NBA Power Rankings: Training camp edition

With media days in full swing across the league, we're only three weeks away from regular-season NBA basketball. And with plenty of new faces in new places, who are the best and worst teams heading into camp?

Our panel -- a group of more than 40 reporters, insiders and editors -- is looking ahead to the 2018-19 season with a new edition of NBA Power Rankings.

Note: These rankings take into account additional potential player movement. Voters were asked to pick the better team heading into next season in a series of head-to-head matchups featuring thousands of votes.

1. Golden State Warriors
2017-18 record: 58-24
Result: W, NBA Finals
Previous rank: No. 1

Let the DeMarcus Cousins Bay watch officially begin. As the Warriors go for a three-peat, the league braces for when Cousins gets healthy -- the champs are expected to bring him along slowly -- and forms the Warriors' "five All-Star" lineup. How will Cousins fit in with the champs, and will he be his old Boogie-self when he returns? Envisioning Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson having Cousins as yet another offensive weapon to throw to is terrifying for the rest of the league. Helping Boogie win a championship might just be the cure-all for any boredom that could sidetrack this juggernaut. -- Ohm Youngmisuk

2. Boston Celtics
2017-18 record: 55-27
Result: L, East finals
Previous rank: No. 2

The big training camp task for Brad Stevens and his coaching staff? Starting to sort out what the Celtics' regular-season rotation will look like. In doing so, Stevens will have to decide which Celtics players will take on a reduced role this season. Remember: With Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward sidelined last spring, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier and other young Celtics played significant roles in Boston's run to the Eastern Conference finals. Hayward and Irving are healthy now, so it seems logical that Brown, Rozier and Marcus Smart may have to accept diminished roles in 2018-19. -- Ian Begley

3. Houston Rockets
2017-18 record: 65-17
Result: L, West finals
Previous rank: No. 3

How drastic will the Rockets' defensive regression be? Houston vaulted up the defensive efficiency rankings last season, soaring from 18th in 2016-17 to sixth, a major factor in the Rockets' running away with the league's best record. Three key components in the switch-intensive scheme that keyed the Rockets' improvement on that end are now gone after the free-agency departures of Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute and the recent retirement of defensive guru and associate head coach Jeff Bzdelik. James Ennis fits the scheme well and could be a bargain as a minimum-salary signing. Carmelo Anthony, on the other hand, was last seen being played off the floor in the postseason as the Jazz put a target on him and attacked. How will Houston's defense hold up when teams hunt Anthony on switches? -- Tim MacMahon

4. Toronto Raptors
2017-18 record: 59-23
Result: L, East semis
Previous rank: No. 5

The first order of business for Kawhi Leonard in training camp will be to explain publicly, for the first time, what exactly happened last season in San Antonio and why he demanded a trade from the Spurs. Once we move past that, the Raptors -- and the rest of the NBA -- will get a chance to see Leonard back in a competitive setting for the first time since mid-January. Leonard's health, and whether he can return to playing at the level we're accustomed to seeing, will be one of the biggest storylines during new coach Nick Nurse's first training camp. -- Begley

5. Oklahoma City Thunder
2017-18 record: 48-34
Result: L, West Round 1
Previous rank: No. 6

For the first time in a few years, the season looked pretty straightforward for OKC. There is continuity, there aren't wandering questions about superstar departures and there's a team with a clear-cut identity and style. And then Russell Westbrook went and had knee surgery a week and a half before training camp. The half-full outlook is this provides the Thunder a long look at how to play without Westbrook -- a constant issue -- with new acquisition Dennis Schroder getting plenty of time. The half-empty is Westbrook has to enter the season rusty, catching up on the fly while everyone evaluates his athleticism and well-being. But hey, it wouldn't be a Thunder season without a little drama, now would it? -- Royce Young

6. Utah Jazz
2017-18 record: 48-34
Result: L, West semis
Previous rank: No. 7

The Jazz are feeling pretty universally trendy, which can often get a little scary in the preseason. Their system is structured; their depth is sound. Their question resides, simply, in the development of Donovan Mitchell. Does he make the leap to an All-Star-level player, and if so, how does that affect everything else in between? Can the Jazz remain the Jazz if Mitchell blasts into the upper crust of the NBA? With coach Quin Snyder, Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert and a stable core of veterans and role players, along with Mitchell's accommodating personality, a leap for their young star is the next leap for the Jazz, too. -- Young

7. Philadelphia 76ers
2017-18 record: 52-30
Result: L, East semis
Previous rank: No. 4

What, exactly, can the Sixers expect from Markelle Fultz after his enigmatic rookie season? The answer to that question will start to reveal itself during training camp. Fultz, the No. 1 pick in 2017, missed 68 games last season with a mysterious shoulder injury. He played well in the final 10 games of the regular season and was out of the rotation for much of the Sixers' 2018 postseason run. Fultz's role will increase this season, but what that role becomes -- and how it impacts other players in Philadelphia's rotation -- will be something to keep an eye on as Brett Brown and his staff get an extended look at Fultz's reworked jump shot during training camp. -- Begley

8. Indiana Pacers
2017-18 record: 48-34
Result: L, East Round 1
Previous rank: No. 11

Just how good can Victor Oladipo be? The first-time All-Star was one of the breakout performers of last season's playoffs while carrying the Pacers to Game 7 against LeBron James and the Cavaliers. If Oladipo can continue to develop alongside young players like Myles Turner, Indiana will no longer be one of the league's biggest surprises. It will simply be one of the best teams in the East. -- Nick Friedell

9. Los Angeles Lakers
2017-18 record: 35-47
Result: Missed playoffs
Previous rank: No. 9

All eyes will be on Luke Walton and how the Lakers coach will make all the new pieces fit. How will Walton utilize so many ballhandlers like LeBron James, Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram? What will Walton's rotation be? Who will finish games alongside James? Walton's strength of relating to players and his championship pedigree will be put to the test as he handles egos and unique personalities in the locker room. Winning over James and Rondo in camp and having everyone else fall in line behind the two basketball brainiacs will be Walton's biggest priority. -- Youngmisuk

10. Portland Trail Blazers
2017-18 record: 49-33
Result: L, West Round 1
Previous rank: No. 10

It feels like something is simmering in Portland, with the stink of a first-round sweep wafting off the team like the stench of a back-alley garbage can. What was a raucously successful regular season was wiped away by the playoffs, and the Blazers went from up-and-coming and in need of a tweak here or there, to questions and concerns all over. It would likely start with coach Terry Stotts, but possibly extend even to the highest level of Damian Lillard's or CJ McCollum's future with the franchise. If the Blazers come out of the blocks slow, things could get tense in Portland. -- Young

11. Milwaukee Bucks
2017-18 record: 44-38
Result: L, East Round 1
Previous rank: No. 16

How much of a difference will new coach Mike Budenholzer make? Giannis Antetokounmpo is one of the very best players in the league and is expected to contend for the MVP award. Khris Middleton remains one of the most underrated veterans in the NBA and should have another solid season. Budenholzer is expected to get the Bucks playing at a higher tempo as they open Fiserv Forum, and his biggest challenge will be getting the rest of a young roster to develop after underachieving last season under former coaches Jason Kidd and Joe Prunty. -- Nick Friedell

12. Denver Nuggets
2017-18 record: 46-36
Result: Missed playoffs
Previous rank: No. 8

The Nuggets appear to be on the cusp of a moderate breakthrough, with young talent set to blossom around a star who's ready to explode. But while center Nikola Jokic is the unquestioned focal point of the roster, aligning Paul Millsap will be a task for coach Mike Malone throughout the season. The Nuggets have high-class talent and potential, but it's about making the pieces fit and maximizing skill sets. -- Young

13. New Orleans Pelicans
2017-18 record: 48-34
Result: L, West semis
Previous rank: No. 12

Can Elfrid Payton keep the Pelicans running as Rajon Rondo's replacement? With Rondo at the wheel, the Pelicans played at the league's fastest pace last season, speeding up even more after losing DeMarcus Cousins to injury and trading for Nikola Mirotic. The style was successful, as the Pelicans raced past the Trail Blazers in the first round with Rondo racking up 13.3 assists per game in the sweep. Rondo, and all his basketball knowledge, is gone, having signed with the Lakers in free agency, and the Pelicans will try to replace him with a reclamation project in Payton, a 24-year-old whose recent rebuilding teams (Magic and Suns) decided he wasn't worth keeping. Jrue Holiday will probably play more point guard than a season ago, but the Pelicans will need Payton to be productive to have realistic hopes of winning another playoff series. -- MacMahon

  • Key additions: Elfrid Payton, Tony Carr, Julius Randle and Jahlil Okafor

  • Key subtractions: DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo

14. Washington Wizards
2017-18 record: 43-39
Result: L, East Round 1
Previous rank: No. 14

If not this season for Washington, then when? Remember that a year or two ago, many of us thought the Wizards might realistically be able to contend with the best teams in the Eastern Conference? Nonetheless, this is where Washington is now, with three max players and without a clear path to being one of the three best teams in the weaker of the two conferences. Obviously, John Wall being healthy enough to play more than half the season will help immensely. But even if that's the case, it remains to be seen whether this summer of shakeups -- to bring in Dwight Howard, who's now been on four teams in four years, and Austin Rivers -- will calm the waters, or help fuel a storm of infighting when things don't go right. -- Chris Herring

15. San Antonio Spurs
2017-18 record: 47-35
Result: L, West Round 1
Previous rank: No. 13

How will LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan coexist offensively? With DeRozan arriving from the Raptors in the Kawhi Leonard deal, the Spurs feature co-stars who are kind of dinosaurs in today's NBA: scorers who get a bulk of their buckets on midrange jumpers. DeRozan shot more 3s than ever before last season, but he still ranked third in the NBA with 504 midrange attempts, according to NBA.com stats. Aldridge (553) was first. San Antonio's two leading scorers relying so much on the midrange game -- and playing with a point guard in Dejounte Murray who is an unproven 3-point shooter -- could present spacing problems for Gregg Popovich. The effectiveness of the solutions could determine if the Spurs extend their 21-year postseason streak. -- MacMahon

16. Minnesota Timberwolves
2017-18 record: 47-35
Result: L, West Round 1
Previous rank: No. 15

Quite simply: Jimmy Butler, question mark, question mark, question mark. Tensions have come to a head with Butler and the Wolves, with him requesting a trade. Training camp is set to open with Butler still on the team, but owner Glen Taylor reportedly wants a deal done quickly. The Wolves don't have to trade him, though historically, teams accommodate these kind of requests. The main question is not if, but when. How soon do the Wolves make a deal and begin the process of rewinding the clock and building the core around Karl-Anthony Towns, who was just locked up to a mega-extension, and Andrew Wiggins? -- Young

17. Detroit Pistons
2017-18 record: 39-43
Result: Missed playoffs
Previous rank: No. 22

Can Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond lead the Pistons to the playoffs? Griffin was supposed to be the Pistons' savior last season after being acquired from the LA Clippers, but without point guard Reggie Jackson for a large chunk of the season Detroit never found the rhythm it needed to get back to the postseason. New coach Dwane Casey must find a way to make Griffin and Drummond cohesive enough to get the Pistons back on a winning track. -- Friedell

18. Miami Heat
2017-18 record: 44-38
Result: L, East Round 1
Previous rank: No. 20

How will Miami break through its ceiling of mediocrity with the exact same group? Essentially the polar opposite of Atlanta, the Heat opted to run nearly their entire team back from last season -- either a sign that they're confident this group can get it done, a realization that not much can be done to alter the roster, or perhaps a little bit of both. Whatever the reason may be, we know one thing with this group: Miami's defense will be very good, and its offense will be merely average or below. If those things hold to form, the Heat will need someone to step up more than usual -- or a Jimmy Butler trade -- to make real noise in the postseason this time around. -- Herring

  • Key additions: None

  • Key subtractions: None

19. LA Clippers
2017-18 record: 42-40
Result: Missed playoffs
Previous rank: No. 17

While the Lakers and LeBron are dominating Los Angeles, the Clippers are playing the long game, plotting how to steal some of the headlines and get back into contention in the West. Can the Clippers find a way to land Jimmy Butler, who included the Clippers on the short list of teams to which he prefers to be traded? And can they lure Kawhi Leonard to join them as a free agent next summer, when the other LA team will have two max contract slots to attract stars? -- Youngmisuk

20. Dallas Mavericks
2017-18 record: 24-58
Result: Missed playoffs
Previous rank: No. 19

How good is Euro sensation Luka Doncic? The Mavs believe Doncic was "by far the best player in the draft," according to Mark Cuban, and essentially deemed him worthy of a pair of lottery picks when they traded up two spots to select him No. 3. The hope was that Doncic, the youngest Euroleague MVP ever last season, would spend the summer improving his physique and quickness, which are considered his biggest obstacles to potential NBA stardom. That didn't happen -- sources say Doncic was a little overweight when he returned to Dallas in early September for the first time in almost two months -- but the point forward has still earned rave reviews from those who have seen him dominate pickup games with his special vision and above-average shooting. There is optimism that Doncic can be the Mavs' next superstar and enhance the games of Harrison Barnes and Dennis Smith Jr., the franchise's other young foundation pieces. -- MacMahon

21. Memphis Grizzlies
2017-18 record: 22-60
Result: Missed playoffs
Previous rank: No. 18

How will rookie Jaren Jackson Jr. fit next to Memphis mainstay Marc Gasol? Jackson appears to have all the tools to be a prototype big man for the next generation. He's a rim protector who has quick enough feet to hold his own on switches, a 6-foot-11, 242-pounder with the size and athleticism to be a dominant finisher and the range to stretch defenses. But he will probably begin his career as Memphis' starting power forward alongside Gasol as the Grizzlies go big in a league trending the other way. The Grizzlies hope the return of a healthy Mike Conley and an upgraded supporting cast will put them in position to contend for a playoff spot after bottoming out last season, but they need Jackson and Gasol to click as a combo. -- MacMahon

22. Charlotte Hornets
2017-18 record: 36-46
Result: Missed playoffs
Previous rank: No. 21

Will Kemba Walker still be on the team at the trade deadline? The glass-half-full outlook with the Hornets would likely have them staying healthy, benefiting from finally filling their backup guard spot (Tony Parker) and sneaking into the playoffs. But even the rosiest projection doesn't solve their looming problem: Barring a massive jump from their recent draft picks, there doesn't appear to be a ton of upside for this squad in the coming years. With that in mind, and with Walker heading into a contract year, how will Charlotte go about handling him? He could be a valuable piece to several teams at or before the deadline, and the Hornets would be foolish to not at least consider their potential return for him -- especially if they look destined to miss the playoffs again. -- Herring

23. Brooklyn Nets
2017-18 record: 28-54
Result: Missed playoffs
Previous rank: No. 28

Brooklyn has two first-round picks in the 2019 draft and owns its own first-rounder for the first time since 2013. The club may also have enough cap space for two max free agents in the summer of 2019. So yes, the Nets will have the chance to add significant talent in the 2019 offseason. Which leads us to the big question heading into training camp: Will the Nets need to upgrade the backcourt next summer? The answer to that question is largely up to D'Angelo Russell -- and it will start to reveal itself during camp. The 2015 No. 2 overall pick missed 34 games due to injury last season and will be a restricted free agent this summer, so Russell has a season to show Brooklyn that it should invest in his future. That process starts next week, when Russell will have a chance to show coaches he -- and not a future free agent or draft pick -- is one of the best guards to lead Brooklyn in its rebuild. -- Begley

24. Chicago Bulls
2017-18 record: 27-55
Result: Missed playoffs
Previous rank: No. 25

How hot is Fred Hoiberg's seat? There is a lot of pressure on the fourth-year coach to turn this young group into a winning product this season. If the Bulls don't show signs of improvement Hoiberg could be on the way out after an up-and-down tenure. Even in Year 2 of a rebuild, the Bulls are hopeful that they can improve in a depleted East. If they don't, Hoiberg will likely be the odd man out. -- Friedell

25. Cleveland Cavaliers
2017-18 record: 50-32
Result: L, NBA Finals
Previous rank: No. 23

How will Love adjust to being the No. 1 option again? Well of course the key issue is how do the Cavaliers deal with the loss of LeBron -- but the more pressing question for this group is how Love will handle being the main man again after years of riding shotgun alongside James and Kyrie Irving. He could end up getting some help via a potential Jimmy Butler deal, but if Love goes back to being the double-double machine he was as a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Cavs will have a chance to make the postseason. If he doesn't, many pundits will wonder why the rebuilding Cavs ever gave him such a huge extension in the first place. -- Friedell

  • Key additions: Collin Sexton and Channing Frye

  • Key subtractions: LeBron James, Jose Calderon and Jeff Green

26. New York Knicks
2017-18 record: 29-53
Result: Missed playoffs
Previous rank: No. 27

He'll have to earn it, but Knicks rookie Kevin Knox will be given every opportunity to win the club's starting small forward job in training camp. Knox impressed the Knicks -- and many opposing executives -- with a strong showing in summer league, and David Fizdale and his coaching staff will get their first extended look at Knox against NBA competition in training camp. If Knox can hold his own in camp and during the season, it will give the Knicks another young building block to market to free agents in the summer of 2019. -- Begley

27. Phoenix Suns
2017-18 record: 21-61
Result: Missed playoffs
Previous rank: No. 24

Did the Suns make the right choice in taking Deandre Ayton first overall and passing on Luka Doncic? The Suns may not know for a few years, but it certainly would help the rebuild to see early signs of stardom from the 7-foot-1 Ayton. After losing 61 games last season, the Suns and new coach Igor Kokoskov can use all the positive signs they can get, and perhaps Ayton will get more touches than originally planned with Devin Booker making his way back from hand surgery. -- Youngmisuk

28. Orlando Magic
2017-18 record: 25-57
Result: Missed playoffs
Previous rank: No. 26

Can Orlando begin laying out a true plan for its future? For the past few years, it hasn't been easy to make sense of what the Magic are building. There was the stretch, for instance, where Aaron Gordon was playing small forward as part of a massive lineup, even as the rest of the league was downsizing to play a much quicker, shooting-oriented game. Now, even as the club has wisely gone away from such lineups, Orlando is still a bit top-heavy as it relates to the number of rotation bigs on its roster. We know Gordon will continue to be the focal point, as evidenced by the nearly $22 million he'll make this coming season. But he also fills the same power forward role as last year's lottery pick, Jonathan Isaac. Similarly, Nikola Vucevic, who's very talented on offense but not so much on D, figures to continue soaking up playing time at center despite the fact that the Magic just drafted Mo Bamba at that spot. Perhaps Orlando is just stockpiling as much talent as it can, and then figuring out the other details later. But a more pessimistic view of the situation might suggest that there isn't enough rhyme or reason -- other than drafting immense length -- involved in what the club is building. -- Herring

  • Key additions: Mohamed Bamba, Melvin Frazier, Justin Jackson, Isaiah Briscoe, Timofey Mozgov and Jerian Grant

  • Key subtractions: Bismack Biyombo, Mario Hezonja and Shelvin Mack

29. Sacramento Kings
2017-18 record: 27-55
Result: Missed playoffs
Previous rank: No. 29

Is De'Aaron Fox ready to take a step forward and be the point guard the Kings hoped he would be when they took him fifth overall last year? After averaging 11.6 points, 4.4 assists and 1.0 steals, Fox needs to continue to display the promise Sacramento sees in the Kentucky product while also making the likes of second overall pick Marvin Bagley III, Buddy Hield, Willie Cauley-Stein and Bogdan Bogdanovic better. There's not a lot to be excited about this season in Sacramento, but Fox can change some of that. -- Youngmisuk

  • Key additions: Marvin Bagley III, Ben McLemore, Deyonta Davis, Nemanja Bjelica and Yogi Ferrell

  • Key subtraction: Garrett Temple

30. Atlanta Hawks
2017-18 record: 24-58
Result: Missed playoffs
Previous rank: No. 30

How will rookie Trae Young fare in Atlanta's five-out offense? The rebuilding club underwent a number of key changes this summer, hiring coach Lloyd Pierce and dealing point guard Dennis Schroder away to make more room for Young. Beyond that, GM Travis Schlenk appears to be trying to build this team much like the one in Golden State that he came from, with a ton of shooting and floor spacing. Seeing more growth from big man John Collins in Year 2 will be key, but above all else, the development of the new offense -- particularly with Young, who was widely seen as more of a risk than someone like Luka Doncic -- is paramount to the Hawks. They likely won't win much, but seeing positive signs out of their youngest players would provide some hope for the near future. -- Herring

  • Key additions: Trae Young, Kevin Huerter, Omari Spellman, Jeremy Lin, Justin Anderson and Alex Len

  • Key subtractions: Dennis Schroder and Mike Muscala