Mar
30
2021

Post Trade Deadline NBA Power Rankings

What a wild few days it has been. Lots of NBA teams made huge moves to gear up for a playoff run. Some teams bit the bullet and started the rebuild, or restarted it (looking at you Orlando). So, how does each team stack up? Here are this week’s NBA Power Rankings:

30. Minnesota Timberwolves

The Timberwolves currently own the worst record in the Association at 11-35. They’ve welcomed back Malik Beasley from suspension and should see a return for D’Angelo Russell some time soon. Despite that, their place amongst the basement dwellers is not likely to change very much.

The Timberwolves decided to do nothing at the deadline this year. Rather than try to sell off assets or expiring contracts, they decided to stand pat and ride this one out and try it again next year with a high lottery pick. Difficult to blame them.

29. Detroit Pistons

Detroit isn’t going anywhere right now, though Jerami Grant looks like a building block. The Pistons enjoyed a quiet deadline, and are content to lose out this season and move forward into next year and beyond. Their position isn’t likely to change much, either.

28. Houston Rockets

The Rockets broke their 20-game losing streak (no, that’s not a typo) and then followed it up by a 25-point trouncing at the hands of the Charlotte Hornets sans Lamelo Ball and a two-game split with the Timberwolves. Houston was inexplicably bad, but that was likely the bright spot of the season.

Houston shipped off P.J. Tucker earlier this month and at the deadline sent Victor Oladipo to the Miami Heat. The Rockets have essentially turned James Harden into Kelly Olynyk and some second-round draft picks. Yikes.

27. Orlando Magic

Rather than ride out an injury-riddled campaign and try again next year (the team was playing well before injuries started to pile up), the Magic hit the reset button. Hard. They were part of two of the biggest blockbuster deals this deadline but not in a good way.

The Magic sent Nikola Vucevic (with Al-Farouq Aminu) to Chicago for Wendell Carter, Jr., Otto Porter, Jr., and 2021 and 2023 first-round picks. This is actually a good return, though losing Vucevic hurts a lot. Not many centers are 20/10 candidates who can shoot as they can.

The Magic also sent Evan Fournier to Boston for Jeff Teague (now waived), two second-round picks, and a trade exception. Not great, Bob. Second-round picks are boom or bust, mostly the latter, so they really didn’t get much.

Orlando also shipped off Aaron Gordon. Gordon and Gary Clark are in Denver now, and Gary Harris, RJ Hampton, and a protected 2025 first-round pick are in Orlando. Not a great return, though, although Harris is a nice addition.

26. Washington Wizards

The Wizards enjoyed a quiet deadline, pleasing fans who wanted Bradley Beal to remain in town. They did trade Troy Brown and Moritz Wagner to Chicago for Daniel Gafford and Chandler Hutchinson. Washington reportedly attempted to trade for Bulls center Lauri Markkanen, but that didn’t happen.

Washington is 16-28, slipping further and further from even the remotest possibility of a playoff bid. They are just five games out, but the East remains a logjam with only a select few playoff spots.

25. Cleveland Cavaliers

There was once a brief hope for Cleveland that they might sneak into the playoffs, even as the 10th seed. That has all but faded, and their quiet deadline indicates they’re okay with that. The trio of Collin Sexton, Darius Garland, and Jarrett Allen is enticing for the future, though.

24. Toronto Raptors

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Just two seasons removed from a championship, Toronto sits at 18-28 and the East’s 11th seed. That didn’t stop them from making some moves at the deadline, as the team believes they can do better than their record indicates.

Toronto sent Norman Powell to Portland for Gary Trent and Rodney Hood. That’s a pretty decent trade, but it’s not likely to push them into contention. They also sent Matt Thomas to Utah for a future second-round pick.

23. Oklahoma City Thunder

This is what the Thunder were supposed to be this year. The future is incredibly bright, as Sam Presti has done an excellent job rebuilding thus far. The Thunder have amassed a treasure trove of future picks.

They were involved in a three-team deal that featured Philadelphia and the Knicks. The Knicks received Terrance Ferguson and Vincent Poirer, the 76ers received George Hill and Ignas Brazdeikis, and the Thunder got Tony Bradley, Austin Rivers, two second-round picks, and a trade exception.

22. Chicago Bulls

The Bulls are just two games removed from the 8th spot, and four games from the 4th spot. That’s a big reason they went out and added Nikola Vucevic. He’s still under contract for two more years, so it doesn’t have to be all or nothing this season.

Chicago spent quite a bit to acquire Vucevic, but it’s hard to complain when they’re adding a player of that caliber. Expect Chicago to grab one of the elusive playoff spots in the East after this.

21. New Orleans Pelicans

The Pelicans sit five games under .500 at this point, making the playoffs in the West only the most distant possibility. Lonzo Ball trade rumors were flying everywhere, but he stayed put at least for now.

They did, however, ship off veteran sharpshooter J.J. Reddick (paired with Nicolo Melli) to Dallas for James Johnson, Wes Iwundu, and a 2021 second-rounder. Losing Redick hurts, but this is a move for the future-which Redick wasn’t a part of.

20. Indiana Pacers

The Pacers find themselves squarely in the middle of the slugfest for the bottom four playoff spots in the East. Indiana sits at 21-23, .001 from holding the 8th seed over Miami. The Pacers decided that the roster they have is the one they’re going to stick with.

It might prove tough to make it through the mess that is the Eastern Conference four-eight spots, but Indiana does have the talent to do so. Time will tell.

19. Sacramento Kings

The Kings approached the deadline with most players available but stopped shy of doing any big deals. The starters remained intact and the Kings will look to utilize what they have in making a push for a low playoff seed. They’re currently three games out of 8th in the West.

The Kings did send Cory Joseph and two second-round picks to Detroit for Delon Wright. They also sent Nemanja Bjelica to Miami for Maurice Harkless and Chris Silva.

18. Miami Heat

The Heat find themselves floundering up to this point. They’ve hovered in between the 4th and 10th seed for a while and currently sit in 8th at 22-24. The defending Eastern Conference champions haven’t been able to replicate their success from last season.

They aren’t standing idly by, though. Miami added Victor Oladipo for a very small return at the deadline, looking to make a real push for a deep playoff run.

17. Golden State Warriors

The Warriors have sputtered thus far, sitting at 22-24 and two games out from 8th. Stephen Curry has been phenomenal this season, but Kelly Oubre and Andrew Wiggins’ inconsistencies have hurt the team’s record so far. The loss of Klay Thompson has proved to be a huge detraction.

The Warriors had a relatively quiet deadline. They sent Brad Wanamaker to Charlotte and Marquese Chriss to the San Antonio Spurs to clear roster spots.

16. Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies stood pat and are content to ride this season out at the deadline. They’re 21-22, just 1.5 games behind Dallas for the 8th seed. Memphis will look to get Jaren Jackson, Jr. back and make a push for a playoff spot.

15. Boston Celtics

The Celtics are clinging to the 7th spot in the East at 23-23. They’ve sputtered thus far, as the talent they have on the roster should produce more than a .500 roster.

Adding Evan Fournier for a measly two second-round picks is a very good deal for them. Fournier should provide a spark that will help them make the playoffs.

14. Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks have responded to former head coach Lloyd Pierce’s firing by skyrocketing into the 6th spot in the East. Trae Young has been fantastic thus far, and his play will be the determining factor in making the playoffs.

Atlanta boosted those hopes at the deadline by sending Rajon Rondo to the Clippers for Louis Williams. Williams provides a huge scorer off the bench and a veteran presence for a young Hawks team.

13. New York Knicks

The Knicks are clinging to the 4th seed in the East. That currently makes them the envy of the proceeding six teams that are just 4 games out. The Knicks are content with what they have right now, though they were linked to some of the biggest trade rumors.

The Knicks only made a few small moves, but have cleared cap space for the offseason. 2021’s free-agent class is loaded, and the Knicks might be a big player.

12. Charlotte Hornets

The Hornets, at 23-22, hold the 5th spot right now. It will be difficult to hold off Miami and Atlanta after the moves both those teams made. Charlotte added guard depth with Brad Wanamaker but didn’t do anything else. They also missed out on signing Andre Drummond in the buyout market.

Charlotte losing LaMelo Ball is likely what caused them to shy away from any moves, but they’ve responded to losing Ball by winning three of four.

11. Dallas Mavericks

The Mavericks have turned their season around. They’ve taken over the 8th seed and hold a 23-21 record. Luke Doncic has been stellar, averaging close to a triple-double to lead the Mavericks.

The Mavericks added J.J. Redick and Nicolo Melli, which bolsters their roster and provides shooting alongside Doncic. Expect them to hang on, even if just barely, to the playoff spot.

10. San Antonio Spurs

Give Gregg Popovich credit. He’s led the Spurs to a 23-20 record with no production from LaMarcus Aldridge. Aldridge was bought out and signed with Brooklyn. The Spurs are holding the 7th seed in the ever-strong Western Conference.

The Spurs added Marquese Chriss, but they waived him shortly after. San Antonio is content with the roster they are currently sporting.

9. Portland Trail Blazers

The Blazers added Norman Powell to maintain their grip on a top 6 playoff spot. They’re tied with Denver, but Portland is firmly entrenched in the playoffs right now. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum have buoyed the team through the year.

8. Denver Nuggets

Denver has been helped by an All-NBA, MVP level year from Nikola Jokic. So, at the deadline, they decided to get their unicorn big man some help. Denver made some big additions in a push to really contend in the West this season.

The Nuggets added Aaron Gordon from Orlando and traded for center JaVale McGee. These moves signify win-now mode in Denver, as they paid a high price for Gordon. Gordon is a nice addition, though, and helps entrench them in a wide-open Western Conference.

7. Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers have faltered as of late. Losing Anthony Davis and LeBron James has thrown them off schedule and resulted in a dip in the standings. This of course has reverberated across the league, causing teams (like Denver) to really go all-in at the deadline to bolster their new improved title chances.

They were rumored to be in on Kyle Lowry, but Rob Pelinka opted to stand pat at the deadline. The Lakers are in 4th right now and have two reinforcements that coming that any team would be lucky to have of Davis and James. Western conference teams should take advantage of their lull before those two return.

6. Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks are firmly within the top three of the Eastern Conference. It’s extremely unlikely that any of the Knicks, Hornets, Heat, Hawks, Pacers, and Bulls will catch up to any of the top three. For that reason, the Bucks stood pat at the deadline, although they did add P.J. Tucker earlier this month.

Milwaukee sits just 2.5 games behind Philadelphia, so a top seed is right within their grasp. They’re primed for a deep playoff run, even in the top-heavy East.

5. Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers made somewhat of a lateral move this deadline; swapping Rajon Rondo for Louis Williams. They were rumored to be going after Lonzo Ball or Terry Rozier, but neither move was made.

LA is, like the rest of the top Western teams, looking to capitalize on the Lakers flutter and improve their standing before the playoffs arrive. LA sits a game above their in-city rival in the standings and four games from 1st place.

4. Phoenix Suns

The Suns have impressed across the board this season, amassing a 31-14 record and second place in the West. The Suns quietly added Torrey Craig weeks before but remained silent on deadline day.

The Suns figured that a 30-14 record, second place in the West, and the best team in recent memory for Phoenix was good enough. They are one of the prime teams benefitting from other teams’ injuries, though they have been in second place for a while now.

3. Philadelphia 76ers

The 76ers added George Hill from the Thunder at the deadline. Other than that, the 76ers opted to stay put. There aren’t many holes on the roster, and Philadelphia is set up both now and for at least the near future.

They own the East’s best record and are largely content with the team that brought them there. They’re looking to maintain a stiff arm one-game lead over the charging Brooklyn Nets.

2. Brooklyn Nets

Speaking of Brooklyn, they are quickly amassing an incredibly deep roster. In the buyout market, they acquired LaMarcus Aldridge and Blake Griffin. While Griffin isn’t likely to revert to All-Star level any time soon, he does provide depth and another veteran presence.

Aldridge, who was semi-productive in San Antonio, will provide even more offensive firepower for a team that already rostered Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and James Harden. The only question is their defense, and it’s likely to be their downfall (if they fall at all).

1. Utah Jazz

What do you do at the trade deadline when you’re easily the best team in the league thus far? Add Matt Thomas for a second-round pick and that’s it. The Jazz has gotten where they are by being the best team despite not owning a “superstar” per se.

Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert are household names, but they’re not Kevin Durant or LeBron James. Yet, both those guys fall below them in these power rankings and the schedule. Utah, so far, is doing everything right. They’re clearly the team to beat at this point.