NBA Power Rankings, preseason edition

Media days kick off Monday, officially ushering in the start of training camps around the NBA. The dust has settled on free agency, and September training camps kickoffs mark the return to a normal schedule after two years.

The most important news about training camp comes from Philadelphia, where Ben Simmons has pledged to never play another game with the 76ers. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the three-time All-Star has requested a trade out Philadelphia and will not report for training camp.

Star players will also get their first reps with the new teams.

Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and LeBron Jam will all be part of the Los Angeles Lakers lineup along with Anthony Davis and Anthony Davis. Kyle Lowry will get his first action with the Miami Heat. DeMar DeRozan will make his debut with the Chicago Bulls, while Kemba Walker will be returning home to the New York Knicks.

All 30 teams will now be heading into training camp. What are the biggest changes that have occurred since our post-free-agency Power Rankings were released?

Note: These rankings are based on where the members of our panel (ESPN’s Tim Bontemps, Nick Friedell, Andrew Lopez, Dave McMenamin, Kevin Pelton and Ohm Youngmisuk) think teams belong heading into next season. Caesars Sportsbook offers title odds for 2022.

MORE: NBArank 2021 – Where LeBron, Giannis and KD check in


1. Brooklyn Nets
2020-21 record: 48-24
2022 title odds: +225
Post-free-agency ranking: 1

Having a training camp with the full roster will be a boon for Nets coach Steve Nash after the midseason additions of James Harden and Blake Griffin last season. Harden was able seamlessly to integrate into the team, but Brooklyn will have more practice time with all three stars, as he only played 332 minutes, including the playoffs, with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, according to NBA Advanced Stats. It will also be important to determine how Griffin, LaMarcus Aledridge, and newcomers James Johnson or Paul Millsap will fit into a revamped forwardcourt. — Pelton

2. Milwaukee Bucks
2020-21 record: 46-26
2022 title odds: +800
Post-free-agency ranking: 2

Due to the star power surrounding the Nets and Lakers, the Bucks have the benefit of coming into this season without the burden of being expected to defend their title. One thing to keep an eye on? Grayson Allen’s play could be a great complement to Donte DiVincenzo’s shooting guard position after he came to Milwaukee in an offseason deal with Memphis. — Bontemps

Win-loss predictions for every Eastern Conference team

3. Los Angeles Lakers
2020-21 record: 42-30
2022 title odds: +400
Post-free-agency ranking: 3

1 Related

The season opens up with a new big three as the main attraction in L.A., with Russell Westbrook teaming with LeBron James and Anthony Davis to put the Lakers back into championship contention. According to sources, the Lakers got off to a good start by going to Las Vegas for a minicamp that James organized. It was more about team bonding and less intense court work. — McMenamin

4. Phoenix Suns
2020-21 record: 51-21
2022 title odds: +1500
Post-free-agency ranking: 4

Phoenix’s NBA Finals trip last season fell short of the ultimate goal, but there was very little turnover in the desert — it shouldn’t take much for Monty Williams to get his team to buy in. Elfrid and Landry Shamet will join a Suns team that has lost some depth (Jevon, Torrey, E’Twaun, Langston Galloway, and Jevon Carter) and will try to adjust with Chris Paul’s Point God ways. — Lopez

5. Utah Jazz
2020-21 record: 52-20
2022 title odds: +1500
Post-free-agency ranking: 5

Most of the Jazz’s rotation remains intact, with all of the starting lineup and the top two finishers in Sixth Man of the Year voting returning to Salt Lake City. Utah hopes to upgrade its bench by signing Rudy Gay and Hassan Whiteside as well as trading for Eric Paschall. It will be interesting for Quin Snyder to see how much Gay is used as a center in small-ball lineups. This was not an option last season. — MacMahon

6. Miami Heat
2020-21 record: 40-32
2022 title odds: +2500
Post-free-agency ranking: 8

Kyle Lowry, P.J. Tucker and Markieff Morris will be able to play alongside Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and the rest a proud Miami team who comes into the season with high expectations. Erik Spoelstra will need to know how fast all of these pieces can be put together and how well the veteran core is able to handle the grind of an 82 game season. A big key will be determining how much of an impact Victor Oladipo is going to have during the season while he continues to rehab from a quad injury. — Friedell

7. Denver Nuggets
2020-21 record: 47-25
2022 title odds: +2500
Post-free-agency ranking: 7

Perhaps no reigning MVP has flown further under the radar than Nikola Jokic. To contend, the Nuggets will need another MVP-like year from Jokic. However, Denver’s chances to be a top-four West team rest on Michael Porter Jr. Porter Jr. will continue his climb after Jamal Murray is out indefinitely with a torn ACL sustained in April. He averaged 19.3 ppg and 7.3 boards as a starter last year and can shoot 45% from 3, while averaging double-doubles. — Youngmisuk



Take a look back at the highs and lows of Ben Simmons’ time with the 76ers.

8. Philadelphia 76ers
2020-21 record: 49-23
2022 title odds: +1600
Post-free-agency ranking: 6

The NBA’s biggest storyline entering training camp resides in Philadelphia, where the basketball world is waiting to see if Ben Simmons shows up — and if the 76ers decide to move on from him. Simmons has stated that he will not play again for the Sixers, while Philadelphia is still waiting for a star-level return to its 25 year-old three-time All Star with four more years on his contract. This impasse will continue until one side changes. — Bontemps

Six Ben Simmons trades we want to see

9. Atlanta Hawks
2020-21 record: 41-31
2022 title odds: +4000
Post-free-agency ranking: 9

The biggest question for Atlanta during training camp is going to be how the Hawks replicate last season’s success after a surprising run to the Eastern Conference finals. Atlanta had a question mark about its backup point guard spot. They relied on Bogdan Bogdanovic at times to fulfill that role in the playoffs. The Hawks addressed this issue by trading Sacramento and Boston for Delon Wright. — Lopez

10. Golden State Warriors
2020-21 record: 39-33
2022 title odds: +1000
Post-free-agency ranking: 12

Klay Thompson’s rehab and ability to get back on the floor close to his old All-Star self is the key to any major success the Warriors have this season. While Steve Kerr and his team wait for the former All-Star, the Warriors’ key to success will be the development lottery picks Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody, and hoping that 2020 No. James Wiseman, the second overall pick, can make another step in his own growth as he continues his recovery from a meniscus injury that ended his season prematurely and will keep him out of the opening season. — Friedell

Will the Warriors have the biggest turnaround?

11. Dallas Mavericks
2020-21 record: 42-30
2022 title odds: +3000
Post-free-agency ranking: 11

What changes will new coach Jason Kidd make? Kidd must make some lineup decisions. He can choose to play with Maxi Kleber and Dwight Powell next Kristaps Porzingis or a smaller team that includes Reggie Bullock (free-agent). It will be interesting to see how Kidd uses Porzingis who was frustrated by his limited role under Rick Carlisle. How is Porzingis doing after a fully healthy offseason? His inability to move made him a defensive disaster last year. — MacMahon

MORE: What if Luka were automatic from the stripe?

12. LA Clippers
2020-21 record: 47-25
2022 title odds: +2000
Post-free-agency ranking: 10

The 2021-22 NBA season tips off in October with a pair of star-studded doubleheaders on ESPN.

Wednesday, Oct. 20
Celtics at Knicks, 7:30 p.m. ET
Nuggets at Suns, 10 p.m. ET

Friday, Oct. 22
Nets at 76ers, 7:30 p.m. ET
Suns at Lakers, 10 p.m. ET

With Kawhi Leonard out for possibly a good chunk of this season while he makes his way back from a partially torn ACL, the Clippers will try to maintain their playoff standing until he returns. Paul George is in for a great season after helping the Clippers reach the Western Conference finals with Leonard out. Reggie Jackson will look to sustain his playoff-level performance while the Clippers take a closer look at younger players like Terance Mann and Luke Kennard and new additions Eric Bledsoe, Justise Winslow, Keon Johnson, Jason Preston and Brandon Boston Jr. — Youngmisuk

13. Boston Celtics
2020-21 record: 36-36
2022 title odds: +5000
Post-free agency ranking: 13

Everyone knows the Celtics will go as far as Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown take them. The preseason will feature three interesting arrivals in Boston: ImeUdoka, who will replace Brad Stevens as team’s head coach, along with guards Dennis Schroder, Josh Richardson, and Josh Richardson, who are both looking to rebound from disappointing seasons. — Bontemps



Kemba Walker expresses how excited he is to join the Knicks and jokes about whether he’ll be playing back-to-back games this season.

14. New York Knicks
2020-21 record: 41-31
2022 title odds: +8000
Post-free-agency ranking: No. 14

New York City native Kemba Walker returned home this summer, immediately agreeing to a deal with the Knicks after being bought out by the Oklahoma City Thunder, who acquired the guard from the Boston Celtics in June. Walker’s health, especially after he missed Boston’s first-round series with the Brooklyn Nets because of knee issues, will be a topic of conversation for the next few weeks. He will also be reunited with his former team at Madison Square Garden on the opening night. — Bontemps

15. Portland Trail Blazers
2020-21 record: 42-30
2022 title odds: +6000
Post-free-agency ranking: 15

There will be a lot to cover in a short period for first-time head coach Chauncey Billups, who is installing a new system at both ends as he replaces Terry Stotts after nine seasons in Portland. The Blazers’ start lineup, one the league’s most impressive after Norman Powell’s midseason arrival, is intact. Portland’s second unit now includes veterans Ben McLemore and Larry Nance Jr., Tony Snell, and Cody Zeller. We’ll be watching for any potential improvements to Blazers’ defense. They were 29th in per-possession last season. — Pelton

MORE: Lillard to keep thoughts on Blazers in-house

16. Memphis Grizzlies
2020-21 record: 38-34
2022 title odds: +10000
Post-free-agency ranking: 16

Steven Adams, who will fill Jonas Valanciunas’ role as starting center after they were swapped in an offseason trade, is the Grizzlies’ graybeard at the ripe old age of 28. Although this Memphis core was able to experience the playoffs last season it is still a young team. Jaren Jackson Jr. is the Grizzlies best hope to make a leap. — MacMahon

Why Ja Morant and the Grizzlies are primed for ascension

17. Indiana Pacers
2020-21 record: 34-38
2022 title odds: +10000
Post-free-agency ranking: 18

Indiana’s major offseason change was swapping out first-year head coach Nate Bjorkgren for veteran coach Rick Carlisle, who is starting his second stint as the Pacers’ leader. The Pacers need to think about how to keep their roster healthy. Many key players have been absent due to illness or injuries in recent weeks. A healthy lineup that includes Malcolm Brogdon and Myles Turner, Caris LeVert as well as Domantas Sabonis, T.J. Warren and Myles Turner could be a strong force in the Eastern Conference. — Lopez

18. Charlotte Hornets
2020-21 record: 33-39
2022 title odds: +15000
Post-free-agency ranking: 17

The Hornets have a young core already in place alongside veterans Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier — now they have to see how Kelly Oubre Jr. fits in and hope that rookies James Bouknight and Kai Jones can have an impact, as well. Oubre had a down-and-up season last year with the Warriors. But at 25 years old, he is likely to find a niche in a Charlotte group that requires his energy on both sides. — Friedell

19. Toronto Raptors
2020-21 record: 27-45
2022 title odds: +10000
Post-free-agency ranking: 20

After spending almost 20 months away from home, the Raptors will finally return to Toronto on Monday for the start of training camp. The Raptors will be pleased to be home after last season’s trip to Tampa. But the main story in camp is about Scottie, the forward who was also playing last season in Florida. The No. 4 pick in the NBA draft this year from Florida State. Can Barnes be Siakam’s starting point until he recovers from shoulder surgery? — Bontemps

20. Chicago Bulls
2020-21 record: 31-41
2022 title odds: +8000
Post-free-agency ranking: 19

Chicago had one of the organization’s most interesting offseasons in recent memory with the acquisitions of DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso — but the key for Billy Donovan coming into training camp is seeing how those pieces, along with holdovers Zach LaVine, Nikola Vucevic and Patrick Williams, can work as a defensive group. While there is no doubt that the Bulls will score, there are many questions about whether the Bulls can defend at a high enough level in order to win consistently. — Friedell

MORE: LaVine says this season ‘crucial’ for Bulls, his future

21. Washington Wizards
2020-21 record: 34-38
2022 title odds: +15000
Post-free-agency ranking: 21

Most of the NBA’s big name free agents have already agreed to deals, but the offseason moves are still going strong, and we have full coverage here.

• Latest free agency and trade news and buzz
• Pelton: Analyzing every offseason move
• Lowe: Offseason winners and losers
• What league insiders say about the offseason
• Pelton’s offseason grades: East | West

With Russell Westbrook traded to the Lakers, Bradley Beal will have to get used to several new pieces around him in camp. Wes Unseld Jr. is the new coach and will have limited time to integrate Spencer Dinwiddie with Montrezl Halrrell, Kyle Kuzma and KentaviousCaldwell-Pope around Beal. Daniel Gafford will be having his first camp with Wizards. The franchise’s health remains a concern, with Thomas Bryant returning from injury and Deni Avdija coming back from it. Can Beal lead this team back to the playoffs He has more experienced players and is motivated to prove others wrong. — Youngmisuk

22. New Orleans Pelicans
2020-21 record: 31-41
2022 title odds: +10000
Post-free-agency ranking: 22

Three starters are guaranteed to be in the Pelicans’ opening night lineup: Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson and Jonas Valanciunas. Willie Green’s first coaching camp will be a major decision regarding the backcourt. The Pelicans are surrounded by potential suitors for the final spots. Nickeil Alexander Walker and Josh Hart could all be considered. Trey Murphy III, Trey Murphy III, Trey Murphy III, Trey Murphy III, Trey Murphy III, Trey Murphy III, Trey Murphy III, Trey Murphy III, Trey Murphy III, Trey Murphy III, Trey Murphy III, Trey Murphy III, Trey Murphy III, Trey Murphy III, Trey Murphy III, Trey Murphy III, Trey Murphy III — Lopez

23. San Antonio Spurs
2020-21 record: 33-39
2022 title odds: +25000
Post-free-agency ranking: 23

The youth movement in San Antonio is underway. All three Spurs who have been with the league for the longest time — Thaddeus, Al-Farouq Aminu & Doug McDermott – were all acquired this offseason. DeMar DeRozan was traded by the Spurs, and Rudy Gay and Patty Mills were free agents. The Spurs are moving into a new era with Derrick White (15.4 points), and Dejounte Murray (15.7). — Lopez

24. Sacramento Kings
2020-21 record: 31-41
2022 title odds: +25000
Post-free-agency ranking: 24

Kings coach Luke Walton has a handful of talented guards at his disposal with first-round pick Davion Mitchell joining De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield. Sacramento could be using three- or four-guard teams to keep its best team on the court. — McMenamin



Ramona Shelburne discusses the Timberwolves’ decision to part ways with Gersson Rosas.

25. Minnesota Timberwolves
2020-21 record: 23-49
2022 title odds: +30000
Post-free-agency ranking: 25

A mostly quiet Minnesota offseason was thrown into turmoil last week when Gersson Rosas was dismissed as president of basketball operations. The search to replace Rosas could take precedence over what happens on court during training camp. After Ryan Saunders was replaced midseason, Chris Finch takes charge of this camp. Finch’s system and the development of former No. The return of Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell, as well as Anthony Edwards, the No. 1 pick, quickly paid off. The Timberwolves went 7-5 in their last 12 games and beat a few playoff-bound teams. — Pelton

26. Detroit Pistons
2020-21 record: 20-52
2022 title odds: +50000
Post-free-agency ranking: 26

It’s all about Cade Cunningham. The No. The fate of Detroit over the next 50 years will depend on the ascension or failure of the No. Coach Dwane Casy will need to decide with whom, other than Jerami Grant it will be best for Cunningham to operate. — McMenamin

27. Cleveland Cavaliers
2020-21 record: 22-50
2022 title odds: +50000
Post-free-agency ranking: 27

While the past few years have been about developing Cleveland’s backcourt in Collin Sexton and Darius Garland, now the spotlight will shine on the center position with No. Jarrett Allen, Evan Mobley, and Jarrett Allen are the top three picks. The Cavs will need to see if the true bigs can share courttime or if they will have split minutes this season. — McMenamin



Jalen Green got the better of first overall pick Cade Cunningham with 25 points against the Detroit Pistons.

28. Houston Rockets
2020-21 record: 17-55
2022 title odds: +50000
Post-free-agency ranking: 29

Houston would be a serious contender in a 21-and-under league. Eight players, five of them teenagers, will be joining the Rockets’ training camp in Galveston. This includes all four of their first-round selections. This season is all about Houston’s young core. The starting backcourt includes Kevin Porter Jr., a 21-year-old point-guard conversion project, and No. Jalen Green was the 2nd overall pick. John Wall was asked to wait and see if the Rockets would trade him. — MacMahon

Jalen Green and breakout candidates among NBArank 100-51

29. Orlando Magic
2020-21 record: 21-51
2022 title odds: +50000
Post-free-agency ranking: 28

Aside from the ongoing rehab process for Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz, the big early question for the Magic revolves around rookie Jalen Suggs and the impact he’ll be able to have early in his first season. Suggs was able to ignite a fan base hungry for excitement and had some good moments in summer league. — Friedell

30. Oklahoma City Thunder
2020-21 record: 22-50
2022 title odds: +50000
Post-free-agency ranking: 30

Thunder training camp will be our first extended look at No. Josh Giddey, the 5th overall pick, played only five minutes in summer league in Las Vegas after sustaining an ankle injury. The Oklahoma City roster is young so winning games won’t be a priority. Instead, the Thunder’s goals revolve around developing their prospects. The growth of Theo Maledon, Aleksej Pokusevski and Shai Gilgeous Alexander in Year 2 will be interesting. Shai Gilgeous Alexander’s recovery from plantar fasciitis that ended his 2020-21 regular-season and prevented him qualifying for the Olympic Games will also be worth watching. — Pelton

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