NBA Power Rankings: October 31st, 2012

The season has officially started for a few teams and since our last set of rankings, we’ve had a major trade go down. The Oklahoma City Thunder traded James Harden away,  in a move that doesn’t significantly change our view of the Thunder, but is a big upgrade to the Houston Rockets.

Remember to check back every Wednesday for our next set of power rankings!

 1. Miami Heat (1-0) – A dominant win over the Boston Celtics on opening night gives reason to believe in a back-to-back. With Ray Allen looking healthy, it’s looking even more possible. LeBron James and his cramping issues could be an issue down the line.

2. Oklahoma City Thunder – The trade of James Harden will affect them, but Kevin Martin is no slouch. Can he be comfortable as a sixth man? Kevin Durant starts his MVP campaign with a bang – we’re calling it.

3. Boston Celtics (0-1) – After falling behind by more than 20 points to the Miami Heat, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and company fought back to make it a four-point game. Rajon Rondo seems extra angry this year, but will it hurt them more than help?

4. San Antonio Spurs – Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker will be on the structured minutes plan again this year, but it’s the role players that will make or break them. Danny Green, Boris Diaw and Kawhi Leonard – are you ready?

5. Los Angeles Lakers (0-1) – We’re not going to overreact with their opening loss to the Dallas Mavericks. Yes, they looked confused. Dwight Howard looked hurt, Steve Nash was a decoy and Kobe Bryant wasn’t aggressive enough. Give it a little time, then we’ll panic.

6. Indiana Pacers – Paul George grew two more inches over the summer and is now 6’10”. If he continues to develop, he could be a baby Durant, couldn’t he? Danny Granger and Roy Hibbert need to play All-Star ball this year to compete in the tough Eastern Conference.

7. Los Angeles Clippers – Chris Paul is in the most important season of his life. He’ll be a free agent at the end of the year, and the Clippers are loaded with veteran talent to make a run. It will hinge on DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin and their ability to create their own offense.

8. Brookyln Nets – The opener has been postponed due to Hurricane Sally, so we’ll have to wait a bit longer to see Deron Williams and Joe Johnson prove they’re the best backcourt in all of the NBA.

9. Denver Nuggets – Sometimes it’s possible to have too much talent. The Nuggets are extremely deep, but that creates some issues with minutes. Andre Iguodala and Ty Lawson deserve 40 a night, but what about JaVale McGee, Kenneth Faried, Danilo Gallinari, Andre Miller and Wilson Chandler?

10. Memphis Grizzlies – The Grind House is one of the best home-court advantages in basketball. To take advantage of it, Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley will need to start it up quickly in the regular season.

11. Dallas Mavericks (1-0) – Without Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Kaman, the Mavericks showed that they aren’t going to be pushed around this year. O.J. Mayo, Elton Brand and Darren Collison looked solid and the Mavericks could surprise out West.

12. Philadelphia 76ers – We’re anxiously awaiting the Andrew Bynum era out in Philadelphia. We’d also love to see Evan Turner step up his aggressiveness and start balling like he did at Ohio State.

 13. Chicago Bulls – Taj Gibson remains unsigned and Derrick Rose remains on the shelf. Can Luol Deng, Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer hold down the fort until Rose returns? If so, they could be dangerous in the playoffs. Defense will be excellent again this year.

14. New York Knicks – Being without Amare Stoudemire for up to six weeks is going to hurt. They brought in some veteran help in case this happened, but they really didn’t want to have to use them. Carmelo Anthony and Raymond Felton will need to step up huge.

15. Minnesota Timberwolves – Brandon Roy had a solid preseason, and while the loss of Kevin Love will really hurt, the Wolves will depend on Derrick Williams and Andrei Kirilenko to pick up the slack. When Ricky Rubio returns, all will be well in Minny.

16. Utah Jazz – Lots of questions surround the status of Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap. Will they be there at the end of the year? If the Jazz are in the playoffs, will they still trade them in February? Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter and Gordon Hayward appear ready to take over.

17. Atlanta Hawks – Hopes are high that the Hawks can come to terms with Josh Smith this summer, but it’s this season that will turn the tides. If they perform well with Al Horford, Jeff Teague and Louis Williams, they’ll have a better chance. If they bomb, bye-bye Josh.

 18. Golden State Warriors – The Warriors begin the season after extending Stephen Curry for four years at a cost of $44 million. It’s scary when his ankle seems to be made of cardboard. Andrew Bogut, David Lee and Klay Thompson can’t wait to play together for real.

19. Toronto Raptors – Raptors fans have been waiting for Jonas Valanciunas for a long time now. Kyle Lowry has come in to take over the point guard. Andrea Bargnani can continue his play at a more comfortable power forward position. It’s time for them to start showing progress, in the standings.

20. New Orleans Hornets – Anthony Davis will be thrown right into the fire with a match against the San Antonio Spurs. Eric Gordon continues to be hurt and it’s really scaring the Hornets’ faithful. If Ryan Anderson bombs away from three, they might be ok, but they really need Gordon back.

21. Phoenix Suns – Michael Beasley had a good preseason, but so did Wesley Johnson. The point is, those games don’t matter. If Beasley can play the same way during the regular season, Goran Dragic and company will be ecstatic.

22. Houston Rockets – The James Harden and Jeremy Lin era begins in Houston, but it won’t amount to success without some frontcourt help. Omer Asik had an excellent preseason, but they need to figure out the rotation at power forward. At worst, they’ll be really fun to watch.

23. Milwaukee Bucks – It’s going to be a season of transition, as nobody really knows what personnel will be there long-term. Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis could be gone, or they could both stay. The Bucks have to make a decision, as only Ersan Ilyasova is a definite for the next few years.

24. Portland Trail Blazers – Damian Lillard continued to impress in the preseason and is looking like the real deal. He’ll have his chance to shine against Steve Nash and the Lakers in their opener. LaMarcus Aldridge and Lillard in the pick-and-roll? Yes, please.

25. Sacramento Kings – Thomas Robinson was what we expected him to be. He worked hard, rebounded well and had a couple of highlight dunks. DeMarcus Cousins will continue to break out and Isaiah Thomas is a terrific young guard. Will it add up to many wins? Probably not.

26. Detroit Pistons – The frontcourt of Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond looks solid for many years to come. If Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey can coexist in the backcourt, Detroit will be back on the basketball map.

27. Cleveland Cavaliers (1-0) – Kyrie Irving looked every bit a stud as we remembered in his opening night win over the Wizards. 29 points is impressive against any team. Anderson Varejao was tremendous and showed he’s remarkably effective when healthy. Dion Waiters got some as well, and looks ready to go.

28. Washington Wizards (0-1) – Without John Wall, this team is going to struggle big time. Trevor Ariza looked pretty good and Bradley Beal was decent in his NBA debut. They’re going to need Emeka Okafor and Nene to provide leadership during this tough time.

29. Orlando Magic – Even though they have some NBA talent in Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington and Jameer Nelson, they also have Hedo Turkoglu and Glen Davis. It’s just not a great match of players down there and it will be a few years before they dig out of this mess.

30. Charlotte Bobcats – The Bobcats aren’t out of the woods just yet. Although Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Ben Gordon will provide some highlight moments, they’ll also provide some head-scratchers. They probably won’t exit this spot any time soon.

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