2020 NBA Power Rankings: Lakers move to the top
NBA Power Rankings: Lakers move to the top
This is the time of year teams want to be playing their best basketball.
It’s do-or-die for a few franchise’s playoff hopes while other teams will be focused heavily on jockeying for the best seeding.
As we get closer to the playoffs and contenders start to face off for the last time during the regular season, we can get a better understanding of where everyone stands before the most important time of year.
30. Atlanta Hawks
Last week: 30
Clint Capela has yet to play a game for his new team and until we get a sense of how they play with their new big man, it looks pretty bleak for this group.
We'll see how they defend when Capela returns.
29. Detroit Pistons
Last week: 29
The Pistons are not a good basketball team right now, but that's okay.
At least it appears they'll put themselves in a position to get a decent pick in this year's draft. Over the past few years they've been just good enough to occupy the end of the lottery.
28. Cleveland Cavaliers
Last week: 26
Surprisingly enough, Andre Drummond hasn't automatically turned the Cavs into a fringe playoff team.
A win for the Cavs this year would be to see significant developments from Collin Sexton and Darius Garland. Hopefully the whole 2002 frontcourt they're running doesn't keep that from happening.
27. New York Knicks
Last week: 27
The Knicks stay put this week as they count down the days until the offseason, where they can re-shuffle the deck and give their fans false hope yet again.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves
Last week: 26
The Timberwolves were somehow able to flip Andrew Wiggins for D'Angelo Russell, but there's still much more work to be done before this team is a playoff contender.
They might want to do something soon before Karl-Anthony Towns starts thinking about a trade request.
25. Charlotte Hornets
Last week: 24
More of the same on the court for the Hornets means more of the same in these rankings for the Hornets.
24. Washington Wizards
Last week: 24
The Wizards' inconsistent play continues to keep them close enough to a playoff spot to try for one but not enough to actually make a move toward clinching one.
At least Bradley Beal is still a scoring machine.
23. Chicago Bulls
Last week: 22
The Bulls aren't a very good team, but they've proven they're at least better than the Wizards, winning three-of-four matchups with Washington this season.
22. Golden State Warriors
Last week: 23
It's simply impossible for an NBA team to be terrible with Steph Curry in the lineup. However, all eyes in Golden State are focused on next season when Klay Thompson returns.
21. Phoenix Suns
Last week: 20
The Suns are in a free-fall at the most important time in the season. They looked great at the beginning of the year, but it'll be another trip to the lottery for Devin Booker and co.
20. San Antonio Spurs
Last week: 19
Barring some incredible run over the last quarter of the season, the Spurs are going to miss the playoffs. That feels weird to say.
19. Sacramento Kings
Last week: 20
The Blazers and Pelicans and Grizzlies are the focus of the battle for the eighth seed in the West, but don't forget about the Kings. Harrison Barnes is playing like a man who really, really wants to shave.
Earlier in the year he said he won't shave until the Kings are back at .500. Eight more games, Harrison. Eight more games.
18. Brooklyn Nets
Last week: 17
Already down Kevin Durant for the season, the Nets just lost Kyrie Irving for the rest of the year due to his shoulder injury.
However, Caris LeVert could raise Brooklyn's ceiling if he can become a go-to scorer.
17. Orlando Magic
Last week: 18
The Magic look like the favorite to draw the Bucks in the first round of the playoffs.
Markelle Fultz has been a great story, but is that enough? They certainly have the length to match up with Giannis Antetokounmpo an the Bucks' supporting cast.
16. Portland Trail Blazers
Last week: 16
Damian Lillard is back, but it may be too late for them to sneak into the Western Conference playoff picture.
Just an unfortunate year for Portland. They could never catch a break with their health.
15. New Orleans Pelicans
Last week: 15
Zion Williamson is the real deal and the Pelicans are rising fast in the standings.
The eighth seed in the West may end up coming down to the top two picks in the 2019 draft, which is pretty cool for the league.
14. Memphis Grizzlies
Last week: 14
The Grizzlies are for real. Ja Morant is a superstar in the making, Jaren Jackson Jr. is the perfect modern center and they just signed Dillon Brooks to a reasonable extension.
Fingers crossed they remain in the Western Conference playoff picture so we can see Morant play on the big stage. They have the toughest schedule in the NBA the rest of the way.
13. Dallas Mavericks
Last week: 13
Luka Doncic is back from injury and has continued to stuff the stat sheet on a nightly basis.
As long as he's healthy, the Mavs should be a lock to make the playoffs and could make some noise once they get there.
12. Philadelphia 76ers
Last week: 9
The Sixers already struggle to win games due to their poorly constructed roster, but take their best players out of it due to injury and you have even more of a disaster.
It's growing more likely by the day that the Sixers won't have home-court advantage at any point in the playoffs.
Not exactly how they envisioned this season going.
11. Indiana Pacers
Last week: 12
After taking a tumble down the standings immediately following Victor Oladipo's return, the Pacers appear to have gotten back on track.
We'll see if they can make it out of the first round of the playoffs, though.
10. Houston Rockets
Last week: 5
Is the small-ball jig up in Houston? Nobody will really know until the playoffs, but the Rockets have had a few bad losses recently.
Still, I don't want any part of this team if I'm a top team in the West. Russell Westbrook operating with a wide-open restricted area is unsettling to think about for anyone who isn't a Rockets fan.
9. Oklahoma City Thunder
Last week: 9
For non-contenders, OKC has to be one of the most desirable situations in the league.
They have a ton of future draft picks from the Paul George trade, a budding star in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and have easily won the Chris Paul-Russell Westbrook trade.
The Thunder are in prime position to make the playoffs and I doubt there are many teams who'd like to see them in the first round.
8. Utah Jazz
Last week: 11
Utah is a very good regular season team anchored by the best rim protector in the league in Rudy Gobert and a star scorer in Donovan Mitchell.
Gobert and Mitchell have struggled to reach another level in the postseason, which is where Mike Conley was supposed to come in and help with that.
So far this season, Conley has struggled to find his rhythm and the Jazz have already considered moving him to the bench. He puts a limit on the Jazz's ceiling until further notice.
7. Miami Heat
Last week: 6
The Heat are a bad matchup for both the Sixers and Bucks, and those are the two teams they very well may see in the first two rounds of the playoffs.
If I'm Philly and Milwaukee, I don't want to see these guys at all.
6. Boston Celtics
Last week: 4
The Celtics were flying high thanks to an unbelievable run by Jayson Tatum, but the injury bug has hit Boston yet again causing them to slide.
When healthy this is a top-five team in the league, but if two of their main guys go down, the Celtics don't have much scoring depth behind them to successfully run an iso/pick-and-roll-heavy scheme.
5. Denver Nuggets
Last week: 8
Denver is a really good team and has quietly held the second seed in the West for most of the season. Still, as is the case with most contenders, success in the playoffs will determine how this group is remembered.
Can Jokic be the best player on a title team? Is Jamal Murray's streaky shooting going to do them in once again? We'll see.
4. Toronto Raptors
Last week: 7
The Raptors may have peaked too early. They played their best during their winning streak earlier in the year, and it's hard to see them reaching another level in the playoffs against more talented teams.
Still, they continue to play good basketball so it's hard to drop them very far.
3. Milwaukee Bucks
Last week: 1
The Bucks will go down as one of the best regular-season teams of all time. They'll probably get back to the top spot sooner or later, but their recent stretch of games earns them a drop to No. 3
2. Los Angeles Clippers
Last week: 2
Fingers crossed the Clippers secure either the second or third seed in the West so they don't run into the Lakers until the Conference Finals.
A conference semifinal between the two best teams in a conference just wouldn't feel right.
1. Los Angeles Lakers
Last week: 3
Some may think LeBron James could win the MVP instead of Giannis Antetokounmpo, but those people would be wrong.
Aside from that, wins over the Bucks and Clippers in one week will vault you to the top. Simple as that.