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NBA Power Rankings: Suns take over top spot, Bucks making their run

Sportsnaut
Sportsnaut
 15 hours ago

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NBA power rankings: Now that the NBA season is in full swing, it’s time to rank all 30 teams. With things still relatively early, we’ve seen a few teams make major statements. Others have struggled to live up to expectations. Check out our NBA power rankings, updated every Monday throughout the 2021-22 season.

1. Phoenix Suns (Last week: 2)

Record: 19-4

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Having just seen their franchise record 18-game winning streak snapped , the Suns take over our top spot in this week’s NBA power rankings. Said loss came on the road against the Warriors without Devin Booker in the mix. We’re not going to take that into account too much. A rematch against Golden State on Christmas Day will tell us more about the defending Western Conference champs.

2. Golden State Warriors (Last week: 1)

Record: 19-4

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Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

After winning 18 of 20 to open the season, Golden State enters this week having lost two of three. It’s a small blip in what has been an absolutely stellar start to the season for Stephen Curry and the Warriors. With home games coming up this week against the Magic and Blazers, expect the good version of these Dubs to return.

3. Brooklyn Nets (Last week: 3)

Record: 16-7

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Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Having won 14 of 18, the Nets continue to play extraordinary basketball. The only concern for Kevin Durant and Co. is the fact that all four of these losses have come against winning teams. Brooklyn is 5-7 against winning squads this season and 11-0 against those who are .500 or below.

4. Utah Jazz (Last week: 6)

Record: 16-7

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Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

After a somewhat questionable stretch toward the end of last month, these Jazz have returned to form. They’ve won four consecutive games by a combined margin of 52 points. We’re intrigued to see how Utah performs this week with a difficult stretch of games that includes road outing back east against the Washington Wizards and Philadelphia 76ers. For now, things are looking up.

5. Milwaukee Bucks (Last week: 5)

Record: 15-9

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Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Giannis Antetokounmpo and the defending champion Bucks are back. The team has won nine of 10 since an ugly 6-8 start to the campaign. The only real question here is competition. Only two of those victories have come against teams currently boasting a winning record. With games coming up against the Cavaliers and Heat this week, we’ll find out more about this squad.

6. Chicago Bulls (Last week: 7)

Record: 16-8

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David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Another team that has started out strong , there appears to be no issues with continuity in the Windy City. Chicago boasts the second-best record in the Eastern Conference at 16-8. DeMar DeRozan is playing at an MVP level. Meanwhile, these Bulls are 2-0 against the Nets on the season. That has to tell us something.

7. Miami Heat (Last week: 4)

Record: 14-10

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Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Miami currently sits at 14-10 on the campaign and has lost three of four. It’s no surprise that these struggles have coincided with Jimmy Butler (tailbone) missing all four games. With games coming up this week against the Grizzlies, Bucks and Bulls, the hope is that these recent struggles are a thing of the past in the Windy City.

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8. Washington Wizards (Last week: 7)

Record: 14-10

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Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

At 14-10 on the season, things are looking up in D.C. That includes recent wins over the Celtics (twice) and Hawks — two teams Washington will be battling for playoff positioning. A blowout 25-point loss to the Pelicans couple with recent losses at the hands of the Cavaliers and Raptors does have to be of some concern in the nation’s capital.

Related: Top 50 NBA players today

9. Boston Celtics (Last week: 12)

Record: 13-11

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Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

If the season were to end tonight, first-year head coach Ime Udoka and the Celtics would once again take part in the play-in tournament. The good news? Boston has won six of nine since an ugly start to the campaign. It also has Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum back together. This week’s west coast trip against the Lakers, Clippers and league-best Suns will be telling.

10. Philadelphia 76ers (Last week: 14)

Record: 12-11

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Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Now that Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris have returned from bouts with COVID-19, things could be trending up in Philadelphia. The 76ers are coming off a hard-fought win over the Atlanta Hawks and have back-to-back games against the Charlotte Hornets this week. That will be telling moving forward.

11. Charlotte Hornets (Last week: 9)

Record: 14-11

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Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Up and down. That’s been the story of these Hornets all season. They followed up winning eight of nine with a three-game losing streak, including an ugly defeat at the hands of the Houston Rockets, before defeating the Atlanta Hawks this past weekend. The larger concern here is LaMelo Ball’s status on the NBA COVID-19 protocols list.

Related: Updated NBA trade rumors

12. Los Angeles Clippers (Last week: 10)

Record: 12-12

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Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

It was always going to be a struggle without Kawhi Leonard in the mix . Paul George and Co. knew that. Starting out 1-4, that seemed to be the case. And after some recent success, we’re seeing these struggles again. The Clippers enter this week’s action having lost four of five including, consecutive defeats at the hands of the hapless Sacramento Kings.

13. Denver Nuggets (Last week: 15)

Record: 11-11

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Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

It’s really hard to gauge the Nuggets right now. They are still without Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. Any team missing two of their top-three players would struggle. While has returned after missing some action, there’s still no timeline for Murray’s return. Meawnhile, Porter Jr. is lost for the season.

14. Memphis Grizzlies (Last week: 19)

Record: 13-10

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Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Just when it seemed like Ja Morant and Jaren Jacksoon Jr. were ready to do their thing on the court together, the latter suffered a knee sprain last Friday. He’s expected to miss a lot of time with a re-evaluation not slated for a few weeks. The shocking news? Memphis has won four in a row and is coming off the largest victory in NBA history, a 73-point win over the Oklahoma City Thunder last week .

15. Dallas Mavericks (Last week: 11)

Record: 11-11

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Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

With losses in seven of their past nine, the Mavericks appear to be back in that mediocre category. That included consecutive defeats at the hands of the Suns. The bigger question here is what’s happening with Luka Doncic. He’s shooting just 44% from the field, including a 33% mark from three-point range.

Related: NBA Playoff and championship predictions

16. Atlanta Hawks (Last week: 16)

Record: 12-12

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Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta has followed up a surprise run to the Eastern Conference Finals last season with an uneven start to the 2021-22 campaign. However, the team has turned it around big time by winning eight of their past 11. A Friday night game against the Brooklyn Nets will end up telling us a lot about this squad moving forward.

17. Minnesota Timberwolves (Last week: 18)

Record: 11-12

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Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

The level of inconsistency in Minnesota has to be considered alarming. This team started out 3-1 with a great win over the defending champion Bucks mixed in. It then lost eight of nine before a current stretch that has seen the Wolves win seven of 10. If others can step up behind the big three of Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell, Minnesota will be heard from before all is said and done. Perhaps, that comes in the form of an improved Naz Reid.

18. New York Knicks (Last week: 13)

Record: 11-12

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Ugly with a capital “U.” New York is 6-11 since a 5-1 start to the season, including two defeats at the hands of the hapless Orlando Magic. Julius Randley has regressed. The defense continues to struggle. In the midst of a three-game losing streak heading into this week’s action, things must turn around here relatively quick.

19. Cleveland Cavaliers (Last week: 21)

Record: 13-11

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Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

For Cleveland, it’s going to be all about this young core coming together. At 13-11 on the campaign, that’s seemingly on the verge of happening. Though, there’s still growing pains here.

20. Los Angeles Lakers (Last week: 20)

Record: 12-12

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Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

These Lakers just aren’t good right now. There’s no other way to go about it. Los Angeles ranks 29th in points allowed and has struggled against good competition. It is a mere 3-7 when taking on clubs with a winning record. The Lakers’ last four wins have come against bottom feeders in that of the Pistons (twice), Pacers and Kings

21. Portland Trail Blazers (Last week: 20)

Record: 11-13

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Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

As has been the case the past several years, it’s been a mixed bag for Portland in 2021-22. We’re talking about a team that’s just 11-13. They just fired their generall manager and star guard Damian Lillard is sidelined to injury. Oh, and this squad is coming off consecutive defeats by a combined margin of 59 points. That’s fun.

Related: 2021-22 NBA schedule, picks and fantasy advice

22. Sacramento Kings (Last week: 22)

Record: 10-14

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Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

At 10-14 on the season, Sacramento finally made the decision to move on from embattled head coach Luke Walton. All it took was three consecutive losses by a combined 47 points with one fan showing his disgust by puking on the court. The good news? These Kings are 4-3 under interim head coach Alvin Gentry.

23. Toronto Raptors (Last week: 23)

Record: 11-13

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Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

There’s just not a lot to like about the Raptors right now outside of rookie Scottie Barnes. They sit at 11-13 on the campaign while having lost nine of their past 13 after a solid start to the campaign. Right now, the Raps boast the fourth-worst record in the Eastern Conference after missing out on the playoffs altogether last season.

Related: Most-recent NBA MVP rankings

24. San Antonio Spurs (Last week: 26)

Record: 8-13

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Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Alright. Alright Alright. It appears that Pop has this squad headed in the right direction following a weekend win over the Golden State Warriors. San Antonio has now won four in a row following a 4-13 start to the campaign.

25. Indiana Pacers (Last week: 25)

Record: 9-16

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Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Another team that is hoping a change of culture under a new head coach will lead to on-court success. This has not happened for Rick Carlisle and Co. through 25 games. Indiana boasts the third-worst record in the Eastern Conference while ranking in the bottom half of the Association in points, points allowed, offensive rating and defensie rating. Yuck!

Related: Updated NBA rookie of the Year rankings

26. Houston Rockets (Last week: 30)

Record: 7-16

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Watch out. Hold your pants. These Rockets find themselves in the midst of a six-game winning streak after starting the campaign 1-16. That’s it. We’re not going to knock the level of competition in these wins, either. Stephen Silas is doing a good job with this talent-stricken and unproven squad.

Related: 2022 NBA Mock Draft

27. New Orleans Pelicans (Last week: 27)

Record: 7-19

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Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Speaking of gross. New Orleans struggled the past two seasons with all-world talent Zion Williamson in the mix. Now that he’s sidelined , first-year head coach Willie Green has no hope. Nola stands at 7-19 on the campaign. Though, there might be some hope here. Recent wins over the Wizards and Jazz provides that hope.

28. Orlando Magic (Last week: 28)

Record: 5-19

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Despite two surprising road wins over the Knicks and a victory against Utah, Orlando has a long way to go. It is being outscored by an average of 9.9 points per game and boasts the second-worst record in the Eastern Conference.

29. Oklahoma City Thunder (Last week: 25)

Record: 6-16

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Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

Two of the Thunder’s five wins have come against the Lakers. That is the outlier. Against other teams, OKC boasts a 4-16 record. They are also in the midst of an eight-game losing streak that has seen the team outscored by a total of 123 points — including a 73-point loss to the Grizzlies last week.

30. Detroit Pistons (Last week: 29)

Record: 4-18

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Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Cade Cunningham’s struggles ( 37% shooting in 17 games ) has coincided with an absolutely disastrous start to the season for Detroit. We’re talking about a squad that’s averaging less than 99 points per game and is being outscored by north of nine per.

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