NBA Power Rankings: Luka Magic powering Dallas behind a historic run

The NBA saw plenty of fireworks last week as the league closed out 2022 with some tremendous performances by some of the best players in the game.

Luka Doncic is on a historic stretch after powering Dallas to a six-game win streak to climb up the standings in the Western Conference. Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Nets seemingly can’t lose and have the longest streak in the league at 11 games.

To make further sense of it all, Rookie Wire took a look at the NBA and ranked each team from worst to first. We come back each week and provide our latest assessment of the best teams and those that are rising.

Charlotte Hornets (10-27)

Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 29

The Hornets have got to be happy that December is over. The team had the worst record in the NBA during the month (4-12) and was 28th in both offense and defense. We’ll see if Steve Clifford & Co. can turn things around in the new year.

Houston Rockets (10-26)

Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 27

Since going 7-6 over a 13-game stretch, the Rockets have lost eight of their last nine games. They lost by 20 points on New Year’s Eve to the Knicks. That run prompted quite a quote from Eric Gordon, who has clearly checked out in Houston.

For more coverage on the Rockets, visit Rockets Wire

Detroit Pistons (10-29)

Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 30

The Pistons had a couple of low moments on the week, such as blowing a 14-point lead with three minutes left on Monday versus the Clippers. They were also involved in the on-court altercation with the Magic on Wednesday, in which Killian Hayes (3 games) and Hamidou Diallo (1 game) were suspended. However, they knocked off Minnesota on Saturday for their second win in three games.

San Antonio Spurs (12-24)

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Last Rank: 26

The Spurs had a decent run last week after defeating the Jazz and Knicks, and narrowly losing to Dallas on Saturday. Unfortunately, they ran into a red-hot Luka Doncic in that contest as the All-Star put up 51 points, including 42 points in the first three quarters. Credit to Gregg Popovich for trying to slow down Doncic prior to the game.

Oklahoma City Thunder (15-21)

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Last Rank: 24

The Thunder have dropped three of four games but remain in the play-in race at the moment. Josh Giddey made some news on the week after becoming the second-youngest player (20 years, 78 days) to reach 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 500 assists. He trails only LeBron James (19 years, 326 days old) in that category.

For more coverage on the Thunder, visit Thunder Wire

Orlando Magic (13-24)

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Last Rank: 23

The Magic had a tough week after dropping each of their last three games since winning eight of nine. They will start the week off severely short-handed after seeing nine total players earn suspensions following the on-court altercation on Wednesday in Detroit. The team had only eight available on Friday versus Washington and could once again have only eight on Wednesday versus OKC. However, Jonathan Isaac, who hasn’t played since the bubble, and Jalen Suggs each practiced on Monday.

Washington Wizards (17-21)

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 28

The Wizards are on an upward trajectory after winning six out of their last seven games, including five straight. The resurgence followed a 10-game losing streak as the team looks to be locking in on both sides of the ball. Kristaps Porzingis has been on a tear after earning Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors. He averaged 24.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.5 blocks and 1.5 steals last week.

Minnesota Timberwolves (16-21)

Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 18

The Timberwolves have lost six straight games despite some incredible play from Anthony Edwards. He has three 30-point games during that stretch and finished off December by averaging 25.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game.

Chicago Bulls (16-20)

Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 25

Since dropping to a season-high seven games under .500 on Dec. 18, Chicago has gone 5-2 as the team appears to be getting back on track. DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine have stepped up and have led the team in scoring of late.

For more coverage on the Bulls, visit Bulls Wire

Los Angeles Lakers (15-21)

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Last Rank: 22

LeBron James went off on his 38th birthday and showed everyone that he won’t be slowing down anytime soon. He dropped a season-high 47 points on Friday in a win over Atlanta, only the Lakers’ second in seven games. The Lakers will need to continue to rely on James with Anthony Davis still a couple of weeks away from returning.

For more coverage on LeBron and the Lakers, visit LeBron Wire

Toronto Raptors (16-20)

Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 21

Toronto posted its third win in five games on Friday over Phoenix as Gary Trent Jr. had 35 points to lead the way. The team is in the midst of a home-heavy portion of the schedule with six out of the next seven in the North. We’ll see if they can string together some wins.

New York Knicks (19-18)

Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 17

The Knicks essentially had a disastrous week. The group lost five straight prior to beating the Rockets on Saturday and gave up an insane stat line on Tuesday to Luka Doncic, who dropped 60 points, 21 rebounds and 10 assists in the win. New York led by nine points with 33.9 seconds left before falling in overtime.

Atlanta Hawks (17-19)

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 16

The Hawks have lost three straight and may be dealing with some more turmoil from within. Nate McMillan is reportedly mulling his future as a head coach but denied that he would retire midseason. On the court, the team begins a four-game West Coast road trip on Monday versus Golden State. We’ll see if the group can block out the noise and focus.

Miami Heat (19-18)

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Last Rank: 20

The Heat continue a five-game West Coast swing on Monday with their first of two games in L.A. They defeated the Jazz on Saturday as Tyler Herro hit the game-winning 3-pointer as time expired to improve to 1-1 on the trip. Bam Adebayo had 32 points and Herro finished with 29 points.

Indiana Pacers (20-17)

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 19

The Pacers have won three straight at home and five out of their last six games. The team is getting strong contributions up and down the roster with seemingly a different player stepping up each night. On Sunday: Myles Turner led the way with 34 points over the Clippers.

Utah Jazz (19-20)

Christopher Creveling-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 12

The Jazz have struggled of late after dropping four straight and six out of their last eight games. Lauri Markkanen continues to perform like an All-Star, though. He is averaging 30.8 points and 9.5 rebounds on 45.8% shooting from 3-point range over his last six games.

Portland Trail Blazers (18-17)

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 11

The Trail Blazers have struggled recently after losing four out of their last five games. The team did rank third in offense and seventh in net rating during the month of December, which could mean its recent struggles could be a blip. We’ll see if things can turn around this month.

Phoenix Suns (20-17)

Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 9

Phoenix is another team probably happy to be out of December after going just 5-11 during the month. The team was ninth in offense during that span but 27th in defense after giving up 117.4 points per 100 possessions. They will also be forced to move forward without Devin Booker, who is expected to miss at least one month with a hamstring injury. Things could get worse before they improve.

Sacramento Kings (19-16)

Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 15

The Kings managed to post a 2-2 record last week despite missing head coach Mike Brown due to the health and safety protocol. Domantas Sabonis continues to play at a high level through a thumb fracture, though, after averaging 22.4 points, 14.9 rebounds and 6.9 assists over his last 10 games.

Los Angeles Clippers (21-17)

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 10

The Clippers return home on Monday after completing a five-game East Coast road trip. The group posted a 2-3 record on the trek and has lost two in a row after falling to Indiana on Saturday despite a season-high 45 points from Paul George and 24 points from Kawhi Leonard.

Golden State Warriors (19-18)

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 14

The Warriors look to be trending upward after winning each of their last four games. Jordan Poole continues to step up for the team without Stephen Curry and Andrew Wiggins after averaging 30.8 points over their four-game winning streak.

For more coverage on the Warriors, visit Warriors Wire

Dallas Mavericks (21-16)

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 13

The Mavericks are moving up in the rankings after a tremendous week by Luka Doncic. He started the week by erupting for a career-high 60 points, 21 rebounds and 10 assists in a win over the Knicks. He became the first player ever to record a 60-point, 20-rebound triple-double and the second player to post a 60-point triple-double of any kind, joining James Harden (January 2018).

Doncic led the Mavericks to a 3-0 week with averages of 48.7 points, 13 rebounds, 10.7 assists, 2.3 steals and 1.3 blocks per game. He racked up 146 points, 39 rebounds and 32 assists during the week, becoming the first player in NBA history to total 140-plus points, 30-plus rebounds and 30-plus assists over any three-game span. It should be no surprise then to see he was named the Western Conference Player of the Week.

Cleveland Cavaliers (23-14)

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Last Rank: 5

The Cavaliers snapped a three-game losing streak on Saturday in Chicago as Caris LeVert led the way with 23 points. They picked up some impressive wins prior to that stretch (Dallas, Utah, Milwaukee) so we’ll see if they can get back on track. They have a couple of games at home before hitting the road for five games out West.

New Orleans Pelicans (23-13)

Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 8

The Pelicans saw their five-game win streak end on Saturday in Memphis, but the team continues to perform at a high level. CJ McCollum recently had a monster game with 42 points and a team-record 11 3-pointers in a win over Philadelphia. They are just one game back of first place in the Western Conference, but will be challenged this week: at Philadelphia, vs. Houston, vs. Brooklyn, at Dallas.

Milwaukee Bucks (23-13)

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 3

The Bucks have lost five of six games to fall to third in the Eastern Conference. However, Giannis Antetokounmpo continues to play like perhaps the best player on the planet: He recently became the first player since 1982 with back-to-back games with at least 40 points and 20 rebounds. Despite their recent stretch, we wouldn’t bet against the Greek Freak.

Philadelphia 76ers (21-14)

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Last Rank: 6

Philly had its eight-game win streak snapped on Tuesday and then lost two nights later against New Orleans. They got back in the win column on Saturday and will have five out of their next six games at home. The group has New Orleans again on Monday.

For more coverage on the 76ers, visit Sixers Wire

Memphis Grizzlies (23-13)

Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 4

Memphis has posted three straight wins after knocking off Sacramento on Sunday. Ja Morant has scored at least 30 points in five out of his last seven games since recording a season-low six points on Dec. 17. He is averaging 29 points, 9.3 assists and 4.4 rebounds over that span.

Denver Nuggets (24-12)

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Last Rank: 7

The Nuggets are on an absolute tear at the moment. Since losing three straight in early December, they are 9-2 and have the third-best offense in the NBA over that stretch. With nine out of their next 11 in the Mile High City, the Nuggets could extend that run.

Boston Celtics (26-11)

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Last Rank: 2

Boston started a four-game road trip with a loss in Denver on Sunday to snap a four-game win streak. They are back in first place in the East behind their recent run and are just a game-and-a-half ahead of Brooklyn in second. As of now, the Celtics look to be the team to beat in the conference.

For more coverage on the Celtics, visit Celtics Wire

Brooklyn Nets (24-12)

Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 1

The Nets have won 11 consecutive games after posting a 12-1 record during the month of December, their winningest month in franchise history. The group plays the Spurs at home on Monday and will then hit the road again for three games. They have won seven straight on the road, its second-longest streak.

For more coverage on the Nets, visit Nets Wire

Story originally appeared on Rookie Wire