NBA

NBA Power Rankings: Highs and lows for the Toronto Raptors

After three weeks of holiday indulgence off, the NBA Power Rankings are back to check in on which teams are rising and falling.

30

Cleveland Cavaliers 8-32

Last week: 1-9
Last rank: 28

The Cavaliers have the worst record in the league but…they also have the worst point differential in the league, more than two points per 100 possession worse than anyone else. Sorry if that “but” was misleading.

29

Phoenix Suns 9-32

Last week: 2-8
Last rank: 27

You have to stay creative to find bright spots for the Suns, but this is certainly one — Kelly Oubre Jr. has been giving Phoenix some nice minutes and the Suns are outscoring opponents when he’s on the floor with Deandre Ayton and Devin Booker.

28

New York Knicks 10-30

Last week: 1-7
Last rank: 26

The Knicks haven’t been winning much lately but, on the bright side, Kevin Knox just had a run of 12 straight game scoring in double figures. Since the beginning of December, he’s averaging 16.4 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game, shooting 38.0 percent on 3-pointers.

27

Chicago Bulls 10-30

Last week: 3-6
Last rank: 29

The Bulls have been increasingly respectable on defense with Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. in the frontcourt. Now if they could just put some points on the board with that pairing, they might actually be in business.

26

Orlando Magic 17-23

Last week: 3-8
Last rank: 22

3-point shooting numbers for Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon have fallen off in the past few weeks and the Magic look more and more like they may have to start selling some pieces at the trade deadline. Can they interest anyone in a lightly used Jonathan Isaac?

25

Washington Wizards 16-24

Last week: 4-6
Last rank: 25

Since John Wall left the lineup for season-ending surgery, the Wizards are 3-2 with Otto Porter Jr. averaging 26.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.8 blocks per 36 minutes over his last three games since returning from injury. Coincidence?

24

Atlanta Hawks 12-27

Last week: 6-4
Last rank: 30

The Hawks actually have a winning record over their last ten games, coinciding with a nice hot shooting streak from Trae Young. He’s still been dishing over seven assists per game but has also 18 of his last 33 3-pointers.

23

Detroit Pistons 17-21

Last week: 3-7
Last rank: 19

When the Pistons made a trade for Blake Griffin last winter, they sent the message that they intended to rock this core until the wheels fell off. The wheels are officially off. Since the beginning of December, they’re 5-14 with the fifth-worst point differential in the league. It was fun while it lasted.

22

Memphis Grizzlies 18-22

Last week: 2-8
Last rank: 13

The Grizzlies have a point differential of 0 in the 32 clutch minutes Jaren Jackson Jr. has played. The five Grizzlies with more clutch minutes than him all of have negative differentials in double-digits. Why can’t he play in crunch time again?

21

Sacramento Kings 20-20

Last week: 4-6
Last rank: 15

The Kings may have a better record than a few of the teams in front of them but their point differential is quite a bit worse. 538 currently gives the Kings just a three percent chance of making the playoffs but everything is still looking up in Sacramento.

20

Dallas Mavericks 3-9

Last week: 18-22
Last rank: 12

The Mavericks have hit a rough patch and, unfortunately, the return of Dirk Nowitzki may have a lot to do with it. The team’s bench had gotten into a nice rhythm and been a real source of strength. Since he rejoined the team, Dallas is being outscored by an average of 19.1 points per 100 possessions with Dirk on the floor. They still have a positive differential when he’s on the bench.

19

Minnesota Timberwolves 19-21

Last week: 5-5
Last rank: 24

The Timberwolves have actually been playing much better since the Jimmy Butler trade but it wasn’t enough to save Tom Thibodeau from a fire, mostly of his own setting. This could be the beginning of some changes in a positive direction, remaking the team for a more positive future. Or it could be the harbinger of more chaos.

18

Brooklyn Nets 7-4

Last week: 18-22
Last rank: 21

The Nets have been as hot as anyone lately, winning seven of their last 11 games with D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie combining for 35.3 points, 12.7 assists and 5.8 rebounds per game. If Caris LeVert returns during the regular season they’ll have a really solid chance of breaking into the playoffs.

17

Miami Heat 19-19

Last week: 6-3
Last rank: 23

A few weeks ago, the Heat looked dead in the water but they’ve surged back into clear playoff position, outscoring opponents by an average of 5.9 points per 100 possessions over the past three weeks. Justise Winslow is finally asserting himself and a new course is being charted.

16

New Orleans Pelicans 19-22

Last week: 4-6
Last rank: 14

All you really need to know to understand the Pelicans predicament — they outscore opponents by an average of 5.8 points per 100 possessions when he’s on the floor. They get outscored by an average of 5.6 points per 100 possessions when he’s on the bench.

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