After a crazy summer of movement, it's finally time to get things started again.
There are a ton of questions, both big and small, to be answered in the next eight months. Every game is a data point, and the first of 1,230 is Tuesday in Toronto (8 ET, TNT), when the Raptors begin a unique title defense with a visit from the New Orleans Pelicans, who will likely be without their own franchise centerpiece. Out West, we just couldn't wait for Paul George to come back to get this Clippers-Lakers thing started (10:30 ET, TNT).
Next Monday's Power Rankings may look a lot different than the ones below, which are sure to be way off in regard to a team or two (or three or four). The great thing about Power Rankings is that you get to try again next week.
Plus-Minus Players of the Preseason
- Sir Plus: James Harden (HOU) was a plus-95 in six preseason games.
- Minus van Pelt: Denzel Valentine (CHI) was a minus-57 in five preseason games.
Teams of the Preseason
- Make It Last Forever: Milwaukee (5-0) -- The Bucks were one of two teams that ranked in the top five in both offensive and defensive efficiency (when you discount games vs. international teams) in the preseason. The other - Boston - played three of its four games against Charlotte and Cleveland.
- Something Just Ain't Right: Cleveland (1-3) -- The Cavs went 0-3 against NBA teams (with one of those games coming against a Celtics team missing its top seven guys), getting outscored by almost 24 points per 100 possessions in the three games.
Movement in the Rankings
- High jumps of the preseason: Dallas (+3), Toronto (+2)
- Free falls of the preseason: Indiana (-2), Sacramento (-2), Utah (-2)
Week 1 Team to Watch
- Houston -- With all the player movement this summer, there are big questions about more than half of the league's 30 teams. But the Rockets can seemingly go in two very different directions and their season begins with two very interesting games. They host the Bucks on Thursday and the Pelicans on Saturday.
- Mid-summer: Bucks and 76ers at the top of the East | Clippers sit atop new-look West
- This time last year: Raptors claim No. 1 spot, while Pelicans lead an offensive surge -- The season was six days old and six teams were undefeated. Heat president Pat Riley said he was "pulling the plug" on trade talks for Jimmy Butler and a Rockets-Lakers skirmish resulted in suspensions for Chris Paul, Brandon Ingram and Rajon Rondo. Markelle Fultz was starting for the Sixers, Giannis Antetokounmpo was 0-for-10 from outside the paint, and Nik Stauskas tied his career high with 24 points in the Blazers' opener. Jarrett Allen met Blake Griffin at the rim and the Warriors beat the Jazz with Jonas Jerebko's buzzer-beating tip-in.
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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 last 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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