NBA Preseason Power Rankings 2023-2024


A new season is upon us, and with it comes plenty of intriguing storylines. From massive traves and superstar uncertainty in the East to a West perhaps the deepest it has ever been, here is an early season NBA Power ranking. 

1. Denver Nuggets

One belief with which I hold firm is that, unless the team gets significantly worse during the offseason, the reigning champions should start out the year as number one in the Power Rankings. While the team did lose valuable role players in Bruce Brown Jr. And Jeff Green, they still largely have the same core intact that ran roughshod over their playoff opponents. Denver still fields the best basketball player in the world on a nightly basis, and thus are right there in the top tier of this season's title contenders.

2. Boston Celtics

Boston was already a title contender before this off-season. Losing roster mainstays like Marcus Smart, Robert Williams III, Grant Williams, and last year's Sixth Man of the Year Malcolm Brogdon, is a tough pill to swallow for fans of the team. At least, it would be if those players weren't replaced by two All-Star caliber players in Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday. It's between Boston and Milwaukee for the best starting lineup in the league on paper, and I give the slight edge to the Celtics for their two-way dominance.

3. Milwaukee Bucks

Damian Lillard's trade to the Bucks was a shock to the league and its followers. Pairing Giannis Antetokounmpo with an elite offensive point guard like Lillard is simply unfair for opposing defenses, with the caveat that it came at the cost of the best defensive guard in the NBA in Jrue Holiday. Few teams will have a chance at containing the Bucks' offense, but they will have to find a way to work around Lillard's defensive deficiencies on the other end of the court.

4. Phoenix Suns

I am admittedly unimpressed by the Suns' crop of centers, though that could be remedied a bit if Jusuf Nurkic is able to return to his playing ability from his prime days. There is no denying that Phoenix has probably the most talented offensive trio in the league between Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and Bradley Beal. However, as the old adage goes, there is only one basketball that all three have to share, and Beal and Booker especially are going to have to show that they can at least be serviceable defenders if this team wants a real shot at an NBA championship.

5. Los Angeles Lakers

Few teams made as many solid additions to their roster as the Lakers did this offseason. They stocked up on several role players that should be playable in the playoffs. Perhaps the biggest question is whether or not LeBron James and Anthony Davis can keep themselves healthy long enough to make another playoff run, which is by no means a certainty. This team is not among the top tier of contenders, but they still have a slight chance at an upset of one of the two Western Conference teams above them in these rankings.

6. Miami Heat

This placement is largely out of respect for their surprise trip to the Finals last season. That being said, the team got worse over the summer, and their months-long pursuit of Damian Lillard proved unfruitful. They let key contributors to their Finals run walk in free agency, and, in my opinion, did not adequately fill the voids those players left behind. Eric Spoelstra always manages to get the most out of his rosters, though, so maybe he can work his magic yet again and uncover more diamonds in the rough.

7. Cleveland Cavaliers

Yes, the Cavaliers had a disappointing playoff showing. They did, however, do a solid job at shoring up some of their weaknesses, particularly adding to their wing and shooting depth. Maybe putting the Cavs above the team that soundly defeated them in the playoffs is foolish, but I am counting on growth from this team's young players and a boost from their acquisitions.

8. Memphis Grizzlies

With Ja Morant being suspended the first 25 games of this season, putting the Grizzlies this high in the rankings may seem a bit overzealous. I believe the acquisition of Marcus Smart will help the Grizzlies stay afloat during Morant's absence, and his return will have the team right back in the mix among the teams fighting for the top seeds in the West.

9. New York Knicks

After a disappointing season in 2022, the Knicks bounced back well last year, making it to the second round of the playoffs. A full season with Josh Hart, as well as the addition of Donte DiVincenzo, should have New York at least in the same position as last year, with the potential to get as high as the 3 seed in the East if everything goes right. Jalen Brunson proved he is ready to lead a team, and another year of continuity will only prove useful for the Big Apple's squad.

10. Sacramento Kings

Last season was basically a dream scenario for the Kings, who previously had not made the playoffs since 2006. They burst onto the scene in a big way, but they won't be sneaking up on teams this year. They added a couple solid role players, including reigning EuroLeague MVP Sasha Veznekov. If the offense can maintain what it was able to accomplish last year, this team will easily be in the playoff mix once again.

11. Minnesota Timberwolves

For some, this may seem a tad high for the Wolves. Admittedly, some of my own basis comes into play here as well. The team just has had a certain level of focus and professionalism that is refreshing to see. They look more than ready to turn some heads, with Anthony Edwards and KAT having the team looking like they may be ready to field a top 10 offense to pair with last year's top 10 defense. Depth will be a huge driving factor for the team's success this year, provided the team's twin towers in the frontcourt can take full advantage of their size.

12. Philadelphia 76ers

A team with the reigning MVP of the league should not be this low in the Power Rankings. There is probably only one other team (looking at you, Charlotte) that appears to have worse vibes heading into the season however, and the sooner they can move on from this James Harden nightmare scenario, the better. If the negativity surrounding the team can be removed, the team still has the talent to once again make the second round of the playoffs.

13. Los Angeles Clippers

I finally freed myself from the yearly belief that the Clippers are title contenders when healthy. It's not that the team isn't talented enough, it's just that trusting this roster to have kept it together by the time the playoffs come around has proven to be a fool's errand. They are still supposedly in the mix for James Harden, but I honestly don't see that acquisition vaulting them into the Suns-Nuggets territory in the West.

14. Golden State Warriors

No team right now has as much experience as the Warriors. Steph Curry is still at least a borderline top 5 player in the league, and a good chunk of the team's core has the continuity to keep them in the mix any given game. Ultimately though, I just don't think they quite have the manpower to contend for a title. The team lacks a second option on offense that I trust on any given night, especially with Klay Thompson in decline and Andrew Wiggins settling in more so as the team's defensive stopper at the wing position.

15. Atlanta Hawks

Apart from moving big man John Collins to Utah, the Hawks did not make many moves this summer. The biggest hope for the team is a continued chemistry improvement between guards Trae Young and Dejounte Murray, as well as a potential emergence from Jalen Johnson as a core role player. Internal improvements are nice, but when you see numerous other teams make roster upgrades, it's hard to imagine the Hawks as anything more than a possible first round upset team at best.

16. Oklahoma City Thunder

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander made his ascent into certified top 15 player last year and will look to build upon his massive year by making the playoffs. Chet Holmgren debuting for the team after missing last year gives the Thunder a top prospect to add to the mix of a team that was one win away from a playoff series. Their rise this year may not be as drastic as some anticipate, what with how stacked the West is this year, but I also do think OKC has the potential to make a Kings-like leap if they can put everything together.

17. Dallas Mavericks

Even after re-signing star guard Kyrie Irving, I'm just not convinced this team is going to make waves this year. Outside of Kyrie and Luka Doncic, the team doesn't even have a clear-cut third guy. Is it Seth Curry? Grant Williams? While those are both solid players, they are probably better served as role players than key fulcrums to a team. I also don't think Dallas will have the defense needed to consistently win, despite the offensive talent they have at the top.

18. Brooklyn Nets

Is Ben Simmons finally ready to return to a level closer to his all-NBA form from back in 2020? If he can prove himself to be a threat on both sides of the ball again, the defensive potential of this squad is insane. Simmons, Mikal Bridges, Nic Claxton, and Dorian Finney-Smith will be ready to clamp opposing offenses. At that point, fielding at least a somewhat competent offense should be enough to secure a play-in spot.

19. New Orleans Pelicans

When Zion Williamson was healthy last season, the Pelicans had a legitimate case as the top Western Conference team in the regular season. The problem with that is Zion and Brandon Ingram have struggled with said health, and they'll have to show that things have changed before I can start believing in them again. Realistically, there will be one good team that gets left out of the top 10 in the West, and my bet is on it being either New Orleans or Dallas – the two teams in the play-in range with the most question marks.

20. Indiana Pacers

The Pacers were a legitimately solid team when star point guard Tyrese Haliburton played, sporting a 28-28 record in those games. If he can play in at least 65 games this season, there's a good chance the Pacers will be able to make the play-in tournament. Adding Bruce Brown Jr. and Obi Toppin has the potential to pay huge dividends for Indiana, and they could be a team that gives a top seed a good fight in the first round of the playoffs.

21. Toronto Raptors

Barring a teardown of the roster, the Raptors will be in the play-in mix again this season. Losing Fred VanVleet in free agency isn't insignificant, and the team is hoping that Dennis Schroder is steady enough to man the point guard position in VanVleet's place. The team still has a good amount of talent, it's just that last season made it evident that that talent alone isn't enough to make a dent in the Eastern Conference anymore.

22. Orlando Magic

Stacked with promising young talent, it wouldn't surprise me if this ends up being too low of a placement for Orlando. The team is solid all around, with Paolo Banchero and maybe even Franz Wagner being ready to make a push toward becoming all-stars. A huge clarifying moment for the team would be having a point guard play well enough to solidify themselves as the point guard of the future.

23. Chicago Bulls

No team is more entrenched in NBA purgatory than the Bulls right now. They aren't good enough to make noise in the playoffs, and they're not bad enough to tank and get a top pick in the draft. If this is viewed as a last hurrah for their current core of veterans, then expect this team to be in a similar position as the Raptors. If they decide to tear down the roster by the trade deadline, then the team's long-term outlook will likely look much brighter.

24. Houston Rockets

Dillon Brooks and Fred VanVleet were solid pickups on the road to competency for the Houston Rockets. VanVleet especially should help young guard Jalen Green on his developmental path. Unless a player on this roster makes a huge leap, expect the Rockets to be at least another year away from playoff contention.

25. San Antonio Spurs

Early results on the Victor Wembanyama experiment indicate that he's the real deal. I was a little skeptical that he would be a huge driving factor for wins in his rookie year, but he looks so impressive that I might have to amend that belief. Having him grow next to Devin Vassell, Keldon Johnson, and Jeremy Sochan will be fun to watch, and it wouldn't surprise me if this is the only season in which Wembanyama fails to make the playoffs for a long time.

26. Utah Jazz

Before trading away Mike Conley Jr. a little before the trade deadline, the Jazz were surprisingly feisty, and only tapered off at the end of the season. I don't foresee them being as competitive this year, though the addition of John Collins is interesting. Luckily for Utah, the team is flush with so many future draft picks that they don't have to rush into competitiveness.

27. Portland Trail Blazers

Even after trading away perhaps the franchise's greatest player ever, the team has enough raw talent to make games interesting on any given night. You'd be hard-pressed to find a more exciting young guard core than Scoot Henderson, Shaedon Sharpe, and Anfernee Simons. The days of treading water are over for the Blazers, as the team's new young generation of players are ready to grow and learn together. Adding another top prospect in next year's draft will make this team look even more promising, but for this year, it's all about development.

28. Detroit Pistons

Something about the Pistons' roster right now just seems a bit...disjointed. Cade Cunningham has a decent chance at becoming an all-star caliber player this year, and his presence will hopefully contribute to the development of running mate Jaden Ivey. Ausar Thompson also looked impressive in the preseason for a rookie and will be a major building block going forward. The big man rotation is a little wonky, with two former second overall draft picks Marvin Bagley III and James Wiseman competing for the backup center position, but I would guess one of those two will be shipped out of Detroit by the trade deadline.

29. Charlotte Hornets

The winner of the award for the team with the worst vibes heading into the season has to be the Charlotte Hornets. The questionable decision to bring back Miles Bridges has already proven disastrous, and the bizarre Kai Jones situation saw the Hornets lose an interesting prospect. There's even controversary surrounding their second overall pick Brandon Miller, though that situation was already known prior to the draft. Oh, and Michael Jordan sold the team in what has turned out to be an exceptionally busy summer. The main shining light for the Hornets is the return of LaMelo Ball this year after an injury-plagued 2022-2023 season. Still, there might not be a more dysfunctional team in North American sports right now than the Charlotte Hornets.

30. Washington Wizards

Some people scoffed at the return the Wizards got in return for longtime star guard Bradley Beal. While they didn't get any blue-chip prospects, the most valuable part of the deal is they finally pulled the trigger on a full rebuild. Jordan Poole will be an entertaining number one option, and finally the Wizards can reset after what has largely been an uninspiring decade thus far for the team in the nation's capital.

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