NBA Power Rankings and big questions for all 22 teams ahead of the restart

The NBA is less than a month away from restarting the 2019-20 season.

With teams beginning to arrive at Walt Disney World on Tuesday and training camps set to begin on Thursday, it’s time to take stock of the teams that will face off later this month at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida.

Each roster is full of questions that need to be answered during the eight seeding games and before the playoffs begin. Our experts are breaking down the biggest topics surrounding all 22 teams.

Notes: These rankings are based on which teams voters — a group of more than 40 reporters, insiders and editors — think belong higher heading into the remainder of the 2019-20 season. Title odds were provided by Caesars sportsbook.

MORE: Current NBA standings | 2020 schedule | 22-team preview

1. Milwaukee Bucks
Record: 53-12 (.815)
Title odds: +275
Previous ranking: 1

How much can Milwaukee’s supporting cast provide?
The Bucks were in the midst of a historic run, with the league’s best record, when the season was suspended on March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic. The burning question surrounding Milwaukee is whether Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s supporting cast will step up in big games. Antetokounmpo, for his part, has likely defended his MVP title this season. Will Eric Bledsoe erase his playoff struggles from the past two years in a fan-less environment? Can Khris Middleton, who earned his second consecutive All-Star nod in the midst of a career-best season, help the Greek Freak push for a title? We will see in Orlando. — Eric Woodyard

Remaining schedule: BOS, HOU, BKN, MIA, DAL, TOR, WSH, MEM

2. LA Clippers
Record: 44-20 (.688)
Title odds: +325
Previous ranking: 3

How will the Clippers deal with another interruption?
Since the first day of training camp, the Clippers have been trying to create chemistry while meeting constant speed bumps. Lingering injuries, which affected both Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, and limited practice time due to the schedule led to erratic play to start the season. The Clippers then had to incorporate new additions such as Marcus Morris Sr. and Reggie Jackson at the trade deadline. Still, they won seven of eight games before the NBA halted the season. Now, they aim to pick up where they left off while proceeding cautiously with Leonard, George and their veterans after a four-month layoff. The Clippers will have to build their chemistry again while dealing with an unprecedented situation. — Ohm Youngmisuk

Remaining schedule: LAL, NO, PHX, DAL, POR, BKN, DEN, OKC

3. Los Angeles Lakers
Record: 49-14 (.778)
Title odds: +180
Previous ranking: 2

What happens if Dwight Howard opts out of Orlando?
Anthony Davis was reluctant to play the 5 this season, even though the Lakers’ defensive efficiency was at its best with him there (allowing a minuscule 101.4 points per 100 possessions, according to ESPN Stats & Information research). Lakers coach Frank Vogel said he is “hopeful” to not saddle Davis at center “any more than we were doing prior” if Howard isn’t available. That leaves the lion’s share for JaVale McGee, who averaged only 16.8 minutes per game as the starting center this season. — Dave McMenamin

Remaining schedule: LAC, TOR, UTAH, OKC, HOU, IND, DEN, SAC



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4. Toronto Raptors
Record: 46-18 (.719)
Title odds: +1700
Previous ranking: 4

What will Toronto’s rotation look like?
The Raptors dealt with a string of injuries to key players throughout the season, with their top seven players, excluding OG Anunoby, missing at least a month during the regular season. Now that everyone is healthy, coach Nick Nurse can spend the next few weeks figuring out how he wants to deploy a versatile roster once the playoffs arrive. Once they do, the Raptors are confident that they have a chance to make another deep playoff run as they try to defend their title. — Tim Bontemps

Remaining schedule: LAL, MIA, ORL, BOS, MEM, MIL, PHI, DEN

5. Houston Rockets
Record: 40-24 (.625)
Title odds: +1200
Previous ranking: 9

How will the Rockets tweak their microball approach?
Coach Mike D’Antoni noted that the Rockets are the only team in the NBA that drastically altered its philosophy on the fly this season, so he believes Houston stands to benefit more than any other team from having a training camp before games start. It seemed like the league had figured out how to handle the Rockets’ microball style before the stoppage, as a heavy-legged Houston team lost four of its last five games. D’Antoni has had months to come up with counters and now has camp to implement his tweaks. — Tim MacMahon

Remaining schedule: DAL, MIL, POR, LAL, SAC, SA, IND, PHI

6. Boston Celtics
Record: 43-21 (.672)
Title odds: +1500
Previous ranking: 5

What will Kemba Walker look like?
Walker was nowhere near himself in the weeks leading up to the shutdown in March, thanks to lingering knee issues. His play particularly dipped after the All-Star Game, as he repeatedly posted poor shooting nights and failed to play with his usual burst. The Celtics were thrilled by Jayson Tatum‘s star turn, and they like the balanced offensive attack they have with Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward on the wing, but Walker needs to play like an All-Star if this team is going to have a chance to make it out of the East. — Bontemps

Remaining schedule: MIL, POR, MIA, BKN, TOR, ORL, MEM, WSH

7. Philadelphia 76ers
Record: 39-26 (.600)
Title odds: +2500
Previous ranking: 13

How does Al Horford fit in now?
It appeared that Sixers coach Brett Brown had crossed the rubicon with Horford when he chose to bench him in February. Then Ben Simmons got hurt, and the season was shut down. As Brown admitted during a recent interview, the Sixers haven’t figured out how to mesh Horford and Joel Embiid together, as the numbers with both of them on the court — as well as with Simmons — bear out. Horford’s nagging knee injury has had time to heal, and the playoff games he was signed to play in are around the corner. If Philly is to reach its ceiling, it will need to figure out how to get the best out of him. — Bontemps

Remaining schedule: IND, SA, WSH, ORL, POR, PHX, TOR, HOU



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8. Denver Nuggets
Record: 43-22 (.662)
Title odds: +1800
Previous ranking: 6

What will Joker 2.0 bring to the bubble?
A slimmed-down Nikola Jokic gives the Nuggets a completely new look and brings up questions they didn’t have before. Are we sure Jokic, who tested positive for the coronavirus in late June, is going to be a better player? Part of his brilliance was in his physicality, using his frame to work angles, carve space and lull defenders to sleep. The change could mean Jokic has a more explosive first step, is conditioned better for long stretches of playing time and can combine his unique skill set with more athleticism. If that’s the case, Denver might have had one of the most striking improvements of any team during the break. — Royce Young

Remaining schedule: MIA, OKC, SA, POR, UTAH, LAL, LAC, TOR

9. Miami Heat
Record: 41-24 (.631)
Title odds: +4000
Previous ranking: 8

Is the bubble atmosphere perfect for the Heat?
Jimmy Butler has always believed that he could be the face of a championship-caliber team, despite some doubts across the league that his game is better suited for a secondary role. He has his chance now, as the Heat — who have cultivated a basketball-centric culture for years — believe they come into the bubble with a competitive advantage, given how business-like their mindset is. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra believes the bubble environment can bring the best out of Butler. — Nick Friedell

Remaining schedule: DEN, TOR, BOS, MIL, PHX, IND, OKC, IND

10. Dallas Mavericks
Record: 40-27 (.597)
Title odds: +3500
Previous ranking: 11

Can Doncic and Porzingis pick up where they left off?
The top priority all season for the Mavs, who are a win away from accomplishing their preseason goal of making the playoffs, has been to tap in to the potential of the partnership between Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. The Mavs’ young franchise cornerstones didn’t click immediately, but Dallas has averaged 117.4 points per 100 possessions (significantly higher than its league-best overall offensive rating) in 307 minutes with that duo on the floor since Porzingis shifted to center on a full-time basis in late January. With Doncic healed from some nagging injuries, there’s a lot of excitement about watching the stars continue to grow together. — MacMahon

Remaining schedule: HOU, PHX, SAC, LAC, MIL, UTAH, POR, PHX

11. Utah Jazz
Record: 41-23 (.641)
Title odds: +6000
Previous ranking: 7

How will the Jazz overcome the loss of Bojan Bogdanovic?
He played much of the season with an injured right wrist, but you sure couldn’t tell by Bogdanovic’s shooting stroke, as the prized free-agent addition lived up to expectations by averaging 20.2 points per game and shooting 41.4% from 3-point range. It will be a massive challenge to replace Bogdanovic’s production and the benefit of how his shooting opened the floor for his teammates. Maybe Mike Conley, with more offensive responsibility than he has had all season, can morph back into the dynamic player who averaged 20.5 points per game the previous three seasons in Memphis. — MacMahon

Remaining schedule: NO, OKC, LAL, MEM, SA, DEN, DAL, SA

12. Oklahoma City Thunder
Record: 40-24 (.625)
Title odds: +6000
Previous ranking: 10

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