NBA Power Rankings: 12/17-12/23

NBA Power Rankings: 12/17-12/23

by December 24, 2021 1 comment

Unfortunately, the NBA headlines are being dominated by players entering the NBA’s COVID safety protocols. There has been a COVID outbreak in the NBA and it is causing some of the best players to miss games. It is also making it difficult for teams to field complete teams and in some cases, teams are having to sign guys that are either in the G-League or not playing. Hopefully, the NBA can navigate this outbreak safely and return to normal at some point in the near future.

It is time once again to rank all 30 teams from worst to first. Who got coal in their Christmas stocking and who got a cool new toy under the tree. Check out this week’s power rankings to find out.

30. Detroit Pistons (+0)

The good news for the Pistons is that they broke their losing streak against the Miami Heat. The bad news, Detroit is 5-25 and still has the worst record in the NBA. While Cade Cunningham usually takes the spotlight, Saddiq Bey has been the player in the spotlight recently for the Pistons. To make things tougher on them, Cunningham is now in the health and safety protocols. Detroit has been more competitive this week, but they are still really bad.

29. Orlando Magic (+0)

There was a consideration in moving Orlando up a spot or two because of their pair of wins this week. However, wins over two teams with depleted rosters in the Nets and the Hawks are not as good as other wins. Give credit where it is due though. The Magic have been dealing with COVID issues of their own and found ways to win games in which they were underdogs.

28. Houston Rockets (-3)

After surging a bit a few weeks ago, the Rockets have fallen back down to earth. This was not an especially good week for Houston, going 1-3 with losses to the Bulls, Knicks, and Bucks. The lone win for Houston was over the Detroit Pistons, who are one of the few teams as bad as Houston. This team is set to get Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr back soon, which should help the outlook.

27. New Orleans Pelicans (+0)

New Orleans has been playing well, but there is still hesitancy in moving them up too much until they can do it consistently. This team has won four of five and won two games this week. Brandon Ingram is still playing his best basketball of the season and Nickeil Alexander-Walker has been assisting him. If they can continue to improve, there is room to move up the rankings for the Pelicans.

26. Sacramento Kings (-2)

It was a bad week for the Kings, going 1-3 and having several players out in protocols. The win came against the Spurs, but they had some bad losses to the Grizzlies, Warriors, and the Clippers. Tyrese Haliburton has stepped up with De’Aaron Fox sidelined. This team is still in the playoff hunt despite all of these things going wrong. The hope is when Fox comes back and the COVID issues subside, this team can make a run at a playoff spot.

25. Oklahoma City Thunder (+3)

The Thunder sees a decent move up the rankings on the back of their three-game winning streak. The teams that they beat this week are solid too. The wins came over the Clippers, Grizzlies, and Nuggets this week. It is no surprise that Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey are the guys leading the way and they have been excellent this week. On paper, this team is not as good as their record suggests, but they are finding ways to win.

24. Portland Trail Blazers (+2)

This week was an improvement for the Portland Trail Blazers, going 2-1. The Blazers got wins over the Grizzlies and the Hornets but did pick up a loss against the Pelicans. This has been the first week that Damian Lillard has looked like the superstar that he is. With CJ McCollum on the sidelines with an injury, Norman Powell has been a solid option to turn to.

23. San Antonio Spurs (+0)

There was some thought to move the Spurs up more because of their play this week, but overall, this team is still just falling short. The offense was tremendous, especially Dejounte Murray. The Spurs got wins over the Jazz and the Clippers, with their loss coming to the Kings. This team has been fun to watch lately and could keep climbing up the rankings here soon.

22. Atlanta Hawks (-7)

One team that is heading in the wrong direction is the Atlanta Hawks. The week started off with a blowout loss to the Nuggets and then the COVID issues started. The game against the Cavs was postponed and then Hawks players left and right started entering the health and safety protocols. With a depleted team, Atlanta could not get a win against the Magic. The Hawks need Trae Young back if they want to have any chance to dig themselves out of their hole.

21. Indiana Pacers (+0)

The Pacers had an ok week, going 1-1, with a loss to Miami and a win over the Pistons. This was probably the worst week of the season for Domantas Sabonis. Sabonis only averaged 12 points this week and luckily, Caris LeVert was there to pick up the slack on offense. This team needs Malcolm Brogdon to get healthy quickly.

20. New York Knicks (+1)

The Knicks were able to get out two wins, even if they were against the Pistons and the Rockets. This is a team that has been struggling and it has to feel good to get a couple of wins, no matter the opponent. Kemba Walker has returned to the rotation and given this team a jolt offensively. The biggest concern for this team has to be the play of Julius Randle. Randle has taken a big step back this season after being an All-NBA player last season.

19. Toronto Raptors (+1)

Toronto only played in one game this week, beating the Warriors without their main pieces. That leaves little room for movement in either direction.

18. Los Angeles Lakers (-8)

The Lakers are going to drop eight spots after such a big move upward last week. This team had a miserable week, going 0-3, and look to be really missing Anthony Davis. One of the losses was a blowout loss to the Timberwolves that looked especially bad. LeBron James has been turning in great performances, but that has not translated to wins for the Lakers.

17. Minnesota Timberwolves (+2)

Minnesota got a nice win over the Lakers this week and also split a pair of games against Dallas. This is impressive considering that their young star Anthony Edwards has been in the protocols. The biggest reason this team is in the playoff hunt is the play of their superstar. Karl-Anthony Towns has been fantastic this season and should be getting some All-NBA consideration.

16. Charlotte Hornets (-5)

The Hornets had a tough week, going 0-3 against the Blazers, Suns, and Jazz. Losing to two of the best teams in the NBA is never a bad thing though. Charlotte is getting their players back from protocols and should be able to get back to winning basketball games soon. LaMelo Ball returned and looked like a superstar. The defense still remains an issue and that is the biggest worry for the Hornets.

15. Dallas Mavericks (+2)

Dallas took a big hit this week when superstar Luka Doncic was put in the health and safety protocols. On the court, the Mavericks split a pair of games with Minnesota. It is always a huge win when you can win games without your best player and that is what Dallas has done. Jalen Brunson had a solid week in picking up the slack on offense, as did Dorian Finney-Smith.

14. Boston Celtics (+2)

Boston is stuck in the middle of a group of teams that all have similar records. The Celtics had an ok week, beating the Knicks and Cavs while losing to Golden State and Philadelphia. Jaylen Brown and Robert Williams have had been exceptional this week in many different ways. Jayson Tatum was not shooting well which might be the biggest concern for Boston.

13. Washington Wizards (+5)

Washington got a huge win when they upset the Jazz this week. They were on a losing streak and coming off a loss to the Suns before that big win. They also had a game against the Nets postponed. The best news that the Wizards could hope for was that Bradley Beal get back to his All-NBA form. He has done that and that should help the Wizards bounce back from their recent slide.

12. Denver Nuggets (+1)

The Nuggets move up one spot after a short week that included beating the Hawks and losing to the Thunder. Nikola Jokic is having a great season and keeping this team in the running for a playoff spot. The guy that needs to play better for Denver this week has to be Will Barton though. Barton is struggling shooting the basketball and he needs to be a better second option for this team moving forward.

11. Philadelphia 76ers (+3)

Philadelphia was another team that had a game postponed, making their week shorter than most. This team did lose to the shorthanded Nets team but bounced back with a win over the Celtics. Joel Embiid was dominant this week yet again and should be starting to garner some MVP consideration. With Tyrese Maxey and Shake Milton out, Seth Curry had some nice performances filling in for them.

10. Los Angeles Clippers (+2)

The big news for the Clippers was Paul George finally returned from injury. The bad news, the Clippers did not have the best week, going 1-2. Losing to the Thunder and Spurs while beating the Kings. The Clippers move up due to the courtesy of others around them rather than their own play. One thing to monitor going forward is that Serge Ibaka finally got to play over 20 minutes. Ibaka could be a key piece for the Clippers moving forward.

9. Memphis Grizzlies (-2)

The Grizzlies are still one of the best stories of the NBA season but did drop two games to the Blazers and Thunder this week. Losing those two games is why Memphis is dropping in the rankings, but it was not all bad. Memphis did beat Sacramento. Oh, and Ja Morant finally made his return. Things are going well in Memphis right now.

8. Milwaukee Bucks (-2)

Through not really a fault of their own, the Bucks drop two spots in this week’s rankings. Milwaukee is working with a depleted roster and trying to stay in the race in the Eastern Conference. Losses to the Cavs and Pelicans stung, but the team did pick up a win over the Rockets. A player to spotlight this week for Milwaukee is Jordan Nwora. Nwora is playing well, given the roster outlook and his playing time and that is good for the Bucks to see.

7. Cleveland Cavaliers (-2)

The Cavaliers had their week affected by a COVID outbreak on their team and had a game against Atlanta canceled. Cleveland lost to the Celtics and things got so bad that even Tacko Fall had to start at center for the Cavs. This team needs to work on getting past their outbreak and getting the team whole again.

6. Chicago Bulls (+2)

The Bulls have had to miss games in recent weeks, but they still look like one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. DeMar DeRozan has quietly been one of the NBA’s best players and is carrying Chicago at the moment. The Bulls looked impressive in wins over the Lakers and Rockets. Chicago has been dealing with injuries, but this team keeps finding a way to win and that is impressive.

5. Miami Heat (+4)

The Heat find themselves back in the top five after a solid week. They lost to the Pistons, but got wins over the Magic and Pacers. The big three of Tyler Herro, Gabe Vincent, and Max Struss are carrying the team and have been scoring the ball well. Despite the injury concerns, this team is right near the top of the Eastern Conference and that is impressive.

4. Brooklyn Nets (+0)

Speaking of teams working through COVID issues, the Nets are struggling to field a team of capable guys. Brooklyn has Kevin Durant in health and safety protocols and this is during the midst of his MVP campaign. The Nets had two games postponed while getting a win over the 76ers and losing to the Magic. It was a disruptive week for the Eastern Conference favorites and here’s hoping they get well soon.

3. Utah Jazz (-1)

After making a serious push to claim the top spot in the rankings, the Jazz lost two games this week to the Spurs and Wizards. Utah got a win over Charlotte to salvage the week, but those losses were enough to drop them from a top-two spot in the rankings. Make no mistake though, this is still one of the best teams in the NBA. The offense continues to be great and the Jazz should remain one of the favorites to win the championship.

2. Phoenix Suns (+0)

The Suns remain in the second spot this week after big wins over the Wizards, Hornets, and Lakers. This team is clicking right now and that was with Devin Booker out with an injury. Now, Booker is back and giving the team a scoring boost. This team was dominant from start to finish and remains one of the best overall teams in the NBA.

1. Golden State Warriors (+0)

Golden State did lose a game this week, but it was while resting most of their starters against the Raptors. They recorded wins over the Celtics and Kings while at full strength and looked really good doing so. Rookie Jonathan Kuminga turned in a career-high 26 point performance and Stephen Curry was his dominant self. It is all good in the Bay Area at Christmas time this year.


Check us out on our socials:   
Twitter: @PTSTNews and @TalkPrimeTime
Facebook Page: Prime Time Sports Talk
Join our Facebook Group: Prime Time Sports Talk 
Instagram: @primetimesportstalk

Follow Jackson Caudell on Twitter @jacksoncaudell

Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images

1 Comment so far

Jump into a conversation

Leave a Reply