NBA Power Rankings: Where Every Team Sits at the All-Star Break
The NBA All-Star break is the last pit stop before all 30 teams floor it down the stretch. Don't be fooled by talk of the "first half" being over; most clubs only have about 30 games left.
That means any serious efforts to barge into playoff position or, for our purposes, move up in ranking, have to start now.
Though it's difficult to imagine much changing at the extremes—it'd take something dramatic to get the Milwaukee Bucks out of the top spot or the Golden State Warriors out of the bottom one—there's plenty of wiggle room in between.
As always, rankings consider record, advanced stats, health and recent play. The goal is organizing all 30 teams into an order that reflects the current NBA hierarchy.
Enjoy the respite the All-Star break brings. It's going to be a dead sprint the rest of the way.
30. Golden State Warriors (30)
Losers of four straight, the Warriors own the league's worst record. Though they're 29th in net rating overall, they rank 30th since Jan. 1. So whether focusing on the full season or more recent games, there's ample evidence the Dubs still belong down here.
One positive: Marquese Chriss is finishing lobs left and right.
Another: Andrew Wiggins had a combined seven steals and five blocks in his first three games with the Warriors, showing renewed defensive intensity and frequently matching up against the opponent's top wing threat. That he also averaged 23.0 points on 70.1 percent true shooting is a bonus; Golden State will need defensive buy-in, good shot selection and consistent focus from Wiggins in a third-option role next year.
It's early, and a key source of frustration throughout Wiggins' career has involved flashes like this followed by extended stretches of checked-out play. Skepticism is smart. Still, the start to his Warriors career could hardly have gone better.
29. Cleveland Cavaliers (29)
Kevin Porter Jr. is averaging 15.8 points per game on 61.8 percent true shooting in February, but the strange frontcourt logjam created by Andre Drummond's arrival deserves this week's focus.
Tristan Thompson, somehow still not bought out, led Cleveland with 27 points in Wednesday's 127-105 win over Atlanta, and Drummond is predictably 2-of-2 in the double-double department in his two games as a Cavalier.
Kevin Love didn't suit up in Cleveland's only game this past week, and it'll be interesting to see how the 4-5 minutes shake out over the season's final two months.
The Cavs have five losing streaks of at least five games this season, something no other team can claim. They hit the break with the 30th-ranked net rating but two more wins and three fewer losses than Golden State.
28. Minnesota Timberwolves (27)
The Wolves (0-2 this week) saw the Raptors relentlessly target new point guard D'Angelo Russell in Monday's 137-126 loss. Repeated screens forced Russell's involvement at the point of attack, much to Minnesota's defensive detriment.
This is how it's going to be until Russell proves he's up to the challenge of playing both ends—or until the Wolves find an even weaker link on D, which seems unlikely given Russell's status as one of the absolute worst defenders in the league.
Additionally discouraging, Karl-Anthony Towns underwent an MRI on his sore left wrist. He could miss time after the break.
Malik Beasley has shot it well since joining Minnesota at the deadline, but it's increasingly clear the Wolves need major defensive upgrades to offset their new core's weaknesses on that end.
27. Detroit Pistons (26)
The Pistons exited the season's unofficial first half with a whimper, losing four straight and seizing up on offense to the tune of a 101.0 offensive rating in those four defeats. That's easily the worst scoring efficiency mark in the league over that span, and the Pistons have been little better over a longer stretch, ranking 28th in offense for the month of February.
Christian Wood put up 26 points and 12 rebounds in Wednesday's 116-112 overtime loss to Orlando. He'll continue to produce with Drummond out of the picture, but he may be alone as a bright spot since Detroit, now seven games back of the eighth-seeded Magic in the loss column, plays out the string.
26. Chicago Bulls (25)
You can get into the weeds trying to explain the Bulls' disappointing season if you want. There's plenty to criticize about their performance—from too many opponent shots at the rim to a sky-high turnover rate to a gear-grinding offense to an alarming penchant for putting other teams on the foul line.
But the simplest approach is often best: Chicago doesn't compete against good teams. It has precisely one win against opponents who, at the time, had winning records. A pair of early-season wins over Memphis look better now that the Grizzlies are surging, but nothing settles the question of Chicago's place in the league like its complete failure to stand up against decent competition.
Zach LaVine is still scoring plenty, as evidenced by 41 points against Washington on Tuesday. But the Bulls are riddled with injuries and on a six-game losing streak. The bottom of the East remains a joke, though, so Chicago (19-36) is somehow only five games out of the playoffs.
25. Charlotte Hornets (28)
Charlotte beat the Wolves and Pistons this week, giving the club a two-win rankings session for the first time since the first week of January. The 87-76 slog at Detroit on Monday marked the sixth time the Hornets failed to reach 90 points this season, but it was also the second time they'd held an opponent under 80 points.
Neither stat makes watching Hornets games seem like a great use of time.
24. New York Knicks (23)
The Knicks trailed by just three points with 9:02 left in the fourth quarter of their Wednesday meeting with the Wizards. Things went downhill from there.
Washington closed the game on a 34-19 run, turning a close contest into a laugher and sending the Knicks into the break with two straight losses.
It's not all bad, as more than a quarter of New York's 17 wins came after Jan. 25. Of course, when the biggest news of the week is the hiring of a branding guru who triggers yet another PR nightmare and ham-fisted press release in his first days on the job, it's hard to get too optimistic.
23. Atlanta Hawks (24)
All Dewayne Dedmon needed to rediscover his game was a Hawks jersey.
He averaged 10.3 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.3 blocks while shooting 36.4 percent from deep in the first three games of his second Atlanta tour. Those numbers make it hard to believe he fell out of Sacramento's starting lineup after only four games and spent weeks out of the rotation earlier this season.
But then, Sacramento is often where talent goes to disappear.
The Hawks lost three of four before the break, but they're still a solid 7-9 since Jan. 14. That's more than enough to stay out of the bottom five for another week.
22. Phoenix Suns (20)
Devin Booker replaced an injured Damian Lillard in the All-Star Game, assuaging the masses who believed he'd done enough to warrant a spot on the initial roster. Though his Suns (1-1 this past week) are fading from postseason consideration, Booker's growth on defense and exceptionally efficient 26.4 points per game deserved recognition.
Speaking of efficiency, it's going to be tough for Deandre Ayton to produce worthwhile offense if he continues to be clueless as a foul-drawer. He's attempting 2.7 free throws per 36 minutes this season. Among centers who've attempted at least 300 field goals, that figure ranks ahead of only perimeter-oriented Brook Lopez and Al Horford.
Finally, it's time for all of us to admit we were wrong to criticize the Suns' lottery selection of Cam Johnson. He can do more than shoot.
21. San Antonio Spurs (19)
The Spurs won at Oklahoma City on Tuesday after an 0-5 start to their annual rodeo trip. That's small consolation for a team now looking very likely to miss the playoffs for the first time since 1997.
It's strange that the main point of interest for Spurs viewers is now future development. But for the first time in two-plus decades, that's where the focus has to be. And there's good news on that front. Dejounte Murray scored a career-high 25 points in that 114-106 victory over OKC, and he's established himself as one of the league's best rebounding guards while also hitting 37.8 percent of his treys.
Murray's full-season averages of 10.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.6 steals don't leap off the page (except for the steals), but there are only five other players matching them this season. All of them are All-Stars.
20. Orlando Magic (22)
The Magic took care of business this past week, going 2-0 against lottery-bound Atlanta and Detroit while getting 25.5 points per game from Aaron Gordon.
Gordon handled Orlando's reported efforts to deal him at the deadline well.
Meanwhile, James Ennis, the Magic's only trade acquisition, averaged a modest 6.0 points in 15.0 minutes per game in his first two outings since coming aboard from the Sixers.
Orlando enters the break with the same lopsided profile it has held all year, ranked seventh on defense but 27th on offense. The Wizards are breathing down the Magic's necks for the East's last playoff spot, and it'll take better balance to keep Washington at bay.
19. Sacramento Kings (18)
There was never much hope for a good pre-break week with road dates against Milwaukee and Dallas on the schedule, so the Kings' 0-2 mark can't come as a surprise.
In light of several years of dysfunction, neither can the unrest surfacing within the organization.
With familiar reports of infighting and discontent, the Kings really could have done without seeing Luka Doncic for a third time this season. His stardom is an inescapable reminder of what could have been. The 33 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists he blessed them with Wednesday had to sting a little extra.
Finally, bold prediction: Harrison Barnes, who has pledged to go without a haircut or beard trim until the Kings hit .500, will not hear the comforting buzz of clippers this season.
18. Washington Wizards (21)
Bradley Beal turned in matching 30-point nights in wins over the Knicks and Bulls this week, sending the Wizards into the break with five victories in their last seven games.
Stretching back a bit farther, Washington is 10-9 since Jan. 4. That's helped it pull to within just three games of the eighth-seeded Magic, and it's tempting to say the smart money is on the Wizards overtaking Orlando. Unfortunately for Washington, its remaining schedule is the fourth-hardest in the league, while the Magic's is third-easiest.
To keep the pressure on, the Wizards will have to sustain the modest defensive improvements they've made lately. In their last 10 games before the break, they ranked 20th in defense. Not bad for a group that still ranks dead last in points allowed per possession on the year.
17. Portland Trail Blazers (16)
The Blazers have lost three of their last four games and, more importantly, saw Damian Lillard go down with a groin strain in Wednesday's 111-104 loss to Memphis.
We've spent the majority of these Blazers rankings sections lauding Lillard for his outlandish scoring and deep shooting, so it follows that his absence, projected at one to two weeks, hurts Portland's ranking.
Worse, it may kill its playoff chances.
The Blazers' net rating dips by a nice, round 10.0 points per 100 possessions when Lillard sits down, dropping from plus-0.9 to a wretched minus-9.1.
Portland is in trouble.
16. Indiana Pacers (15)
If Giannis Antetokounmpo hadn't sat out Wednesday's game, which Indiana won 118-111 behind 35 points from TJ Warren, we'd be talking about a Pacers team on a season-high seven-game losing streak.
The six-game slide that ended Wednesday was already twice as long as Indy's previous season-long nosedive, a three-gamer that opened the year.
This probably isn't how the Pacers expected things to go in Victor Oladipo's first few weeks back.
There hasn't been much visible rust on D, but Oladipo's offensive game is betraying his diminished physical state after a full year off. He's struggling to get to the rim, finishing inside at his lowest rate ever and is posting the lowest free-throw rate of his Pacers career. That he's hoisting 48.2 percent of his shots from deep suggests his blow-by burst just isn't there.
15. Brooklyn Nets (17)
The Nets aren't hitting their week off in perfect shape—Kyrie Irving hasn't played since Feb. 1 and won't even have his sprained knee reevaluated until after the All-Star break—but they look a lot stabler than they did toward the end of January.
And just like the last time Irving sat out for an extended period, Brooklyn's other guards seized the opportunity.
Spencer Dinwiddie totaled 30 assists and only three turnovers in his last three games before the break, and he also hit a game-winner to beat the Pacers on Monday. Caris LeVert's team-high 20 points fueled Wednesday's victory over Toronto, ending the Raptors' 15-game winning streak. At 6-2 in their last eight games and with the East's No. 7 playoff spot all but assured, the Nets shouldn't feel pressured to rush Irving back.
It might feel unfair to rank Brooklyn ahead of the Pacers, given the disparity in overall record. Indy is 32-23, while Brooklyn is just 25-28. But the Nets have a higher net rating (plus-4.0 to the Pacers' minus-1.1) and own the edge in record (7-6 versus 6-8) over the last calendar month. Throw in a head-to-head win by Brooklyn last Monday, and there's enough justification to slot the Nets this high.
14. New Orleans Pelicans (13)
Tuesday's 138-117 win over the Blazers may have been New Orleans' most significant of the season. Zion Williamson pogo-sticked all over the floor for a career-high 31 points to go with nine rebounds and five assists, and the Pels kept the ball hopping, surpassing the season-high 38 assists they registered last week with 40.
The Pelicans are 16-9 since Dec. 23, and though they're only 5-5 in games Williamson has played, his positive impact is far more pronounced than that record indicates. With him on the floor, New Orleans crushes opponents by 12.8 points per 100 possessions.
Williamson set and reset his career high in scoring with 31 points in Tuesday's win over the Blazers, followed by 32 in Thursday's 123-118 loss to the Thunder. He joined a select group of players to post back-to-back games with at least 30 points as teenagers.
Oh, and among players who've logged 200 minutes this season, only Giannis Antetokounmpo scores more points in the paint on a per-minute basis than Zion. He's physically dominating the league at age 19.
That 13-game losing streak in December put the Pels in a hole. The playoffs are a long shot. But they're a postseason-quality team right now—and even better than that when Williamson is rumbling around on the court.
13. Dallas Mavericks (12)
Dallas is 5-6 in the 11 games Luka Doncic missed with ankle sprains before the break, a surprisingly competent figure considering the sophomore All-Star's total control of its attack.
In the tech-bro sense of the term, Doncic is disrupting NBA offense. He's now operating as both the screener and the ball-handler in the pick-and-roll, which isn't usually how those sorts of plays work. When you think you've seen everything, Doncic busts out something new.
The 33 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists he pasted on the Kings in Wednesday's 130-111 win (after missing the previous seven games with an ankle sprain) proved he'll be ready to roll in the second half.
With Kristaps Porzingis logging five of his eight 25-point games since Jan. 31, Dallas' one-two punch is looking more potent than ever.
12. Philadelphia 76ers (14)
By bringing Al Horford off the bench for the first time since the veteran's rookie season, Sixers head coach Brett Brown may have landed on the key to maximizing the fit between Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.
For one game, anyway.
Tuesday's 110-103 win over the Clippers ran Philadelphia's home record to 25-2 and saw Simmons play one of his best games of the season. He led the Sixers with 26 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. Embiid, enjoying more space inside as Philly put four shooters around him, bullied the Clips for 26 points and nine boards, getting to the foul line 13 times in only 28 minutes of action.
It's not ideal if Philadelphia's optimal rotation involves a $109 million free agent coming off the pine, but there's no denying the offensive breathing room Horford's benching created.
The Sixers hit the break on a three-game winning streak. And though their road struggles and chemistry concerns are real, they've still flashed the top-end potential that makes them a threat to reach the Finals.
From The Athletic's Derek Bodner: "For all of the controversy surrounding the Sixers' season, they have wins over every top team in the league. From the East's Bucks, Heat, Celtics and Raptors to the West's Lakers, Clippers, Nuggets and Jazz, the 76ers have victories against them all. In fact, the Sixers hold a winning record (10-9) against those teams, who currently comprise the top four of each conference."
11. Memphis Grizzlies (11)
Brandon Clarke was a ridiculous 12-of-14 from the field in Wednesday's 111-104 win over the Blazers, and he's on pace to post the highest true-shooting percentage by a rookie (among those attempting at least 300 shots) in NBA history.
Some of Clarke's accuracy is owed to Ja Morant's superhuman vision, but let's not shortchange the springy forward. He's the one running the floor, finding seams in the defense and finishing heaps of tough floaters with touch. If that 42.0 percent conversion rate from deep is remotely sustainable, Clarke is going to spend most of his career as one of the league's most efficient scorers.
As for the Grizzlies, they look poised to retain the playoff spot they've improbably occupied for several weeks, and they'll do it utilizing exactly the kind of uptempo style you'd want to see from superior athletes like Morant and Clarke. Only Milwaukee and Toronto get out in transition more frequently than Memphis.
The Grizz are 15-4 since Jan. 4, and they boast a plus-5.1 net rating that ranks sixth in the league during that span.
10. Miami Heat
Last Week: 9
Last week, we featured Bam Adebayo dunking on two Kings. Even though Rudy Gobert is just one man, Adebayo's jam over him during Wednesday's 116-101 loss to Utah has to grade out as even more impressive.
Adebayo's passing and multi-position defense already made him one of the league's most reliably entertaining watches. Now that he's a serial posterizer, Miami's 22-year-old All-Star owns official "can't-miss" status.
On the season, Miami has benefitted from exceptional luck in one particular sense: its opponents rank 30th in three-point percentage. That good fortune turned on the Heat's 1-4 road trip just before the break, as their opponents knocked down 15.8 threes per game (most in the league during that span) at a 38.9 percent clip.
The Heat should be comfortable turning games into long-range shooting contests with Duncan Robinson around. He hit at least five treys in each of his last four games before the All-Star break and reached 200 career triples much faster than any player in league history.
9. Oklahoma City Thunder
Last Week: 7
Danilo Gallinari's 29 points put the Pelicans to bed Thursday, earning OKC an important 123-118 victory against a New Orleans team threatening to shake up the playoff picture. Though Gallo's smooth scoring was too much for the Pelicans, it's important to also note the Celtics repeatedly targeted him on defense in a 112-111 loss on Feb. 9.
With the Thunder tearing it up lately (27-11 since Thanksgiving and 10-3 in their last 13 games), it's fair to start worrying about postseason vulnerabilities. Gallinari's defense may be one of those.
An offense largely reliant on foul-drawing could also present problems in the playoffs. We've seen officials appear less inclined to reward contact-seeking behavior in the postseason, and opponents with time to scout are better at avoiding sucker fouls.
Then again, Chris Paul's rip-through move will probably still be working when he's 50.
8. Los Angeles Clippers
Last Week: 6
Deadline acquisition Marcus Morris Sr. closed at center in Tuesday's 110-103 loss to the Sixers, and he wasted no time bringing some edge to the Clippers. He got into a dustup with Joel Embiid, which, given their history, was to be expected.
Morris will have to do more than scrap with his long list of enemies to make a real difference in Los Angeles. Job No. 1 should be keeping the ball moving (long a challenge for him) and embracing a more limited role than he played with the Knicks.
If the hamstring strain that forced Paul George out of Thursday's game against the Celtics lingers, Morris could get a healthy share of shots. But when L.A. is fully healthy, he'll have to make the most of fewer looks while defending across several positions.
The Clips lost three of their last four games prior to the All-Star break and have fallen a game behind Denver for the West's second seed.
7. Utah Jazz
Last Week: 10
Twenty-seven five-man units have played at least 200 minutes together this year. Anyone following the league could probably guess the Bucks' starting five sits atop that list with an obscene plus-18.5 net rating. But right behind them at plus-17.3: the Jazz's opening quintet of Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles, Royce O'Neale, Bojan Bogdanovic and Rudy Gobert.
Mike Conley replaced O'Neale in the starting group for the first four games in February, but an illness kept him out of the Jazz's final two games before the break. While it's understandable Utah would want to feature their high-profile offseason acquisition, there's just no statistical argument for tinkering with the group that has run roughshod over the league all year.
The Jazz recovered from an alarming five-game skid to win their last four before the All-Star break, downing Portland, Houston, Dallas and Miami in succession. Even with the performance slippage that bridged late January and early February, Utah is still 15-6 with the league's fourth-best net rating since Jan. 1.
The only aspect of the Jazz's stellar play that feels out of character? This run has been fueled mainly by strong offense. Utah is eighth in scoring efficiency overall and second since the calendar flipped to 2020.
6. Houston Rockets
Last Week: 8
James Harden and Russell Westbrook combined for 78 points in Tuesday's 116-105 win over the Celtics, sending Houston into the break on a positive note.
The Rockets' downsized starting five now features Robert Covington at...well, what do positional designations even mean anymore? However you classify the members of Houston's new starting five, just know they're working well together so far. In 39 minutes together, Covington, Harden, Westbrook, Danuel House Jr. and PJ Tucker are outscoring opponents by 26.5 points per 100 possessions.
That's an unsustainable rate, but the limited sample we've seen shows Westbrook's attack lanes are wider than before, and Harden's drive-and-kick game is now even more effective. If this group somehow survives defensively, which it has to this point, watch out.
Houston is 5-2 in its last seven games and could muck up the game enough to threaten opponents of any size.
5. Denver Nuggets
Last Week: 4
A stumble against the Lakers on Wednesday in one of the best games of the year sent Denver into the break on a losing note, but there's no shame in that defeat.
The Nuggets came back from a 23-point deficit to beat the Spurs on Monday and have won six of their last eight games. Jamal Murray averaged 31.3 points in his last four outings before the break, Paul Millsap is back after nearly a month on the shelf, and Nikola Jokic continues to play some of the best ball of his career.
And yes, that last part is still true even though Jokic deserves criticism for passing up a clean look at a three that could have tied things up late against the Lakers. We should forgive the greatest passing center who has ever lived if he struggles to embrace a shoot-first mentality once in a while.
"I have to be better," Jokic told reporters after passing on that shot against L.A. "I think I just need look to score a little bit more or just try to shoot it at least."
It's not like Jokic has made shying away from big shots a habit. Only Chris Paul has more total points in the clutch this year.
4. Boston Celtics
Last Week: 5
If you had to pick just one explanation for Jayson Tatum's ascent to true stardom, dramatically improved volume and accuracy on off-the-dribble threes would be it.
He's hitting 38.7 percent on pull-up treys and shooting 4.2 of them per game. Both figures are career bests, and only Damian Lillard is more accurate on such shots (among those attempting at least four per game).
As a result of this new weapon, eight of Tatum's nine 30-point games have come this year. He put up a career-best 39 points in Thursday's 141-133 double-overtime win against the Clippers, sending the Celtics into the break with eight wins in their last nine games.
Boston should hope its penchant for dominating second halves applies to the rest of the season. The Celtics' plus-10.2 net rating after halftime is the best in the league.
3. Toronto Raptors
Last Week: 3
Defending champs who run off a streak of at least 15 wins in their title-defense season collect a second ring more often than not. That ought to soothe the Raptors, whose 15-game run finally came to an end Wednesday with a listless 101-91 loss to the Nets.
I guess we can give Toronto a pass for one low-energy game after nearly a full month of dialed-in intensity.
Pascal Siakam ate D'Angelo Russell's lunch Monday, scoring 34 points as the Raptors hunted the Wolves' defense-averse guard. Though it doesn't take a sophisticated basketball mind to realize Russell should be exploited, a broader edge-seeking ethos has a lot to do with the Raps' 40-15 mark.
They junk things up with more defensive looks than anybody else, and whatever scheme Toronto is in, the team always flies around the floor in a swarm of long limbs and semi-reckless closeouts. On a lot of nights, facing Toronto's defense is like being swept up into a tornado. Chaos wheels around at high speed, and it's all too easy to lose your bearings and composure.
Maybe title talk (and stats like the one above that validate it) will always feel overly ambitious for this team. But the longer Toronto keeps this up, the harder it'll be to discount its chances.
2. Los Angeles Lakers
Last Week: 2
Anthony Davis led the Lakers in scoring in five of their six February games, and he's quietly shooting 40.0 percent from long range since Jan. 1. If not for his pair of critical triples in overtime against Denver on Wednesday, the Lakers might not have escaped with one of their most impressive wins of the season.
L.A. needed that one, too. One of the few concern-raisers on the Lakers' resume this year was an inability to handle top competition. They're 0-5 against the Bucks, Celtics, Raptors and Clippers—despite Davis and LeBron James playing in all five contests.
So that 120-116 OT win in Denver on Wednesday mattered a little extra.
The Lakers have won 17 straight road games against West opponents, and James is on pace to join Steve Nash as the only players to average at least 10 assists at 35 or older.
Ranked second in offense and fourth in defense, and enjoying a quality win over a tough Denver foe, the Lakers hit the break in great shape.
1. Milwaukee Bucks
Last Week: 1
Let's go niche.
Nobody runs quite like the Bucks, who rank first in overall transition frequency. What's truly terrifying about Milwaukee's commitment to getting out on the break is the way it turns mundane misses into sprints in the opposite direction.
The Bucks create transition opportunities on 36.2 percent of live defensive rebounds. That figure tops the NBA and imparts a sense of just how exhausting it must be to tangle with Milwaukee. Not only does its elite defense generate misses at a high rate, but its emphasis on grab-and-go offense doesn't even give opponents time to feel dejected about the horrible offensive possession they just endured.
Blink, and the Bucks are already gone, hunting a dunk or a three on the other end, usually led by a speed-dribbling tidal wave named Giannis Antetokounmpo.