NBA Power Rankings: No. 1 Nets get richer, Lakers cling to top-five spot, Blazers sink after free agency moves – CBS Sports - Techy Hunters

Breaking

Monday, August 9, 2021

NBA Power Rankings: No. 1 Nets get richer, Lakers cling to top-five spot, Blazers sink after free agency moves – CBS Sports

lebron-melo.jpg
Getty Images

Most of the big names are off the board after an eventful first week of NBA free agency, which means that many teams, particularly the contenders, have pretty much their entire roster set two months before the start of training camp. While no team was vaulted to “title favorite” status based on their offseason dealings, some have certainly helped or hurt themselves heading into the 2021-22 season.

Now that we have a clearer picture of what teams will look like, we’ve updated the NBA Power Rankings we published immediately after the NBA Finals, with some significant changes. The Los Angeles Lakers dropped one spot to fifth after their offseason moves, largely due to questions about defense. Meanwhile, the Miami Heat moved up from 11th to seventh after the additions of Kyle Lowry and PJ Tucker, arguably the most impactful moves of the free agency period so far.

On the other side we have the Portland Trail Blazers, who have done little to improve the roster despite highly publicized pleas for help from Damian Lillard. The uncertainty of Lillard’s commitment to Portland is part of the reason the Blazers plummeted to 20th in this edition of the rankings. Similarly, the Philadelphia 76ers fell a couple of spots due to the unpredictable situation surrounding Ben Simmons, since we don’t know what pieces they’ll eventually get in return if they do end up trading the All-Star.

Keep in mind that these are the projected rankings for the start of the 2021-22 season, not where we think each team will end up in the end. Happy offseason.

Biggest Movers
6 Trail Blazers
 
1

Nets

The rich get richer, indeed. The biggest name Brooklyn brought in this offseason is veteran guard Patty Mills, who should fit in perfectly off the bench and as a spot-starter when inevitable injury issues arise. They also added solid, versatile veterans and a couple of promising rookies to fill out their bench while re-signing the resurgent Blake Griffin. With Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving having a year of experience under their belt, the Nets are the unquestioned favorite heading into next season. 48-24
2

Bucks

The loss of PJ Tucker undoubtedly hurts, but the additions of George Hill, Rodney Hood and Grayson Allen should help provide a little more depth for the reigning champions behind Giannis Antetokounmpo, who inserted himself into the “best player in the world” conversation with one of the most dominant NBA playoff runs of all time. This team knows what it is, and will be playing with extreme confidence after exorcizing the franchise’s playoff demons. 46-26
3

Suns

Priority No. 1 this offseason was to bring back Chris Paul, and the Suns did that with a massive, albeit partially guaranteed, four-year contract. They also retained Cameron Payne on a team-friendly deal and addressed needs with backup center JaVale McGee and shooter Landry Shamet. All this should lead to another successful regular season for the Suns as their young players continue to improve after a trip to the NBA Finals. 51-21
4

Jazz

The Jazz got a deal done quickly to bring Mike Conley back, and the only significant piece they parted with from last season was Derrick Favors, whose minutes will be replaced by some combination of Rudy Gay, Hassan Whiteside and Eric Paschall. Assuming Utah keeps the roster as-is, there’s no reason to believe it won’t have another outstanding regular season behind Donovan Mitchell, who should be even hungrier after another playoff disappointment. 1 52-20
5

Lakers

AARP jokes aside, the Lakers did a great job on the fringes of the roster with their minimum additions, including Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard. Russell Westbrook will probably immediately contribute to regular-season wins with his energy and diverse skill set, while Kendrick Nunn, Malik Monk and Talen Horton-Tucker will get the opportunity to earn backcourt minutes behind him. The Lakers’ floor simply can’t drop below a certain level with LeBron James and Anthony Davis healthy, but the biggest question will be the defense, which was elite during the past two seasons and took a considerable hit with the departure of Alex Caruso, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Kyle Kuzma. But again, those issues may not truly present themselves until the playoffs. 1 42-30
6

Warriors

The Warriors’ offseason went just about as well as realistically possible, drafting two promising rookies in Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody, and adding veterans Otto Porter Jr., Nemanja Bjelica and familiar face Andre Iguodala on minimum contracts. Even if they don’t use their $5.9 million mid-level exception, the Warriors have still built a deep roster around recently-extended Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins. Also, if they get to mid-season and they’re not where they want to be, they have the assets and matching salary to pull off a blockbuster trade should one present itself. 2 39-33
7

Heat

For all the moves that took place this offseason, the Heat may be the only team that significantly improved its ceiling. Kyle Lowry and PJ Tucker give Miami a potentially elite defense, while rounding out a roster capable of taking down the league’s top teams. The Heat lost significant depth, however, and with the age of their starters it’s fair to question whether Miami will make it through the regular season healthy enough to secure a top Eastern Conference seed. To begin, though, they’ll have an intimidating group of winning players. 4 40-32
8

Hawks

The Hawks took care of their most important order of business, which was bringing back restricted free agent John Collins on a long-term deal. Now they’ll run it back with a team that had the league’s seventh-best net rating after Nate McMillan took over as head coach in early March, despite injuries to major pieces. Trae Young took the proverbial leap while leading Atlanta to the conference finals, and this should be a confident, talented, improving group with very few holes heading into next season. 1 41-31
9

76ers

It’s hard to rank the 76ers when Ben Simmons is reportedly done with the organization, but re-signing Danny Green should help no matter what configuration next season’s roster takes around MVP finalist Joel Embiid. Andre Drummond could be a helpful addition if he’s willing to buy into the limited role that Dwight Howard occupied last season, and Jaden Springer is an intriguing rookie as one of the youngest players in his class. It’s safe to say that Philly will be an Eastern Conference contender once again this season either way, but its ceiling depends on what Daryl Morey ends up doing with Simmons. 2 49-23
10

Mavericks

The Mavs cut bait on the Josh Richardson experiment and brought in a pure shooter and solid defender in Reggie Bullock to take his place. Most importantly, Luka Doncic looked like arguably the best player in the world in the Olympics, and the Mavs will hope that a potential full, healthy year from Kristaps Porzingis will help vault them into the upper echelon of the Western Conference. Unfortunately this team still has a lot of question marks, so they’ll need to prove it before they earn a higher ranking. 2 42-30
11

Clippers

The Clippers’ ceiling to begin the season is obviously capped with Kawhi Leonard expected to miss significant time, but they had a good offseason bringing back Leonard, Nicolas Batum and Reggie Jackson while taking fliers on explosive rookie Keon Johnson and oft-injured but diversely skilled Justise Winslow. This team has proven it can win at the highest level even without Leonard, behind Paul George and some excellent role players, but they won’t be in the upper tier of the Western Conference until Kawhi comes back strong. 5 47-25
12

Nuggets

Denver added veteran Jeff Green, a fixture in the Nets’ postseason, and its biggest loss was little-used backup center JaVale McGee. The Nuggets are basically going to run it back behind MVP Nikola Jokic and hope that he can keep them afloat while they await the potential return of Jamal Murray later in the season. Because of Murray’s absence, the Nuggets are a cut below the best in the West to start the season, but they could be a legit contender when the postseason rolls around. 2 47-25
13

Knicks

Well, well, well. The Knicks were all set to be offseason losers after a lack of difference-making moves, but then the bombshell dropped that they’ll be signing Kemba Walker after a buyout with OKC. Walker is exactly what the Knicks need, a half-court playmaker and shot-maker to put next to Julius Randle. They also added Evan Fournier to help space the floor. Assuming they can keep up their elite defense from last season, the Knicks improved considerably this offseason and should be able to contend for a top-five playoff seed once again. 41-31
14

Celtics

After a surprise trade sent Kemba Walker out of town and brought Al Horford back to Boston, the Celtics are among the league’s biggest question marks heading into next season. All-Stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are talented enough to generate a lot of wins, but their lack of another distributor and playmaker might lead to issues for a team that was 25th in the NBA in assists last season. However, with the addition of Josh Richardson to go along with incumbent Marcus Smart, the Celtics could have a top-10 defense. 1 36-36
15

Raptors

It’s going to be weird to see Kyle Lowry playing for a team other than the Raptors, but Goran Dragic is a more than adequate replacement who could also potentially be flipped into an asset or two. Rookie Scottie Barnes should help give the Raptors one of the most intimidating defenses in the league, and whatever issues the team suffered through last season could be remedied by a return to Toronto — but still, they’re going to miss Lowry. Drafting Barnes raised questions about the future of Pascal Siakam, so he’ll be a player to monitor over the next couple of months. 1 27-45
16

Bulls

Nobody can accuse the Bulls of being gun-shy. The front office backed up last year’s win-now move of trading for Nikola Vucevic by adding Lonzo Ball, DeMar DeRozan and Alex Caruso around emerging superstar Zach LaVine. You can question whether they overpaid DeRozan, but he should fit as a half-court playmaker and scorer after an incredibly efficient season in San Antonio last season. The biggest question for Chicago will be defense, where the loss of Thaddeus Young and Garrett Temple hurts. 7 31-41
17

Pacers

Something was clearly off last season with the Pacers, who fired Nate Bjorkgren and brought in veteran coach Rick Carlisle to get them back to the postseason. The roster doesn’t blow you away, but it’s incredibly solid around Malcolm Brogdon, Domantas Sabonis and Caris LeVert — particularly if TJ Warren returns at full strength. Rookie Chris Duarte, 24, should also be able to contribute right away as a shooter and playmaker on the wing. 1 34-38
18

Grizzlies

Memphis made a decision for the future by trading away Jonas Valanciunas, who was incredibly effective in a Grizzlies uniform, for the bloated contracts of Eric Bledsoe and Steven Adams. The Grizzlies selected promising prospect Ziaire Williams with the pick they received in the deal, but he may not be ready to contribute to winning right away. The logic may be that Valanciunas’ offense may have been devalued anyway with a full season from Jaren Jackson Jr., who, next to Ja Morant, helps create one of the most exciting young duos in the NBA. 1 38-34
19

Hornets

Go ahead and block off your schedule — you’re going to want to watch a lot of Hornets games this season. Charlotte bolstered its already exciting, young squad with the addition of athletes like Kelly Oubre, Mason Plumlee and rookies James Bouknight, Kai Jones and JT Thor. They lost some shooting with the departure of Devonte’ Graham, but Bouknight should get opportunity to fill in those minutes. Surrounding LaMelo Ball, Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier with all of this speed and athleticism should create one of the best transition teams in the league. Now it’s up to newly extended James Borrego to get the defense up to snuff. 1 33-39
20

Trail Blazers

If Damian Lillard wanted to come back from the Tokyo Olympics to a more competitive roster, he’s probably not too thrilled right now. The Blazers might still have a move to make, but for now, bringing back Norman Powell on a $90 million deal was the big splash of the offseason — depending on how you feel about Ben McLemore, Cody Zeller and Tony Snell. The Lillard situation will be monitored intensely over the next couple of months, as Portland appears no closer to a title than it did at the end of last season. 6 42-30
21

Pelicans

The Pelicans chose not to re-sign Lonzo Ball, which could prove costly not only on the court, but also in the franchise’s relationship with Zion Williamson, who publicly endorsed the idea of bringing Ball back. They added some interesting pieces led by Jonas Valanciunas and Devonte’ Graham, while getting off a couple of expensive contracts to free up future flexibility. New head coach Willie Green will have his work cut out for him this season, as the playoff expectations may not be realistic with this roster — no matter how well Zion and Brandon Ingram perform. 31-41
22

Wizards

As great as Russell Westbrook was toward the end of last season, the Wizards can’t be too upset about seeing his $40-plus million contract heading to L.A. In return they got quality NBA players, and added Spencer Dinwiddie to take over point guard duties next to Bradley Beal, who seems content to ride it out in Washington for the time being. New head coach Wes Unseld Jr. should inherit a team capable of making the playoffs again, depending on how the new pieces fit. 3 34-38
23

Kings

The Kings have put together an underwhelming offseason in which they missed out on a potential haul from the Lakers in a deal for Buddy Hield that appeared close to the finish line, and now have to figure out what to do with their disgruntled shooting guard. They added Davion Mitchell in the draft and Tristan Thompson via trade, both of whom should help their abysmal defense from a season ago, but the Kings still appear destined to battle for a play-in spot, even with assumed leaps from De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton. 2 31-41
24

Spurs

The Spurs are finally embracing the youth movement, jettisoning DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay while selecting literally the youngest player in the draft at No. 12 in Joshua Primo. San Antonio has a loaded backcourt with Primo, Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, Devin Vassell and Lonnie Walker IV, so it will be interesting to see how the minutes shake out. Either way, San Antonio may have to wait at least another season to start a new playoff streak. 2 33-39
25

Timberwolves

The Wolves didn’t get markedly better on paper this offseason, so they’ll hope that the success of the Karl-Anthony Towns-D’Angelo Russell pairing in a small sample size last season carries over, and that Anthony Edwards continues the progression he showed in the second half of his rookie year. However, losing Ricky Rubio might prove to be a bigger loss than people think, and making a playoff push will be tough in a crowded Western Conference. 1 23-49
26

Cavaliers

The Cavs landed one of the draft’s prized prospects in Evan Mobley, and re-signed Jarrett Allen to a $100 million contract to create a modern twin-tower frontcourt. As of now they still have Collin Sexton despite the trade rumors, but they did bring in Ricky Rubio to add a much-needed veteran presence to help groom Sexton and Darius Garland. The Cavs likely expect to contend for a playoff spot next season and, while that might be unrealistic given the quality of the East, they should win more than last year. 1 22-50
27

Pistons

The Pistons got their man, and the Cade Cunningham era is officially upon us. They also brought in Kelly Olynyk, a stretch-five who played well for Houston last season, to replace the non-shooting Mason Plumlee, and re-signed Cory Joseph for some veteran stability in the backcourt. Detroit’s success will largely depend on just how good Cunningham is to begin his career, but it’s safe to assume the playoffs aren’t a realistic goal for this young group at the precipice of a rebuild. 1 20-52
28

Thunder

If the Thunder win a lot of games to begin the season, it will probably be by accident. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is the real deal, and was rewarded with a corresponding contract extension, but OKC is currently in the player development/tanking business until further notice. Josh Giddey should be one of the most exciting rookies in his class, and Aleksej Pokusevski is always an adventure, so the Thunder should at least be entertaining while hovering around the bottom of the standings. 2 22-50
29

Rockets

The Rockets might not win much, but they’re sure going to be fun. The quartet of teenage rookies led by No. 2 pick Jalen Green should get ample opportunity for minutes, while returners Kevin Porter Jr. and KJ Martin showed tremendous promise toward the end of last season. This is all in addition to Christian Wood, one of the most efficient offensive players in the league with his combination of rim-running and outside shooting. 17-55
30

Magic

The Magic were happy to take Jalen Suggs — who some had as a top-two prospect — with the fifth pick in the draft, and he’ll be a fixture for Orlando as the rebuild begins in earnest. Franz Wagner should combine with Jonathan Isaac to create an intimidating defensive frontcourt, but they’re going to struggle to improve on the league’s 29th-ranked offense from a season ago. Barring dramatic improvement from some young players, the Magic should be competing for the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft. 21-51


from WordPress https://ift.tt/3xzFeuP
via IFTTT

No comments:

Post a Comment