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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Mandatory Credit: Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports /

team. 69. . . . New Orleans Pelicans. 12

NBA power rankings — 12. New Orleans Pelicans

Zion Williamson’s health is the obvious X-factor in the Pelicans’ upcoming season. We saw glimpses of a real contender — the kind of team that can take the 1-seed Suns to six games — but Williamson is the burgeoning superstar who can actually put New Orleans on the map. If he stays on the court, with a slew of depth pieces around him and Brandon Ingram emerging as a legitimate co-star, Williamson could guide the Pelicans to high heights. NOLA is also extremely well positioned to swing a big trade if the opportunity arises.

team. 86. . . . Minnesota Timberwolves. 11

NBA power rankings — 11. Minnesota Timberwolves

The Timberwolves’ bold decision to trade for Rudy Gobert was met with considerable pushback in the NBA community. The trepidation in fan circles is understandable — Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns are both traditional centers whose defensive fit is decidedly awkward — but the Wolves were due for a big swing. At some point, before KAT runs out of patience, you have to push all your chips in. Gobert virtually guarantees the Wolves an elite defense, while his offensive fit is actually quite interesting. It could crash and burn, but there’s more than enough star power on both ends for Minnesota to explode onto the scene. I tend to expect the latter.

. . . Dallas Mavericks. 10. team. 79

NBA power rankings — 10. Dallas Mavericks

Luka Doncic is a one-man contender. The Mavs have a puncher’s chance as long as he’s on the court. His singular ability to carry the offense took Dallas all the way to the conference finals, but a slight reset of the roster around him — with Jalen Brunson departing and Christian Wood incoming — leaves some questions about the team’s ceiling. Doncic still doesn’t have a true second star, but the pieces around him are rock-solid.