NBA Power Rankings: Where Every Team Stands After 2 Weeks
It’s still early, but with over two weeks of evidence piled up, the 2021-22 NBA season is becoming easier to analyze.
Numbers are easier to trust, rotations are crystallizing and a handful of teams and individual players are starting to create some separation from the field.
Of course, from week to week, the power rankings will shift, but it’s safe to say current front-runners like the Utah Jazz and the Miami Heat are in for good seasons (barring injury, of course).
Others, like the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks, are winning, but questions persist.
What have we learned about them and everyone else this week? And where do they land in the rankings? Scroll below to find out.
*Title odds courtesy of FanDuel.
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30. Detroit Pistons
Previous Rank: 30
Net Rating: -12.9
If you’re a Detroit Pistons fan, you’re probably hoping for two things out of this season: the accumulation of pingpong balls for this summer’s lottery and development for the lottery picks on the roster.
Well, it’s probably safe to check the first of those two boxes. Detroit is predictably terrible. And after Thursday’s loss to the 76ers, it’s dead last in net rating.
The second box, meanwhile, looks empty. Through three appearances, Cade Cunningham is just 7-of-39 (17.9 percent) from the field and 1-of-21 (4.8 percent) from three. And after a dreadful rookie campaign, Killian Hayes is still struggling to put the ball in the basket. In 2020-21, he shot 35.3 percent from the field. This year, he’s down to 31.0 percent.
On the bright side, both had positive plus-minuses in Thursday’s loss to Philadelphia. And the combined size of that backcourt (Cunningham is listed at 6’6”, while Hayes is 6’5”) is intriguing, particularly on defense.
Title Odds: +25000
29. Houston Rockets
Previous Rank: 28
Net Rating: -7.2
The losses continue to pile up for the Houston Rockets, but that's among the least surprising things in the NBA this season. This was always going to be a tank.
The real thing to pay attention to with Houston is whatever flashes of upside are shown by Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun and Kevin Porter Jr.
In various games, all three have given reasons for optimism. Sengun, specifically, looks like a future playmaking 5 who'll provide the guards with more off-ball opportunities. So far this season, he's one of five players in the league averaging at least three assists and three steals per 75 possessions.
Title Odds: +25000
28. New Orleans Pelicans
Previous Rank: 26
Net Rating: -7.6
We’re not even a month into the season, but it might be time to stick a fork in the 2021-22 New Orleans Pelicans.
FiveThirtyEight’s forecast still gives them a 35 percent chance to make the playoffs, but that has a lot to do with an individual projection for Zion Williamson, whose return timeline seems to get longer (and more mysterious) each week. As of Monday, Zion had just started “5-on-0” work, according to ESPN’s Andrew Lopez. And he’s two to three weeks away from more imaging on his recovering foot.
The longer New Orleans is without its best player, the deeper this hole it’s in will go. If the team seems too far gone by the time Zion’s return is close, who’s to say the Pelicans won’t suddenly become even more cautious? More losses means more ping-pong balls in the lottery, after all.
Title Odds: +16000
27. Orlando Magic
Previous Rank: 29
Net Rating: -8.3
The Orlando Magic are going to lose a ton of games this season, but we knew that going in. At this point of a rebuild, it’s all about signs of hope, and Orlando’s young core has provided plenty of those. Rookie Franz Wagner and second-year guard Cole Anthony are two of the main sources.
Wagner is checking all the boxes Orlando hoped he would, with multipositional defense, a little playmaking and flashes of athleticism like this TikTok-worthy dunk on the Minnesota Timberwolves. What may be more encouraging than all of that, though, is the fact that Wagner leads the league (yes, the entire league) in total spot-up points.
Anthony is showing the kind of moxie you need from someone on the roster to compete throughout the marathon of an NBA season. Anthony looks ready for a basketball war on just about every possession, and his efficiency is catching up with his intensity. He's averaging 18.7 points and shooting 40.3 percent from three.
Title Odds: +25000
26. Oklahoma City Thunder
Previous Rank: 27
Net Rating: -10.9
The Oklahoma City Thunder have something none of the others in the bottom five has: a bona fide star.
In Thursday's 19-point comeback win over the Los Angeles Lakers, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander went for 28 points on 9-of-17 shooting and was plus-14 in a game the Thunder won by three.
And he put a pair of exclamation points on the victory. First, with 1:18 remaining and OKC up three, SGA pulled up for and drilled a logo three on Avery Bradley. Later, with L.A. trying to foul him to stop the clock, he elevated over multiple Lakers and fired a dart to Luguentz Dort under the rim for a dunk.
In a game that featured Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook, Gilgeous-Alexander often looked like the best player.
Title Odds: +25000
25. San Antonio Spurs
Previous Rank: 25
Net Rating: 0.0
After two decades at or near the top of the league, it still feels a little foreign to see a rudderless, starless San Antonio Spurs squad. They play hard and are fundamentally sound—as you might expect—but it’s hard to get all that excited about their long- or short-term prospects.
The first few weeks of the season have shown that San Antonio has several solid rotation players, but no one looks like the kind of leader who can carry the Spurs back to the playoffs.
The possible exception might be Dejounte Murray, who’s averaging 18.3 points, 8.4 assists, 7.8 rebounds and 2.0 steals.
Title Odds: +24000
24. Indiana Pacers
Previous Rank: 24
Net Rating: -0.3
Domantas Sabonis and the Indiana Pacers got off to a troubling 1-6 start under new head coach Rick Carlisle, but things seemed to stabilize a bit this week with comfortable wins over the San Antonio Spurs and New York Knicks.
The return of Caris LeVert one game before this mini-run started may have something to do with the wins. He’s now plus-32 in three games, and him bumping Justin Holiday to the bench has provided a boost to that unit.
With T.J. Warren possibly weeks away from his return to action, there’s plenty of hope (and time) for Indiana to get back into the playoff mix.
Title Odds: +13000
23. Minnesota Timberwolves
Previous Rank: 16
Net Rating: -1.0
After starting the season 3-1, this week served as something of a reality check for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Three straight losses have them below .500, and a lack of efficiency from everyone not named Karl-Anthony Towns has to be a little concerning.
KAT is shooting 50.0 percent from the field and 47.8 percent from three, but the rest of the roster is at 40.0 and 29.2 percent, respectively. And those two numbers aren’t far off from Anthony Edwards’ individual numbers.
If Minnesota is going to stay near the playoff picture, Edwards has to find a way to be more efficient.
Title Odds: +12000
22. Boston Celtics
Previous Rank: 18
Net Rating: -1.6
After a drama-filled week in which Marcus Smart called out Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown for not passing enough, the Boston Celtics had what felt a bit like a ship-righting win over the Miami Heat on Thursday.
The Heat entered the night with the league’s best net rating, but Boston beat them handily in Miami. The win had more to do with the Celtics defense than anything, though.
Concerns remain, particularly the underlying one that led to Smart’s comments. Tatum and Brown have shown plenty as scorers over the years, but neither seems to empower role players on offense. They don’t need to be LeBron James, but a little more distribution here and there wouldn’t hurt.
Title Odds: +5500
21. Los Angeles Clippers
Previous Rank: 22
Net Rating: +0.6
Things were looking pretty bleak for the Kawhi Leonard-less Los Angeles Clippers after a 1-4 start, but back-to-back wins over the Oklahoma City Thunder and Minnesota Timberwolves have fostered some optimism. No, those two teams don’t represent the stiffest competition, but wins are wins. And the Clippers are going to have to beat up on lesser teams to make the playoffs.
In the Timberwolves game, specifically, point guard Reggie Jackson broke out with 29 points on 11-of-18 shooting (including 7-of-9 from three). With Kawhi likely out for most (if not all) of the season, Paul George needs a reliable second option, and Jackson boosting his three-point percentage from 29.1 to 35.9 in a single game suggests he’s ready to take that on.
Title Odds: +2000
20. Sacramento Kings
Previous Rank: 19
Net Rating: -1.2
Harrison Barnes’ mid-career breakout is probably the biggest story of the season for the Sacramento Kings. After scoring 23 points on 5-of-8 shooting in Sacramento's Wednesday win over New Orleans, Barnes is averaging 23.3 points, 9.5 rebounds and 3.3 threes with a 66.5 true shooting percentage. He’s earned all the attention he’s getting and then some.
But Sacramento’s perennially underrated center, Richaun Holmes, deserves some credit, too. The bouncy rim-runner is averaging 15.0 points and 9.9 rebounds in just 26.9 minutes. And a little push shot in the lane he seemingly never misses has contributed to a white-hot 68.0 field-goal percentage.
The pressure that Holmes’ rolls puts on the rim creates space on the outside for shooters, and the numbers bear that out. This season, the Kings are scoring 113.8 points per 100 possessions when Holmes is on the floor and 103.5 when he's off.
Title Odds: +24000
19. Portland Trail Blazers
Previous Rank: 17
Net Rating: +1.1
The Portland Trail Blazers are in the midst of a three-game losing streak, two of which came against Eastern Conference teams that failed to reach the playoffs last season. While a bottom-third-of-the-league defense feels like the bigger long-term issue, Damian Lillard’s struggles out of the gate have been hard to miss.
On Wednesday, he was 10-of-27 for 26 points in a loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. It was the sixth time this season Lillard had at least as many shot attempts as points. On the year, he now has 156 points on 156 field-goal attempts. He’ll almost certainly break out at some point, but surviving this kind of cold streak from your star is tough for a team that doesn’t defend well.
Title Odds: +8000
18. Atlanta Hawks
Previous Rank: 4
Net Rating: -2.3
The Atlanta Hawks are in the midst of a mini-slide that started the night before last week’s power rankings went live. They’ve lost four of their last five games, and they’re giving up 117.6 points per game in that stretch. That’s bumped their defensive rating down to the bottom third of the league.
On paper, this team has plenty of firepower. Trae Young, John Collins, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Clint Capela are all plus offensive players. Cam Reddish seems to be breaking out in year three. But even that isn’t enough to survive the kind of defense Atlanta is playing lately.
Title Odds: +3600
17. Dallas Mavericks
Previous Rank: 15
Net Rating: -5.1
The Dallas Mavericks are on pace for 50 wins, but something just feels off with this team. They’re in the bottom third of the league in net rating and cannot score at anywhere near the rate they did during the two seasons leading up to this one.
The struggles probably start with Luka Doncic, who appears to be experiencing a learning curve on the recent rule changes. Like Trae Young and James Harden, Luka’s free-throw-attempt rate is way down. And the lack of those freebies has certainly contributed to the offensive tank.
Of course, it’s not the only factor. The Mavericks will need some time to adjust to new coach Jason Kidd’s offense, and most of the team is shooting terribly from three. There’s reason to believe both issues will improve with time.
Title Odds: +4200
16. Cleveland Cavaliers
Previous Rank: 21
Net Rating: -0.2
Rookie Evan Mobley has understandably gotten a lot of the attention (and credit) for what feels like a culture shift for the Cleveland Cavaliers, but it’s time to give Jarrett Allen some of his due.
After going for 24 points and 17 rebounds in Wednesday’s win over the Blazers, Allen is now averaging 14.4 points and 10.7 boards while shooting 70.5 percent from the field. He also has a team-best 3.3 box plus/minus among players who have logged over 50 minutes.
With the jumbo frontcourt of Allen and Mobley providing solid backline defense, Cleveland’s undersized guard duo of Collin Sexton and Darius Garland hasn’t been as exposed as it has in years past.
Title Odds: +24000
15. Phoenix Suns
Previous Rank: 20
Net Rating: -1.0
After a 1-3 start that likely raised a few eyebrows, the Phoenix Suns have now won three straight and are looking more and more like the team that made the 2020 Finals. And Chris Paul is dominating the game on both sides of the ball.
During this little streak, CP3 is averaging 13.0 points, 13.7 assists and 3.3 steals. Even in his age-36 season, Paul still has the ability to control the majority of a game’s possessions. And with plenty of offense, like Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges, around him, it looks like the Suns will be just fine.
Title Odds: +1600
14. Memphis Grizzlies
Previous Rank: 13
Net Rating: -2.8
Ja Morant has been the story of the season for the Memphis Grizzlies. After the first couple weeks of the season and an average of 27.0 points, he’s moved into the top 15 of FanDuel’s MVP odds. But Memphis reaching its potential is more about the development of Morant’s supporting cast, and this week offered a good sign on that front.
Jaren Jackson Jr. has gotten off to a slow start, averaging 12.4 points with a 32.5 field-goal percentage heading into Wednesday’s game against the Denver Nuggets. That night, he broke out for 22 points, eight boards, five threes and three blocks.
If he can develop into the kind of star who’s worthy of the $105 million extension he signed this offseason, the Grizzlies will stay in the playoff hunt all season.
Title Odds: +8000
13. Charlotte Hornets
Previous Rank: 8
Net Rating: +0.3
The Charlotte Hornets have come buzzing back to earth a bit, and their slide coincides with an individual slump for LaMelo Ball. In his first four games of the season, Ball averaged 22.8 points and shot 50.0 percent from three. Over the past three, though, he's down to 16.8 points (on 16.8 shots) while shooting 30.3 percent from deep.
For a young player who came into the NBA alongside concerns about his shooting, ebbs and flows shouldn’t be surprising. Surviving them will require a more consistent defensive effort (Charlotte is surrendering 110.8 points per 100 possessions).
On the bright side, Miles Bridges’ bid for an All-Star spot got another boost on Wednesday when he scored 32 points and pulled his average up to 24.1.
Title Odds: +12000
12. Los Angeles Lakers
Previous Rank: 12
Net Rating: +0.2
With LeBron James sitting Thursday's game with an abdominal strain, the Los Angeles Lakers might deserve a bit of a pass for losing to the Oklahoma City Thunder, but it's the way they lost that won't let them off the hook.
Just over a week ago, L.A. led OKC by 26 in a game it eventually lost. Thursday, the Lakers surrendered a 19-point lead to the same rebuilding team, this time at Staples Center.
In both cases, the collapses revealed a problem that could plague the veteran Lakers throughout the season. Against a team like the Thunder, L.A. just doesn't look hungry. The Lakers were out-competed. Even without LeBron, they have more talent than OKC, but complacency wiped out that gap.
L.A. fans can chalk it up to the team saving itself for the postseason. Chances are, it'll be fine once the playoffs roll around. But being able to flip a switch isn't a given. The Lakers obviously couldn't flip it last season.
Title Odds: +500
11. Washington Wizards
Previous Rank: 14
Net Rating: +0.8
The Washington Wizards are on pace for 50 wins, and Bradley Beal has yet to find his old self as a scorer. After averaging 30.9 points per game with a 58.6 true shooting percentage in 2019-20 and 2020-21, Beal is at 24.4 points with a 48.3 true shooting percentage this season. He’ll obviously be better, which means there’s room for improvement for the team too.
Early success in spite of Beal’s struggles highlights the selling point for this past offseason’s blockbuster trade of Russell Westbrook, though. With the additions of Spencer Dinwiddie, Montrezl Harrell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Kyle Kuzma, this team is significantly deeper than it was last season. Beal is the only star, but the roster is better equipped to handle any slumps he might go through.
Title Odds: +16000
10. Toronto Raptors
Previous Rank: 23
Net Rating: +5.0
After starting the season 1-3, the Toronto Raptors have now rattled off five consecutive wins, and they’re getting contributions from all over the roster. In Wednesday’s win, Fred VanVleet went for 33. OG Anunoby had 36 in the previous win. Scottie Barnes led the way with 21 the game before.
Kyle Lowry and Kawhi Leonard are gone and Pascal Siakam has yet to play, but this Raptors squad is winning games in similar fashion to the 2019 title team (don’t take that as a suggestion they’re on the same level, though). This team has length, defends and spreads the wealth on offense.
Title Odds: +13000
9. Denver Nuggets
Previous Rank: 9
Net Rating: +1.4
Without Jamal Murray, all but one member of the Denver Nuggets has moved at least one spot up the pecking order. Denver’s lack of depth has been glaringly obvious through eight games.
Whether it’s a bench player or a starter staggered with the second unit, someone has to fill at least some of the void left by Murray’s absence. After averaging 19.0 points and shooting 44.5 percent from three last season, Michael Porter Jr. seemed like an obvious candidate, but he’s been ice cold. He’s averaging just 10.9 points and shooting 21.7 percent from three.
Title Odds: +2500
8. New York Knicks
Previous Rank: 6
Net Rating: +2.5
Back-to-back losses to the Toronto Raptors and Indiana Pacers have tempered expectations for the New York Knicks a bit, but they’ve probably shown enough to trust them to stay in the playoff hunt all season.
Many of the holdovers, including Julius Randle and RJ Barrett, are replicating much of last season’s individual successes. And there have been good signs from both Kemba Walker (shooting 51.0 percent from three) and Evan Fournier (41.3 percent from three).
The concern is what happens to the defense when Kemba is on the floor. In a word, it implodes when the new point guard is in. And for an undersized 31-year old with an injury history, there’s little hope for that to improve.
Title Odds: +8000
7. Milwaukee Bucks
Previous Rank: 3
Net Rating: +0.6
Health is the biggest issue for the Milwaukee Bucks right now. Donte DiVincenzo has yet to suit up this season. Jrue Holiday was lost to an ankle injury in the season opener (though he appears to be nearing a return now). Brook Lopez is dealing with a back issue. And now, Khris Middleton has entered the league’s health and safety protocols following a positive COVID-19 test.
Fortunately, the team doesn’t appear to be dealing with any extended absences. And with the pressure release that comes from winning a title, the Bucks might give ailing players a little extra time to recover from injuries or other absences this season.
Regardless of who’s been in the lineup with him, though, Giannis Antetokounmpo is off to another MVP-caliber start. He's averaging 27.4 points, 10.8 rebounds, 6.4 assists and 2.0 blocks in 31.4 minutes and trails only Nikola Jokic in BPM. As long as he’s on the floor, Milwaukee is a tough out.
Title Odds: +700
6. Brooklyn Nets
Previous Rank: 10
Net Rating: +0.9
The Brooklyn Nets already appear to be righting the ship after a 2-3 start. On Wednesday, they stretched their win streak to three by beating the Atlanta Hawks, but some mild concerns may still be lingering.
Kevin Durant continued his steady play with 32 points on 13-of-20 shooting, but James Harden again failed to put the kind of pressure on the rim that we’re used to from him. In eight games, Harden has 38 free-throw attempts, and 19 of those came in a single game.
Without Kyrie Irving, a championship-tier offense for Brooklyn will depend a lot on Harden figuring out how to adapt to the highly publicized rule changes. Right now, the Nets are in the bottom half of the league in points per 100 possessions.
Title Odds: +250
5. Chicago Bulls
Previous Rank: 7
Net Rating: +7.0
A loss to Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers may put a bit of a damper on the Chicago Bulls’ week, but the early returns are still undeniably good. Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan are both averaging over 25 points, and those two, Lonzo Ball, Nikola Vucevic and Alex Caruso are all over 3.5 assists per game. The ball is moving, and it looks like the Bulls should be an offensive force this season.
And in a weird way, an underwhelming all-around line for Vucevic might actually be more reason for optimism. So far, the big man is shooting just 38.9 percent from the field and 28.1 percent from three. Those numbers will drift up at some point, and the Bulls should obviously benefit.
Title Odds: +4200
4. Philadelphia 76ers
Previous Rank: 11
Net Rating: +8.9
Ben Simmons is a talented basketball player. There’s no doubt about it. But even with Tobias Harris (COVID protocols) and Danny Green (hamstring) missing time, we’re getting a good look at what the post-Simmons Philadelphia 76ers will look like.
With Joel Embiid at the center of Philly’s offensive universe, defenders are forced to pay attention to the middle of the floor. That gives shooters Seth Curry and Georges Niang a little extra time on catch-and-shoot opportunities, and they’re taking advantage.
After Thursday’s win over the Detroit Pistons, when Philadelphia went 12-of-32 from three, the Sixers are shooting 38.5 percent from deep. The Embiid-and-shooters model is working.
Title Odds: +2000
3. Miami Heat
Previous Rank: 2
Net Rating: +12.5
Miami saw a five-game winning streak end Thursday, but there aren’t many causes for concern.
Despite rule changes that adversely impacted scorers like James Harden and Trae Young, Jimmy Butler continues to go to the line the old-fashioned way: by bullying his way into crowds and taking the ball up through real contact. Tyler Herro looks like the front-runner for Sixth Man of the Year. And Bam Adebayo is the anchor of a physical, versatile defense that has to have other Eastern Conference contenders concerned.
Once Duncan Robinson finds his three-point form (he’s shooting just 33.3 percent from deep) and Kyle Lowry figures out his place within the offense, Miami could get even better.
Title Odds: +1200
2. Golden State Warriors
Previous Rank: 5
Net Rating: +9.7
The Golden State Warriors were just supposed to survive until Klay Thompson returned. Instead, they’re thriving at 6-1 even without otherworldly production from Stephen Curry.
Of course, Curry's been a driving force of their success, but his marks for points per game, field-goal percentage, three-point percentage and BPM are all way down from last season.
Balanced scoring from players like Jordan Poole, Andrew Wiggins and Damion Lee, as well as the league’s top defense, have more than made up the difference.
Title Odds: +1100
1. Utah Jazz
Previous Rank: 1
Net Rating: +12.9
Even with Donovan Mitchell out with an ankle injury, the Utah Jazz cruised to a 116-98 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday. For those who haven’t paid close attention to this team over the last couple of years, that development might be surprising, but Utah’s net rating has actually been slightly better without Mitchell since the start of the 2020-21 season.
This team is built to survive an absence from Mitchell, thanks to loads of shooting and a Rudy Gobert-anchored defense. When Mitchell is out, a little extra size on the outside makes Utah even more stout on that end.
Of course, this isn’t a suggestion that the Jazz are better off without their leading scorer. His ability to create offense from scratch has been crucial, particularly in the playoffs. But being able to survive his absences is a big part of why Utah has been one of the steadiest regular-season teams during the Gobert era.
Title Odds: +1000