‘Twas a few nights before Christmas and filled with elation.  The NBA was now back from its tiny vacation.  Chris Paul now a Sun and Steph Curry a go.  A new Max-Player deal for Antetokounmpo.

That last line a bit forced if we’re being quite honest.  Should’ve mentioned Durant and then simply used Giannis.

There’s Doncic, and Zion, a few guys to the Sixers. James Harden’s late flights to loud Vegas mixers.

Hayward to the Hornets in his warm Christmas sweater.  The Clippers got clipped while the Lakers got better.

Westbrook now a Wizard and with Beal, he shall play. And an apropos trade for one Jrue Holiday.

As the Twelve Days of Christmas rings fresh in my mind, and this day-drinking eggnog leaves limited time.  I bring one last gift so dispose of the rest. My Preseason Power Rankings of the top twelve teams as we start the 2020-21 NBA season…

…Numbered twelfth to the best.

12) Phoenix Suns – Chris Paul showed what he could still do in OKC last season.  Trading for the veteran point guard to play pick-and-roll with Deandre Ayton and find Devin Booker for open jumpers should mean a long-awaited playoff spot for the Suns.

11) Houston Rockets – James Harden wants to be traded, John Wall hasn’t played in two years, and the organization is in complete disarray.  But adding a healthy Boogie Cousins and a rising star in 6’10 Christian Wood translates to wins.

10) Utah Jazz – This spot could be given to Luka Doncic and the Mavericks, Ja Morant and the Grizzlies, or a well-balanced Pacers squad.  But Utah invested long term money into Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell and should be hungry after the sour taste of last season’s playoff exit to the Nuggets.

9) Toronto Raptors – Besides Pascal Siakam, there is nothing that impressive about the Raptors.  But every year Nick Nurse seems to get the best out of this group as they make a nice playoff run.  Re-signing Fred VanVleet was imperative for the team’s success, but their next biggest splash was picking up journeyman Aron Baynes (11.5 points and 5.6 rebounds) from the Suns.

8) Boston Celtics – It seems that the Celtics have struggled for years trying to find that missing piece.  With the maturation of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, the toughness of Marcus Smart, and the star power of Kemba Walker, Tristan Thompson may be the answer.  After averaging 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Cavs last year, Thompson brings rebounding, leadership, and a championship ring to a squad looking for inside help.

7) Los Angeles Clippers – It wouldn’t surprise many to see Kawhi Leonard and Paul George bounce back under new head coach Tyronn Lue and compete for a title.  But the only thing the Clippers did in the short offseason was acquiring Serge Ibaka and Luke Kennard, while losing Montrezl Harrell.

6) Philadelphia 76ers – Bringing Seth Curry and Danny Green to the Sixers will finally provide the shooting and spacing that Joel Embid, Ben Simmons, and Tobias Harris haven’t had since JJ Redick and Jimmy Butler left the squad.  But while Seth Curry may be comparable to JJ Redick (both shot over 45% from 3pt line last year), Danny Green is no Jimmy Butler.

5) Denver Nuggets – The Nuggets took a huge step last season making it to the Western Conference Finals.  Now if Michael Porter Jr. takes

the next steps as an everyday starter, Jamal Murray continues to Euro-step through defenses, and Nikola Jokic steps up as one of the best players in the game, the Nuggets could go even further.

4) Miami Heat – Jimmy Butler and the entire Heat squad is back, Bam Adebayo signed a $200 million extension, and Tyler Herro doesn’t turn 21 until January. Looks like coach Erik Spoelstra and president Pat Riley are in good shape to make another run.

3) Milwaukee Bucks – Signing Antetokounmpo to a 5-year/$228 million supermax extension was probably enough in itself to land the Bucks on the third spot but trading for Jrue Holiday was the clincher.  All the seven-year, two-time All-Defensive team point guard has done lately is average 19 points, 5 rebounds, and 7 assists last season for the New Orleans Pelicans, while donating a substantial amount of his paycheck to Black-owned businesses and nonprofits.

2) Brooklyn Nets – The combination of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving alone puts Brooklyn in the two spots on this list.  Add the scoring of Caris LeVert, the shooting of Joe Harris, and the playmaking of Spencer Dinwiddie, and coach Steve Nash literally just need to roll the ball out onto the court.

1) Los Angeles Lakers – The defending World Champions locked up Lebron James and Anthony Davis for years to come, replaced Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee with Marc Gasol and Montrezl Harrell, switched Rajon Rondo for Dennis Schroder, and I haven’t mentioned Alex Caruso, Kyle Kuzma, or Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.  I think they’re good.

Images via themirror.com, clutchpoints.com, yardbarker.com, silverscreenandroll.com, espn.com, fansided.com


Alan Tapley is an educator, author, and blogger who has lived just outside of Boulder for the last twenty years.  His published work includes two novels, two children’s books, a series of cartoons in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, and multiple sports related articles. His love for family and the state of Colorado is only matched by one thing, his passion for sports.  The first baseball game he ever attended was at Wrigley Field, before there were lights.  At the final Bronco game at the old Mile High, he allegedly cut out a piece of his seat in the South stands.  But regardless of being here for the Avalanche’s last Stanley Cup, the Rockies only World Series appearance, and all the Broncos’ Super Bowl Victories, his wife never fails to remind him that he wasn’t at the University of Colorado in 1990, like she was.  The year the Buffs football team won the National Championship