The “Top 10” is relative in any context, whether or not Billboard’s Hot 100, any pageant of word, the Associated Press’ season-ending faculty soccer ballot — or this, the opinions of 1 fairly knowledgeable dope on who’s had a very good 2022 offseason.
So, don’t go loopy when you see your favourite group right here. It’s not a assure of on-court success subsequent season. But it does imply I believe there’s vital enchancment coming quickly. Could be from impression draft picks. Could be from shrewd trades. But your groups did good.
What to learn about these rankings
As this simply covers the offseason, right here’s what these rankings ARE NOT:
• A predicted order of end for subsequent season.
These usually are not “power rankings” as you’ve got come to grasp them. I’m not saying the Sacramento Kings, for instance, are actually higher than the Warriors, simply because I believed Sacramento had a extra impactful offseason. The Kings aren’t nearly as good because the Dubs, so they’d much more work to do to enhance their roster. (This graph is for the “Tim F.s” of the world or related — who, invariably, go away a model of the next within the feedback yearly, after studying the rankings and fully ignoring the context of the train: “Kings better than the Warriors, lol.”)
Accordingly, as I say yearly:
• If your group is ranked within the prime 10, it doesn’t imply I really like your group.
• If your group is ranked within the backside 10, it doesn’t imply I hate your group.
There’s only one query: Is the group higher now than on the finish of final season? The rating displays the assumption on whether or not, and the way a lot, that’s so. (I favored sure guys who have been within the draft greater than others, for instance, so in case your group took them, I most likely weighed it extra positively. Doesn’t imply I’m proper.)
• Rebuilding groups clearly have totally different priorities than groups making a championship run; groups that fastened apparent roster weaknesses get credit score, whereas groups that ignored or didn’t deal with clear deficiencies most likely get dinged slightly.
• A rebuilding group with quite a lot of cap house could make quite a lot of strikes, however do they make sense? And a contending group that continues to go deep into the luxurious/repeater tax — which most groups attempt to keep away from — ought to be counseled, and is so right here.
• Injuries, clearly, matter. The Milwaukee Bucks aren’t nearly as good with out Khris Middleton. Not Milwaukee’s or Middleton’s fault, however … shit occurs. Conversely, getting a key man again after he missed time final yr is a lift: See Denver, which ought to get Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. again on the courtroom subsequent season.
• Continuity issues right here as properly. The extra profitable groups often not solely determine a core group of gamers but in addition preserve them collectively. It may additionally make extra sense for different groups to maintain their powder dry for one more day.
So, right here we go.
Salary numbers, with a few exceptions, come from Spotrac, which stays on prime of these items in addition to anybody east of Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report/Basketball Insiders/NBA TV. Draft choose particulars from each Spotrac and Real GM.
10. Detroit Pistons
2021-22 file: 23-59; didn’t make playoffs
Added: F Kevin Knox (two years, $6M); G Rodney McGruder (one yr, $2.29M); C Nerlens Noel (acquired from New York); G Alec Burks (acquired from New York); G Jaden Ivey (first spherical, fifth choose); F/C Jalen Duren (draft rights acquired from Charlotte); G/F Gabriele Procida (draft rights acquired from Portland); G Buddy Boeheim (two-way); 2022 second-round choose, 2025 first-round choose, 2026 second-round choose swap (acquired from Portland); 2023, 2024 second-round picks (acquired from New York)
Lost: F Jerami Grant (traded to Portland); G Kemba Walker (purchased out after being acquired from New York); G Nikola Radičević (traded to New York); C Ismaël Kamagate (draft rights traded to Portland); C Luka Garza (group declined 2022-23 possibility); G Frank Jackson (group declined 2022-23 possibility); G Carsen Edwards (group declined 2022-23 possibility); 2025 first- and second-round picks (traded to New York)
Retained: F Marvin Bagley (three years, $37.5M); G Cory Joseph (participant possibility, $5.1M); G Hamidou Diallo (group possibility, $5.2M)
Returning from Injury: None
The Skinny: They didn’t do what many thought they have been planning — to supply a max provide sheet to Deandre Ayton. Instead, Detroit and New York swapped an entire lot of spare elements and future draft picks. At the tip of all of it, although, the Pistons obtained the participant with the most important upside in Duren, the G League Ignite alum credibly compared to Chris Webber pre-draft. The Pistons additionally, lastly, dealt Grant, whose possible extension within the subsequent 12 months didn’t gibe with Detroit’s timeline. There was a perception that Grant would convey again an enormous haul, however the modest bundle the Pistons obtained from Portland (highlighted by a 2025 first-rounder by way of Milwaukee) was extra life like.
Detroit’s largest improve, although, was getting Ivey, who fell to Detroit within the first spherical after Sacramento went with Iowa ahead Keegan Murray. Ivey tasks as an ideal complement alongside Cade Cunningham in what ought to be one of many league’s greatest younger backcourts. Indeed, Detroit might now have the very best assortment of under-25 expertise — Cunningham, Ivey, Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Stewart and Duren — within the league. One caveat: aside from bringing in Burks, who shot 40 % from deep final season, the Pistons didn’t actually deal with their woeful 3-point taking pictures (.326, twenty ninth within the league final season). And can Dwane Casey play Burks huge minutes whereas getting Ivey’s improvement curve going?
2021-22 file: 20-62; didn’t make playoffs
Added: C Boban Marjanović (acquired from Dallas); G Sterling Brown (acquired from Dallas); G Trey Burke (acquired from Dallas); F Marquese Chriss (acquired from Dallas): F Jabari Smith Jr. (first spherical, third choose); F Tari Eason (first spherical, seventeenth choose); G TyTy Washington (draft rights acquired from Minnesota); G Trevor Hudgens (two-way); F Bruno Fernando (Exhibit 10); 2025, 2027 second-round picks (acquired from Minnesota)
Retained: F Jae’Sean Tate (three years, $22.1M)
Returning from Injury: None
The Skinny: Smith was linked to Orlando for weeks with the No. 1 choose earlier than the Magic took Paolo Banchero. So expertise will not be a problem with Smith, the 6-10 elite-potential marksman from Auburn, who ought to step proper in as a starter alongside Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr. and Tate. He ought to instantly assist Houston, plainly terrible at each ends of the courtroom final season (twenty sixth in offensive ranking; twenty ninth in defensive ranking), and particularly from deep. The Rockets have been nice at taking 3-point makes an attempt final season (.448 on proportion of complete FG makes an attempt from 3, fourth-best within the league), not so nice at changing them (.349 in 3-point proportion, twenty first general). Eason and Washington each flashed throughout Las Vegas Summer League and can present rising depth alongside second-year imply Josh Christopher and Usman Garuba. Houston clearly soured shortly on Wood, a heralded signal and commerce pickup from Detroit simply two years in the past, taking a bunch of our bodies from the Mavs slightly than investing additional in him. That brings us to second-year huge man Alperen Şengün, who’s more likely to step into most of these Wood minutes subsequent season.
2021-22 file: 24-58; didn’t make playoffs
Added: C Chet Holmgren (first spherical, second choose); F Jalen Williams (first spherical, twelfth choose); F/C Ousmane Dieng (draft rights acquired from Knicks); C Jaylin Williams (second spherical, thirty fourth choose); 2023 first-round choose (from New York by way of Detroit); 2023 first-round choose (from New York by way of Washington); 2023 first-round choose (from New York by way of Denver); 2027 first-round choose (acquired from Denver); F Jerome Omoruyi (two-way)
Extended: F Kenrich Williams (4 years, $27.1M)
Returning from Injury: G Vit Krejčí (arthroscopic knee surgical procedure); G Ty Jerome (sports activities hernia surgical procedure)
The Skinny: Maybe, OKC is, now, extra into roster building and retention than asset flipping. Dort and Kenrich Williams have joined Shai Gilgeous-Alexander on long-term extensions; Josh Giddey and Holmgren will definitely be a part of them in a few years. And the Thunder nonetheless controls an always-replenishing stockpile of future firsts (not even counting choose swaps, OKC nonetheless has 4 first-round picks, together with its personal, in 2024; three firsts in ’25 and three firsts in ’26). If Holmgren turns into the Next Big Thing (pun unintended), the Thunder may have any variety of methods so as to add round him, SGA, Giddey, Dort and Aleksej Pokuševski. Dieng is a longer-term play with potential; each Jalen and Jaylin Williams may contribute sooner.
7. Portland Trail Blazers
2021-22 file: 27-55; didn’t make playoffs
Added: F Jerami Grant (acquired from Detroit); G Gary Payton II (three years, $26.1M); G Shaedon Sharpe (first spherical, seventh choose); C Ismaël Kamagate (draft rights acquired from Detroit); F Jabari Walker (second spherical, 57th choose); F Norvel Pelle (Exhibit 10); G Isaiah Miller (Exhibit 10); G Jared Rhoden (Exhibit 10)
Lost: F Joe Ingles (signed with Milwaukee); G Eric Bledsoe (waived); 2025 first-round choose (traded to Detroit); 2022 and 2026 second-round picks (traded to Detroit)
Extended: G Damian Lillard (two years, $121.7M)
Returning from Injury: Lillard (stomach); F Nassir Little (core muscle surgical procedure)
The Skinny: GM Joe Cronin, raised as much as the highest spot within the Rose City after former GM Neil Olshey was ousted final December, made good on his plan to encompass Lillard with extra size and defensive potential. Portland accomplished its long-rumored acquisition of Grant and didn’t quit all that a lot to get a 20-point scorer who performs a number of positions. Payton’s two-way chops have been on show for the NBA champs; getting him from Golden State whereas, once more, not giving up the shop was strong work. Sharpe is a giant “if,” although, having not performed in any respect for Kentucky throughout his one season in Lexington. There have been any variety of safer methods to go together with such a excessive choose that may have leaned in additional to protection and switchability; Cronin’s betting huge on Sharpe’s upside. But a very powerful factor is Portland’s strikes appear to have saved its famous person joyful and put any potential wanderlust on his half in test.
6. Sacramento Kings
2021-22 file: 30-52; didn’t make playoffs.
Added: G Kevin Huerter (acquired from Atlanta); G Malik Monk (two years, $19.4M); G Matthew Dellavedova (one yr, $2.6M); F KZ Okpala (two years); F Keegan Murray (first spherical, fourth choose); F Chima Moneke (two years, $2.7M); 2024, 2028 second-round picks (acquired from Dallas); employed coach Mike Brown
Lost: G Justin Holiday (traded to Atlanta); F Maurice Harkless (traded to Atlanta); G Donte DiVincenzo (signed with Golden State); C Damian Jones (signed with Lakers); G Jaden Hardy (draft rights traded to Dallas); fired coach Alvin Gentry; 2024 first-round choose (traded to Atlanta)
Retained: F Trey Lyles (group possibility, $2.6M); C Neemias Queta (two-way)
Returning from Injury: Murray (proper wrist surgical procedure)
The Skinny: In win-now mode, with a number of executives nearing the tip of their present contracts, the Kings did properly to deal with their sickly (.344, twenty fourth within the league) 3-point proportion. Monk (.391 in L.A. final season) and Huerter (.389 in Atlanta) are simply what the physician ordered, pumping desperately wanted spacing into Sacto’s half-court offense by means of which De’Aaron Fox can higher maneuver. (Bringing in each, and specifically Monk — Fox’s teammate at Kentucky — must also take away all cause for Fox to not grow to be extra personally concerned on the defensive finish.) The Kings then made the fitting name for them at No. 4 within the draft with Murray, a wildly productive wing at Iowa who ought to discover plentiful frontcourt minutes in Sac with Harrison Barnes. Add Domantas Sabonis within the center, and a fairly potent offensive group is coming into focus. It can be Brown’s job to place some tooth into the squad on the different finish; the Kings haven’t been within the prime half of the league in defensive ranking since 2005-06, they usually’ve solely cracked the highest 20 as soon as throughout that stretch! Geesh. After all of the crap basketball they’ve endured for greater than a decade, Kings followers deserve a playoff run subsequent season. An actual one.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves
2021-2022 file: 46-36; misplaced in first spherical
Added: C Rudy Gobert (acquired from Utah); F Kyle Anderson (two years, $18M); G Austin Rivers (one yr, $2.9M); G Bryn Forbes (one yr, $2.9M); F/G Wendell Moore, Jr. (draft rights acquired from Dallas); F Josh Minott (draft rights acquired from Charlotte); G Matteo Spagnolo (second spherical, 50th choose); G A.J. Lawson (two-way); F C.J. Elleby (Exhibit 10): 2023 second-round choose (acquired from Memphis); 2026 second-round choose (by way of choose swap with Indiana); employed Tim Connelly as president of basketball operations
Lost: G Patrick Beverley (traded to Utah); G Malik Beasley (traded to Utah); G Leandro Bolmaro (traded to Utah); F Jarred Vanderbilt (traded to Utah); C Walker Kessler (draft rights traded to Utah); G Trey McGowens (draft rights traded to Charlotte); F Jake LaRavia (draft rights traded to Memphis); G TyTy Washington (draft rights traded to Houston); F Kendall Brown (draft rights traded to Indiana); 2023, 2025, 2027, 2029 first-round picks (traded to Utah); 2026 choose swap with Utah; 2025, 2027 second-round picks (traded to Houston)
Retained: F Nathan Knight (two years, $3.8M); C Naz Reid (group possibility, $1.9M); G Jaylen Nowell (group possibility, $1.9M)
Returning from Injury: Towns (stem-cell injection in knees)
The Skinny: Did the Wolves quit an excessive amount of for the 30-year-old Gobert? Without query. Was it the fitting transfer for the Wolves to make, given their lack of ability to draw impression free brokers? Without query. Both issues will be, and are, true on the similar time. Gobert is a real needle-mover, who’ll drastically enhance Minnesota’s inside D and take strain off Karl-Anthony Towns, a infamous fouler, to have to protect elite opposing bigs. Incoming majority governors Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez have been decided to make a giant splash upon entry to the Twin Cities, they usually did. I low-key love bringing SloMo to city as properly; his expertise as a secondary ballhandler and playmaker ought to mesh completely with Anthony Edwards’ and D’Angelo Russell’s natures as scorers slightly than distributors. The large outlay of picks for Gobert, although, mortgages the franchise’s fast future. And everyone knows the troubles Utah had conserving Gobert on the ground in latest playoff sequence. It’s an issue, although, that Minnesota, which went 13 straight years (2006-18) with out a postseason berth, would like to take care of through the the rest of Gobert’s prime.
4. Denver Nuggets
2021-22 file: 48-34; misplaced in first spherical
Added: G/F Bruce Brown (two years, $13.2M); C DeAndre Jordan (one yr, $2.9M); F Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (acquired from Washington); G Ish Smith (acquired from Washington); G/F Christian Braun (first spherical, twenty first choose); F Peyton Watson (draft rights acquired from Oklahoma City); 2022, 2023 second-round picks (acquired from Oklahoma City); 2024 second-round choose (acquired from Portland); G Collin Gillespie (two-way); F Jack White (two-way); F Adonis Arms (two-way); G Kellan Grady (Exhibit 10); named Calvin Booth president of basketball operations
Lost: G Monté Morris (traded to Washington); G/F Will Barton (traded to Washington); F JaMychal Green (traded to Oklahoma City); G Austin Rivers (signed with Minnesota); G Bryn Forbes (signed with Minnesota); C Ismaël Kamagate (draft rights traded to Portland); 2027 first-round choose (traded to Oklahoma City); former president of basketball operations Tim Connelly left for Minnesota
Extended: C Nikola Jokić (5 years, $270M); Caldwell-Pope (two years, $30.1M)
Returning from Injury: G Jamal Murray (torn ACL); F Michael Porter Jr. (again surgical procedure)
The Skinny: The Nuggets have been spectacular in rejiggering their roster round their two-time league MVP. KCP (38 % on 3s his final 5 seasons) is as strong a 3-and-D man as there may be, properly value the price of Morris, whose beginning days on the level in Denver have been behind him with Murray’s imminent return, and Barton, who’d fallen out of favor. Brown brings beautiful off-ball manufacturing at a really cheap price. Braun may earn some rotation minutes early. But none of this issues, in fact, if Murray and Porter don’t return to type. It’s clear the Nuggets are solely going to spend a lot behind Jokić and Murray and Porter, so let’s all get used to continued roster churn round them within the years to return.
2021-22 file: 51-31; misplaced in NBA Finals
Lost: C Daniel Theis (traded to Indiana); F Aaron Nesmith (traded to Indiana); G Nik Stauskas (traded to Indiana); F Malik Fitts (traded to Indiana); F Juwan Morgan (traded to Indiana); 2023 first-round choose (traded to Indiana)
Returning from Injury: None
The Skinny: Getting higher minutes on the ball than the Celtics obtained within the finals from Marcus Smart was key, and buying Brogdon ought to shore that up. This isn’t a criticism of Smart, who’s as very important to Boston as Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown; it’s only a recognition of his limitations as a playmaker. He’s a scorer with the ball. Brogdon can rating however is rather more impactful as a group’s quarterback. The two of them may truly be terrific collectively in smaller-ball lineups with Brown on the three. (That is, uh, if Brown isn’t moved for Kevin Durant — which, by the best way, could be a no brainer transfer for Boston. How is that this even controversial?) And Brogdon will solely improve Boston’s best-in-the-league protection. Gallinari nonetheless confirmed some offensive pop with the Hawks, and Lord is aware of Boston may use extra constant scoring in reserve.
2. Atlanta Hawks
2021-22 file: 43-39; misplaced in first spherical
Added: G Dejounte Murray (acquired from San Antonio); F Maurice Harkless (acquired from Sacramento); G Justin Holiday (acquired from Sacramento); C Frank Kaminsky (one yr, $2.4M); G Aaron Holiday (one yr, $1.9M); F A.J. Griffin (first spherical, sixteenth choose); G Tyrese Martin (draft rights acquired from Golden State); 2024 first-round choose (acquired from Sacramento)
Lost: F Danilo Gallinari (traded to San Antonio); G Kevin Huerter (traded to Sacramento); C Jock Landale (traded to Phoenix after being acquired from San Antonio); G Delon Wright (signed with Washington); F Kevin Knox (signed with Detroit); F/C Gorgui Dieng (signed with San Antonio); G Sharife Cooper (waived); G Ryan Rollins (draft rights traded to Golden State); 2023 first-round choose (traded to San Antonio by way of Charlotte); 2025, 2027 first-round picks (traded to San Antonio); 2026 first-round choose (swap rights traded to San Antonio)
Returning from Injury: F Bogdan Bogdanović (knee)
The Skinny: We like huge swings round right here, particularly by groups which can be good — however not fairly adequate to really contend. So we love the Hawks leaning into Trae Young’s superstardom by getting him a younger Jrue-like second in Murray, who made his first All-Star group final season and provides Atlanta a wildly athletic and ridiculously younger (23 and 25, respectively) backcourt. Don’t know that Atlanta will ever be an elite protection, however Murray ought to preserve opponents from relentlessly searching Young on D. There are nonetheless questions going ahead, to make sure. What will occur with John Collins, clearly on the commerce block? Does his scenario get resolved by coaching camp? And, whereas Murray shot underneath league common on 3s (.327) in San Antonio, Huerter clocked in at 39 % final season and by no means shot lower than .363 in his 4 seasons with the Hawks. Can Bogdanović and De’Andre Hunter, who’ve each missed giant chunks of the final two seasons in Atlanta with accidents, keep wholesome longer?
2021-22 file: 51-31; misplaced in second spherical
Returning from Injury: C Joel Embiid (index finger/thumb surgical procedure); Harden (hamstring)
The Skinny: Whether or not there’s a handshake extension for Harden coming — or an unpleasant encounter with the NBA looming — the Sixers did sturdy work this offseason. Relationships matter and Harden going approach under market worth to offer president of basketball operations Daryl Morey extra maneuverability so as to add to the roster was a testomony to the alliance the 2 have solid through the years. With Harden accepting a monetary haircut, Morey added all method of perimeter toughness and D with Tucker and Melton.
Doc Rivers may have significantly better two-way choices in 2022-’23 than he had final season. Tucker hit a spectacular .415 on 3s final season, and, as we all the time word, is criminally underrated as a rebounder; House shot the very same proportion as Tucker throughout his 25-game stint in Utah, and Melton was greater than credible (.374) from deep for the Grizzlies, on the best quantity of his profession. So these swing-swing passes that wound up within the arms of Matisse Thybulle and Georges Niang in opposition to Miami within the playoffs ought to produce totally different outcomes subsequent yr. The Sixers’ title hopes nonetheless relaxation on Harden’s physique and Embiid’s well being, although. That doesn’t change. Nor does the truth that Philly actually will miss Seth Curry within the years to return. But scared cash doesn’t earn a living.
(Top photograph: Art by Wes McCabe / The Athletic; Chet Holmgren by Nathaniel S. Butler / Getty Images; Rudy Gobert by Alex Goodlett / Getty Images; James Harden: Garrett Ellwood / Getty Images)