After acquiring Kevin Durant, where do the Phoenix Suns stand? Do the Los Angeles Lakers in their new look have a chance to go to the Finals? Who is keeping an eye on Wemby? Following a deadline filled with activity, we rank all 30 clubs. After a chaotic trade deadline, I’ve ranked all 30 teams according to how likely I believe they are to win the NBA Finals. As a result, this list is arbitrary and not based on current rankings. Let’s start at the bottom of the league and work our way up:
|22||Trail Blazers (27-29)||West|
Boston: The Celtics’ deadline was quiet, but it didn’t have to be. Behind Al Horford and the frequently injured Robert Williams, Boston mostly needed additional big man depth. The Celtics acquired a large-framed stretch shooter from the Thunder in Mike Muscala after passing on Jakob Poeltl. The Celtics will remain a favorite as long as Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown continue to play at an All-NBA level because Boston has by far the finest depth in the league.
Denver: The arrival of big Thomas Bryant will increase the Nuggets’ depth behind Nikola Jokic, even though Bones Hyland’s departure hampers their bench scoring. The Nuggets’ supporters might not be pleased with this position in my rankings given that they currently lead the Western Conference. Just giving the more experienced postseason teams the advantage. However, the Nuggets have all the necessary tools to prevail. Jokic has a greater supporting cast than ever thanks to Aaron Gordon’s All-Star performance, Jamal Murray’s return to form, and Michael Porter Jr.’s appearance.
Milwaukee: The 39 games Khris Middleton has missed. Jrue Holiday missed eleven. However, the Bucks are only separated by one game from the Celtics for the best record in the NBA. Giannis Antetokounmpo’s ongoing dominance—32.3 points, 12.4 rebounds, 5.4 assists, and Defensive Player of the Year-caliber defense—is primarily to thank for this. Giannis, Middleton, and Holiday push the Bucks to a 12-2 record when they all play, and now Jae Crowder will assist in the 3-and-D. Even though Crowder’s perimeter defense has deteriorated due to his absence this season, he still outperforms Grayson Allen at crucial moments of the game. In order to help the best player in the world as he pursues his second title, Milwaukee’s roster is beginning to take form.
Phoenix: The Suns now have a greater ceiling than they had even when they reached the Finals two years ago because to the addition of a player named Kevin Durant. As long as Chris Paul maintains getting in shape and Deandre Ayton puts in maximum effort once more, KD and Devin Booker might be one of the most powerful tandems in recent league history. They’ll have one of the best cores in the NBA. Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson were both terrific role players that were lost in exchange for Durant. The defense is more likely to retreat. Bridges’ loss stings, but not as much as it would seem if Durant continues to play solid defense. The Suns might not have reached their peak of development given the impending buyout targets.
Even though Golden State hasn’t been particularly impressive during the regular season, I can’t write this team out because of their strong eight- or nine-man playoff rotation. With the exception of Otto Porter, the Warriors from last year have essentially been reassembled since Gary Payton II was acquired at the deadline for James Wiseman. However, with Jonathan Kuminga on the rise, Porter’s reserve position may be filled or perhaps enhanced. This season still has plenty of time left, and the Warriors are only 1.5 games away from clinching home-court advantage. Be cautious.
Philadelphia: By trading Matisse Thybulle for Jalen McDaniels at the trade deadline, Daryl Morey avoided paying the luxury tax and added a number of future draft selections. Thybulle is an all-around defender, but McDaniels is in the same league, at least when he’s totally focused as a multi-positional off-ball chaos maker. Additionally, he has a far stronger attacking presence than Thybulle, which may allow him to see more action as a backup. But with Doc Rivers in charge, it’s hard to choose Philadelphia as a favorite since he struggles to make changes, opts for all-bench lineups, and has a rotational sense. It could be essential for Philly to suffer another postseason defeat before being forced to hire a coach who can develop the roster’s talent.
Los Ángeles Clippers: The Clippers have the talent to be ranked higher. But with the level of optimism needed to think that Kawhi Leonard and Paul George can stay healthy, they do belong in this group. Can you truly rely on them to show up? The Clippers’ deadline purchases are good. Ivica Zubac will be able to conserve energy for the playoffs by using Mason Plumlee to fill center minutes. Backcourt scoring punch will be provided by Eric Gordon and Bones Hyland. Depending on how the buyout market develops, they could still be making additions. In the end, this team’s chances depend entirely on Kawhi maintaining his recent level of dominance. I really hope he can keep going so they have a chance.
Memphis: Luke Kennard is a solid addition and an instant system fit as a knockdown shooter who can fill a position similar to Desmond Bane’s for the Grizzlies, but he doesn’t exactly shift the needle for the team. Without Steven Adams, Memphis has recently struggled, while the rest of the West improved significantly. There is no denying anything. Ja Morant was wrong when she said that the Grizzlies are no longer “fine in the West.
Dallas: The combination of Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic may be unstoppable. They will use Christian Wood as a roll or pop target since they are two of the game’s best isolation and pick-and-roll scorers. But because Doncic will have to give up touches and Irving will have to move further away from the ball, both guards will have to adapt to slightly different roles. Wood himself will have to put up with fewer scoring opportunities. If it becomes your turn/my turn basketball, this will go south. Additionally, the Mavs will have to rely more on Josh Green as a replacement for Dorian Finney-Smith. Their collective defense isn’t even close to being on par with that of other contenders.
Los Ángeles Lakers: With one of the best duos in the NBA you still have to consider them. I loved what they did at the deadline to add solid rotation pieces around LeBron James and Anthony Davis. My concern is more the health of Davis and LeBron. Davis hasn’t looked like he did in November and LeBron just missed a game with plantar fasciitis. If healhty then I believe they could contend with the reinforcements they added.