There is a new team on top of our NBA power rankings this week. The Nets’ continued inconsistency coupled with the loss of James Harden to injury has pushed the Suns to the top of the list. Phoenix continues to treat the regular season with utmost urgency and has lost just three games since the All-Star break. No one is playing better basketball than the Suns.
Having said that, there were plenty of great performances over the last week in the NBA. The Utah Jazz moved up a spot after a strong week, while the Dallas Mavericks and Denver Nuggets pushed forward after undefeated weeks.
Here’s a look at the top five in the league to go with, of course, the Knicks.
1. Phoenix Suns (3)
Week recap: 3-0 SU/2-1 ATS
The wins continue to come, so the Suns have found their way to the top of the power rankings. Phoenix led the league in offensive efficiency last week, averaging 1.3 points per possession against the Bulls, Thunder and Rockets. The opponents have not been great, but we’ll get some questions answered this week. The Suns will face the Jazz and Clippers in games that weigh heavily in the West.
2. Brooklyn Nets (1)
Week recap: 3-1 SU/2-2 ATS
Injuries and inconsistent play have knocked the Nets out of the top spot. They needed a 12-0 run in the third quarter to get past the Rockets, lost to the Bulls and barely got by the Knicks. That week is part of a larger 3-10 ATS slide, and the Nets’ offense has been the culprit. Averaging 113.6 points per 100 possessions would be fine for any team, but when you give up 112.1 over the same stretch, you’re barely going to get by.
3. Utah Jazz (4)
Week recap: 3-1 SU/1-3 ATS
Utah posted the second-best net rating of the week at +13.5, but its power rating is at its peak. That is represented by a 1-3 ATS record despite such a dominant week statistically. The Jazz’s defense had seemingly come back to form before the week ended, but the Mavericks cooked them for 1.22 points per possession. Is that a sign of things to come?
4. Philadelphia 76ers (2)
Week recap: 2-2 SU/1-3 ATS
Joel Embiid is back in the mix, but without him the 76ers were listless on offense in a loss to the Grizzlies. Their defense over the last two games has regressed a bit too. The Grizzlies and Timberwolves averaged a combined 1.162 points per possession against the Sixers this week. They face the Celtics, Pelicans and Mavericks in the next week, with another back-to-back situation on the schedule. It could be another uneven week for Philadelphia.
6. Milwaukee Bucks (6)
Week recap: 3-0 SU/2-1 ATS
The only blemish last week was a win over the Kings in which Milwaukee did not cover, but Giannis Antetokounmpo was not on the floor. The Bucks’ 127-109 win over the Trail Blazers was very impressive. The Bucks crushed them inside by going 23 of 26 at the rim and scoring 58 points in the paint, but their defensive effort was even better. Milwaukee has a great week on the horizon with some bottom-feeders on the schedule.
6. Denver Nuggets (7)
7. Dallas Mavericks (8)
8. Los Angeles Clippers (5)
9. Miami Heat (10)
10. Los Angeles Lakers (9)
11. Boston Celtics (11)
12. Portland Trail Blazers (12)
13. Memphis Grizzlies (13)
14. New York Knicks (14)
Week recap: 1-3 SU/2-2 ATS
The Knicks exploited two poor defenses to end the week, and averaged 1.247 points per possession in a couple of covers, but it’s pretty clear the issues that plague the Knicks on that end of the floor are still around. The losses are starting to add up, and their standing in the conference is worth monitoring. The Knicks were just 3 ¹/₂ games ahead of the Bulls, who were sitting 10th in the East.