NBA power rankings 2024: Where Knicks, Thunder, 76ers, Mavericks & more stand after draft, free agency | Sporting News India (2024)

With NBA free agency mostly concluded, it's time to look at who the best and worst teams are shaping up to be.

The Celtics should still be the presumptive favorites given their dominance over the league last season. But the gap between them and the rest of the field has shrunk considerably.

Here's how all 30 teams are stacking up.

MORE:Grading all 30 teams' free agency signings from best to worst

NBA power rankings 2024: Where Knicks, Thunder, 76ers, Mavericks & more stand after draft, free agency | Sporting News India (1)

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NBA power rankings after 2024 draft, free agency

Tier 1: The true contenders

1. Celtics

This was the best team in the league by a good margin last season. They're returning all of their key players, so that shouldn't change.

Kristaps Porzingis will miss up to six months with surgery but should be back for the important games. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are still right in the middle of their peak years at 26 and 27 years old, respectively. Derrick White got locked up to a long-term extension, and Jrue Holiday agreed to one in-season. Sam Hauser's new deal should be coming through the pipeline soon.

These guys are going to be tough to catch.

2. Thunder

The Thunder have made the biggest improvements of any team this summer. Moving Josh Giddey for Alex Caruso was the heist of the offseason. Giddey was unplayable in the playoffs. Caruso was made for them.

Sam Presti also brought back key rotation pieces at reasonable prices in Aaron Wiggins and Isaiah Joe. The biggest addition was Isaiah Hartenstein, who addresses the lack of size on the roster.

Caruso and Hartenstein are both perfect fits for this roster. They will fit the intricate offensive and defensive system that head coach Mark Daigneault has put in place, predicated on smart cutting and unconventional help rotations that require a high feel on both sides of the ball. They're the highest of high-level role players, which the Celtics showed are vital in postseason success.

3. Mavericks

The Western Conference champions have gotten much better this offseason, addressing their lack of shooting with Klay Thompson and Quentin Grimes. Derrick Jones Jr. is out, but incoming Naji Marshall is a better player.

Another full year of Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving playing together should yield better chemistry on the floor. A supporting cast that works better on paper will only make this group even more dangerous.

MORE:Klay Thompson's father explains why he's 'disappointed' in son's decision

4. Knicks

The Knicks looked like they could be on their way to the Finals before injuries decimated their team. They were unstoppable with O.G. Anunoby, and they added another version of him with Mikal Bridges. They're going to be one of the most vicious defenses in the league.

Jalen Brunson will carry the offense again. He has a little more help now, with the return of Julius Randle and Bridges' shot creation as a third option.

The one weakness on this team is at center. Hartenstein's loss will be felt, particularly if Mitchell Robinson's health remains a problem. Precious Achiuwa also remains unsigned. The Knicks may be forced into playing more small ball, but they have the personnel to pull it off.

5. 76ers

The Sixers remade their team with the acquisition of Paul George. Is that enough to put them ahead of the Knicks as the biggest challengers in the East?

If George and Embiid were guaranteed to play over 70 games, then the answer would be yes. But Embiid has never topped 68 and George has averaged just 62 games per season in his career.

The 76ers will still be very good. Tyrese Maxey is locked up long-term, Andre Drummond is a nice upgrade at backup center and Kelly Oubre Jr. is back. Daryl Morey has always been aggressive in trades, so even more help could be on the way.

6. Timberwolves

The Wolves are in second apron hell and seemingly didn't have avenues to improve from their Western Conference Finals finish last season. They were creative in getting the No. 8 pick in the draft, selecting electric scorer Rob Dillingham. They got another offense-first player in Terrence Shannon Jr. at the end of the first round.

Those two will have to replace the departed Kyle Anderson. Anthony Edwards should also improve as he becomes more accustomed to even more aggressive defensive coverages. The team's defense is always going to keep them near the top of the West.

7. Nuggets

The Nuggets should be dragged more publicly for their offseason moves. They had the best team in the West when the season ended. They got worse by using a ton of their sparse draft capital to dump Reggie Jackson's bloated contract to the Pistons. They then cheaped out on a reasonable contract offer for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, convincing themselves that Christian Braun could fill those minutes.

Any team with Nikola Jokic is going to be one of the best in the West, but they did him a huge disservice by kneecapping his chances at a second title for purely financial reasons.

8. Bucks

Don't ever count out a team with Giannis Antetokounmpo. Injuries came at the worst time of the year for him, and Khris Middleton was hobbled all season.

Even with all of their turmoil, the Bucks still won 49 games. Damian Lillard should be more in shape (conditioning was an issue, according to Doc Rivers), and they will hopefully only have one coach to lead the charge.

Perimeter defense was the team's biggest problem last season. Delon Wright should help in that regard. AJ Johnson was a bizarre selection in the draft for a must-win team. He's not ready to contribute.

NBA DRAFT GRADES: Ranking all 30 teams from best (Lakers) to worst (Bucks)

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Tier 2: Solid playoff teams

9. Magic

Don't sleep on the Magic. They still might not have that true superstar needed to win a championship, but they're the deepest team in the league now. They brought back all of their important veterans aside from Joe Ingles. That usually translates to great regular-season success.

Caldwell-Pope gives Orlando an even more ridiculous slew of defenders and adds some much-needed 3-point shooting.

10. Cavaliers

The last time he was a head coach in the league, Kenny Atkinson got his Nets teams to overachieve. The Cavs had the talent to win more than 48 games last season, but J. B. Bickerstaff couldn't fit the pieces together. They'll have mostly the same roster and hopefully better health next season.

It helps that the Donovan Mitchell trade distractions should be over after he agreed to a three-year extension.

11. Pacers

The Pacers have kept their group together while adding project big man James Wiseman. Tyrese Haliburton has made everyone on that roster look good. Can he do the same for the No. 2 pick of the 2020 draft?

Haliburton should hopefully return to form after struggling through injuries in the second half of the season. Pascal Siakam is locked up for the next four years and should add a few more wins to last season's 47-win total. Not much else has changed on the Pacers' roster.

12. Grizzlies

The last time the Grizzlies went through a one-year tank, they landed Jaren Jackson Jr. in the draft. This year, they took Zach Edey.

Everyone on the Grizzlies' roster got hurt last season en route to 27 wins. But just two seasons ago, they were at 51 wins and second in the West. Ja Morant will be back, and they will be good again.

MORE:Why the Grizzlies drafted Zach Edey higher than expected

13. Pelicans

David Griffin promised changes at the end of the season. He started the process by acquiring Dejounte Murray. Could Brandon Ingram be the next out? It seems headed that way.

The Pelicans lost both of their centers in Jonas Valanciunas and Larry Nance Jr., but they have balanced out their roster and have a higher upside now. Zion Williamson's health is always going to be the franchise's biggest concern. If he can play in 60 games, then they should be a top-six seed in the West.

14. Suns

Phoenix's biggest problems last season were 3-point shooting around its stars, a total lack of depth on its roster and heavy reliance on older players.

The Suns didn't have many avenues to add to their team, but they got some good minimum signings in Monte Morris and Mason Plumlee. A full season of Royce O'Neale will help considerably. But this is still an old group that will struggle through the regular season before trying to kick it up a notch in the playoffs.

15. Heat

Faced with first apron concerns, the Heat haven't done anything notable in the offseason aside from drafting talented center Kel'el Ware. Jimmy Butler will go into the season without getting the extension that he wanted. Will a contract year motivate him to play even better?

The Heat don't have a ton of avenues to improve. Caleb Martin might be gone as well. They will probably stick around last season's 46 wins.

16. Clippers

The Clippers have had one of the weirdest offseasons in the league. They overpaid for James Harden, lost Paul George and added a bunch of mediocre veterans. Russell Westbrook also looks likely to be traded.

Any team with Harden and Kawhi Leonard is going to tread water. The Clippers don't have enough safety nets to deal with when those two miss time, though.

MORE:Inside Paul George's decision to leave Clippers for 76ers

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Tier 3: Fringe playoff teams

17. Warriors

The Warriors lost Klay Thompson and Chris Paul but added quality depth in De'Anthony Melton, Buddy Hield and Kyle Anderson. They did not select in the first round of this year's draft.

Thompson and Andrew Wiggins' poor play along with Draymond Green's constant suspensions were the biggest drivers of Golden State's disappointments last season. The trio of newcomers should be better than Thompson was, but with Curry getting older, the Warriors will likely be battling in Play-In range again.

MORE:Can Buddy Hield be a Klay Thompson replacement for Warriors?

18. Kings

The Kings haven't done much in free agency but added two-way guard Devin Carter in the draft and traded for wing depth with Jalen McDaniels. They've been active in even more trade talks (DeMar DeRozan!), so there could be a move down the line.

Sacramento was tied for the 16th-most wins last season. It's tough to move it from that mark.

19. Lakers

The Lakers have had a disappointing offseason, adding promising rookie Dalton Knecht but not doing anything meaningful in free agency. They're going to run back the same team and hope new coach JJ Redick is a difference-maker. They had great injury luck with Anthony Davis and LeBron James last season. Can that continue?

20. Rockets

The Rockets drafted one of the most NBA-ready shooters at the college level in Reed Sheppard. They got a free look at AJ Griffin thanks to the tax avoidance strategies of the Hawks. They haven't done much else to change their team, but their young players should get a little better.

21. Spurs

The Spurs finished with the fifth-worst record in the league last season. Victor Wembanyama is too good to keep them that low. Chris Paul is a massive upgrade to their guard play, and rookie Stephon Castle should improve their poor defense.

MORE:Why Chris Paul is joining the Spurs for his 20th NBA season

22. Raptors

The Raptors didn't play well to close their season out, but they were trying to keep their draft pick.

A full season with Immanuel Quickley, RJ Barrett, Scottie Barnes and Jakob Poeltl should provide better results.

23. Jazz

Who knows what direction the Jazz are going? They're shopping Lauri Markkanen and took three projects in the draft in Cody Williams, Isaiah Collier and Kyle Filipowski. Drew Eubanks should provide some center depth. Will Hardy is too good of a coach to let them sink too far in the standings.

24. Hawks

The Hawks got worse in trading away Dejounte Murray. No. 1 pick Zaccharie Risacher should give them some more wing depth, though, and Dyson Daniels and Larry Nance Jr. are good rotation pieces. They don't control their own 2025 pick, so they're motivated to try and win this year.

25. Hornets

A healthy LaMelo Ball should help the Hornets immediately improve from their 21 wins. No. 6 pick Tidjane Salaun is very much a project and not ready to contribute to winning basketball yet. They have made no meaningful improvements in free agency, but Charles Lee could give them a new coach bump.

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Tier 4: Capture the Flagg teams

26. Bulls

The Bulls are clearly taking a step back after trading Caruso. DeRozan looks like he's on his way out, and Zach LaVine is being shopped for Burger King coupons. They will be in the Cooper Flagg race.

MORE:Duke's Cooper Flagg headlines USA Select Team for 2024 Paris Olympics

27. Nets

The Nets lost their best player in Mikal Bridges. They're stockpiling picks, trying to build a new iteration of their team. More changes could be on the way.

28. Blazers

The Blazers picked up a nice young piece in Deni Avdija and upgraded their defense with the selection of Donovan Clingan. That won't be enough to keep them competitive in a brutal Western Conference.

29. Wizards

The Wizards signed solid starting center Jonas Valanciunas, along with backup Richaun Holmes to try and improve from last season's 15 wins. They also drafted Alex Sarr and Bub Carrington.

This is still a young team trying not to rush their rebuild. They'll have another great lottery pick next summer.

30. Pistons

How much can J. B. Bickerstaff improve this 14-win team? Ron Holland, taken with the No. 5 pick, is a project who will take a while before he contributes to winning basketball. Tobias Harris will help, but the Pistons are still going to be bad.

NBA power rankings 2024: Where Knicks, Thunder, 76ers, Mavericks & more stand after draft, free agency | Sporting News India (2024)
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