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Power Rankings

Nets, Wolves Make Summer Moves

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com
Posted Aug 6 2012 2:48PM

While some of the NBA's biggest stars are playing for gold, silver and bronze in London, the league itself has been pretty quiet.

This summer hasn't been like 2010, when the world's best player took his talents to South Beach and changed the landscape of the league. And it certainly hasn't been anything like last December, when free agency was a mad dash in the wake of the lockout. Still, there has been plenty of activity, and plenty of teams who made moves to shake things up.

With apologies to Leandro Barbosa and Anthony Tolliver, though, there aren't any free agents left who can make a real impact on the standings. So now's a great time to evaluate where teams stand in the NBA's hierarchy.

Of course, there's one more piece of business that needs addressing. That's Dwight Howard's eventual destination. But we've learned our lesson and won't be waiting on that Orlando front office to pull the trigger on a deal.

For now, we have the Magic as a fringe playoff team in the Eastern Conference. Why? Because they have Dwight Howard. Once that changes, unless Rob Hennigan brings in a haul like the Nuggets got for Carmelo Anthony, they're probably just above the Bobcats.

• April 23: Closing up shop for the season

High jumps of the summer: Brooklyn (+14), Minnesota (+12), Golden State (+9)
Free falls of the summer: Houston (-11), Phoenix (-11), Chicago(-9)

Pace: Possessions per 48 minutes (league rank)
Off: Points scored per 100 possessions (league rank)
Def: Points allowed per 100 possessions (league rank)
The league averaged 93.8 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 101.8 points scored per 100 possessions last season.

NBA.com's Power Rankings are just one man's opinion and are released every Monday during the season. 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.

1 Miami (46-20)
Pace: 93.7 (15), Off: 104.3 (6), Def: 97.1 (4)
If the media coverage shrunk considerably in the Big Three's second season together, who's going to scrutinize the Heat now that they've won a championship? The most interesting thing about the Heat will be how much they play small, with LeBron James or Rashard Lewis at power forward.
April 23: 2

2 Oklahoma City (47-19)
Pace: 95.7 (6), Off: 107.1 (2), Def: 100.0 (9)
As the Thunder work to get back to The Finals, we have to wonder if this is their last season with James Harden or Serge Ibaka, or if extension talks will keep the team distracted. Some of the shine came off this team (especially Harden) in The Finals. Now, anything short of a championship is not enough.
April 23: 4

3 L.A. Lakers (41-25)
Pace: 92.9 (20), Off: 103.3 (10), Def: 101.7 (13)
Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum make for a talented big four, and the potential is there for the Lakers to have a top-three offense again. But to return to title contention, they have to get back to being dominant defensively. Nash isn't helping on that end, which is where they miss Lamar Odom.
April 23: 8

4 San Antonio (50-16)
Pace: 95.1 (8), Off: 108.5 (1), Def: 100.6 (11)
Except for the addition of another French point guard, the Spurs are basically returning the same team that looked unbeatable for most of the postseason. There's nothing wrong with that, except that it's also the same team that then lost four straight to the Thunder and was never able to get stops consistently.
April 23: 1

5 L.A. Clippers (40-26)
Pace: 91.8 (25), Off: 105.2 (4), Def: 102.9 (18)
You have to like the upgrades the Clippers made to their bench. But which Lamar Odom will they be getting? Most important might be how well Odom and Blake Griffin play together, because that will the fourth-quarter frontline. DeAndre Jordan played just 12 fourth-quarter minutes over 11 playoff games.
April 23: 6

6 Boston (39-27)
Pace: 92.6 (22), Off: 98.9 (24), Def: 95.5 (2)
The Celtics' veterans know when the season starts this year, so we can assume they'll be in better shape than they were at the beginning of last season. We can also assume they'll have a more potent second unit once Avery Bradley is healthy. Priority No. 1, as always, is keeping Kevin Garnett fresh.
April 23: 7

7 Memphis (41-25)
Pace: 93.4 (18), Off: 101.0 (21), Def: 98.9 (7)
The Grizzlies will be better with a healthy Zach Randolph grabbing Z-bounds all season long, and it will be fun to see if Josh Selby's Summer League success can carry over. But Memphis is still no better than the fourth-best team in the Western Conference, especially since the Grizz still can't shoot threes.
April 23: 9

8 Indiana (42-24)
Pace: 93.4 (19), Off: 103.5 (9), Def: 100.4 (10)
The Pacers were one of only four teams to rank in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency last season. There's no reason why they can't repeat that feat this year, and again make the conference semifinals. But Ian Mahinmi and Gerald Green aren't enough to say they're definitely No. 2 in the East.
April 23: 5

9 Dallas (36-30)
Pace: 93.6 (16), Off: 101.0 (20), Def: 99.7 (8)
The Mavs struck out in the chase for Deron Williams, but recovered somewhat by adding Elton Brand, Darren Collison, Chris Kaman and O.J. Mayo. Their new roster should be better offensively, worse defensively, and just as temporary as it was last season. Tune in again next summer after another early-round exit.
April 23: 13

10 Brooklyn (22-44)
Pace: 92.7 (21), Off: 99.7 (23), Def: 106.9 (29)
The Nets should be the most improved offensive team in the league with the additions of Joe Johnson, (a healthy) Brook Lopez and Mirza Teletovic. But defense is still a big question, and where they stand in the Eastern Conference will depend a lot on how much Lopez improves on that end of the floor.
April 23: 24

11 New York (36-30)
Pace: 95.7 (5), Off: 101.4 (19), Def: 98.4 (5)
The Knicks' decision to let Jeremy Lin walk was certainly curious. But no matter who the point guard is, this team isn't winning a playoff series unless Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire can develop some sort of chemistry. All you need to know is that they're a minus-123 in their 1,880 minutes together.
April 23: 10

12 Chicago (50-16)
Pace: 91.8 (26), Off: 104.5 (5), Def: 95.3 (1)
The Bulls went 18-9 without Derrick Rose last season, but that was because they allowed fewer than 95 points per 100 possessions in those games. That will be much tougher to do without Omer Asik and Ronnie Brewer, but it's hard to imagine Tom Thibodeau's Bulls not ranking in the top five defensively.
April 23: 3

13 Minnesota (26-40)
Pace: 96.0 (4), Off: 101.5 (18), Def: 103.6 (21)
As much as the Wolves improved this summer, their success will depend on how well Ricky Rubio recovers from knee surgery. If he's near 100 percent by January and if they can find some perimeter shooting, this is a playoff team and Derrick Williams' development won't be such as issue.
April 23: 25

14 Denver (38-28)
Pace: 96.7 (2), Off: 106.5 (3), Def: 103.4 (19)
The Nuggets made minimal changes, so they must aim to improve from within, especially defensively. That puts the pressure on JaVale McGee, who is, amazingly, the highest paid player on the team with his new $44 million deal. Yep, JaVale McGee is supposed to be a franchise player.
April 23: 12

15 Atlanta (40-26)
Pace: 92.5 (23), Off: 102.4 (15), Def: 98.6 (6)
Danny Ferry has received nothing but praise for unloading Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams, giving the Hawks a ton of financial flexibility going forward. But cap space doesn't win you games, and Ferry's moves are successful only if he can replace those guys with quality players over the next 12 months.
April 23: 11

16 Orlando (37-29)
Pace: 91.2 (29), Off: 102.4 (14), Def: 101.7 (14)
It will be another month and a half before there's real urgency in the Dwight Howard saga. That's when Rob Hennigan will face the possibility of having a grumpy Howard in training camp and in the locker room with his new coach and teammates. Or maybe he'll just ask Howard to stay home until a deal is made.
April 23: 16

17 Utah (36-30)
Pace: 93.9 (13), Off: 103.7 (7), Def: 103.6 (20)
No team overachieved more than the Jazz last season, a credit to Tyrone Corbin, whose first half season was pretty awful. The young core, starting with Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward, should be better, but are they the future? Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Mo Williams are all in the last year of their contracts.
April 23: 14

18 Philadelphia (35-31)
Pace: 91.9 (24), Off: 101.7 (17), Def: 96.6 (3)
If you can figure out what the Sixers' plan is, let the rest of us know. Elton Brand had just one more year left on his deal and played a big part in Philly's surprising success last season. Yet, he was sacrificed so they could sign ... Nick Young? And they replaced Brand on the frontline with ... Kwame Brown?
April 23: 17

19 Golden State (23-43)
Pace: 94.7 (10), Off: 103.1 (11), Def: 106.0 (27)
If Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut are healthy (and all indications are that they'll be ready for the start of camp), the biggest question with the Warriors will be what kind of coach Mark Jackson is. He was brought in to improve this team defensively, but that certainly didn't happen last season.
April 23: 28

20 Toronto (23-43)
Pace: 91.6 (28), Off: 98.5 (25), Def: 101.5 (12)
Few teams upgraded their roster more than the Raptors, who added Kyle Lowry, Landry Fields, Terrence Ross and Jonas Valanciunas. Their outlook would be a little more promising if Valanciunas was making any kind of an impact at the Olympics. Still, they may contend for a playoff spot if they find a way to score.
April 23: 23

21 New Orleans (21-45)
Pace: 90.7 (30), Off: 98.3 (26), Def: 102.3 (16)
The Hornets didn't rest after the draft, and Ryan Anderson and Robin Lopez are both good fits with Anthony Davis. We can't forget what a great coaching job Monty Williams did last season, but the lack of a point guard beyond Greivis Vasquez (we'll wait and see on Austin Rivers) could be troubling.
April 23: 22

22 Detroit (25-41)
Pace: 91.7 (27), Off: 97.8 (29), Def: 104.0 (25)
If Andre Drummond is the real deal, then the Pistons will have one heck of a frontline in a couple of years. If not, there's not much to look forward to. Sure, there are a lot of conditional statements like that around the league. The one concerning Drummond is one of the most fascinating.
April 23: 20

23 Portland (28-38)
Pace: 93.7 (14), Off: 102.8 (12), Def: 103.7 (22)
Damian Lillard will be given the keys to the car right away, and that will make the Blazers fun to watch. But if they defend like they did after Nate McMillan was fired and Gerald Wallace was traded, they won't be very good. And matching Nicolas Batum's offer sheet really minimized their future flexibility.
April 23: 21

24 Milwaukee (31-35)
Pace: 96.4 (3), Off: 102.4 (16), Def: 102.4 (17)
The Bucks are probably in that 9-10 range in the Eastern Conference for the third straight year, unless Scott Skiles can come up with the right combinations of offense and defense. The roster has a lot of guys who can provide one or the other, but none that can really help on both ends of the floor.
April 23: 19

25 Cleveland (21-45)
Pace: 94.0 (12), Off: 98.1 (27), Def: 106.0 (26)
Swapping Anthony Parker and Anthony Jamison for Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller, the Cavs got much younger. But Kyrie Irving is good enough to keep them moving forward, especially with Anderson Varejao returning to health. The biggest variable with this team is the development of Tristan Thompson.
April 23: 27

26 Phoenix (33-33)
Pace: 95.0 (9), Off: 103.5 (8), Def: 103.8 (23)
Will it be weirder to see Nash with the Lakers or the Suns without Nash? You can do worse than replacing the two-time MVP with Goran Dragic and Kendall Marshall, and a frontline of Michael Beasley, Luis Scola and Marcin Gortat will be fun to watch. But this team is taking another step backward.
April 23: 15

27 Washington (20-46)
Pace: 95.1 (7), Off: 97.8 (28), Def: 103.8 (24)
John Wall may be the player to watch in the East this season. No, the Wizards probably aren't a playoff team either way, but a significant improvement from Wall could change the Wizards' outlook. Not only must he improve his jumper and his defense, but he's got to make his teammates better.
April 23: 26

28 Sacramento (22-44)
Pace: 97.3 (1), Off: 101.0 (22), Def: 106.8 (28)
The Kings probably won't be much more relevant than they've been over the last six seasons, but DeMarcus Cousins and Thomas Robinson promise to keep you interested when you tune in on late-night League Pass. Cousins' raw numbers should continue to be impressive, but he needs to be more efficient.
April 23: 29

29 Houston (34-32)
Pace: 94.3 (11), Off: 102.7 (13), Def: 102.1 (15)
Daryl Morey and the Rockets broke up a decent team with the ultimate goal of acquiring a star or two. But as they stand right now, Houston is likely starting Jeremy Lin, Kevin Martin, Chandler Parsons, Patrick Patterson and Omer Asik. So unless things change, they're going to be pretty awful.
April 23: 18

30 Charlotte (7-56)
Pace: 93.6 (17), Off: 92.3 (30), Def: 107.8 (30)
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist should be a great player in this league and Ramon Sessions should be an upgrade over D.J. Augustin. The Bobcats are slowly moving forward. But they were so much worse than the other 29 teams last season, it will take a lot more to move them up a spot.
April 23: 30

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