This week, the NBA saw a number of upsets. The Lakers lost to the Suns and Thunder beat Houston Rockets.
The “nba power rankings 2021” is a weekly ranking of the NBA teams.
On Sunday, the Phoenix Suns won their tenth consecutive game, securing Monty Williams’ position as head coach of the NBA All-Star Game’s Team LeBron as he heads the Western Conference’s best team. The Suns lead the NBA with a 40-9 record, one game ahead of West rival Golden State Warriors, who have a 37-13 record.
Stephen Curry and Andrew Wiggins were selected starters on Thursday, giving the Warriors two All-Stars who will travel to Cleveland.
As the Eastern Conference competition remains close, Team Durant’s head coach is still up in the air. The Miami Heat are a half-game ahead of the Chicago Bulls in the standings. The Philadelphia 76ers are 1.5 games out of first place, while the Cleveland Cavaliers and Milwaukee Bucks are all two games behind, half a game ahead of the Brooklyn Nets.
While the Warriors and Suns have a stranglehold on the West, the East competition will continue to heat up as the trade deadline approaches on Feb. 10.
Note: Throughout the regular season, our panel (Tim Bontemps, Jamal Collier, Nick Friedell, Andrew Lopez, Tim MacMahon, Dave McMenamin, and Ohm Youngmisuk) will rank all 30 teams from top to bottom, determining which teams are currently playing the best basketball and which teams are most likely to win the championship.
1. The Phoenix Suns had a 40-9 record in 2021-22 and were ranked #1 in the previous season.
With their win at Utah on Wednesday, the Suns completed their second 8-0 run in road games in a calendar month this season. (They also went 8-0 on the road in November.) According to ESPN Stats & Information research, Phoenix became the first team in NBA history to go 8-0 or better on the road in multiple calendar months in a single season. Also, at 16-0 in November and 13-1 in January, Phoenix becomes the only team this season with a winning percentage of over .900 in two different months. In fact, no other team has done that once. — Lopez
2. The Golden State Warriors had a 37-13 record in 2021-22. They were ranked second last year.
On Saturday, the Warriors beat the Nets to finish a 6-1 homestand. The fact that Golden State achieved it without Draymond Green, who is still recovering from a back disk problem, and with Stephen Curry still in the middle of a shooting slump (36.9% from the field and 31.3 percent from outside the arc in January) adds to the accomplishment. Friedell’s words
3. Memphis Grizzlies had a 35-17 record in 2021-22. They were ranked 3rd last season.
Ja Morant, who was selected as a starter for his first All-Star game, is in the middle of the most prolific scoring streak in team history. He’s had a six-game scoring run of at least 30 points, the longest by a Grizzlies player, and he recorded the highest-scoring triple-double in team history with 30 points in Friday’s victory against the Jazz. Morant has 400 points in January, the highest by a Grizzly in any month, and he still has one game left.— MacMahon
4. The Miami Heat had a 32-18 record in 2021-22. They were ranked 4th last year.
Miami lost a triple-overtime thriller against the Raptors on Saturday, but considering how good Jimmy Butler is playing, the Heat should be able to maintain their great momentum into February. Over his last four games, the 32-year-old swingman has averaged 26.3 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 9.0 assists. Friedell’s words
5. The Philadelphia 76ers had a 30-19 record in 2021-22. They were ranked 7th last season.
The wait is on to see whether the 76ers will do anything with Ben Simmons between now and the trade deadline as Joel Embiid continues to dominate — and has now become the odds-on favorite to win this year’s NBA Most Valuable Player Award. Philadelphia is 27-11 when Embiid plays this season, and that’s with Simmons out. — Best wishes
6. The Milwaukee Bucks had a 31-21 record in 2021-22. They were ranked 5th in the previous season.
Jrue Holiday of the Milwaukee Bucks has made a good case for being chosen an All-Star reserve later this week. In his second season in Milwaukee, Holiday’s stats have remained stable, averaging 17.9 points, 6.5 assists, and 4.7 rebounds per game. When he’s on the court, though, the Bucks are significantly better, outscoring opponents by 13.9 points per 100 possessions compared to when he’s off. Collier’s
7. The Chicago Bulls had a 31-18 record in 2021-22. They were ranked 6th last year.
DeMar DeRozan will start the All-Star game for the first time since 2017, but he will almost probably not be alone in Cleveland. For the first time since Jimmy Butler and Pau Gasol in 2015-16, teammate Zach LaVine might be selected an All-Star reserve this week, giving the Bulls a pair of All-Stars. Collier’s
8. The Denver Nuggets had a 28-21 record in 2021-22. They were ranked 12th last season.
Nikola Jokic was already putting up MVP-worthy stats, but the Nuggets are now bolstering his campaign with victories. Denver has won five consecutive games, including victories against Brooklyn and Milwaukee. In his last nine games, Jokic has five triple-doubles. With a challenging back-to-back against Minnesota and Utah this week, Denver’s streak will be put to the test. Without Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr., Michael Malone and the Nuggets deserve a lot of credit for being in the top five in the West. — Youngmisuk
9. The Dallas Mavericks had a 29-22 record in 2021-22. They were ranked 9th last season.
Luka Doncic didn’t win any media votes for All-Star starter, but if his recent play is any indication of what’s to come the remainder of the season, he’ll garner plenty of All-NBA votes after being a first-team pick the previous two years. Doncic, who has lost around 15 pounds this season, has averaged 30 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 9.3 assists in his last seven games, according to ESPN sources. MacMahon (MacMahon)
10. The Cleveland Cavaliers had a 30-20 record in 2021-22. They were ranked 11th last season.
The Cavs defeated reigning champion Milwaukee by 16 points on Wednesday, their eighth victory in nine games at the time. On Sunday, the Cavs fell by ten points to a Pistons club with the league’s second-worst record, despite having three days off after the Bucks triumph. McMenamin, McMenamin, McMenamin, Mc
11. The Brooklyn Nets had a 29-20 record in 2021-22. They were ranked 10th last season.
Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden have been a part of the Brooklyn Nets’ elite three for little over a year. They’ve only played 10 regular-season games together for a total of 234 regular-season minutes, including just 32 this year. Durant is still out with an MCL injury, so those figures aren’t likely to alter for a while. — Best wishes
12. The Utah Jazz had a 30-21 record in 2021-22. They were ranked 8th last year.
The Jazz have lost 11 of their last 13 games in January, which has been a bad month for them. COVID-19 has raced through the squad and coaching staff, with Quin Snyder becoming the most recent casualty. Rudy Gobert (strained calf) and Donovan Mitchell (concussion) have both missed the last several games for the Blazers. Joe Ingles, who has been a key component of the Jazz’s success on and off the court in recent years, is suspected to have suffered a catastrophic knee injury Sunday night. MacMahon (MacMahon)
13. The Charlotte Hornets had a 28-23 record in 2021-22. They were ranked 13th last season.
Grizzlies at Knicks, 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 2. 10 p.m., Nuggets at Jazz
Friday, February 4th, 10 p.m., 76ers vs. Mavericks
All timings are in Eastern Standard Time.
Charlotte endured a 2-2 week before being blasted out at home on Sunday by an undermanned Clippers club. The Hornets’ perennial problem remains the same: can they have enough defense to get them into the postseason? In their last five games, they’ve surrendered an average of 119.2 points. Friedell’s words
14. The Toronto Raptors had a 24-23 record in 2021-22. They were ranked 14th last season.
While Toronto won an exciting game in triple overtime in Miami on Saturday night, it was again another reminder of the long hours that the team’s top players are putting in each night. In minutes per game this season, Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, and OG Anunoby are first, second, and third, respectively, while youngster Scottie Barnes is 12th. Toronto may have to be worried about the burden this is placing on them at some time. For the time being, the Raptors will be pleased with climbing the Eastern Conference rankings. — Best wishes
15. The Atlanta Hawks had a 24-25 record in 2021-22. They were ranked 21st last season.
With a comeback victory against the Lakers on Sunday, Atlanta extended its winning run to seven games. Onyeka Okongwu gave the Hawks a lift in the fourth quarter, scoring 12 of his 16 points in that period. Okongwu is averaging 9.7 points and six rebounds on 74.4 percent shooting in 17 games this season; he hasn’t shot below 50% from the field in any game. Lopez’s words
16. The Boston Celtics had a 26-25 record in 2021-22. They were ranked 17th last season.
While the Celtics have had another frustrating season, one thing that fans should be excited about is Robert Williams III’s play. The fourth-year center, who was signed to a contract extension before the season, has taken a significant step forward this season — both in terms of his play and his ability to stay on the court. Along with talents Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, he provides Boston a third key player to develop around. — Best wishes
17. The Minnesota Timberwolves had a 25-25 record in 2021-22. They were ranked 15th last season.
Forcing turnovers has been a significant component of the Timberwolves’ success this season. Minnesota leads the NBA in forcing opponents to commit 17 turnovers per game. In 46 consecutive games, the Wolves have forced at least 10 turnovers. Collier’s
18. The Los Angeles Clippers had a 26-26 record in 2021-22. They were ranked 19th last season.
There will be no Kawhi Leonard. There will be no Paul George. Despite this, the Clippers are still in the West playoff hunt with a 26-26 record, proving without a shadow of a doubt that they will fight no matter what the odds are. Ty Lue’s squad has won three of its last four games, including a 35-point comeback victory against the Wizards on Tuesday in Washington. The Clippers have won three games in a row after coming back from a deficit of 24 points or more, becoming the only club in the last 25 seasons to accomplish it. Luke Kennard is proving to be the versatile guard the Clippers expected when they signed him to a four-year, $64 million contract in 2020. The Clippers’ chemistry is improving, and their defense has been tough, allowing Charlotte to score 90 points on Sunday. The Clippers will wrap up their eight-game road trip on Monday in Indiana before coming home on Thursday to play the Lakers.— Youngmisuk
19. Los Angeles Lakers (2021-22) have a 24-27 record and are ranked 16th in the NBA.
After being benched late in the game against Indiana, Russell Westbrook’s performance improved significantly. Westbrook has averaged 22 points, 6.8 rebounds, 6.7 assists, and 3.7 turnovers in six games since the contentious switch. The pinnacle of the run was his 35 points at Charlotte without LeBron James and Anthony Davis, almost defeating the Hornets without his teammates. McMenamin, McMenamin, McMenamin, Mc
20. The Washington Wizards had a 23-26 record in 2021-22. They were ranked 18th last year.
In Washington, things are starting to fall apart. All of those heartwarming victories to open the season have given way to real skepticism and despair. The Wizards have dropped five consecutive games, including one of the worst losses in team history when they squandered a 35-point lead at home against the Clippers without Paul George on Tuesday. After that disaster, the anger was apparent. Many Wizards players are competing for minutes and new contracts, and they aren’t on the same page right now. And it’s just becoming more difficult. Washington’s next five games are against Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Miami, and Brooklyn, all at home. Youngmisuk’s remark
21. 2021-22 New York Knicks 23-27 Previous ranking: 20
In New York, things have gotten worse as Cam Reddish has been relegated to the bench and the Knicks have now lost six of their last seven games. The week will begin with home games against Sacramento and Memphis, followed by a five-game West Coast trip until the Feb. 10 trade deadline. When the Knicks come home, how will they look? — Best wishes
22. The Portland Trail Blazers had a 21-29 record in 2021-22. They were ranked 22nd last season.
The Blazers have faltered again after winning six of their last eight games and becoming healthier. Three of Portland’s last four games have ended in blowouts, including defeats to Dallas and Chicago. Despite this, Portland is ranked 10th in the West. As the trade deadline approaches, it will be intriguing to watch what the Blazers do. Youngmisuk’s remark
23. The New Orleans Pelicans had an 18-31 record in 2021-22. They were ranked 23rd last season.
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The Pelicans have struggled without Brandon Ingram in the lineup, having already been missing Zion Williamson (foot) for the whole season. New Orleans has a 16-20 record when Ingram plays, but a 2-11 record when he sits. The Pelicans’ 3-point shooting has deteriorated in recent games, as they have gone 28-of-118 (23.7 percent) from outside the arc. With an injured right ankle, Ingram has missed all of them. Lopez’s words
24. San Antonio Spurs had a 19-32 record in 2021-22. They were ranked 26th last season.
While the Spurs have struggled to make 3-pointers this season, forward Keldon Johnson’s shooting has been a bright light. Johnson shot 13-of-22 on three-pointers as a rookie in limited time during the 2019-20 season, but his percentage dropped to 33.1 percent the next season. He’s on the right track this season, shooting 43.7 percent (86-of-197), enough for fourth in the NBA among eligible players. Lopez’s words
25. The Indiana Pacers had an 18-33 record in 2021-22. They were ranked 24th last season.
Domantas Sabonis has resumed up exactly where he left off after missing a week with an injured ankle, missing out on a triple-double in consecutive games by two assists during a back-to-back this weekend. In his first two games back, he averaged 22.5 points, 16.5 rebounds, 9 assists, 1.5 blocks, and a steal. Collier’s
26. 2021-22 Sacramento Kings’ record is 18-33, with a previous ranking of 25.
A dissatisfied star was dealt from an East coast club to Sacramento twenty-five years ago, ushering in the greatest period in Kings history. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Ben Simmons will not do a Chris Webber and celebrate the silver anniversary of the franchise-changing agreement, as the Kings have withdrawn out of the Simmons sweepstakes. McMenamin, McMenamin, McMenamin, Mc
27. Oklahoma City Thunder’s record in 2021-22 is 14-34, with a previous ranking of 28.
After spraining his right ankle in Friday’s overtime defeat to the Pacers, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will be out at least until the All-Star break. With the Thunder in the midst of a rebuild and an eye on the best frontcourt talent in the next draft class, expect them to be patient with their 23-year-old star’s recuperation. Over the last two seasons, OKC is 30-48 when Gilgeous-Alexander is on the court and 6-36 when he isn’t. MacMahon (MacMahon)
28. The Houston Rockets had a 14-35 record in 2021-22. They were ranked 27th last year.
Jalen Green, the No. 2 overall draft selection in 2021, is going through another difficult stretch. In January, he’s shooting 33.3 percent from the field and 24.7 percent from 3-point range. During the Rockets’ current three-game losing run, he has gone 7-of-38 from the field, missing all 11 of his shots in a defeat to the Warriors. Green’s coach, Stephen Silas, wants him to continue aggressive as he matures, applauding the youngster for making nine free throws against the Trail Blazers on Friday. MacMahon (MacMahon)
29. The Detroit Pistons had a 12-37 record in 2021-22. They were ranked 29th last season.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Pistons rookie Cade Cunningham scored 34 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, and four blocks against the Nuggets this week, becoming the first rookie to do it since Michael Jordan in 1973-74. Cunningham, on the other hand, is two years Jordan’s junior when he put up those figures. Collier’s
30. Orlando Magic’s record in 2021-22 is 11-40, with a previous ranking of 30.
Orlando has won three of its last four games and looks to be settling in. Chuma Okeke has had a strong two-game stretch, averaging 36 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists in victories against the Pistons and Mavericks. Friedell’s words
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