Ah, the start of a new NBA season. Everyone is undefeated. Expectations are limitless. Every player is set for a breakout campaign. For a brief moment between the preseason and Tuesday's start of the 2022-23 season, fans have the freedom to dream big. That will all come crashing down in a few months for some unfortunate fan bases, while others will likely have their wildest aspirations exceeded by a team that outperforms expectations.

Compared to the end of last season, this preseason edition of the Power Rankings presents some significant changes. Due to Kawhi Leonard returning from injury, the Los Angeles Clippers received a serious boost, as did the New Orleans Pelicans thanks to Zion Williamson being healthy to start the season. And of course, there are the Golden State Warriors, who jump to the top of the rankings by virtue of winning the NBA title and returning all of their core pieces.

The Minnesota Timberwolves and Atlanta Hawks jumped up a few spots after acquiring All-Stars through trades, while the Utah Jazz and San Antonio Spurs, who traded away those players, took a plunge after moving toward rebuilds.

The best part about preseason rankings is that everything will change in a few short weeks. Inevitably a team we expected to do well will struggle, and a team anticipated to be at the bottom of the standings will look great. With that, let's get into this preseason edition of the NBA Power Rankings for the 2022-23 season.

Biggest Movers
16 Clippers
15 Jazz
1 Warriors You win the title, you get the crown. The Warriors enter 2022-23 at No. 1 in the Power Rankings thanks to the return of their entire core, a few savvy signings and the potential emergence of some of their young prospects. Sure, the specter of Draymond Green's punch will linger around this team for a while, but winning tends to resolve such things, and the Warriors should do plenty of that to start the season. With Green, Steph Curry, Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole and a healthier Klay Thompson, the Warriors enter the season as the well-deserved team to beat. 5 46-36
2 Clippers Led by a healthy Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the Clippers have perhaps the deepest and most talented roster in the league to enter the season. Health is always a question mark with them, but Ty Lue has virtually unlimited lineup options to surround his high-end talent. From Norman Powell to John Wall to Luke Kennard to Terance Mann, the Clippers have about 12 players who could make a legitimate case for 20-plus minutes per game. How Lue manages the rotation will be one of the keys to success -- or failure -- for the Clips this year. 16 51-31
3 Celtics The Celtics were the odds-on favorite to win the title, but a coaching change for (at least) the upcoming season cast some doubt on the rosy outlook. They'll also be without Robert Williams, perhaps their most important defensive player, into December at the earliest after knee surgery, which drops them a bit in the preseason Power Rankings. That being said, the Celtics showed in the second half of last season and into the playoffs how dominant they can be, and Jayson Tatum is poised to take another step forward for a team that could claim the top seed in the East. -- 64-18
4 76ers The 76ers have become the sexy pick to win the East this season thanks to perennial MVP contender Joel Embiid, a potentially resurgent James Harden, a breakout candidate in Tyrese Maxey and a few well-fitting additions to the roster. On paper, this team should be stout on both ends of the floor, and the combination of Embiid and Harden was thoroughly dominant in a small sample size last season. We can talk about Harden and the playoffs later, but for now the Sixers should be able to rack up a ton of wins in the regular season. 4 47-35
5 Suns On one hand, the Suns suffered a horrific, embarrassing exit from last postseason, have fostered a tumultuous relationship with starting center Deandre Ayton, and are in the process of trying to trade another starter, Jae Crowder, who apparently wants nothing to do with the team anymore. On the other hand, Phoenix won 64 games last season and returns essentially the entire core besides Crowder, led by Chris Paul, Devin Booker and Mikal Bridges. Many are predicting a regression by the Suns this season, but I give them the benefit of the doubt because of their success the past two seasons. 4 49-33
6 Bucks Giannis Antetokounmpo doesn't like losing, and that's a bad thing for the rest of the NBA. He should be just as dominant (perhaps even more so), and the Bucks brought back virtually the exact same roster that nearly took down the Celtics in the East semifinals despite being without Khris Middleton. They're expected to be without him again to start this season after wrist surgery this summer, so Milwaukee starts off a little lower in the rankings than they would be at full strength. 1 49-33
7 Nuggets Basketball fans are praying that we get to see the healthy, fully realized version of the Nuggets for most of this season. Defending two-time MVP Nikola Jokic finally gets back his running mates in Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr., making Denver one of the most dangerous teams in the league. Don't sleep on their offseason additions, either, as they picked up Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Bruce Brown to bolster their depth and defense. The Nuggets should be intact to start the regular season, which should lead to some exciting, beautiful basketball. 2 57-25
8 Nets Kevin Durant decided to stay. Ben Simmons is playing basketball. Kyrie Irving is ... Kyrie Irving. If those three are healthy and on the court, the Nets have as high a ceiling as any team in the league. That's a huge "if," of course, but the surrounding shooting (Seth Curry, Joe Harris) and defensive pieces (Nic Claxton, Royce O'Neale) should make Brooklyn a relatively complete basketball team when intact. Curry and Harris missing opening night is a bummer, but they should be back on the court soon to kick the Brooklyn experiment into full swing. 4 32-50
9 Heat Here we go again. Everyone's talking about what the Heat lost in PJ Tucker and how their roster is older and other teams in the East have improved. Sounds like recipe for Erik Spoelstra, Jimmy Butler and Miami to exceed expectations once again. It will be intriguing to see who starts at power forward (since they don't really have one on the roster), but you know the defense will be stout and the competitiveness will be second-to-none. It's just a matter of whether Butler, Kyle Lowry, Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro can stay healthy. 5 46-36
10 Grizzlies Memphis may drop in the standings through no fault of its own. Potential improvement from the Clippers, Nuggets and Warriors means that the No. 2 seed will be hard to reclaim this season. That being said, Ja Morant will likely be an MVP candidate once again, and the Grizzlies should have enough depth to keep winning games even while Jaren Jackson Jr. continues to recover from foot surgery. 8 27-55
11 Timberwolves The Wolves took "going all-in" to another level by mortgaging the entirety of their future assets to add three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert, who should help solve two of the team's biggest problems -- rim protection and rebounding. How he fits with fellow big man Karl-Anthony Towns will be something to monitor all season, as will the continued improvement of Anthony Edwards. No matter how you feel about the assets the Wolves gave up, they should be a better team for the foreseeable future. 2 56-26
12 Raptors Toronto brings back its weird, long, switchy roster to wreak havoc on opposing game plans. Scottie Barnes, OG Anunoby and Precious Achiuwa are all poised to take leaps this season, with mainstays Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam already at an All-Star level. They also added Otto Porter Jr. to improve their 3-point shooting and overall IQ, making the Raptors one of the more intriguing teams in the NBA. The variance is high, but Nick Nurse has proven he can win with this unique style. 2 25-57
13 Hawks Dejounte Murray theoretically solves two issues for the Hawks -- he improves their perimeter defense and provides an All-Star level playmaker to spell Trae Young. We need to see it unfold on the court, but on paper Atlanta should be much better than their disappointing 2021-22 season. Young is a top-10 offense by himself, so really the Hawks' success will hinge upon significant improvement on the defensive end, which should be helped by Murray and potentially more opportunity for Onyeka Okongwu. 4 36-46
14 Pelicans Zion Williamson appears to be in the best shape of his career, and he'll join a Pelicans squad that made some serious noise toward the end of last season with Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum leading the way. Willie Green was able to overcome a horrific start to last season, and that shouldn't be a problem this year given their depth and talent. The biggest issue will be figuring out how Williamson, Ingram and McCollum can coexist offensively, while maintaining a defense that was in the top 10 after the All-Star break last season. 5 49-33
15 Cavaliers One of the league's most exciting young teams got even more promising this summer when it traded for three-time All-Star Donovan Mitchell to add to a core of Darius Garland, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen. Mitchell provides some much-needed playmaking and scoring help for Garland, while Allen and Mobley should be able to patrol the paint defensively to make up for the backcourt's lack of size. There's not much on the wing for now, which might be the only thing holding back the Cavs from being a true contender out East. -- 48-34
16 Mavericks Luka Doncic is one of the favorites to win MVP, but the Mavericks may have fallen behind in a brutal Western Conference after losing Jalen Brunson in free agency. They added Christian Wood, who seems like a strong fit offensively, but the Mavs will now have to rely on Spencer Dinwiddie to handle the bulk of playmaking duties when Doncic sits. We've learned never to doubt Luka, but the Mavs seem a rung below some of the stronger competitors out West to begin the season. 9 50-32
17 Bulls Lonzo Ball's continued knee problems put a damper on the start of the season for Chicago, one of the best teams in the NBA last season when complete. DeMar DeRozan may take a slight step backward from his phenomenal 2021-22 campaign, but that should be balanced out by a much healthier Zach LaVine and Alex Caruso. There are still some holes on the Bulls roster and positions to be won, but the talent is there to compete for a middle seed in a very tough Eastern Conference. 3 39-43
18 Lakers The preseason didn't exactly instill hope in Lakers fans, but at least LeBron James and Anthony Davis enter the season relatively healthy. The Russell Westbrook experiment doesn't seem to be any closer to a resolution, but perhaps new coach Darvin Ham can figure out the secret sauce to make the combo work. Outside of those three, the Lakers got younger but still lack shooting from the rest of the roster. Assuming LeBron can continue defying the laws of the universe, just like last season, the Lakers will go as far as Davis can take them. A first team All-NBA level performance from Davis might be the Lakers' only path to avoiding the play-in. 5 47-35
19 Kings The Kings are a hot pick to make the playoffs this season, and we know how badly the franchise wants to end its 16-year drought. De'Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis showed some good chemistry in limited reps last season, while the additions of Kevin Huerter, Malik Monk and rookie Keegan Murray should provide the necessary spacing. The problem is the West is just really deep at the top, so playoff spots will be hard to come by. New head coach Mike Brown will start with trying to significantly improve the team's 27th-ranked defense from a season ago. 5 46-36
20 Trail Blazers Portland will be better than last season, when they took tanking levels to unprecedented heights, but it's still not clear whether Damian Lillard has enough help to get the Blazers into the Western Conference playoffs. Jerami Grant and Gary Payton II should help the defense, while they'll rely on continued improvement from Anfernee Simons, Josh Hart and Nassir Little. Overall the roster just isn't that exciting, but if Lillard is back to his old self, you can never count out the Blazers. 10 21-61
21 Knicks The Knicks missed out on Donovan Mitchell, but they were able to add Jalen Brunson to a roster chocked full of serviceable NBA talent. Any leap in the standings would be contingent on a resurgent season from Julius Randle and a significant step forward for RJ Barrett, and both of those things are at least reasonable. Overall the Knicks may not be incredibly exciting, but they're relatively deep and you know Tom Thibodeau will have them playing hard. 1 50-32
22 Wizards Kristaps Porzingis was efficient and, most importantly, healthy for the Wizards to end last season. He and Bradley Beal, assuming he bounces back from a rough shooting season, should be enough to make the Wizards competitive on most nights. The rest of the roster is filled with question marks, but offseason acquisition Monte Morris should at least provide some stability at point guard. -- 15-67
23 Pacers The Pacers might not be very good this season, but they should be fun. Tyrese Haliburton is an electric young guard, while rookie Bennedict Mathurin looked excellent in Summer League and the preseason. They have trade chips in Myles Turner, Buddy Hield and TJ McConnell, but they don't have to be in a rush if they don't see a deal they like. Ultimately, this seems like a tank year for the Pacers, and adding another high draft pick to the exciting young core would brighten the future in Indiana. 2 47-35
24 Hornets LaMelo Ball is one of the most entertaining and promising young players in the league, but Miles Bridges' offseason troubles really clouded Charlotte's outlook for this season. Outside of Ball, they haven't really hit on draft picks in recent seasons, which has left a lean roster in terms of established talent. Their eighth-ranked offense from a season ago could drop due to Bridges' absence, and their 22nd-ranked defense doesn't really have much of a path to improvement. The Hornets could end up being a tanking team by the time we hit the All-Star break. 8 21-61
25 Pistons Detroit added to its young core with rookies Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren, who join 2021 No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham at the forefront of the burgeoning Pistons resurgence. They should be better than last season, but probably still won't be in the mix for a playoff spot barring something unforeseen. The departure of Jerami Grant means this team is truly being turned over to the kids, and it should be fun to watch on a nightly basis. 2 14-68
26 Jazz Going from the No. 1 seed to seasons ago to potentially the No. 1 pick in the draft is quite a change for the Jazz, but Danny Ainge has clearly picked a direction for the franchise -- downward. They still have pieces to sell off in Mike Conley and Jordan Clarkson, and you can expect Utah to dwell toward the bottom of the standings -- by design -- for most of the season. That being said, they have some exciting young players in Collin Sexton, Lauri Markkanen and Talen Horton-Tucker who could take a step forward with the extra opportunity. 15 31-51
27 Rockets It may not lead to many wins this season, but you could do a lot worse than a young core of Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr., Jabari Smith Jr. and Alperen Sengun. Defense is going to be a major issue, but the Rockets should be able to put points on the board as the youth develops. Green finished his rookie year on a major heater, so it will be fun to watch how he comes out of the gates this season. 2 41-41
28 Magic The Magic will rely on No. 1 overall pick Paolo Banchero to provide some playmaking they otherwise lack, while second-year forward Franz Wagner appears ready to make a major leap. Wendell Carter Jr. had a breakout season last year, and should continue to improve alongside Jalen Suggs, Cole Anthony and the rest of the youth movement. Orlando will probably be one of the worst teams in the league again, but the offense could (maybe?) improve from 29th in each of the past two seasons. -- 47-35
29 Thunder The Thunder appeared to be on the verge of actually trying to win games, but then rookie Chet Holmgren went down for the year with a foot injury. Womp, womp. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is one of the best young players in the league, but he's only played 91 games over the last two seasons due to injury and/or load management. With Victor Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson as possible prizes, this doesn't seem like the year that OKC will suddenly try to be competitive. 3 57-25
30 Spurs San Antonio finally went all-in on a rebuild by trading Dejounte Murray, and the result is a roster that could be the worst in the NBA. Keldon Johnson is going to have all the opportunity he wants, while young players like Devin Vassell and Josh Primo will get a chance to develop. Veterans Josh Richardson and Jakob Poeltl might not be long for the franchise as it focuses on youngster like its three 2022 draft picks: Jeremy Sochan, Malaki Branham and Blake Wesley. 9 22-60