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Top NBA Contenders Warriors, Lakers, and Suns Tied up in Standings Race


Will the Warriors, Lakers, or Suns be able to break through before the end of the season?

The NBA season truly doesn’t start until after the All-Star break. While there are always a handful of teams that cement their status as the best of the best each year prior to the All-Star break, the last five to six weeks are where things begin to get interesting. Every game matters a little more around this time of the year, especially for teams like the Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers, and Phoenix Suns. All three of these squads entered the 2023-24 season as title-contending teams, yet they have each struggled to consistently prove their worth in the NBA Power Rankings.

There is a different story surrounding the Warriors, Lakers, and Suns right now. For the Warriors, their recent resurgence has seen them go from being out of the playoff picture to being within striking distance of the 6-seed in the Western Conference. The main problem for Golden State has been their lack of consistency on defense, an area that Draymond Green has truly helped them improve upon over the last several weeks.

When you turn your attention to Phoenix and Los Angeles, health continues to be an Achilles heel for both organizations. The Suns have barely had Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and Bradley Beal on the floor together. In Hollywood, LeBron James and Anthony Davis continue to miss games here and there after always appearing on the injury report. The one constant between all three teams is that they have put together more victories than defeats in recent weeks. As things stand right now, the Suns sit right in front of the Warriors and Lakers in the play-in region of the Western Conference standings.

At this point, it is hard to imagine more than one of these rising up out of the play-in region of the standings. Perhaps other teams like the Dallas Mavericks, New Orleans Pelicans, and Sacramento Kings may falter late in the year, but the hierarchy of the West isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. The Minnesota Timberwolves, Oklahoma City Thunder, Denver Nuggets, and Los Angeles Clippers will all be making the playoffs. Ultimately, this leaves those teams led by Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and LeBron James in danger of missing the postseason altogether.

The Western Conference is exceptionally deep this season, which will lead to some amazing basketball games being played down the stretch. The NBA Power Rankings are very tight right now, and there is still no telling as to which teams should be viewed as the title favorites other than the Boston Celtics, who continue to reside at the very top.

Previous 2023-24 NBA Power Rankings: Week 18 | Week 17 | Week 16 | Week 15 | Week 14 | Week 13 | Week 12 | Week 11 | Week 10 | Week 9 | Week 8 | Week 7 | Week 6 | Week 5 | Week 4 | Week 3 | Week 2Week 1

1. Boston Celtics (-)

Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) reacts during the third quarter against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

2023-24 Record: 45-12, Upcoming schedule: vs. PHI (2/27), vs. DAL (3/1), vs. GSW (3/3)

After entering the All-Star break with a six-game win streak, highlighted by a 136-86 victory over the Brooklyn Nets, the Boston Celtics have since extended their win streak to a league-high eight games. It doesn’t appear as if the Celtics are slowing down or going through any post-All-Star break woes either, as they took down the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks on the road by a combined 31 points this past week.

Now 45-12 on the season, Boston finds themselves on pace to win close to 64 games this season. That would make this Celtics team one of the best in team history, as they have only finished with more than 64 wins on three different occasions. In total, this franchise has finished with at least 60 wins on 13 different occasions, winning the NBA Finals in six of these instances. Basically, Boston has won a championship 46 percent of the time that they have won at least 60 games in a season. They failed to reach the Eastern Conference Finals just one time with 60-plus wins.

Jayson Tatum is playing like a true MVP candidate right now, and the Celtics are not showing any signs of slowing down. Although they will be home all of this upcoming week, matchups against the Dallas Mavericks and Golden State Warriors will be excellent tune-up games for the postseason ahead.

2. Oklahoma City Thunder (+2)

2023-24 Record: 40-17, Upcoming schedule: vs. HOU (2/27), at SAS (2/29), at PHX (3/3)

Even though they have continued to prove they are worthy of being one of the best teams in the NBA Power Rankings, many still had their doubts about the Oklahoma City Thunder at the All-Star break. In fact, no media members who participated in ClutchPoints’ midseason media poll chose the Thunder to win the 2024 NBA Finals. Sure, this team may be young and inexperienced, but they play like a group of multi-year veterans. Better yet, the Thunder check off all the boxes for what championship teams of the past have had.

Oklahoma City ranks third in offensive rating and fourth in defensive rating. They have one of the most efficient offenses in the league pertaining to two-point and three-point shots, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is at the top of the list for MVP this season, and the Thunder have plenty of depth across the board. Anyone who continues to not believe in this team simply doesn’t understand basketball, as playoff experience is overrated when you have a team that can win games in various ways.

Just this past week, the Thunder came out of the All-Star break and immediately faced a back-to-back scenario, starting with the surging Los Angeles Clippers. After handling the Clippers with no problems, defeating them by 22 points, the Thunder then dismantled the Washington Wizards by 41 points. On Sunday, the Thunder rallied from being down 16 points to defeat the Houston Rockets by 13 points. This young team just simply doesn’t give up, which is why it is time to start calling them actual championship contenders instead of viewing them as that young team that is simply finding luck.

There is nothing lucky about how the Thunder have looked this season.

3. Minnesota Timberwolves (-1)

2023-24 Record: 40-17, Upcoming schedule: vs. SAS (2/27), vs. MEM (2/28), vs. SAC (3/1), vs. LAC (3/3)

Unlike the Celtics and Thunder, the Minnesota Timberwolves have not looked all that impressive coming out of the All-Star break. After losing their first game out of the break to the Milwaukee Bucks, the T-Wolves then had to come from behind in the second half to defeat the Brooklyn Nets, only scoring a total of 101 points.

The offense continues to be the main concern surrounding the Timberwolves this season, as their defense is only going to be able to take them so far in a seven-game series. The NBA is such a scoring-driven league, making Minnesota and lackluster scoring production somewhat concerning pertaining to their overall championship odds. At this point, the Timberwolves are who they are and there’s not much they can do in order to improve offensively.

Their hope is solely reliant on Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns being able to shovel the load down the stretch run of games, especially in the fourth quarter. The good thing about Minnesota is that they are exceptionally strong on the interior, both from a rebounding and blocking shots perspective. Still, they appear to be more vulnerable than the two teams that precede them in the NBA Power Rankings.

4. Denver Nuggets (+2)

2023-24 Record: 39-19, Upcoming schedule: vs. SAC (2/28), vs. MIA (2/29), at LAL (3/2)

The Denver Nuggets limped into the All-Star break losing three straight games, two of which were to the Sacramento Kings. There was a lot of concern surrounding the Nuggets’ recent stretch, yet they have won three straight games now after defeating the Golden State Warriors on Sunday evening. This was an impressive win for the Nuggets, especially since they trailed by as many as 16 points in the first half, only to win by 16 points.

As good as Jamal Murray has been at times, this continues to be the Nikola Jokic show. The two-time MVP had 32 points, 16 rebounds, and 16 assists against the Warriors, and this was coming days after he recorded a perfect 21-point, 19-rebound, and 15-assist game while shooting 10-of-10 from the floor. With three triple-doubles in his last three games, Jokic has made it very clear that he is once again the favorite to win his third MVP award.

The defending NBA champions continue to lurk in the Western Conference. Although they have not looked as dominant at times this season compared to last year, it is going to be awfully hard for a team to limit Jokic in a seven-game series. He is the best basketball player in the world right now, which is why the Nuggets are still the best team in the Western Conference until they are actually taken down in the playoffs.

5. Cleveland Cavaliers (-2)

2023-24 Record: 37-19, Upcoming schedule: vs. DAL (2/27), at CHI (2/28), at DET (3/1), vs. NYK (3/3)

Two straight losses coming out of the All-Star break, followed by a nine-point victory over the horrid Washington Wizards have resulted in the Cleveland Cavaliers falling a couple of spots in the latest NBA Power Rankings. Donovan Mitchell, who missed the first two games out of the All-Star break due to an illness, did return to the court on Sunday against the Wizards, scoring 16 points in 36 total minutes.

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Overall, there isn’t much to be concerned about right now with the Cavs. This is a team that was built to be extremely sturdy and strong on the interior, and they have some of the better depth in the Eastern Conference. Caris LeVert would start for many teams in this league, yet the Cavs have the luxury of having him as their sixth man on the bench. Georges Niang and Isaac Okoro also hold big roles out on the wing for this team.

Cleveland is a top-tier defensive team that will wind up hosting a first-round playoff series.

6. Los Angeles Clippers (-1)

2023-24 Record: 37-19, Upcoming schedule: vs. LAL (2/28), vs. WAS (3/1), at MIN (3/3)

Teams may finally be starting to figure out the Los Angeles Clippers. Ty Lue’s squad has lost four of their last seven games, and their three wins over this stretch against the Detroit Pistons, Memphis Grizzlies, and Golden State Warriors have been by an average of 5.7 points per game. Mainly, the Clippers are not looking as strong as they were a few weeks ago on the defensive side of the ball.

Since February 5, the Clippers are surrendering an average of 120.0 points per game, which ranks as the 27th in the league during this span. Only the Wizards, Atlanta Hawks, and Utah Jazz have given up more points to their opponents over the last three weeks.

Perhaps this is just a tough stretch in the Clippers’ schedule, but they will need to get things on track quickly in order to avoid sinking in the standings. The Western Conference is very talented this year, and a continued lack of execution could result in Los Angeles inching closer to the 5-seed and 6-seed spots in the standings.

7. Milwaukee Bucks (+4)

2023-24 Record: 37-21, Upcoming schedule: vs. CHA (2/27), at CHA (2/29), at CHI (3/1)

Have the Milwaukee Bucks finally figured out how to play under new head coach Doc Rivers? All the talk at the All-Star break surrounding the Bucks was about how Rivers wasn’t the right man for their head coaching role and that this team was doomed for another early playoff exit. Maybe this will still be true, as the Bucks are looking to overcome their first-round defeat at the hands of the Miami Heat last season, but they have looked pretty good coming out of the All-Star break.

In addition to picking up a five-point road win on national TV over the Timberwolves, the Bucks also pulled off a 21-point matinee victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday. Defensively, the Bucks have looked much more locked in and ready for the fight at hand.

Once again inside the Top 10 of the NBA Power Rankings, the Bucks continue to be an unpredictable team. This upcoming week, they should have no problem picking up three straight wins even though the Charlotte Hornets have been looking really good as of late.

8. Dallas Mavericks (-)

Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving (11) celebrates with Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) during the second half against the Phoenix Suns at American Airlines Center
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

2023-24 Record: 33-24, Upcoming schedule: at CLE (2/27), at TOR (2/28), at BOS (3/1), vs. PHI (3/3)

Losing to the Indiana Pacers on Sunday snapped the Dallas Mavericks’ seven-game win streak. However, the Mavericks have proven that the moves they made at the trade deadline were exactly what this team needed in order to make a title push this season. PJ Washington has thrived in his secondary role in the starting lineup, as has Daniel Gafford as a more physical and brute-like rebounder in the frontcourt next to rookie big man Dereck Lively II.

At the end of the day, everything for the Mavericks depends on Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving being available for the postseason. Two unstoppable forces when the ball is in their hands, Doncic and Irving hold the keys to the franchise. For once, the Mavs have found consistent scoring alongside their stars, something that was not apparent early on this season.

A packed week now approaches the Mavericks. Cleveland and Boston are both strong defensive teams that will test Dallas. A better picture of where this team stands in the NBA Power Rankings and the playoff race as a whole will be painted by the end of the week.

9. Miami Heat (+4)

2023-24 Record: 31-25, Upcoming schedule: at SAC (2/26), at POR (2/27), at DEN (2/29), vs. UTA (3/2)

Perhaps the quietest team inside the Top 10 of the NBA Power Rankings is the Miami Heat. All season long, the Heat have had to battle through injuries and the fact that they weren’t with their whole starting rotation. Once again, the Heat have had to battle through without Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, and Terry Rozier due to injuries.

Unlike other teams around the league, who have used injuries as their excuse for their struggles, the Heat have pushed through and won seven of their last nine games. All of a sudden, Miami is just 2.5 games back of the New York Knicks for the 4-seed in the Eastern Conference. It is really weird to see the Heat be in the position that they are because they have really struggled on offense this season, ranking just 22nd in offensive rating.

Three straight road wins over the Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, and New Orleans Pelicans have moved the Heat up four spots this week. Road games against Sacramento and Denver this upcoming week give the Heat even more chances to prove that they can once again be title contenders.

10. Phoenix Suns (-3)

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) runs up the court during the first quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks at Footprint Center.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

2023-24 Record: 34-24, Upcoming schedule: vs. HOU (2/29), vs. HOU (3/2), vs. OKC (3/3)

The final team in the Top 10 of the NBA Power Rankings this week is the Phoenix Suns. Thought to be title contenders at the start of the year, the Suns have had trouble maintaining their spot in the Western Conference standings. Although they have looked great since the start of January, this is still a team that hasn’t had their Big 3 healthy for more than one to two straight weeks. Bradley Beal has consistently been injured this season, and the Suns can’t be taken seriously until we can evaluate them for who they truly are.

Now 58 games into the season, Phoenix is not strong on defense, and some of the better defensive-minded teams in the league have begun to take away their secondary scorers such as Grayson Allen and Eric Gordon on the perimeter. Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and Beal can fill up the scoring charts, but can they alone go for 90-plus points in various playoff games to lead this team deep in the postseason?

Whether or not the Suns can win a title this season will simply come down to whether or not they can outscore their opponents in the playoffs. As simple and cliche as this may sound, the Suns have no presence on defense that will be effective when it matters most.

11. Indiana Pacers (-1)

2023-24 Record: 33-25, Upcoming schedule: vs. TOR (2/26), vs. NOP (2/28), at NOP (3/1), at SAS (3/3)

The Indiana Pacers are another team that has been extremely difficult to figure out this season. Although they are the best offensive-producing team in the league, this is weird to say because it’s not like the Pacers are loaded with well-known scoring threats. Tyrese Haliburton and Pascal Siakam are All-Stars, but Myles Turner has always been a secondary producer, and Bennedict Mathurin is still growing. It just seems like every game, the Pacers are finding new production from guys like Andrew Nembhard, Ben Sheppard, and TJ McConnell, which allows them to remain in a contending position.

Their 22-point win over Dallas on Sunday was impressive. Indiana is now eight games over .500 on the season and can still contend for home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. While they find themselves above other average teams in the NBA Power Rankings, the Pacers are still very hard to predict at this time.

12. New Orleans Pelicans (-3)

2023-24 Record: 34-24, Upcoming schedule: at NYK (2/27), at IND (2/28), vs. IND (3/1)

Much like the Pacers, the New Orleans Pelicans have been all over the place this season, which has come as a surprise given the talent that exists on their roster. Despite losing two straight games to the Heat and Chicago Bulls, the Pelicans have really started to look better on defense as of late. Should things come around on offense, the Pelicans will be well on their way to avoiding the play-in tournament ahead of the playoffs.

However, New Orleans does have a tough string of games down the stretch run of the season. In fact, six of their next eight games are against teams with a winning record. As good as Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, and CJ McCollum are, Trey Murphy III is the key to this team unlocking their full potential.

Murphy gives the Pelicans the length they need on the wing, as well as the secondary shooting depth needed when their stars aren’t in the game. If New Orleans can get their young forward trending in the right direction before the playoffs, they will be capable of beating any team in a seven-game series.

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13. Orlando Magic (+2)

2023-24 Record: 32-26, Upcoming schedule: vs. BKN (2/27), vs. UTA (2/29), vs. DET (3/3)

Do not let their 8-seed position in the Eastern Conference standings fool you, because the Orlando Magic are still very much vying for an actual playoff spot. The thing about the East is that 2.5 games separate the Knicks in the 4-seed spot from the Magic in the 8-seed spot. Anything can happen over the final several weeks of the regular season.

For the Magic, their strength continues to lie on the defensive side of the court because of all the length they possess. Compared to other teams in the East, Orlando may still be one piece away from being an actual threat come playoff time. The growth of Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner has been notable, to say the least. These two are proving to be the future of this franchise and have suddenly allowed the Magic to rise out of their long rebuilding process.

All it will take is a few good wins against playoff-level teams for the Magic to remind everyone that they are still viable threats in the East.

14. Sacramento Kings (+2)

2023-24 Record: 33-23, Upcoming schedule: vs. MIA (2/26), at DEN (2/28), at MIN (3/1)

Have the Sacramento Kings finally turned a new leaf and snapped out of their inconsistent funk? Wins on the road over the Nuggets and Clippers sure seem to suggest so, but this has been a common trend with the Kings this season. One week, they take down the league’s best and look like the contending threats they were last year. Then the next week, Sacramento goes on to fall to teams near the bottom of the NBA Power Rankings.

Domantas Sabonis, who was robbed of an All-Star appearance this season, has continued to shoulder the load for the Kings, recently recording his 20th triple-double of the season. Oh, and he has done so while not missing a game all season long.

Currently 10 games above .500 on the year, the Kings still need to be careful and pick up as many wins as they can to avoid falling into the play-in tournament region of the standings. Wins over the Heat, Nuggets, and Timberwolves this week would go a long way in Sacramento proving who they are and can still be this season.

15. New York Knicks (-3)

2023-24 Record: 34-23, Upcoming schedule: vs. DET (2/26), vs. NOP (2/27), vs. GSW (2/29), at CLE (3/3)

Not too long ago, the Knicks were viewed as the second-best team in the Eastern Conference behind the Celtics. Now, they have lost six of their last eight games as a result of Julius Randle and OG Anunoby being out of the lineup with injuries. As good as Jalen Brunson is, he alone has not been able to carry this team to wins over some of the better squads in the league.

The thing about the Knicks is that they need to establish an identity on offense without two of their starters. Alongside Brunson, Alec Burks, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Donte DiVincenzo are all vital parts of this team’s success. Finding ways to get them involved more and take pressure off Brunson will allow the Knicks to find success, especially this upcoming week against playoff-level competitors, other than the Pistons.

Although they are ranked 15th in the NBA Power Rankings, the Knicks are certainly better than their current trend of games suggests.

16. Philadelphia 76ers (-2)

2023-24 Record: 33-24, Upcoming schedule: at BOS (2/27), vs. CHA (3/1), at DAL (3/3)

While the Philadelphia 76ers are kind of in the same boat as the Knicks, falling down the standings as a result of injuries, the Sixers are showing who they are without reigning league MVP Joel Embiid. Philadelphia really only had Tyrese Maxey as a primary scoring weapon outside of Embiid, as any additional scoring production they get is a bonus. Paul Reed is only going to be able to do so much at the center position, and Buddy Hield is more of a shooter than a scorer.

The key to the 76ers unlocking their potential and proving they can be threats this season, with or without Embiid, is Tobias Harris. Outside of Maxey and Embiid, Harris is the third player that this organization needs in order to live up to its potential. Unfortunately, Harris has been slumping as of late, averaging just 13.1 points and 6.7 rebounds per game while shooting 41.6 percent from the floor and 31.3 percent from three-point range over his last seven games.

“Just finding a way to get in a better flow out there,” Harris said recently regarding how he can break out of his struggles. “I think, obviously, with the way that we’ve been playing, we gotta figure out a way to get a little bit more structure there in the half-court offense. Just keep being aggressive and looking for the shots when they’re there, but outside of that, keep making the right play.”

Road games against Boston and Dallas this upcoming week will be huge checkpoints for the 76ers to evaluate whether or not they are contending threats or simply playoff pretenders.

17. Golden State Warriors (+1)

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) reacts after the Warriors made a basket against the Los Angeles Lakers at the end of the third quarter at the Chase Center
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

2023-24 Record: 29-27, Upcoming schedule: at WAS (2/27), at NYK (2/29), at TOR (3/1), at BOS (3/3)

Before falling to the Nuggets on Sunday night, the Warriors had won 10 of their last 12 games. Defensively, Golden State has really turned things around, which has led to their offense being able to find success. This is especially true when you look at what the Warriors have been able to do by pushing the tempo and running in transition recently.

The thing about the Warriors is that closing out games still appears to be a problem. Just a month ago, they lost by one point to the Kings and Lakers are a result of not being able to settle things down in the fourth quarter. The same can be said regarding their five-point loss to the Clippers before the All-Star break. The fact of the matter is that the Warriors are struggling against the best teams in this league and those that they will need to try and defeat in a seven-game series if they are to have any chance of making an outside championship run.

The Warriors are two games above .500 on the season and still in the 10-seed spot in the Western Conference. Only 26 games remain on their schedule, which makes the four-game gap between them and the 6-seeded Suns in the standings that much wider. A four-game Eastern Conference road trip presents the Warriors with a chance to pick up four key victories, possibly allowing them to finally take a step up the standings and the NBA Power Rankings.

It is also worth noting that Chris Paul will be making his return for the Warriors this week after missing nearly two months with a fractured left hand.

18. Los Angeles Lakers (-1)

2023-24 Record: 31-28, Upcoming schedule: at LAC (2/28), vs. WAS (2/29), vs. DEN (3/2)

The Lakers have won seven of their last 10 games. However, Los Angeles still has major problems to figure out because they are not looking like a team that is together. Offensively, the Lakers’ motion offense is non-existent at times, and there is still no flow outside of LeBron James making plays for everyone when he has the ball in his hands. Anthony Davis disappearing in big moments is also concerning for this group.

Although there is time for them to figure things out, the Lakers’ season may very well be defined by what happens this upcoming week. Battles with the Clippers and Nuggets will tell the tale of how this season is going to play out for Los Angeles. More disappointing losses to some of the better teams in the league will result in the Lakers remaining right where they are in the play-in tournament region of the standings.

It continues to look likely that LeBron James and Co. will have to fight for their lives in a loser-goes-home scenario.

19. Chicago Bulls (-)

2023-24 Record: 27-30, Upcoming schedule: vs. DET (2/27), vs. CLE (2/28), vs. MIL (3/1)

Zach LaVine is out for the season after electing to undergo foot surgery. Now, Patrick Williams has made the same decisions and is out for the remainder of the year. Everything continues to go wrong for the Bulls from a personnel standpoint, but keeping Coby White this past offseason on a new deal is looking like the best decision this organization has made in quite a long time.

White has been the Bulls’ best player this season, and that’s saying something seeing as they have All-Star talent in Nikola Vucevic and DeMar DeRozan. From scoring to facilitating to rebounding to shooting, White has done it all for the Bulls this year.

Inside the Top 20 of the NBA Power Rankings, the Bulls appear to be a safe bet for the Eastern Conference play-in tournament.

20. Houston Rockets (+2)

2023-24 Record: 25-32, Upcoming schedule: at OKC (2/27), at PHX (2/29), at PHX (3/2)

The biggest problem the Houston Rockets have right now is that they do not have an identity. Early on in the year, it appeared as if this group was going to be one of the better defensive teams in the league. That has not been the case as of late, and the Rockets continue to struggle on offense since they don’t look to utilize their potential and athleticism.

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Jalen Green and Jabari Smith Jr. can be two elite-level players in this league for many years to come. However, the Rockets seem to want both players to fit into a box alongside Alperen Sengun and Fred VanVleet instead, not allowing them to play freely.

Until head coach Ime Udoka realizes that Green and Smith are his best bet to finding success, the Rockets will continue to be a team that misses the playoffs and resides near the bottom half of the NBA Power Rankings.

21. Atlanta Hawks (+2)

Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) prepares for a game against the Houston Rockets at State Farm Arena.
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

2023-24 Record: 25-32, Upcoming schedule: vs. UTA (2/27), at BKN (2/29), at BKN (3/2)

Trae Young is undergoing finger surgery and is said to be re-evaluated in four weeks. Quite honestly, it may be safe to assume that the All-Star point guard is done for the season. Now, all the chatter surrounding the Hawks and Young is whether or not he has played his final game in Atlanta.

When the offseason begins, Young is going to hear his name discussed in trade rumors quite a bit because of the Hawks’ desire to cut long-term costs. The Hawks, who have been mismanaged stemming from decisions made at the very top of the organization, continue to operate as a franchise that hasn’t shown a desire to want to win. It is honestly quite sad to see because the Hawks do have a lot of potential and talented players.

At this point, it is very clear to see that this organization is going to be giving their young players opportunities for the rest of the season in order to try and come up with a plan for the immediate future.

22. Utah Jazz (-1)

2023-24 Record: 27-31, Upcoming schedule: at ATL (2/27), at ORL (2/29), at MIA (3/2)

The hot streak the Utah Jazz went on in December and January has very quickly become a thing of the past with this team losing 11 of their last 16 games. It is hard to imagine the Jazz rising up and entering the play-in tournament region of the standings because no other team in the West is going to be falling out of those spots.

This upcoming offseason is going to be about retooling the roster around Lauri Markkanen for the Jazz, especially since they have young, emerging talents like Keyonte George in their backcourt.

Down another spot in the NBA Power Rankings puts the Jazz in the same category as other teams having disappointing seasons.

23. Toronto Raptors (+2)

2023-24 Record: 21-36, Upcoming schedule: at IND (2/26), vs. DAL (2/28), vs. GSW (3/1), vs. CHA (3/3)

With the Hawks giving up on the season, the Toronto Raptors could possibly sneak back into the play-in tournament. Although, their chances of actually earning the 7-seed or 8-seed in the Eastern Conference are extremely thin.

The main problem with the Raptors is that they are really bad on offense, especially when it comes to getting into half-court sets. Scottie Barnes can be a secondary facilitator, but having an offense strictly flow through him doesn’t seem like the right equation for the Raptors to find success. This is especially true since Immanuel Quickley and RJ Barrett tend to struggle on offense when Barnes is leading the charge.

The Raptors will be a team that ends up claiming a play-in tourney spot due to their ability to pull off upsets here and there.

24. Memphis Grizzlies (-1)

2023-24 Record: 20-37, Upcoming schedule: vs. BKN (2/26), at MIN (2/28), vs. POR (3/1), vs. POR (3/2)

The focus of everyone in the Memphis Grizzlies organization is on the 2024-25 season given all the injuries they have had to deal with. Still, the Grizzlies have remained competitive and are battling with what they have.

This is going to pay off big time down the road, as GG Jackson looks to be a key rotational player for them, and Vince Williams Jr. has also made the most of his opportunities as well. Being No. 24 in the NBA Power Rankings is not a spot we will see the Grizzlies in next season.

25. Brooklyn Nets (-1)

2023-24 Record: 21-35, Upcoming schedule: at MEM (2/26), at ORL (2/27), vs. ATL (2/29), vs. ATL (3/2)

Jacque Vaughn is gone and the Brooklyn Nets are on the verge of total collapse. Nic Claxton doesn’t appear to be too thrilled in his role in the final year of his contract, and the clock is now ticking for the Nets to find another star next to Mikal Bridges. Should they fail to do so, Brooklyn is going to be in trouble seeing as they have been passed by younger, more athletic teams in the East.

The Nets would be smart to shut down all of their starters for the rest of this season because there is no use running the chance of Bridges or another key part of their roster getting hurt in what has suddenly become a lost year.

26. Charlotte Hornets (+2)

2023-24 Record: 15-42, Upcoming schedule: at MIL (2/27), vs. MIL (2/29), at PHI (3/1), at TOR (3/3)

Since the trade deadline, the Charlotte Hornets have actually been one of the best teams in the league. They may not be going anywhere in terms of the playoff or play-in tournament race, but it is good to see the Hornets actually finding success for once.

Amid all of their recent wins, Brandon Miller has really stood out as the cornerstone of this franchise. We see it all the time in sports where one player sitting out gives another the opportunity to become an absolute superstar. This is what has happened regarding LaMelo Ball being out what has felt like all season long and Miller stepping up to lead this team.

The rookie second overall pick certainly deserves more love than he’s receiving in the Rookie of the Year race, and it wouldn’t be surprising if the Hornets look to build around him moving forward. The 21-year-old is on the path to becoming a multi-time All-Star in Charlotte.

27. San Antonio Spurs (-1)

San Antonio Spurs center Victor Wembanyama (1) watches game action against the Los Angeles Lakers during the second half at Arena.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

2023-24 Record: 11-47, Upcoming schedule: at MIN (2/27), vs. OKC (2/29), vs. IND (3/3)

The 2023-24 season for the San Antonio Spurs is all about Victor Wembanyama. What he continues to do is simply memorizing, as Wemby recently recorded a 5×5 game with 27 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists, 5 steals, and 5 blocks against the Lakers. With this performance, Wembamnyama became the youngest player in league history to record such numbers.

LeBron shouted out the Spurs rookie after this performance, simply tweeting: “That kid is SPECIAL!!” with the alien emoji.

As long as Wembanyama remains on the court and healthy moving forward, the Spurs will be a team on the rise in the NBA Power Rankings.

28. Portland Trail Blazers (-1)

2023-24 Record: 15-41, Upcoming schedule: vs. MIA (2/27), at MEM (3/1), at MEM (3/2)

Here comes another long losing streak!

The Portland Trail Blazers have lost eight straight games, the second-longest active losing streak in the league, and they have fallen to teams like the Pistons and Hornets during this stretch. Who knows what is going to happen in Portland, but there has to be some thinking regarding whether Chauncey Billups is the guy to lead this organization into the future.

While everything that has transpired is not his fault, especially the organization trading away Damian Lillard, the Blazers have gone just 75-145 in the last three seasons with the future Hall of Famer at the helm.

29. Detroit Pistons (-)

2023-24 Record: 8-48, Upcoming schedule: at NYK (2/26), at CHI (2/27), vs. CLE (3/1), at ORL (3/3)

When will the Detroit Pistons get their ninth win of the season? Better yet, will they reach 10 wins before the Wizards do?

Ever since their historic 28-game losing streak earlier this season, the Pistons have shown signs of growth. They have looked stronger on defense at times, and Detroit has been in a handful of close games. Just this past weekend, it took a Paolo Banchero jumper with less than a second remaining on the clock for the Magic to win in Detroit.

While their schedule is rough this upcoming week, the Pistons are going to win at least one of these next four games. Mark it down now!

30. Washington Wizards (-)

2023-24 Record: 9-48, Upcoming schedule: vs. GSW (2/27), at LAL (2/29), at LAC (3/1)

At this point, will the Wizards even reach 10 wins this season? It seems like they probably will, but they have lost 11 straight games and Washington’s next best chance to pick up a win may not be until the end of March against the Pistons.

The Wizards are bad and we don’t really need to explain anything further here.


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