NBA Power Rankings: Where Warriors, Kings Sit with 22 Games to Go

By | March 6, 2024

NBA Power Rankings: Where Warriors, Kings Sit with 22 Games to Go originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

Two things 28 other NBA teams don’t want to see: the Bucks and Nuggets finding rhythm late in the season.

Milwaukee and Denver have each won six straight in early March, a possible sign of things to come.

Both teams haven’t dominated in the regular season like they have before, but that might not matter if they make good strides every time come playoff time.

Elsewhere, Washington has lost 15 in a row, while the play-in race from the West could be torrid.

Let’s take a look at the updated 2023-24 NBA Power Rankings:

The Wizards have become that team. Still on a 15-game losing streak, Washington has somehow dethroned the Pistons as the team with the worst record. Kyle Kuzma made fun of Detroit on social media earlier this season, and now the tables have been turned. Welcome to the bottom, Washington. (Last ranking: 29)

29. Detroit Pistons, 9-51

Somehow, the Pistons have managed to climb a spot after being at the bottom since pretty much November. There still isn’t much positive to write home about for Monty Williams’ selection. (Last ranking: 30)

Charlotte has lost four straight and has the league’s worst net rating. With LaMelo Ball and Mark Williams absent for much of the season, only rookie Brandon Miller was a player worth voting for. (Last ranking: 26)

On the other hand, Victor Wembanyama is like watching five good players in one. The amount of jumps he’s made in just one season is absurd, but it’s a shame he couldn’t rack up that many wins in his rookie campaign. (Last ranking: 28)

There isn’t much new in Portland other than the hope that Scoot Henderson can end the season on a high note once he returns from an injury-related absence. (Last ranking: 27)

Memphis drops two spots as it has recorded just three wins since January 28. It’s been a season full of terrible injuries, so the main goal is to finish without any more serious injuries. (Last ranking: 23)

The Nets remain in the same position as the previous edition, having not done anything significant in terms of increase or decrease. The low season is a priority. (Last ranking: 24)

The Raptors recently gave newly acquired Toronto native Kelly Olynyk a two-year, $26.25 million extension. The 32-year-old big man could be a trade candidate again next season if the Raptors continue to struggle. (Last ranking: 25)

Barring a dramatic late run in the play-in tournament, Atlanta appears destined for another midseason. Roster retooling, primarily via a potential trade involving Dejounte Murray, will be key this offseason. (Last ranking: 23)

Utah drops one spot after going 2-8 in its last ten games, potentially fatal in the play-in race. Keyonte George is looking more and more promising with each game, so there is at least one positive from a youth development perspective. (Last ranking: 20)

Houston remains a top 10 defensive unit, but isn’t in the thick of the playoff race like the other top teams around it. The bottom line is that he ranks 24th in offensive rankings, something head coach Ime Udoka needs to improve on for the 2024-2025 season. (Last ranking: 21)

DeMar DeRozan and Coby White have had some big performances in recent weeks, but there is still little optimism that the Bulls can do serious damage in a potential playoff series. The transaction should have occurred at the deadline. (Last ranking: 19)

Teams ranked No. 18 through No. 5 are incredibly tight, so a low seed shouldn’t necessarily be viewed as too bleak. But the Kings just can’t prove they can deliver consistent performances, especially against teams below them in terms of record. Failure to improve margins will be their downfall whenever it occurs. (Last ranking: 14)

The Magic did themselves a favor by going 8-2 in their last 10, with Paolo Banchero putting up a spectacular average. Who knows how Orlando will do in a potential playoff series, but they are a tough team to beat at home. (Last ranking: 17)

You never know which version of the Lakers you’re going to get, which is ultimately both good and bad and will likely be the reason for their demise (along with coaching issues). (Last ranking: 15)

Milwaukee and Denver have previously dominated the discourse on peaking teams, but the Warriors are also dark horse contenders. They have been in good form since before the All-Star break and are ready to bring back Andrew Wiggins, which is crucial to their wing depth. Let’s see if they can keep climbing. (Last ranking: 18)

Indiana has played up and down in recent weeks, with Tyrese Haliburton’s shaky shooting coinciding with the stretch. He’ll have to figure things out quickly to avoid sliding further down the ladder. (Last ranking: 13)

The Heat have an excellent track record of peaking at the right times, which could be the case again this season. They are 10-3 in their last 13 and just added sharpshooter Patty Mills to the bench. He’s already proven himself before he can muscle his way to a team play-off victory. (Last ranking: 16)

The Mavericks drop one spot after losing four of their last five. Prior to that stretch, they had won seven in a row, including wins over teams like Philadelphia, Phoenix, Oklahoma City and New York. A turnaround is needed quickly. (Last ranking: 11)

The 76ers have consistently fallen down the ladder following Joel Embiid’s knee injury. They just have to stay afloat until he returns, and then hope he can stay injury free and start running. (Last ranking: 10)

The Knicks are also dealing with an injury crisis of their own, and they should consider themselves extremely fortunate that Jalen Brunson’s recent scare wasn’t more serious. Like Philly, they need to stay afloat and make a run with the key players intact. (Last ranking: 9)

Phoenix has lost four of its last six while playing Houston three times in that span. However, the Suns only won 1-2, with one defeat at home. Those are the wins Phoenix should claim, because with how tight the West is, one loss can be the difference in tournament safety. (Last ranking: 8)

New Orleans is a major gainer, going 10-4 in its last 14. The focus for the Pelicans has always been keeping Zion Williamson healthy, especially when the run begins. Let’s see if the team can maintain this form. (Last ranking: 12)

Cleveland used to be the East’s second seed, but recent average form combined with Milwaukee’s hot streak is causing it to drop. Getting Donovan Mitchell back healthy is the key. (Last ranking: 6)

The Clippers are 5-6 in their last 11, although each loss has come against a potential playoff team. But with other teams around them in better form, LA drops three places. (Last ranking: 3)

Milwaukee has won six in a row to reclaim No. 2, though there’s still plenty of work to do to overtake No. 1. Two of those wins came against a lowly Hornets squad, but the wins also included those in Minnesota, in Philadelphia, in Chicago and against the Clippers without Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Bucks must move on if they want a higher ranking, but they are back in the top five for now. (Last ranking: 7)

Ranking the top three teams in the West is ridiculously difficult because of how close the race is. Oklahoma City has been great lately, but it’s no different from last time. Losing in San Antonio certainly hurts. (Last ranking: 4)

Minnesota’s recent three losses have all been at home against Milwaukee, Sacramento and the Clippers. They otherwise took care of business, including three wins over Portland since Feb. 13. But that’s not enough to be ranked as West’s best. (Last ranking: 2)

2. Denver Nuggets, 42-19

The defending champions are rising again and have won six in a row. Remember, the Nuggets’ total dominance last season didn’t fully take effect until the playoffs. Then they locked the place up. But Denver didn’t face a serious threat in the West last season, and this year that has changed. It will be interesting to see how Denver does this time. (Last ranking: 5)

The Celtics remain first for the eighth edition in a row. Their starting five has the perfect balance in every position and they are currently riding a league-best 11-match winning streak. As long as they stay the course, this is their first shot at Banner No. 18. (Last ranking: 1)

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