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NBA Power Rankings (Vol. 2)

Every month we check in on all 30 NBA teams and see how they’re tracking with an eye on who will end up lifting the Larry O’Brien Trophy in June.

1. Boston Celtics (13-4)

Jayson Tatum isn’t shooting well and the Celtics have been without Malcolm Brogdon and Marcus Smart of late. Still, they’ve won nine straight games to take the top spot in our NBA Power Rankings. It took their two worst offensive performances of the season to lose their only games in regulation. They’re the current joint favourites to win the championship at $6.

2. Milwaukee Bucks (12-4)

Defence wins championships ($6) and the Bucks are still the best defensive team in the NBA. While they’re 23rd in offence, Khris Middleton still hasn’t played this season. We’re not going to get a clear idea of Milwaukee’s credentials with the ball until Middleton has spent a decent amount of time on the court. That could be soon, too. Middleton has just been assigned to the Wisconsin Herd.

3. Phoenix Suns (10-6)

The Suns have lost three of their last five games, but those have been without Chris Paul. With him, they have played like one of the best teams in the NBA. There were always going to be periods with Paul sitting on the sidelines. He’s an old man. But if we see enough of him on the floor throughout the season and he’s healthy at the pointy end, the Suns will justify their current $8 odds to win the championship.

4. Utah Jazz (12-6)

“The Utah Jazz have looked like one of the better teams in the NBA but the expectation is that it won’t last.” NBA Power Rankings (Vol. 1)

Well, it is lasting…

The Jazz beat the Suns and Trail Blazers in back-to-back games to be 12-6 and at the top of the Western Conference.

Lauri Markkanen is on fire. If the Jazz still wants to tank their way to Victor Wembanyama then he is the first player they need to trade away. As it stands, despite playing with the best record in the West, the Jazz are $126 to win it all in June.

5. LA Clippers (10-7)

The LA Clippers are here on potential. They’re winning games and doing it without Kawhi Leonard (standard…) and Paul George has recently been ruled out with an injury. It’s their 2nd-ranked defence that keeps the hope alive. Like the Bucks, the expectation is for the Clippers to improve with the ball when Leonard returns – if he does.

6. Cleveland Cavaliers (11-6)

The Cleveland Cavaliers rank inside the Top 5 in offence and defence and have Caris LeVert to integrate into the lineup yet. He has been back for two games and … wasn’t good. He shot 1-12 from the field and missed the second half with an ankle injury. However, the Cavaliers continued on their winning ways despite LeVert’s struggles. More encouragingly, Evan Mobley has scored 20+ points in three of his last five games.

7. Denver Nuggets (10-6)

Voter fatigue is real. For Nikola Jokic to win another Most Valuable Player award, he will need to do something special.

Averaging 20.8 points (shooting 60% from the field), 9.5 rebounds and 8.9 assists per game, Jokic is getting close to that something special.

Jokic is doing his thing with the ball, but the Nuggets’ defence isn’t up to scratch. They’re 26th in the NBA defensively allowing 114.3 points per 100 possessions.

8. Dallas Mavericks (9-7)

Luka Doncic is the $3.60 favourite to win the Most Valuable Player award averaging an NBA-high 33.5 points, 9.1 rebounds and 8.1 assists per game. Only Giannis Antetokounmpo plays with a higher usage rate at the moment.

Spencer Dinwiddie might start to take some of that 38.3% usage rate with the way he’s playing, though. Averaging 17.1 points per game – the most since 2019-20 and second-most per game in his career – Dinwiddie is picking up some of the slack in the Mavericks offence. Currently 5th in defence, if the Mavericks can find some consistency with the ball, their $21 to win the championship will shorten in no time.

9. Portland Trail Blazers (10-7)

It remains to be seen whether or not the Trail Blazers can keep this spot in a week Damian Lillard will be sat on the sideline. He reinjured his calf against the Jazz and will miss their four-game road trip. With him, the Blazers have impressed. If Jerami Grant and Drew Eubanks can shoulder the load in his absence, we might need to start talking about this team as one that can cause problems in the postseason.

10. Memphis Grizzlies (10-7)

Like the Blazers, it remains to be seen where the Grizzlies end up in a week with Ja Morant on the sideline. It’s not too much of a surprise that Morant might tweak his ankle given the way he plays. Currently ‘week to week’, Morant has missed three games in which the Grizzlies have lost the lot. Desmond Bane’s injury hasn’t helped either.

11. New Orleans Pelicans (10-7)

Winning without Zion Williamson is crucial for the Pelicans, and they’ve done just that recently. Importantly, they remain inside the top six in both offence and defence after finishing last season ranked 19th and 20th.

12. Sacramento Kings (9-6)

Is it all finally starting to come together for the Kings?

It is on the offensive end, anyway.

Led by De’Aaron Fox’s 25.4 points per game, the Kings are scoring 119.3 points per 100 possessions – the best mark in the NBA. The Kings have no problems scoring the ball. The big test will come in the next fortnight, though. They will play ten of their next 13 games on the road. It’s where their 27th-ranked defence may be exposed.

13. Atlanta Hawks (10-7)

The Hawks look every bit like a slightly above-middling team this season. They’re 10-7 for 6th in the Eastern Conference. Their 111.8 offensive rating ranks 16th in the NBA while their 111.8 defensive rating has improved to be 14th. The Hawks are good, as seen by their wins over the Bucks. However, they’re a step or two behind the genuine contenders at the moment. Still, the Hawks are at $1.30 to make the playoffs.

14. Philadelphia 76ers (8-8)

The 76ers are doing it with their defence to now be 4th in the NBA in defensive rating. Is it just a coincidence that the 76ers have improved defensively since James Harden’s injury?

To be fair on the beard, they have been awful with the ball in his absence. Embiid is doing his best to pick up the slack with a career-high 4.6 per game while his 32.3 points per game is another career-high and up from his 30.6 per game last season. He’s playing at an MVP level to be on the fourth line of betting to win the award at $10.

15. Toronto Raptors (9-8)

The Raptors have been without Pascal Siakam for eight games but remain 8th in offensive rating and 15th in defensive rating. They’re keeping their head above water while waiting for their star to return. He was starting to be mentioned as a possible MVP before his injury. The Raptors will rise up the list upon his return.

16. Indiana Pacers (9-6)

The Pacers need to decide what they want to be this season.

They’ve won five games on the bounce to now be 9-6 for 4th in the East with FiveThirtyEight giving them a 33% chance of making the playoffs from here. Perhaps more notably, they’re out of the lottery. Expected to be a tanking team this season, the Pacers look anything but that right now.

17. Washington Wizards (10-7)

The Wizards finished the 2021-22 NBA season 25th in defensive rating. Five weeks into this one, they’re sitting pretty at 7th allowing 110.3 points per 100 possessions.

Bradley Beal is back. Although they lost the game he did return having played well while he sat. Kyle Kuzma continues to play well for his 19.1 points per game while Kristaps Porzingis adds 20.4 points per game. One number is more important for Porzingis, though: 16 games played.

18. Brooklyn Nets (8-9)

Whether it be on the court in the form of a 32-point defeat before winning back-to-back games, or off the court where Kyrie Irving manages to contradict himself daily, the inconsistency of the Nets is a major issue. It is slowly starting to come together, though. Ben Simmons is showing signs of life. While Irving and Kevin Durant are the stars of the show, Simmons is the piece they need to fire around them.

19. Golden State Warriors (8-10)

“From Draymond Green punching Jordan Poole just before the NBA season tipped off to Klay Thompson’s struggles and a bench that is a negative more often than not, it’s just not working.” NBA Week 5 In Review

When Steph Curry is dropping 50 points in a loss, you know things are going bad for the Warriors. That loss dropped them to 0-8 on the road this season.

The Warriors won the NBA title with the best defence in the league last season. It’s a massive area of concern in this one, though. Ranked 26th allowing 114.4 points per 100 possessions, we can’t take Golden State’s $8 to win it again this year seriously until they’re in the top half of the NBA without the ball.

20. Minnesota Timberwolves (9-8)

It just never goes right for the Timberwolves. They went all in on this season, trading away picks to land Rudy Gobert from the Jazz, and so far, they’re performing worse than they did in the last.

Perhaps giving Gobert the ball in positions he works well would help? Kevin O’Connor mentioned during the week that in the 125 pick-and-rolls Anthony Edwards has run with Gobert, he has passed to the Frenchman only four times. Gobert isn’t about to lead the league in scoring, but he’s effective in certain spots, and the Timberwolves aren’t doing a good enough job of finding him in them at the moment.

It will take some time to gel, and they’ll be given it before the questions really start to come, but they don’t have long.

21. New York Knicks (9-9)

Jalen Brunson is performing as advertised.

Under pressure when arriving in New York carrying a fairly large contract, Brunson is averaging an impressive 20.8 points and 6.7 assists per game. With Julius Randle adding 20.8 points of his own along with 8.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists, the Knicks are doing just enough to be relevant at the moment. They’re in the bottom half of the NBA in both offence and defence. FiveThirtyEight gives them just a 38% chance of making the playoffs. Still, the Knicks are an exciting team with room for improvement.

22. Miami Heat (7-11)

Things are going to get better for the Heat. They’re banged up, and history suggests they’ll be a tough team to beat when healthy. Until Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro are all back in the line-up, there isn’t much we can say about the Heat and their playoff chances.

23. Los Angeles Lakers (5-10)

Anthony Davis may have just remembered that he is considered one of the best 75 players in NBA history.

That’s enough to lift them up to 23rd on this list despite their record. It’s enough to consider their $2.98 to make the playoffs, too…

24. Oklahoma City Thunder (7-10)

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is legit.

His step-back three-pointer to win finished off a 42-point performance which will have sent a few people to the MVP market where he’s at $31 to win it.

The Thunder aren’t likely to have the record for SGA to be relevant in the conversation late in the season, though. They’re a middling team at best and could still phone it in and have a run at Wembanyama if Gilgeous-Alexander goes down any time soon.

25. Chicago Bulls (7-10)

The Bulls have spent plenty of time at home to start the season and DeMar DeRozan has done his bit to average 25.4 points per game. Still, they’re 7-10 ahead of a lengthy road trip.

This is a deep team with Lonzo Ball still to return, but Billy Donovan hasn’t landed on the winning formula just yet. It needs to be soon, though.

26. San Antonio Spurs

The hot start to the NBA season has cooled off for the Spurs. They’ve since lost 10 of their last 11 to be where most expected them to be, and where some Spurs fans hoped they would be in what looks more and more like a sad season for the storied franchise.

27. Orlando Magic

Rookie Paolo Banchero is averaging 23.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game to be the $1.17 Rookie of the Year favourite. He’s the only bright spot at the Magic. Although, Bol Bol has been interesting to watch and could yet feature in the Most Improved Player conversation later in the season.

28, 29 & 30 Are On Wembanyama Watch

The Charlotte Hornets (4-14), Houston Rockets (3-14) and Detroit Pistons (3-15) are all terrible and have only one thing on their mind: The 2023 NBA Draft.






Cavaliers Have Decisions To Make, Mavericks Advance & NBA Draft Chatter

Pacers Go Level, Celtics Bounce Back & Timberwolves Shorten For Championship

NBA Playoffs – Eastern Conference Preview

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