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We are creeping up on the quarter mark of the 2022-23 NBA regular season.

I almost decided to have that be the theme for this week’s Power Rankings, but considering I’m a stickler for proper rounding up and down when it comes to stats, I figured every team needed to have hit that quarter point before we could truly break it down. Instead, we’ll take a look at the faces (some old, some new) in new places.

The offseason is so much fun because we always have new players and coaches added to teams around the NBA. We get to pontificate on whether it’s going to add to what the team is trying to do or whether it’s just not the right fit. Since we’re almost at the quarter mark, let’s see how these players and coaches are establishing themselves in their new digs.

And, of course, we’re also going to rank these 30 teams based on various factors at this point in the campaign.

Reminder: The Power Rankings don’t just rank the 30 teams. We divide these teams into tiers, which any of the teams can move in and out of. We have the tiers in the Power Rankings broken into six categories:

  • Victor Wembanyama Watch — They’re rebuilding and nothing matters more than development and lottery ping pong balls.
  • Looking to make the Play-In — They’ve been rebuilding/retooling and think they can crack the top 10 in their respective conference.
  • Play-In Tournament teams Or Better — They should be in the mix unless something disastrous happens.
  • Playoff teams — Probably don’t have to worry about dropping down to the Play-In Tournament.
  • On the brink of contention — A piece away from us believing they can win the title.
  • Contenders — They are contending for the championship, barring a massive injury.

As always, I am sure we will all agree on the placement of all 30 teams, especially your favorite team.

Here’s how the Power Rankings work:

  • It’s up to my discretion how the rankings shake out. For some teams, they’ll be hit in the short term. Others will be given the benefit for the long term. Yes, it is entirely subjective.
  • If I have a team ahead of another team, there’s no reason to ask why they’re ranked above the team you like. The answer is pretty simple: I think that team is set up better for success.
  • Yes, I watch the games. And yes, I watch your favorite team.
  • Only 15 teams will be deemed worthy of a GIF or video. That’s to limit how much we eat up your data and computer’s processor.
  • This is supposed to be fun, so let’s have fun with it. 

With all that said, let’s dive into Week 7 of the The Athletic’s NBA Power Rankings. Stats and records are through Sunday’s action:


Tier 1: The Contenders

1. Boston Celtics (previously first) | 16-4 | +7.7 net rating

Weekly slate: Loss at Bulls, Win over Mavs, Win over Kings, Win over Wizards

Who is the new face? Malcolm Brogdon

How’d they get him? Traded Aaron Nesmith, Daniel Theis, a first-round pick, et al. for Brogdon.

How’s that going? A lot of people might have thought Brogdon would come to the Boston Celtics, join Marcus Smart in the starting backcourt and do a lot of what he did in Indiana and Milwaukee. Instead, we’ve seen a much more modest role. He’s coming off the bench to spell either Smart or Derrick White and continue the defensive intensity and timely scoring. He’s missed a little bit of time so far, but that’s to be expected with Brogdon. The Celtics are a machine right now, especially with their play on the perimeter. They’re great with or without Brogdon on the floor. The guard rotation of him, Smart and White is so annoying for opponents to handle because the trio is relentless on both ends. And the Celtics didn’t give up much for Brogdon, so a no-brainer move for Brad Stevens.

Grade the move now: A-

GIF ON THE BEAT: 


2. Milwaukee Bucks (previously second) | 14-5 | +4.6 net rating

Weekly slate: Win over Blazers, Loss to Bulls, Win over Cavs, Win over Mavs

Who is the new face? Jevon Carter

How’d they get him? Signed in February, re-signed for two years/$4.2 million this summer.

How’s that going? The Bucks scooped up Carter in the middle of last season, and he had a really good run with them. He barely played in the postseason, but his efficiency was there. The Bucks re-signed him on a small deal this summer, and it’s been a brilliant contract. Carter has been a pitbull on defense since his high school days, and he’s helped the Bucks mitigate the absence of Khris Middleton. Mike Budenholzer throws Carter and Jrue Holiday on the floor together, and it becomes a house of horrors for the opposing offense. When Carter is helping out Holiday and Giannis Antetokounmpo, the defense is impossible to score on. He’ll go back to the bench when Middleton returns, but his scoring and defense have been exactly what the Bucks need.

Grade the move now: A


Tier 2: Brink of Contention

3. Phoenix Suns (previously third) | 13-6 | +6.9 net rating

Weekly slate: Win over Lakers, Win over Pistons, Win over Jazz

Who is the new face? Torrey Craig

How’d they get him? Traded Jalen Smith and a 2022 second-round pick for Craig.

How’s that going? Phoenix is one of a few teams that don’t have a ton of additions to choose from. They’re down Jae Crowder and Cameron Johnson at the forward position, which has made the reacquisition of Craig even more important. He has started the past 11 games, and he’s playing about half the games. His reputation comes from defense, which is how he’s stuck around in this league. But his outside shooting has been a really good surprise. The 2020-21 season (36.8 percent) is the only time he’s flashed an outside shot worth respecting. Other than that, he’s been below 33 percent every season of his career. But he’s knocking down 39.3 percent of his 3s this season. He might not maintain that rate, but it’s something they really need right now.

Grade the move now: B+

GIF ON THE BEAT:


Tier 3: Playoff Teams

4. Cleveland Cavaliers (previously eighth) | 13-7 | +6.7 net rating

Weekly slate: Win over Hawks, Win over Blazers, Loss at Bucks, Win at Pistons

Who is the new face? Donovan Mitchell

How’d they get him? Acquired for Lauri Markkanen, Collin Sexton, Ochai Agbaji, three first-round picks and two pick swaps.

How’s that going? Having Mitchell there to take over as the lead guard kept the Cleveland Cavaliers rolling when Darius Garland missed time due to an eye injury. Acquiring Mitchell was an easy call, but there was the chance that he had plateaued as a scorer and a decision-maker on the court. He’d still be a hell of a player, but the Cavs brought him in hoping to unlock more. Mitchell doesn’t look like the guy who struggled with decision-making last season. His scoring and shooting are fantastic. His defense is still pretty rough, but he’s trying more than we saw last season. Cleveland gave up a lot, and Markkanen has been great for Utah, but it’s been worth it.

Grade the move now: A


5. Memphis Grizzlies (previously ninth) | 12-8 | +1.1 net rating

Weekly slate: Loss to Kings, Win over Pelicans, Win at Knicks

Who is the new face? Santi Aldama

How’d they get him? Traded for on draft night 2021 for Jared Butler and two second-round picks.

How’s that going? Aldama was a rookie for the Memphis Grizzlies last season, and he played sparingly for a 56-win squad. But with Jaren Jackson Jr. on the shelf to begin the season, Aldama was given an opportunity to start at the four. He took that opportunity and showed some incredible results. Aldama is fearless and willing to attack and be attacked. He’s not much of a shooter, but he’s a really good finisher. His defense has been useful in place of Jackson, and it has allowed the Grizzlies  to keep Brandon Clarke in that bench role that they love. The Grizzlies still haven’t seen much stability in terms of health, but someone like Aldama fitting in seamlessly continues to show their team culture.

Grade the move now: B+

GIF ON THE BEAT: 


6. New Orleans Pelicans (previously 10th) | 11-8 | +5.4 net rating

Weekly slate: Win over Warriors, Win at Spurs, Loss at Grizzlies

Who is the new face? CJ McCollum

How’d they get him? Traded Josh Hart, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Tomáš Satoranský, Didi Louzada, first-round pick and two second-round picks for McCollum, Tony Snell and Larry Nance Jr. before 2022 trade deadline.

How’s that going? This is a move the New Orleans Pelicans made last season, so it’s not an entirely new face. But they also didn’t really add much this summer. David Griffin wanted to run it back with this squad by adding Zion Williamson into the mix, and it’s hard to blame him. We’ve mostly seen positive results, and the McCollum adjustment has been spectacular. He’s getting a chance to be a lead guard full-time, and he’s handling it extremely well. While his personal numbers are down, the team runs extremely well with him on the floor. New Orleans is outscoring opponents by 8.4 points per 100 possessions. In the 10 games he’s played with Williamson and Brandon Ingram, the Pels are scoring a ridiculous 120.9 points per 100 possessions and hitting opponents with a +16.5 net rating. Another brilliant trade by Griffin, and big credit to Willie Green and McCollum for figuring out the balance of what he’s asked to do out there.

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Grade the move now: A


7. Denver Nuggets (previously 12th) | 12-7 | +0.9 net rating

Weekly slate: Loss to Pistons, Win at Thunder, Win at Clippers

Who is the new face? Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

How’d they get him? Traded Monté Morris and Will Barton for Caldwell-Pope and Ish Smith.

How’s that going? When Caldwell-Pope is on the floor for the Nuggets, they’re dominant (+9.8 net rating). When he’s off the floor, they’re dominated (-14.8 net rating). Caldwell-Pope has been a brilliant pickup. His defense is still stellar, he’s making 49.4 percent of his 3-pointers (4.7 attempts per game), and his movement off the ball is giving Nikola Jokić another weapon to sling the ball to on cuts and fades. A lot goes into parsing out how legitimate a net rating is, so we can’t just credit their success to Caldwell-Pope, but he’s been incredible. The Nuggets’ biggest problem right now is their bench, and that’s not supposed to be the case.

Grade the move now: A+

GIF ON THE BEAT: 


8. Philadelphia 76ers (previously 15th) | 11-9 | +4.1 net rating

Weekly slate: Win over Nets, Loss at Hornets, Win at Magic, Win at Magic

Who is the new face? De’Anthony Melton

How’d they get him? Traded Danny Green and David Roddy for Melton this summer.

How’s that going? James Harden and Tyrese Maxey have already missed time, and they’re going to miss more time. The 76ers need players in the backcourt, and the acquisition of Melton prior to the draft has proven massive. Melton reminds me of the good version of Avery Bradley. He’s able to score enough. He’s able to create with passing enough. He’s able to shoot enough. And defensively, he’s a menace. Joel Embiid still carries this team, but Melton is one of the few consistent backcourt options for the Sixers. I loved this deal before the draft, and I love it even more with the Sixers having to endure and survive these key backcourt absences.

Grade the move now: B+


9. Atlanta Hawks (previously fourth) | 11-9 | -0.7 net rating

Weekly slate: Loss at Cavs, Win over Kings, Loss at Rockets, Loss to Heat

Who is the new face? Dejounte Murray

How’d they get him? Traded Danilo Gallinari, three first-round picks and a pick swap for Murray and Jock Landale.

How’s that going? We’re seeing a little bit of an odd slide lately with the Hawks, but I still think the Murray effect has been a no-brainer. His individual numbers took an obvious hit by sharing the backcourt with Trae Young, but he’s still putting up fantastic production. We just need to see a bit more accuracy and maturity in his shot selection. Not much changes on offense with or without him on the court, but the defense takes a significant dip when he’s off. The Hawks need him to set the tone defensively and disrupt opponents. He’s doing that quite a bit, but it could always be better. Ultimately, he fits well with Young, and he can run things when the franchise guard takes a breather.

Grade the move now: A-

GIF ON THE BEAT: 


10. Dallas Mavericks (previously seventh) | 9-10 | +1.9 net rating

Weekly slate: Loss at Celtics, Loss at Raptors, Loss at Bucks

Who is the new face? Spencer Dinwiddie

How’d they get him? Acquired with Dāvis Bertāns for Kristaps Porziņģis at the 2022 trade deadline.

How’s that going? I could talk about Christian Wood or JaVale McGee, but I want to revisit the Dinwiddie acquisition. I was critical of the move at the time and a little confused by it. I guess I assumed they’d re-sign Jalen Brunson regardless of the money being thrown his way, and that was wrong. Dinwiddie had some moments in the Mavericks’ run to the Western Conference finals, but it wasn’t consistent. Now that Brunson is in New York, you see exactly how valuable Dinwiddie is. His shooting has been absurd. He’s taking care of the ball. And he’s been a perfect fill-in for Brunson. I don’t know if this was always the vision for that acquisition, or they just didn’t want Porziņģis anymore. But it’s been fantastic.

Grade the move now: A


11. LA Clippers (previously fifth) | 12-9 | -0.2 net rating

Weekly slate: Win over Jazz, Loss at Warriors, Loss to Nuggets, Win over Pacers

Who is the new face? John Wall

How’d they get him? Signed for two years/$13.2 million this summer.

How’s that going? How you judge this early part to Wall’s tenure with the Clippers probably depends on whether you expected the Wall of old or if you thought he might push Reggie Jackson for his role. Or maybe you just wanted to see him out there, being fast and making a couple of plays. Wall has been solid so far. Nothing spectacular, but he’s also not a shell of his former self. The speed is still mostly there, and while his leaping isn’t explosive anymore, he still has enough to put the defense at a disadvantage. The team offense has been atrocious with him on the court, but it’s been bad with just about everybody on the court. The Clippers have the second-worst offense in basketball. I think Wall will continue to build, as long as he stays healthy, and maybe come playoff time he can have moments that make you wonder if he should be starting.

Grade the move now: C+

GIF ON THE BEAT: 


12. Toronto Raptors (previously 13th) | 10-9 | +2.0 net rating

Weekly slate: Loss to Nets, Win over Mavs

Who is the new face? Otto Porter Jr.

How’d they get him? Signed for two years/$12.4 million this summer.

How’s that going? The Toronto Raptors have been a little all over the place this season, and that perfectly describes the addition of Porter. Injury caused him to miss the first seven games of the season, and he missed the previous four games as well. In the eight-game stretch he played, we didn’t exactly seen the same Porter we saw during Golden State’s championship run. He’s still getting his body right, and this toe injury is tough to get through. The Raptors will need him to be more consistent with everything (shooting, defense, rebounding, etc.), but he has plenty of time and they have plenty of depth to get that right.

Grade the move now: C-


13. Golden State Warriors (previously 19th) | 11-10 | +0.2 net rating

Weekly slate: Loss at Pelicans, Win over Clippers, Win over Jazz, Win at Wolves

Who is the new face? Klay Thompson

How’d they get him? Returned from a two-and-a-half-year absence last season (Let’s just go with him as a new face considering his recent play.)

How’s that going? Yes, the Golden State Warriors picked up some new role players in the offseason, and Thompson came back last season in their run to the title. But Thompson recently has felt like a brand new player after some early struggles. He is starting to make shots, and that’s going to be huge for the Warriors on so many levels. Over his last seven games, he has averaged 22.2 points on 48.6/50.0/85.7 shooting splits. He’s made half his 3-pointers in those seven games and has taken 72 attempts during that stretch. We still need to see the consistent defense from him, but if the offense has truly turned a corner to being more Klay-like, then that’s going to be trouble for the Warriors’ opponents.

Grade the move now: C

GIF ON THE BEAT:


14. Portland Trail Blazers (previously 11th) | 11-9 | -0.6 net rating

Weekly slate: Loss at Bucks, Loss at Cavs, Win at Knicks, Loss at Nets

Who is the new face? Jerami Grant

How’d they get him? Traded Gabriele Procida, a first-round pick and two second-round picks for Grant.

How’s that going? As much as I hated the moves the Portland Trail Blazers made in-season last year, their offseason moves have been great. Grant and the trade they pulled off with Detroit could be described as theft. That will be determined on what those picks yield for Detroit, but Grant has been so good for the Blazers. He’s not able to completely make up for the defensive shortcomings of Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons, but the return of Gary Payton II should help that. Grant has been a capable scorer, like we saw from him in Detroit. His efficiency is high too. They could use better rebounding efforts from him, and the team defense needs to come together. But Grant is a great pickup by a new front office.

Grade the move now: B+


Tier 4: Play-In Tournament Teams Or Better

15. Minnesota Timberwolves (previously 18th) | 10-10 | +0.1 net rating

Weekly slate: Win over Heat, Win at Pacers, Loss at Hornets, Loss to Warriors

Who is the new face? Rudy Gobert

How’d they get him? Traded Malik Beasley, Patrick Beverley, Leandro Bolmaro, Walker Kessler, Jarred Vanderbilt, four first-round picks and a pick swap for Gobert this summer.

How’s that going? Here’s the good news about Gobert on the Timberwolves: The defense is really good with him on the court. They only give up 105.6 points per 100 possessions, and that’s after getting blitzed by the Warriors on Sunday. The bad news is this team has not figured out how to score when he’s in the game. They don’t even get to 105 points per 100 possessions. To put that in perspective, Charlotte has the worst offensive rating in basketball at 106.0 points per 100 possessions. Yikes. The fit was clunky when they made the trade, and it’s still clunky 20 games in. The Wolves sometimes look like they’re beginning to figure it out, then they’ll lose to Charlotte and Golden State in a very embarrassing way. This will be a work in progress all season, but at least the defense has been pretty good most of the time.

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Grade the move now: C+

GIF ON THE BEAT:


16. Indiana Pacers (previously 16th) | 11-8 | +1.4 net rating

Weekly slate: Win over Magic, Loss to Wolves, Win over Nets, Loss at Clippers

Who is the new face? Bennedict Mathurin

How’d they get him? Drafted Mathurin with the sixth pick this summer.

How’s that going? Mathurin is a gunner. There isn’t much playmaking for others. But when you can score and shoot like he can, the Pacers don’t really need him to be much more than that at this point. The Pacers have been better than advertised, and Rick Carlisle has them as one of the top 10 offenses in the NBA. Mathurin’s scoring off the bench is a big part of that. He’s a dead-eye shooter from downtown. Rookie gunners aren’t supposed to make 42.0 percent of their outside shots, but he’s doing that. His shot selection is remarkably mature. He takes a ton of 3-pointers, and he takes a lot of shots inside of 10 feet. Imagine what he’s going to look like when he knows what he’s doing at the NBA level.

Grade the move now: A


Tier 5: Looking to make the Play-In

17. Utah Jazz (previously sixth) | 12-10 | +1.9 net rating

Weekly slate: Loss at Clippers, Loss to Pistons, Loss at Warriors, Loss at Suns

Who is the new face? Lauri Markkanen

How’d they get him? Acquired in the massive Donovan Mitchell trade with Cleveland.

How’s that going? I’m not sure that could be going better. We had a lot of options to pick from here, as the Jazz acquired a ton of role players and picks for Gobert and Mitchell this season. Markkanen has been the best, to the point that some have been talking All-Star consideration for the power forward. That consideration is going to dampen considerably if the Jazz keep losing like this (seven of their last nine). His 21.7 points per game on 63.0 percent true shooting are both career bests for him. Even during this nine-game struggle stretch, the Jazz have been +1.1 per 100 possessions with him on the floor and a startling -16.8 per 100 possessions with him on the bench.

Grade the move now: A

GIF ON THE BEAT:


18. Sacramento Kings (previously 14th) | 10-8 | +1.8 net rating

Weekly slate: Win at Grizzlies, Loss at Hawks, Loss at Celtics

Who is the new face? Mike Brown

How’d they get him? Hired as Kings coach this summer on four-year deal.

How’s that going? Despite the two recent losses to good Eastern Conference squads, I’m not sure anybody could have realistically expected a better start to the season for the Kings. One of the funny things about the Brown hire is that he was supposed to come in and help this team be good defensively. They’ve been abysmal, ranking 27th in the NBA so far. But they’re putting up historic offensive numbers and have confidence at the end of games that we haven’t seen since the Rick Adelman days. I don’t know how much of this holds throughout the season, but when was the last time you wanted to watch the Kings if you’re not a Kings fan? Their games are incredibly entertaining, and Brown has them believing in themselves.

Grade the move now: A+. Even if the Kings fizzle out, they haven’t been this good at any point in the past 16 years.


19. Miami Heat (previously 21st) | 10-11 | -0.7 net rating

Weekly slate: Loss at Wolves, Win over Wizards, Win over Wizards, Win at Hawks

Who is the new face? Caleb Martin

How’d they get him? Signed with Heat last season, re-signed three years/$20.5 million this summer.

How’s that going? The value Martin brings the Heat is higher than most people might give him credit for contributing. Yes, they should explore bringing back Jae Crowder because he’d be a much-needed addition in replacing P.J. Tucker. However, the Heat make their money by playing great defense, and that happens with Martin on the court. He’s coming off a great performance against Atlanta. He’s not the sole reason for their defensive success with him on the court, but he’s extremely solid. He doesn’t make a ton of mistakes, and executing Erik Spoelstra’s system is the key to the Heat continuing to climb the defensive charts. For the money they re-signed him for this summer, he could end up being one of the best non-rookie contracts for any role player in the league.

Grade the move now: B+

GIF ON THE BEAT:


20. Chicago Bulls (previously 23rd) | 8-11 | -0.3 net rating

Weekly slate: Win over Celtics, Win at Bucks, Loss at Thunder

Who is the new face? Goran Dragić.

How’d they get him? Signed for one year/$2.9 million this summer.

How’s that going? Not a lot of core changes to the Bulls this summer, as their big move was re-signing Zach LaVine. While they wait to see if Lonzo Ball is going to heal up, Dragić has been a great pickup. He’s coming off the bench as they utilize Ayo Dosunmu in the starting lineup, and Dragić has been a pretty super sub. The Dosunmu minutes (for a lot of reasons and definitely not all on Ayo) are not going well, but the Dragić minutes have helped the squad quite a bit. Dragić has struggled a little inside the arc, but his 3-point shooting (43.4 percent) has been great, and he’s doing a solid job of moving the ball. It’s a little alarming how bad the offense is when he’s not on the floor. They should probably find more than 18.1 minutes per game for him.

Grade the move now: B+


21. Brooklyn Nets (previously 22nd) | 10-11 | +0.5 net rating

Weekly slate: Loss at Sixers, Win at Raptors, Loss at Pacers, Win over Blazers

Who is the new face? Ben Simmons

How’d they get him? Acquired Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and two first-round picks for James Harden and Paul Millsap last season.

How’s that going? Once again, the Brooklyn Nets are having multiple seasons within one 82-game campaign. As Simmons tries to get himself back to the player we saw before the Game 7 debacle in 2021, let’s just look at what he’s done since Jacque Vaughn took over as coach. The Nets’ defense with him on the floor has been tremendous in the last 14 games. Their 105.9 defensive rating in this stretch would be the best in the NBA over the course of the entire season. The Nets have been really good with him on the court, outscoring teams by 7.8 points per 100. Extrapolate that over the entire season, and it would be the leading net rating in the league. Simmons just flat-out isn’t going to shoot and score points. But the defense is getting there, and he’s making over 70 percent of his shots in the Vaughn segment of the season. He’s not nearly as bad as the internet would like to make him out to be. And he’s getting stronger right now and more comfortable.

Grade the move now: C+

GIF ON THE BEAT:


22. New York Knicks (previously 17th) | 9-11 | -2.5 net rating

Weekly slate: Win at Thunder, Loss to Blazers, Loss to Grizzlies

Who is the new face? Jalen Brunson

How’d they get him? Signed Brunson for four years/$104 million this summer.

How’s that going? The Knicks have definitely benefited from the Brunson signing. He’s their leading scorer, has almost a 4:1 assist-to-turnover ratio and is making nearly half his shots (48.7 percent). There are a lot of positives with Brunson the individual, but the team impact hasn’t quite been there enough to lift them over the hump so far. I don’t think that’s necessarily on him. Other guys need to step up. The Knicks are better without him on the floor than with him on, but that has to do with the bench being a galvanizing unit and his starting teammates needing to pull it together. Brunson’s outside shot has been brutal, and it’s a big reason the Knicks are so bad at hitting 3-pointers as a team. Ultimately, he will stabilize this team throughout the season, but the defense has to get better with him on the floor. His size definitely hurts them there.

Grade the move now: B


23. Charlotte Hornets (previously 24th) | 6-14 | -5.1 net rating

Weekly slate: Win over Sixers, Win over Wolves

Who is the new face? Steve Clifford

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How’d they get him? Hired as coach one three-year deal this summer.

How’s that going? The Hornets are off to a terrible start, especially if they were hoping to make another run at figuring out this Play-In Tournament thing. But Clifford has done another really solid coaching job so far. LaMelo Ball has missed almost the entire season. They don’t have Miles Bridges. Gordon Hayward is hurt again, and his wife has beef with the Hornets organization now. Terry Rozier has missed almost half their games. The Hornets aren’t good, but to be 13th in defensive rating with this group is good coaching. When Ball is back and healthy, that league worst offense will get a huge boost.

Grade the move now: B-

GIF ON THE BEAT: 


24. Washington Wizards (previously 20th) | 10-10 | -1.8 net rating

Weekly slate: Loss at Heat, Loss at Heat, Loss at Celtics

Who is the new face? Monté Morris.

How’d they get him? Traded Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Ish Smith for Morris and Will Barton this summer.

How’s that going? Morris’ individual numbers have not been impressive. His shooting and scoring have been fine, but they’ve dropped considerably from what we saw the previous two seasons. However, the Wizards are seeing a massive gulf between the time with Morris on the floor and the time with him on the bench. The offense is elite when he’s on the floor, scoring over 117 points per 100 possessions, and his 5:1 assist-to-turnover ratio is a massive part of that.  The defense is solid too, and they outscore their opponents by 4.0 per 100 possessions when he’s out there. They have a -6.3 net rating when he’s off the floor. Their offense falls to just over 100.0 points per 100 possessions when he’s off the court. Team impact is there, but let’s see him bring some more reliability in his shot making because we know he can do it.

Grade the move now: B

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25. Los Angeles Lakers (previously 26th) | 7-11 | -2.1 net rating

Weekly slate: Loss at Suns, Win at Spurs, Win at Spurs

Who is the new face? Patrick Beverley

How’d they get him? Traded Talen Horton-Tucker and Stanley Johnson for Beverley this summer.

How’s that going? I promise I decided to write about Beverley in this space prior to the Deandre Ayton shove and the suspension, and now that he’s been forced to miss three straight games, it feels even more poignant to talk about his struggles. Beverley is one of those hated players on the internet. If he’s on your team, you love him. If he isn’t, you despise him. So far, I’m not sure if Lakers fans love him. He’s been horrendous shooting the ball and the defense has been mediocre by his standards. The antics don’t add anything positive to it. He’s averaging almost as many rebounds (3.9) as points (4.1), but it’s not exactly Wes Unseld Sr. out there putting up roughly 20 of each every night. Beverley was very important in getting the Wolves on track last season. But this Lakers team doesn’t need that guy. They need someone who is less of a leader (LeBron James has that covered … or should) and just more of a guy who fits the role. Maybe the three-game suspension helps him reassess and reset everything.

Grade the move now: F

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Tier 6: Victor Wembanyama Watch

26. Houston Rockets (previously 28th) | 5-14 | -5.5 net rating

Weekly slate: Win over Hawks, Win over Thunder

Who is the new face? Jabari Smith Jr.

How’d they get him? Drafted with third pick this summer.

How’s that going? We’re seeing a better showing from Smith over the last three games, and it’s way too early to make a true ruling on the Rockets taking him third in the draft. He still projects to be a really good defender, and he shows flashes here and there. The shot making has been a massive struggle. He barely takes shots around the rim, and he’s only finishing half of them. For his size and athleticism, he should be making a much higher percentage. His jumper hasn’t traveled from Auburn, but his free-throw shooting offers up encouragement. The Rockets need to find him easy shots and build that scoring confidence. Some of it is on him, and some of it is the byproduct of the team being so young. They’re not setting him up for success yet, but he’ll get it together soon.

Grade the move now: C-


27. Detroit Pistons (previously 30th) | 5-17 | -7.6 net rating

Weekly slate: Win at Nuggets, Win at Jazz, Loss at Suns, Loss to Cavs

Who is the new face? Bojan Bogdanović

How’d they get him? Traded Kelly Olynyk, Saben Lee and cash for Bogdanović this summer. Signed him to two-year/$39 million extension.

How’s that going? The Pistons are off to a horrendous start, which makes the Bogdanović acquisition all the more alluring. He’s been great to start the season. He’s their leading scorer, shooting the lights out. This is what we saw in Indiana and in Utah. With Cade Cunningham out for a while, the Pistons are headed even more toward a potentially tough decision. Do they keep Bogdanović around to try to make the Play-In Tournament, or do they embrace the slow start and move him to help tanking efforts at some point? Signing him to the extension makes him even more valuable to acquire, so if they’re looking to get more draft assets, he can probably fetch a nice return. But the Pistons had a strong second half last season, and I wouldn’t count them out of a run soon.

Grade the move now: A-

GIF ON THE BEAT: 


28. Oklahoma City Thunder (previously 25th) | 8-12 | -2.0 net rating

Weekly slate: Loss to Knicks, Loss to Nuggets, Win over Bulls, Loss at Rockets

Who is the new face? Jalen Williams

How’d they get him? Drafted with 12th pick this summer.

How’s that going? We don’t get to evaluate Chet Holmgren in this space right now, so we’re going to shift the focus to Williams, one of the other exciting Thunder rookies. Williams looked like he was way ahead of the curve during summer league action, so there was a lot to look forward to when the real games started. So far, he’s been pretty good. He hasn’t set the world on fire, but the Thunder also have a considerable amount of depth right now on the perimeter. He’s not making 3-pointers, but he’s doing everything else pretty well on offense. He can probably do even more playmaking than he has, and I’d like to see him keep shooting because I believe in the shot. I don’t know if he’s going to be an All-Rookie selection, but he is definitely going to be an important part of their future.

Grade the move now: B-


29. Orlando Magic (previously 27th) | 5-15 | -5.5 net rating

Weekly slate: Loss at Pacers, Loss to Sixers, Loss to Sixers

Who is the new face? Paolo Banchero.

How’d they get him? Drafted with first pick this summer.

How’s that going? I know I talk about Banchero a lot, but he’s my favorite player on this team. He’s also one of the few choices for the new faces on the Magic. Banchero is such a remarkable bully, but his jumper has not been there. He’s not making midrange jumpers. He’s not making 3-point shots. His solid free-throw shooting indicates he should be able to figure that out. For now, he’s just relying on being a bully, and it works. He’s overpowering a lot of defenders. Opponents have to get creative with when and how they double him to make him overthink things. Any time Banchero doesn’t get to the basket, it’s a win. He’s going to be special.

Grade the move now: A

GIF ON THE BEAT: 


30. San Antonio Spurs (previously 29th) | 6-15 | -10.0 net rating

Weekly slate: Loss to Pelicans, Loss to Lakers, Loss to Lakers

Who is the new face? Jeremy Sochan

How’d they get him? Drafted with ninth pick this summer.

How’s that going? I’ll admit, I wasn’t thrilled with the Sochan pick in June. I thought Jalen Williams or Jalen Duren would’ve been a better pick at the time. And maybe they still would be, but Sochan is a really fun prospect. He wasn’t much of an outside shooter at Baylor, and that has held true through the early part of his rookie campaign. He’s flashed a bit of a midrange jumper, though, and maybe that can help bring his free-throw shooting and outside shooting up at some point. But he’s so active and gets a good amount of shots at the rim, and he’s really good at finishing. I don’t know what the Spurs are building yet, but he’s the exact type of role player you could see being a staple of their rotation for a decade.

Grade the move now: C+


(Illustration by John Bradford / The Athletic; photo of Malcolm Brogdon: Maddie Malhotra / Getty Images)


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