely strong, going 8-2 locking up the three seed in the Western Conference. They draw a tough round one matchup, but hard to rank a team that won 53 games in the West any lower.
8. LA Clippers
2018-2019 Record 48-34 Previous Rank: 10
Who would have thought the Clippers would win 48 games and finish in the playoffs. Yeah, they draw Golden State, but this team kept on fighting even after trading Tobias Harris. The Clippers could score with the best of them, but defensively they did struggle.
9. Utah Jazz
2018-2019 Record 50-32 Previous Rank: 12
Utah is a dangerous five seed, finishing out the season 8-2. Rudy Gobert really picked up his play offensively in the second half, and defensively this team was once again one of the best in the league. Utah won 50 games, as this bunch continues to bring consistency season in and season out. Addition of a better secondary scorer is the only thing that holds this team back.
10. Boston Celtics
2018-2019 Record 49-33 Previous Rank: 7
Boston fell well short of their win total that Vegas set, and didn’t exactly flip the switch heading into the playoffs. They went 6-4 to close out the season, but did win 49 games. The defense isn’t the same as last years, and Marcus Smart’s absence in the first round is going to be a big factor. They are truly a mystery as the regular season is over.
11. San Antonio Spurs
2018-2019 Record 48-34 Previous Rank: 9
San Antonio finished out the season strong, winning the last three and landed the seventh seed in the Western Conference. They exceeded expectations, as Greg Popovich once again shows why he is the best coach in the league. The Spurs come in a bit higher on my list than some, but have dropped from the last ranking.
12. Indiana Pacers
2018-2019 Record 48-34 Previous Rank: 13
Indiana stumbled a bit down the stretch, and will take on Boston in the first round. They still won 48 games, and played some tremendous defense which is why they are higher on my rankings. They are a threat for a first round upset, even without Victor Oladipo.
13. Oklahoma City Thunder
2018-2019 Record 49-33 Previous Rank: 11
Oklahoma City was the eighth seed last time out, but went on a five game winning streak, and also won seven of their last ten games. They draw Portland, which is going to be a fun battle between Russell Westbrook and Damian Lillard. OKC’s consistency fluctuated throughout the year, but enter the playoffs as a very dangerous six seed.
14. Detroit Pistons
2018-2019 Record 41-41 Previous Rank: 14
It seemed like Detroit was trying to choke away their playoff chances, but held on landing the eighth seed. Detroit’s guard play holds them back, but they have a front court that can give teams trouble. A 41-41 playoff team is properly ranked here, going middle of the rankings.
15. Brooklyn Nets
2018-2019 Record 42-40 Previous Rank: 17
Brooklyn finished up the season going 6-4, landing the highest seed they could possibly get. This is a fun bunch, and I had bumped them up a few spots after they were scuffling. They will draw a tough Philadelphia team, but overall this is a major step forward for Brooklyn after years of financial struggle and tough records on the court.
16. Orlando Magic
2018-2019 Record 42-40 Previous Rank: 16
Orlando was a surprise team to make the playoffs, and finished two games over .500. Not sure how many realize the Magic were a very good defensive team, especially in the second half. Many are calling for them to upset the Raptors in the first round, but we should pump the brakes a bit. Orlando is staying put in this mid-range.
17. Miami Heat
2018-2019 Record 39-43 Previous Rank: 15
Despite all the Dwyane Wade fun at the end of the season, Miami’s roster was missing some key players and they ended up missing the playoffs. Miami still continues to chug along with what is a mediocre lineup, and a 4-6 finish at the end of the year drops them down a couple of pegs.
18. Sacramento Kings
2018-2019 Record 39-43 Previous Rank: 17
After being officially eliminated from playoff chances, Sacramento struggled a bit going 3-7. I wouldn’t read much into this, as the Kings now look like one of the up and coming teams with so much youth and upside. The firing of Dave Joerger was a bit surprising, and leaves some doubt for next season after years of coaching changes.
19. Los Angeles Lakers
2018-2019 Record 37-45 Previous Rank: 21
A 37-45 finish sits as a big disappointment in Los Angeles, and Magic Johnson’s abrupt exit caught everybody off guard. We will now look towards the 2019-2020 season, where the Lakers roster needs some reshaping. Another sub .500 season would be chaos within the organization. That is if it can get any more chaotic.
20. Charlotte Hornets
2018-2019 Record 39-43 Previous Rank: 22
Charlotte controlled their own destiny, and failed to take advantage of it. Kemba Walker is no officially a free agent, and the Hornets don’t have an identity of the franchise other than him. Still this team nearly won 40 games, and have been over-performing the last few seasons.
21. Minnesota Timberwolves
2018-2019 Record 36-46 Previous Rank: 19
Injuries caught up to Minnesota down the stretch, as they finished the season ten games below .500. After all the turmoil in the beginning of the year with Jimmy Butler, this team still has quality young players that can turn things around. Minnesota was teetering on being below some of the poorer Western Conference teams most of the season.
22. Washington Wizards
2018-2019 Record 32-50 Previous Rank: 20
Bradley Beal ultimately carried this team to 32 wins, and finished the season 2-8. With so much up in the air regarding John Wall next year, the rest of their roster also are major question marks. They struggled down the stretch, but how much desire was there for a 32 win team.
23. Atlanta Hawks
2018-2019 Record 29-53 Previous Rank: 25
Despite the 29-53 record, Atlanta was a fun team to watch and they look to have struck gold on some young players. John Collins and Trae Young both finished the season strong, and while they are a bottom ranked team, they are in very good shape for the future.
24. Memphis Grizzlies
2018-2019 Record 33-49 Previous Rank: 26
Memphis was either trying to play the role of spoiler down the stretch, or were trying to dictate seeding in the Western conference, after an early hot start, Memphis looked like the team we expected. Memphis does not have the direction yet that some other teams do in this range.
25. New Orleans Pelicans
2018-2019 Record 33-49 Previous Rank: 23
Between Anthony Davis not choosing his own clothes and the Pelicans ending a disastrous season with a 3-7 finish, they will have all eyes on them in the offseason. They went 33-49 to cap off the year, and struggled defensively allowing over 115 points per game. Julius Randle was a bright spot, but that was about it.
26. Dallas Mavericks
2018-2019 Record 33-49 Previous Rank: 24
We saw another legend play out his final game, and this time it was Dirk Nowitzki. Dallas has a bright future ahead of them. They finished the season going .500 in their last ten games, as we saw Luka Doncic start to hit that rookie wall.
27. Chicago Bulls
2018-2019 Record 22-60 Previous Rank: 28
The rest of the rankings were all about tanking, and Chicago tried their best going 2-8 in the last ten games. Offense was a struggle for this bunch, averaging just 104 points per game, which in comparison to the rest of the league was tough. A few young names give them a building point for next season.
28. Cleveland Cavaliers
2018-2019 Record 19-63 Previous Rank: 29
Cleveland desperately tried to get that top chance of landing the number one pick. They finished the season 0-10 in their last ten games, but didn’t win the tanking war. Collin Sexton picked up his play over the last few weeks, but overall this sub 20 win team was one of the worst.
29. Phoenix Suns
2018-2019 Record 19-63 Previous Rank: 27
Devin Booker led the offense in about everything down the stretch, but the Suns finished well below Dallas for last in the Western Conference. They finish with Cleveland for the second worst record in the NBA. They will have a great chance to land a stud from this draft class.
30. New York Knicks
2018-2019 Record 17-65 Previous Rank: 30
New York finished with the worst record in basketball, but that might have been the goal all along. They are going to have a chance to get Zion, but also land a premier free agent. We have a whole offseason to see how this roster unfolds.