TST’s NBA Play-In and Playoffs Power Rankings

With the Play-In Tournament set, these are the best teams participating in the 2023 NBA Postseason.

20. Chicago Bulls: Play-In Opponent Game 1: Raptors

The Bulls enter the Play-In Tournament following a disappointing 40-42 season, not the encore Bulls fans had hoped for after the franchise’s 46 win 2021-2022 campaign last resulted in its first playoff berth in five years. However, the last two Bulls teams aren’t as different as one would think. Early on in the 2021-2022 season, the Bulls had the best record in the Eastern Conference because starting Point Guard Lonzo Ball was healthy, and after he went down the Bulls failed to get back momentum.

Now after a full season without Ball, the Bulls finished the 2022-2023 campaign two games under .500 and still have a dangerous trio of Zach LaVine (24.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game with an eFG% of 55.8), DeMar DeRozan (24.5 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 5.1 assists per game with an eFG% of 52.2) and Nikola Vucevic (17.6 points, 11 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game with an eFG% of 57.3). They also have one of the best defenses in basketball (defensive rating of 112.2, ranked 5th in the NBA) thanks to Alex Caruso, Patrick Williams, and Patrick Beverley. Despite being the weakest team in this year’s Postseason, the Bulls have two guys in LaVine and DeRozan that can be trusted to put the ball in the basket when the game is on the line and that could mean trouble for the Raptors, Hawks, and Heat.

19. Atlanta Hawks, Play-In Opponent Game 1: Heat

The Hawks are an offensive minded team that rides and dies on their Superstar Point Guard’s production and consistency. Trae Young (26.2 points and 10.2 assists per game with an eFG% of 48.5) led the league in total assists and is an offensive wizard with his innate ability to draw fouls and get players open. Young and big man Clint Capela (12 points, 11 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game with an eFG% of 65.3) have a lethal pick and roll game that will cause the Heat (and whoever else they play) havoc.

Dejounte Murray (20.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 6.1 assists per game with an eFG% of 51.4) has struggled to fit in this season, but the late season hire of Coach Quinn Snyder has resulted in a vastly improved offense (offensive rating now is at 116.6, 7th in the NBA) that once ranked in the bottom half of basketball. Everyone can exploit the Hawks’ defense (116.3 defensive rating, 22nd in the NBA) but if they can keep the game close, they can win any game if Young remains consistent with his shooting and playmaking.

18. Oklahoma City Thunder, Play-In Opponent Game 1: Pelicans

The Thunder are well ahead of schedule in their rebuild and should be able to secure a top 7 seed in the Western Conference as soon as next season. Shai Gilgeous- Alexander (31.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game with an eFG% of 53.1 and a PSA of 125.9, ranked in the 93rd percentile for Point Guards this season) is a Superstar and can win the Thunder any game against any opponent.

Rookie Jalen Williams (14.1 points and 1.4 steals per game with an eFG% of 56.7) and second-year guard Josh Giddey (16.6 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 6.2 assists per game with an eFG% of 51.6) continue to flourish as secondary options to SGA on offense, and Lu Dort (13.7 points and 1 steal per game with an eFG% of 46.6 ) is leading a much improved defensive group (defensive rating of 114.2, ranked 14th in the NBA). I don’t think they’ll get out of the Play-In Tournament, but you never know.

17. Toronto Raptors, Play-In Opponent Game 1: Bulls

The Raptors force the most turnovers of any team in the NBA, and also turn the ball over the least of any team in the NBA on offense. So why do they only have a .500 record? Well, despite having the 12th ranked defense (defensive rating of 114) and 11th ranked offense (offensive rating of 115.5) in the NBA, the Raptors opponents have a 56.9 eFG% against them, the second worst mark in basketball.

Nonetheless, they have some championship experience with Pascal Siakam (24.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 5.8 assists per game with an eFG% of 51.5) and Fred VanVleet (19.3 points and 7.2 assists per game with an eFG% of 48.6), and as long as Scottie Barnes (15.3 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game with an eFG% of 48.7) can be consistent on both ends of the floor in the Play-In Tournament, the Raptors should be able to defeat both the Bulls and the Hawks to secure the 8th seed and face the Bucks in the first round.

16. Brooklyn Nets, First Round opponent: 76ers

It almost is impossible to end up big winners in a trade where you are sending Kevin Durant to another team, but the Nets have benefited immensely from both Mikal Bridges (26.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 1 steal per game with an eFG% of 54.3 since joining the team) and Cam Johnson (16.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.4 steals per game with an eFG% of 56.5 since joining the team) on both ends of the floor.

Bridges went from the best role player in basketball to a budding Star-Superstar in a matter of seconds after he was dealt to the Nets as he became the team’s #1 option and is now the cornerstone player in their franchise. The Nets’ calling card is their defense (defensive rating of 114.1, ranked 13th in the NBA) with a starting five of Bridges, Johnson, Spencer Dinwiddie (17.3 points and 6.5 assists per game with an eFG% of 52.4), Royce O’Neal (8.8 points and 5.1 rebounds per game with an eFG% of 52.4) and Nic Claxton (12.6 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game with an eFG% of 70.5), two of which are top 10 NBA defenders. As much progress the Nets have made over the last month, they will likely be no match for the 76ers as Joel Embiid, James Harden, and company should win this series relatively handily.

15. Minnesota Timberwolves, Play-In Opponent Game 1: Lakers

After Sunday’s incident where Rudy Gobert (13.4 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game with an eFG% of 65.9) punched teammate Kyle Anderson (9.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game with an eFG% of 55.3) which resulted in a game suspension) this team seems to be in disarray, though it didn’t look like it when they stormed back and defeated the Pelicans despite the tension. Jaden McDaniels also fractured his hand following punching a wall on his way to the locker room, an injury that will keep him out all postseason. Gobert and McDaniels are the team’s two best defenders and neither of them will be available against the Lakers Tuesday night.

Nonetheless, the Timberwolves still have a great defense (defensive rating of 113.8, ranked 10th in the NBA) and two Stars in Karl Anthony-Towns (20.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game with an eFG% of 56.5) and Anthony Edwards (24.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game with an eFG% of 52.8) that should be able to wreak havoc on the Lakers. Add in solid role players Mike Conley (11.9 points and 6.7 assists per game with an eFG% of 53.9), Taurean Prince (9.1 points per game with a 3PT% of 38.1 and an eFG% of 56.5), Jaylen Nowell (10.8 points per game with an eFG% of 50.2), and Anderson, and the Wolves should be able to hold their ground vs. the Lakers and surprise some people throughout this Postseason.

14. New Orleans Pelicans, Play-In Opponent Game 1: Thunder

Brandon Ingram (27.5 points, 7.9 assists, and 6.4 rebounds per game with an eFG% of 54.1 over his last 15 games) has been a top 10 player in the NBA over the last month and has the Pelicans in a good position entering the Play-In Tournament. Sure, they lost a close game to the Timberwolves on the road that cost them the 8 seed entering the Play-In Tournament, but they can still get there.

A dream scenario for the Pels would be to defeat the Thunder and have the Lakers beat the Timberwolves, giving them a rematch of Sunday’s down to the wire game. The Pels would again be on the road, but I think they will get it done the second time around and secure the 8 seed. Other than Ingram, Herb Jones (9.8 points and 1.6 steals per game with an eFG% of 52.5) is playing elite defense and even had 35 points in a meaningful game against the Grizzlies last Wednesday and Trey Murphy III (14.5 points per game with a 3PT% of 40.6 and an eFG% of 61) has flourished as a 3 and D Star. Even without Zion Williamson, the Pelicans were able to have the 6th ranked defense (defensive rating of 112.5) in basketball and they have enough firepower to compete in a seven-game series without their prized big man.

13. Los Angeles Lakers, Play In Opponent Game 1: Timberwolves

The Lakers stared off 2-10 and found a way to get to 43 wins and secure the top spot in the Western Conference Play-In Tournament. Though most of those struggles were with a completely different roster, the Lakers still lack effort on some nights, which included the final four games of the season. After an impressive win against the Timberwolves in Minnesota, a game where Anthony Davis (25.9 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 2 blocks per game with an eFG% of 57.3) had 38 points and 17 rebounds, the Lakers have looked lost since and Davis hasn’t been the same. They barley beat the Jazz’s bench before getting completely outplayed by a Paul George-less Clippers on the second half of last week’s back-to-back. Then, the Lakers faced the Suns and Jazz’s bench again and barley won both of those games.

The Lakers need to lock in and it starts with Davis asserting himself inside and touching the ball almost every possession. He needs to be the life force that the rest of the team feeds off of. Austin Reaves (18.1 points and 5.6 assists per game with an eFG% of 64.1 over his last 20 games) will also need to play Point Guard and have the ball in his hands more. Reaves makes all of the right decisions with the ball in his hands and is excellent at drawing fouls.

The Lakers will only get in trouble if Reaves and Davis don’t touch the ball enough and if LeBron James (28.9 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 6.8 assists per game with an eFG% of 54.9 ) holds the ball for too long on offense before forcing a wild jumper. James needs to play more off ball and when he does have the ball in his hands, do what he does best, which is getting to the rim with ease. The Lakers have had the best defense in basketball since the trade deadline and have enough talent to go all the way. However, they will need to want it more than the opposing team and that starts with Davis asserting his dominance on offense and the Lakers locking down on the defensive side of the ball.

12. Miami Heat, Play-In Opponent Game 1: Hawks

The Heat have the easiest game of any “Play-In” team as the Hawks were barley able to piece together wins at the end of the year and hobbled into this game with continued inconsistencies from Stars Trae Young and Dejounte Murray. Jimmy Butler (22.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 5.3 assists per game with an eFG% of 56 and a PSA of 131.7, ranked in the 97th percentile for Forwards this season) is a top 5 player in the NBA when it gets to the Postseason and that shouldn’t change.

Butler will dominate and secure the Heat the 7th seed, but defeating the juggernaut #2 seed Celtics in a seven-game series is going to be very difficult considering the Heat’s abysmal offensive rating of 113 (ranked 25th in the NBA this season). In fact, the Heat are the first team in NBA history to rank in the bottom 6 of offensive rating with three 20+ point per game scorers (Butler, Tyler Herro, and Bam Adebayo). However, their defense is still elite (defensive rating of 113.3, ranked 9th in the NBA) and as long as they continue to play defense at a high level, they’ll be in every game against the Celtics, especially with a much more experienced coach in Erik Spoelstra.

11. New York Knicks, First Round Opponent: Cavaliers

I am not as high on the Knicks as others are. Sure, both Jalen Brunson (24 points and 6.2 assists per game with an eFG% of 54.7 and a PSA of 120.7, ranked in the 80th percentile for Point Guards this season) and Julius Randle (25.1 points, 10 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game with an eFG% of 53.6) have had excellent years and the emergence of both Immanuel Quickley (14.9 points per game with an eFG% of 53.7) and Quentin Grimes (11.3 points per game with an eFG% of 59.9) has given the Knicks a ton of scoring options.

However, other than Josh Hart (who is just 6-5) the Knicks have 0 wing defenders and won’t be able to guard Donovan Mitchell or Darius Garland. Mitchell Robinson and Isaiah Hartenstein will do a great job at limiting Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen on the offensive end, but it probably won’t make a big difference. The Knicks have a defensive rating of 119.8 (ranked 19th in the NBA) and they are going up against the best defense in basketball. Despite a stellar year that resulted in 47 wins and the third-best offensive rating in basketball (offensive rating of 117.8), the Knicks likely won’t have what it takes to get past round 1.

10. Los Angeles Clippers, First Round Opponent: Suns

Don’t sleep on the Clippers to upset the Suns in the first round as it certainly is very possible with the team’s makeup. Kawhi Leonard (23.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game with an eFG% of 57.2 and a PSA of 125.5, ranked in the 89th percentile for Forwards this season) is one of the best active postseason players and should take his game to another level against the Suns, Ivica Zubac (10.8 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game with an eFG% of 63.4) has been excellent on both ends of the floor this season and will most definitely give Deandre Ayton problems on both ends of the floor, Norman Powell, (17 points per game with an eFG% of 55.9) is a pure scorer than can take offensive pressure of off Leonard, and Russell Westbrook (15.9 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 7.5 assists per game with an eFG% of 48.1) has been scoring efficiently and making better decisions as of late.

In fact, Westbrook will be the key factor in deciding this series, as he’s averaged 18.8 points, 7.4 assists, and just 2.9 turnovers per game with a 3PT% of 42.5 over his last 10 games. If Russ can continue to flourish and actually be a scoring threat from outside of the key, then this Clippers team will be tough to put away. However, it is important to note that this team coasts at times, most recently evident in the team’s back-to-back close games vs. two teams that were playing their bench and many G-League players. Nonetheless, It would not shock me if this team defeats the Suns even without Paul George (23.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 5.1 assists per game with an eFG% of 53.6).

9. Philadelphia 76ers, First Round Opponent: Nets

Joel Embiid (33.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game with an eFG% of 57.3, a PER of 31.4, and a PSA of 131.7, ranked in the 81st percentile for Bigs this season) will win his first MVP award and he most definitely deserves it. He better enjoy that hardware because that likely will be the only hardware he receives this season.

On paper, the 76ers are a great team, boasting an offensive rating of 117.7 (ranked 4th), a defensive rating of 113.3 (ranked 8th), and a NET Rating of 4.4 (ranked 3rd in the NBA). James Harden (21 points and 10.7 assists per game with an eFG% of 53.6) and Tyrese Maxey (20.3 points per game with an eFG% of 56.8) have been great complimentary pieces to Embiid, but we all know what happens to Harden and Doc Rivers in the playoffs. It doesn’t matter how good this team is, they will choke at some point just like past Doc Rivers and James Harden teams have.

Embiid could average 37 points per game in the playoffs but they’ll still find a way to lose. Outside of Tobias Harris and De’Anthony Melton, the 76ers lack depth tremendously as PJ Tucker looks like a fragment of himself, and the rest of the bench can’t really provide much offense. I predict that Embiid will carry this team past the first round, yet again, and he will arguably have the best postseason series of his career against the Celtics in the second-round, but Harden will disappear in big moments and not enough of the other players will step up, resulting in a stagnant offense. Another second-round exit is likely in the mix for the 76ers.

8. Denver Nuggets, First Round Opponent: TBD

The Nuggets have been the most inconsistent #1 seed in recent memory. At points, their dominant offense (offensive rating of 117.6, ranked 5th in the NBA, team eFG% of 57.3, 1st in NBA) looks unbeatable, and at other points, they lose to the Rockets and Spurs at full strength. Nikola Jokic (24.5 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 9.8 assists per game with an eFG% of 66, a PER of 31.5, and a PSA of 141.8, ranked in the 94th percentile for Bigs this season) may not win the MVP this season, but he’s focused on bigger goals…trying to secure the Nuggets their first NBA title in franchise history.

Michael Porter Jr. (17.4 points per game with a 3PT% of 41.4 and an eFG% of 60.2) has been one of the best 3PT shooters in basketball this season, and everyone knows that Jamaal Murray (20 points and 6.2 assists per game with an eFG% of 53.7) will step up his game in the Playoffs. Bruce Brown Jr., Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Aaron Gordon are fantastic complimentary pieces alongside Jokic, Porter Jr., and Murray, but after that the bench is full of younger players with no playoff experience. Third-year big, Zeke Nnaji is the team’s backup center, and Rookies Christian Braun and Peyton Watson may be relied upon to contribute this postseason. I am not saying they are unable to do so, but Coach Mike Malone and the Nuggets may have to only go 7-8 deep in the playoffs, which could become a problem the further they advance.

7. Sacramento Kings, First Round Opponent: Warriors

The Kings have the 3 seed and will be playing the defending champs in the first round, a very tall task for a young team with no playoff experience. However, it is entirely possible the Kings continue to shock everyone and pull off the upset against the Warriors. They have a historic offense (offensive rating of 119.4, highest mark in NBA history) and two of the best offensive players in basketball this season in De’Aaron Fox (25 points and 6.1 assists per game with an eFG% of 55.7) and Domantas Sabonis (19.1 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 7.3 assists per game with an eFG% of 63.2 and a PSA of 133.2, ranked in the 84th percentile for Bigs this season).

Fox is also the best player in the clutch, and the “Light the Beam” chants and the crowd at Golden 1 Area will be electric. Add in the fact that the Warriors have a road record of 11-30 and the Kings have home court advantage over them, don’t be surprised if the Kings find a way to win this series despite an underwhelming defensive rating of 116.8 (ranked 25th in the NBA).

6. Memphis Grizzlies, First Round Opponent: TBD

The Grizzlies may not have starting Center Steven Adams (8.6 points and 11.5 rebounds per game with an eFG% of 59.7) for the Playoffs, but they have been just fine without him recently. Ja Morant (26.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 8.1 assists per game with an eFG% of 50.4) and Desmond Bane (21.5 points, 5 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game with an eFG% of 56.8) are one of the best backcourt duos in basketball and Jaren Jackson Jr. (18.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 3 blocks per game with an eFG% of 56.7) could win his first DPOY award.

However, it has been the team’s depth that has them poised for a playoff run, as Luke Kennard has shot the lights out recently, averaging 15.7 points on 57.5% shooting from 3PT range over his last 10 games, Kenneth Lofton Jr. is coming off of a 42 point performance in his first NBA start, and Santi Aldama, Xavier Tillman, and David Roddy have been excellent complimentary pieces in the rotation. The Grizzlies also boast the second-best defense in the NBA (defensive rating of 111.2) and they will be ready to play whoever wins the Lakers vs. Timberwolves game.

5. Golden State Warriors, First Round Opponent: Kings

The Warriors are peaking at the right time, as they enter the playoffs having won 8 out of their last 10 games. Stephen Curry (29.1 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 6.3 assists per game with an eFG% of 61.4 with a PSA of 133.6, the top mark in the NBA for Point Guards this season) and Klay Thompson (21.9 points per game with a 3PT% of 41.2 and an eFG% of 55.6) look as good as ever, and now with Andrew Wiggins (17.1 points, 5 rebounds, and 1.2 steals per game with an eFG% of 55.7) set to return for the Playoffs, the Dubs are in an excellent position to get back to the NBA Finals.

It certainly won’t be easy considering this year’s team only boasts a defensive rating of 114.4 (ranked 17th in the NBA) when last year’s title team had the second-best defense in the NBA. Sure, not having Wiggins for much of the second half of the season hurt the defense tremendously, and getting Gary Payton II back at the trade deadline will help the defense in the playoffs, but not having an extra wing defender like Otto Porter Jr. off of the bench this postseason will only make it harder on the Warriors.

Can Jonathan Kuminga step into Porter Jr.s role from last year? Is he ready for that big moment, especially on the defensive end of the floor? It remains to be seen, but in a wide-open Western Conference, the Dubs have as good of a shot as anyone. Their journey starts off against a motivated Bay-Area rival in the Kings, who are trying to prove that their special season is more than just getting to the playoffs. They want to win just like the Warriors.

4. Phoenix Suns, First Round Opponent: Clippers

The Suns have won every game Kevin Durant (29.1 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 5 assists per game with an eFG% of 61.4) has started for them, and they enter the Playoffs on a hot streak, winning their last seven games that Durant and Devin Booker (27.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game with an eFG% of 54.6) have played in.

The Suns also have one of the best defenses in basketball (defensive rating of 113, ranked 7th in the NBA) to go along with arguably the best core in the NBA in Durant, Booker, Chris Paul (13.9 points and 8.9 assists per game with an eFG% of 51.3) and Deandre Ayton (18 points and 10 rebounds per game with an eFG% of 59.2).

However, after that great core the Suns don’t have much else, lacking depth and talent immensely, which could get them into serious trouble as soon as round 1 vs. the Clippers. In fact, the Suns may have the worst bench of any “title contender” in the history of the NBA as Josh Okogie, Landry Shamet, and Torrey Craig are the main pieces off of the bench for them.

On the other hand, the Clippers have arguably the best bench in the NBA though they certainly can’t match the Suns stardom in Paul George’s absence. Nonetheless, the Suns are the favorite to come out of the Western Conference, but they have serious flaws that many teams can expose. They will have to rely on their sheer talent to get them to the Finals, which is certainly possible.

3. Cleveland Cavaliers, First Round Opponent: Knicks

Cavaliers at 3?! They aren’t even a top 3 team in their conference based on record! Team records don’t matter as much as championship formulas do in the playoffs, and the Cavaliers certainly have a championship formula that should coin them the “Dark Horse” of the NBA Playoffs.

With the NBA’s best defense (defensive rating of 110.1), led by Evan Mobley (16.2 points, 9 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game with an eFG% of 56.6) and Jarrett Allen (14.3 points, 9.8 rebounds, and an eFG% of 64.5), a Star point guard who can take over games with his scoring and playmaking in Darius Garland (21.6 points and 7.8 assists per game with an eFG% of 53.6), and a budding Superstar who takes his game to another level in the playoffs in Donovan Mitchell (28.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game with an eFG% of 57.2), the Cavaliers are the team I can see upsetting the Bucks in the second round. The Knicks have had a great year, but they should be no match for the Cavs, who should beat them in 5. Don’t be shocked if the Cavaliers go all the way to the NBA Finals.

2. Boston Celtics, First Round Opponent: TBD

Jayson Tatum (30.1 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 4.6 assists per game with an eFG% of 54.3 and a PSA of 122.9, ranked in the 81st percentile for Forwards this season) played 74 games and accumulated 2,225 points (1st in the NBA) this season. Though he was inconsistent at times, the Celtics didn’t falter much as Jaylen Brown (26.6 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game with an eFG% of 55), Malcolm Brogdon (14.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game with an eFG% of 57.4), and Derrick White (12.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game with an eFG% of 56) took over scoring duties when needed to.

The Celtics have the most balanced advanced metrics in the NBA with an offensive rating of 118 (ranked 2nd), a defensive rating of 111.5 (ranked 3rd), a NET Rating of 6.5 (ranked 1st), and a team eFG% of 56.6 (ranked 4th in the NBA), but I just can’t put them ahead of Milwaukee. Something just doesn’t feel right, and it starts with Robert Williams III (8 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game with an eFG% of 74.7), Al Horford (9.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 3 assists per game with an eFG% of 62.7), and Marcus Smart (11.5 points, 6.3 assists, and 1.5 steals per game with an eFG% of 51.1), who all seem to have taken a step back on both ends of the floor this season.

Those three guys were catalysts on last year’s Eastern Conference Champions team and maybe they’ll flip a switch in the playoffs, but I would be a little concerned if I was “Celticsnation”, especially going up against a hard-nosed and well coached Heat team most likely in the first round. The Celtics should still win that series, but it could be difficult. They should also be able to defeat the 76ers, who have found a way to come up short in every recent postseason. Nonetheless, it would not shock me if everything comes together in the playoffs and the Celtics end up winning the whole thing.

1. Milwaukee Bucks, First Round Opponent: TBD

The Bucks are the best team in the NBA. Every important player on their team has playoff experience, they have the best player in the NBA in Giannis Antetokounmpo (31.1 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 5.7 assists per game with an eFG% of 57.2), and they boast the 4th-best defense in the NBA (defensive rating of 111.9). Brook Lopez (15.9 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game with an eFG% of 60.6) is having a career year and could win the DPOY award, Jrue Holiday (19.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 7.4 assists per game with an eFG% of 55.6) is a menace on the defensive end and had a 51 point- almost triple-double a few weeks ago, and Bobby Portis (14.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game with an eFG% of 55.5) could win the 6MOY award.

I wouldn’t put much stock into their embarrassing 41 point loss at home to the Celtics a few weeks ago, considering the Bucks were coming off of a back-to-back and the Celtics wanted to prove they are still contenders (which they absolutely did by the way).

The only thing that scares me about the Bucks is that their offense can become stagnant at times, making them solely reliant on their defense and the dominance of Antetokoumpo to win games. That could go sideways in the playoffs, and role players such as Joe Ingles, Jae Crowder, Jevon Carter, and Grayson Allen all need to step up and make sure that the offense doesn’t get out of rhythm once the second unit comes into the game. Nonetheless, the Bucks are the easy favorite to win the NBA championship, but the Eastern Conference is a gauntlet and won’t be easy to come out of by any means.

Note: Advanced Statistics used in this article are gathered from and and are updated as of Monday, April 10th 2023

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