NBA Power Rankings
NBA power rankings, rating the entire league from top to bottom. Our NBA power rankings are based mostly on how good teams really are, with recent performances taken into partial consideration. Updated regularly during the regular season, InsideHoops.com's NBA power rankings focus on the big, season-long picture.
2018 NBA POWER RANKINGS
Updated February 12, 1018
NBA.com reports: The Cleveland Cavaliers needed a shake-up and they got one.
In a pretty stunning series of trades, the Cavs sent out six players and brought in four, getting younger and, more importantly, bigger. Time will tell if Thursday's moves help keep LeBron James in Cleveland beyond this season, and until Kevin Love gets back, we won't know what this roster can really do.
But improvement, especially on the defensive end of the floor, needs to start now. The East remains wide open, not only because the Cavs have been so bad, but because the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors are both better than they were last season.
NBA POWER RANKINGS:
1) Warriors (NBA.com reports: From mid-January through their loss to Oklahoma City on Tuesday, the Warriors' bench was not very good, ranking 24th in the league over that stretch. Andre Iguodala has been banged up and as much as their All-Stars might be fatigued, the offense was terrible (92 points scored per 100 possessions) with Stephen Curry off the floor, and the defense was terrible (113 allowed) with Draymond Green off the floor. But the bench was big in wins over the Mavs and Spurs, outscoring them by 39 points in 57 minutes with Curry and/or Green on the bench on Thursday and Saturday. Steve Kerr has staggered the minutes of Curry and Green this season more than he has in the past. This is the first season under Kerr when Curry and Green aren't the team's most-used two-man combination, even if you only include the games in which they've both played.
2) Rockets (NBA.com reports: The Rockets probably let the Nets and Mavs hang around too long in games last week, but the bottom line is that they've won eight straight games (and 12 of their last 13) to draw even with the Warriors in the loss column. You would think that a lineup with Luc Mbah a Moute and P.J. Tucker would be about defense, but the starting group with those two has scored 132 points in 51 minutes over the last three games. After Ryan Anderson missed the win in Miami on Wednesday, Mike D'Antoni kept the Tucker-Luc group together and brought Anderson off the bench over the weekend. The rotation is 10 players deep when healthy, but the Rockets will still reportedly sign both Joe Johnson and Brandan Wright on the buyout market.)
3) Celtics (NBA.com reports: If Markieff Morris didn't foul Kyrie Irving on a 3-point shot in the final seconds of regulation (and again in overtime) in Washington on Thursday, the Celtics would probably be on a four-game losing streak. The defense has taken a step backward (ranking 16th) in February and the offense is struggling again (scoring just 96 points per 100 possessions in their four games last week). Jayson Tatum's 3-point percentage was bound to regress - he has shot just 31 percent from beyond the arc over the last seven weeks after shooting a league-best 50 percent through Christmas - but his attempts are also down. After taking at least 30 percent of his shots from 3-point range in each of the previous four months, he has taken only 16 percent of his shots from deep in February.)
4) Raptors (NBA.com reports: A five-game winning streak, featuring an easy win over the Celtics, has pushed the Raptors past Boston into the East's top seed. Noted 3-point gunners DeMar DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas have shot a combined 19-for-42 (45 percent) from beyond the arc during the streak, but Toronto's five-man bench unit is a ridiculous plus-83 in 56 minutes over last four games (C.J. Miles missed the first game of the winning streak). As much attention has been paid to the changes on offense, the Toronto defense has been more improved this season, having allowed 2.3 fewer points per 100 possessions than it did last season. Improvement has come both on the perimeter (the Raps have seen the league's biggest decrease - by a wide margin - in the percentage of their opponent shots that have come from 3-point range) and inside (only the Blazers have allowed a lower field goal percentage in the restricted area).
5) Spurs (NBA.com reports: As we continue to wonder if/when Kawhi Leonard might return, the Spurs have turned over another starting job to a second-year player. The team's offense has been at its best (112 points scored per 100 possessions) with LaMarcus Aldridge on the floor with Davis Bertans, who has replaced Pau Gasol in the lineup for the last three games. Aldridge had some fun (getting all 10 of his buckets in the paint) in Phoenix on Wednesday and he and Bertans were a plus-1 together at Golden State on Saturday. But against the champs, the Spurs were without both the old point guard (Tony Parker) and the new one (Dejounte Murray), shot 5-for-27 from 3-point range, and were outscored 29-13 in Gasol's 11 minutes on the floor.)
6) Timberwolves (NBA.com reports: The Wolves have won 13 straight games at home, having allowed 104 points per 100 possessions in those 13 games. On the road, they're 1-10 in 2018, having allowed more than 115 points per 100 possessions in those games. Jimmy Butler totaled 73 points in Cleveland and Chicago on Wednesday and Friday, but Karl-Anthony Towns didn't get a lot of shots again, and getting stops down the stretch of those two games proved to be a problem, with Butler fouling Zach LaVine for the game-winning free throws in his return to Chicago and LeBron James beating them at the buzzer in Cleveland. The Wolves have lost their last four games that have been within five points in the last five minutes (all of them were on the road) and now rank 28th in clutch defense.)
7) Trail Blazers (NBA.com reports: The Blazers' offense ranked third in January and Damian Lillard dropped 50 in Sacramento on Friday, but the offense has otherwise struggled over the last five games, even though Maurice Harkless has shot well (58 percent, 8-for-16 from 3-point range) with more playing time over that stretch. Portland remains the only team that has recorded assists on less than half its buckets, last in field goal percentage in the restricted area, and last in fast break points per game. They sit in sixth place in the West, but teams 6-9 are all tied with 26 losses and with the Jazz having ended their nine-game home winning streak on Sunday, the champs are coming to town for the final game before the break.)
8) Pacers (NBA.com reports: The Pacers, a bottom-five team in someone's preseason Power Rankings, have a chance at a top-four seed in the Eastern Conference. In fact, the might already be there if Victor Oladipo didn't miss their game against the fourth-place Wizards on Monday. Even with that game included, the Pacers have ranked in the top 10 both offensively (sixth) and defensively (10th) as they've gone 13-6 since Oladipo came back from a four-game absence after Christmas. Cory Joseph has shot 3-for-16 in three starts with Darren Collison out, but Bojan Bogdanovic has found his stroke after some January struggles, shooting 18-for-36 from 3-point range over his last six games. The Pacers' win over the Knicks on Sunday began a five-game stretch against opponents with a cumulative winning percentage of .337.)