Old School Power Rankings 2018-19: Preseason

NBA.com Global on Oct 14, 2018 08:00 AM
Old School Power Rankings 2018-19: Preseason
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 4: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots the ball against the Sacramento Kings during a pre-season game on October 4, 2018 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

By Scott Wraight, NBA.com

As the old cliche states: The more things change, the more they stay the same.

He may have changed duds and locale, but LeBron James remains the King when it comes to our Old School Power Rankings. Can anyone snatch his throne or will we witness our first back-to-back OSPR champion?

Since the last time we saw you, some big names have joined the 32-and-over club: George Hill, Goran Dragic, Al Horford, Rudy Gay and Wes Matthews. And Lou Williams will throw his hat onto the court later this month.

Here's a quick look at all the OSPR champs: Pau Gasol (2015-16), Dwyane Wade (2016-17), LeBron James (2017-18).

Also, we're trying something new this season. If you have something to say (clean version, please) about these rankings, send over an e-mail. If it's solid, we may include it in the next rankings. Just make sure to include your first name and city.

- Notes: Preseason statistics are through games of October 11
- Any player who turns 32 during regular season can be added to rankings.
- Check out previous rankings

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1. LeBron James (33), Los Angeles Lakers

Ranking at end of '17-18: 1
Last season stats: 27.5 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 9.1 apg

It's hard to fathom James slowing down now that he's in Hollywood. Heck, the bright lights might even mean another gear. We'll go out on a fat limb and say someone will have to have an extra special season to overthrow him. And if the preseason is any indication (I know, I know), James is ready -- averaging 13.8 points in 15.8 minutes on 60 percent shooting from the field.

2. Chris Paul (33), Houston Rockets

Ranking at end of '17-18: 4
Last season stats: 18.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 7.9 apg

How will Paul's numbers carry over this season with the addition of volume-shooter Carmelo Anthony? Dare we say he goes for less than 16 points for the first time since 2010-11? The other big question that seems to follow Paul every season is whether he can stay healthy. The gritty All-Star point guard has failed to play 70 games in each of the past two seasons.

3. LaMarcus Aldridge (33), San Antonio Spurs

Ranking at end of '17-18: 2
Last season stats: 23.1 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 2.0 apg

Tony Parker is gone. Manu Ginobili retired. Lonnie Walker IV, Dejounte Murray and Derrick White are injured. So ... Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan will be doing some heavy lifting at the start of the season. And based on what the big man did last season (averaging more than 23 points for the first time since '14-15), he'll be up for the challenge.

4. Marc Gasol (33), Memphis Grizzlies

Ranking at end of '17-18: 6
Last season stats: 17.2 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 4.2 apg

After averaging 19.5 points two seasons ago, Gasol took a couple big steps back, slipping to 17.2. One huge reason for that was the absence of stud point guard Mike Conley, who missed all but 12 games last season. A healthy Conley should mean an energized and engaged Gasol, and a likely return to 19 points per game.

5. Dwight Howard (32), Washington Wizards

Ranking at end of '17-18: 3
Last season stats: 16.6 ppg, 12.5 rpg, 1.3 apg

Howard hasn't played in any preseason games, dealing with a piriformis injury that may or may not linger into the start of the regular season. That said, Howard proved to be reliable last season, playing in 81 games while averaging more than 12 rebounds for a second straight season. With Bradley Beal and John Wall around, Howard's scoring will likely slip from last year's 16.6.

6. Al Horford (32), Boston Celtics

Ranking at end of '17-18: NA
Last season stats: 12.9 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 4.7 apg

Horford's scoring has gone down in each of the last three seasons (15.2 in '15-16, 14.0 in '16-17 and 12.9 last season), and that should continue to be the case as both Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward enter the season healthy. As long as Boston's talented unit stays healthy, we're likely looking at 11 and seven from Horford this season.

7.  Paul Millsap (33), Denver Nuggets

Ranking at end of '17-18: 7
Last season stats: 14.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 2.8 apg

Millsap's first season in Denver didn't go according to plan, as he missed 44 games with a wrist injury. With the wealth of young talent surrounding him, Millsap may not average more than 14 this season. But he should be able to chip in solid production on the boards, some steals and blocks and knock down a fair share of 3-pointers.

8.  Kyle Lowry (32), Toronto Raptors

Ranking at end of '17-18: Just missed
Last season stats: 16.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 6.9 apg

With his longtime buddy DeMar DeRozan shipped out to San Antonio, will Lowry quickly find chemistry with new stud Kawhi Leonard? Whether or not that happens will have a huge impact on the Raptors' season -- and Lowry's stats. After averaging 21 or more points in the previous two seasons, Lowry slipped to 16.2 last year. We expect that to ascend to about 18 per game.

9.  Goran Dragic (32), Miami Heat

Ranking at end of '17-18: NA
Last season stats: 17.3 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 4.8 apg

It's hard to believe Dragic is on this list, considering he still looks like a baby-faced 25-year-old. But aging hasn't slowed the Slovenian guard, who has averaged better than 17 points in each of the last two seasons. Judging by four preseason games in which he averaged 12.3 points and 46.2 FG% in 20.6 minutes, he's ready to roll.

10. J.J. Redick (34), Philadelphia 76ers

Ranking at end of '17-18: 5
Last season stats: 17.1 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 3.0 apg

Talking about preseason games, Redick has been dialed in, averaging 15.8 points, 58.8 FG% and 56.5 3PT% in 21 minutes. With the 76ers' abundance of young talent ready to take another step, it'll be interesting to see if Redick can repeat his offensive surge from last year in which he averaged a career-best 17.1.

Just missed the cut: Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo, Trevor Ariza, Pau Gasol, Rudy Gay

Will turn 32 this season: Lou Williams (Oct. 27), Ian Mahinmi (Nov. 5)

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