Kings, Pacers make shock rise in 2022-23 NBA Power Rankings

Celtics rise into top two in 2022-23 NBA Power Rankings originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Could this be the most parity-filled NBA season in recent history?

Only three teams really stand out as a legit contender through late November, and all are in the same conference. One good performance has us nodding our heads and the next one leaves us shaking our heads for most of the squads.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is that the Utah Jazz are still doing the thing – they’re No. 1 in the Western Conference with a 12-7 record. But they’re not the only team to make a shock jump. 

Let’s take a look at the updated Thanksgiving edition of the 2022-23 NBA power rankings:

30. Houston Rockets, 3-14: No change for Houston. The young roster was never really going to be a serious threat to anyone this season, as getting Victor Wembanyama remains the goal. (Last ranking: 30)

29. Detroit Pistons, 3-15: No change for Detroit. The margins between the Pistons and Rockets aren’t wide, but the former can at least say Cade Cunningham is injured despite some intriguing performances. (Last ranking: 29)

28. San Antonio Spurs, 6-12: They’ve won just one of their last 11. Gregg Popovich is not making the playoffs this year, barring some surprising miracle. San Antonio also has the worst net rating this year (minus-10). (Last ranking: 25)

27. Charlotte Hornets, 4-14: At least the Hornets can say LaMelo Ball has played only three games. If they can pair him with Wembanyama though… (Last ranking: 28)

26. Orlando Magic, 5-13: No change for Orlando, but not having Paolo Banchero is a blow. How about Bol Bol, though? Bol is balling right now, and it’s one of the early feel-good stories of the campaign. (Last ranking: 26)

25. Oklahoma City Thunder, 7-10: Where would they be without Shai Gilgeous-Alexander? Also, does Sam Presti consider moving him for another boatload of picks? (Last ranking: 20)

24. Miami Heat, 7-11: Riding a four-game losing streak isn’t the best of looks, but health issues are also playing a role. Miami should get back on track soon, but things haven’t looked pretty with the same core from last season. (Last ranking: 21)

23. Los Angeles Lakers, 5-10: Health continues to be an issue for the Lakers, too, but Anthony Davis has been playing out of his mind lately. Austin Reaves is also trending up while Russell Westbrook in the sixth-man role is panning out. (Last ranking: 27)

22. Golden State Warriors, 8-10: Stephen Curry continues to do Stephen Curry things, but the Warriors are so confusing. Could it be a championship hangover? Also, how does the James Wiseman situation develop? (Last ranking: 23)

21. Chicago Bulls, 7-10: Chicago has dropped six of its last eight games. The Bulls somehow have the Celtics’ number, though. (Last ranking: 14)

20. Brooklyn Nets, 8-9: The Nets’ ceiling this season is still looking pretty low, even with Kyrie Irving back in the fold. Will someone push in all the chips for Kevin Durant? (Last ranking: 17)

19. New York Knicks, 9-9: No change for the Knicks. But it looks like roster change could be on the horizon, with Immanuel Quickley being the name hitting the rumor mill recently. (Last ranking: 19)

18. Philadelphia 76ers, 8-8: Their three best players missing a combined 12 of 16 games isn’t good, plus Tyrese Maxey’s fresh sideline spell. How will the 76ers hold up? (Last ranking: 16)

17. Washington Wizards, 10-7: The Wizards have hit a stride the last few weeks and are above .500 again. It likely won’t be sustainable, but it’s good enough to rise in this edition. (Last ranking: 24)

16. Toronto Raptors, 9-8: Pascal Siakam’s absence has been devastating. Hopefully he can return as soon as possible and continue his All-Star-caliber campaign. (Last ranking: 12)

15. Atlanta Hawks, 10-7: The Hawks are one of the teams that fell out of the top 10. Trae Young, Dejounte Murray and De’Andre Hunter continue to look strong, but they keep oscillating between wins and losses and need more consistency on the defensive side. (Last ranking: 8)

14. Minnesota Timberwolves, 9-8: A four-game winning streak has definitely helped Minnesota not fall any further. Anthony Edwards’ long-distance shooting has dropped a level early on, which isn’t a great sign. (Last ranking: 13)

13. Portland Trail Blazers, 10-7: Damian Lillard’s injury struggles are a concern, but Portland resembles a playoff-caliber team when he’s healthy. Can the 32-year-old stay fit in what is a solid roster? (Last ranking: 11)

12. Memphis Grizzlies, 10-7: Jaren Jackson Jr., Desmond Bane and now Ja Morant are dealing with injuries. This Grizzlies squad can still be dangerous in the playoffs when healthy, but they also should find an upgrade on Dillon Brooks. (Last ranking: 7)

11. Dallas Mavericks, 9-7: The Mavericks will go as far as Luka Dončić will take them. He desperately needs help. (Last ranking: 10)

10. Los Angeles Clippers, 11-7: The Clippers are stringing together some momentum even in the absence of Kawhi Leonard, who just can’t shake the injury bug. Will L.A. ever get to put out a fully healthy lineup? We know they’re menacing at their best. (Last ranking: 22)

9. Indiana Pacers, 10-6: Having won nine of their last 11, the Pacers deservedly crack the top 10. Tyrese Haliburton and Bennedict Mathurin continue to be sensational in spite of their youth while Jalen Smith is having a revival season. The question is: Do they sell their veterans for picks as the season progresses or do they try to maintain the momentum? (Last ranking: 15)

8. New Orleans Pelicans, 10-7: No change for New Orleans, but they remain a well-drilled and balanced team. Zion Williamson has only played in 12 games, too, and they’ll get even better when he’s consistently in the mix. (Last ranking: 9)

7. Sacramento Kings, 9-6: Winning six in a row, having the best-ranked offense in the league and two potential All-Stars? Light the beam, Sacramento – De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis are sensational. And it’s proof that a trade can work out for both teams. (Last ranking: 18)

6. Phoenix Suns, 10-6: Cam Payne is stepping up in Chris Paul’s absence and losing Cam Johnson is still a big blow. Phoenix’s depth is already getting tested. (Last ranking: 18)

5. Denver Nuggets, 10-6: Denver has seven different players averaging double-digit points. Nikola Jokic getting help is probably the scariest development for the other 31 teams if the Nuggets can stay healthy. (Last ranking: 3)

4. Utah Jazz, 12-7: They’re still first in the Western Conference, and six different players are averaging double-figures. We’ll keep questioning if Utah will drop off, but for now it remains a miraculous start. (Last ranking: 4)

3. Cleveland Cavaliers, 11-6: A five-game skid hurts, but this Cavs side has a little bit of everything. Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland are very well the best backcourt in the NBA – and they’re just getting started. (Last ranking: 2)

2. Boston Celtics, 13-4: A nine-game winning streak was snapped by the Celtics’ kryptonite – the Bulls. The Eastern Conference has three early legitimate contenders, and Malcolm Brogdon’s shooting off the bench is an optimistic sign. (Last ranking: 5)

1. Milwaukee Bucks, 12-4: The Bucks continue to impress without Khris Middleton playing a single game. Getting Pat Connoughton back from a calf strain will also do wonders to Milwaukee’s depth, with Jevon Carter holding firm in the starting role. (Last ranking: 1)