God dammit. It happened again. I thought maybe after a nice 4th of July break and with basketball only being a stones throw away that my days of getting triggered online about basketball tweets would be over. Well egg on my face because here I am, writing this blog while being triggered as fuck.
I mean what am I even reading right now? According to ESPN this list was comprised by a group of more than 40 reporters, insiders, and editors. My question is did any of them even watch the 2019-20 season? Now this is a unique situation, and who knows if what we saw before the hiatus translates because this is essentially a new season with everyone healthy, but this list is offensive. Thankfully, just like I always do, I am not going to just shit on this list without providing my own.
1. Milwaukee Bucks
OK, so ESPN got this one right. I'm not sure how anyone could argue any other option for the top spot. The most wins in the league, the 6th best offense, the 1st ranked defense, and the only team in the league with a double digit net rating. They employ the league MVP, average the most points a game, and are 5th in 3PM. No complaints here.
2. Los Angeles Lakers
ESPN had the city right, but the wrong team. I know I know, the Clippers won 2 of 3 head to head against the Lakers and LAL isn't going to have Avery Bradley in Orlando. So fucking what. The Lakers are 2nd in the NBA in wins, are 4th in offense, 3rd in defense, and own the NBA's second best net rating. They also have LeBron James. You know, someone who has been virtually unstoppable in postseason play. That's what we're talking about here right? They are loaded with championship experience, have two top 5 NBA talents, and were #2 in ESPNs Power Rankings before the shut down. I'm sorry but an Avery Bradley for JR Smith swap shouldn't make them drop a spot when a total of 0 games have been played.
3. Los Angeles Clippers
I think this is pretty much where everyone should have the Clippers. They have s ton of depth, but outside of Kawhi how many of them are playoff proven? Paul George has struggled, Lou Williams has struggled, and the have the 3rd best net rating in the league. This feels right.
4. Boston Celtics
OK get it all out now, call me a homer and blah blah blah. The truth is the Celts have the 5th best offense, 4th best defense, and 5th best net rating in the league. They have 3 players that are all healthy and average over 20 a game. Guess how many other NBA teams can say that? Zero. They own the 2nd most wins in the East against teams .500 or better and were also 16-11 vs the West which also happens to be the second most. For me it was between the Celts and Raptors for this spot, but seeing as how BOS was better against good teams and also lead the H2H, they got the spot.
5. Toronto Raptors
The facts are the Raptors have a league average offense which isn't great, but also own the 2nd best defense in the league along with the 4th best net rating and 3rd most wins in the NBA. I also put stock in their championship experience, seeing as how we've seen their stars be effective on the biggest stage. I think people have slept on TOR all year because they don't have Kawhi, but they've been sneaky good since the jump. The main reason I have them below BOS is because they were 11-14 against .500 or better teams
6. Houston Rockets
The Rockets are tricky because if you evaluate them based on how they looked post trade deadline when they moved to this new look, the metrics aren't all that great. I'm talking 12th best offense, 14th best defense, and 11th best net rating. So I have them this high on the list mostly because of the whole two MVP thing. That's pretty rare and both look to be in great shape. They've also been #1 in the league since the trade deadline in 3PM (15) and 7th in points.
7. Dallas Mavericks
Why are the Mavs getting so much disrespect? The team with the #1 offense in the league led by two unicorns? They also own the 6th best net rating in the league. I'll concede, their defense is spotty at times but they are also 2nd in the league in 3PM and are a top 3 in points. Maybe you think they aren't experienced enough to be this high, but my counter to that is nobody has experience in the bubble. When you have a generational talent like Luka, a unicorn like Porzingis, and a solid coach like Carlisle, you deserve to be higher.
8. Denver Nuggets
The 9th ranked offense, 12th ranked defense, and 9th best net rating, this feels like a good spot for the Nugs. You see, despite playing in the West the Nuggets were 15-11 against teams .500 or better and were 26-13 in their conference. For comparison, LAC was 27-14. That's pretty good. I mean who knows, maybe after the 8 game ramp up they pass the Clippers in seeding. They are only 2.5 games back.
9. Miami Heat
This might be a little low to some given the Heat own the 7th best offense, but they also have the 14th best defense, and 10th best net rating. They are a threat from deep being 6th in 3PM, and they have two All Stars which is always nice. The wild card for them is obviously how Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson are able to shoot the ball against playoff defenses, but they were also 14-10 against teams .500 or better which is tied for the second most wins in the East. Their 28-10 record in conference was also the second most wins in the East.
10. Philadelphia 76ers
I imagine this is where it will be my turn to trigger Sixers fans, but as always I use nothing but cold hard facts to support my claim. There is no doubt Simmons/Embiid are a beastly duo, but the proof is in the pudding. They are the only team on this list with under 40 wins. They own the 18th ranked offense. The defense is legit, 6th best to be exact, but their net rating is 12th. Against teams .500 or better the Sixers were a brutal 12-18. Nothing we have seen this season suggests they should be ranked as high as ESPN has them at this moment in time. They can absolutely go on a run simply because they have the talent, but we haven't seen that talent be consistent enough on both ends.
So while ESPN was close with their initial list, the reality just needed a little tweaking. Just like the last time I did this exercise I'm sure there will be some to call me mean names in the comment of this blog, but that's OK. My list is backed by actual on court production and feels pretty good.