The NBA season ended just over a month ago, but with the draft in the rearview mirror and almost all of the big name free agents off the market, we have a pretty good idea as to what the league will look like next season. The Golden State Warriors are the reigning champs and are the unquestioned favorites to repeat, but where do the other 29 teams stand? Here's our new NBA power rankings, post-free agency edition.
30. Brooklyn Nets (2016 record: 20-62)
Sorry, Nets fans, it's going to be a while before you're good again. They were the worst team last year and don't have their own first-round pick until 2019. It's tough, and despite moves to add D'Angelo Russell and other young players, Brooklyn has a long, long way to go.
29. Orlando Magic (29-53)
The Magic might be in for an even worse season in 2017 with no star and no clear direction. Jonathan Isaac and Aaron Gordon look like they can become players Orlando builds around in the frontcourt, but the rest of their roster is a major work in progress.
28. Phoenix Suns (24-58)
The Suns have plenty of talent, but they're still growing. Players like Devin Booker and Josh Jackson give the Suns a bright future, but Phoenix simply isn't ready to make any major moves up the standings. They're trending in the right direction, yet with the youngest team in the league, they need time to grow.
27. New York Knicks (31-51)
The Knicks have Kristaps Porzingis, but they could waste his ability if they don't surround him with better talent. The "superteam" was a bust and Phil Jackson is gone. While Carmelo Anthony doesn't fit their (likely) rebuild strategy and he's not the player he once was, the Knicks don't have another player of his caliber. Assuming Melo is a goner, the Knicks seemed primed to take a step back.
26. Atlanta Hawks (43-39)
Head coach Mike Budenholzer has taken after his mentor Gregg Popovich in regards to getting the most out of his team - the problem is, next year's team doesn't have much to give. Dwight Howard, Paul Millsap and Tim Hardaway Jr. are all gone as the Hawks start a rebuild of their own. Young players like rookie John Collins and Taurean Prince give them something to build on, but it's not much.
25. Indiana Pacers (42-40)
With no Paul George, the Pacers are going to be bad this year. Myles Turner needs to step up and become a go-to player since he's the best player on the team, and the roster around him is very much a work in progress.
24. Chicago Bulls (41-41)
The Bulls gave the Celtics a run in the playoffs, but after trading Jimmy Butler to the Timberwolves, they're in for a major rebuild. This season will be about identifying core players for the future because there aren't going to be many wins.
23. Sacramento Kings (32-50)
Sacramento had an incredible offseason with quality draft picks and veteran signings, but this group still has a ways to go before they'll start winning games. The Kings will be improved and the future will look bright, yet their starting lineup just simply isn't good enough to win games.
22. Philadelphia 76ers (28-54)
The 76ers have some talented young pieces in Markelle Fultz, Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Dario Saric. Trusting the process has put the 76ers on the right path, but the health of their core is a major concern. Everyone is expecting them to compete for a playoff berth, which they may very well do, but it's important to remember that they're a very young team. There will be growing pains.
21. Los Angeles Lakers (26-56)
Look for the Lakers to make a small jump this year. There's plenty of young talent for the Lakers, including Lonzo Ball, Julius Randle and Brandon Ingram. But the Lakers are likely a year away from making a real playoff push, unless they make a trade for a star like Paul George (which seems unlikely).
20. Dallas Mavericks (33-49)
The Mavericks have a strong roster with aging pieces like Dirk Nowitzki, high-priced players like Harrison Barnes and a promising young rookie in Dennis Smith Jr. However, they're stuck in no-man's land right now - not good enough to make the playoffs and not bad enough to finish near the top of the lottery. With a limited ceiling, the Mavs rank lower than their record from last year says they should (especially in the loaded Western Conference).
19. Detroit Pistons (37-45)
The Pistons current roster setup doesn't allow for many additions unless the club wants to blow it up. With trade rumors around Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson, that very well could be the case. If the Pistons trade away a key player, they'll likely drop down this list. But, right now, they're looking at a seven-seed at best.
18. Utah Jazz (51-31)
Without Gordon Hayward, the Jazz aren't a playoff team. That said, players like Rudy Gobert, Joe Ingles and Rodney Hood will keep them from being a disaster.
17. Miami Heat (41-41)
Miami went 30-11 over the last half of the season and essentially return the same roster (though the addition of Kelly Olynyk is a boost), showing the front office's confidence they can repeat that success. I think they're a playoff team, but will still be a bottom seed.
16. Portland Trail Blazers (41-41)
I wasn't a huge fan of the Zach Collins pick as he'll still need a few years before being able to contribute significantly, but this groups core will keep them in the playoff picture. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum are both great, but it's fair to question if the Blazers can win without much talent around them.
15. Charlotte Hornets (36-46)
The Hornets have a chance to be a sleeper team in the Eastern Conference. Hampered by injuries last year, they spent this offseason addressing their needs. Charlotte found a quality center in Dwight Howard (yes, he's not the player he once was, but is still in the top 10 at the position), and added a significant offensive boost to their bench in Malik Monk. If Kemba Walker continues to play like an All-Star and Nic Batum returns to form, this group could take advantage of the weak East.
14. Memphis Grizzlies (43-39)
Memphis always seems a bit underrated. They frequently compete against better teams, even when they're injured. But, it may be time for a teardown and rebuild. A core of Mike Conley and Marc Gasol just isn't good enough to make a deep playoff run.
13. Denver Nuggets (40-42)
The Nuggets just missed out on the playoffs last year, and with the addition of Paul Millsap, they expect to make it this year. This team has plenty of talent, much of it young, and their success will depend on the continued growth of those young players.
12. New Orleans Pelicans (34-48)
Most of the NBA is heading towards small ball, so the Pelicans are zagging with a pair of bigs in DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis. The Pelicans weren't great after their big trade for Boogie, but it was mid-year and they were already paying catchup. They should fulfill their potential with a whole offseason and training camp to work together, but they don't have enough around those two players for them to really be a contender.
11. Milwaukee Bucks (42-40)
The Bucks are a promising young team and they seemed poised to make the leap this year. There's plenty of young talent, headlined by Giannis Antetokounmpo. Hopefully Jabari Parker can stay healthy, too. The Bucks aren't ready to take down the Cavs, but they are trending upwards.
10. Los Angeles Clippers (51-31)
Losing Chris Paul hurts and will keep the Clippers out of the top of the West, but they won't have to worry about missing the playoffs. They brought Blake Griffin back, and acquired some very good players (in underrated moves, I might add) in Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Sam Dekker and, most importantly, Danilo Gallinari. Los Angeles isn't a contender, but they'll be fine.
9. Toronto Raptors (51-31)
The Raptors have settled into a bad pattern: great in the regular season, struggle in the playoffs. Re-signing Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka was great, but this team appears to have hit their ceiling.
8. Washington Wizards (49-33)
The Wizards starting lineup is as good as any team not named the Warriors or Cavs. But their bench is a major issue, as we saw against the Celtics. John Wall is one of the best point guards in the NBA and the Washington tried to give him some help by adding Tim Frazier and Jodie Meeks.
7. Minnesota Timberwolves (31-51)
Minnesota still has their promising young core of Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns and added some MAJOR upgrades in Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague and Taj Gibson. Suddenly, this team went from a fringe playoff team to a real contender. It may take them a while to adjust to playing together, and they need to improve defensively, but they have a very, very high ceiling.
6. Oklahoma City Thunder (47-35)
The Thunder are good, with Russell Westbrook coming off an absurd, MVP-caliber season. Adding Paul George gives him a needed running mate and makes them a contender again. However, they're outside the top five because they still need shooting and improved play from their role players.
5. San Antonio Spurs (61-21)
Had the Spurs not lost Kawhi Leonard in Game 1, they surely win that game against the Golden State Warriors and maybe more. However, they didn't make any additions and lost a key bench player in Jonathon Simmons. It's never smart to doubt Gregg Popovich, but the Spurs took a step back this summer.
4. Boston Celtics (53-29)
Boston became a legit title contender when they added Gordon Hayward and are still in a great spot for the future. They're still behind the Cavs in the East, but that gap is very small now.
3. Houston Rockets (55-27)
Adding Chris Paul put Houston into the conversation as the biggest threat to the Warriors. And, they were able to add him while keeping Clint Capela, Trevor Ariza, Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson. It will take time for Paul and James Harden to figure out how to play together, but by the end of the season, they'll be extremely dangerous.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers (51-31)
Hey, they were the only team to beat the Warriors in the playoffs this year (though the Spurs came very close). But the problem for the Cavs is they're clearly a step behind Golden State and their contracts prevented any real upgrades in free agency. Still, they run the East until proven otherwise.
1. Golden State Warriors (67-15)
Well, duh. No explanation required: the Warriors are the only team that can take the top spot.
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