NBA Power Rankings, way-too-early edition: Our first look at 2022-23

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The Golden State Warriors are the 2022 NBA champions, Stephen Curry has his long-awaited Finals MVP award and the Warriors’ big three of Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green tallied title No. 4.

OK, what’s next?

After battling in the Finals, where do the Warriors and Boston Celtics check in for the 2022-23 season? What about Eastern Conference contenders such as the Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers after falling short of their playoff goals this season?

What lies ahead for the Phoenix Suns — the league’s best regular-season team in 2021-22 — ahead of a massive offseason decision surrounding center Deandre Ayton? Where do LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the Los Angeles Lakers land after failing to reach the play-in tournament?

Yes, it’s way too early. But before we hit the draft and free agency, let’s take stock of the current landscape of the league.

Note: These rankings are based on where the members of our panel (ESPN’s Kendra Andrews, Tim Bontemps, Jamal Collier, Nick Friedell, Andrew Lopez, Tim MacMahon, Dave McMenamin, Kevin Pelton and Ohm Youngmisuk) think teams belong heading into next season, taking into account potential player movement and the draft. Title odds for 2023 by Caesars Sportsbook.

MORE: Moments that supercharged the return of the Dubs dynasty


1. Golden State Warriors
2021-22 record: 53-29
Result: NBA champions
2023 title odds: +500

Fresh off their fourth championship in the past eight seasons, the Warriors have much to celebrate, including the return of Klay Thompson and the emergence of Jordan Poole. Still, they have a big offseason ahead. Golden State has just eight players locked in to its roster, with some key free agents, including Kevon Looney and Gary Payton II, and an option to pick up Andrew Wiggins. The Warriors are already the highest-spending team in the league, and as much as they would like to run it back with this title-winning group, it’s unclear whether that’s a possibility. — Andrews


2. Boston Celtics
2021-22 record: 51-31
Result: Lost in NBA Finals
2023 title odds: +600

It was a remarkable turnaround for Boston, which went from being under .500 in late January to within two games of winning an NBA title. Ultimately, though, Boston’s loss to the Warriors in the NBA Finals was proof of the growth that’s still left for this group to get where it wants to go – namely at the offensive end of the court. Turnovers and cold spells offensively proved to be the difference against Golden State, and will be the places Boston looks to improve moving forward. — Bontemps


3. Milwaukee Bucks
2021-22 record: 51-31
Result: Lost in East semis
2023 title odds: +750

Timing and health are two of the biggest roadblocks that can prevent a title team from repeating, so it’s fair if Milwaukee fans are still wondering “what if” Khris Middleton had been available for the Bucks’ second-round exit against the Celtics. Yet, playing the postseason without Middleton exposed some of the Bucks’ weaknesses, especially on the wings. For a run at another championship they will need to retool around their best three players: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday and Middleton. — Collier


4. Memphis Grizzlies
2021-22 record: 56-26
Result: Lost in West semis
2023 title odds: +1600

Signing Ja Morant to a potential supermax rookie extension is an easy decision for general manager Zach Kleiman, who earned the Executive of the Year honor as the architect of the Grizzlies’ rapid rebuild. Kleiman has more difficult decisions to make regarding the free agency of Tyus Jones and Kyle Anderson, a pair of veterans who have been quality role players, as well as how aggressive to be in the trade market, where the Grizzlies’ first-round picks acquired in previous deals could be valuable commodities. — MacMahon


5. Dallas Mavericks
2021-22 record: 52-30
Result: Lost in West finals
2023 title odds: +1600

The Mavs are confident that they will re-sign Jalen Brunson in the wake of their run to the West finals. He will likely again be Dallas’ second-best player, behind Luka Doncic, as GM Nico Harrison is handcuffed by the Mavs being well into luxury tax territory with limited first-round picks to dangle in trade packages. Dallas hopes to add an athletic big man and wing depth. — MacMahon

MORE: Jalen Brunson’s star turn has massive free agency implications


6. Miami Heat
2021-22 record: 53-29
Result: Lost in East Finals
2023 title odds: +1400

Pat Riley & Co. have to figure out if they can find the number that makes the most sense for a Tyler Herro extension. They also have to wait and see if P.J. Tucker is going to pick up his player option for next season. Both Riley and coach Erik Spoelstra made it clear at the end of the season that they would love to find a way to bring Tucker back, even if he opts out. It remains to be seen what the market is for veteran Victor Oladipo as he continues to work his way back from injuries that derailed his past few seasons. Riley also made it clear that he wants to see veteran point guard Kyle Lowry get into better shape, but the 77-year-old president seems content with bringing the same core back, led by Jimmy Butler. — Friedell


7. Phoenix Suns
2021-22 record: 64-18
Result: Lost in West semis
2023 title odds: +800

This will be the summer of Deandre Ayton in the desert. It’s just a matter of whether he is able to come to an agreement on an extension or Phoenix ends up helping him find a new home via a sign-and-trade. The Suns couldn’t come to terms with Ayton on an extension last summer, setting up a showdown for this summer when he can become a restricted free agent. Now, that showdown is here. — Lopez


8. LA Clippers
2021-22 record: 42-40
Result: Lost in Play-In Tournament
2023 title odds: +800

The Clippers are expected to be title contenders with Kawhi Leonard set to return after missing all of last season while rehabbing a torn ACL. A healthy Leonard and Paul George are as good as any duo in the league, but their supporting cast is arguably deeper than ever. The Clippers’ midseason trade for Norman Powell and Robert Covington added a legit third offensive scorer and another defensive player to a team stacked with them. Coach Ty Lue could play a lineup of all interchangeable parts that can switch defensively with the likes of Nic Batum and Marcus Morris Sr. adding versatility. Reggie Jackson will have more in the tank now that he doesn’t have to carry the offensive load like he did last season. And Ivica Zubac, Luke Kennard and Terance Mann have shown glimpses of what they can do with bigger opportunities. — Youngmisuk


9. Denver Nuggets
2021-22 record: 48-34
Result: Lost in Round 1
2023 title odds: +2200

The Nuggets say they are entering a phase of their organization that they’ve never talked about before: It’s championship or bust. With back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic, and the returns of Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr., Denver will finally have its full core back together. It’s not clear, however, if those pieces will be enough with the Nuggets’ supporting cast. And if not, who exactly can they target to help carry them over the hump in the West? — Andrews


10. Brooklyn Nets
2021-22 record: 44-38
Result: Lost in Round 1
2023 title odds: +600

Brooklyn remains in a holding pattern as it waits to see if Kyrie Irving picks up his player option heading into the summer. Nets general manager Sean Marks made it clear at his end-of-season press conference that the Nets want players who are committed to being part of the team, and Irving hasn’t proven that he can be counted on to play every game — especially after missing the bulk of New York City home games last season after declining to get the COVID-19 vaccination. As the Nets wait to decide what to do with Irving moving forward, they also have to hope that Ben Simmons recovers from back surgery and is able to play at a high level again next season. Veteran center Andre Drummond played well for the Nets after being acquired from Philadelphia in the Simmons trade, but given the money already on the books, it remains unclear whether Brooklyn will be able to re-sign him. — Friedell


11. Philadelphia 76ers
2021-22 record: 51-31
Result: Lost in East semis
2023 title odds: +1600

Who could’ve guessed it would be a drama-filled offseason in Philadelphia? Well, anyone, given that’s been the case for the past eight or nine years now. Next up for the 76ers? Deciding how to proceed with James Harden after making the blockbuster Ben Simmons trade to acquire him at the February trade deadline. Will Harden get the max? Will he pick up his option? Will the two sides compromise on something else? How both sides proceed will be a defining moment for the franchise as superstar center Joel Embiid hits his prime and will be on his own supermax deal for the next several seasons. — Bontemps

MORE: James Harden’s performance reveals the uncertain future for the 76ers’ star duo


12. Minnesota Timberwolves
2021-22 record: 46-36
Result: Lost in Round 1
2023 title odds: +6000

After returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2018 and giving the Memphis Grizzlies a scare in the opening round, Minnesota has all eight players who saw at least 70 minutes of action in the series under contract for 2022-23. That means the biggest task for new president Tim Connelly is a possible extension for center Karl-Anthony Towns, who is supermax eligible after making the All-NBA third team. Bigger changes may be in store in 2023, when the Timberwolves could create max-level cap room entering the final season of Anthony Edwards‘ rookie contract. — Pelton


13. Chicago Bulls
2021-22 record: 46-36
Result: Lost in Round 1
2023 title odds: +6000

The Bulls returned to relevance in 2021-22, making the postseason for the first time in four years behind a career year from DeMar DeRozan. Now comes the hard part: elevating from being merely good to competing for a championship. After overhauling the roster for the past 18 months, management has preached continuity with the team’s core and signaled its intent to re-sign Zach LaVine in free agency. — Collier


14. Utah Jazz
2021-22 record: 49-33
Result: Lost in West semis
2023 title odds: +5000

Selecting a replacement for head coach Quin Snyder, who recently resigned, won’t be the only potentially franchise-altering call made by Danny Ainge and the Jazz front office. It’s been made clear that Utah will try to remain competitive with Donovan Mitchell as the face of the franchise. There’s an anticipation around the league that Rudy Gobert will get traded this summer, but the Jazz have sent strong signals that they won’t settle for anything but a massive haul in return for the perennial All-Star center. — MacMahon


15. Toronto Raptors
2021-22 record: 48-34
Result: Lost in Round 1
2023 title odds: +6000

Last season was an unqualified success in Toronto, thanks to both Pascal Siakam returning to All-NBA-caliber play and Scottie Barnes being the NBA’s Rookie of the Year. After getting back into the playoffs, the question now is how to take another step forward in what is an incredibly competitive top of the Eastern Conference. Doing so is going to take an additional infusion of talent for a team that, as of now, is lacking in salary-cap space and extra draft assets to go get it. Still, there are plenty of teams that would be happy to have a core of Siakam, Barnes, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby and Gary Trent. — Bontemps


16. New Orleans Pelicans
2021-22 record: 36-46
Result: Lost in Round 1
2023 title odds: +6000

Once things are taken care of with Zion Williamson‘s looming extension talks — he’s made it clear he wants to be in New Orleans — the Pelicans can focus on improving a roster that made a surprise run to the first round of the NBA playoffs. New Orleans has 14 guaranteed contracts, as well as three picks in the draft. There’s not much wiggle room for added players, unless the Pelicans look to make some deals. — Lopez


17. Los Angeles Lakers
2021-22 record: 33-49
Result: Missed playoffs
2023 title odds: +2200

Still fewer than 24 months removed from a championship, the Lakers began the arduous process of finding their way back to a championship contention by choosing Darvin Ham to be the new head coach. There’s plenty of work left to do, with as many as seven roster spots needing to be filled and, of course, the Russell Westbrook conundrum. Hiring Ham is a good first step, at least. — McMenamin


18. Cleveland Cavaliers
2021-22 record: 44-38
Result: Lost in East play-in
2023 title odds: +8000

Cleveland failed to reach a contract extension with Collin Sexton prior to last season, and now he enters the summer as a restricted free agent. Once the pride of the franchise for his development as a fierce competitor in the wake of LeBron James‘ departure, Sexton has been leapfrogged as a prospect by All-Star Darius Garland and Rookie of the Year runner-up Evan Mobley. It will be fascinating to see what the market will be for him after knee surgery limited him to just 11 games last year. How much will the Cavs be willing to pay to match a potential outside offer? — McMenamin


19. Atlanta Hawks
2021-22 record: 43-39
Result: Lost in Round 1
2023 title odds: +6000

Atlanta handed out $300 million in new contracts last summer after making the Eastern Conference finals, but there’s a looming decision to make about whether or not to pay the luxury tax after a disappointing end to the 2021-22 season. The easiest way to do so is by waiving Danilo Gallinari, who is set to be paid $21.5 million in 2022-23, since only $5 million is guaranteed. They could get under the tax easily if they do so by June 29. — Lopez


20. Charlotte Hornets
2021-22 record: 43-39
Result: Lost in East play-in
2023 title odds: +12500

New coach Kenny Atkinson will be tasked with doing what his predecessor, James Borrego, was unable to: turn the Hornets into a competent defensive group. Of course, Borrego also was never given the kind of rim-protecting center this team needed to really take a significant step forward at that end of the court, either. The other big question in Charlotte this summer: What will happen with Miles Bridges, as the high-flying forward — and perfect complement to LaMelo Ball — hits restricted free agency, where he will all but certainly command a hefty price tag. — Bontemps


21. San Antonio Spurs
2021-22 record: 34-48
Result: Lost in West play-in
2023 title odds: +25000

After back-to-back play-in tournament defeats, the Spurs have a chance to make a splash this offseason with three first-round picks (Nos. 9, 20 and 25). They are one of a handful of teams that enter the offseason with cap space. San Antonio has a young core in place with Dejounte Murray, Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell. Add in the picks and cap space, and they have a chance to get back to the playoffs in 2022-23. — Lopez


22. New York Knicks
2021-22 record: 37-45
Result: Missed playoffs
2023 title odds: +15000

Another year, another Knicks lottery pick and hopes among the team’s fanbase of landing a big star in a trade. Under president of basketball operations Leon Rose, the Knicks have been methodical in their spending and accumulation of assets. This summer, though, they could be a lot busier, as there’s been plenty of links between them and Mavericks free agent guard Jalen Brunson — including his father, Rick, being hired by coach Tom Thibodeau. New York also has to decide what to do with unrestricted free agent center Mitchell Robinson, as well as whether they can come to an agreement on a rookie contract extension with RJ Barrett. — Bontemps


23. Portland Trail Blazers
2021-22 record: 27-55
Result: Missed playoffs
2023 title odds: +12500

Portland is rebuilding around Damian Lillard after trading away CJ McCollum and Norman Powell last season. Anfernee Simons showed what he can do with a bigger role, and Josh Hart is a nice complementary piece. It remains to be seen what the Blazers do with the No. 7 pick in Thursday’s draft. Portland has some draft assets, trade exceptions and the ability to free some cap space. But the bottom line: Portland has to find talent to surround Dame. — Youngmisuk


24. Washington Wizards
2021-22 record: 35-47
Result: Missed playoffs
2023 title odds: +50000

As has been the case for the past several years, Washington’s future is centered on keeping Bradley Beal happy with a contending roster. Beal has indicated that he will remain with the Wizards, who can sign the guard to a $248 million contract. Washington traded for Kristaps Porzingis at the 2022 deadline and have a core of young forwards in Kyle Kuzma, Rui Hachimura, Deni Avdija and Corey Kispert. What the Wizards can really use is a point guard. They have the No. 10 pick in the draft. — Youngmisuk


25. Sacramento Kings
2021-22 record: 30-52
Result: Missed postseason
2023 title odds: +100000

It’s been an excruciating 16-year drought without a postseason appearance for the Kings franchise. Since Rick Adelman vacated the seat as the most successful coach in Kings history, Sacramento cycled through 11 different coaches before hiring Mike Brown away from the Golden State Warriors’ staff this offseason. The 2008-09 Coach of the Year has made the playoffs in five of his seven years as the top guy, not to mention countless runs as an assistant. Maybe he’ll be the guy to break the streak. — McMenamin


26. Indiana Pacers
2021-22 record: 25-57
Result: Missed postseason
2023 title odds: +75000

A 25-57 season turned into Indiana’s highest draft pick (No. 6 overall) since taking Rik Smits No. 2 in 1988. If they get someone who can help immediately, the Pacers could compete for a playoff spot with a full season from deadline pickup Tyrese Haliburton and a healthy Myles Turner to anchor the defense. The forward spots are the biggest need for Indiana, which dealt away Domantas Sabonis to get Haliburton and sees T.J. Warren hit unrestricted free agency after being sidelined since December 2020 by consecutive stress fractures in his left foot. — Pelton


27. Detroit Pistons
2021-22 record: 23-59
Result: Missed postseason
2023 title odds: +75000

The Pistons found their centerpiece in the draft one year ago, selecting Cade Cunningham with the No. 1 overall pick. And while their improvements on the court were minimal, Detroit’s first offseason to build around Cunningham with more talent, and perhaps a true running mate, has arrived. — Collier


28. Oklahoma City Thunder
2021-22 record: 24-58
Result: Missed postseason
2023 title odds: +100000

The 2022 lottery was much kinder to Oklahoma City than the year before, when the Thunder not only dropped to sixth but also saw the Houston Rockets retain their top-three protected pick. This time around, Oklahoma City’s combination came up second, giving the Thunder a chance to take either Chet Holmgren or Jabari Smith Jr.; Oklahoma City also holds the 12th and 30th picks via trade, likely adding more frontcourt talent to a roster currently built around young guards Luguentz Dort, Josh Giddey and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. — Pelton


29. Houston Rockets
2021-22 record: 20-62
Result: Missed postseason
2023 title odds: +100000

It’s still early in the Rockets’ rebuild. Houston needs to land a franchise cornerstone with the No. 3 overall pick to pair with Jalen Green, who had a promising finish to his rookie year. There has been hope that Kevin Porter Jr. can be that type of player, but the Rockets are expected to approach his rookie extension talks with caution — if at all. After dealing Christian Wood to the Mavericks, Eric Gordon remains as a productive veteran whose best value to the Rockets is probably as trade bait. — MacMahon


30. Orlando Magic
2020-21 record: 22-60
Result: Missed postseason
2023 title odds: +100000

There is finally a little excitement again in Orlando surrounding this young group’s future. That’s because the No. 1 pick in next week’s draft gives more hope to an organization in desperate need of it. No matter which direction the Magic take with the first pick, they have to trust that second-year coach Jamahl Mosley and his staff will continue to develop Markelle Fultz, Wendell Carter Jr., Cole Anthony and Jalen Suggs. On top of the needed improvements from the younger players, the Magic have to trust that Jonathan Isaac will make an impact next year after missing the last two seasons while rehabbing from an ACL injury suffered in the 2020 NBA Bubble. — Friedell

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