Ranking all eight groups within the 2022 NBA Play-in Tournament

Ranking all eight groups within the 2022 NBA Play-in Tournament initially appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

It’s time to finalize the 2022 NBA playoff bracket.

With the common season within the books, 4 groups from every convention will now struggle for the ultimate two playoff spots within the play-in match starting April 12-15.

The Brooklyn Nets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Atlanta Hawks and Charlotte Hornets might be going at it within the Eastern Conference whereas the Minnesota Timberwolves, Los Angeles Clippers, New Orleans Pelicans and San Antonio Spurs are the squads competing within the Western Conference.

The stakes are excessive, however which groups within the match have the very best probability at making noise within the postseason? Let’s rank them to seek out out:

How do the Eastern Conference play-in groups rank?

Brooklyn Nets, No. 7 seed

The Nets had the highest general spot within the East throughout the early months of the season, however an 11-game dropping streak from late January to mid-February derailed their momentum. Kevin Durant on the time was sidelined with a knee sprain whereas James Harden and Kyrie Irving have been each out and in of the lineup. Suffice to say Brooklyn shouldn’t be right here, however the unlucky actuality says in any other case. 

And that’s what makes Brooklyn the scariest play-in group within the East. No one needs to should beat Durant, Irving and probably Ben Simmons 4 occasions in a single collection, presuming Brooklyn clinches a postseason spot. The Nets have the celebrities (Durant, Irving, Simmons), shooters (Seth Curry, Patty Mills) and expert position gamers (Bruce Brown, Goran Dragic, LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Claxton, Andre Drummond) to make some noise. The problem might be well being and placing the whole lot collectively on the proper time.

Cleveland Cavaliers, No. 8 seed

The Cavaliers additionally don’t fairly belong right here. Cleveland blew away all expectations after flirting with a top-3 seed for many of the season. However, as soon as accidents began taking its toll and the sudden emergence of the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors, the Cavaliers sadly grew to become the group that fell out of the top-6 security internet, which allowed Brooklyn to seize the No. 7 seed late within the 12 months.

If the Cavaliers have a wholesome Jarrett Allen within the lineup to pair with Evan Mobley, it’ll be a tough matchup for any opponent. Darius Garland has taken an enormous leap this season with an All-Star nod to pair with it, whereas Caris LeVert (secondary creator), Kevin Love (ball-moving, 38% 3-point taking pictures large man), Lauri Markkanen (7-foot flooring spacer), Isaac Okoro (creating two-way wing) and Cedi Osman (scoring wing) have all sustained robust seasons. Maybe Playoff Rajon Rondo has one other run within the tank, too. 

Atlanta Hawks, No. 9 seed

The Hawks had excessive expectations this season after going to the Eastern Conference Finals final 12 months as a No. 5 seed, which included upsetting the No. 1 Philadelphia 76ers. But, for no matter purpose, this Atlanta group that appears powerful on paper has struggled to translate that into wins on the courtroom regardless of Trae Young having one other good marketing campaign.

With Ice Trae main the way in which, the Hawks have an identical group from final 12 months that might make one other deep run doable. Lou Williams’ streaky taking pictures may assist win a playoff sport. Bogdan Bogdanovic and Kevin Huerter are two ball-handling wings who could make it rain from deep. Delon Wright, De’Andre Hunter and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot are resilient two-way wings who can flip it up on protection. John Collins (if accessible), Danilo Gallinari and Gorgui Dieng present flooring spacing within the frontcourt whereas Clint Capela and Onyeka Okongwu are the normal rim protectors. 

The Hawks have a deep group on paper, however with no apparent stars in addition to Young, it’ll be about elevating their play as a unit if they’ll seize maintain of a playoff spot. There’s a case to be made for Atlanta to take the No. 8 seed from Cleveland.

Charlotte Hornets, No. 10 seed

The Hornets made the 2021 match because the No. 10 seed however obtained drubbed 144-117 towards the Indiana Pacers within the first sport. They’re in an identical place this 12 months – a gifted younger group however not higher than the encircling opposition.

LaMelo Ball and Most Improved Player of the Year candidate Miles Bridges have led the way in which for Charlotte, whereas Terry Rozier (secondary creator), Kelly Oubre Jr. (scoring wing), Montrezl Harrell (vitality large) and P.J. Washington (floor-spacing large man) have helped out on and off the bench. The major concern, nevertheless, is the absence of Gordon Hayward. He is not going to be accessible to play within the match, hampering Charlotte’s possibilities.

If they’re capable of get a glimpse of postseason life just like the Memphis Grizzlies final 12 months, perhaps that can assist Charlotte in the long term.

How do the Western Conference play-in groups rank?

Los Angeles Clippers, No. 8 seed

The Clippers wouldn’t be on this place had Kawhi Leonard and Paul George been wholesome for an excellent chunk of this season, and that’s not counting the accidents to gamers like Norman Powell. Despite all that, the Clippers weathered the storm to place themselves able to compete at this stage of the season. Head coach Tyronn Lue and the group have proven large resilience.

With George and Powell again within the fold, Reggie Jackson, Marcus Morris Sr., Luke Kennard, Terance Mann, Nicolas Batum, Robert Covington and Amir Coffey will give any group suits. Los Angeles stocked up on expert two-way wings starting from 6-foot-5 to 6-foot-9, and going through that within the playoffs shouldn’t be a simple activity. If the Clippers make the playoffs and Leonard is ready to return, be careful. They might be a top-3 high quality group on the backside of the bracket.

Minnesota Timberwolves, No. 7 seed

Anthony Edwards’ emergence in his sophomore season has positively helped elevate the Timberwolves into a possible playoff spot – which might be simply their second berth for the reason that 2004-05 season – however buying elite position gamers like Patrick Beverley additionally modified the group’s tradition. 

Karl-Anthony Towns is Minnesota’s do-it-all All-Star heart, whereas D’Angelo Russell and Malik Beasley can catch fireplace on any given night time to drown a group with buckets. Jaden McDaniels and Jarred Vanderbilt are two prolonged wings who can match up with anybody. The Wolves may be one legit piece away from making a deep run, however they gained’t exit and not using a powerful struggle.

New Orleans Pelicans, No. 9 seed

Gaining CJ McCollum from the Portland Trail Blazers modified the Pelicans’ trajectory this season. McCollum is averaging 25.2 factors per sport since arriving in New Orleans, supplying Brandon Ingram and Jonas Valanciunas with one other bonafide scorer. If Zion Williamson have been wholesome, that is doubtless a group battling for the No. 4 or No. 5 seed, however that’s not the case simply but. 

Herbert Jones is one other participant to look at for. The No. 35 general choose within the 2021 draft has cemented himself as one of many NBA’s most versatile defenders this season as he continues to develop offensively. Devonte’ Graham is a participant who can catch fireplace at any second, however his taking pictures will should be extra environment friendly (36% general, 34.2% from 3) to provide the Pelicans a greater probability. 

San Antonio Spurs, No. 10 seed

The Spurs weren’t presupposed to be right here, however the downfall of the Los Angeles Lakers bumped San Antonio into the ultimate spot. Dejounte Murray, 2022 All-Star, flirted with a triple-double common of 21.2 factors, 9.3 assists and eight.4 rebounds. Keldon Johnson continues to develop in his third season after impressing all through his sophomore marketing campaign, however the Spurs simply don’t have the depth, notably within the frontcourt, to compete.

Doug McDermott, a 6-foot-8, 225-pound small ahead, has performed 97% of his minutes on the 4 spot this season, which is a profession excessive. However, he’s out for the season with a Grade 3 ankle sprain, placing extra stress on San Antonio’s already quick bench. Zach Collins is again after a prolonged absence, however he doesn’t transfer the needle that a lot alongside Jakob Poeltl.

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