An NBA team would be nothing without its players, especially its power players - the driving forces behind the crew. These teams are ranked from the champion Warriors, down.
NBA Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors opened the 2018-19 season on top and to nobody's surprise. If you are an NBA fanatic then you have witnessed the past four years of Warriors domination. With four NBA All-Stars on the team and then the addition of center, DeMarcus Cousins, they hold potential to come out on top once again. Despite Cousins' hothead reputation, he is arguably the best center in the NBA. He will be recovering from an Achilles injury as well as playing with four other NBA All-Stars, however, his performance has the potential to give Golden State their best season yet.
Expectations for Kevin Durant are always high. Durant has spent 12 seasons in the NBA and has been named to nine All-Star rosters and eight All-NBA teams. Klay Thompson is at his best now after setting a then NBA record in 2014 with his teammate, Stephen Curry with 484 combined three-pointers in one season. Draymond Green, a power forward with a record of three-time NBA champion and three-time All-Star plays a significant role in the Warriors lineup as well. Head coach, Steve Kerr also warrants credit for the Warriors development and success. Thanks to the talent of the coaches and the superb selection of players, I believe we can expect the Warriors to come out on top once again.
NBA Houston Rockets
Coach Mike D'Antoni has a unique system of which his team's strategy relies on two of the five best passers in the league. James Harden and Chris Paul are driving forces behind this strategy. Harden is a two-time member of the United States national basketball team and won gold medals in both the 2012 Summer Olympics and 2014 FIBA World Cup. On top of that, he fits well with the Rockets and D'Antoni's style of coaching. Houston Rocket's Carmelo Anthony, an All-Star ten times, an All-NBA Team member six times, as well as a third-option in Houston, has given the Rockets one of the best offenses yet. During preseason Anthony was shooting 47 percent from the field and 50 percent from deep.
In four games he averaged 13 points and 4 rebounds per game. Anthony's role is drastically reduced with joining the Rockets, however, his efficiency has skyrocketed, which has, in turn, revitalized his entire game. The offensive player has since been running the floor. During four games, the recurrence of his spot-up and transition offense have almost doubled. This intense style of play has contributed to his newfound efficiency, jetting him from the 45th percentile to 96th percentile since the last season. Last season Anthony had an impressive record with his catch-and-shoot threes, making 37.8 percent, and 42.8 percent on those considered "wide-open." Anthony's ability to selectively stray from the Rocket's three-or-key technique is a skill that Houston benefits from in end of game scenarios.
NBA Boston Celtics
CBSSports.com produced a top 100 ranking of NBA players. The Boston Celtics claim five NBA players from this list, ranked between 12 and 42. Despite not having any top-10 NBA players on their roster, the Celtics have managed to hold a power position. They are the best-coached team in the NBA. Both Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward were added to the Celtics in 2017. Five-time All-Star, Kyrie Irving, ranked 12 in CBSSports.com top 100 ranking. Gordon Hayward gives the team a massive advantage in being their primary ball-handler. This strategy puts pressure on the defense as Hayward's ball handling skill is combined with the shooting around him. Defenders stay close to Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, and Jayson Tatum. Hayward's height gives him an advantage at the 3-point line when they do. Al Horford is there to go pick-and-pop or to break clean to the basket, depending on the moves from the opposing centers. Jaylen Brown, a very strong suit for this team, was ranked 42 in CBSSports.com top 100 ranking.
NBA Toronto Raptors
The Toronto Raptors were ranked fifth best defense of the NBA. Losing DeMar DeRozan to the San Antonio Spurs really took a toll on the team. However, claiming Kawhi Leonard is expected to bring the team up and improve their defense even more. Leonard is rated the best player on the Raptors roster and arguably one of the best NBA players in this team’s history. His track record is untouchable, claiming two-time defensive player of the year, coming both second and third in MVP voting for the regular season, along with making two All NBA teams. His versatility, however, is what coaches are after. He is both outstanding perimeter defender as well as an expert high-volume scorer. It is nearly impossible to guard Leonard with his post-moves and exquisite footwork paired with his impeccable shooting skills. Kyle Lowry poses a threat to opposing teams with his three-point shot, shooting 39-percent from distance last season. His personal best was not far off, setting it the year before at 41-percent. Another strong arm for the Raptors is Serge Ibaka, who can shoot from anywhere on the court.
NBA Utah Jazz
The Utah Jazz has just about the best defense around. And Donovan Mitchell has made a name for himself as their best offensive player. With a record averaging 20.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.5 steals and 2.4 triples nightly, he helped lead Utah to a 48-win regular season and carrying them to the second round of the playoffs. The Jazz is also loaded with Ricky Rubio, Dante Exum, Grayson Allen, and Raul Neto this season. Although the trade was difficult, Ricky Rubio soon came to learn that he fits well with the Jazz. It didn't take him long to become a staple on this team in the Western Conference Semifinals. Dante Exum didn't show too much game time last season, however, this could be his big year. His 3-year $33 million dollar contract is enough to show that he's earned the confidence of his team. After his defense on players Chris Paul and James Harden in the playoffs, this confidence was well deserved. Grayson Allen is expected to fit nicely with Donovan Mitchell. He has a reputation for pouting and pissing off players, however, he has all the skill necessary to boost the Utah Jazz. As does Raul Neto, who is entering into his fourth season with the Utah Jazz. This team seems to have become one of the absolute best-run franchises around.
NBA Philadelphia 76ers
7-foot-2 Joel Embiid and 6-foot-10 Ben Simmons, two of the best NBA players are advancing the Philadelphia 76ers this season. Embiid is no doubt the head honcho for the team after proving to be an NBA All-Star Game starter during the 2017-18 season. His versatility has shown success with both jumpers as well as wide-open three-pointers on fast breaks. Embiid averaged 22.9 points, 10.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.76 blocks in 63 regular-season games last season while finishing sixth in the league in defensive rating. Last season, at a ripe age of 22, Simmons won the NBA Rookie of the Year Award. His regular season game average was 15.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 8.2 assists.
Although criticized for his shots, Simmons is a promising young player expected to bring big things to the Philadelphia 76ers. The 76ers have high expectations for Markelle Fulz as well. Fulz was the No. 1 pick in 2017 and is now the starting shooting guard. His development could very well help the Sixers in the Eastern Conference.
NBA Denver Nuggets
23-year-old Nikola Jokic is the support of this impressive offense. On top of representing the Denver Nuggets, he is also a player for the Serbian national team. A strong season from four-time NBA All-Star, Paul Millsap will push the team even higher. Millsap is another power forward signed to the Nuggets last season. His three-year, $90-million contract made him the third-highest paid of the NBA players this season, behind Steph Curry and LeBron James. Having this power player on the team will ease the pressure for the younger athletes such as Gary Harris, Jamal Murray, and Trey Lyles.
NBA Indiana Pacers
Victor Oladipo painted one the most phenomenal success stories of last season in his rise with the Indiana Pacers. In a Democratic rally for Senator Joe Donnelly in Hammond, Indiana, Oladipo overshadowed Biden as he endorsed Senator Donnelly. Reports say that the NBA star has no intention of sticking to sports after his NBA career reaches an end. He seems to have the skills to achieve this kind of profession. His strong sense of gratitude aids him well in sports as well as in the political eye.
Even further, he is the son of immigrants from Sierra Leone and Nigeria, therefore understanding and displaying the values of sacrifice, perseverance, and family. The Pacers laid low during the off-season and added a few strong names such as Kyle O'Quinn, Tyreke Evans, and Doug McDermott. Talented young center, Myles Turner recently signed a four-year contract extension with the Pacers, worth $80 million. If Turner turns out as expected, he could end up sending the Pacers to the Eastern Conference top tier this season.
NBA LA Lakers
LeBron James - still considered the greatest basketball player in the world - is obviously the power player behind the LA Lakers, and has been for quite some time. After playing on the USA Olympic team for so many years, it's no surprise that he is one of the world's greatest basketball players. The younger starters on this team will be fun to watch. Alongside James, we'll see Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Rajon Rondo, and Ivica Zubac as the starting lineup. During the preseason, the ball movement around LeBron was been quite dynamic.
NBA Milwaukee Bucks
The Milwaukee Bucks have a new coach this season. Under Mike Budenholzer, the Bucks have the potential to undergo a huge improvement, and the better they do, the better his chance at winning the Coach of the Year Award. Point guard, Eric Bledsoe had a great last season, however, is expected to see huge adjustments under the new head coach. Budenholzer's strategy relies on an offense that actively moves the ball around. After the amount of possession that Bledsoe averaged last month, it will take some time adjusting to the new coach. However, it looks like the two are off to a positive start.