Entering the 2010-2011 NBA season, there are two major storylines. The first is the expected one: How will LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh look in their season opener against the Boston Celtics? The other storyline, however, is more of an oddity: Allen Iverson has reportedly signed a 2-year/$4 million contract to play for a professional team in Turkey.
Here are my complete Power Rankings heading into the NBA preseason (last week’s ranking in parentheses):
1 (1) Los Angeles Lakers
Kobe looks a little older, a little less accurate, but until the Lakers start losing regular season games, the defending champion is number one in the Power Rankings.
2 (3) Orlando Magic
Orlando rolled through the preseason without much incident, although it’s disappointing that the Magic/Heat matchup had to be cancelled due to a “slick floor.”
3 (2) Miami Heat
Dwyane Wade missed almost all of the preseason with an injury, and now Mike Miller is out for at least half the season. Just about everything that could go wrong in the preseason has, but the Heat still have the most talented roster in the NBA.
4 (4) Oklahoma City Thunder
Until Kobe shows everyone that he can still score at will or LeBron averages a triple-double, Kevin Durant is still my choice for NBA MVP in the 2010-2011 season.
5 (8) Boston Celtics
The Boston Celtics looked sharp in the preseason, but we’ll see how they hold up in their NBA opener against the Heat.
6 (5) Dallas Mavericks
Dallas has been a perennial contender…so how does it feel that the long-time losers, the Texas Rangers, could end up stealing the Mavericks’ thunder by winning a World Series?
7 (7) Portland Trailblazers
Questions regarding Greg Oden’s health and a somewhat lackluster preseason don’t inspire a lot of confidence in a Portland team that looked on-the-cusp of joining the Western Conference elite last season.
8 (10) San Antonio Spurs
The biggest concern for the Spurs is their age. They look ready to go right now, but we’ll see if Duncan’s body can hold up through an entire 82-game season.
9 (9) Atlanta Hawks
The Atlanta Hawks hit their ceiling last season and didn’t look good in the preseason. Things don’t look good for Joe Johnson and company.
10 (6) Chicago Bulls
Chicago’s big addition, Carlos Boozer, will miss at least the first month and a half of the season, but the Bulls still look better than a lot of teams in the Eastern Conference.
11 (12) Milwaukee Bucks
I’m still concerned about Andrew Bogut, who’s injury last season was absolutely horrific, but he’s looked solid in limited playing time during the preseason.
12 (16) Utah Jazz
I’m still not sure Al Jefferson and Raja Bell will adequately replace Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver, but this Utah team sure looked good in the preseason, going 8-0.
13 (13) Houston Rockets
Rockets fans are probably going to wince every time Yao Ming comes down hard on his injured foot, but he looks ready to go for now.
14 (17) Memphis Grizzlies
The Memphis Grizzlies were probably the most surprising team to roll through the preseason undefeated.
15 (14) Phoenix Suns
It’s hard to count out Steve Nash, but the Suns got steamrolled in the preseason. Losing Amare Stoudemire might end up having a much larger effect on this team than I initially thought.
16 (11) Denver Nuggets
The longer the Nuggets wait to trade Carmelo Anthony, the worse this gets for Denver. Anthony obviously doesn’t want to stay in Denver, and the Nuggets should trade him now to avoid having trade rumors overshadow the early part of their season.
17 (15) New Orleans Hornets
If the early part of New Orleans’ season looks anything like their preseason, I expect the Chris Paul trade rumors to pick up very quickly.
18 (18) New York Knicks
Will New York’s early season headlines be more about the Knicks’ playoff hopes or will they focus on the Knicks’ attempts to lure Carmelo Anthony to play in the Big Apple?
19 (19) Charlotte Bobcats
My biggest question for this season: If the Bobcats struggle early, will Michael Jordan think about changing in his owner’s box suits for a Charlotte uniform?
20 (21) Los Angeles Clippers
After missing all of last season with an injury, Blake Griffin looks ready to make up for lost time. The Rookie of the Year battle will probably be between Griffin and Wizards guard John Wall, with no one else even coming close to consideration.
21 (25) Washington Wizards
John Wall is sure to struggle as he gets used to playing in the NBA, but he sure did look electric during parts of the preseason. The Wizards probably aren’t making the playoffs, but they have a good shot at improving on last season’s 26 wins.
22 (20) Philadelphia 76ers
I still think Philadelphia is an Eastern Conference playoff sleeper, even if they didn’t look like it during the preseason.
23 (22) Indiana Pacers
There are some intriguing pieces on this year’s Pacers team (like the addition of Darren Collison), but I still think they’re a year or two away from making a run at the playoffs.
24 (24) Golden State Warriors
With Don Nelson out as coach of the Warriors, there is finally a reason for Golden State fans to be optimistic. That optimism will fade as the Warriors show no signs of making a serious run at the playoffs, but it’s better than the last couple of years, when there was almost no optimism at all.
25 (27) New Jersey Nets
Although Carmelo Anthony probably would’ve made the Nets immediate playoff contenders, I have to respect that Prokhorov is thinking about the long-term viability of the team and not just making the playoffs this season.
26 (29) Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cleveland Cavaliers showed in the preseason that they aren’t just going to roll over and die without LeBron James. Energy and scrappy play aren’t going to get the Cavs to the playoffs, but they at least should avoid the Eastern Conference cellar.
27 (23) Detroit Pistons
The Ben Gordon signing is starting to look bad for both teams. The Pistons are paying Gordon over $10 million a year to be their sixth man (albeit a very good sixth-man). Gordon, meanwhile, has to watch from the bench as the Bulls, the team he played on to start his career, look poised to join the Eastern Conference elite sometime this season.
28 (26) Sacramento Kings
The Sacramento Kings have a couple of good, young players (Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins) and a whole lot of not-much-else. It’s going to be another long season in California’s capital.
29 (30) Minnesota Timberwolves
The Timberwolves looked terrific in the preseason. I’m not saying they’ll make the playoffs, but they finally look like they have a chance to eclipse the 24 win mark, something they haven’t done since the 2006-2007 season.
30 (28) Toronto Raptors
It’s tough to really tell who should be at the bottom of the Power Rankings, as any of the bottom five or six teams could easily be right here instead of the Toronto Raptors. Statistically, however, losing Chris Bosh is almost as big a blow to Toronto as losing Lebron James was to Cleveland. The emotional attachment isn’t the same, but the Raptors are going to have trouble replacing a player of Bosh’s caliber.
All stats and standings from espn.com
Allen Iverson reaches deal with Turkish team