No one in the NBA is better than the Utah Jazz right now and ESNY’s NBA Power Rankings are updated accordingly.
Here come the Utah Jazz. The Los Angeles Lakers are dealing with injury concerns, paving the way for the first-place Jazz to take over the top spot on our NBA Power Rankings. The Brooklyn Nets are also turning some heads.
Here is this week’s edition of the ESNY NBA Power Rankings.
30. Minnesota Timberwolves (Record: 7-21) (Previous Ranking: 30)
Credit to the Minnesota Timberwolves for keeping a stranglehold on their claim to fame as the worst team in the NBA. Despite all the talent they have on the roster with Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, and Anthony Edwards, they are still a walking disaster. Injuries have played a role in Minnesota’s disappointing season, but we can’t pin everything on that.
29. Washington Wizards (8-17) (28)
This writer was a big believer in the Washington Wizards coming into this year. They had two legitimate All-Stars and a strong supporting cast. Unfortunately, the Wizards are still a case study in defensive indifference. Expect the Bradley Beal rumors to ramp up as the trade deadline approaches.
28. Detroit Pistons (8-19) (29)
The Pistons are a bizarre case. They have the second-worst record in the NBA, but they have played a brutal schedule so far. They are about to embark on a five-game road trip, but each game is potentially winnable. We’ll know a bit more about Detroit this time next week.
27. Orlando Magic (10-18) (27)
The Magic have suffered through injury after injury this season and now it’s Cole Anthony who will be out until at least the All-Star break. Nikola Vucevic is having an All-Star caliber season, but the Magic are a mess otherwise.
26. Cleveland Cavaliers (10-19) (16)
In our last power rankings from two weeks ago, the Cavaliers were in the thick of it in the Eastern Conference. Now, they are losers of eight in a row and on the outside looking in. Cleveland’s strong start to the season appears to have been a mirage.
25. Oklahoma City Thunder (11-16) (24)
Although the Thunder are doing the best they can under the rebuilding circumstances, they don’t have the horses to keep up in the uber-competitive Western Conference like they did last year.
24. Houston Rockets (11-16) (18)
The slight burst of energy the Rockets showed after the James Harden trade appears to have dissipated. Injuries to Christian Wood and Victor Oladipo have certainly hurt Houston, but they are still in the bottom tier of NBA teams this year.
23. Atlanta Hawks (11-16) (15)
The Hawks were a trendy pick to make the playoffs entering the season, but they haven’t shown us much this year. Trae Young is still an immense talent on offense, sure, but the Hawks have lost seven of their last eight games.
22. Sacramento Kings (12-15) (21)
The Kings don’t play a lick of defense, but they can score in bunches. They have lost four in a row by an average of 11 points.
21. New Orleans Pelicans (12-15)
The Pelicans are fresh off a convincing win over the Memphis Grizzlies. It took some time for New Orleans to get out of the starting gate, but they are finally starting to look like the young, exciting team we thought they would be. Zion Williamson is making a strong case for the All-Star Game, averaging 24.6 points on 61.5% shooting.
20. Chicago Bulls (11-15) (23)
Hey, the Bulls aren’t as bad as we thought. Chicago is another team that is dealing with a rash of injuries, but Billy Donovan has his team playing inspired basketball. Zach LaVine is averaging career-highs in just about every statistic and if he can’t make the All-Star Game this year, he may never do it.
19. Miami Heat (11-16) (26)
Heat fans can take a deep breath. Jimmy Butler is back and Miami is starting to figure things out. They might not ever play as well as they did in the bubble, but they are going to be in the playoff hunt in the Eastern Conference without a doubt.
18. Dallas Mavericks (13-15) (20)
The Dallas Mavericks have a ton of problems (too many to list in this article), but they also have Luka Doncic. As long as they have him, they will be in playoff contention for the foreseeable future.
17. Memphis Grizzlies (11-12) (13)
Memphis is still playing catch-up after their lengthy COVID-19 shutdown. They are dropping a few spots on our list after losing six of their last eight.
16. Charlotte Hornets (13-15) (19)
LaMelo Ball is the obvious pick to win Rookie of the Year at the moment. His strong play off the bench is one of the biggest reasons why Charlotte is one of the most surprising teams in the league this year.
15. Toronto Raptors (13-15) (17)
After starting off the 2020-21 season 2-8, the Raptors have stabilized. Toronto is 13-15 and finally seems adjusted to their temporary home in Tampa Bay. The Raptors are not a team to be overlooked.
14. Indiana Pacers (14-14) (9)
The Pacers are in freefall. After starting off the year 11-7, they have dropped to 14-14. Malcolm Brogdon’s decline over the last few weeks has played a major role in Indiana’s struggles.
13. New York Knicks (14-15) (22)
Did anyone expect the Knicks to be this good? They are on a three-game winning streak and Julius Randle deserves to make his first All-Star Game appearance. Not only do the Knicks look like a playoff team, but they could end up avoiding the play-in tournament altogether.
12. San Antonio Spurs (16-11) (14)
The Spurs are going to be shut down for the rest of the week as they deal with a COVID-19 outbreak. San Antonio is making some noise in the crowded Western Conference.
11. Boston Celtics (14-13) (8)
The Celtics have been feeling the loss of Marcus Smart, losing five of their last eight. Kemba Walker is having one of the worst seasons of his career, but Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are keeping Boston relevant.
10. Golden State Warriors (15-13) (10)
The Warriors are being kept afloat by the greatness of Stephen Curry right now. The two-time MVP is making another strong case for the award this year, averaging 30.1 points per game on close to 50/40/90 shooting splits.
9. Denver Nuggets (15-12) (7)
It’s tough to get a good read on this Denver team. They have yet to regain their rhythm that they had last season in the bubble. They are only a few games above .500, but Denver is still one of the most dangerous teams in the NBA.
8. Milwaukee Bucks (16-12) (6)
The Bucks are struggling right now. They have lost four in a row, but they have a favorable stretch of games coming up. Milwaukee is still in the top tier of Eastern Conference teams despite these momentary struggles.
7. Portland Trail Blazers (17-10) (12)
Even without CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic, Damian Lillard has the Trail Blazers firmly in the playoff hunt. Gary Trent Jr.’s recent emergence has helped propel Portland to seven wins in their last eight games.
6. Phoenix Suns (17-10) (11)
Even though the Suns just dropped a heartbreaker to the Nets, they are still one of the best teams in the NBA. There will be some growing pains as the younger players learn what it takes to win in the league, but Phoenix is for real.
5. Philadelphia 76ers (18-10) (2)
The Philadelphia 76ers are in the upper echelon of teams in the league. They are on a three-game losing streak, hence the drop from two to five, but they aren’t going anywhere.
4. Los Angeles Clippers (21-8) (5)
Ho hum, the Clippers continue to roll along this season. Although they have been overshadowed by teams like the Lakers, Nets, and Jazz in the headlines, the Clippers are quietly having a dominant season.
3. Los Angeles Lakers (22-7) (1)
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. The Lakers are out of the No. 1 spot in our power rankings for the first time this year. Anthony Davis’ Achilles is concerning. Los Angeles need him healthy if they want to win another championship.
2. Brooklyn Nets (18-12) (4)
The Nets have only had all three of James Harden, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving in six games this year. They are 5-1 in those games. But even when they don’t have the full trio, Brooklyn is a beast. As the lone star on Tuesday, Harden led the Nets back from down 24 points to beat the Suns on the road.
1. Utah Jazz (23-5) (3)
It’s officially time to recognize the Jazz as the best team in the NBA. For weeks, the Lakers held onto our tight spot, but Utah’s ridiculous season can’t be ignored. Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert are both earning their massive contract extensions. The Jazz are one cohesive unit.