The NBA In-Season Tournament has given meaning to the early portion of the NBA schedule. Perhaps some teams do not necessarily care about competing in this tournament, but the new energy and atmosphere created by this tournament has given purpose to many of those in the middle of the pack. This has created a shakeup in the NBA Power Rankings.
As a result, the current NBA standings do not necessarily reflect our initial ideas of what things would look like from the preseason. When the summer ended, everyone was pointing towards the Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets, Milwaukee Bucks, and Phoenix Suns as the four teams to beat in the race for a championship. If we have learned anything from the first month of the 2023-24 season and these in-season tournament games, it's that any one of these four teams can be beaten on any given night.
The hierarchy in the NBA still exists, as the Celtics, Bucks, and Nuggets are amongst the league's best record-wise, yet the gap between every team in the league has closed tremendously. Balance is the word that comes to mind, especially since there have been so many games that have come right down to the wire.
What has become clear in the Eastern Conference is that the Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers are the two teams we look like the most complete teams at this point. Led by reigning league MVP Joel Embiid and emerging superstar guard Tyrese Maxey, the Sixers have put everything bad regarding the James Harden trade behind them. The 76ers have depth, they have tremendous balance on both ends of the court, and they have two All-Star talents who can set a new career-high in scoring on any given night.
Just over 300 miles north on I-95, the Celtics continue to dominate teams with their +11.7 scoring differential, the highest in the NBA. Their two losses are not bad losses either, as Boston fell 114-109 in overtime to the Minnesota Timberwolves and they lost by three points to the Philadelphia 76ers at the start of the month. Both of these games were on the road. The Celtics are true title contenders and even with a loss against Philadelphia, Boston still finds themselves looking down on everyone else.
The final few games of the group stage round of the in-season tournament will be played this upcoming week, painting a better picture for what four teams have a shot at making the trip to Las Vegas in order to compete for the first-ever NBA Cup. This week's version of the NBA Power Rankings sees yet another change at the No. 1 spot, as well as one team getting back on track and re-entering the top 10 after struggling to remain relevant without their superstar player.
1. Boston Celtics (+2)
2023-24 Record: 11-2, Upcoming schedule: at CHA (11/20), vs. MIL (11/22), at ORL (11/24), vs. ATL (11/26)
While they still have questions about their depth, the Boston Celtics have the best starting lineup in the NBA. Sunday was a perfect example of this, as the Celtics found themselves in a back-and-forth battle with the Memphis Grizzlies. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown were held in check most of the night offensively, but they found other ways to get involved due to Kristaps Porzingis, Jrue Holiday, and Derrick White having the ability to step up and hit big shots down the stretch. As a result, Boston came away with a hard-fought two-point victory on the road behind Porzingis' 26 points.
The Celtics are rolling right now and they are amongst the top of the league in virtually every single offensive category, hence their spot at the top of the NBA Power Rankings. This upcoming week, everyone is anticipating Boston's first matchup of the year with the Milwaukee Bucks, a team viewed as the C's competition in order to get back to the NBA Finals.
Jrue Holiday vs. Damian Lillard. Jayson Tatum vs. Giannis Antetokounmpo. Jaylen Brown vs. Khris Middleton. Kristaps Porzingis vs. Brook Lopez. Sign me up for 48-plus minutes of this game on Wednesday night.
2. Philadelphia 76ers (-)
2023-24 Record: 10-3, Upcoming schedule: vs. CLE (11/21), at MIN (11/22), at OKC (11/25)
James Harden was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers and has struggled to find success. With Harden gone, Tyrese Maxey has done the complete opposite — rising to the occasion and seizing his opportunity to blossom into a true superstar alongside the league's most recent MVP in Joel Embiid. Even without Kelly Oubre Jr., who has had a fantastic start to the new season with his new squad, the Sixers have found success offensively with Tobias Harris and De'Anthony Melton making an impact on both sides of the court.
Even though they lost two games early on last week to the Indiana Pacers and Boston Celtics, the Sixers were able to bounce back with two roads wins against Eastern Conference foes in the Atlanta Hawks and Brooklyn Nets. Philadelphia has scored at least 120 points in four of their last five games and they do not appear to be slowing down anytime soon. However, this week will be a test for the Sixers offense, as all three of their matchups will be against some of the best defensive teams in the NBA, including the top-rated defense in the Minnesota Timberwolves.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder (+4)
2023-24 Record: 10-4, Upcoming schedule: vs. CHI (11/22), vs. PHI (11/25)
The Oklahoma City Thunder have played 14 games so far this season, wrapping up this past week with a road back-to-back against the Golden State Warriors and Portland Trail Blazers, two games in which the Thunder won. After these 14 games, I can confidently say that the Thunder are the best team in the Western Conference right now. What head coach Mark Daigneault and his staff have done designing and developing this roster is simply remarkable, which is why Daigneault is at the top of my list for Coach of the Year right now.
We all knew what to expect from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, but I am not sure anyone projected the Thunder ranking inside the top seven in both offensive and defensive rating after one month. The only other team that can say they've achieved this is the Celtics, who reside at the top of these NBA Power Rankings. Despite being one of the youngest groups in the entire league, the Thunder plays like a group of 10-year veterans who have been with one another for years. That's because they all share the same humble mentality, they all want to win, and this group has spent the entirety of their young NBA careers together.
Oklahoma City is a legit threat in the West this season and the scary thing is that they are only going to get better as the season goes on due to their youth and maturity level. There have been some rumors about the Thunder possibly going out and adding another star like Zach LaVine ahead of the trade deadline to pair with SGA, but if I am Sam Presti and this front office, I'm sticking with this group because they are special and continue to build something special.
4. Minnesota Timberwolves (-)
2023-24 Record: 9-3, Upcoming schedule: vs. NYK (11/20), vs. PHI (11/22), vs. SAC (11/24), at MEM (11/26)
The fight heard around the world! Well, maybe not the world, but everyone who follows the NBA surely saw what occurred between the Minnesota Timberwolves and Golden State Warriors this past Tuesday night. Just minutes into the game, Jaden McDaniels and Klay Thompson got tied up with one another and when Rudy Gobert looked to drag Thompson off of McDaniels, it was Draymond Green who came in WWE style, putting Gobert in a headlock and making the big man tap out.
Minnesota is scrappy defensively, they are tough-minded, and they have not backed down against any of the teams they have played. This has led them to having one of the best records in the entire league with victories over the Warriors (twice on the road), the New Orleans Pelicans (twice), the Nuggets, and the Celtics. The Timberwolves have a very strong resume to this point and the frontcourt pairing of Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns has been extremely impressive compared to last season.
As long as they remain healthy and Anthony Edwards continues to expand his game to an MVP-level, the Timberwolves will remain near the top of the NBA Power Rankings.
5. Denver Nuggets (-4)
2023-24 Record: 9-4, Upcoming schedule: at DET (11/20), at ORL (11/22), at HOU (11/24), vs. SAS (11/26)
Nikola Jokic is sensational. We have this conversation every single week and the fact that he has recorded 13 straight double-doubles to begin the year makes me think that he will record one every single game he plays in. Without Jamal Murray, though, the Denver Nuggets struggled this past week, as their only win was home against the Los Angeles Clippers, who fought with Denver right up to the final buzzer. The good news for the Nuggets is that second-year swingman Christian Braun has stepped up in a big way off the bench, averaging 16.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game over the last week.
The Nuggets fell a little bit in the NBA Power Rankings this past week, but they are still the team to beat in the Western Conference because of Jokic. What they are finding from their bench unit now is only going to make Denver stronger when Murray returns in a few weeks, which is going to pay off big time for the defending champions. Looking at their upcoming schedule, the Nuggets face a scenario where they can very easily rattle off four straight victories and fly back to the top of these power rankings.
6. Milwaukee Bucks (+4)
2023-24 Record: 9-4, Upcoming schedule: at WAS (11/20), at BOS (11/22), vs. WAS (11/24), vs. POR (11/26)
Just like Nikola Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo continues to take his game to new levels, carrying the Milwaukee Bucks to some of their recent victories. Following their 5-4 start and everyone acting like the world was falling, the Bucks have won four straight games. Granted their opponents were not necessarily the best competition, Milwaukee looked impressive against the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday. Antetokounmpo had 40 points, 15 rebounds, and seven assists, as Damian Lillard continued his recent hot streak with 27 points and 12 assists.
“Sometimes [Damian Lillard] wants to operate the offense and you have to give him the ball,” Antetokounmpo stated after defeating the Mavs. “Game by game, we're going to learn how to play with one another.”
The Bucks are showing signs of improvement and signs of chemistry, plus Malik Beasley and Pat Connaughton have started to find their stride out on the wing. As previously mentioned, all eyes will be on Milwaukee's matchup with Boston on Wednesday night this upcoming week, a game that could give either team a leg up in the Eastern Conference standings.
7. Sacramento Kings (+14)
2023-24 Record: 8-4, Upcoming schedule: at NOP (11/20), at NOP (11/22), at MIN (11/24)
Without De'Aaron Fox on the court, the Sacramento Kings are 2-3 this season. With Fox available, the Kings have gone 6-1. Do you see a trend here? When Fox plays, the Kings are one of the best teams in the league, and from an offensive perspective, that was clear to see this past week.
Sacramento took down the Cleveland Cavaliers at home this past week, as well as the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks on the road. The Kings also went on the road and defeated Victor Wembanyama's young and feisty San Antonio Spurs team. A perfect 4-0 record with four games in which they scored at least 125 points each game has stopped the Kings' freefall and thrown them back into the top 10 of the NBA Power Rankings.
With this said, the Kings still have some question marks to answer regarding their will to fight defensively. More will be learned about this group over the next few days, as going on the road against New Orleans and Minnesota will be tough tasks for the Kings.
8. Dallas Mavericks (-3)
2023-24 Record: 9-5, Upcoming schedule: at LAL (11/22), at LAC (11/25)
Just how good can the Dallas Mavericks be this season? There's a lot to like about an offense led by Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving, but the Mavs are still one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA and they've yet to really pick up a signature win, as their best win thus far is on the road against the Orlando Magic. From starting 9-3 to now being 9-5, the Mavs may not be as great of a team as we thought they were.
What has become clear about this team is that Tim Hardaway Jr. is surely in the running for the Sixth Man of the Year award. Hardaway has recorded 255 total points off the bench this season, leading all players in the league in bench scoring, and he has done so by shooting over 40 percent from three-point range. Irving and Doncic have been great, as has Hardaway Jr. in his role, but does Dallas truly have enough talent on their roster to stack up against the best of the best in a seven-game series? The good news for the Mavs is that they have plenty of time to work on their craft before answering this question.
9. Cleveland Cavaliers (-)
2023-24 Record: 7-6, Upcoming schedule: at PHI (11/21), vs. MIA (11/22), vs. LAL (11/25), vs. TOR (11/26)
The Cleveland Cavaliers are a much better team than their record may reflect right now. Jarrett Allen and Darius Garland both missed games early on in the season and now All-Star Donovan Mitchell is dealing with a hamstring injury. The Cavs have yet to have their full roster play together for an extended period of time, yet they've picked up wins over the likes of the Nuggets, Warriors, and New York Knicks.
What makes Cleveland a special team in the East is that they have a solidified star in Mitchell and plenty of secondary and supporting talent around him. Not to mention, Evan Mobley and Allen create one of the better defensive frontcourt pairings in the NBA. After beginning last week with a 12-point loss to the Sacramento Kings, the Cavs have since won three straight games, most recently defeating Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets in Cleveland. This upcoming week will present challenges to the Cavs, as they will begin things with a tough back-to-back against Philadelphia and Miami.
10. Orlando Magic (+5)
2023-24 Record: 8-5, Upcoming schedule: vs. TOR (11/21), vs. DEN (11/22), vs. BOS (11/24), vs. CHA (11/26)
The biggest surprise early on this season in the Eastern Conference has been the success of the Orlando Magic. Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner are the focal points of this young Magic team, but Orlando has put themselves on the map due to their depth and defensive abilities. In fact, this team currently ranks first in the league in defensive rating, something we have not said about the Magic in a very long time. What's impressive about the Magic is that they've won four of their last five games despite not having Wendell Carter Jr. due to a hand injury. Without Carter, the Magic have played with a “next man up” mentality and have looked like one of the more complete teams in the league.
“Defense travels, defense wins. I think we need to continue to understand that,” head coach Jamahl Mosley said after his team's most recent victory over the Indiana Pacers. “We've got guys who want to defend, that understand how to defend, and them having the ability to follow the game plan the right way.”
Toughness and physicality are two points of emphasis for Mosley with his young team and we are finally beginning to see growth from the Magic. While they may have sat at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings through the years, the Magic are a real threat every single night this season.
11. Indiana Pacers (-3)
2023-24 Record: 7-5, Upcoming schedule: at ATL (11/21), vs. TOR (11/22), vs. DET (11/24)
Averaging 125.7 points per game, the Indiana Pacers are currently the best scoring team in the NBA. The problem with the Pacers right now is the fact that they are giving up an average of 123.8 points per game to their opponents, the second-worst mark in the league. It's tough to project just how good the Pacers can be moving forward, especially since they don't necessarily look like a finished product yet.
Indiana's only goal is to push the pace and to try and score in transition while they have numbers. Against smarter, slower-paced teams, the Pacers are going to run into some struggles and this became apparent against the 76ers and Magic this past week. They obviously need to make some tweaks defensively, but the Pacers' main focus should be on poise and comfortability in half-court sets. Being able to adjust their pace on offense and score in both fast-paced and slower-paced scenarios will allow them to get back to the playoffs, regardless if they still struggle defensively.
Two upcoming games against the Atlanta Hawks and Toronto Raptors will give us a better sense of where this Pacers team stands in the East.
12. Miami Heat (-1)
2023-24 Record: 8-5, Upcoming schedule: at CHI (11/20), at CLE (11/22), at NYK (11/24), at BKN (11/25)
Nobody has ever questioned how good Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo are. We have seen that head coach Erik Spoelstra is able to lean on his stars through the years in order to keep the Miami Heat in a position to contend for a title. The rest of this roster remains a question mark, though, especially with Tyler Herro dealing with an ankle sprain. It seems like Miami is rolling the dice every night trying to find offensive production, which is why they can run into losses like their most recent game against the Chicago Bulls, a game in which the Heat scored just 97 points, Butler and Adebayo combining for 49 points.
The Heat are good, but they are definitely not great. Finding themselves in the middle of the pack in the East, Miami still has a lot to prove on offense outside of their stars, especially with Gabe Vincent and Max Strus no longer around.
13. New York Knicks (+1)
2023-24 Record: 8-5, Upcoming schedule: at MIN (11/20), vs. MIA (11/24), vs. PHX (11/26)
The New York Knicks are beginning to find their stride. Always a tough-minded defensive team under head coach Tom Thibodeau, the Knicks have been a very efficient offensive team to begin the year. New York's +6.0 scoring differential ranks fifth in the NBA, third in the East, and the Knicks' rebounding abilities are what can keep them level with some of the top teams in the league.
Amid Julius Randle's struggles shooting the ball and RJ Barrett's opposing hot start, Jalen Brunson has looked like a clear-cut All-Star for the Knicks. Brunson is averaging 24.2 points and 5.0 assists per game while shooting 43.7 percent from the floor and a team-high 47.7 percent from three-point range. The Knicks have an identity offensively and they continue to look more comfortable offensively, which is why they can be dangerous on any given night.
14. Phoenix Suns (+4)
2023-24 Record: 7-6, Upcoming schedule: vs. POR (11/21), vs. GSW (11/22), at MEM (11/24), at NYK (11/26)
Now one month into the 2023-24 NBA season and we have yet to see Bradley Beal take the court alongside Kevin Durant and Devin Booker due to lingering back issues. The Phoenix Suns only goal at this point is to ensure the health of their three superstars, as just one of them being out of the lineup limits their potential to win a championship. Offensively, the Suns are going to be a juggernaut at full strength, especially with Booker and Durant already averaging around 60 points per game together.
While they recently defeated the Timberwolves and picked up back-to-back road wins over the Utah Jazz, the Suns are not that impressive defensively and there are some concerns about how impactful their frontcourt can be. To this point, the Suns have been very average and the only reason they have moved up in the NBA Power Rankings is due to going 3-0 last week.
15. New Orleans Pelicans (+4)
2023-24 Record: 6-7, Upcoming schedule: vs. SAC (11/20), vs. SAC (11/22), at LAC (11/24), at UTA (11/25)
To be 6-7 with recent wins over the Mavs and Nuggets given all the injuries the New Orleans Pelicans have had to deal with is impressive. Dyson Daniels, Jordan Hawkins, and Matt Ryan have really stepped up for the Pelicans as secondary contributors, filling some of the gaps with Jose Alvarado, Trey Murphy III, and Larry Nance Jr. injured. New Orleans is a much better defensive team than the numbers may show right now and this is going to be their calling card when fully healthy.
When you look at the Pels right now, it's clear to see that they are going to be a very up-and-down team all season long. They have the talent to match up with any other team in the league, yet New Orleans always tends to struggle against teams they should have no problem beating. Given their athleticism and possible depth, the Pelicans are an interesting team to keep tabs on in the Western Conference.
16. Atlanta Hawks (-4)
2023-24 Record: 6-6, Upcoming schedule: vs. IND (11/21), vs. BKN (11/22), at WAS (11/25), at BOS (11/26)
The Atlanta Hawks have taken some big steps forward early on this season, picking up wins over the likes of the Bucks and Timberwolves. They have also stumbled a bit, losing on the road against the Charlotte Hornets and posting a 2-4 record on their home floor. The Hawks are just a very inconsistent team right now that doesn't necessarily have an identity.
Are they a three-point shooting team or are the Hawks a group that will look to punish their opponents by attacking the basket. Defensively, do the Hawks have enough size to be real threats in the East? Right now, it's hard to look at Atlanta and think they are a team that can cause headaches for teams at the top of the NBA Power Rankings.
17. Golden State Warriors (-11)
2023-24 Record: 6-8, Upcoming schedule: vs. HOU (11/20), at PHX (11/22), vs SAS (11/24)
Nothing has gone right for the Golden State Warriors after beginning the season 6-2. The Warriors have lost six straight games and while they could easily be above .500 right now, their struggles offensively have stood out. Klay Thompson is not shooting the ball well whatsoever, Andrew Wiggins doesn't look fully locked in, and Stephen Curry is the team's only consistent scoring option. If their shots start falling, the Warriors will be fine, but they are shooting just 35.1 percent from three-point range as a team, currently 22nd in the entire league.
This is unorthodox for Golden State, as they are usually amongst the best when it comes to scoring and offensive efficiency. Are we beginning to see the demise of the Warriors?
18. Los Angeles Lakers (-2)
2023-24 Record: 8-6, Upcoming schedule: vs. UTA (11/21), vs. DAL (11/22), at CLE (11/25)
The Los Angeles Lakers capped off this past week with a win against the Houston Rockets on Sunday night thanks to a game-winning free throw by LeBron James. This has seemed to be a narrative surrounding the Lakers thus far, as either James or Anthony Davis need to hit big shots in order to give this team a chance to win. Both of the Lakers' stars have been dealing with some bumps and bruises lately, which is why time is going to catch up with Los Angeles.
Others in Austin Reaves, Rui Hachimura, D'Angelo Russell, and Christian Wood must step up and take the load off of their two superstars. If this does not occur, James and Davis will once again deal with injuries in the middle of the season, causing the Lakers to slide down the standings like last season. The Lakers have enough talent to sit at the top of the Western Conference, but this group doesn't seem to understand their strengths yet.
19. Houston Rockets (-6)
2023-24 Record: 6-5, Upcoming schedule: at GSW (11/20), vs. MEM (11/22), vs. DEN (11/24)
The Houston Rockets looked really good heading into this past week. Then they went 0-2 against the two Los Angeles teams, leading to some of the same questions we had about this group at the start of the year. Is Fred VanVleet the guy who will have the ball late in games, or is Jalen Green going to emerge as this team's top scoring option? Will Jabari Smith Jr. step up and take a big leap during his “sophomore” season?
The Rockets are great defensively, but this is due to the fact that they play with one of the slowest paces in the league and make sure they are all set before initiating anything on either end of the court. Against faster teams, Houston is going to be exposed because they are still a young, undisciplined group for the most part. This team has already had some great moments and that will continue over the course of the 2023-24 season, but it's hard to say the Rockets are anything more than a team competing for a spot in the play-in tournament at this time.
20. Brooklyn Nets (-3)
2023-24 Record: 6-7, Upcoming schedule: at ATL (11/22), vs. MIA (11/25), vs. CHI (11/26)
It's a little surprising to see the Brooklyn Nets rank 22nd in defensive rating right now, especially since they were 13th in defensive rating a season ago and basically have the same roster. Ben Simmons being out has impacted the Nets' defensive potential and perhaps they will regain their footing with Nic Claxton back in the mix. Overall, the Nets are a lot more balanced than many would think and this is a long, athletic team. The Nets can really help their case and their spot in the NBA Power Rankings by sweeping their matchups this week against the Hawks, Heat, and Chicago Bulls.
21. Los Angeles Clippers (+2)
2023-24 Record: 4-7, Upcoming schedule: at SAS (11/20), at SAS (11/22), vs. NOP (11/24), vs. DAL (11/25)
The Los Angeles Clippers finally picked up their first victory with James Harden in their lineup. What's ironic is that Harden is the one that gave the Clippers said victory, as he hit the game-winning shot over the Rockets this past Friday night. With this pressure of getting the first win off their backs, perhaps the Clippers can finally be able to build some chemistry and look like the championship contenders we expect them to be. Then again, Los Angeles is a team of four superstar talents and that's it. In order for Los Angeles to grow, Terance Mann will need to step up and be a jack of all trades for this group.
22. Toronto Raptors (-2)
2023-24 Record: 6-7, Upcoming schedule: at ORL (11/21), at IND (11/22), vs. CHI (11/24), at CLE (11/26)
The Toronto Raptors are still a major question mark simply because they don't have an identity. There's no answer on whether this is Scottie Barnes' team or if it is Pascal Siakam's team, plus the Raptors' bench is one of the worst in the league when it comes to offensive production. Wins against the Washington Wizards and Detroit Pistons this upcoming week do nothing to help Toronto's case of being a real threat in the East, especially when they get blown out by the Bucks and Celtics.
23. Utah Jazz (+3)
2023-24 Record: 4-9, Upcoming schedule: at LAL (11/21), at POR (11/22), vs. NOP (11/25)
The Utah Jazz are one of those teams that are better than their record may suggest. Nobody wants to play Utah because of the fact that they can put up points and wear down a team by pushing the pace. This was clear to see when the Jazz played the Suns in two straight games, almost defeating Kevin Durant and Devin Booker in double-overtime on Sunday. At some point, Utah is going to find their stride and they can very much get back to .500 on the season in no time.
24. Chicago Bulls (-2)
2023-24 Record: 5-9, Upcoming schedule: vs. MIA (11/20), at OKC (11/22), at TOR (11/24), at BKN (11/26)
Zach LaVine's time with the Chicago Bulls is coming to an end. Not only is his name being tossed around from team to team right now, but it is clear that LaVine wants a fresh start. If you need evidence of this, just watch him storming off the court the other night after the Bulls defeated the Heat. The Bulls are dysfunctional, they are heading towards a rebuild, and it's just a matter of time before they are involved in a big trade as sellers.
25. Charlotte Hornets (-)
2023-24 Record: 3-9, Upcoming schedule: vs. BOS (11/20), vs. WAS (11/22), at ORL (11/26)
The Charlotte Hornets should be and can be a much better team than what we have seen so far this year. The organization continues to waste LaMelo Ball's talent and quite honestly, this team has the personnel to be one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference. Injuries have played a small part in their recent misfortunes, but the bottom line is that the Hornets don't utilize their player's strengths. With this said, others outside of Ball really need to step up if Charlotte is going to go on some type of run at any point this season. As a collective unit, the Hornets need to wake up defensively, as it seems like they are a bunch of traffic cones in shooting drills on that end of the court.
26. San Antonio Spurs (-2)
2023-24 Record: 3-10, Upcoming schedule: vs. LAC (11/20), vs. LAC (11/22), at GSW (11/24), at DEN (11/26)
After going 3-2 to begin the year, the Spurs have lost eight straight games. Victor Wembanyama has been great and there is a lot to like about what the future looks like if you are a Spurs fan, but the fact of the matter here is that San Antonio just doesn't have the talent yet to compete with the rest of the league. This is not necessarily a bad thing, though, as it simply takes time to build something special.
Take the OKC Thunder for example. The main reason why the Thunder are finding a lot of success this year is because they have struggled over the last handful of years while rebuilding. The Spurs can obviously make some improvements on both sides of the court right now, especially in terms of getting Wemby more shot attempts, but this organization just needs time to develop their high-potential youth.
27. Memphis Grizzlies (+2)
2023-24 Record: 3-10, Upcoming schedule: at HOU (11/22), vs. PHX (11/24), vs. MIN (11/26)
The Memphis Grizzlies have played 13 games without Ja Morant and they are 3-10. However, even with Morant, the Grizzlies would still have a lot of problems to figure out because they got rid of way too much depth in the offseason, Tyus Jones and Dillon Brooks were glue guys that held things together and sealed the cracks of this team. Without them, Memphis' depth is severely challenged and the foundation this group had is broken. With Marcus Smart now out indefinitely due to a foot/ankle injury, the Grizzlies are only going to continue to struggle.
28. Detroit Pistons (-1)
2023-24 Record: 2-12, Upcoming schedule: vs. DEN (11/20), at IND (11/24)
The Detroit Pistons have lost 11 straight games, the longest losing streak in the league right now. However, there is still a lot to like about this young Pistons core. Cade Cunningham has been great, Ausar Thompson has looked like one of the favorites for Rookie of the Year, and the Pistons have a lot of talent in their frontcourt with Jalen Duren, Isaiah Stewart, and Marvin Bagley III. Detroit just needs their veterans healthy, as getting Monte Morris and Bojan Bogdanovic back will solve a lot of their problems. If the Pistons could learn to close out games, they would have a few more victories on the season.
29. Portland Trail Blazers (-1)
2023-24 Record: 3-10, Upcoming schedule: at PHX (11/21), vs. UTA (11/22), at MIL (11/26)
Much like the Pistons, the Portland Trail Blazers find themselves on a long, extended losing streak. Scoot Henderson, Anfernee Simons, Malcolm Brogdon, and Robert Williams III are all dealing with injuries though, which is why Portland hasn't been able to find any success. Outside of Jerami Grant, Deandre Ayton, and Shaedon Sharpe, the Blazers do not have any reliable players to turn to on either end of the court. Things are not projected to get any better for the Trail Blazers, as the Suns, Jazz, and Bucks are three teams who can easily defeat them by double-digits.
30. Washington Wizards (-)
2023-24 Record: 2-10, Upcoming schedule: vs. MIL (11/20), at CHA (11/22), at MIL (11/24), vs. ATL (11/25)
The Washington Wizards do not have the worst record in the league, but they are certainly the worst team in the league right now. Kyle Kuzma is a one-man team, as Jordan Poole continues to struggle in a Wizards uniform and Tyus Jones is more a facilitator than anything else. The only bright spot for the Wizards has been rookie Bilal Coulibaly and the potential he's already shown as a 3-and-D wing player.