Kings Blog

The Sacramento Bee’s Jason Jones ranks NBA teams 1 through 30

LeBron James and the Cavaliers could be favorites in the NBA Finals after losing the championship to the Warriors last season. Health will play a big factor for Cleveland.
LeBron James and the Cavaliers could be favorites in the NBA Finals after losing the championship to the Warriors last season. Health will play a big factor for Cleveland. The Associated Press

1. Golden State Warriors

  • 2014-15: 67-15; won NBA championship
  • Coach: Steve Kerr
  • Comment: All the key players are back looking to repeat as champions; naysayers say Warriors caught all the breaks in postseason.
  • Implosion factor: If synergy gives way to selfishness, the Warriors’ season will end short of the Finals.
  • See them in Sac: Nov. 7, Jan. 9

2. Cleveland Cavaliers

  • 2014-15: 53-29; lost in NBA Finals
  • Coach: David Blatt
  • Comment: If healthy, there’s every reason to expect the Cavs to return to the Finals, perhaps as the favorite.
  • Implosion factor: Kevin Love could again struggle to fit in and sit late in games, derailing championship hopes.
  • See them in Sac: March 9

3. Los Angeles Clippers

  • 2014-15: 56-26; lost in Western Conference semifinals
  • Coach: Doc Rivers
  • Comment: Worked in the offseason to make the bench more reliable and prevent another postseason collapse.
  • Implosion factor: Will new addition Lance Stephenson be the solid player he was in Indiana or the disappointment he was in Charlotte last season?
  • See them in Sac: Oct. 28, Feb. 26

4. San Antonio Spurs

  • 2014-15: 55-27; lost in first round of Western Conference playoffs
  • Coach: Gregg Popovich
  • Comment: Made a rare splash in free agency by luring LaMarcus Aldridge from Portland.
  • Implosion factor: Injuries putting too much responsibility on role players is about all that can derail the Spurs.
  • See them in Sac: Nov. 9, Feb. 24

5. Oklahoma City Thunder

  • 2014-15: 45-37; ninth in Western Conference
  • Coach: Billy Donovan
  • Comment: If Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook remain healthy, the Thunder will contend for a title.
  • Implosion factor: Donovan has to win over this team with success after he replaced Scott Brooks as coach.
  • See them in Sac: Feb. 29, April 9

6. Houston Rockets

  • 2014-15: 56-26; lost in Western Conference finals
  • Coach: Kevin McHale
  • Comment: Added Ty Lawson and will have Patrick Beverley healthy to ease the load on James Harden.
  • Implosion factor: Lawson and Beverley’s ability to coexist could propel Houston to the Finals or make them flop if it fails.
  • See them in Sac: Nov. 6, Dec. 15

7. Atlanta Hawks

  • 2014-15: 60-22; lost in Eastern Conference finals
  • Coach: Mike Budenholzer
  • Comment: Out to prove last season’s success was no fluke after having four All-Stars.
  • Implosion factor: Losing DeMarre Carroll in free agency could disrupt the chemistry.
  • See them in Sac: Jan. 21

8. Memphis Grizzlies

  • 2014-15: 55-27; lost in Western Conference semifinals
  • Coach: Dave Joerger
  • Comment: Known for their slow and deliberate style, Grizzlies have to prove they can score from the perimeter consistently.
  • Implosion factor: Problems will arise if the quest for more offense leads to ignoring Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph in the paint.
  • See them in Sac: Nov. 3

9. Chicago Bulls

  • 2014-15: 50-32; lost in Eastern Conference semifinals
  • Coach: Fred Hoiberg
  • Comment: Even with a coaching change, Derrick Rose’s health is still the biggest factor in the Bulls’ success.
  • Implosion factor: If the Rose-Jimmy Butler feud goes from media speculation to reality, it would split the team.
  • See them in Sac: Feb. 3

10. New Orleans Pelicans

  • 2014-15: 45-37; lost in first round of Western Conference playoffs
  • Coach: Alvin Gentry
  • Comment: Gentry replaced Monty Williams with the hope he’ll take Anthony Davis’ game to an MVP level.
  • Implosion factor: Point guard could be an issue, and if Jrue Holiday isn’t healthy does the team hand the role to Tyreke Evans full time?
  • See them in Sac: Jan. 13, March 16

11. Washington Wizards

  • 2014-15: 46-36; lost in Eastern Conference semifinals
  • Coach: Randy Wittman
  • Comment: Looking to build on their strong postseason after an underwhelming regular season.
  • Implosion factor: Another lethargic stretch of regular-season play could lead to changes.
  • See them in Sac: March 30

12. Toronto Raptors

  • 2014-15: 49-33; lost in first round of Eastern Conference playoffs
  • Coach: Dwane Casey
  • Comment: The class of the Atlantic Division wants more than a first-round playoff exit.
  • Implosion factor: Failure to emerge as a legit threat to Cleveland will put more scrutiny on Casey.
  • See them in Sac: Nov. 15

13. Dallas Mavericks

  • 2014-15: 50-32; lost in first round of Western Conference playoffs
  • Coach: Rick Carlisle
  • Comment: Counting on a recovering Wesley Matthews and hopefully resurgent Deron Williams to lead the backcourt.
  • Implosion factor: Williams’ repeating his disappointing stint in Brooklyn would cripple the season.
  • See them in Sac: Nov. 30, March 27

14. Indiana Pacers

  • 2014-15: 38-44; ninth in Eastern Conference
  • Coach: Frank Vogel
  • Comment: Traded Roy Hibbert hoping to speed up their offense and run more.
  • Implosion factor: Paul George having to play power forward this season could make him unhappy.
  • See them in Sac: Jan. 23

15. Milwaukee Bucks

  • 2014-15: 41-41; lost in first round of Eastern Conference playoffs
  • Coach: Jason Kidd
  • Comment: Addition of Greg Monroe should help Bucks continue their upward trend.
  • Implosion factor: Kidd must keep the young core focused on team goals and not let quests for individual accolades cause problems.
  • See them in Sac: Feb. 1

16. Sacramento Kings

  • 2014-15: 23-59; 13th in Western Conference
  • Coach: George Karl
  • Comment: Ten new players make this nothing like the team that finished last season’s debacle.
  • Implosion factor: If critics are right and there are too many strong personalities for Karl to handle.

17. Miami Heat

  • 2014-15: 37-45; 10th in Eastern Conference
  • Coach: Erik Spoelstra
  • Comment: Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Goran Dragic, Luol Deng and Hassan Whiteside are a solid starting five.
  • Implosion factor: Injuries pile up again and force the Heat to rely too much on Dragic and Whiteside.
  • See them in Sac: April 1

18. Phoenix Suns

  • 2014-15: 39-43; 10th in Western Conference
  • Coach: Jeff Hornacek
  • Comment: Tyson Chandler might be the big man the Suns have needed to make the playoffs.
  • Implosion factor: The two-point guard attack of Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight fails to find chemistry.
  • See them in Sac: Jan. 2, March 25

19. Boston Celtics

  • 2014-15: 40-42; lost in first round of Eastern Conference playoffs
  • Coach: Brad Stevens
  • Comment: Team’s youthful backcourt has it moving up in the East.
  • Implosion factor: The young guards eventually feud over who takes the reins.
  • See them in Sac: No trips to Sleep Train Arena; Dec. 3 home game played in Mexico City.

20. Los Angeles Lakers

  • 2014-15: 21-61; 14th in Western Conference
  • Coach: Byron Scott
  • Comment: Kobe Bryant will try to get the most out of a core that grew up watching him play.
  • Implosion factor: Young players don’t want to watch Bryant shoot and resent having him around.
  • See them in Sac: Oct. 30, Jan. 7

21. Utah Jazz

  • 2014-15: 38-44; 11th in Western Conference
  • Coach: Quin Snyder
  • Comment: One of the best teams after the All-Star break last season has lost Dante Exum to injury for the season.
  • Implosion factor: Last season’s strong finish could appear to be a fluke if the Jazz start slow again.
  • See them in Sac: Dec. 8, March 13

22. New York Knicks

  • 2014-15: 17-65; 15th in Eastern Conference
  • Coach: Derek Fisher
  • Comment: Talent is better and if Carmelo Anthony stays healthy, the Knicks could make the playoffs.
  • Implosion factor: Pressure to win becomes too much for Fisher and president Phil Jackson.
  • See them in Sac: Dec. 10

23. Brooklyn Nets

  • 2014-15: 38-44; lost in first round of Eastern Conference playoffs
  • Coach: Lionel Hollins
  • Comment: Expectations might be lower for a team now built around Brook Lopez.
  • Implosion factor: Lopez struggles and the Nets find themselves near the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
  • See them in Sac: Nov. 13

24. Denver Nuggets

  • 2014-15: 30-52; 12th in Western Conference
  • Coach: Michael Malone
  • Comment: Moving in a new direction led by rookie Emmanuel Mudiay.
  • Implosion factor: More roster moves could be needed if players disdain Malone’s emphasis on defense.
  • See them in Sac: Feb. 19

25. Detroit Pistons

  • 2014-15: 32-50; 12th in Eastern Conference
  • Coach: Stan Van Gundy
  • Comment: Andre Drummond owns the paint for the Pistons with Greg Monroe now in Milwaukee.
  • Implosion factor: When Brandon Jennings (Achilles’) gets healthy, he could struggle to coexist with Reggie Jackson.
  • See them in Sac: Nov. 11

26. Portland Trail Blazers

  • 2014-15: 51-31; lost in first round of Western Conference playoffs
  • Coach: Terry Stotts
  • Comment: The offseason left star Damian Lillard with four new starters around him.
  • Implosion factor: Expectations are lower, so it will be up to Lillard to keep young players in line.
  • See them in Sac: Dec. 27, April 5

27. Charlotte Hornets

  • 2014-15: 33-49; 11th in Eastern Conference
  • Coach: Steve Clifford
  • Comment: Made moves to improve offense, but losing defensive stalwart Michael Kidd-Gilchrist for the season hurts.
  • Implosion factor: Sacrificing too much for offense would hurt Clifford’s defensive foundation.
  • See them in Sac: Jan. 25

28. Orlando Magic

  • 2014-15: 25-57; 13th in Eastern Conference
  • Coach: Scott Skiles
  • Comment: Plenty of lottery picks, now it’s time for them to grow up and win.
  • Implosion factor: Skiles is known to be hard on his players, and young team could react poorly.
  • See them in Sac: March 11

29. Minnesota Timberwolves

  • 2014-15: 16-66; 15th in Western Conference
  • Coach: Sam Mitchell (interim)
  • Comment: Trades and draft have given the Timberwolves a collection of intriguing young talent.
  • Implosion factor: Veterans could lose patience if the losses pile up while the young players learn.
  • See them in Sac: Nov. 27, April 7

30. Philadelphia 76ers

  • 2014-15: 18-64; 14th in Eastern Conference
  • Coach: Brett Brown
  • Comment: Perhaps the only team that could say it’s beginning the season looking forward to the draft.
  • Implosion factor: The team starts winning games and management has to decide whether to make the playoffs or tank the season.
  • See them in Sac: Dec. 30

Jason Jones: @mr_jasonjones, read more about the team at sacbee.com/kings.

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