Now that the 2023-24 regular season has officially arrived, our staff has decided to break down every team’s frontcourt, backcourt, and bench units and rank them.
The rankings were created by considering frontcourt depth, player and unit projection, age, health, rebounding, scoring, and defense. Check out all of the frontcourt rankings for this NBA season below!
NBA Frontcourt Rankings 2023-24
The Top Frontcourt Units in the NBA start with teams like Denver, Milwaukee, and Boston, which all boast top-five players in the NBA: Nikola Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Jayson Tatum. Meanwhile, Dallas, Brooklyn, and Washington could use some major help at the forward and center positions. Throughout the year, these rankings will fluctuate based on performance, injuries, and roster/coaching changes!
1. Denver Nuggets
Nikola Jokic, Aaron Gordon, Michael Porter Jr., Zeke Nnaji
Who better to take the top spot than the defending champions? Nikola Jokic, Aaron Gordon, and Michael Porter Jr. form one of the most effective and cohesive frontcourt trios in the league, with Gordon manning the dunker’s spot, Porter Jr. roaming the perimeter, and Jokic operating from quite literally anywhere on the floor as the greatest passing big man in the history of the NBA.
2. Milwaukee Bucks
Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Brook Lopez, Bobby Portis
It should come as no surprise that the Milwaukee Bucks, featuring Giannis Antetokounmpo, one of the two best players in the league, Brook Lopez, a DPOY candidate, Bobby Portis, one of the best sixth men in the league, and Khris Middleton, a three-time NBA All-Star, form one of the best frontcourts in the league. This team consistently is amongst the best rebounding teams in the league and they are an exceptional defensive team in and around the paint.
3. Boston Celtics
Jayson Tatum, Kristaps Porzingis, Al Horford, Oshae Brissett
The addition of Kristaps Porzingis to what was already a talented frontcourt could push Boston over the championship hump. Porzingis, a phenomenal stretch four, drop coverage savant, and elite rim protector, joins MVP candidate Jayson Tatum and veteran sharpshooter Al Horford to form an elite frontcourt core. Our only concern with this unit is depth, as Robert Williams III is no longer on the roster.
4. Los Angeles Lakers
LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Jarred Vanderbilt, Christian Wood, Rui Hachimura
When healthy, LeBron James and Anthony Davis are two of the best forwards in basketball, and it showed late last season. The Lakers entered the playoffs with one of the best post-All-Star Break records and fought their way to the Western Conference Finals. Jarred Vanderbilt adds versatile defense and switchability, while Christian Wood and Rui Hachimura have proven they can provide efficient scoring on all three levels.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves
Karl Anthony-Towns, Rudy Gobert, Jaden McDaniels, Kyle Anderson, Naz Reid
Minnesota’s new front line has not played much together due to Karl Anthony-Towns’ injury last season, but there is a lot of upside with this unit. Jaden McDaniels has proven to be an elite defender and a capable scorer, who is due for a breakout season. McDaniels and Rudy Gobert should do a tremendous job hiding KAT’s below-average defense while he continues to post All-Star-caliber numbers on the other end of the floor. Kyle Anderson and Naz Reid also might be the best frontcourt backup tandem in the league.
6. Philadelphia 76ers
Joel Embiid, P.J. Tucker, Tobias Harris, Paul Reed
Any frontcourt with reigning MVP Joel Embiid will rank well on our list; he is arguably the best two-way big man in the NBA, consistently protecting the rim on defense and scoring on all three levels on the other end. While Tobias Harris and P.J. Tucker are not quite the players they used to be, they will still be serviceable alongside Embiid. Paul Reed is an interesting player to watch this season as he enters his fourth NBA season.
7. Miami Heat
Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Kevin Love, Thomas Bryant, Nikola Jovic
Losing Gabe Vincent and Max Strus this off-season did not do many favors to the Heat backcourt; however, their frontcourt remains largely unchanged. The Heat still have Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and Kevin Love in the starting lineup, giving them defense, playmaking, rebounding, and shooting. Thomas Bryant and Nikola Jovic should be solid impact players off the bench, too.
8. Phoenix Suns
Josh Okogie, Kevin Durant, Jusuf Nurkic, Drew Eubanks, Nassir Little
The writing was on the wall for Deandre Ayton, whose days in Phoenix seemed limited, but it was surprising to see the Suns replace him with Jusuf Nurkic, Grayson Allen, and Nassir Little. There was likely another package with a better return elsewhere. Still, this could prove worthwhile if Nurkic can stay healthy, which will be the key to the Suns’ success. A healthy Nurkic paired with a superstar in Kevin Durant and a balance of Josh Okogie, Nassir Little, and Yuta Watanabe should perform quite well.
9. New Orleans Pelicans
Trey Murphy III, Herb Jones, Zion Williamson, Jonas Valanciunas, Naji Marshall
New Orleans has been one of the unluckier teams regarding injuries. Trey Murphy III will miss the first few months due to an injury suffered at the end of summer, while Naji Marshall suffered a preseason injury and will miss a few weeks. Zion Williamson also has struggled to stay healthy but seems to be good to go for this season. Still, when this unit is in full health, it is one of the best in the league, lacking only rim protection on the defensive end. It could shoot up our rankings later in the season.
10. Orlando Magic
Paolo Banchero, Franz Wagner, Wendell Carter Jr., Jonathan Isaac, Mo Wagner
If a team needs 6-foot-10 combo forwards with superstar potential, it should contact the Orlando Magic. Paolo Banchero is entering his second season, while Franz Wagner is entering his third; they are both All-Star candidates and should post 20 or more points per game each. If Jonathan Isaac stays healthy and proves he can still be a versatile defender, despite his laundry list of injuries, while Wendell Carter Jr. takes steps forward in his three-point shooting, the sky is the limit for this group.
11. Sacramento Kings
Domantas Sabonis, Keegan Murray, Trey Lyles, Sasha Vezenkov, Alex Len
While Sacramento returned its same core frontcourt, featuring All-Star Domantas Sabonis, Keegan Murray, Alex Len, and Trey Lyles, it also elected to sign a “draft-and-stash” player from several years ago: Sasha Vezenkov. Vezenkov, a career 40% three-point shooter, is fresh off winning a EuroLeague MVP and will now join the Kings to deepen their frontcourt. The only thing missing from this unit is rim protection, but they have done fine without it to this point.
12. Los Angeles Clippers
Kawhi Leonard, Ivica Zubac, Robert Covington, Marcus Morris, Nic Batum
This is almost a case of “too many cooks in the kitchen,” as Los Angeles has an overload of power forwards, including Robert Covington, Marcus Morris, and Nic Batum. Still, the Clippers have three terrific options for what will likely be two spots while also having one of the game’s best two-way players in Kawhi Leonard at the three and a very serviceable big man in Ivica Zubac at the five. Like many of the units in front of them, health is paramount.
13. Golden State Warriors
Kevon Looney, Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins, Jonathan Kuminga, Trayce Jackson-Davis
Jonathan Kuminga looked terrific in the preseason, which is everything that Golden State could have hoped for. The Warriors will have former DPOY Draymond Green, double-double machine Kevon Looney, and two-way star Andrew Wiggins in the frontcourt, but a huge year- jump for Kuminga could elevate this team even further.
14. Cleveland Cavaliers
Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen, Max Strus, Isaac Okoro, Georges Niang
Georges Niang and Max Strus were terrific acquisitions for Cleveland, as its prior frontcourt, which only featured Isaac Okoro, Jarrett Allen, and Evan Mobley, had no shooting whatsoever. Now, Strus and Niang can help stretch the floor for Mobley and Allen to operate more in the paint, which is where they thrive.
15. Toronto Raptors
Jakob Poeltl, Pascal Siakam, Scottie Barnes, Chris Boucher, Precious Achiuwa
Until last season’s trade deadline, the Toronto Raptors were in desperate need of a true center, as the combination of Pascal Siakam, Chris Boucher, and Precious Achiuwa rotating minutes at the five was not cutting it. Now, the Raptors have Jakob Poeltl, a highly effective interior presence starting at center, with Scottie Barnes and Pascal Siakam at the three and four, respectively. These three players give Toronto a ton of length and defensive versatility; however, there is absolutely no three-point threat in its frontcourt, and Boucher and Achiuwa don’t contribute in that area off the bench either.
16. Atlanta Hawks
Saddiq Bey, Jalen Johnson, Clint Capela, Onyeka Okongwu, De’Andre Hunter, A.J. Griffin
Atlanta’s frontcourt is filled with potential. The Hawks have talented starters in Clint Capela and De’Andre Hunter, but it is their bench that fans should be most excited about. Jalen Johnson, Onyeka Okongwu, and A.J. Griffin have looked impressive in the minutes they have gotten. If they excel, like Atlanta believes they can, this frontcourt will be one of the deepest in the league by the end of the season.
17. Utah Jazz
Lauri Markkanen, John Collins, Walker Kessler, Kelly Olynyk, Taylor Hendricks
Who would have thought that the Rudy Gobert trade would not only have given the Utah Jazz much-needed draft capital for their rebuild but a budding young center who fills almost all of what Gobert brought to the trouble, too? Walker Kessler has proven that he is the center of the future for Utah, while All-Star Lauri Markkanen, who was acquired in the Donovan Mitchell trade, has cemented his place as a starting forward. Utah did not stop there either; it acquired John Collins this past off-season in hopes that he can return to his prior form and drafted Taylor Hendricks, a versatile power forward who can stretch the floor and protect the rim.
18. Memphis Grizzlies
Jaren Jackson Jr., Santi Aldama, Xavier Tillman, David Roddy
Memphis received some devastating news to begin the 2023-24 campaign: Steven Adams, the anchor for this Grizzlies frontcourt unit, is out for the entire season and will undergo surgery on his knee. Many believed that Adams was on the up and up after missing the last nine months of basketball; however, it turns out that not electing for surgery in January when the initial injury occurred was the wrong decision. Now, Xavier Tillman, David Roddy, and Santi Aldama will have to step up alongside reigning DPOY Jaren Jackson Jr. if this team wants a shot at the postseason.
19. New York Knicks
Julius Randle, RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, Isaiah Hartenstein
There is not much shooting in this unit, as neither Julius Randle nor R.J. Barrett can be relied upon to be consistent from behind the arc. Barrett is coming off his worst three-point shooting season yet, and the past two years for Randle from deep have been rough. Further, Mitchell Robinson and Isaiah Hartenstein don’t shoot threes, limiting this unit’s ability to spread the floor. The Knicks will be physical, though, which will keep them relevant in the interior.
20. Oklahoma City Thunder
Jalen Williams, Chet Holmgren, Jaylin Williams, Ousmane Dieng, Aleksej Pokusevski
The combination of Jalen Williams and Chet Holmgren could eventually give the Oklahoma City Thunder one of the better frontcourt duos in the league, but for now, they are right around average. The main factors that drop the Thunder down a few spots are youth, experience, and depth. Pokusevski has to stay healthy, and Dieng has to take a massive step forward if this unit wants to reach its potential as soon as possible.
21. Indiana Pacers
Myles Turner, Aaron Nesmith, Obi Toppin, Jarace Walker, Jalen Smith
Indiana had an exceptional off-season, signing Bruce Brown, trading for Obi Toppin, and drafting Jarace Walker. Now, the Pacers have a solid frontcourt, with Toppin and Myles Turner starting, and a combination of Jalen Smith, Aaron Nesmith, and Walker will provide bench minutes. This Pacers’ second unit will be tough if they continue to develop individually.
22. Chicago Bulls
DeMar DeRozan, Nikola Vucevic, Patrick Williams, Andre Drummond
The final ranking of Chicago’s frontcourt will largely be determined by the growth of Patrick Williams, a defensive-minded player whose offensive game is developing daily. DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic are getting a bit older, but they are consistent as far as their offense is concerned. If Williams steps forward in his self-creation and shotmaking skills, and Drummond hits the glass hard in his designated minutes, this unit will be all right.
23. San Antonio Spurs
Victor Wembanyama. Zach Collins, Keldon Johnson, Charles Bassey, Cedi Osman
Victor Wembanyama has already made a splash around the league, displaying many highlights in limited preseason action. While Wembanyama alone will not make this unit elite, he should boost it up, especially on the defensive end of the floor, where San Antonio struggled immensely last season. Keldon Johnson and Zach Collins are also capable players who can fill in the gaps around Wemby on offense.
24. Portland Trail Blazers
Robert Williams III, Deandre Ayton, Jerami Grant, Matisse Thybulle, Jabari Walker
In a shocking turn of events, the Portland Trail Blazers went from having one of the weaker frontcourts in the league, especially considering that the players they did have that were talented were often injured, to boasting a unit with long-term upside that could shoot up this list by the end of the year. Portland turned Nassir Little, Jusuf Nurkic, and Drew Eubanks into Robert Williams III and Deandre Ayton. The Blazers were able to keep Matisse Thybulle, Jerami Grant, and Jabari Walker in the process, too.
25. Houston Rockets
Cam Whitmore, Dillon Brooks, Alperen Sengun, Jabari Smith Jr., Jock Landale, Tari Eason
Houston was one of the most active teams during the off-season, constantly making moves to improve its roster. The result: Cam Whitmore, Dillon Brooks, and Jock Landale joining Jabari Smith Jr., Tari Eason, and Alperen Sengun in the frontcourt. This unit still has a lot to prove, but from an individual talent standpoint, it is in terrific shape.
26. Detroit Pistons
Marvin Bagley III, James Wiseman, Jalen Duren, Bojan Bogdanovic, Isaiah Stewart
Detroit’s frontcourt has a lot of unrealized potential, and the hopes for this organization and its fans are that it becomes realized sooner rather than later. James Wiseman and Marvin Bagley III have not had the kind of careers that people expect from former No. 2 overall picks; however, they are in a place with lower expectations and more potential for minutes, so perhaps that can help them grow. For now, Jalen Duren, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Isaiah Stewart will lead this unit.
27. Brooklyn Nets
Nic Claxton, Dorian Finney-Smith, Cameron Johnson, Day’Ron Sharpe
Nic Claxton enjoyed a breakout season during the 2022-23 campaign, recording 12.6 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game on 70.5% shooting from the field. Claxton’s limitations are that he’s not a self-creator and is somewhat undersized from a physical standpoint compared to some centers; however, the biggest issue for the Nets is rebounding. Brooklyn has been one of the worst rebounding teams in the league over the past few seasons, and it is still deploying the same personnel. Don’t expect much to change here.
28. Dallas Mavericks
Grant Williams, Olivier-Maxence Prosper, Dereck Lively II, Dwight Powell, Josh Green
A sign-and-trade for Grant Williams is likely what is keeping this unit from ranking last in our frontcourt rankings. Williams adds some post-defense, physicality, and rebounding to this unit, which desperately needs it. However, his addition (and the additions of rookies Olivier-Maxence Prosper and Dereck Lively II) will not move the needle nearly enough for the Dallas Mavericks. Lively has shown a ton of potential, though, so perhaps the Mavs can slowly climb these rankings throughout the year.
29. Charlotte Hornets
Brandon Miller, Mark Williams, P.J. Washington, Gordon Hayward
Miles Bridges’ time in the NBA has to be coming to a close, meaning that the Charlotte Hornets will again struggle with their frontcourt talent and depth. Brandon Miller should prove to be a solid pro in the long term, but his Summer League and preseason play do not indicate that he is ready to lead this unit. Mark Williams has tremendous pick-and-roll and rim protection upside, but it could still take a bit longer before he reaches his potential.
30. Washington Wizards
Kyle Kuzma, Daniel Gafford, Bilal Coulibaly, Deni Avdija, Danilo Gallinari
Washington’s decision to blow up its roster and build around Kyle Kuzma and several younger players will undoubtedly result in some struggles during the 2023-24 campaign. Kuzma should be a solid starter once again for the Wizards, but the combination of Daniel Gafford, Bilal Coulibaly, Deni Avdija, and Danilo Gallinari, if he can stay healthy, will result in this unit being amongst the weakest frontcourts in the league.