We made it. We made it by the 2021-22 common season. What a bizarre, chaotic season it was.

Ben Simmons refused to take part for a lot of it, Kyrie Irving was banned from some residence video games and the Los Angeles Lakers reminded us that names on paper are merely names on paper. Meanwhile, groups similar to Chicago, Cleveland, Memphis, Dallas and Boston all emerged. Miami reminded us what its tradition is. Philadelphia reminded us that Daryl Morey is at all times going to make the massive swing. The Golden State Warriors confirmed us flashes of what used to terrorize the league. And the Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks reminded us that they didn’t get to final season’s NBA Finals by successful some radio call-in contest.

It units us up for a brilliant Play-In Tournament and a postseason filled with yelling about which groups are destined to win whereas setting ourselves as much as be stunned by a significant upset — no matter that may be. Since we’ve made it by 82 video games for the primary time in three seasons, we must always pat ourselves on the again. We additionally ought to hand out some grades. We’ve carried out it each quarter of the common season thus far. I’ll embrace these grades and rankings on the time to point out any potential progressions or regressions for every crew.

I’ll additionally provide you with one season takeaway for every crew and reply what’s subsequent for every franchise (that’s even higher for the ten groups eradicated from postseason prospects). Thank you for studying the Power Rankings all through this season. I can’t consider we achieved it, however we actually did provide you with an order of 30 groups each week that was by no means questioned as soon as within the feedback or on social media.

Just a reminder, the Power Rankings this season don’t simply rank the 30 groups. We’ve divided these groups into tiers, which any of the groups can transfer out and in of. Since we’re on the finish of the common season, we’re altering the tiers within the Power Rankings into six new classes:

  • Eliminated — Self-explanatory. Their seasons are over.
  • Just pleased to be enjoying in — They made the Play-In, however nothing is predicted of them.
  • Play-In Tournament groups with dangerous intentions — These groups need to be within the playoffs, and the Play-In isn’t ok.
  • Definite playoff groups — They made the highest six of their respective conferences.
  • On the brink of competition — A chunk away from believing they’ll win the title.
  • Contender — Self-explanatory.

As at all times, I’m positive we’ll all agree on the position of all 30 groups, particularly your favourite crew.

Here’s how the Power Rankings work:

  • It’s as much as my discretion how the rankings shake out every week. For some groups, they’ll be hit within the quick time period. Others shall be given the profit for the long run. Yes, it’s fully subjective.
  • I don’t consider within the transitive property with these groups. If Team X beats Team Y and Team Y beats Team Z, it doesn’t imply Team X is robotically higher than Team Z. 
  • If I’ve a crew forward of one other crew, there’s no purpose to ask why they’re ranked above the crew you want. The reply is fairly easy: I feel that crew is about up higher for achievement.
  • Yes, I watch the video games. And sure, I watch your favourite crew.
  • Only 15 groups shall be deemed worthy of a GIF or video every week. That’s to restrict how a lot we eat up your knowledge and pc’s processor.
  • This is meant to be enjoyable, so let’s have enjoyable with it. 

The Athletic’s NBA Power Rankings for the 2021-22 season, Week 26! Final grades of the common season as we glance forward for the Play-In Tournament, postseason and past.


Tier 1: The Contenders

1. Phoenix Suns (Previously 1st), 64-18, +7.5 web ranking

Weekly slate: Win over Lakers, loss at Clippers, win at Jazz, loss to Kings

First-quarter grade: A+ | Ranked 2nd
Second-quarter grade: A+ | Ranked 1st
Third-quarter grade: A+ | Ranked 2nd
Final regular-season grade: A+

Season takeaway: If anyone had any ideas in regards to the Suns probably being flukes or inferior to their finish end result final season, Phoenix put these ideas within the grime fairly early. For many of the marketing campaign, the Suns have been the perfect crew in basketball. They’ve seen the waves of groups attempting to match their sustained dominance, however they’ve remained probably the most constant. Devin Booker would possibly end high 5 within the MVP race, Chris Paul will most likely be part of Book on All-NBA, Monty Williams might be successful Coach of the Year and Mikal Bridges may find yourself because the Defensive Player of the Year. Not dangerous.

What’s subsequent for the Suns? Pretty easy. They go into the postseason wholesome and feeling like the perfect crew. They’ll spend the following few days getting ready for a matchup towards both Minnesota, the great Los Angeles crew, New Orleans or San Antonio. Whoever results in the No. 8 seed would be the subsequent meals for the Suns.

GIF ON THE BEAT: 


2. Memphis Grizzlies (Previously 2nd), 56-26, +5.3 web ranking

Weekly slate: Loss at Jazz, loss at Nuggets, win over Pelicans, loss to Celtics

First-quarter grade: C- | Ranked twenty third
Second-quarter grade: A+ | Ranked fifth
Third-quarter grade: A+ | Ranked sixth
Final regular-season grade: A+

Season takeaway: I don’t know the way this season may have fairly gone higher for Memphis. Maybe if Ja Morant ended up successful the MVP award it may have been higher. But the Grizzlies being as aggressive as they have been with out Morant was huge. Them being dominant with out Morant within the lineup was even greater, even when loads of these video games occurred towards fairly weak opponents. They nonetheless had loads of wins towards good groups throughout that stretch. Desmond Bane took an enormous step ahead. Jaren Jackson Jr. had an excellent yr defensively. And Taylor Jenkins did a fantastic job teaching them to the second-best file in basketball and tying their franchise file for wins in a season.

What’s subsequent for the Grizzlies? The Grizzlies bought Morant some work again on the court docket earlier than this subsequent week off, and he appeared spectacular in these minutes. Now they await the winner of the sport between Minnesota and the great crew in LA to see who their subsequent opponent is. Luckily for them, they’ll know Tuesday and might begin getting ready for the weekend then.


3. Miami Heat (Previously third), 53-29, +4.5 web ranking

Weekly slate: Win over Hornets, Win over Hawks, Loss at Magic

First-quarter grade: C- | Ranked twenty third
Second-quarter grade: A+ | Ranked fifth
Third-quarter grade: A+ | Ranked 1st
Final regular-season grade: A

Season takeaway: Despite all of the questions on whether or not they have stars to compete as a contender within the East or whether or not Jimmy Butler desires to struggle Udonis Haslem to get to struggle Erik Spoelstra, the Miami Heat nonetheless ended up strolling away with the highest file within the East. No different crew or coach dealt with lacking gamers in addition to they did. The Heat wanted Butler, Bam Adebayo and Kyle Lowry so as to add legitimacy to their season, however they developed their bench tremendously and put Tyler Herro in place to win the Sixth Man of the Year award. Fantastic bounce-back season for the Heat after tapering off final yr.

What’s subsequent for the Heat? Miami is just ready to see how the Play-In Tournament shakes out. The Heat secured the highest seed roughly per week in the past and are watching to see if Brooklyn, Cleveland, Atlanta or Charlotte finally ends up because the first-round opponent. The Heat have been so good this season, however even they must hope Kevin Durant isn’t on the quick horizon.

GIF ON THE BEAT:


4. Milwaukee Bucks (Previously 4th), 51-31, +3.2 web ranking

Weekly slate: Win at Bulls, Win over Celtics, Win at Pistons, Loss at Cavs

First-quarter grade: C+ | Ranked 4th
Second-quarter grade: A- | Ranked 4th
Third-quarter grade: A- | Ranked 4th
Final regular-season grade: A

Season takeaway: The defending champion Milwaukee Bucks endured some key gamers being out early and simply requested Giannis Antetokounmpo to hold them within the first month or so of the season. Then as they bought more healthy, finally getting Brook Lopez again into the combination, we began seeing this terrifying basketball machine get constructed towards the top of the season. They acquired Serge Ibaka on the deadline for insurance coverage. Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday have put collectively nice years. And the Bucks are content material to enter the postseason rested, wholesome and able to defend their title. The Bucks perceive the tempo of a season much better than they did two years in the past.

What’s subsequent for the Bucks? Milwaukee positioned itself to face a Central Division foe within the first spherical by grabbing the 3-seed and taking up 6-seed Chicago. The Bulls have struggled towards good groups all season lengthy, however the Bucks must deal with this prefer it’s the convention finals. Keep the protection tight and pressure the Bulls to play straight up on Giannis on the opposite finish of the ground by flattening jumpers.


Tier 2: Brink of Contention

5. Golden State Warriors (Previously ninth), 53-29, +5.5 web ranking

Weekly slate: Win over Lakers, Win at Spurs, Win at Pelicans

First-quarter grade: A+ | Ranked 1st
Second-quarter grade: A+ | Ranked 2nd
Third-quarter grade: B+ | Ranked seventh
Final regular-season grade: B

Season takeaway: I feel should you instructed the Golden State Warriors earlier than the season they’d win 53 video games, Klay Thompson can be wholesome heading into the playoffs and the crew can be a top-three seed within the West, they’d have taken that. But the context of it feels somewhat worse as they await their collection with Denver. The Warriors have performed just lately with out Stephen Curry as a result of he had a foot damage. The solely purpose I moved them as much as No. 5 right here is as a result of I’m banking on the concept he’s wholesome when the playoffs begin. Draymond Green’s again appears effective sufficient. The position gamers have been a little bit of a curler coaster, and so they’d like to have the pre-All-Star Andrew Wiggins again. But so long as Steph is ok in per week, the Warriors will really feel good.

What’s subsequent for the Warriors? They have per week to relaxation up as they put together for learn how to beat Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets. They don’t actually have the dimensions to do it exterior of Kevon Looney, and so they must be considerably frightened about Jokic’s passing hurting them. But after you draft Jokic of gamers out there on this collection, when does the following Nuggets participant go? Seventh? The Warriors must really feel some stage of confidence right here.

GIF ON THE BEAT: 


6. Dallas Mavericks (Previously fifth), 52-30, +3.5 web ranking

Weekly slate: Win at Pistons, Win over Blazers, Win over Spurs

First-quarter grade: B- | Ranked seventeenth
Second-quarter grade: B+ | Ranked eleventh
Third-quarter grade: A- | Ranked tenth
Final regular-season grade: A+

Season takeaway: I’m undecided how this season may have gone higher for the Mavericks. Maybe if Luka Doncic had led them to a top-three seed, which he practically did. Maybe if he gained MVP? But actually, the Mavs below Jason Kidd have been spectacular. He taught them learn how to play good protection. Eventually, their offense got here round in the course of the second half of the season when this crew surged. The Mavs bought out of getting Kristaps Porzingis on the crew, and the commerce has labored out for them with their additions on the court docket. Tim Hardaway Jr.’s foot damage sucks and hopefully, this Luka calf pressure within the last recreation of the season isn’t critical. If that seems to be the case, he Mavs are going into the playoffs with a ton of confidence.

What’s subsequent for the Mavs? We nonetheless have but to see this Mavs crew win a playoff collection, however they go into the primary spherical as the favourite to beat a Utah crew that’s unraveling by its personal volition. The Mavs appeared very assured in attempting to make the Jazz uncomfortable within the common season, so we’ll see if that technique interprets to the postseason.


7. Boston Celtics (Previously sixth), 51-31, +7.4 web ranking

Weekly slate: Win at Bulls, Loss at Bucks, Win at Grizzlies

First-quarter grade: C+ | Ranked sixteenth
Second-quarter grade: B- | Ranked fifteenth
Third-quarter grade: A- | Ranked eleventh
Final regular-season grade: A

Season takeaway: The Boston Celtics have been one other crew that had a totally completely different id within the second half of the season than it did within the first half. The Robert Williams III damage has taken a few of the hype away from this practice as a result of the Celtics have been wanting like a contender. They had the perfect protection within the NBA, and so they appeared to resolve their points on offense. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are enjoying like stars. Marcus Smart is enjoying like a Defensive Player of the Year. And Ime Udoka has had one of the most impressive rookie coaching performances in latest reminiscence. What a fantastic season total for Boston.

What’s subsequent for the Celtics? The Celtics didn’t relaxation their guys on the ultimate day of the season and wound up incomes the No. 2 seed. They now have to attend to see whether or not Brooklyn or Cleveland wins on Tuesday to find out their first-round opponent. The Celtics confirmed they weren’t terrified of a potential matchup with Brooklyn and Durant. If they’ll prolong their season into the second spherical, they’ll hopefully get Williams again on the court docket.

GIF ON THE BEAT: 


8. Denver Nuggets (Previously eighth), 48-34, +2.3 web ranking

Weekly slate: Loss to Spurs, Win over Grizzlies, Loss to Lakers

First-quarter grade: C+ | Ranked tenth
Second-quarter grade: B- | Ranked twelfth
Third-quarter grade: B | Ranked ninth
Final regular-season grade: B+

Season takeaway: Probably couldn’t have anticipated this Nuggets season to go any higher than it did as soon as we discovered Michael Porter Jr. wasn’t coming again. Down MPJ and Jamal Murray, they only requested Nikola Jokic to save lots of them each evening. The reigning MVP may need locked up his second straight MVP award by doing simply that. They rattling close to gained 50 video games with Jokic dragging Will Barton, Aaron Gordon and a few reserves to the highest six within the West. They averted the Play-In Tournament and went 31-15 of their final 46 video games. Michael Malone ought to get some credit score for the teaching job, however this was primarily the heavy lifting of Jokic.

What’s subsequent for the Nuggets? Denver now will get just a few days to organize for the way it’s going to cease the Warriors. Jokic carrying them down and placing everyone in foul hassle shall be key, however they’ve additionally bought to cease Steph Curry and firm from lighting them up. Denver was a mean defensive crew this season so this could possibly be a tall activity.


Tier 3: Definite Playoff Teams

9. Toronto Raptors (Previously eleventh), 48-34, +2.2 web ranking

Weekly slate: Win over Hawks, Win over Sixers, Win over Rockets, Loss at Knicks

First-quarter grade: C- | Ranked twenty first
Second-quarter grade: B | Ranked seventeenth
Third-quarter grade: B+ | Ranked fifteenth
Final regular-season grade: A

Season takeaway: If folks weren’t being attentive to how good this Toronto Raptors crew has been for the reason that begin of December, they’re about to learn the way harmful it may be within the playoffs. The Raptors began the season 10-13 and went 38-21 after November was over. Pascal Siakam has performed at an All-NBA stage, however he has greater names to get in the best way of that honor. Scottie Barnes has performed just like the Rookie of the Year, however Evan Mobley’s first impression may need ruined that. But the Raptors proceed to out-scheme and out-execute groups most nights. Now they head into the playoffs because the No. 5 seed and searching so as to add one other tough chapter to the Philadelphia playoff story.

What’s subsequent for the Raptors? They face the 76ers within the first spherical. Nick Nurse has historical past of scheming Joel Embiid into some tough conditions. They gained’t have to fret about Matisse Thybulle for games in Toronto. And the Raptors play the precise sort of basketball you’d need towards this Sixers crew. However, if Embiid simply decides to be Godzilla, there may not be something they’ll do.

GIF ON THE BEAT: 


10. Philadelphia 76ers (Previously seventh), 51-31, +2.8 web ranking

Weekly slate: Win at Pacers, Loss at Raptors, Win over Pacers, Win over Pistons

First-quarter grade: B | Ranked eleventh
Second-quarter grade: A- | Ranked ninth
Third-quarter grade: A- | Ranked third
Final regular-season grade: B

Season takeaway: This ought to really feel much more constructive than it at the moment does for the Philadelphia 76ers. Embiid performed at an MVP stage and performed much more video games than we noticed final season when he performed at an MVP stage. They made it by the Ben Simmons holdout drama to flip him for James Harden on the deadline. Then Tyrese Maxey really shined subsequent to Harden in a approach that eliminated reservations about how he’d play post-trade. But Harden goes into the playoffs enjoying fairly poorly, the Sixers have little or no depth and the Raptors pose a schematic challenge for them. The Sixers will preserve hoping Embiid can simply be an MVP and pull them by it.

What’s subsequent for the Sixers? They’re the No. 4 seed towards the Raptors, however it doesn’t really feel completely constructive. They gained’t have a full complement of gamers on the street with Thybulle missing the games in Canada. Harden seems to be like he has one hamstring once more over the past two weeks. But Embiid is so good that if he decides to be a superhero, they’ll prolong their season.


11. Utah Jazz (Previously fifteenth), 49-33, +6.2 web ranking

Weekly slate: Win over Grizzlies, Win over Thunder, Loss to Suns, Win at Blazers

First-quarter grade: B+ | Ranked sixth
Second-quarter grade: A- | Ranked eighth
Third-quarter grade: B | Ranked fifth
Final regular-season grade: C+

Season takeaway: How can a 49-win crew with a massively constructive web ranking really feel so disappointing? Over the Utah Jazz’s final 44 video games, they have been really below .500 with a mean protection. Things have been so dangerous down the stretch of the season that individuals have been counting the variety of passes Donovan Mitchell threw to Rudy Gobert, after which Quin Snyder tried to defend the pairing by saying they eat lunch collectively typically and perhaps trip to the power collectively but in addition most likely not. This Jazz season felt like the start of the top for this core, however a shock deep playoff run may completely quell all of these dangerous emotions.

What’s subsequent for the Jazz? Utah ended up within the No. 5 seed, and the Jazz will face the Dallas Mavericks within the first spherical. The model of play and assault from Dallas is precisely what you need when attempting to make the Jazz and Gobert uncomfortable. But if Luka Doncic’s calf pressure is critical, then the Jazz could have discovered their ray of daylight.

GIF ON THE BEAT:


12. Chicago Bulls (Previously twelfth), 46-36, -0.5 web ranking

Weekly slate: Loss to Bucks, Loss to Celtics, Loss to Hornets, Win at Wolves

First-quarter grade: A+ | Ranked eighth
Second-quarter grade: A+ | Ranked sixth
Third-quarter grade: A | Ranked eighth
Final regular-season grade: B

Season takeaway: Overall, this has been such a constructive season for the Bulls, however the vibe round all of it has been dampened as a result of the second half was nothing like the primary half. DeMar DeRozan confirmed Zach LaVine learn how to raise this crew collectively to victories, however as soon as their defensive difference-makers went down for an prolonged time, the Bulls simply couldn’t sustain. They have Alex Caruso again to assist disrupt issues on protection, however this crew was horrible towards the highest groups within the league. In the primary half of the season, it felt just like the Bulls have been right here to announce their presence with authority. Now? A primary-round look feels sort of just like the ceiling.

What’s subsequent for the Bulls? The Bucks just about waved the white flag on the No. 2 seed to seize the No. 3 seed, guaranteeing them a collection towards their division foe. The Bulls actually struggled towards Milwaukee. They misplaced all 4 video games by a mixed 59 factors, and 49 of these factors occurred within the final two video games of the season collection.


Tier 4: Play-In Tournament Teams With Bad Intentions

13. Brooklyn Nets (Previously eleventh), 44-38, +0.9 web ranking

Weekly slate: Win over Rockets, Win at Knicks, Win over Cavs, Win over Pacers

First-quarter grade: B+ | Ranked third
Second-quarter grade: B | Ranked seventh
Third-quarter grade: C+ | Ranked twelfth
Final regular-season grade: C+

Season takeaway: What a weird season for the Nets. Everybody desires to give attention to the chaos and the truth that they’re sitting within the Play-In Tournament. Sure, we will do this. Kyrie Irving didn’t even make it to 30 video games performed, however he finally noticed the vaccine mandate in NYC get altered and he’s again to full-time. Harden labored his approach out of city so he may go play in Philly. The Nets nonetheless haven’t seen Simmons on the court docket, and so they missed Durant for 27 video games. It was a fireplace alarm going off all season. And but… the Nets have been 36-19 with KD enjoying this season. That’s a 53-win tempo. Miami grabbed the No. 1 seed with 53 wins.

What’s subsequent for the Nets? They must beat Cleveland on Tuesday to place themselves in a first-round showdown because the No. 7 seed towards the Celtics. If they lose on Tuesday, they’ve a shot on the No. 8 seed to face Miami if they’ll beat Atlanta or Charlotte (whoever wins). If the Nets keep wholesome (with or with out Simmons), they need to be fairly formidable.

GIF ON THE BEAT:


14. Atlanta Hawks (Previously thirteenth), 43-39, +1.6 web ranking

Weekly slate: Loss at Raptors, Win over Wizards, Loss at Heat, Win at Rockets

First-quarter grade: B- | Ranked ninth
Second-quarter grade: D- | Ranked twenty first
Third-quarter grade: C | Ranked sixteenth
Final regular-season grade: B-

Season takeaway: What began out to be a catastrophe of a follow-up season for the Hawks after they made the convention finals final season turned out to be one other nice second-half redemption story. In mid-January, the Hawks have been 17-25. They completed the season by going 26-14 to get themselves into the Play-In Tournament. In the primary 42 video games of the season, the Hawks have been second in offensive ranking and twenty eighth in defensive ranking. Since the turnaround started, the Hawks have ranked third in offense and sixteenth in protection. Not a dramatic rags-to-riches change, however the protection has been ok because of this elite offense. Trae Young had an All-NBA season.

What’s subsequent for the Hawks? For the Hawks to get again into the playoffs, they should take down Charlotte at residence within the first leg of the Play-In Tournament then go on the street to beat both Brooklyn or Cleveland. We noticed Memphis do one thing related final season to earn the No. 8 seed. Just primarily based on offensive firepower alone, the Hawks ought to have a fantastic probability at making this occur.


15. Minnesota Timberwolves (Previously 14th), 46-36, +2.7 web ranking

Weekly slate: Loss to Wizards, Win over Spurs, Loss to Bulls

First-quarter grade: B- | Ranked 18th
Second-quarter grade: B | Ranked nineteenth
Third-quarter grade: B- | Ranked seventeenth
Final regular-season grade: A

Season takeaway: The Minnesota Timberwolves had arguably their finest season ever not involving Kevin Garnett. It’s between this season and Jimmy Butler’s playoff push season earlier than he compelled his approach out of the group. Chris Finch did a fantastic job getting this crew to defend whereas not sacrificing its offensive talents. They established the protection early, and the offense finally caught up. Karl-Anthony Towns would possibly earn All-NBA honors due to his season, and now the Wolves have an opportunity to essentially set up the beginning of one thing significant. That’s by no means occurred with out KG, and contemplating Towns, D’Angelo Russell and Anthony Edwards are all nonetheless younger, this feels oddly encouraging.

What’s subsequent for the Wolves? Beat the Clippers on Tuesday and so they’re headed to Memphis to tackle the Grizzlies within the first spherical. The Wolves have been 2-2 towards them this season. If that doesn’t occur, then they must beat New Orleans or San Antonio at residence to seize the 8-seed to tackle Phoenix. Luckily for the Wolves, any Play-In video games undergo the Target Center.

GIF ON THE BEAT:


16. LA Clippers (Previously sixteenth), 42-40, 0.0 web ranking

Weekly slate: Win over Suns, Win over Kings, Win over Thunder

First-quarter grade: A- | Ranked thirteenth
Second-quarter grade: B | Ranked thirteenth
Third-quarter grade: B | Ranked 14th
Final regular-season grade: A-

Season takeaway: Considering the accidents this crew sustained, the LA Clippers did an excellent job below Tyronn Lue. Paul George missed 51 video games, and the Clippers went 24-27 within the video games they performed with out George and Kawhi Leonard. They did that with Reggie Jackson main the best way. Massive roles have been stuffed by Ivica Zubac and Isaiah Hartenstein. Terance Mann had a pleasant season, and Marcus Morris Sr. was good, however he additionally missed 28 video games. Luke Kennard had a fantastic yr off the bench. The Clippers performed as an precise crew and prolong their season due to that.

What’s subsequent for the Clippers? If they beat Minnesota on Tuesday, they get the No. 7 seed and can tackle a fantastic however comparatively inexperienced Grizzlies crew. If they lose to Minnesota, they’ll must beat New Orleans or San Antonio on Friday to safe the No. 8 seed and attempt to get some Western Conference finals revenge on the Suns.


17. Cleveland Cavaliers (Previously seventeenth), 44-38, +2.1 web ranking

Weekly slate: Loss at Magic, Loss at Nets, Win over Bucks

First-quarter grade: A- | Ranked twenty second
Second-quarter grade: A | Ranked tenth
Third-quarter grade: A- | Ranked thirteenth
Final regular-season grade: B+

Season takeaway: Overall, this has been a really spectacular season for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Nobody actually thought they’d be able to keep away from the Play-In Tournament by making the highest six. They practically pulled it off, had it not been for the accidents to a number of starters and key gamers. J.B. Bickerstaff stored this crew extremely aggressive, and so they had two All-Star performances from Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen. Most importantly, Evan Mobley proved himself to be a game-changer and a future DPOY winner. But they slid towards the top of the season, and now their marketing campaign is in peril of not making the playoffs.

What’s subsequent for the Cavs? If they’ll go on the street and beat Brooklyn, they’ll earn themselves a playoff look towards the No. 2 seed Celtics. If they lose to Brooklyn, they’ll have one other probability towards Atlanta or Charlotte. The Cavs actually need a wholesome Allen right here. If they don’t make the playoffs, it gained’t damage their season, however it will likely be somewhat deflating after the primary two-thirds of the season was so good.

GIF ON THE BEAT:


18. New Orleans Pelicans (Previously twentieth), 36-46, -0.8 web ranking

Weekly slate: Win at Kings, Win over o Blazers, Loss at Grizzlies, Loss to Warriors

First-quarter grade: F+ | Ranked twenty sixth
Second-quarter grade: D | Ranked twenty fourth
Third-quarter grade: C+ | Ranked nineteenth
Final regular-season grade: B

Season takeaway: I’m tremendous impressed with the turnaround by the New Orleans Pelicans. After beginning 3-16 below a brand new coach like Willie Green, it might be simple to pack issues in, particularly when your franchise participant Zion Williamson by no means comes that near getting again on the court docket. The Pelicans didn’t simply fold it up 1 / 4 of the best way into the season. They have been 33-30 the remainder of the best way and surged down the stretch after buying CJ McCollum on the commerce deadline. Green did a fantastic job of placing collectively lineups to maintain this factor shifting in the suitable path. Brandon Ingram was actually good. Jonas Valanciunas was a incredible pickup. And Herbert Jones has a case for an All-Defense crew as a second-round rookie.

What’s subsequent for the Pelicans? First and foremost, they’ve bought to maintain enterprise at residence Wednesday towards San Antonio. They have been simply 1-3 towards them this season, however a kind of losses occurred earlier than McCollum joined the crew. Then they must beat both the Wolves or the Clippers. They’re 3-1 towards the Clippers this season and 2-2 towards Minnesota. The Pelicans have a fantastic shot at successful the 8-seed.


Tier 5: Just pleased to be Playing In

19. Charlotte Hornets (Previously nineteenth), 43-39, +0.5 web ranking

Weekly slate: Loss at Heat, Win over Magic, Win at Bulls, Win over Wizards

First-quarter grade: B+ | Ranked thirteenth
Second-quarter grade: B+ | Ranked 14th
Third-quarter grade: C+ | Ranked 18th
Final regular-season grade: B-

Season takeaway: This was and mandatory step ahead for the Charlotte Hornets this season. Last yr, they have been six video games below .500, and so they sort of bought into the Play-In Tournament by default as a result of the East was dangerous. While the East didn’t precisely problem them for the 10-slot, the Hornets improved fairly a bit. LaMelo Ball was a star in his second season, and Miles Bridges had a monster marketing campaign. They survived and performed fairly nicely with out Gordon Hayward when he was harm, which is sweet as a result of he’s out yet again. The Hornets confirmed a lethal offense, however their protection remains to be fairly tough.

What’s subsequent for the Hornets? Backs are towards the wall within the Play-In for the second straight yr. Last yr, they bought smacked round when Indiana ran them out of the constructing. Now they’ve bought to face an Atlanta crew that could be a lot higher and has much more expertise than that Pacers crew from a yr in the past. Let’s see how significantly better the Hornets compete this time.

GIF ON THE BEAT: 


20. San Antonio Spurs (Previously twentieth), 34-48, +0.2 web ranking

Weekly slate: Win at Nuggets, Loss at Wolves, Loss to Warriors, Loss at Mavs

First-quarter grade: C- | Ranked twenty fifth
Second-quarter grade: D | Ranked twenty fifth
Third-quarter grade: C | Ranked twentieth
Final regular-season grade: C+

Season takeaway: Good sufficient marketing campaign for the San Antonio Spurs. They sort of get into the Play-In Tournament by default as a result of the West had such a down yr. Last yr, they wouldn’t have even approached the Play-In Tournament with this win share (.414), however they bought in as a result of groups just like the Lakers and Blazers faltered. There have been loads of positives. Dejounte Murray was an All-Star and is worthy of All-NBA third crew even when he doesn’t make the lower. They had a constructive web ranking regardless of being 14 video games below .500 as a result of they didn’t actually get blown out an entire lot. They simply couldn’t beat non-losing groups persistently.

What’s subsequent for the Spurs? They must beat New Orleans to increase their season. If they lose, they’re carried out. If they win, they face the loser of the Wolves and Clippers. They have been on this place a yr in the past and bought beat by the Grizzlies.


Tier 6: Eliminated

21. New York Knicks (Previously twenty fourth), 37-45, -0.4 web ranking

Weekly slate: Loss to Nets, Win at Wizards, Win over Raptors

First-quarter grade: C+ | Ranked twelfth
Second-quarter grade: B- | Ranked seventeenth
Third-quarter grade: D+ | Ranked twenty fifth
Final regular-season grade: D-

Season takeaway: What a irritating season for the New York Knicks following a yr wherein it felt like a basis had been laid. The Knicks binged and so they bonged and that lasted like half per week. Tom Thibodeau couldn’t get by to his crew the best way he beforehand did. Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier ended up being dangerous additions. Derrick Rose was harm for many of the season. Julius Randle appeared like a shell of his former self, though he simply bought paid prefer it’s a brand new him. Mitchell Robinson didn’t actually present any development. The solely actual excellent news was the bench was nonetheless stable, and RJ Barrett had a fantastic finish to the season.

What’s subsequent for the Knicks? They must in the beginning clean over the turmoil between all of those competing entities for energy in how issues are carried out. Thibodeau and the ability within the entrance workplace must get on the identical web page. They must discover a technique to both transfer Randle for one thing good or get him again to the man he was final season. And then retool to discover a level guard who will work with what they want. My concern is they offer Robinson an enormous contract and actually strap themselves to a mediocre core.

GIF ON THE BEAT:


22. Washington Wizards (Previously twenty third), 35-47, -3.4 web ranking

Weekly slate: Win at Wolves, Loss at Hawks, Loss to Knicks, Loss at Hornets

First-quarter grade: A- | Ranked seventh
Second-quarter grade: C+ | Ranked 18th
Third-quarter grade: C- | Ranked twenty first
Final regular-season grade: C-

Season takeaway: This was not precisely how the Washington Wizards wished their season to go after discovering their approach into the postseason a yr in the past. They traded Russell Westbrook within the offseason for extra depth and assist to present to Bradley Beal. And one thing was simply off all season. He couldn’t fairly get going the best way we might count on and finally bought injured. Wes Unseld Jr. had a fantastic first couple of months teaching this crew, after which issues proved to be irritating and tough. But they noticed some nice performances by key position gamers, and so they acquired Kristaps Porzingis on a flier for subsequent season.

What’s subsequent for the Wizards? The Wizards want to ensure they preserve Beal, and so they do this by giving him a max supply — assuming he doesn’t decide in for subsequent season. He’s in line to make much more cash if he turns into a free agent and re-signs with the Wizards. After that? Find some extra sound position gamers to place round him and Porzingis, then hopefully discover some sort of magic to maintain everyone wholesome subsequent season.


23. Los Angeles Lakers (Previously twenty first), 33-49, -3.0 web ranking SUN

Weekly slate: Loss at Suns, Loss at Warriors, Win over Thunder, Win at Nuggets

First-quarter grade: D- | Ranked nineteenth
Second-quarter grade: F+ | Ranked twentieth
Third-quarter grade: F | Ranked twenty second
Final regular-season grade: F-

Season takeaway: This went about as poorly because the Los Angeles Lakers may have imagined. They didn’t even actually come near securing a Play-In Tournament spot when all it took to get there was a 34-48 file. The proven fact that the drama was faraway from the race within the last week of the season exhibits simply how dangerous the Lakers’ marketing campaign went. LeBron James scored a bunch of factors, and it didn’t matter. Anthony Davis didn’t make it to half the season in video games performed. And Westbrook’s presence precipitated issues, but in addition he was scapegoated quite a bit too. What a multitude.

What’s subsequent for the Lakers? Frank Vogel looks like he’s on the way out, so who’s the coach to repair it? Can they transfer Westbrook? Does James nonetheless need to be there? Do the Lakers have a plan or perhaps a path after this season went so horribly? Is a entrance workplace excavation taking place? The Lakers want to determine rapidly learn how to retool this to look much more like a roster that may assist one another.

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24. Detroit Pistons (Previously twenty fifth), 23-59, -7.7 web ranking

Weekly slate Loss to Mavs, Loss to Bucks, Loss at Sixers

First-quarter grade: D | Ranked twenty ninth
Second-quarter grade: D+ | Ranked twenty seventh
Third-quarter grade: C- | Ranked twenty seventh
Final regular-season grade: C+

Season takeaway: The last stanza of this season for the Detroit Pistons was really actually constructive. The Pistons have been fairly dangerous for chunk of the marketing campaign, and that was to be anticipated. They didn’t put that roster collectively to win now. They made it to develop it. As the season went on, this crew bought much more aggressive. Young guys like Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart all had actually good seasons. Cunningham is a franchise building-block past argument, and the Pistons must really feel nice in regards to the aggressive approach they completed the season. Dwane Casey did job trusting them to finally make the suitable performs.

What’s subsequent for the Pistons? They’ll have another high pick developing within the 2022 NBA Draft, and the aim is to place one other franchise man subsequent to Cunningham. If you may arrange a construction wherein Bey is not any higher than the third man on the roster, they’ve to be ok with the steadiness and hierarchy of the highest expertise on this roster shifting ahead.


25. Sacramento Kings (Previously twenty second), 30-52, -5.2 web ranking

Weekly slate: Loss to Pelicans, Loss at Clippers, Win at Suns

First-quarter grade: C- | Ranked twenty fourth
Second-quarter grade: D | Ranked twenty sixth
Third-quarter grade: D- | Ranked twenty sixth
Final regular-season grade: D-

Season takeaway: Another season for the Sacramento Kings, and one other season with out the playoffs. This pushes them to 16 straight seasons without making the postseason, and so they haven’t even been in a position to actually sniff the Play-In Tournament the three years it’s existed. It’s the longest playoff drought in NBA historical past and the second-longest lively playoff drought within the main sports activities (Seattle Mariners, 20 years). The Kings shook issues up a bit by buying and selling Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield in a bundle highlighting Domantas Sabonis coming again. It meant nothing this yr, however the Kings hope it’ll be significant shifting ahead.

What’s subsequent for the Kings? The Kings want to rent a head coach or convey Alvin Gentry to a firmer place than interim head coach. After that, attempt to herald some expertise that may assist Sabonis get this crew to the playoffs, because the Kings as soon as once more punt on continuity and preserve reshuffling deck chairs on this sunken ship.

GIF ON THE BEAT: 


26. Orlando Magic (Previously twenty eighth), 22-60, -8.1 web ranking

Weekly slate: Win over Cavs, Loss at Hornets, Win over Heat

First-quarter grade: D- | Ranked thirtieth
Second-quarter grade: C- | Ranked thirtieth
Third-quarter grade: D | Ranked twenty ninth
Final regular-season grade: D+

Season takeaway: This was about what the Orlando Magic wished to see from their season. They dedicated to the rebuild final season on the commerce deadline and confirmed us a few of what the longer term holds for them. The beginning lineup of Jalen Suggs, Cole Anthony, Franz Wagner, Wendell Carter Jr. and Mo Bamba had loads of actually good stretches, regardless of this crew getting blown out in loads of video games (6-39 in double-digit margins of victory). Maybe the one change you’d hope for is them being extra aggressive in a few of these losses. Now they head into the lottery with what’s prone to be a top-four decide to maintain including to all of it.

What’s subsequent for the Magic? Keep the rebuilding course of going. The beginning core exhibits an amazing quantity of progress and a pleasant basis. However, the Magic are going to wish to search out that most important man except we consider a Darius Garland-esque explosion goes to occur for Suggs in Year 2. The Magic have loads of belongings to go get somebody in the event that they need to attempt, however they give the impression of being dedicated to the affected person strategy.


27. Houston Rockets (Previously twenty seventh), 20-62, -8.3 web ranking

Weekly slate: Loss at Nets, Loss at Raptors, Loss to Hawks

First-quarter grade: D- | Ranked twenty seventh
Second-quarter grade: D | Ranked twenty ninth
Third-quarter grade: D- | Ranked thirtieth
Final regular-season grade: D

Season takeaway: My largest disappointment with the Houston Rockets this season was simply the truth that they have been dominated a lot. The Rockets completed with probably the most double-digit losses within the NBA. Losing video games was at all times the aim, however you hope there’s somewhat extra competitors. It’s a giant purpose John Wall didn’t get entangled with this season. The Rockets wished to make sure they get a excessive decide on this upcoming draft. But the aim was at all times to have Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr., Alperen Sengun, Josh Christopher and the opposite younger guys take their lumps. That occurred. It took Green some time to get going, however as soon as he did, the sunshine on the finish of the tunnel bought somewhat brighter.

What’s subsequent for the Rockets? It shall be attention-grabbing to see how a lot the Rockets preserve with the “extreme” rebuild technique (no matter excessive means in a post-Sam Hinkie world). Green goes to be a star. They’ve bought another probably high-level position gamers to develop on this roster. We know they’ll have one other excessive decide on this draft. But will they transfer Eric Gordon and Christian Wood sooner or later or preserve these veterans round to assist the younger guys?

GIF ON THE BEAT: 


28. Indiana Pacers (Previously twenty ninth), 25-57, -3.6 web ranking

Weekly slate: Loss to Sixers, Loss at Sixers, Loss at Nets

First-quarter grade: C | Ranked twentieth
Second-quarter grade: D | Ranked twenty third
Third-quarter grade: C- | Ranked twenty fourth
Final regular-season grade: F+

Season takeaway: We lastly bought affirmation that the difficulty with the Indiana Pacers over the past couple of years wasn’t a coach named Nate. The core of the Pacers with Domantas Sabonis, Myles Turner and Malcolm Brogdon didn’t fairly lower it, and this yr the underside fell out. The Pacers determined to maneuver Sabonis previous to the deadline in a deal that netted them up-and-coming guard Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield. The Pacers went 3-14 in video games determined by one possession. There was some dangerous luck that hit them, however finally they wanted to comprehend the established order with the roster wasn’t ok. Looks like they lastly did.

What’s subsequent for the Pacers? Continue the reshaping of this roster. My guess is Brogdon, Haliburton and Turner aren’t their most popular basis shifting ahead. They’re going to need a most important man. Maybe they get him by the draft, as they’re at the moment on monitor for a top-five decide barring some lottery misfortune. Maybe they get him by a commerce, as they do have some respectable belongings and items to throw towards a crew. But the Pacers want extra of a spotlight than Haliburton and firm.


29. Oklahoma City Thunder (Previously twenty sixth), 24-58, -8.0 web ranking

Weekly slate: Win over Blazers, Loss at Jazz, Loss at Lakers, Loss at Clippers

First-quarter grade: B- | Ranked twenty eighth
Second-quarter grade: B+ | Ranked twenty eighth
Third-quarter grade: B- | Ranked twenty eighth
Final regular-season grade: C

Season takeaway: Another season for the Oklahoma City Thunder and one other excessive draft decide acquired. The Thunder have been abysmal all through many of the chunks of this season, and whereas the 24 wins they completed with would possibly shock you, their failure to compete with above-.500 groups wasn’t a shock to anyone. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as soon as once more didn’t end the season, and neither did Lu Dort. But we noticed a enjoyable, albeit considerably transient rookie marketing campaign from Josh Giddey. The Thunder are as soon as once more in place to accumulate wage with draft picks connected to maintain hoarding picks. Is subsequent yr after they begin placing collectively a roster to compete previous January?

What’s subsequent for the Thunder? They go into the offseason awaiting lottery luck. They at the moment have two first-round picks (their very own and Phoenix’s thirtieth decide). They solely have one second-round decide, however I’m positive they’ll purchase loads extra. But that’s three picks within the high 34. Let’s see how lively Sam Presti is in shifting a few of these picks for an precise participant.

VIDEO ON THE BEAT: All hail, Zavier Simpson, the brand new hook shot god of the NBA!


30. Portland Trail Blazers (Previously thirtieth), 27-55, -9.1 web ranking

Weekly slate: Loss at Thunder, Loss at Pelicans, Loss at Mavs, Loss to Jazz

First-quarter grade: C+ | Ranked 14th
Second-quarter grade: D- | Ranked twenty second
Third-quarter grade: D+ | Ranked twenty third
Final regular-season grade: D-

Season takeaway: Damian Lillard bought harm, CJ McCollum bought harm earlier than he was finally traded and the Portland Trail Blazers determined to explode the roster round Dame with the intention to give themselves some flexibility to retool instantly this summer time. This sort of stuff was most likely a yr or two too late from taking place, however they lastly push the button to detonate. Giving themselves the roster and monetary flexibility to alter correctly and in addition letting Anfernee Simons discover extra of his improvement on the court docket are the positives for a crew that lastly let go.

What’s subsequent for the Blazers? Three issues are developing for the Blazers this summer time: 1) They want to determine who’s going to run this entrance workplace long-term. Joe Cronin would possibly find yourself being the man after they let him deal with the commerce deadline, however they should lock in a entrance workplace improve from the Neil Olshey period. 2) Add a blue-chip expertise within the NBA Draft. They’ve bought a very good probability at touchdown a top-four to top-six decide except some dangerous luck comes their approach. The Blazers must nail that decide. 3) Use the pliability they made for themselves so as to add two important veterans round Lillard. Time to construct out this roster higher than they’d it earlier than round their franchise man.


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(Photo by Sarah Stier / Getty Images; illustration by Wes McCabe / The Athletic)



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