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  • Writer's pictureStone Lexington

Updated NBA power rankings: The leaders of the pack standing pat at the top of the heap


Giannis Antetokounmpo
 

In this week’s version of the power rankings, all five teams from last week’s top 5 remain at the summit. Several teams are on the top contenders’ heels, including the difficult to forecast Philadelphia 76ers and youthful Oklahoma City Thunder, but they’ve yet to surpass them on the mountain. With three weeks remaining until the NBA’s trade deadline, it’ll be interesting to see if any of these teams make a move to improve their chances of capturing a championship. Below are the teams that sit atop the latest NBA power rankings.



5


Minnesota Timberwolves

What is likely the most surprising team in the league, the Minnesota Timberwolves (30-11) have the second-best record in the NBA. After losing four of six games to begin the new year, the Wolves are back on track, having won four straight contests. Electrifying guard Anthony Edwards is forcing his way into superstardom conversations, and the rest of the roster seems very capable of assisting him in their efforts to make a deep playoff run. Minnesota had to compete in two Play-in tournament games last season just to reach the playoffs, which they were bounced from in five games by the eventual champion Denver Nuggets. The Timberwolves’ significant improvement this season doesn’t seem to be a fluke.



4


Los Angeles Clippers

The Los Angeles Clippers (26-14) are one of the hottest teams in the league. They’ve won 18 of their last 22 games, and James Harden has seamlessly fit into the team’s deep rotation. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Clippers stood pat and didn’t make a move before the trade deadline, as the team looks like it’s already built for a deep postseason run. The only concern about the Clippers is health, as several of their stars have missed significant time during the past few seasons. If they stay healthy throughout the regular season and postseason, the Clippers are a real threat to win Los Angeles’ second team its first-ever NBA title.




3


Milwaukee Bucks

Leading Eastern Conference All-Star vote-getter Giannis Antetokounmpo is once again producing another spectacular season, averaging a stupefying 31.2 points, 11.4 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game. With the superstar power of Damian Lillard playing alongside him, the Milwaukee Bucks (28-13) have a real chance of capturing their second NBA championship in four seasons. Missing Antetokounmpo in their last outing, the Bucks suffered a 40-point loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The contest only showed how valuable superstars are to their respective ball clubs. With them, a title can be claimed; without them, begin planning for next season.






2


Denver Nuggets

The Denver Nuggets (28-14) still seem to be cruising through the regular season. They’ve lost four of their last nine games, but each of those losses came against a team with a winning record. After winning the NBA title a season ago, the Nuggets seem to be waiting for the postseason to arrive. The only concern regarding Denver this season is depth, as it’s difficult to see significant contributors coming past their top seven rotation players. If the Nuggets were able to acquire another piece before the trade deadline, winning a second straight NBA title would become even more plausible.



1


Boston Celtics

The Boston Celtics (32-9) are the only team in the league with a single digit showing in the loss column, and they look like they’re pulling away from the rest of the league as the unequivocal favorite to win the NBA title. Boston has the best point differential in the NBA (+10), while also ranking top 5 in the league in points per game and points allowed per game. Superstar forward Jayson Tatum is taking his fewest shots in a season since the 2019-20 season, largely due to the addition of Kristaps Porzingis and the improvement of Derrick White. That may be a good thing for the Celtics, however, as Boston seems to have one of the most balanced lineups in the league.








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