Now that the major blitz of free agent signings has subsided, we can take an earnest look at NBA rosters for the 2021-22 season and how they stack up against one another. Some clear powerhouses emerge, while perennial bottom feeders remain stuck in a loop of mediocrity. A few teams, however, made major upgrades and should see their fortunes improve. Let’s dig into a very early edition of NBA power rankings along with title odds.
Title odds based on BettingPros consensus
1. Brooklyn Nets +230
Due to multiple injuries, we’ve seen just a handful of games that feature all three of Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and James Harden, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is the most talented group of stars assembled under one team. If the Nets can remain healthy, this team is clearly atop the pecking order in the Association.
2. Milwaukee Bucks +800
Last year’s champs lost defensive stalwart P.J. Tucker, but they added a veteran backup PG in George Hill and some quality shooting in the form of Grayson Allen. With Donte DiVincenzo back at full strength for the new season, this team is squarely in the conversation to repeat as champions.
3. Los Angeles Lakers +400
Health will be an issue for this team, whose two best players are the soon-to-be 37-year-old LeBron James and an oft-injured Anthony Davis. Still, it’s hard not to like what Los Angeles did in free agency by adding Russell Westbrook and a bevy of shooters. Defense might be a problem, but sheer talent and the LeBron factor make the Lakers one of the clear title favorites.
4. Phoenix Suns +1400
Last year’s Western Conference champions will run it back with mostly the same team, and Phoenix even added sharpshooter Landry Shamet in a trade with Brooklyn. With Chris Paul re-upped to a fat new deal, Phoenix should easily be a title favorite.
5. Philadelphia 76ers +1600
Can last year’s top seed replicate that performance in 21-22? It depends on Joel Embiid’s health and how the Ben Simmons saga ultimately plays out. Embiid and Tobias Harris can only carry this team so far, but the talent is there to be a strong force in the Eastern Conference once again.
6. Utah Jazz +1400
Utah hit it out of the park in free agency, re-signing Mike Conley and adding some excellent frontcourt depth in Rudy Gay and Hassan Whiteside. Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, and the rest of the promising core will be back for another run in 21-22.
7. Denver Nuggets +2000
Can this young squad take another step forward in 21-22? Last season’s MVP, Nikola Jokic, will look to keep his strong play going, as will Michael Porter Jr. who had a breakout sophomore campaign. Denver will bring back star PG Jamal Murray along with a deep bench.
8. Atlanta Hawks +3500
All eyes will be on Trae Young and the Hawks this season for an encore to the greatest season in team history. After losing in the WCF to the eventual champion Bucks, Atlanta will bring back mostly the same team after re-signing Young and John Collins to long-term deals. As long as everyone is healthy, look for this deep and talented team to make some major noise.
9. Miami Heat +2500
Miami extended Jimmy Butler, re-signed Duncan Robinson and Victor Oladipo, added P.J. Tucker, and signed the best available PG in Kyle Lowry – that’s a free agency homerun. This team has defense and scoring in spades and should be one of the top seeds in the Eastern Conference.
10. Chicago Bulls +7000
Chicago added Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, and DeMar DeRozan in free agency and will run out a starting five featuring Ball, DeRozan, Zach LaVine, and Nikola Vucevic. Lauri Markkanen remains a question mark, but if he’s indeed on the move, Chicago could add more depth in a trade.
11. Dallas Mavericks +3000
After a first-round exit in the 2021 playoffs in which Dallas took the full-strength Clippers to seven games, the team made no notable free-agent acquisitions. The Mavs will go as Luka Doncic goes, as the superstar will once again have to carry them.
12. Los Angeles Clippers +1800
Kawhi Leonard will likely be out until at least the All Star Break thanks to surgery for a torn ACL, so the Clippers will be reliant on Paul George to carry the team until the former returns.
13. Golden State Warriors +1100
Golden State somehow has the fourth-best title odds this season, but I’m not sure why that is. The Dubs will rely on Stephen Curry to carry the load, and I’d be very surprised if Klay Thompson returns to his pre-injury form after sitting for two seasons. Kelly Oubre is gone, and the only notable free agent acquisitions were Otto Porter and Nemanja Bjelica. This is not a powerhouse.
14. New York Knicks +8000
Last year’s overachieving No, 4 seed brought in Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier to replace the backcourt of Elfrid Payton and Reggie Bullock. Key free agents were re-signed, and Julius Randle was extended handsomely. Count on New York being a staple in the playoffs for the foreseeable future.
15. Boston Celtics +4500
The loss of Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier aren’t incredible blows to this team, but behind Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, the Celtics’ best player is Marcus Smart, and the bench is far from the most impressive in the NBA. A new coach and turnover on the roster will be tough for Boston to overcome.
16. Charlotte Hornets +12000
Few teams took a bigger step forward through the Draft and free agency than Charlotte. The Hornets lost Devonte’ Graham but drafted James Bouknight and Kai Jones and signed Kelly Oubre and Mason Plumlee. There are even rumors that Lauri Markkanen could be a target. This is a surprisingly deep roster mixed with both young and veteran players.
17. Memphis Grizzlies +8000
Memphis is deep at every position. Assuming a clean bill of health across the roster, the Grizz should be squarely in the playoff picture this season.
18. Portland Trail Blazers +5000
Portland’s biggest free agency signings were Tony Snell and Cody Zeller. Once again, Damian Lillard will have to take this team on his shoulders to keep the Blazers in the playoff hunt.
19. Indiana Pacers +10000
Indiana struck out in the Draft and made no significant free agent signings. Domantas Sabonis can carry the load, and full seasons from Malcolm Brogdon and Caris LeVert will be helpful in keeping this team competitive.
20. New Orleans Pelicans +6000
The Pels lost Lonzo Ball but snagged his replacement in Devonte’ Graham. The team also traded for Jonas Valanciunas for an upgrade at the center position. This figures to be a high-paced, low-defense squad again in 21-22.
21. Houston Rockets +50000
Houston still isn’t ready to make a serious playoff run, but this team figures to be a lot of fun and turn heads by exceeding expectations. The Rockets are set up for future success with Kevin Porter Jr, Jalen Green, Christian Wood, KJ Martin, and Alperen Sengun.
22. Toronto Raptors +10000
Toronto shocked the world on draft night by taking Scottie Barnes at No. 4 rather than Jalen Suggs, and Kyle Lowry signed with Miami in free agency. Those moves might not instill a ton of confidence from fans, but the Raps still have Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, and Gary Trent. It’s not the end of the world.
23. Detroit Pistons +50000
Detroit is on the right track after drafting Cade Cunningham with the first pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. He’ll join Saqqiq Bey, Isaiah Stewart, and Killian Hayes to form a strong young group along with Jerami Grant.
24. Washington Wizards +15000
Washington made some splash moves in free agency, swapping Russell Westbrook for Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and signing Spencer Dinwiddie to a brand new contract. This new-look Wizards team will likely trot out a starting lineup of Dinwiddie-Bradley Beal-Kuzma-Rui Hachimura-Daniel Gafford with key reserves in Corey Kispert, Davis Bertans, and Thomas Bryant. Will this iteration be better than last year’s squad? Vegas seems to think so.
25. Minnesota Timberwolves +25000
The Wolves can never seem to get their act together, and that probably won’t change in the upcoming campaign. However, full seasons from Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell would certainly help this moribund franchise stay competitive. Heck, who are we kidding? Minny will probably be in the lottery once more.
26. Sacramento Kings +25000
Sacramento made no significant upgrades in free agency and brought in yet another guard to an already crowded backcourt in Davion Mitchell. This will be yet another iteration of the same team that’s continued to underachieve.
27. Orlando Magic +50000
The Magic should be optimistic for the future, but this is not a team that will be competitive in 21-22. Orlando was fortunate enough to land Jalen Suggs and Franz Wagner in the Draft, and guys like Chuma Okeke, Mo Bamba, and RJ Hampton showed a ton of promise to close out last season.
28. Oklahoma City Thunder +50000
The future is bright for OKC, which has a mountain of first-round picks stockpiled, just signed Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to a long-term extension, drafted Josh Giddey, and has plenty of interesting young players on board. However bright the future may be, this is not a team that will be victorious too often.
29. Cleveland Cavaliers +50000
Cleveland has an interesting young core of Darius Garland, Collin Sexton, Isaac Okoro, and Evan Mobley, but this team isn’t winning a ton of games this season.
30. San Antonio Spurs +25000
The losses of DeMar DeRozan, Patty Mills, and Rudy Gay hurt, and the Spurs’ free-agent additions of Doug McDermott and Zach Collins certainly don’t help to fill that void. San Antonio sports arguably the least talented roster in the NBA.