NBA Power Rankings: Post-free agency and trade season edition

Chicago Bulls, NBA Power Rankings (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Chicago Bulls, NBA Power Rankings (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /
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Pascal Siakam, Ayo Dosunmu, NBA Power Rankings, Chicago Bulls
Pascal Siakam, Ayo Dosunmu, NBA Power Rankings (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /

NBA Power Rankings: 5 very good, but not quite there yet teams

15. New Orleans Pelicans

By taking the team with the best regular season record to six games in the playoffs, the New Orleans Pelicans proved they can compete even without Zion Williamson. If only the Phoenix Suns hadn’t completely fizzled out in the 2022 NBA Playoffs, we’d likely be looking back at the Pelicans’ playoff performance with much more admiration. With another year of experience for the young core and the impending return of Zion, all signs point towards a rapidly improving NOLA squad.

14. Toronto Raptors

Even after losing Kawhi Leonard in the summer of 2019, the Raptors are stacked with far too much talent to ever truly be bad. The aberration that was the bubble allowed Toronto to add a very promising prospect in Scottie Barnes to an already stacked roster featuring Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, and Gary Trent Jr. The Raptors are in the same boat as the Bulls in that they don’t have a clear superstar talent, but compensate for that with a deep and well-rounded team.

13. Minnesota Timberwolves

After securing their second postseason appearance in the last 18 years  ⁠— and the first without Jimmy Butler around ⁠— the Minnesota Timberwolves have thrown caution to the wind and traded their future for star center Rudy Gobert. I’m probably higher on Gobert than most, his defensive presence alone guarantees you’ll be a great regular season team, but there are still questions surrounding his fit next to KAT. This is one of the most interesting gambles we’ve seen in recent years, but I can’t judge it fairly until we’ve seen these new-look Timberwolves in action.

12. Chicago Bulls

The Chicago Bulls are once again being overlooked by the national media, and I have to say, I sort of prefer it this way. The discourse surrounding the Bulls has involved talking points like, “DeRozan will never have a season like that again. Chicago’s defense is weak. There’s no superstar on that roster.” These may seem like fair points, but they’re also the same things critics said about the Bulls entering last season as well. Seeing as how the Bulls were the top team in the East as late as February before things broke down, there’s obviously not as much credence to these points as they’d like to believe.

The fact of the matter is that with a healthy LaVine, Lonzo Ball, and Patrick Williams, the Bulls are one of the top teams in the conference. Their ability to remain healthy, however, is what will dictate their odds to crack the top 10 in these rankings.

11. Brooklyn Nets

It seemed like the Brooklyn Nets were on their way to a nosedive down these rankings until trade talks surrounding Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving stalled. There isn’t much to really say about these Nets since they lack any roster identity or team culture. Still, you can’t completely disregard the fact that a roster with two superstars, a do-everything-but-score Ben Simmons, and a host of quality role players like Seth Curry, Joe Harris, Nic Claxton, and TJ Warren still form a team with realistic title aspirations. Every team from here on out will be a true “contender”.