Wild’s Weekly NBA Power Rankings and Tiers
With pre-season coming to an end, it Is time for the first installment of power rankings and tiers. Here each tier will be broken down to show which teams are better or worse in that tear.
Tier 6: Waiting on the Surprise
21. Orlando Magic
The Magic made the playoffs last season, but only got worse this offseason with losing DJ Augustin in free agency and Jonathan Isaac to injury. This team will now have a hole at small forward, that as we know, should not be filled by Aaron Gordon. Similarly, running Markelle Fultz at point guard is not going to be a strong point for this team unless Fultz has improved his jump shot. This team needs a boost from Fultz, Anthony, or Bamba if they want to have a shot of going anywhere in the playoffs, and likely has enough left on the roster to compete for a low east playoff seed.
22. Minnesota Timberwolves
The D-Lo and KAT pairing seems like they will be dominant on offense, while Malik Beasley can be a temporary third wrinkle while Anthony Edwards develops. The issue with this team is that Edwards has not been given the touches that a first overall pick usually gets, with a lot of his time spent sitting in the corner. I would not be surprised to see their head coach, Ryan Saunders, get fired unless this changes. Regardless, this team could make a jump with KAT or D-Lo dominance.
23. Sacramento Kings
The Sacramento Kings are interesting, as they have only had problems since the firing of Dave Joerger. With Bogdanovic gone, the Kings will have a starting role opening for Hield, reducing some tension. They also have some decent depth as Kyle Guy has played quite well this pre-season. This team needs a jump from Fox or Hield if they want to compete, as they have been close to a playoff seed in recent years. The only issue is that with more teams rising than falling in the western conference, this Kings team could be one that is never good enough to actually compete. I would be concerned if there is no improvement this season, but I would not be surprised.
24. San Antonio Spurs
San Antonio is always a confusing team as their two best players are both mid-range shooters who do not take many three-point shots. This makes winning a struggle, even with talented players and an all-time great head coach. In pre-season it did look like Lonnie Walker was improving, and could possibly be a perfect running mate next to Dejounte Murray to provide this team with some three point shooting. Everything about the Spurs points them to being a lottery team, but as we have seen in the past, Popovich is never easy to count out.
Tier 7: Sure-fire Lottery Teams
25. Charlotte Hornets
LaMelo Ball has been throwing some nice dimes during the preseason, but this has covered up his poor defence and inefficient shooting. Right now, he honestly seems like his brother Lonzo, maybe a little better, but not by much. As well, Gordon Hayward has already suffered an injury after his 120-million-dollar contract. This team has some good players, but the addition of Hayward exemplified that they wanted to contend before they were ready. Rarely are rookie point guards able to actually lead a team to the playoffs. LaMelo will be no different.
26. Chicago Bulls
The Bulls have put together some high drafted players at almost every position. This would normally make them a playoff team, but it seems like their development staff cannot get these guys to improve at winning. The loss of Kris Dunn, while it may seem minimal, leaves the Bulls with little defense in their backcourt. Similarly, Lauri Markkanen has hoisted up a lot of shots this pre-season, the issue is that he has not been efficient at all, a consistent problem for him over the past few seasons. Really, this team needs a leader.
27. Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavs experiment of running Garland and Sexton, two undersized guards, in their starting lineup does not seem to have worked or be working. Maybe they understood this by drafting Okoro, but that has not been decided yet. Running two slow big men in their starting lineup in Andre Drummond and Kevin Love will create issues for this team when facing more versatile teams like the Heat. If I were the Cavs, I would recognize both Drummond and Love are not a part of the future and see if I could get any assets in return. Hopefully Dan Gilbert can figure it out himself.
28. New York Knicks
The Knicks seem to have made some decent selections in the past draft with both Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickley. These two have been playing extremely well in preseason and will join a nice young core of Kevin Knox and RJ Barrett. The Knicks did not make any poor moves this offseason of signing an older player for too much money, so that is good. While they will still be a bottom team for the next year, things seem like they are looking up in New York.
29. Detroit Pistons
The Detroit Pistons have made some very confusing and troubling moves this offseason. Firstly, they lost their only talented young players in Christian Wood and Luke Kennard. I know they have Sekou, but he is still quite raw. Also, signing Plumlee and Grant for high amounts of money leads to questions about this team turning into the Knicks. Killian Hayes seems to be playing well in the preseason but will ultimately see a lower amount of minutes than he should as they still have Derrick Rose. Management needs to change things up.
30. OKC Thunder
The OKC Thunder have some nice young pieces in SGA, Dort and Bazley, and a crazy amount of future draft picks to complement them. The Thunder seem to understand the value of draft picks extremely well, and also seem to be pulling a little Sam Hinkie operation without actually telling the team to lose. Overall, it seems like this team will become a serious title contender in the future as they host more future picks than we have ever seen before. Presti seems to know what he is doing. Let’s hope this time they choose to pay everyone that is good rather than trade their stars.