Every offseason, big trades change the landscape of the NBA and this summer proved to be no different. Three big multi-team trades involving all-stars bolstered several franchise title hopes heading into the 2023–24 season.
After a terrific postseason that saw the Denver Nuggets crowned champions, next year’s playoffs could be even better, with last season’s two best teams dramatically improving. While the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks have no doubt gotten better, there are other under-the-radar franchises that can be contenders this season. With that said, let’s rank all 30 teams’ chances of winning a title in 23–24.
NBA Tier 5: Likely lottery teams
30) Washington Wizards
29) Portland Trail Blazers
28) Detroit Pistons
27) Utah Jazz
26) Orlando Magic
25) Houston Rockets
At the moment, the Pistons, Magic, Wizards, Blazers, Rockets, and Jazz appear to have virtually no chance of making the playoffs. This is despite several of these teams being better than they were last season. With both the Eastern and Western Conferences likely to be highly competitive, teams such as the Wizards and Blazers don’t stand a chance.
After all, Washington moved on from Kristaps Porzingis and Bradley Beal, clearing the decks and making them the potential frontrunner to finish with the worst record in the NBA. The Blazers traded star Damian Lillard and will now rely on 19-year-old rising star Scoot Henderson to lead their team. Meanwhile, the Pistons had the worst record last season but are likely to be better with 2021 first-overall pick Cade Cunningham back.
Utah was one of the surprise teams of last season but opted to trade away three key players at the trade deadline and missed the play-in tournament. They are still better than most of the teams in this group, but they probably won’t be in the mix to make the playoffs.
As for the Magic and Rockets, the Magic have arguably the best young player of any of the teams in this group in Palo Banchero. Both he and Franz Wagner could help push Orlando closer to the playoffs, but it could be at least another year before they are playoff contenders. Houston has been the worst team in the NBA over a three-year span, and they made strides to improve their roster this past summer by adding Fred Vanvleet and Dillon Brooks.
Those two veterans, along with a promising young core, should make Houston much better than they’ve been, but they could still finish well outside of the play-in race. Missing the playoffs may not be all bad for these teams since it would give them an inside track to land a high lottery pick in the 2024 NBA Draft.