Driscoll’s NBA Power Rankings: Part 11

NBA - Knicks vs. Thunder

We’re officially approaching the end of the NBA season. In fact, this represents the penultimate NBA Power Rankings for the year. Although it may seem like most of the best teams are settled in, there is still the potential for some sleepers to sneak into a top spot.

With this being said, here are the top 10 teams in the NBA.

NBA Stats Glossary

Offensive Rating: Points Scored Per 100 Possessions
Defensive Rating: Points Allowed Per 100 Possessions
Net Rating: Point Differential Per 100 Possessions
Simple Rating System (SRS): Combination of Strength of Schedule and Net Rating


Stats are accurate as of Monday, April 1, 2024.

10. New Orleans Pelicans (-4 since last ranking)

Admittedly, putting the Pelicans at No. 6 two weeks ago was a little premature. I think the Pelicans’ ceiling is higher than most people acknowledge, and that ceiling is a Conference Finals appearance. However, the Pelicans have lost two straight games and four of their last seven. Despite the high ceiling, their floor is relatively low, too. They are currently the No. 6 seed and only one game ahead of the Suns, to whom they recently lost. New Orleans could be successful in the play-in tournament, but you cannot count anything out in what are essentially single-elimination games.


9. Cleveland Cavaliers (-2)

The Cavaliers are a difficult team to rank. They were debatably the best team in the league from the New Year up until the All-Star Break. However, since then, they have been very disappointing. They have lost six of their last nine games and have been without their star, Donovan Mitchell, for 13 of their last 17 games. In the games Mitchell has played, he has only averaged 13 points while shooting 30 percent from the field. The Cavaliers are rightfully being very careful with Mitchell’s knee, but even with him healthy, I am not sure if they can beat the Bucks, Celtics, or Knicks in a playoff series.

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8. Los Angeles Clippers (+2)

Speaking of teams that are hard to rank, the Clippers come in at No. 8. There was a point in the season where I had the Clippers ranked first: right after they blew out the Celtics on their home court. However, they have also been a big disappointment since then. They were on the same level as the Nuggets, Thunder, and Timberwolves for a few weeks. They are now closer to the eighth seed than the third seed. Do I still think they can make the NBA Finals? I do. However, there is also a world where they fall to No. 6, match up with one of the three big teams in the first round, and lose in five games. Things are not looking great, but never count out the playoff version of Kawhi Leonard in a big series.

7. Dallas Mavericks (Not Ranked)

The Mavericks have not made this list since Dec. 19. However, it is nearly impossible to keep ignoring them. Even though they are only the No. 5 seed and half a game above the No. 6 seed, they have been on fire lately. They have won 11 of their last 12 games, including seven in a row. There is certainly a world where the Mavericks climb into the top five seeds and make a run to the Western Conference Finals. This will especially be the case if Kyrie Irving stays healthy and Luka Doncic plays like he did in the playoffs from 2020 through 2022.


6. New York Knicks (-1)

The Knicks have a ton of potential. When fully healthy, they have one of the deepest teams in the league thanks to both their starting lineup and bench. However, their second- and third-best players have been out for quite some time now. OG Anunoby missed 18 games in a row, returned for three, and has missed his last seven. Julius Randle has missed his last 28 games due to a dislocated shoulder. Do I think Jalen Brunson can win a playoff series without those two? Probably. Can they make the Eastern Conference Finals without them? Doubtful. I am not entirely sold that they can beat either the Celtics or the Bucks in a seven-game series. However, if certain seedings go their way, they can certainly give any team a run for their money.

5. Minnesota Timberwolves (+3)

The Timberwolves previously dropped spots because I was concerned with how they would react to the injury of Karl-Anthony Towns. However, they have still been great without him. They have won eight of their last 12 games, and two of those wins were against the Clippers and Nuggets. In a playoff series, I believe the Timberwolves can beat anyone in the West not named the Nuggets. As of now, the Wolves are hoping Towns can make it to the Western Conference Finals. If they make it that far, the sky is the limit.

4. Milwaukee Bucks (-1)

The Bucks are the second-best team in the East. I also think they have debatably the best starting five in the league. However, their bench and defense have not been great since Doc Rivers took over. Both Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard struggle to be an above-average team when they are not on the court together. I still think there is a world where both superstars step it up and win the NBA Finals, but they have to figure things out quickly.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder (+1)

The Thunder continue to be one of the most consistent and best two-way teams in the league. For the entire season, they are fourth in offensive rating, fourth in defensive rating, and second in net rating. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will likely finish among the top three in MVP voting, Jalen Williams took a second-year jump, Chet Holmgren has been the best player from his draft class, and head coach Mark Daigneault has been phenomenal at making adjustments. Oklahoma City will not receive true respect from the league until the playoffs. They deserve their flowers for how consistent they have been for such a long time.

2. Boston Celtics (No Change)

The Celtics have been the best team in the league for the entire season, having won 11 of their last 13 games and 22 of their last 26. Jayson Tatum will probably finish among the top five in MVP voting, Jaylen Brown and Derrick White are having the best seasons of their respective careers, and Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday have fit in perfectly. Joe Mazzula has also grown a ton in his second year as head coach. So why are they not No. 1? Frankly, I have more trust in the Denver Nuggets.

1. Denver Nuggets (No Change)

The Nuggets are second in the West now, and it feels like they have been slightly disappointing. Maybe it has to do with the fact that they are the defending champs and are in a small market, but they have actually been almost as good as last year. As long as Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray show up for the playoffs, they will have no problem coming out of the West and will likely be the favorites to win the NBA Finals.

All American Hoops NBA Podcast: Episode 14

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