The NBA 2023-24 season is fast approaching, a campaign that holds plenty of promise given the robust amount of contenders in both conferences.
Additionally, some significant offseason moves and the potential forthcoming trades of two superstar point guards adds another layer of intrigue and makes the exercise of formulating power rankings even a bit more challenging than usual.
That being said, let’s dig into my latest NBA power rankings as we get ready for the start of training camps in a few weeks.
NBA Power Rankings
30. Washington Wizards
The Wizards certainly rearranged plenty of chairs on the deck this offseason, but there remains a strong chance the team takes a step back from its 35-47 mark of a year ago.
The subtraction of franchise stalwart Bradley Beal will undoubtedly have a seismic effect, even as the new-look backcourt of Tyus Jones and Jordan Poole has some solid potential.
Washington also made a slew of mid-level additions, including Landry Shamet and Danilo Gallinari. Still, the Wizards carry an NBA-low projected win total of 24.5 for good reason – their depth might be the worst in the league and they have serious offensive vacuums on the first unit in SF Corey Kispert and C Daniel Gafford.
29. Detroit Pistons
New head coach Monty Williams brings championship pedigree to the Motor City, but former head coach Dwane Casey did as well before compiling a 121-262 record over five seasons.
Detroit’s ability to improve on last season’s NBA-worst 17-65 mark will rest largely on whether Cade Cunningham, who has shown no shortage of upside when healthy, can remain on the floor alongside fellow young cornerstones Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren.
Offseason additions Monte Morris and Joe Harris, holdover Bojan Bogdanovic, and No. 5 overall pick Ausar Thompson will play critical complementary roles, and collectively, the Pistons should have a chance to at least clear the 20-win mark.
28. San Antonio Spurs
This ranking isn’t necessarily commensurate with the offseason hype attached to Gregg Popovich’s squad due to the arrival of Victor Wembanyama.
The generational talent will certainly have ample opportunity to make an impact, and the first unit that surrounds him includes talented incumbents Tre Jones, Devin Vassell, and Keldon Johnson.
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The Spurs’ depth has also improved this offseason with the acquisitions of Cameron Payne and Cedi Osman and when factoring in Wembanyama’s arrival projects to shift Jeremy Sochan to the second unit.
Nevertheless, San Antonio still needs at least one more season to begin truly making waves in a stacked Western Conference.
27. Charlotte Hornets
LaMelo Ball’s season-ending ankle surgery in March was the final nail in the coffin of the Hornets’ disappointing 2022-23 campaign, which culminated in a 27-55 record. However, a confluence of offseason developments has the potential to lead to a net improvement of at least five to six more victories.
Ball should be ready to roll for training camp, and No. 2 overall pick Brandon Miller will make an immediate impact as a scorer and rebounder while also indirectly enhancing the second unit by pushing Gordon Hayward to the bench.
Moreover, Charlotte also stands to benefit from a bonus addition of sorts – Miles Bridges, who missed all of last season for off-court reasons, returns after posting a breakout 2021-22 campaign where he averaged 20.2 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 3.8 assists across 80 games.
26. Orlando Magic
The Magic opted to maintain the status quo on the first unit after authoring a 34-48 record last season.
The most noteworthy veteran offseason addition to date is Joe Ingles, who should offer a solid scoring punch off the bench.
Orlando did have two picks in the first 11 of June’s draft and invested them in Anthony Black and Jett Howard, but with just one year of college experience apiece, the talented rookies are in need of some seasoning before becoming reliable contributors.
25. Portland Trail Blazers
The Trail Blazers’ 2023-24 outlook naturally remains in limbo until the team’s Damian Lillard problem is resolved in one form or another.
As of early September, there’s no discernible movement on a potential trade of the perennial All-Star, but slotting Portland in at this spot is likely a safe proposition regardless of how that scenario plays out.
If Lillard is eventually moved, No. 3 overall pick Scoot Henderson will be thrust into a significant role at just 19 years old. He’d be a key part of a solid-but-unspectacular starting five that also includes Anfernee Simons, Shaedon Sharpe, Jerami Grant, and Jusuf Nurkic, and has very little proven depth behind it.
24. Houston Rockets
The Rockets were willing but not quite able, especially on defense, under Stephen Silas’ guidance over the last several seasons, but there has been a significant change at the top with the arrival of Ime Udoka this offseason.
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The accomplished coach is believed to have the ability to fully unlock the vast potential of a cadre of young talents, including Jalen Green, Jabari Smith Jr., and Alperen Sengun.
He’ll have some help in that department from veteran offseason additions Fred VanVleet and Dillon Brooks, while rookies Amen Thompson and Cam Whitmore could also make an early impact as they open their careers on the second unit.
23. Toronto Raptors
The multi-season overhaul of Toronto’s backcourt is now complete with the departure of VanVleet to the Rockets. Veteran offseason arrival Dennis Schroder will do his best to fill the void.
New head coach Darko Rajakovic will benefit from a core of key holdovers (OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Scottie Barnes, Jakob Poeltl), but a downturn in last season’s 41-victory total is expected.
Most sportsbooks currently project Toronto for 36-37 wins while toiling in what should again be a deep Eastern Conference.
22. Chicago Bulls
There’s very little separating the Bulls and the next team in my rankings, the Pacers, but I’ll give the slight nod to Indiana’s nucleus of young talent over the older DeMar DeRozan-Zach LaVine-Nikola Vucevic trio in the Windy City.
Chicago mustered a sub-par 40-42 mark a year ago, with each of the three stars playing at least 74 games apiece, and there was no upgrade at power forward this offseason despite Patrick Williams’ average numbers (10.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.2 assists) a year ago.
There could be a serious offensive vacuum at point guard as well, as Alex Caruso projects to open as the starter due to Lonzo Ball’s second consecutive season-long absence.
21. Indiana Pacers
That aforementioned reservoir of young pieces on the Pacers – Tyrese Haliburton, Bennedict Mathurin, and Andrew Nembhard – will once again be complemented by capable veterans Buddy Hield and Myles Turner.
Indiana appears to have done some prudent offseason shopping in the form of Bruce Brown and Obi Toppin, who should both give the second unit a significant boost.
Meanwhile, the draft yielded Ben Sheppard and Jarace Walker, the latter who was impressive in Summer League play and could immediately step into a starting power forward role.
20. Utah Jazz
The Jazz followed up a better-than-projected 2022-23 campaign by retaining all their key players and making a trade for the talented but inconsistent John Collins, who has the potential to reset his career out west.
Meanwhile, Utah managed to afford promising big man Walker Kessler plenty of opportunity a year ago with encouraging results, and that could certainly pay dividends in his second season.
Talen Horton-Tucker, Kelly Olynyk, Kris Dunn, and No. 9 overall pick Taylor Hendricks are components of what could be a solid second unit.
19. Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks are seemingly perennial contenders as long as Trae Young is healthy, but Atlanta only managed a 41-41 record a year ago with the star guard playing 73 games.
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Dejounte Murray was a hit in his first season in Atlanta and signed an extension this offseason, but outside of complementary additions like Patty Mills and Wesley Matthews, the Hawks are running it back with an underwhelming first unit beyond the star backcourt.
18. Brooklyn Nets
The Nets enter the new campaign with a serious reduction in the star power that defined recent seasons, but they ultimately might be better off for it.
The players that the Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving trades netted – Spencer Dinwiddie, Cameron Johnson, and Mikal Bridges – all became meaningful contributors and now have had a full offseason to further acclimate to their new surroundings.
Additionally, a second unit refortified by the veteran additions of Lonnie Walker IV, Dennis Smith Jr., and Royce O’Neale could also feature the enigmatic but reportedly healthy Ben Simmons.
17. Minnesota Timberwolves
Minnesota got into the postseason with a 42-40 mark a year ago, as the “Twin Towers” duo of Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns was a relative success.
Anthony Edwards also took his already impressive game up another notch, but the T-Wolves may not be able to make much headway in a tough Western Conference.
After a relatively quiet offseason, they’ll run it back with an aging Mike Conley Jr. at point guard and the promising but still developing Jaden McDaniels at the four.
16. New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans’ outlook remains somewhat murky since it’s difficult to gauge Zion Williamson’s availability.
The big man, who missed the 2021-22 season altogether, played less than 30 games for the third time in his first four seasons.
The Pels appear to be relying on a full return to health, as the same core group that got New Orleans to a 42-40 mark a year ago – Brandon Ingram, CJ McCollum, Herbert Jones, and Jonas Valanciunas – returns, and the rest of the roster remained mostly unchanged.
15. Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder generated a 16-win improvement a season ago, and they’re now poised to benefit from the addition of Chet Holmgren, who missed all of last season with a foot injury after being selected with the second overall pick.
Holmgren is back to full health and was impressive in Summer League play, and he’ll enhance a young, dynamic core that already includes superstar Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, and Jalen Williams.
The addition of three-time All-EuroLeague guard Vasilije Micic has the potential to seriously boost the second unit’s scoring upside.
14. Dallas Mavericks
After rumblings Kyrie Irving would be half-a-season-and-done in Big D, the Mavs brought back the multi-time All-Star this offseason to continue his dynamic backcourt pairing with Luka Doncic.
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Nevertheless, the duo doesn’t get much of an upgrade in terms of help, with Dallas projected to once again roll with Tim Hardaway Jr. and Dwight Powell at small forward and center, respectively, while incorporating former Celtics role player Grant Williams at power forward.
The addition of Seth Curry to bolster the second unit is a positive, but the Mavs are still notably thinner than other Western Conference contenders.
13. Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers are another team that will rely heavily on a pair of mega-stars in Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, who are both coming off late-season/postseason knee injuries but reportedly are expected to be healthy for the start of the new campaign.
Russell Westbrook also returns on a two-year deal, and Ivica Zubac took another big step forward last season and still seemingly has room for further development.
A solid bench that includes Terance Mann, Norman Powell, Marcus Morris, and offseason arrival Kenyon Martin Jr. should also be an asset by affording George and Leonard extra rest in certain games.
12. Miami Heat
The Heat were one of the postseason’s biggest surprises following a 44-38 regular season, and the defending Eastern Conference champs are banking on much of the same crew in the new campaign.
That’s promising when it comes to the likes of Tyler Herro, Jimmy Butler, and Bam Adebayo, but less so in the case of the aging Kevin Love who will apparently be counted on at power forward.
The returning Josh Richardson is likely to start at shooting guard, but it remains to be seen if he’ll make up for the offseason departure of Gabe Vincent.
11. Golden State Warriors
The acquisition of Chris Paul headlined the Warriors’ offseason after last year’s 44-38 regular season and trip to Western Conference Semifinals, but the re-signing of Draymond Green was key as well.
Cory Joseph and Dario Saric look to be smart veteran additions, and Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson should once again work in concert with Andrew Wiggins to give the Dubs an elite offensive nucleus.
10. Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavs made a major move last offseason with the acquisition of Donovan Mitchell, but Cleveland still topped out with a first-round postseason exit.
Mitchell, Darius Garland, Evan Mobley, and Jarrett Allen should be better in their second season as a quartet, and offseason acquisition Max Strus has the potential to make up for the departure of Cedi Osman.
9. New York Knicks
After exiting the postseason in Eastern Conference Semifinals a season ago, the Knicks are banking on the “Big Three” of Jalen Brunson, Julius Randle, and RJ Barrett to carry the load again while working in new arrival Donte DiVincenzo.
Quentin Grimes took a significant step forward in his second season, and New York has starter-quality depth in the form of Josh Hart, Immanuel Quickley, and if he can return to prior form, Evan Fournier.
8. Memphis Grizzlies
Ja Morant’s 25-game suspension to open the regular season is the overarching headline of Memphis’ offseason, and it naturally impacts the team’s outlook as well.
The Grizzlies hope offseason trade acquisition Marcus Smart can hold down the fort at point guard, and Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr. should have especially elevated roles while Morant is out.
However, there’s a potential weak link at small forward, where John Konchar will take on a full-time starting role for the first time and attempt to replace free-agent departure Dillon Brooks.
7. Los Angeles Lakers
LeBron James is back for one more shot at a title after getting closer than many expected last season. He’ll once again be joined by D’Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves, and Anthony Davis to give L.A. a formidable foursome.
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The Lakers’ bench is intriguing, as it now features a versatile mix consisting of Taurean Prince, Rui Hachimura, Cam Reddish, and Gabe Vincent, who all have sizable starting experience.
6. Philadelphia 76ers
Like the Blazers, the 76ers reportedly have a star point guard on the trade block, as James Harden has officially requested to be moved and called his relationship with the organization beyond repair.
If there’s somehow a mending of fences, then Philly should once again be a major player in the Eastern Conference, especially considering the presence of Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey, and Tobias Harris.
However, a Harden trade would naturally alter the prospectus, although a return of another star — Dame Lillard perhaps? – could certainly help soften the blow.
5. Sacramento Kings
The Kings took a big, long-awaited step forward last season, making an 18-win improvement to finish with 48 victories.
Sacramento is leaning on all the same key pieces in the new campaign: De’Aaron Fox, Kevin Huerter, Harrison Barnes, and Domantas Sabonis.
Keegan Murray is also expected to take a big leap forward after a solid rookie campaign, while the additions of Chris Duarte and EuroLeague MVP Sasha Vezenkov represent significant additions for the second unit.
4. Phoenix Suns
The Suns followed up the trade-deadline acquisition of Kevin Durant with an offseason trade for Bradley Beal, giving Phoenix a “Big Three” (with star guard Devin Booker) that rivals any in either conference.
All the more impressive is that Phoenix still has solid depth behind that trio. Deandre Ayton remains one of the league’s better offensive centers, while new arrivals Eric Gordon and Yuta Watanbe give the second unit some offensive punch.
3. Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks head into the season angry after being embarrassed by the Heat in the first round of the playoffs.
Milwaukee re-upped Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez this offseason and also brought Jae Crowder and Malik Beasley aboard to fortify the bench.
Naturally, the team’s success will hinge on Middleton, Jrue Holiday, and Giannis Antetokounmpo, with the latter coming off a career-high 31.1 points in the 2022-23 campaign.
2. Boston Celtics
After coming close to a championship the last two seasons, the Celtics made a bold move this offseason by acquiring Kristaps Porzingis and trading away franchise stalwart Marcus Smart.
That gives Boston a championship-quality trio of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Porzingis, who averaged a career-high 23.2 points on career-best 49.8% shooting with Washington last season.
Derrick White should be capable of assuming starting point guard duties while offering his usual stellar defense, and a bulk of the roster is now significantly battle-tested after deep postseason runs the last two years.
1. Denver Nuggets
The defending champions deserve our top ranking until proven otherwise, even with key veterans Bruce Brown and Jeff Green now elsewhere.
As long as Jamal Murray, Nikola Jokic, and Michael Porter Jr. are spearheading the offense, Denver will be in the championship mix.
Meanwhile, Christian Braun’s expected development could be a key factor in keeping the second unit strong despite the aforementioned departures. So could the arrival of veteran Justin Holiday, who is an accomplished three-point shooter.