New NBA Power Rankings released as league aims to return this month

Milwaukee Bucks sit at No. 1 with Los Angeles Clippers behind them

FILE - In this March 6, 2020, file photo, Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo knocks down Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis as he drives to the basket during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles. Jusuf Nurkic is back and healthy. So are Zach Collins, Meyers Leonard, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Anthony Davis and plenty of others. If the four-month NBA shutdown had a silver lining, its that a lot of ailing players got well. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File) (Mark J. Terrill, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

ORLANDO, Fla. – ESPN released this week’s NBA power rankings as the league aims to return to play later this month.

Here is the top 10, according to the sports media outlet:

  • Milwaukee Bucks: With the top spot, the Bucks have superstar forward Giannis Antetokounmpo returning. Supporting him in the return will be Eric Beldsoe and Khris Middleton. Touting the best recording in the league at 53-12 before the pause, the team will have a tough schedule to the championship.
  • Los Angeles Clippers: Trailing behind the Bucks is the Clippers with a 44-20 record. The squad is returning its one-two punch in All-Stars Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. Along with the additions of former Pistons Marcus Morris Sr. and Reggie Jackson.
  • Los Angeles Lakers: The Lake Show will return superstar LeBron James along with Anthony Davis. Before the temporary shut down, the Lakers were sitting at 49-14 which is one of the better records in the league. With center, Dwight Howard considering sitting out, his decision could change the outlook of the squad once the season resumes.
  • Toronto Raptors: With a 46-18 record before the temporary shut down the Raptors have to get healthy to have a good run. The team had a string of injuries, but with these last couple of months off Coach Nick Nurse will have to make a decision on how he wants to put together the versatile squad.
  • Houston Rockets: 40-24 was the record of the Rockets before the season was put on pause. The team will be returning All-Star James Harden and is the team who is able to adjust on the fly fairly well. With the season resuming, hopefully this mentality and ability continues.
  • Boston Celtics: The Celtics with a 43-21 record and the return of Kemba Walker should be able to successful with the season resuming. Even though Walker was nowhere near himself in the weeks leading up to the shutdown in March, thanks to lingering knee issues. He has had time to recover and is joined by Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward.
  • Philadelphia 76ers: With Ben Simmons hurt, and the season was shut down the season looked grim for the 76ers. With this added time, Simmons will be able to return along with Al Horford and Joel Embiid. The 76ers are still figuring out though how to mesh the two big together. With a 39-26 record, the team has a tough schedule to get through to the championship.
  • Denver Nuggets: With a slimmed-down Nikola Jokic, it gives the Nuggets a completely new look. Things have changed since then because of Jokic testing positive for coronavirus. The questions becomes whether he will play or not once he has recovered. Before the season was put on pause the Nuggets were 43-22. The Nuggets have a tough road ahead in order to get to the championship with back to back games against the Lakers and the Clippers.
  • Miami Heat: With the return of star Jimmy Butler the Heat have a good chance of having a successful return. With 41-24 record, the squad has a tough road ahead of them with games against the Bucks and the Raptors.
  • Dallas Mavericks: The Mavericks have a two man threat in Kristaps Porzingis and Luka Donic. Yet, the team has a challenging schedule to get to the playoffs. The squad has to play a talented Bucks team along with the Clippers, Jazz and Rockets to get there.

Related: NBA shutdown allowed many in league unexpected time to heal

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