Alright folks. As the season begins to come around the home stretch, it’s time to take a look at an updated version of the NBA power rankings.
1) Milwaukee Bucks (53-10) – Despite losing a few times in the past two weeks, they are still the team to beat. They still play like the best team in the NBA and have the likely MVP on their roster.
2) Los Angeles Lakers (48-13) – The Lakers have been on a tear of late and have won nine7 of 10 overall. LeBron and AD are locked in, and this is a team you really do not want to mess with.
3) Los Angeles Clippers (43-19) – The Clippers are finally fully healthy and so they can figure out what they want their rotation to look like. Winners of six straight, the Clippers don’t seem to be losing any time soon.
4) Toronto Raptors (44-18) – As they start to get their key players back into the lineup, they will only improve. Milwaukee doesn’t need to worry about them during the regular season, but they are good enough to scare them.
5) Utah Jazz (41-22) – Since the decision was made to move Joe Ingles back to the bench, they have won five games in a row. This is a talented team with a lot of potential. Watch out, as they are just starting to hit their stride.
6) Denver Nuggets (42-21) – They lost to the Cavs Saturday, and also took a loss to the Warriors this week. They are trending in the wrong direction at the moment, but they should be able to fix things this week during their long road trip.
7) Boston Celtics (42-20) – Injuries to Gordon Hayward and Jaylen Brown this week certainly put a damper on the excitement of Jayson Tatum. But they will all get healthy soon and be able to make teams fret them again.
8) Miami Heat (40-23) – They have not been playing their best ball of late, but they do still have two current All-Stars on their roster at the end of the day.
9) OKC Thunder (39-24) – They are playing great ball right now and have found a starting lineup that works best for them. They will have a chance to pull an upset or two this postseason.
10) Houston Rockets (39-23) – As good as they are capable of being, some nights they just do not have it. They have dropped three games in a row and will hope to get back to it this week. The small-ball era has turned heads and been effective at times. But some nights it costs them games.
11) Dallas Mavericks (39-25) – Between Luka and KP, there are enough highlights to go around for the whole team. The other guys occasionally step up and perform in a big way, but not always. Their season will be determined by the supporting cast.
12) Indiana Pacers (38-25) – Malcolm Brogdon has been unable to consistently stay in the lineup, but All-Star big man Domantas Sabonis continues to do his part to keep the team in the win column. They’ve won seven out of 10.
13) Philadelphia 76ers (38-26) – They have managed to play decent basketball with both Simmons and Embiid out of the lineup and have been unable to win road games. But somehow, they manage to stay close in games.
14) Memphis Grizzlies (32-32) – They have been struggling a bit of late, but still remain in the #8 spot in the West. As long as they can get in to the dance, they will call the year a success.
15) Sacramento Kings (28-35) – They are 3.5 games behind Memphis for that final playoff spot, but they have won seven out of 10 and are playing great ball of late. As they start to get healthy, they could have a real shot at knocking off Memphis.
16) New Orleans Pelicans (27-36) – Their odds are not great of playing into late April/early May, but the fact that they have been able to play better-than-.500 ball with all of their guys healthy after a horrific start says they will be in a good place next year.
17) Orlando Magic (28-35) – They have played well this week with Aaron Gordon returning to the lineup. They will hope to play anybody but Milwaukee in that opening round. Nobody wants that.
18) Brooklyn Nets (28-34) – With Kenny Atkinson now gone and just 20 games left, we’ll see what Jacque Vaughn may do differently. With KD and Kyrie out for the year, there aren’t many expectations. Jacque coached for Orlando after Dwight Howard left, and could not bring them to many wins.
19) Portland TrailBlazers (28-37) – They have dropped seven of their past 10 games and it seems the playoffs will elude them just one year after a trip to the conference finals. On the bright side, Jusuf Nurkic makes his return in just seven days.
20) San Antonio Spurs (26-35) – Their long playoff streak is close to reaching its end, and the team will do whatever they can to stay afloat. They will likely enter a rebuild this summer.
21) Phoenix Suns (25-38) – They are the #13 seed in the conference but they are a team filled with talent. Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton are their building blocks going into next year, with a healthy Kelly Oubre likely making a huge contribution once more in 2020-21.
22) Charlotte Hornets (22-41) – They just beat the Rockets, after giving Denver and Indiana a run for their money. This is a team that has a lot of questions to answer this summer, but for now, good things are here.
23) Washington Wizards (23-39) – This may be the worst #9 seed in either conference that we have ever seen. They can score as much as any team in the NBA, but their defense is non-existent. Bradley Beal has been on an island all by his lonesome.
24) Chicago Bulls (21-42) – Coby White has proven that he will be a star in this league, and that he should be starting for this team. When they get a new coach, maybe things will improve.
25) Cleveland Cavaliers (18-45) – They have the worst record in the East, but have won five of 10. They beat Denver last night, and have had a good week. This is a team that you should be watching for the final 19 games of the year.
26) Atlanta Hawks (19-46) – Like Cleveland, their record is totally atrocious, and they are #14 in the conference. But, of late, they have been showing signs. And the future is bright in Atlanta with Trae Young, John Collins and a hopefully healthy Clint Capela leading the way.
27) Minnesota Timberwolves (19-43) – They have not done much winning, but they are playing better ball of late. With KAT and DLo on board for next season, they should be able to double their win total.
28) Golden State Warriors (15-49) – They got Steph back on Thursday and unfortunately he got a virus and missed last night, Still, they beat the 76ers on national TV thanks to a full team effort. They have not given up on the year, and they have potential to be a super-team next season.
29) Detroit Pistons (20-44) – Christian Wood has proven that he should be a starter on next year’s team with his strong play. But nobody else on the team has come close to matching his effort. They have lost nine of 10 and have been hard to watch.
30) New York Knicks (19-44) – The Spike Lee drama this week speaks volumes of where this team sits. They don’t win much. The roster they have can hardly win them games. James Dolan has no clue what he’s doing. They have a lot of work in front of them for the summer coming up.