The NBA power rankings 2021/22 are finally here. The best NBA teams this season will look to prove that they’re contenders and not just pretenders now that we’ll finally have a “normal” full season again.
Throughout history, injuries, trades, and even tough luck have had a huge impact on the NBA title contenders’ aspirations. And, sadly, this season isn’t expected to be the exception to that rule. Even so, it’s clear that some rosters are far better than others, at least on paper.
Most teams made plenty of interesting additions ahead of this season. The NBA draft was full of intriguing prospects, and big moves like the Russell Westbrook trade could be huge game-changers.
So, now that the upcoming season is finally around the corner, let’s take a look at our NBA power rankings 2021/22, with the usual suspects at the top and some teams expected to take a big step forward this season:
NBA Power Rankings 2021/22
The Orlando Magic are looking at a top-3 pick next season. They have some nice, promising players but most of them play in the same position, so chances are that they’ll make some moves once they figure things out.
They will be lucky to win over 25 games.
The Detroit Pistons will be must-watch television next season. Cade Cunningham is the real deal and could turn the franchise around at some point, and they have enough young players to give their fans plenty of reasons to look up to the future.
Just don’t expect them to win right away.
The same can be said of the Houston Rockets, who sit 27th in our first edition of NBA power rankings 2021-22.
They were heavily criticized for the return they got for James Harden but they were one of the biggest winners of the draft. Jalen Green, Josh Christopher, Alperen Sengun, and Usman Garuba could all turn out to be stars and don’t sleep on Kevin Porter Jr either.
Sam Presti has gathered a historical arsenal of draft picks but that doesn’t mean that the Oklahoma City Thunder will be a good team next season. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is poised to become a star but it isn’t in their best interest to win games right now.
Now, their three-headed monster will try and put an end to their league-leading playoff drought, which seems unlikely for as long as Luke Walton is their coach.
But maybe they’ll be better off letting them grow through their mistakes rather than trying to compete.
The Washington Wizards ranked near the bottom in most NBA power rankings last season, yet Russell Westbrook went human torch mode and led them to the play-in tournament and the playoffs.
They’re a big question mark this season with all the additions they made. They could be in the mix for a spot in the play-in again.
Also, Zion Williamson‘s injury will always raise questions and you know they won’t risk their star prospect’s health. They’re looking at another playoff-less season.
The Minnesota Timberwolves have enough talent to be in the mix for a playoff spot. Then again, they always find ways to shoot themselves in the foot.
The San Antonio Spurs are far from the dynasty they once were, and some question whether it’s time for Gregg Popovich to just call it a day.
They don’t have a legit go-to-guy right now and could be sellers as we approach the trade deadline.
They’re explosive and will push the pace up, but their defense is still a reason for concern.
Once again, the Indiana Pacers sit near the bottom of the pack.
They have a good enough roster to make the playoffs and compete with the best NBA teams this season but somehow, someway, they always fall short. They also lack a star next to Domantas Sabonis.
The Memphis Grizzlies are years away from being NBA title contenders but that doesn’t mean that they won’t compete hard night in and night out. Ja Morant is a dog and Jaren Jackson Jr has looked great in the preseason.
They may or may not make the playoffs but they will fight from start to finish.
Are the New York Knicks for real or was last season a fluke?
The Dallas Mavericks made a controversial choice for their new head coach in Jason Kidd. They didn’t do much to improve their roster but every team with Luka Doncic on the roster is a strong playoff candidate.
They’re expected to rely less on the three-ball this season.
14. Trail Blazers
They will be aggressive trying to improve their roster this season but seem like a boom-or-bust team at this point.
The Boston Celtics regressed last season and it was clear that they needed a change of scenery.
Maybe Ime Udoka would be the breath of fresh air they craved for so long. They have one of the best young duos in the league and are a historic franchise, so they might surprise a lot of people.
While not NBA title contenders yet, they’re heading in the right direction.
Injuries have been a concern for the up-and-coming Atlanta Hawks to start the year. But even if they get to a slow start, they’ve shown that they have what it takes to compete against the best teams in the league.
They’ll be back in the playoffs.
The Golden State Warriors are perhaps the biggest dark horse among the NBA title contenders.
NBA GMs said that the Miami Heat made the best moves of the offseason and I won’t be the one to disagree. Adding Kyle Lowry to the core that reached the NBA Finals just two seasons ago will do wonders for Erik Spoelstra’s team.
They’re tough, physical, and ready to go.
The Denver Nuggets have been pretty solid for years but they might struggle early on the season.
One thing’s clear: The Philadelphia 76ers will only trade away Ben Simmons for another All-Star caliber player.
That means that, regardless of who’s running the point in Philadelphia, Doc Rivers‘ squad will be one of the best NBA teams this season.
The Utah Jazz had the best record in the regular season last year but once again fell short of their goal in the playoffs.
Mike Conley‘s injury took a massive toll on their chances to compete, but we like them again as a top-5 team now that they’re all healthy.
The Phoenix Suns were a couple of wins away from their very first NBA championship last season.
Some think it was a fluke and they caught a big break due to injuries, but their roster is nearly intact entering this campaign. Can Chris Paul do it again? We think so.
The Los Angeles Lakers are far from a finished product. Their preseason was dreadful but their Big 3 barely played together.
Once they get on the same page, we don’t want to put our money against LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, and Anthony Davis. They will be one of the best NBA teams this season, it’s just a matter of when.
Mike Budenholzer’s team has meshed perfectly and will be a tough rival in the playoffs. Giannis Antetokounmpo is back to full strength after his worrisome knee injury.
Even if Kyrie Irving doesn’t suit up all season, the Brooklyn Nets are still the NBA title contenders.
They’re stacked and got even deeper this season, and having Kevin Durant and James Harden fully healthy gives them a shot against anybody else.