NBA Power Rankings
30. Golden State Warriors (10-34) Last Week: 29
The Warriors snapped their longest losing streak in nearly 18 years at ten games with a 109-95 decision over Orlando on Saturday. Meanwhile, Klay Thompson met the media last week and wouldn’t commit to sitting out the entire season while he continues his rehab from ACL surgery, but it’s hard to imagine Thompson coming back with nothing but lottery positioning to play for.
29. Atlanta Hawks (10-34) Last Week: 30
The Hawks won 2 of their 3 games last week, rallying from a 14 point 4th quarter deficit to beat the Spurs on Friday. Disappointing lottery pick Cam Reddish had his best outing as a pro in that same game, scoring 22 points in a starting role while also adding 5 rebounds and 4 assists.
28. New York Knicks (11-32) Last Week: 28
Another winless week for the New Yorkers, capped off by a tough 3 point loss to the 76’ers at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks will be mentioned prominently in trade rumors over the next 2 and a half weeks, with a number of contending teams interested in forward Marcus Morris, who’s having a career year from 3 point range.
27. Washington Wizards (13-28)Last Week: 25
Reporters who covered the Wizards locker room after their loss to the Bulls last Wednesday wrote star guard Bradley Beal was as frustrated as they had ever seen him. Will Beal try to force his way out of the nation’s capital after signing a contract extension before the season? It will be a storyline to follow leading up the February 6th deadline.
26. Cleveland Cavaliers (12-31) Last Week: 27
After starting a six game road trip with a pair of unlikely wins, the Cavs dropped the last four, including Saturday’s ugly collapse at the United Center. Cleveland turned the ball over 10 times during the final 12 minutes to let a 15 point lead disappear. Wonder if John Beilein wishes he had stayed at Michigan?
25. Charlotte Hornets (15-29) Last Week: 21
Reality is starting to set in for the Hornets, who might have the least talented roster in the league. Charlotte has lost six games in a row, with opposing defenses starting to zero in on early season surprise Devonte Graham. Graham is shooting just 36% from the field over his last 10 games.
24. Sacramento Kings (15-27) Last Week: 23
The Kings continue to lose close games, dropping a two point decision at home to Orlando last Monday, then losing by four to Luka Doncic and the Mavs on Wednesday. KIngs’ fans were left to wonder what might have been after watching Luka put up a 25 point, 15 rebound, 17 assist triple double. Vlade Divac decided to draft big man Marvin Bagley instead of Doncic with the 2nd pick in the 2018 draft.
23. Minnesota Timberwolves (15-27) Last Week: 20
The Timberwolves started their mid-season house cleaning by trading veteran point guard Jeff Teague to Atlanta for three point specialist Allen Crabbe. Karl-Anthony Towns returned from a knee injury and Andrew Wiggins posted his first career triple double, but the TWolves’ losing streak still grew to five.
22. Detroit Pistons (16-27) Last Week: 26
The Pistons closed the week by knocking off the Celtics and Suns, led by the amazing Derrick Rose, who took advantage of a move into the starting line-up to post a combined 49 points and 15 assists in the two victories. Rose is signed for next season at a modest price, which could make him a top target for contending teams before the trade deadline.
21. Chicago Bulls (16-28) Last Week: 24
Zach LaVine improved his All-Star case by scoring 21 of his game-high 42 points in the 4th quarter Saturday night as the Bulls erased a 19 point deficit against Cleveland. It’s the third time this season LaVine has carried the Bulls to an unlikely win with late game heroics, and his January scoring spree has increased his season average to 25 points a game.
20. Portland Trailblazers (18-26) Last Week: 19
Portland’s front office is still trying to decide whether to be buyers or sellers at the deadline. The Blazers traded Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver to Sacramento in a salary dump, and they’re also looking to move Hassan Whiteside’s huge expiring contract. Plus, star shooting guard C.J. McCollum could be out for a while after suffering a sprained ankle last week.
19. New Orleans Pelicans (16-27) Last Week: 22
Don’t look now, but the Pelicans have won nine of their last 13 games with Zion Williamson scheduled to make his regular season debut on Wednesday. Brandon Ingram is the favorite to win the NBA’s Most Improved Player award, averaging 25.6 points per game while shooting 40% from 3 point range. Ingram poured in a career-high 49 points in an upset at Utah last Thursday, snapping the Jazz’ 10 game winning streak.
18. Phoenix Suns (18-24) Last Week: 18
Something about visiting Boston’s T.D. Garden brings out the best in star guard Devin Booker. Booker scored 70 points against the Celtics in Boston three years ago, and Saturday he just missed a triple double with 39 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists in an unlikely win for Phoenix. The #1 overall pick from the 2018 draft, center Deandre Ayton added 26 points and 15 rebounds.
17. Brooklyn Nets (18-23) Last Week: 16
Kyrie Irving is back, but that’s not necessarily a good thing when it comes to the Nets’ won-loss record. Brooklyn is 1-3 since Irving’s return, and he raised more than a few eyebrows with his post-game comments last Wednesday that the front office needs to add “one or two pieces” to elevate the Nets to contending status when Kevin Durant comes on board next season. So much for being a leader in his first season in Brooklyn.
16. San Antonio Spurs (18-23) Last Week: 15
The Spurs lost close games to the Heat and Hawks before bouncing back with a win over Miami in the rematch on Sunday. Veteran guard DeMar DeRozan had been hearing his name in trade rumors, but he’s picked up his scoring lately, averaging 28.1 points over his last 10 games. But will DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge be enough to get San Antonio back to the playoffs for a record 23rd straight season?
15. Orlando Magic (20-23) Last Week: 17
The Magic became the first sub-.500 team to beat the Lakers this season, winning by one at Staples Center last week, thanks to some late game heroics by Markelle Fultz. Fultz hit two big lay-ups in the final minute and finished with a triple double, 21 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. All of a sudden, it looks like the Magic has found its franchise point guard.
14. Oklahoma City Thunder (24-19) Last Week: 13
Chris Paul continues to do an excellent job of leading a Thunder team that was kind of patched together by GM Sam Presti in the wake of trading stars Russell Westbrook and Paul George over the summer. Paul scored 30 points and dished out seven assists in a win over Portland on Saturday. He’s put together a solid season, averaging 16.5 points and 6.5 assists while shooting 48% from the field and 36.6% from the 3 point line.
13. Memphis Grizzlies (20-22) Last Week: 14
Another highlight-reel filled week for the amazing Ja Morant and the up-and-coming Grizzlies. Memphis has now won seven straight after beating the Rockets and Cavs. Morant has already developed excellent chemistry with young forwards Jaren Jackson Jr. and Brandon Clarke, while 3rd year shooting guard Dillon Brooks is having a breakout season, averaging 15.4 points per game.
12. Houston Rockets (26-15) Last Week: 8
James Harden is still putting up big point totals, but his efficiency continues to drop as more teams are starting to run double teams at him as soon as he crosses half-court. Houston figures to be one of the most aggressive shoppers before the trade deadline, with GM Daryl Morey anxiously shopping for a three and D forward.
11. Indiana Pacers (28-15) Last Week: 12
The Pacers continue to battle injuries, but Nate McMillan gets the best out of whichever players are on the court. The youngest of the Holiday brothers, Aaron, played well at point guard when Malcolm Brogdon was sidelined because of back problems. Then Brogdon returned on Friday to hit the game-winning shot against Minnesota. Will the Pacers have an All-Star this season? Does it matter?
10. Philadelphia 76ers (28-16) Last Week: 11
The Sixers managed to win three in a row last week despite the absence of All-Star center Joel Embiid, who’s still rehabbing from surgery to repair ligament damage from a finger dislocation. Tobias Harris hit a clutch three pointer to give the Sixers a win at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, and Al Horford has taken on a bigger role in the offense with Embiid sidelined.
9. Dallas Mavericks (27-15) Last Week: 10
Luka Doncic continues to put up triple doubles and carry his team to close wins, but the Mavs have to be a little concerned about the health of co-star Kristaps Porzingis, whose return to the court was delayed by continuing knee soreness. Former University of Michigan star Tim Hardaway Jr. stepped up with 29 points in a win over Portland Friday night.
8. Boston Celtics (27-14) Last Week: 7
An odd week for the Celtics, who somehow lost at home to both the Pistons and Suns. On a positive note, defensive specialist Marcus Smart came back this season with a new and improved shooting stroke. Smart set a franchise record with 11 three pointers in the loss to Phoenix on Saturday, finishing with a career-high 37 points. He’s the 11th player in NBA history to make at least 11 3’s in a single game.
7. Toronto Raptors (28-14) Last Week: 9
Slowly, but surely, the defending NBA champs are getting healthier. Fred Van Vleet returned from a hamstring injury to score 29 points in a win over Minnesota on Saturday and big man Marc Gasol matched a career-high with six three-pointers in a rout of Washington last Wednesday. The Raptors went a perfect 3-0 for the week.
6. Miami Heat (29-13) Last Week: 5
A big offensive week for Chicago native Kendrick Nunn, who scored a combined 55 points in wins over San Antonio and Oklahoma City. After starring in the G-League last season, Nunn is a candidate for 1st team All-Rookie honors, averaging 16 points a game for the overachieving Heat. third year center Bam Adebayo has a shot to make the Eastern Conference All-Star team. He scored 21 points and pulled down 16 rebounds on Sunday against the Spurs.
5. Utah Jazz (29-13) Last Week: 4
The Jazz had a 10 game winning streak snapped last week, with an overtime loss in New Orleans. Donovan Mitchell should be headed to the All-Star game in Chicago next month. He matched his career-high with 46 points in that loss to the Pelicans, and is averaging 24.7 points for the season. The Jazz will need to reintegrate veteran point guard Mike Conley, who’s scheduled to return this week after a long absence because of a hamstring injury.
4. Denver Nuggets (29-13) Last Week: 3
Michael Porter Jr. is now the first player off the bench in Denver after sitting out all of last season following back surgery. Porter Jr. scored 18 points and pulled down 10 rebounds in a win at Golden State last week, showing the shooting ability and athleticism that made him the nation’s number one prospect coming out of high school. The 13 teams that passed on Porter Jr. in the 2018 draft could wind up with some serious regrets.
3. Los Angeles Clippers (30-13) Last Week: 6
The Clippers offense is really heating up, averaging just under 128 points in three wins last week. Paul George has missed the last five games because of a strained hamstring, but Kawhi Leonard is picking up the slack, averaging 38 points in the last three and 29.4 over his last 10. The Clippers also have the top two candidates for the 6th man award with Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell combining for an average of 39 points a game.
2. Los Angeles Lakers (34-8) Last Week: 2
The Lakers bounced back from a surprising home-court loss to Orlando with a convincing win at Houston in a nationally televised game Saturday night. LeBron James led the way against the Rockets with 31 points and 12 assists. Anthony Davis has missed the last five games because of a bruised tailbone, but should return to action this week.
1. Milwaukee Bucks (38-6) Last Week: 1
The Bucks continue to roll, with another perfect week that included road wins at Boston and Brooklyn. Giannis Antetokounmpo is starting to pull away from the field in the MVP race, while Khris Middleton is likely headed to his second straight All-Star game appearance, averaging 21.1 points over his last 10 games, shooting 50% from the field and 43.1% from 3 point range.