Week 22 of the NBA season is here, and we’re seeing a shake-up at the top of the Power Rankings. Drake Night was a successful endeavor in Toronto, as the Raptors knocked off the Rockets in one of the best games of the season last week. Elsewhere, the Blazers and Jazz are absolutely rolling, while the Warriors are struggling without Steph Curry. Nearly a third of the league is completely tanking, while the middle 16 teams are packed together tightly.
You may be tempted to take your eye off the NBA as March Madness ramps up, but there will be a ton of intriguing basketball played this week and the rest of the season. Let’s see where each team stands headed into Week 22.
30. Memphis Grizzlies (18–48)
Last Week: 30
29. New York Knicks (24–43)
Last Week: 23
28. Phoenix Suns (19–49)
Last Week: 29
27. Orlando Magic (20–47)
Last Week: 24
26. Atlanta Hawks (20–47)
Last Week: 27
25. Brooklyn Nets (21–46)
Last Week: 26
24. Dallas Mavericks (21–46)
Last Week: 28
23. Sacramento Kings (21–46)
Last Week: 25
22. Chicago Bulls (23–43)
Last Week: 22
The Bulls and Knicks have fully joined the ranks of the blurbless and the league’s bottom nine teams have separated themselves from the rest of the pack. The Grizzlies have somehow lost a whopping 17 games in a row despite having Mario Chalmers on the team. The Knicks are playing catch up to the rest of the tankers by having dropped seven straight themselves. The Suns are keeping the fight for the No. 1 pick interesting by staying only one game better than Memphis.
21. Charlotte Hornets (29–38)
Last Week: 20
Dwight Howard scored 30 points and collected 12 boards in Charlotte’s win over Phoenix on Sunday. Howard has quietly put together a very solid season. The Hornets are 5.8 points per 100 possessions better with Dwight on the court, and surprisingly, he’s been more impactful on offense than defense. Howard could have a little bit of trade value come the summer.
20. Detroit Pistons (30–36)
Last Week: 21
A somewhat troubling sign for the Pistons: Blake Griffin’s scoring, rebounding and efficiency have all dropped in Detroit compared to what he did in Los Angeles earlier this season.
19. Milwaukee Bucks (35–31)
Last Week: 19
Milwaukee plays three teams from the bottom eight this week. Any losses would be inexcusable.
18. San Antonio Spurs (37–29)
Last Week: 14
The Spurs are going to finish without a winning record on the road this season, the first time that’s happened in 20 years. Kawhi Leonard will reportedly return this week, and his services will be needed in what’s become a very tight race for the playoffs.
17. Cleveland Cavaliers (38–28)
Last Week: 13
The Cavs’ defensive rating before the All-Star break: 109.8
The Cavs’ defensive rating after the All-Star break: 109.3
No matter who has been on the roster, this team hasn’t defended well enough to be taken seriously as a title contender.
16. Los Angeles Lakers (30–36)
Last Week: 12
The Lakers are playing spoiler right now, and no team fighting for a playoff spot will look forward to playing these guys. L.A. looks like a better free-agent destination with each win. Monday’s showdown with the Nuggets should be fun.
15. Washington Wizards (38–29)
Last Week: 17
The ‘Zards were blown out by Miami on Saturday, and their next five games are against fellow playoff teams, four of whom are very desperate.
14. New Orleans Pelicans (38–28)
Last Week: 5
The Pelicans have lost two in a row after their 10 game win streak. Anthony Davis returned from a one-game absence to post a triple-double against the Jazz but it wasn’t enough. The schedule doesn’t get easier either, with matchups with the Spurs, Rockets and Celtics on the horizon.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves (39–29)
Last Week: 16
Big win for the Wolves over the Stephen Curry-less Warriors on Sunday. Minnesota is hanging on without Jimmy Butler, whose tweets have improved significantly since his injury.
12. Denver Nuggets (37–30)
Last Week: 8
The Nuggets rebounded from Nikola Jokic’s fourth-quarter benching to win their last two games of Week 21. Still, if the playoffs started today, Denver would be on the outside looking in. The Nuggets’ defense has been the second-worst in the league since the All-Star break.
11. Philadelphia 76ers (36–29)
Last Week: 9
The 76ers have a very manageable schedule to close out this month. Philly has a legitimate chance to have homecourt in a first-round playoff series.
10. Oklahoma City Thunder (39–29)
Last Week: 15
Corey Brewer could end up being the Thunder’s best Andre Roberson replacement. The Russ-PG-Melo-Steven Adams-Brewer group has a 13.2 net rating in 40 minutes over three games. The defense has taken a hit, but Brewer is helping the offense.
9. Miami Heat (36–31)
Last Week: 18
The Heat seem to be regaining their stride, going 3–1 last week, with the only loss coming in OT on the road. Miami has the second-best net rating in the East over the last 10 games. Oh, and it was slightly interesting to see the team’s offense take off without Hassan Whiteside in a blowout win over the Wizards.
8. Los Angeles Clippers (36–29)
Last Week: 10
This is going to be a tough week for the Clips, who will play the Rockets, Thunder and Blazers. Los Angeles only has three games left against under-.500 teams the rest of the season.
7. Utah Jazz (37–30)
Last Week: 11
The Jazz are streaking again, winning six straight to put themselves on the cusp of a playoff spot in the West. Utah enters Week 22 with the third-best defense in the NBA.
6. Boston Celtics (46–21)
Last Week: 6
The Celtics have fallen 3 1/2 games behind the Raptors for the No. 1 seed in the East. Boston may be closer to the second tier of playoff teams than they are to Toronto.
5. Indiana Pacers (39–28)
Last Week: 7
Indiana is on pace to both win more games than last season and win more games than Paul George’s Thunder. Indy has three tough games coming up against Philly, Toronto and Washington this week, though.
4. Golden State Warriors (51–16)
Last Week: 2
The Dubs have lost two in a row in a win for the Curry-is-better-than-Durant crowd. Expect Golden State to not only right the ship, but be extra, extra cautious with Curry as the playoffs approach.
3. Portland Trail Blazers (40–26)
Last Week: 4
Portland is the hottest team in the league, now having won nine in a row. The Blazers still only have a two-game lead on the Pelicans and Wolves in the bunched-up West.
2. Houston Rockets (52–14)
Last Week: 1
The Rockets have been bumped from the top spot after Toronto ended their 17-game win streak. Houston still has a 1 1/2-game lead on the Warriors for first place and homecourt throughout the playoffs.
1. Toronto Raptors (49–17)
Last Week: 3
The Raptors have won eight in a row and nine of their last 10. It’s not too late for Drake to re-make the “God’s Plan” video and add one scene of DeMarDeRozan holding up the Larry O’Brien Trophy.