ESPN released their top-10 list of NBA teams entering the Orlando bubble, and I have to say there’s a lot that I disagree with.
I think the teams ranked from 1-3 are accurate. You can decide for yourself who should be #2 and #3 between the Clippers and Lakers, but I’d give the edge to the Clippers because I believe they have a better all-around roster and the best roster in the NBA. Plus, the Lakers will be missing Avery Bradley and potentially Dwight Howard, which would be a huge loss.
ESPN starts to lose me at #4. I understand the Toronto Raptors are the defending NBA champions and deserve more respect than they’re given, but they’re not better than the Celtics. Call me a green teamer, but in a seven-game series, Boston is going to take it. Boston currently holds the 2-1 regular season edge and has more star power than Toronto does.
The Raptors have championship experience and have players that step up in the playoffs, but so does Boston. They don’t have the same championship experience, but they have guys that have made deep playoff runs that have given them a taste of what it’s like to play when the pressure’s on. Plus, Toronto doesn’t have the reigning Finals MVP anymore.
The Houston Rockets would then get bumped down to six, but they could easily be a top-5 team as well. They have two former MVPs on their roster who can each go for 40 points any given night, as well as secure a triple-double. Although I don’t think too highly of either Westbrook or Harden when it comes to the playoffs, they could make a lot of noise depending on who they face off against in the postseason.
The 76ers do not deserve to be ranked at #7. Both the Nuggets and Heat are better than them, in my opinion. Denver is better than Philadelphia, but people can make the argument that Philly is better than Miami.
I believe Miami is the biggest dark horse team in the playoffs. They shouldn’t be slept on in the slightest. They can make any playoff series exciting and make the opposing team have to work for their wins. They’ll make teams like Milwaukee, Boston, and Toronto sweat in a seven-game series, and will make them earn a series victory.
The 76ers, on the other hand, don’t scare me at all in the playoffs. Until they prove something in the postseason, I can’t say they can make a serious playoff run. Ben Simmons not having a jumper will hold them back from being legit title contenders, and they have a ton of questions marks all around their lineup. Until they prove me wrong, I can’t rank them higher than any of the teams I mentioned before.
And lastly, instead of the Mavericks, I believe a team like the Utah Jazz or Oklahoma City Thunder deserve to be there. Sure, neither team has a player like Luka Doncic on their roster, but I’d say Utah and OKC are more well-rounded and have a better shot of making a playoff run than the Mavs do. Doncic and the Mavs will make it deep in the playoffs plenty of times in the future, but I wouldn’t rank them ahead of Utah, or even OKC at this very moment. Doncic’s injury history scares me as well.
Overall, my top-10 rankings would go something like this:
Feel free to argue my rankings, but this is who I’d rank going into the Orlando bubble at the end of July. This list can change too based on if more players decide to opt-out. For now, this is what I’m going with.