NBA Power Rankings: Tiers, emojis and major offseason moves — did your favorite team get better?

It’s Power Rankings season!

Well … it’s not really Power Rankings season. That’s usually reserved for October through mid-April. But every once in a while, we like to check in during the offseason to see how teams are starting to measure up. We saw our staff’s great offseason grades last week, and once again something was posted on the internet with nobody objecting to or disagreeing with. This edition of the Power Rankings has a similar vibe.

We’re evaluating teams after the first month or so of the offseason. We’ve been through the draft and trades, signings, blockbuster deals and of course the remaining trade rumors for some stars around the league. It’s left a lot of questions on the board, and those will take months to get answered, if not longer.

In these Power Rankings, we’re looking at major additions and subtractions to the roster (not all of them) and then asking two questions: Did this team get better? Do we like what they did? The first one will be answered with words. The second answer will get some sort of cryptic emoji. And, of course, we don’t just lump all 30 teams together. That’s boring.

Reminder: the Power Rankings don’t just rank the 30 teams. We divide these teams into tiers, which any of the teams can move in and out of. We’re in summer, so we have the tiers in the Power Rankings broken into six new categories:

  • We already know you’re tanking — They’re rebuilding and not looking to make the postseason yet.
  • Looking to make the Play-In — They’ve been rebuilding/retooling and think they can crack the top 10 in their respective conference.
  • Play-In Tournament teams — They should be in the mix unless something disastrous happens.
  • Playoff teams — Probably don’t have to worry about dropping down to the Play-In Tournament.
  • On the brink of contention — A piece away from us believing they can win the title.
  • Contenders — They are contending for the championship, barring a massive injury.

As always, I am sure we will all agree on the placement of all 30 teams, especially your favorite team.

Here’s how the (offseason) Power Rankings work:

  • It’s up to my discretion how the rankings shake out. For some teams, they’ll be hit in the short term. Others will be given the benefit for the long term. Yes, it is entirely subjective.
  • If I have a team ahead of another team, there’s no reason to ask why they’re ranked above the team you like. The answer is pretty simple: I think that team is set up better for success.
  • Yes, I watch the games. And yes, I watch your favorite team.
  • Only 15 teams will be deemed worthy of a GIF or video. That’s to limit how much we eat up your data and computer’s processor.
  • This is supposed to be fun, so let’s have fun with it. 

Tier 1: The Contenders

1. Golden State Warriors, defending champs

Major additions: JaMychal Green (free agent), Donte DiVincenzo (free agent), Patrick Baldwin Jr. (draft)

Major subtractions: Gary Payton II (Portland), Nemanja Bjelica (Europe), Otto Porter Jr. (Toronto), Juan Toscano-Anderson (Lakers)

Did this team get better? On the surface? Absolutely not. The Golden State Warriors saw three — maybe four — good role players leave in free agency this offseason. For a defending champion, that’s not exactly rare, but it was kind of odd to feel like the Warriors had finally hit a breaking point with doling out luxury-tax penalties. If DiVincenzo’s knee is healthy, he’ll be a nice replacement for Payton as a very different role player. Green should be a solid rotation option for them. This team is banking on Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson being great in title defense form, and on the young guys (Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody, James Wiseman) growing up in bigger roles next season. The biggest key is a full offseason for Thompson … and maybe how Green handles extension talks.

Do we like what they did? 🏆


2. Boston Celtics

Major additions: Malcolm Brogdon (trade), Danilo Gallinari (free agent)

Major subtractions: Daniel Theis (Indiana), Aaron Nesmith (Indiana)

Did this team get better? They definitely got better. The Boston Celtics will have to worry about the availability of Brogdon. He hasn’t been reliable in years when it comes to staying on the court. But considering what the Celtics gave up in exchange for Brogdon to join the squad, it was a no-brainer. When he’s available to play, he gives them one of the deepest backcourts in the NBA. Coming off an NBA Finals appearance, Brad Stevens made the team better. And maybe they even keep trying to get Kevin Durant? What will be interesting is the effect of reports continuing over the years of Jaylen Brown being dangled to acquire superstars. It happened with Danny Ainge, and it’s happening with Stevens. You can make an argument for keeping this core together after the first-year run under Ime Udoka. You can make an argument for getting someone like Durant even if it means giving up Brown. The Celtics aren’t just assuming they remain the best team in the East because they made the finals.

Do we like what they did? 🤩

3. Phoenix Suns 

Major additions: Damion Lee (free agent), Josh Okogie (free agent)

Major subtractions: JaVale McGee (Dallas), Aaron Holiday (Atlanta)

Did this team get better? The Phoenix Suns did not get better this offseason, but it’s fair to wonder how much they even need to get better. Yes, the end of the postseason was a disaster. Was that Chris Paul collapsing? Was it a rift between Deandre Ayton and the organization? Was that the Suns coming back down to earth (realistic in basketball, very dangerous in science)? Bringing back Ayton by matching the Indiana offer sheet was a good move, and hopefully, they can put water under the bridge. Losing McGee sucks, but they retained Bismack Biyombo and they’ll get Dario Šarić back. The Suns need to hope a healthy playoff appearance in 2023 looks more like what we saw in their 2021 finals run. They’re still a great matchup to face the defending champion Warriors.

Do we like what they did? 🧘


4. Milwaukee Bucks

Major additions: Joe Ingles (free agent), MarJon Beauchamp (draft)

Major subtractions: None

Did this team get better? Just with being healthy, the Milwaukee Bucks are better. I don’t think we should expect anything from Beauchamp as a rookie, and he’ll probably spend a lot of time in the G League still. Ingles is coming off an ACL injury, so we don’t know when he’ll be back and contributing. But the Bucks get a healthy Giannis Antetokounmpo, a healthy Khris Middleton (assuming he heals from the wrist surgery on time) and a healthy Jrue Holiday. They brought back their key role players. And this team was still giving Boston hell in the postseason without its second-best player. I almost had Milwaukee above Phoenix and Boston, but I want to see the health of Middleton and Brook Lopez to start the season. Let’s not forget how great this Bucks team is.

Do we like what they did? 🦌

5. Miami Heat

Major additions: Nikola Jović (draft)

Major subtractions: P.J. Tucker (Philadelphia)

Did this team get better? They did not. The Miami Heat are a little bit in limbo with their offseason. Tucker is gone, and that’s a big loss. The only new player they’ve really brought in is a rookie who is currently most notable for having a name one letter away from the two-time reigning MVP. The Heat are waiting to see if they have a realistic shot at Kevin Durant (less likely) or Donovan Mitchell (do they want to give up all those picks?) in a trade. Otherwise, they’ll probably just expect advancements from the young guys and hope the bounce that didn’t go their way in trying to get back to the finals falls for them this time. The most notable thing for the Heat this offseason has been Jimmy Butler’s new hair.

Do we like what they did? 🧯


Tier 2: Brink of Contention

6. Memphis Grizzlies

Major additions: David Roddy (draft), Jake LaRavia (draft), Kennedy Chandler (draft), Danny Green (trade), Kenneth Lofton Jr. (free agent)

Major subtractions: De’Anthony Melton (Philadelphia), Kyle Anderson (Minnesota)

Did this team get better? The Memphis Grizzlies did not get better from a talent standpoint. Anderson left for Minnesota, and they traded Melton for a draft pick that became Roddy. We also have Jaren Jackson Jr. out for months after another surgery. The Grizzlies should expect to take a step back, which is not a big deal considering they surprised everybody with the second-best record in basketball this past season. They grabbed four really nice young role players on draft night, and we can expect Ja Morant and Desmond Bane to get even better. But the Grizzlies lost two significant role players, and they’ll have to figure that out. Bringing back Tyus Jones was a great deal.

Do we like what they did? 😕

7. Philadelphia 76ers

Major additions: De’Anthony Melton (trade), P.J. Tucker (free agent), Danuel House (free agent)

Major subtractions: DeAndre Jordan (Denver), Paul Millsap (free agent), Danny Green (Memphis)

Did this team get better? Oh my god, yes. Daryl Morey and Elton Brand had a brilliant offseason. This team had no depth last season after the James Harden trade. Picking up Melton for an injured Danny Green (and a pick) was massive. Tucker getting a three-year deal was a surprise, but a necessary pickup for the Sixers. Danuel House is a really nice role player. If this team is healthy, it’ll be a contender. Joel Embiid is too good not to be. However, we need to see a better Harden than we’ve seen over the last year or so. Great offseason for them though.

Do we like what they did? 🔔


Tier 3: Playoff Teams

8. Dallas Mavericks 

Major additions: Christian Wood (trade), Jaden Hardy (draft), JaVale McGee (free agent)

Major subtractions: Jalen Brunson (New York), Boban Marjanović (Houston), Marquese Chriss (Houston)

Did this team get better? I do think the Dallas Mavericks got a little better but it’s tricky. Losing Brunson will be big, even with the addition of Spencer Dinwiddie last season. Brunson was steady, and they needed that presence. Wood has to prove he plays winning basketball. The talent is there, but they need his skills on offense along with real effort on defense. Jason Kidd should be the guy who can get through to him though. The McGee pickup was really big for them, as they’ve needed some real interior depth. They need Tim Hardaway Jr. back and healthy, but this team had such a great season. I know they made the conference finals, but they’ll have to keep improving to keep up with that West landscape.

Do we like what they did? 🤠

9. Denver Nuggets

Major additions: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (trade), Ish Smith (trade), Bruce Brown Jr. (free agent), Christian Braun (draft), Peyton Watson (draft), DeAndre Jordan (free agent)

Major subtractions: Will Barton (Washington), Monté Morris (Washington), JaMychal Green (Golden State), Austin Rivers (Minnesota)

Did this team get better? I love what the Denver Nuggets did, and they absolutely got better, even though they lose Tim Connelly from the front office. Trading for Caldwell-Pope was a big addition for a team that needs his shooting and more importantly his defense. Smith should help as a safety net for the times when Bones Hyland still shows his inexperience. Brown is a great pickup for them, and his cutting will be great for playing off Nikola Jokić. This team is getting Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. back, and we don’t know what that will look like. We know the potential, but we don’t know the reality of their bodies returning. But this Nuggets team is loaded and could skyrocket up these rankings.

Do we like what they did? 🏔


10. Atlanta Hawks

Major additions: Dejounte Murray (trade), Mo Harkless (trade), Justin Holiday (trade), AJ Griffin (draft), Frank Kaminsky (free agent), Aaron Holiday (free agent)

Major subtractions: Kevin Huerter (Sacramento), Danilo Gallinari (Boston), Kevin Knox (Detroit), Delon Wright (Washington), Gorgui Dieng (San Antonio)

Did this team get better? The Atlanta Hawks had a brilliant offseason and very much improved. The trade for Murray gives them a great complement to Trae Young in the backcourt on both ends of the floor. Losing Huerter and Gallinari can be tough, but bringing in Justin Holiday is a good plug for the perimeter in this rotation. The Hawks knew they couldn’t just bring the group back that disappointed last season under expectations. They needed some new blood, and now they have a real chance to build something dangerous in the loaded Eastern Conference.

Do we like what they did? 🦅 (I know it’s an eagle and not a hawk, but take it up with Apple.)

11. LA Clippers

Major additions: John Wall (free agent)

Major subtractions: Isaiah Hartenstein (New York)

Did this team get better? The LA Clippers did get better, even though losing Hartenstein turned out to be a big deal. John Wall should be a great complement to what these guys want to do, even if he’s not the John Wall of old. But this Clippers team’s improvement has everything to do with the health of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. The Clippers could easily be a top-five team all season long if they’re healthy. They can play with anybody, and they can be contenders. But after the last few years of their lack of health/bad luck, it’s difficult to outright believe in what they will be. We just know what they can be. Let’s hope they’re healthy enough to make this 11th ranking look foolish.

Do we like what they did? 🩺


12. Toronto Raptors

Major additions: Otto Porter Jr. (free agent), Juancho Hernangomez (free agent)

Major subtractions: Isaac Bonga (free agent), Yuta Watanabe (free agent)

Did this team get better? The Toronto Raptors did get marginally better with role players, but we’re trying to figure out if Masai Ujiri is going to make a massive swing for Durant. The pickups of Porter and Hernangomez (aka “Bo Cruz”) were nice, and re-signing Thaddeus Young was key, but it didn’t address their lack of size in trying to contain someone like playoff foe Joel Embiid. The Raptors are a really good and underappreciated team, though. Their versatility defensively, especially on the perimeter, is what fuels them, but what we saw out of Scottie Barnes as a rookie raises the potential. They didn’t make any big changes yet but getting this team to jell a bit more is the real plan … unless they can get KD.

Do we like what they did? 🗜

13. Chicago Bulls

Major additions: Goran Dragić (free agent), Andre Drummond (free agent), Dalen Terry (draft)

Major subtractions: Tristan Thompson (free agent), Troy Brown Jr. (Lakers)

Did this team get better? I think they did, as long as Drummond plays as he did in Brooklyn. He found his role and some comfort with it, so adding that depth behind Nikola Vučević would be big. Dragić adds to a loaded backcourt, but health could make opportunities scarce for them. The Chicago Bulls missed out on Rudy Gobert, but they re-signed Zach LaVine to keep this team together. When this team was healthy, they played great basketball, so maybe they didn’t need big changes. They do need to find a consistent defensive identity, but maybe a healthy Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso fixes that enough? The Bulls are super talented, but they need to prove that matters against top teams and in the postseason.

Do we like what they did? 🩹


Tier 4: Play-In Tournament Teams

14. Minnesota Timberwolves

Major additions: Rudy Gobert (trade), Kyle Anderson (free agent), Austin Rivers (free agent), Wendell Moore Jr. (draft), Bryn Forbes (free agent), Josh Minott (free agent)

Major subtractions: Patrick Beverley (Utah), Jarred Vanderbilt (Utah), Malik Beasley (Utah), Leandro Bolmaro (Utah), Josh Okogie (Phoenix)

Did this team get better? They absolutely did. The Minnesota Timberwolves took massive swings this offseason. They put Tim Connelly in charge of the team after the impressive job he did in Denver. Then he traded for Gobert by sending out important role players and a historic amount of first-round draft capital. And it broke the basketball internet for a bit. Gobert has had some massive problems in the playoffs, but the Wolves have had some massive problems just getting to the playoffs. Now with Gobert, Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell, they believe they should win 50 games every year and at least get to the second round before seeing how high they can climb. If they did that for three straight seasons, it would be the best stretch in Wolves history. But is that good enough to get them to the title? And can they avoid those picks to Utah biting Minnesota in the long run? Every pickup they made this summer (free agency and draft) were great additions.

Do we like what they did? 👨‍🎨

15. New Orleans Pelicans 

Major additions: Dyson Daniels (draft)

Major subtractions: Tony Snell (free agent)

Did this team get better? From a talent standpoint? Not really. The New Orleans Pelicans grabbed Daniels in the draft, and he’s a fun prospect. But he’s probably not cracking this deep rotation unless he’s absurdly good right away or there are big injuries. That’s OK. Where this team gets better is Zion Williamson being back and healthy (for now). Throwing him into the mix with what the Pelicans were over the final 60 games of the season is an incredible addition. This team is so deep and so talented. There’s a massive amount of firepower on this squad. Williamson’s extension also removes a lot of potential drama from the questions he gets all season. Now it’s just about hooping and seeing what they can transform into. But the West is packed with good teams, so they still have to fight for positioning.

Do we like what they did? 💥


16. Brooklyn Nets

Major additions: Royce O’Neale (trade), T.J. Warren (free agent)

Major subtractions: Goran Dragić (Chicago), Andre Drummond (Chicago), Bruce Brown Jr. (Denver)

Did this team get better? Let’s just say no for now. Bringing in O’Neale and Warren while losing Dragić, Drummond and Brown can be sliced and analyzed in a bunch of different ways. Warren needs to be healthy, but let’s be honest: None of these moves matter until the drama is settled for the Brooklyn Nets. Do we think Durant is going to be traded? I don’t know. Is Kyrie Irving out the door? I don’t know. Even if he’s remains this season, do we expect him to play even half the season? I don’t know. Is Ben Simmons going to return to form? I have no idea. The Nets are full of questions, and there aren’t many answers. For now, let’s just put them firmly in the middle of these rankings.

Do we like what they did? 🤥

17. Cleveland Cavaliers 

Major additions: Ricky Rubio (free agent), Robin Lopez (free agent), Ochai Agbaji (draft), Raul Neto (free agent)

Major subtractions: Rajon Rondo (free agent), Ed Davis (free agent)

Did this team get better? They did, and we should probably expect Collin Sexton’s deal to get done sooner rather than later. Hopefully he can give a healthy campaign to this Cleveland Cavaliers team that took a big step forward last season. The Cavs fizzled out with the injuries, but they zigged when others zagged by competing with huge lineups in the modern NBA. Bringing Rubio back (assuming he’s healthy from the ACL) is an upgrade. Lopez is good depth for a loaded frontcourt. This team didn’t lose much, and they bring back experience that matters. The improvement of newly wealthy man Darius Garland and star sophomore Evan Mobley probably dictates the most for next season. Can they avoid the Play-In and make the top six?

Do we like what they did? 💵


18. Los Angeles Lakers 

Major additions: Lonnie Walker IV (free agent), Thomas Bryant (free agent), Troy Brown Jr. (free agent), Damian Jones (free agent), Juan Toscano-Anderson (free agent), Darvin Ham (head coach)

Major subtractions: Malik Monk (Sacramento), Carmelo Anthony (free agent), Dwight Howard (free agent), Wayne Ellington (free agent), Avery Bradley (free agent), Kent Bazemore (free agent), Frank Vogel (head coach)

Did this team get better? I have no idea, honestly, because they shouldn’t have been that bad last season. I know that’s not a satisfactory answer, but what do you even do with this Los Angeles Lakers squad? Darvin Ham is the big move here. It proves whether or not Frank Vogel can be the scapegoat for last season. I don’t think Russell Westbrook is going anywhere, so the Lakers have to figure out how to do what’s needed to win games. They didn’t do that last season. The defense was terrible. It will all rest on LeBron James and Anthony Davis being healthy. Walker, Brown and Bryant are good pickups, but are they definitely better than the talent headed out the door in free agency? Hopefully, they’re more cohesive.

Do we like what they did? 🤷‍♂️

Tier 5: Looking to make the Play-In

19. Portland Trail Blazers

Major additions: Jerami Grant (trade), Gary Payton II (free agent), Shaedon Sharpe (draft)

Major subtractions: Joe Ingles (Milwaukee), Eric Bledsoe (free agent)

Did this team get better? The Portland Trail Blazers absolutely got better. It’s kind of hard not to after the brutal end to the season they had. The Blazers set the record for most 30-point losses in a season with 15 (the previous record was 10). Damian Lillard is back, and that will help. They brought back Anfernee Simons on a nine-figure deal. The pickups of Grant and Payton should help Chauncey Billups get this team to have a bigger impact defensively. Sharpe is a project, but a fun project. The Blazers are going to be back, but is it enough to guarantee them a spot in the postseason? Do they have to prove they can make the Play-In at least in a reloaded West?

Do we like what they did? 💪


20. New York Knicks 

Major additions: Jalen Brunson (free agent), Isaiah Hartenstein (free agent), Trevor Keels (draft)

Major subtractions: Alec Burks (Detroit), Nerlens Noel (Detroit), Kemba Walker (Detroit), Taj Gibson (Washington)

Did this team get better? Definitely. The New York Knicks lose some solid role players in Burks and Noel, but the pickups of Brunson and Hartenstein are significant. Brunson will have a ton of pressure on him to take this Knicks team to the next level after signing a deal over $100 million. And he does have to perform. But the Knicks’ success will likely depend on how much Julius Randle bounces back from an atrocious year. I love the Hartenstein pickup. He was a really nice defensive presence. This Knicks team needs to grow up as a collective, and Brunson being a steady presence should help that improve.

Do we like what they did? 💰

21. Washington Wizards 

Major additions: Will Barton (trade), Monté Morris (trade), Delon Wright (free agent), Johnny Davis (draft), Taj Gibson (free agent)

Major subtractions: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Denver), Ish Smith (Denver), Thomas Bryant (Lakers)

Did this team get better? I really like what the Washington Wizards did. Barton is not as good as Caldwell-Pope, but Morris is an upgrade over Smith. Bringing Wright to help balance out the versatility of the backcourt is big, and maybe Davis can contribute quickly. The keys to the Wizards are the health/availability of the quarter-billion-dollar man Bradley Beal, and his partnership with Kristaps Porziņģis. We don’t have anything but theory when it comes to how they’ll fit together, and both players need to prove health is on their side.

Do we like what they did? 🧙‍♂️


22. Charlotte Hornets 

Major additions: Mark Williams (draft), Bryce McGowens (draft), Steve Clifford (head coach)

Major subtractions: Montrezl Harrell (free agent), Miles Bridges (restricted free agent), James Borrego (head coach)

Did this team get better? It feels trite to try to offer analysis in light of the serious situation involving Hornets forward Miles Bridges, who was charged with felony domestic violence and child abuse in Los Angeles last month. As far as basketball-related moves go, star guard LaMelo Ball needs another leap forward, and the supporting cast needs to be in unison in complementing his stardom on the court. This team couldn’t play defense last season, so the return of Steve Clifford is hopefully going to fix that. The Hornets had a nice draft, but it’s tough to expect any of those guys to contribute. The Hornets might be stuck in neutral if Ball doesn’t bounce forward even more.

Do we like what they did? 🤷‍♂️

23. Utah Jazz 

Major additions: Jarred Vanderbilt (trade), Patrick Beverley (trade), Malik Beasley (trade), Leandro Bolmaro (trade), Walker Kessler (trade), Will Hardy (head coach)

Major subtractions: Rudy Gobert (Minnesota), Royce O’Neale (Brooklyn), Eric Paschall (free agent), Danuel House (Philadelphia), Juancho Hernangomez (Toronto), Quin Snyder (head coach)

Did this team get better? No, and they’re trending toward getting even worse. The Utah Jazz moved Gobert for an obscene amount of draft capital and a bunch of role players they might try to move even more. Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanović will be on their way out if the Jazz can find assets for them. Danny Ainge is tearing this thing down and hoping to rebuild something similar or maybe even better than what he put together in Boston with this current team. The swap of Quin Snyder for Will Hardy on the sidelines will be a downgrade for now, but Hardy is very well-respected around the NBA. Now we just wonder when/if Donovan Mitchell gets moved and where he gets moved. If/when they do, No. 23 is going to be way too high for this Jazz team.

Do we like what they did? 🧨 


24. Sacramento Kings 

Major additions: Keegan Murray (draft), Kevin Huerter (trade), Malik Monk (free agent), Mike Brown (head coach)

Major subtractions: Mo Harkless (Atlanta), Justin Holiday (Atlanta), Donte DiVincenzo (Golden State), Alvin Gentry (head coach)

Did this team get better? The Sacramento Kings did get better. Murray looks like a strong rookie, but rookies rarely make significant impacts on actually winning games. The Huerter pickup was very savvy of Monte McNair. However, trusting the Kings has rarely been a fruitful endeavor for anybody, so there needs to be hesitancy in trusting them to take a step forward. The Kings were not good after bringing Domantas Sabonis into the mix. The team can’t defend when he and De’Aaron Fox are on the court, which sounds like a sample size issue until you see their efforts defensively for their respective careers. Mike Brown has a lot to fix on that end of the floor, and the Kings don’t exactly have a lot of personnel to make you feel like they can do that. However, the offense should be pretty good.

Do we like what they did? 🦁

25. Detroit Pistons 

Major additions: Jaden Ivey (draft), Jalen Duren (draft), Kemba Walker (trade), Alec Burks (trade), Nerlens Noel (trade)

Major subtractions: Jerami Grant (Portland)

Did this team get better? First and foremost, the Detroit Pistons brought back the teal jerseys. That’s a massive victory for them, and if you disagree, I want you to know you’re bad and you should feel bad. The Pistons are going to be everybody’s favorite dark horse team for League Pass. Everybody is going to pretend to be in on them leading up to the season. The key for them is figuring out if they can keep those eyeballs into 2023. Troy Weaver, aka the Grim Weaver, had a great draft with Ivey and Duren. Burks and Noel are good role player pickups (is Kemba Walker gone yet?). But losing Grant matters, and this is still a very young core. Fans will probably think No. 25 is disrespectful, and maybe it ends being that way. But this is a team that needs to carry the winning of the final two months into a new season. That’s far easier said than done, but this is going to be a fun team all year. If they can be in the Play-In mix by mid-March, that’s a huge win.

Do we like what they did? 🐴


Tier 6: We already know you’re developing and tanking

26. Oklahoma City Thunder

Major additions: Chet Holmgren (draft), Ousmane Dieng (draft), Jalen Williams (draft), Jaylin Williams (draft)

Major subtractions: Isaiah Roby (San Antonio)

Did this team get better? The Oklahoma City Thunder are going to be better than they were last season, assuming they don’t shut down a bunch of people for the second half of it … again. Holmgren is the attention-getter of their offseason acquisitions, and no offense to Isaiah Roby, but they didn’t really lose anybody. They’ve outright tried to wage war on media members and broadcasters all over the world by drafting Jalen Williams AND Jaylin Williams. Jalen Williams from Santa Clara might be my favorite pickup they had in the draft. The Thunder are still in asset-gathering mode until Sam Presti feels he has the star power to develop, but this team should be pretty interesting. They need Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to stay healthy, and Luguentz Dort’s new deal will put pressure on him to perform offensively.

Do we like what they did? 🏋️‍♀️

27. Houston Rockets

Major additions: Jabari Smith Jr. (draft), Tari Eason (draft), TyTy Washington Jr. (draft), Boban Marjanović (trade), Marquese Chriss (trade)

Major subtractions: Christian Wood (Dallas), John Wall (Clippers), Trevelin Queen (Philadelphia), Dennis Schröder (free agent)

Did this team get better? In terms of talent on the team, the Houston Rockets are still probably in the same boat we saw last season. John Wall didn’t play, so his leaving doesn’t impact them in games. Wood is better than the rookie version of Smith, but Wood wasn’t exactly bringing the Rockets winning basketball. Once again, Rafael Stone had a phenomenal draft. The Rockets have so much potential, but it will take a long time to mold that potential into winning basketball. Great rebuild since the James Harden trade. Stephen Silas has a lot to utilize.

Do we like what they did? 🚀


28. Orlando Magic

Major additions: Paolo Banchero (draft), Caleb Houstan (draft)

Major subtractions: Robin Lopez (Cleveland)

Did this team get better? They did, but it will take some time to show it. Banchero has all the makings of a franchise guy. We saw some really encouraging moments with the young players on this team last season. But they still need to figure out how to win basketball games, and that takes a lot of time for a young group to figure out. I like them re-signing Gary Harris and Mo Bamba, but they need some more veteran presences on this squad for wins, especially if they end up moving Terrence Ross this season. A big season for Jalen Suggs will help galvanize this group.

Do we like what they did? 🔨

29. Indiana Pacers 

Major additions: Bennedict Mathurin (draft), Daniel Theis (trade), Aaron Nesmith (trade), Andrew Nembhard (draft)

Major subtractions: Malcolm Brogdon (Boston), Ricky Rubio (Cleveland), T.J. Warren (Brooklyn)

Did this team get better? No, and I believe the Indiana Pacers are going to look to get even worse. They’re embracing the rebuild, which we started to see when they moved Domantas Sabonis at the trade deadline. Brogdon got moved to Boston for not much in return. Myles Turner and Buddy Hield are expected to be on the move at some point. The Pacers realized mediocrity with the previous crew wasn’t good enough for their fans, so they’re giving themselves a makeover. Love the Mathurin selection, and he’ll be a fun player with Tyrese Haliburton to entice the fans.

Do we like what they did? 🏗


30. San Antonio Spurs

Major additions: Jeremy Sochan (draft), Malaki Branham (draft), Blake Wesley (draft), Gorgui Dieng (free agent)

Major subtractions: Dejounte Murray (Atlanta), Danilo Gallinari (Boston), Lonnie Walker IV (Lakers)

Did this team get better? Absolutely not, and that’s the design. Ever since Kawhi Leonard was traded, the San Antonio Spurs have been struggling to find that next franchise guy. After a fairly brief dance with DeMar DeRozan, the Spurs have now sent Murray to Atlanta and gone full youth movement to embrace the tank. They added three intriguing rookies to the mix. This rebuild project will likely target Victor Wembanyama — the Tim Burton character from France. Develop the young guys this year and hope you’re graced with lottery luck as we saw in 1997.

Do we like what they did? 🔮

(Top photo of Malcolm Brogdon and Grant Williams: Trevor Ruszkowski / USA Today)


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