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NBA 2023-24 Early Power Rankings, Part 1: The Lowest of the Low

NBA: Jul 7, 2023; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Scoot Henderson (00) dribbles the ball against the Houston Rockets during the first half at Thomas & Mack Center. Mandatory Credit: Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports

The current stretch of the NBA offseason is undoubtedly the most uneventful one. With no trade, free agent signing, draft, or summer league in sight, speculating towards next season is just about the only option that remains. If you’re a basketball fanatic, that is.

Despite last season seeming like just months ago, a great deal has changed in the NBA landscape already. Every team has made important acquisitions of their own, looking to revamp their roster for next season’s festivities. Thus, if we want to evaluate each team now, we’re going to have to start from a clean slate. So, Let’s get right to it:

NBA Power Rankings, #30-26

30. Detroit Pistons

Arguably the most prominent mainstay of the NBA’s basement dwellers, one would assume that the Pistons continued lack of success would eventually persuade the management to make some additions necessary to alter the trajectory of the franchise. However that hasn’t happened yet, and it’s starting to look doubtful that it ever will.

The Pistons stellar offseason additions were no more than Joe Harris and Monte Morris, to provide depth off the bench. Big man Isaiah Stewart also earned himself a 3 year, 60 million dollar extension from the front office. Definitely not what Detroit needs for an effective culture change.

As for the draft, the motor city selected Ausar Thompson with the 5th pick. The Pistons also traded for the 25th pick, which they utilized on Marcus Sasser. Not bad moves by Detroit, assuming that their prospects reach full potential. As a whole though, definitely an underwhelming offseason for a team who only won 17 games last season. The presumed lack of urgency on the Pistons part is what lands them so low on these rankings, where they will remain until further change takes effect.

29. San Antonio Spurs

Despite this potentially coming as a surprise for those eager at Victor Wembanyama’s arrival, excitement mustn’t be lost in reality. Wemby is an extremely underweight prospect, who is still a teenager. The track record on players taller than 7”3” is not great either, where foot and leg injuries run rampant. Hopefully Wemby doesn’t end up a victim of the same, but it’s important to not let hype defeat truth.

On the same note, the Spurs roster (save for Wemby) is rather weak. Keldon Johnson, Tre Jones, and Jeremy Sochan are decent, but they aren’t contending for a NBA championship. Honestly, they probably aren’t even contending for the play-in. Thus, the Spurs ranking remains in the league’s cellar. That’s not to say that this won’t change in the near future as the team builds around its prospects though. The Spurs do have an immense amount of potential, but only time will tell if it is brought to life.

28. Washington Wizards

The Wizards did finally end their overextended partnership with Bradley Beal, which was definitely a welcome decision. With that being said, that doesn’t mean that they got better. In fact, they got significantly worse, and probably for years to come.

All is not sour for the Wizards though. They got Jordan Poole in return, an NBA champion with an extensive offensive skillset. Washington acquired Tyus Jones as well, who is set to run the point for the next few years. It’s a start, but the Wizards still need to build significantly more than what they have in tow currently. Reason being that the roster as is now, is definitely one of the worst in the country. Hence why DC’s finest earns themselves such a low spot on the list.

27. Portland Trail Blazers

Until the Blazers figure out what to do with Damian Lillard, their definite NBA ranking will certainly hang in the balance. Although, not a balance with much significance of any sort. Portland is unquestionably going to be a bad team, the question is simply how bad?

The Blazers aren’t an entirely hopeless case though. They drafted Scoot Henderson, and have Shaedon Sharpe, Anfernee Simons, and Jerami Grant already in the mix. A solid lineup, with further additions to come soon. If the Blazers can turn Lillard into Tyler Herro + other young pieces, the future core’s promise rises significantly. This could be a team that contends in the west in due time, but unfortunately that time won’t be now.

26. Orlando Magic

The Orlando Magic aren’t a terrible team. They’re still bad though, and didn’t do much this off-season to address that. The draft selection of Anthony Black is not a very exciting one, and remains the lone highlight of Orlando’s summer.

It must be acknowledged though, the Magic are considerably better off than most other teams listed thus far. They have a future NBA All-Star named Paolo Banchero, and numerous promising younger players alongside. Definitely not a bad position to be in whatsoever.

However, one can never be in the same position for too long, and that’s what the Magic fail to realize. Orlando has been stagnant around the same spot for years now, with improvement a seldom occurrence. The management shows little-to-no desire for competence, which is holding the team back severely. This needs to change soon, if Disney world wishes to run back the relevance they haven’t seen since Dwight Howard. Now that a future Star has been identified, it’s on the front office to place adequate surrounding pieces. They have failed to do so as of yet, and it’s what warrants such a low NBA ranking here.


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