Last Word On Basketball

Way-Too-Early Top Five 2020-21 NBA Team Rankings

SHENZHEN, CHINA - OCTOBER 12:#23 LeBron James, #3 Anthony Davis and #11 Avery Bradley of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrate during the match against the Brooklyn Nets during a preseason game as part of 2019 NBA Global Games China at Shenzhen Universiade Center on October 12, 2019 in Shenzhen, Guangdong, China. (Photo by Zhong Zhi/Getty Images)

The NBA offseason hasn’t officially started yet. Sure, there’s been new hires such as Stan Van Gundy to the New Orleans Pelicans and Nate Bjorkgren to the Indiana Pacers, but there haven’t been player movements yet. The NBA Draft takes place next month and there’s always surprise trades tied to that event. Although the free-agent class isn’t overly special, there’s going to be plenty of solid players available to upgrade teams. With that being said, here’s the way-too-early top five for the 2020-21 season.

Way-Too-Early Top Five: 2020-21 NBA Team Rankings

5. Dallas Mavericks

This may come as a surprise for the way-too-early top five, but it shouldn’t.

Luka Doncic is that good. Last season, at just 21-years-old, he averaged close to a 30-point triple-double per game. He didn’t need a breakout party in the playoffs but somehow looked even better versus the Los Angeles Clippers. The Dallas Mavericks could easily have won that series with a healthy Kristaps Porzingis.

Doncic and Porzingis are already one of the best duos in the league and Porzingis should be healthy at the start of next season. Dallas also has a plethora of strong role players like Seth CurryDorian Finney-Smith, and Maxi Kleber. The current question marks surrounding the Mavericks offseason deal with the futures of Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke. Hardaway Jr. is the third option on the team while Burke looked excellent in the bubble. If both are brought back, which seems likely, Dallas can keep its title of the best offense in the league.

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban knows his team is talented. His track record, however, suggests that he won’t settle for competitive. Expect the front office to sign a couple more veterans that can take this team over the hump. Perhaps it’s premature to call them a championship contender, but they can easily make the Western Conference Semi-Finals at worst.

4. Boston Celtics

The Boston Celtics are loaded with talent, both young and experienced. Boston lost to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, and as good as the Heat are, Celtics players like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are only going to get better.

Kemba Walker will be the same highly respected player around the league. Gordon Hayward is still an All-Star talent and Daniel Theis emerged as a major defensive presence. Outside of the starting five, the Celtics also have strong bench depth with players like Marcus Smart and Enes Kanter.

It’s important to note that the Celtics also hold the Memphis Grizzlies‘ first-round draft pick. There’s going to be several players available at that point that will surely add to Boston’s depth.

The Celtics are also in an interesting situation similar to Dallas. Boston can compete with the entire Eastern Conference, however one last piece may boost their odds to championship favorites. Expect the Celtics to make a trade run for a center like Myles Turner.

3. Los Angeles Clippers

There’s no going around the fact that the Clippers were a major disappointment in the NBA Bubble and playoffs. Yes, it was the first year this superstar cast come together, but the team has enough talent to be number one in the way-too-early top five.

At the end of the day, any team with Kawhi Leonard will be considered a contender. It helps to have Paul George, although he was the biggest disappointment in the playoffs.

Lou Williams is still an elite bench scorer and Ivica Zubac emerged as a legitimate starting center. Patrick Beverley and Landry Shamet are solid defensive guards who can hit open shots.

There’s going to be a lot of questions around Marcus Morris and Montrezl Harrell. Both are now free agents, and it’s likely that the Clippers will have to choose between the two. Morris fits this team well, and Harrell should get a big-money offer elsewhere. If Morris returns, then the starting line-up is set.

It’ll be no surprise if the Clippers manage to sign a good number of veteran role players for cheap, especially those who will be “ring-chasing.” The internal hire of Tyronn Lue as head coach should help the Clippers figure out any issues.

2. Milwaukee Bucks

Like the Clippers, the Milwaukee Bucks were a major disappointment in the playoffs. With that being said, the Bucks still have Giannis Antetokounmpo. He’s going to be in the running all season long for his third-straight MVP award. Outside of Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton remains an elite second-option, while Eric Bledsoe and Brook Lopez are solid starters.

Unless the Bucks decide to trade Antetokounmpo, which seems highly unlikely, then the franchise will try everything in its power to stack this team with more talent. There’s no reason why the Bucks shouldn’t consider a run for Chris Paul or Jrue Holiday. Pairing one of these two with Antetokounmpo and Middleton makes the Bucks even more of a nightmare match-up.

Even if the roster remains mostly the same, the Bucks are a defensive machine. Some may consider this ranking too high for the way-too-early top five, but the bottom line is that talent isn’t really an issue in Milwaukee. The Bucks have to figure out their recent playoff struggles, performances that do not mirror what they’ve done in the last two regular seasons.

1. Los Angeles Lakers

This isn’t a surprise. The Los Angeles Lakers were dominant throughout the playoffs. It’s also nearly impossible to imagine a scenario where Anthony Davis doesn’t re-sign with the team during the offseason.

LeBron James remains the most dominant player in the league and the Lakers have a strong core of role players in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Alex Caruso, and Rajon Rondo. Although Danny Green and Kyle Kuzma underperformed in the bubble, this pair is still capable of being great players. The Lakers will also consider bringing back Dwight Howard as he became an important piece on the roster. Although he opted-out of the bubble, the league can’t forget about the role Avery Bradley played on this team.

Like the Clippers, the Lakers will surely be a hot-name for “ring-chasers.” James’ teams have been known to attract solid role players every offseason.

James and Davis are the best duo in the league and that’s not going to change next season. The reigning champions will enter next season as title favorites and are an easy pick for number one in the way-too-early top five.

Main Image: Embed from Getty Images

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