The Phoenix Suns are the hottest team in the NBA
The first full month of the season is in the books as the calendar turns to December. The Phoenix Suns took down the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night.
It’s no surprise to see the Suns grab the top spot after that win, their 17th in a row. They are atop ESNY’s NBA Power Rankings. Where does everyone else fall?
30. Detroit Pistons (4-17, -2)
The Detroit Pistons have been downright dreadful since the last installment of our NBA power rankings. They have lost all seven games since then and claim the 30th spot on this week’s rankings.
29. Orlando Magic (5-18, -2)
The Orlando Magic entered this season with a full rebuild in mind. Unfortunately, they are going to be without Jalen Suggs for the foreseeable future after the rookie fractured his thumb.
28. Oklahoma City Thunder (6-15, -3)
The Oklahoma City Thunder showed promise early on this season, but it turns out they are who we thought they were. The Thunder have dropped nine of their last 10 years so they drop in our power rankings too.
27. Houston Rockets (5-16, +3)
Who are these Houston Rockets and what have they done with the real Houston Rockets? This young squad is on a four-game winning streak after losing 16 of their first 17 games.
26. New Orleans Pelicans (6-18, +3)
The New Orleans Pelicans are another Western Conference cellar-dweller that is stabilizing. The Pels have won four of their last 10 games, which isn’t terrible considering the started the season 2-12.
25. San Antonio Spurs (6-13, +1)
This is the new normal for San Antonio Spurs fans. It’s never too early to start looking at 2022 NBA Mock Drafts. The Spurs are taking Purdue guard Jaden Ivey in our latest mock.
24. Sacramento Kings (9-14, 0)
If you had Luke Walton as the first NBA head coach to get the ax this season, you were right. Walton is out and longtime NBA coach Alvin Gentry is taking over in the interim.
23. Toronto Raptors (9-13, -4)
Despite showing some early fight, the Toronto Raptors appear to be fading in a crowded Eastern Conference. They drop four spots in our power rankings.
22. Indiana Pacers (9-15, 0)
The Indiana Pacers are holding onto No. 22 on our list, but this is a better team than they have shown. Indiana’s average point differential (+1.0) doesn’t match up with their record.
21. Denver Nuggets (10-11, -10)
The Denver Nuggets suffered the biggest drop from our last power rankings. Michael Porter Jr. is undergoing back surgery and the Nugs are a team that feels like it is stuck in neutral.
20. Memphis Grizzlies (11-10, -7)
The Memphis Grizzlies have the worst average point differential (-4.4) of any team currently in the playoffs. Although they are holding onto the fifth seed in the West, the Grizzlies are vulnerable.
19. Portland Trail Blazers (11-11, +2)
Although the Portland Trail Blazers still have one of the worst defenses in the NBA, their offense is carrying the load. The Blazers are 6-4 in their last 10 games.
18. Philadelphia 76ers (11-11, -5)
What haven’t the Philadelphia 76ers dealt with this year? COVID issues, injuries, and a star player that doesn’t want to play. Don’t sleep on the Sixers long term, but they are in a rough spot right now.
17. Los Angeles Clippers (11-11, -5)
Despite losing three in a row and seven of their last 10, the Los Angeles Clippers are still holding their heads above .500. This is in large part because Paul George is carrying the load while Kawhi Leonard is out.
16. Los Angeles Lakers (12-11, -7)
The Los Angeles Lakers are one of our biggest drops of the week. Their age is catching up with them far too early in the season. Not to mention, the defense is suffering a significant drop-off from recent years.
15. New York Knicks (11-10, +5)
The New York Knicks are making a jump here in anticipation of things to come. Head coach Tom Thibodeau is pulling Kemba Walker from the starting lineup and rotation entirely. Alec Burks has already put together two outstanding performances as the starting point guard.
14. Minnesota Timberwolves (11-11, +9)
The Minnesota Timberwolves began the year as our 30th-ranked team. It was almost like a lifetime achievement award for their consistent underachieving through the years. They are finally playing to their potential. After winning seven of their last 10, they make the biggest positive jump of the week.
13. Cleveland Cavaliers (12-10, +3)
The longer the Cleveland Cavaliers hang around in the playoff picture, the more we are going to believe. Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen are having breakout seasons.
12. Boston Celtics (12-10, +6)
The Boston Celtics are making another nice, little jump in the power rankings. Although we don’t see this Celtics team as a legitimate title contender, they are talented enough to make some noise in the East.
11. Atlanta Hawks (12-10, +6)
After a 4-8 start to the season, the Atlanta Hawks have won eight of their last 10. Although injuries are running through the Hawks, they are starting to look more and more like that team that made a run to the Eastern Conference Finals last season.
10. Charlotte Hornets (13-11, +5)
Much like the Cavs, we are starting to believe in the Charlotte Hornets more and more each week. They are also one of the best teams to watch on NBA League Pass, hands down. Miles Bridges and LaMelo Ball are two of the most exciting players to watch.
9. Dallas Mavericks (11-9, +1)
Staying healthy is the biggest thing for the Dallas Mavericks. Kristaps Porzingis could be the X-factor for the Mavs. He’s averaging 20 points and eight rebounds per game while managing to stay relatively healthy.
8. Washington Wizards (14-8, -8)
File the Washington Wizards under that same category as the Cavs and Hornets. Washington’s cooling off after a scorching hot start, but they aren’t going away completely. They are dropping eight points, but that has more to do with other top teams working out the kinks than anything else.
7. Miami Heat (13-9, -1)
Despite being punked by Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets, the Miami Heat are still a force to be reckoned with in the East. They are going to be a tough team for anyone to beat in a seven-game series.
6. Chicago Bulls (14-8, -2)
The offseason additions are paying off for the Chicago Bulls. DeMar DeRozan and Lonzo Ball are forming a formidable duo. If Nikola Vučević can find his groove, the Bulls are going to be dangerous.
5. Brooklyn Nets (15-6, 0)
Judging by the way the national media covers the Brooklyn Nets, you would assume they are in danger of missing a playoff spot. That’s not the case — they are in first place in the Eastern Conference. Of course, Brooklyn is struggling against the top teams in the NBA, but it’s hard to argue with their record.
4. Milwaukee Bucks (14-8, +4)
These are the Milwaukee Bucks that we know and love. After a mini-championship hangover, the Bucks are starting to find a rhythm. They recently took a flyer on DeMarcus Cousins to see if he can help add some muscle to the frontcourt.
3. Utah Jazz (14-7, +4)
The Utah Jazz continue their great play in the regular season and it’s exactly what you would expect from them. Donovan Mitchell is leading the way, Rudy Gobert is playing DPOY defense, and the bench mob is being led by Jordan Clarkson and Joe Ingles.
2. Golden State Warriors (18-3, -1)
The Golden State Warriors have reasserted themselves into the championship conversation. They lost to the Suns on Tuesday, but they are only going to get better from here. Klay Thompson and James Wiseman both appear close to returning to the Warriors.
1. Phoenix Suns (18-3, +1)
After a 1-3 start, it looked like the Phoenix Suns may have lost some of their magic from last season. Nope. Not at all. The Suns have ripped off 17 consecutive wins, including a win over the Warriors without Devin Booker for much of the game. The Suns are for real. Again.