The NBA season is almost halfway complete, and the landscape is looking very clear. We have organized all the teams in the NBA into 5 separate tiers. Lottery Teams, Playoff Hopefuls, Playoff Teams, Contenders, and Title Favorites will be used to rank all 30 NBA teams.
There is intense competition around the league, but only a few teams have a legitimate shot at making major noise in this year’s postseason. Here are all the 30 NBA teams, ranked from Lottery Teams to Title Favorites.
Detroit Pistons, Sacramento Kings, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Minnesota Timberwolves, Cleveland Cavaliers
These teams have a slim to none chance of making the Playoffs. They all have losing records, and only the Rockets and Kings have any chance of hoping to make the Playoffs thanks to quality stars on the rosters.
The Pistons are getting rid of Blake Griffin, and only Most Improved Player candidate Jerami Grant has been the bright light for the franchise. The Thunder are in a well-known rebuild mode and are slowly improving, although they are a few years from competing.
The Timberwolves have been a huge disappointment and the franchise just fired head coach Ryan Saunders and hope that former Raptors assistant coach Chris Finch can start building a contender with Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell on the squad. The Cleveland Cavaliers are once again a disappointing team although Collin Sexton has looked like an All-Star this season.
The Kings have some nice talent on the squad, and they need to put some wins together to have a chance at sniffing the playoffs. Similarly, the Rockets are easily a Playoff team when healthy, but key injuries to Christian Wood and Victor Oladipo have left John Wall to fend for himself. It seems that both the Kings and Rockets are heading into the lottery either way.
Dallas Mavericks, Charlotte Hornets, New York Knicks, Memphis Grizzlies, Washington Wizards, San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, New Orleans Pelicans, Orlando Magic, Atlanta Hawks
These teams are hopeful that they can squeeze into the final Playoff spots as they have star power, depth, or excellent coaching on their side.
The Mavericks have a top-10 player in the world in Luka Doncic and another All-Star caliber player in Kristaps Porzingis, so if they can string wins together after the All-Star Break, they should position themselves for the 7th or 8th seed.
The Hornets and Knicks are currently in the 8th and 7th spot in the East respectively and have great young players on the roster. LaMelo Ball looks like the Rookie of the Year from now, and Julius Randle might be making his first All-Star Team for the Knicks.
The Grizzlies are surprisingly at .500, while the Spurs sit comfortably in the Playoff seed in the West. Both teams have been rather surprising so far this season and there is star power on both squads in Ja Morant and DeMar DeRozan. The Washington Wizards are on a nice winning streak after a horrific start to the season, and we might be seeing the best of Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal as they get more games together.
The Bulls, Heat, Magic, and Hawks are all fighting for a chance to sneak into the Eastern Conference Playoffs. The Bulls have a star in Zach LaVine, but not much else right now so their chances are slim. The Magic lost their starting point guard Markelle Fultz to injury, and they will probably miss him this season.
The best teams in this Tier are the Hawks and Heat. The Hawks have an offensive superstar in Trae Young who is getting it all together, and key pieces including rebound-leader Clint Capela with an abundance of shooters. The Heat have started off slow, but with a dynamic duo of Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, they have the best shot at being a Playoff team in this Tier.
Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors, Indiana Pacers, Golden State Warriors
These teams are all Playoff teams and will be seen playing their best basketball in the postseason this year. The Phoenix Suns have been one of the best teams in the NBA thanks to the duo of All-Stars Chris Paul and Devin Booker, and they sit currently 4th in the West and only a few games away from the Lakers.
The Trail Blazers have a legitimate superstar in Damian Lillard, which means they have a chance to surprise anyone in the postseason. Similarly, the Celtics have a superstar in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown will most likely make his first All-Star Team. The Pacers do not have any superstars, but they have a talented big man in Domantas Sabonis and play great as a team.
The Raptors are not a big threat to the best teams this season, but you never know what trades they might be able to pull off before the Trade Deadline. The Warriors have the best shooter ever in Stephen Curry, which means that is enough to see Golden State in the Playoffs where they have been dominant for so long.
Philadelphia 76ers, Utah Jazz, Denver Nuggets, Milwaukee Bucks
These 4 teams in this Tier make up the top-10 best squads in the NBA and have an abundance of talented players on their squads. Each team is very well-coached, have at least one MVP caliber player, and have a supporting cast that have shown they can be consistent on both ends of the floor.
The Sixers have been the best team in the East this season, without question. But the Brooklyn Nets are right at their heels and have a better roster with three superstar players. But that does not take away from MVP candidate Joel Embiid and All-Star Ben Simmons, and the roster has undergone big improvements thanks to new GM Daryl Morey.
The Jazz have been the most consistent team in the West this season, with Donovan Mitchell proving he can be a leader of a great team. Rudy Gobert is playing up to his max contract and Quin Snyder should be Coach of the Year. The Jazz are a major problem and teams should be aware.
The Nuggets started off slow but have since strung together a few wins, and their roster is one of the best in the league. Nikola Jokic is a top-3 MVP candidate and the depth in Denver is simply ridiculous. If Jokic keeps playing like this, Denver is easily a top-5 contender in the league.
Lastly, the Bucks have Giannis Antetokounmpo, a 2-time MVP, which means they are always on the hunt. The Bucks do not have the roster talent that either Brooklyn or Philadelphia has in the East, which means the Bucks are probably the 3rd best team. Giannis needs more help to contend, and it will be interesting to see how the team closes out the regular season this year.
Los Angeles Lakers, Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Clippers
Without a doubt, there are 3 favorites for the NBA title this season. And to be fair, it really isn’t close. These three teams have the most talent, chemistry, and hunger to win an NBA title which separates them from the rest of the NBA.
The Los Angeles Lakers are the defending NBA champions, which means they have to be respected as the favorite. They have the best player in the world in LeBron James and a superstar player in Anthony Davis. They proved the superstar duo of James and Davis was better than anything else the NBA threw at them, and they will be the biggest threat again.
The Nets, with the acquisition of James Harden, have formed the most talented Big Three in NBA history. Kevin Durant is an MVP and 4-time scoring champion, Kyrie Irving is an NBA champion, and Harden is an MVP and 3-time scoring champion. Guys like Joe Harris and DeAndre Jordan are also key role players, and the Nets are by far the biggest threat to the Lakers this season.
The Clippers, after an embarrassing season last year, are right in the mix behind the Lakers and Nets. Kawhi Leonard is still a top-5 player in the world, Paul George is back to his best, and the team looks focused and hungry this season. If the Clippers can focus in on what they do best, which is playing defense, they have a chance to usurp the Lakers in the West and make the NBA Finals.