Tommy Beer is back with his latest version of
BasketballNews.com's NBA Power Rankings. To read last week's
version, click here.
Golden State leapfrogs Phoenix to once again ascend to the top
of the BasketballNews.com Power Rankings, while the Memphis
Grizzlies continue to creep their way into the league's upper
echelon this season.
1. Golden State Warriors (27-6) ⬆️ Last
The Warriors beat the Suns on Saturday in a much-anticipated
Christmas Day showdown despite playing without Andrew Wiggins,
Damion Lee and Jordan Poole, who were all in health and safety
protocols. As expected, Steph Curry led the way, knocking down five
three-pointers en route to a game-high 33 points; however, it was
Otto Porter Jr. who surprisingly sealed the deal for the Dubs,
scoring 7 of his 19 points in the closing minutes.
2. Phoenix Suns (26-7) ⬇️ Last Week:
After falling to the Warriors on Christmas, the Suns were
tripped up by the Grizzlies on Monday night as well. It's the first
time Phoenix has lost consecutive contests since the season's first
week. The Suns will look to get back on track Wednesday when they
host the Thunder.
3. Brooklyn Nets (23-9) ↔️ Last Week:
Reports of James Harden being "washed" may have been a bit
premature. After racking up 36 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists
in a win over the Lakers on Christmas, Harden was back it Monday
vs. Clippers, finishing with 39 points and a season-best 15
assists. Harden's final assist on Monday was the 6,000th of his
career. He is just the 10th player in league history to tally
20,000 career points, 5,000 rebounds and 6,000 assists. After
sweeping their two-game Los Angeles road swing, the Nets are an
NBA-best 13-3 on the road this season.
4. Utah Jazz (24-9) ↔️ Last Week:
The Jazz were missing Donovan Mitchell (lower back strain) but
continued to roll along Monday night, securing their fourth
straight victory by beating the Spurs. Mitchell tweaked his back
during Saturday's win over the Mavericks and is expected to miss at
least one more game.
5. Milwaukee Bucks (22-13) ⬆️ Last Week:
The Bucks are finally starting to get healthy, which is bad news
for the rest of the Eastern Conference. Giannis Antetokounmpo made
his return to action in the Bucks' victory over the Boston Celtics
on Christmas Day, suiting up for the first time since entering the
health and safety protocols on Dec. 12. Giannis was joined by Bobby
Portis, who had missed the previous four games due to COVID, and
Donte DiVincenzo, who hadn't played since injuring his left foot
during the 2021 playoffs.
6. Chicago Bulls (21-10) ⬆️ Last Week:
After a brief slump earlier this month, Nikola Vucevic is once
again beasting for the Bulls, who have won four in a row. Vooch
tallied a combined total of 40 points, 32 rebounds, 9 assists, 6
blocks and 6 made three-pointers in a back-to-back set against the
Indiana Pacers and Atlanta Hawks on Sunday and Monday.
7. Cleveland Cavaliers (20-13) ⬇️ Last
While many pundits and fans league-wide continue to wait for the
Cavs to come crashing back down to earth, Cleveland keeps on winning (and often
dominates in the process). Over the last month, the Cavs lead the
NBA in Defensive Rating (they are the only team in the league
allowing fewer than 100 points per 100 possessions during this
stretch). Cleveland also leads the league in Net Rating (+15.8)
over the past month. Remarkably, each of the Cavaliers' last 11
wins has been by double digits.
8. Memphis Grizzlies (21-14) ⬆️ Last
Ja Morant made a contested layup with 0.5 seconds left in the
fourth quarter to give the Grizzlies an impressive 114-113 victory
over the Suns on Monday night. Morant's backcourt mate, Desmond
Bane, remained red-hot (as profiled by our Jackson Frank
over the weekend), scoring a career-high 32 points. Over his last
seven games, Bane is averaging 21.9 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.0
made treys while shooting over 50% from the floor and behind the
9. Miami Heat (21-13) ⬇️ Last Week:
With rosters around the league decimated by COVID, depth has
become a crucial asset. On Sunday, the Heat needed important
contributions from a handful of role players to pull out a victory
over Orlando, and they got just that. Caleb Martin tied for the
team-high with 17 points off the bench; Omer Yurtseven scored 16
points and grabbed 15 boards in his first start, while Gabe Vincent
and Max Strus chipped in 13 points apiece.
10. Philadelphia 76ers (17-16) ↔️ Last
The Sixers had lost 4 of 5 entering Sunday's matchup with the
Wizards, but Joel Embiid (36 points and 13 rebounds) put Philly on
his back to carry his squad to a much-needed victory, pushing the
team back over .500. Philadelphia has a chance to secure
back-to-back wins on Tuesday when it takes on the injury-depleted
Raptors, who are fresh off a 45-point drubbing in Cleveland.
11. Denver Nuggets (16-16) ↔️ Last Week:
The Joker is running wild. Over the Nuggets' last two games,
Jokic has racked a ridiculous 55 points, 43 rebounds and 13
assists. He is the first player to tally at least 25 points, 20
rebounds and 5 assists in back-to-back games since Charles Barkley
in 1988. Jokic is the first player ever with 25/20/5 and a
three-pointer in consecutive contests.
12. Charlotte Hornets (18-17) ⬆️ Last Week:
The Hornets won their second straight game Monday by beating the
Houston Rockets. Terry Rozier knocked down seven three-pointers on
his way to a game-high 27 points vs. Houston. Mason Plumlee also
provided a significant lift, registering a season-high 15 points to
go along with 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks and 2 steals in
Monday's 123-99 win.
13. Los Angeles Clippers (17-17) ⬇️
Last Week: 12
Paul George complained of soreness in his right elbow last week,
and soon after underwent an MRI, which revealed a ligament tear.
The Clippers, who have lost 5 of their previous 6, announced PG-13
would miss 3-4 weeks before being re-evaluated. However, ESPN's
Adrian Wojnarowski ominously reported that the Clips will "see if
rest can get him on a pathway to recovery, but he's gonna be out
certainly a significant period of time and there's no real sense of
when, or if, he'll be back this year." Yikes.
14. Dallas Mavericks (16-17) ⬆️ Last Week:
In addition to franchise cornerstone Luka Doncic, the Mavs were
forced to play without Tim Hardaway Jr., Maxi Kleber, Reggie
Bullock and Trey Burke on Monday, but still whooped the Portland
Trail Blazers. Kristaps Porzingis led the way for Dallas, knocking
down 12 of 21 field goal attempts and three treys en route to a
season-high 34 points, along with 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals,
2 blocks and no turnovers.
15. Washington Wizards (17-16) ⬆️ Last
The Wizards travel to Miami on Tuesday night but afterward
return home for a four-game homestand. Then after a quick two-game
road swing in early January, Washington will play eight straight
games in D.C. All told, the Wiz will play 12 of their next 14 at
home, which is a golden opportunity to make a push up the
standings. However, it was announced that Montrezl Harrell entered
the league's health and safety protocols on Tuesday. Harrell is the
seventh Wizard in protocols.
16. Los Angeles Lakers (16-18) ⬇️ Last
LeBron James is averaging 35.0 points, 9.8 rebounds, 5.3
assists, 1.8 steals and 1.3 blocks, while shooting over 58% from
the floor and 80% from the free-throw stripe over the Lakers' last
four games, but L.A. has lost each one. With Anthony Davis (knee)
still weeks away from returning to action, it will be fascinating
to see if the Lakers' front office seriously considers shaking up
their roster by trading away Russell Westbrook.
17. Minnesota Timberwolves (16-17) ⬇️ Last
Despite playing without their top three scorers (Karl-Anthony
Towns, Anthony Edwards and D'Angelo Russell), the Wolves found a
way to beat the Celtics on Monday night. Nathan Knight tallied 20
points and 11 rebounds, while Jaylen Nowell scored a game-high 29
points for Minny. Greg Monroe signed a hardship contract over the
weekend and chipped in 13/9/6 off the bench.
After the game, he admitted he wasn't overly familiar with his
teammates. "Not gonna lie, Jaylen Nowell played awesome tonight,
but I had no idea who that was," Monroe said.
18. Toronto Raptors (14-16) ⬆️ Last Week:
The Raptors have eight players in the health and safety
protocols, including Fred VanVleet and Scottie Barnes, and only had
eight players active for Sunday night's game vs. Cleveland. It
showed, as the Raps were blown out by by the Cavs, 144-95.
Fortunately, Toronto plays 7 out of their next 8 games at home,
which could allow them to right the ship. And luckily, Pascal
Siakam and Gary Trent Jr. have been cleared to return off the COVID
19. New York Knicks (15-18) ⬆️ Last Week:
Quentin Grimes is slowly but surely making a case for
consistent, extended minutes in the Knicks' rotation. After 27
points in his first start before entering COVID protocols, Grimes
chipped in 15 in his return to action in Saturday's victory over
Atlanta. Grimes is shooting 45.5% from three-point territory this
season, which leads all rookies. In fact, among rooks that have
made at least 20 three-pointers this season, Grimes is the only one
shooting above 37% from behind the arc.
20. Boston Celtics (16-18) ⬇️ Last
On Monday, Celtics fans got some good news as both Grant
Williams and Al Horford cleared COVID protocols. However, Boston
faithful was also walloped with some bad news, as fans learned
Jayson Tatum was forced to enter the league's health and safety
protocols. It is worth noting that Tatum contracted COVID last
season as well, and revealed he had to use an inhaler to help his
breathing before games for months due to the lingering effects of
21. Atlanta Hawks (15-18) ⬇️ Last Week:
The Hawks welcomed Trae Young back to the lineup on Monday, and
he scored 29 points, but it wasn't enough to beat the Bulls.
However, Cam Reddish provided another encouraging effort in the
loss to Chicago, as he hit a career-high eight three-pointers and
finished with 33 points. Since being inserted into Atlanta's
starting lineup, Reddish is averaging 23.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and
3.8 made treys while shooting over 44% from downtown and 87.5% from
the charity stripe.
22. San Antonio Spurs (14-19) ⬆️ Last Week:
The Spurs had their season-high three-game winning streak
snapped Monday night by the Jazz, 110-104. Coming into the contest,
San Antonio had scored at least 110 points in 10 straight games
(their longest such streak since March of 1984). The Spurs rank
seventh in Offensive Rating on the season, averaging 110.6 points
per 100 possessions.
23. Indiana Pacers (14-20) ⬇️ Last Week:
The Pacers have been inconsistent all season, but Caris LeVert
has finally found his groove. Over the Pacers' last four games,
LeVert is averaging 24.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 2.0
treys and 1.5 steals.
24. Portland Trail Blazers (13-20) ⬇️
Last Week: 23
Playing at home and matched up against a shorthanded Mavs team,
the Blazers were three-point favorites on Monday night but ended up
losing by 15. The Blazers' defense was atrocious, as they allowed
132 points while Dallas shot above 57% from the floor. According to
StatMuse, no team has scored that many points and shot that well in
Portland since 1987. Portland has lost 12 of their last 15
25. Sacramento Kings (13-21) ⬇️ Last Week:
Kings interim head coach Alvin Gentry did not mince words after
his team's embarrassing 25-point loss to the Grizzlies at home on
Sunday. "It's the most disappointed I've been in 34 years in the
NBA, I can honestly say that," Gentry told reporters. "That
performance was absolutely ridiculous. We didn't play hard, we
didn't compete. We didn't guard the ball, we didn't guard
screen-and-rolls. We didn't follow the game plan. No
competitiveness whatsoever. They basically toyed with us. I'm
totally disappointed and everybody in this building should be
disappointed." Tell us how ya really feel, coach.
26. Oklahoma City Thunder (12-20) ↔️ Last
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was named the Western Conference Player
of the Week on Monday after leading OKC to a 3-1 record last
week. SGA averaged 27.5 points, 7.0 dimes, 6.3 boards and 1.3
blocks in those four games.
27. New Orleans Pelicans (12-22) ⬆️ Last
Brandon Ingram had been posting incredibly impressive stats
before being ruled out Sunday's game against the Thunder due to
left Achilles soreness. Ingram, who is listed as doubtful for
Tuesday's game vs. the Cavs, has averaged 27.7 points, 6.0
rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.8 treys and 1.2 steals over his previous
28. Houston Rockets (10-24) ⬇️ Last Week:
It's been a wild, roller-coaster ride of a season for the
Rockets. After losing 15 in a row over the first month of the
season, Houston bounced back by somehow winning seven straight
games. However, since that unexpected win streak, the Rox are just
2-8 and have lost each of their last four.
29. Orlando Magic (7-27) ⬆️ Last Week:
The Magic have won just 7 of their first 34 games this season,
tying the franchise mark for their worst record at this point in a
season. How hard has Orlando been hit by COVID and injuries this
season, you ask? Hassani Gravett, an undrafted 25-year-old rookie
out of Pensacola State, has averaged 25 minutes per game for the
Magic over the past two weeks.
30. Detroit Pistons (5-27) ⬇️ Last Week:
The Pistons have five players in COVID protocols, including Cade
Cunningham, and are missing injured bigs Jerami Grant and Kelly
Olynyk. Detroit, which has had 12 different starting lineups this
season, has lost 17 of its last 18 contests. They host the Knicks
on Wednesday night.