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Sport NBA Power Rankings: The way, way too early offseason edition

00:06  20 october  2020
00:06  20 october  2020 Source:   nbcsports.com

NFL implements COVID policy changes; Raiders players fined

  NFL implements COVID policy changes; Raiders players fined In response to the growing number of positive COVID-19 tests around the league, the NFL is taking action. In a call with all 32 teams the league office laid out a slew of new policy changes, and sternly warned teams about the consequences of not following them. © Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports In the memo recapping the call, which you can read courtesy of this tweet from Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, they laid out some new protocols.

It's early , some might say way too early , but our panel (a group of more than 40 reporters, insiders and editors) already is looking ahead to next season and ranking all 30 teams heading into a pivotal offseason . Note: These rankings are based on which teams voters think belong higher heading into

* * * NBA .com's Power Rankings , released every Monday during the season , are just one man's opinion. If you have an issue with the rankings The Pacers' two games against the Heat this week will go a long way in determining the 4, 5 and 6 seeds in the East. No East team has scored more

It is way, way, way too early to do an NBA Power Rankings for next season — and we’re doing it anyway. These rankings are going up before any player movement this offseason, before the draft, before every team even has a coach. This is just some seat-of-the-pants fun projecting next season based on the bubble playoffs and what we expect next season.

1. Lakers (52-19 last season). LeBron James and Anthony Davis won the Lakers one title, and as long as those two are on the roster L.A. is a contender for another. This summer, Davis will opt-out then re-sign, but the challenge is the roster around Davis and LeBron. Markieff Morris and Dwight Howard are free agents; meanwhile, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Rajon Rondo will opt out looking for the bigger payday. Kyle Kuzma is extension eligible. Do the Lakers run it back with last year’s team or make a bold trade (Chris Paul, Victor Oladipo)?

Mavericks star Luka Doncic favored to win 2020-21 NBA MVP

  Mavericks star Luka Doncic favored to win 2020-21 NBA MVP As a sophomore this past season, former No. 3 overall pick Luka Doncic averaged 28.8 points, 8.1 rebounds and 9.4 assists per game. Those are some prime LeBron James numbers from the 21-year-old guard. It came amid a season that Doncic was finally legally able to consume adult beverages in the United States. Think about that for a second.NBA odds: Giannis Antetokounmpo is a co-favoriteDating back to its inception in 1955-56, only Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain and Larry Bird have earned the NBA award in three consecutive seasons. That’s just how good the Greek Freak is at the still-young age of 25.

With the way the season ended, it might be easy to be pessimistic about the franchise heading into next season , but Houston still has Watson. Before the Texans drafted him, they had gone into offseasons with questions at the position. Watson ended the 2019 season healthy and coach Bill

The past offseason has become one to remember, with two of the best nominal small forwards in the world, LeBron James It’s a relevant and significant reminder that literally everything had to go their way for them to become 3-time champions. Everyone trying to emulate the Warriors is bound to fail.

2. Bucks (56-17). One question hangs over Milwaukee this offseason: Will Giannis Antetokounmpo sign the max contract extension put in front of him? If not, don’t expect a trade, the only way that happens is the Greek Freak tells the Bucks he will not re-sign, and indications are he still wants to win in Milwaukee. If he does wait, it puts other teams in a holding pattern. The Bucks were smart not to overreact to a rough bubble outing, but they need to tweak this roster around Antetokounmpo and get more playmaking, and more shooting would help, too.

3. Clippers (49-23). Doc Rivers paid the price for an underwhelming bubble performance. Tyrone Lue moves up a chair and takes over as head coach, tasked with improving the chemistry in this talented locker room (and just getting guys on the court together more). The biggest off-season question is will the Clippers: re-sign Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell or will they let him go? Do they re-sign Marcus Morris? Also, can the Clippers find a more traditional playmaking point guard to help spur the playoff offense?

Report: Andre Drummond, Cavs far apart in extension talks

  Report: Andre Drummond, Cavs far apart in extension talks Andre Drummond’s marriage to the Cleveland Cavaliers could prove to be a brief one unless both sides can come to a middle ground. © David Richard-USA TODAY Sports Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com reported on Monday that Drummond and the Cavs have been far apart in preliminary extension talks. The two-time All-Star will be a free agent in 2021. He also has a $28.75 million player option this offseason but is all but certain to exercise it. Drummond, 27, was acquired by the Cavs in a trade with the Detroit Pistons in February.

A new season means a fresh start to our NBA Power Rankings , the first edition in more than a half-decade that doesn't begin with Allonzo Trier was the nominal point guard alongside Barrett and a trio of offseason power forward signings: Marcus Morris Those are a long way off in Memphis, but still.

NBA Power Rankings : Warriors looking up at the champs -- for now. The cold reality on this first Power Rankings Monday of October is that it's hard to dream up a scenario for the But the Celtics will be forced to lean on their well-chronicled depth earlier than they wanted to thanks to Marcus

4. Nuggets (46-27). Jamal Murray needs to prove that his breakout playoffs — showing he was a true No. 2 option that pairs beautifully with Nikola Jokic — was not just a bubble fluke. We don’t think it was, but we’re cautious with everyone who was way up or way down in that unique environment. Paul Millsap is a free agent and the Nuggets need to re-sign him — at a reasonable price — or bet that Michael Porter Jr., or someone else, is ready to fill that critical defensive and rebounding role Millsap plays for Denver.

5. Warriors (15-50). The best backcourt in the NBA is back with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson healthy — don’t be shocked if Curry is in the MVP conversation next season. The Warriors also have Draymond Green being the glue guy/defensive anchor, plus Andrew Wiggins — for all his flaws — should fit well in a No. 4 option/Harrison Barnes role. The biggest question is at center, where there is a lot of buzz around the league the Warriors will chase Dwight Howard.

NBA confirms 2020 draft will be conducted virtually

  NBA confirms 2020 draft will be conducted virtually The plan is for NBA commissioner Adam Silver and deputy commissioner Mark Tatum to appear live at ESPN’s studios in Bristol, Conn., where they’ll reveal this year’s draft picks. As usual, Silver will announce the first-round selections, while Tatum will handle the second round.Although there won’t be a traditional “green room” for top prospects, a number of draftees will appear virtually, according to Thursday’s announcementThe NBA also conducted its August draft lottery virtually, while other leagues – including the WNBA and NFL – have completed virtual drafts already this year.

Chris Forsberg takes a way - too - early look at Power Rankings for the 2019-2020 season . The 2018-19 NBA season just ended in epic fashion Thursday night, as Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors quashed the Warriors' quest for a three-peat while Golden State's stars kept dropping like flies?

Once again, Power Rankings aren’t pieces that arrange teams from the best record to the worst, it’s an estimation of the collection of talent a team has The Grizzlies are becoming a modern NBA team by the day, and for a team that has seemed as old-fashioned as them, this stylistic transformation is still

6. Heat (44-29). Was their amazing run in the bubble a fluke? No question Miami earned that trip to the Finals with its mental toughness behind Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, but is it something that the team can replicate in a more traditional season? Probably, the Heat play great defense, have a tough-to-defend motion offense, and with Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro leading the way, they have the shooting. The big offseason question is, what happens with free agent Goran Dragic? Look for Miami to offer a big one-year contract, preserving cap space for 2021 when the Heat will be a player for top free agents.

7. Celtics (48-24). This ranking feels a little low for Boston — we trust this roster and this front office more than just about any other to take another step forward next season. We trust Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to be the cornerstones. The big question is what happens with Gordon Hayward — he very likely picks up his $34.1 million option, but could he be traded (Danny Ainge will test the market). This team also has three first-round picks to play with as the Celtics look to add depth around a core that has been to the Eastern Conference Finals three out of four years (now just needs to take one more step).

Did Kristaps Porzingis throw shade at Knicks in tweet?

  Did Kristaps Porzingis throw shade at Knicks in tweet? Porzingis left the Knicks on fairly bad terms. The 25-year-old former All-Star was hastily traded to Dallas in 2019 after prolonged drama with the organization. The history between the two sides is probably why many interpreted Porzingis’ tweet as shade. Subscribe to Yardbarker's Morning Bark, the most comprehensive newsletter in sports. Customize your email to get the latest news on your favorite sports, teams and schools. Emailed daily. Always free! Sign up now ▸More must-reads:Michael Jordan does not think he could have survived Twitter eraReport: NBA targeting Dec.

They are counting on Jacob Evans to be a legitimate contributor, and while the Warriors’ track record of drafting has been impressive, it’s highly unlikely that Evans would provide immediate two- way impact. At least Nick Young was dependable to provide some spacing and, if locked in, he was a defensive

There’s just no way to predict the West’s top 8, but here I am going out on a limb, saying that the Timberwolves would miss the playoffs (again) after not making the playoffs for 14 seasons before the last.

8. Nets (35-37). The season spent waiting is over, now things get serious with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving healthy, surrounded by quality players like Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Jarrett Allen. Is Steve Nash ready to be a head coach (or, Kyrie, do you even need a coach)? The biggest off-season move has to be re-signing Joe Harris, Brooklyn needs his shooting (he is a free agent and will have options). On paper, the Nets are beasts next season, but how close to his vintage self will Durant be? Do all these pieces fit together?

9. Mavericks (43-32). Another team where this ranking feels it could be low. Luka Doncic for MVP is a real possibility, and he pairs well with Kristaps Porzingis (which is why KP’s offseason knee surgery, while minor, is a concern). Dallas needs to improve its defense and add another playmaker, but don’t expect fireworks this offseason as the Mavericks keep their powder dry for the summer of 2021, when the Mavs believe they will be big players in free agency.

Danny Green expects LeBron James to miss first month of season

  Danny Green expects LeBron James to miss first month of season Watch the Los Angeles Rams' best defensive plays from their strong win over the Chicago Bears on "Monday Night Football" in Week 7.

10. Raptors (53-19). It is a tough line for Toronto to walk this summer: They have three key free agents — Fred VanVleet, Serge Ibaka, and Marc Gasol — but want to keep enough money and options to chase Antetokounmpo if he chooses to leave Milwaukee. VanVleet will require a contract in the four-year, $85 million range to keep — and the Raptors would likely pay that — but expect the big men to get one-year offers from Toronto, which may have them looking elsewhere (for Gasol, that might include Barcelona). Pascal Siakam learned in the bubble what needs to be his next steps to become a franchise player.

11. Jazz (44-28). There is one easy offseason decision in Utah: Max out Donovan Mitchell off his rookie deal. Then things get more complex, starting with Rudy Gobert, who is eligible for a supermax extension but the Jazz (and likely everyone else) will want to pay less than that. The Jazz need to get back to being an elite defensive team, and while they need more shooting and shot creation getting Bojan Bogdanovic back from wrist surgery will help a lot with that.

12. Rockets (44-28). Daryl Morey has stepped down, Mike D’Antoni has walked out the door, and it’s fair to question what the Rockets will look like next season and what owner Tilman Fertitta is willing to pay for. Houston does not have a lot of roster flexibility or ways to add talent, which is why the buzz of Houston looking for Russell Westbrook trades is out there. Good luck with that. While some have speculated about a James Harden trade, that’s a discussion more likely next offseason, the Rockets will try to keep winning.

Timberwolves meet with LaMelo Ball ahead of NBA Draft

  Timberwolves meet with LaMelo Ball ahead of NBA Draft There’s no reason to believe that Ball will last beyond the first three picks in the draft. His stock simply continues to skyrocket. That could lead to a trip to the Twin Cities and a newly minted Timberwolves jersey here soon.Subscribe to Yardbarker's Morning Bark, the most comprehensive newsletter in sports. Customize your email to get the latest news on your favorite sports, teams and schools. Emailed daily. Always free! Sign up now ▸More must-reads:Timberwolves in active trade discussions regarding No. 1 pickTimberwolves VP on NBA draft: 'We're ready to pick'The 'No.

13. 76ers (43-30). Doc Rivers is in charge now and that should lead to more creative uses of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid on the court and more accountability for all the players in the film room and off the court. Rivers makes this team the hardest to place in these rankings: They should be better, but Rivers doesn’t solve the core roster issues of spacing and shooting. Elton Brand needs to find another playmaker for this roster, do that and this ranking will seem dramatically low.

14. Trail Blazers (35-39). Portland isn’t poised to make a lot of roster moves this offseason, but they will have a healthy Jusuf Nurkic to add to Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, so they don’t need to do much to remain a threat. Carmelo Anthony is a free agent and says he found a home in Portland, but with Zach Collins and Rodney Hood healthy there may be a steep minutes drop for ‘Melo, which may have him looking elsewhere. Hassan Whiteside also is a free agent.

15. Pelicans (30-42). Their ranking could get moved up based on who gets hired as head coach, is it someone who can convert the roster’s potential to reality? (Some around the Pelicans thought Tyronn Lue would be their guy, but he stayed in L.A.) The Pelicans will max out and re-sign Brandon Ingram, just leaving the questions of trading or holding onto Jrue Holiday, and if Zion Williamson can stay healthy and impact games.

16. Pacers (45-28) /Strongng> It appears Indiana will hire a top assistant coach for the head job, which seems the smart move considering the available field (the Mike D’Antoni rumors started hot but have died off). Victor Oladipo has one year left on his contract and trade rumors are flying around, with him linked to the Knicks, Lakers, and half the teams in between. Oladipo wants to get paid in his next contract; if the Pacers don’t want to back up that Brinks truck, they need to move him this offseason.

17. Grizzlies (34-39). They are counting on the internal growth of Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Brandon Clarke to take a step forward next season. Memphis’ offseason was essentially trading for Justise Winslow at the deadline and re-signing Dillon Brooks, they don’t have a lot of other moves to make (other than re-signing De’Anthony Melton). Memphis should go try to find some shooting, because that Morant/Jackson/Winslow/Clarke core is not exactly spacing the floor.

NBA could lose $1 billion in revenue if next season tips off in January?

  NBA could lose $1 billion in revenue if next season tips off in January? The NBA lost more than $1 billion in revenue during a disastrous 2019-20 season, and it could be headed for another economic blow if the start date for the 2020-21 season is pushed back to January. © Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports Commissioner Adam Silver and the league office fear massive revenue losses if the NBA sea After suspending action for multiple months following a COVID-19 outbreak on March 11, the NBA returned in July. Due to the unprecedented change caused by the pandemic, the NBA Finals didn’t end until October.

18. Suns (44-39). They were the darlings of the bubble at 8-0, but we’re being careful reading too much into any of the outlier bubble results. They need to replicate that in the real world now. Devin Booker is a star, and there are moments Deandre Ayton looks like he could be one as well (his defense took a step forward last season). The Suns should consider bringing back Aron Baynes as a floor-spacing big man (something odd to type), but and there are long-term questions about Kelly Oubre Jr. and Dario Saric, and exactly who fits best around the young Suns’ core. But they seem poised for a step forward.

19. Thunder (44-28). If Oklahoma City runs it back then this ranking is far too low. However, with Billy Donovan moving on as coach, it seems like a rebuild is coming and, after his All-NBA season, Chris Paul’s trade value isn’t going to get any higher. If he goes, then others (Steven Adams, for example) could be on the move as well. Danilo Gallinari is a free agent and likely puts on another jersey next season. This ranking bets on Sam Presti jumping into the rebuild with both feet, which is the smart thing to do.

20. Wizards (25-47). Re-signing sharpshooting big man Davis Bertans is the Wizards’ highest priority, but they will have competition for him. The Wizards finally have John Wall and Bradley Beal healthy and together again, is that enough (with Bertans) to propel them up to one of the lower playoff spots in the East? Maybe. But only if their defense improves and isn’t 29th-in-the-league dreadful.

21. Magic (33-40). Losing Jonathan Isaac to a knee injury for all of next season is a punch to the gut of this franchise. The Magic are solid with Aaron Gordon, Nikola Vucevic, and Markelle Fultz, but this is a team spending a lot of money to be average. There is buzz around the league of a Gordon trade, and he has a favorable declining contract, but we’ll see if Orlando can find a taker, and if so what direction do they move as a franchise?

22. Kings (31-41, 3-5, LW 20). New Kings GM Monte McNair wants to play faster, and hired Alvin Gentry as Luke Walton’s lead assistant as a warning shot that Walton needs to play by the new rules. The Kings have missed the playoffs 14 straight years and owner Vivek Ranadive desperately doesn’t want his franchise to tie the Donald Sterling Clippers in the futility department next season, but for that to happen Marvin Bagley III needs to stay healthy, on the court, and have somewhere near the kind of impact Vlade Divac thought he would.

23. Spurs (32-39). The Spurs most likely just run it back with a roster that missed the playoffs last season. DeMar DeRozan has a $27.7 option he almost certainly picks up. San Antonio has some good young players — Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, Lonnie Walker IV — and were interesting playing small with DeRozan at the four, hopefully we get more of that even with LaMarcus Aldridge healthy and back in the lineup.

24. Timberwolves (19-45). Timberwolves fans are going to see this ranking as too low — they have Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell, a potential devastating pick-and-roll combo. They have the No. 1 pick in the draft (assuming they don’t trade it). They have some developing role players such as Malik Beasley (who was a fantastic fit) and Jarrett Culver. All true, but until we see this actually work well together on the court — and see this team play some defense — the skeptic in us wins out.

25. Bulls (22-43). Another “prove it to me” team. Billy Donovan is in as head coach, there is scoring with Zach LaVine and real potential in Lauri Markkanen and Coby White, but we have yet to see it all come together. This feels like an evaluation year for new head man Arturas Karnisovas, with aggressive moves coming in a year when he figures out what he’s got and what direction to go.

26. Hawks (20-46). Trae Young is a potential superstar (at least on offense) and he is finally paired with a strong pick-and-roll big in Clint Capela. Does John Collins fit with that combo, or is it time to look for a trade? Can the Hawks find more shooting and wing talent — and defense — in the draft and free agency? Whatever direction they go, Atlanta has a nice young core but one with serious defensive questions.

27. Hornets (23-42). This team simply needs an alpha, a true star player. They have the surprisingly good Devonte’ Graham, plus quality young players such as PJ Washington and Miles Bridges, but there is no north star. Charlotte needs to get lucky at No. 3 in the NBA draft (few scouts see a true star in this class) or find another way to add talent — ideally elite talent — to this roster.

28. Knicks (20-45). Leon Rose is in charge and he has his coach in Tom Thibodeau, but there is not much on this roster outside of Mitchell Robinson and RJ Barrett. Before the Knicks can dream of landing an elite free agent, they need to build the kind of culture and solid roster that would draw that level of star (as the Nets and Lakers did, adding a lot of young talent that showed promise). There is talk of the Knicks making an impatient move and trading picks/players for Russell Westbrook or Chris Paul, but that’s the same old Knicks looking for a quick fix. Patience and player development is required.

29. Pistons (20-45). New GM Troy Weaver has Christian Wood, Sekou Doumbouya, the No. 7 pick, and a lot of cap space as he starts to try to stockpile young talent on this roster. He has veterans Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose, who could try to trade them for picks/young players (there is a real market for Rose), but this is going to be a multi-year project that will probably not be much fun for Pistons fans.

30. Cavaliers (19-46). There are a lot of questions to answer in Cleveland: Can Collin Sexton and Darius Garland fit together in the backcourt? Is Andre Drummond a long-term answer at the five? Can they find a taker in a Kevin Love trade? Just how good can Kevin Porter Jr. be? JB Bickerstaff has a lot of player development to do as a coach, while Kobe Altman desperately needs to add more talent to this roster (and the No. 5 pick in this draft is only going to help so much).

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NBA Power Rankings: The way, way too early offseason edition originally appeared on NBCSports.com

NBA could lose $1 billion in revenue if next season tips off in January? .
The NBA lost more than $1 billion in revenue during a disastrous 2019-20 season, and it could be headed for another economic blow if the start date for the 2020-21 season is pushed back to January. © Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports Commissioner Adam Silver and the league office fear massive revenue losses if the NBA sea After suspending action for multiple months following a COVID-19 outbreak on March 11, the NBA returned in July. Due to the unprecedented change caused by the pandemic, the NBA Finals didn’t end until October.

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