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NBA Power Rankings: The Los Angeles Lakers are in deep trouble

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NBA power rankings: With the 2020-21 NBA season started, there’s an overwhelming favorite to earn the title, as the Los Angeles Lakers seek to repeat as champions. However, the Clippers and Nuggets will have something to say about that out west. Back east, the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers could be primed for championship runs. Let’s check in our latest NBA power rankings for the 2020-21 season.

Updated: May 3, 2:06 PM EST

NBA power rankings, top 10

1. Philadelphia 76ers (LW: 5)

NBA power rankings: Embiid, Simmons and 76ers rising
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

New general manager Daryl Morey comes over from Houston and is assembling a core of players that’s more in line with the modern NBA. Dealing away big man Al Horford’s nightmarish contract was a great move, and surrounding point guard Ben Simmons with shooters like Seth Curry and Danny Green. It has worked out to perfection thus far. Philadelphia currently boasts the best record in the Eastern Conference at 43-21 record. Joel Embiid is playing at an MVP level. Ben Simmons has picked his game up after some initial struggles. The addition of veteran point guard George Hill at the trade deadline will help for the playoffs, too.

Related: 50 Top NBA players of 2021 – Historical performance has Zion Williamson on the rise

2. Phoenix Suns (LW: 1)

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The team that went undefeated in the Orlando bubble and just missed out on the playoffs in the West exchanged Ricky Rubio for Chris Paul at the all-important point guard position. Thus far this season, it’s led to a rebirth for the long-downtrodden Suns in Phoenix. Despite recent road losses to the Nets and Celtics, the Suns are in the midst of a four-game winning streak that has seen them take out Western Conference powerhouses in that of the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz. Phoenix now sits at 46-18 and tied for the top spot in the entire NBA with Utah.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Suns, check out #RisePHX rumors, rankings, and news here.

3. Utah Jazz (LW: 2)

NBA power rankings: Utah Jazz
Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Head coach Quin Snyder has been making lemonade with lemons for much of his Jazz tenure, perpetually searching for viable, consistent scoring and discovering only Donovan Mitchell. Despite being tied for the best record in the NBA, these Jazz have also hit some hard times down the stretch. They’ve lost three out of five, including consecutive defeats at the hands of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Jazz, check out #TakeNote rumors, rankings, and news here

4. Brooklyn Nets (Last Week: 3)

NBA power rankings, Brooklyn Nets
Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Even with Kyrie Irving, James Harden and Kevin Durant missing time this season, these Nets are still among the best teams in the NBA. They sit at 43-22 on the season. Unfortunately, NBA MVP candidate James Harden is sidelined indefinitely with a hamstring injury. This has led to Brooklyn posting a mere 7-6 record in its past 13 games. The hope is that the Big 3 will be available in the playoffs. If so, these Nets still have to be seen as the Eastern Conference favorites.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Nets, check out #WeGoHard rumors, rankings, and news here.

5. Los Angeles Clippers (LW: 4)

NBA power rankings: Los Angeles Clippers
Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Led by Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the Clippers had picked it up in April prior to some recent struggles. They currently sit at 43-22 on the season and are in the midst of a record-breaking season from three-point range. It has Tyronn Lue’s squad thinking that Los Angeles might be able to finally make a deep playoff run. Unfortunately, a three-game losing streak — all against Western Conference foes — isn’t great leading into the playoffs.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Clippers, check out #ClipperNation rumors, rankings, and news here.

6. Milwaukee Bucks (LW: 7)

NBA power rankings: Milwaukee Bucks
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

While Giannis Antetokounmpo continues to play at an MVP level, these Bucks have been pretty darn inconsistent through 64 games. They boast a 40-24 record, good enough for third in the Eastern Conference. With that said, we’re still talking about a top-end title contender once the Eastern Conference Playoffs come calling.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Bucks, check out #FearTheDeer rumors, rankings, and news here.

7. Denver Nuggets (LW: 9)

NBA power rankings: Denver Nuggets
Mike Ehrmann/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

Prior to a recent hot run, it was a mixed back for Denver. That’s changed on a dime. Nikola Jokic is playing at an MVP level. Jamal Murray also. The acquisitions of Aaron Gordon and JaVale McGee are also going to help big time for the stretch run. In what has been a common theme this season, that was all derailed earlier in April when Murray suffered a torn ACL. Sadly, this pushes the Nuggets down some. The good news? Denver has won nine of 10 since their second-best player went down. Whether that’s sustainable in what looks to be an elite Western Conference remains to be seen.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Nuggets, check out #MileHighBasketball rumors, rankings, and news here.

8. Los Angeles Lakers (LW: 6)

NBA power rankings: Lakers No. 1
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Even with Anthony Davis and LeBron James having returned from injuries recently, the former champs look like a shell of their 2019-20 selves. Los Angeles is shockingly currently the seventh seed out west and would have to take part in a play-in tournament if the season were to end today. Since starting the season 21-6, the Lakers are 15-22. They have also lost six of seven with three consecutive defeats at the hands of the Wizards, Kings and Raptors. Just ouch!

Related: If you’re a fan of the Lakers, check out #LakeShow rumors, rankings, and news here

9. New York Knicks (LW: 11)

NBA power rankings: New York Knicks
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

What an amazing turnaround under new head coach Tom Thibodeau. After winning all of 21 games a season ago, these Knicks currently sit at 36-28 and as a top-four seed back East. They’ve won 11 of their past 12 games. Julius Randle looks like a legit NBA MVP candidate. Wing R.J. Barrett has upped his game big time as a sophomore. Meanwhile, the addition of Derrick Rose has given the Knicks a true veteran reinforcement. While conference title contention may be a year away, these Knicks are on an upward trajectory for the first time in eons and will be a hard out in the playoffs.

10. Atlanta Hawks (LW: 8)

NBA power rankings; Atlanta Hawks, Trae Young
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Inconsistency and more inconsistency. That’s been the name of the game for these Hawks. That led to the firing of head coach Lloyd Pierce earlier in March. The good news is that this team sits at 21-10 under interim head coach Nate McMillan. It looks like a completely different squad with Trae Young leading the charge and off-season acquisitions finally paying off. No one is going to want to play Atlanta in the NBA Playoffs despite consecutive losses to the conference leading 76ers.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Hawks, check out #TrueToAtlanta rumors, rankings, and news here.

NBA power rankings: Rising talent, some struggles

11. Portland Trail Blazers (LW: 12)

NBA power rankings: Lillard, McCollum and the Blazers
Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

With C.J. McCollum having returned from injury, the Blazers are playing at a high level offensively. Led by All-Star Damian Lillard, they are averaging 115 points per game. Unfortunately, the team is also giving up over 115. That doesn’t seem to be sustainable in the playoffs. Portland has also been darn inconsistent, losing five consecutive prior to a recent four-game winning streak. The hope here is that these Blazers have turned the corner and continue this hot streak into the postseason. Unfortunately, history is not in their favor.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Blazers, check out #RipCity rumors, rankings, and news here.

12. Dallas Mavericks (LW: 14)

NBA power rankings: Luka Doncic, Mavs crack top 10
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Luka Doncic is one of the best handful of players in the NBA at this point. The 22-year-old is averaging 28.6 points, 8.0 rebounds and 8.6 assists this season. He’s also out here making history in 2020-21. It has also led to a resurgence for Dallas. The team has currently sits at 36-28 after some major struggles to open the season. The bigger story in Big D right now is the acquisition of sharpshooting guard J.J. Redick. He’s going to help Doncic big time once the playoffs come calling. The only question here is whether Dallas will have to partake in the play-in tournament or avoids it as the sixth seed out west.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Mavericks, check out #MFFL rumors, rankings, and news here.

13. Miami Heat (LW: 15)

NBA power rankings: Miami Heat
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

After a surprise run to the NBA Finals in which they pushed the Lakers to six games despite Bam Adebayo being beat up and Goran Dragic missing most of the series, Miami is running it back. Unfortunately, COVID issues relating to Jimmy Butler and other players have impacted this team in a big way. After some recent success, Miami finds itself at 35-30 and as the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. Pat Riley also did this team a solid by acquiring All-Star guard Victor Oladipo from the Houston Rockets. Unfortunately, he’s suite dup in all of four games due to injury. Miami will need Oladipo back if its to make a run in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

14. Boston Celtics (LW: 10)

NBA power rankings: Boston Celtics
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

General manager Danny Ainge knows full well that his struggling team needs a shot in the arm. That’s why he pulled off a trade for Orlando Magic star wing Evan Fournier. The wing has played in 10 games with Boston and is shooting a mere 38% from the field. As a team, the Celtics have been the most disappointing in the Association. They currently sit at 34-31 on the campaign. That’s unacceptable after winning 48 of 72 games en route to earning a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals last season. With recent losses to the Hornets and Thunder, things are not looking great here.

Related: NBA MVP Race 2020-2021 – Stephen Curry enters the conversation

15. Golden State Warriors (LW: 13)

NBA power rankings: Golden State Warriors
Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stephen Curry appears to have lit a fire under this previously struggling squad. Since returning from a tailbone injury, the Warriors’ all-time leading scorer is averaging 36.9 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists on 46% shooting from distance in 15 games. Unfortunately for the Warriors, a recent hot streak gave way to consecutive blowout losses to the Mavericks and Timberwolves. The good news? Golden State currently sits as the ninth seed in the Western Conference with a 32-32 record and is pretty much guaranteed a spot in the play-in tournament out west

Read More: Who the Golden State Warriors would like to face in the Play-In Tournament

16. San Antonio Spurs (LW: 16)

NBA power rankings: San Antonio Spurs
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

After some surprising success earlier this season, the Spurs have fallen on hard times under the legendary Gregg Popovich. They’ve lost three consecutive games and are currently under .500. It’s unfortunate given that two of those losses — to the Celtics and 76ers on the road — came in overtime. Right now, San Antonio is battling for the final play-in spot with the New Orleans Pelicans.

Related: NBA games today – TV schedule, best bets and fantasy picks

17. Memphis Grizzlies (LW: 17)

NBA power rankings: Memphis Grizzlies
Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. represent one of the better young tandems in the NBA. At issue here is the knee injury Jackson suffered during the NBA restart in Orlando this past summer. He’s still sidelined. Outside of these two, the Grizzlies lack the true talent to be considered a top-end contender out west. Despite this, Taylor Jenkins has his team playing competitive ball and right in the mix for a play-in spot out west. Memphis currently finds itself at 32-31 and as the eighth seed. It would play the Lakers if the season ended today.

18. Washington Wizards (LW: 20)

NBA power rankings: Bradley Beal, Wizards
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

We were super excited to see how Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook would look in the same backcourt. For Beal, that’s a major upgrade after the recently-traded John Wall missed pretty much each of the past two seasons. Primarily due to a defense that has given up an absurd 118 points per game, Washington struggled to 5-15 start to the season. Since then, the Wizards have posted a tremendous (by their standards) 24-20 record and are right in the mix for a play-in spot. The better news? Westbrook is playing out of his mind next to Beal. He’s averaging 22.7 points, 13.5 rebounds and 12.3 assists over the past 21 games. Holy cats!

Related: If you’re a fan of the Wizards, check out #WashWizards rumors, rankings, and news here

19. Charlotte Hornets (LW: 18)

NBA power rankings: Charlotte Hornets
Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Devonte’ Graham and Terry Rozier make for a fine backcourt. The addition of guard LaMelo Ball at the top of the 2020 NBA Draft was great. Meanwhile, Charlotte did add a former All-Star in that of Gordon Hayward at a high cost. After missing 21 games to injury, Ball has returned to action. It could act as a shot in the arm for a Hornets team that’s just 4-9 in its past 13 games and is still battling for a play-in spot back east.

NBA power rankings, outside looking in

20. New Orleans Pelicans (LW: 23)

NBA power rankings: New Orleans Pelicans
Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Did New Orleans improve this offseason by trading Jrue Holiday? We’re not too sure. What we do know is that a core two of Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram was thought to have this team in playoff contention throughout the season. It’s been a mixed bag thus far. New Orleans sits at 29-35 on the season and is battling for the final play-in spot out west. Williamson is more than living up to his billing. He’s averaging 29.7 points, 7.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists on 62% shooting over the past 20 games.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Pelicans, check out #WontBowDown rumors, rankings, and news here

21. Toronto Raptors (LW: 19)

NBA power rankings: Toronto Raptors
Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

NBA champions two years ago and a surprisingly frisky foe in their title defense, the Raptors aren’t who they were when Kawhi Leonard was on the team. That’s come out in droves with Pascal Siakam and Co. struggling to a disastrous start in Tampa Bay. Toronto currently sits at 27-38. It’s looking more and more like a season of transition for the Raptors. Despite this, Toronto is still just 2.5 games out of a play-in spot back east.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Raptors, check out #WeTheNorth rumors, rankings, and news here.

22. Indiana Pacers (LW: 21)

NBA power rankings: Indiana Pacers
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana’s attempt to land Gordon Hayward in a sign-and-trade with the Celtics failed miserably. It could have set this team back, especially with the long-term situation relating to All-Star guard Victor Oladipo being unsettled prior to his trade to the Houston Rockets. Despite both Domantas Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon playing at All-NBA levels, we’ve seen some major struggles in Indiana recently. The team sits at 30-33 and as the ninth seed back east.

23. Chicago Bulls (LW: 22)

NBA power rankings: Chicago Bulls
Jorge N ez-EFE via USA TODAY Sports

Related: 2021 NBA mock draft – Shocking selection at No. 1 overall

Zach LaVine. Zach LaVine. More Zach LaVine. The first-time All-Star has been absolutely dominating for a surprising Bulls team this season. He’s averaging 27.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.8 assists on a resounding 51% shooting from the field. Chicago’s brass then pulled off the biggest trade of the deadline, acquiring one of the game’s best bigs in Nikola Vučević. Not only is this going to help the team as it pushes for a playoff spot, it’s a huge move going forward. As it is, Chicago holds the 12th spot back east and has lost 16-of-23. The ship has sailed on this season. With that said, the future might be bright in the Windy City.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Pacers, check out #AlwaysGame rumors, rankings, and news here

24. Minnesota Timberwolves (LW: 26)

NBA power rankings: Minnesota Timberwolves
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Baby steps. These Wolves have proven themselves to be pretty darn good when Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell and rookie No. 1 pick Anthony Edwards are actually on the court together. In fact, the Timberwolves have won six of their past nine games after starting 14-42. Already eliminated from playoff contention, it won’t have an impact this season. With that said, Minnesota’s core three could take a major step forward in 2021-22, especially if Minnesota’s first-round pick in 2021 goes to Golden State this summer.

25. Sacramento Kings (LW: 25)

NBA power rankings: Sacramento Kings
Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

On the surface, Sacramento has star power in that of De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield and Tyrese Haliburton. That did not translate to much success earlier in the season. Unfortunately, it’s been all about a lack of consistency. Sacramento is now in the midst of a stretch that has seen it lose 12 of 17 and find itself pretty much out of the running for a play-in spot out west. It could end up costing Luke Walton his job.

Related: Hungry for more NBA news? Tap here for the hottest headlines breaking right now.

26. Oklahoma City Thunder (LW: 24)

NBA power rankings: Oklahoma City Thunder
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The future is bright for these Thunder. They legitimately have like 20 first-round picks over the next half-decade. However, that’s not going to lead to success in 2020-21 after trading away star guards Chris Paul and Dennis Schroder. Unfortunately, a recent injury to star guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has these Thunder spiraling downward. They have lost 16 of 17 since a pretty surprising 20-27 start to the campaign.

27. Cleveland Cavaliers (LW: 27)

NBA power rankings: Cleveland Cavaliers
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland did a tremendous job in adding wing Isaac Okoro in the 2020 NBA Draft. The team also has two stud young guards in Darius Garland and Collin Sexton, who are living up to the hype amid what was a hot start. Unfortunately, that has come crashing down recently. Cleveland has lost 32-of-42 and is closer to the cellar in the Eastern Conference than battling for a playoff spot.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Cavaliers, check out #Cavs rumors, rankings, and news here

NBA power rankings: The bottom three

28. Detroit Pistons (LW: 28)

NBA power rankings: Detroit Pistons
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The recent trade of Derrick Rose and Blake Griffin’s departure are two clear indications that the Pistons are in full-scale rebuild mode. The good news? This team is finally going into full-scale rebuild mode. Rookie Saddiq Bey is averaging 13.1 points on 45% shooting from distance since the start of February. With Griffin now gone from Detroit, the focus will be on the youngsters for the 19-45 Pistons.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Pistons, check out #DetroitUp rumors, rankings, and news here

29. Orlando Magic (LW: 29)

NBA power rankings: Orlando Magic
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Having lost 42-of-56 since a 6-2 start to the season, there’s some major concerns in Orlando right now. That includes star guard Markelle Fultz being lost for the season due to a torn ACL. Recent trades of Evan Fournier, Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vučević has this team starting over anew with a rebuild. It’s now right there with the Houston Rockets as the least-talented squad in the Association.

30. Houston Rockets (LW: 30)

Houston Rockets must now go into rebuild mode.
JCarmen Mandato/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

The current iteration of these Rockets looked like one of the worst teams in the NBA following the James Harden blockbuster trade. That’s not hyperbole. The recent lopsided trade of Victor Oladipo to the Miami Heat adds to this. We’re talking about a potentially historically bad team that’s coming off a 20-game losing streak. There’s no end in sight for the 16-49 Rockets.

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