NBA Power Rankings: Where all 30 teams stand right now


Stephen Curry took center stage to start the week as he continued his pursuit of Ray Allen’s 3-point record. Curry hit six 3s on Monday night against the Indiana Pacers to pull within two shots of the top spot, then quickly hit two 3s in the first quarter of Tuesday’s win over the New York Knicks, bringing the crowd at Madison Square Garden to its feet.

The focus has quickly shifted to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which caused three games to be postponed on Sunday alone due to the high number of players entering the league’s health and safety protocols. The Brooklyn Nets announced Friday that Kyrie Irving, who has not played all season due to New York’s vaccination mandates, would be activated for road games in the wake of a team outbreak. Irving, however, entered protocols the next day, and he is one of 10 players on the team out because of health and safety protocols.

Our experts break down where each team stands after a week of coronavirus-related postponements.

Note: Throughout the regular season, our panel (Tim Bontemps, Jamal Collier, Nick Friedell, Andrew Lopez, Tim MacMahon, Dave McMenamin and Ohm Youngmisuk) is ranking all 30 teams from top to bottom, taking stock of which teams are playing the best basketball now and which teams are looking most like title contenders.

1. Phoenix Suns
2021-22 record: 24-5
Previous ranking: 1

Suns leading scorer Devin Booker made his return to the court on Sunday night after missing seven games with a hamstring injury. Phoenix put up a balanced effort without Booker, but one player in particular who stepped up his play was reserve forward Cameron Johnson. In 30.3 minutes per night in the seven contests, Johnson averaged 14.6 points and was Phoenix’s second-leading scorer in that stretch. — Lopez

2. Golden State Warriors
2021-22 record: 24-6
Previous ranking: 2

Stephen Curry broke Ray Allen’s all-time 3-point record at Madison Square Garden early in the week, and the Warriors went on to finish with a 3-2 mark on their five-game East Coast swing by week’s end. Klay Thompson is still on track to come back in a few weeks, but Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins both entered health and safety protocols to close the week ahead of a Christmas Day showdown with the Suns. — Friedell

3. Brooklyn Nets
2021-22 record: 21-9
Previous ranking: 4

The recent surge of COVID-19 cases in New York also has overwhelmed the Nets. A staggering 10 players went into the league’s health and safety protocols during the week, including superstars Kevin Durant and James Harden, as well as the newly reinstated Kyrie Irving. Once all three emerge from their time away from the team, they will have a chance to be on the court together for the first time since the opening moments of Game 1 of last season’s Eastern Conference semifinals against the Bucks when Harden injured his hamstring. — Bontemps

4. Utah Jazz
2021-22 record: 20-9
Previous ranking: 3

Utah was the NBA’s hottest team before its eight-game winning streak was halted by head-scratching home losses in back-to-back games against the Spurs and Wizards. The Jazz have the league’s best net rating (plus-10.5 points per 100 possessions), but Utah has been mediocre in clutch situations (6-8 in games within five points in the final five minutes). — MacMahon

5. Milwaukee Bucks
2021-22 record: 19-13
Previous ranking: 5

Milwaukee has been without both Giannis Antetokounmpo (health and safety) and Khris Middleton (knee) in recent games, but Jrue Holiday has stepped up his production in their absence. Holiday averaged 28.7 points with nine assists, three rebounds and two steals in three games last week as the Bucks looked to stay afloat — again — with a depleted roster. — Collier

6. Chicago Bulls
2021-22 record: 18-10
Previous ranking: 7

After being shut down for a week amid a teamwide COVID-19 outbreak, the Bulls returned to play on Sunday with a victory over the Lakers. DeMar DeRozan, the NBA’s leading scorer during the fourth quarter, picked up where he left off in his first game back from health and safety protocols, dropping 19 of his 38 points in the final period to clinch the game. DeRozan, Coby White and Javonte Green have all cleared the league’s protocols, and the Bulls could have more reinforcements on the way by the end of the week. — Collier

7. Cleveland Cavaliers
2021-22 record: 19-12
Previous ranking: 10

The Cavs suffered a string of setbacks related to health and safety protocols on Sunday, with five players — Jarrett Allen, Lamar Stevens, Dylan Windler, Denzel Valentine and RJ Nembhard Jr. — all testing in, leading to the postponement of their game against the Hawks. That’s about the only thing that could stop Cleveland these days, as it is riding a six-game winning streak to move up to No. 3 in the East. — McMenamin

8. Miami Heat
2021-22 record: 18-13
Previous ranking: 6

The banged-up Heat went 2-2 on the week — including a disappointing loss to the Pistons in which Miami shot just 37.8% from the field. With Bam Adebayo (thumb surgery) and Jimmy Butler (tailbone) still out, the Heat have gotten a couple of nice games from reserve Max Strus, who scored a combined 56 points and grabbed 11 rebounds over Miami’s past two games. — Friedell

9. Memphis Grizzlies
2021-22 record: 19-12
Previous ranking: 9

The Grizzlies have managed to win 10 of 12 games since star point guard Ja Morant went down with a sprained left knee on Nov. 26. Five Memphis regulars are scoring in double figures during the stretch, led by Dillon Brooks‘ 20.5 points per game. Fill-in starting point guard Tyus Jones has 73 assists and only 13 turnovers in the dozen games, during which he has the Grizzlies’ second-best plus-minus (plus-119). — MacMahon

10. LA Clippers
2021-22 record: 16-14
Previous ranking: 12

The week started with the Clippers winning their fourth straight and enjoying a blowout victory over the Suns without Paul George, but it ended with former Clippers guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander drilling a buzzer-beating 3 to stun them in Oklahoma City and hand them a second straight loss. The Clippers need to get healthy. George has missed five straight with an elbow injury, but he could be nearing a return. The Clippers lost Marcus Morris Sr., who had just been warming up after returning from a knee injury, to health and safety protocols. Reggie Jackson has been playing some heavy minutes and is banged up, as well. — Youngmisuk

11. Denver Nuggets
2021-22 record: 15-14
Previous ranking: 16

The Nuggets have won three of their past four games, and they were poised to face a decimated Nets squad on Sunday, before that game was postponed due to the Nets’ COVID-19 outbreak. Reigning league MVP Nikola Jokic has averaged 26.4 points, 13.1 rebounds, 9.2 assists and 58.3% shooting this month. Rookie Bones Hyland had the best game of his career with 24 points in a win over Atlanta, giving the Nuggets some firepower off the bench. — Youngmisuk

12. Philadelphia 76ers
2021-22 record: 15-15
Previous ranking: 8

It was a rough week for the 76ers, who dropped three games to Memphis, Miami and Brooklyn and had Sunday’s game postponed because of a COVID-19 outbreak. Yes, the 76ers are missing Ben Simmons and have some injuries themselves, but things look very, very different in Philadelphia now as compared to when the team was leading the Eastern Conference through 10 games. — Bontemps

13. Los Angeles Lakers
2021-22 record: 16-15
Previous ranking: 13

“It’s going around the league,” Carmelo Anthony said, matter-of-factly, after L.A. lost at Chicago on Sunday with six players in health and safety protocols. “It’s going around other leagues. This is reality. This is life. This is stuff that we have to deal with, not just as basketball players but as people, society. These are things that we’re dealing with right now.” Not to mention, the Lakers are dealing with a sprained MCL in Anthony Davis‘ left knee, which is expected to sideline the big man for at least a month. — McMenamin

14. Washington Wizards
2021-22 record: 16-15
Previous ranking: 11

Washington’s hot 10-3 start has fizzled. The Wizards had lost seven of eight games, until coming up with one of their biggest wins of the season at Utah. Bradley Beal, however, might be heating up. He has averaged 31 points in his past three games, including scoring a season-high 37 in the win versus the Jazz. Washington got Kyle Kuzma back out of health and safety protocols last week, but Spencer Dinwiddie is in a slump, averaging just 6.8 points, 26.8% shooting and only 14.8% 3-point shooting this month. — Youngmisuk

15. Boston Celtics
2021-22 record: 15-15
Previous ranking: 17

Boston has, at least so far, survived its challenging December schedule, going 4-5 through the first nine games of the month, prior to key games against the 76ers and Cavaliers this week and a Christmas Day matchup with the Bucks in Milwaukee. While the Celtics have several players out due to COVID-19, they finally have Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown healthy and on the court together again. In the 379 minutes they’ve shared the court this season, Boston is outscoring its opponents by six points per 100 possessions. — Bontemps

16. Charlotte Hornets
2021-22 record: 16-16
Previous ranking: 14

Charlotte has dropped three of its past four and still has two tough games to close out a six-stop West Coast swing. The bright spot for the Hornets came Wednesday night when Gordon Hayward dropped 41 points in a win over the Spurs. The good news for the Hornets is that LaMelo Ball returned to the lineup on Friday after missing just over two weeks in health and safety protocols. — Friedell

17. Dallas Mavericks
2021-22 record: 14-15
Previous ranking: 18

The Mavs split their past four games while Luka Doncic nursed his sore left ankle and worked on his conditioning. When he comes back, Dallas needs Doncic to give a much better defensive effort than he has this season. The Mavs have been a bottom-five defense with Doncic on the floor (112.2 points per 100 possessions) and a top-five defense without him (101.8). — MacMahon

18. Atlanta Hawks
2021-22 record: 14-15
Previous ranking: 15

Trae Young had his league-leading seventh 30-point, 10-assist game on Friday against the Nuggets. LeBron James is next with three such games this season. Young has three in the month of December alone. Those averages have become closer to the norm for him as of late. In eight games this month, Young is averaging 30.8 points and 9.9 assists, but he won’t be able to build on those numbers this week after sources say he tested positive for COVID-19. –– Lopez

19. Minnesota Timberwolves
2021-22 record: 15-15
Previous ranking: 20

With four straight victories, the Timberwolves have climbed back to .500 despite losing guard Anthony Edwards to the health and safety protocols. Karl-Anthony Towns is leading the charge for Minnesota as the team begins to position itself firmly in the Western Conference playoff picture. Towns is averaging 27.3 points, 9.1 rebounds and 3.7 assists during the month of December. — Collier

20. Toronto Raptors
2021-22 record: 14-15
Previous ranking: 19

While OG Anunoby finally returned to the lineup Saturday night after missing a month with a hip injury, Pascal Siakam will miss the next several days after entering the NBA’s health and safety protocols. Still, Toronto — behind impressive rookie Scottie Barnes — has managed to stay in the playoff race despite a constant shuffling of the lineup. — Bontemps

21. Portland Trail Blazers
2021-22 record: 13-18
Previous ranking: 22

The Blazers might’ve come up with their two biggest wins of the season this week. Certainly, they are the two most important victories considering how things were spiraling for Portland. The Blazers needed 43 points and eight assists from Damian Lillard to halt a seven-game losing streak and beat the Hornets on Friday. Then the Blazers followed that up by beating the Grizzlies in Memphis on Sunday. It was just their third win since Nov. 24, a disastrous stretch that saw the Blazers lose 10 of 13 games. CJ McCollum missed his seventh straight game on Sunday, and he remains out with a lung injury. — Youngmisuk

22. New York Knicks
2021-22 record: 13-17
Previous ranking: 21

After Kemba Walker was removed from the rotation for nine games, he finally was put back on the court Saturday night — in Boston, no less. Coach Tom Thibodeau had no choice but to play him — every other point guard on the roster was either in health and safety protocols or injured. Walker scored 29 points, and when asked afterward if he wished to stay in New York, he said he “wants to play.” The Knicks have lost eight of their past 10 games. — Bontemps

23. Indiana Pacers
2021-22 record: 13-18
Previous ranking: 24

Indiana coach Rick Carlisle returned to practice on Sunday after missing the team’s past four games in the NBA’s health and safety protocols. The Pacers went 2-2 during his absence, but Carlisle should be back on the sidelines for Tuesday’s game against the Heat. — Collier

24. Sacramento Kings
2021-22 record: 13-18
Previous ranking: 25

It was a 2-2 week for the Kings, losing to the Raptors and Grizzlies and beating the Wizards and Spurs. With De’Aaron Fox in health and safety protocols for the game against San Antonio, Tyrese Haliburton stepped up with a season-high 27 points on 12-for-19 shooting, 11 assists and two steals. — McMenamin

25. San Antonio Spurs
2021-22 record: 11-17
Previous ranking: 23

Dejounte Murray topped the Spurs in scoring on Sunday night. He was the sixth different player to lead the team in points in the past six games, following Derrick White, Lonnie Walker, Jakob Poeltl, Bryn Forbes and Keldon Johnson. It also was San Antonio’s fifth consecutive game with a different leading rebounder: Tre Jones, Poeltl, White, Murray and then Johnson on Sunday. — Lopez

26. Houston Rockets
2021-22 record: 10-20
Previous ranking: 26

Garrison Mathews made converting his two-way deal to a standard contract a priority for the Rockets, who rewarded him this week with a four-year deal worth $8.2 million. Mathews has started the past 12 games for the Rockets. Houston is 8-4 in that span, during which Mathews has averaged 14.6 points and 3.9 rebounds with a 63.8 true shooting percentage. — MacMahon

27. New Orleans Pelicans
2021-22 record: 10-21
Previous ranking: 27

After a 3-16 start, the Pelicans have won seven of their past 12 games and have shown steady improvement. For the season, the Pelicans rank in the bottom five in both offensive and defensive rating. However, since Nov. 24, they have an offensive rating of 111.3 and a defensive rating of 111.2, which rank 14th and 15th in the league, respectively, over that span. — Lopez

28. Oklahoma City Thunder
2021-22 record: 9-19
Previous ranking: 28

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s buzzer-beater over the Clippers overshadowed rookie Josh Giddey‘s near triple-double. Giddey finished two points shy but had 18 rebounds and 10 assists in the victory. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, Giddey became the first teenager in NBA history to grab at least 15 rebounds and dish out at least 10 assists in a game. — MacMahon

29. Orlando Magic
2021-22 record: 6-25
Previous ranking: 29

Orlando has been ravaged by health and safety protocols, as well as injuries, but it managed to snap a seven-game losing skid on Saturday night against an equally undermanned Brooklyn squad. Veteran big man Robin Lopez poured in 20 points and 10 rebounds in the win over the Nets after not playing much at all this season. — Friedell

30. Detroit Pistons
2021-22 record: 5-24
Previous ranking: 30

The Pistons avoided setting a new franchise record on Sunday with a victory against the Heat to snap a 14-game losing streak. Detroit had not won since Nov. 17, and the losing skid — the second longest in the NBA this season, behind Houston’s 15-game streak — matched the longest in team history, joining the 1979-80 and 1983-94 squads. — Collier

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