Way too early NBA power rankings 2022-23

Joel Embiid, Sixers (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Joel Embiid, Sixers (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /

. . . Charlotte Hornets. 21. team. 170

NBA power rankings — 21. Charlotte Hornets

Without any sweeping personnel changes, it’s hard to imagine the Hornets taking a huge step forward next season. LaMelo Ball remains miraculous and Steve Clifford could, in theory, change the culture for the better. But the Hornets are a bad defensive team with very little discipline. Barring major changes in approach from everyone on the roster, next season could end in similarly disappointing fashion.

. New York Knicks. 20. team. 27. .

NBA power rankings — 20. New York Knicks

The Knicks signed Jalen Brunson to run the show and could theoretically trade for Donovan Mitchell before it’s all said and done. If New York does land Mitchell, that obviously boosts their standing in the East. Even without him, they should be better than last year. Brunson will help balance out the offense, while R.J. Barrett’s star turn feels inevitable.

team. 34. . . . Portland Trail Blazers. 19

NBA power rankings — 19. Portland Trail Blazers

Damian Lillard claims to be healthier and ready to compete for a championship. He signed an extension, the Blazers swung a trade for Jerami Grant, and the overarching goal is for Portland to win basketball games. I’m not sure how good the Blazers can realistically be — how healthy does Lillard stay, can Anfernee Simons break out while standing in Lillard’s shadow, etc. — but Dame is a top-10 player when he’s right. If he’s finally right, and the supporting cast coalesces around him, we could see the Blazers back in the postseason mix.