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The Clippers now the team to beat



LAS VEGAS – There is a new world order in the NBA.

Another order is another beast.

After Kawhi Leonard picked the Clippers late Friday night, and made it a stunner by that George Paul joined him there in a trade from the Thunder, the major free-agency sweepstakes are complete. The number of All-Stars changing teams over the past week has turned the NBA into a wide open race.

The league had largely become predictable in recent years. Before the Raptors made the finals and beat a crippled Golden State team last month, the Warriors and Cavaliers had in the Finals for four straight years. With the flurry of offseason moves, the only safe bet for the 2019-20 season is that it should be wild.

With the free agent dust settled ̵

1; for now, anyway – here's a look at the league's new power rankings:

The Contenders

1. Clippers
Doc Rivers' made the playoffs last year, then landed Leonard and George in one fell swoop to team up with Patrick Beverley and company. The only moment is the momentum from their Los Angeles counterparts, but they have been beaten to beat the team.

2. Bucks
The team with the NBA's best record last year, before squandering a 2-0 lead over the Raptors in the Eastern Conference finals, will be back with mostly the same crew. They lost Malcolm Brogdon, but MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is still the Greek Freak.

3. Lakers
The Lakers waited for Leonard and whiffed, but tried to rebound by scooping up DeMarcus Cousins ​​and Danny Green to join LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Kyle Kuzma. It's a top-heavy unit that will need to stay healthy to do damage.

4. 76ers
They traded away Jimmy Butler but still had a strong offseason – getting back Josh Richardson, re-signing Tobias Harris and sneakily landing Al Horford. Could this be the year they finish The Process with a Championship?

5. Nuggets
They were the biggest surprise in the West last year and fell into the game short of the conference finals. They did not make any offseason splashes, but may not need it.

6. Rockets
Though there were reports of trouble in paradise between James Harden and Chris Paul and a potential break-up of the roster, the Rockets will try to weather the storm. Their biggest roadblock, the Warriors, may no longer be in the way.

7. Jazz
Coming off a strong season, the Jazz quietly bolstered their lineup behind Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. Veteran Mike Conley comes in to run the point while Bojan Bogdanovic will add a threat from deep.

8. Trail Blazers
The backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum is still one of the best in the league. Trading for Kent Bazemore and Hassan Whiteside – a big presence in Jusuf Nurkic's (broken leg) absence – could help.

9. Warriors
The dynasty may be left behind in Oracle Arena as they head across the bay, but Golden State still cannot be counted out, especially if Klay Thompson (ACL) is able to return late. While Kevin Durant is gone, Angelo Russell will come to help Stephen Curry carry the load.

10. Celtics
This may have been the roster they have been after losing Kyrie Irving and Horford to free agency, but Boston added Kemba Walker, jumping he can fit better with Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward.

The Year- aways

eleventh Nets
After making the playoffs with a scrappy bunch, the Nets accelerated the rebuilding by adding Irving and Kevin Durant. They'll have to wait a year to get Durant, but should still be in the mix this season.

12. Pacers
Trading for Brogdon will help Indiana as the waits for Victor Oladipo to get back from a knee injury. The Pacers had a strong start last year before losing him midseason, which is when he may return next year.

13. Raptors
The defending champions time at the NBA took a shot with Leonard deciding not to come back. They still have Kyle Lowry and a surfing Pascal Siakam, but a repeat will be tough.

14. Mavericks
What will they look like when Kristaps Porzingis returns from his ACL tear? They're dreaming about what can do with Rookie of the Year Luka Doncic, though they may need another piece.

15. Spurs
Coach Gregg Popovich is still here, which means the Spurs always have a shot. When and if Dejounte Murray takes a step forward from the ACL that sidelines him last year may decide their fate.

16. Kings
They have been flashing last year of what to come and now have a new coach, Luke Walton, to lead the way. With Buddy Held and De'Aaron Fox headlining the rebuilding, they may not be off from contending.

17. Magic
They snuck into the playoffs last year before getting bounced by the Raptors, but they have stockpiled some interesting young pieces to go with Nikola Vucevic, who re-signed on a max deal.

They're coming [19659007] 18th Pelicans
Despite losing Davis, it's hard to call off off season when they landed the ultimate prize, Zion Williamson. With a lineup that includes Jrue Holliday and Brandon Ingram, David Griffin has the Pelicans in a good spot now and in the future.

19. Thunder
Will Oklahoma City make one last run for Russell Westbrook or trade for the full rebuilding with plenty of first-round picks on the way? They could still be found with Westbrook and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, but their plans are to be determined.

20. Heat
Butler took his talents to Miami through a sign-and-trade, but he needed some more help around him to become a legitimate threat in the East.

21. Timberwolves
Missed on Russell, which would have made them intriguing, but no. 6 pick Jarrett Culver adds to the young core link by Karl-Anthony Towns. Andrew Wiggins' big contract would help.

22. Pistons
Though they made the playoffs as the No. 8 seed last year, they have done a whole lot to take a step forward. They added veteran Derrick Rose and still have Blake Griffin, but there's work to be done.

23. Hawks
This is a team that could make some noise in a few years, but first their young talent will need to develop. There's plenty of it on the roster – including Trae Young, John Collins and recent draft picks De 'Hunter and Cam Reddish.

The Projects

24. Knicks
After missing out on the top pick and the top free agents, the Knicks tried to make the best of a bad situation by signing a handful of solid free agents, led by Julius Randle. Rookie RJ Barrett has high potential with Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson back for more

25. Bulls
The rebuilding continues. Lauri Markkanen has some young teammates he can grow with – including No. 7 pick Coby White, who could flourish in the backcourt alongside Zach LaVine.

26. Wizards
With John Walls out for the entire season after Achilles injury, the Wizards have some decisions to make – namely whether they trade Bradley Beal and start from scratch.

27. Suns
A few years of being stuck in the lottery could eventually pay off. Devin Booker is a star, but if DeAndre Ayton, Mikal Bridges and others can play their potential, they may have something there.

28. Grizzlies
They have their playmaker of the future in no. 2 picked up Morning and added another bright young player when they got years Jackson Jr. for Mike Conley. Filling out a viable rest of the grid will take some work.

29. Cavaliers
John Beilein takes over a young group that is to grow behind recent draft picks like Collin Sexton and Darius Garland. Kevin Love may be gone before long.

30. Hornets
They got punched in the gut when Walker left for Boston. It will be Terry Rozier's show for now, but they have a long way to go.


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