The Utah Jazz haven't been to the playoffs since 2012, but that may change so long as they stay healthy.
Since Derrick Favors returned after missing 15 straight games, the Jazz are 6-1 and tout the NBA's most efficient defense (92.9) and fourth best net rating (9.9).
Their current six-game winning streak hasn't been over much steep competition, but they're trending in the right direction behind Favors and Rudy Gobert, who missed 18 games in December/January. In fact, when those two play the Jazz are 13-7; when one or both are out they're 12-18.
That's not even to mention Gordon Hayward, who could have been a Western Conference All-Star, or the improving Rodney Hood (14.6 points, 2.0 3-pointers).
The Jazz look like the favorites for the No. 8 seed, and while they won't knock off the Warriors if they make the postseason, they sure won't be a fun matchup.
On to the rankings:
|1 (1)||(46-4)||Nine straight wins since the hiccups in Denver and Detroit. They're one game better than the '96 Bulls were after 50 games (45-5).|
|2 (2)||(38-14)||They couldn't dethrone the Warriors in Golden State on Saturday, but they sure like the team best equipped to do it in late May/early June.|
|3 (4)||(43-8)||The Spurs have won four straight. More importantly, they had the coolest Kobe Bryant farewell tribute to date. Watch it here.|
|4 (3)||(36-14)||They're 14th in 3FG% (35.4%) after ranking fifth in it a year ago (36.7%). Kyrie Irving (25.5%) and LeBron James (26.7%) need to get going.|
|5 (5)||(34-16)||Now just 2.0 games behind the Cavs for first place in the East, the Raptors have won 13 of 14. They'll get Cleveland at home on Feb. 26.|
|6 (6)||(34-17)||The Clips would be foolish to consider trading Blake Griffin, though the numbers don't lie: They're 17-4 without him since Dec. 26.|
|7 (8)||(31-22)||Huge week for Avery Bradley. The defensive stud averaged 15.0 points and one of his 11 3-pointers was the game-winner in Cleveland.|
|8 (7)||(30-21)||Watching Vince Carter connect on a trio of late 3-pointers in Memphis' win over New Orleans on Tuesday was an absolute joy to watch.|
|9 (9)||(29-23)||Rookie Justise Winslow is coming on strong of late, averaging 33.5 minutes in his last 10 games. Averaging 7.7 rebounds and 1.0 steal in that span.|
|10 (10)||(30-23)||We all know the Hawks aren't shooting it like they did last year, but they're up to No. 5 in defensive efficiency.|
|11 (18)||(25-25)||The biggest movers of the week. The trio of Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert is a scary one when healthy. They should be a playoff team.|
|12 (15)||(27-24)||Paul George's 30-point effort in a win over the Pistons was one the Pacers needed to avoid losing three of four (L's against CLE and ATL).|
|13 (12)||(27-25)||Kentavious Caldwell-Pope avoided serious injury and should be back after the All-Star break. Great news after what looked to be a bad spill.|
|14 (14)||(27-26)||Will the real Rockets please stand up? A 13-point win against Miami, slipping by Phoenix at home and a 17-point home loss to Portland. They get Steph and Co. on Tuesday.|
|15 (11)||(27-23)||Huge sigh of relief from the Advocate Center as Jimmy Butler avoids serious damage to his knee in Denver. That good news notwithstanding, the Bulls are 2-4 on their road trip.|
|16 (13)||(29-25)||An overtime win in Memphis both avoided a four-game skid and could become a springboard for the season's second half. A win over Utah on Tuesday would be huge.|
|17 (20)||(25-27)||The rest of their February schedule is brutal. Keep an eye on their Feb. 21 game against Utah. Those two could fight the next two months for the No. 8 seed.|
|18 (22)||(25-26)||Let's see if their Kemba-less victory over the Cavs can help them get back on track. Al Jefferson could return to the lineup shortly to help matters, too.|
|19 (16)||(22-27)||They're just 3.5 games out of the final playoff spot in the East, but it feels like more than that. John Wall still looking for consistent help.|
|20 (19)||(21-30)||They've absolutely imploded since a five-game winning streak. Sitting 4.5 games out of the No. 8 spot in the playoffs, the fun might be over.|
|21 (17)||(18-32)||Anthony Davis and co. get knocked back to reality with double-digit losses to Memphis, San Antonio and Cleveland. The home loss to the Lakers, though? That's on them.|
|22 (23)||(21-31)||Rookie Nikola Jokic is averaging 15.6 points and 9.8 rebounds in his last five. His 27-point, 14-rebound effort helped Denver stop Toronto's nine-game winning streak.|
|23 (26)||(16-36)||Karl-Anthony Towns in the T-Wolves' wins at the Clippers and against the Bulls: 21.5 points, 14.5 rebounds, 2.0 blocks. He'll be an All-Star in the next two years.|
|24 (21)||(23-31)||Derek Fisher's firing Monday morning was a bit of a surprise. Would Phil Jackson ever consider hiring Tom Thibodaeu? Contrasting styles, but Thibs' resume is the best one out there.|
|25 (24)||(20-32)||Here's a scary thought. The Bucks win the lottery this summer and tout a small ball frontcourt of Ben Simmons, Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo.|
|26 (25)||(22-28)||Losers in 15 of 18, their reward before the All-Star break is a road game in Atlanta and hosting the Spurs. Tobias Harris may be on the move to clear up minutes.|
|27 (27)||(8-43)||Great to see Jahlil Okafor (22 points, 17 rebounds) and Nerlens Noel (18 points, four steals, three blocks) tag-team in a win over the Nets on Saturday.|
|28 (28)||(13-39)||They've lost six of seven since a double-digit win over the Thunder. Hiring a general manager before the trade deadline would be a good move for them.|
|29 (30)||(11-42)||Black Mamba back? Kobe has averaged 28.3 points (on 22.3 FGA) in his last four games. His 38-point effort against Minnesota was a fun vintage moment.|
|30 (29)||(14-38)||A silver lining in this disaster of a season? Phoenix may have found something in guard Archie Goodwin (16.1 points, 4.6 assists in his last nine games).|