Celtics

NBA Power Rankings: Where Celtics stand ahead of Thursday's draft

Celtics

The Boston Celtics didn't have much time to reflect on their playoff run. After falling to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals last week, it's already time to focus on the 2022 NBA Draft and free agency.

The draft is set to take place Thursday at 8 p.m. ET and the start of the new league year won't be far behind. It doesn't look to be a busy night for the Celtics, who currently only own the No. 53 overall pick after trading their first-rounder to the San Antonio Spurs in the Derrick White deal. Of course, there's always a chance of some draft night blockbusters. 

Forsberg: How Brad Stevens can get C's back to NBA Finals

Nonetheless, Thursday marks the start of what should be an eventful offseason for Celtics president Brad Stevens and Co. The landscape of the NBA will change over these next few weeks, which means it's a great time to reassess the league with way-too-early power rankings. Let's jump in before the draft and free-agency madness begins.

30. Houston Rockets

2021-22 result: 20-62

Houston will have the No. 3 pick in the draft as it hopes to add another franchise cornerstone to pair with last year's No. 2 pick, Jalen Green. It'll be a while before the Rockets return to contention, but an intriguing blend of young talent will make them worth watching next season.

29. Orlando Magic

2021-22 result: 22-60

The Magic won the draft lottery and will get to add another top prospect to their young core of Jalen Suggs, Franz Wagner, Markelle Fultz, and Wendell Carter Jr. They'll also look forward to the return of Jonathan Issac, who tore his ACL in the Orlando bubble in 2020.

 

28. Oklahoma City Thunder

2021-22 result: 24-58

The Thunder will have the second overall pick in the draft and likely end up with either Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith or Paolo Banchero. They also own picks 12 and 30, giving them multiple opportunities to add to their young core of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, Aleksej Pokusevski and Lu Dort.

27. Detroit Pistons

2021-22 result: 23-59

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It's time for the Pistons to start building around last year's top draft pick Cade Cunningham. Perhaps they'll make a run at big man DeAndre Ayton, whose future with the Phoenix Suns is up in the air.

26. Indiana Pacers

2021-22 result: 25-57

The Pacers appear focused on getting younger, as evidenced by their acquisition of 22-year-old Tyrese Haliburton. They currently own the No. 6 overall pick in the draft, giving them plenty of choices heading into Thursday night.

25. Sacramento Kings

2021-22 result: 30-52

The Kings are holding onto hope the Damontas Sabonis deal works out and the ex-Pacers wing can form a solid pairing with De'Aaron Fox. Judging by last year's results, that's wishful thinking. Sacramento hasn't made the postseason in the last 16 years.

24. Portland Trail Blazers

2021-22 result: 27-55

The Trail Blazers desperately need to add pieces around Damian Lillard. One way to do that would be to include their No. 7 overall pick in a blockbuster deal.

23. Washington Wizards

2021-22 result: 35-47

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Where the Wizards end up next season will depend on Bradley Beal's future. The star shooting guard is widely expected to decline his $36.4 million player option and enter free agency. Oddsmakers have Boston favored as the landing spot for Beal if he indeed leaves Washington this summer.

22. New York Knicks

2021-22 result: 37-45

The Knicks came crashing back down to earth and finished 11th in the East last season. There's plenty of work to be done to return to contention, but talented players tend to want to play at Madison Square Garden. It wouldn't be a surprise to see New York land a big name this summer -- perhaps Kyrie Irving?

21. San Antonio Spurs

2021-22 result: 34-48, lost in Play-In Tournament

The Spurs enter Thursday's draft with picks 9, 20 and 25 in the first round. Those selections along with their cap space gives them a chance to build a roster that can compete for a playoff spot again in 2023.

20. Charlotte Hornets

2021-22 result: 43-39, lost in Play-In Tournament

The Hornets are still looking for a new head coach after Kenny Atkinson had a change of heart and decided to stay with Golden State. Whoever takes over in Charlotte will hope to have Miles Bridges -- a restricted free agent this offseason -- back in the fold alongside franchise cornerstone La'Melo Ball.

19. Atlanta Hawks

2021-22 result: 43-39, lost to Heat in Round 1

The Hawks regressed after making the East Finals in 2021. But with a solid young core of Trae Young, John Collins, De'Andre Hunter and Kevin Huerter, it may be wise for Atlanta to avoid doing anything drastic this offseason.

 

18. Cleveland Cavaliers

2021-22 result: 44-38, lost in Play-In Tournament

The Cavs exceeded everyone's expectations last season and will look to prove that wasn't a fluke. They'll have a solid chance to make that happen with young guns Evan Mobley and Darius Garland leading the way. First, they'll have to figure out what to do with restricted free agent Collin Sexton.

17. New Orleans Pelicans

2021-22 result: 36-46, lost to Suns in Round 1

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Zion Williamson is cleared to return to the Pelicans after missing all of last season. That's great news for a team that still managed to make the postseason despite missing its generational talent. Having Williamson alongside C.J. McCollum and Brandon Ingram could give New Orleans a chance to make a deeper playoff run next year.

16. Los Angeles Lakers

2021-22 result: 33-49

The Lakers have their new head coach in Darvin Ham, but there's still plenty of work to be done in L.A. While parting ways with Russell Westbrook seems like the obvious next step, it won't be easy to find a team willing to take his contract after his brutal season. Regardless, a team with LeBron James and a healthy Anthony Davis can't be counted out.

15. Toronto Raptors

2021-22 result: 48-34, lost to 76ers in Round 1

The Raptors are in solid shape with Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes, Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, and Gary Trent. Even if it's a quiet offseason in Toronto, this is a group that could once again earn a top-six spot in the Eastern Conference standings.

14. Chicago Bulls

2021-22 result: 46-36lost to Bucks in Round 1

A huge season from DeMar DeRozan helped propel the Bulls into the postseason, though their odds of another playoff appearance next year decrease if Zach LaVine departs in free agency. If he returns, the Bulls should be in the mix again with DeRozan, LaVine, and Lonzo Ball leading the charge.

13. Minnesota Timberwolves

2021-22 result: 46-36, lost to Grizzlies in Round 1

Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards led the Wolves to a playoff berth and nearly pulled off the first-round upset of the Grizzlies. By hiring former Denver Nuggets president Tim Connelly, Minnesota showed it's ready to build off its 2021-22 campaign and make another run next season.

12. Utah Jazz

2021-22 result: 49-33, lost to Mavericks in Western Conference Semifinals

The Jazz continue to search for their next head coach following the resignation of Quin Snyder. They also have to figure out how to proceed with the star tandem of Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. Gobert is the more likely of the two to be traded this offseason, but it'll take a sizable haul for any team to acquire him.

11. Brooklyn Nets

2021-22 result: 44-38, lost to Celtics in Round 1

There are some major question marks heading into next season for Brooklyn. For one, will Kyrie Irving still be a part of the equation? Also, how will Ben Simmons look in his return from back surgery? The Nets are a scary team with Kevin Durant alongside a committed Irving and healthy Simmons, but that just doesn't appear to be a reality at this point.

 

10. Philadelphia 76ers

2021-22 result: 51-31, lost to Heat in Eastern Conference Semifinals

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The No. 1 storyline of the 76ers' offseason is how they'll proceed with James Harden. Giving him a max contract wouldn't be the wisest move given how he performed down the stretch last season, but losing him would leave a gaping hole in the lineup. The former MVP could also exercise his $47.4 million player option, which might be the best possible outcome for Philly.

9. Denver Nuggets

2021-22 result: 48-34, lost to Warriors in Round 1

If Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. are healthy, the Nuggets should have no problem cruising back to the playoffs with a chance to make a deep run. Nikola Jokic should be in the MVP conversation yet again.

8. Los Angeles Clippers

2021-22 result: 42-40, lost in Play-in Tournament

Simply put, the Clippers are a championship-caliber team if Kawhi Leonard and Paul George both are healthy. That's a big "if" at this point, however.

7. Miami Heat

2021-22 result: 53-29, lost to Celtics in Eastern Conference Finals

The Heat could use another scorer to help out Jimmy Butler. But even if they stay quiet this offseason, they'll still have a roster capable of making another run at an NBA title.

6. Phoenix Suns

2021-22 result: 64-18, lost to Mavericks in Western Conference Semifinals

All eyes are on DeAndre Ayton as the big man could wind up on a new team next season if the two sides can't agree on an extension. That would be a tough blow to a Suns team that lost in the 2021 NBA Finals and flopped in this year's playoffs after a stellar regular season.

5. Dallas Mavericks

2021-22 result: 52-30, lost to Warriors in Western Conference Finals

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Luka Doncic came oh so close to leading the Mavs to an NBA Finals berth. If Dallas can surround its star with more talent, it wouldn't be a surprise to see this team back near the top of the Western Conference again in 2023.

4. Memphis Grizzlies

2021-22 result: 56-26, lost to Warriors in Western Conference Semifinals

The Grizzlies are one of the most fun teams to watch with Ja Morant leading the youthful group. There could be some regression after the breakout campaign, but Memphis has the talent to make another deep run.

3. Milwaukee Bucks

2021-22 result: 51-31, lost to Celtics in Eastern Conference Semifinals

You certainly could make the argument the Bucks would've advanced to the East finals if Khris Middleton was healthy. They took the Celtics to Game 7 despite Middleton being absent for the entire series. Milwaukee should have no problem running it back if it can add some depth alongside Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday.

2. Boston Celtics

2021-22 result: 51-31, lost to Warriors in NBA Finals

 
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The Celtics pulled off one of the greatest turnarounds in league history and ended up within reach of their first NBA title since 2008. Banner 18 will have to wait at least another year, but making it all the way to Game 6 of the NBA Finals against Golden State is something Boston fans didn't think was remotely possible in January.

Now the C's will look to take the next step with young stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown making another leap in their development. Boston also could benefit from adding another bench scorer as its second unit was a letdown in the Finals.

1. Golden State Warriors

2021-22 result: 53-29, def. Celtics in NBA Finals

The Warriors unsurprisingly top the way-too-early power rankings after earning their fourth championship in the last eight seasons. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green will be back for a shot at a fifth ring, though there are some decisions to be made this summer with Kevon Looney and Gary Payton II hitting free agency, plus Andrew Wiggins entering the final year of his contract.