Now that the 2022-23 season has kicked off our NBA power rankings are active and here to let you know who are the top teams right now in the association.
The Golden State Warriors are coming off their fourth championship in eight years and are looking to make it back to the finals — despite their recent locker-room drama. Back east, the Boston Celtics are once again legit contenders who will be moving forward without suspended head coach Ime Udoka.
There are also a ton of other intriguing stories surrounding other contending teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers, New Orleans Pelicans, Memphis Grizzlies, and the Brooklyn Nets. Without further ado, here is our latest set of NBA power rankings.
30. Houston Rockets (LW: 29)
While young stars like Jalen Green and Kevin Porter, Jr. have been solid in 2022, neither they nor first-round pick Jabari Smith has truly elevated their games to the level needed to make the Houston Rockets a competitive squad for much of the season. Their recent six-game losing streak is proof that while the team has nice prospects, this group still has a whole lot more to learn.
29. Charlotte Hornets (LW: 30)
Being without LaMelo Ball to begin the season was killer for the Charlotte Hornets. And despite the best efforts of the rest of the team, the Hornets resided in the back end of the Eastern Conference standings.
While hope returned once Ball was back on the court, however, a second injury stopped all the momentum, and the losses keep piling up even when he was back in December and playing well to start the New Year.
28. Detroit Pistons (LW: 28)
A season-ending injury to young star Cade Cunningham likely put an end to any real plans that the team had to be competitive in 2022-2023. Plus, while off-season acquisition Bojan Bogdanovic has played very well, rookies Jalen Duren and Jaden Ivey have not been able to pick up the pieces and push Detroit beyond being a lottery-bound organization.
The team losing seven of eight recently, including many by blowout, is what Detroit fans may have to expect for the rest of the season. The big story left for the team as they play out the string is what they get in a trade for Bogdanovic.
27. San Antonio Spurs (LW: 27)
After a surprisingly fast start to the season, the San Antonio Spurs have since regressed to where many analysts figured they would be this season. At or near the bottom of the Western Conference. The team lost 11 straight games recently and seems on pace for a record-setting bad season. However, despite the poor results, Devin Vassell and Keldon Johnson have been bright spots this season and could be key parts of the team’s eventual turnaround in the future.
26. Orlando Magic (LW: 26)
The young Orlando Magics, led by top pick Paolo Banchero have been inconsistent throughout the season. But that is to be expected with a team in a complete rebuild and full of prospects. They followed by winning eight of nine games by losing four of five. While the Magic are headed to another lottery selection in the spring, there is a reason for hope in Orlando.
25. Oklahoma City Thunder (LW: 25)
It looks like it will be another season playing out the strong and getting experience en route to an NBA lottery pick for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Yet, despite the losses piling up and being at the back of the standings, incumbent star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has been a revelation and made them a competitive squad throughout the season. OKC won’t make the playoffs this season, but the Thunder deserve their opponent’s respect.
24. Toronto Raptors (LW: 24)
While the Toronto Raptors were solid for the first few months of the season, they have struggled mightily heading into 2023. They have battled injuries to key players recently and it has had an effect. Yet, their overall play is not at the level they expected, and it wouldn’t be surprising if the Raptors are sellers at the NBA trade deadline as they tumble down the standings.
23. Washington Wizards (LW: 23)
The Washington Wizards were a solid squad after the first month of the season. They seemed playoff bound with their star trio of Bradley Beal, Kristaps Porzingis, and Kyle Kuzma playing well together. However, that has changed as they have plummeted down the rankings after losing 11 of 12 at one point.
They scored three big wins over the Suns, 76ers, Bucks, and Kings — all playoff-bound teams — recently. However, another injury to star Bradley Beal could make the strong play short-lived.
22. Chicago Bulls (LW: 21)
The Chicago Bulls’ poor start has been a product of several issues hindering the team. Certainly, Lonzo Ball’s absence has hurt, but no one expected them to be playing like this at this juncture of the season. Demar DeRozan and Zach Lavine are filling up the stat sheet, but the Bulls don’t at all have the same kind of bite as they did en route to the playoffs last season. This team is speculated to be sellers at the NBA trade deadline in February.
21. Minnesota Timberwolves (LW: 20)
Following a calf injury that knocked Karl-Anthony Towns for over a month, the Minnesota Timberwolves have been up and down. Losing streaks are now often followed by runs of the hot play. While they aren’t bad, the fact that Anthony Edwards and Rudy Gobert haven’t been able to lead the team to a better record is worrying.
20. Atlanta Hawks (LW: 19)
The Atlanta Hawks have been hit by a plague of drama as the season continues to play out, and it’s shown as they have plummeted down the NBA standings and our NBA power rankings in recent weeks. However, the bigger issue may be a growing divide between stars Trae Young and head coach Nate McMillan. As well as new rumors that Young could be the next superstar asking for a trade.
19. Los Angeles Lakers (LW: 22)
After a disastrous start to the season where the Los Angeles Lakers were 2-10, LA has been a bit less than terrible in recent weeks. Lebron James is healthy and playing like an All-Star still, and Russell Westbrook hasn’t been a complete hindrance to the team’s success. However, a foot injury to Anthony Davis means they could be without their top player for the foreseeable future.
Yet, despite the loss of their best player, James has stepped up to lead the team in their recent win streak. Scoring over 40 points twice, including on his 38th birthday.
18. Utah Jazz (LW: 18)
The Utah Jazz continues to be the biggest surprise of the young season. They have gotten off to a far better start than expected due to outstanding performances from Lauri Markkanen and Jordan Clarkson. As well as great leadership from new head coach Will Hardy. While they cooled off after their red-hot start, the Utah Jazz remains one of the best-scoring teams in the NBA and are on course for a shocking playoff appearance next spring.
17. Phoenix Suns (LW: 15)
What head coach Monty Williams and the Phoenix Suns were able to do this season despite the Jae Crowder drama, and with Chris Paul finally in a sharp decline has been remarkable. They had one of, if not the best record in the West for the first couple of months and Devin Booker deserved talk as a serious MVP candidate this season. But with their superstar sidelined for a month, unsurprisingly the Suns have plummeted fast in the rankings and standings.
16. Portland Trail Blazers (LW: 14)
Back from a season-ending injury, Damian Lillard was playing like a monster to start the NBA season and helped the Portland Trailblazer gets off to a very fast start. However, he suffered a hamstring injury recently and the team immediately went into a slump soon after.
Yet, even with their anchor back, the Trail Blazers have not played well of late and are still slumping. If this continues, one has to wonder if now could be the time that Portland finally blows things up and deals Lillard.
15. Los Angeles Clippers (LW: 10)
More than any team in the NBA, health is the biggest story surrounding the Los Angeles Clippers. The talent is there for the Clippers to be serious title contenders this season, but both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George have again dealt with injuries this season. It has led to hot and cold streaks for the team.
Currently, the Clippers are in a skid with their two top players dealing with health issues again. While their defense has been one of the best in the NBA all season, it will never be enough to make them real contenders in the West.
14. Miami Heat (LW: 17)
The Miami Heat had been a massive disappointment for much of this season. Sure the loss of veteran PJ Tucker hurt but it should not have been enough to where they sat with a record under .500 for almost two months. However, they seem to have built up momentum in the right direction recently and are back to being a top-10 team in the Eastern Conference once again.
This group is one big trade away from being a force in the East again. The question is, do they have the assets to land the impact player they need?
13. Golden State Warriors (LW: 16)
The defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors struggled big time early in the season. They have been bad on the road and their usually solid defense has been one of the worst in the league. Just when they seemed to be on a major upward swing, Stephen Curry suffered a shoulder injury that will knock him out for at least a few weeks. However, the team has endured and young star Jordan Poole has gotten them back on track with some outstanding play in Curry’s absence.
12. Indiana Pacers (LW: 12)
The Indiana Pacers continue to be better than expected and have the makings of a new dynamic duo on their hands in Tyrese Haliburton and rookie Benedict Mathurin. They have the tough luck of being in the same division as powerhouses like the Cavaliers and Bucks, but they have nonetheless far exceeded expectations and seem poised for a return to the postseason in 2023.
Things are so positive that the organization has shifted from wanting to trade veteran star Myles Turner to actually engaging in talks about a contract extension.
11. Sacramento Kings (LW: 11)
After a slow start to the ’22-’23 season, the young gun Sacramento Kings have become one of the best stories in the league this season. De’Aaron Fox is playing like an All-Star and Domantas Sabonis has been an excellent No. 2 option. They are headed to ending a 16-year streak of missing the playoffs in 2023 led by one of the elite offenses in the league this season.
NBA power rankings top 10
10. New York Knicks (LW: 13)
After an inconsistent start, the New York Knicks caught fire to start December. It helped them make a major jump in our NBA power rankings as Julius Randle was playing like the MVP candidate he was two years ago, and Jalen Brunson continued to look like one of the best free-agent signings by any team this summer.
Unfortunately, the team followed up its hot streak with a five-game skid. They started to stumble with Brunson out due to an injury, but with their big-ticket free agent acquisition back on the court they have started to pick up steam again. That is why they are back in the top 10 of our NBA power rankings this week.
9. Dallas Mavericks (LW: 9)
The Dallas Mavericks have been an inconsistent group for much of the year. While Luka Doncic has been outstanding — including making NBA history recently — and the team has played well defensively, they have constantly endured hot and cold streaks.
However, they have gone on a tear in recent weeks and have been one of the hottest teams in the league. As they have quickly flown up our NBA power rankings and the standings.
8. New Orleans Pelicans (LW: 4)
The New Orleans Pelicans are becoming one of the biggest stories in the NBA this season. The talent is there, but the question entering the season was could head coach Willie Green mold stars like Zion Williamson, CJ McCollom, and Brandon Ingram into a winning unit. So far so good because New Orleans is one of the top teams in the West heading into 2023.
All three are averaging over 20 points a game, and the best part is that Williamson was playing the role of franchise face for a winning team that could make some serious noise in the playoffs. However, in classic Williamson fashion, the big man suffered an injury that could sideline him for weeks. Meaning the Pelicans could soon fall in these NBA power rankings.
7. Philadelphia 76ers (LW: 8)
The Philadelphia 76ers have dealt with a lot so far this season. Joel Embiid got off to a slow start. James Harden was playing terrifically before a foot injury knocked him out for a month. Then Tyrese Maxey was forced to the sideline for weeks as well after his own hot start.
However, the future Hall-of-Famer is back on the court, Embiid is playing like an MVP candidate and their defense is one of the best in the NBA. This team is a serious force in the East and finally, has Maxey back.
6. Milwaukee Bucks (LW: 3)
Unsurprisingly, the Milwaukee Bucks are again an elite squad again this season. Giannis Antetokounmpo is playing at an MVP level and the team’s defense is one of the best in the league. However, what has been impressive is they racked up a bunch of wins early in the season without Kris Middleton.
After being one of the top two teams in our rankings for much of the season, the Bucks have started to slump over the last 10 games and even suffered surprise losses to the Wizards and Hornets.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers (LW: 7)
The Cleveland Cavaliers are the dark horse team not just in the East, but in the whole NBA. That is just how deep and talented they are in the starting five. That has shown all season long as they have one of the best records in the Eastern Conference and look to be well ahead of schedule as a title contender now, and not later.
Mitchell has been everything they hoped for and more and showed it with a record-setting 71-point masterpiece against the Bulls. They have also been a top-shelf defensive squad, which will be a game-changer in the playoffs.
4. Memphis Grizzlies (LW: 6)
Ja Morant has become one of the best players in the league and that automatically gives the Memphis Grizzlies a leg up on most teams every night. While they stumbled for a couple of weeks entering December, the Grizz are on absolute fire after winning nine of 10 recently. They are again looking like the squad that had NBA Finals potential late last season and could soon add a big trade chip to strengthen their chances.
3. Denver Nuggets (LW: 5)
It’s been another year of MVP-level performances from reigning MVP Nikola Jokic. The big man is a triple-double machine again in ’22-’23, however, the big difference compared to last season is Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. are back and are playing well. But, Aaron Gordon’s strong play this season has been massive in making the Nuggets as deep as ever and a serious threat to reach the NBA Finals.
2. Brooklyn Nets (LW: 2)
After being an absolute dumpster fire for more than a month to start the season, the Brooklyn Nets are the hottest team in the sport after winning 12 straight over the last couple of weeks. The early season drama has seemingly awakened a beast and Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving have started to wreck house every night with interim head coach Jacque Vaughn guiding them back to elite status in the league.
As long as Irving can stay healthy — always a big if — the Nets are one of the most dangerous teams in the NBA heading into 2023.
1. Boston Celtics (LW: 1)
Even without suspended head coach Ime Udoka, the Celtics are off to another fantastic start this season. Their offense is one of the best in the league and the combo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are playing like a pair of All-Stars who learned a lot and got better from their NBA Finals defeat earlier this year. Boston is the team to beat in the NBA and has been all season long.
This article was originally published on Sportsnaut.com and is republished here with permission.