NBA Power Rankings Week 1

By: Justin Girshon

(Written before the start of games played on Monday, October 28th).

1. Philadelphia 76ers

The 76ers have started the season off hot! After a big offseason acquiring Josh Richardson and Al Horford, the 76ers have so far lived up to the hype. The Sixers started the year off strong by defeating the Celtics and Pistons en route to a 2-0 record. So far, Tobias Harris is the teams leading scorer at 22 points per game, Ben Simmons is the teams top passer at 9.5 assists per game, and Joel Embiid 13 rebounds per game (only played one game due to ankle injury).

2. Denver Nuggets

After being eliminated in the Western Conference Semi-Finals in the 2019 playoffs, the Nuggets retained their main core of players for the 2019-2020 NBA season. So far, the Nuggets have started off strong by defeating the Trail Blazers and Suns leading them to a 2-0 record. To start off the season, Nikola Jokic has looked like an MVP. Jokic is the Nuggets leading scorer with 21.5 points per game, top passer at 7 assists per game and top rebounder at 13.5 rebounds per game.

3. Los Angeles Clippers

After a HUGE offseason acquiring Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the Clippers immediately became Finals contenders. Although Paul George is currently out until at least some point until November, the Clippers are still very well built around Kawhi Leonard. The Clippers started the year strong with a statement win against LeBron and the Lakers. The Clippers then proceeded to beat the reigning Western Conference Champion, Golden State Warriors. Although the Clippers started off the year strong, the team unexpectedly lost to the Suns who are nowhere near as good as them. Kawhi leonard hasn’t skipped a beat since winning NBA Finals MVP starting the 2019-2020 NBA season at an MVP level. So far, Kawhi Leonard leads the team in scoring at 26 points per game, Kawhi Leonard is the teams top passer at 8 assists per game, and Patrick Beaverly is the teams top rebounder at 7 rebounds per game.

4. Milwaukee Bucks

After losing in the Eastern Conference Finals in the 2019 Playoffs, the Bucks resigned Khris Middelton and Brook Lopez. The Bucks defeated the Rockets in their first game of the season but then blew a 21 point lead in a loss to the Heat. Although the Bucks are only 1-1, reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo has been playing at an MVP level. Giannis is so far averaging a triple double with 29.5 points per game, 10 assists per game, and 15 rebounds per game. Giannis leads the team in scoring, assists, and rebounding.

5. Los Angeles Lakers

After a blockbuster offseason trade to acquire Anthony Davis and LeBron James returning to full health, the Lakers are primed to make an NBA Finals run. Although the Lakers dropped their first game of the season to the Clippers, they responded with wins against the Jazz and Hornets. LeBron James and Anthony Davis have played well together averaging a combined 48.8 points per game, 13.3 assists per game, and 17.7 rebounds per game. Anthony Davis leads all scorers at 25 points per game and rebounders at 10 rebounds per game. LeBron James is the team leader in assists at 10 assists per game.

6. Utah Jazz

After acquiring Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic, the Jazz made it clear that they will be NBA Finals contenders. The Jazz have started the season 2-1 defeating the Thunder and Kings and losing to the Lakers (Bogdanovic didn’t play due to injury). The Jazz currently have the best defense in the NBA and will certainly take pride in their defense all season long. To start the season, Donovan Mitchell is the leading scorer at 23.7 points per game, Mike Conley is the assist leader at 5.3 assists per game, and Rudy Gobert leads the team in rebounding at 9.7 rebounds per game.

7. Portland Trail Blazers

After being swept in the Western Conference Finals during the 2019 playoffs, the Trail Blazers have a chip on their shoulder. The Trail Blazers acquired tenacious rebounder Hassan Whiteside this past offseason while retaining their main core of players. After an opening night loss, the Trail Blazers have responded well with two straight wins. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum have proved themselves as a dynamic backcourt by averaging 53.7 points per game. Lillard leads the team in scoring and assists with 31.7 points and 6 assists per game. Hassan Whiteside leads the team in rebounding at 14 rebounds per game

8. Boston Celtics

In a crazy offseason, the Celtics have still put together a good enough roster to contend in the Eastern Conference. Although Kyrie Irving and Al Horford walked in free agency, the Celtics were able to retain their young core while adding Kemba Walker and Enes Kanter. The Celtics started the season off on the wrong foot by getting destroyed by the 76ers but have responded well with two straight wins. Kemba Walker has led the team in scoring with 22 points per game. Marcus Smart leads the team with 5 assists per game. Jayson Tatum leads the team in rebounds with 9.3 rebounds per game.

9. Toronto Raptors

After winning the 2019 NBA Finals, the Raptors will look to defend their title during the 2019-2020 season. Although Kawhi Leonard departed during free agency, the Raptors still have a solid core built around Pascal Siakam, Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol, Fred VanVleet and company. The Raptors are 2-1 with a close loss to the Celtics. Fred VanVleet is continuing to stay hot from the Finals as he’s averaging 19.3 points per game. Pascal Siakam currently leads the team in scoring and rebounding with 28.7 points and 10.7 rebounds per game. Kyle Lowry leads the team in assists with 7 assists per game.

10. Minnesota Timberwolves

The Timberwolves have started the year an unexpected 3-0. The Timberwolves are playing extremely well thanks to franchise player, Karl-Anthony Towns. In their first three games, the Timberwolves have defeated the Nets, Hornets, and Heat. The team is so far being led by Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and their defense. Towns and Wiggins are averaging a combined 52.7 points and 19.3 rebounds per game. Towns is leading the team in scoring and rebounding with 32 points and 13.3 rebounds per game. Shabazz Napier currently leads the team with 6 assists per game.

The Best of the Rest

https://www.inquirer.com/sixers/philadelphia-sixers-atlanta-hawks-trae-young-ben-simmons-20191027.html

11. Houston Rockets

12. San Antonio Spurs

13. Miami Heat

14. Atlanta Hawks

15. Dallas Mavericks

16. Phoenix Suns

17. Brooklyn Nets

18. Orlando Magic

19. Golden State Warriors

20. Oklahoma City Thunder

https://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/bulls/ct-chicago-bulls-memphis-grizzlies-20191026-ljhzvbafrrgspgnmqdwaqdkk4e-story.html

21. Memphis Grizzlies

22. New Orleans Pelicans

23. Detroit Pistons

24. Chicago Bulls

25. Washington Wizards

26. Sacramento Kings

27. Indiana Pacers

28. Cleveland Cavaliers

29. Charlotte Hornets

30. New York Knicks

Check back next week for NBA Power Rankings Week 2!

https://www.skysports.com/nba/news/36244/11836028/luka-doncic-and-kristaps-porzingis-fire-as-dallas-mavericks-thrash-oklahoma-city-thunder

Pascal Siakam deserves his max contract

After some speculation and waiting, Pascal Siakam signed a 4 year deal for $130 million with an AAV of $32.5 million. Along with other max contracts signed this off season, the Raptors were criticized for giving Siakam the reigns of the team. I’d love to defer to Masai Ujiri’s authority on why Siakam deserves the money, but I won’t.

Siakam’s growth has been incredible, and he earned his contract solely on his performance last season. The reigning MIP averaged 16.9 points to go along with 6.9 rebounds, as well as 3.4 assists all on a brilliant .628 TS%. He elevated that in the playoffs to 19 points, and 7.1 rebounds, with his assists dipping to 2.8, as well as his efficiency dropping to .540 TS%. Important to note was the surge in his scoring to 23.8 points in the four wins against Golden State.

The Raptors certainly believe he’s capable of being a number one option at the time being, putting up great numbers at a relatively low usage rating for a star. With his growth trajectory, they’re probably right.

Even if he improves minimally, Siakam was the 2nd most important player on a championship winning team. He has a legitimate argument for best defender on the best defensive team in the league. In 20 games without Kawhi last year, Siakam put up a slashline of 19/8/3.5 with almost identical efficiency.

 

Everything I have presented to you so far only proves that he’s a very good and improving player, but what’s the market on that? Is Siakam truly worth a max contract?

The best way of finding market value is to weigh him against similar contracts.

Players by with AAV above 32 million through the 2022-2023 season, sorted by ESPN’s RPM:

James Harden (7.42),Β Joel Embiid (6.40),Β Damian Lillard (5.08),Β Kevin Durant (4.96),Β Jimmy Butler (4.71),Β Kyrie Irving (4.23),Β Karl Anthony-Towns (3.86),Β Pascal Siakam (3.80),Β Β Kemba Walker (2.76),Β Russell Westbrook (2.51),Β Khris Middleton (1.89),Β Ben Simmons (1.74),Β Tobias Harris (1.68),Β Bradley Beal (1.51),Β Jamal Murray (1.18),Β CJ McCollum (1.14),Β Devin Booker (0.58),Β Klay Thompson (-0.33)

In last healthy seasons:

Wall – (1.17),Β Kristaps – (2.27)Β 

Using this comparison tool, Pascal Siakam fits in right in the middle of a lot of max contract worthy talent. He’s on superstar trajectory and maximum salary was the only option. His talent and growth will keep the Raptors in the hunt as a middle-tier playoff team. He earned his money. Siakam will be a staple in the East as the face of the Raptors.

Kawhi Leonard “Seriously Considering” Re-Signing with the Raptors

Well NBA fans, the question has been answered…almost. After months of dispute, Chris Haynes reports:

This is HUGE news for Toronto fans given that Kawhi has yet to even hint at coming back. The majority of NBA fans, including myself, assumed the 2x NBA Finals MVP was taking his talents to LA to play for the Clippers. Especially with the recent images of him purchasing moving boxes from Home Depot…

Although NOTHING is confirmed until the Kawhi says it himself, we can assume we’ll be seeing the Fun Guy in Toronto next year. GOOD JOB TORONTO! Your parade worked…

Image via Yahoo Sports

It’s All About Pride In the North!

Watch out America, because the spotlight in this years 2018-2019 Playoffs is going to be on our neighbors up North…The Toronto Raptors! Canadians may be known for being the nicest people on the planet, and would likely apologize even if YOU bumped into them on the street, but there is nothing “nice” about this years Raptors team lead by Kawhi Leonard. The Raptors of past have continuously came up short in the playoffs, but this team is just built differently. Let’s break down why there’s a good possibility you will be seeing Superstar Drake on the sidelines in the 6 facing off against the Warriors in this years NBA Finals.

The GM of the Raptors, Masai Ujiri, has guts and is not afraid to make BIG-TIME moves. We’ve seen Ujiri bring in huge names like Kawhi Leonard, Marc Gasol, Danny Green, and even Linsanity (Jeremy Lin) all for a chance to win the LeBron’less NBA East. Even if all of these players are just temporary rentals, Ujiri is trying to bring the deserving city of Toronto a Conference Championship this year, and give them the experience of playing in the NBA Finals. Ujiri could have pursed bigger named candidates in his job search after firing the well-respected coach in Dwane Casey, but he stuck to his gut and hired long-time assistant Nick Nurse.

The Raptors, in my opinion, have the BEST home court advantage in the NBA. These fans are loyal beyond belief, loud, and you can almost cook a plate of Canadian Bacon in the arena it gets so hot and tense in there! With LeBron out of the East, teams like the Bucks, Celtics, and Sixers are all gonna have a fair shot at the Finals, but the difference maker just might be the fans in Toronto. Scotiabank Arena holds 19,800 seats and you best believe every one of the will be filled come playoff time. Niagara Falls, the CN Tower, Drake, T-Mac, and Vince Carter…. Toronto has the heritage, has the celebrities, and has the attractions to be the “Main Attraction” in this years Playoffs. You can feel the intensity of the arena in this video….

Lastly, I can finally prove the myth that Kawhi Leonard is a robot! With the infamous laughing video, his quite personality, and dominate play Leonard has moved himself back into a Top 3 player in the world discussion. I don’t just think he is a robot, I believe he is a human super-calculator on the floor. I say this because if you watch Kawhi play you will see he is far from flashy, he’s not Usain Bolt on the court, he’s not Shaq in the paint…. but instead he almost methodically some how bobs-and-weaves himself to the exact spot he pre-planned to take a shot. Take in point his GAME WINNER last night against the Portland TrailblazersLeonardLowry, ***SIAKAM***, Gasol, Green, and Ibaka….. This franchise has a roster built for no other time than NOW. The Toronto Raptors are here ladies and gentleman and Kawhi is ready to feed the NBA East to the HUNGRY Raptors fans in Toronto!

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