NBA Power Rankings: Countdown to the trade deadline
BOSTON -- With the trade deadline right around the corner, a potential power shift is indeed on the horizon.
What will the Detroit Pistons do with Andre Drummond? We’ve spent most of the season talking about Kevin Love being on the move. Will the Cavs find a partner willing to give them the king’s ransom they’ll seek in such a deal? And then there’s lesser-known talent like Minnesota’s Robert Covington, widely viewed as a potential piece who could provide some added depth for a team whose sights are set on a deep playoff run.
Let’s not forget about Andre Iguodala, who is on the books in Memphis but hasn’t played a game all season. While he’s a proven impact player as a starter or as a reserve, is rendering a first-round pick too much for the soon-to-be-36-year-old?
Lots of players, lots of questions and we know what that usually means: lots of fireworks and drama on the rumor mill between now and the Feb. 6 trade deadline.
That said, here are NBC Sports Boston’s latest NBA Power Rankings.
30. Minnesota Timberwolves (15-31)
Rank last week: 24
Their record suggests they should be ranked a lot higher. Have you seen the Timberpups lately? They are playing the worst basketball in the NBA right now.
29. Atlanta Hawks (12-35)
Rank last week: 29
Every All-Star team has that one guy whose numbers are at one side of the room and wins, the other. Welcome to the world of Trae Young.
28. Golden State Warriors (10-37)
Rank last week: 30
It isn’t so much that the Warriors are improving as much as it is the teams around them are struggling more than they are lately.
27. Charlotte Hornets (15-31)
Rank last week: 23
It’s hard to believe it was only a couple of weeks ago when the Hornets seemed to be in the thick of things for one of the last playoff spots. Currently riding an eight-game losing streak, the last thing this group is thinking about now is the postseason.
26. Sacramento Kings (16-29)
Rank last week: 26
The Kings have had their share of not-so-friendly whistles this month, ranked in the bottom 10 for the month of January in free throw attempts (20.9) per game.
25. Cleveland Cavaliers (12-34)
Rank last week: 25
The Cavs are in the middle of yet another horrendous losing streak that stands at seven in a row … and counting.
24. New York Knicks (13-34)
Rank last week: 28
The wins remain hard to come by, but the Knicks have been more competitive lately. They rank among the NBA’s worst when it comes to plus-minus this season. But in the last five games, they are +3.2 points per game, which ranks eighth overall in the league.
23. Washington Wizards (15-30)
Rank last week: 27
With the way this season has played out, it’s just a matter of time before the Wizards decide to start limiting or shutting down Bradley Beal altogether.
22. Detroit Pistons (17-30)
Rank last week: 21
One of the seldom-talked about storylines to this season has been the resurrection of Derrick Rose in Detroit.
21. Brooklyn Nets (19-25)
Rank last week: 18
They’ve lost six of their last seven but more importantly, they’re looking more like a team that has also lost its identity of being a tough, rugged, fight-to-the-bitter-end kind of squad.
20. San Antonio Spurs (20-25)
Rank last week: 17
After winning three in a row by five points or less, the Spurs have succumbed to back-to-back losses by four points.
19. Chicago Bulls (18-30)
Rank last week: 22
With a No. 8 seed in sight and games coming up against San Antonio, Indiana, Brooklyn and Toronto this week, we should have a better sense in the coming days whether the Bulls are going to add for a potential playoff run, or look to play out the season with the group they have currently.
18. Portland Trail Blazers (19-27)
Rank last week: 20
Jusuf Nurkic is back to 5-on-5 practicing with the Blazers. His return, sooner rather than later at this point, should provide a much-needed jolt of energy to a Blazers team that by and large has been one of the NBA’s biggest underachievers.
17.New Orleans Pelicans (17-29)
Rank last week: 19
The Pelicans seem poised to make a push for one of the last playoff spots out West now that Zion Williamson is in healthy and doing what we all expected: dominating play when he's on the floor.
16. Phoenix Suns (19-26)
Rank last week: 16
Of the NBA’s Top 10 scorers, Devin Booker is the only one who has not been selected to an All-Star Game.
15. Orlando Magic (21-25)
Rank last week: 14
With Al-Farouq Aminu and Jonathan Isaac both out for the year, the Magic are in the market for an additional wing player.
13. Houston Rockets (28-17)
Rank last week: 12
James Harden’s thigh injury will cost him a couple games, but this really could be a blessing in disguise for him to be fresher for the postseason in which his scoring average has taken a dip each of Houston’s last five playoff runs.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (28-19)
Rank last week: 13
There are a lot of good coaches worthy of Coach of the Year honors, but the job that Billy Donovan has done in what was supposed to be a rebuilding season really stands out from the pack.
11. Boston Celtics (30-15)
Rank last week: 11
With so many guys in and out of the lineup because of injuries, you get the sense that this will be one of those, “If only we could stay healthy” kind of seasons for the Celtics.
10. Philadelphia 76ers (30-17)
Rank last week: 10
The Sixers are adjusting to life without Joel Embiid, winning five of their last six games in his absence which improved their record without Embiid this year to 9-7.
9. Indiana Pacers (30-16)
Rank last week: 8
With 36 double-doubles on the season (No. 3 in the NBA), it’s hard to imagine the coaches won’t have a spot for Domantas Sabonis in next month’s All-Star Game.
8. Dallas Mavericks (28-12)
Rank last week: 7
Kudos to the Mavericks for adding some much-needed size in Willie Cauley-Stein after Dwight Powell’s season-ending Achilles injury, and the price only being a second-round pick.
6. Los Angeles Clippers (32-14)
Rank last week: 4
Kawhi Leonard has been on a blistering tear recently, scoring 30 or more points in each of his last eight games played.
5. Denver Nuggets (32-14)
Rank last week: 3
They remain one of the top teams in the NBA, but multiple league sources sense they will look to pull off a deal at the trade deadline to bolster their roster for what they hope will be a deep playoff run.
4. Toronto Raptors (32-14)
Rank last week: 9
With very little fanfare or attention, the Raptors have climbed the Eastern Conference mountaintop while riding an impressive seven-game winning streak.
3. Utah Jazz (32-13)
Rank last week: 5
Ruby Gobert is positioning himself to not only win a third Defensive Player of the Year award, but also be selected to his first All-Star Game.
2. Los Angeles Lakers (36-10)
Rank last week: 2
LeBron James passing Kobe Bryant for No. 3 on the NBA’s all-time scorers list coming just days before Bryant’s untimely passing, has made the milestone a moot topic of discussion now.
1. Milwaukee Bucks (40-6)
Rank last week: 1
All they do is win, win, win no matter what. Yes, it’s a song but it’s also the only way to describe where the Bucks are right now as a team.