NBA

The NBA Hierarchy: Top 15 Teams

1. Lakers

LeBron James is doing everything right to this point (with the exception of free throw shooting). His career high 11.1 assist total has greatly contributed to the team’s success. LeBron knows that at this point of his career it is more important than ever to not only create his own shot, but to manufacture opportunities for guys like Kyle Kuzma, Anthony Davis, and Danny Green.

2. Clippers

Yes, the Clippers are only the fourth best team in the Western Conference, with a record of 10-5. Paul George missed the first eleven games with a shoulder injury and Kawhi Leonard continues to be day to day with a knee injury, in addition to sitting out in the latter half of back to backs. The depth the team possesses without their two All NBA studs has proven to be nothing short of remarkable.

3. Celtics

Boston lost their first game of the season in Philadelphia, but has rebounded to become the hottest team in the league. Their ten game win streak was recently snapped due to a last second missed floater from Marcus Smart, but what they’ve done shouldn’t be overlooked. Without Kyrie, the offense has looked much more dynamic. New addition Kemba Walker has proven to be a great facilitator. Meanwhile, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Gordon Hayward (before the metacarpal injury) have all vastly improved their games.

4. Rockets

Houston continues to have the same identity. All I need to say is James Harden, James Harden, James Harden, who is by far averaging a league high 39.2 points from the field. Russell Westbrook has been somewhat underwhelming offensively (especially beyond the arc). Nonetheless, the Rockets are still winning games largely due to these to stalwarts.

5. Bucks

Giannis Antetokounmpo is arguably posting numbers surpassing his MVP season from the previous season. He currently averages 30.3 points per game and consistently posts a virtual mere triple-double every night. The only thing currently going against the Bucks is Khris Middleton, who will be sidelined for 3-4 weeks due to a thigh injury.

6. Jazz

Utah made one of the most impactful trades of the offseason when they acquired Mike Conley from the Grizzlies. Through the first thirteen games, Conley has underachieved, shooting 38.4% from inside the arc and 32.9% from distance. The reason as to why the Jazz are a force to be reckoned with is Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell has thus far improved his shooting percentage (2’s and 3’s) from last season, as well as his free throw shooting, rebounds, and points per game.

7. Nuggets

Nikola Jokic has seen his numbers dip through the first thirteen games of the season, but the bench has picked up some of the slack. Denver has one of the deepest benches in the league with players such as Mason Plumlee, Jerami Grant, and Torrey Craig. The three of these guys are all starting caliber players, which speaks scouting and roster development from the Nugget’s front office

8. 76ers

Philadelphia undertook one major change in their lineup from the sign and trade with Miami, sending Jimmy Butler for Josh Richardson. Richardson doesn’t have the type of offensive reputation that Butler possess, but does add another strong defensive component for the 76ers. They have got out to a strong 9-5 start, including a huge opening matchup victory against the Celtics. The one factor that could hinder the success of the team is being very top heavy, but they should have no problem securing a high seed for the playoffs.

9. Mavericks

The Mavericks have one of the more surprising starts to the season, due in large part to their two European migrants leading the way. Luka Doncic is arguably the league MVP through the first 10-15 games, posting a near triple double (29.5 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 9.3 assists). Kristaps Porzingis, coming off a torn ACL injury, isn’t shooting great from the field but is still almost averaging a double-double.

10. Heat

The Heat may be off to the most surprising start in the league, currently sitting at 10-3. As mentioned previously, Miami acquired Jimmy Butler in a sign and trade with Philadelphia. Butler is averaging about 19 points, six rebounds, and seven assists per night, while just shooting 28% from distance. Kendrick Nunn has stolen the spotlight from Butler, as he was signed by the Heat after going undrafted out of Illinois. Nunn is consistently putting up 17 points per contest and shooting a staggering 39% from three point range.

11. Timberwolves

Minnesota somewhat flew under the radar until the brawl between Karl-Anthony Towns and Joel Embiid, which both were handed a suspension for. Nonetheless, KAT is playing at an All NBA level, posting a stat-line of 26-12.1-3.6, in addition to a great 44% efficiency from three point land. Ryan Saunders is also doing a great job leading the Timberwolves in his first full season with the team.

12. Raptors

There were questions coming into the season once Kawhi Leonard signed a max deal with the Clippers. Were the Raptors going to be a total flop following their championship after losing their best player? Was Pascal Siakam ready to live up to his max contract and be Toronto’s new star? Even without Kawhi, the Raptors still boast a 10-4 record. Siakam is taken another great leap forward and Fred VanVleet is playing exceptionally well in the absence of Kyle Lowry.

13. Pacers

Indiana may be the most injury plagued team in the early comings of the 2019-2020 season. Oladipo hasn’t played due to his lingering injury from last year, Brogdon and Sabonis have missed two games, and Myles Turner has also missed eight games. Somehow, the Pacers keep winning games and are currently sitting at 8-6, due in large part to the leap in play of Sabonis. After agreeing to a four year extension to stay with the team, he is averaging 18.6-13.8-3.6 and may be the league’s most improved player to this point.

14. Suns

Phoenix came out strong out of the gate to the likes of a 6-3 start, but have lost three out of their last four games. It doesn’t help that DeAndre Ayton has been suspended 25 games for the use of a banned diuretic. With all this being said, Devin Booker is playing like Devin Booker should, but most importantly, the Suns have finally found themselves a point guard. Ricky Rubio. Rubio came over to Phoenix after signing a 3 year deal for 51 million. He has done very well leading the offense and distributing the basketball, ranking fifth in the association with 8.1 assists per game.

15. Nets

Brooklyn will have an entirely different look and feel next season once Kevin Durant returns from his ruptured Achilles tendon, occurring in last year’s finals against the Raptors. Kyrie Irving continues to put up career highs in points per game, rebounds, assists, and free throw percentage in his absence. Currently sitting at a record of 6-8, Brooklyn looks to continue improving and fighting for a playoff spot.

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