NBA Power Rankings

Updated: Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2023.

By Mike Elworth. Follow Mike @MikeElworth24. For site updates follow @walterfootball.

    Just so you are aware as readers, records mean little to me. This is the All Star break edition, and teams that can actually win a title are ranked No. 1-9 in how likely they are to win a title. I say nine because I only see nine with a chance. There will be teams you disagree with, and you may laugh at Team No. 9, but these are my rankings; the rest of the squads are based on how I see them this season and how I analyze them long term as well.

  1. Milwaukee Bucks
    As I said this in the preseason, during the season, and now, the the Bucks will win the championship. They have the elite shooting and defense needed to win the title - oh, and Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is the the NBA's top player. With Khris Middelton and Joe Ingles getting healthy and the addition of Jae Crowder, they now have the depth needed to properly compete for a championship.

  2. Denver Nuggets
    The Nuggets before Kevin Durant-to-the-Suns were the elite team in the West by quite a lot. Denver is still at the top though to me, mostly because the team has a center averaging a 25-point triple-double. That last clause shouldn't be possible, but Nikola Jokic is a freak and deserves to win his third-straight MVP. The Nuggets also have fantastic secondary players in Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr. and Aaron Gordon, and I loved their recent addition of Reggie Jackson, who made their already elite bench stronger. This is Denver's year; this team will win the West.

  3. Phoenix Suns
    Kevin Durant hasn't played with the Suns, but I have little doubt that he will fit like a glove with Chris Paul, DeAndre Ayton and fellow star Devin Booker. Phoenix is truly lacking depth, although the organization has recently signed Terrence Ross, but the amount of talent in those first four names listed is ridiculous. How quickly this roster gels will tell the story of the team's season.

  4. Boston Celtics
    The Celtics have the NBA's best duo in Jayson Tatum and Jalen Brown, alongside a bench that has more talent than some teams, and probably the best roster in the league. Boston is ranked fourth though because almost half of the team's production comes from that star duo and if one of the two struggles, this club's chances of winning playoffs games are rather low. The Celtics are a regular season juggernaut, but they aren't perfect.

  5. Philadelphia 76ers
    A Joel Embiid/James Harden duo could fizzle in the playoffs, as has been repeatedly proven, but having a third elite scorer in Tyrese Maxey, in my eyes, will help the 76ers go far in the playoffs. I see Philadelphia as slightly lesser than Milwaukee or Boston.

  6. Los Angeles Clippers
    The Clippers disappoint; that's what they managed in the last decade or so of being in the spotlight with Blake Griffin and Chris Paul. Now with Paul Feorge, Kawhi Leonard, and the deepest team in the NBA, the Clippers have what it takes to win a title. And then you add in Russell Westbrook, a guy who can make this a stronger team. I wouldn't bet on the Clippers to win a title, or win more than a playoff series, but they have the talent to win a championship.

  7. Golden State Warriors
    The Warriors may be just 29-30, but as I told you, records mean little to me. This is more true for Golden State, which is the defending champion and still has Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green and Jordan Poole on the roster. As long as the Warriors have prime Stephen Curry, they can win.

  8. Dallas Mavericks
    The Mavericks aren't the eighth-best team in the NBA. In fact, it would be hard to have them amongst the first 10 currently, but with Luka Doncic and the recently acquired Kyrie Irving, the Mavericks have the best offensive player in the NBA and another superstar talent, which alone makes them a contender to me.

  9. Los Angeles Lakers
    If it weren't for the fraction of a percentage chance of the Lakers winning a title, they would be around No. 23-24 in these rankings. Look at their roster and tell me that they can't win; I bet you cant. If I was allowed, I'd give the shrugging emoji.

  10. Memphis Grizzlies
    The Grizzlies are the class of the non-contenders, and as much as I love their roster, which is championship caliber with a little more maturity, why are they acting like the tough guys of the league? Memphis is trying way too hard to be more than it is, and the franchise is just coming off as cheap and odd.

  11. Cleveland Cavaliers
    This young Cavaliers team is special. They are one more season of development, as well as needing one more guy, away from being a contender.

  12. Sacramento Kings
    The Kings will make the playoffs, which alone is huge for a franchise that hasn't been a winner since I was in middle school. The all-star duo of De'Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis is a legitimate foundation, but there is a lot of building still needed. I'm a big fan of Keegan Murray, and Kevin Hueter and Malik Monk are keepers, but Sacramento needs to find that third foundation piece and get some more size to guarantee it stays a winning team.

  13. New Orleans Pelicans
    The Pelicans have Zion Williamson as their man and perfect second and third options in Brandon Ingram and C.J. McCollum, but the big question when it comes to the team is whether Williamson can be the lead-dog of a title team. No all-star is signing with New Orleans, and there are really only so many tweaks that can be made, so again, the Williamson question defines this team.

  14. Miami Heat
    The Heat could legitimately beat most teams in a seven-game series, and I love Kevin Love for this squad, but Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler cannot be the two leaders on a title team. I think Miami is missing a superstar or at least a third guy on the same level as Adebayo and Butler.

  15. Brooklyn Nets
    After the Heat and Pelicans, the NBA slips to another tier; the solid playoff teams that won't win much now, or later, as is. The Nets would be a contender if they still had their two stars, but their reshaped roster led by Nik Claxton and Mikal Bridges is really solid. As for Ben Simmons, I have no idea how or if Brooklyn should use him.

  16. New York Knicks
    Knicks fans were annoyed about a comment I made about the team, which I'll admit I was incorrect about - Jalen Brunson being overpaid -, but I still say that a team led by Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson will not win in the playoffs; there is no chance that the Knicks can beat the Celtics, Cavaliers, Bucks or 76ers in a series.

  17. Toronto Raptors
    Well, I thought Toronto would be a much-lesser squads than it is right now, but the organization isn't in a rebuilding mood after trading for Jakob Poeltl and is one of the hottest teams in the league. I have no idea why the Raptors aren't rebuilding, but I applaud them for actually trying to win.

  18. Minnesota Timberwolves
    Basically, trading D'Angelo Russell for Mike Conley Jr. made the Timberwolves a lesser team in talent, but it might just be what they needed. With Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards, Minnesota really didn't need another big-time scorer, but a solid, steadf, true point guard like Conley could be what the roster needs leading the offense, plus Conley is a much stronger defender. If the secondary scorers can increase their scoring numbers, Minnesota may just be a superior team.

  19. Utah Jazz
    The Jazz can try as they may, but the roster refuses to tank, I love it. Lauri Markkanen has been fantastic, and Walker Kessler, the rookie center who was almost a throw-in when talking about the Rudy Gay trade, has become Utah's franchise center. The Jazz have a random thrown-together roster that just wins games.

  20. Oklahoma City Thunder
    Oklahoma City is another franchise that wanted to tank, but that party was spoiled quickly by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander becoming one of the NBA's elite players this season. The Thunder have a fun group of young players after him, but really, this is Gilgeous-Alexander's show.

  21. Atlanta Hawks
    The Hawks should be a 35-25 team, but they have a .500 record. They recently fired their coach, which should help, but their biggest problem has been Trae Young. You see his fancy 27 points and 10 assists and then assume we are talking about a superstar. However, his field goal perentage is poor, his three-point percentage is ugly, and he really seems to like to give the ball away - on average four turnovers per game. The Atlanta roster is far too talented to keep losing like this, but the team is a mess.

  22. Portland Trail Blazers
    Damian Lillard is a wizard; his stats are just ridiculous. It's a shame Portland cannot scrap together a competent team. The Trail Blazers have so many scorers, but need more defense. They made a strong start by trading for Matisse Thybulle, who is an ace defender at shooting guard, but they really need to find themselves a defensive big who can carry the defense, which would allow Lillard and their scorers to, well, score.

  23. Chicago Bulls
    Count me among the few who still think Zach Lavine can still be an NBA superstar, but Chicago issues aren't his fault. I blame Billy Donovan and Lonzo Ball's knee. I love the addition of Patrick Beverley, and the Bulls still have a run in them. They are a team with two stars in Lavine and Demar DeRozan, who nobody will wants to see in the playoffs.

  24. Washington Wizards
    The Wizards should have dealt Kyle Kuzma because they could have received as many as three first-rounders for him. He will be a free agent after the season and will leave town, and Washington could have used those picks to retool around Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis, who should form a new foundation. The Wizards will need a few more bigger pieces to become a contender, but they already have two big-time pieces in place.

  25. Indiana Pacers
    You know, I knew Indiana's fantastic start wouldn't continue given that the team is simply really, really young. Regardless, the Pacers have a star in Tyrese Haliburton, another likely star in rookie stud Bennedict Mathurin, and a really deep roster of young talents. I love that the Pacers re-signed Myles Turner, but they should also re-sign Buddy Hield.

  26. Orlando Magic
    The Magic are a fun team thast is building a strong roster. Paulo Banchero is a star, and with him, Orlando has a chance to build an excellent team.

  27. Detroit Pistons
    The Pistons are missing star guard Cade Cunningham, which is rough, but I love that they added James Wiseman, who I still think can be a star in the NBA. Jalen Duren and Jaden Ivey look like fantastic secondary talents, and with Bojan Bogdanovic, Detroit has a really strong foundation.

  28. Charlotte Hornets
    When LaMelo Ball is healthy, Charlotte is fun, as he is a truly fantastic young talent, but the team cannot properly rebuild with so many older guys playing big roles. The Hornets are too old to be a fun young team right now, and is instead just a pathetic team.

  29. Houston Rockets
    Not only are the Rockets a porous basketball team with a leaguelow in wins this season, they have issues as a franchise. Jalen Green and Alpernen Sengun are fantastic, but Houston needs to improve as a team and a franchise.

  30. San Antonio Spurs
    The Spurs are hilariously pathetic. They have lost 15 straight games, which shouldn't actually be possible and have an incredibly hilarious defense. They must really, really - and I mean really - want Victor Wembanyama.


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