NBA Power Rankings, Week 19: Where all 30 teams stand at the All-Star break

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Monday, February 21, 2022

With the conclusion of Sunday night's All-Star game in Cleveland, the NBA is officially on break until Thursday. As the league-leadingPhoenix Sunshave built a 6.5-game lead over the second placeGolden State Warriorsin the West, the East race continues to be tight.

TheMiami Heatsit atop the East, sharing a record with theChicago Bulls, 2.5 games ahead of the surging No. 3Philadelphia 76ers, No. 4Cleveland Cavaliersand No. 5Milwaukee Bucks. The No. 6Boston Celticshave only a half-game lead over the No. 7Toronto Raptors, who are two games ahead of the No. 8Brooklyn Nets, and 2.5 games ahead of the No. 9 and No. 10Charlotte HornetsandAtlanta Hawks, respectively.

With two months left of the regular season,James Hardenwill look to join the surging Sixers ahead of the playoffs. Elsewhere in the East, the Nets will continue to fight for playoff contention whileBen SimmonsandKevin Durantwork their way back to the court.

Where do all 30 teams stand entering the All-Star break? Our experts break down the landscape of the league as the regular season winds down.

Note:Throughout the regular season, our panel (Tim Bontemps, Jamal Collier, Nick Friedell, Andrew Lopez, Tim MacMahon, Dave McMenamin and Ohm Youngmisuk) is ranking all 30 teams from top to bottom, taking stock of which teams are playing the best basketball now and which teams are looking most like title contenders.

1. Phoenix Suns

2021-22 record: 48-10

Previous ranking: 1

The Suns, who have won 18 of their last 19 games overall -- the one loss is eating atDevin Booker-- improved to 24-3 in clutch-time games this season with their 124-121 win over Houston before the break. According to ESPN Stats and Information research, they became the first team since at least 1996-97, when the NBA started keeping play-by-play data, to have multiple 12-game clutch-time win streaks in a single season.-- Lopez

What Chris Paul's thumb injury means for the Suns

2.Memphis Grizzlies

2021-22 record: 41-19

Previous ranking: 3

Ja Morantis the face of the Grizzlies' franchise, a first-time All-Star soaring into the MVP conversation, but don't overlook his backupTyus Jones' contributions to Memphis' success. The Grizzlies are 12-2 when Morant sits out in large part because Jones has been so solid as a starter, averaging 12.1 points, 6.2 assists and only 1.2 turnovers in those games. They've been effective as a duo on occasion, too, as the Grizzlies are plus-39 in 57 minutes with both point guards on the floor in 2022.-- MacMahon

3.Golden State Warriors

2021-22 record: 42-17

Previous ranking: 2

Stephen Curry and Co. dropped a heartbreaker at the buzzer to the Nuggets on Wednesday as the Warriors come into the break having lost four of their last five. The good news for the Warriors is that they still haven't been whole, asDraymond Greenrehabs from a disc issue. But after such a strong start, Steve Kerr's group needs to turn things around in a positive direction heading into the final two months of the season.-- Friedell

4.Miami Heat

2021-22 record: 38-21

Previous ranking: 4

Miami picked up its sixth win in the last seven with a double overtime victory over the Hornets on Thursday night. The good news for the Heat is that on top of the fact they continue to play well heading down the stretch,Kyle Lowryis showing he can still pick up more slack when needed. He had 25 points and nine rebounds in 46 minutes during Thursday's win.-- Friedell

5.Chicago Bulls

2021-22 record: 38-21

Previous ranking: 6

The Bulls have one of the most difficult remaining schedules of any team in the league during the second half, so a five-game winning streak headed into the All-Star break was much needed.DeMar DeRozancarried the team in the seven games heading into the break -- averaging 38.6 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.6 assists while shooting 60.7% -- and fellow All-StarZach LaVineshould be ready to join him again when the Bulls resume play. -- Collier

6.Milwaukee Bucks

2021-22 record: 36-24

Previous ranking: 5

With a scorching hot start to the calendar year 2022, especially so far in February,Giannis Antetokounmpois once again putting up numbers of MVP consideration. He's played 20 games since the start of January and is averaging 32.2 points, 11.0 rebounds and 6.5 assists on 57% shooting from the field and 36% from 3.-- Collier

7.Philadelphia 76ers

2021-22 record: 35-23

Previous ranking: 7

All eyes in Philadelphia will be focused on Minneapolis Friday night, where James Harden andJoel Embiidare expected to share the court together for the first time. That will set up a wild 24-game sprint to the finish for the 76ers to try to integrate Harden into the mix before the playoffs get underway.-- Bontemps

8.Dallas Mavericks

2021-22 record:35-24

Previous ranking: 10

Luka Doncichas all five of his 40-point performances this season over the last 15 games, including the two highest-scoring outings (51 and 49) of his career since the trade deadline. He's performed at an MVP level in 2022, when the Mavs have outscored opponents by 13 points per 100 possessions with Doncic on the floor. His net rating was minus-5.5 points in Doncic's first 21 games this season before he was shut down for three weeks to rest his sore ankle and work on his conditioning.-- MacMahon

9. Cleveland Cavaliers

2021-22 record: 35-23

Previous ranking: 8

What a weekend for Cleveland. The city hosted the 75th anniversary celebration for the NBA -- just like it hosted the 50th a quarter century ago -- and not only were the Cavs the toast of the league with the No. 4 record in the East, but they had two All-Stars inDarius GarlandandJarrett Allen. Plus, All-Star was expected to generate $100 million for the Cleveland economy, according to commissioner Adam Silver.-- McMenamin

10. Utah Jazz

2021-22 record: 36-22

Previous ranking: 9

The Jazz pulled out of their January funk by sweeping a six-game homestand, but they still went into the All-Star break with a terrible taste in their mouths after blowing a 12-point lead in the fourth quarter of Wednesday's road loss to the Lakers. For the second time in the span of a month, the Jazz were dominated by LA's small-ball lineup. That's a major concern, considering Utah's failures against small ball in last season's playoffs. -- MacMahon

11. Denver Nuggets

2021-22 record: 33-25

Previous ranking: 12

Nikola Jokicenters the break on fire, averaging 25.8 points, 14.3 rebounds and 8.3 assists this month. Only Joel Embiid is playing as good or better than the MVP. Jokic helped the Nuggets win for the fifth time in six games with 35 points, 17 rebounds and eight assists, including the game-winning assist toMonte Morrisfor a buzzer-beating 3 to stun the Warriors. With 24 games remaining, the Nuggets remain in sixth place in the West and will have to wait to see ifJamal MurrayandMichael Porter Jr. can return this season.-- Youngmisuk

12.Boston Celtics

2021-22 record: 34-26

Previous ranking: 11

Boston may have lost its final game heading into the All-Star break, but there's still plenty to be excited about in Beantown. Boston rattled off wins in 11 of its final 13 games before the break, and outscored its opponents by more than 250 points combined. They come out of the break with a showdown with the Nets in Brooklyn, kicking off a road trip with three games in four nights.-- Bontemps

13. Toronto Raptors

2021-22 record: 32-25

Previous ranking: 13

Is it possible the heavy minutes the Raptors have been playing are starting to wear on them?Fred VanVleetdealt with some knee soreness before the break, and Toronto can ill-afford to be without him -- or, really, any of their starting five -- for any extended period of time.-- Bontemps

14. Brooklyn Nets

2021-22 record: 31-28

Previous ranking: 15

Brooklyn managed to finally snap its losing streak and pick up a couple wins before the break. Now, the Nets will hope to get Kevin Durant and Ben Simmons out on the court together soon, while they continue to wait and see if the New York City vaccine mandate will change, which would allowKyrie Irvingto play in home games. Irving continues to say he won't consider getting vaccinated.-- Bontemps

15.Minnesota Timberwolves

2021-22 record: 31-28

Previous ranking: 14

Minnesota agreed to a contract extension with guardPatrick Beverleyjust before the break to keep around a key veteran on one of the youngest teams in the league. After bouncing in and out of the lineup due to injuries, Beverley has been playing well since the start of February -- averaging 11.1 points, four rebounds and 4.3 assists on 39.5% from 3.-- Collier

16. LA Clippers

2021-22 record: 30-31

Previous ranking: 16

The Clippers went into the break winning for the third time in four games and scoring a season-high 142 points against the Rockets. The Clippers need the break more than any other team, having already played 61 games and tying the record for most games played by a team entering the All-Star Game in a season. And they are withoutKawhi Leonard(ACL),Paul George(torn UCL in right elbow) andNorman Powell(fractured bone in foot). The Clippers will have a pivotal moment on Friday when they reveal the results from the latest MRI on George's shooting elbow and whether the star can return this season. With or without George, Ty Lue has shown that he will keep the Clippers in playoff contention.-- Youngmisuk

17. Atlanta Hawks

2021-22 record: 28-30

Previous ranking: 18

Atlanta has broughtBogdan Bogdanovicoff the bench for the last 12 games -- and 14 games total -- and the Hawks are 7-5 in that span. Bogdanovic is also playing some of his best basketball of the season. He's scored at least 23 points in three of his last four games, his three best scoring outputs of the year. His per game averages in scoring (15.4 up from 12.2), rebounding (4.0 up from 3.8) and assists (3.7 up from 2.6) are all up when he comes off the bench compared to when he starts this season.-- Lopez

18. Los Angeles Lakers

2021-22 record: 27-31

Previous ranking: 19

As if L.A. didn't have enough to overcome this season, the Lakers couldn't even make it through the last game before the All-Star break without another thorn in their side.Anthony Daviscame down awkwardly onRudy Gobert's heel after going up for a lob and will be out at least four weeks with a mid-foot sprain. Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Lakers still have hope Davis will play before the regular season ends, but where will L.A. be in the standings a month from now without AD?-- McMenamin

19. Charlotte Hornets

2021-22 record: 29-31

Previous ranking: 17

The break comes at a great time for a struggling Hornets bunch that has lost nine of its last 10.Gordon Hayward's ankle injury aside, Charlotte's defense continues to be a major issue. Their defensive rating is 112 -- still in the bottom third of the league.-- Friedell

20.Washington Wizards

2021-22 record: 27-31

Previous ranking: 20

The Wizards unloadedSpencer Dinwiddie,Montrezl HarrellandDavis Bertans, among others, at the deadline. It remains to be seen if they've improved their chemistry and eased some of the logjam of minutes and roles that created issues for the team. At 27-31, the Wizards are still in contention for the play-in, but they'll need a healthyKristaps Porzingisfor the stretch run.-- Youngmisuk

21.Portland Trail Blazers

2021-22 record: 25-34

Previous ranking: 24

Despite trading CJ McCollum and Norman Powell at the deadline, the Blazers enter the break on a four-game winning streak.Anfernee Simonsis showing that he can carry the scoring load withDamian Lillardout. Simons has scored 30 points or more in three straight games. Give Chauncey Billups credit for holding things together as the Blazers beat the Lakers, Knicks, Bucks and Grizzlies during their winning streak.-- Youngmisuk

22. San Antonio Spurs

2021-22 record: 23-36

Previous ranking: 23

San Antonio is in the middle of the annual rodeo road trip and finished the first portion of it 3-2, spending five games away from the AT&T Center. After the break, they'll have three more road games before returning home on March 3 against Sacramento -- almost a full month since their last home game on Feb. 4. After one more game on the road on March 5, the Spurs have a seven-game homestand, where they could make up some ground in the race for the play-in tournament.-- Lopez

23. New Orleans Pelicans

2021-22 record: 23-36

Previous ranking: 21

In his five games with New Orleans,CJ McCollumhas set season highs in points (38), rebounds (11), field goals made (15) and 3-pointers made (seven). In his last four games, he's averaging 31.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and 5.5 assists, while shooting 56.8% overall. Unfortunately for the Pelicans, wins haven't come as easy as they've hoped, as they are now 1-4 in games McCollum plays.-- Lopez

24.New York Knicks

2021-22 record: 25-34

Previous ranking: 22

The velocity with which the Knicks have gone downhill is truly remarkable, even by Knicks standards. The loss to the Nets in the final game before the break -- including blowing a 28-point lead and an 18-point fourth-quarter advantage -- was a new low. This is quickly looking like a lost season in Gotham. And if that happens, there will be consequences.-- Bontemps

25.Sacramento Kings

2021-22 record: 22-38

Previous ranking: 25

The Kings continue to scuffle along at 22-38, but here's something interesting with ties to Sacramento: Former rookie of the year Tyreke Evans, who played for the Kings from 2009 to 2013, was reinstated by the NBA last week after a two-year ban after violating the league's anti-drug program. The 32-year-old guard averaged 10.2 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 2018-19 for the Indiana Pacers and is eligible to be signed as a free agent now.-- McMenamin

26. Indiana Pacers

2021-22 record: 20-40

Previous ranking: 26

Pacers guardMalcolm Brogdonhas played in just two games since Dec. 21, and none at all since he was shut down for a 10-day rehab program on Jan. 22. Coach Rick Carlisle was hopeful Brogdon would be able to return soon following the break, but the team did not have much clarity on a timeline for his return. -- Collier

27.Oklahoma City Thunder

2021-22 record: 18-40

Previous ranking: 27

Josh Giddey, the No. 6 overall pick out of Australia, is recording triple-doubles at a historic rate. He just joined Oscar Robertson as the only rookies in NBA history with three consecutive triple-doubles. He has four triple-doubles this season, matching Luka Doncic for the most ever by an NBA teenager. The Thunder have been surprisingly competitive (4-6) duringShai Gilgeous-Alexander's absence with a sprained ankle, in large part due to Giddey averaging 16.2 points, 9.0 rebounds and 7.5 assists in that span.-- MacMahon

28. Detroit Pistons

2021-22 record: 13-45

Previous ranking: 30

It's been a whirlwind first half season ofCade Cunningham's rookie campaign, but he is still capable of the peaks he put on in his final game before the break against the Celtics. He finished with 20 points -- 12 of which came in the second half -- eight rebounds and six assists hitting the late tough shots Detroit hopes to count on from him for years to come.-- Collier

29.Houston Rockets

2021-22 record: 15-43

Previous ranking: 28

No. 2 overall pickJalen Green, who was the Las Vegas favorite to win the dunk contest at All-Star Weekend but was eliminated in the first round, will have to finish strong to earn All-Rookie honors. He's in the midst of his best month, averaging 16.5 points on 60.4% true shooting, but the Rockets are 1-7 in February.-- MacMahon

30. Orlando Magic

2021-22 record: 13-47

Previous ranking: 29

Orlando lost four in a row heading into the break and badly needs an influx of more talent to get back to respectability in the Eastern Conference. Second year guardCole Anthonyhas shown more improvement this month -- averaging 17.3 points, 5.4 assists and 5.2 rebounds a game over nine games in February. -- Friedell

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