Nets, Lakers Highlight BallnRoll’s Official 2021-22 Preseason Power Rankings
It’s full steam ahead with the NBA season right around the corner.
After what has felt to be an incredibly long off-season, maybe more so for Toronto Raptor fans who have grown so accustomed to playing deep into the postseason, the preseason is only a few short weeks away.
The NBA field is as interesting as it ever has been with a batch of contenders, a group of pretenders, and as per usual – the teams who are dreaming on the future and will be tanking for optimal draft positioning. BallnRoll is here to separate the good from the bad, the elite from the mediocre in our official 2021-22 preseason rankings!
30. Oklahoma City Thunder
29. Orlando Magic
28. Detroit Pistons
27. Houston Rockets
26. Cleveland Cavaliers
25. Minnesota Timberwolves
24. San Antonio Spurs
23. Washington Wizards
22. Sacramento Kings
21. New Orleans Pelicans
20. Charlotte Hornets
19. Memphis Grizzlies
18. Toronto Raptors
17. Indiana Pacers
16. New York Knicks
15. Chicago Bulls
14. Portland Trail Blazers
13. Dallas Mavericks
12. Boston Celtics
11. Philadelphia 76ers
10. Los Angeles Clippers
No one has any idea when Kawhi Leonard will be back from his ACL injury.
With The Klaw, there is no disputing that the Clippers have every chance in the world to compete for an NBA championship. Without him, the onus will be placed on Paul George’s shoulder to help carry the Clippers to the postseason.
The Clippers are by no means a perfect team, but they make up for their lack of elite guard play and shooting with strong depth and a number of two-way minded players. Even without Leonard, they have the requisite talent to reach the postseason and if Leonard is to return for the playoff run, the Clippers will be as dangerous as any team in the league.
9. Atlanta Hawks
The Atlanta Hawks are young and exciting.
No one could have possibly expected the Hawks to do what they did last season but that only means that the expectations are even higher entering this season.
With Trae Young’s continued ascension to superstardom and the continued growth of the likes of John Collins, De’Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish, Kevin Huerter, and Bogdan Bogdanovic, the Hawks have plenty of youth and plenty of offensive weapons. The Hawks also did the right thing in extending their defensive anchor Clint Capela and bring back veterans Danilo Gallinari and Lou Williams.
8. Denver Nuggets
Jamal Murray is returning to the most stacked roster the Denver Nuggets have had in years.
Just look at this team.
Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic is still front and center. Michael Porter Jr. is continuing to develop into a star, while the Aaron Gordon addition has been one of the more underrated moves at last year’s trade deadline. Surrounding the Nuggets stars are formidable depth pieces of the caliber of Will Barton, Jeff and JaMychal Green, Monte Morris, Facundo Campazzo and PJ Dozier. The Nuggets will also hope to see Bol Bol take another step forward in his development.
This team has depth, youth and explosiveness and they are ready to make some noise in the Western Conference.
7. Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors will finally have Klay Thompson back.
Things may not look pretty at first as Thompson is not expected to be back until late in December, but once the NBA playoffs roll around, the Warriors may very well be firing on all cylinders with the Splash Brothers reunited again.
With the likes of Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, and Avery Bradley, the Warriors will have a strong mix of secondary playmaking, leadership, and defensive tenacity. The Warriors also have high hopes for their 2020 lottery pick James Wiseman who will be entering his second season in the NBA.
The team also has an interesting assortment of depth pieces which includes Otto Porter, Andrew Wiggins, Nemanja Bjelica, Kevon Looney, Jordan Poole and a couple of first round picks.
The Warriors should be back in title contention in 2022.
6. Utah Jazz
The Utah Jazz were a colossal disappointment in the playoffs after being the most dominant team in the regular season.
Of course, nagging injuries to Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley played a large role in the Jazz demise, but Utah will enter this coming season full of confidence and ready to take yet another step forward.
After locking Conley up for three seasons, the Jazz have three All-Star caliber players in him, Donovan Mitchell, and Rudy Gobert. They have some of the best depth in the entire league in Bojan Bogdanovic, Joe Ingles, Rudy Gay, Royce O’Neal and reigning Sixth Man of the Year Jordan Clarkson. The Jazz also added a couple of interesting younger players in Eric Paschall and NCAA champion Jared Butler.
It’s time for the Jazz to put it all together and they have the pieces to do exactly that.
5. Miami Heat
The Miami Heat had one of the more notable off-seasons in the NBA.
Not only did they extend Jimmy Butler, but they also brought in All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry who is a perfect fit on a team ready to win now. The team expects continued improvements from its young stars in Bam Adebayo, Duncan Robinson, and Tyler Herro, as well as a boost in veteran leadership through free agent signings Markieff Morris and PJ Tucker.
Lastly, if Victor Oladipo is able to return and remain healthy, he could provide a huge boost off the bench that can push the Heat over the hump.
4. Phoenix Suns
The Phoenix Suns run to the NBA Finals was no joke.
Chris Paul is a winning player and still very much one of the best in the NBA. Devin Booker has entered superstardom while DeAndre Ayton is finally realizing his potential as a former no. 1 overall pick. Add in the continued growth of Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson, and Cameron Payne and the Suns have a deep and talented roster ready for yet another run to the Finals.
3. Milwaukee Bucks
The Milwaukee Bucks are the reigning NBA champions and have the type of roster that should surely rank in the top-10 in both offense and defense once all is said and then.
Giannis Antetokounmpo has a very strong case for being the best basketball player in the world and with secondary stars like Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday still in the mix, as well as a roster filled with depth, the Bucks are still a force to be reckoned with in the Eastern Conference.
2. Los Angeles Lakers
As long as LeBron James and Anthony Davis are healthy, the Lakers can beat just about anybody.
Add Russell Westbrook in the mix and the Lakers have their sights set on the NBA Finals yet again. If there is anyone in win-now mode, it is the Lakers, who currently have the oldest roster with household names of the caliber of Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Rajon Rondo, and Trevor Ariza.
You cannot teach experience and there is surely no disputing that the Lakers are loaded with talent.
1. Brooklyn Nets
If it wasn’t for injuries, the Brooklyn Nets should be entering the season as NBA champions.
At this stage, the Nets biggest opponent is themselves. They need a focused Kyrie Irving this season. They need James Harden and Kevin Durant to remain healthy. After that, it’s all about getting on the same page and the Nets have an entire NBA season to do exactly that. With a star-studded supporting cast which includes the likes of Joe Harris, Blake Griffin, Paul Millsap and LaMarcus Aldridge, the Nets may have the most unstoppable offensive unit the league has ever seen.