NBA Power Rankings: Where Does Each Team Stand at the Start of February?
- Golden State Warriors (44-4)
Realistically, who else would be in this position? The Warriors are currently on pace to win 75 games and have a legitimate chance of breaking the 1995-96 Bulls record of 72-10. The Warriors have now won 7 games in a row, defeating opponents by 21.6 points per game during this stretch. There isn’t a more dominant team in the league right now, and have the potential to be the best team in history.
- San Antonio Spurs (39-8)
The Spurs went a disappointing 1-2 in a week where they really had the opportunity to prove their worth as the league’s best team. They had to play both Golden State and Cleveland on the road, who own a combined 41-3 record in their respective home arenas. San Antonio has all 8 of their losses on the road, proving that their road woes are the only thing holding them back from being as dominant as the Warriors.
- Cleveland Cavaliers (34-12)
Cleveland went 4-0 this week, sneaking by Minnesota before manhandling San Antonio, Detroit, and Phoenix. They are 4-1 during the Tyronn Lue era in Cleveland, with their only loss at the hands of Lue’s debut against the Bulls. As Kyrie Irving continues to get his feet wet, and Kevin Love’s production and efficiency rises, expect the Cavaliers to build on their Eastern Conference lead and maintain a top-3 spot in the Power Rankings.
- Oklahoma City Thunder (36-13)
The Oklahoma City Thunder are elite; plain and simple, elite. Unfortunately for them, elite is not good enough when historic is the new standard. The Thunder have a .735 winning percentage, which would be the highest winning percentage for a 3-seed in either conference since the 1997-98 season when the Los Angeles Lakers went 61-21 (.744). They have won 12 out of their past 14 games, but have recently had some trouble with teams under .500 (Brooklyn and Portland).
- Toronto Raptors (32-15)
There hasn’t been a team in the Association hotter than the Toronto Raptors. I’m sure many people think they deserve to be higher on the list, and there is definitely an argument to be made. They have won 11 straight games and have scored 100+ in 9 straight. There’s no doubt they have the best backcourt (Lowry and DeRozan) in the Eastern Conference, and an argument can be made that they are the best in the league. Their schedule has been pretty light during this winning streak, but winning 11-straight games is still an incredible feat.
- Los Angeles Clippers (32-16)
Who needs Blake Griffin? It sure seems like the Clippers don’t. They have won 4 straight and have gone 15-3 since their star went down with a quad injury. Now, unluckily or luckily (however you want to look at it), Griffin will miss at least another month with a broken hand. Expect the Clippers to keep rattling off wins without Griffin, but a second-round playoff matchup with the Warriors or Spurs is seeming more and more likely by the day.
- Memphis Grizzlies (28-20)
Remember when the Grizzlies started the season 3-6 and lost to the Cavaliers on opening night by 30 and the Warriors by 50 only 5 days later? Well those Grizzlies are clearly gone, and the new Grizzlies are back and better than ever. They won all 3 of their games this week, and have won 9 out of their past 11. Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, and Zach Randolph continue to anchor the team. To top it off, they are 1 of 6 teams who allow under 99.0 points per game.
- Miami Heat (27-21)
Well, what do you know? Right when everyone thought that Miami was on its way out of the Eastern Conference playoff picture and headed toward the dreadful lottery, they have completely changed their fortune during this past week. They have rattled off 4 straight wins and have propelled themselves up to 4th in the East. Wade and Bosh have been playing like their vintage selves, and Dragic’s return after a 3-week absence will only benefit the Heat. Miami has the potential to beat every Eastern Conference team in the playoffs, aside from LeBron and Co.
- Boston Celtics (27-22)
Boston has played 5 games over its past 8 days, and came out with an impressive 4-1 mark. They own the 3rd best defensive efficiency in basketball, only behind San Antonio and Golden State. The Celtics have 8 wins in their past 11 games, and have all the assets to make a big splash at the trade deadline. On top of all of this, they have Brad Stevens who, only in his 3rd year, is regarded as one of the best coaches in the game.
- Chicago Bulls (26-20)
The Bulls should not be the 3rd seed in the East right now. They have a losing record on the road, and have lost 8 of their past 12 games. First-year coach Fred Hoiberg hasn’t propelled the Bulls like he was expected to, but having one of the best all-around players in the game in Jimmy Butler (and some extremely skilled and talented big men) give hope that this team can make some noise come playoff time.
- Dallas Mavericks (28-22)
It seems like Dallas always finds a way to win no matter what type of talent they have, which can be credited to Head Coach Rick Carlisle. They won 3 out of 4 games this week, but all three teams (Lakers, Suns, and Nets) have been atrocious this season. The Mavericks are 20-6 against teams below .500, but only 8-16 against teams above .500. Even with Rick Carlisle running the ship and Dirk Nowitzki draining fade-away threes, their chances don’t look too well in a loaded Western Conference.
- Atlanta Hawks (27-22)
The Hawks have lost 3 out of 4 games this week and 5 out of 6 overall. Even worse? Apparently Jeff Teague and Al Horford are now on the trading block. After going 60-22 just a season ago, they have already matched their loss total in just 49 games. The Hawks will still be a playoff team in the East, considering they are only a half game behind the Bulls and Heat for the 3rd seed, but there’s no denying that the franchise is headed in the wrong direction.
- Houston Rockets (25-25)
The Rockets had a tough week, ultimately going 1-3. Two of the losses were in San Antonio and Oklahoma City, so that’s why I still have them at #13. Any team with James Harden has a chance to win on any given night, especially considering he has three 40-point, 10-assist games this year, while the entire NBA only has two such games. Houston has the third worst defensive efficiency in the league, so if they can somehow figure out how to play defense, they are a team to reckon with in the West.
- Portland Trail Blazers (23-26)
What happened to tanking in Portland? There haven’t been many teams hotter than Portland as of late. They have won 4 straight games, and 8 of their past 10. They have the 4th best record in the league since January 10th, and Damian Lillard and C.J McCollum seem to be some of the best up-and-coming backcourts in the entire league.
- Indiana Pacers (25-22)
The Pacers went 2-1 last week, but this doesn’t take away from the fact that they’ve lost 6 out of their past 9 games. The only major bright spot on this team is Paul George, whose gruesome broken leg he suffered from two summers ago is long gone. They do have additional playmakers including veterans George Hill, Monta Ellis, and C.J. Miles. They also have rookie Myles Turner, who seems like the steal of the draft. As of now, the Pacers will continue to be a slightly above average team until they can add another legitimate star next to Hill.
- Detroit Pistons (25-23)
Stan Van Gundy has led to quite a turnaround in Detroit considering they only need 7 more wins to pass their win total from last year (32-50). They went 2-2 this week, winning against the lowly Sixers but losing against the two best teams in the East: Cleveland and Toronto. They have struggled to play above .500 ball recently, but they have a legitimate core to build around in Reggie Jackson, Andre Drummond, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. They probably won’t be a factor in this years’ playoff race, but expect them to be in the upper echelon of teams in the East for years to come.
- New Orleans Pelicans (18-28)
Here come the Pelicans. They have won 7 of their past 9 games and went 2-1 this week. Their loss came to the Houston Rockets by 1 point. Considering Anthony Davis is the most impactful player on the floor for the Pelicans, and only played 19 minutes because of a concussion, the result of that game could have easily been different. Davis is officially healthy now, and Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans are playing excellent basketball (even though Evans is dealing with Knee Tendinitis). The Pelicans, who were once thought to be headed toward the lottery, are now only 3.5 games out of the playoffs.
- Washington Wizards (21-24)
The Wizards have been struggling with injuries all season, and as a result, have vastly underachieved. They lost 3 out of 4 games this week, and the only bright spot on this team has been All-Star John Wall, who is averaging 19.5 points, 9.8 assists, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.1 steals per game. The Wizards are only 2.5 games out of a playoff spot, but they need to get hot and go on a run before they are completely out of it.
- Utah Jazz (21-25)
The Jazz were expected to crash the Western Conference playoff party this year after going 19-10 during the second half of last season, which clearly hasn’t happened. They have actually won 3 of their past 4 games, but the competition hasn’t been too good. Utah has a very solid 1-2 punch in Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors, as well as an abundance of young talent to build off of, but they really need acquire some veteran presence to lead this team in the right direction.
- Charlotte Hornets
Remember when the Hornets started 14-9 and everyone thought they would be a threat in the East? Well, what happened? They fell apart. That’s what happened. Since then, they’ve went 9-16, and I don’t expect them to stop losing. They have 4 very tough home games, followed by a 6-game road trip. Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum are the only reason why Charlotte is still in the playoff picture, but don’t expect them to stay close for long.
- Denver Nuggets (18-30)
This is where we get to the teams with very slim chances of making the playoffs. I am actually very high on the Nuggets’ future because they seem to stick around with just about every team they play, but have a very difficult time pulling out the victory. They have only lost by double digits once over their past 17 games, but have ultimately lost 11 of them. Danilo Gallinari and Kenneth Faried continue to produce as expected, and Will Barton has been a huge surprise for them. Emmanuel Mudiay, the 7th pick in last year’s NBA Draft, is showing immense potential, and has the strength and size to one day lead this team to the playoffs; just not this year.
- Sacramento Kings (20-27)
You would think that a team with Demarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo, two statistical machines, would at least be vying for a playoff spot. Yes, they still have a chance to make the playoffs, but there are 4 teams in contention for 1 spot.;the odds are against them. And, after losing 4 straight games this week, the Kings seem to be going down; especially considering Cousins is now injured with a sprained ankle.
- New York Knicks (23-27)
The Knicks have now lost 5 out of their last 6 games, with the one win coming against the awful Suns. 4 out of these 5 losses have been by double digits, and it’s safe to say that the Knicks’ playoff hopes are fading away by the day. Carmelo Anthony is having one of his most efficient years in his career, and Kristaps Porzingis is one of the leaders for rookie of the year, but the Knicks lack the talent around their 2 stars to compete for a playoff spot, let alone a championship.
- Milwaukee Bucks (20-29)
Who would’ve predicted the train wreck going on in Milwaukee this season? After going 41-41 last season in route to a #6 seed in the East, the Bucks were expected to make the difficult jump into the top 4. They ended up jumping in the wrong direction though, and now look very likely to miss out on the playoffs. They have lost 4 out of their past 5, and it’s clear that the young talent they have isn’t developing like everyone expected.
- Orlando Magic (21-25)
What in the world happened to Orlando? After starting the season 19-13 and looking playoff bound for the first time since the 2011-12 season, they just absolutely fell apart. They have lost 12 out of their past 14 games, but are somehow only 3 games behind the 8th seed. They have oodles of young talent in players such as Victor Oladipo, Nikola Vucevic, Tobias Harris, Elfrid Payton, and Aaron Gordon. They obviously still have the chance to make the playoffs if they put together a nice run at the end the season, but I don’t see that happening with this young and inexperienced roster.
- Brooklyn Nets (12-36)
Now we’ve gotten to the teams that have absolutely zero chance of making the playoffs. These next 5 teams are playing for the opportunity to draft Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram, except for the Nets of course, who owe the Celtics their draft pick no matter where they land in the lottery. Anyway, the Nets have been just as terrible as their record looks. They have lost 13 out of their past 15 games, and it doesn’t seem like they will be improving any time this season. They have 2 big man studs in Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young, but their lack of depth at the guard position has really haunted them this season.
- Philadelphia 76ers (7-41)
Yes, the Sixers do have the worst record in the league, but they are not the worst team in the league. They have actually won 3 of their past 7 games, which is fantastic considering that they have lost 41 out of 48 possible games and started the season 0-18. They have the worst offensive efficiency in the league, but beating Philadelphia is not as easy as it once was.
- Minnesota Timberwolves (14-35)x
Boy have the Timberwolves fallen apart. They actually started the season 8-8, but have went 6-27 since. The T-Wolves have the brightest future by far out of any of the bottom feeders, considering they have the past two #1 draft picks in Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns. At least Minnesota has Kevin Garnett around to mentor the young studs, who will eventually lead the Timberwolves to the playoffs.
- Phoenix Suns (14-35)
There is Mayhem going on in Phoenix right now. For a team that started the season 7-6, it seemed as if the Suns had everything going for them. They had an extremely talented backcourt and a group of young and promising big men, so what could go wrong? Well to start, star point-guard Eric Bledsoe tore his meniscus, head Coach Jeff Hornacek was recently fired, and the Suns lost 19 of their past 21 games. So, that’s exactly what went wrong for Phoenix.
- Los Angeles Lakers (9-41)
For the second most storied franchise in basketball to be 9-41 is disappointing in itself, but throw in the fact that this is future first-ballot Hall-of-Famer Kobe Bryant’s last season, and that makes the whole scenario just pathetic. Expect the Lakers to land a top-3 pick in this year’s draft and grab someone who will presumably turn around the fortune of this historic franchise.