Headlines / Sports

It’s game time!

Barely weeks into the new National Basketball Association season, The Muralla’s provides its own power rankings and other bold predictions for this season.

John Gabriel Pabico-Lalu  |  Editor-in-Chief

DEFENDING THE CROWN  |  LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers start their title defense, but the rest of the NBA are also in the hunt. (ABC News Photo)

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Who else, but the defending world champions? LeBron James wants to and can make it two championships in a row.  Nothing much to say.
  1. Toronto Raptors
  • The Raptors lost Bismack Biyombo, and compensated by signing Jared Sullinger. DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry are one of the best one-two punches in the league.  Then there’s Jonas Valanciunas.  They look poised to challenge the Cavs.
  1. Indiana Pacers
  • Myles Turner had a monster performance on their opening game. The scary thing is that Monta Ellis, Paul George and Jeff Teague can do most of the damage.  If you have Al Jefferson, CJ Miles, and Rodney Stuckey on the bench, you’re good.
  1. New York Knicks
  • Things are not going south for the Knicks, but they have to find a way for Derrick Rose and Carmelo Anthony and the team to jell. They have to do it fast, as it looks like a make-or-break season.  Still, they have Kristaps Porzingis.
  1. Charlotte Hornets
  • With high-caliber players even deep into the bench, team chemistry is always an issue. But sometimes, these kind of problems are better problems than rebuilding.  Plus points for getting Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Roy Hibbert.
  1. Atlanta Hawks
  • Whether the pairing of Dennis Schroder, Paul Millsap and Dwight Howard will be successful remains to be a question. A solid win against the Celtics though.
  1. Boston Celtics
  • After failing to land Kevin Durant in the free agency, the Celtics are not sore losers. They signed valuable big man Al Horford.  Exciting times.
  1. Chicago Bulls
  • Dwayne Wade and Jimmy Butler try to give life to this ailing franchise. They can muster their way right into middle of the pack if any of the above teams play badly.
  1. Milwaukee Bucks
  • All eyes on Giannis Antetokounmpo, but players all over the roster can help him out. Still, there is a need for consistency.
  1. Washington Wizards
  • Intriguing season for Bradley Beal and John Wall. Good season?  They get another piece to help them.  Bad season?  One will be traded in January.
  1. Miami Heat
  • They have to rebuild, but not around Hassan Whiteside. They can do it through the draft, but they don’t look like tanking anytime.
  1. Detroit Pistons
  • No real point guard, even if Reggie Jackson comes back from injury.
  1. Brooklyn Nets
  • The Nets look to rebuild… obviously, with Jeremy Lin as the starting point guard?
  1. Philadelphia 76ers
  • Bad luck Sixers, top pick Ben Simmons is out for several months.
  1. Orlando Magic
  • They should already look forward to the next season, and get that top pick.
  1. Golden State Warriors
  • The Warriors’ answer to their failed attempt of winning back-to-back championships is signing former MVP Kevin Durant. Everything comes with a price: they had to let go of key pieces that made them deadly.  Interior defense is miserable.  But the team with the highest score wins, and that is not a problem for Stephen Curry and company.
  1. San Antonio Spurs
  • Potential first-ballot Hall of Famer Tim Duncan hanged his jersey, but the Spurs are contenders, trouncing the Warriors on opening night. The system works as efficiently as ever, and with Kawhi Leonard taking the scoring load, there is no rebuilding in the future
  1. Portland Trailblazers
  • Damian Lillard is an elite point guard, C.J. McCollum is a rising star, Maurice Harkless, Ed Davis, and Al-Farouq Aminu are reliable players. Then Festus Ezeli comes back from injury. What is not to like about these Blazers team?
  1. Houston Rockets
  • The Rockets lost on the Lakers home court, but the world was given a preview on how the Mike D’Antoni system would bode for James Harden. He had 32 points and 17 assists.  Well, they still need to improve on defense.
  1. Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Russel Westbrook is a triple-double machine, and it is not a Jason Kidd-like stat sheet (no shade). With 50 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 assists, who needs KD?
  1. Los Angeles Clippers
  • The Clippers finally proved that they are not the Lakers’ team B. But time is running short on Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan.  They need to preserve the trio for the postseason if they want to have a chance.
  1. Minnesota Timberwolves
  • Bold prediction: this year, Minnesota will advance into the playoffs, but a second round series is still a question mark. If they don’t, the future still looks bright.
  1. New Orleans Pelicans
  • Anthony Davis is raring to make his comeback season, and with a monster stat sheet in the first game, the Pelicans may make it into the postseason this year. Issues are depth and health.
  1. Memphis Grizzlies
  • Ah, the blue collar approach of the Grizzlies. Good players all over the rotation.  They can make it into the postseason, if they find a way to emerge from the NBA’s toughest division.
  1. Sacramento Kings
  • On and off court problems have plagued the Kings and DeMarcus Cousins. If they can get their acts together, a first round series with the Warriors awaits.
  1. Los Angeles Lakers
  • The Lakers are building their post-Kobe era through the draft. They have the luxury of missing the playoffs, but a postseason spot is definitely essential for the young lads.
  1. Dallas Mavericks
  • Harrison Barnes, Dirk Nowitzki, Andrew Bogut and Deron Williams. Some things look good on paper but not on court.
  1. Phoenix Suns
  • Four words: rebuild around Devin Booker.
  1. Denver Nuggets
  • The Nuggets just seem to have never gotten off since Carmelo Anthony left. They need a star.
  1. Utah Jazz
  • Doesn’t look good on paper, doesn’t look good on court.

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