Power Rankings: Pacers, Cavs make giant leap into Top 10
NBA summer vacations end Monday, but why wait?
Marc Stein's Power Rankings make their long-awaited return with this Training Camp Edition, rating every team from 1 through 30.
That formula? It gauges how good a team is projected to be along with how good its summer was ... with a dash of totally subjective whim factored in.
The next set of rankings will appear on Halloween -- on the eve of Opening Night -- after all 30 teams have a month to impress us. The rankings will then continue every Monday through the regular season. Click here to comment on the first batch of rankings.
Editor's note: Last Week and Record categories are from the final Power Rankings of the 2004-05 season.
|2005-06 Power Rankings: Training Camp|
|RANK||TEAM / RECORD||COMMENTS|
|The committee loves it when someone out there makes it this easy. And it doesn't get much easier than putting the reigning champs up here in the top slot after they added Finley, Van Exel and Oberto at bargain prices.|
|You could argue that Larry Brown's departure should bring a steeper drop. Then you might recall we're talking about defiant Detroit, which rallies around such causes.|
|People seem to forget that these guys beat Dallas in the second round without Joe Johnson and with no bench. Now they have a bench (a good one) and still have two MVP candidates (Nash and Amare), so hold off on the crisis talk.|
|Ron-Ron reinstated. J. O'Neal healed. Uncle Reg retired ... but replaced by our man Saras Jasikevicius. In other words, you shouldn't be surprised to see that Indy has been bumped back up among the league's elite.|
|If all the new, uh, personalities click, Riles wins Executive of the Year and we eat crow. Stan VG, meanwhile, wins Coach of the Year if he can last the whole season.|
|Yao had his first-ever summer of significant rest and now has the athletic frontcourt sidekick (Swift) he needed as much as a healthy break. Rockets thus move to the brink of the elite, in spite of the Sura situation.|
|Furious George can't expect to go 32-8 in every 40 games with Denver, as seen in his first act, but Nuggets don't strike us as fluke material. Especially not if K-Mart rebounds from his knee woes and Camby stays healthy.|
|With their Big Three down to a Big One, Mavs weren't an automatic top-10 selection. But they're here out of respect for Nowitzki, since he somehow led essentially the same team to a whopping 58 wins last season.|
|There are several newcomers to track -- Hughes, Donyell, D-Jones and Ferry -- but let's face it: LBJ and his quest to finally make the playoffs remain the main focus.|
|The additions of Bonzi and Reef look like trademark Petrie scores. But the moves slam home the idea that Kings, as we knew them, are a memory.|
|Grizz might indeed be at risk for slipping out of the West's top eight, as stated in Wednesday's chat. Then again, they might not slip at all after dumping all the unhappy souls (Bonzi, J-Will, Swift and Posey) for the good of team chemistry.|
|They're perhaps deeper than they've ever been in the J-Kidd Era, but so is the top of the East. So Nets will have to settle for battling Cavs best-of-the-rest status.|
|Everyone seems to be picking Warriors to end their decade-long playoff drought at last. Of course, that only increases the pressure on GS to finally do so.|
|Wiz won't be as dynamic as they were with Hughes, but they're deeper. Which is enough to retain their playoff ticket in the East.|
|Larry Harris had a summer to rival that of any GM in the league. All the moves should ease the burden on Bogut and take Bucks back to the playoffs.|
|Don't ask for a long explanation, because you're not going to glean one from looking at Kobe's roster. Basically our respect for the Zenmeister is such that we expect LA to mount a push for the No. 8 seed. Somehow.|
|The bottom of the East's playoff ladder is more wide-open than the bottom of the West's ... meaning that Larry looks to have a much better chance than Phil of turning his turnoff roster into a No. 8 seed.|
|Asked in a chat to name West playoff teams at risk for a fall out of the top eight, we omitted Seattle and what's left of a Cinderella squad that lost some key pieces (and coaches). It's preseason for the committee, too.|
|Word is KG has bulked up, but his readiness was never a worry. The concern is KG's new supporting cast, which is more coachable but doesn't exactly scream "playoffs."|
|Bulls were a big-time surprise in '04-05. It'll be a bigger surprise if they can top that run in '05-06, with the surprise factor gone and the Curry cloud to contend with.|
|Maybe Celts should be higher. But betting folk will favor a Pierce trade between now and February over the notion that Ainge's toddlers will be playoff-ready come April.|
|This is one of the few places where the Webber-Iverson partnership still gets a chance. Yet we don't deny that the grace period is running out.|
|Instinct says a Jerry Sloan team can't have another season like the last one down here in rankings purgatory. Then again, Sloan's Jazz have never had a season like that one, so who knows how they'll respond?|
|On paper, Clips look as though they have the starters to beat the Lakers to the Staples Center title again. It all depends which Cassell they get, and we're skeptical.|
|Seattle undoubtedly will miss Mr. Sonic, but McMillan is bound to pine for the fairy-tale feel of last season after a couple of months nursing Portland's kiddie corps.|
|Go ahead. Admit it. The whole Joe Johnson-Steve Belkin saga will tempt you to follow the Hawks more closely than you ever have.|
|Bobcats far exceeded expectations with last season's win total. Now they have two Tar Heels (Felton and May) to distract the locals in case they can't overachieve again.|
|If we were ranking our favorite NBA cities, Toronto would be tops. But we're ranking teams, and this one returns with even the under-fire GM forecasting gloom.|