30. Charlotte Hornets, 7-20
LaMelo Ball is still hurt and there should be no rush to bring him back. This Hornets team is the worst team in the NBA with an offensive rating of 107.8 (ranked 30th), a defensive rating of 114.5 (only ranked 24th because teams don’t have to put up many points to beat them), a team eFG% of 50.1 (ranked 30th), and a TS% of 53.4 (also ranked 30th in the NBA). Terry Rozier (22.2 points per game with an atrocious TS% of 49.9) continues to be one of the most inefficient players in the NBA, while Kelly Oubre Jr. (20.8 points per game with a TS% of 53.1) and P.J. Washington (15.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 1 block per game with a TS% of 51.3) are the only positively impactful players on the team this season. The Hornets would love to pair Victor Wenbanyama with Ball to accelerate what could be a short rebuilding process if they succeed in pairing that duo together.
29. Houston Rockets, 8-18
Jalen Green (21.6 points per game with a TS% of 53.5) poured in 30 points in the Rockets impressive 97-92 win over the Bucks on Sunday, while rookie Jabari Smith Jr. (12 points, 7 rebounds, and 1 block per game with a TS% of 51.5) showed off his elite defense (holding Giannis Antetoukounmpo to just 16 points on 7-17 from the field). The Rockets have an offensive rating of 110.1 (ranked 26th), a defensive rating of 116 (ranked 28th), a team eFG% of 51.4 (ranked 28th), and a team TS% of 55.4 (also ranked 28th in the NBA). The Rockets are going nowhere this season, but recent success from their two cornerstone players, Green and Smith Jr., puts them on a good track in their rebuilding process.
28. Detroit Pistons, 7-22
Bojan Bogdanovic (21 points per game with a 3PT% of 43.7 and a TS% of 65.8) had 38 points in the Pistons 124-117 loss to the Lakers on Sunday night and has been spectacular this season. The Pistons have an offensive rating of 110.3 (ranked 24th), a defensive rating of 117.4 (ranked 29th), a team eFG% of 51.2 (ranked 27th), and a team TS% of 55.4 (ranked 26th in the NBA) and are one of the worst teams in the NBA all around. Saddiq Bey is shooting just 29.0% from 3 with a TS% of 54.8 on 14.8 points per game, and rookie Jaden Ivey is shooting just 30% from 3 with a TS% of 50.3 on 15.3 points per game this season and they are the teams next two best players besides Bogdanovic. Furthermore, without Cade Cunningham this team is lost and should finish close to last in just about everything this season.
27. San Antonio Spurs, 8-18
The Spurs have won two straight games against the Rockets and Heat and have an offensive rating of 108.4 (ranked 29th), a defensive rating of 118.6 (ranked 30th), a team eFG% of 52.6 (ranked 22nd), and a team TS% of 55.3 (ranked 28th in the NBA). Tre Jones (averaging 14 points and 5 assists with a TS% of 53.5 over his past 5 games) has been a pleasant surprise for this team as he joins Devin Vassell (20.4 points per game with a 3PT% of 41.4 and a TS% of 58.1) and Keldon Johnson (20.9 points and 5.2 rebounds per game with a 3PT% of 34.7 and a TS% of 51.9) as the key pieces in this Spurs young core.
26. Orlando Magic, 8-20
The Magic impressed last week with three straight wins against the Clippers and Raptors (twice) after a loss to the Bucks. They have an offensive rating of 109.8 (ranked 27th), a defensive rating of 115 (ranked 25th), a team eFG% of 53.1 (ranked 18th), and a team TS% of 57.4 (ranked 16th in the NBA). Franz Wagner (averaging 24.3 points, 5 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game with a TS% of 66.1 over his past 4 games) and Paolo Banchero (21.8 points 6.9 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game with a TS% of 55.5) are the best young frontcourt duo in the game and the Magic’s rebuilding process is way ahead of schedule because of their development.
25. Oklahoma City Thunder, 11-15
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (30.8 points and 5.9 assists per game with a TS% of 61.9) continues to be a one man team on most nights and the lack of depth on this team is evident (only Luguentz Dort and Jalen Williams have thrived in their roles this season besides SGA). The Thunder have an offensive rating of 111.6 (ranked 21st), a defensive rating of 113.3 (ranked 20th), a team eFG% of 52.1 (ranked 24th) and a team TS% of 55.7 (ranked 22nd in the NBA). Despite Gilgeous-Alexander’s greatness, this Thunder team is still one young star away from competing in a talented Western Conference. If they continue to lose, they can secure that young star in next year’s NBA Draft.
24. Washington Wizards, 11-16
The Wizards have lost 6 games in a row as they have started the “tanking” process. They have an offensive rating of 111.8 (Ranked 19th), a defensive rating of 113.9 (ranked 21st), a team eFG% of 53.5 (ranked 16th), and a team TS% of 57 (ranked 18th in the NBA), and Kyle Kuzma (21.4 points and 7.7 rebounds per game with a TS% of 55.8), Kristaps Porzingis (22.7 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game with a TS% of 59.9), and Bradley Beal (22.9 points and 5.4 assists per game with a TS% of 61.7) have been one of the better trios in the NBA this season. However, the team has some of the worst depth in basketball and will need a few more pieces before they can contend. Luckily, they can solidify a spot in next year’s NBA Draft Lottery if they continue to lose.
23. Chicago Bulls, 11-15
The Bulls need to blow it up. They have lost four of their last six games and are now 11th in the Eastern Conference. They have an offensive rating of 111.4 (ranked 22nd), a defensive rating of 111.3 (ranked 7th), a team eFG% of 53.6 (ranked 15th), and a team TS% of 57.7 (ranked 14th). DeMar DeRozan (26 points per game with a TS% of 60.1) and Zach LaVine (21.8 points per game with a TS% of 55.2) are the only players performing this season and it isn’t sustainable.
Nikola Vucevic (16.2 points and 10.7 rebounds per game with a TS% of 58.9) is one of the worst interior defenders in the NBA and hasn’t been great on offense either this season, and role players Coby White (7.3 points per game with a TS% of 51.1), Andre Drummond (6.9 points and 7.5 rebounds per game with a TS% of 57), and Ayo Donsunmu (10 points per game with a 3PT% of 34.2) have anchored one of the worst benches in basketball. Sure, Alex Caruso (5.2 points and 1.5 steals per game with a TS% of 55.1) is an elite defender and is a big reason why they have the 7th best defense in the NBA, but with three offensive stars in DeRozan, LaVine, and Vucevic, the team’s offensive rating of 111.4 is unacceptable regardless of who the role players are.
22. Miami Heat, 12-15
The Heat went 1-3 last week with losses to the Grizzlies, Pistons, and Spurs, and a win against the Clippers. The Heat just haven’t been good this season and it is because of their abysmal offense (offensive rating of 110.1, ranked 25th, a team eFG% of 52.2, ranked 23rd, and a team TS% of 56.7, ranked 20th in the NBA). Besides Bam Adebayo (20.8 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game with a TS% of 58.9), Tyler Herro (20.1 points and 6.6 rebounds per game with a TS% of 57.5), and Jimmy Butler (21.8 points, 6.7 rebounds, 6 assists, and 1.7 steals per game with a TS% of 63.2), no one else has stepped up and taken pressure off of them offensively.
Max Strus is shooting just 32.4% from 3PT range with 9.2 points per game over his past 6 games, and Kyle Lowry (14.9 points per game with a 3PT% of 35.3 and a TS% of 57.6), Caleb Martin (11.4 points per game with a TS% of 58.1), and Duncan Robinson (5.9 points per game with a 3PT% of 30.8 and a TS% of 49.7) have been liabilities on the court recently as well. Perhaps once Victor Oladipo is at full strength (has only played 3 games), the Heat will turn their season around, but they are losing to some pretty bad basketball teams because of their awful offensive execution.
21. Toronto Raptors, 13-14
The Raptors went 1-3 last week with a win against a LeBron James and Anthony Davis-less Lakers and bad losses to the Celtics and the Magic (twice somehow). I was so high on this team going into the year with a talented core of Pascal Siakam (24.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 7.1 assists per game with a TS% of 57.5), Gary Trent Jr. (17.2 points and 1.6 steals per game with a TS% of 55), OG Anunoby (19 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 2.4 steals per game with a TS% of 57.1), Fred VanVleet (17 points and 6.4 assists per game with a 3PT% of 32.6 and a TS% of 51), and Scottie Barnes (13.9 points, 7 rebounds, and 4.6 assists per game with a TS% of 51), but VanVleet and Barnes are shooting terrible and have somehow gotten worse after stellar years last season.
The Raptors have an offensive rating of 113.1 (ranked 14th), a defensive rating of 112.2 (ranked 11th), a team eFG% of 50.6 (ranked 29th), and a team TS% of 54.8 (ranked 29th in the NBA). How is the second worst shooting team in the NBA 14th in offensive rating? The Raptors shoot the ball 90 times a game on average (9th in the NBA) and therefore put up a lot of points without much efficiency. They have the talent to become an elite team, but they desperately need to improve their shooting metrics to start winning games
20. Minnesota Timberwolves, 13-13
The Timberwolves went 2-1 last week with wins against the Pacers and Jazz and a loss against the Blazers. Without Karl Anthony Towns (20.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 5.3 assists per game), Anthony Edwards (25 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 steals per game over his past 6 games with a TS% of 57.5), and D’Angelo Russell (23.5 points and 5 assists per game with a TS% of 67 over his past 6 games) have stepped up and taken over games for the Wolves as the team’s two best players. As a result, the team’s offensive numbers are improving, with an offensive rating of 112.4 (ranked 17th), a team eFG% of 55 (ranked 10th), and a team TS% of 58.9 (ranked 9th in the NBA).
However, despite the addition of defensive minded Rudy Gobert, the Timberwolves only have a defensive rating of 113 (ranked 18th in the NBA). Without Jared Vanderbilt and Patrick Beverley, the Wolves have just two elite perimeter defenders (Edwards and Jaden McDaniels) instead of four. That makes a huge difference and it remains evident that the Wolves are only good when they have one center on the court, not two. This team can only flourish with one center, and when KAT comes back, the offensive spacing issues will continue. Despite trading for him this offseason, perhaps the Wolves should explore moving on from Gobert next offseason.
19. Utah Jazz, 15-14
The Jazz went 1-2 last week defeating the Warriors by one point, then losing to the Timberwolves and Nuggets to end the week. Lauri Markkanen (22.2 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 2.2 assists with a TS% of 65.4) didn’t play last week and the team looked lost without him, but Jordan Clarkson (19.8 points, and 4.9 assists per game with a TS% of 54.4) and Malik Beasley (15.8 points per game with a 3PT% of 37.5 and a TS% of 56.2 over his past 5 games) continue to step up and produce offensively.
The Jazz are one of the best offensive teams in basketball with an offensive rating of 116.4 (ranked 4th), a team eFG% of of 55.9 (ranked 6th), and team TS% of 59.1 (also ranked 6th in the NBA). However, they are on the other side of the spectrum defensively with a defensive rating of 115 (ranked 26th in the NBA). The Jazz have lost 8 of their last 11 games, and if they don’t improve defensively they will drop out of the top 10 in the Western Conference.
18. Los Angeles Lakers, 11-15
The Lakers went 3-3 on their road trip with impressive wins against the Bucks and Wizards, but gut-wrenching losses to the 76ers (in overtime) and Cavaliers. The Lakers have a tough time closing out games as evident in the embarrassing loss in overtime to the 76ers (when they had the game won) and the numerous occasions already this season where they have blown a late lead (most notably to the Blazers and Pacers). Anthony Davis (27.7 points, 12.4 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks per game with a TS% of 66.5) continues to be an MVP candidate and the heart and soul of this Lakers team. Without him, the team would probably have just 2-3 wins on the season.
LeBron James (27.2 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 6.4 assists per game over his past 5 games) has been stellar offensively for the most part (though his late-game questionable decision making as of late has cost the Lakers some games), but Lonnie Walker IV (16 points per game with a 3PT% of 39 and a TS% of 59.2) and Austin Reaves (10.8 points per game with a 3PT% of 38.6 and a TS% of 67.4) have been the key factors for this team’s success.
Without Walker and Reaves, the Lakers wouldn’t have any 3PT shooting and their consistently improving offensive rating of 111.3 (ranked 23rd, up from the worst offensive rating early on in the season), team eFG% of 52.8 (ranked 21st), and team TS% of 57.2 (ranked 17th) wouldn’t be possible without them. The key to prolonged success and more consistency for this Lakers team is defense (defensive rating of 112.7 has fallen to 17th overall, was ranked 9th just last week). If they can get back to playing the elite defense they were playing early on in the season, then this team has a chance to be something.
17. Los Angeles Clippers, 15-13
The Clippers lost two embarrassing games last week to the Magic and Heat (both of whom are teams under .500), but were also able to pull out victories against the Hornets and Wizards. Arguably the easiest 4 game stretch in the NBA so far this season, the Clippers should have gone 4-0, but only went 2-2. Kawhi Leonard may not be close to 100%, but there are no excuses for a player of his caliber to be averaging 11.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 0.5 steals per game with a TS% of 47.8. We always say, as long as Leonard is healthy for the playoffs, the Clippers will be dangerous, but is that actually true? The player we have witnessed this season is a fragment of what he once was, and though he still has plenty of time to get his feet under him and progress, Leonard has been a complete and utter disappoint so far.
Paul George (23.7 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game with a TS% of 58.6) is yet again putting the team on his back just like the past few seasons and it simply isn’t sustainable unless role players can take pressure off of him. Besides George, Norman Powell (14.8 points per game with a 3PT% of 37.9 and a TS% of 57.8), Terance Mann (8.3 points per game with a TS% of 62.6), and John Wall (12.6 points and 5.6 assists per game with a TS% of 51.5), the Clippers have had no one to turn to in recent games.
They are still one of the worst offensive teams in the NBA as the joke “can the Clippers even score 100 points in a game” continues to persist among the fanbase with a horrendous offensive rating of 109.3 (ranked 28th) and a TOV% (turnover percentage) of 15.7 (ranked 25th in the NBA). More is needed from Leonard, Robert Covington, Ivica Zubac, and other role players for this team to turn their season around and be competitive.
16. New York Knicks, 14-13
The Knicks are all of a sudden a very good basketball team after four impressive wins in a row against the Cavaliers, Hawks, Hornets, and Kings. In that four game winning streak, the Knicks’ defensive rating jumped to the 9th best mark in basketball (112.1) and their offensive rating of 113 (ranked 15th) stayed consistent. However, their team eFG% of 51.3 and team TS% of 55.6 are concerning still. Their offensive rating is only ranked 15th with bad advanced shooting metrics because the team attempts far more field goals than most teams per game (91.4 on average, 5th in the NBA).
Nonetheless, Julius Randle (22.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game with an TS% of 58.7) is on a scoring rampage (27.2 points per game over his past 5 games) and R.J. Barrett is averaging 20.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per game with a very efficient TS% of 56.8 over his past 6 games. If the Knicks continue to play good defense and get consistent contributions from the trio of Randle, Barrett, and Jalen Brunson (20.1 points and 6.3 assists per game with a TS% of 56.9), then they will continue to piece together wins.
15. Atlanta Hawks, 14-13
Thanks to rookie AJ Griffin (10 points and 1.1 steals per game with a TS% of 54.7) hitting a buzzer-beater against the Bulls on Sunday night, the Hawks sit at 6th in the Eastern Conference with an offensive rating of 111.6 (ranked 20th), a defensive rating of 112.2 (ranked 12th), a team eFG% of 51.9, and a team TS% of 55.6 (ranked 23rd in the NBA).
Trae Young (27.1 points, 9.6 assists, and 3.8 turnovers per game with an atrocious 3PT% of 28.7 and eFG% of 45.7) has been one of the worst shooters in the NBA this season, and with that the Hawks’ offense has suffered immensely. Furthermore, unless Young can shoot better from the field and turn around the Hawks season, this team is going nowhere fast despite a good start to the year.
14. Dallas Mavericks, 13-13
The Mavericks had an up and down week winning their first back-to-back against the Suns and Nuggets, but then losing their second back-to-back against Bucks and Bulls to end their week. Why they had two back-to-backs in a week is mind boggling, but either way, the Mavericks came up short on what otherwise would have been their most impressive week of the season.
Luka Doncic (32.9 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 8.8 assists per game with a TS% of 60.5) is single-handedly willing this team to victories on a nightly basis and the supporting cast isn’t doing enough to take pressure off of him. Dorian Finney-Smith (8.4 points and 4 rebounds per game with a FT% of 66.7, a 3PT% of 33.1, and a TS% of 53.4) and Tim Hardaway Jr. (13 points and 1.8 steals per game with a FT% of 79, a 3PT% of 36.1, and a TS% of 52.7) are not playing well to start this season and don’t get me started on Reggie Bullock (4.6 points per game with a 3PT% of 28.7 and a TS% of 44.7).
Christian Wood (16.8 points per game with a TS% of 63.8), Spencer Dinwiddie (16.7 points and 5.1 assists per game with a TS% of 59.7), and Josh Green (7 points per game with a 3PT% of 44.4 and a TS% of 71.7) have helped Doncic carry the Mavericks to a 13-13 record with an offensive rating of 114.7 (ranked 7th), a team eFG% of 55.7 (ranked 7th), and a team TS% of 58.8 (ranked 10th in the NBA). Their defensive rating of 113.1 (ranked 19th in the NBA) is very concerning, but the Mavericks need more from their role players to become an elite team.
13. Indiana Pacers, 14-13
The Pacers continue to be one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference to start this season. Last week, they went 2-2 with wins against the Warriors (in San Francisco) and Wizards, and losses against the Timberwolves and Nets (both decided by 6 or fewer points). Last week’s highlight was rookie Andrew Nembhard exploding for 31 points and 13 assists in a 112-104 win over the Warriors when the Pacers didn’t have Tyrese Haliburton (20.2 points, 11.1 assists, and 1.8 steals per game with a TS% of 61.4) or Myles Turner (17.6 points and 2.3 blocks per game with a TS% of 66.8).
Not only was this win on the road but Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Jordan Poole, and Draymond Green were all playing, and the Pacers still won. The tenacity of this team is evident and their 13th ranked offensive rating of 113.3, 14th ranked team eFG% of 53.9, and 15th ranked team TS% of 57.6 is remarkable for a team that had just 25 wins last season. The Pacers have proven to be a good basketball team and should continue to rack up wins and stay in the Eastern Conference’s top 8 teams as the season progresses.
12. Portland Trailblazers, 14-12
The Trail Blazers are sitting at 6th in the Western Conference standings behind their 9th ranked offensive rating of 114, 13th ranked team eFG% of 54.3, and their 11th ranked team TS% of 58.4. Damian Lillard returned from injury and is averaging 32.3 points and 8.7 assists with a TS% of 68.7% over his last 3 games, and Jerami Grant (22.5 points per game with a 3PT% of 45.1 and a TS% of 61.1), and Anfernee Simons (24.2 points and 4.4 assists per game with a 3PT% of 39.2 and a TS% of 58.8) continue to be fantastic as well. The Blazers may have three All-Stars this season with Lillard, Grant, and Simons, but their defensive rating of 114.5 ranks 23rd in the NBA and needs to improve if they want to go anywhere this year.
11. Sacramento Kings, 14-11
De’Aaron Fox (15.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game with an abysmal TS% of 51.1 over his past 6 games) played just one game last week due to injury and still hasn’t been able to find his rhythm back. Without Fox most of the week, the Kings went 1-2 last week with an impressive win against the Cavaliers, and two unimpressive losses to the Bucks and Knicks. The Bucks are one of the best teams in the NBA so that makes sense, but a brutal 13 point loss on Sunday to the Knicks is unacceptable for a supposed “playoff team”.
Granted, without Fox, Domantas Sabonis (17.2 points, 11.3 rebounds, and 6.4 assists per game with a TS% of 66.7) has to put the whole team on his back and that simply isn’t sustainable. The Kings offensive rating was once at 119, but has now fallen to 115.5, which is ranked 5th in the NBA. Their team eFG% of 56.7 (ranked 5th) and team TS% of 60.4 (ranked 2nd in the NBA) is still very impressive, but it is clear that Fox needs to return to his early season form if the Kings want any shot at maintaining a top 6 seed in the West.
10. Philadelphia 76ers, 14-12
Joel Embiid (33.4 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game with a TS% of 64.2) had yet another 50+ point performance in the 76ers 131-113 win over the Hornets on Sunday night and De’Anthony Melton (11.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 2.2 steals per game with a 3PT% of 39.4 and a TS% of 54.8) took over in the overtime win against the Lakers on Friday night finishing win 33 points and a whopping 7 steals.
James Harden has averaged 22.7 points and 11.7 assists with a TS% of 56.6 since his return, and the 76ers sport the 4th-best defensive rating of 110.1 in the entire NBA. Their offensive rating of 112.5 (ranked 16th), team eFG% of 55 (ranked 9th), and team TS% of 59.1 (ranked 7th in the NBA) should only continue to improve once Tyrese Maxey returns. If the defense holds up, this 76ers team has a chance this season.
9. Phoenix Suns, 16-11
The Suns had an atrocious week losing to all four of their games to the Mavericks, Celtics, and the Pelicans (twice). Devin Booker has only averaged 15.5 points and 5.8 assists with an abysmal TS% of 44.5 over the Suns 4 game losing streak, and Chris Paul has arguably been even worse if that is possible (11.3 points, 7.3 assists, and 3.3 turnovers per game with a TS% of 52.8 since his return 3 games ago). The only positive for this team throughout the losing streak has been Deandre Ayton, who has averaged 20.3 points and 10.3 rebounds in the four game losing streak.
Nonetheless, the Suns still have an offensive rating of 117.3 (ranked 2nd), a defensive rating of 112.5 (Ranked 12th), a team eFG% of 54.8 (ranked 10th), and a team TS% of 58 (ranked 13th in the NBA), and will continue to be a top seed in the Western Conference despite their recent blunders.
8. Brooklyn Nets, 16-12
All of a sudden the Nets have soared to the 4 seed in the Eastern Conference standings amidst a three game win streak after defeating the Hornets, Hawks, and Pacers. Kevin Durant (30 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game with a TS% of 66.2) is a bonafide MVP candidate and is carrying to this team to victories by himself a lot of times. Kyrie Irving is averaging 27.6 points, 6 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game with a TS% of 59.3 over his past 5 games, and Royce O’Neal (9.3 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game with a 3PT% of 40.7 and a TS% of 51.9) has been the coveted 3 and D wing they have yearned for in recent years.
The Nets have an offensive rating of 113.9 (ranked 10th), a team eFG% of 57 (ranked 4th), and a team TS% of 60.3 (Ranked 3rd in the NBA). Despite Ben Simmons’ obvious offensive issues, the greatness of both Durant and Irving alone have established this team as an offensive juggernaut. The Nets’ defensive rating of 112.7 is ranked 16th in the NBA but it won’t need to improve if their offense keeps producing at a high level.
7. Golden State Warriors, 14-13
It would have been disrespectful to not have the Warriors in the top 7 after their dismantling of the #1 team in the NBA, the Boston Celtics. Saturday’s 123-107 blowout victory over the Celtics signified a turn in the Warriors season: They are back and are going to be the best team in the Western Conference within a month.
The Pelicans are playing great, but the beautiful ball movement, consistent shooting, and now improving elite defense from the Warriors will make them tough to beat on a nightly basis. Klay Thompson is averaging 23 points over his past 5 games (only 35% from 3 and 52.8 TS% though, but still impressive) and Stephen Curry (30 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 7 assists per game with a TS% of 66.7) is having his most efficient shooting season of his career and is putting up career highs in just about everything.
The Warriors defensive rating of 112.6 is ranked 14th (an improvement from the 24th defensive rating just three weeks ago), their offensive rating of 114.1 is ranked 8th, their team eFG% of 57.2 is ranked 3rd, and their team TS% of 60 is ranked 5th in the NBA. This team is just hitting their stride and should continue to surge up these power rankings in future weeks.
6. Cleveland Cavaliers, 17-10
The Cavaliers are 17-10 and 3rd in the Eastern Conference right now. They have the best defense in the NBA so far this season (107.4 defensive rating), but their offense has taken a hit in recent weeks (offensive rating of 113.6, ranked 11th in NBA, was ranked 6th just two weeks ago). Their once top 10 team eFG% and TS% are now both ranked 12th in the NBA at 54.5 and 58.4 respectively, and Darius Garland has been inefficient over his past 5 games (17.6 points and 6.8 assists per game with an abysmal TS% of 50.4 for a player of his caliber).
Evan Mobley has seen an uptick in production on the offensive end of the floor (15.4 points, 11 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.4 blocks per game with a TS% of 61.8 over that span), but if Garland doesn’t increase his efficiency, the Cavaliers could be in trouble.
5. Denver Nuggets, 16-10
Nikola Jokic (23.8 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 9.1 assists per game with a TS% of 69 and a PER of 31.5, 1st in NBA) is coming off of a 31 point, 12 rebound, 14 assist game in a win against the Jazz, while Jamaal Murray (18.3 points and 5.1 assists per game with a TS% of 53.6) also poured in 30 points, 4 rebounds, and 5 assists in that contest.
The dynamic duo is back and as a result the Nuggets have an offensive rating of 116.7 (ranked 3rd), a team eFG% of 57.3 (ranked 2nd), and a team TS% of 60 (ranked 4th in the NBA). Sure, their defensive rating of 115.5 (ranked 27th in the NBA) is a bit concerning, but they are an offensive juggernaut that can outscore anybody.
4. Memphis Grizzlies, 17-9
Ja Morant (27.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 7.8 assists per game with a TS% of 55.4), Desmond Bane (24.7 points per game with a 3PT% of 45.1 and a TS% of 62.2), and Jaren Jackson Jr. (18.7 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 3.2 blocks per game with a TS% of 62.6) have yet to take the floor together this season, and the Grizzlies are still 17-9 and second in the Western Conference.
The Grizzlies have an offensive rating 113.7 (ranked 11th), a defensive rating of 110.8 (ranked 5th as its skyrocketed up the ranks ever since Jackson Jr. returned), and a team rebounding percentage of 52.7 (ranked 1st in the NBA). One of the most balanced and talented teams in the entire league, the Grizzlies will continue to soar in the West and dominate teams left and right, especially when they get their 3 best players on the court together at the same time.
3. Milwaukee Bucks, 19-7
After an impressive win in Dallas on Friday night, the Bucks looked atrocious offensively in a 97-92 loss against the Rockets on Sunday night. Giannis Antetokounmpo (31.1 points, 11.3 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game with a TS% of 59.9) fouled out in Friday’s game then proceeded to put up an underwhelming line of 16 points on 7-17 from the field on Sunday. That loss wasn’t just on the “Greek Freak” though, as the team shot 36.7% from the floor and just 27.9% from 3PT range.
Offense has been a serious problem for the Bucks all season as they have an offensive rating of 112.2 (ranked 18th), a team TS% of 52.9 (ranked 19th), and a team TS% of 56 (ranked 21st in the NBA). If it wasn’t for their dominant defensive rating of 107.6 (2nd in NBA), the Bucks wouldn’t be able to survive with their offensive production. Nonetheless, Khris Middleton (11 points per game with a TS% of 47.7) is back and once he gets into a groove, he should help improve the offense as the season goes on.
2. New Orleans Pelicans, 18-8
The Pelicans have won 7 games in a row and just beat their new arch-rival, the Phoenix Suns (who defeated them in the playoffs last season), twice in a row. In that 7 game win streak, the Pelicans were without Brandon Ingram, and Zion Williamson stepped up and averaged 30 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 5.3 assists per game with a TS% of 71.2.
The Pelicans have an offensive rating of 116.2 (ranked 6th), a defensive rating of 109.2 (ranked 3rD), a NET Rating of 6.9 (ranked 2nd), a team eFG% of 55.1 (ranked 8th), and a team TS% of 58.9 (ranked 7th in the NBA). If Williamson can continue to be an MVP candidate and Ingram comes back and looks like himself, 55+ wins and finishing 1st in the Western Conference is not out of the question.
1. Boston Celtics, 21-6
Despite an embarrassing loss to the Warriors on Saturday night, the Celtics are still the best team in the NBA with an offensive rating of 120.1 (ranked 1st), a defensive rating of 112.2 (ranked 11th after being ranked 22nd just a few weeks ago), a NET Rating of 7.9 (ranked 1st), a team eFG% of 58.6 (ranked 1st), and a team TS% of 62.2 (also ranked 1st in the NBA).
Jayson Tatum (30 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 4 assists per game with a TS% of 61.3) and Jaylen Brown (26.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game with a TS% of 60.2) are the best duo in the NBA and Robert Williams III will return very soon, making this team even tougher to beat.
Note: Advanced Statistics used in this article are gathered from NBA.com and Statmuse.com and are updated as of Monday, December 12th, 2022.