NBA rankings: Sacramento Kings fall in Western ladder post-free agency

De'Aaron Fox, Domantas Sabonis, Keegan Murray, Sacramento Kings. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
De'Aaron Fox, Domantas Sabonis, Keegan Murray, Sacramento Kings. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /
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team. 41. . . Previous: . Golden State Warriors. 6

Out with Jordan Poole and in with Chris Paul, the Warriors have changed the future of their team, eyeing short-term championship hopes, better long-term financial health, and rebuilding the culture they’ve set for a decade, which became fractured before last season’s start due to the Draymond Green-Jordan Poole incident. With a revamped bench unit, more veteran leadership, and (hopefully) better health, the Warriors will be poised to make a championship run in 2023-24.

Dallas Mavericks. 7. team. 79. . . Previous:

A team that missed the playoffs (albeit surprisingly) at SEVEN?! Dallas should be excited about what they are building, including next season. After being a top-10 defense two seasons ago (a WCF appearance), they fell to the bottom-10 of the league, drastically shifting Dallas’ perception around Luka Doncic and his future. Dallas needed a major offseason with Doncic’s future looming. Would they lose another star player in free agency (Jalen Brunson last offseason)?

Fortunately for Dallas, they had a great draft, bringing in Duke big man Dereck Lively with the 12th pick while offloading Davis Bertans contract, followed by acquiring Olivier-Maxence Prosper from Sacramento (the 24th pick). They also retained Kyrie Irving long-term, and traded for Grant Williams, only increasing Dallas’ depth, defense, and core around Luka and Kyrie. In addition to these moves, the Mavs expect a big jump from Jalen Hardy and Josh Green in 2023-24.

Los Angeles Clippers. 8. team. 77. . . Previous:

Same old Clippers, same old story. If healthy this, if healthy that. Reality is: This team’s two best players (Kawhi Leonard and Paul George) have been unable to stay on the court for the majority of their time together in Clippers uniforms, only botching their chances of a title every season. The Clippers did bring in Russell Westbrook last season to enhance their point guard position, bringing stability and strengthened playmaking/productivity that was much needed.

While the Clippers retained Westbrook this offseason (after a failed Malcolm Brogdon trade), they appear to be the top suitors in a potential James Harden trade, which would only signal “Last Dance” vibes for this roster, featuring Leonard, George, Harden, and Westbrook. It’s the health of this team combined with the conference depth that drives them to play-in status.

Oklahoma City Thunder. 9. team. 149. . . Previous:

A potential breakout team for next season, the Thunder has a quiet offseason, drafting Cason Wallace in the lottery and adding Davis Bertans (salary dump for Dallas) in order to get to Wallace. After Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s breakout season, coupled with surprise rookie Jalen Williams entering his year two, the Thunder have a chance to take another step in the West. Add Chet Holmgren’s return this season, and the Thunder’s core is fully intact and poised to compete.

team. 69. . . Previous: . New Orleans Pelicans. 10

A team near the top of the West prior to Zion Williamson’s injury-riddled 2022-23 season kicked in, a healthy Pelicans squad has a chance to compete with the best teams in the league. Featuring CJ McCollum, Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, Jonas Valanciunas, Trey Murphy, and Herb Jones, the Pelicans saw Murphy and Jones elevate in Zion’s absence last season, and make the play-in.

Although Zion will likely have another injury-filled season, the Pelicans will have a chance to make the playoffs and take another step with Brandon Ingram expected to take another step in his game. The Pelicans didn’t do much this offseason, other than losing Jaxson Hayes to the Lakers and Zion trade rumors, the Pelicans will be fielding a nearly identical team for next season.