How All 30 NBA Teams Rank Against Each Other: NBA Power Rankings

Benjamin White '23

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After a wild offseason, the NBA is back. Superstars have either been traded, signed, or been drafted by different teams (at least in the case of Zion Williamson). Most importantly, the landscape of the league changed. With the Golden State Warriors’ legacy of a star-studded roster, teams aspire for multiple all stars in their starting line up to vie for the ever-more difficult NBA Championship. With all the off season moves, the parity of the league has increased and the best teams are now centered around two elite players and their depth. With the league’s new style, let’s see how everyone ranks up.

 

  1. Charlotte Hornets

For the past few years, the Hornets have centered their roster around Kemba Walker. All they have to show for it was a competitive first round loss against the Miami Heat in the 2016 postseason. Kemba Walker signed with the Boston Celtics, in hopes of a better opportunity to make the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Hornets gave Terry Rozier a three-year, $58 million deal. They have intriguing young players, such as Malik Monk, P.J Washington, and Miles Bridges, but Charlotte has been inept at developing young players. Just look at Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. He was drafted with the second overall pick in 2012, yet in 2019, he finished the season averaging 6.7 points a game. It’s hard to imagine Charlotte not being at the bottom 5 of the league.

 

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers

The once mighty LeBron led Cavaliers watched their franchise player leave them… again. Sure, that was two offseasons ago, but Cleveland’s roster hasn’t recovered. Kevin Love seems to be on the trading block and their backcourt pairing of Darius Garland and first round pick, Collin Sexton, seems a little suspect. The Cavaliers don’t really seem to have much going for them. Garland and Sexton are two talented young players though with the potential to grow into all stars. Don’t expect that to happen this season though.

 

  1. Phoenix Suns

It feels like the Suns have been stuck down here for a while. Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton form a solid young duo, but the Suns simply haven’t been a competitive team. Stocked up against the competitive western conference, the Suns are going to lose a lot of games this season. They have promising young players such as Dario Saric, Mikal Bridges, and 2019 first round pick, Cam Johnson. If Booker and Ayton each take another step forward this season, the Suns could climb up the rankings come next season.

 

  1. Memphis Grizzlies

Zion Williamson was the most hyped up college athlete for the last 15 years. Selected with the second pick, Ja Morant has the potential to be the most talented player in the whole class. Memphis has a solid young core of Morant, Josh Jackson, Brandon Clarke, and Jaren Jackson Jr., with Jaren Jackson Jr. showing growth last season in his rookie year. The problem with the Grizzlies is that no one knows what’s going to happen with Jae Crowder and Andre Iguodala. Both are scrappy 3 and D players that championship contenders are seeking out,yet the Grizzlies have shown no intent on buying either player out. It will be interesting to see how that situation plays out.

 

  1. Washington Wizards

John Wall is out for the season. The Wizards are not a championship contender. There is absolutely no reason for the Wizards to not tank the season. If it ruins the morale of Bradley Beal, trade him while his value is high. They have to be careful not to fall into the same situation the Pelicans did with Anthony Davis. The eastern conference may be weak, but the Washington Wizards may prove to be weaker.

 

  1. New York Knicks

The sad truth for the Knicks is that they were never really in the running for all the superstar free agents this past offseason. Despite the media’s claims, James Dolan and the Knicks tanking ways found a way to make Madison Square Garden a place that players didn’t want to play. Despite striking out on big free agents, the Knicks still had a solid offseason. Julius Randle, Marcus Morris, Bobby Portis, and R.J. Barrett could make this Knicks team competitive for the first time in what feels like forever. If they can start winning games, they could make the Knicks a team players want to play for.

 

  1. Detroit Pistons

The front court duo of Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond have the potential to get Detroit out of the first round. The issue is their lack of cap space. Without cap space, the duo has not seen a third star on the roster. While the two have only been together for a season and a half, it’s hard to imagine the Pistons finally acquiring that third star. The eastern conference is slowly getting more and more competitive. With Reggie Jackson as the Pistons third option, the Pistons seemingly will not be getting more competitive.

 

  1. Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks have one of the best young cores in the NBA. Trae Young, John Collins, De’Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish, and Kevin Huerter have generated excitement for Hawks fans. While they could sneak into the playoffs, it’s unlikely due to their lack of experience. If Trae Young can improve defensively, then he will be an all star. He put the NBA on notice with his talented shooting and passing, drawing comparisons to the likes of Steph Curry. The Hawks record may not be pretty, but the lobs thrown from Trae Young to John Collins will be.

 

  1. Chicago Bulls

The Bulls also have one of the best young groups in the NBA. Coby White, Lauri Markkanen, Kris Dunn, and Wendell Carter Jr. form a young and talented roster.. On top of that, Zach LaVine is only 24 years old, averaging 23.7 points a game. Just like Trae Young, if LaVine can get better defensively, he will be an all star. The young core of the Bulls could sneak into the playoffs with scrappy veterans such as Tomas Satoransky, Thaddeus Young, and Otto Porter Jr.

 

  1. Oklahoma City Thunder

With Russell Westbrook and Paul George, the Thunder looked like championship contenders even after Kevin Durant left them…. Then Damian Lillard casually shot a 37 foot stepback over Paul George and watched as the ball went in, ending both the season and the entire Thunder franchise.After that, the Thunder blew everything up. Russell Westbrook is a Houston Rocket. Paul George is a Los Angeles Clipper. The Thunder have a competitive team though. Chris Paul, Danilo Gallinari, and Steven Adams aren’t going to be a tough out. In the tough western conference, the Thunder could still find a way to sneak into the playoffs. On top of that, the Thunder have the potential to get fifteen first round picks over the next seven years, but it depends on where the pick is in the draft due to pick protection. Even after Damian Lillard destroyed title hopes, the Thunder still have a bright future.

 

  1. New Orleans Pelicans

The Pelicans bounced back nicely after the Anthony Davis trade saga. The number one pick miraculously fell into their lap, along with Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Josh Hart. On top of that, they signed knock down shooter, J.J. Redick, along with scrappy veteran, Derrick Favors. The only issue with the Pelicans is that their roster is almost a complete overhaul. They’re talented enough to be an eighth seed in the west, but there is no continuity for the Pelicans. Their players have to learn how to play together. Once they get some continuity, the Pelicans could be a playoff threat.

 

  1. Sacramento Kings

The Kings are an interesting team. Led by De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Marvin Bagley the third, and Bogdan Bogdanovic, the Kings were a competitive non playoff team. This past offseason, they made some head-scratching moves. They overpaid for Harrison Barnes, Trevor Ariza, and Cory Joseph. Those are good veteran players, but are they good enough to get the Kings into the playoffs? Now, the Kings are depleted of cap space, and they are not contenders, but they’re not bad enough to get a top pick. Unless De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley can both grow into all stars, the Kings may become stuck in mediocre land.

 

  1. Orlando Magic

Remember Markelle Fultz? You know, the number one pick of the 2017 draft? The guy who the 76ers claimed was having shoulder issues. The guy who looked like he simply just forgot how to shoot a basketball. Yeah, him. He’s on the Magic, and he looks like he can shoot again. Even if he proves to be a draft bust, the Magic still are a playoff team with Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier, Terrence Ross, D.J. Augustin, and Al-Farouq Aminu in a weak Eastern Conference. 

 

  1. Minnesota Timberwolves

Karl-Anthony Towns is a top 20 player in the NBA. Surrounded by defensive standouts, Josh Okogie, Robert Covington, and first round audition Jarrett Culver, the Timberwolves are still a talented team. Wiggins may be a bit of a disappointment, but he can still get the Timberwolves 20 points at any night. Jeff Teague isn’t an all star point guard anymore, but he’s a starting caliber player. Don’t count the Timberwolves out yet.

 

  1. San Antonio Spurs

Demar Derozan and LaMarcus Aldridge will keep the Spurs competitive. The additions of DeMarre Caroll and a healthy Dejounte Murray will certainly help that. You have to wonder how much gas in the tank the Spurs have left. How much longer will it be until Gregg Popovich rides off into the sunset. The younger teams that are ranked lower than the Spurs are going to pass them eventually. They’ll still be a tough out this season, but they’re 22 year playoff streak looks like it might be coming to an end.

 

  1. Miami Heat

Jimmy Butler is going to make the Heat a playoff team. With Goran Dragic, Tyler Herro, Justise Winslow, Bam Adebayo, and other gritty veterans, the Heat are going to be a tough team to beat. Jimmy Butler is the clear cut number one option, but after that, things get a little complicated. There’s not a clear second scorer on the Heat. Whenever Butler goes to the bench, the offense is going to struggle for Miami. This will hurt them in the playoffs, but it won’t stop the Heat from getting there.

 

  1. Dallas Mavericks

Kristaps Porzingis may not be the same after his ACL injury. It still does not matter to me. Luka Doncic is a star in this league. Luka and Kristaps can lead the Mavericks surrounded by Dwight Powell, Boban Marjanovic, Courtney Lee, Delon Wright, Seth Curry, and Tim Hardaway Jr. If Porzingis can come back even better and stronger, that only makes the Mavericks scarier.

 

  1. Indiana Pacers

The timetable for Victor Oladipo’s return is unclear. The team’s leading scorer without Oladipo, Bojan Bogdanovic, has now signed with the Utah Jazz. Even without them, the Pacers still are competitive. With Malcolm Brogdan, Jeremy Lamb, T.J. Warren, Myles Turner, and 6th man of the year candidate, Domantas Sabonis, the Pacers will always play hard. If Oladipo can come back early in the season, the Pacers could steal a top 5 seed in the eastern conference. If Oladipo has a setback, expect Malcolm Brogdan to take a step forward as the Pacers top scoring option. He’ll be good enough to win the Pacers some games.

 

  1. Toronto Raptors

Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green left, but it was worth trading Demar Derozan. The Raptors finally won a championship. While the Raptors watched as Kawhi left, they kept together a strong playoff team. Pascal Siakam was voted Most Improved Player for a reason, and it will be worth watching if the former G-League Finals MVP is ready to lead a team. Kyle Lowry is still an all star. Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka, and Fred VanVleet were key to the Raptors championship run. They might not repeat as champions, but they’ll definitely make the playoffs.

 

  1. Boston Celtics

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown could both take the leap to become all stars. In that case, the Celtics could be a top 5 team in the league again. Odds are, only Tatum takes that leap. The Celtics have to make a tough decision on whether to pay Jaylen Brown or not. They have to figure out their big man rotation after the loss of Al Horford. Swapping Kyrie for Kemba may be good for the locker room, but people overlooked the impact Al Horford had on the Celtics. Enes Kanter is a good consolation prize, but a defensive liability. If the Celtics are matched up with the Raptors or the 76ers, Gasol or Embiid would force Kanter to the bench. On the topic of being forced to the bench, Gordon Hayward may never be an all star again. If things swing right for the Celtics, they could shock everyone and take the East. More likely though, they are forced to make tough decisions about Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, and Enes Kanter.

 

  1. Brooklyn Nets

Speaking of Kyrie Irving, let’s look at the Nets. Kevin Durant has already stated that he expects to miss the entire season, and Kyrie may miss some games due to load management. That should not be an issue. The Nets have built a very deep team. Caris LeVert could take a leap to become an all star. Before his gruesome injury, he looked like the Nets best player. In the first round matchup against the 76ers, he looked healthy again. He went back to looking like the Nets best player, even with defensive star Jimmy Butler guarding him. For the second team rotation, Spencer Dinwiddie is a 6th man of the year candidate and  Joe Harris and Taurean Prince are both elite three point shooters. Rounding out the frontcourt, Jarrett Allen and DeAndre Jordan form a strong center rotation. If the Nets coaching staff can make sure that Kyrie doesn’t kill the Nets chemistry (as it looked like he did in Boston) the Nets will be amongst the elites in the Eastern Conference.

 

  1. Golden State Warriors

While Caris LeVert was looking like the Nets best player through the playoffs, D’Angelo Russell was no slouch through the regular season. Even with Durant on the Nets, and Klay missing time due to an ACL injury, the Warriors are still a top 10 NBA team. People seem to forget that Steph Curry was the first ever unanimous MVP. And with Kevin Durant gone, the NBA should see a return to form. With D’Angelo Russell next to him, opposing teams can no longer double Curry and force another Warrior to beat them. Both D’Angelo Russell and Draymond Green are elite playmakers and if they have the ball, good things will still happen. Once Klay comes back, the Warriors will be even more dangerous.

 

  1. Portland Trailblazers

Continuity is important and that’s why I have Portland at eight on this list. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum are still the focal points of the Trailblazers offense. The rest of the roster saw a lot of change, but the Trailblazers’ play won’t be any different. Until Jusuf Nurkic returns from injury, Hassan Whiteside will be a solid starting center. Kent Bazemore was from the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for Evan Turner. Kent Bazemore is a much better outside shooter than Turner, which will help space the floor. Nassir Little has the tools to be an elite NBA defender. They even kept Rodney Hood, who could take a step forward. It’s only a matter of time before Lillard is considered an MVP candidate. If he can prove himself to belong as a top five NBA player, the Blazers will certainly be title contenders.

 

  1. Utah Jazz

Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic are perfect fits for the Jazz. With those two additions, the Jazz might have the most well rounded starting line-up in the NBA. Conley is a fringe All-Star, Donovan Mitchell is one of the best young players in the league, Bojan Bogdanovic can explode for 25 points any night, Joe Ingles is a perfect 3 and D player, and Rudy Gobert is a perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate. The issue is that they don’t have a top ten player in the NBA. Almost all of those listed players are top fifty NBA players, but none are undisputedly top ten NBA players. That’s going to hurt them when they match up against LeBron James, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, or Paul George. If Donovan Mitchell can take that next step to become an all star, then the Jazz will be scary. Until then, the Jazz are stuck at number 7 on this list.

 

  1. Houston Rockets

Russell Westbrook and James Harden form a scary backcourt pairing. It’s hard to imagine them fitting well together though. Both are ball dominant players. Both seem to chase triple doubles. Most importantly, both have been unable to win a championship. Westbrook’s inability to shoot from deep is going to hurt the Rockets isolation heavy offense. Despite all that, the majority of the Rockets roster has stayed the same. Eric Gordon, P.J. Tucker, and Clint Capela are still Houston Rockets. Chris Paul couldn’t get the James Harden led Rockets into the finals. This season, Russell Westbrook has his shot at it.

 

  1. Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets might just be the deepest team in the league. They have numerous picks and quality young players. If they wanted to trade for a third star next to Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, they could. The issue is, is Jamal Murray really a star? Sure, he’s paid like one, but he will certainly be the Nuggets x-factor this season. Even if Jamal Murray is not a star yet, the Nuggets are still championship contenders. With a healthy Michael Porter Jr., Paul Milsap, Gary Harris, Will Barton, and Jerami Grant as well as  intriguing young players such as Torrey Craig, Monte Morris, and Malik Beasley, this is shaping up to be an exciting year for Nuggets fans.

 

  1. Philadelphia 76ers

Ben Simmons needs to get a jump shot. Not a three point shot, just a 15 foot jump shot. Any jump shot. I used the word inability to describe Russell Westbrook’s shot, but at least he is  a career 30% three point shooter. Ben Simmons cannot even shoot from beyond the free throw line. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are both elite young players, but if Simmons’ play-style keeps hurting Joel Embiid, then one will have to go. Outside of Simmons and Embiid, the Sixers lost J.J. Redick and Jimmy Butler. Their late game closer is now Tobias Harris. That’s not bad, but he’s not the same scorer that Jimmy Butler is. On a more positive note, the 76ers added Al Horford and Josh Richardson. Both players will help the 76ers be one of the best defensive teams in the league. If the offense starts to improve for Simmons, then Philadelphia will watch as “The Process” will finally be completed with a championship.

 

  1. Los Angeles Lakers

This past season for the Lakers was disappointing. LeBron missed time due to injury. Everyone was involved in trade rumors. Magic Johnson resigned. Luke Walton was fired. Most concerning, it seemed like stars didn’t want to come to the Lakers. The toxicity that surrounded the organization seemed like too much. Of course, once some journalist  throws out the possibility of Kawhi signing with the Lakers, everyone forgets about that. And Kawhi did end up in Staples Center, just not with the Lakers. Despite striking out in free agency, they still ended up with Anthony Davis. LeBron and Anthony Davis are two of the best five players in the NBA. If they can stay healthy, they may be 2019-2020 champions. The main concern, despite health, is a lack of depth. Their third option is Kyle Kuzma, which isn’t bad, but who’s after him? Javale McGee? Danny Green? Dwight Howard? Sorry, I almost laughed at the idea of Dwight back on the Lakers. The Lakers have the potential to be champions, but if they fall short, L.A. will tear LeBron apart.

 

  1. Los Angeles Clippers

Let’s talk about that other team in Los Angeles. You know, the Lakers’ little brother. The team that the media counted out in the race for Kawhi Leonard. The team that ironically signed Kawhi Leonard. Yeah, that team. The Clippers might have the best defensive team in the league. Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Patrick Beverly, and Montrezl Harrell aren’t giving up any easy buckets. On top of that, they’re along with the Nuggets, one of the deepest teams in the league. Lou Williams can drop 20 off the bench effortlessly. Landry Shamet is a knockdown shooter. Ivica Zubac is a solid rebounding center. JaMychal Green is a gritty power forward. Maurice Harkless is a great 3 and D player. The one concern for the Clippers is health. Kawhi and Paul George are both known to be injury prone players. If they can stay healthy, they should be the western conference favorites.

 

  1. Milwaukee Bucks

Giannis Antentokounmpo was bested by Kawhi in the playoffs, Malcolm Brogdan was in a sign and trade with the Indiana Pacers, and Eric Bledsoe isn’t a great fit for the Bucks. It is understandable to say that the Bucks don’t belong at number one on this list. What’s interesting though, is that the Lakers, Rockets, Clippers, and 76ers are all teams that could be considered better than the Bucks. Those are the teams that saw their rosters completely change. The Bucks have continuity on their side. Giannis and Khris Middleton are leading the way for the Bucks. Giannis’s shot has already seen improvement from his rookie season. He won MVP with a 25% three point shot. News flash, Giannis is only 24 years old! If he can get that three point percentage into the thirties, he’ll be even more dominant, and so will the Bucks.

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