Here are our weekly power rankings at Lakers Nation. Our rankings are broken down into categories, as we feel that this is the best way to evaluate where each team stands this season.
1. Oklahoma City Thunder (27-7) – The Thunder have quietly remained one of the top tier teams in the NBA despite being without their second best player, Russell Westbrook. This is a true testament to how great Kevin Durant has been as he’s playing at an MVP level right now.
2. Miami Heat (26-8) – The defending champs continue to hover around the best record in the league. This is too be expected with a watered down Eastern Conference this season. They’ve proven to rise to the occasion when they play quality teams.
3. Indiana Pacers (27-6) – The Pacers have elevated themselves to one of the best teams in the league as a result of the growth of Lance Stephenson and Paul George. They hold the NBA’s best record, but have played one of the easiest schedules thus far.
4. San Antonio Spurs (26-8) – This “old” team continues to stay in that upper echelon. They are well-coached and execute at a very high level. There’s no reason anyone should count them out.
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5. Portland Trail Blazers (26-8) – The Blazers have been the surprise team in the NBA thus far this season. After a blazing hot start (no pun intended), they’ve cooled down over their last 10 games. I
6. Golden State Warriors (23-13) – Golden State is arguably the hottest team in the league right now. They’ve won nine out of their last 10 games, and are finally experiencing some favorable health after battling injuries earlier in the season.
7. Houston Rockets (22-13) – Houston has been sort of a wonder. At times they look as if they are the most dangerous team in the West, but have been average defensively — which is sort of a shock given the Dwight Howard pickup this past off-season.
8. Los Angeles Clippers (23-13) – No team has been more disappointing out West than the Clippers. They’ve had a rough time adjusting to Doc Rivers’ philosophies and to make matters worse, they just lost Chris Paul for the next three to six weeks.
Middle Of The Pack
9. Phoenix Suns (20-12) – Many thought that this team would be at the center of the tank sweepstakes, but new head coach Jeff Hornacek has this young team playing excellent basketball.
10. Atlanta Hawks (18-16) – The Hawks have quietly put together a solid season thus far. The Milsap-Horford connection has been very effective and they’re winning more ball games than many expected.
11. Dallas Mavericks (19-14) – After a pretty good start, the Mavericks have regressed to the mean. The Monta Ellis signing has helped this team so much as Dirk is not relied upon to be the primary scorer every night out.
12. Toronto Raptors (16-16) – Ever since the Rudy Gay trade, the Raptors have been playing some excellent basketball. They have won seven of 10 and are looking like a playoff team out East.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves (16-17) – The Wolves re-tooled their roster with hopes that they can take that next step into being a playoff team out West. Unfortunately, their inability to win close games has put them in a whole and are surprisingly under the .500 mark.
14. Denver Nuggets (16-17) – The Nuggets just recently ended an eight-game losing streak. They had been playing some good basketball, but their recent slump has them on the outside looking in.
15. New Orleans Pelicans (15-17) – The young Pelicans have had some unfortunate injuries throughout this season. Anthony Davis has been in and out of the lineup and they recently lost Ryan Anderson. Despite that, a 15-17 record is nothing to be ashamed at for this team. They’re a much better team this season.
16.. Memphis Grizzlies (15-18) – No team has taken a bigger hit out West than Memphis. After being considered a legitimate threat coming into this season, the Marc Gasol injury has set them back.
17. Washington Wizards (14-17) – John Wall has elevated his game to another level this season. As a result, the Wizards are currently a playoff team despite being under .500.
18. Chicago Bulls (14-18) – This team is starting to get themselves back into playoff form. The loss of Derrick Rose set them back at the start of this season, but they’re simply well-coached.
19. Charlotte Bobcats (15-20) – The Bobcats could very well sneak into the playoffs with the way the Eastern Conference is panning out. Nonetheless, they are still the Bobcats.
20. Los Angeles Lakers (14-20) – The Lakers have had another injury-plauged season and it’s been unfortunate for the fans. Maybe if they can get a rhythm going over their next few games, they can fight back into the playoff picture. At this point, that seems doubtful as 10 of their next 11 games are on the road.
21. Detroit Pistons (14-20) – After signing Brandon Jennings along with Josh Smith, many felt this Pistons team could be a playoff team. However, a lack of continuity on the offensive end has really hurt this team.
22. Boston Celtics (13-21) – This Celtics team has played better than many have expected, but they still have been a bottom of the pack team in the league.
23. Brooklyn (12-21) – The Nets are starting to find some rhythm as they’ve won two straight games to start the New Year. This is a team to look out for in the coming weeks. They might have turned the corner on their disappointing start.
Tank Tank Tank Tank Tank Tank
24. Philadelphia 76ers (12-21) – The 76ers are clearly one of the many teams that is trying to “tank” for the sake of securing a top pick in this upcoming draft. At 12-21, they’re well on their way.
25. Cleveland Cavaliers (11-23) – The Cavs had playoff expectations coming into this season, but it’s taken them some time to adjust to Mike Brown’s principles. They have been poor on both the offensive and defensive end.
26. New York Knicks (10-22) – By far the most disappointing team in basketball. The Knicks had hopes of challenging for home court advantage throughout the playoffs, but find themselves in the lottery and don’t even own their pick this season.
27. Utah Jazz (11-25) – Don’t let the record fool you — the Jazz have quietly been playing .500 basketball over their last 10 games. However, they find themselves in the “tank” discussion because there is nothing better for this franchise to do.
28. Sacramento Kings (10-22) – The Rudy Gay trade brought some life to this franchise, but it has yet to translate into wins. They’ve lost three of 10.
29. Orlando Magic (10-23) – The Magic certainly have a lot of young talent. As expected, this team isn’t close to being a ball club that wins consistently due to their youth.
30. Milwaukee Bucks (7-26) – No one tanks harder than the Bucks. Period.
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