NBA Power Rankings: Cavaliers, Nuggets, Celtics lead the way

Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers and Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics. Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images
Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers and Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics. Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images /
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Cleveland Cavaliers
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images /

No. 6: Golden State Warriors, 49-33

The Golden State Warriors have an aging core, even more so after trading Jordan Poole for Chris Paul this summer. They also have young talent ready to break out, from Jonathan Kuminga to Moses Moody, and Paul could be the answer to their second-unit woes. Doubt the ability of Stephen Curry and Draymond Green in the playoffs at your own peril, but they’ll have to manage rest and injuries during the regular season.

No. 5: Milwaukee Bucks, 50-32

The Milwaukee Bucks have the league’s best pairing, with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard a perfect fit. If they can figure out the rest of the rotation by the playoffs they could easily be the title favorites because of the strength of that two-man game. The problems stem from the age of their primary players and the unproven nature of the youngsters backing them up. If Khris Middleton is fully healthy they will be hard to beat when it counts.

No. 4: Phoenix Suns, 49-33

Kevin Durant and Devin Booker is a positively lethal pairing, but add in Bradley Beal and you start to get diminishing returns. All three players are prone to miss 15+ games in a season, which is a problem when you have a roster as thin as the Suns, with mostly minimum players surrounding the big three. The trade to swap Deandre Ayton for depth may prove helpful, but it’s undeniable that they are less talented now.

No. 3: Denver Nuggets, 51-31

The defending champions should probably still be the title favorites, especially since they only have to play a maximum of one of Boston and Milwaukee in the playoffs. Nikola Jokic is the best player on the planet and Jamal Murray should finally notch his first All-Star appearance. They have really thinned their depth, however, and will need at least two of their five young, relatively late picks to step up.

No. 2: Cleveland Cavaliers, 52-30

The Cleveland Cavaliers are built to dominate the regular season. They have an absolutely elite defense, led by budding star Evan Mobley and the rock-solid Jarrett Allen. They have one of the league’s best backcourts (perhaps the best) in Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland. In between they now have plenty of shooting by adding Max Strus and Georges Niang. They still need to prove themselves in the playoffs, but they’re set up to push for the top record in the league.

No. 1: Boston Celtics, 55-27

The Boston Celtics had the league’s best net rating last season and may be even better this time around. They are much thinner but their star power is tremendous and fits together extremely well, and they still have ammunition to acquire some big depth by the deadline. Jayson Tatum is set up to push for an MVP and he’ll have Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis joining Jaylen Brown as his running mates. Top-100 snub Derrick White and Al Horford round out the best Top-6 in the league.

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There you have it – win projections for all 30 teams. Did they line up with your list?