NBA Power Rankings: The Wild Western Conference gives us another new team at #1

Previous Power Rankings:  PreseasonWeek 1Week 2Week 3Week 4Week 5Week 6Week 7Week 8Week 9Week 10Week 11Week 12Week 13Week 14Week 15Week 16, Week 17

  1. Los Angeles Clippers

Record: 43-19

Previous Ranking: 5 (Up 4)

The Clippers have been another team in the Western Conference that has quietly gone under the radar. LA are winners of four straight and 9-1 in their last ten as they close in on the Utah Jazz and Phoenix Suns on the standings. Paul George has continued his fantastic play as he scored 30+ in two of the three games he played while Kawhi Leonard is still out.

  1. Phoenix Suns

Record: 42-17

Previous Ranking: 1 (Down 1)

Devin Booker has been in a bit of a slump since the middle of April, scoring over 20 points in only 2 games so far. Despite Booker’s struggles, the Suns have still been able to win some games, including back to back wins over the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers. Phoenix will need Booker to get out of this slump soon if they want any chance of making a serious playoff run. 

  1. Brooklyn Nets

Record: 40-20

Previous Ranking: 4 (Up 1)

The Nets have regained the one seed in the East for the moment, in large part because of a four game losing streak for Philadelphia. They were able to pick up a big win over the Celtics this week, despite missing both Kevin Durant and James Harden and getting a poor performance from Kyrie Irving offensively. The role players helped carry the load, with Joe Harris and Jeff Green scoring 20 and 19 points respectively and showed another reason why this team is so tough to beat.

  1. Utah Jazz

Record: 44-16

Previous Ranking: 3 (Down 1)

A surprise loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves is a bitter end to a rather solid week of basketball for the Jazz. Utah was able to pick up wins against the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets this week until they were stunned by Minnesota in a 5 point loss. They will have a chance to get revenge though, as they play Minnesota again on Monday.

  1. Philadelphia 76ers

Record: 39-21

Previous Ranking: 2 (Down 3)

Philly had their worst week of the season, losing all four of their games to some difficult opponents. This four game losing streak couldn’t have come at a worse time, as they dropped to the second seed in the East. Although they weren’t fully healthy for all of these games, it is a little worrying that they weren’t able to pull out one win against the Golden State Warriors, Suns, and Bucks.

  1. Milwaukee Bucks

Record: 37-22

Previous Ranking: 6 (Same)

After a one point loss to the Suns in overtime, the Bucks bounced back and won two games in a row against the 76ers. Although Ben Simmons was missing in both and Joel Embiid was out in the second game, this closes the gap between the Sixers and Bucks as they have a serious shot to get the second seed or even the first seed as a result.

  1. Denver Nuggets

Record: 39-21

Previous Ranking: 7 (Same)

The Nuggets have been able to stay afloat so far despite losing Jamal Murray for the season. They picked up two huge wins over the Grizzlies and the Trail Blazers to start the week, with Jokic showing just why he is the frontrunner for MVP. Jokic had 47 points, 15 rebounds, and 8 assists in the double overtime win against Memphis. 

  1. Dallas Mavericks

Record: 33-26

Previous Ranking: 9 (Up 1)

The Mavericks picked up back to back wins over the Lakers, as they make a push to overtake the fifth seed from them. Doncic put up a 30 point, 9 rebound, 8 assist performance in the first win, and hit a clutch stepback to help the Mavs complete the 17 point comeback in the second win. 

  1. New York Knicks

Record: 34-27

Previous Ranking: 13 (Up 4)

The Knicks are the hottest team in basketball right now and currently have the longest active win streak in the league. Winners of nine straight, New York has gotten all the way up to the fourth seed in the East. Julius Randle has continued to elevate his game this year, as he has had 6 games of 30+ points during the win streak. 

  1. Atlanta Hawks

Record: 33-27

Previous Ranking: 12 (Up 2)

The Hawks have been on fire recently, but lost a crucial game to the Knicks that lost them the fourth seed for now. Things are going to be even tougher as they will be without their star point guard Trae Young, who will be out for a while with an ankle sprain. The Hawks will look to guys like Bogdan Bogdanovic to continue to step up as they try to get healthy before the playoffs. 

  1. Boston Celtics

Record: 32-28

Previous Ranking: 10 (Down 1)

The Celtics had a chance to secure the fourth seed this week as they played two injury riddled teams in the Bulls, who were missing Zach LaVine, and the Nets who were missing KD and Harden. Instead they lost both of those games but were fortunate to pull out a win against the Suns thanks to a 32 point performance from Kemba Walker. The C’s now sit at the sixth seed with only a couple weeks left to make a push for the fourth seed.

  1. Los Angeles Lakers

Record: 35-25

Previous Ranking: 11 (Down 1)

The injury riddled Lakers continue to slide down the standings, as they have lost their last three in a row. On the brightside, they were finally able to get Anthony Davis back, who had been out since February. Unfortunately AD has looked wicked rusty, scoring only 4 points in his return game in a loss to the Mavericks.

  1. Portland Trail Blazers

Record: 32-27

Previous Ranking: 8 (Down 5)

The Trail Blazers have really struggled recently, and have lost four close games in a row. The main reason for these losses has to be Damian Lillard, as he has struggled all month to really get anything going. Dame is shooting 36% from the field and 30% from three and only scoring 21.4 points per game in his last ten and will need to turn things around as Portland is in danger of having to play in the play-in tournament again.

  1. Miami Heat

Record: 32-29

Previous Ranking: 15 (Up 1)

The Heat were able to pick up wins against some lackluster opponents in the Rockets and Bulls, but were unable to pick up a much needed win against the depleted Hawks. The Heat are currently slated to be in the play-in tournament, but a win against the Hawks would have drastically helped them secure a top 6 spot. 

  1. Memphis Grizzlies

Record: 30-28

Previous Ranking: 14 (Down 1)

The Grizzlies went 1-2 on the week, but picked up a victory over the slumping Trail Blazers in their most important game of the week. Ja Morant had some huge performances, dropping 30+ points and 10+ assists in two of their games this week. Another positive was the return of Jaren Jackson Jr. who had missed the entire season up until this point. With two more huge games against Portland this week, Memphis could look to make a move up the standings.

  1. Golden State Warriors

Record: 30-30

Previous Ranking: 16 (Same)

Stephen Curry opened up the week by dropping 49 more points on the 76ers, and while he has slowed down some over the next two games, the Warriors are primed to move up the standings. After a tough game against the Wizards, Curry rebounded by dropping 32 against the Nuggets. This team clearly will go as far as Curry takes them, and his recent play has been extremely encouraging for Golden State.

  1. San Antonio Spurs

Record: 30-29

Previous Ranking: 19 (Up 2)

The Spurs had a really good week, going 3-1 against an easier set of opponents. DeMar DeRozan saved the best for last, carrying San Antonio past the Pelicans with a 32p/8a/7r performance. Barring a collapse of some sorts, the Spurs should be able to pick up a spot in the play-in tournament, and will be fighting for a better seed the rest of the regular season.

  1. Charlotte Hornets

Record: 29-30

Previous Ranking: 17 (Down 1)

The Hornets continue to hang onto a play-in spot, going 2-2 on the week. Terry Rozier really stepped up and had some big games, including a 34p/10a/8r game against Portland to open up the week. If Charlotte can get healthy before the play-in tournament, they could look to make some noise come playoff time.

  1. Washington Wizards

Record: 26-33

Previous Ranking: 22 (Up 3)

If it weren’t for the Knicks, Washington would be the hottest team in the NBA right now. They have won nine of their last ten, including all three of their games this week. As has been the case for most of the season, it was Russell Westbrook Bradley Beal doing the heavy lifting, with Westbrook posting a triple double in all three games, and Beal dropping at least 29 points in all three games. They are currently the 10 seed, and with the way they’ve been playing recently, they could be set to move up more before the season ends.

  1. Indiana Pacers

Record: 28-31

Previous Ranking: 18 (Down 2)

Things weren’t looking good for Indiana after they lost their first two games of the week, but they righted the ship with victories over the lowly Thunder and Pistons. Malcolm Brogdon has stepped up to carry the load for the Pacers recently, as he had some big games this week, including a 29p/15r/7a game against the Thunder. If the Pacers can get everyone healthy for an extended period of time, they should be set to qualify for the play-in tournament.

  1. Toronto Raptors

Record: 25-35

Previous Ranking: 21 (Same)

The Raptors went 2-1 on the week, including a big win over the Nets, and are firmly entrenched in the race for the 10 seed in the East at this point. Their depth took another hit this week, though, as Chris Boucher is set to miss an extended period of time with an ankle injury. However, if Toronto can get Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet back on the court for extended periods of time, they could look to make a serious run for the play-in tournament over the last few weeks of the season.

  1. New Orleans Pelicans

Record: 26-34

Previous Ranking: 20 (Down 2)

Despite being in the 11 seed, the Pelicans are four games behind Golden State, and going 1-3 this past week certainly didn’t help. The Pelicans blew out the Magic, but lost each of their other games by relatively thin margins. Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram just haven’t received enough help from their teammates, and they will need to go on a crazy run if they are to find themselves in the play-in tournament.

  1. Chicago Bulls

Record: 25-35

Previous Ranking: 23 (Same)

In a stunning turn of events, the Bulls now find themselves in the #11 seed, and are currently on the outside looking in for the play-in tournament. Despite going 2-2 on the week, they have found themselves to be a victim of the Wizards recent hot streak, and may not even make the play-in tournament as a result. For a team that looked poised to make a run at avoiding the play-in tournament by getting the 6 seed or higher, the Bulls have been extremely disappointing in the second half of the season.

  1. Sacramento Kings

Record: 24-35

Previous Ranking: 24 (Same)

The Kings went 2-1 on the week, as they still are hanging around the back of the Western Conference with a slim chance to make the play-in tournament. De’Aaron Fox dropped 30 points in both of the Kings victories, while Buddy Hield had a big game in their win over Minnesota, dropping 29 points and taking over down the stretch. With Richaun Holmes set to return to the lineup this afternoon, Sacramento will probably have to win today’s contest against Golden State if they want any shot of making the play-in tournament.

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers

Record: 21-38

Previous Ranking: 25 (Same)

The Cavs would go 1-2 on the week, sandwiching a blowout victory over Chicago with two tough losses to Detroit and Charlotte. Colin Sexton and Darius Garland continue to look like the Cavs duo of the future, as they both dropped 20+ points in all three games this week. As has been the case all season though, nobody else has provided any sort of consistent production to help them out, which is why Cleveland finds themselves towards the bottom of the standings this late in the season.

  1. Detroit Pistons

Record: 18-43

Previous Ranking: 26 (Same)

The Pistons went 1-3 on the week, picking up their only victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Jerami Grant continues to make his case for Most Improved Player, dropping 20+ points in each game he played. He’s gotten some help from his teammates in recent games, such as Josh Jackson and Saddiq Bey, but they still can’t seem to find ways to pull out victories. Either way, it’s encouraging to see some younger players start to show up as the season draws to a close. 

  1. Orlando Magic

Record: 18-41

Previous Ranking: 27 (Same)

The Magic lost all three of their games this past week, and are on track to overtake the Pistons as the worst team in the East. They only had one 20 point scorer this week, with Dwayne Bacon dropping 22 in a close contest against the Rockets. Otherwise, this team seems content to spread the ball around, as they typically will have four or five players chip in double digit points. 

  1. Minnesota Timberwolves

Record: 17-44

Previous Ranking: 29 (Up 1)

The Timberwolves went 2-2, and were very close to going 3-1 if they could have beaten Sacramento for the second consecutive game. The reintegration of D’Angelo Russell into the rotation has certainly helped, as he dropped 20+ points in both the Timberwolves victories. If Russell can continue to provide a solid scoring presence behind Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards, Minnesota will have a chance to win some more games as the season wraps up.

  1. Oklahoma City Thunder

Record: 20-40

Previous Ranking: 29 (Down 1)

Despite looking a little bit more competent this week than last week, the Thunder dropped all four of their games. With Lu Dort missing half of the week, Darius Bazley picked up the extra slack, dropping 20 points in three out of the four games this week. Players like Bazley and Dort will continue to get long looks throughout the rest of the season for Oklahoma.

  1. Houston Rockets

Record: 15-46

Previous Ranking: 30 (Same)

The Rockets season-long struggles continued, as they went 1-4 on the week, with their only win coming over the Orlando Magic to kick off the week. Despite playing in only three games, John Wall was easily the best player for Houston this week. He surpassed 20 points twice, and nearly led the Rockets to an upset victory over the Los Angeles Clippers, dropping 27 points while also dishing out 13 assists.

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