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NBA Power Rankings, too early edition



The Los Angeles Lakers are the 2020 NBA champions, who topped the bubble playoffs with a 16-5 record and finished the Miami Heat in six games in the NBA Finals.

What now?

As the league enters an offseason of greater uncertainty, we’re taking a too early look at where all 30 teams are for the 2020-21 season.

Note: These rankings are based on which teams voters (a group of more than 40 reporters, insiders and editors) believe belong to the highest voice next season, taking into account the potential movement of players and the draft. Odds for the stock for 2021 were provided by William Hill’s Caesars Sportsbook.

MORE: LeBron and the Lakers fought heartbroken to win the finals

1. Los Angeles Lakers
Record 2019-20: 52-19
Result: NBA champions
2021 title odds: +325

LeBron James and Anthony Davis delivered the 17th championship banner of the franchise to the rafters. Now GM Rob Pelinka will be looking to maintain a championship-fighting roster around James. First priority is Davis, who can give up and get a raise. Markieff Morris, Jared Dudley, Dwight Howard and Dion Waiters are free agents. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Avery Bradley, JaVale McGee and Rajon Rondo all have a player option for 2020-21. Pelinka has the mid-level exceptions of $ 9.3 million and $ 3.6 million semi-annual to use. The rest of the West will only get better, but the Lakers will defend their title with the best superstar tandem, a second year with manager Frank Vogel and hopefully no bubbles to tackle next season. – Ohm Youngmisuk


2. LA Clippers
Record 2019-20: 49-23
Result: L, semifinal west
2021 title odds: +400

After seeing the Clippers collapse at the Nuggets, Steve Ballmer decided not to risk another disappointing ending. Doc Rivers has taken over from Philly and the Clippers are looking for a new manager, with Ty Lue and Jeff Van Gundy among the nominees. While the front office will explore the commercial market, the Clippers will likely find it difficult to significantly update the roster. Free agents Montrezl Harrell, Marcus Morris Sr. and JaMychal Green will try to re-sign. Lou Williams has a contract expiring, but the Clippers have no first-round choices to dangle. The next coaching staff will need to get the best out of this championship roster that needs a point guard and leader. – Youngmisuk


3. Milwaukee Bucks
Record 2019-20: 56-17
Result: L, east semifinal
2021 stock odds: +600

After finishing with the best regular season record for the second straight season but failing to make it to the finals, the biggest question surrounding this team is what will happen to Giannis Antetokounmpo. The reigning MVP and Defensive Player of the Year has a big decision to make, as do the Bucks, as they are expected to offer him a supermax extension. If they sign it for the extension, changes will also need to be made to the roster to ensure greater success in the playoffs. – Eric Woodyard


4. Denver Nuggets
Record 2019-20: 46-27
Result: L, west final
2021 stock odds: +2000

Having made history by creating two 3-1 series deficit comebacks on their way to the conference finals, the Nuggets’ next step is to win the West. They have playoff experience and two bona fide stars like Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, who may have made more leaps and bounds than any budding star in the bubble. Michael Porter Jr. looks set to be a third star next season. Free agent Jerami Grant is a top priority, as are Mason Plumlee, Paul Millsap and Torrey Craig. Will Barton’s health remains a question and Gary Harris needs to improve this offseason, but it’s good to be the Nuggets right now. – Youngmisuk


5. Dallas Mavericks
Record 2019-20: 43-32
Result: L, first round
2021 title odds: +2500

Luka Doncic’s emergence as an MVP candidate gives the Mavericks legitimate hope of being a championship contender ahead of schedule, even if they need co-star Kristaps Porzingis to stay healthy. All signs indicate that the Mavs won’t make a big off-season hit until 2021, when Dallas can create a maximum slot for a free agent with a small salary cap. Expect, however, that the Mavs hunt for some veteran toughness. It is clear that an enhanced defense (ranked 18th this season) is needed to complete Dallas’ historically efficient offense. – Tim MacMahon


6. Golden State Warriors
Record 2019-20: 15-50
Result: playoffs lost
2021 title odds: +800

Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green want to show that this group’s run isn’t over yet. They will be motivated to show the rest of the league that they can still play at the highest level. The reality, however, is that this is a completely different group of Warriors than before. How will Andrew Wiggins fit in? How are the talent and leadership void left by Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston filled? What will they do with the absolute choice n. 2? The Warriors still have top-tier talent, but they need to fill in many gaps before they get back to the title. – Nick Friedell


7. Boston Celtics
Record 2019-20: 48-24
Result: L, final east
2021 title odds: +1400

Boston reached the Eastern Conference Finals for the third time in four years, but failed to return to the NBA Finals after losing to the Miami Heat in six games. While most of the team is under contract for next season, the biggest uncertainty is whether Gordon Hayward will opt for his $ 34.1 million player option for 2020-21. There isn’t an obvious landing spot for him if he does, but the Miami Heat didn’t even look like a landing spot for Jimmy Butler a year ago. Otherwise, Boston goes into the offseason with three first-round choices to work with. Kemba Walker’s health will be a priority after facing knee problems throughout this calendar year, as will the growth of their two franchise wing players, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. – Tim Bontemps


8. Philadelphia 76ers
Record 2019-20: 43-30
Result: L, first round
2021 stock odds: +3000

After replacing Brett Brown with Doc Rivers, Philadelphia is hoping to finally make the deep run into the playoffs that eluded them with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. General manager Elton Brand has a big decision to make this offseason after adaptation problems plagued the Sixers this season. Specifically, can he find a buyer for Al Horford, who didn’t fit into Embiid as Philadelphia had hoped? Horford has shown that he can still play in the center when Embiid was not on the pitch. Another big question the Sixers will have to answer: Will Simmons remain a powerful full-time striker? And if so, who will be the team’s starting point guard next season, Shake Milton or someone who isn’t on the roster yet? – Bontemps


9. Miami Heat
Record 2019-20: 44-29
Result: L, NBA Finals
2021 title odds: +1400

The biggest question surrounding the Heat is whether they can duplicate the success they’ve had on the bubble in a normal basketball world. Miami’s future looks bright with Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo leading a young core, but will they manage to convince another star to join them in South Beach? If they do, there is no reason to believe that the Heat won’t be able to play another final next season. – Friedell


10. Brooklyn Nets
Record 2019-20: 35-37
Result: L, first round
Share of the 2021 share: +1000

If the Nets were a trendy Brooklyn restaurant, 2019-20 was the aperitif and 2020-21 seems like the main course. Having lost all season following Achilles’ breakup in the 2019 NBA Finals, Kevin Durant should be ready for retirement. So should the players, including Kyrie Irving, who missed the Nets playoffs at the hands of Toronto. Brooklyn must re-sign starting winger Joe Harris and consider possible swaps to better complete Durant and Irving, but the sky is the limit for a talented group under the guidance of rookie coach Steve Nash. – Kevin Pelton


11. Toronto Raptors
Record 2019-20: 53-19
Result: L, east semifinal
2021 stock odds: +2000

The Raptors’ focus remains on 2021, when they should be one of the many teams in pursuit of Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo. Meanwhile, the Raptors have three key players: the guard Fred VanVleet and great men Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol – who will be free agents without restrictions. VanVleet is one of the best players on the market and could be a big payday this off season. Ibaka and Gasol could both return on one-year contracts, although there is a possibility that Gasol will return to his native Spain to finish his career. Then there is the status of the team president Masai Ujiri, who has a one-year contract left. Coach Nick Nurse recently signed a contract extension and CEO Bobby Webster is expected to sign his shortly. – Bontemps


12. Houston Rockets
Record 2019-20: 44-28
Result: L, semifinal west
2021 title odds: +2500

General manager Daryl Morey needs to hire a new manager after Mike D’Antoni decided not to wait and see if he would be welcomed back to Houston after his contract expires and Houston’s second round playoffs exit . This may be the only big off-season change for the Rockets, as there isn’t much flexibility given their expensive roster. Big question: the indispensable 35-year-old P.J. Will Tucker get the contract extension he seeks? – MacMahon


13. Utah Jazz
Record 2019-20: 44-28
Result: L, first round
2021 stock odds: +4000

The Utah front office has never wavered on its long-term plan to build around Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, despite the friction in their relationship that has been exacerbated by their COVID-19 diagnoses. That confidence was justified by the chemistry and professionalism the duo displayed in the bubble. It’s an easy decision to sign Mitchell for a maximum extension as he enters the final season of his rookie deal. Discussions about the extension with Gobert, who is eligible for supermax, are likely to be much more complicated. Limited in ways to improve the cast around their franchise cornerstones, the Jazz can’t afford to miss with their mid-tier exception. – MacMahon


14. Portland Trail Blazers
Record 2019-20: 35-39
Result: L, first round
2021 stock odds: +3000

This has been a transitional year for the Blazers. They faced key starts from a group that went to the Western Conference Finals, as well as a string of injuries that put them in a pit to scramble on just to make the playoffs. Their bubble was exciting, but ultimately ended a disappointing season. Continuity was the hallmark of the Blazers, who kept the same GM, the same coach and the same star. The roster is largely under contract (Hassan Whiteside and Carmelo Anthony are the big offseason questions), but changes will need to be made for the Blazers to rise to the top level of the West. – Royce Young


15. Oklahoma City Thunder
Record 2019-20: 44-28
Result: L, first round
2021 stock odds: +5000

The Thunder were one of the league’s surprise success stories last season as the expectation was that the roster would be sold in parts to the highest bidder as the franchise began an inevitable rebuild. And with virtually the entire roster of next season – except Danilo Gallinari, who is an unlimited free agent – the Thunder will enter the 2020-21 season in pretty much the same situation. As long as they have Chris Paul, Dennis Schroder and Steven Adams, they will be competitive in the West. But as soon as an attractive commercial offer arrives for one or all, the rebuilding will begin. – Young


16. Indiana Pacers
Record 2019-20: 45-28
Result: L, first round
2021 stock odds: +10000

After a third first-round sweep in four years, Indiana chose to switch to manager Nate McMillan. This season, Indiana never got a chance to see how healthy its full roster would be. Whoever is chosen to replace McMillan will have to figure out how to level up the Pacers as the leaders of the Eastern Conference quickly become competitive. Basketball operations president Kevin Pritchard and the front office also need to figure out what to do with Victor Oladipo, who is entering the final year of his contract and could leave as an unrestricted free agent in 2021 if he hasn’t signed an extension contract this offseason. . – Bontemps


17. New Orleans Pelicans
Record 2019-20: 30-42
Result: playoffs lost
2021 stock odds: +5000

The first thing for the Pelicans to do is figure out who their next manager will be. New Orleans interviewed Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue last week and has even more candidates lined up. Once this is fixed, the Pelicans can begin to see what the 2020-21 season will be like. They will have to decide on a maximum contract with Brandon Ingram, which at this point seems inevitable. How else the Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin continues to build around Zion Williamson remains to be seen. New Orleans also has big decisions to make about Jrue Holiday (eligible for an extension or possible commercial candidate) as well as Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart (eligible for the rookie extension). – Andrew Lopez


18. Memphis Grizzlies
Record 2019-20: 34-39
Result: L, West play-in
2021 stock odds: +10000

The Grizzlies have been essentially betting on free agency this off-season when they completed the deal with Justise Winslow – taking back two lousy contracts from Miami in the business – and accepted a three-year, $ 35 million extension with Dillon Brooks. Memphis has its young foundation in place with Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. serving as pillars, and the Grizzlies have proven this season that they can be competitive during the development process. An off-season priority should be dealing with a limited free agent De’Anthony Melton, a 22-year-old reserve impact guard. – MacMahon


19. Phoenix Suns
Record 2019-20: 34-39
Result: playoffs lost
2021 stock odds: +6000

The Suns made some noise with their 8-0 during their short time inside the bubble and they must be feeling as good as they’ve been for a long time at the start of the low season. Monty Williams has the Suns heading in the right direction. Phoenix will continue to build around Devin Booker, who has scored 30 or more points in five of their eight bubble games. Deandre Ayton can be a force and he has room for improvement. Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson show promise. The Suns need to figure out what to do with Dario Saric, Aron Baynes, Frank Kaminsky and Kelly Oubre Jr., but the future looks bright in Phoenix. – Youngmisuk


20. Orlando Magic
Record 2019-20: 33-40
Result: L, first round
2021 stock odds: +20000

The Magic remains arguably the worst place a professional franchise can be in next season: halfway. Jonathan Isaac’s knee injury was a major blow to an organization that was counting on him to develop as part of its core. Roster questions aside, Magic’s biggest problem is that they haven’t filled the superstar void they’ve had since Dwight Howard left. – Friedell


21. Washington Wizards
Record 2019-20: 25-47
Result: playoffs lost
2021 stock odds: +10000

We are close to two full years since John Wall’s last NBA game in December 2018. Wall returns to a Wizards squad that was competent without him in attack, but who had the worst defensive score in the league when the season ended. Though Washington is looking to develop young talent like 2019 lottery winner Rui Hachimura, the Wizards will also aim to fight Wall and Bradley Beal together in the backcourt. That means re-signing Free Agent Davis Bertans and adding a defense-oriented center. If that doesn’t work, Washington will have to consider swapping Beal ahead of its possible free agency for 2022. – Pelton


22. San Antonio Spurs
Record 2019-20: 32-39
Result: playoffs lost
2021 stock odds: +20000

For the first time since 1997, Spurs watched the playoffs from home. Of course, their fortunes changed in the 1997-98 season when they drafted the Tim Duncan Hall of Fame. Spurs are unlikely to get that kind of talent this year with pick 11. Spurs have had some success playing small with DeMar DeRozan, who is expected to opt for his $ 27.7 million player option, in power forward in the bubble with LaMarcus Aldridge and Trey Lyles out. Is this something San Antonio will try to use again going forward? – Lopez


23. Sacramento Kings
Record 2019-20: 31-41
Result: playoffs lost
2021 stock odds: +20000

Sacramento disappointed in the bubble despite failing to reach the playoffs for the 14th consecutive season. And now Joe Dumars and Monte McNair are helping owner Vivek Ranadive make decisions with Vlade Divac gone. The Kings’ new regime has four picks, including 12th pick in the draft, but will have to figure out what to do with limited free agent Bogdan Bogdanovic and a potential extension for De’Aaron Fox. Buddy Hield, who didn’t seem thrilled with his sixth male role last season, enters next season with a big contract extension. Luke Walton, entering his second season, will be joined by new associate manager Alvin Gentry. – Youngmisuk


24. Atlanta Hawks
Record 2019-20: 20-47
Result: playoffs lost
2021 stock odds: +10000

There were flashes of promise for the young Hawks, but inexperience, immaturity, and problems soon derailed them and they never found any momentum. John Collins’ 25-game disqualification interrupted a promising start and their defensive problems were evident all along. With another lottery win, rooftop space, and an attractive group in place, the Hawks look ready to rise. – Young


25. Minnesota Timberwolves
Record 2019-20: 19-45
Result: playoffs lost
2021 stock odds: +20000

After a busy commercial deadline that saw new Timberwolves executive Gersson Rosas revise his roster, highlighted by the addition of 2019 All-Star D’Angelo Russell, Minnesota landed the # 1 pick in the August lottery. Now the pressure is on the Timberwolves to make great strides next season when they will have their first round pick to the Warriors (with the protection of the top three) as part of the Russell trade. After making the choice, Minnesota must re-sign restricted free agents Malik Beasley and Juan Hernangomez (who started after being acquired by Denver) and put together a competent defense to complete what should be a powerful offensive offensive. – Pelton


26. Chicago Bulls
Record 2019-20: 22-43
Result: playoffs lost
2021 stock odds: +10000

The Chicago Bulls failed to reach the postseason for the third straight season. The organization cleaned up the house with a new front office, headed by executive vice president Arturas Karnisovas and new head coach Billy Donovan. Chicago has choice number 4 in the draft to add to its young core of Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr., Coby White and Zach LaVine. Now, they will need to stay healthy to see how the pieces come together. – Woodyard


27. Charlotte Hornets
Record 2019-20: 23-42
Result: playoffs lost
2021 stock odds: +40000

After losing Kemba Walker, the Hornets managed to stay on the sidelines of the East Playoff match thanks to the second-year playoff Devonte ‘Graham who became a quality starter. The NBA’s fourth-worst point differential (minus -6.8 per game), however, shows how much room there is for improvement. It all started with the luck of the lottery, when Charlotte came in third place. To contend for a seat in the playoffs, the Hornets will need more internal development from recent lottery selections Miles Bridges and Malik Monk and to make effective use of a $ 19 million slated space to upgrade to the center. – Pelton


28. Detroit Pistons
Record 2019-20: 20-46
Result: playoffs lost
2021 title odds: +30000

Motown fans were disappointed after another lackluster season during which the Pistons finished 20-46. The Pistons kicked off the offseason by including new general manager Troy Weaver, who is widely respected for his ability to assess talent that goes back to his 12 seasons in Oklahoma City. Veterans Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose were key pieces on last season’s roster, but injuries continued to haunt them. Weaver will have a lot of work to do to restore organization: in his favor there is a huge coverage space in addition to the No. 7 pick in the NBA draft. – Woodyard


29. Cleveland Cavaliers
Record 2019-20: 19-46
Result: playoffs lost
2021 title odds: +30000

The post-LeBron James era has not been kind to Cleveland, as the Cavaliers have recorded straight seasons of 19 wins. A key question for head coach J.B. Bickerstaff: How will Cleveland use guards Collin Sexton and Darius Garland in the future? The Cavs also have great men with All-Star experience in Andre Drummond and Kevin Love, but they have big decisions to make regarding Love’s future – they owe him over $ 80 million over the next three seasons – and if Drummond is a strong fit to long term. – Woodyard


30. New York Knicks
Record 2019-20: 21-45
Result: playoffs lost
2021 title odds: +30000

Another season, another new direction for the Knicks. After hiring super-agent Leon Rose as team president in March, New York brought Tom Thibodeau as head coach. Now New York needs to build a more suitable roster than the one that finished 21-45 last season. The first order, whether in free agency, trade or with the choice n. 8, is to put more filming and direction around RJ Barrett, choice no. 3 last year. The hope is that Thibodeau will improve a defense that hasn’t scored better than the league average since 2011-12. – Pelton


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