The NBA season is underway, and some teams are beginning to differentiate themselves from the pack. The top teams in the league are playing the best basketball in the league while the lower-ranked teams are having a difficult time already through the season. We even have some surprises thrown in there as well, with many teams not performing at their expected levels despite having very good rosters.
While this is still early on in the season, power rankings a quarter way through the season give a good indication on which team will perform best as the playoffs come closer. Unsurprisingly, the best teams have the best all-around players in the league which is why the Golden State Warriors have the best record in the NBA thanks to Stephen Curry and the Phoenix Suns are right behind them thanks to Chris Paul.
Some notable names have struggled, mainly James Harden, which is why the Brooklyn Nets have not performed at an elite level despite holding the best record in the East. The Los Angeles Lakers, of course, have been the most disappointing team since the Russell Westbrook experiment has not worked out. By ranking all the NBA teams by record and production, here is the updated power rankings in the current NBA season.
30. Orlando Magic 4-18
The Orlando Magic are the worst team in the NBA right now because they have no talent on the roster that will help them win games. Ever since Orlando gave away Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon, and Evan Fournier last year; they have been all-in for tanking the next few seasons.
Instead of basking in mediocrity, the Magic made a decision to find superstar talent in the next few drafts so they can be excused for having a putrid record less than halfway into the NBA season.
29. Houston Rockets 4-16
Once the Houston Rockets lost James Harden and Russell Westbrook last year under rookie head coach Stephen Silas, the team was expected to be in the lottery. But no one expected the Rockets to be this bad, especially with the likes of John Wall, Christian Wood, and Eric Gordon on the roster.
But Wall has been shut down to allow the growth of Kevin Porter Jr and Jalen Green, while Christian Wood is forced to lead an otherwise untalented roster. Houston have won 3 straight games so they are on a decent run at the moment, but the Rockets are a few years away from being competitive.
28. New Orleans Pelicans 6-17
The Pelicans have been atrocious this year without the presence of superstar Zion Williamson. The big man has yet to play a game this year and reports have come out about his weight issues. Without Williamson, the Pelicans are hardly a competitive team and have been massive pushovers.
Nobody knows what will happen with New Orleans going forward because Zion could want out of there as soon as possible if the team does not perform. The Pelicans’ victory against the Clippers was impressive, but they need more games like that to convince anyone about their future.
27. Detroit Pistons 4-16
Somehow, the Pistons are becoming notorious for being a competitive team that will not back down. Their battles with the Lakers this season have been fun to watch, although they are a few years away from being a truly competitive squad.
Isaiah Stewart is an active big man who can still improve his temperament and overall impact, and Cade Cunningham is still finding his footing in the league. Detroit needs to continue to develop its players because they will be in the lottery at the end of the year.
26. Oklahoma City Thunder 6-14
Oklahoma City have a star in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and also a potential one in Josh Giddey. The team is playing the best basketball it possibly can, but they are a roster filled with young players that are still learning how to win games consistently.
The Thunder should focus on next season’s lottery because they aren’t going anywhere this year even if they string together a winning streak at some point. Oklahoma City have undergone a ton of roster changes over the past few years so developing young guys will be the way to go for the rest of the season.
25. San Antonio Spurs 6-13
The only good thing about the San Antonio Spurs’ season will be the story of Gregg Popovich breaking the all-time win records for a head coach. Pop is a first-ballot Hall of Famer because of the incredible success he had in the NBA, so the sooner he breaks the record the sooner he can retire.
The Spurs have seen improvements from Dejounte Murray and Keldon Johnson, but the rest of the team is not good enough. San Antonio have looked like a non-factor over the last few years so they should be fine with focusing on next year’s draft.
24. Sacramento Kings 8-14
Sacramento is not a very good team although De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield are playing strong basketball. There are still a ton of questions about the future of Marvin Bagley III, and also on the coaching situation after the firing of Luke Walton.
The Kings will be lucky to acquire a top prospect in next year’s draft because they seem competitive at times but complete pushovers the next. Fox is not the type of player to ensure playoff contention every year, so the Kings need to find some more talent over the next few years.
23. Indiana Pacers 9-14
The Indiana Pacers are a middle-of-the-road team in terms of talent and impact, although their record screams lottery quality. Domantas Sabonis is a great player but the rest of the team is not good enough. The Pacers need to find out what their plan is because mediocrity is not the best way to earn long-term success.
Rather, the Pacers should strive to rebuild around Sabonis with young players and picks. Myles Turner has been in trade talks over the past few seasons, so perhaps pulling the plug on a trade could do the roster well. Otherwise, as things stand, the Pacers look to be out of playoff contention with a sub .500 record.
22. Toronto Raptors 9-13
The Raptors have some All-Star-caliber players such as Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet if they are playing well, and potentially a future star in OG Anunoby. That core seems strong enough for Toronto to be in playoff contention, although that has not been the case this year.
Siakam has missed some games and there are some doubts about his ability to lead a team, especially after his bust-up with his head coach last year. The Raptors will rue the loss of their leader Kyle Lowry, and will likely struggle to make the playoffs.
21. Portland Trail Blazers 10-11
Portland are once again a mediocre team and Damian Lillard’s loyalty will be questioned yet again this season. The point guard is considered one of the NBA’s greatest 75 players ever, but he is unable to help his team reach the NBA Finals or even come close to it. It might be time for the point guard to move on.
The Trail Blazers are inconsistent on both ends of the floor and Chauncey Billups has not been able to really change that so far this season. The Trail Blazers could somehow turn it on soon and possibly make a playoff push, but it looks like it will be another disappointing season for Trail Blazers fans.
20. Memphis Grizzlies 11-10
Memphis have Ja Morant, so that should be enough for them to fight for a playoff seeding in the West. Morant is s future superstar and could be one of the faces of the NBA in due time, so the Grizzlies have a very bright future as a result of that.
It remains to be seen if Memphis can take that next step up although that could depend on the complementary pieces such as Jaren Jackson Jr to take that next level. Memphis is above .500 which is a great sign, and they should really be playing in the playoffs or at least the play-in tournament at the end of the year.
19. Denver Nuggets 10-10
Denver has dropped tremendously in the power rankings because of the absence of their MVP, Nikola Jokic. The Nuggets dropped 6 straight games due to their roster inconsistencies and recently won the game against Miami once Jokic returned to the court at full health.
The Nuggets will go as far as Jokic takes them, and the return of Jamal Murray will make Denver very formidable. They desperately need their two stars at full health because Denver could realistically make the Western Conference Finals if they have their full squad, and face a first-round exit without them.
18. Cleveland Cavaliers 11-10
The Cavaliers are onto something with Evan Mobley because the big man has star potential. Many felt he should have gone No. 2 because his talent at his position is truly amazing to see at such an early stage of his career. Also, the roster has other talented players such as Collin Sexton (out for the season), Darius Garland, and Jarrett Allen.
The Cavaliers could be in the mix for making the playoffs this year, which would be sooner than expected. Cleveland have the talent to be a strong team in the future but playoff experience at this moment could elevate their quality in handling the better teams in the league.
17. Boston Celtics 11-10
The Celtics have two stars in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, and some recognizable names such as Dennis Schroder and Al Horford. But they have not been consistent in any way, and are not going to win a championship as the roster is currently constructed.
After all, Boston could not take advantage of the availability of stars in the recent past and that is why they are left as a team that is not close to an Eastern Conference Finals. The Celtics have a young core so time is at their advantage, but they should take steps forward over the next few years to get to championship status.
16. Atlanta Hawks 11-10
Trae Young is struggling to get back to his best play, and rule changes could have something to do with that. Without Trae at full capacity, the Hawks will struggle to get back to the Eastern Conference Finals. But the point guard could find his rhythm at some point, which could bode well for Atlanta’s chances.
At this moment, the Hawks have a decent record but have not hit the heights of last season. If Atlanta strings together a few good games, they could be back in contention for a top-4 seed in the conference because they have a very good roster and are well-coached. But their season depends on how Young will get back to his superstar form.
15. Los Angeles Lakers 12-11
The Lakers won a convincing game against the Sacramento Kings last night without LeBron James, but that will not take away from the fact that they are the most disappointing team in the league. LeBron has hardly been in the lineup, Davis is not playing his best ball, and Russell Westbrook has not been impactful enough.
The rest of the Lakers roster is old and weak defensively, meaning they are likely not going to capture one of the top seeds in the West. That also means that Los Angeles will fail to win the title this year, and the franchise might need to make some roster moves to get back to that top spot.
14. Minnesota Timberwolves 11-10
Even with D’Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns on the roster, Anthony Edwards is making the bulk of the highlights. The shooting guard is a special talent and might end up being the best player on the team in a few years, even ahead of Towns.
Nobody expected Edwards to take his game to such a high level so quickly, and competing for a playoff seed is the best way for the young man to gain playoff experience. Minnesota have a strong roster, so they need to find consistency in order to put aside their previous seasons’ woes and focus on the future.
13. Philadelphia 76ers 11-10
Philadelphia have a big issue with Ben Simmons and what to do with him, and it could be taking away from the team’s play this season. The 76ers have been pretty good considering the circumstances, but they are far off being the best team in the East as they were last year.
The 76ers still have Joel Embiid, but the big man is hardly healthy for a full season and the team will struggle to handle that without Simmons on the floor. Philadelphia are hell-bent on waiting for a game-changer in order to part ways with their point guard, but until then, the team will not be winning any titles.
12. Los Angeles Clippers 11-10
The Clippers season is all about survival by competing for playoff seeding until Kawhi Leonard is healthy. The Claw will not play unless he is convinced he is no longer injury-prone, which means the Clippers have to accept that he might not suit up for them at all this season. That means the pressure is on Paul George to keep them afloat.
George has been excellent so far this season, putting up 25.9 PPG and 7.3 RPG and helping the Clippers hold a playoff seeding in the West. PG13 is having an MVP-caliber season but he will likely not be able to repeat the Western Conference Finals as the only guy as he did last year, and there really isn’t anything wrong with that.
11. Dallas Mavericks 10-9
The Mavericks have been quite good so far this season thanks to Luka Doncic, as the superstar is well-adjusted to Jason Kidd’s offensive system. Luka does it all on the floor at an elite level, and Kristaps Porzingis is playing well so far (19.6 PPG and 7.9 RPG). That duo should be enough to guarantee Dallas a playoff spot.
It will be interesting to see if Dallas can proceed past the first round of the playoffs this year, and certainly grabbing one of the higher seeds in the West would help with that. The Mavericks need to turn it on offensively and defensively because taking advantage of the Lakers and Clippers’ woes will allow Dallas to climb the rankings.
10. New York Knicks 11-10
New York is once again a playoff team in the East, thanks to solid offseason additions and the play of Julius Randle and Derrick Rose. The Knicks are focused on getting past the first round of the playoffs, and they will need to win more games to achieve that. Standing over .500 is a good start, but there is more to do.
The Knicks are not petrifying any other contending teams but they are also not pushovers because they are one of the most competitive teams in the league. Even if other teams have more superstar talent, New York are well-coached and will go after it on both ends of the floor.
9. Charlotte Hornets 13-10
Charlotte is an exciting team because of the names associated with the franchise: Michael Jordan and LaMelo Ball. Jordan is excited about his up and coming team, and LaMelo Ball is truly a spectacular player that makes special plays on the floor. The Hornets can score with the best teams in the league, and their point guard is the reason why.
Ball is a superstar in the making, both on and off the court. Whether it is his dress style or passing skills, Ball is as flashy as it gets. Other guys such as Miles Bridges have greatly improved as well, meaning Charlotte should be in the playoffs this year which is a very good sign.
8. Washington Wizards 13-8
The Wizards have been a massive surprise this season, with the acquisitions of Montrezl Harrell, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Kyle Kuzma. The squad is filled with above-average players but not stars, although Bradley Beal falls in that latter category.
Most fans want to see Washington reach that next level as a squad because there are a ton of storylines there. Beal wants to win in Washington, Kuzma wants to prove his 2018 season was not a fluke, Harrell wants a rebound season, and Dinwiddie is out to prove he can be an All-Star someday. If the Wizards can hold onto a top-5 seed in the East, Washington fans will be happy.
7. Milwaukee Bucks 13-8
Nobody is worried about the Milwaukee Bucks, because they have a championship core that is starting to turn it on together. They added a sharpshooter in Grayson Allen and still have valuable role players in Bobby Portis and Pat Connaughton who come to play every night. Of course, Giannis Antetokounmpo is on the roster.
The Bucks’ Big Three is the most proven so far in the NBA, and they are slowly getting back to their best basketball. Giannis is once again among the MVP favorites and his two All-Star teammates are also getting back to their best basketball. Do not look past Milwaukee, because they are coming for the top seed in the East.
6. Miami Heat 13-8
Miami is one heck of a team to play against because they check all the boxes for a title-contending team. The Heat play defense, move the ball on offense, and have championship toughness. Jimmy Butler is one of the MVP candidates this season thanks to his all-around play and leadership, so Miami are in good shape right now.
Kyle Lowry was a perfect signing for Miami to get closer to the Finals again, and Bam Adebayo is one of the most impactful bigs in the league. The Heat will have a long road ahead to possibly grab the #1 seed in the East, but they are making all the right moves to get close to that level.
5. Utah Jazz 14-7
Utah had a ton of expectations this year after finishing with the best record in the NBA last year, and they have done well in performing at a high level so far. Rudy Gobert is playing his best basketball and might be one of the best defensive players over the past decade or more.
If Donovan Mitchell can take his game to another level, the Jazz can possibly get further in the playoffs than they did last year. Otherwise, Utah might have to see if they can add another star to the team if they cannot get over the hump.
4. Chicago Bulls 14-8
No team improved over one season like the Chicago Bulls. They went from being a decent team to a title contender after one offseason, thanks to the acquisitions of DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball, and Alex Caruso. Chicago’s team is filled with talent and they will only improve as they get more time together on the court.
In fact, the duo of Zach LaVine and DeRozan has been amazing to watch because both players have proven to be deadly in the clutch. Chicago have played extremely well even without the presence of Patrick Williams, yet another effective player who is of a starting caliber. The Bulls are a tough team to beat, and the franchise’s offseason decisions have placed them in this position.
3. Brooklyn Nets 15-6
Despite the absence of Kyrie Irving and the inconsistent play of James Harden, the Brooklyn Nets have the best record in the Eastern Conference. Kevin Durant is a top-2 MVP candidate because of his unstoppable scoring ability, and the forward is averaging 28.6 PPG on a scintillating 54.8% shooting.
As long as Durant plays at a Hall of Fame level, the Nets are one of the title favorites even without Kyrie Irving on the floor. The point guard returning makes Brooklyn nearly unstoppable, but assuming he does not suit up at all this season, the Nets need to get Harden playing at a superstar level for them to usurp the two best teams in the league.
2. Phoenix Suns 18-3
Thanks to the leadership of Chris Paul, the Phoenix Suns are tied with the Golden State Warriors for the best record in the Western Conference. Paul has elevated the entire franchise, making the young core of the team better. Devin Booker is getting close to superstar status, Deandre Ayton could be due for an All-Star Team appearance, and Mikal Bridges is an excellent two-way performer.
The Suns made it to the NBA Finals last year so they have the recipe for success under head coach Monty Williams. As long as the ownership distraction does not affect the team, Phoenix will be one of the best teams all year long as they look to make the NBA Finals once again.
1. Golden State Warriors 18-3
Stephen Curry is playing like the MVP of the league and the rest of the Warriors roster are following his lead. Curry is simply the greatest shooter of all time and he has been the most impactful player in the league ahead of Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo. As long as Curry plays at this level, the Warriors are in great shape.
Klay Thompson is getting close to returning to NBA action, and he will form a spectacular partnership with Stephen Curry once again. Draymond Green might be the most versatile defender in the league other than Giannis Antetokounmpo, and guys like Jordan Poole and Gary Payton II have taken their games to another level. Golden State will be in contention for the NBA championship this year and they are the best team in the league right now.