In his first season in Miami, Dion Waiters is playing an outsized role in the Heat’s active 10-game winning streak (Keith Allison/Creative Commons).

Up is down and down is up in this tumultuous edition of the power rankings, which features the most movement of any edition so far, with mighty teams struggling and lowly teams rising up. The Cleveland Cavaliers, still the consensus pick to come out of the Eastern Conference, went just 7-8 in January, giving LeBron James his first losing month since his rookie year. The Toronto Raptors and the Houston Rockets, both in last edition‘s top five, have lost eight of 11 and eight of their last 14, respectively. Even the seemingly unstoppable Golden State Warriors, who have occupied the No. 1 spot in our rankings every single edition except for our first, have dropped games since last edition to the Miami Heat and the Sacramento Kings.

On the other side, the Washington Wizards were just 13-16 before Christmas and have since gone 17-4, steadily climbing up the Eastern Conference standings to the third seed, and up our rankings to fourth. The Dallas Mavericks, at one point dead last in our rankings, have won six of their last seven games, their one loss coming to the Miami Heat. And finally, the twice-aforementioned Heat, unquestionably the NBA’s biggest story right now, were 11-30 and 29th in our previous power rankings, before rattling off 10 straight wins, a streak that is still active. These are some exciting times in the NBA.

Biggest Jumps: Miami Heat (+15), Washington Wizards (+8), Dallas Mavericks (+8)

Biggest Falls: Philadelphia 76ers (-8), Milwaukee Bucks (-8), Toronto Raptors (-8)

Our three panelists, Loren Lee Chen, Aaron Fischman and Joshua Jonah Fischman, independently ranked the league’s 30 teams from top to bottom. Their averaged rankings produced this 1-30 list and took into account all NBA regular-season games up until and including Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017. There were three contests on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017, that are not reflected in the rankings but have been taken into account for the blurbs and team records.

  1. Golden State Warriors (43-8, Previous Rank: 1)
  2. San Antonio Spurs (39-11, Previous Rank: 2)
  3. Cleveland Cavaliers (34-15, Previous Rank: 3)
  4. Washington Wizards (30-20, Previous Rank: 12) – The Wizards have rattled off 11 of 12, jumping eight spots on our ladder all the way to fourth. During its current seven-game winning streak, Washington has outscored its opponents by an average of just under 15 points. The District’s domination has it percentage points ahead of Toronto for third in the Eastern Conference and 2.5 games behind Boston. John Wall is averaging 22.5 points, 14.0 assists and 2.5 steals over his past four, and, look out, he’s starting to fire away from deep, hoisting seven 3-point attempts in each of his past two games. Bradley Beal and Marcin Gortat have enjoyed the winning streak too. The former drilled 41.7 percent of his 3-pointers during the seven-game run, while the latter converted 73.4 percent of his field goals and corralled 11.4 rebounds per game. As hot as the Wizards are, they face a brutal upcoming schedule. First, Washington faces Cleveland with a 17-game home winning streak on the line. The following nine games include matches with the Warriors, Jazz, Thunder and two tilts apiece against the Pacers and Raptors. – Joshua
  5. Boston Celtics (33-18, Previous Rank: 6) – Thanks to a current seven-game winning streak and recent hiccups by the Cavaliers and Raptors, the Boston Celtics crack our top five for the first time, find themselves two games out of the Eastern Conference lead and will see their head coach, Brad Stevens, lead the Eastern All-Star team in less than two weeks. Pint-sized sensation Isaiah Thomas will also take part, and deservedly so, after his January scoring output of 32.9 points per game put his name next to Celtics legends Larry Bird and Paul Pierce, at least for the time being. As Michael Pina argued in our latest team-focused interview, if not for Thomas’ recent offensive brilliance and fourth-quarter heroics, their season-long difficulties with defense and defensive rebounding would be costing the C’s more in the win column. Despite Avery Bradley missing 13 of Boston’s last 14 games, the team has won nine of those 13 Bradley-less affairs. The franchise has signaled it will continue to be cautious with handling Bradley’s injury, but a not-so-distant return is definitely within the realm of possibility. – Aaron
  6. Houston Rockets (37-17, Previous Rank: 4)
  7. Utah Jazz (32-19, Previous Rank: 8) – As they have been all season, the setbacks just keep coming for the Utah Jazz. Derrick Favors is still being hobbled by a mysterious, undisclosed knee issue. Rodney Hood will be out at least one week with a minor knee sprain, just after missing two weeks with a bone bruise on the same knee. Rudy Gobert not only got snubbed from the All-Star team, but he was also left off some outlets’ biggest snub lists. Despite all of that, the Jazz have persevered their way into a top-four seed in the West, and are still a formidable 17-4 in games in which both George Hill and Gordon Hayward play. – Loren
  8. Atlanta Hawks (30-21, Previous Rank: 9)
  9. Memphis Grizzlies (31-22, Previous Rank: 10)
  10. Los Angeles Clippers (31-20, Previous Rank: 7)
  11. Indiana Pacers (28-22, Previous Rank: 13) – Throughout OTNB’s seven power ranking editions, the Pacers have never dropped a spot or more (every time, they’ve either held their position or improved it), sharing that accomplishment with the Warriors and Celtics. With six straight wins and a 12-4 record this calendar year, Indiana is certainly playing well and gradually starting to win more frequently away from the friendly confines of Bankers Life Fieldhouse, where opponents have won just six of 25. The Pacers’ latest four road victories have come against the Nets, Magic, Timberwolves and Kings, but they won’t be faulted here for beating the weaker teams of the league; just don’t get too excited about their ability to win on the road just yet. Paul George’s 3-point shot is looking the best it has all season, and every month, newbie starting point guard Jeff Teague and 20-year-old Myles Turner have shown noticeable improvement. For example, after Teague averaged 6.7 assists per game in November, he posted averages of 8.6 and 9.8 assists per game in December and January, respectively. That’s what first-year Pacers head coach Nate McMillan loves to see. – Aaron
  12. Oklahoma City Thunder (30-22, Previous Rank: 11)
  13. Toronto Raptors (31-21, Previous Rank: 5) – This marks the first edition all season in which the Raptors have fallen out of our top seven, as they’ve lost eight or their last 11. In one embarrassing January performance in Charlotte, every Raptor other than Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan combined to shoot 14 of 51 (27.4 percent) from the field; Toronto totaled 78 points and lost by 35. Beginning January 18, when the routine losing started, Toronto ranks 26th in the NBA with a pedestrian 101.5 Offensive Rating. Before that, Toronto led the league (narrowly ahead of Golden State by 0.1) with a 113.8 clip precisely 41 games into the regular season. Even at that point, the Raptors ranked second-to-last when it came to Assist Percentage, which measures the proportion of assisted field goals of a team’s total made. Unfortunately, in DeRozan’s absence – he’s missed seven of Toronto’s last eight games with ankle issues – the team’s Assist Percentage has declined even further, all the while it is missing DeRozan’s isolation skills and propensity to live at the free-throw line. – Aaron
  14. Miami Heat (21-30, Previous Rank: 29) – Miami’s recent surge (and Dallas’ a rank below) goes to show that, this season, almost no team is truly out of the playoff race yet, with every single squad in the NBA except Brooklyn within seven games of its conference’s eighth seed. It’s current 10-game win streak ties it with Houston for the second longest this season, trailing only the dominant Warriors who had a 12-game run in November. This streak was so improbable that those 10 wins already nearly match the Heat’s win total from before the streak, when they went 11-30 and sat at 29th in our rankings. Based on win percentage before the streak, it is the most improbable 10-game win streak of all-time and is reflected in our rankings by the biggest jump of all time, 15 spots. Go ahead, Heat fans, strike a pose like Dion Waiters. You’ve earned it. – Loren
  15. Dallas Mavericks (20-30, Previous Rank: 23)
  16. Chicago Bulls (25-26, Previous Rank: 14)
  17. Portland Trail Blazers (22-30, Previous Rank: 21) – Quality wins had been few and far between for Portland, but that phenomenon is starting to change. Since our last edition, the Blazers defeated the Celtics in Boston and the Grizzlies, and came tantalizingly close to taking down the Warriors on January 29. All season, miserable defense has plagued the team, yet over its latest seven-game stretch in which it’s won four, Portland is sporting a respectable 106.2 Defensive Rating (13th in the NBA). Before then, the Blazers ranked 27th in Defensive Efficiency with a 108.9 mark. For a team so reliant on two big-time scorers in Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum – other than those two, not one Blazer averages more than 11.1 points per game – Allen Crabbe’s gradual increase in aggressiveness has been an important development. In wins, Crabbe is attempting 9.2 field goals per game compared to 7.4 in losses. Meanwhile, McCollum is hitting long-range shots at a rate better than 43 percent over his last seven games, and Damian Lillard feels overlooked after not being named to the All-Star team again. With the No. 8 seed wide open in the West, look out for this weird team. – Aaron
  18. Detroit Pistons (23-28, Previous Rank: 17)
  19. Denver Nuggets (22-28, Previous Rank: 18)
  20. New York Knicks (22-30, Previous Rank: 22)
  21. Charlotte Hornets (23-28, Previous Rank: 16)
  22. Sacramento Kings (20-31, Previous Rank: 25)
  23. Milwaukee Bucks (22-28, Previous Rank: 15) – The Bucks have fallen eight spots, tied with two other teams for the most precipitous decline from our last edition. Despite blowing away Phoenix on Saturday with 137 points, Milwaukee had lost 10 of 11 games, including a pair to the 76ers at home, one of which coming without Joel Embiid. Strikingly, the Bucks rank fourth in field-goal percentage. The teams that stand ahead of Milwaukee in this category place first, second and fourth in these power rankings. As far as opponents’ field-goal percentage, the Bucks rank a solid 11th. Milwaukee actually has a positive point differential, but the team has lost nine of 15 games decided by five points or fewer this season. In games decided by 15 points or greater, the Bucks stand at 9-9. Milwaukee is losing both types of games lately, without discrimination, dropping its last three close battles and five of its past six blowouts. Thankfully, help is coming imminently. Khris Middleton is expected to launch his season on Wednesday and frontcourt trade additions Roy Hibbert and Spencer Hawes should also debut that night against the red-hot Heat. – Joshua
  24. Minnesota Timberwolves (19-32, Previous Rank: 24) – The young Timberwolves are still dealing with one of the main issues we discussed on the podcast with Patrick Fenelon earlier this season: they are a decent first-half team (+4.6 Net Rating) and a terrible second-half one (-8.1 Net Rating). With their point differential, you’d expect them to be 23-28 and in possession of the eighth seed rather than their current 19-32, 13th in the West position. In most years, you might expect a bit of a correction in the second half of the season, but that doesn’t appear to be coming with news that starting point guard Zach LaVine will miss the remainder of the season with an ACL injury. Zach LaVine, at just 21 years old, was having a breakout season, averaging nearly 19 points per game, and in just 47 games, finishing with the seventh best season in Timberwolves history in terms of 3-pointers made. – Loren
  25. New Orleans Pelicans (19-32, Previous Rank: 20)
  26. Orlando Magic (20-33, Previous Rank: 26)
  27. Philadelphia 76ers (18-32, Previous Rank: 19)
  28. Phoenix Suns (16-35, Previous Rank: 27) – The Suns are tied for third in the NBA in possessions per game, and the speedy Eric Bledsoe makes it all possible. The emerging star point guard has scored at least 40 points in three of his past eight games. Along with Bledsoe, Phoenix is extremely optimistic about sharpshooter Devin Booker, rookie Marquese Chriss, and super-athlete T.J. Warren. In the team’s most recent game, Booker scored 27 points in the second quarter alone. The game before that, he totaled 33, including a fadeaway buzzer-beating game-winner. Chriss has certainly experienced growing pains this season, but he is coming off a career-high 27-point outburst. Now, quick, avert your eyes before I discuss the team’s recent defense. In dropping six of their previous seven contests, the Suns have allowed more than 120 points per game, including 137 to the Bucks and 127 and 123 to the Nuggets in consecutive games. – Joshua
  29. Los Angeles Lakers (17-36, Previous Rank: 28)
  30. Brooklyn Nets (9-42, Previous Rank: 30)

We hope you enjoyed the list. Links to the previous editions of our power rankings can be found here.