Here is a look at the NBA Power Rankings through Week 14 of the 2018-19 NBA season.
Let’s make one thing clear: these power rankings are a snapshot of where things stand now, not necessarily how they’ll look at the end of the season. We’re all about giving credit where it’s due and likewise, holding teams accountable for speed bumps encountered along the way.
All records and stats are through games played Sunday, January 20.
Last week’s ranking: 10
Overall record: 31-15
Last week: 3-1 (win vs. Suns, loss vs. 76ers, win vs. Mavericks, win vs. Hornets)
This week: vs. Raptors, at Grizzlies
The Pacers stay put at 10 after a week that consisted of four home games and three wins.
While Indiana took care of business against Phoenix, Dallas and Charlotte, it put forth a less-than-stellar performance in a 120-96 loss to Philadelphia Thursday night. While the team has moved to No. 3 in the Eastern Conference by winning 17 of its last 22 games, four of the five losses in that span have come against the Raptors (twice), Celtics and Sixers.
To prove their legitimacy as a serious playoff contender in the East, the Pacers will need to win such games moving forward – they get a golden opportunity Wednesday when they host the Raptors for a chance to get their first win over the team in three tries.
Last week’s ranking: 8
Overall record: 27-18
Last week: 1-2 (loss at Hawks, loss vs. Lakers, win at 76ers)
This week: at Knicks, vs. Blazers, vs. Pelicans, vs. Bucks
The Thunder avoided a falling out of the top-10 with a last-second win in Philadelphia on Saturday.
For what has been the best defence in the NBA for the entire first half of the season, OKC seems to be slipping a bit. They allowed 142 points in a loss to the Atlanta Hawks to start the week then let a LeBron James-less Lakers team put up 138 the next game.
After their 0-4 start to the season opponents were only posting 104.7 points per game against the Thunder when they started bounce back from the rough start. They’ve now lost five of their last seven games, allowing over 110 points in each of those contests.
Last week’s ranking: 7
Overall record: 28-19
Last week: 2-1 (loss at Kings, win vs. Cavaliers, win vs. Pelicans)
This week: at Jazz, at Thunder, at Suns, vs. Hawks
The Trail Blazers have been an up-and-down team this season but more ups than downs has kept them in the Western Conference playoff picture.
They’ve hit their stride going 7-3 over their last 10 games, riding a six game winning streak at the Moda Center to gain this momentum. Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic have been their usual selves, but it’s the play of Portland’s role players that has boosted this team’s moral.
Al-Farouq Aminu, Zach Collins and Jake Layman have all had success scoring the basketball lately and Seth Curry boasts the second-best 3-point percentage in the NBA. Meyers Leonard, Maurice Harkless and Nik Stauskas provide quality minutes off the bench and Evan Turner continues to be the swiss army knife the Blazers signed him to be.
Their depth is starting to prove as a true strength for this team going forward.
Last week’s ranking: 6
Overall record: 27-21
Last week: 2-2 (loss vs. Hornets, win at Mavericks, win at Timberwolves, loss vs. Clippers)
This week: at 76ers, at Pelicans, vs. Wizards
The Spurs moved down one spot after opening and closing a four-game week with home losses to the Hornets and Clippers. The team did, however, earn road wins in Dallas and Minnesota to go .500 for the week and remain in the middle of the Western Conference playoff picture.
DeMar DeRozan, who missed the Minnesota game with ankle soreness, struggled throughout the week as he averaged 12.0 points, 5.7 assists, 5.3 rebounds and 4.0 turnovers per game while shooting 38.6 percent from the field. In Sunday’s loss, the four-time All-Star scored eight points on 25 percent shooting from the field and was his own biggest critic postgame.
Should DeRozan get back closer to his regular season averages of 21.4 points, 6.4 assists and 6.1 rebounds this week, San Antonio should be just fine during its three-game schedule.
Last week’s ranking: 9
Overall record: 28-18
Last week: 3-1 (loss at Nets, win vs. Raptors, win vs. Grizzlies, win at Hawks)
This week: vs. Heat, vs. Cavaliers, vs. Warriors
The Celtics’ locker room seemed to be near the boiling point after a frustrating three-game losing streak after Monday’s loss to the Brooklyn Nets – winning can heal a lot of issues though.
Kyrie Irving was unstoppable in a statement win over the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday. He assisted or scored on 24 of the Celtics’ final 30 points in the tight win in Boston including this 30-foot bomb that sealed the outcome.
Kyrie Irving seals the @celtics win from way downtown!
– NBA (@NBA) January 17, 2019
He was dominant again in wins over the Grizzlies and Hawks and is averaging 32.3 points per game over their three-game winning streak. He’s also distributing the ball at an extremely high rate averaging 11.3 assists over that stretch.
The Celtics have won eight straight games on their home floor, which bodes well for their upcoming week of three home games, even if one is against the Golden State Warriors.
Last week’s ranking: 5
Overall record: 26-19
Last week: 2-1 (win vs. Grizzlies, loss vs. Nets, win vs. Lakers)
This week: at 76ers, at Knicks, vs. Raptors, vs. Magic
The Rockets have cooled off a bit since they rattled off 11 wins in 12 games but James Harden‘s magic still has this team in a good position.
He’s scored 30 or more points in 19 consecutive games joining Wilt Chamberlain as the only other player in NBA history to do so. He scored 57 points in a comeback win over the Memphis Grizzlies and 58 in an overtime loss to the Nets proving to be virtually unstoppable.
Dropping 48 points in a near triple-double versus the Los Angeles Lakers barely even turns heads anymore, that’s how impressive this run has been. But in that overtime win, it was Eric Gordon’s heroics in regulation that got the job done.
CLUTCH 🚀 pic.twitter.com/zu3fdRNKyx
– Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) January 20, 2019
Last week it reported that Chris Paul is expected to return ‘toward the end of January’. They are also expected to sign forward Kenneth Faried once he is bought out by the Nets, buying time until Clint Capela can return from his thumb surgery. Help is on the way in Houston.
Last week’s ranking: 3
Overall record: 30-14
Last week: 2-1 (loss vs. Warriors, win vs. Bulls, win vs. Cavaliers)
This week: at Jazz, vs. Suns, vs. 76ers
The Nuggets have been one of the most impressive teams through the first half of the season, there is no arguing that.
But they a chance to prove themselves at home against a Golden State Warriors team that was only missing DeMarcus Cousins, and they dropped the ball. They’re still tied with the Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks for the best home record in the NBA at 20-4, so the home loss to the Warriors comes as an outlier compared to the rest of season.
It was an ugly loss but they handled their business the rest of the week against the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers. Jamal Murray scored 24 and 25 points in those contests, respectively, and Nikola Jokic posted a triple-double in the win over Cleveland.
Those two have been the catalyst of the Nuggets success this season and are putting together All-Star-worthy performances each time they step on the floor.
3. Toronto Raptors
Last week’s ranking: 1
Overall record: 35-13
Last week: 2-1 (loss at Celtics, win vs. Suns, win vs. Grizzlies)
This week: vs. Kings, at Pacers, at Rockets, at Mavericks
In a week that started with a tough loss to the Celtics, the Raptors bounced back well.
Kawhi Leonard rested in both the Suns and Grizzlies games, but Toronto got the job done anyway. Pascal Siakam played hero in the Suns win with a clutch buzzer-beater layup, then Danny Green went ballistic in the third quarter to take out the Grizzlies.
– Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) January 20, 2019
The Raptors have proven they’re nearly unbeatable at Scotiabank Arena, winning nine consecutive games on their home court. However, they’ll be put to the test on the road this week with challenging games at Indiana, Houston and Dallas.
2. Milwaukee Bucks
Last week’s ranking: 2
Overall record: 33-12
Last week: 3-0 (win vs. Heat, win at Grizzlies, win at Magic)
This week: vs. Mavericks, vs. Hornets, at Thunder
The Bucks quietly continue to string together wins week after week.
They handled all three of their opponents this week and have won six of their last seven games. Milwaukee is tied for the third-best offensive rating in the NBA and showcase the league’s best defensive rating at 103.8 points per 100 possessions.
They’re the only team in the league that ranks in the top-five in both of those categories and it’s been that way all season.
Giannis Antetokounmpo hasn’t slowed down at all, averaging 26.4 points, 12.5 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game – the only player in the league posting over 25, 10 and five on a nightly basis. Oh, and he averages 1.5 blocks and 1.4 steals per game too – is this your MVP?
– Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) January 20, 2019
1. Golden State Warriors
Last week’s ranking: 4
Overall record: 32-14
Last week: 3-0 (win at Nuggets, win vs. Pelicans, win at Clippers)
This week: at Lakers, at Celtics, at Wizards
This week started with an obliteration of the Nuggets, one of the league’ best teams at home, in Denver. They handled the New Orleans Pelicans and the highly anticipated debut of DeMarcus Cousins went exactly as planned.
Cousins scored 14 points to go with six rebounds and three assists, adding yet another superior offensive weapon to their already loaded toolbox. He drained three of his four 3-point attempts, which is more made threes than all of the Warriors’ centres last season combined. His impact was felt right from the jump, making a statement with his first basket in a Golden State uniform.
– Golden State Warriors (@warriors) January 19, 2019
The scariest team in the NBA just got even more threatening and winning nine of their last 10 games, it’s safe to say the Warriors are in mid-season form. They have a couple challenging road contests this week, highlighted by Saturday’s matchup in Boston – a meeting than many picked to be a Finals preview in the preseason.
Rest of the NBA
12. Utah Jazz
The Jazz continue to climb in these rankings. It took them about half of the season to get things trending in the right direction, but they seem to have it all figured out now.
They’re riding a six-game winning streak and are 8-2 since the start of the new year. Their defence has finally returned to what it was a season ago, holding opponents to under 100 points in five of those eight wins.
.@spidadmitchell: 28p/3s/6a/2r 📽️
– Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) January 17, 2019
13. Los Angeles Lakers
14. Sacramento Kings
15. Brooklyn Nets
The Nets are above .500, hold the No. 7 spot in the Eastern Conference, have won seven of their last 10 games and beat both the Rockets and the Celtics last week.
It might be time we consider these guys as a legitimate playoff team in the East.
D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie are both putting together Most Improved Player of the Year-candidate seasons while Jarrett Allen has proven himself as one of the elite rim protectors in the NBA. No one believes in this team more than themselves and it shows when you see the energy and passion they bring to the floor each night.
📼 | @Dloading kept us in it last night with 19 straight points in the second quarter, something no other player in the NBA has done this season
– Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) January 19, 2019
18. Miami Heat
19. New Orleans Pelicans
The Wizards escaped with a win in their only game this week, defeating the Knicks on a buzzer-beater goaltending call in London.
– Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) January 17, 2019
Since John Wall‘s season-ending surgery, they’re 6-3 – it’s not too late to make a playoff push either, considering they’re just three games back from the No. 8 seed in the East. In those nine games, Bradley Beal has been ridiculous.
He’s had to shoulder the workload with Wall out and he’s stepped up to the task averaging 29.8 points, 6.2 assists, 5.8 rebounds and 2.4 steals over the nine game stretch.
22. Dallas Mavericks
23. Detroit Pistons
24. Atlanta Hawks
25. Memphis Grizzlies
26. Orlando Magic
27. Phoenix Suns
28. New York Knicks
29. Cleveland Cavaliers
30. Chicago Bulls
The Bulls have lost 10 games in a row and have yet to win a game in 2019.
They received horrible news their lottery pick, rookie forward Wendell Carter Jr., would need left thumb surgery that will keep him sidelined for 8-12 weeks. After Saturday’s loss to the Heat, Zach LaVine had this to say:
Zach LaVine frustrated after another blowout loss. pic.twitter.com/JtGaQZdqDl
– Bulls Talk (@NBCSBulls) January 20, 2019
LaVine is shouldering a heavy workload, averaging a career-high 22.8 points per game on the season.