2018-19 NBA Power Rankings
Looking for 2018-19 NBA Power Rankings? We’re five weeks into the NBA season, and boy has there been drama. Just in the last week, we’ve seen LeBron James pass Wilt Chamberlain as a top-five all-time scorer, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green have gotten into the beef of the century and Jimmy Butler finally found his way out of Minnesota and onto a true contender.
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As always, our rankings will look at the entire body of work for all 30 teams, with a specific emphasis on recent trends.
1. Toronto Raptors
There hasn’t been anybody in the NBA more consistent than the Toronto Raptors, led by Kawhi Leonard, the newly crowned King of the East (okay, maybe that’s a bit premature in a LeBron-less conference, but he’s been great in his first season in The North).
Toronto was always supposed to be a contender for a top seed out East, but virtually nobody expected them to be the consensus No. 1 team ahead of the Boston Celtics. And yet, that’s where we stand during this fifth week of the 2018-19 campaign.
2. Milwaukee Bucks
If you didn’t expect the Raptors to be a consensus best at this point in the season, you likely didn’t see the Milwaukee Bucks being the consensus second-best.
So far this season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has been every bit of a freak as his Greek Freak nickname indicates. And he still can’t hit a three-pointer. Yes, that’s a knock on his game that has to be recognized, but it’s also ridiculous just how good and how dominant he is without one.
The Bucks are hitting three-pointers at a ridiculous rate around him anyway. New head coach Mike Budenholzer has figured out how to maximize his roster around Giannis.
3. Golden State Warriors
A case could be made for the Golden State Warriors to be the No. 2 team behind the Raptors. But a case could also be made for them to drop out of the top three considering the drama surrounding Kevin Durant and Draymond Green has boiled over so badly that people don’t know if the dynasty can survive it. We’re giving them the benefit of the doubt that they’re going to figure it out. They’re the current back-to-back champions after all. But this story isn’t going away.
4. Portland Trail Blazers
The Portland Trail Blazers fell to the Los Angeles Lakers on national TV on Wednesday night, but they entered that contest with the league’s longest winning streak and a 10-3 overall record. The Blazers aren’t going to keep up the pace to win 60-ish games. But it’s fun to see what they can do when Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are getting help, which has been the case early in the year.
5. Philadelphia 76ers
The Philadelphia 76ers don’t deserve this spot based on their performance on the court. But we can’t ignore the fact that they just swapped Robert Covington, Dario Saric and Jerryd Bayless for Jimmy Butler, an easy top-10 player across the league—top five when he’s engaged and healthy.
6. Denver Nuggets
The Denver Nuggets were the hottest team in the NBA to start the season, and since we take the whole body of work for a team into consideration, their status as a top-10 team is unquestioned. But they’ve now lost four straight, knocking them out of the top five—also without question.
7. Boston Celtics
Boston has struggled this season. Before beating the lowly Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night, they had lost four of five despite having a healthy roster and championship aspirations. All that said, they do have the fourth-best record in the Eastern conference and we can’t simply ignore the fact that they’re easily the most talented team out East. Talent will become less important if they continue to struggle through the year, but it’s still early, so we have to give them the benefit of the doubt as eventual contenders.
8. Indiana Pacers
While the Celtics hold the fourth seed out East, the Indiana Pacers have the third. Nate McMillan has struggled to get much out of players not named Domantas Sabonis and Victor Oladipo, but those two have been good enough to keep this group in our top 10.
9. Oklahoma City Thunder
The Oklahoma City Thunder have really turned things around since their terrible start, but they are also currently without Russell Westbrook, who has been sidelined for a week due to injury. Let’s wait to see what they do when he gets back before we bump them any higher, as Westbrook has been known to do more while contributing less throughout his career.
10. Los Angeles Lakers
Maybe we’re jumping the gun here. We’re probably jumping the gun here. But LeBron James and the Lakers have started to figure it out, large in part thanks to the addition of Tyson Chandler. Unfortunately, Rajon Rondo just broke his hand Wednesday night against the Trail Blazers, so we’ll have to see how the team adjusts between now and our next power rankings in two weeks.
More NBA Power Rankings – Teams #11 – > #30
- 11. LA Clippers
- 12. San Antonio Spurs
- 13. Memphis Grizzlies
- 14. Utah Jazz
- 15. New Orleans Pelicans
- 16. Houston Rockets
- 17. Detroit Pistons
- 18. Sacramento Kings
- 19. Charlotte Hornets
- 20. Minnesota Timberwolves
- 21. Miami Heat
- 22. Brooklyn Nets
- 23. Dallas Mavericks
- 24. Orlando Magic
- 25. Washington Wizards
- 26. New York
- 30. Cleveland Cavaliers
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