The 2021 season is underway with the majority of teams playing at least 6 games so far. While it is still too early to confirm all the playoff seedings in each conference, it is still pretty clear which teams will be ranked among the best in the NBA. There are also some surprising teams this season, along with some very disappointing ones.
Here are the latest power rankings for all the 30 teams in the NBA.
30. Detroit Pistons 1-6
It is a shame to see how a previously successful franchise like the Pistons are not able to find their path to success. Derrick Rose is nowhere near the player he used to be, Blake Griffin is seemingly made out of glass, and the rest of the roster isn’t developed yet. Detroit will likely be the worst team in the NBA this season at this pace, and the fact that they signed Jerami Grant to a $60-million contract is a clear indication of where Detroit is right now.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder 2-4
The Thunder are happy where they are, taking losses and collecting draft picks. The Russell Westbrook-Paul George experiment did not work out, so they have initiated a full rebuild. They have some good players such as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Al Horford on the squad, so they won’t be complete pushovers. Still, nobody expects anything from Oklahoma City and they are just fine with that.
28. Memphis Grizzlies 2-5
The loss of Ja Morant for the next month or two is a major blow to a promising Grizzlies team. Memphis will likely collect quite a few losses over this period which will weaken their ability to make the playoffs in a very competitive West. With Morant, Memphis can be a playoff team and they will make strides as the rest of the roster improve their play together.
27. Charlotte Hornets 2-5
The Hornets are always interesting to watch, thanks to LaMelo Ball, but they are not the team that will be making the playoffs this season. It will be a massive shocker if they can manage the 8th seed, although that’s very unlikely. Gordon Hayward isn’t an All-Star anymore, Ball is only in his rookie season, and the rest of the roster is average. Charlotte won’t be making too much noise this year other than Ball’s highlight reels.
26. Chicago Bulls 4-4
Zach LaVine is an All-Star player, which is probably the biggest positive Chicago has right now. LaVine has the talent to possibly lead Chicago to .500 this season, but they still won’t make any noise in the East for a long time. Time will tell if LaVine will remain on the squad all year because he is a tremendous asset for any team in today’s NBA.
25. San Antonio Spurs 3-4
San Antonio broke new grounds with Becky Hammon coaching her first professional game, but that might be the biggest impact they will have this season. DeRozan is still very skilled, but the roster isn’t up to par and there should be trades happening in San Antonio very soon. Until then, the Spurs are missing the playoffs and there isn’t much more to say on that.
24. Minnesota Timberwolves 2-5
Minnesota have Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell but that is not enough to get them into the playoffs this season. The team just doesn’t have the right mix of players and staff to be a Western Conference contender, which is a bit concerning. Things might click and the Timberwolves can start racking up wins, but until then, they are an afterthought.
23. New York Knicks 4-3
The New York Knicks are actually decent this year, which is a massive achievement after their horrific run of form the past few years. The Knicks have great talents in Julius Randle and R.J. Barrett, meaning there are finally some positives for this team. The Knicks might make the playoffs in the East, although it will require a great effort from the players and staff to make it happen.
22. Cleveland Cavaliers 4-3
Cleveland have played well so far, but it won’t last very long. Kevin Love is once again out with injury and the squad is still very young and incomplete to be relevant in the East. Still, the Cavaliers have performed very well to start the season and Cleveland fans will hope that they won’t have to wait another 50 years to see an NBA title.
21. Washington Wizards 2-5
Washington has been the most disappointing team in the league so far this season because Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal were supposed to be racking up wins together. So far, Westbrook has averaged a triple-double and the team has lost a lot. The stigma of Westbrook being an excellent individual player but a bad team player seems to be here to stay, and it looks like Washington will miss the playoffs this season.
20. Sacramento Kings 3-4
The Kings have a great offense and play hard every night, meaning they have a great shot to make the playoffs in the West this season. There are some talented players in the squad such as Marvin Bagley III and Buddy Hield, so the future is very promising for Sacramento fans. So far, the Kings have been decent although they endured some tough losses.
19. Toronto Raptors 1-5
The Raptors have been horrific to start the year and their franchise star Pascal Siakam looks out of his depth. But the Raptors will still obviously be one of the best teams in the East with one of the top 5 seeds, but they are not intimidating any opponents so far. The Raptors would do good to acquire James Harden because right now this squad won’t get it done.
18. New Orleans Pelicans 4-3
The Pelicans are one of the most exciting teams in the NBA to watch, thanks to Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram playing in Stan Van Gundy’s system. New Orleans could be a playoff team this season although their squad is still very young. The Pelicans core is well intact and they will continue building a talented team to become a contender in the future.
17. Orlando Magic 5-2
The Orlando Magic have looked great so far, thanks to Markelle Fultz playing like the No. 1 overall pick he was projected to be. Nikola Vucevic is a very talented big man who can score inside and outside, and the team is well-coached. Orlando have been a playoff team for a while now so there is no reason to expect any different this season.
16. Indiana Pacers 5-2
The Indiana Pacers are going as far as Domantas Sabonis will take them. Sabonis is one of the brightest young players in the NBA and an excellent overall All-Star. Sabonis is on track to be better than his father, an NBA legend in his own right, so the Pacers would do good to keep Victor Oladipo and Malcolm Brogdon on the squad to keep improving as a team.
15. Denver Nuggets 3-4
Denver have been terribly inconsistent so far this season, despite the exceptional play of Nikola Jokic who is the best center in the league. Jokic is the best passing center ever, and he is so crafty at getting his buckets. Once Murray gets going and the Nuggets find their rhythm again, they will surely climb the rankings as they have one of the best rosters in the league.
14. Dallas Mavericks 3-4
Luka Doncic is unbelievably talented, and he has already turned Dallas into a tough team to beat. The offense in Dallas is exceptionally well run, and the likes of Tim Hardaway Jr and Delon Wright make Dallas tough to guard on the perimeter. Once Porzingis returns, the Mavericks will greatly improve and they should climb the power rankings very soon.
13. Houston Rockets 2-3
The Houston Rockets have only played with their full squad for 2 games, splitting them 1-1. Their entire season depends on whether James Harden stays or leaves because it is a matter of being a Dark Horse contender or an afterthought. Christian Wood looks like the Most Improved Player so far, and John Wall has looked like an All-Star at times. For now, we wait for the news on a very likely James Harden trade.
12. Golden State Warriors 4-3
The Golden State Warriors season is summed up in two words: Stephen Curry. Curry has had his low moments and also some very high moments, such as his 62-point game, but he will unfortunately have to be one of the top five players in the world all year long. The Warriors have Draymond Green back, but Stephen Curry will dictate whether the team is a playoff contender or not.
11. Atlanta Hawks 4-3
The Atlanta Hawks are one of the most fun teams to watch. Trae Young is once again dominating the point guard position with his scoring and playmaking, and the entire roster is filled with shooters. Atlanta is a guaranteed playoff team this season and they will be a load to handle in the postseason, although they still need maturity from some of their players. Still, the Hawks are coming and will soon challenge the best in the East.
10. Portland Trail Blazers 3-4
The Trail Blazers are getting a lot of hype due to the amount of talent on their roster. Damian Lillard is a superstar and CJ McCollum is an excellent sidekick. The addition of Robert Covington greatly improves their defense, and Nurkic is playing like an All-Star. As one of the teams that could realistically sneak into the Western Conference Finals this postseason, Portland are really good and will only get better.
9. Utah Jazz 4-3
Utah looks to be clicking this season, with Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert signing big contracts to remain with the franchise. Mike Conley Jr. had a massive 33-point game against the Los Angeles Clippers and might be on pace to have one of his best seasons yet. If Conley can play like the All-Star he can be, the Jazz might have a legitimate Big Three. No team enjoys playing Utah, so they should be one of the best teams in the West all season.
8. Miami Heat 3-3
The Miami Heat did not make the roster additions that we expected them to make, which might place them back in the Dark Horse role in the East. The Miami Heat are a very strong team although Goran Dragic looks slightly older and Tyler Herro won’t likely take a big step this season. Miami is still a top-10 team in the NBA but an addition of a third All-Star to pair with Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo could take them over the top.
7. Milwaukee Bucks 4-3
The Bucks haven’t gotten off to the greatest start, but the potential is there to see. Giannis Antetokounmpo is the reigning league MVP and continues to play like it every single night. It would not be surprising to see The Greek Freak lead the MVP race again, which poses very well for the Bucks’ title chances. Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton look really good, but the Bucks will only go as far as Giannis carries them.
6. Brooklyn Nets 4-4
Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving have looked terrifyingly good together. If they can stay healthy for the whole season, the Nets could end up with the best record in the East. But the loss of Spencer Dinwiddie is a massive blow to the Nets’ title chances, and the team will need more from the likes of Caris LeVert to make up for Dinwiddie’s absence. Still, Durant and Irving are two superstars and they will single-handedly keep the Nets in a top-3 seeding all year.
5. Boston Celtics 5-3
The Boston Celtics are no longer young puppies. Jayson Tatum is a stone-cold killer in the clutch, and Jaylen Brown is having his best season yet. Kemba Walker has yet to suit up for the Celtics, which means Boston will only get better. With a legitimate Big Three in town and the likes of Marcus Smart and Tristan Thompson playing excellent defense, the Celtics are one of the favorites to make the Eastern Conference Finals this season.
4. Phoenix Suns 5-2
Everyone knows that Chris Paul is the perfect point guard and leader for a team like the Suns, but they have looked like a top-5 team in the world so far. Paul and Booker are a scary backcourt and might be the very best in the NBA at putting unlimited pressure on defenses, while the likes of Deandre Ayton and Jae Crowder are excellent pieces to fill the lineup. The Suns are a team no one wants to play against, and it will likely remain that way until the end of the season.
3. Los Angeles Clippers 5-3
Paul George has looked like his old self this season, barring the 51-point beatdown at the hands of the Mavericks, and Kawhi Leonard is on a mission to win his 3rd NBA title as the man of his team. The Clippers are one of the top 3 teams this season because of their important additions of Nicolas Batum, Serge Ibaka, and Luke Kennard which will offset the loss of Montrezl Harrell. We have yet to see Marcus Morris in action, which means the Clippers should improve slightly on both ends of the floor as the season goes on.
2. Philadelphia 76ers 6-1
The 76ers finally look like the team that we expect them to be. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are too good of a duo to not dominate the East, and they have done just that so far. Credit goes to Tobias Harris for being one of the best players in the East so far this season, and he will be absolutely key if the Sixers want to reach the Eastern Conference Finals again. For now, they are the second-best team in the league behind the Purple and Gold.
1. Los Angeles Lakers 6-2
The Los Angeles Lakers are still the best team in the NBA. They have two of the top five players in the world and LeBron James is still the best leader and finisher in the game. The depth in the team is also scary good, with the likes of Montrezl Harrell and Dennis Schroder joining Anthony Davis in the prime of their careers. James is still the king of the NBA and that won’t change for the rest of the year, meaning the Lakers are the best overall team in the league.