The Post–Trade Deadline NBA Power Rankings
Now that the trade deadline has come and gone, I rate all 30 teams based on what I think their chances of winning the NBA Finals are. So this is a subjective list, not based on the current position. Let’s dive in, starting from the bottom of the league:
30. Houston Rockets
It was a successful term for Houston. Eric Gordon finally passed away, and in exchange for receiving several veteran contracts (including John Wall), the Rockets received several second-round picks. The team has become worse, and the cabinet with assets has replenished. Mission Complete.
29. Detroit Pistons
Acquisition of James Wiseman, no. The 2nd overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft at the deadline gives some potential for the Pistons. Despite being a loser for the Warriors, he is only 21 years old. Dropping Saddiq Bey and Kevin Knox is worth the risk. Plus, Wiseman has struggled so much defensively that he could really help Detroit in the lottery tournament.
28. Charlotte Hornets
Two of Charlotte’s top scoring players, Jalen McDaniels and Mason Plumlee, were pulled out. McDaniels will become a free agent this summer; he probably didn’t have much of a future with the organization. Plumlee did little more than stop younger big players like Mark Williams from earning more minutes. The Hornets have gotten worse in the short term, but have amassed more picks in the long term.
27. San Antonio Spurs
Jacob Poeltle and Josh Richardson were dealt out, making the young Spurs even younger. Losing Poeltl would hurt their defense even more, but he wanted nearly $20 million a year to re-sign, so it made sense for the Spurs to trade him for spades and increase their lottery chances for a shot at the top prize in 2023. draft.
26. Indiana Pacers
In case we didn’t already know, the last couple of weeks have taught us that Tyrese Haliburton is pretty damn important to the Pacers. They plummeted in the standings without him. This young development-oriented team did not require major professions.
25. Orlando Magic
The Magic were playing so well that I began to worry that they might get into the play-in stage, ruining their chances of winning the lottery. But the Bulls, Raptors, and Wizards didn’t all blow it up by the deadline, so Orlando has some cushion to keep its lottery chances going. On deadline day, the Magic finally gave up on Mo Bamba. It’s a shame he didn’t work out in Orlando, but there are plenty of other things to celebrate now, from Paolo Banquero and Franz Wagner to Wendell Carter and Bol Bol.
24. Oklahoma City Thunder
The loss of Mike Muscala makes the Thunder worse overall, given how important he was to their bench and as a target for a pickup with Shay Gilgeus-Alexander. This command small. But leaving Muskala makes sense as Jaylin Williams is ready for a wide range of opportunities and hopefully Alexei Pokusevski can return. Oklahoma City is still 26-28, but losing a few more games to improve their lottery odds isn’t such a bad path anyway.
23. Utah Jazz
While the returns of Malik Beasley, Mike Conley and Jarred Vanderbilt have not been significant, the Jazz’s most valuable asset is their own 2023 first-round pick. By worsening the situation by the deadline, they increase the value of this selection with higher lottery odds. The Jazz are already in decline, and they are only two games behind the sixth-worst record. The fans had fun winning games earlier this season. Now it’s time to lose games and hope to find a player who leads to a more meaningful win than the franchise has seen in decades.
Should have blown it
22. Washington Wizards
“The playoffs are always the goal, the final destination.” – Wizards General Manager Tommy Sheppard. told NBC Sports Washington after the end of the trading period. I’m sure Sheppard speaks for his owner. Ernie Grunfeld has made similar claims in the past when the Wizards were stuck in the middle with a team that had no chance of reaching the Finals but was good enough to make the playoffs. That’s where they are now, unfortunately, in part because Sheppard himself picked too many options in the draft. But the best thing that can happen to this team is to miss the play-in. A higher selection could give a player who can break out of the middle for the first time in decades.
21. Chicago Bulls
I sincerely believe that the Bulls will regret not selling on time. They will lose their first round pick to Magic if they don’t make the top four. The perspectives at the top of this draft are potentially franchise-changing., and the Bulls are still stuck with too many pieces that won’t be part of their future. Nikola Vucevic was a mistake. Demar DeRozan has been on top for many years. Zach LaVine could have won. If this team makes the playoffs, they will probably lose. Enjoy.
Really blew it
20. Brooklyn Nets
Call me crazy, but I don’t think the Nets are going to be terrible all of a sudden. Spencer Dinwiddie scores 20 points per game. Mikal Bridges averaged 21 points for the highest usage of his career over the past month, looking like a complete version of a player who only showed flashes in the shadows of Devin Booker and Chris Paul. Even if it was just a lucky streak, he is one of the best 3-and-D players in the NBA, as is Cam Johnson. I bet Brooklyn will stay competitive with the arrival of Cam Thomas shining at center Nick Claxton, plus a ton of quality wings in the mix.
Not quite there
19. Toronto Raptors
Toronto ranks 28th in 3-point percentage, ahead of only Charlotte and Houston. Nothing has been done within the given time frame to solve this problem. Jakob Poeltle gives the Raptors the center they desperately need, but he’s oddly suited as another non-shooter for a team full of non-threats from behind the arc. Despite so much talk that they would relocate their existing core players, nothing happened. The Raptors feel like a team that will just wait until the summer to make the inevitable changes.
18. New York Knicks
The Knicks overpaid for Josh Hart by giving up a protected first-round pick. And Cam Reddish, which they gave away for the first time last year. But Hart will offer an edge if he can rediscover the shot that left him this season with Portland. The Knicks are a great team under Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle, but even when Mitchell Robinson returns, they won’t be ready to compete.
17. Atlanta Hawks
No matter how hard they try, the Hawks can’t seem to find a home for John Collins. It’s nice to get Saddiq Bey, but his offensive talents won’t translate into Atlanta’s stagnant offense under Trae Young and Dejonte Murray. Hawks have gotten better, but they’re still not good enough.
Need for a miracle
16. Portland Trail Blazers
Damian Lillard remains in Portland. I really love what the Blazers have done around him, turning Josh Hart and Gary Payton II into Matisse Tibul, Cam Reddish and Kevin Knox. In addition, they added one protected first round pick and several future second round picks. Hart has forgotten how to shoot the ball, and now the Blazers have more youth and flexibility in moving forward, which outweighs the value of keeping Payton. The Blazers are slightly worse in the short term and they are still stuck with a falling Yusuf Nurkić in the center, which keeps them out of the finals. But Dam has the highest scoring season of his career, and as long as he remains committed, they now have a better chance of jumping teams this summer.
15. Minnesota Timberwolves
In a vacuum, Mike Conley is not an obvious improvement over D’Angelo Russell, who averaged 20 points and six assists per game over the past two months with Minnesota. DLo is only 26 years old. Conley is 35 years old and at this stage in his career he is playing a role. But Conley provides a game that Russell doesn’t have. Over the past two seasons, Conley and Rudy Gobert have formed one of the most frequent and powerful duos in the NBA; according to Second Spectrum, they connected 19.8 times per game, and the Jazz scored an excellent 1.09 points per chance. If a reunion with Conley can add value to Gobert, then his arrival helps Anthony Edwards, which is key to turning Minnesota from a good rising team into a legitimate contender.
14. New Orleans Pelicans
With Zion Williamson on the mend, the Pelicans are holding their championship chances to a halt. Without it, they have no chance. But I still believe in this team, with all its depth and talent, just like at the beginning of the year. It would be great to see Zion and Brandon Ingram share a word for once.
13. Sacramento Kings
It didn’t make sense for the Kings to spoil their chemistry by making the trade. They just need to keep winning to secure a playoff spot and break the NBA’s longest postseason drought. With one All-Star in Domantas Sabonis and one snub in De’Aaron Fox, backed by a great supporting cast, there’s a chance for a Cinderella story here. But, probably, before the real confrontation with them, there is still a year and, perhaps, one major acquisition.
12. Miami Heat
Miami hasn’t done anything on the trade deadline and they still have two empty spots on the roster that could put them active in the buyout market. I just don’t think this team is good enough to reach the final despite Bam Adebayo’s progress. The Hit is too small, they lack shooting, and they have more holes in their defense than any other opponent in the East. But they at least have a place in the conversation, given their recent history and the fact that Jimmy Butler is leveling up in…