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Early NBA Power Rankings: Last Two NBA Champions Top the List

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BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JUNE 16: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors warms up prior to Game Six of the 2022 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on June 16, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. Elsa/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by ELSA / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

As the winners of the last two NBA championships, the Golden State Warriors and Milwaukee Bucks lead our early preseason power rankings. With the NBA offseason in full swing, find out where your favorite team ranks as the season approaches.

Our NBA power rankings are feeling a little chalky at the top, but as long as Giannis Antetokounmpo or Stephen Curry are playing for either of these franchises, it seems justified.

Should the New Orleans Pelicans be ranked even higher than they are?

The following are our latest early NBA Power Rankings: 

1. Golden State Warriors

It is impossible not to place the defending champions at the top, especially since they return their core of Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole. As well as these players, the Warriors also have some young talent on the horizon in the form of James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga, and Moses Moody.

2. Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks will be very high on my power rankings as long as Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday are playing together in Milwaukee. Despite the absence of Middleton, the Bucks were almost able to defeat the Boston Celtics in the playoffs.

3. Philadelphia 76ers

I believe we are going to see a very different James Harden this season as he is motivated to win a championship with the Philadelphia 76ers. This, coupled with Joel Embiid and the emerging Tyrese Maxey, makes the 76ers a very dangerous team.

4. Boston Celtics

The Celtics are the odds-on favorites to win the NBA Championship following the addition of Malcolm Brogdon and Danilo Gallinari to their roster. As a result of the leaked rumors that Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart were offered to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Kevin Durant, I am somewhat concerned about the chemistry in the locker room.

5. Denver Nuggets

To go along with back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic, the Denver Nuggets will add a healthy Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. to their roster this season. Despite the absence of both of these players, the Nuggets were able to win 48 games last season, creating high expectations for the Nuggets in Denver this coming year.

6. Memphis Grizzlies

Last season, the Memphis Grizzlies ranked fifth in the NBA with a NETRTG of 5.3. Despite the fact that they were without Ja Morant for much of the series, the Memphis Grizzlies took the eventual NBA Champion Warriors to six games. I think they made the right decision by running it back with the same core of players this season.

7. Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers can be an extremely dangerous team if they can get Kawhi Leonard and Paul George on the court together at the same time. Additionally, they added John Wall in the offseason who will be on a revenge tour. I rank the Clippers slightly lower than most people would because we haven’t seen the Leonard, George era play out as we expected.

8. Phoenix Suns

It is for many reasons that I am down on the Phoenix Suns heading into the 2022-2023 season, but most notably that I think they really messed up their offseason. With the Kevin Durant rumors, they disrupted the entire locker room and then doubled down by re-signing Deandre Ayton, even though I am not certain he wanted to return. In my opinion, the Suns might have missed their opportunity to win an NBA championship with Chris Paul.

9. Miami Heat

Erik Spoelstra is one of the best coaches in the NBA, but the Miami Heat need another superstar to carry the load in the playoffs. They still lean heavily on Jimmy Butler and haven’t gotten him any help.

10. New Orleans Pelicans

Don’t underestimate the New Orleans Pelicans heading into the 2022-2023 season. Although I wanted to rank them higher, I felt it was an overreaction without having seen Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson and CJ McCollum play together. There is no doubt that the Pelicans possess one of the most talented rosters in the NBA.

11. Dallas Mavericks

The Dallas Mavericks reached the Western Conference Finals last season, but they continue to rely heavily on Luka Doncic. This offseason, they acquired Christian Wood in a trade, but they also lost Jalen Brunson to the New York Knicks in free agency. I just wish they would make some changes to Doncic’s supporting cast.

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12. Los Angeles Lakers

In addition to LeBron James’ age, Anthony Davis is unable to remain healthy. In order for the Los Angeles Lakers to remain competitive in the Western Conference, they must acquire Kyrie Irving. The Lakers ranked 22nd in NETRTG last season.

13. Minnesota Timberwolves

The Minnesota Timberwolves went all in when they acquired Rudy Gobert from the Utah Jazz. Even though I respect the decision to try to win an NBA Championship, I am not certain pairing Gobert and Karl Anthony-Towns together was the right move.

14. Toronto Raptors

In Scottie Barnes, Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby, the Toronto Raptors have a solid core of players, but they lack the superstar necessary to win in the NBA. In order to acquire Kevin Durant, will the Raptors break up this core?

15. Atlanta Hawks

With the acquisition of Dejounte Murray from the San Antonio Spurs, the Atlanta Hawks made one of the biggest moves of the offseason. As part of his preparation for his first season with the Hawks, Murray has been embarrassing players in Pro-Am leagues this summer.

16. Chicago Bulls

Zach LaVine returned to the Chicago Bulls this summer, which was their main priority, but with no other significant changes to their roster, they remain in the middle of the pack.

17. Portland Trail Blazers

As Damian Lillard remains loyal to the Portland Trail Blazers, the franchise is trying to remain competitive. This offseason, they acquired Jerami Grant from the Detroit Pistons and signed Jusuf Nurkic. The success of the Trail Blazers this season will be greatly influenced by the emergence of guard Anfernee Simons.

18. Charlotte Hornets

As a result of Miles Bridges’ arrest for domestic violence charges, the Charlotte Hornets offseason was derailed. They had set aside money to re-sign Bridges, but now find themselves without him and without any replacements on the roster. Mark Williams is a great addition to the Hornets, but once again they are in the middle of the pack.

19. New York Knicks

During the Pro City NYC Playoffs, Jalen Brunson, Julius Randle, and Obi Toppin played together and lost by 13 points to a team led by Jordan Aaron and Jordan Washington. I cannot think of anything more Knicks than that.

20. Cleveland Cavaliers

It will be vital for Evan Mobley and Darius Garland to take the next step in the 2022-2023 season, as the Cleveland Cavaliers were much better than we expected them to be last season. The Cavaliers have yet to re-sign restricted free agent Collin Sexton.

21. Brooklyn Nets

The Brooklyn Nets are difficult to rank because they still have Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on their roster, but I anticipate that both will be traded before the offseason is over. Both players should provide the Nets with a good enough return to remain competitive.

22. Washington Wizards

Two major moves were made by the Washington Wizards this offseason. The first was the resigning of Bradley Beal as the cornerstone of the franchise, and the second was the bringing back of the blue jerseys. When I was growing up, this was one of my favorite jerseys, as I own two of them, one being a Michael Jordan jersey and the other a Gilbert Arenas jersey.

23. Sacramento Kings

The Sacramento Kings will be hoping that new head coach Mike Brown can bring some wins from the Warriors with him. With De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis leading the way, the Kings have the potential to rise quickly in the power rankings.

24. Detroit Pistons

There is no doubt that the Pistons will be a force to be reckoned with very soon, but I believe we will see another season of growing pains. They are definitely heading in the right direction, but they need time to grow.

25. Orlando Magic

This season, I would not be surprised if the Orlando Magic climb the power rankings and improve on their record significantly. The addition of Paolo Banchero, the No. 1 overall pick, is going to do wonders for this team. Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac, who sat out with injuries last season, should be returning to action this season as well.

26. Indiana Pacers

Despite making a run for Deandre Ayton, the Indiana Pacers were unable to acquire him after the Suns re-signed him. Consequently, the Pacers find themselves in a tough spot because they are not good enough to win but are not bad enough to tank.

27. Utah Jazz

It is clear that the Utah Jazz are planning to tank and rebuild their roster through the draft. I anticipate that Donovan Mitchell will be traded before the season begins. Their roster is still better than those of other tanking teams, which is why they are ranked 27th.

28. Oklahoma City Thunder

The Oklahoma City Thunder are in a position where they may be able to win more games, but I believe management will take a strategic approach to this in order to maintain their draft position. Once again, I expect them to finish near the bottom of the NBA standings.

29. San Antonio Spurs

Known for having one of the best international scouting departments in the NBA, the San Antonio Spurs are well aware of who is available in the upcoming draft. During this coming season, I expect the Spurs to pull off one of the best tank jobs of any NBA team in an attempt to land Victor Wembanyama.

30. Houston Rockets

After falling to No. 3, the Houston Rockets were able to select Jabari Smith Jr. The Rockets will once again finish near the bottom of the NBA as its roster is far from ready to compete for a playoff spot.

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