NBA power rankings before entering 2024: Teams goals in the new year PART 1

The 2023/24 NBA season has gone nearly halfway, a long enough time to evaluate the strength of teams during the season. As 2024 approaches, join Sporting News in evaluating the strength of NBA teams before 2024 begins as well as the teams’ goals in the new year.

This ranking reflects the position and strength of the teams up to the present time (December 31), not a prediction of position at the end of the season. In addition to assessing the strength between teams, Sporting News also provides goals that teams need to complete in 2024.

1. Celtics

Achievement : 25-6

2024 goal : Find a way to finish important matches

Statistically, the Celtics have been one of the best teams in the NBA this season, but losses to the Pacers and Warriors were a reminder that they still have a lot going for them down the stretch. Attacks that are too methodical and predictable at crunch time are the most mentioned problem. In addition, the Celtics also need to create more pressure under the basket.

The above problems are the big reason why the Celtics cannot become the number one candidate for the NBA championship.

Boston Celtics Basketball | NBA news, scores, stats, standings, rumors


2. Timberwolves

Achievement : 24-7

2024 goal : Better offense.

Wolves have defended very well this season. Centered by Rudy Gobert, one of the best defensive players in the NBA today, the Wolves are very uncomfortable on defense. But attack is another matter. If they don’t improve soon, it will be difficult for them to advance deep in the playoffs.

Wolves’ offensive pressure is placed entirely on Anthony Edwards. He’s doing well, but needs more help. They need to improve their pitching. Wolves is the team ranked 3rd in the tournament from the bottom in terms of number of shots and number of successful shots beyond the 3-point line.

NBA playoffs: Timberwolves have players-only meeting, sources say

3. Nuggets

Achievement : 23-11

Goal in 2024 : Continue to trust young players

The Nuggets know where they are and what they have. And the bench is the only unknown for the defending champion. The Nuggets will lead the West if Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray are healthy, so the Nuggets’ goal is to help players like Christian Braun, Julian Strawther and Peyton Watson overcome mistakes. If one or two of those guys really get into the rhythm of the team, the Nuggets could be the most well-rounded team in the league.

Basket - Le guide NBA saison 2021-2022

4. Bucks

Achievement : 24-8

2024 goal : Do more Damian Lillard-Giannis Antetokounmpo pick-and-rolls.

The Bucks didn’t run as many pick-and-rolls between Damian Lillard and Giannis Antetokounmpo as expected. That’s a shame because they complement each other perfectly in those situations and look very unstoppable when both of them do that. It’s possible head coach Adrian Griffin is saving it for the playoffs, but it’s surprising that it hasn’t been a bigger part of Milwaukee’s strategy to this point.

5. 76ers

Achievement : 22-10

2024 goal : Defeat strong teams

As the calendar year closed, Philadelphia was 14-1 against teams with a winning percentage under 50% and 7-8 against teams with a winning percentage above 50%. If the 76ers want to think about winning the championship, they need to improve their performance against strong teams.

Chet Holmgren OKC Thunder Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

6. Thunder

Achievement : 21-9

2024 goal : Don’t be satisfied with the present

The Thunder have gone further than expected, but a smart transfer could take them even further. Finding more players with good shape is an effective way to compete with the Nuggets and Timberwolves in the West.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is the team’s No. 1 star and the satellites around him, from Chet Holmgren to Jalen Williams, complement him perfectly.

NBA Wire predicts OKC Thunder's 2023-24 season record

7. Clippers

Achievement : 19-12

2024 Goal :Keep this version of James Harden.

The Clippers struggled immediately after the James Harden trade, but both sides have found a common rhythm. Health aside, which will always be an issue while Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are on the team, the biggest question for them is whether Harden will be happy to play this style all season long. If possible, the Clippers will be a formidable team this season, otherwise this will be another failed project of the Los Angeles club.

Los Angeles Clippers season preview — Now or Never - NBC Sports

8. Heat

Achievement : 19-13

2024 goal : Thank the basketball gods every day for Jamie Jaquez Jr.

Jaquez was selected in the 18th pick in the 2023 NBA Draft and that is a very wise decision for the Heat, as of now. He is the third most prominent rookie player in the NBA this year, only behind two super rookies Chet Holmgren and Victor Wembanyama. The 22-year-old has helped the Heat fill the void left by Max Strus and Gabe Vincent at the beginning of the season.

Closing kick sends Heat into Round 2 of NBA playoffs - CBS Miami

9. Mavericks

Achievement : 19-14

2024 goal : Help Grant Williams regain his motivation to compete.

Williams is one of the Mavericks’ top players, hitting a 43% three-point shooting rate through October and November. However, that parameter dropped sharply, to 29.4% in December. Williams’ defensive ability also clearly declined.

Williams’ decline in form coincided with the Mavericks’ decline. There was a time when Williams and his teammates dominated the top group in the West, but poor performance in December caused them to lose their position.

The Mavericks need to find a way to help Williams regain his best form. Because they really need a 3&D player like him, who will become a launching pad to maximize the abilities of Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving.

A Dallas Mavericks Thanksgiving: 10 things to be thankful for this season -  Mavs Moneyball

10. Kings

Achievement : 18-12

2024 goal : Get Kevin Huerter back on track.

Huerter was the Sacramento Kings’ best 3-point shooter last season. But this season, he only achieved a rate of 35.2% on long-distance throws, behind De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk and Keegan Murray. If Huerter cannot return to his high form like last season, Kings may have to consider transfer options.



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