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NBA Power Rankings: How LeBron and Kawhi change the league

NBA Power Rankings: It

LeBron James is in L.A., Kawhi Leonard is in Toronto and another wild NBA offseason is nearly complete.

Who are the best and worst teams heading into the 2018-19 season?

Our panel — a group of more than 40 reporters, insiders and editors — is looking ahead to next season with a new edition of NBA Power Rankings.

Note: These rankings take into account additional potential player movement. Voters were asked to pick the better team heading into next season in a series of head-to-head matchups featuring thousands of votes. Conference rankings are noted next to each team.

1. Golden State Warriors (1)
2017-18 record: 58-24
Result: W, NBA Finals
Previous rank: No. 1

After letting the Lakers have a day to soak in their LeBron James win, the champs set the NBA world on fire with their Thanos-like move by adding DeMarcus Cousins to their gauntlet of All-Stars, making their Death Lineup even more terrifying if the big man can return healthy from an Achilles injury. Golden State — which also added Jonas Jerebko and drafted tough two-way forward Jacob Evans — can afford to wait for Cousins, who should inject the Warriors with a jolt of motivation and excitement down the stretch of a fifth run to the Finals. — Ohm Youngmisuk


2. Boston Celtics (1)
2017-18 record: 55-27
Result: L, East finals
Previous rank: No. 4

The Celtics had one of the more snooze-worthy summers in the NBA, electing to simply bring back the same core from last season by re-signing defensive tone-setters Aron Baynes and Marcus Smart. And yet the Celtics will still emerge as one of the offseason winners because, with LeBron James heading west, and with Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward set to return from injury, Boston is the early favorite in the East. As Hayward told ESPN last week: “I’m confident that we’ve got everything we need to make the run at the whole thing.” — Chris Forsberg


3. Houston Rockets (2)
2017-18 record: 65-17
Result: L, West finals
Previous rank: No. 2

It has been a weird summer for the team that was maybe a hamstring away from an NBA title. Daryl Morey & Co. have earned the right for us all to assume they know what they’re doing, but letting Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute go feel like significant losses — especially if the recovery is based around signing Carmelo Anthony, who was very direct in telling the Thunder he wasn’t interested in coming off the bench. They still need to resolve Clint Capela‘s situation, but assuming that gets settled, the Rockets will begin the season looking for production in unexpected places. That’s something they do better than just about anyone. –– Royce Young


4. Philadelphia 76ers (2)
2017-18 record: 52-30
Result: L, East semis
Previous rank: No. 3

Philadelphia didn’t make the big splash its fan base might have hoped for — either on the court (no LeBron, Paul George or Kawhi) or in the front office. And, yet, much like Boston, the 76ers are still well positioned to be a conference front-runner with only minor tweaks. The Sixers brought back JJ Redick, traded for Wilson Chandler and added a pair of first-rounders in Zhaire Smith and Landry Shamet. Joel Embiid will certainly believe his team is the East favorite — Forsberg


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