NBA Power Rankings: Where Every Team Ranks at Season's Midway Point

Andy Bailey@@AndrewDBaileyFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 13, 2023

NBA Power Rankings: Where Every Team Ranks at Season's Midway Point

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    DENVER, CO - JANUARY 9: Nikola Jokic (15) of the Denver Nuggets looks for a pass from Jamal Murray (27) as Thomas Bryant (31) of the Los Angeles Lakers defends Jokic during the first quarter at Ball Arena in Denver on Monday, January 9, 2023. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
    AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

    With another week of NBA action in the rearview, it's becoming increasingly clear that this season is the most talent-rich and parity-driven in recent memory.

    The Celtics' league-leading plus-6.3 net rating is well shy of the average high of 8.6 over the last five seasons. A whopping 22 teams in 2022-23 are between plus-4.0 and minus-2.0. On any given night, it seems like just about anyone can beat anyone. And some of that is driven by the absurd individual heights players are proving themselves capable of reaching.

    With legitimate star power spread so evenly throughout the league, it's rarely been harder to sort through an exercise like the power rankings, but that's our charge.

    So, as always, with recent performance, championship chances, numbers and loads of subjectivity as our guides, here's how all 30 teams stack up right now.

30. Houston Rockets (10-31)

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    Alperen Şengün
    Alperen ŞengünRocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

    Previous Rank: 30
    Net Rating: -7.3

    No one seems to be angling quite as aggressively toward the top pick in the draft as the Houston Rockets.

    They're 1-13 in their past 14 games, and they've been outscored by an average of 10.8 points in those contests.

    The roster isn't without its silver linings, though. Jalen Green continues to show No. 1 option upside. Kevin Porter Jr. ranks in the 82nd percentile in offensive estimated plus-minus, and Alperen Şengün is one of the game's most intriguing potential point centers.

    After going for 10 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in Wednesday's loss to the Sacramento Kings, Şengün is averaging 8.6 boards (including 3.3 offensive rebounds) and 2.8 assists in just 26.7 minutes.

29. Detroit Pistons (12-33)

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    Killian Hayes
    Killian HayesChris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images

    Previous Rank: 27
    Net Rating: -7.1

    Prior to Cade Cunningham's season-ending injury, it was probably fair to wonder how long Killian Hayes might last after his rookie contract.

    Over his first two seasons, he averaged 25.2 minutes, 6.8 points and 4.5 assists while shooting a dismal 37.4 percent from the field and 26.8 percent from deep.

    Since Cunningham left the rotation, though (Hayes entered the starting lineup one game later), he's put up 12.2 points and 6.7 assists while shooting 42.0 percent from the field and 34.6 percent from three. In Wednesday's win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, he went for 18 points and nine rebounds.

    They're obviously not star numbers, and there are still plenty of questions to be answered, particularly on the shooting front. But Hayes has taken advantage of his opportunity, and his playmaking and defense should extend his career.

28. San Antonio Spurs (13-29)

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    Jakob Poeltl
    Jakob PoeltlPhotos by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images

    Previous Rank: 28
    Net Rating: -8.5

    The closer we get to the NBA's February 9 trade deadline, the more likely a San Antonio Spurs trade feels.

    Jakob Poeltl (who just turned 27 in October) and Doug McDermott (31) are nowhere near the rest of the roster's timeline, and their biggest contributions right now seem to be weakening San Antonio's lottery position.

    McDermott's high-volume shooting (he's averaging 3.3 threes per 75 possessions, with a 42.3 three-point percentage) and Poeltl's unique playmaking profile should garner some interest over the coming weeks.

    For his career, Poeltl has a 10.6 assist percentage and a 13.4 offensive rebounding percentage—an underrated form of shot creation. No one in league history matches or exceeds both of those marks.

27. Charlotte Hornets (11-32)

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    LaMelo Ball
    LaMelo BallCole Burston/Getty Images

    Previous Rank: 29
    Net Rating: -6.6

    In terms of wins and losses, the Charlotte Hornets are a mess. Over their last 21 games, they're 4-17, but they continue to have at least one ray of hope.

    After going for 32 points in Thursday's loss to the Toronto Raptors, LaMelo Ball is up to 23.6 points, 8.5 assists and 4.2 threes on the season, with a 38.1 three-point percentage.

    Hornets fans, just keep envisioning those Ball-to-Victor Wembanyama alley-oops.

26. Orlando Magic (16-26)

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    Franz Wagner and Jusuf Nurkić
    Franz Wagner and Jusuf NurkićAlika Jenner/Getty Images

    Previous Rank: 26
    Net Rating: -3.6

    After a dreadful 5-20 start, the Orlando Magic have been positively solid over their past 17 games.

    In this stretch, they're 11-6 with a plus-0.7 net rating that ranks 13th. Those marks probably won't knock any socks off, but this is the third-youngest team in the league.

    Any stretch like this from a roster with an average age of 23.2 is encouraging, especially one that's lasted just over a month.

    And while Paolo Banchero's Rookie of the Year campaign has probably generated the most individual buzz over the past few weeks, Franz Wagner's play deserves a mention. Since the start of this 17-game run, Wagner is averaging 21.6 points and 2.0 threes, while shooting 48.2 percent from the field and 38.6 percent from deep.

25. Atlanta Hawks (19-22)

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 08: Atlanta Hawks Guard Trae Young (11) looks on before a NBA game between the Atlanta Hawks and the Los Angeles Clippers on January 8, 2023 at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Previous Rank: 20
    Net Rating: -1.6

    The Atlanta Hawks are 2-6 in their past eight and on the verge of falling out of the play-in tournament altogether.

    And while there are plenty of reasons for the recent struggles, it's hard not to focus on the team's engine and highest-paid player.

    On the season, Trae Young is averaging 7.1 three-point attempts per game and shooting 31.4 percent from deep. Among the 214 individual campaigns in NBA history in which a player put up seven-plus threes per game, Young's three-point percentage ranks 210th.

24. Washington Wizards (18-24)

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    WASHINGTON, DC -  JANUARY 11: Deni Avdija #9 of the Washington Wizards shoots a free throw against the Chicago Bulls on January 11, 2023 at Capital One Arena in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2023 NBAE (Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images)
    Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

    Previous Rank: 23
    Net Rating: -1.4

    With Kristaps Porziņģis and Bradley Beal both out, the Washington Wizards ended a three-game losing streak with a win over the Chicago Bulls (which were without DeMar DeRozan), thanks to balanced contributions from all over the roster.

    Led by Kyle Kuzma's 21, Washington had six players get to nine points, but the most impressive number may have come from outside the scoring column. Third-year forward Deni Avdija's career-high 20 rebounds were the game-changer.

    On the season, Avdija is now grabbing 5.9 boards per game in just 26.0 minutes. And his defensive estimated plus-minus ranks in the 69th percentile leaguewide. On a team with plenty of scoring from Porziņģis, Beal and Kuzma, having a forward who's willing to do the little things is big.

23. Los Angeles Lakers (19-23)

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    LeBron James
    LeBron JamesAdam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

    Previous Rank: 24
    Net Rating: -0.9

    Collapses from a number of West teams, including the Phoenix Suns, Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers, have brought the middle of the conference closer to the Los Angeles Lakers, who are 5-2 in their last seven games.

    Despite being four games under .500, L.A. is just a game back of 10th place and a spot in the play-in tournament. If the Lakers can just hang around until Anthony Davis returns (there's optimism that could happen within a couple weeks), the front office might finally be forced to make a win-now trade.

    If they went into a stretch run with LeBron, AD and, oh say, Buddy Hield and Myles Turner, this team could become a low-seeded nightmare.

22. Oklahoma City Thunder (19-23)

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    Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
    Shai Gilgeous-AlexanderJesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

    Previous Rank: 25
    Net Rating: +0.2

    It's officially the "Shai Gilgeous-Alexander trade," and it's looking more and more like the Oklahoma City Thunder won it.

    Justin Termine @TermineRadio

    So the Thunder will have SGA at the All-Star Game + control of every LAC 1st round pick thru 2026... While Paul George and Kawhi likely watch the game from home?

    On Thursday, SGA pulled his scoring average up to an even 31.0 by dropping 37 in a road win over the Philadelphia 76ers.

    And now, OKC is only two games back in the loss column of the Los Angeles Clippers team that traded Gilgeous-Alexander.

21. Chicago Bulls (19-23)

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    Zach LaVine
    Zach LaVineKenny Giarla/NBAE via Getty Images

    Previous Rank: 22
    Net Rating: -0.7

    The Chicago Bulls closed the week with back-to-back road losses to the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards, but they'd won three straight prior to that and are starting to see shades of the old Zach LaVine.

    Over his past 11 games, LaVine is putting up 28.9 points and 4.1 threes while shooting 51.9 percent from the field and 46.9 percent from three.

    If he can figure out how to bottle whatever is driving him lately and the rest of the team consistently brings the fire it does against good opponents (the Bulls are seventh in the league in net rating against top-10 teams), Chicago should stay in the playoff mix the rest of the way.

20. Minnesota Timberwolves (20-22)

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    Rudy Gobert
    Rudy GobertGregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Previous Rank: 19
    Net Rating: -0.4

    Just when it looked like the Minnesota Timberwolves might finally be getting on track, they laid an egg against the rebuilding Detroit Pistons on Wednesday.

    That road loss notwithstanding, things still seem to generally be looking up, and that has a lot to do with Rudy Gobert seemingly figuring out how to positively impact his new team.

    After looking like the proverbial square peg for much of the early portion of the season, Gobert is plus-35 over Minnesota's past five games. In the same stretch, the team is minus-11 without him.

    And the chemistry between Gobert and point forward Kyle Anderson may be something to pay attention to going forward. Over the whole season, the Wolves are plus-9.5 points per 100 possessions when both are on the floor.

19. Portland Trail Blazers (19-22)

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    Damian Lillard
    Damian LillardCameron Browne/NBAE via Getty Images

    Previous Rank: 14
    Net Rating: -0.1

    The Portland Trail Blazers are 2-9 in their last 11 games, and one of those losses came despite a 50-point outburst from Damian Lillard on Thursday. It felt like a microcosm of Portland's season.

    Starting with last season's CJ McCollum deal, the Blazers have overhauled Lillard's supporting cast. The moves included the acquisitions of Jerami Grant and Gary Payton II, but the song largely remains the same.

    When Lillard is available and locked in, Portland has a chance. Without him, the Blazers look lost. This season, they have a point differential around that of a 54-win team when Lillard is in (compared to one around that of a 25-win team when he's out).

18. Utah Jazz (21-23)

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    Jordan Clarkson and Caris LeVert
    Jordan Clarkson and Caris LeVertJeff Swinger/NBAE via Getty Images

    Previous Rank: 17
    Net Rating: +0.9

    Behind 32 points from Jordan Clarkson, including nine in just over 20 seconds late in the fourth quarter, the Utah Jazz closed out their week with an emotional win over the Cleveland Cavaliers in Donovan Mitchell's first game back in Salt Lake City.

    But that victory probably isn't enough to reverse a trend that started a couple weeks ago.

    After spending some time in first place in the West earlier this season, Utah is 2-7 in its past nine games and now in the play-in range.

    With the trade deadline rapidly approaching and the team already heading down the standings, Jazz CEO Danny Ainge may be more motivated to move veterans and steer further into the pursuit of better lottery odds.

17. Toronto Raptors (19-23)

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    Pascal Siakam
    Pascal SiakamCole Burston/Getty Images

    Previous Rank: 21
    Net Rating: +0.6

    The Toronto Raptors are quietly edging closer to a record that matches their point differential.

    They've won three straight, and the largely positionless lineup with which they start games is starting to gain some momentum.

    After all five starters (Fred VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr., O.G. Anunoby, Scottie Barnes and Pascal Siakam) finished with positive plus-minuses in Thursday's win, the season-long net rating for that group is up to plus-3.8.

16. Phoenix Suns (21-22)

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    Devin Booker
    Devin BookerKate Frese/NBAE via Getty Images

    Previous Rank: 16
    Net Rating: +1.6

    The Phoenix Suns' slide sneakily started before Devin Booker left the rotation—they were 2-4 in his past six appearances, though he only played four minutes in the last loss—but it's certainly been accelerated by his absence, among others.

    Booker has missed Phoenix's past nine games, bringing the Suns' total games played without him to 14. They're 3-11 in those games.

    Of course, this may be the best year in recent memory for this kind of skid in the Western Conference. Nine of the 15 teams are below .500, and of course, the top 10 are assured some form of postseason play.

    If Phoenix can cling to within a few games of an even record as starters start to trickle back into action (Chris Paul, Cameron Johnson and Deandre Ayton all missed Wednesday's loss to the Denver Nuggets with various nagging injuries), the play-in should still be within reach.

15. Golden State Warriors (20-21)

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    Stephen Curry
    Stephen CurryThearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    Previous Rank: 13
    Net Rating: -1.1

    After missing 11 games with a left shoulder injury, Stephen Curry made his return to action for a home game on Tuesday, and the Golden State Warriors had what feels like one of the worst losses of the season...for any team.

    With its full starting lineup of Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green and Kevon Looney in action (a group that's still first in the league in total plus-minus), the Warriors lost to the Phoenix Suns without Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Cameron Johnson, Deandre Ayton and still-holding-out Jae Crowder.

    On balance, going 6-5 in Curry's most recent absence is encouraging. It could've gone much worse, but this game and the two losses to the Detroit Pistons and Orlando Magic that immediately preceded it highlight Golden State's seasonlong issue with consistency.

    This team's history affords it some grace. Maybe they can just flip a switch whenever they need to make a final playoff push, but stretches like this make that harder to imagine.

14. Los Angeles Clippers (22-21)

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    Kawhi Leonard and Tim Hardaway Jr.
    Kawhi Leonard and Tim Hardaway Jr.Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

    Previous Rank: 15
    Net Rating: -0.9

    The Los Angeles Clippers needed a win something fierce when they faced the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday. Behind a vintage Kawhi Leonard performance, they were able to snap a six-game losing streak.

    Leonard went for 33 points on 9-of-12 shooting, made all 12 of his free throws, grabbed nine rebounds, handed out four assists, swiped four steals and even added a block for good measure.

    His 36.8 game score crushed his previous season high of 24.5 and was even with the mark Luka Dončić put up for their duel.

    Ultimately, this performance was a reminder of the ceiling L.A. can hit when Kawhi is right. The problem is that there's just no way to know when or how often that will happen. And with his and Paul George's availability so up in the air (George missed Tuesday's win), the Clippers are always in danger of slides like their recent six-game losing streak.

13. Indiana Pacers (23-19)

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    Buddy Hield
    Buddy HieldElsa/Getty Images

    Previous Rank: 18
    Net Rating: -0.2

    As the Indiana Pacers continue to defy expectations (they're 8-3 in their past 11), Tyrese Haliburton's floor generalship and Myles Turner's three-and-D game have gotten plenty of attention and credit. And rightfully so.

    But Buddy Hield is having an all-time great, high-volume shooting season. And his ability to space the floor is having a huge impact on Indiana's bottom line.

    Right now, Hield is averaging 3.9 threes per game and shooting 42.7 percent from deep. Stephen Curry is the only player in league history to match or exceed both marks for an entire season (he's on pace to do it for a third time).

    And when Hield and his jumper are on the floor, the Pacers are plus-1.4 points per 100 possessions. They're to minus-5.1 without him.

12. Miami Heat (23-20)

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    MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 8: Bam Adebayo #13 of the Miami Heat warms up before the game against the Brooklyn Nets on January 8, 2023 at FTX Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2023 NBAE (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)
    David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

    Previous Rank: 12
    Net Rating: -0.3

    Jimmy Butler may be the one getting fan votes, but he's missed 14 games this season, and Bam Adebayo is making a solid charge toward the All-Star game during an 8-5 stretch that has the Miami Heat slowly creeping up the Eastern Conference standings.

    Over the course of this run, Adebayo leads Miami with 23.6 points. He's also adding 10.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.0 blocks and his typically versatile defense.

    And for the entire season, the Heat have a point differential around that of a 49-win team with Adebayo on the floor and one around that of a 27-win team without him.

11. New York Knicks (23-19)

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    Jalen Brunson and Andrew Nembhard
    Jalen Brunson and Andrew NembhardElsa/Getty Images

    Previous Rank: 11
    Net Rating: +2.5

    Jalen Brunson may have already had his star turn during the Dallas Mavericks' run to the Western Conference Finals last season, but if there was any doubt, his recent play should put that to bed.

    StatMuse @statmuse

    Jalen Brunson in the New Year: <br><br>33.2 PPG<br>5.2 RPG<br>5.6 APG<br>52.6 FG%<br>50.0 3P% (!!) <a href="https://t.co/5mMEKmL9K0">pic.twitter.com/5mMEKmL9K0</a>

    This week alone, he had a career-high 44 points against the Milwaukee Bucks, and he followed that up with 34 in a win over the Indiana Pacers. This month, his lowest scoring output is 24.

    For the second New York Knicks season in a row, though, the team has been comfortably better with the starting point guard off the floor. And that trend has only intensified in January.

    It could just be a quirk of New York's rotation, but there might also be something to the lack of size in a Brunson-led backcourt. His defensive estimated plus-minus ranks in the fourth percentile leaguewide.

10. Sacramento Kings (22-18)

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    De'Aaron Fox
    De'Aaron FoxRocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

    Previous Rank: 10
    Net Rating: +1.9

    Tyrese Haliburton and Domantas Sabonis were the principal players in last season's trade between the Sacramento King and Indiana Pacers. Both are playing like obvious All-Stars—maybe even top 10 players, from a pure production standpoint.

    But the biggest beneficiary of the deal may have been the point guard who remained in Sacramento after the deal.

    During Haliburton's season and a half with the Kings, De'Aaron Fox averaged 25.1 points and 5.6 assists per 75 possessions with a 56.2 true shooting percentage when he shared the floor with Haliburton. This season, with Haliburton in Indiana, Fox's numbers have crept up to 25.6 points and 6.5 assists per 75 possessions with a 59.3 true shooting percentage.

9. New Orleans Pelicans (25-17)

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    CJ McCollum
    CJ McCollumBrian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

    Previous Rank: 8
    Net Rating: +4.0

    Just a couple weeks ago, the New Orleans Pelicans were in first place in the Western Conference, Zion Williamson was garnering MVP buzz and the rest of the league had to worry about how good they might be whenever Brandon Ingram came back (he'd only played 15 games).

    Now, they've lost five of their past seven, Zion is out with a hamstring injury and Ingram has still played just 15 games.

    On the bright side, after a slow start to the season, CJ McCollum is playing like an All-Star again. Over his past 14 games, McCollum is averaging 27.7 points, 6.0 assists and 4.6 threes, while shooting 48.1 percent from the field and 50.0 percent from deep.

    If he can keep this up (or at least be close to this level) and New Orleans can ever get all three of him, Zion and Ingram on the floor for an extended stretch, the Pelicans should still push for at least home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

8. Brooklyn Nets (27-14)

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    Ben Simmons
    Ben SimmonsNathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

    Previous Rank: 3
    Net Rating: +3.9

    For years, the "Tall Rondo" moniker was hurled at Ben Simmons as something of an insult. This season, at least with the way he plays, he's basically embraced it.

    After going 0-of-3 for zero points in Thursday's loss to the Boston Celtics, Simmons is down to 7.5 points on 5.9 shots per game this season. And while he was also plus-10 and had 13 assists and nine rebounds in the aforementioned loss, it looks like the Brooklyn Nets will need him to at least try to score while Kevin Durant is out.

    That's nearly 30 points a night that has to be replaced for the next several weeks, and Kyrie Irving can't do it on his own.

7. Dallas Mavericks (24-19)

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 12: Christian Wood #35 of the Dallas Mavericks drives to the basket during the game against the Los Angeles Lakers on January 12, 2023 at Crypto.Com Arena in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2023 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
    Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

    Previous Rank: 9
    Net Rating: 0.9

    Luka Dončić's season (and recent play) seems to get more absurd by the week.

    Over his last 10 performances, he's averaging 40.2 points (yes, that's correct), 11.2 rebounds (no typo there) and 9.2 assists (also correct), while shooting 51.8 percent from the field and 39.2 percent from deep.

    But the Dallas Mavericks' climb up the standings that started in mid-December has a lot to do with the help he's getting.

    Down the stretch in Thursday's win over the Los Angeles Lakers, with Russell Westbrook aggressively denying Luka off the ball, Spencer Dinwiddie came up with two massive drives and dunks. Mixing in a little more of that would spare Luka's legs and make the offense less predictable.

    And he's not the only Maverick who can help (and has been helping).

    Christian Wood was a team-high plus-19 in the double-overtime win over L.A. He had 24 points, 14 rebounds, six assists and five blocks (including two clutch swats in the overtimes).

    On the season, Dallas' net rating is comfortably better when Luka plays with Wood than it is when he's without the big man.

6. Milwaukee Bucks (27-15)

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    Brook Lopez and Giannis Antetokounmpo
    Brook Lopez and Giannis AntetokounmpoTodd Kirkland/Getty Images

    Previous Rank: 7
    Net Rating: +1.5

    For the first time in his career, Giannis Antetokounmpo had a double-double that didn't include 10 points in Wednesday's win over the Atlanta Hawks. And that performance illustrated something that's driving the Milwaukee Bucks to contention for the East's top seed.

    Despite being without Khris Middleton for all but seven games, Giannis has gotten a lot of help from a supporting cast that includes multiple All-Star candidates.

    Jrue Holiday is averaging 18.5 points, 7.2 assists and 2.3 threes while shooting 38.1 percent from deep. Brook Lopez is a Defensive Player of the Year candidate pitching in 14.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.5 blocks and 2.0 threes.

    And the team's net rating is actually a little better when those two play without Giannis than it is with him.

5. Philadelphia 76ers (25-16)

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    James Harden and Joel Embiid
    James Harden and Joel EmbiidMitchell Leff/Getty Images

    Previous Rank: 6
    Net Rating: +4.0

    Losing a home game to the Oklahoma City Thunder is far from ideal, but the Philadelphia 76ers are still 13-4 since they fell to an even .500 on December 5.

    And over that span, James Harden and Joel Embiid have emerged as one of the game's most dangerous offensive duos.

    Over that 17-game stretch, Embiid is averaging 35.3 points and shooting 55.9 percent from the field, while Harden is adding 21.8 points, 12.1 assists and 3.1 threes with a 40.8 three-point percentage.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers (27-16)

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    Darius Garland and Gary Payton II
    Darius Garland and Gary Payton IISam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images

    Previous Rank: 5
    Net Rating: 4.8

    Donovan Mitchell has gotten (and deserves) more attention than any other Cleveland Cavalier this season, but his supporting cast did some heavy lifting in Thursday's win over the Portland Trail Blazers.

    In that game, Darius Garland went for 20 points and 10 assists, while Jarrett Allen added 24 points and 10 boards.

    Of course, Mitchell added 26 of his own, bringing Cleveland's record to 8-2 when it gets three 20-point scorers in a single game.

3. Memphis Grizzlies (28-13)

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    Ja Morant and Desmond Bane
    Ja Morant and Desmond BaneJustin Ford/Getty Images

    Previous Rank: 4
    Net Rating: +5.0

    Now that Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr. have worked their way through their respective injuries, we've finally gotten a chance to see the Memphis Grizzlies' three core players on the floor together for a decent sample size.

    And the returns should be scary for the rest of the league.

    When those two share the floor with Ja Morant, Memphis is plus-19.7 points per 100 possessions. And if you're worried about that trio only totaling just over 200 possessions (roughly the equivalent of two full games), it's a still strong plus-7.1 over the past two and a half seasons.

2. Boston Celtics (31-12)

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    Malcolm Brogdon and T.J. Warren
    Malcolm Brogdon and T.J. WarrenNathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

    Previous Rank: 2
    Net Rating: +6.3

    The Boston Celtics seem to have put a shaky (by their standards) December behind them. After going 8-8 from the start of that month through their first two games in January, the Celtics have now reeled off five straight wins.

    And what may be most encouraging about this current run is the arrival of the Indiana Pacers version of Malcolm Brogdon.

    During these five games, Brogdon is averaging 17.0 points, 4.0 assists and 2.6 threes while shooting 56.5 percent from deep.

    That last number obviously isn't one that will stick longterm, but if Brogdon can maintain production anywhere near this level going forward, Boston's December struggles on offense will feel like a bad dream in no time.

1. Denver Nuggets (28-13)

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    Jamal Murray and Bones Hyland
    Jamal Murray and Bones HylandBart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

    Previous Rank: 1
    Net Rating: +4.0

    Nikola Jokić continues to dominate Basketball Reference's MVP Tracker, and he's closing in on Michael Jordan for the top career box plus/minus of all time, but the Denver Nuggets' ascension isn't entirely based on his dominance.

    Aaron Gordon is a fringe All-Star, Michael Porter Jr. is providing the expected floor spacing while also playing improved defense, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Bruce Brown have both been seamless offseason additions.

    During the Nuggets' current 6-1 stretch, though, it's been the red-hot shooting of two point guards that stands out. Over those seven games, Jamal Murray is averaging 19.0 points and shooting 50.0 percent from deep, while Bones Hyland is adding 16.1 points and a blistering 52.2 three-point percentage.

Stat of the Week

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    Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo
    Joel Embiid and Giannis AntetokounmpoMitchell Leff/Getty Images

    As we continue trying to wrap our heads around the historic scoring outputs in the NBA this season, it's worth mentioning the resurgence of heliocentric offense.

    For a brief moment, it felt like teams might abandon the approach of the Houston Rockets during James Harden's peak there for more player- and ball-movement heavy schemes like the 2013-14 San Antonio Spurs, 2015-16 Golden State Warriors or this season's Denver Nuggets.

    Instead, a handful of teams are leaning heavily into that Harden-esque attack.

    Basketball Reference simply defines usage percentage as "...an estimate of the percentage of team plays used by a player while he was on the floor." If you get a shot up, turn the ball over or draw a trip to the free-throw line, it adds to that percentage.

    And this season, Luka Dončić, Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo are on pace to finish with the fourth, seventh and eighth highest single-season usage percentages in league history. Throw in Ja Morant, and 2022-23 accounts for four of the top 25 usage percentages on record (it's been tracked since 1977-78).

    On the year, there are currently 62 players with 25-plus usage percentages. That's an all-time high for one season.

    So, what does this mean?

    With teams trusting their top two or three players, regardless of position, to take control of the offense, we've seen a deluge of monster individual performances. And the stars have earned the right to make those decisions.

    The skill sets of today's top scorers are deeper than they've ever been. The overwhelming majority of the game's best players can hit threes (in a variety of forms), draw fouls and create for others. And more well-rounded first options has led to this season's offensive explosion.

Performance of the Week

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    Thomas Bryant and Nikola Jokić
    Thomas Bryant and Nikola JokićBart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

    Two-time reigning MVP Nikola Jokić is one of the stars swimming against the heliocentrism current. He's among the 62 with a 25-plus usage percentage and leads the league in touches per game, but he's outside the top 50 in average time of possession.

    He still wants the ball to be moving all over the floor within his team's possessions, and Monday's win over the Los Angeles Lakers was an excellent showcase of that mentality.

    Jokić went for 16 assists, 14 points and 11 rebounds. He was 5-of-5 from the field, 3-of-3 from the free-throw line and 1-of-1 from three.

    It was his second career triple-double with a perfect field-goal percentage. Wilt Chamberlain (who did it three times) and Draymond Green are the only other players in league history with multiple 100 field-goal percentage triple-doubles.

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