Competing in the NBA is more expensive now than ever before. The richest teams are spending nine figures just on the luxury tax each season. All-Stars in trades fetch every future first-rounder a team can legally deal. The title race is more wide open than ever, and more teams want in.
To wrap our minds around this arms race, we’re borrowing an idea from our Ringer NFL colleagues and launching the NBA All In-dex, to rank the 30 teams from most all in to most all out on competing right here and right now. As my NFL friends Danny Heifetz and Riley McAtee explained:
By looking at a team’s draft pick capital and analyzing its spending, we have created a formula to analyze how much of a team’s resources are being maximized to win today. Not only can it tell us which teams are all in for [an NBA championship] this season, but just as importantly, it can also tell us which teams are stockpiling for the future, and which teams are stuck in no-man’s-land while being pulled in two different directions.
Here’s a quick summary of the methodology (feel free to skip to the big colorful chart below if you just want the results). Each team’s All In-dex score is composed of two parts weighted equally: a money index and a draft index.
The money index looks at a team’s total projected payments—including luxury tax—courtesy of Spotrac, over this season and the next three. The seasons are weighted by proximity to the present, so spending in 2022-23 counts more than spending in 2023-24, and so on.
The draft index looks at how many first-round picks each team controls through 2029, and requires a couple new wrinkles compared to the NFL version. We accounted for all picks and swaps that have been dealt to date and, using Kevin Pelton’s draft value chart as a baseline, generated different values for unprotected picks, picks with different protections, and pick swaps (based on calculations from this article).
For each team’s final scores, positive numbers mean more all in and negative numbers mean less. Scores are normalized so the average is zero. If a team’s draft index is 10, it has 10 percent less future draft capital than the average team. If its money index is 10, it is spending 10 percent more than the average team. And if its overall All In-dex score is 10, it is 10 percent more all in on competing for a present-day title.
Here are the overall results; below the chart, we’ll go team by team to analyze all 30 franchises from most to least all in.
1. Los Angeles Clippers
Draft rank: 5th
Money rank: 1st
The top spot on this list was never in doubt; the Clippers are so far in the lead that the second-place Warriors are as close to fifth place as they are to first. It isn’t just that Clippers owner Steve Ballmer has committed a tremendous amount of money to build the NBA’s deepest rotation; it’s that the Clippers are spending all that money while they still owe two unprotected picks and two pick swaps to the Thunder, as part of the payment for the Paul George trade that transpired three years ago.
The second- and third-place teams on this list are also the two most recent title winners, proving that going all in helps in the quest for a championship. The Clippers can only hope that pattern continues, because they’ve devoted so many resources to their current roster. They’re still searching for their first-ever NBA Finals trip, let alone championship, but they’re doing the maximal amount possible to achieve that goal.
2. Golden State Warriors
Draft rank: 11th
Money rank: 2nd
The Warriors ranked no. 5 overall last week, before nine-figure extensions for Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole bumped them up the list. Golden State isn’t missing much in future draft capital—only a top-four-protected pick to Memphis in 2024—but its money index is so high, even before they decide whether to extend Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, that its middling draft index hardly matters.
Look again at the chart at the top of this piece—the money indexes for the Clippers and Warriors are both more than double the money index for any other team. Factoring in the luxury tax, Golden State’s roster might cost more than half a billion dollars next season. As long as Ballmer and Joe Lacob continue investing so much money in their rosters in an attempt to win titles now—as any competitive billionaire sports owner should—it will be hard for anyone to catch the Clippers and Warriors in these rankings.
3. Milwaukee Bucks
Draft rank: 3rd
Money rank: 6th
With the worst young core in the league, a roster full of veterans, and a two-time MVP in his prime, the Bucks are right where they belong. Because of trades for Jrue Holiday and P.J. Tucker, Milwaukee doesn’t control any of its next five first-round picks—a worthy sacrifice, given that Holiday and Tucker helped the franchise win its first championship in half a century. And all of its long-term contracts belong to key contributors: Holiday, Bobby Portis, Pat Connaughton, and Giannis Antetokounmpo most of all.
The Bucks have some tricky calls in the near future, chiefly the fate of Khris Middleton’s upcoming player option, but it’s more likely that they continue to push for roster improvements here and now.
4. Denver Nuggets
Draft rank: 6th
Money rank: 3rd
This ranking might register as a surprise, as the Nuggets still seem like they’re on the rise and haven’t made the sorts of blockbuster trades that typify teams at the top of this leaderboard. But Denver is very devoted to its current core, without much ability to make further trades; it lost its lottery-protected 2023 first-rounder for R.J. Hampton, its top-five-protected 2025 first for Aaron Gordon, and its top-five-protected 2027 first in a salary dump of still-useful JaMychal Green.
That salary dump is a worrisome precedent, because it reaffirms the notion that the Nuggets don’t like to enter the luxury tax, let alone spend the kind of millions that the two teams ahead of them on the money side are happy to splash into the pot. But the Nuggets have the highest payroll commitment in the league two seasons from now, with their top four players—Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr., and Gordon—all signed long term.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers
Draft rank: 2nd
Money rank: 14th
This exercise might as well have been made for the Cavaliers. They traded a protected first to Indiana for Caris LeVert last season, then sent three unprotected firsts and two swaps to Utah for Donovan Mitchell last month. Teams are only allowed to trade picks up to seven years into the future, and the Cavaliers control just one of their own firsts over that span.
Cleveland hasn’t so much as reached the playoffs since LeBron James left in 2018, yet they decided to go all in regardless. Given that the Cavaliers have the second-best young core in the league, per The Ringer’s rankings, they must have figured they don’t need any more young players in the near future; they’re ready to capitalize on all that tantalizing potential right now.
6. Brooklyn Nets
Draft rank: 7th
Money rank: 5th
If the Nets’ last experience with pick swaps—when they lost the no. 1 overall pick in 2017—were the norm, the Nets’ future draft situation would be downright dire, as they still owe the Rockets two unprotected picks and three swaps over the next half decade. But history shows that pick swaps are often overvalued, so the Nets’ draft cupboard is only mostly bare.
Of course, the fallout of Brooklyn’s trade for James Harden still means the Nets have to stay all in for years to come; they can’t condone a single season at the bottom of the standings, or else Houston will land a valuable pick. But as long as Kevin Durant remains under contract, the Nets shouldn’t sink so low. And Durant’s definitely staying under contract in Brooklyn for the next four seasons, right?
7. Minnesota Timberwolves
Draft rank: 1st
Money rank: 15th
If this exercise wasn’t made chiefly for the Cavaliers, it might have been for the Timberwolves, who sent three unprotected firsts, one protected first, and one swap to Utah for Rudy Gobert over the summer. Accounting for the relative value of pick swaps, we calculate that Minnesota has slightly less future draft equity than Cleveland does, and thus the most all in draft index in the league.
The Wolves aren’t there yet with money, even though Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns will cost roughly $100 million combined for just a single season by the middle of the decade. But for now, with D’Angelo Russell set for free agency next summer and Anthony Edwards still on his rookie contract, the Timberwolves aren’t as heavily financially invested in their current core as the teams ahead of them on this list.
8. Miami Heat
Draft rank: T-14th
Money rank: 4th
Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and the recently extended Tyler Herro are all signed for at least four more seasons, and the trio will make around $120 million combined in 2025-26. Duncan Robinson and Kyle Lowry are also signed to hefty deals that aren’t quite so long.
But the Heat and inveterate star-chaser Pat Riley aren’t nearly so tied down in the draft. Out only a single future owed to Oklahoma City, Miami can put together a multi-pick package if it identifies another veteran worth adding to its current core. Just last season, the Heat completed a deal that will allow them to trade their 2023 first-rounder—which had previously been promised to the Thunder, with protections—if they want.
9. Boston Celtics
Draft rank: 12th
Money rank: 8th
If the defending Eastern Conference champs see an opportunity to bolster their chances for a title this season, they have the draft stock to make a deal: For now, they owe only a protected 2023 first to Indiana, plus a top-one-protected 2028 pick swap to San Antonio, which means they can trade multiple other picks in the 2025-2029 range. Yet the more important question for Boston’s future concerns Jaylen Brown, who can reach unrestricted free agency in 2024, just before an anticipated cap spike due to the league’s new TV rights deal. Until they resolve Brown’s contract situation, the Celtics won’t be truly all in with this current core—because, in an ideal world, Brown and the already-extended Jayson Tatum would be the two highest-paid players on the roster.
10. Atlanta Hawks
Draft rank: 8th
Money rank: 11th
When my Ringer colleagues analyzed the NFL All In-dex rankings, they identified several teams, like the Saints and Panthers, that rank near the top despite not much hope of contention in the present. That imbalance doesn’t appear on our NBA list: Every team in the top 12 here has an over/under of at least 45.5 wins this season, according to FanDuel.
Yet the lowest over/under among that group belongs to Atlanta, which sent two unprotected picks and a swap to San Antonio for Dejounte Murray this summer. That trade didn’t empty Atlanta’s arsenal of picks—the Hawks should get a protected Kings first from the Kevin Huerter trade—but it severely reduced the team’s flexibility going forward. Will the guard pairing of Murray and Trae Young be enough to boost the Hawks back into conference finals contention? They don’t have all that many backup options if it doesn’t.
11. Philadelphia 76ers
Draft rank: 4th
Money rank: 17th
Down three future firsts (two of them protected), the 76ers have already pulled most of their draft levers in assembling a roster with a puncher’s chance at a title. More surprising is that they rank in the bottom half of the league with their money index—but that should change soon. At the moment, Joel Embiid is the only player signed to a guaranteed deal beyond 2023-24, but the 76ers will presumably extend James Harden and Tyrese Maxey next summer, which would catapult the team up this ranking.
12. Phoenix Suns
Draft rank: T-19th
Money rank: 7th
The Suns are the most boring team to analyze on this entire list, as they have all their own future picks and none from anybody else. The overarching question for Phoenix might be how all in they can push when a new owner takes over for Robert Sarver: They could theoretically use some of those unfettered picks to boost a roster with championship ambitions, but can they add meaningful salary when Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, Chris Paul, and Mikal Bridges are already signed long term?
13. Dallas Mavericks
Draft rank: 13th
Money rank: 10th
There’s a larger drop-off from Dallas’ best to second-best player than for any other team, and its contract figures reflect this disparity. Luka Doncic is playing on a supermax extension, and no other Maverick comes close to his salary—but the Mavericks do have a handful of players in the $10-20 million range annually over the next couple seasons. (Two of those players are Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans, who arrived at last season’s trade deadline to balance out Kristaps Porzingis’s underwater deal.)
If they want to add a proper second banana behind Doncic, after they lost Jalen Brunson in the offseason, the Mavericks’ best course of action might be to bundle some of those middling role players for a star. They can trade more picks going forward, too, because they still owe the Knicks a protected first from the Porzingis deal but are unencumbered by the latter half of the 2020s.
14. Portland Trail Blazers
Draft rank: T-14th
Money rank: 12th
Portland is in a pickle: Should the team try to contend with Damian Lillard, or should it conclude that whatever window it had has closed and aim for the future? The Blazers’ ranking here reflects that indecision, because they’re neither all in nor all out, but caught in between as they prepare for yet another season of likely near-.500 play.
15. Los Angeles Lakers
Draft rank: 9th
Money rank: 19th
While the Lakers kicked off the recent trend of high-cost blockbuster trades when they traded for Anthony Davis in 2019, they no longer seem so all in with the current roster. On the draft side, their pick slate is clean after 2025; before then, they owe the Pelicans two remaining goodies from the Davis trade: swap rights in the 2023 draft and an unprotected first in either 2024 or 2025. And on the money side, LeBron James, Davis, and rookie Max Christie are the only players owed any guaranteed money next season.
If the Lakers end up packaging their 2027 and 2029 firsts for a win-now upgrade, they’ll obviously jump up this list. But for now, they’re not going all in even with 37-year-old LeBron on the roster. That caution might be prudent, given how far the Lakers appear from true competitiveness; it also might not last, given the aggression that the Lakers, Cavaliers, and Heat all displayed in the last decade with LeBron in town.
16. Washington Wizards
Draft rank: T-14th
Money rank: 16th
It’s fitting that the Wizards would sit near the Trail Blazers in these rankings, given the similarities between the two franchises, each with faint hopes at competing this season and high-priced cornerstone guards under contract for the next half decade. Bradley Beal and the Wizards aren’t close to being all in, and with this roster, they shouldn’t be. But they’re not in a prime position to improve like many of the teams below them on this list, either.
17. Chicago Bulls
Draft rank: 10th
Money rank: 21st
The Bulls seem stuck in the middle of the standings, so it fits that they’d place right in the middle here, too. While they’ll get a protected Blazers pick at some point, they also owe protected picks to Orlando (from the Nikola Vucevic trade) and San Antonio (from the DeMar DeRozan deal). And Zach LaVine is signed for years to come after inking a max contract this summer, but Vucevic and DeRozan will become free agents in 2023 and 2024, respectively.
18. Sacramento Kings
Draft rank: T-14th
Money rank: 22nd
One reason the Kings appear a laughingstock at times is that while other teams bide their time until they can conceivably compete for a title, the Kings are so desperate to end their 16-year postseason drought that they’re pushing for the West’s no. 10 seed and a play-in berth. They didn’t sell high on Harrison Barnes; they traded Tyrese Haliburton for Domantas Sabonis; they kept targeting older players in the draft, like 2021 lottery selection Davion Mitchell.
Yet the Kings aren’t actually as all in as their perception suggests. They’re without only one future first, which they traded with protections for Huerter. And their future cap sheet—though complicated, with Sabonis set for unrestricted free agency in 2024—is fairly clean as well. It’s still unclear how the Kings will ever jump to the top, or even middle, of the Western Conference standings. But it’s not as if they’ve sacrificed all possible future assets for a chance at the play-in tournament.
19. Memphis Grizzlies
Draft rank: 22nd
Money rank: 18th
Eight teams won 50-plus games last season. Here are their ranks in the All In-dex: 2nd, 3rd, 8th, 9th, 11th, 12th, 13th, and 19th. The fact that Memphis is so good in the present, while also retaining so much future flexibility, speaks to the nifty trick the Grizzlies have pulled in building the NBA’s best young core.
Even after extending core players—like Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Brandon Clarke—Memphis is in a strong financial position, and has an additional extra pick (top-four-protected from the Warriors in 2024) on the way. Perhaps no team in the league is better suited for a consolidation trade in the years to come than the Grizzlies, as Morant, Jackson, and Desmond Bane enter their primes and Memphis pushes for its first Finals trip.
20. Toronto Raptors
Draft rank: T-19th
Money rank: 24th
The Raptors are one of just two teams, along with Phoenix, that is neither owed nor owes any future firsts. We know from experience that Masai Ujiri isn’t afraid to make major moves when he feels they’re warranted; for now, the intriguing Raptors are in a holding pattern, with a pair of big financial decisions coming next summer when Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. could decline player options and become free agents.
21. New Orleans Pelicans
Draft rank: 27th
Money rank: 9th
The Pelicans have an expensive core in place, with Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, and CJ McCollum scheduled to make more than $100 million combined in 2024-25. But every other team in the top 10 in money index also tilts toward the “all in” side for the draft, whereas the Pelicans have a quiver full of extra picks and swaps from the Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday trades.
That imbalance gives the Pelicans a wealth of options this season. They could sit tight and hope, say, the Lakers tumble down the standings and give New Orleans a shot at swapping for Victor Wembanyama. They could use 2022-23 as a launchpad season, doubling down on internal improvement after surging in the second half—without the injured Williamson—last season. Or they could beat any other contender’s offer for a meaningful upgrade at the trade deadline. Other teams with extra picks are far away from contention; the Pelicans might be ready to push their chips into the middle early.
22. New York Knicks
Draft rank: 26th
Money rank: 13th
After netting a bunch of future protected picks during the 2022 draft, the Knicks have the most draft capital of any team in the Eastern Conference. Granted, this position reflects quantity, not quality. None of those picks (besides the Knicks’ own) can turn into the no. 1 overall selection because of protections, but the Knicks are probably going to receive them. On the other end, teams that chased pick swaps could theoretically land the no. 1 slot—even though it isn’t likely, and the swaps probably won’t confer any value at all.
23. Detroit Pistons
Draft rank: 18th
Money rank: 28th
A grand total of one Piston is owed guaranteed money after next season: Marvin Bagley III. Otherwise, Detroit can be nimble in seeking opportunistic upgrades around the guard core of Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey, like they did last month in acquiring Bojan Bogdanovic without surrendering a single pick. For the moment, the Pistons don’t own any extra first-rounders—in fact, they owe a protected first to the Knicks—but spinning free-agent-to-be Bogdanovic to a contender at this season’s deadline could fix that weakness.
24. Charlotte Hornets
Draft rank: 21st
Money rank: 27th
Three of the Hornets’ four highest-paid players this season will reach free agency within the next two summers: Kelly Oubre Jr. and Mason Plumlee in 2023, and Gordon Hayward in 2024. That means it’s Terry Rozier’s team! Of course, the Hornets’ future actually belongs to LaMelo Ball, but the rest of the long-term roster is filled with question marks. The Hornets could improve their draft equity if they miss the playoffs in each of the next three seasons, as they owe a pick (protected top-16 in 2023 and top-14 in 2024 and 2025) to San Antonio, which will convert into two second-rounders if it doesn’t convey by 2025.
25. Houston Rockets
Draft rank: 25th
Money rank: 25th
The young, rebuilding Rockets are right where they should be on this list, with only one player—Kevin Porter Jr., who just signed an extension with only one guaranteed year—under contract for the long haul. The Rockets are young, with three recent top-16 picks in their starting lineup, and can supplement their growth with the two firsts and three swaps still owed to them from the Nets. The only drawback for Houston’s long-term planning is that it still owes the Thunder two protected firsts and a protected swap—as part of the disastrous Chris Paul–Russell Westbrook trade.
26. Orlando Magic
Draft rank: 24th
Money rank: 26th
The most interesting factor for the Magic’s ranking is that Jonathan Isaac would have the highest salary on the team for the next few seasons, but his extended injury absence means future salaries aren’t fully guaranteed. Otherwise, the Magic are basically in the same spot as the Rockets this season; each team might create an exhilarating League Pass viewing experience—additionally in terms of their wide-open futures, with multiple extra picks to come.
27. Indiana Pacers
Draft rank: 23rd
Money rank: 29th
Only two Pacers are slated to make at least $10 million in a season at any point in the next few seasons: Buddy Hield and Myles Turner. Incidentally, both players could—and probably should—be traded this season. The Pacers already rank second to last in money index, but they could easily fall to no. 30 in that category by March.
28. San Antonio Spurs
Draft rank: 28th
Money rank: 30th
There’s a huge gap between 27th and 28th place on this list, because only the last three teams have embraced a full tank. As Gregg Popovich said on media day, don’t bet on San Antonio to win the championship this season—and probably don’t bet on them in any of the next few seasons, either. Unless, or until, Indiana completes its fire sale, no team has smaller future commitments than the Spurs.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder
Draft rank: 29th
Money rank: 20th
Depending on how pick swaps shake out, the Thunder might gain more extra picks than the Jazz over the rest of the decade. But because most of Utah’s extra picks are unprotected while so many of Oklahoma City’s are—including protected picks from Denver, Houston, Miami, Philadelphia, and Utah itself—the Thunder rather shockingly take spot no. 29 here, rather than taking dead last.
The Thunder, of course, have been all-out three years running while the Jazz are just embarking on a new path. If we’d started this exercise last season, the Thunder probably would have taken the no. 30 spot, as well as the season before. How many more seasons will pass before the Thunder are no longer at the bottom of these rankings?
30. Utah Jazz
Draft rank: 30th
Money rank: 23rd
Over the last six seasons, the Jazz had the highest regular-season winning percentage for any team in the West. Now, after trading Mitchell, Gobert, and Bogdanovic, they’re the most all-out team in the NBA. With a focus firmly on the future and more lose-now deals surely on the horizon, they’ll probably loiter down here awhile—battling the Thunder each year for the no. 30 ranking and for pole position in the 2023 lottery, with Wembanyama waiting for one lucky team at the top of the draft.
An earlier version of this piece stated that New Orleans owes a future pick to Portland. It does not, and the piece has been updated to reflect that.