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NBA Power Rankings: Are the Lakers and Nets finding their rhythm?

In the span of a week, Anthony Davis somewhat changed the outlook of the Los Angeles Lakers‘ season. What was once an underperforming collection of aging stars is now a hot team capable of beating the NBA elite, anchored by one of the league’s best big men in Davis. But the Lakers also got a taste of what life without Davis would be like in their 116-102 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The other veteran team that underperformed to start the season, the Brooklyn Nets, started to build some momentum thanks to Kevin Durant. Durant led the Nets to a win streak against the teams on their schedule they should beat, but didn’t do enough to pull off a win against the red-hot Boston Celtics in their most recent game.

Then again, very few are beating the Celtics right now. Boston still owns the best record in the NBA at 20-5, and aside from a few upsets to other contenders in the East, it looks like the Celtics are the better team on the floor most nights.

As Boston dominates the Eastern Conference, the West seems to get a new potential frontrunner every week. Now the New Orleans Pelicans and Memphis Grizzlies are gaining ground on the Phoenix Suns for the top seed in the conference.

Note: Throughout the regular season, our panel (Kendra Andrews, 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.

Previous rankings: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7

1. Boston Celtics
2022-23 record: 20-5
Previous ranking: 1

After sweeping a road back-to-back against the Nets and Raptors to begin a six-game trip, the league’s best team thus far will head West for the first time this season beginning Wednesday in Phoenix, before going on to Golden State Saturday and then wrapping up with a home-and-home in Los Angeles to start next week. — Bontemps


2. Milwaukee Bucks
2022-23 record: 17-6
Previous ranking: 2

Giannis Antetokounmpo, who turned 28 Tuesday, has scored at least 30 points in seven straight games, the longest streak of his career. He’s averaging 36.0 points, 10.1 rebounds and 5.7 assists during that span and is now tied for second in the NBA (31.9 points) in scoring with Joel Embiid, behind Luka Doncic. — Collier


3. Phoenix Suns
2022-23 record: 16-8
Previous ranking: 3

After opening their season with a revenge win over the Mavericks, the Dallas demons reappeared for the Suns with a 130-111 loss in Dallas on Monday. Phoenix fell behind by 18 heading into the second quarter and never made a game of it, bringing to mind that brutal blowout loss to Dallas in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals in the spring. — McMenamin


4. New Orleans Pelicans
2022-23 record: 15-8
Previous ranking: 7

The Pelicans are on a four-game winning streak, and Zion Williamson‘s play on both sides of the floor has been a big part of that. In the last four games, Williamson is averaging 27 points, 9.8 rebounds, 6.3 assists, two steals and 1.8 blocks per game while shooting 64.1% from the field. He has at least one steal and one block in four consecutive games for the first time in his career. — Lopez


5. Cleveland Cavaliers
2022-23 record: 16-9
Previous ranking: 5

Jarrett Allen returned from a five-game absence because of lower-back pain and wreaked havoc on the Lakers on Tuesday. Allen scored a career-best 22 points in the first half (finishing with 24 points, 11 rebounds and 3 steals) and Donovan Mitchell did his damage late, scoring 17 of his 43 points in the fourth quarter, to lead The Land to victory. — McMenamin


6. Memphis Grizzlies
2022-23 record: 15-9
Previous ranking: 6

Dillon Brooks is shooting a career-low 39.4% from the floor, but his impact on winning has been evident. The Grizzlies have outscored opponents by 100 points with Brooks on the floor, a plus-minus that ranks behind only Ja Morant and Steven Adams on the team. Memphis allows only 106.3 points per 100 possessions with Brooks on the floor, almost eight points lower than without him. — MacMahon


7. Denver Nuggets
2022-23 record: 14-10
Previous ranking: 4

Longtime Denver coach Doug Moe once devised a system of subtracting home losses from road victories to determine a team’s quality. Even after Tuesday’s last-second defeat to Dallas, this year’s Nuggets squad ranks second to Boston in that metric, with eight road wins and just three home losses so far — a byproduct, in part, of playing 15 road games already, tied with Houston for the NBA lead. — Bontemps


8. LA Clippers
2022-23 record: 14-11
Previous ranking: 9

Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are finally back and just in time. The Clippers and Ty Lue were blown out by Sacramento at home, 123-96, last Saturday without Leonard, George, Luke Kennard and Norman Powell. Leonard and George showed just how much they mean to the team, combining at the end to beat the Hornets with Leonard scoring the final four points for the Clippers, including the game-winner on Monday. Next up are games at Orlando and Miami before John Wall returns to DC for the first time with fans in the building. — Youngmisuk


9. Sacramento Kings
2022-23 record: 13-9
Previous ranking: 14

The Kings just keep on rolling. What may have felt like an early-season fluke with their success has proven to be legitimate. Just imagine if Mike Brown can insert the defensive prowess he built at Golden State into this Sacramento team. They could stay dangerous and sustain it. — Andrews


10. Golden State Warriors
2022-23 record: 13-12
Previous ranking: 10

Each time it feels like the Warriors are finally exiting their early-season funk, they suffer a setback. Most recently it was a loss to the Indiana Pacers without Tyrese Haliburton and Myles Turner, in which Stephen Curry had his worst game of the season. And when he was a no-show, no one else was capable of stepping up for him. — Andrews


11. Dallas Mavericks
2022-23 record: 13-11
Previous ranking: 16

Moving into the starting lineup seems to have jump-started Tim Hardaway Jr. He got off to a slow start, chipping off rust while returning from foot surgery that sidelined him most of last season, but Hardaway has averaged 24.4 points on 51.9% shooting (54.5% from 3-point range) in the last five games. — MacMahon


12. Portland Trail Blazers
2022-23 record: 13-11
Previous ranking: 13

After losing 8-of-10 games, the Blazers steadied themselves a bit with two big wins over the Jazz and Pacers. Anfernee Simons continues to develop into a budding star with 45 points, including 15-of-25 shooting and seven made 3’s, against the Jazz. Jerami Grant keeps shining as well. Damian Lillard returned and had 21 points in the win over the Pacers. — Youngmisuk


13. Brooklyn Nets
2022-23 record: 13-12
Previous ranking: 17

Brooklyn has gotten back on track thanks to the brilliance of Kevin Durant. The former MVP averaged 33 points, 7 rebounds and 5.5 assists over the last week, earning Eastern Conference player of the week honors. The issue for the Nets is that Durant is averaging 36.9 minutes a game — a huge workload this early in the season. — Friedell


14. Philadelphia 76ers
2022-23 record: 12-12
Previous ranking: 8

A weeks ago, Philadelphia was three games over .500, had won seven of nine games and James Harden‘s return was on the horizon. But after three losses on that road trip — including Monday’s loss in Houston — Philadelphia has now dropped back down to .500 on the season as they begin a two-week homestand Friday against the Lakers. — Bontemps


15. Atlanta Hawks
2022-23 record: 13-11
Previous ranking: 18

Bogdan Bogdanovic made his regular season debut on Friday night as he recovered from offseason knee surgery. Hawks fans gave him a rousing ovation when he subbed in, but there was still some rust that needed to be knocked off. In Monday’s game against Oklahoma City, Bogdanovic looked more like his old self with 17 points and five 3-pointers. — Lopez


16. Indiana Pacers
2022-23 record: 13-11
Previous ranking: 11

Bennedict Mathurin has gotten most of the attention, but fellow rookie Andrew Nembhard, who was drafted in the second round this year, is also helping the Pacers win games. Nembhard scored 31 points with 13 assists and made five threes on 62% shooting in a win against the Warriors on Monday, the first rookie to do so since Steph Curry in 2010. — Collier


17. Utah Jazz
2022-23 record: 14-12
Previous ranking: 20

Rookie center Walker Kessler is making a case for extended minutes, especially considering that the Jazz rank 25th in defensive efficiency and 29th in defensive rebounding rate. Kessler — the No. 22 overall pick acquired in the Rudy Gobert trade — is tied for seventh in the league with 1.7 blocks per game despite averaging only 15.8 minutes. The Jazz allow only 106.6 points per 100 possessions with Kessler on the floor, which is stingier than the league’s best defense. — MacMahon


18. Toronto Raptors
2022-23 record: 12-12
Previous ranking: 12

The Raptors remain at .500 as they head into Wednesday night’s game against the Lakers, but Pascal Siakam continues to play at the highest level of his career. Across 14 games this season, he is averaging 24.5 points, 8.9 rebounds and 7.1 assists. There is only one other player in the league averaging 24-8-8 this season: Luka Doncic. — Bontemps


19. Miami Heat
2022-23 record: 11-14
Previous ranking: 19

Jimmy Butler is finally back after dealing with a lingering knee injury, and he immediately delivered in Friday’s overtime win over the Celtics with 25 points, 15 rebounds and big plays down the stretch. Butler should be able to push the Heat back on track given that five of their next six games are against teams under .500. — Friedell


20. Minnesota Timberwolves
2022-23 record: 11-12
Previous ranking: 22

The Timberwolves’ depth is being tested right now, and it’s not exactly acing the test. In their win over the Grizzlies, Minnesota showed how they could be successful without Karl-Anthony Towns, who they will be without for about a month. But it’s not sustainable. They leveraged all of their depth and pretty much all of their future to get Rudy Gobert, but they still aren’t meshing as a unit. — Andrews

21. Washington Wizards
2022-23 record: 11-13
Previous ranking: 15

The Wizards enter a treacherous portion of their schedule in a rut. They’ve lost six of their last seven games and now play 12 of their next 16 games on the road. Their four home games during that stretch are against the Clippers, Nets, Sixers and Suns. — Youngmisuk


22. Los Angeles Lakers
2022-23 record: 10-13
Previous ranking: 25

Anthony Davis’ hot streak came to a screeching halt Tuesday in Cleveland. The Lakers star big man was limited to just eight minutes because of flu-like symptoms, and the Cavs swept the season series against LeBron James‘ team, 2-0, for the first time of his career. — McMenamin


23. New York Knicks
2022-23 record: 11-13
Previous ranking: 21

New York managed to snap a five-game home losing streak with a win over Donovan Mitchell and the Cavaliers Sunday, but RJ Barrett remains in a season-long slump, hitting just 28.2 percent of his attempts from 3-point range on over five attempts per game. It is the worst percentage of any of the 53 players who have taken at least 125 3-point attempts this season. — Bontemps


24. Oklahoma City Thunder
2022-23 record: 11-13
Previous ranking: 24

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is showing no signs of slowing down as the NBA season enters December. In a 121-114 win against the Hawks on Monday, Gilgeous-Alexander had 35 points and was 15-of-15 from the line. It was his seventh consecutive 30-point game, the most by a Thunder player since Russell Westbrook had eight in a row in 2016. The only player in franchise history with more consecutive 30-point games is Kevin Durant, who had 12 in a row in 2014 and nine in a row in 2010 (spanning the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons). — Lopez


25. Chicago Bulls
2022-23 record: 9-14
Previous ranking: 23

The Bulls have dropped three in a row and seven of their last 10 games. When DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic are on the floor together, Chicago is -6.3 points per 100 possessions in 399 minutes this season. — Collier


26. Charlotte Hornets
2022-23 record: 7-17
Previous ranking: 26

Things continue to look bleak in Charlotte. LaMelo Ball‘s ankle is giving him problems again, and the defense continues to struggle. At least Kelly Oubre Jr. continues to pace the Hornets offensively. He’s averaging 23.3 points and 5.3 rebounds a game over the first three games of December. — Friedell


27. Houston Rockets
2022-23 record: 7-17
Previous ranking: 28

No. 3 overall pick Jabari Smith Jr., whose rookie season got off to a slow start, has been an impact player during the Rockets’ stretch of four wins in seven games. The 19-year-old Smith has averaged 13.9 points and 7.3 rebounds during that span while shooting 47.6% from the floor. His 16-point, 11-rebound performance in Monday’s win over the 76ers was his fourth double-double, matching Orlando’s Paolo Banchero for the most in the rookie class. –MacMahon


28. Detroit Pistons
2022-23 record: 7-19
Previous ranking: 30

With Cade Cunningham sidelined, the Pistons have run their offense through Jaden Ivey, giving the young guard a chance to shine and fail during this recent stretch. Ivey is second in minutes (31.8), third in scoring (15.9) and first in assists (4.3) among rookies. — Collier


29. San Antonio Spurs
2022-23 record: 6-18
Previous ranking: 29

San Antonio has lost 11 straight games, the second-longest streak in franchise history (they lost 13 straight in 1989). One bright spot for the Spurs off the bench this season has been the play of backup big Charles Bassey. The 22-year-old Bassey is averaging 5.6 points and 6.0 rebounds per game this season, trailing only Jakob Poeltl for the team lead. Among players who have played at least 200 minutes this season, Bassey would be fourth in the league in rebounds per 36 minutes (14.2) trailing only Andre Drummond, Clint Capela and Steven Adams. — Lopez


30. Orlando Magic
2022-23 record: 5-20
Previous ranking: 27

Orlando has lost nine straight. It’s ugly. The good news is that Markelle Fultz is finally back after being out since April with a knee injury and Jonathan Isaac is starting a rehab assignment in the G-League after missing more than two years with an ACL injury. — Friedell

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