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HomeBasketballNBANBA Quarter Poll: ranking all 30 teams from rudderless to ring chasers

NBA Quarter Poll: ranking all 30 teams from rudderless to ring chasers

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The first quarter of the 2023-24 NBA season has proven a lot of things.

The League is in good hands with players like Nikola Jokic, Anthony Edwards and newly-minted star Tyrese Haliburton. The old guys still have a lot in the tank, too, as we’re seeing all-time greats LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Steph Curry perform at levels that defy their combined 53 years of pro service.

The League itself has implemented what is now considered a welcome addition.

The In Season Tournament, now that it has concluded, is being viewed as a resounding success. The tournament did a number of things for the League. It kept fan interest in a time when the focus is typically on football. The final week of the IST felt a little like March Madness, with the semifinal doubleheader. The matchups had a bit of a college feel, too, with upstarts in Indiana and New Orleans facing recent champs Milwaukee and the LA Lakers.

The tournament also made Haliburton a star. Before the Dec. 4 TNT-televised quarterfinal win over Boston, Haliburton in his three-plus years had never played in a nationally-televised game. In the Pacers quarterfinal and semifinal triumphs, Haliburton averaged 26.5 points, 14 assists, and no turnovers. Haliburton is the pilot of the most prolific offense in the League. If Indiana even tried on defense, the Pacers could be a real contender.

The Pacers as currently constituted could scare some teams (Hi, Milwaukee!) in a playoff series, but I can’t see Indy making any real noise in the playoffs. There are a handful of teams, though, that are showing they could make deep playoff runs.

In this week’s edition of the 1st Gen Power Rankings, we’re grouping teams into tiers based on where they are now, and where we think they’ll be come the spring. I’ll provide commentary on some of the groups.

Historically Bad
30. Detroit
29. San Antonio
28. Washington

The Pistons are on a 7-win pace. The Spurs have never lost 17 in a row. Washington is…Washington. For more context: these three teams have lost a combined 44 games in a row.

Maybe Next Year?
27. Portland
26. Utah
25. Charlotte

The Unfinished Product
24. Memphis

Memphis is last in the League in scoring at 106.5 points per game. A jolt is coming, though. Will the return of star guard Ja Morant be enough to pick the Grizzlies up off the mat?

The Blow It Up Candidate
23. Chicago

The Bulls have some really good players in DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine, Nikola Vucevic and Alex Caruso. All four should be on new teams by the trade deadline. Chicago can’t seem to find the formula despite the solid level of talent on its roster. It’s time to blow it up.

Good Enough to Win a Playoff Game
22. Houston
21. Toronto
20. Atlanta
19. Brooklyn

The Not-Quite-Ready for Primetime Crew
18. Indiana Pacers
17. New Orleans Pelicans
16. Dallas Mavericks
15. Sacramento Kings
14. Cleveland Cavaliers
13. Orlando Magic
12. New York Knicks

The Proud Veterans
11. LA Clippers
10. Golden State Warriors

The Clippers after a rough start look to have found their footing. Their five-man unit of James Harden, Terrance Mann, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Ivaca Zubac is among the best in the League. If they can stay healthy for six months, LA could move into the next group.

I put the Warriors in the top 10 out of respect. Steph Curry is still a top-10 player, but what else do they have? In a Dec. 12 loss in Phoenix, Golden State coach Steve Kerr benched Andrew Wiggins, Klay Thompson and Kevon Looney late in the game. Now Draymond Green is suspended again. Is it finally over for the best team of the last decade?

The Contenders
9. Phoenix
8. Oklahoma City
7. Philadelphia
6. Minnesota
5. Miami

The Favorites
4. Milwaukee
3. LA Lakers
2. Boston
1. Denver

As it stands right now, I expect the champion to come out of this group. The teams aren’t without their issues, though. Milwaukee’s defense has been abysmal. Can the Lakers get six more months of healthy LeBron James AND Anthony Davis? Are the Celtics a guy short? Does Denver have the mental mettle to climb the mountain again?

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