As the NBA enters its trade season, teams continue to jostle for positioning atop their respective conferences. Here’s a look at Prime Time Sports Talk’s NBA Power Rankings for Week 9.
- Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks sit atop the East. The Bucks are No. 1 in Net-Rating and feature the league’s top defense. Giannis is making a play for MVP award and Milwaukee’s matchup against the Lakers this week could be a Finals preview. They also face the Knicks in New York and the Pacers at home.
- Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers escaped Miami last Friday with a win thanks to some shaky officiating but lost in Indiana. L.A. has the second-best Net-Rating this season. They’re headed to Milwaukee, then host Denver.
- Los Angeles Clippers
With Lou Williams day-to-day and Patrick Beverly in the concussion protocol, the Clippers need production from a few other players. They beat Phoenix last night and host Houston this week before traveling to San Antonio.
- Philadelphia 76ers
Despite a loss playing without Joel Embiid in Brooklyn this week, the 76ers hold the East’s No. 2 seed. Wins in Boston and over the Raptors helped Philadelphia climb in the standings. Philly hosts the Heat, Mavericks, and Wizards this week before a Christmas Day matchup versus the Bucks.
- Dallas Mavericks
Dallas lost Luka Doncic this week but responded with an upset victory in Milwaukee. Dallas is 7-3 in their last 10 but could be without Luka for a few weeks. They host Boston this week, then travel to Philadelphia and Toronto.
- Miami Heat
One of the surprise teams in the NBA this season, the Heat sport a top-10 offense and a top-10 defense. Miami has been great at home (11-1) with their only loss coming to the Lakers thanks to blown calls from the officials. The emergence of Bam Adebayo as an All-Star candidate has helped Jimmy Butler, but a loss this week in Memphis pointed to a lack of depth. The Heat travel to Philadelphia this week, then host New York.
- Boston Celtics
The Celtics have lost two in a row and are 4-3 over their last seven. Marcus Smart hasn’t played since early December and his absence hurts. The Celtics are on the road in Dallas this week, playing the Mavs without Luka, then host Detroit and Charlotte.
- Toronto Raptors
Pascal Siakam has emerged as an All-Star and Toronto’s playing well. They sport the league’s sixth-best Net-Rating. Toronto has won two straight after a 1-4 stretch. This week, the Raptors are in Detroit before hosting the Wizards and the Mavericks.
- Indiana Pacers
Indiana stopped the Lakers 14-game road winning streak this week and continue to surprise without Oladipo. Indiana hosts the Kings before traveling to Milwaukee.
- Houston Rockets
Houston escaped with a two-point victory over the Spurs this week. Their four-game road trip starts in Los Angeles before moving on to Phoenix, Sacramento and Golden State.
- Denver Nuggets
Denver has won three straight after a 1-5 stretch. Paul Millsap is day-to-day with an injury, but Michael Porter, Jr.’s emergence as a potential player off the bench helps. The Nuggets host Orlando and Minnesota this week before traveling to the Lakers.
- Utah Jazz
The team lacks depth, as Mike Conley’s recent injury has demonstrated. Utah beat Magic yesterday and now start an Eastern swing with stops in Atlanta and Charlotte.
- Brooklyn Nets
Currently the East’s No. 7 seed, Brooklyn has been without Kyrie Irving for a time. Brooklyn’s injury issues include Caris LaVert, but they’re getting great play from Spencer Dinwiddie. The Nets beat New Orleans yesterday and head to San Antonio before hosting Atlanta.
- Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder started the week by snapping a two-game losing streak with a win over Chicago. Oklahoma City hosts the Grizzlies, the Suns and the Clippers this week. A bad stretch might make them sellers in the trade market.
- Orlando Magic
Orlando clings to the East’s No. 8 seed at present. They won in New Orleans on Sunday but lost last night in Utah. They also make stops in Denver and Portland this week.
- Sacramento Kings
A terrible home loss to the Knicks sullied a week that saw them pick up upset wins in Houston and Dallas, as well as a one-point win over the Thunder. They lost in Charlotte last night, and play in Indiana and Memphis this week.
- Portland Trailblazers
Portland has the best, most-recognizable roster on the bottom half of this list. They’re 6-4 in their last 10. They host the Warriors, Magic, and Wolves this week and badly need more wins.
- Charlotte Hornets
Charlotte has found Kemba Walker’s replacement in Devonte’ Graham. The Hornets are 5-5 in their last 10 and beat Sacramento last night. Now, they travel to Cleveland before hosting Utah.
- Phoenix Suns
Phoenix has lost four in a row. The Suns are in Oklahoma City next before returning home to host Houston.
- Detroit Pistons
Detroit may have lost Blake Griffin for an extended period of time. The Pistons face tough games against Boston, in Toronto, and Chicago. A bad week, coupled with bad injury news, might make Detroit sellers in the trade market.
- San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs have played well as of late despite losing a late lead to the Rockets. At least it wasn’t an overtime game, of which they had four in a row prior to Monday. They were 4-1 over that span. They host Brooklyn and the Clippers this week.
- Chicago Bulls
They responded to a 1-4 stretch with a nice home win over the Clippers, but then dropped a winnable game to the Thunder to start this week. They’re in Washington and Detroit this week for a pair of big games with similarly situated teams.
- Memphis Grizzlies
Memphis has the odds-on favorite for Rookie of the Year in Ja Morant. They’ve won two in a row and are 4-1 in their last five. This week they have winnable games at Oklahoma City and Cleveland, then home versus the Kings.
- Minnesota Timberwolves
Minnesota hasn’t won a game in the month of December. They’ve lost seven in a row and are 2-8 in their last 10. Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins need to elevate their games if they don’t want Minnesota being a seller in the trade market. The Wolves host New Orleans before traveling to Denver and Portland this week.
- Washington Wizards
Bradley Beal continues to put up big numbers for Washington, but he’s playing by himself these days. The Wizards’ win in Detroit on Monday stopped a four-game skid. They’re 3-7 in their last 10. This week they host Chicago before matchups in Toronto and Philadelphia.
- New York Knicks
The Knicks recently fired David Fizdale. Since, they’ve been mostly competitive, going 3-3 with only one blowout loss. This week, the Knicks beat Atlanta. They’ll travel to Miami before returning home to host Milwaukee.
- Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks had hoped for a hotter start this season, but when John Collins was suspended for 25 games, things cooled considerably. They are 2-8 in their last 10. They lost to New York this week and now host Utah, before going to Brooklyn.
- New Orleans Pelicans
Just about nothing has gone right for New Orleans since winning the lottery and selecting Zion Williamson, who hasn’t seen the floor. The team is mired in a franchise-worst 13-game losing streak. The Pels lost to Brooklyn this week and now travel to Minnesota and Golden State.
- Cleveland Cavaliers
Cleveland is 2-16 in their last 18 games and these days everyone is waiting for Kevin Love to be traded. This week, Cleveland hosts the Hornets, Grizzlies, and Hawks.
- Golden State Warriors
While injuries have completely derailed the season, the Warriors are playing (and losing) in their beautiful new arena. They should probably consider trading D’Angelo Russell. If they can acquire an asset for Russell and land the No. 1 pick with the return of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, the Warriors will be right back in the mix next season.