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Summer moves don't change East-West discrepancy

Mid-Summer Power Rankings

POSTED: Jul 27, 2015 11:50 AM ET
UPDATED: 2015-07-27

By John Schuhmann

BY John Schuhmann

NBA.com

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The biggest acquisition for the champion Warriors? The Larry O'Brien Trophy.

From Al-Farouq Aminu to Thaddeus Young, there was a lot of money handed out in the early hours of free agency. Eventually, we saw a mass exodus from Portland, a new star in San Antonio, and an emoji battle over DeAndre Jordan.

The champion Golden State Warriors took care of business by paying Draymond Green, but two Cleveland Cavaliers who averaged more than 30 minutes per game in The Finals -- J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson -- are still unsigned.

Whether or not those guys return, the Cavs are the clear favorites in the Eastern Conference. But they're the only East team that could compete for a top seed in the West. The Atlanta Hawks lost a key starter, the Chicago Bulls fired one of the league's best coaches, and the Washington Wizards couldn't hold onto The Truth.

So as we evaluate where teams stand with offseason moves slowing down, the West rules the top 10. There are still plenty of questions to be answered, health is a huge factor in the two biggest jump off the summer (see below), and we surely misjudged a team or two below (check were the Hawks stood at this time last year). But here are your mid-Summer Power Rankings for 2015, with thoughts to ponder as we wait for training camps to open in two months.

* * *

• April 13: Warriors were the best
• This time last year: LeBron's move brings parity to the East -- The King went home and the Cavs were a month away from trading Andrew Wiggins for Kevin Love. The Mavs added two Chandlers, Steve Kerr chose Golden State over New York, Derrick Rose got back on the floor, and Jason Kidd's unsuccessful coup in Brooklyn took him to Milwaukee.

• High jumps of the early Summer: Miami (+10), Oklahoma City (+10), New York (+6)
• Free falls of the early Summer: Portland (-19), Atlanta (-6), Brooklyn (-6)

* * *

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 96.3 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 103.0 points scored per 100 possessions last season.

* * *

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.

1

Last week: 1

Golden State (67-15)
Pace: 100.7 (1) OffRtg: 109.7 (2) DefRtg: 98.2 (1) NetRtg: +11.4 (1)
Key addition(s): Larry O'Brien.
Key question: Can they stay healthy?
That question is kind of a cop out, because it could be asked for all 30 teams. But the Warriors' top seven missed just 21 total games to injury last season, they benefited from injuries to playoff opponents, and they gave up depth (David Lee) to lighten their luxury tax bill. Still, this was the best team we've seen in a long time and it retains a ton of versatility.

2

Last week: 2

San Antonio (55-27)
Pace: 95.9 (17) OffRtg: 106.2 (7) DefRtg: 99.6 (3) NetRtg: +6.6 (3)
Key addition(s): LaMarcus Aldrige, David West, many mid-range shots.
Key question: How well will Aldridge fit in?
It's tough to doubt Gregg Popovich's ability to integrate talented players into the Spurs' system, but Aldridge is an interesting piece. No Spur attempted half has many mid-range shots as Aldridge, who will have to adjust to the team's keep-the-ball-moving philosophy. But my goodness, the Spurs' top nine is ridiculously good.

3

Last week: 4

Cleveland (53-29)
Pace: 94.8 (25) OffRtg: 107.7 (4) DefRtg: 104.1 (20) NetRtg: +3.7 (7)
Key addition(s): Mo Williams, so much luxury tax
Key question: Can they be great on both ends of the floor?
The regular season Cavs were an elite offensive team. The playoff Cavs were an elite defensive team. Kevin Love signed up for five more years, but can he be a part of the latter group? And how much are they now willing to pay a guy - Tristan Thompson - who plays the same position? The East is theirs, but there's plenty of room for improvement.

4

Last week: 6

Houston (56-26)
Pace: 99.3 (2) OffRtg: 104.2 (12) DefRtg: 100.5 (6) NetRtg: +3.7 (6)
Key addition(s): Ty Lawson
Key question: Will they get the best of Lawson?
The Rockets won 56 games with Dwight Howard playing half a season. Then they made the conference finals without Patrick Beverley or Donatas Motiejunas. And now they got Lawson for four guys who played a total of 376 playoff minutes. Everything is coming up Morey, but until they hit the floor, there's no placing them above the last two champs in the West.

5

Last week: 5

L.A. Clippers (56-26)
Pace: 97.0 (10) OffRtg: 109.8 (1) DefRtg: 103.0 (15) NetRtg: +6.9 (2)
Key addition(s): Paul Pierce, Josh Smith, Lance Stephenson, emojis
Key question: Is the bench better?
You can make a pretty solid argument that the Clippers blew a 3-1 lead in the conference semifinals because they ran out of gas, because their starters had to play too many minutes all season, because their bench was terrible. There's certainly more talent on that bench this season, but Smith and Stephenson bring their own issues.

6

Last week: 16

Oklahoma City (45-37)
Pace: 98.3 (6) OffRtg: 104.5 (11) DefRtg: 103.1 (16) NetRtg: +1.3 (13)
Key addition(s): Billy Donovan, luxury tax
Key question: Can they get back their top-10 defense?
The Thunder ranked in the top 10 in defensive efficiency three straight years and through the All-Star break last season. Then injuries and Enes Kanter brought them down. Kevin Durant's health is the key to everything, and the offense will be potent health-permitting, but they just gave $70 million to a guy who they can't play when they need stops.

7

Last week: 7

Memphis (55-27)
Pace: 94.2 (26) OffRtg: 103.1 (13) DefRtg: 99.9 (4) NetRtg: +3.1 (11)
Key addition(s): Matt Barnes, Brandan Wright
Key question: Can they play top-10 offense by going small?
The addition of Barnes makes the Grizzlies much more versatile and moves Jeff Green to the back-up four, where he might be somewhat useful. Zach Randolph is 34 years old and should see his minutes dip under 30 per game. More small-ball will give the Grizz a higher ceiling offensively, while pushing Mike Conley toward his first All-Star Game.

8

Last week: 10

New Orleans (45-37)
Pace: 93.7 (27) OffRtg: 105.4 (9) DefRtg: 104.7 (22) NetRtg: +0.7 (15)
Key addition(s): Alvin Gentry
Key question: Can they keep their opponents out of the paint?
It's still rather amazing that a team with Omer Asik and Anthony Davis ranked 22nd defensively and allowed the most shots in the restricted area. Gentry believes that improvement starts on the perimeter, where it will be on Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans to stay in front of the ball ... and also get it to Davis more often on the other end.

9

Last week: 3

Atlanta (60-22)
Pace: 96.2 (15) OffRtg: 106.2 (6) DefRtg: 100.7 (7) NetRtg: +5.6 (4)
Key addition(s): Tiago Splitter
Key question: How important was DeMarre Carroll?
Mike Budenholzer has some options when it comes to replacing Caroll. Kent Bazemore, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Thabo Sefolosha all have their strengths, but none of the three are nearly as good on both ends of the floor as Carroll is. Sefolosha is probably the best complement to Kyle Korver, but one weak link in the offense is all it takes to disrupt the system.

10

Last week: 9

Chicago (50-32)
Pace: 95.4 (21) OffRtg: 104.7 (10) DefRtg: 101.5 (11) NetRtg: +3.3 (9)
Key addition(s): The Mayor
Key question: Will a new approach matter?
Bulls management has their coach in place and it's safe to assume that Fred Hoiberg will rest his starters more than Tom Thibodeau did. It's also fair to wonder if Jimmy Butler is the only player in the Bulls' top seven whose best days aren't behind him. But a Joakim Noah revival - he's only 30 years old - could put them on the Cavs' level.

11

Last week: 21

Miami (37-45)
Pace: 93.3 (29) OffRtg: 101.5 (22) DefRtg: 103.8 (19) NetRtg: -2.4 (21)
Key addition(s): Justise Winslow, the repeater tax
Key question: Can Dwyane Wade learn to shoot 3s?
Goran Dragic and Channing Frye formed the league's most potent pick-and-pop combination two seasons ago. Dragic and Chris Bosh should be even better and Wade will thrive in attacking weak-side close-outs, but it would help if he was a threat to shoot from deep. This team may be depending on the erratic Gerald Green for small-ball floor-spacing.

12

Last week: 13

Toronto (49-33)
Pace: 95.4 (20) OffRtg: 108.1 (3) DefRtg: 104.8 (23) NetRtg: +3.2 (10)
Key addition(s): DeMarre Carroll, Cory Joseph, Luis Scola
Key question: Does Jonas Valanciunas fit on this team, in this league?
Getting swept in the playoffs overshadowed that this was a strong team last season, but Dwane Casey wants to get back to playing top-10 defense. The addition of Carroll will obviously help in that regard, but if Valanciunas and his slow feet continue to be a liability on that end of the floor, he won't be seeing much fourth-quarter playing time.

13

Last week: 12

Washington (46-36)
Pace: 96.0 (16) OffRtg: 101.8 (19) DefRtg: 100.0 (5) NetRtg: +1.9 (12)
Key addition(s): Jared Dudley
Key question: Is #PlayoffWittman here to stay?
The Wizards were a different team in the postseason, spreading the floor and unleashing John Wall's brilliance. Dudley, Alan Anderson and Otto Porter keep them versatile at the forward positions, and Porter building on his playoff performance would be huge. But it would take a Nene trade for the Wiz to fully embrace D'Antoni-ball this season.

14

Last week: 17

Milwaukee (41-41)
Pace: 96.5 (12) OffRtg: 100.5 (25) DefRtg: 99.3 (2) NetRtg: +1.2 (14)
Key addition(s): Greg Monroe, Huevos
Key question: Can Giannis Antetokounmpo shoot?
Monroe is a good fit offensively, but he needs space to operate. Antetokounmpo, Michael Carter-Williams and Jabari Parker shot a combined 31 percent from outside the paint and just 22 percent from 3-point range. The Greek Freak was improved after the All-Star break, but the Bucks' offense still regressed with MCW replacing Brandon Knight.

15

Last week: 14

Utah (38-44)
Pace: 92.8 (30) OffRtg: 102.5 (15) DefRtg: 102.1 (12) NetRtg: +0.5 (16)
Key addition(s): Modest expectations
Key question: Do they have a starting-level point guard?
The Jazz were the league's best defensive team by a wide margin after trading Enes Kanter the All-Star break. But they obviously need improvement from Trey Burke and/or Dante Exum to have an offense that can help them compete with the best teams in the West. With the Blazers losing four starters, there's a playoff spot for the taking.

16

Last week: 11

Dallas (50-32)
Pace: 97.4 (9) OffRtg: 107.2 (5) DefRtg: 103.7 (18) NetRtg: +3.5 (8)
Key addition(s): Deron Williams, Wesley Matthews, Zaza Pachulia
Key question: Will location make a difference for Williams?
If Williams wants to be good again and if Matthews can make a full recovery from Achilles surgery, the potential is there for more potent offense around Dirk Nowitzki. But those are probably the two biggest "ifs" among last year's West playoff teams. And we're going to find out what happens when you take the two best defenders off a bad defensive team.

17

Last week: 20

Phoenix (39-43)
Pace: 98.7 (3) OffRtg: 102.9 (14) DefRtg: 103.4 (17) NetRtg: -0.5 (19)
Key addition(s): Tyson Chandler, Devin Booker, Mirza Teletovic
Key question: Is sibling separation good or bad for Markieff Morris?
New NBA economics reduce the trepidation regarding the contracts handed out this summer, but the Suns had two of the more questionable ones. They gave $70 million to a bottom-tier starting point guard (Brandon Knight) and gave a four-year deal to a guy (Chandler) who turns 33 in training camp. They have the makings of a good defense, though.

18

Last week: 18

Indiana (38-44)
Pace: 95.5 (19) OffRtg: 100.8 (24) DefRtg: 100.9 (8) NetRtg: -0.1 (17)
Key addition(s): Monta Ellis, Myles Turner, small-ball
Key question: Can Paul George handle the four?
With the departures of Roy Hibbert, David West and Luis Scola, as well as the addition of Ellis and Chase Budinger, the Pacers appear to be going all-in on small-ball, with George as the starting power forward. That should make them a lot more fun to watch than they've ever been under Frank Vogel, but extended minutes at the four could wear George down.

19

Last week: 15

Boston (40-42)
Pace: 98.4 (5) OffRtg: 101.7 (20) DefRtg: 102.1 (14) NetRtg: -0.4 (18)
Key addition(s): Amir Johnson, David Lee
Key question: Is the big move ever going to come?
The Celtics have Brad Stevens and incrementally better talent for him to work with. Danny Ainge has done solid work around the fringes. But after another offseason, Boston is still without a star or a clear path to a top-10 ranking on either end of the floor. And Stevens has another tough job in just determining who plays and who doesn't.

20

Last week: 22

Detroit (32-50)
Pace: 95.2 (23) OffRtg: 102.3 (17) DefRtg: 104.2 (21) NetRtg: -1.8 (20)
Key addition(s): Ersan Ilyasova, Stanley Johnson
Key question: Did the late-season numbers mean anything?
The Pistons were just 10-17 with Reggie Jackson, but their numbers with Jackson and Andre Drummond on the floor without Greg Monroe were great. Ilyasova and Anthony Tolliver give them permanent floor spacing at power forward, allowing the offense to look like the one Stan Van Gundy had in Orlando. The old Magic defense will be harder to mimic.

21

Last week: 25

Charlotte (33-49)
Pace: 95.3 (22) OffRtg: 97.6 (28) DefRtg: 101.0 (9) NetRtg: -3.4 (23)
Key addition(s): Nicolas Batum, Frank Kaminsky, Jeremy Lin
Key question: Is Michael Kidd-Gilchrist's jumper still getting better?
The league's worst 3-point shooting team added some shooters via trade. But both Batum (32 percent) and Spencer Hawes (31 percent) had down years in that regard last season. MKG isn't going to be Ray Allen after two summers of working on his jumper, but the better he shoots, the more Steve Clifford can keep his best all-around player on the floor.

22

Last week: 28

New York (17-65)
Pace: 93.7 (28) OffRtg: 97.1 (29) DefRtg: 107.2 (28) NetRtg: -10.1 (30)
Key addition(s): Arron Afflalo, Robin Lopez, Kristaps Porzingis
Key question: How much longer will Carmelo Anthony be around?
Whether you think that Porzingis has the potential to be an impact player or not, you know that his timeline doesn't match that of the 31-year-old star getting paid $23 million. There's nowhere to go but up and (a healthy) Anthony and Lopez will help on offense and defense, respectively. But making the playoffs and keeping Anthony happy will be tough.

23

Last week: 26

Sacramento (29-53)
Pace: 97.9 (8) OffRtg: 102.5 (16) DefRtg: 106.5 (27) NetRtg: -4.0 (25)
Key addition(s): Marco Belinelli, Kosta Koufos, Rajon Rondo
Key question: How directionless can a franchise possibly be?
Not only have the Kings shuffled through coaches at an alarming rate, they've done the same in the front office, landing on a guy who is "strongly opposed to the use of analytics," according to a report. Yikes. George Karl could make the most of his team's talent if personalities don't get in the way. Koufos and Belinelli were nice additions at their price.

24

Last week: 27

L.A. Lakers (21-61)
Pace: 96.3 (14) OffRtg: 100.8 (24) DefRtg: 108.0 (29) NetRtg: -7.2 (27)
Key addition(s): Roy Hibbert, D'Angelo Russell, Lou Williams
Key question: Can they play with more than one basketball?
Kobe Bryant, Nick Young and Williams on the same team will result in a ton of contested shots, teammates wondering if they'll ever get to touch the ball, and less of an opportunity for Russell to develop as a point guard. Hibbert and Byron Scott together will be a great test of whether team defense is affected more by coaching or personnel.

25

Last week: 19

Brooklyn (38-44)
Pace: 95.0 (24) OffRtg: 101.9 (18) DefRtg: 105.0 (24) NetRtg: -3.1 (22)
Key addition(s): Locker room happiness, tax relief
Key question: Can Jarrett Jack just run the offense?
Two sobering numbers in regard to the Nets: They had the point differential of a 31-win team last season and, though he had a down year, they were much worse when Deron Williams wasn't on the floor. They still have talent at the other starting spots, but those guys need Jack to limit his pull-up jumpers and focus on getting them the ball.

26

Last week: 23

Denver (30-52)
Pace: 98.7 (4) OffRtg: 101.6 (21) DefRtg: 105.5 (26) NetRtg: -3.9 (24)
Key addition(s): Emmanuel Mudiay
Key question: Did a few teams really screw up by not picking Mudiay?
With extensions for Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari, the Nuggets are set to spend $115 million on three good-but-not-great forwards (Kenneth Faried is the other) over the next three years. That's OK if they have a star point guard on a rookie contract. It was just Summer League, but Denver has to be happy with what it saw from Mudiay in Vegas.

27

Last week: 8

Portland (51-31)
Pace: 96.5 (13) OffRtg: 105.5 (8) DefRtg: 101.4 (10) NetRtg: +4.2 (5)
Key addition(s): Lottery odds
Key question: How good of a coach is Terry Stotts?
Stotts did a very good job with the group of players that went their separate ways this summer. The Blazers, who ranked 26th defensively in Stotts' first season, ranked fourth when Wesley Matthews tore his Achilles. Portland still has a guy - Damian Lillard - who can cause problems for defenses, but we'll see how much Stotts can coach up lesser talent.

28

Last week: 24

Orlando (25-57)
Pace: 95.9 (18) OffRtg: 99.6 (27) DefRtg: 105.2 (25) NetRtg: -5.6 (26)
Key addition(s): Scott Skiles, Mario Hezonja
Key question: Does Elfrid Payton make the jump?
Scott Skiles will get the Magic playing defense. The other two teams he took over in the summer jumped 15 spots in defensive efficiency in his first season. If there's offensive improvement too, Orlando could hang in the Eastern Conference playoff race past the All-Star break. It will be on the second-year point guard to run the show and maybe make some shots.

29

Last week: 30

Minnesota (16-66)
Pace: 97.0 (10) OffRtg: 99.8 (26) DefRtg: 109.6 (30) NetRtg: -9.8 (29)
Key addition(s): Karl-Anthony Towns, Nemanja Bjelica
Key question: Is there a shooter in the house?
The combination of Towns and Andrew Wiggins should have Wolves fans excited and League Pass subscribers tuning in. But the offense will still be painful to watch with what little floor spacing this team will have. Flip Saunders has some interesting decisions to make in regard to frontline playing time, especially if he plans on starting Kevin Garnett.

30

Last week: 29

Philadelphia (18-64)
Pace: 98.3 (7) OffRtg: 93.0 (30) DefRtg: 102.1 (13) NetRtg: -9.1 (28)
Key addition(s): Jahlil Okafor, increased impatience
Key question: Will they bother to sign (or trade for) a point guard?
The trade that added to the Sixers' trove of draft picks also netted them a couple of actual NBA players. But they're still without a competent point guard to run pick-and-roll and help accelerate the development of Okafor and Nerlens Noel. The offensive improvement that Okafor could provide will be curtailed if he doesn't have someone to get him the ball.
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