Power-Ranking Every NBA Team Post-Free Agency

Greg Swartz@@GregSwartzBRCleveland Cavaliers Lead WriterAugust 11, 2021

Power-Ranking Every NBA Team Post-Free Agency

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    A lot can change in a few weeks, especially NBA power rankings.

    The last version was released just before the draft and free agency began, meaning there's been a ton of player movement over the past 21 days. Seeing players like Russell Westbrook, Jonas Valanciunas, Steven Adams, Eric Bledsoe, Kyle Kuzma and others traded also helped shake up the rankings, with more transactions likely to come before the start of the season.

    How much did the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls jump following deals for Kyle Lowry, Lonzo Ball and DeMar DeRozan? What about the Knicks after signing Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier? Are we prepared for a world where the San Antonio Spurs are one of the worst teams in the NBA?

    Now with the draft over and free agency cooling down, here's how all 30 teams stack up.

30. Oklahoma City Thunder

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    The Thunder are going to be young and terrible, but that's probably the goal until general manager Sam Presti starts offering his collection of future picks for veteran talent.

    Al Horford and Moses Brown are both gone, replaced by Derrick Favors at center who was salary dumped by the Utah Jazz. He'll probably only stay until OKC gets its first reasonable offer for the 11-year-veteran.

    Shai Gilgeous-Alexander should get all the shots he can handle as the team leans on him while developing intriguing young prospects like Josh Giddey, Tre Mann, Lu Dort, Darius Bazley and Aleksej Pokusevski.

    Buying out Kemba Walker from his remaining two-year, $73 million contract was the final sign this will very much be a year of development in Oklahoma City.

29. Orlando Magic

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    The Magic have officially left the cellar of these power rankings thanks to Jalen Suggs—a player who very well could have gone No. 1 overall in 2020—falling to them at No. 5 in the draft.

    With apologies to Cole Anthony and Markelle Fultz, Suggs is the captain now.

    Of course, point guard isn't the only positional battle on this roster, as Orlando still has to figure out the Wendell Carter Jr.-Mo Bamba center battle. Adding veteran Robin Lopez only adds more confusion to the depth chart.

    This will be a figure-out-what-we-have year in Orlando, but there's at least a future star to rally around in Suggs.

28. Detroit Pistons

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    Keeping the No. 1 pick was probably best for Detroit, which now gets a leader and do-it-all wing in Cade Cunningham for the rest of its young talent to rally around.

    Detroit can plug the 6'8" ball-handler in anywhere from point guard to power forward depending on the matchup, giving this team a lot of versatility moving forward.

    Signing Kelly Olynyk helps give everyone more space to operate, and Jerami Grant can still be the team's go-to scorer while Cunningham adjusts to the league.

    The Pistons need to see a better sophomore season out of Killian Hayes, as he and Cunningham have the potential to become a supersized All-Star backcourt one day.

    Few rookies can carry a team to the postseason, however, so expect Detroit to make another lottery trip or two before wins ultimately follow.

27. Houston Rockets

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    No one should take Summer League play too seriously, but with that being said, Jalen Green is definitely headed to the Hall of Fame after his opening performance. OK, OK, but still.

    After dropping 23 points in his pro debut, Green looked every bit the versatile scorer who picked apart defenses in the G League before going No. 2 to Houston.

    Green and Kevin Porter Jr. are going to be a nightmare to guard immediately, even if defense and shot selection could be issues in the early going. John Wall should help get both some easy looks, as long as he's not dominating the ball too much.

    Christian Wood should probably be on the trade market given what he'd bring back to the Rockets' rebuild, especially with rookie big man Alperen Sengun needing time and touches in Houston's frontcourt.

    With veterans like Wall, Eric Gordon, D.J. Augustin and Danuel House Jr. still on the roster, Houston is stuck between former playoff glory and complete teardown. The Rockets will likely finish stripping the vets before the trade deadline (if anyone will take Wall's contract) and try for at least one more top pick.

26. San Antonio Spurs

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    After finishing 33-39 a season ago, the Spurs have now lost their leading scorer (DeMar DeRozan), the last player from their championship years (Patty Mills) and the team's other remaining veteran (Rudy Gay).

    Replacing them are Doug McDermott, Zach Collins, Thaddeus Young and Bryn Forbes, along with rookie Josh Primo, now the NBA's youngest player.

    There's enough leftover talent to keep them in most games with Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, Keldon Johnson and Lonnie Walker IV, but none have made anything close to an All-Star leap yet.

    San Antonio should still give good effort, defend at a high level and show flashes of being a real playoff team on most nights, but the Spurs are ultimately headed toward a third straight year in the lottery.

25. Cleveland Cavaliers

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    There's likely going to be pressure on the Cavs to win after four straight lottery trips, but this team is still too young to make any real noise in the East.

    Drafting Evan Mobley was exactly what this roster needed, although bigs typically take a little more time to develop. At 215 pounds, the 7-footer definitely needs to add muscle before he can dominate on both ends, so don't expect him to win Rookie of the Year, even if he could end up being the best player from this class.

    Trading for Ricky Rubio is a huge upgrade over Matthew Dellavedova at the backup point guard spot, and bringing back Jarrett Allen on a five-year, $100 million deal was necessary with an undersized, defensively-challenged backcourt.

    With Collin Sexton already proving himself as a go-to scorer, keep an eye on second-year wing Isaac Okoro to have his own breakout season.

    Cleveland has a roster worthy of watching, but it's just not ready to consistently win yet.

24. Sacramento Kings

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    Perhaps no roster is screaming for a trade more than Sacramento's.

    The talent is mostly packed into the backcourt, especially after drafting Davion Mitchell with the No. 9 pick. The rumored Buddy Hield for Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell trade would have been great for the Kings, freeing up more minutes for Tyrese Haliburton while allowing Sacramento to move on from Marvin Bagley III.

    No player outside of De'Aaron Fox should be considered off limits for a franchise that hasn't reached the postseason since 2006 and finished with the exact same 31-41 record each of the past two years.

    Bagley, Hield, Harrison Barnes and others should be available while Sacramento builds around its young backcourt, with a trade for a player like Pascal Siakam representing exactly what this team needs.

    The Kings aren't bad enough to get a top pick in the draft, yet don't have a playoff worthy-roster, either.

23. Toronto Raptors

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    About to enter their first season without Kyle Lowry since 2011-2012, Toronto may soon be without All-Star power forward Pascal Siakam as well.

    As Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee reported, "A source with knowledge of the situation in Toronto said the Raptors are receiving numerous calls about Siakam and team president Masai Ujiri is 'listening like a good negotiator.'"

    A Siakam trade seemed possible after the Raptors passed on point guard Jalen Suggs in the draft in favor of forward Scottie Barnes, meaning Toronto could be on the verge of a mini-rebuild.

    New backup point guard Goran Dragic isn't thrilled about his trade to Toronto from the Miami Heat, and should be in trade talks all the way up to the deadline.

    Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Gary Trent Jr. and Khem Birch will be enough to keep the Raptors competitive no matter what happens to Siakam and Dragic, but they may not be enough in an improved Eastern Conference.

22. Washington Wizards

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    Swapping an All-Star talent like Russell Westbrook for Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope gives this squad a lot of depth, but maybe too much?

    Washington now runs at least three players deep at small forward (Caldwell-Pope, Deni Avdija, rookie Corey Kispert), power forward (Rui Hachimura, Kuzma and Davis Bertans) and center (Harrell, Daniel Gafford and Thomas Bryant). Finding the right starting five and rotation is going to be extremely difficult for first-year head coach Wes Unseld Jr., especially since some guys will inevitably be left out.

    Getting Spencer Dinwiddie to be Bradley Beal's running mate in the backcourt was huge, and Washington hopes it will help keep Beal content enough to re-sign next offseason.

    The Wizards have plenty of talent, but are also pretty messy following the five-team trade.

21. New Orleans Pelicans

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    A trade for new starting center Jonas Valanciunas seemed like the beginning of a terrific offseason for New Orleans, especially since the deal opened up cap space by dumping Eric Bledsoe's contract on the Memphis Grizzlies.

    Valanciunas isn't a perfect fit next to Zion Williamson, but he's at least a threat from the three-point line and will give the superstar power forward more space to operate in the paint.

    Simply matching a four-year, $85 million offer sheet from the Chicago Bulls for Lonzo Ball would have been fine as well, especially since New Orleans was never likely to be a real landing spot for players like Chris Paul and Kyle Lowry anyway. Letting Ball go to Chicago and not even getting a first-round pick back in return was a huge mistake.

    New starting point guard Devonte' Graham, by all measures, is a downgrade from Ball. He's three years older, is five inches shorter and doesn't carry the upside Ball was finally beginning to show.

    The Pelicans even had to send a protected future first to the Charlotte Hornets for Graham, something they couldn't get in return for Ball. For a team that desperately needs to start winning, New Orleans arguably got worse this summer.

20. Minnesota Timberwolves

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    The Wolves have been extremely quiet in free agency, having yet to sign a single player to a standard NBA contract.

    Trading Ricky Rubio to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Taurean Prince helps balance out the roster, but the veteran point guard was a crucial mentor and positive influence on Anthony Edwards last season.

    If Minnesota simply stays healthy, it could have one of the NBA's best offenses with Karl-Anthony Towns, D'Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and Edwards. Adding a player like Ben Simmons would be perfect for this roster as a passer and defender, even if it meant giving up Russell and Beasley.

    If second-year power forward Jaden McDaniels makes a leap and proves he deserves to start, the Wolves should be on the hunt for a play-in spot. Adding a few veterans before training camp would help as well.

19. Memphis Grizzlies

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    Memphis drops six spots from the previous rankings after trading starting center Jonas Valanciunas, arguably the MVP of the team last year.

    Plugging Steven Adams in as the new starting center is a downgrade, even if he'll continue to be a good screen setter, defender and locker room presence. His lack of shooting will only shrink the driving lanes for Ja Morant and company.

    No. 10 pick Ziaire Williams was viewed as a bit of a reach after shooting just 37.4 percent as a freshman at Stanford, but the Grizzlies' recent track record of picks should give them the benefit of the doubt.

    Memphis needs a healthy Jaren Jackson Jr. to make a return to the playoffs, and an All-Star leap from Morant may be required as well.

18. Los Angeles Clippers

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    It's incredibly difficult to predict where the Clippers will end up in the standings since we don't know when Kawhi Leonard will return from a partially torn ACL (assuming he re-signs as reported).

    Landing at No. 18 in the power rankings puts L.A. eighth in the West, meaning this should still be a playoff team if Paul George stays healthy.

    Reggie Jackson (17.8 points, 3.4 assists, 40.8 percent from three in 19 playoff games) is back on a new two-year, $22 million deal. Nicolas Batum returns as well, and Justise Winslow gets a chance to resurrect his career on a two-year, $8 million contract.

    Rookies Keon Johnson, Brandon Boston Jr. and Jason Preston should all get some minutes and touches while Leonard recovers, which could make this a better, deeper team come playoff time.

17. Indiana Pacers

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    Losing Doug McDermott to the San Antonio Spurs in free agency shouldn't be that big of a deal now that T.J. Warren will be returning from the foot injury that limited him to just four games last season. Bringing back T.J. McConnell was far more important, and doing so on a four-year, $35.2 million deal is good value.

    A healthy roster and Rick Carlisle on the sideline should theoretically mean a return to the playoffs, but the East isn't in the same spot it was just two years ago.

    The Malcolm Brogdon-Caris LeVert duo will be one of the league's least-heralded backcourts, but packs plenty of size (both 6'5" or taller), scoring and playmaking ability.

    Domantas Sabonis has established himself as one of the best and most versatile offensive bigs in the NBA, and is only a reliable three-point shot away from completely destroying defenses.

    The Pacers will be far better, but unfortunately for them, so is the rest of the East.

16. Boston Celtics

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    Despite possessing two All-Stars inching closer to their primes, the Celtics are far from guaranteed to even make the playoffs in an improved Eastern Conference.

    Filling Kemba Walker's shoes at point guard will be team effort, a spot where newly-signed Dennis Schroder, Marcus Smart, Payton Pritchard and Kris Dunn should rotate duties. 

    Boston is also crowded at center with Al Horford, Robert Williams III and Enes Kanter, all players who may be better off as backups at this point in their respective careers.

    The Celtics should be in the market for a third star via trade, and have the young talent (Aaron Nesmith, Romeo Langford, Grant Williams) and future picks to package together for more veteran help.

15. Charlotte Hornets

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    Charlotte will be one of the most enjoyable teams to watch next season with a roster full of tall, athletic scorers and playmakers.

    LaMelo Ball should be thrilled with the Hornets' offseason additions, as the front office picked up James Bouknight and Kai Jones in the first round of the draft, Kelly Oubre Jr. in free agency and Mason Plumlee through a trade.

    Add them to a team that already features Gordon Hayward, Terry Rozier, Miles Bridges and P.J. Washington, and Charlotte is suddenly deep and skilled at every position.

    Getting the New Orleans Pelicans' first-round pick next year (lottery-protected, turns into 2022 and 2024 second-round picks if not conveyed) in exchange for restricted free agent point guard Devonte' Graham was a brilliant move for Charlotte as well.

    As long as they defend, the Hornets should be in the playoffs next year.

14. Portland Trail Blazers

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    Damian Lillard is still in Portland, meaning the Blazers will once again be good.

    Portland has avoided a major roster shakeup—for better or worse—this offseason, and re-signed small forward Norman Powell to a five-year, $90 million deal. With limited cap space, the rest of the offseason additions (Cody Zeller, Ben McLemore, Tony Snell) have been pretty underwhelming, especially with Carmelo Anthony and Enes Kanter leaving.

    So far, there's no reason to believe Portland will be better than last year when it finished sixth in the West before losing to the Denver Nuggets in the first round. New head coach Chauncey Billups may bring some fresh energy, but this is still a team that doesn't play good enough defense or move the ball.

    A divorce between Lillard and the Blazers seems inevitable, as Portland fields yet another pretty-good-but-not-great roster around him.

13. Chicago Bulls

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    After coming in at No. 23 in the previous power rankings, the Bulls jumped up 10 spots following some major improvements.

    Getting Lonzo Ball to Chicago was fairly easy, as it only cost Tomas Satoransky, Garrett Temple and a second-round pick, and his four-year, $85 million deal is pretty reasonable after the 23-year-old's performance last season.

    Having Ball under contract until 2025 should only help Zach LaVine decide to re-sign next summer, as he now has a franchise point guard to grow alongside. Patrick Williams and Coby White help raise Chicago's ceiling next to All-Star center Nikola Vucevic as well.

    As talented as DeMar DeRozan is in a vacuum, his fit with this roster is iffy at best. LaVine needs his shots, Ball will handle a lot of playmaking duties and Vucevic can be a hub for the offense as well. With White as another ball-dominant scorer off the bench, the Bulls probably could have used an elite floor spacer like a Joe Harris or Duncan Robinson instead to let everyone else operate more smoothly.

    DeRozan offers very little spacing (4.7 percent of his total shots came from three over the past three seasons) and will also need the ball in his hands to be effective. Chicago overpaid for both his contract (three years, $85 million) and trade compensation (Thaddeus Young, Al-Farouq Aminu, 2025 protected first-round pick and two future second-round picks) and now can't trade a first until 2027.

    Chicago will grab a lower playoff seed but is still far from one of the premier teams in the East.

12. New York Knicks

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    A solid offseason turned into a terrific one with the signing of Kemba Walker, an All-Star in 2020 who the Knicks only have to pay $16 million to over the next two years.

    Walker, when healthy, is the dynamic shot-maker this offense needed after struggling in a first-round playoff series loss to the Atlanta Hawks. Adding Evan Fournier as a floor-spacer opens everything up for Walker, Julius Randle, RJ Barrett and others.

    So much of New York's surprising success last season was due to their role players, many of whom are now returning with raises.

    Nerlens Noel, Alec Burks, Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson are all back to beef up the bench, and this team now carries the confidence of knowing they can be one of the top seeds in the East.

11. Dallas Mavericks

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    Despite going into free agency with third-most cap space of any team, the Mavericks' offseason was a little underwhelming.

    Bringing back Tim Hardaway Jr. on a four-year, $75 million contract was probably necessary, and getting Reggie Bullock on a three-year, $30.5 million deal gives Luka Doncic another elite three-point shooter to share the floor with.

    Still, this was Dallas' last chance at having real cap space. With names like Chris Paul, Kyle Lowry, John Collins, DeMar DeRozan and others hitting the market, the best the Mavs did was retain one of their own.

    A healthy Kristaps Porzingis will be of utmost importance, as will the development of players like Josh Green, Tyrell Terry and Moses Brown.

    This roster has a confusing amount of centers (Dwight Powell, Boban Marjanovic, Willie Cauley-Stein, and Brown with Porzingis and Maxi Kleber likely seeing time at the five as well) and a new head coach in Jason Kidd who failed in his two previous stops as a head coach (Brooklyn and Milwaukee).

    Dallas is better with Bullock, but Doncic shouldn't be thrilled with the roster construction as-is.

10. Denver Nuggets

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    Even without Jamal Murray to begin the season, the Nuggets are going to be one of the best teams in the West yet again.

    First-round pick Bones Hyland averaged 19.5 points per game at VCU last year, Monte Morris has been one of the better backup point guards in the NBA and bringing back Will Barton and Austin Rivers should be enough to keep the backcourt afloat until Murray returns.

    Of course, Nikola Jokic is still the best passer and focal point of the offense, and is somehow still just 26 years old. He has a real chance to repeat as MVP with even more offensive responsibility this season.

    Michael Porter Jr. and Aaron Gordon could be one of the best mix-and-match forward duos in the NBA. Getting Jeff Green in free agency and re-signing JaMychal Green give the frontcourt plenty of depth.

    With JaVale McGee leaving for the Phoenix Suns, could we finally see Bol Bol in the rotation this year?

9. Golden State Warriors

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    All the attention will go toward the return of Klay Thompson, but the Warriors will be greatly improved thanks to their newly-added depth as well.

    Otto Porter Jr. signing for the veteran's minimum was a shock, considering the 28-year-old has averaged 13.4 points on 42.1 percent shooting from three over the past five years. He'll start the year as the backup small forward, but could move into the starting lineup if the Warriors use Andrew Wiggins' contract as the foundation for a star trade.

    Joining Porter on Golden State's bench are Andre Iguodala, Nemanja Bjelica, Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody.

    Kuminga has the skill set to become an All-Star one day, if the Warriors are willing to wait on the 18-year-old to develop. James Wiseman, Kuminga and Moody could all help carry Golden State's dynasty for the next decade, or be sent packing in a deal for another star.

    The Warriors should once again be one of the top teams in the West, whether they keep the young guys or not.

8. Philadelphia 76ers

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    It feels wrong to judge the Sixers at this point, knowing there's a Ben Simmons trade likely looming at some point this offseason.

    Assuming Philly gets a good return for its 25-year-old All-Star, however, this will still be an elite, championship-level team in 2021-22.

    Joel Embiid's durability can be questioned, but he's worked himself into an MVP candidate who could also win Defensive Player of the Year. Tobias Harris is still under contract for the next three years, and Danny Green returns on a team-friendly, two-year, $20 million deal.

    Getting Andre Drummond on the veteran's minimum is an incredible value for his rebounding alone, and there's plenty of upside from other members of the bench (Matisse Thybulle, Tyrese Maxey, Shake Milton).

    A trade for a player like Damian Lillard would put the Sixers on a tier with the Brooklyn Nets for best in the league, but this roster is still really, really good as is.

7. Atlanta Hawks

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    Atlanta should be grateful that teams like the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder and Dallas Mavericks didn't throw max offers at restricted free agent John Collins, who ultimately returns to Atlanta on a five-year, $125 million deal.

    The Hawks did a terrific job of reshaping the bench by trading for Delon Wright, signing Lou Williams and Gorgui Dieng and drafting Jalen Johnson and Sharife Cooper.

    Nate McMillan now has the difficult job of finding the right rotation balance with a team that's legitimately three-deep at every position.

    Atlanta caught fire after promoting McMillan last season, and shouldn't surprise anyone this year when they get homecourt advantage in the playoffs. A five-year extension for Trae Young means this team isn't going away anytime soon.

6. Utah Jazz

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    Bringing back Mike Conley was easily the most important issue for Utah this offseason, and the Jazz succeeded with a three-year, $68 million deal. That's a terrific value for a team that will face a stiff luxury tax bill this year.

    Dumping Derrick Favors' contract on the Oklahoma City Thunder cost a first-round pick, but getting Hassan Whiteside on a minimum deal to replace him was a nice recovery.

    Needing wing defense, the Jazz used their mid-level exception on Rudy Gay, who at age 34 only kind of fills the void. Having to pay Gay $18.6 million over the next three years isn't terrible, but it isn't an Otto Porter Jr.-for-the-minimum bargain like the Golden State Warriors got, either.

    Joe Ingles or Jordan Clarkson would likely be the next player sent out should the Jazz want to cut more salary, but doing so would put a severe dent in their championship hopes.

    This may be the final year we see if a Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, Bojan Bogdanovic and Conley core can win a title before a major roster shake-up happens.

5. Phoenix Suns

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    A return to the Finals is possible for Phoenix, but only if the young talent on the roster peaks faster than Chris Paul's play inevitably declines.

    Re-signing Paul to a four-year, $120 million deal actually saved the Suns $13.4 million in cap space for the 2021-22 season, and getting him to agree to a non-guaranteed fourth season helps protect Phoenix's long-term financial future.

    Cameron Payne is back on a three-year, $19 million deal, and Elfrid Payton joins the backcourt to provide depth.

    Trading for Landry Shamet was one of the offseason's most underrated moves, and JaVale McGee gives the Suns a veteran rim protector behind Deandre Ayton. Phoenix is comfortably the second-best team in the West, and it could easily grab the No. 1 seed in the conference.

4. Miami Heat

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    No team has had a better offseason than Miami, who will be a nightmare for teams to match up against.

    The Heat probably should have acquired Kyle Lowry at the trade deadline, but better late than never. He'll give the starting lineup some excellent outside shooting, playmaking and leadership. Re-signing Duncan Robinson to a five-year, $89.9 million deal was a must, and getting P.J. Tucker away from the Milwaukee Bucks was a pleasant surprise.

    Re-signing Victor Oladipo to a one-year contract is a low-risk, high-reward move that could pay big dividends come playoff time, and Markieff Morris only makes the frontcourt bigger and tougher.

    A lineup of Lowry, Jimmy Butler, Tucker, Morris and Bam Adebayo will be one of the toughest to score against, and Tyler Herro has become a somewhat forgotten sixth man now.

    Add in one of the best coaches in the league with Erik Spoelstra, and the Heat are once again championship contenders.

3. Los Angeles Lakers

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    While the Lakers won't look like the best team in the NBA on opening night, they have a realistic chance to win their second title in three years come June.

    Adding Russell Westbrook isn't an ideal fit, but he was realistically the most talented player the Lakers could have traded for. If he's willing to limit his mid-range jumpers, get back to attacking the basket and stick to his role as the third option on offense, Westbrook could make a major impact in L.A.

    The Lakers also did a remarkable job of filling out the roster around Westbrook, LeBron James and Anthony Davis, adding Kendrick Nunn, Carmelo Anthony, Trevor Ariza, Dwight Howard, Wayne Ellington, Kent Bazemore and Malik Monk. Retaining restricted free agent Talen Horton-Tucker on a three-year, $32 million deal gives the roster some much-needed youth as well.

    Newly extended head coach Frank Vogel will have to be careful about limiting the workload of this veteran roster, but there are enough rotation-worthy players that he should be able to.

    With James set to turn 37 in December, it's probably Davis—the only Laker in his prime—who will need to step and resemble an MVP with his impact on both ends.

2. Milwaukee Bucks

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    Though they won the 2021 NBA title, the Bucks could be even better next year.

    Starting shooting guard Donte DiVincenzo should slide into his old spot after suffering an ankle injury during the playoffs, and George Hill is an upgrade over Jeff Teague behind Jrue Holiday at point guard. Trading for Grayson Allen gives Milwaukee even more floor-spacing, and Rodney Hood provides some scoring pop in the rotation.

    Not to be forgotten, Bobby Portis came back at a bargain price (two years, $8.9 million) to be a key member of Milwaukee's bench.

    Of course, Giannis Antetokounmpo will be back, and at age 26, he may still be years away from his prime. Losing P.J. Tucker is the only sour spot of what's been a strong offseason for the champs.

1. Brooklyn Nets

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    Health will be the only thing stopping the Nets from winning the 2022 title, but given the history of their stars, that's an opponent to be concerned about.

    Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving are the best trio in the NBA, and Joe Harris is the perfect fourth starter to make everything work. Getting Blake Griffin back as a floor-spacer and playmaker off the bench was huge, as was signing Patty Mills to be a backup point guard.

    Nicolas Claxton, a 22-year-old who can protect the rim and rebound, should grab hold of the starting center job and not let go this season.

    Brooklyn isn't as deep as some of the other top teams in the NBA but should continue to be a premier buyout destination.

    No other franchise can match the pure firepower of the Nets, a team that's only just beginning to learn how to play together.

       

    All salary information via Spotrac.

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