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NBA Power Rankings: Celtics stay on top; checking in on faces (latest and old) in latest places


We’re creeping up on the quarter mark of the 2022-23 NBA regular season.

I almost decided to have that be the theme for this week’s Power Rankings, but considering I’m a stickler for correct rounding up and down relating to stats, I figured every team needed to have hit that quarter point before we could truly break it down. As a substitute, we’ll take a take a look at the faces (some old, some latest) in latest places.

The offseason is a lot fun because we all the time have latest players and coaches added to groups across the NBA. We get to pontificate on whether it’s going so as to add to what the team is attempting to do or whether it’s just not the best fit. Since we’re almost on the quarter mark, let’s see how these players and coaches are establishing themselves of their latest digs.

And, after all, we’re also going to rank these 30 teams based on various aspects at this point within the campaign.

Reminder: The Power Rankings don’t just rank the 30 teams. We divide these teams into tiers, which any of the teams can move out and in of. Now we have the tiers within the Power Rankings broken into six categories:

  • Victor Wembanyama Watch — They’re rebuilding and nothing matters greater than development and lottery ping pong balls.
  • Seeking to make the Play-In — They’ve been rebuilding/retooling and think they’ll crack the highest 10 of their respective conference.
  • Play-In Tournament teams Or Higher — They must be in the combo unless something disastrous happens.
  • Playoff teams — Probably don’t should worry about dropping all the way down to the Play-In Tournament.
  • Getting ready to contention — A bit away from us believing they’ll win the title.
  • Contenders — They’re contending for the championship, barring a large injury.

As all the time, I’m sure we’ll all agree on the location of all 30 teams, especially your favorite team.

Here’s how the Power Rankings work:

  • It’s as much as my discretion how the rankings shake out. For some teams, they’ll be hit within the short term. Others will likely be given the profit for the long run. Yes, it’s entirely subjective.
  • If I even have a team ahead of one other team, there’s no reason to ask why they’re ranked above the team you want. The reply is pretty easy: I feel that team is ready up higher for achievement.
  • Yes, I watch the games. And yes, I watch your favorite team.
  • Only 15 teams will likely be deemed worthy of a GIF or video. That’s to limit how much we eat up your data and computer’s processor.
  • That is purported to be fun, so let’s have a good time with it. 

With all that said, let’s dive into Week 7 of the The Athletic’s NBA Power Rankings. Stats and records are through Sunday’s motion:

Tier 1: The Contenders

1. Boston Celtics (previously first) | 16-4 | +7.7 net rating

Weekly slate: Loss at Bulls, Win over Mavs, Win over Kings, Win over Wizards

Who’s the brand new face? Malcolm Brogdon

How’d they get him? Traded Aaron Nesmith, Daniel Theis, a first-round pick, et al. for Brogdon.

How’s that going? A number of people might need thought Brogdon would come to the Boston Celtics, join Marcus Smart within the starting backcourt and do plenty of what he did in Indiana and Milwaukee. As a substitute, we’ve seen a rather more modest role. He’s coming off the bench to spell either Smart or Derrick White and proceed the defensive intensity and timely scoring. He’s missed slightly little bit of time to date, but that’s to be expected with Brogdon. The Celtics are a machine immediately, especially with their play on the perimeter. They’re great with or without Brogdon on the ground. The guard rotation of him, Smart and White is so annoying for opponents to handle since the trio is relentless on each ends. And the Celtics didn’t quit much for Brogdon, so a no brainer move for Brad Stevens.

Grade the move now: A-


2. Milwaukee Bucks (previously second) | 14-5 | +4.6 net rating

Weekly slate: Win over Blazers, Loss to Bulls, Win over Cavs, Win over Mavs

Who’s the brand new face? Jevon Carter

How’d they get him? Signed in February, re-signed for 2 years/$4.2 million this summer.

How’s that going? The Bucks scooped up Carter in the course of last season, and he had a extremely good run with them. He barely played within the postseason, but his efficiency was there. The Bucks re-signed him on a small deal this summer, and it’s been an excellent contract. Carter has been a pitbull on defense since his highschool days, and he’s helped the Bucks mitigate the absence of Khris Middleton. Mike Budenholzer throws Carter and Jrue Holiday on the ground together, and it becomes a house of horrors for the opposing offense. When Carter helps out Holiday and Giannis Antetokounmpo, the defense is unimaginable to attain on. He’ll return to the bench when Middleton returns, but his scoring and defense have been exactly what the Bucks need.

Grade the move now: A

Tier 2: Brink of Contention

3. Phoenix Suns (previously third) | 13-6 | +6.9 net rating

Weekly slate: Win over Lakers, Win over Pistons, Win over Jazz

Who’s the brand new face? Torrey Craig

How’d they get him? Traded Jalen Smith and a 2022 second-round pick for Craig.

How’s that going? Phoenix is considered one of a number of teams that don’t have a ton of additives to pick from. They’re down Jae Crowder and Cameron Johnson on the forward position, which has made the reacquisition of Craig much more essential. He has began the past 11 games, and he’s playing about half the games. His fame comes from defense, which is how he’s stuck around on this league. But his outside shooting has been a extremely good surprise. The 2020-21 season (36.8 percent) is the one time he’s flashed an outdoor shot price respecting. Aside from that, he’s been below 33 percent every season of his profession. But he’s flattening 39.3 percent of his 3s this season. He may not maintain that rate, nevertheless it’s something they really want immediately.

Grade the move now: B+


Tier 3: Playoff Teams

4. Cleveland Cavaliers (previously eighth) | 13-7 | +6.7 net rating

Weekly slate: Win over Hawks, Win over Blazers, Loss at Bucks, Win at Pistons

Who’s the brand new face? Donovan Mitchell

How’d they get him? Acquired for Lauri Markkanen, Collin Sexton, Ochai Agbaji, three first-round picks and two pick swaps.

How’s that going? Having Mitchell there to take over because the lead guard kept the Cleveland Cavaliers rolling when Darius Garland missed time as a consequence of an eye fixed injury. Acquiring Mitchell was a simple call, but there was the possibility that he had plateaued as a scorer and a decision-maker on the court. He’d still be a hell of a player, however the Cavs brought him in hoping to unlock more. Mitchell doesn’t seem like the guy who struggled with decision-making last season. His scoring and shooting are unbelievable. His defense continues to be pretty rough, but he’s trying greater than we saw last season. Cleveland gave up loads, and Markkanen has been great for Utah, nevertheless it’s been price it.

Grade the move now: A

5. Memphis Grizzlies (previously ninth) | 12-8 | +1.1 net rating

Weekly slate: Loss to Kings, Win over Pelicans, Win at Knicks

Who’s the brand new face? Santi Aldama

How’d they get him? Traded for on draft night 2021 for Jared Butler and two second-round picks.

How’s that going? Aldama was a rookie for the Memphis Grizzlies last season, and he played sparingly for a 56-win squad. But with Jaren Jackson Jr. on the shelf to start the season, Aldama was given a chance to start out on the 4. He took that chance and showed some incredible results. Aldama is fearless and willing to attack and be attacked. He’s not much of a shooter, but he’s a extremely good finisher. His defense has been useful instead of Jackson, and it has allowed the Grizzlies  to maintain Brandon Clarke in that bench role that they love. The Grizzlies still haven’t seen much stability when it comes to health, but someone like Aldama fitting in seamlessly continues to indicate their team culture.

Grade the move now: B+


6. Latest Orleans Pelicans (previously tenth) | 11-8 | +5.4 net rating

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

Who’s the brand new face? CJ McCollum

How’d they get him? Traded Josh Hart, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Tomáš Satoranský, Didi Louzada, first-round pick and two second-round picks for McCollum, Tony Snell and Larry Nance Jr. before 2022 trade deadline.

How’s that going? It is a move the Latest Orleans Pelicans made last season, so it’s not a completely latest face. But in addition they didn’t really add much this summer. David Griffin desired to run it back with this squad by adding Zion Williamson into the combo, and it’s hard in charge him. We’ve mostly seen positive results, and the McCollum adjustment has been spectacular. He’s getting a likelihood to be a lead guard full-time, and he’s handling it extremely well. While his personal numbers are down, the team runs extremely well with him on the ground. Latest Orleans is outscoring opponents by 8.4 points per 100 possessions. Within the 10 games he’s played with Williamson and Brandon Ingram, the Pels are scoring a ridiculous 120.9 points per 100 possessions and hitting opponents with a +16.5 net rating. One other good trade by Griffin, and large credit to Willie Green and McCollum for determining the balance of what he’s asked to do on the market.

Grade the move now: A

7. Denver Nuggets (previously twelfth) | 12-7 | +0.9 net rating

Weekly slate: Loss to Pistons, Win at Thunder, Win at Clippers

Who’s the brand new face? Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

How’d they get him? Traded Monté Morris and Will Barton for Caldwell-Pope and Ish Smith.

How’s that going? When Caldwell-Pope is on the ground for the Nuggets, they’re dominant (+9.8 net rating). When he’s off the ground, they’re dominated (-14.8 net rating). Caldwell-Pope has been an excellent pickup. His defense continues to be stellar, he’s making 49.4 percent of his 3-pointers (4.7 attempts per game), and his movement off the ball is giving Nikola Jokić one other weapon to sling the ball to on cuts and fades. Lots goes into parsing out how legitimate a net rating is, so we are able to’t just credit their success to Caldwell-Pope, but he’s been incredible. The Nuggets’ biggest problem immediately is their bench, and that’s not purported to be the case.

Grade the move now: A+


8. Philadelphia 76ers (previously fifteenth) | 11-9 | +4.1 net rating

Weekly slate: Win over Nets, Loss at Hornets, Win at Magic, Win at Magic

Who’s the brand new face? De’Anthony Melton

How’d they get him? Traded Danny Green and David Roddy for Melton this summer.

How’s that going? James Harden and Tyrese Maxey have already missed time, they usually’re going to miss more time. The 76ers need players within the backcourt, and the acquisition of Melton prior to the draft has proven massive. Melton jogs my memory of the great version of Avery Bradley. He’s in a position to rating enough. He’s in a position to create with passing enough. He’s in a position to shoot enough. And defensively, he’s a menace. Joel Embiid still carries this team, but Melton is considered one of the few consistent backcourt options for the Sixers. I loved this deal before the draft, and I like it much more with the Sixers having to endure and survive these key backcourt absences.

Grade the move now: B+


Why are the short-handed Sixers thriving without their big names? ‘Our resilience’

9. Atlanta Hawks (previously fourth) | 11-9 | -0.7 net rating

Weekly slate: Loss at Cavs, Win over Kings, Loss at Rockets, Loss to Heat

Who’s the brand new face? Dejounte Murray

How’d they get him? Traded Danilo Gallinari, three first-round picks and a pick swap for Murray and Jock Landale.

How’s that going? We’re seeing slightly little bit of an odd slide these days with the Hawks, but I still think the Murray effect has been a no brainer. His individual numbers took an obvious hit by sharing the backcourt with Trae Young, but he’s still putting up unbelievable production. We just have to see a bit more accuracy and maturity in his shot selection. Not much changes on offense with or without him on the court, however the defense takes a major dip when he’s off. The Hawks need him to set the tone defensively and disrupt opponents. He’s doing that quite a bit, nevertheless it could all the time be higher. Ultimately, he matches well with Young, and he can run things when the franchise guard takes a breather.

Grade the move now: A-


10. Dallas Mavericks (previously seventh) | 9-10 | +1.9 net rating

Weekly slate: Loss at Celtics, Loss at Raptors, Loss at Bucks

Who’s the brand new face? Spencer Dinwiddie

How’d they get him? Acquired with Dāvis Bertāns for Kristaps Porziņģis on the 2022 trade deadline.

How’s that going? I could speak about Christian Wood or JaVale McGee, but I would like to revisit the Dinwiddie acquisition. I used to be critical of the move on the time and slightly confused by it. I suppose I assumed they’d re-sign Jalen Brunson whatever the money being thrown his way, and that was mistaken. Dinwiddie had some moments within the Mavericks’ run to the Western Conference finals, nevertheless it wasn’t consistent. Now that Brunson is in Latest York, you see exactly how priceless Dinwiddie is. His shooting has been absurd. He’s taking good care of the ball. And he’s been an ideal fill-in for Brunson. I don’t know if this was all the time the vision for that acquisition, or they simply didn’t want Porziņģis anymore. But it surely’s been unbelievable.

Grade the move now: A

11. LA Clippers (previously fifth) | 12-9 | -0.2 net rating

Weekly slate: Win over Jazz, Loss at Warriors, Loss to Nuggets, Win over Pacers

Who’s the brand new face? John Wall

How’d they get him? Signed for 2 years/$13.2 million this summer.

How’s that going? The way you judge this early part to Wall’s tenure with the Clippers probably is dependent upon whether you expected the Wall of old or when you thought he might push Reggie Jackson for his role. Or possibly you only desired to see him on the market, being fast and making a few plays. Wall has been solid to date. Nothing spectacular, but he’s also not a shell of his former self. The speed continues to be mostly there, and while his leaping isn’t explosive anymore, he still has enough to place the defense at a drawback. The team offense has been atrocious with him on the court, nevertheless it’s been bad with nearly everybody on the court. The Clippers have the second-worst offense in basketball. I feel Wall will proceed to construct, so long as he stays healthy, and possibly come playoff time he can have moments that make you wonder if he must be starting.

Grade the move now: C+


12. Toronto Raptors (previously thirteenth) | 10-9 | +2.0 net rating

Weekly slate: Loss to Nets, Win over Mavs

Who’s the brand new face? Otto Porter Jr.

How’d they get him? Signed for 2 years/$12.4 million this summer.

How’s that going? The Toronto Raptors have been slightly in every single place this season, and that completely describes the addition of Porter. Injury caused him to miss the primary seven games of the season, and he missed the previous 4 games as well. Within the eight-game stretch he played, we didn’t exactly seen the identical Porter we saw during Golden State’s championship run. He’s still getting his body right, and this toe injury is hard to get through. The Raptors will need him to be more consistent with every thing (shooting, defense, rebounding, etc.), but he has loads of time they usually have loads of depth to get that right.

Grade the move now: C-



Raptors’ Pascal Siakam is prepared to select up where he left off

13. Golden State Warriors (previously nineteenth) | 11-10 | +0.2 net rating

Weekly slate: Loss at Pelicans, Win over Clippers, Win over Jazz, Win at Wolves

Who’s the brand new face? Klay Thompson

How’d they get him? Returned from a two-and-a-half-year absence last season (Let’s just go together with him as a latest face considering his recent play.)

How’s that going? Yes, the Golden State Warriors picked up some latest role players within the offseason, and Thompson got here back last season of their run to the title. But Thompson recently has felt like a brand latest player after some early struggles. He’s beginning to make shots, and that’s going to be huge for the Warriors on so many levels. Over his last seven games, he has averaged 22.2 points on 48.6/50.0/85.7 shooting splits. He’s made half his 3-pointers in those seven games and has taken 72 attempts during that stretch. We still have to see the consistent defense from him, but when the offense has truly turned a corner to being more Klay-like, then that’s going to be trouble for the Warriors’ opponents.

Grade the move now: C


14. Portland Trail Blazers (previously eleventh) | 11-9 | -0.6 net rating

Weekly slate: Loss at Bucks, Loss at Cavs, Win at Knicks, Loss at Nets

Who’s the brand new face? Jerami Grant

How’d they get him? Traded Gabriele Procida, a first-round pick and two second-round picks for Grant.

How’s that going? As much as I hated the moves the Portland Trail Blazers made in-season last 12 months, their offseason moves have been great. Grant and the trade they pulled off with Detroit could possibly be described as theft. That will likely be determined on what those picks yield for Detroit, but Grant has been so good for the Blazers. He’s not in a position to completely make up for the defensive shortcomings of Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons, however the return of Gary Payton II should help that. Grant has been a capable scorer, like we saw from him in Detroit. His efficiency is high too. They might use higher rebounding efforts from him, and the team defense needs to return together. But Grant is an amazing pickup by a latest front office.

Grade the move now: B+

Tier 4: Play-In Tournament Teams Or Higher

15. Minnesota Timberwolves (previously 18th) | 10-10 | +0.1 net rating

Weekly slate: Win over Heat, Win at Pacers, Loss at Hornets, Loss to Warriors

Who’s the brand new face? Rudy Gobert

How’d they get him? Traded Malik Beasley, Patrick Beverley, Leandro Bolmaro, Walker Kessler, Jarred Vanderbilt, 4 first-round picks and a pick swap for Gobert this summer.

How’s that going? Here’s the excellent news about Gobert on the Timberwolves: The defense is de facto good with him on the court. They only quit 105.6 points per 100 possessions, and that’s after getting blitzed by the Warriors on Sunday. The bad news is that this team has not found out methods to rating when he’s in the sport. They don’t even get to 105 points per 100 possessions. To place that in perspective, Charlotte has the worst offensive rating in basketball at 106.0 points per 100 possessions. Yikes. The fit was clunky after they made the trade, and it’s still clunky 20 games in. The Wolves sometimes seem like they’re starting to figure it out, then they’ll lose to Charlotte and Golden State in a really embarrassing way. This will likely be a piece in progress all season, but a minimum of the defense has been pretty good more often than not.

Grade the move now: C+


16. Indiana Pacers (previously sixteenth) | 11-8 | +1.4 net rating

Weekly slate: Win over Magic, Loss to Wolves, Win over Nets, Loss at Clippers

Who’s the brand new face? Bennedict Mathurin

How’d they get him? Drafted Mathurin with the sixth pick this summer.

How’s that going? Mathurin is a gunner. There isn’t much playmaking for others. But when you may rating and shoot like he can, the Pacers don’t really want him to be rather more than that at this point. The Pacers have been higher than advertised, and Rick Carlisle has them as considered one of the highest 10 offenses within the NBA. Mathurin’s scoring off the bench is a giant a part of that. He’s a dead-eye shooter from downtown. Rookie gunners aren’t purported to make 42.0 percent of their outside shots, but he’s doing that. His shot selection is remarkably mature. He takes a ton of 3-pointers, and he takes plenty of shots inside 10 feet. Imagine what he’s going to seem like when he knows what he’s doing on the NBA level.

Grade the move now: A



Kravitz: The Pacers’ tank took a mistaken turn. Here’s why no one in Indiana is complaining

Tier 5: Seeking to make the Play-In

17. Utah Jazz (previously sixth) | 12-10 | +1.9 net rating

Weekly slate: Loss at Clippers, Loss to Pistons, Loss at Warriors, Loss at Suns

Who’s the brand new face? Lauri Markkanen

How’d they get him? Acquired in the large Donovan Mitchell trade with Cleveland.

How’s that going? I’m undecided that could possibly be going higher. We had plenty of options to select from here, because the Jazz acquired a ton of role players and picks for Gobert and Mitchell this season. Markkanen has been one of the best, to the purpose that some have been talking All-Star consideration for the ability forward. That consideration goes to dampen considerably if the Jazz keep losing like this (seven of their last nine). His 21.7 points per game on 63.0 percent true shooting are each profession bests for him. Even during this nine-game struggle stretch, the Jazz have been +1.1 per 100 possessions with him on the ground and a startling -16.8 per 100 possessions with him on the bench.

Grade the move now: A


18. Sacramento Kings (previously 14th) | 10-8 | +1.8 net rating

Weekly slate: Win at Grizzlies, Loss at Hawks, Loss at Celtics

Who’s the brand new face? Mike Brown

How’d they get him? Hired as Kings coach this summer on four-year deal.

How’s that going? Despite the 2 recent losses to good Eastern Conference squads, I’m undecided anybody could have realistically expected a greater begin to the season for the Kings. One in all the funny things concerning the Brown hire is that he was purported to are available in and help this team be good defensively. They’ve been abysmal, rating twenty seventh within the NBA to date. But they’re putting up historic offensive numbers and trust at the top of games that we haven’t seen because the Rick Adelman days. I don’t know the way much of this holds throughout the season, but when was the last time you wanted to observe the Kings when you’re not a Kings fan? Their games are incredibly entertaining, and Brown has them believing in themselves.

Grade the move now: A+. Even when the Kings fizzle out, they haven’t been this good at any point up to now 16 years.

19. Miami Heat (previously twenty first) | 10-11 | -0.7 net rating

Weekly slate: Loss at Wolves, Win over Wizards, Win over Wizards, Win at Hawks

Who’s the brand new face? Caleb Martin

How’d they get him? Signed with Heat last season, re-signed three years/$20.5 million this summer.

How’s that going? The worth Martin brings the Heat is higher than most individuals might give him credit for contributing. Yes, they need to explore bringing back Jae Crowder because he’d be a much-needed addition in replacing P.J. Tucker. Nevertheless, the Heat make their money by playing great defense, and that happens with Martin on the court. He’s coming off an amazing performance against Atlanta. He’s not the only reason for his or her defensive success with him on the court, but he’s extremely solid. He doesn’t make a ton of mistakes, and executing Erik Spoelstra’s system is the important thing to the Heat continuing to climb the defensive charts. For the cash they re-signed him for this summer, he could find yourself being the most effective non-rookie contracts for any role player within the league.

Grade the move now: B+


20. Chicago Bulls (previously twenty third) | 8-11 | -0.3 net rating

Weekly slate: Win over Celtics, Win at Bucks, Loss at Thunder

Who’s the brand new face? Goran Dragić.

How’d they get him? Signed for one 12 months/$2.9 million this summer.

How’s that going? Not plenty of core changes to the Bulls this summer, as their big move was re-signing Zach LaVine. While they wait to see if Lonzo Ball goes to heal up, Dragić has been an amazing pickup. He’s coming off the bench as they utilize Ayo Dosunmu within the starting lineup, and Dragić has been a fairly super sub. The Dosunmu minutes (for plenty of reasons and definitely not all on Ayo) are usually not going well, however the Dragić minutes have helped the squad quite a bit. Dragić has struggled slightly contained in the arc, but his 3-point shooting (43.4 percent) has been great, and he’s doing a solid job of moving the ball. It’s slightly alarming how bad the offense is when he’s not on the ground. They need to probably find greater than 18.1 minutes per game for him.

Grade the move now: B+



‘I must be on the court’: Bulls’ Zach LaVine reflects on benching by Billy Donovan

21. Brooklyn Nets (previously twenty second) | 10-11 | +0.5 net rating

Weekly slate: Loss at Sixers, Win at Raptors, Loss at Pacers, Win over Blazers

Who’s the brand new face? Ben Simmons

How’d they get him? Acquired Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and two first-round picks for James Harden and Paul Millsap last season.

How’s that going? Once more, the Brooklyn Nets are having multiple seasons inside one 82-game campaign. As Simmons tries to get himself back to the player we saw before the Game 7 debacle in 2021, let’s just take a look at what he’s done since Jacque Vaughn took over as coach. The Nets’ defense with him on the ground has been tremendous within the last 14 games. Their 105.9 defensive rating on this stretch could be one of the best within the NBA over the course of the whole season. The Nets have been really good with him on the court, outscoring teams by 7.8 points per 100. Extrapolate that over the whole season, and it could be the leading net rating within the league. Simmons just flat-out isn’t going to shoot and rating points. However the defense is getting there, and he’s making over 70 percent of his shots within the Vaughn segment of the season. He’s not nearly as bad as the web would really like to make him out to be. And he’s getting stronger immediately and more comfortable.

Grade the move now: C+


22. Latest York Knicks (previously seventeenth) | 9/11 | -2.5 net rating

Weekly slate: Win at Thunder, Loss to Blazers, Loss to Grizzlies

Who’s the brand new face? Jalen Brunson

How’d they get him? Signed Brunson for 4 years/$104 million this summer.

How’s that going? The Knicks have definitely benefited from the Brunson signing. He’s their leading scorer, has almost a 4:1 assist-to-turnover ratio and is making nearly half his shots (48.7 percent). There are plenty of positives with Brunson the person, however the team impact hasn’t quite been there enough to lift them over the hump to date. I don’t think that’s necessarily on him. Other guys have to step up. The Knicks are higher without him on the ground than with him on, but that has to do with the bench being a galvanizing unit and his starting teammates needing to drag it together. Brunson’s outside shot has been brutal, and it’s a giant reason the Knicks are so bad at hitting 3-pointers as a team. Ultimately, he’ll stabilize this team throughout the season, however the defense has to recover with him on the ground. His size definitely hurts them there.

Grade the move now: B



Why is Immanuel Quickley swiftly expendable for the Knicks?

23. Charlotte Hornets (previously twenty fourth) | 6-14 | -5.1 net rating

Weekly slate: Win over Sixers, Win over Wolves

Who’s the brand new face? Steve Clifford

How’d they get him? Hired as coach one three-year deal this summer.

How’s that going? The Hornets are off to a terrible start, especially in the event that they were hoping to make one other run at determining this Play-In Tournament thing. But Clifford has done one other really solid coaching job to date. LaMelo Ball has missed almost the whole season. They don’t have Miles Bridges. Gordon Hayward is hurt again, and his wife has beef with the Hornets organization now. Terry Rozier has missed almost half their games. The Hornets aren’t good, but to be thirteenth in defensive rating with this group is nice coaching. When Ball is back and healthy, that league worst offense will get an enormous boost.

Grade the move now: B-


24. Washington Wizards (previously twentieth) | 10-10 | -1.8 net rating

Weekly slate: Loss at Heat, Loss at Heat, Loss at Celtics

Who’s the brand new face? Monté Morris.

How’d they get him? Traded Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Ish Smith for Morris and Will Barton this summer.

How’s that going? Morris’ individual numbers haven’t been impressive. His shooting and scoring have been high-quality, but they’ve dropped considerably from what we saw the previous two seasons. Nevertheless, the Wizards are seeing a large gulf between the time with Morris on the ground and the time with him on the bench. The offense is elite when he’s on the ground, scoring over 117 points per 100 possessions, and his 5:1 assist-to-turnover ratio is a large a part of that.  The defense is solid too, they usually outscore their opponents by 4.0 per 100 possessions when he’s on the market. They’ve a -6.3 net rating when he’s off the ground. Their offense falls to only over 100.0 points per 100 possessions when he’s off the court. Team impact is there, but let’s see him bring some more reliability in his shot making because we all know he can do it.

Grade the move now: B

25. Los Angeles Lakers (previously twenty sixth) | 7-11 | -2.1 net rating

Weekly slate: Loss at Suns, Win at Spurs, Win at Spurs

Who’s the brand new face? Patrick Beverley

How’d they get him? Traded Talen Horton-Tucker and Stanley Johnson for Beverley this summer.

How’s that going? I promise I made a decision to write down about Beverley on this space prior to the Deandre Ayton shove and the suspension, and now that he’s been forced to miss three straight games, it feels much more poignant to speak about his struggles. Beverley is considered one of those hated players on the web. If he’s in your team, you’re keen on him. If he isn’t, you despise him. To this point, I’m undecided if Lakers fans love him. He’s been horrendous shooting the ball and the defense has been mediocre by his standards. The antics don’t add anything positive to it. He’s averaging almost as many rebounds (3.9) as points (4.1), nevertheless it’s not exactly Wes Unseld Sr. on the market putting up roughly 20 of every every night. Beverley was very essential in getting the Wolves on course last season. But this Lakers team doesn’t need that guy. They need someone who’s less of a frontrunner (LeBron James has that covered … or should) and just more of a man who matches the role. Perhaps the three-game suspension helps him reassess and reset every thing.

Grade the move now: F


Tier 6: Victor Wembanyama Watch

26. Houston Rockets (previously twenty eighth) | 5-14 | -5.5 net rating

Weekly slate: Win over Hawks, Win over Thunder

Who’s the brand new face? Jabari Smith Jr.

How’d they get him? Drafted with third pick this summer.

How’s that going? We’re seeing a greater showing from Smith during the last three games, and it’s way too early to make a real ruling on the Rockets taking him third within the draft. He still projects to be a extremely good defender, and he shows flashes here and there. The shot making has been a large struggle. He barely takes shots across the rim, and he’s only ending half of them. For his size and athleticism, he must be making a much higher percentage. His jumper hasn’t traveled from Auburn, but his free-throw shooting offers up encouragement. The Rockets need to search out him easy shots and construct that scoring confidence. A few of it’s on him, and a few of it’s the byproduct of the team being so young. They’re not setting him up for achievement yet, but he’ll get it together soon.

Grade the move now: C-



Vecenie’s NBA Rookie Rankings: Banchero constructing All-Star case; Kessler surprises

27. Detroit Pistons (previously thirtieth) | 5-17 | -7.6 net rating

Weekly slate: Win at Nuggets, Win at Jazz, Loss at Suns, Loss to Cavs

Who’s the brand new face? Bojan Bogdanović

How’d they get him? Traded Kelly Olynyk, Saben Lee and money for Bogdanović this summer. Signed him to two-year/$39 million extension.

How’s that going? The Pistons are off to a horrendous start, which makes the Bogdanović acquisition all of the more alluring. He’s been great to start out the season. He’s their leading scorer, shooting the lights out. That is what we saw in Indiana and in Utah. With Cade Cunningham out for some time, the Pistons are headed much more toward a potentially tough decision. Do they keep Bogdanović around to attempt to make the Play-In Tournament, or do they embrace the slow start and move him to assist tanking efforts sooner or later? Signing him to the extension makes him much more priceless to amass, so in the event that they’re seeking to get more draft assets, he can probably fetch a pleasant return. However the Pistons had a powerful second half last season, and I wouldn’t count them out of a run soon.

Grade the move now: A-


28. Oklahoma City Thunder (previously twenty fifth) | 8-12 | -2.0 net rating

Weekly slate: Loss to Knicks, Loss to Nuggets, Win over Bulls, Loss at Rockets

Who’s the brand new face? Jalen Williams

How’d they get him? Drafted with twelfth pick this summer.

How’s that going? We don’t get to judge Chet Holmgren on this space immediately, so we’re going to shift the main focus to Williams, considered one of the opposite exciting Thunder rookies. Williams looked like he was way ahead of the curve during summer league motion, so there was loads to stay up for when the actual games began. To this point, he’s been pretty good. He hasn’t set the world on fire, however the Thunder even have a substantial amount of depth immediately on the perimeter. He’s not making 3-pointers, but he’s doing every thing else pretty much on offense. He can probably do much more playmaking than he has, and I’d wish to see him keep shooting because I feel within the shot. I don’t know if he’s going to be an All-Rookie selection, but he is unquestionably going to be a vital a part of their future.

Grade the move now: B-

29. Orlando Magic (previously twenty seventh) | 5-15 | -5.5 net rating

Weekly slate: Loss at Pacers, Loss to Sixers, Loss to Sixers

Who’s the brand new face? Paolo Banchero.

How’d they get him? Drafted with first pick this summer.

How’s that going? I do know I speak about Banchero loads, but he’s my favorite player on this team. He’s also considered one of the few selections for the brand new faces on the Magic. Banchero is such a remarkable bully, but his jumper has not been there. He’s not making midrange jumpers. He’s not making 3-point shots. His solid free-throw shooting indicates he should find a way to figure that out. For now, he’s just counting on being a bully, and it really works. He’s overpowering plenty of defenders. Opponents should get creative with when and the way they double him to make him overthink things. Any time Banchero doesn’t get to the basket, it’s a win. He’s going to be special.

Grade the move now: A


30. San Antonio Spurs (previously twenty ninth) | 6-15 | -10.0 net rating

Weekly slate: Loss to Pelicans, Loss to Lakers, Loss to Lakers

Who’s the brand new face? Jeremy Sochan

How’d they get him? Drafted with ninth pick this summer.

How’s that going? I’ll admit, I wasn’t thrilled with the Sochan pick in June. I assumed Jalen Williams or Jalen Duren would’ve been a greater pick on the time. And possibly they still could be, but Sochan is a extremely fun prospect. He wasn’t much of an outdoor shooter at Baylor, and that has held true through the early a part of his rookie campaign. He’s flashed a little bit of a midrange jumper, though, and possibly that can assist bring his free-throw shooting and outdoors stoning up sooner or later. But he’s so lively and gets an excellent amount of shots on the rim, and he’s really good at ending. I don’t know what the Spurs are constructing yet, but he’s the precise kind of role player you may see being a staple of their rotation for a decade.

Grade the move now: C+

(Illustration by John Bradford / The Athletic; photo of Malcolm Brogdon: Maddie Malhotra / Getty Images)

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