Seemingly recovered from injury, Chris Paul is playing at a high level as he chases his first championship ring (Verse Photography/Creative Commons).
We’ve reached the final day in a historic NBA season packed with nearly unprecedented statistical seasons by some players, monstrous single-game outbursts by others and a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs for almost all of the teams in the league. On Wednesday’s final 14-game slate, six playoff seeds are still yet to be determined: 1, 2, 7 and 8 in the East and 4 and 5 in the West. Thirteen teams have already been eliminated from further contention, and the rest hope that their fortunes will be on the rise. This will be the final edition of our power rankings this season, but as a reminder, you can chart how every team has fared in our rankings over the course of the season with the interactive graph atop the Power Rankings landing page.
Biggest Jumps: Atlanta Hawks (+8), Minnesota Timberwolves (+6), Los Angeles Lakers (+6)
Biggest Falls: Philadelphia 76ers (-7), Denver Nuggets (-6), Dallas Mavericks (-5) Continue reading
With brilliant play since the All-Star break and a little help from his friends, Damian Lillard has led the Trail Blazers into sole possession of the Western Conference’s eighth seed (James Schumacher/Flickr).
With fewer than 10 games remaining on each team’s regular-season schedule, valuable playoff seeding is still up for grabs all over the NBA standings. Some teams, like the Celtics, Blazers and Raptors, look like they’re hitting their stride at just the right moment, building momentum that they hope will continue through the playoffs. Others, like the Hawks and Cavaliers, are just hoping that they can stop the bleeding before it’s too late. As always, the result is much debate and movement in the penultimate regular-season edition of our power rankings.
Biggest Jumps: Portland Trail Blazers (+8), Toronto Raptors (+5), Denver Nuggets (+5), New Orleans Pelicans (+5)
Biggest Falls: Minnesota Timberwolves (-14), Detroit Pistons (-9), Atlanta Hawks (-7)
Jimmy Butler and the Chicago Bulls halted their five-game losing streak by defeating Charlotte Monday night (Jacob Gaertner/Creative Commons).
A particularly tumultuous period sees the Warriors and Cavaliers dropping to their lowest positions of the season. Meanwhile, every other team has moved up or down at least one spot except for the Clippers and Hawks, who remained at No. 8 and 12, respectively. A handful of sub-.500 squads are recognized for their strong recent play, as the Grizzlies and Bulls are punished for their sluggish performances over the past two weeks. One final fun fact: Last edition, Chicago came in at No. 15, a full 10 spots ahead of the Hornets. This time around, Chicago clings to a single-spot lead over Charlotte after edging the Hornets Monday night.
Biggest Jumps: Milwaukee Bucks (+6), Minnesota Timberwolves (+5), Washington Wizards (+4)
Biggest Falls: Chicago Bulls (-6), Memphis Grizzlies (-5), Dallas Mavericks (-4), Indiana Pacers (-4), Toronto Raptors, (-4) Continue reading
The Timberwolves likely need Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns to continue excelling in order to grab a playoff spot out West (Erik Drost/Creative Commons).
After a long break for All-Star festivities and trade negotiations, NBA games are finally back, and so are our power rankings. The already jumbled landscape of the league has become even more complicated as many of the top contenders were able to strengthen their team via trade or the waiver wire for the final stretch of the regular season. At the same time, major injuries to key players, such as Golden State’s Kevin Durant and Toronto’s Kyle Lowry, have their teams scrambling for short-term fixes. With just over a quarter of the regular season to go, it will be interesting to see how the shifting sands begin to settle, and how teams will be able to adjust to incorporating new pieces and covering for missing ones.
Biggest Jumps: Toronto Raptors (+7), Minnesota Timberwolves (+6)
Biggest Falls: Washington Wizards (-5), four teams tied at -4 (Kings, Hornets, Blazers, Hawks) Continue reading
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) Continue reading
Coach Brett Brown and his Sixers are finally starting to see results, with wins in seven of their last nine games (TastyPoutine/Creative Commons).
With every team at or beyond the midpoint of its regular-season schedule, it could not be a better time to assess how each squad measures up. Some teams will be celebrating All-Star starter selections just named, while many others are confronting serious injuries. Amid this crazy time, the 76ers jumped nine slots, leaving the league’s cellar thanks to a mighty strong start to 2017. Meanwhile, the Charlotte Hornets, Sacramento Kings and Orlando Magic have experienced the league’s steepest declines in recent weeks.
Biggest Jumps: Philadelphia 76ers (+9), Washington Wizards (+4), Detroit Pistons (+4), Denver Nuggets (+4)
Biggest Falls: Sacramento Kings (-8), Charlotte Hornets (-8), Orlando Magic (-7)
23-year-old shooting guard Bradley Beal has nearly equaled his age in points per game, as the Wizards continue their stellar play (Keith Allison/Creative Commons).
While nine teams held the same ranking from our previous edition, six squads rose or dropped at least six spots. Leading the way among most improved from last edition, the Washington Wizards jumped from 22nd to 12th. Thanks to lethal 3-point shooting, the Rockets continued their ascent to fourth even as starting center Clint Capela will be sidelined for the next month at the very least. The Nuggets also impressed the panel, playing extremely well in their first stretch as a completely healthy unit. The returns of Danilo Gallinari and Gary Harris have Denver fans feeling as high as their city’s altitude. The Lakers, however, continue their slide and can no longer use injury as the lone excuse for dropping 11 of their last 12 games. Since our second edition, which was published four weeks ago, the Lakers have dropped from 13th to 27th or seven spots every two weeks.
Biggest Jumps: Washington Wizards (+10), Denver Nuggets (+7), Dallas Mavericks (+6)
Biggest Falls: Los Angeles Lakers (-7), Portland Trail Blazers (-7), Detroit Pistons (-7) Continue reading
The Hawks earned a 13-spot demotion by struggling mightily after storming out of the gates with a 9-2 start (Keith Allison/Creative Commons).
Due to stellar play from the Rockets, Jazz, Thunder and Celtics, the red-hot Grizzlies actually dropped a couple slots. The panel was indeed impressed by Memphis’ ability to win five of its last six games without Mike Conley Jr. on the court; it’s just those other teams were deemed to be even better. On the other side of the coin, the Hawks have been dreadful for nearly three weeks now and are paying for it by falling precipitously in this edition. Their 13-place drop on our list may be awfully difficult for teams to “beat” in future rankings.
Biggest Jumps: Milwaukee Bucks (+8), Orlando Magic (+7), Oklahoma City Thunder (+6)
Biggest Drops: Atlanta Hawks (-13), Chicago Bulls (-10), Denver Nuggets (-9), New Orleans Pelicans (-7), Los Angeles Lakers (-7)
Marc Gasol and the Grizzlies are enjoying a six-game winning streak and a nine-slot jump in these power rankings below (Verse Photography/Creative Commons).
Our three panelists, Loren Lee Chen, Aaron Fischman and Joshua 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 Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2016. There were no contests on Thursday, the 24th.
Biggest Jumps: New York Knicks (+10), New Orleans Pelicans (+10), Memphis Grizzlies (+9), Boston Celtics (+8)
Biggest Drops: Miami Heat (-7), Brooklyn Nets (-6), Portland Trail Blazers (-6), Oklahoma City Thunder (-6)
- Golden State Warriors (13-2, Previous Rank: 3) – The Warriors nab our top spot from the Clippers after rattling off nine straight wins, most in blowout fashion. Golden State scored 149 points in its last game, sinking the Lakers, one of only two teams that have beaten the Warriors this season, by 43. Klay Thompson has shot the lights out and averaged 27 points over the team’s past four games, and Draymond Green again looks like Defensive Player of the Year material. Continue reading