B/R NBA Power Rankings: Where All 30 Teams Stack Up with 2 Weeks Left
With just over two weeks left in the 2021-22 season, there's still plenty to be determined in the NBA's standings.
The Phoenix Suns have clinched home-court advantage throughout the playoffs, but just about everything else is in question. And several teams appear to be peaking just in time to snag a higher seed or enter the postseason on a tear.
No one can figure out the Boston Celtics' defense. Karl-Anthony Towns and the Minnesota Timberwolves have clawed open the West's race for sixth place. The Memphis Grizzlies keep dominating without Ja Morant.
Jockeying from those teams and others has shaken up the power rankings.
30. Portland Trail Blazers
Previous Rank: 30
Net Rating: -7.5
There really won't be much (if anything) to take away from individual Portland Trail Blazers games for the rest of this season. They're looking for losses, and with Damian Lillard and Jusuf Nurkic out, they should get plenty.
The attention now should be (and probably has been) shifted to the offseason and 2022-23. And we already have some hints about how things might change this summer.
"The Portland Trail Blazers are expected to seriously pursue Pistons forward Jerami Grant in the offseason," Shams Charania wrote for The Athletic. "Armed with the Pelicans’ 2022 first-round draft selection, the Trail Blazers will explore offering the pick should it fall between Nos. 5 and 14 in the June draft."
Is a lineup with Lillard, Josh Hart, Jerami Grant and Jusuf Nurkic (if he's re-signed) a title contender? Maybe not, but it's more intriguing than how Portland started 2021-22.
29. Houston Rockets
Previous Rank: 28
Net Rating: -9.0
The ends of seasons for rebuilding teams like the Houston Rockets are usually about the young guys showing flashes of upside. And the Houston Rockets have certainly gotten some of that. For example, Jalen Green is putting up 18.5 points and 2.2 threes since the All-Star break.
But the bigger run out of Houston might be Christian Wood's. He's under contract for a reasonable $14.3 million next season, and he's showing why teams around the league might want to explore acquiring him this summer.
During the same post-All-Star stretch, Wood is averaging 20.7 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2.5 threes and 1.0 blocks, while shooting 58.2 percent from the field and 47.6 percent from three.
28. Oklahoma City Thunder
Previous Rank: 29
Net Rating: -7.6
Losing Josh Giddey to injury was a bummer for the Oklahoma City Thunder, but it's opened the door for another rookie guard who should be able to play with him next season.
Since Giddey went down, Tre Mann has played in 13 games and averaged 16.1 points and 2.5 threes while shooting 36.7 percent from three. For the entire season, he's tied for the rookie lead (with Jalen Green) in total 30-point performances.
Given the size of Mann (6'3"), Giddey (6'8") and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (6'6"), there's no reason to think the Thunder can't play all three together.
27. Orlando Magic
Previous Rank: 27
Net Rating: -7.9
The Orlando Magic's double-digit loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday put a spotlight on a problem that has plagued the team all season.
Franz Wagner was plus-20 in 22 minutes. And somehow, the Magic still lost by 16.
For the entire season, when Orlando's top three in total minutes played (Wagner, Cole Anthony and Wendell Carter Jr.) are on the floor, the Magic are plus-0.3 points per 100 possessions. In any other situation, they're minus-11.9.
26. Detroit Pistons
Previous Rank: 26
Net Rating: -7.9
The Detroit Pistons had a losing week, but there are plenty of good signs for the future from this group.
Since the All-Star break, Detroit is 6-7. Cade Cunningham is averaging 21.5 points, 6.9 rebounds and 6.5 assists. Saddiq Bey is at 18.3 points and 2.9 threes with a 51-point game to his name. And Marvin Bagley III is pitching in 14.6 points and 7.0 rebounds in 27.3 minutes.
With those three in the lineup next season and another lottery pick on the way, the Pistons could soon be one of the league's more intriguing young teams.
25. Sacramento Kings
Previous Rank: 25
Net Rating: -5.1
A left knee contusion for Domantas Sabonis and right hand soreness for De'Aaron Fox kept both out of action for Wednesday's win over the Indiana Pacers. And for the rest of the season, Sacramento Kings games might be all about what even younger players can give them.
"Nothing is 100 percent," ESPN's James Ham wrote. "...but there is a very good chance that we have seen the last of De'Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis this season for the Kings."
If that means more Davion Mitchell, great. Over the last two weeks, Mitchell is averaging 19.0 points, 4.3 assists and 2.3 threes while shooting 50.0 percent from the field and 43.8 percent from three.
He's sure to cool off at some point, but if Mitchell can produce anywhere near that level while maintaining his tenacious defense, he's someone to pay attention to.
24. Indiana Pacers
Previous Rank: 24
Net Rating: -2.6
The Indiana Pacers have done plenty of losing since they traded Domantas Sabonis. On Wednesday, they dropped a game to the team that landed Sabonis. The next night, the Memphis Grizzlies rocked them by 30.
The Sabonis deal signaled something of a soft reboot, though. And since then, watching the Pacers has been more about high points from individual players than winning percentage.
With Indiana, Buddy Hield is averaging 18.3 points and 4.9 assists (his career high for a season is 3.6). During the same stretch, Tyrese Haliburton is putting up 16.7 points and 9.4 assists while shooting 40.6 percent from three. And over the last week, Goga Bitadze (who's had to play more with Sabonis gone and Myles Turner out) has averaged 17.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 27.3 minutes.
23. Washington Wizards
Previous Rank: 22
Net Rating: -3.3
Remember the Washington Wizards' 10-3 start? Don't worry, they might not either. Bradley Beal was still playing then. Spencer Dinwiddie was on the team. And the depth that came over from the Los Angeles Lakers looked to be fitting in well.
Losses have come pouring in since then, especially of late. After a double-digit loss to the Giannis Antetokounmpo-less Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday, Washington has now dropped eight of its last nine.
On the bright side, Kyle Kuzma is averaging 21.2 points, 7.1 rebounds and 5.7 assists since the All-Star break. Kristaps Porzingis is at 20.2 points over the same stretch. With those two and Beal in the lineup next season, the Wizards should at least have a shot at a quality offense.
22. New York Knicks
Previous Rank: 20
Net Rating: -1.0
They haven't quite been eliminated from the playoff race (at least not mathematically), but a loss to the 10th place Atlanta Hawks this week has whatever thread the New York Knicks are hanging from fraying.
Even with a shot at the postseason basically gone, head coach Tom Thibodeau continues to prioritize veterans over young talent in need of development.
Alec Burks and Evan Fournier were second and third on the team in total minutes this week (they're fourth and third on the season). In Tuesday's loss to Atlanta, Taj Gibson played the final 15 minutes of the game.
At this point, the Knicks should be all about RJ Barrett (who's been a starter all season), Immanuel Quickley, Obi Toppin, Miles McBride and anyone else on a rookie contract.
21. Los Angeles Lakers
Previous Rank: 23
Net Rating: -2.5
After losing nine of their first 11 games out of the All-Star break, the Los Angeles Lakers pretty much locked themselves into the play-in tournament. Still, they've shown signs of life recently.
Since the break, LeBron's 32.8 points per game have pushed him to a league-leading 30.0 for the season. Russell Westbrook has been a net plus (plus-2.9 per game) over his past 11 appearances with 18.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, 6.6 assists and a 35.1 three-point percentage.
With a return from Anthony Davis potentially around the corner, it's fair for Lakers fans to be optimistic about winning two games and making the official postseason.
20. Los Angeles Clippers
Previous Rank: 18
Net Rating: -1.4
The Los Angeles Clippers had an 0-2 week with double-digit losses to the Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets. They're now 2-7 in their last nine and look very much like a team without its two best players.
Hints of optimism seem to be surfacing on that front, though.
"Hell yeah I keep it open," coach Tyronn Lue said when asked if he's keeping the door open for returns from Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, per ESPN's Ohm Youngmisuk. "To hit the playoffs going at 100, from zero to 100, that is pretty tough. But if the medical guys say they are cleared and they are able to do that, that is totally up to them."
There's no guarantee PG and Kawhi will be back. And if they are, there's really no time for them to coalesce with the rest of the team. But my goodness, a first-round matchup with the Phoenix Suns could get interesting in a hurry if those two play.
The Clippers are plus-11.3 points per 100 possessions in Leonard and George's 2,666 regular and postseason minutes together.
19. New Orleans Pelicans
Previous Rank: 21
Net Rating: -0.8
The New Orleans Pelicans look poised to make some noise in the play-in tournament.
After a win over the Chicago Bulls on Thursday, they're 8-6 since the All-Star break, and there finally seems to be some reason for optimism on the Zion Williamson front.
Earlier this week, he posted video of himself throwing down an off-the-backboard, between-the-legs slam in the New Orleans' Pelicans practice facility. The next day, he was cleared for one-on-one work.
A return in time for the postseason may still be unlikely, but adding Zion to Brandon Ingram and Jonas Valanciunas would make the Pelicans dangerous against any of their potential play-in opponents.
18. San Antonio Spurs
Previous Rank: 19
Net Rating: -0.3
The San Antonio Spurs have won three of their past four and still have a decent chance to bump someone from the play-in tournament. In fact, Basketball Reference's projection system basically has them as a coin flip to be in or out.
Whether they sneak in or not, there's plenty of reasons for optimism going forward.
At 26, Jakob Poeltl is the oldest member of a core that includes Dejounte Murray, Keldon Johnson, Lonnie Walker IV and Devin Vassell.
For the season, San Antonio is an encouraging plus-3.2 points per 100 possessions when Murray, Johnson and Poeltl are on the floor.
17. Atlanta Hawks
Previous Rank: 17
Net Rating: +0.6
One day after securing a big win in Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, the Atlanta Hawks laid an egg in Detroit. After a 122-101 loss to the Pistons, the Hawks have now alternated losses and wins in their last five games and continue to look like a basketballized Jekyll and Hyde.
One night, Trae Young and Bogdan Bogdanovic can go off for 77 points, as they did against New York. The next, they can be held to half that against one of the worst defenses in the league.
If you're a Hawks fan, you have to cling to the highs. And in the play-in, which Atlanta is pretty much locked into, you just need a couple to move on.
16. Chicago Bulls
Previous Rank: 15
Net Rating: +0.1
The Chicago Bulls are in a full-blown tailspin toward the play-in tournament. After a double-digit loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday, Chicago is 3-10 in its last 13.
During this stretch, the Bulls are in the bottom five in both offense and defense. The Oklahoma City Thunder and Portland Trail Blazers are the only teams in the league with net ratings worse than Chicago's minus-8.9.
And with the Bulls backing off Lonzo Ball's rehab a bit, reinforcements may not be around the corner.
15. Charlotte Hornets
Previous Rank: 16
Net Rating: +0.3
They ended the week with a disappointing loss to the sub-.500 New York Knicks, but the Charlotte Hornets preceded that stinker with five straight wins that put them firmly in the play-in mix.
If you stretch back a bit further, Charlotte is 7-3 in its last 10 and getting well-rounded contributions from a dynamic top three.
In this stretch, Terry Rozier, Miles Bridges and LaMelo Ball are combining for 61.8 points, 16.9 assists and 15.6 rebounds while shooting 49.7 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from three.
14. Cleveland Cavaliers
Previous Rank: 13
Net Rating: +2.5
The Cleveland Cavaliers were one of the early season's best stories, and they probably still should be.
But after losing to the Toronto Raptors on Thursday, they've now gone 6-11 in their last 17. And because of the expectations they set for themselves early, sliding into range of the play-in tournament feels like a bit of a disappointment.
They've already smashed their preseason over/under of 26.5, though. And that happened without Collin Sexton and Ricky Rubio for most of the season, as well as Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen at different stretches.
When you take a macro view of this season, it's hard to see anything but a success.
13. Toronto Raptors
Previous Rank: 14
Net Rating: +1.4
The Toronto Raptors are 7-2 in their last nine. And their latest victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers pulled them into a tie for sixth place in the East.
If Pascal Siakam keeps playing the way he has recently, it's not hard to imagine the Raptors putting some distance between themselves and the play-in range.
Since March 3 (12 games), Siakam is averaging 26.8 points, 7.7 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.8 threes while shooting 52.9 percent from the field and 51.2 percent from three.
12. Denver Nuggets
Previous Rank: 9
Net Rating: +2.4
The Denver Nuggets have made a habit of finding steals in the draft in the Tim Connelly era.
Nikola Jokic was a second-rounder in 2014. Jamal Murray would absolutely go higher than seventh if 2016 was redrafted. Monte Morris and Michael Porter Jr. have both outperformed their draft positions. And now, Bones Hyland (the 26th pick in 2021) is suddenly playing like the team's second-best player in the absence of Murray and MPJ.
Over his last seven games, Bones is averaging 17.4 points, 4.4 assists and 3.4 threes in just 24.6 minutes while shooting 52.6 percent from the field and 51.1 percent from three.
11. Minnesota Timberwolves
Previous Rank: 10
Net Rating: +3.4
The Minnesota Timberwolves briefly broke out of the play-in tournament when they beat the Milwaukee Bucks by 19 on Sunday, but they followed that up with back-to-back losses to the Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns and are back in seventh place.
That shouldn't eliminate all the vibes this team has generated since the All-Star break, though. They're 11-4 in this stretch, with a plus-10.3 net rating that trails only the Boston Celtics.
With a middle-of-the-road strength of schedule the rest of the way, sixth place is still within reach (though the Denver Nuggets and Dallas Mavericks have slightly easier remaining slates).
10. Utah Jazz
Previous Rank: 8
Net Rating: +6.2
The Utah Jazz are fifth in the league in net rating since February 1 (and third for the entire season), but they closed out the week with back-to-back road losses to the Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics.
And Wednesday's loss to Boston was the kind of blowout that should open some eyes.
Utah has a positive point differential against top-10 teams, but the Jazz are now 11-13 in those games. And it's hard to watch them without thinking about the demons of playoffs past.
It feels like the Jazz have reached the level the Los Angeles Clippers were at right before the trio of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan was broken up. Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert have started together under coach Quin Snyder for five years. Mike Conley has been in the mix for three.
If this group can't make a deep run this year, something might have to give.
9. Philadelphia 76ers
Previous Rank: 11
Net Rating: +2.3
Philadelphia 76ers results have produced a lot of peaks and valleys since the James Harden trade.
They've had blowout losses to the Boston Celtics, Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets, but they've now won two straight and five of their past seven.
While they've only had Harden since early February, the lineup with him, Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey, Tobias Harris and Matisse Thybulle is already seventh for the entire season in total plus-minus at plus-88.
8. Brooklyn Nets
Previous Rank: 12
Net Rating: +0.4
Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving have been on tears since the former returned from injury. In KD's 10 games, he's putting up 31.2 points, 7.4 assists, 7.0 rebounds and 2.3 threes. Over the same stretch, Kyrie has been eligible for five games and averaged 38.8 points, 6.0 threes, 5.8 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.0 blocks.
And moving forward, the latter will be eligible for a lot more games. On Thursday, New York City mayor Eric Adams announced athletes and performers would be exempt from the city's private-sector COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
When Durant and Kyrie have shared the floor without James Harden (now a Philadelphia 76er, of course), Brooklyn is plus-14.8 points per 100 possessions.
7. Golden State Warriors
Previous Rank: 6
Net Rating: +5.9
With Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson all out of action, the Golden State Warriors secured a "stop the bleeding" double-digit win over the Miami Heat.
The Warriors had entered the road matchup as losers of three straight and eight of their last 12, and stopping the skid without Thompson might raise some questions.
After two-plus years away, it's hard to blame him for hunting his shot, but Thompson is averaging a career-high 21.4 field-goal attempts per 75 possessions while posting a career-low effective field-goal percentage.
With Klay resting Wednesday, role players such as Jordan Poole (who had 30 points on 18 shots) and Andrew Wiggins (who added 22) were able to get back to what made them breakout stars earlier this season.
6. Dallas Mavericks
Previous Rank: 7
Net Rating: +3.0
Dallas' addition of Spencer Dinwiddie remains one of the more important storylines of this latter half of the season.
The Mavericks are 13-5 since acquiring Dinwiddie at the trade deadline, and they are plus-2.8 points per 100 possessions when he shares the floor with Luka Doncic.
What may be more important, though, is how Dinwiddie plays without Luka. After going for 26 points on 8-of-13 shooting in Wednesday's Doncic-less win over the Houston Rockets, Dinwiddie is now averaging 31.7 points, 6.6 assists and 3.1 threes per 75 possessions while shooting 44.4 percent from deep when Luka is off the floor.
Dallas has generally been fine when Luka leaves the game this season, but Dinwiddie's added playmaking provides a level of insurance that things will remain that way.
5. Miami Heat
Previous Rank: 3
Net Rating: +4.4
For most of this season, the Miami Heat have seemed like one of the league's more stable teams. Regardless of who's been available, the Heat have been competitive, which is why they're on pace for 53 wins and a first-place finish in the East.
This week, though (and really, the last couple of weeks and change), Miami has shown some signs of weakness. The Heat are 3-4 in their last seven.
On Wednesday, during a double-digit loss to a Golden State Warriors team without Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, tempers flared between Jimmy Butler and coach Erik Spoelstra, who could be seen yelling and cussing at each other while other members of the team held them back.
"We have a very competitive, gnarly group, and we were getting our asses kicked," Spoelstra said of the kerfuffle after the game. "I would say virtually every single person in that huddle was pretty animated about our disappointment in how we were playing."
4. Milwaukee Bucks
Previous Rank: 4
Net Rating: +3.9
After starting the season 6-8, the Milwaukee Bucks have slowly but surely worked their way into a chance to finish at the top of the Eastern Conference.
They're 10-2 in their last 12 and are now just one game behind the first-place Miami Heat.
And while Giannis Antetokounmpo has played like an MVP all season, his supporting cast is more consistently playing like the group that helped him win it all last year.
Since the All-Star break, Khris Middleton is averaging 24.7 points and 3.5 threes while shooting 47.5 percent from three. Over the sam stretch, Jrue Holiday is putting up 20.5 points and 7.3 assists while shooting 44.3 percent from three.
3. Boston Celtics
Previous Rank: 5
Net Rating: +6.8
The Boston Celtics are playing like a full-fledged, title-contending juggernaut.
After an undefeated week that included blowout wins over the Sacramento Kings, Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz, Boston is up to second in the league in net rating.
Since January 29, when the season seemed to turn around for good, the Celtics are an NBA-best 21-3 with a plus-15.4 net rating that is about as far clear of second place as second is of 10th.
With five plus defenders in their starting lineup (and more off the bench) and Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown providing plenty of offense, it's time to take Boston's title chances seriously.
After their 28-point beatdown of the Jazz, FiveThirtyEight's projection system now sees the Celtics as the favorite, with a 30 percent chance to win it all.
2. Memphis Grizzlies
Previous Rank: 2
Net Rating: +5.4
The Memphis Grizzlies are within clawing distance of the franchise record for wins (56), and their success is about so much more than superstar Ja Morant (who rightfully gets most of the attention).
After beating the Brooklyn Nets (who had both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving) on Wednesday and crushing the Indiana Pacers the next night, the Grizzlies are 16-2 when Morant doesn't play.
And during this latest five-game stretch in which their only loss came in the one game Morant played, Desmond Bane is averaging 22.6 points, and seven others are between 7.4 and 16.4.
1. Phoenix Suns
Previous Rank: 1
Net Rating: +8.4
The Phoenix Suns secured the 78th 60-win season in NBA history on Thursday, with a 140-130 road win over the Denver Nuggets. And of course, they're not done yet.
After a 4-0 week, the Suns are now on pace for 66 victories, which would move them all the way up to a tie for 14th all-time for wins in a single season.
And with Chris Paul now back after missing 15 games with a broken finger, finishing 6-2 would almost feel like a letdown. This season, Phoenix is plus-11.4 points per 100 possessions when CP3 and Devin Booker are on the floor.