30. Detroit Pistons
Detroit without Cade Cunningham will likely be stuck as one of the worst teams in the league. The positive news is that Killian Hayes has managed to look like a positive NBA player in Cunningham’s absence and their two rookies (Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren) have continued to impress with their athleticism. However, Detroit is far away from being a competitive team and should be beginning to scout for the 2023 NBA draft.
29. Houston Rockets
The Rockets have a lot of young talent but can’t seem to put it together. They are again at the bottom of the standings and will likely stay there for the year. For them, if they can just see some progress from their young players, that will be a win for the year.
28. San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs are in full tank mode. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. It’s really that simple for San Antonio as they look to put themselves into the best possible spot for the chance to draft Victor Wembanyama in the draft this coming year.
27. Orlando Magic
The Orlando Magic remain one of the NBA’s most promising and funky young teams in the league. They’ve committed to playing large with almost all of their guards missing time due to injury, using Franz Wagner and Paolo Banchero as their primary handlers. Both of them have looked like All-Star level players while Bol Bol is beginning to make a real name for himself as one of the most funky two-way players in the league. With Wendell Carter Jr projected to come back soon and their guards slowly making their way back, Orlando should be able to pick up some wins.
26. Charlotte Hornets
With LaMelo Ball’s full time return on the way, Charlotte fans should be relieved. The Hornets have had to rely too heavily on Terry Rozier and Kelly Oubre as scorers and they’ve really lacked a primary creator. The Hornets should be a solid product to watch going forward with Ball, but it probably won’t result in a lot of wins.
25. Chicago Bulls
It’s clear that this Chicago roster just isn’t going to work. DeMar DeRozan has been great as a scorer but with Zach Lavine’s slump and Nikola Vucevic not being able to mesh with this core, the path to the playoffs seems like a difficult one. Ayo Dosunmu and Patrick Williams have been solid but unspectacular as well. Billy Donovan will likely be on the hot seat for the rest of the season but the harsh reality is that the roster construction is too shaky for this team to work.
24. Los Angeles Lakers
After an awful start to the year, the Lakers have slowly come on of late. They are still very effective on the defensive side of the ball and are now being competent on offense. LeBron James has clearly taken a step back but to be fair, he is almost 40 years old. Anthony Davis has stepped up his game in a big way and that has helped spark this turnaround. The Lakers aren’t the best team, but they do cause matchup issues at times for opponents.
23. Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder are one of those weird teams that is made for a tank but also has talent on it so they still win some games that they shouldn’t. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has been on a tear this season so far and looks to really taking over for the Thunder. If he can continue his strong play, the Thunder will continue to win games that they have no business winning. It’s a future focused franchise but one that can cause some issues for opponents now.
22. Portland Trail Blazers
Much like the Utah Jazz, Portland started hot but have cooled off a bit. Damian Lillard has been hurt so maybe that has caused the decline, but this is still a good team, despite the record. Once they get him back, we can really judge them as a team. They have good depth around their star point guard so Portland can still make a run towards the playoff.
21. Miami Heat
The Miami Heat are a real threat to miss the playoffs for the first time in the Jimmy Butler era. They’ve been one of the slowest and overall worst offensive teams in the league with no true alpha scorer (granted, Jimmy Butler has missed a good amount of games). Bam Adebayo has held down the fort on both ends and Tyler Herro has had a few games where he’s gotten hot, but this Heat team is too inconsistent to rely on going forward.
20. New York Knicks
The Knicks are still a tough team to get a real read on. They’re led by a trio of southpaw scorers in Jalen Brunson, Julius Randle, and RJ Barrett. Brunson has been excellent this season and Randle has had his moments, but Barrett has been abysmal through twenty games. He’s been woefully inefficient as a scorer and hasn’t brought the same spark defensively. The Knicks have also been one of the worst shooting teams in the league with their best shooter statistically being Obi Toppin.
19. Minnesota Timberwolves
After the big offseason trade to get Rudy Gobert, many thought the Timberwolves would be better out of the gate. However, they have struggled to play consistent basketball and it has caused them issues. They are still a good team and when all is said and done, likely will make the playoffs but so far, this season hasn’t gone the way anyone in the Twin Cities had hoped.
18. Washington Wizards
The Wizards have cooled off after a hot start to the season, but they should still compete for a play-in spot as the season progresses. Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis have both had excellent seasons and Kyle Kuzma has been a terrific scorer to start the year. With some solid contributions from the bench and continued success from their big three, Washington could exceed expectations going forward.
17. Utah Jazz
The Jazz started off as hot as can be but have since fallen back down to earth. A team that was supposed to be tank all season has started to show their true colors. They have talent on this team and a mindset of being outcasts, but it may not be enough to overcome the intentional tank that Danny Ainge has put together.
16. Dallas Mavericks
The Mavericks live and die by Luka Doncic. He is their offensive player and without him, they would likely be towards the bottom of the league. They need to find more consistent offensive production behind him otherwise they won’t do anything come playoff time. Doncic is good enough to get them there but unless something changes, not much else.