Blame AAU basketball, blame the one-and-done generation, blame whatever you want, but what cannot be argued is that there is an international wave taking over the NBA. Increasingly it seems like the best and most influential players in the NBA are from countries and regions outside of the U.S.
NBA Power Rankings Heading into 2018/2019
By: Ryan Stein
The NBA has turned into a 12-month season in recent years, with offseason drama (Kyrie Irving trade, Kawhi Leonard-Spurs saga, Jimmy Butler's ongoing war against the Timberwolves) tiding over fans of the Association through the long basketball-less summer.
This is the only NBA Power Rankings list that will be opinion-based, with all future rankings being decided by ICT Zone's Ric Flair Ranking System, basically to be the best you gotta beat the best. Rankings are based solely on the week's results.
There aren't too many surprises to be seen in our first NBA rankings... the defending-champion Golden State Warriors are the obvious choice for the number one spot. The class of the East, at least on paper, is the Boston Celtics. Don't be surprised, however, if those teams end up in the bottom half of the rankings in the next edition: that's just the nature of these stylin', profilin', limousine ridin' power rankings.
The team that's fallen the most from last season to this season is the Cleveland Cavaliers, almost entirely due to the departure of the pillar of the city's economy, LeBron James. The Timberwolves find themselves in a volatile situation, with the potential to be the third best team in the West or fall towards the bottom third of the league, depending on how the Butler crisis is resolved.
Without further ado, here are the results of the inaugural NBA "Ric Flair" Power Rankings. Woo!
1. Golden State Warriors
Key Players: Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Draymond Green, Demarcus Cousins, Klay Thompson
2. Boston Celtics
Key Players: Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Jason Tatum
3. Toronto Raptors
Key Players: Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry
4. Houston Rockets
Key Players: James Harden, Chris Paul, Clint Capela
5. Philadelphia 76ers
Key Players: Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid
6. Utah Jazz
Key Players: Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert
7. Indiana Pacers
Key Players: Victor Oladipo, Bojan Bogdanovic
8. Los Angeles Lakers
Key Players: LeBron James, Brandon Ingram
9. Denver Nuggets
Key Players: Nikola Jokic, Gary Harris, Jamal Murray
10. Oklahoma City Thunder
Key Players: Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Steven Adams
11. Milwaukee Bucks
Key Players: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton
12. San Antonio Spurs
Key Players: Demar DeRozan, Lamarcus Aldridge
13. New Orleans Pelicans
Key Players: Anthony David, Jrue Holiday
14. Minnesota Timberwolves
Key Players: Jimmy Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins
15. Washington Wizards
Key Players: John Wall, Bradley Beal
16. Portland Trail Blazers
Key Players: Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum
17. Miami Heat
Key Players: Goran Dragic, Dwayne Wade
18. Memphis Grizzlies
Key Players: Mike Conley, Marc Gasol
19. Detroit Pistons
Key Players: Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson
20. Los Angeles Clippers
Key Players: Lou Williams, Tobias Harris
21. New York Knicks
Key Players: Kristaps Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr.
22. Chicago Bulls
Key Players: Zach Lavine, Lauri Markkanen
23. Cleveland Cavaliers
Key Players: Kevin Love, J.R. Smith
24. Brooklyn Nets
Key Players: D'Angelo Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie
25. Charlotte Hornets
Key Players: Kemba Walker, Nicolas Batum
26. Dallas Mavericks
Key Players: Dennis Smith Jr., Harrison Barnes
27. Phoenix Suns
Key Players: Devin Booker, T.J. Warren
28. Orlando Magic
Key Players: Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier
29. Sacramento Kings
Key Players: Zach Randolph, De'Aaron Fox
30. Atlanta Hawks
Key Players: Taurean Prince
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