30. Houston Rockets, 12-38
The Rockets have actually won two out of their last four games, but remain the worst team in basketball. A large part of their recent success is due to Alperen Sengun (22 points, 11.3 rebounds, and 7.2 assists per game with a TS% of 70.5 over his last 6 games) who has been deemed “baby Jokic” by many because of his elite playmaking at the center position. With the worst offense in the league (offensive rating of 109.7), the Rockets will have one of the best chances to select #1 overall in next year’s NBA Draft.
29. Detroit Pistons, 13-38
Rookies Jaden Ivey (15.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game with a TS% of 51.8) and Jalen Duren (8.3 points and 8.6 rebounds per game with a TS% of 66.2) have played very well recently, but the Pistons have just an offensive rating of 111.9 (ranked 25th) and a defensive rating of 119.3 (ranked 29th in the NBA). If the Pistons want to obtain more assets at the trade deadline, perhaps trading Bojan Bogdanovic (who signed a two year $39 million contract extension after being traded from the Jazz) would be smart. Bogdanovic has had a stellar season and is under contract for two more years, which will allow the Pistons to ask for a lot in return.
28. San Antonio Spurs, 14-36
The Spurs aren’t even trying to hide their “tanking” philosophy anymore, as they’ve lost thirteen out of their last fifteen games and have the worst defense in basketball (defensive rating of 120.5). Keldon Johnson (21.8 points, and 4.8 rebounds per game with a TS% of 54.5) and Jeremy Sochan (18.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game with a TS% of 58.8 over his last 5 games) have proven to be core pieces in the rebuilding process, but all eyes are set on next year’s NBA Draft, where they will draft another franchise cornerstone player with a top pick.
27. Charlotte Hornets, 15-36
Terry Rozier (25 points per game with a TS% of 58.2 over his last 10 games) and Mason Plumlee (17.3 points and 10.4 rebounds per game with a TS% of 75.9 over his last 10 games), have both been excellent recently, and the Hornets have surprisingly won four out of their last six games.
A lot of their recent success is due to health as Gordon Hayward returned from almost a month-long absence last week. If Rozier, Plumlee, and Hayward can continue to play well over the next week and a half before the trade deadline, the Hornets could trade them to acquire assets for next season since they aren’t going anywhere this year with an offensive rating of 110 (ranked 29th) and a defensive rating of 116.2 (ranked 27th in the NBA).
26. Orlando Magic, 19-31
The Magic had an up and down week with impressive wins against the Celtics and Pacers, then two tough losses against the Heat and Bulls. I don’t know how, but the Magic turn into the 1996 Chicago Bulls when they play the Celtics (they’ve beaten them three times in a row) and they have a lot of young talent.
Elite defender Jonathan Issac returned last week from a knee injury that kept him out for two years and it looks like he hasn’t lost a step, and both Franz Wagner (19.9 points, 4 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game with a TS% of 59.9 and an impressive PSA of 121.1, ranked in the 80th percentile for Wings) and Paolo Banchero (20.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game with a TS% of 54.6 and a PSA of 108.6, ranked in the 36th percentile for Forwards) have continued to be the anchors of this team. Add in Wendell Carter Jr., Jalen Suggs, and Cole Anthony and the Magic have one of the most talented cores in the league with another top pick to come in next year’s draft.
25. Indiana Pacers, 24-28
Bennedict Mathurin (17.9 points per game with a TS% of 56.3) is gaining ground on Paolo Banchero for the Rookie Of the Year race, and the Pacers showed they are committed to winning, not rebuilding, with their recent two-year contract extension with Myles Turner (17.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game with a TS% of 64.8 and a PSA of 129, ranked in the 72nd percentile for Bigs). However, since Tyrese Haliburton went down with an injury, the team has lot ten out of their last eleven games and are going nowhere fast despite their intentions to win.
24. Washington Wizards, 23-26
All of a sudden the Wizards are back in contention, boasting a five game win streak heading into this week. During the win streak Kyle Kuzma took over as the team’s best player, averaging 25 points and 9.2 rebounds per game with a TS% of 55 during that span. With an improving defense (defensive rating of 113.8, ranked 14th in the NBA), the Wizards have been able to do just enough to pull wins out despite a mediocre offensive rating of 113.3 (ranked 23rd in the NBA).
Despite Bradley Beal only averaging 18 points per game during the win streak, he has had an excellent season overall with a PSA of 122.3 (ranked in the 84th percentile for Combo Guards) and an AST% of 25 (ranked in the 89th percentile for Combo Guards). If Kuzma can continue scoring at this rate with Beal having an extremely efficient season, the Wizards have a good chance at the 10 seed in the Play-In Tournament.
23. Chicago Bulls, 23-26
The Bulls have been able to stay somewhat in contention after winning four out of their last six games They are now sitting at 10th in the Eastern Conference Standings with an offensive rating of 113.5 (Ranked 20th) and a defensive rating of 113.5 (ranked 13th in the NBA). The big 3 of DeMar DeRozan (26.4 points per game with a TS% of 60.3 and a PSA of 122.2, ranked in the 74th percentile for Forwards), Zach LaVine (23.8 points per game with a TS% of 58.6 and a PSA of 117.8, ranked in the 65th percentile for Wings), and Nikola Vucevic (17.5 points and 11.1 rebounds per game with a TS% of 60.1 and a PSA of 120, ranked in the 45th percentile for Bigs) have led the way, but they should consider blowing it all up at the trade deadline.
They aren’t good enough to beat the top tier teams in the Eastern Conference in the playoffs, Vucevic will be a free agent as the end of the year, and DeRozan will be a free agent in two years. Before it is too late, the Bulls should think about starting a rebuild and using the assets they have to accelerate that rebuild.
22. Toronto Raptors, 23-28
Though the Raptors are the unluckiest team in the NBA with a the worst Win Differential of -3.7 in basketball, they have won three out of their last four games and are now only 2.5 games back of the 8 seed in the Eastern Conference. Despite having the 20th ranked defensive rating of 114.6, the team forces the most turnovers in the NBA and also turns the ball over the least on offense. They take care of the basketball, but they aren’t winning a championship with Pascal Siakam as their best player. If I were Raptors President Masai Urjiri, I would strongly consider trading Siakam, Fred VanVleet, and OG Anunoby for a haul of assets at the trade deadline to accelerate a rebuild around Scottie Barnes and Gary Trent Jr.
21. Portland Trail Blazers, 23-26
The Trail Blazers need to start thinking about blowing up this roster and heading toward a rebuild. They have lost nine out of their last thirteen games despite having an offensive rating of 115.9 (ranked 8th in the NBA).
The Blazers could look to move Jerami Grant (21.3 points per game with a 3PT% of 42.1, a TS% of 61.4, and a PSA of 123.2, ranked in the 84th percentile for Forwards) or Jusuf Nurkic (14.1 points and 9.7 rebounds per game with a TS% of 59.6) at the trade deadline, but when will they realize a full rebuild is needed? They aren’t going to win a championship with Damian Lillard at the helm and his value is at an all time high. Even though they won’t do it, moving Lillard, Grant, and Nurkic for a haul of assets, and building around Anfernee Simons and Sheadon Sharpe is the most realistic option for long-term success.
20. Utah Jazz, 26-26
Lauri Markkanen (24.9 points and 8.6 rebounds per game with a 3PT% of 43.2 and a remarkable PSA of 134.3, which is the best mark in the NBA for a Forward) is going to be the home city’s lone All-Star as the All-Star Game is being played in Utah this year.
Though the Jazz are still a .500 team with a superb offensive rating of 117 (ranked 4th in the NBA), they should start to tank soon since they won’t be able to win a playoff series this season. Markkanen’s meteoric rise to almost an NBA Superstar should be the highlight of the year and something to build on for next season for Jazz fans.
19. Atlanta Hawks, 25-25
Trae Young (27.2 points and 9.9 assists per game with an eFG% of 48) and Clint Capela (12.3 points and 11.4 rebounds per game with an eFG% of 65.4) have dominated the pick-and-roll game over the last few weeks, resulting in a continuously improving Hawks offense (offensive rating of 114.1, ranked 16th in NBA). They have some work to do, but they have the 8 seed in the Eastern Conference and are in a good position heading into this week.
18. Oklahoma City Thunder, 24-25
It is a crime that Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (30.9 points, 5.6 assists, and 1.7 steals per game with a TS% of 62.7 and an otherworldly PSA of 126.8, ranked in the 95th percentile for Point Guards) wasn’t selected as an All-Star Game starter with the season he is having. SGA has almost single-handedly asserted the Thunder as a legitimate Play-In Tournament contender in the Western Conference as they have won six out of their last eight games with him at the helm. Josh Giddey and Jalen Williams have also stepped up immensely over the last couple of weeks, alleviating some pressure off of SGA, and allowing the Thunder to succeed even more so.
17. New Orleans Pelicans, 26-25
The Pelicans have hit rock bottom, losing eight games in a row and falling to the 8 seed in the Western Conference. Brandon Ingram‘s return hasn’t gone as planned with the team still unable to win basketball games despite also having C.J. McCollum and Jonas Valanciunas on the floor as well. The recent struggles just show how important Zion Williamson is to this team and how desperately the team needs him back. Williamson is a few weeks away from returning, but it doesn’t like the Pels ‘ can tread water during that time.
16. Dallas Mavericks, 26-25
Luka Doncic went down with an ankle injury against the Suns last Thursday night, which left Spencer Dinwiddie in charge of putting the Mavericks on his back over the last two games. Dinwiddie has done just that, putting up 35+ points and 8+ assists in back-to-back games. Doncic will return tonight vs. the Pistons, but Dinwiddie’s ability to take over without Doncic raises the ceiling of this team immensely. The Mavs should be able to win 2-3 games this week with matchups against the Pistons, Pelicans, and Warriors.
15. Los Angeles Lakers, 23-27
Let’s get this straight: the Lakers are a much better team than their record, indicative of them being able to hang in there and compete against teams like the Celtics and Grizzlies. Last week, the team welcomed Superstar Anthony Davis back from injury, and LeBron James (30.2 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 7.1 assists per game with a TS% of 58.9) continued to put the whole team on his back despite a gut-wrenching loss to the Celtics on Sunday (in a game they clearly should have won since James was overtly fouled on the last play of regulation).
They are 23-27 right now and should be 23-28 after tonight against the Nets (no James or Davis tonight), but Patrick Beverley is shooting over 40% from 3-point range over the last two months and Lonnie Walker IV (who just returned against the Celtics) is shooting 38.3% from 3-point range on the season. Add in the needed addition of Wing Rui Hachimura (who has played well since joining the Lakers) and the return of Austin Reaves soon, this is a team that could go on a run even without making more trades before the deadline. James’ greatness is evidident and if Davis can remain healthy, this team has a chance against anyone in a playoff series despite not sporting the surrounding talent other teams have.
14. Minnesota Timberwolves, 27-25
Even without Karl Anthony-Towns, the Timberwolves are starting to figure things out winning five out of their last six games and moving up to the 5 seed in the Western Conference. That meteoric rise over the past few weeks is largely due to Anthony Edwards, who has averaged 29.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 5.2 assists over his last 10 games). Nonetheless, the Wolves don’t do anything fantastic with an offensive rating of 113.6 (ranked 18th) and a defensive rating of 113.4 (ranked 12th in the NBA) and should be an easy out in the first round (yes even when Towns comes back) for whoever they play in the playoffs.
13. Phoenix Suns, 26-25
The return of Cameron Johnson (14.8 points and 4.2 rebounds per game with a 3PT% of 46.3, an eFG% of 62, and an ultra-impressive PSA of 128.9, ranked in the 92nd percentile for Wings) has changed the trajectory of this team as they have won five out of their last six games and have moved up to 9th in the Western Conference standings even without Devin Booker. Chris Paul and DeAndre Ayton have also looked fantastic after slow starts to the season, and when Booker returns, the Suns have a real chance to come out of the Western Conference.
12. Golden State Warriors, 25-24
The Warriors have been playing up and down recently, but Andrew Wiggins (17.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per game with a TS% of 57) returns tonight against the Thunder following a week-long absence. Wiggins is the team’s defensive stopper and the Warriors struggle immensely without him. Either way, the Warriors have an offensive rating of 114.2 (ranked 14th), a defensive rating of 114.3 (ranked 17th), but a surprisingly impressive team eFG% of 56.4 (ranked 4th in the NBA), which signifies their offensive rating will continue to improve as the season goes on. We know what this team is capable of, but they desperately need to start stringing together some wins to gain some momentum.
11. New York Knicks, 27-24
Julius Randle (24.7 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 4 assists per game with a TS% of 58.2 and a PSA of 118, ranked in the 65th percentile for Forwards) and Jalen Brunson (22.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 6.2 assists per game with a TS% of 57.3 and a PSA of 115.3, ranked in the 73rd percentile for Point Guards) are playing out of their minds right now and both could be heading to Utah for the All-Star Game in a few weeks. Though Tom Thibodeau is a defensive minded coach, the Knicks calling card this season has been their stellar offense (offensive rating of 116.1, ranked 6th in the NBA).
10. Miami Heat, 28-23
All of a sudden the Heat are making a climb up the Eastern Conference Standings winning three out of their last four games and are now only 3 games back from the 4 seed. The big 3 of Jimmy Butler (21.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game with a TS% of 63 and an incredible PSA of 128.9, ranked in the 93rd percentile for Forwards), Bam Adebayo (21.4 points, 10 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game with a TS% of 58.6 and an AST% of 15, ranked in the 85th percentile for Bigs), and Tyler Herro (20.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game with a TS% of 56.4 and an AST% of 19.5, ranked in the 90th percentile for Wings) continue to flourish and the bench play is improving with Victor Oladipo, Max Strus, Caleb Martin, and Gabe Vincent playing better as of late.
Despite an underwhelming offensive rating of 111.3 (ranked 27th) and team eFG% of 52.1 (also ranked 27th), the Heat still boast the third-best defense in basketball (defensive rating of 111, ranked 3rd in the NBA) and already tons of playoff experience. The Heat are going to be a tough out in the playoffs this season.
9. Brooklyn Nets, 30-19
Nicolas Claxton (13.2 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks per game with a TS% of 71.4, a remarkable PSA of 141.6, ranked in the 93rd percentile for Bigs, and a stellar rebounding percentage of 4.7%, ranked in the 97th percentile for Bigs) may have taken the mantle from Jaren Jackson Jr. as the front-runner for Defensive Player Of the Year and Kyrie Irving has averaged 30.5 points, 7.1 assists, and 5.2 rebounds per game with a TS% of 59 over his last 10 games.
However, even with an offensive rating of 115.9 (ranked 7th) and a defensive rating of 113.2 (ranked 10th in the NBA), the Nets severely lack depth without Kevin Durant (and even with him when he comes back). T.J. Warren hasn’t looked sharp, Royce O’Neal and Ben Simmons have been inconsistent and Seth Curry is arguably the team’s third best player behind Claxton and Irving, which is never a good thing (no offense to Seth Curry). Furthermore, even when Durant returns this team has a lot to figure out and I don’t think they can be trusted in a playoff series against the Bucks or Celtics.
8. Los Angeles Clippers, 28-25
The Clippers are going in the right direction as Kawhi Leonard (21.3 points and 6.2 rebounds per game with an eFG% of 56.4 and a PSA of 123.1, ranked in the 80th percentile for Forwards) is looking like he is in his prime again and Paul George (23.5 points, 6 rebounds, and 5.3 assists per game with an eFG% of 54.9 and a PSA of 121, ranked in the 79th percentile for Wings) continues to look excellent on both ends of the floor. With Ty Lue continuing to implement Terance Mann and Robert Covington into late game rotations more consistently, the Clippers are clicking on all cylinders when their two stars play.
7. Sacramento Kings, 27-21
The Kings now have the best offense (offensive rating of 118.1) in the NBA thanks to MVP candidate Domantas Sabonis (18.5 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 7.3 assists per game with an eFG% of 62.7 and a PSA of 133.4, ranked in the 84th percentile for Bigs) and De’Aaron Fox (23.9 points and 6.1 assists per game with an eFG% of 54.9 and a PSA of 119.4, ranked in the 84th percentile for Point Guards), who should both be playing in the All-Star Game in a few weeks.
Rookie Keegan Murray has taken his scoring up a notch recently scoring over 10 points in eight out of his last ten games. However, this team has still found a way to lose three out of their last four games because of their defensive rating of 115.2 (ranked 21st in the NBA). Nonetheless, with the Western Conference being so wide open, the Kings should be able to avoid the Play-In Tournament entirely.
6. Cleveland Cavaliers, 31-21
The Cavaliers’ went 2-2 last week with wins against the Rockets and the Kawhi Leonard and Paul George-less Clippers and losses against the Knicks and Thunder. By no means is that impressive, but Donovan Mitchell (27.9 points and 4.8 assists per game with an eFG% of 57.4, a PER of 23.2, and a PSA of 126, ranked in the 97th percentile for Combo Guards) has been dealing with a groin injury and hasn’t looked like himself over the last week and a half.
However, Darius Garland (22 points and 8.2 assists per game with an eFG% of 52.3 and a PER of 19.5) has taken over for this team offensively, while Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen continue to anchor the NBA’s second-best defense (defensive rating of 110.4). The Cavs’ have had some bumps in the road, but they continue to prove that they are a tough team to beat on a nightly basis, regardless of whether they have their stars.
5. Memphis Grizzlies, 32-18
Following a five game losing streak, the Grizzlies secured a much needed win against the Pacers on Sunday to salvage their week. Ja Morant (27.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 8.1 assists per game with an eFG% of 50.6 and a PER of 23.4) continues to keep this team in games when the offense is lacking, but the loss of Steven Adams is what could derail their #1 seed chances. Adams is not only a tenacious rebounder, but also thrives in pick and roll’s (with Morant) and is very unselfish, finding the open man when needed to.
The Grizzlies have the second-highest offensive rebounding percentage in the NBA (33.8) and a lot of that was due to the rebounding brilliance of Adams. Now the team will have to roll out much smaller lineups that include Jaren Jackson Jr. (6-9), Brandon Clarke (6-7), Santi Aldama (6-9) and Xavier Tillman (6-7) switching off at the 4 and the 5, resulting in a lack of dominance on the offensive boards. Furthermore, despite having the NBA’s top rated defense (defensive rating of 1110) and the twelfth- best offense (offensive rating of 114.3), the Grizzlies could suffer tremendously without Adams and lose ground in the Western Conference standings.
4. Milwaukee Bucks, 33-17
Giannis Antetokounmpo (31.7 points, 12 rebounds, and 5.3 assists per game with an eFG% of 54.5 and a PER of 27.2) exploded for 50 points and 13 rebounds in just 30 minutes against the short-handed Pelicans on Sunday to cap off a much needed 4-0 week for the Bucks, who have been struggling to piece together wins consistently in recent weeks. Now with Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday, and Khris Middleton all healthy, the Bucks’ abysmal offensive rating of 113.3 (ranked 23rd in the NBA) should drastically improve and the team’s impressive defensive rating of 111.4 (ranked 4th in the NBA) will stay consistent as well.
As I have mentioned in recent weeks, Antetokounmpo needs to improve his efficiency for this team to be successful (evident in his atrocious PSA of 117.2, ranked in the 32nd percentile for Bigs), and a lot of that is contingent upon this Bucks team being at full strength. That is what exactly happened last week when Middleton returned, taking pressure off of the “Greek Freak” to solely produce on offense with limited help. Nonetheless, this is a team that at full strength can hang with anyone and they are starting to prove that.
3. Boston Celtics, 36-15
The Celtics fall in these rankings due to losing three out of their last four games, and in reality, they should have lost all four of those games. Sunday’s “win” against the Lakers shouldn’t feel like a win to the Celtics since LeBron James was overtly slapped on his shooting arm going for the game winning basket. Even before that play, Jaylen Brown got an and-one call that shouldn’t have been called on Patrick Beverley. However, despite needing to play better basketball down the stretch of games, the Celtics should still be the favorites to win the NBA title as of right now.
They have an offensive rating of 117.5 (ranked 3rd), a vastly improving defensive rating of 112 (ranked 5th) thanks to Robert Williams III AKA “Time Lord”, and two MVP candidates in Jayson Tatum (31.1 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game with a TS% of 61.1, a PER of 24.7, and and a PSA of 123.1, ranked in the 81st percentile for Forwards) and Jaylen Brown (27 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 3 assists per game with a TS% of 58.7, a PER of 19.5 and a PSA of 118.1, ranked in the 70th percentile for Wings). The 76ers have Doc Rivers as their coach and James Harden (who for whatever reason does not perform well in the playoffs), and the Nuggets, Grizzlies, and Clippers have never made the Finals in the Western Conference. Their biggest competition right now should be the Bucks, who are just starting to get healthy.
2. Denver Nuggets, 34-16
The Nuggets have lost three out of their last four games, but they have the top seed in the Western Conference and still have the best player in basketball in Nikola Jokic (25.1 points, 10.9 rebounds, and 9.9 assists per game with a TS% of 70.2, a PER of 32.1, and a remarkable PSA of 141.8, ranked in the 94th percentile for Bigs). With a historic offensive rating of 118 (ranked 2nd in the NBA), a team eFG% of 57.9 (also ranked 2nd in the NBA), and the most talented roster in Jokic’s tenure, this Nuggets team has the chance to go on a run and be something special.
1. Philadelphia 76ers, 32-16
The 76ers are the best team in basketball right now. They just defeated the second-best team in basketball in the Nuggets at home on Saturday, a game where Joel Embiid may have asserted himself as the MVP frontrunner with a 47-point 18-rebound performance in the win. Embiid is averaging 33.8 points, 10 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game with a TS% of 64.2 and a PSA of 129.2 (ranked in the 72nd percentile for bigs), while James Harden is averaging 21.4 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 11.2 assists per game with a TS% of 61.6 and a PSA of 124.8 (ranked in the 92nd percentile for Point Guards), and Tyrese Maxey is averaging 21 points per game with a TS% of 57.1 and a PSA of 114.4 (ranked in the 61st percentile for Combo Guards).
Harden and Maxey have been the perfect compliments to Embiid and the 76ers are one of the most balanced teams in the NBA with an offensive rating of 116.2 (ranked 5th) and a defensive rating of 112.2 (ranked 6th in the NBA). Nonetheless, Doc Rivers is still this team’s coach, and skepticism is always required for a Doc Rivers- coached team.
Note: Advanced Statistics used in this article are gathered from Cleaningtheglass.com, Statmuse.com, and NBA.com and are updated as of Monday, January 30th, 2023 \