Kevin Durant shocked the basketball world by choosing to join an already historically great Warriors team in free agency. That made Golden State the odds-on favorites to dominate the competition next season, but what about everyone else? We took a crack at ranking all 30 NBA teams now that the offseason dust has settled.
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1. Golden State Warriors
The addition of Kevin Durant to a team that won a record 73 games during the regular season and was just one win from repeating as champions gets the Warriors to the preseason No. 1 spot. Nothing is guaranteed in terms of a championship; just ask last year's squad about that. But things will need to go pretty far off the rails for the Warriors not to be playing into June for a third consecutive season.
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2. Cleveland Cavaliers
LeBron James found a way to get it done against the Warriors to take home the 2016 NBA title, so it stands to reason that he and his teammates could do so again next season. The Cavaliers will be slightly changed from last season's squad, with Chris Andersen and Mike Dunleavy replacing Timofey Mozgov and Matthew Dellavedova. But assuming the rest of the team returns as expected, Cleveland will need to be dealt with by any team looking to make a championship run.
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3. San Antonio Spurs
Kawhi Leonard is officially the stoic new face of the Spurs now that Tim Duncan has called it quits. San Antonio's losses (David West, Boris Diaw, Boban Marjanovic) may make it difficult to compete with the league's top two teams, but the addition of Pau Gasol and David Lee (along with playing in that Gregg Popovich system) should ensure that the Spurs once again finish near the top of the regular-season standings.
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4. Los Angeles Clippers
Injuries destroyed the Clippers' chances last season, but even with Blake Griffin missing 47 games, L.A. managed to finish 53-29, which was good for fourth in the West. Running it back with essentially the same squad might make sense for one more season, but if L.A. can't find a way to advance past the second round, it may be time to break up the Chris Paul-DeAndre Jordan-Griffin core and go in another direction.
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5. Toronto Raptors
DeMar DeRozan didn't even take any free-agent meetings before re-upping with the Raptors on a five-year max contract this summer, which tells you how confident he is in the organization. The loss of Bismack Biyombo will hurt Toronto's depth, but the combination of DeRozan, Kyle Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas is still enough to give the bulk of the teams in the East fits.
6. Boston Celtics
Getting a legitimate free agent like Al Horford to sign was huge for the Celtics, and by all accounts, selecting Jaylen Brown with the No. 3 pick will end up turning out just fine. Boston tied with three other teams for third in the East last season. This season's goal: to advance past the first round of the playoffs.
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7. Indiana Pacers
Indiana fired a successful head coach in Frank Vogel because it wanted to increase the team's offensive pace. Trading for Jeff Teague should help a little, but then again, signing Al Jefferson in free agency and trading for Thaddeus Young may end up making things tricky. It'll be up to new head coach Nate McMillan to make the pieces fit alongside Paul George, but if he can, Indiana could potentially make a nice little jump next season.
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8. Portland Trail Blazers
Portland wildly overachieved last season by finishing fifth in the West and advancing to the second round of the playoffs, in a year most predicted to be a down one for the Blazers. They doubled down on that success by giving big contract extensions to guys like Allen Crabbe and C.J. McCollum, while adding Evan Turner and Festus Ezeli in free agency. The Blazers believe they have a core capable of continuing to improve in the coming years; it'll be interesting to see if that's true, or if we may have seen that group already hit its ceiling instead.
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9. Houston Rockets
James Harden remains the face of the franchise, but with Dwight Howard gone and Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson and Nene all coming over in free agency, he now has a ton of help on the offensive end of the floor. Defense will be a problem, which is nothing new for a Mike D'Antoni-coached team. But Houston will be able to simply outscore plenty of opponents once they get clicking, and that should make the Rockets very tough to deal with next season.
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10. Utah Jazz
Seven-time NBA All-Star Joe Johnson was a nice free-agent pickup for the Jazz, as was the addition of Boris Diaw. The veteran presence will help a younger Utah Jazz team both on and off the floor, and the George Hill pickup should pay immediate dividends at point guard. Utah finished just out of the playoffs last season; this is the season the team needs to make the leap.
11. Detroit Pistons
Detroit made the playoffs as the eight seed and was competitive in a couple of its first-round games against the eventual champion Cavaliers. The Pistons didn't make any flashy additions in free agency, but solidified their bench with backup bigs Jon Leuer and Boban Marjanovic, while adding a nice backup point guard in Ish Smith. Stan Van Gundy should be able to see enough improvement out of his current core of players to make next season a little bit better than the last.
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12. Dallas Mavericks
The Mavericks will never bottom out and choose to go through a full-fledged rebuild; that's just not Mark Cuban's style. Thankfully, he has one of the best coaches in the league in Rick Carlisle, who consistently turns whatever new crop of players Cuban throws at him into a respectably competitive team. Dallas added Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut in free agency, while losing Zaza Pachulia and Chandler Parsons. That should be enough to keep the Mavs in the playoff picture, at least in the bottom half of the bracket in the West.
13. Chicago Bulls
Dwyane Wade's decision to leave Miami was just as shocking as Durant choosing to sign with the Warriors. Wade had played all 13 years of his career with the Heat, but a second straight summer of contract drama (along with the Bulls coming with a huge money offer) ended up persuading Wade to jump ship. The Bulls also added Rajon Rondo to a team that lost Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol, and neither acquisition bodes well for the long-term future of the franchise. But if we're looking at just next season, the Bulls might end up having a group that could be far more competitive than last season's squad.
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14. Memphis Grizzlies
Mike Conley signed the biggest contract in NBA history this summer, when he inked the five-year max deal that will keep him in Memphis. The Grizzlies also added Chandler Parsons, a move that should finally address the team's three-point shooting, which has been dreadful for several seasons. Memphis was decimated by injuries last season to the point where the Grizzlies played an NBA record number of different players throughout the season. If the team can return its key players fully healthy, the Grizzlies could surprise some people next season.
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15. Miami Heat
Hassan Whiteside got a four-year max contract worth around $98 million from the Heat this summer, and now that Dwyane Wade is gone, Miami will look to get more of its younger players involved. Dion Waiters will attempt to fill the void Wade left at shooting guard, while Goran Dragic will be expected to have a larger role in the offense. Luol Deng and Joe Johnson left in free agency, too, which means that the health of Chris Bosh and whether he's cleared to play again might ultimately determine just how far the Heat can go next season.
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16. Charlotte Hornets
Re-signing Nicolas Batum was the priority for the Hornets this offseason, and they were able to get that done. Al Jefferson left in free agency, however, as did Jeremy Lin. Charlotte added Roy Hibbert to help on the defensive end, but guys like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Kemba Walker are going to need to step up if Charlotte is going to hang on to a playoff spot in the East.
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17. Oklahoma City Thunder
Even though the Thunder lost one of the league's top three players, they're far from destitute. Russell Westbrook might average a triple-double next season, Steven Adams should continue to develop as an excellent two-way big (especially with Serge Ibaka also out of the picture), and Victor Oladipo should get a nice chance to shine. Westbrook will make sure the Thunder end up in the playoffs next season.
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18. New York Knicks
Carmelo Anthony finally has some help after the Knicks added Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah this summer, and, at least in the short term, should be greatly improved. Health is always going to be a question mark with those two until they prove otherwise, and Rose needs to improve his shooting a great deal in order to get back to playing at the level he once did. New head coach Jeff Hornacek will look to push the pace, and he'll ask Rose to distribute far more than he has in the past. If the Knicks can find a way to defend consistently, a playoff spot isn't out of the question.
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19. Atlanta Hawks
Dwight Howard is hoping for a fresh start in Atlanta, but he'll also be relied upon heavily to replace what Al Horford used to bring. Dennis Schröder should be a fine full-time replacement for Jeff Teague, but the loss of Horford might be tougher than expected on an offense that ranked just 18th in the league last season.
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20. Milwaukee Bucks
Thon Maker was Milwaukee's most intriguing summer addition, even though Matthew Dellavedova and Mirza Teletovic will likely contribute far more to the upcoming season. The Bucks didn't really get close to the postseason last year, and for a team that ranked just 24th in offense and 22nd in defense, there will need to be improvement in plenty of areas.
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21. Washington Wizards
On paper there was no good reason for the Wizards to miss the playoffs last year, so changes needed to be made. Scott Brooks is the new head coach, and while names like Trey Burke, Ian Mahinmi and Andrew Nicholson may be underwhelming, they're the types of players who could be productive around John Wall and Bradley Beal if they're able to play their roles. In other news, Beal was locked up with a five-year max contract extension this summer, which was a necessary move for the Washington franchise.
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22. Minnesota Timberwolves
Minnesota installing Tom Thibodeau as head coach and president of basketball operations was the franchise's major move of the summer, but selecting Kris Dunn with the fifth overall pick in the draft could prove to be just as shrewd. Thibodeau will be tasked with harnessing all of the Timberwolves' young talent and pointing it in the right direction, which should be a lot of fun with guys like Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins already having shown so much potential.
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23. Phoenix Suns
Devin Booker has Suns fans excited for the future, but a squad led by a healthy Eric Bledsoe might be able to experience some more immediate success. Phoenix drafted well, too, by adding Dragan Bender, Marquese Chriss and Tyler Ulis, while adding Leandro Barbosa and Jared Dudley as solid veteran contributors.
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24. Orlando Magic
The Magic had a lot of folks scratching their heads this summer, mainly because they seemingly went out and got a totally random collection of talent via trade or free agency. Serge Ibaka, Jeff Green and Bismack Biyombo were the most interesting additions, and Evan Fournier was given a five-year contract extension worth $85 million. It'll be up to new head coach Frank Vogel to get it all figured out.
25. Denver Nuggets
The best thing that happened to the Nuggets this summer was that Dwyane Wade actually met with them before signing with the Bulls. Other than that, Denver did well enough in the draft, but it's going to be another season of rebuilding in the Mile High City. If things go as expected, look for Danilo Gallinari's name to start coming up in trade talks.
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26. New Orleans Pelicans
Anthony Davis is a beast, but he doesn't currently have much help. Gone are offensive weapons Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson, and newcomers Langston Galloway, Solomon Hill and E'Twaun Moore wouldn't appear to be able to provide a ton of firepower on the surface. Injuries were the reason New Orleans struggled so mightily for much of last season, but a healthy squad next year might not be much better.
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27. Sacramento Kings
No one really knows what the Kings are doing personnel-wise, and that's led to players like DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay openly questioning the team's moves. Dave Joerger was hired as head coach, and his most important task will be getting Cousins to buy in. Good luck with that, since Cousins has only responded to one NBA head coach -- Mike Malone, whom the Kings randomly fired because they wanted to see the offense play at a faster pace.
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28. Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers appear ready to begin their proper rebuild in earnest now that Kobe Bryant has retired following a brilliant NBA career that spanned 20 seasons. D'Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, Larry Nance Jr. and Brandon Ingram should get plenty of minutes to develop, and Luke Walton looks like the perfect head coach to build a long-term foundation in Los Angeles that can lead to a bright future. There won't be a lot of winning next season, but for the first time in a long time, the Lakers have a plan in place.
29. Philadelphia 76ers
Sam Hinkie is gone, and so is the perception that Philadelphia isn't interested in winning for years to come. You can expect No. 1 draft pick Ben Simmons to get a heavy dose of minutes during his first NBA season, and it appears as though Joel Embiid may finally be ready for action once the regular season begins. Dario Saric will be there, too, which means we may finally begin to see some progress next season after seeing so little of it the past few years.
30. Brooklyn Nets
The Nets have a new GM in Sean Marks, who made a real attempt to improve the team with what little assets he had. Brooklyn somehow lured Jeremy Lin in free agency, and Marks tried to overpay for second- (third-?) tier guys like Allen Crabbe and Tyler Johnson, before their offer sheets were matched by Portland and Miami respectively. The Nets may win a few more games than the Sixers, but there's at least a glimmer of hope in Philadelphia; there's still a severe shortage of that in Brooklyn these days.