NBA Power Rankings, final edition: The NBA playoffs are here! Plus one encouraging player from all 30 teams – The Athletic

By | April 29, 2022

We made it through the 2020-21 NBA regular flavour!

I’ll go on this short and uncomplicated for the last Ability Rankings of this season. The 20 teams who fabricated the playoffs/Play-In Tournament are the top 20 teams in the Power Rankings, even if I think a squad that didn’t make information technology is ultimately better than one of the teams that did. From in that location, the bottom 10 teams in the rankings are placed past how I think they wait going into the offseason and project toward next season.

As for every team ranked? I’thou looking at a role player who encouraged me this season and a player I want more from moving forward. Thanks for reading the Power Rankings throughout this season. I know some of you have them pretty harshly, but I mean this from the bottom of my heart: You lot’re wrong about your favorite team, and I was correct all along. Even if the results don’t say as such.

Here’south how the Power Rankings work:

• It’s up to my discretion how the rankings milkshake out each calendar week. For some teams, they’ll exist striking in the short term. Others will exist given the benefit for the long term.

• I do not believe in the transitive property with these teams. If Team 10 beats Team Y and Squad Y beats Team Z, it doesn’t mean Team X is automatically better than Team Z.

• If I have a team alee of another squad, at that place’s no reason to ask why they’re ranked above the team y’all like. The respond is pretty elementary: I call back that team is gear up better for success.

• Simply fifteen teams will be deemed worthy of a GIF or video each week. That’s to limit how much we eat up your data and computer’s processor.

• This is supposed to be fun, so let’s accept fun with it.

The Athletic’s NBA Power Rankings for the final calendar week of the 2020-21 regular season begin at present!


Utah Jazz (
Previously 1st), 52-twenty, +ix.0 internet rating

Weekly slate:Loss at Warriors, Loss to Blazers, Win at Thunder, Win at Kings

Encouraging player from this flavor:
Joe Ingles

When Bojan Bogdanovic and Mike Conley joined the Utah Jazz final flavor, Ingles seemed to exist the one who suffered the near. Quin Snyder slid Ingles into the 6th man part, and he struggled quite a bit to discover his rhythm in the flow of things. At times, he’d exist an expert option-and-roll man, and at times he wouldn’t be able to notice his shot. Of course, by struggling to detect his shot, I hateful he “but” shot 39 percent from deep. Information technology’due south like saying Pecker Gates is losing half his money in a divorce and and then seeing he’southward even so one of the richest people out there. This season, Ingles is dorsum to beingness a total force, whether he’s starting or coming off the bench. He’s been lethal for the Jazz.

Player you lot desire more from:
Donovan Mitchell

Non that Mitchell hasn’t been astonishing this season, only the injury leading up to the postseason leaves us wanting more. Mitchell missed the last 16 games with his ankle injury. His first game coming back with him common cold jumping into the playoffs is asking a lot. There are large expectations now on the Jazz. Mitchell is the star of this team (Distressing, Rudy Gobert), and those expectations and then get put upon his shoulders, so people will want to see more than out of him to validate the flavor and buzz the Jazz built.

Feel good heading into the playoffs?
They should, merely they notwithstanding have much to prove.

Also read:
Utah Jazz are the West’south meridian seed, merely can this team make a real Finals run?



Philadelphia 76ers (Previously second), 49-23, +5.5 net rating

Weekly slate:Loss at Pacers, Loss at Estrus, Win over Magic, Win over Magic

Encouraging player from this season:
Tobias Harris

A lot of us — myself included — criticized the pants off that contract the Philadelphia 76ers signed Harris to in 2019. V years and $180 one thousand thousand was far too much. And last season, Harris just didn’t evangelize enough to come shut to justifying information technology. A number that large? You start wondering if it’southward one of the worst deals in the NBA. At present that he’s back with Doc Rivers, Harris looks like gilt in this state of affairs. His raw numbers haven’t inverse much, just his efficiency has gone through the roof. An attacker similar him at nearly threescore pct true shooting is deflating for an opposing defense. Smashing season to bounce back and show the contract is good.

Player you want more from:
Joel Embiid

Until we come across him dominate a couple of playoff rounds and lead his team deep into the postseason, a lot of people are going to continue to question Embiid’southward place among the elites in the NBA. Perhaps some of that is the Giannis Antetokounmpo hangover this flavor. It can spread to any star who seems to disappoint in the postseason. Now that the Sixers are the i-seed and Embiid is a feasible MVP candidate, it’s time for him to deport that authority to at least the Eastern Conference finals, if non further.

Feel practiced heading into the playoffs?Have to feel great. The E goes through Philadelphia, and this team is healthy.


Brooklyn Nets (Previously fifth), 48-24, +4.two net rating

Weekly slate:Win at Bulls, Win over Spurs, Win over Bulls, Win over Cavs

Encouraging histrion from this season:
Kevin Durant

Durant is clearly dorsum. The Brooklyn Nets were hoping he’d render to form when he came dorsum from his Achilles injury, and that’s exactly what he’s done. The defense force isn’t back yet, but his offense is so deadly that you’ll live with that for now. We’ve seen KD miss a bunch of games this season, and yous hope that’s more than caution than crusade for business organisation. How efficient has he been? I’thousand so glad I asked that question. He’s merely had 11 games this season in which he didn’t make at least half his shots. Nobody can stop him, and information technology’s dandy to take him dorsum.

Actor you want more from:
DeAndre Jordan

It’s pretty simple. The Nets need him to be really proficient defensively for about 20 minutes each game. He’s not the aforementioned defender he once was, and information technology shows often. He’south ho-hum to react, and he tin’t hang on the perimeter. The Nets don’t actually take much option though. They’ll throw Jeff Greenish out there for some minutes at the five. We’ll see some Nic Claxton equally well. But the Nets need their veteran eye to be solid for them each game. They don’t have a ton of defence force at their disposal, so they must extract everything they can out of Hashemite kingdom of jordan.

Feel practiced heading into the playoffs?They have to. Looks like the big three is good for you, and they’re banking on that being too much for everybody else.

Also read:
Examining the Nets’ best-instance, worst-example playoff scenarios. What is the ideal road to the Finals?

GIF ON THE Trounce:


Los Angeles Lakers (Previously 11th), 42-30, +ii.ix internet rating

Weekly slate:Win over Knicks, Win over Rockets, Win at Pacers, Win at Pelicans

Encouraging player from this season:
Kyle Kuzma

Kuzma tin be a bit of a sideshow with the terrible dye job on his hair or some of the outfits he throws together merely to meet if we’ll react to them. But the Lakers forward has been infrequent in his role on the court. Since LeBron James and Anthony Davis teamed up in L.A., Kuzma has taken a backseat. Understandably so. He hasn’t sulked or hijacked the offense when he gets his chance. He’s go an energy guy on both ends of the flooring. His defense has shown tremendous growth in the last two seasons. And he’south knocking downwardly 3-pointers at a respectable enough rate.

Player yous want more than from:
LeBron James and Anthony Davis

They’re the reason I jumped the Lakers back into the top five at the end of the Power Rankings this season. They’ve missed so much fourth dimension that we literally want more than from them. Well, the collective we. I’chiliad guessing if you’re the fan of a playoff team in the W, you lot don’t. We know the Lakers look pretty unstoppable when these guys get extended time on the floor. Let’southward come across if they’re fully dorsum for their title defense.

Experience good heading into the playoffs?If James and Davis are good to go, absolutely. Looks like they’re good to go.

Also read:
Lakers’ title hopes rest on LeBron James recapturing early-flavour MVP form


Milwaukee Bucks (Previously third), 46-26, +five.8 net rating

Weekly slate:
Loss at Spurs, Win over Magic, Win at Pacers, Win over Heat, Loss at Bulls

Encouraging role player from this flavour:
Jrue Vacation

What an upgrade at the point position Vacation has been. The Milwaukee Bucks haven’t had reliable backcourt play adjacent to Giannis and Khris Middleton in the terminal 2 playoffs. Eric Bledsoe was all over the place. George Loma was fine, but not enough. But with Vacation in the mix, the Bucks take a steady point guard who actually upgrades the defensive abilities they had with Bledsoe. That, in and of itself, is a feat. Vacation is a reliable scorer and a adept shooter from deep. He fits everything the Bucks desire to do, and he’s done well in limited postseason appearances.

Player y’all desire more from:
Giannis Antetokounmpo

Asking him to exercise more than is kind of unreasonable when you lot expect at his production. The run he’s on the last three seasons is pretty legendary. But people desire to see it in the playoffs. He’s been neutralized at central points in the playoffs and failed to heighten his game and his squad above the tough times. Some of it isn’t his fault. Some of information technology is on Mike Budenholzer, and actually perchance this section should exist Coach Bud over Giannis. Both of them have a massively important postseason ahead. Expectations accept been lowered, only the standard for execution is still equally as high.

Experience adept heading into the playoffs?Who knows? Since it’s the Bucks, everything is on a wait-and-see approach one time it gets to the playoffs.

Also read:
The Bucks have spent all season making adjustments. Now information technology’s time to come across information technology in the playoffs



Phoenix Suns (Previously 4th), 51-21, +5.9 cyberspace rating

Weekly slate:Loss at Warriors, Win over Blazers, Win at Spurs, Win at Spurs

Encouraging player from this season:
Mikal Bridges

Bridges is a star role thespian for the Phoenix Suns. Going into the postseason, how could yous non feel great about his presence on the flooring? He’s a skilful scorer with a not bad jump shot, and he finishes roughly 80 percent of his shots within 3 feet of the rim (league boilerplate is 67.5 percent). Then y’all become to the defensive end of the flooring, and he’southward a walking bear trap. Once he clamps onto you lot, in that location’due south nowhere for you to go. You have to pray a large human sets a neat screen on him just to give you some air to breathe.

Thespian yous desire more from:
Deandre Ayton

This 3rd season from Ayton has been exactly what you need information technology to be. He doesn’t worry most touches on criminal offence, and he trusts that his star backcourt volition observe him when information technology’s needed. Ayton has committed to the defensive end of the floor, which was a question for him coming out of Arizona. He yet struggles here and at that place, just it’s all pretty understandable for a player this young. But heading into the playoffs, the Suns will need him to exist more consistent on both ends. They don’t take great depth for the interior, and if they cease up facing the Lakers in the first circular, he’ll be put to the examination.

Experience good heading into the playoffs?Everything at this point is house coin for the Suns. Yes, they have expectations every bit the 2-seed in the West, merely regardless of what happens, this year was a massive success.


Denver Nuggets (Previously 7th), 47-25, +4.8 internet rating

Weekly slate:Win at Hornets, Win at Wolves, Win at Pistons, Loss at Blazers

Encouraging player from this flavor:
Nikola Jokic

Becoming the MVP of the league is exactly what the Denver Nuggets needed out of Jokic. He has been great for years, but the aggressiveness as a scorer was defective (inconsistent is probably a better way of stating it). He increased his shot attempts to 18 per game, and information technology’due south actually made his passing far more unsafe. It opens upwardly even more defensive attention coming his way, which is exactly what Michael Malone wants. Information technology sucks that Jamal Murray hurt his genu, only Jokic can keep that offense running without him.

Role player yous want more from:
Michael Porter Jr.

The run Porter has been on since the Murray injury has been incendiary. People are making the 6-foot-10 Klay Thompson comparisons. His shot making has been elite, and his 3-point shooting tin be overwhelming. Only equally the Nuggets enter the playoffs with hopes of contending, they’ll demand to get even more of this from MPJ. They demand consistency. They demand him to be competitive on defense, which is the reason he didn’t become more opportunities concluding flavour. Maybe that’s too much to enquire out of a guy with and so lilliputian experience, merely they need it.

Experience good heading into the playoffs?Information technology’s tough to say considering of Murray’s absence. But if the Lakers can’t stay salubrious, they should feel as confident as any Westward team.

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Likewise read:
For the Nuggets, a juicy rematch with the Blazers is a plumbing fixtures next chapter in special flavour



LA Clippers (Previously sixth), 47-25, +6.1 cyberspace rating

Weekly slate:Win at Raptors, Win at Hornets, Loss at Rockets, Loss at Thunder

Encouraging player from this season:
Paul George

George has certainly left himself open to scrutiny a lot over the last few years. Just the other LA Clippers star had a great flavor when he was on the floor. We saw some of the best scoring from him we’ve always seen. He was the all-time shot maker this year compared to whatever other years of his career. This also was the best playmaking we’ve ever seen out of him. George wasn’t able to stay on the court equally much equally he hoped, but we see what a good for you PG means for the Clippers in their pursuit of success.

Thespian you want more from:
Paul George

It’southward Playoff P time, and that means George will open up up to even more scrutiny. He’south had some monster moments in the postseason throughout his career and huge games in the post-Indiana days. He’s also had some pretty embarrassing moments in the playoffs, oft when backs are against the wall. The Clippers need him to be a star this postseason. They need him to non focus on excuses for shortcomings and just continue overcoming the odds and hurdles in front of the team. Otherwise, the scrutiny will continue to intensify.

Feel good heading into the playoffs?It’southward impossible to know with the Clippers. They’re one of a few teams that are easily talented enough to win it all just take a lot to testify for u.s.a. to fully purchase in.

Also read:
Clippers fabricated their choices — now they get the Mavericks, full health, and no excuses


Miami Estrus (Previously 13th), xl-32, -0.1 cyberspace rating

Weekly slate:Win at Celtics, Win over Sixers, Loss at Bucks, Win at Pistons

Encouraging histrion from this season:
Bam Adebayo

Aside from Jokic and Embiid, Adebayo has been as good as any middle in the NBA this season. Yes, even Gobert. Adebayo holds everything together for the Miami Oestrus on defence. And he’s damn nigh as important equally Jimmy Butler for this team on offense. Adebayo should be contending for All-NBA every unmarried season for the next decade. He’southward that good. We got the foolish analysis final playoffs from an anonymous scout that Adebayo and Daniel Theis were essentially a launder. It’s fourth dimension to consider Adebayo a launder when comparing him to the best bigs in the game.

Histrion you want more from:
Tyler Herro

Non many players owned the NBA chimera more than Herro last autumn. Just he has been a disaster for most of this season, to the point that reports and rumors take swirled with Herro being a concern for the Estrus system. Getting him back to course is pretty elementary. They can’t put a leash on him necessarily because a scorer like that needs to feel some liberty. Only they need to create opportunities for him in which he’s able to attack with two or fewer dribbles, rather than seven or more than. Herro can’t be this inconsistent of a shot maker, and the Heat are hoping the last 15 games or so are indicative of what’s to come.

Feel good heading into the playoffs?The Heat are pretty good for you correct now (save Victor Oladipo), and they feel great going into this postseason.

GIF ON THE Beat out:

New York Knicks (Previously 10th), 41-31, +2.4 cyberspace rating

Weekly slate:Loss at Lakers, Win over Spurs, Win over Hornets, Win over Celtics

Encouraging thespian from this season:
RJ Barrett

Obviously, Julius Randle has been the story for the New York Knicks all flavor. He’s their All-Star, their MVP candidate and their All-NBA forwards. Randle has been spectacular. Only Barrett bouncing back from a tough rookie season is another reason the Knicks take been so fun. Barrett will still take the occasional rough spot from game to game, but he doesn’t allow it to discourage him. It would be overnice to see him more efficient inside the arc, but he’southward taken leaps in his shot making, especially from exterior.

Player you want more than from:
Elfrid Payton

Is this the biggest indicate of contention for Knicks fans in this highly successful flavour? So much of this season has been and so expert for the Knicks, but the Payton minutes 1) aren’t going away and 2) aren’t going the way the Knicks would like them to. Considering how much of this criminal offence goes through Randle and the fact that the Knicks have Derrick Rose and Immanuel Quickley at the same position, Payton’s time on the floor doesn’t seem totally necessary. Just since he’south going to be out there, he just has to exist a lot more solid than he has been.

Experience good heading into the playoffs?The Knicks are in the playoffs. Of grade, they feel adept.

Also read:
Matchups, players and storylines that will decide serial, predictions


Dallas Mavericks (Previously 8th), 42-30, +2.three cyberspace rating

Weekly slate:Loss at Grizzlies, Win over Pelicans, Win over Raptors, Loss at Wolves

Encouraging player from this season:
Jalen Brunson

I can’t believe how good and effective Brunson has been. The Dallas Mavericks are pushing Tim Hardaway Jr. as their Sixth Human being of the Twelvemonth candidate, but every bit proficient as he’s been, I can’t imagine information technology being anybody only Brunson for them. The Mavs have been bang-up with Brunson running sure lineups. His stats don’t bowl you over, but his effectiveness can exist seen and felt on both ends. He has 1 yr left before he gets crazy paid by the Mavs or some other team. He’due south the perfect backup bespeak baby-sit, and he helps this Mavs squad be as good as they are.

Role player you desire more from:
Kristaps Porzingis

It’southward going to be Porzingis here until he’south proven he can be consistently healthy and a consistent weapon on both ends. Porzingis hasn’t been bad. There’s no manner the Mavs regret making this trade for him, even though it worked out really well for the Knicks too. But the big contract to retain Porzingis’ services could end up being a problem. He can’t keep missing huge stretches of games. He has to be one of the best players on the floor during the postseason each season. The upcoming playoffs are much bigger for him than whatever other member of this organisation.

Feel good heading into the playoffs?They don’t really have expectations of winning in the first round exterior of this system, so I think they should feel pretty practiced. They tin play loose and easy to try to pull off the large showtime-round upset.

Also read:
The Mavericks are playing the Clippers once more. Here’s how they got there.

GIF ON THE Trounce:


ortland Trail Blazers (Previously ninth), 42-30, +1.8

net rating

Weekly slate:Win over Rockets, Win at Jazz, Loss at Suns, Win over Nuggets

Encouraging player from this season:
Jusuf Nurkic

Nurkic was one of the starters to miss a bunch of games this season, and the Trail Blazers suffered because of it. His absence is the reason the Blazers were historically bad on defense this season. There was an eight.6 points per 100 possessions deviation on defense with Nurkic on the floor versus off the floor. When he came back and settled in, things got a lot better for Portland. Nurkic has turned himself into such an of import cog in the wheel that is the Blazers, and information technology’s a sign that he’s the right big man for what they need. They just need to proceed him on the floor.

Player you want more from:
CJ McCollum

This is generally almost McCollum’s health more than his play. With McCollum and Damian Lillard in the backcourt, you’re going to have defensive issues. But you can counteract that with the type of offense they generate on a nightly footing. He looked similar he was poised for a monster season before he got hurt in January. Then he was a picayune slow to get back to that level of play when he came dorsum in March. Missing 25 games in a flavour like this is but brutal for keeping the consistency. If we tin get the McCollum from the start of the season and accept him miss a minimal corporeality of games, I don’t see how you cease Portland on any given dark.

Feel practiced heading into the playoffs?
The Blazers go into this first-round matchup pretty salubrious and feel similar pulling off the upset. But I don’t know if they’ll feel expert trying to stop Jokic.

As well read:
Damian Lillard and his dream: Blazers’ star seeks tips from title winners to realize goal


Atlanta Hawks (
Previously 12th), 41-31, +two.ii net rating

Weekly slate:Win over Wizards, Win over Wizards, Win over Magic, Win over Rockets,

Encouraging player from this season:
Clint Capela

When the Atlanta Hawks traded for Clint Capela, they had a pretty good thought they’d have to wait a while to see how he’d affect this team. Turns out, the look was worth it. His defense this flavour has been meliorate than advertised, and he was a very good defensive presence with the Houston Rockets. The rim protection was huge. His ability to compete on the perimeter defensively was central. And he ends possessions by helping the Hawks hit the defensive boards. I’yard not sure they could have realistically hoped for a better impact.

Player you want more than from:
Trae Young

This isn’t a knock on Young. He’s an All-Star. He’s an All-NBA candidate in a loaded guard field. He’s a star in the NBA. But the Hawks need him to be fifty-fifty more than lethal equally a scorer on offense. The efficiency has to rise, peculiarly when nosotros get to the postseason. His shot selection has tightened up, merely the shooting percentage, particularly from deep, hasn’t quite caught upward. As a distributor, he’s been unbelievable, but they’ll demand him to be a lethal scorer throughout this run. I tin’t wait to see him on the playoff phase because he’s going to be so much fun.

Feel skillful heading into the playoffs?I’m not sure anybody is expecting the Hawks to do much in the postseason, and so they have to feel really good and maybe a little disrespected every bit well.

Also read:
Matchups, players and storylines that will decide series, predictions



Golden State Warriors (Previously 16th), 39-33, +1.i cyberspace rating

Weekly slate:Win over Jazz, Win over Suns, Win over Pelicans, Win over Grizzlies

Encouraging histrion from this season:
Andrew Wiggins

A lot of people wanted to see if Wiggins was a production of apathy or a product of playing in a bad organisation. Turns out it was a little of both, simply what he showed on the court in his first total flavour with the Gilt Country Warriors was highly encouraging. It’s doubtful he’ll play to the amount of his contract every year, merely it no longer looks similar ane of the worst deals in the NBA. He’s been an above-average 3-bespeak shooter this flavour. His defense has been more than capable. And he’s making plays more consistently than he did his last couple of years in Minnesota. If this is the get-go of what Wiggins looks like in a Warriors uniform, it looks like a pretty good deal for this team.

Player you want more than from:
Kelly Oubre Jr.

Or possibly yous want less from him, depending on how y’all view his value to this team? Oubre has been wildly inefficient for this team near of the season. He was a great shooter in the calendar month of Feb and he shot solidly in Apr, but for the most part, Oubre has been abysmal on offense. I call up the Warriors could get more out of him by getting less out of him. In one case he’s salubrious, they need him to be selective with shots from the perimeter and concentrate more on using his athleticism in the paint as a cutter. He can’t have a green light to let it fly. If he does that and only plays solid defense, he can really help this team.

Feel good heading into the playoffs?It will all depend on how the Play-In Tournament goes. They have to accept down the Lakers or Memphis, and both are actually good opponents in very unlike ways. They’re playing really well going into the Play-In, at least.

Also read:
Tin the Warriors offense score enough to upset the Lakers in the play-in game?


Memphis Grizzlies (Previously 17th), 38-34, +1.2 net rating

Weekly slate:Win over Pelicans, Win over Mavs, Win over Kings, Win over Kings, Loss at Warriors

Encouraging actor from this season:
Ja Morant

The leadership out of the 2d-yr point guard tin can’t be understated. The Memphis Grizzlies are competing for the playoffs in each of his first ii seasons because he’s that good as a thespian and he’s that effective as a leader. The Grizzlies have been an elite offense with him on the floor this season, and their scoring drops by almost 10 points per 100 possessions when he isn’t on the court. That’s a crazy gap for such a young, inexperienced player. He needs to add a more than effective 3-point shot and become more reliable at the free-throw line, just he’s been stellar.

Player yous want more from:
Jaren Jackson Jr.

Barely double-digit games from Jackson this season, and the Grizzlies have still been successful. In his iii seasons, Jackson has missed a considerable amount of time. It’southward unfortunate for several reasons, simply the biggest reason might exist because he’s and so damn good when he’due south salubrious and playing. Jackson can actually affect both ends of the floor so well. He hasn’t been smashing in his return, but he’southward as well merely trying to work his way back into game shape. Hopefully, we see his effectiveness increased in the Play-In Tournament.

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Experience good heading into the playoffs?They accept to feel not bad. They’re veterans of the Play-In at this point and have a keen chance at breaking through against tough contest.

GIF ON THE Trounce:


Boston Celtics (Previously 14th), 36-36, +1.two cyberspace rating

Weekly slate:Loss to Estrus, Loss at Cavs, Win at Wolves, Loss at Knicks

Encouraging histrion from this season:
Robert Williams 3

What we saw from Williams in March and Apr finally made me a laic in the Boston Celtics’ big man. We need to see him play really well for an extended period of time, but Williams has definitely started to put things together more frequently. His defensive instincts are still a bit slow at times, but he’s sopping up that experience like a sponge. His ability to be a practiced safety valve on offense keeps his efficiency loftier. He’s a pretty good playmaker for a big man as well. Williams every bit the Celtics’ full-time starting eye next season could yield the results they’ve badly needed.

Player you lot desire more from:
Kemba Walker

The knee injury. The lack of consistency on offense. The defensive struggles. Walker hasn’t been the All-Star-level guard the Celtics hoped they were getting. At present he’s been pretty good at times, but this was a crude flavor for him. With Jaylen Brown hurt and out for the postseason push, the Celtics need more from Walker if they hope to return to the playoffs and put up a fight once they’re in the postseason. Walker has to make the defense force pay to complement Jayson Tatum. The Celtics badly need him to exist a weapon.

Feel good heading into the playoffs?No. Doesn’t mean they tin can’t advance to the 7- or 8-seeds, just the Celtics are down their second-best thespian and have very little depth.

Besides read:
After Wizards, Celtics experienced regular-season ups and downs, which team will accelerate in Play-In game?


Washington Wizards (Previously 15th), 34-38, -one.six net rating

Weekly slate:Loss at Hawks, Loss at Hawks, Win over Cavs, Win over Hornets

Encouraging player from this season:
Russell Westbrook

The Westbrook revival season has been so much fun. The Washington Wizards had to attach a showtime-round option to John Wall to trade for Westbrook, but it’south been worth information technology. Forget the triple-doubles, although it’southward all the same an impressive aspect of Westbrook’s game. He’s helped bring relentlessness to the Wizards, which is something they’ve lacked for a while. Bradley Aggravate has been tasked to practice it all for years, and he no longer has to carry them all game, all season. The Wizards have gotten pretty healthy, and Westbrook has helped fuel their button to the Play-In Tournament. What a fun season from him. Russ has proved he isn’t done.

Player you want more from:
Davis Bertans

I know shooting is a massively important part of the NBA game now, but $fourscore million for merely a shooter? Bertans has to be an elite outside shooter for him to justify that kind of money, or he has to be able to contribute elsewhere on the floor. Bertans was very good every bit an exterior shooter. He made 39.4 percent of his 3-pointers this flavor. Only he can’t really practice anything else. He’s nonetheless a threat spreading the floor for Westbrook and Beal. That matters. Only this Bertans deal may await really bad in a couple of years if he doesn’t add some aspect to his game.

Experience good heading into the playoffs?They accept to experience great. The Wizards made it to the eight-slot and will take on the Celtics. They get 2 chances to accelerate to the postseason and may only need the get-go chance.

Also read:
Russell Westbrook’s ‘seek-and-destroy’ mentality fuels his competitiveness and tenacity



Charlotte Hornets (Previously 20th), 33-39, -1.9 internet rating

Weekly slate:Loss to Nuggets, Loss to Clippers, Loss Knicks, Loss at Wizards

Encouraging player from this season:
Terry Rozier

I threw a mea culpa into the Ability Rankings terminal calendar week with Rozier, but it probably needs to be amplified more. I completely crapped all over this signing past the Charlotte Hornets a couple of years ago, and Rozier has been arguably the best role player on the roster this season. Didn’t matter who they were missing. Rozier brought it every single night. He was a deep threat and a threat attacking inside the arc. This is by far the best play we’ve seen out of Rozier, and the Hornets needed information technology to keep pushing through injuries to LaMelo Ball and Gordon Hayward. Teams are legitimately worried nigh keeping him in check every night considering he tin can drop 40 in the blink of an centre.

Histrion yous want more from:
Devonte’ Graham

I guess something had to give with this backcourt. Rozier has been so adept, and Ball is the real deal. Merely Graham has come up short so much this season. Afterwards such a promising second season, Graham hasn’t been able to build much at all. He’s even so not shut to making xl percent of his shots, and his defense struggles because of his size. He’s not the playmaker he was considering Brawl has taken a lot of those responsibilities. They demand him to be a gunner, and it’s only not terribly effective nor consistent yet.

Experience good heading into the playoffs? You’d like for the Hornets to be healthy heading into the Play-In Tournament, but this team has a bang-up gamble of getting the 8-seed. Need to win two games though.

San Antonio Spurs (Previously 19th), 33-39, -one.5 net rating

Weekly slate:Win over Bucks, Loss at Nets, Loss at Knicks, Loss to Suns, Loss to Suns

Encouraging actor from this season:
Dejounte Murray

At present close to 3 years removed from his ACL injury, Murray has been an integral role of the San Antonio Spurs’ success. His ability to complement DeMar DeRozan on both ends of the flooring is huge. His ability to exist a disruptor and an irritant on defense force to the Spurs’ opponents is key. Murray has struggled with his bound shot this season, just every other attribute of his game looks actually good. He also has increased his power as a playmaker for others while not turning the ball over much at all. Great flavour for Murray heading into the Play-In Tournament.

Actor you lot desire more from:
Derrick White

White should be a fundamental role of this backcourt rotation in the future, and we merely didn’t get to come across enough of him this flavour because of the talocrural joint injury. His shot wasn’t very consistent, and maybe some of that was dealing with injuries and being banged up. They need White to be a threat from the outside and fill in the gaps everywhere else. He barely got through half the season for the Spurs, and we oasis’t seen him since belatedly April. Tough intermission from a guard the Spurs really like.

Experience adept heading into the playoffs?Probably not at this bespeak. The Spurs don’t actually have expectations in their effort to slide into the postseason, just mayhap that’s good because it ways no pressure?

GIF ON THE Trounce:


ndiana Pacers (Previously 23rd), 34-38, +0.1 net rating

Weekly slate:Win at Cavs, Win over Sixers, Loss to Bucks, Loss to Lakers, Win at Raptors

Encouraging player from this season:
Myles Turner

Had Turner non been injure for and so much of this season, he’d exist heavy in the All-Defense force and Defensive Player of the Year conversations. The Indiana Pacers big man went from being shopped in the offseason to being someone the Pacers couldn’t afford to lose. He’s non only a shot blocker. He’southward and so good defensively all over the floor, and his crime is versatile enough to demand a off-white amount of attention. We had questions about his place on this squad moving forrard. Now if you’re Indiana, wouldn’t you retrieve twice most moving Turner and keeping Domantas Sabonis equally your big man of the futurity?

Actor you want more from:
Domantas Sabonis

Sabonis put up a really good flavor for the Pacers. He was an All-Star for the second straight flavor. His private numbers are ridiculous. It’southward just the seventh time in NBA history someone has averaged at least 20 points, xi rebounds and half-dozen assists in a flavor. But the defensive problems he presents for his own squad and some of the leadership stuff coming out of that organization in regards to the Nate Bjorkgren debacle makes yous wonder what’southward going on with Sabonis. If the Pacers are hitching their railroad vehicle to him as the top player, what’southward the all-time they can realistically expect in a flavour, and how many coaches volition they go through in the process?

Experience adept heading into the playoffs?No. I’m not sure how many people are giving them a chance to fifty-fifty win the nine vs 10 matchup in the Play-In Tournament, but at least they’ll be at home.

Also read:
The Pacers might exist fractured, but they haven’t quit


Toronto Raptors (Previously 24th), 27-45, -0.4 net rating

Weekly slate:Loss to Clippers, Loss at Bulls, Loss at Mavs, Loss to Pacers

Encouraging histrion from this season:
OG Anunoby

It’s frustrating that Anunoby missed nearly 30 games this season, only when he did play, he showed some brilliant basketball. He increased his scoring average and didn’t sacrifice his efficiency. Anunoby’s defense can exist otherworldly and create large issues for the opposing team. This is the Anunoby the Raptors drafted 4 years ago. He could rebound a little more and be a better playmaker for others, simply getting this version of Anunoby moving forward would be huge for this team. But need him to be healthy and remain on the court.

Player you lot desire more from:
Pascal Siakam

Perhaps I should accept gone with Kyle Lowry hither because you want to come across more of him for the Raptors, which means he re-signs this summer. Simply I’m going with Siakam here for a reason. He had a proficient flavor considering the circumstances. He scored well, he defended well and he was the all-time distributor version of himself nosotros’ve e’er seen. Merely he needs to be more consistent and more efficient as the star of the team. He has to be a much better iii-point shooter, and he can’t accept these long dips in efficiency similar we saw. As the top guy on the squad, your job is as much consistency equally it is production.

Experience good heading into the offseason?They have to feel good. The Raptors just endured the most hectic regular flavour of anybody, and we assume they’ll get to be home adjacent flavor. Wait a productive offseason and a massive bounceback next season.

Also read:
Raptors Reset: Primal decisions, dates and debates for the offseason alee



ew Orleans Pelicans (Previously 18th), 31-41, -0.3 net rating

Weekly slate:Loss at Grizzlies, Loss at Mavs, Loss at Warriors, Loss to Pelicans

Encouraging actor from this season:
Zion Williamson

Nosotros got just a glimpse of Zion last season, and information technology left us wanting a lot more. He was so dynamic for the New Orleans Pelicans that he kind of outshined the campaign that his teammate Brandon Ingram put together. In his 2nd season, Zion put on an accented testify. His shot chart looked like Shaquille O’Neal’s. Nobody could stop him from getting to the rim, and he averaged 27.0 points per game on 61.1 pct from the field. He’s the merely actor in NBA history to boilerplate 27 per game on at least 60 per centum shooting. They used him quite a flake every bit a point forward at times, and it yielded some encouraging results. Zion is the offensive forcefulness teams dream near.

Player you want more from:
Zion Williamson

With all that said, Zion also leaves you wanting more. Offensively, he gets to the gratuitous-throw line a ton, he finishes around the rim and he bullies everybody. Sure, beingness a ameliorate free-throw shooter would exist squeamish and flashing a jumper will be necessary at some point. But the reason 70 per centum of his shot attempts happen within 3 feet of the rim is considering nobody can physically end him. But what about defensively? The Pelicans need him to be meliorate on that end moving forwards. No more excuses of “he’s still young.” He tin can’t always float on defence force and run a become route as shortly as a shot goes up. He needs to get in there, be a presence and grab more rebounds. He’s a star in this league, so it’south time to be the superstar nosotros all believe he should be. That happens on both ends of the floor.

Feel adept heading into the offseason?Disappointing flavor for New Orleans, but I think the Pelicans accept to be encouraged. They have two stars in Williamson and Ingram. Now they need to surround them with veterans to pull information technology all together.

Also read:
It’southward time for Pelicans’ waiting game to stop after flavor filled with ‘frustration’


Chicago Bulls (Previously 21st), 31-41, -1.ane net rating

Weekly slate:Loss to Nets, Win over Raptors, Loss at Nets, Win over Bucks

Encouraging player from this season:
Patrick Williams

What a fantastic pick this was at No. iv for the Chicago Bulls. Williams didn’t have the monster games or the jaw-dropping stats. Merely every Bulls game yous watched this season, you could see Williams putting it together more than and more than. His instincts on both ends of the floor are high level. His skill set is developing constantly, and despite other rookies having better seasons, I’m not sure the Bulls would call up near changing anything with that fourth pick. This was the right guy for building the organization.

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Role player you desire more from:
Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic

The reason the Bulls sent Wendell Carter Jr. and 2 lightly protected kickoff-round picks was considering they wanted the combination of LaVine and Vucevic to push them to the playoffs at present. Information technology didn’t happen. We saw skilful numbers from them individually for the almost part, but it took them a trivial as well long to become some winning basketball going. Now the pressure is on to not just brand the Play-In Tournament next season, but be more of a lock to get through it or avoid it birthday by beingness a top-six seed. The Bulls have hitched their railroad vehicle to these two, and they’ll need to lead.

Experience proficient heading into the offseason?I don’t think they’re feeling great. The management of the organization with Arturas Karnisovas is promising, just it gave up a lot of fundamental future assets to bring in Vucevic. They didn’t make the playoffs, just they’re hoping to keep building.



Minnesota Timberwolves (Previously 25th), 23-49, -5.iii internet rating

Weekly slate:Win at Pistons, Loss to Nuggets, Loss to Celtics, Win over Mavs

Encouraging player from this season:
Anthony Edwards

While everybody has been lauding LaMelo Ball every bit the all-time player of this rookie class (and he is so far), Edwards quietly established himself as 1B in the chat. The Minnesota Timberwolves had a pretty tough selection with No. 1 in 2020, and they definitely didn’t make the wrong selection. Edwards has been spectacular since the All-Star suspension, and he’south quickly becoming a fan favorite for his play and personality around the NBA. They’re going to need more than from him next season. The Wolves have to beginning winning games, and Edwards knocking downwardly shots and playing defense will help that immensely.

Histrion you want more from:
D’Angelo Russell

The Wolves potentially mortgaged the future in club to merchandise for Russell. They wanted to pair him with his good friend Karl-Anthony Towns, and the results simply oasis’t been there — or they haven’t been enough so far. Russell missed 30 games this season. He only played alongside Towns for 24 games, and they were 13-11 in those games. Encouraging, right? It might be. But information technology also might be the majority of those games came at the end of a season in which opponents stopped taking them seriously. Next season, Russell needs to exist healthy, and he needs to keep building this alongside Towns. It tin can’t be stretches of this. Information technology has to exist seasons.

Feel good heading into the offseason?There are no skilful feelings until they know if they retain their beginning-circular selection. It’southward top-three protected, or it goes to the Warriors. In this draft, having a top-three pick will be huge for their future.

Also read:
Gambling, ‘Gladiator’ and goosebumps: the untold stories of Kevin Garnett’s ascent to Hall of Fame


Sacramento Kings (Previously 22nd), 31-41, -three.8 internet rating

Weekly slate:Win over Thunder, Loss at Grizzlies, Loss at Grizzlies, Loss to Jazz

Encouraging player from this season:
Harrison Barnes

The Barnes trade hasn’t produced the extra push to the postseason like they hoped it would in 2019, but he’s been a smashing presence for them even so. He was hyper-efficient as a scorer this season, posting a career-best 62.6 percent true shooting. Barnes gives them good defense force on the perimeter and against about fours. He’s merely equally solid a veteran as they come, and I think the way he tried to help them this flavor, even though it wasn’t enough, makes him a keeper long-term.

Histrion you want more from:
De’Aaron Play a joke on

Nosotros know Fox can put up numbers, and his fourth-quarter scoring is good. Merely at a sure indicate, the numbers don’t matter as much as the leadership and the wins. Going into adjacent season, that has to be the focus for Flim-flam. How are you lot affecting winning basketball game? They were better without him than with him. They had a better record without him than with him. And they just invested a max extension into the Play a joke on feel. So when does it pay off for more just the role player? Fox will need to look in the mirror hither and figure out how to be the franchise player they’re paying him to exist.

Feel practiced heading into the offseason?They’re probably going to change coaches for the 11th time in 15 years. And their roster isn’t really expert enough to compete in the West, so no? They probably aren’t feeling expert.

Also read:
xv-year itch: Tin can the Kings end their record-tying postseason drought in 2022?

GIF ON THE Vanquish:

Detroit Pistons (Previously 26th), 20-52, -iv.5 net rating

Weekly slate:Loss to Wolves, Loss to Nuggets, Loss to Heat

Encouraging player from this season:
Saddiq Bey

Be was a nifty pickup for the Detroit Pistons by Troy Weaver. His jumper is there, and he’s reasonably good as a defender for a rookie wing. He’s going to have to figure out how to become easy scoring opportunities by getting to the rim and/or getting the gratuitous-throw line. These days, y’all demand to come across more than playmaking out of wings similar Bey. That will have to improve moving forward, but that’s nitpicking a rookie flavour from Bey, which was highly successful for him and the Pistons.

Player y’all want more from:
Killian Hayes

Hayes was already going to have a crude rookie season. Almost bespeak guards, especially immature guys from overseas, cease up having rough rookie campaigns. Just the fact that he missed then much fourth dimension because of the hip injury fabricated things even worse. Throw in the fact that Tyrese Haliburton looks leagues ahead of Hayes, and the Pistons may have messed upward that pick. The concerns with his shooting need to be resolved, but he looks like he can make plays for others.

Experience expert heading into the offseason?I recollect y’all take to. Weaver has already shown some pretty good chops for this job every bit the pb man, and Pistons fans have to be excited about him with an even higher pick in the lottery.

Also read:
Pistons 2021 NBA Typhoon board 1.0: Ranking Cade Cunningham and 5 other potential picks


Houston Rockets (
Previously 28th), 17-55, -7.4 cyberspace rating

Weekly slate:Loss at Blazers, Loss at Lakers, Win over Clippers, Loss at Hawks

Encouraging role player from this flavor:
Kevin Porter Jr.

The Houston Rockets taking a hazard on Porter after his fallout in Cleveland was smart. They bought low on a guy who can yield very high rewards for them. We’ve seen the flashes throughout his months in Houston besides. The biggest of which came when he dropped 50 points in a game. KPJ has a knack for scoring, and he’s a pretty solid playmaker too. The Rockets have to love what they’ve seen from him considering it’south moves like this within the margins that tin end upwardly making a big difference in the future.

Player you want more than from:
Kevin Porter Jr.

That’s right. He’s both in this instance. There isn’t much the Rockets have in terms of development. Certain, Christian Wood is still relatively young and inexperienced. Jae’Sean Tate and Kenyon Martin Jr. are both promising immature office players. Only KPJ has lottery talent, which he’south shown ever since getting to the Rockets. The fear is that he’s simply performing at a point when nobody takes the Rockets seriously. The hope is he’ll go along building his foundation with these meaningless games until the Rockets are practiced over again. Then he’ll go on to shine. Because of that, we just demand to run into more than from him moving forward.

Feel good heading into the offseason?Tension is loftier with the Rockets and what happens in the lottery. Anything outside the top v and the Rockets lose their pick to OKC and end upwards with Miami’s get-go-circular pick.

Also read:
Eric Gordon unplugged: On the worst year of his career, thoughts on Rockets’ rebuild and his uncertain futurity



Cleveland Cavaliers (Previously 29th), 22-fifty, -viii.three net rating

Weekly slate:Loss to Pacers, Win over Celtics, Loss at Wizards, Loss at Nets

Encouraging actor from this season:
Darius Garland

Great sophomore flavour from Garland after he had a brutal rookie campaign. He’s go very confident attacking the basket. The deadeye shooting we saw prior to the NBA? It looks to be there this flavour and moving forrad. Considering of his small size and lack of defense, he’s probably going to accept to turn himself into an even improve playmaker and perchance a more aggressive scorer moving forrad. But this was the bounce-back season Cavs fans were hoping to see from him, especially side by side to Collin Sexton.

Thespian you want more from:
Isaac Okoro

There’s a lot to similar from Okoro after his rookie season. The projection of him beingness a expert defender at this level is yet potent. I recollect a lot of his instincts of what to practise on offense are skillful as well. But he has to be a much better shot maker all over the floor. Okoro was an abysmal bound shooter this season. His size and athleticism didn’t really translate at the rim either because he’s barely clearing 60 per centum of his shots within iii feet. He got his feet wet in the NBA. Now we need to see him swim.

Feel skilful heading into the offseason?I approximate so? Information technology depends on what happens in the draft. The Cavs accept good pieces with their backcourt and Okoro, just they demand a bonafide star in the mix.

Also read:
The Cavs flavour is over. Now they hold on to the hope of a successful offseason


Orlando Magic (Previously 27th), 21-51, -ix.3 internet rating

Weekly slate:Loss at Bucks, Loss at Hawks, Loss at Sixers, Loss at Sixers

Encouraging player from this season:
R.J. Hampton

Hampton was ane of the pickups for the Orlando Magic in the Aaron Gordon merchandise, and I think information technology was a cracking move past the forepart part. He’s barely 20 years old, and we’ve seen some nice efforts and execution from him since heading to Orlando. Considering the level of talent he’southward playing next to right now, I think he’s done a keen job. He shows his jumper will probably come around because he’south hit long midrange jumpers. Needs to improve as a free-throw shooter and a playmaker, but Hampton has impressed me since moving to Orlando. He tin can play.

Player you want more from:
Mo Bamba

At present that Nikola Vucevic is out of the picture, it’southward time to find out if Bamba is any expert. At that place’southward a bit of healthy competition on the roster with him and Wendell Carter Jr., so the Magic can hopefully utilise that to spur some urgency with Bamba in his evolution. His hype coming out of the draft was huge and so he got stashed backside an All-Star. COVID-19 affected him physically, then nosotros accept to run into if there are long-term implications with that. Just it’southward fourth dimension for Bamba to produce adjacent season. Otherwise, his biggest moment will be getting worked by Taco Fall.

Feel good heading into the offseason?
They should. The Magic are heading into their proper rebuild offseason, and they may end upward with a 2nd lottery pick, depending on what happens with Chicago’south lottery balls.

Also read:
‘A wild year’: Humbled Orlando Magic cling to hope as they enter key offseason

GIF ON THE Trounce:

Oklahoma City Thunder (Previously 30th), 22-50, net rating

Weekly slate:Loss at Kings, Loss to Jazz, Win over Clippers

Encouraging thespian from this season:
Lu Dort

Last flavor, Lu Dort was such a novelty. Here’s this stocky wing with an clamorous ambition to play defense force. He was so good at it as a rookie that the Thunder trusted him on James Harden, and he held his ain. So at worst, they had their new Andre Roberson. This season? He differentiated himself from the Roberson mold. He struggled around the rim still, but he showed a much better ability to attack with the dribble going to the basket. He went from nothing as an outside shooter to a guy you’ll accept to think twice about leaving at some point.

Player y’all want more than from:
Aleksej Pokusevski

I don’t mean this in a bad way. Pokusevski was a fascinating player to watch all flavor, specially when the Thunder turned the tank meter all the way upwardly and just let him do trial-and-error on the court. Poku is as skilled equally he is skinny. His numbers on the rookie season are brutal on the surface. He’s one of 11 players in NBA history to play at least ane,000 minutes equally a rookie and finish with a truthful shooting of 43 per centum or worse. Simply he’s shown some flashes that dazzle the Thunder’s eye on the hereafter.

Feel adept heading into the offseason?They have to feel dandy. They could end upwards with two top 10 picks if the lottery gods hate Houston. The rebuild is going to plan.

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(Illustration by Wes McCabe/The Able-bodied)

Zach Harper

is a Staff Writer for the The Athletic, covering the NBA. Zach joined The Athletic after roofing the NBA for, CBS Sports, and FRS Sports since 2009. He also hosts radio for SiriusXM NBA and SiriusXM Mad Domestic dog Sports Radio. Follow Zach on Twitter