NBA Power Rankings
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.
These days, we don't rank the entire league. Just the teams that have truly captured our interest lately. Usually that means the squads that definitely appear headed to making the playoffs.
2020 NBA POWER RANKINGS
Updated January 19, 2020
7:30 a.m. ET
1) Bucks (38-6): Great offense. Great defense. Giannis Antetokounmpo is the leading NBA MVP candidate. In our opinion. (Note that our opinion is always correct.)
2) Lakers (34-8): LeBron James and Anthony Davis are co-MVP leaders, right behind Giannis. It remains interesting to watch Kyle Kuzma's role on this team. Best team in the league after the Bucks.
3) Clippers (30-13): Kawhi Leonard is a person, not a machine. Okay fine, he's both.
4) Heat (29-12): The team chemistry is impressive. Team is especially great at rebounding.
5) Nuggets (29-12): Just lost Jamal Murray to an ankle injury. Center Nikola Jokic is the team's best player, but Murray is right up there as well.
6) Raptors (28-14): Fantastic defense. The Raptors continue to do better than anybody expected.
7) Jazz (29-23): Very hot team in January. Lost recently but that was after rattling off 10 straight wins. How will they work Mike Conley back into the mix? Their winning was while he was out.
8) Celtics (27-14): Not standing out in the East.
9) Mavericks (27-15): Best offense in the league, efficiency-wise.
10) Sixers (28-16): Their defense works, but spacing on offense continues to be an issue. Very good rebounding team.
11) Rockets (26-15): It doesn't matter how you feel about James Harden and their style of offense. It works. It's third best in the league.
12) Pacers (27-15): They'll have Victor Oladipo back in action fairly soon. Then we'll judge them more closely.
HONORABLE MENTION: The Grizzlies have our attention lately. Ja Morant is the clear NBA Rookie of the Year favorite. And the Thunder are good enough to get a mention here.
2019 NBA POWER RANKINGS
Updated December 9 2019
11:05 a.m. ET
1) Lakers (21-3):
Can LeBron James and Anthony Davis win co-MVP? Maybe, but they'd probably need Giannis Antetokounmpo to decide he doesn't like basketball anymore.
2) Bucks (20-3):
Great offense, and the best defense in the league.
3) Celtics (16-5):
Gordon Hayward will make his return any day now.
4) Heat (17-6):
Excellent season. Great rebounding. The Heat seem real. Jimmy Butler is a star, Gordon Dragic is doing great off the bench, and Heat youth have serious talent.
5) Clippers (17-7):
Excellent rebounding. The team still has plenty of room to improve as Kawhi Leonard and Paul George get more experience alongside each other.
6) Mavericks (16-7):
Best offense in the league, per possession. Huge head-nod to Luka Doncic, who is a serious MVP candidate.
7) Sixers (17-7):
Their wins come from defense. Offense can use improvement, but they are creating a lot for each other and scoring as a team. And rebounding in a big way.
8) Raptors (15-7):
Getting great seasons from Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet. Kyle Lowry has played in just 11 games, but he made his return to action this past week.
9) Rockets (15-7):
A hugely effective offense, even though Russell Westbrook is shooting just 40.6% FG and 21.9% 3FG.
10) Nuggets (14-7):
Great defense. Despite what the Nets did to them yesterday. Plodding team, plays at the second slowest pace in the league. But they get wins.
2019 NBA POWER RANKINGS
Updated November 9, 2019
8:20 p.m. ET
1): Lakers (7-1): Best defense in the league. The Lakers are outscoring opponents by a league-best 10.5 points per game, and are only giving up 98.5 PPG to opponents. On a 7-game winning streak.
2): Bucks (6-3): Third in the league in scoring at 119.8 PPG.
3): Celtics (7-1): Third best defense in the league. Outscoring opponents by 9.3 PPG this season. But on Saturday one of their stars, Gordon Hayward, who is having a comeback season, suffered a broken hand. It isn't known yet how much time he'll miss.
4): Raptors (6-2): Outscoring opponents by 7.4 PPG so far this season.
5): Heat (6-3): Second highest assist percentage in the league. In other words, teammates are helping teammates get buckets -- a lot.
6): Clippers (6-3): Extremely efficient offense. Paul George, who should help both their offense and defense, may make his Clippers debut soon. Maybe within a week or two.
7): Jazz (6-3): Second best defense in the league. The Jazz only score 101.0 points per game, the third lowest average in the league. But they only give up 97.0 PPG, the lowest in the league.
8): Nuggets (6-2): The Nuggets play at the slowest pace in the league. They are methodical. And it's working.
9): Suns (5-3): Highest assist percentage in the league. The Suns are winning as a team.
10): Sixers (5-3): Joel Embiid is putting up big numbers but he could be shooting better (23.2 PPG, 43.8% FG). Same with SG Josh Richardson (13.6 PPG, 40.2% FG)
2019 NBA POWER RANKINGS
Updated October 28, 2019
1:48 p.m. ET
We're doing NBA power rankings a bit differently just at the start of the season.
TEAMS THAT HAVEN'T LOST YET
Timberwolves (3-0): Karl-Anthony Towns was the best player on the only NBA team to be 3-0 through Sunday's games.
Hawks (2-0): Huge start for young star Hawks guard Trae Young.
Sixers (2-0): Good things are expected of the Sixers all season.
Spurs (2-0): The Spurs remain competitive. We'll see if their play commands stronger adjectives in the coming weeks.
Nuggets (2-0): Denver has to believe they can be as good as any team in the West this year.
GOOD TEAMS THAT HAPPENED TO LOSE IN WEEK 1
Celtics (2-1) Will the Celtics be better this season than they were last year? Probably? Their offense is stil a work in progress. We saw them live a few days ago and Kemba Walker dropped big buckets but wasn't really creating as a point guard for the squad. But it's super early.
NBA POWER RANKINGS UPDATE FROM APRIL, 2019
THE GREAT TEAMS:
Milwaukee Bucks: Giannis and friends look like the East's best.
Golden State Warriors: Still the championship favorites.
VERY GOOD TEAMS:
Toronto Raptors: Can Kyle Lowry shine in these playoffs?
Denver Nuggets: Deserved more mention all season.
Houston Rockets: This team makes the most of its talent.
Portland Trail Blazers: Injury to Jusuf Nurkic hurts.
Boston Celtics: On paper they should be in the above group.
Philadelphia 76ers: Can Joel Embiid stay on the court?
Utah Jazz: Face tough West competitors.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Does Playoff Russ make teammates better?
Indiana Pacers: Still good even without injured Oladipo.
San Antonio Spurs: Never underestimate Pop's Spurs.
L.A. Clippers: Rag-tag group play well together.
RESPECTABLE BUT LIMITED SQUADS:
Brooklyn Nets: Good team. Best of this bunch. Can compete with above group.
Orlando Magic: Their future looks good.
Detroit Pistons: Blake Griffin isn't 100%. Major issue.
Charlotte Hornets: Will Kemba, Hornets part ways?
Miami Heat: Sort of in limbo.
Sacramento Kings: Recently welcomed new coach Luke Walton.
We'll stop there.
Except for this:
BOTTOM OF THE LEAGUE
New York Knicks: The only team at the bottom of the standings that don't have a clear star building block for the future. They have some young talent, but for all intents and purposes its a wide-open roster that is more subject to change than the Suns, Hawks or others at the bottom of the standings. Which could mean drastic, positive changes could come this summer. Or so NYC hopes.