Confetti has settled into the Golden State Warriors Championship, but the NBA debate is always moving forward.
The Warriors will return to the Bay Area next week for their Celebratory Parade before the league settles into the off-season. The 2022 draft is now less than a week away on June 23, with the free agency and Summer League coming soon. Before we know it, the teams will meet again for training camp and another season will be here.
So, thinking about the future is not so quick. With this in mind, our post-finals power rankings show ahead of the 2022-23 NBA season, knowing where each team entering the off-season stands.
Top seed competitors
Next season’s Championship race stats are wide open as they enter the year without much fanfare. It is too early to call these teams the top title contenders, but the No. 1 in their respective conferences. They are the best to compete for 1 seed.
1. Golden State Warriors: The Champaign star trio of Steph Curry, Clay Thompson and Dremond Greene have all returned (albeit one year older), the young support cast will continue to improve and benefit from the title experience.
2. Milwaukee Bucks: Zionist Antotocounmpo is still starting his prime at 27 and will keep the 2021 champion in the title race until he is healthy. Zoo Holiday and Chris Middleton presented one of the best trio in the league.
3. Boston Celtics: Will they use the loss of the NBA Finals as fuel for next season? Young stars Jason Tatum, 24, and Jaylen Brown, 25, already have a high level of experience and still have room to improve.
4. Phoenix Sons: Devin Booker, 25, is one of the best young players in the league and he especially helps set the high floor during the regular season. However, Chris Paul’s health is always a concern and Deandre Eaton’s contract status is plummeting in the offseason.
5. Brooklyn Nets: On paper, they have a higher level of talent than anyone else. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are the two best scorers. But even though Ben Simmons did not play this past season పెద్ద is still a big question mark.
6. Miami Heat: They can always hang their hat on protection, rigidity and, yes, hot culture. Jimmy Butler has shown he can lead the team again in the playoffs, but the scoring depth should be a priority this season.
In the playoff mix
Most of these teams could easily reach the top next season if things break in their way. Some end up in play-in tournaments, however, due to the number of teams competing for limited positions. But they all have to compete for the top six spots and the playoff spot is guaranteed.
7. Los Angeles Clippers: The return of Cowie Leonard and Paul George from injuries are questionable, but the only problem is playing as fast as they can rust, they can quickly recover clippers in the Western Conference.
8. Dallas Mavericks: They reached great heights by reaching the conference finals and Luca Dansik was again great in the playoffs, showing that he could be the best player in the series. Now the front office must continue to upgrade the roster around him.
9. Philadelphia 76ers: All-Star Center Joel Mbid is an MVP candidate and will have to compete again next season except for injury. If even some of the explosives that James Harden seemed to have lost could be recovered, they would still be formidable.
10. Memphis Grizzlies: Ja Morant and company have been the breakout team this season. They can take a step back after reaching a huge height of 56 wins, but the Grizzlies should be in the middle of the playoff race in the competitive West.
11. Denver Nuggets: Nicola Jokic is now a two-time MVP, but he wants to win. This will be made even easier with the return of Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. next season. Their lineup with Murray and Porter in 2019-20 is fantastic.
12. Utah Jazz: Big changes could come as rumors continue to circulate about what they will do with Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. They still have the potential to be a strong competitor, but they still need to hire a new coach.
13. Cleveland Cavaliers: Another young team that jumped nicely behind the rising stars Ivan Mobley and Darius Garland. They need to figure out what to do with Collin Sexton’s deal, but they have the flexibility to improve in the offseason.
14. Chicago Bulls: Zach LaVine is a free agent, and signing him again is the first and biggest priority of the offseason. They would love to sign Lavin మళ్లీ again and play well with this team, but were severely damaged by injuries at the end of the season.
Estimates on teams in this series are very different. Some will be disappointed with the loss of the first six places. Others are thrilled to participate in a play-in tournament. Regardless of where any team is, everyone has the best chance of making the playoffs through the play-in route.
15. Los Angeles Lakers: It’s hard to keep a team here with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. They are definitely considered top notch. But Davis has been plagued by injuries over the past two seasons and the roster around him and James has been flawed.
16. Minnesota Timberwolves: Carl-Anthony Townes and Anthony Edwards are one of the best young tandems in the league. They have enough flexibility to upgrade around the roster edges in hopes of returning to the playoffs next season.
17. Toronto Raptors: A bounce-back season has returned to the playoffs. Pascal Siacom, Fred Vanvleet and Rookie of the Year Scottie Burns starred in the solid opening five, which again had astonishing talent and could finish in the top-six in the East.
18. New Orleans Pelicans: After the first-round series with last-season surge and top-seeded Phoenix, fans are hopefully things are heading in the right direction with Zion Williamson returning to play alongside Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum.
19. Atlanta Hawks: Falling into the play-offs after reaching the East Finals a year ago was a disappointing, somewhat hopeful, setback. They are committed to building around Point Guard Trey Young and have shown that they are aggressive to do this.
20. Charlotte Hornets: They brought in a new coach at Kenny Atkinson after losing the first play-off game for the second year in a row. Lamelo Ball has emerged as the perfect franchise building block, but re-signing a key piece like Miles Bridges is a must.
21. San Antonio Spurs: With Dejounte Murray, Keldon Johnson and Jakob Poeltl and young players with plenty of financial comfort, this is not a bad place. But they’re stuck between not fitting into the playoffs and not being bad enough to blow it up.
22. New York Knicks: RJ Barrett and Emmanuel Quickley made good progress, but as the defense fell they finished 11th in the East. When the big name becomes available / when they are on the market.
23. Portland Trail Blazers: After the season splits, they are eager to return to the playoffs. The front office indicated its willingness to make the Win-Now move to add pieces around Damien Lillard, in which no. 7 pic can potentially be traded.
Back in the lottery
The bottom of the league is not necessarily a basketball wasteland, where many restructuring teams have hopefully put themselves on the upward trajectory. However, others are less sure of the forward direction.
24. Kings of Sacramento: Ownership is now looking to win after Domontas bought Sabonis to pair up with Aaron Fox, but they will work hard to win the loaded Western Conference.
25. Indiana Pacers: Trading for Tires Halliburton by the deadline marks a new, youthful direction. With the No. 6 pick and potentially another trade (Malcolm Brogden?), They hope to return sooner rather than later in the playoff controversy.
26. Washington Wizards: Bradley Beale’s potential free agency is looming over the team and clouding the future. He continued to be with the Wizards for a long time, but if he changed his mind it could leave them at the helm.
27. Oklahoma City Thunder: With the No. 2 pick in the draft, they have the potential to accelerate their lengthy rebuild, adding another top chance alongside rising stars Shay Gilgias-Alexander and Josh Gidde.
28. Houston Rockets: Jalen Green has shown he can get buckets with a solid finish to his rookie season. They were in Houston’s Green and around him this year to add or buy pieces no. Having high hopes on most draft options including 3.
29. Detroit Pistons: They found their franchise pillar at No. 1 Pick, Cade Cunningham last year. Now it’s about building around a 6-6 point guard. Jeremy Grant is the most traded candidate for youth and / or draft assets this off-season.
30. Orlando Magic: Jolen Suggs and Franz Wagner, last year’s first-round draft picks, are the beginning of a good young corps. This year no. By landing 1 pick, they will have the opportunity to create a franchise pillar to give recognition to this reconstruction.
Follow Matt Eppers on Twitter meppers_.