Tuesday, October 27, 2015

2015-16 NBA Power Rankings: Week 1

We are now hours away from the start of the 2015-16 NBA season, but who's counting?!

Unless you're a Sixers fan (like me), the start of the NBA season brings with it optimism for teams and fan bases alike.

With the Cleveland Cavaliers prohibitive favorites in the Eastern Conference, virtually all of the intrigue lies in the Western Conference.

Six of the top seven teams in our NBA Power Rankings all reside in the West.

The Warriors are as deep as any team and have the league's reigning MVP, Stephen Curry, and earn the top spot in our power rankings as defending NBA champions. Meanwhile, the Spurs have as much talent as any team with the addition of free-agent LaMarcus Aldridge to a roster that includes Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan, etc.

While health will obviously be a key factor, the Oklahoma City Thunder have the potential to win it all.

At full strength, few teams have as much overall talent and the duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are the most-dominant 1-2 punch in the league. The last time they both played 80-plus games (2012-13), Oklahoma City was the No. 1 seed out west with 60 wins. That season, Durant and Westbrook averaged 28.1/7.9/4.6 and 23.2/5.2/7.4, respectively, and both players have triple-double potential in any given night.

Not only is it natural to worry about KD's foot, but Westbrook has missed at least 15 games in three of the past four seasons. And last year the team used 18 different starting lineups.

Like David Blatt taking over a team with LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love last year, Billy Donovan gets a loaded Thunder team as a first-year NBA head coach.

In addition to Durant and Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, Enes Kanter and Andre Roberson round out the starting five. After joining the Thunder last season, Kanter averaged a double-double (18.7 points and 11.0 rebounds) in his 26 games with OKC.

If the Thunder win the title, will Durant return as a free agent in 2016? That will obviously be a huge story line next summer; for now, however, the Thunder are my preseason pick to win it all.

2016 NBA Finals Prediction: Thunder over Cavaliers in seven games

Below are our NBA Power Rankings heading into the first week of the NBA season:

1Golden State Warriors0-0N/A
2Cleveland Cavaliers0-0N/A
3Oklahoma City Thunder0-0N/A
4San Antonio Spurs0-0N/A
5Houston Rockets0-0N/A
6Memphis Grizzlies0-0N/A
7Los Angeles Clippers0-0N/A
8Atlanta Hawks0-0N/A
9Chicago Bulls0-0N/A
10New Orleans Pelicans0-0N/A
11Miami Heat0-0N/A
12Indiana Pacers0-0N/A
13Toronto Raptors0-0N/A
14Milwaukee Bucks0-0N/A
15Washington Wizards0-0N/A
16Boston Celtics0-0N/A
17Dallas Mavericks0-0N/A
18Utah Jazz0-0N/A
19Detroit Pistons0-0N/A
20Phoenix Suns0-0N/A
21Orlando Magic0-0N/A
22Minnesota Timberwolves0-0N/A
23New York Knicks0-0N/A
24Charlotte Bobcats0-0N/A
25Brooklyn Nets0-0N/A
26Los Angeles Lakers0-0N/A
27Sacramento Kings0-0N/A
28Denver Nuggets0-0N/A
29Portland Trail Blazers0-0N/A
30Philadelphia 76ers0-0N/A

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