There were 320 players who played at least 750 minutes last season. And as of Monday morning, 129 (40 percent) of those 320 are no longer with the team on which they ended the season.
Of those 129, 103 have found new NBA teams, though only 39 of those 103 changed conferences. Six of the 15 guys who made an All-NBA team changed jerseys, but in regard to the two conferences, it would have been a pretty even swap — Kevin Durant for Kawhi Leonard — if both of those guys were healthy.
There was some consolidation of stars — Leonard and Paul George, Durant and Kyrie Irving, Anthony Davis and LeBron James, James Harden and Russell Westbrook — but we’re left with three teams that employ three players that have made an All-NBA team in last five years. Two of those — Brooklyn and Golden State — will be missing one of their All-NBA guys for most (and maybe all) of the season. And for the third — the Lakers — one of the All-NBA guys (DeMarcus Cousins) has yet to return to form after his own injury.
So things appear to be wide open in both conferences, though with Durant on the shelf, there’s a clear top two teams in the East. And while both of those teams — the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers — lost important pieces in free agency, they both still have young MVP candidates that will continue to get better.
Given the size and talent in their starting lineup (and remembering how close they were to knocking off the eventual champs), there’s a case for the Sixers as the best team in the East (and maybe the best team in the league if their young guys all show improvement). But Philly has a little more to prove than the Bucks, who still have the MVP and the league’s No. 1 defense.
For these mid-Summer rankings, we’re looking at each conference separately and we’ll have Western Conference rankings next Monday (July 29). The “Last Week” rankings are based on how teams did in the playoffs and regular season.
- April 8: Warriors remain favorites … and East remains wide open
- This time last year: Celtics set to rule Eastern Conference for years — The Raptors had fired the franchise’s all-time winningest coach and traded its all-time leading scorer. LeBron James had taken his talents West, the Wizards and Bulls gave Dwight Howard and Jabari Parker two-year contracts, Dwyane Wade announced #OneLastDance, and seven East teams made coaching changes. The Celtics headline was a bit off and we had two eventual playoff teams — Brooklyn and Orlando — ranked 11th and 14th in the conference, respectively.
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Pace: Possessions per 48 minutes (League Rank)
OffRtg: Points scored per 100 possessions (League Rank)
DefRtg: Points allowed per 100 possessions (League Rank)
NetRtg: Point differential per 100 possessions (League Rank)
The league averaged 100.7 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 109.7 points scored per 100 possessions this season.
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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, or have a question or comment for John Schuhmann, send him an e-mail or contact him via Twitter.
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