NBA Power Rankings: Where Every Team Stands with 1 Week Left in Regular Season
Here we go: the final week of a wild NBA season. Several big games are on the calendar with almost every seed up for grabs in both conferences. Even the race to the bottom three of the standings is heating up. Standing updates are required every day to keep up with all the races.
In the West, the No. 1 seed is still up for grabs. Nos. 5-7 are still close enough to require monitoring. Nos. 8 and 9 are separated by just half a game. The 10th seed is up by one-and-a-half games on the 11th seed.
The top seed in the East is all but officially locked up, but the No. 2 seed is a race. Nos. 4-7 and Nos. 8-10 are separated by two games. The 11th seed looks to be locked out of the tournament but with how wild this season has been, anything is possible.
Even the race to the bottom has tightened up. One team has the worst record locked up, but five teams are trying to get the last two spots for the bottom three. As a reminder, the worst three records have the same odds for the top pick in the 2021 draft.
The criteria for our rankings have remained the same: who a team beat—and how convincingly—how well they played and what their recent performances mean going forward.
30. Oklahoma City Thunder
Last Week’s Rankings: 30th
The Oklahoma City second-half tank job has cruised steadily along. Since the All-Star break, the Thunder have gone 6-27.
Even with all of the losing, Oklahoma City is still focused on the development of its young players. Last week Darius Bazley popped, scoring 23.0 points, but he was not very efficient shooting 37.8 percent from the field.
Thunder fans also got a good look at the team’s most recent signing, Gabriel Deck. In six games, he has averaged 8.6 points and 4.6 rebounds in 19.4 minutes. He is still getting his legs under him, but with an offseason of development, Deck could be another interesting player for the Thunder.
29. Cleveland Cavaliers
Last Week’s Rankings: 29th
Cleveland’s losing streak has extended to 10 games. The Cavs were able to force the Suns into overtime and then got blitzed by 16 points. Then the Blazers beat them by 36, followed by two losses to the Mavs by a combined 47 in their miniseries.
The injury list is getting quite crowded for the Cavs. Matthew Dellavedova, Taurean Prince and Dylan Windler are out for the season. Larry Nance Jr. has a fractured thumb. Darius Garland, Kevin Love and Lamar Stevens are all out of the lineup as well.
All the good feelings from the fun start of the season are completely gone from this Cavs team.
28. Houston Rockets
Last Week’s Rankings: 28th
The Rockets are pretty much guaranteed to finish in the bottom three and have the best chances at the top pick. Houston is on a five-game losing streak with several tough games ahead.
Among the few positives, the Rockets got a big week from Kenyon Martin Jr., who put up 24.5 points and shot 57.1 percent from three. He also grabbed 8.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists. Houston was able to score a ton last week, averaging 124, but unfortunately gave up 138 points.
With Kevin Porter Jr. blowing up two weeks ago and Martin last week, there is some young talent that Stephen Silas can work with next season along with Christian Wood and a potential top-three pick.
27. Orlando Magic
Last Week’s Rankings: 27th
Orlando has been without head coach Steve Clifford the past six games with him in COVID protocols. During that run, the Magic went 3-3 with Tyrone Corbin at the helm. He returned to coach the team in their game against the Celtics.
It was a good week for the Magic. Despite going 1-3, their young players all played well. Mo Bamba averaged 13.3 points and 13.3 rebounds. R.J. Hampton dropped 17.3 points and handed out 5.3 assists while grabbing 5.3 rebounds.
The Magic could potentially have two lottery picks in this upcoming draft, if the Bulls pick from the Vucevic trade falls to them. With the young players they already have on the roster, this could be a fun team...next season.
26. Detroit Pistons
Last Week’s Rankings: 25th
The Pistons faced a tough schedule last week with five games in seven days. Detroit did well by stopping its four-game losing streak with a big win over Memphis. More impressively, the Pistons did it with their defense, holding the Grizzlies to just 97 points.
One redemption from Detroit’s loss to Chicago is how its rookies performed: Saddiq Bey had 20 points and seven rebounds, Isaiah Stewart produced 19 points and seven rebounds, and Killian Hayes dropped 21 points, eight assists and seven rebounds.
But as the Hayes development process continues, Detroit has to work on his turnovers. Last week he averaged 5.7 turnovers; he had seven in their loss to Chicago. If Hayes is going to be their lead guard in the future, he has to work on getting that number down.
25. Minnesota Timberwolves
Last Week’s Rankings: 26th
Minnesota has quietly become a fun team to watch since it has gotten healthy. Anthony Edwards has shown why he should have been the No. 1 pick in last year’s draft. He dropped a career-high 42 points against Memphis. It was not just scoring; Edwards had seven assists and six rebounds to go with his points.
After coming off the bench for 15 games, D’Angelo Russell was moved into the starting lineup last week. As a starter he is shooting 52.4 percent from three off of seven attempts, on top of 8.7 assists. Finding his groove is extremely important for the team moving forward.
The problem is we’ve been down this road before with the Wolves. They were "the next team" with Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins a few seasons back so there is some hesitancy but as of now, this team is just fun.
24. Toronto Raptors
Last Week’s Rankings: 23rd
Although not mathematically out of it, it is safe to assume the Raptors will not be making it to the play-in tournament this season. Toronto went winless last week, losing a tight game to the Clippers and dropping what was a must-win against the Wizards in OT. Then Jonas Valanciunas had another revenge game against his former team.
It might be time for Toronto to shut down some of its top players. It has already done that a bit with Kyle Lowry, who has played one game in May. OG Anunoby has missed the last four games. Fred VanVleet sat out the loss to Memphis. VanVleet has been in and out of the lineup for the last few weeks.
Toronto had a tough season with hastily relocating to Tampa Bay at the start of the season, a COVID outbreak and injuries. Better to come out of this playing the young players and start working on plans for next season.
23. Sacramento Kings
Last Week’s Rankings: 24th
Sacramento went on a surprising four-game win streak before falling to the Spurs on Friday, 113-104. It was surprising only because it was without De’Aaron Fox and Harrison Barnes, plus the Kings lost rookie Tyrese Haliburton at the start of the week.
Haliburton’s rookie season is done with a knee injury, but the good news is there was no ligament damage. It was a successful campaign with him averaging 13 points, 5.3 assists and 40.9 percent from three. He will be selected for an All-Rookie team.
The Kings’ streak came to an end against the Spurs but Sacramento is closing the season fairly strong, winning seven of their last 10 games over teams like the Lakers and Mavericks. Going 3-1 last week can help them build to a strong last week of the season and carry into the next.
22. Chicago Bulls
Last Week’s Rankings: 22nd
The Bulls are still hanging in the race for the play-in but are sitting three games behind the Pacers for the final spot. They got Zach LaVine back from COVID protocols and have won three straight, including a big win over the Celtics last week.
LaVine is still working his way back but Chicago got solid output from Nikola Vucevic last week. He led the team in scoring with (23.5 points), rebounds (14 rebounds) and assists (6.5) while shooting 58.3 percent from three. LaVine being back will help to take some of the load off of Vucevic’s plate.
Even though Chicago is still in the race, it is going to be a long shot to make the postseason with a tough schedule and needing Indiana to drop several games.
21. New Orleans Pelicans
Last Week’s Rankings: 21st
New Orleans’ bid to make the play-in tournament took a serious hit once news broke that Zion Williamson will be out indefinitely with a fractured finger. It seems unlikely he will be able to finish the regular season. Adding his name to the injured list alongside Brandon Ingram robs the Pelicans of their top two scorers.
The Pelicans went 1-1 in the two games they played without Williamson. New Orleans nearly pulled off the upset against Philadelphia and managed a tough win in Charlotte (112-110). Eric Bledsoe has stepped up his game, leading the team by scoring 21 points and 7.5 assists.
To make matters more difficult, the Pelicans—13-20 away from home this season—are in the midst of a five-game road trip. New Orleans is still in the mix for the play-in tournament, only a game-and-a-half out of the last spot in the West.
20. Indiana Pacers
Last Week’s Rankings: 20th
Oof, where do we begin with the Pacers? A lot of dirty laundry was aired out last week. After his first season as an NBA head coach, Nate Bjorkgren’s seat is on fire. Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer dove deep into the issues with Bjorkgren’s tenure.
Then to make matters worse, emotions boiled over in the Pacers' loss to the Kings. Assistant coach Greg Foster and rookie Goga Bitadze had a heated exchange. It resulted in Foster being suspended for a game and a fine for Bitadze.
The Pacers are in the play-in game, but with all this bad energy, do they even want to play in the tournament?
19. San Antonio Spurs
Last Week’s Rankings: 19th
With a win over the Kings, the Spurs were able to put an end to their five-game losing streak. Sitting in the last spot for the play-in tournament, San Antonio has to find a way to pick up at least a couple more wins to secure its spot in the postseason.
Unfortunately, the Spurs schedule is not going to be easy at all. The last week of the season for San Antonio will be five games in seven days against all playoff-bound teams. The hope must be that those teams will all be resting players if their seeding is locked up.
On the court, San Antonio has not been able to connect from three. It shot 25.4 percent from three last week and scored just 102 points. The team may back its way into the postseason, but it will be a very short trip if it cannot get back on track from deep.
18. Charlotte Hornets
Last Week’s Rankings: 18th
The Hornets are in a good position not just to finish in the play-in tournament but to finish in the top half of the bracket. LaMelo Ball won the individual matchup of the Ball brothers but Lonzo Ball walked away with the win.
Unfortunately, Charlotte lost Miles Bridges to the NBA’s health and safety protocols last week. Just adding another name to their injured list. There have not been any clues for when Gordon Hayward might return, and now DeVonte' Graham is out with a knee issue. There may not be much more room left on the injured list.
The Hornets went 2-2 last week but the loss to the Pelicans will give the Wizards an opportunity to overtake their spot in the top bracket of the play-in. Getting healthy could go a long way to holding off Washington for that spot.
17. Memphis Grizzlies
Last Week’s Rankings: 15th
In good news, Jaren Jackson Jr. got his first start of the year Saturday against the Raptors. He scored 20 points and grabbed four rebounds in 26 minutes and though those numbers may not pop, they’re not far off his per-game averages from his first two seasons. Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas, who gobbled up a more impressive 21 rebounds, added 18 points in the win.
The real challenge will come from the pace of next week’s schedule: a five-games-in-seven-days stretch that would challenge any team. Most crucially, they need every one of those games to keep pace with the Warriors.
Barring something wild, Memphis should be locked into the play-in tournament. The bracket is still to be determined. The Grizzlies are just a half-game behind the Warriors for 8th seed and as luck would have it, the last game of the season will be at Golden State.
16. Los Angeles Lakers
Last Week’s Rankings: 14th
It is panic time in Lakerland with Los Angeles slipping into the play-in tournament. The team took a big loss to Portland in what was essentially a must-win situation. After their win over Phoenix, Los Angeles is just a full game behind Portland but will need to gain two games on them since the Blazers own the season series.
The good news is that Anthony Davis is rounding into form. Last week, he averaged 26.8 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.8 blocks while shooting 46.2 percent from the floor. He absolutely carried them in a much-needed win over the Suns, putting up 42 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and three blocks while playing 41 minutes. That was his highest minutes load since returning. The Lakers desperately needed this game and Davis came through for them.
It is not clear when LeBron James will be back, but with him out and Dennis Schroder in COVID protocols, the Lakers are getting hit with injuries at all the wrong times. Talen Horton-Tucker missed two games before returning for the last game of the week. Kyle Kuzma missed their game against the Suns and Alex Caruso played but it was a game-time decision.
15. Washington Wizards
Last Week’s Rankings: 17th
Two is the magic number for the Wizards to clinch a spot in the play-in tournament after beating the Pacers. That win allowed them to jump into the 9th seed of the play-in tournament. Washington is just 1.5 games behind Charlotte to get into the top half of the play-in bracket. Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook have continued to lead the way for the Wizards.
Last week Beal averaged 36.5 points on 54.5 percent shooting, including a 50 burger against the Pacers. He is locked in a race for the scoring title with Stephen Curry. Beal is 0.5 points behind Curry, but his hamstring injury and day-to-day status may throw that race. As of now, Beal will miss Monday’s game in Atlanta.
Meanwhile, Westbrook averaged 18.3 assists, including a 24-assist night against the Pacers, along with 17.3 rebounds and 22.3 points for the week. It was a historic week for him: With another triple-double against Indiana, Westbrook tied Oscar Robertson’s all-time record for triple-doubles (181).
The Wizards have caught fire but to stay hot they will need to get Beal back sooner rather than later.
14. Boston Celtics
Last Week’s Rankings: 13th
It was not a good week for the Celtics, which are now in danger of landing in the play-in tournament. It started out promising with a big win over the Magic, but it was all downhill from there. Boston got crushed by Chicago in its next outing then lost the first half of a pivotal miniseries against Miami. It did not help that Jaylen Brown (right ankle sprain) was out last week.
Kemba Walker performed all week, scoring 27.7 points and shooting 50 percent from the field and three. Evan Fournier had his best week as a Celtic, dropping 21.7 points and shooting 60 percent from three to go with five assists. The issue was Jayson Tatum’s drop-off in production. He did score 21.7 points but shot just 24 percent from three and made only 4.3 free throws.
Boston has four games left in the season and they will need to win all four, including the season series clincher against Miami, to avoid the play-in tournament.
13. Golden State Warriors
Last Week’s Rankings: 16th
The week started with a big showdown miniseries against the Pelicans. They split both games and were able to climb into the top of the play-in tournament bracket. Golden State cannot let up; the team is just a half-game ahead of Memphis to stay in the eighth spot.
Stephen Curry has remained hot, putting up 40.3 points per game last week. He is also well aware of the scoring title race. After scoring 49 points against the Thunder on Saturday night, Curry was asked if he had heard about Bradley Beal’s 50-point performance earlier in the evening. “Of course I did,” he said.
The end of the season is shaping up to be an exciting one for the Warriors with Curry vying for the scoring title and the team battling for seeding in the West. The latter race is so close, in fact, that Golden State’s final game of the season against Memphis could decide which team finishes in the top half of the play-in tournament.
12. Atlanta Hawks
Last Week’s Rankings: 11th
It was a light three-game week for Atlanta last week. The Hawks picked up a big win over the Suns, but their three-game winning streak came to an end against the Pacers. A loss like that hurts because they are in the hunt not just to make the playoffs but to get home court for the first round.
Last week gave a glimpse of what the Atlanta front office was thinking when it made its offseason acquisitions. Bogdan Bogdanovic was electric with a 23-point average and shooting 56.5 percent from the field. Trae Young dished out 11 assists to go along with his 22.3 points and Danilo Gallinari chipped in 19.7 points.
In even better news, it sounds like De’Andre Hunter might be making a return sooner rather than later.
11. Portland Trail Blazers
Last Week’s Rankings: 12th
It was a big week for the Blazers. The win over the Lakers means they control their destiny since they hold a 1.5-game lead over L.A. for the 6th spot in the West and own the tiebreaker between the two teams. If they handle their business, they should make the playoffs outright and give Damian Lillard a little rest before the postseason begins. Even stealing the fifth seed is not out of the question as they are just a game behind the Mavs.
The Blazers have won seven of their last eight games and have caught fire from deep. As a team, they are shooting 43.2 percent from three during this stretch. Lillard is averaging 48.7 percent from downtown to help him average 29.6 points. CJ McCollum has come through with some incredible shot-making for his 20.9 point average.
All of this may not be enough to save Terry Stotts’ job, though. His fate will be decided by the Blazers’ performance in the playoffs, and a first-round exit might have him out as coach.
10. Dallas Mavericks
Last Week’s Rankings: 10th
It appears the Mavs have pulled themselves out of the play-in tournament conversation. Dallas went undefeated for the week and is sitting in No. 5 in the West. They are a game ahead of the Blazers with four games to go. Portland won the season series so Dallas will need to finish with a better record to keep the fifth seed.
Luka Doncic did Luka things all week: scoring (21.5), rebounding (8.8) and assisting (5.5). But it was Tim Hardaway Jr. who erupted for Dallas. He averaged 26 points over the week while shooting 52.2 percent from three.
Ultimately, defense has been responsible for this streak. The Mavericks had a defensive rating of 104.6 last week—a notable improvement for a team that has otherwise struggled to play consistent, high-level defense. Most impressive is the 102.1 rating when Doncic was on the floor.
9. Los Angeles Clippers
Last Week’s Rankings: 8th
The Clippers finished their week with a loss to the Knicks but went 2-1 for the week. The loss put them a game ahead of the Nuggets for No. 3 in the West with four to go, all on the road. The team is just getting healthy and are just waiting on Serge Ibaka to get to the lineup to be complete.
One thing that hurt the Clippers last week was their sloppiness with the ball. They averaged 17.7 turnovers and gave up 22.3 points off those turnovers. Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Rajon Rondo each averaged three turnovers. Even though they pulled out wins last week, L.A. certainly made it tougher on themselves.
On the flip side, L.A. has been the best shooting three-point team all season. They lead the league in three-point percentage (41.6). The Clippers have 10 players shooting above 40 percent from deep on a minimum of one attempt, with Leonard just on the outside at 39.8 percent.
Taking better care of the ball and continuing to shoot the three-ball well will help the Clippers to close the season strong and get focused on the playoffs.
8. Miami Heat
Last Week’s Rankings: 9th
Miami has created a little bit of cushion between them and Boston for the No. 6 seed. They won round one of their miniseries and have gone up two games in the standings on the Celtics. The final installment will decide the season series and could lock up at least the sixth seed for the Heat.
Jimmy Butler was outstanding in the Heat win over the Celtics with 26 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds. Butler may have led the way but it was a team effort with contributions from everyone, like Bam Adebayo, Duncan Robinson, Trevor Ariza and Tyler Herro off the bench.
Last week, Miami heated up from three, connecting on 43.5 percent of the shots. Herro was putting a fireball hitting on 72.7 percent of his 5.5 three-point attempts.
Even being up two games on Boston, Miami cannot take their foot off the pedal. They face some heavy hitters all week to close the season. Slipping up could cost them an outright playoff berth.
7. Brooklyn Nets
Last Week’s Rankings: 6th
Brooklyn’s win against Denver put an end to a four-game losing streak. Getting swept in the miniseries against the Bucks and losing the season series means there is a chance the Nets finish third in the East.
Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant turned in a monster week combining for 66.3 points for the Nets last week. Carrying the offensive load is to be expected but getting help from the supporting cast goes a long way, like Blake Griffin pitching in against Denver with a 20-point night.
James Harden told reporters last week that he was "very confident" that he could return before the season ends. The Nets need to play a few more games with the Big Three on the court at the same time. So far this season, Durant, Harden and Irving have only played seven games together.
6. New York Knicks
Last Week’s Rankings: 7th
The Knicks are nearing the end of a six-game West Coast swing. New York has gone 3-2 through five games, so at worst it will finish .500 on this trip. They are a game ahead of both Atlanta and Miami for the fourth seed. It’s true: The New York Knicks, who haven’t been in the playoffs since the 2012-13 season, are now in position to not only make the playoffs but have home-court advantage.
New York’s win in L.A. was their first over the Clippers since the 2010 season. A big part of the win was timely shooting from Reggie Bullock and R.J. Barrett, who combined for nine of the Knicks’ 13 threes. On top of that, Derrick Rose dazzled with a 25-point 11-17 performance. The Clippers simply had no answers for him.
With a hard style of defense and some scoring punch, the Knicks are not going to be an easy out for their first-round opponent.
5. Denver Nuggets
Last Week’s Rankings: 2nd
The Nuggets have slipped to fourth in the West and fallen in the power rankings with a 1-3 week. Nikola Jokic continues his MVP campaign, averaging 29.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 7.5 assists last week. Michael Porter Jr. has taken hold as the second star since Jamal Murray went down (ACL). Last week Porter was the Nuggets' second-leading scorer with 23.8 points and 46.9 percent from three.
The real issue for the Nuggets has been Aaron Gordon, who was a late scratch against the Nets with right calf tightness. In the three games before that, he was averaging just five points on 31.8 shooting. It could be attributed to his calf issue, but the Nuggets are simply going to need more.
One game behind the Clippers and with the season series in hand, the Nuggets can make a run for the third seed in the West.
4. Phoenix Suns
Last Week’s Rankings: 1st
After taking the top seed last week, the Suns took their foot off the gas pedal. They dropped two games and it was the defense that let them down. The Suns gave up 135 points to the Hawks and 123 to the Lakers in their two losses of the week.
The loss to the Lakers should show some concern as Anthony Davis dominated the Suns frontcourt. He finished with 42 points while Phoenix’s entire frontcourt combined for 49 points. This does not bode well for Phoenix’s title hopes considering there is a good chance L.A. could be their first-round opponent in the playoffs.
The two losses have put Phoenix two games behind Utah with four games left to go. The only chance they have at getting the No. 1 seed has dropped considerably.
3. Utah Jazz
Last Week’s Rankings: 5th
The Jazz have gone on a five-game win streak to retake the top seed in the West. They are two games ahead of the Suns and control their destiny. More impressive is that they have been doing this without Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley, who are out with injuries.
Bojan Bogdanovic has been leading the charge offensively with 30.2 points on 60.4 percent shooting. Rudy Gobert is averaging a double-double (14.8 points and 12.4 rebounds) and has continued to patrol the paint. Joe Ingles has turned into the lead playmaker with the absence of Mitchell and Conley, racking up 8.2 assists.
As good as Utah has been in this stretch, it needs Mitchell and Conley healthy in the first round. There is a chance the first-round opponent could be the Lakers or Warriors. That will not be easy.
2. Milwaukee Bucks
Last Week’s Rankings: 4th
Last week was huge for the Bucks. They swept their miniseries with the Nets and took the season series. Milwaukee followed that up with a close win over the Wizards and the Rockets.
Milwaukee’s three stars are firing on all cylinders during this five-game winning streak. Giannis Antetokounmpo is averaging 31.3 and 10 rebounds. Khris Middleton is hitting 42.3 percent of his threes and scoring 23.5 points to go with 7.0 rebounds. Jrue Holiday is also shooting lights out from three (44.4) for his 21.2 points and, more importantly, handed out seven assists.
The Bucks are in prime position to finish as the No. 2 seed in the East. They just need to finish tied with the Nets to take that seed and potentially home-court advantage should they face off in the second round. Everything's coming together at the right time for the Bucks.
1. Philadelphia 76ers
Last Week’s Rankings: 3rd
Philadelphia ended the week on an eight-game winning streak. With two more wins, the 76ers will clinch the top seed in the Eastern Conference. The Sixers’ winning streak has not been against the toughest competition which is all the more reason to take care of business. More importantly, the sooner they clinch the seed the more rest they can give their guys.
Joel Embiid has been dominant during this streak, averaging 25.4 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks while hitting 54 percent from the field. On top of Embiid’s play, Seth Curry is red-hot from deep. He is connecting on 57.1 percent of his six three-point attempts a game. The Sixers as a whole are shooting particularly well from deep at 39.9 percent.
Clinching the No. 1 seed is a big step for the Sixers. It makes their road to the Eastern Conference finals free of the Nets and Bucks. Avoiding those two teams does not guarantee anything by itself, but it does make their path undeniably easier.