Eastern Conference power rankings

1. Boston

Possibly the deepest team in the NBA and nearly made it to the Finals without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward on the floor last season.

2. Toronto

The future is uncertain because the Raptors might only get Kawhi Leonard for one year, but for this season they should be a serious contender.

3. Philadelphia

The 76ers have two young stars in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. If Markelle Fultz can put it together and contribute in a meaningful way, watch out.

4. Milwaukee

Giannis Antetokounmpo has looked as good as ever in the preseason and the Bucks have a coach who can utilize his talents in Mike Budenholzer.

5. Indiana

Victor Oladipo blossomed into a star in his first year with the Pacers. The development of Myles Turner will be key for this season.

6. Miami

Acquiring Jimmy Butler from the Wolves could vault the Heat up the standings considering Miami has good coaching and depth but is missing a superstar in his prime for Dwyane Wade’s last season.

7. Washington

John Wall and Bradley Beal might not be winning any titles together any time soon, but they are still good enough to win games and make the playoffs.

8. Detroit

Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin might be just enough for the Pistons to avoid the lottery this season.

9. Charlotte

A very average team that is not close to contending but isn’t bad enough to be tanking. That’s not where you want to be in the current NBA landscape.

10. Brooklyn

The Nets aren’t a hopeless cause anymore, but they are still not ready to be a playoff team. D’Angelo Russell is entering an important year for his stock in the league.

11. Cleveland

Kevin Love is still there and rookie Collin Sexton has a lot of upside, but the Cavaliers are back in rebuilding mode following LeBron James’ departure in free agency.

12. New York

Kristaps Porzingis is still recovering from an ACL tear and this season is all about developing young talent for the Knicks, who hope to land a big-money free agent next offseason.

13. Orlando

Aaron Gordon and rookie Mohamed Bamba should provide some excitement in the frontcourt, but this is another team playing for the future.

14. Chicago

The Bulls have to hope Zach LaVine turns into a player consistent enough to earn the four-year, $78 million contract they signed him to this offseason.

15. Atlanta

There’s not much going for the Hawks right now but to hope they hit on what could be three first-round draft picks in this upcoming draft.

 

Western Conference power rankings

1. Golden State

There are rumblings of Kevin Durant leaving the Warriors after this season, but for now they are still head and shoulders above everyone else.

2. Houston

One of the few who can challenge the Warriors, but is Carmelo Anthony that big of an upgrade over losing Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute?

3. Utah

Has a budding star in Donovan Mitchell, who only promises to get better, and the Jazz will be one of the league’s toughest defensive teams.

4. L.A. Lakers

LeBron James and the younger Lakers such as Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma should be fun to watch, even if there might be some growing pains.

5. Denver

Missed the playoffs by one game last season, but with Nikola Jokic locked in for the foreseeable future, the Nuggets should be able to score lots and lots of points.

6. Oklahoma City

Paul George staying means OKC will be relevant as long as he and Russell Westbrook are healthy. Will Carmelo Anthony be addition by subtraction?

7. New Orleans

Losing DeMarcus Cousins to injury last season didn’t stop the Pelicans from sweeping Portland in the playoffs, so Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday have proved they can make it work without Cousins long term.

8. Portland

The Trail Blazers have a steady core in Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, but they are replacing a lot of role players from a season ago. Will that cause improvement or a step back?

9. San Antonio

It’s a fool’s errand to pick the Spurs to miss the playoffs, but losing point guard Dejounte Murray to a torn ACL might just be too much for the Spurs to take.

10. Wolves

Jimmy Butler can make them a playoff team, but with his impending departure, it’s hard to see the Wolves playing good enough defense to win a lot of games.

11. L.A. Clippers

They have some pieces in Danilo Gallinari and Tobias Harris, but they lack the top-end talent to compete regularly in this loaded conference.

12. Dallas

Rookie Luka Doncic has high expectations and DeAndre Jordan should improve the Mavericks inside. The potential to make a jump is there.

13. Memphis

The biggest obstacle for the Grizzlies is health. Can Mike Conley and Chandler Parsons stay healthy? If they can, maybe they can contend.

14. Phoenix

The Suns have some talent and the No. 1 pick in Deandre Ayton, but they aren’t ready to win consistently.

15. Sacramento

So many young players, such as Marvin Bagley III and De’Aaron Fox, that they shouldn’t be boring, but they need more seasoning and other pieces to compete.

Chris Hine