NBA Power Rankings: How the NBA looks ahead of the trade deadline

The NBA saw the first major domino to fall ahead of the trade deadline when it was reported the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday agreed to trade Kyrie Irving to the Dallas Mavericks for Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith and future draft picks.

The move instantly improved the Mavericks’ championship odds (from plus-2500 to plus-1200) this season as Luka Doncic will now have a superstar teammate with him in the backcourt. Though it remains to be seen how it will all come together, the Mavericks figure to be a legitimate contender now in the Western Conference.

Elsewhere around the NBA, teams now figure to move on to other potential trade candidates with Irving off of the board. The Toronto Raptors could be very active with several players reportedly available, while other teams should also be busy as they look to improve ahead of Thursday’s 3 p.m. EST deadline.

To make further sense of it, 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.

Detroit Pistons (14-40)

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 30

The Pistons have two wins in their last five games, and rookie Jaden Ivey recently crossed a major career mark. He became the only rookie in the NBA to reach 700 points, 200 rebounds and 200 assists this season and is just the ninth first-year player to reach those numbers through his first 49 career games over the last 15 years.

Houston Rockets (13-40)

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 29

Houston is 3-4 over its last seven games but was absolutely decimated on Saturday by the Thunder, who scored a franchise-record 153 points. The Thunder also had their largest lead of the season at 41 points in that game as the Rockets were flat-out embarrassed. They return to action on Monday with the Kings.

For more coverage on the Rockets, visit Rockets Wire

San Antonio Spurs (14-39)

Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 28

The Spurs have lost eight straight as they are just 2-15 since Jan. 1. However, the highlight of the week was rookie Jeremy Sochan earning a spot in the NBA Rising Stars game. He is one of only two rookies this season with at least 400 points, 200 rebounds and 100 assists (Paolo Banchero). In other news: The team starts its rodeo road trip on Monday in Chicago.

Charlotte Hornets (15-40)

Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 25

The Hornets have lost four straight to continue their downward trend. However, LaMelo Ball did become the all-time franchise triple-double leader after accomplishing the feat for the eighth time in his career on Tuesday. He has done it twice this season.

Toronto Raptors (25-30)

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 26

The Raptors wrapped up their seven-game road trip with a 4-3 record after knocking off the Grizzlies on Sunday. The focus around the NBA now turns to the trade deadline on Thursday. The Raptors are said to be open to trading several of their veterans, such as Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby and Gary Trent Jr. It seems as though Toronto will dictate how active the trade deadline will be.

Atlanta Hawks (27-27)

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 22

The Hawks sit at .500 entering play on Monday and have largely been a middle-of-the-road team this season. Just how average have they been to this point? Brad Rowland of Locked on Hawks illustrated it in this tweet from Thursday:

Orlando Magic (22-32)

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 27

The Magic continue to trend upward after going 3-1 on their recent four-game road trip. The group matched its season win total from a year ago after defeating the Hornets on Sunday as Paolo Banchero had 22 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Orlando is 17-12 since Dec. 7 and is firmly in the play-in race at this point of the season, just three games back of the Wizards in 10th place. Credit head coach Jamahl Mosley and his staff for keeping the team focused and turning things around around their 5-20 start.

Washington Wizards (24-28)

Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 21

The Wizards have dropped back-to-back contests after posting six straight wins. Their recent run has them up to 10th in the Eastern Conference, though, and it should mean that they stick around in the play-in race. With the trade deadline approaching on Thursday, it will be worth monitoring to see if the front office can make some changes to add help or other pieces for the stretch run.

Indiana Pacers (25-30)

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 20

Indiana is 2-12 since Jan. 11 to fall out of the play-in group. However, the group got Tyrese Haliburton back from injury and the team looks to be much better with its All-Star on the court. With Haliburton running the show, the Pacers should begin to turn things around.

Portland Trail Blazers (26-27)

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 24

The Trail Blazers appear to be getting back on track behind a tremendous run by Damian Lillard. The All-Star is averaging 40 points, 7.1 assists and 4.3 rebounds over their last seven games as the team has posted a 5-2 record over that span. They are said to be a team to keep an eye on at the trade deadline and could be active prior to Thursday to get Lillard & Co. some help.

Chicago Bulls (25-27)

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 23

The Bulls have won two straight and are 6-4 over their last 10 games. With the team performing inconsistently this season, it could be one to watch ahead of the trade deadline. The front office has been doing its due diligence ahead of Thursday so it will be interesting to see if they pull the trigger on any deals.

For more coverage on the Bulls, visit Bulls Wire

Los Angeles Lakers (25-29)

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 18

Perhaps LeBron James‘ quest to become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer on Tuesday (vs. Thunder, 10 p.m. EST) will draw away some attention on the Lakers losing out in the Kyrie Irving sweepstakes. James needs just 36 points to surpass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and will likely get it done versus OKC. But, in the meantime, pour one out for Lakers fans after missing out on Irving.

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

Oklahoma City Thunder (25-27)

Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 17

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was named an All-Star for the first time on Thursday as the fifth-year guard is on a tear this season. He has led the Thunder in scoring in seven straight games and is averaging 34.1 points, 6.3 assists and 4.6 rebounds over that span. The team has slipped some, going just 3-4 in that span, but is just a game and a half back of the Pelicans in 10th place.

For more coverage on the Thunder, visit Thunder Wire

New York Knicks (28-26)

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 15

The Knicks are just 4-7 over their last 11 games, but still remain seventh in the Eastern Conference. The highlight of the week may have been on Thursday when it was announced that Julius Randle earned his second All-Star selection after another strong campaign. Teammate Jalen Brunson was viewed as one of the biggest snubs from the showcase, though could be named a replacement player should someone get injured. In any case, the Knicks have had a solid year to this point.

Utah Jazz (27-27)

Christopher Creveling-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 16

The Jazz enter play on Monday on an upswing after struggling to start the new year. The team is 7-4 since falling a season-high three games under .500 on Jan. 8. Lauri Markkanen, who was named a first-time All-Star last week, has led the team in scoring seven times and is averaging 26.7 points, 10.4 rebounds and 1.1 assists on 47.9% shooting from 3-point range over that span.

Minnesota Timberwolves (29-27)

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 19

The Timberwolves are ascending up the standings after going 13-6 since the start of the new year, which is tied for the third-best record in the NBA over that span. The team has been paced by Anthony Edwards, who played in his 200th career game on Sunday in a win over the Nuggets. His 4,310 career points are the most by a Timberwolves player over their first 200 games with the franchise.

Golden State Warriors (27-26)

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 14

The Warriors were dealt a tough hand when it was announced that Stephen Curry suffered partial tears to his superior tibiofibular ligaments and interosseous membrane, as well as a contusion to his lower leg. He could miss multiple weeks with the injury so the team will be tested during his absence. The Warriors are 8-8 this season without Curry.

For more coverage on the Warriors, visit Warriors Wire

New Orleans Pelicans (27-27)

Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 13

The Pelicans‘ losing streak reached 10 games before snapping it on Saturday versus the Lakers. They then knocked off Sacramento on Sunday to win consecutive games for the first time since late December. With their recent behind them, the team will be looking to string together some more wins. They return to action on Tuesday versus Atlanta.

Dallas Mavericks (28-26)

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 12

The Mavericks shocked the basketball world on Sunday after agreeing to acquire Kyrie Irving from the Nets. With Irving now joining a core that features Luka Doncic, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Christian Wood among others, the team figures to have plenty of firepower to make a deep playoff run. It remains to be seen if they can reach that level, but the group should be fun to watch if everything goes as planned. That is a big if, though.

Memphis Grizzlies (32-21)

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 7

The Grizzlies continue to trend downward after losing eight out of their last nine games. They still remain in second place in the West after building up a large cushion over the Kings in third, but are just two games up on them now. The recent skid will likely serve as just a blip in the schedule, but a prolonged stretch could cause some panic in Memphis.

LA Clippers (30-26)

Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 11

In incredible fashion, the Clippers choked away a win on Thursday versus the Bucks after they were outscored 51-29 over the final 19 minutes of action. Other than that, though, things seem to be good: Paul George is an All-Star and they have won seven out of their last nine games.

Phoenix Suns (29-26)

Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 10

The Suns appear to be good again after winning eight out of their last 10 games. Things looked to be going downhill rather quickly, but players returned from injury and they are back to playing their brand of basketball. They could get Devin Booker back as soon as Tuesday after a five-week absence so moral is high again in Phoenix.

Cleveland Cavaliers (33-22)

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 9

Cleveland has won two straight and is 5-5 over its last 10 games. The team has gotten great contributions from Darius Garland of late while All-Star Donovan Mitchell continues to perform at a high level nightly. They are fifth in the Eastern Conference, just half of a game behind the Nets.

Miami Heat (29-25)

Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 8

The Heat have lost three of four games, including a questionable result versus the Hornets. However, Bam Adebayo was named an All-Star for the second time on Thursday and will be the lone player to represent the team in Salt Lake City. They have a rather favorable schedule ahead this week (vs. Indiana, vs. Houston, at Orlando) so they could get back to winning ways before long.

Sacramento Kings (29-22)

Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 5

The Kings have struggled a bit of late, but are still third in the Western Conference. Since winning six in a row, they have gone just 3-5 and are coming off of a 32-point loss to the Pelicans on Sunday. Head coach Mike Brown is curious to see how the team can bounce back from its recent adversity and that answer could very well determine just how good of a team they are.

Brooklyn Nets (30-19)

Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 2

Just two days after requesting a trade, the Nets agreed to send Kyrie Irving to the Mavericks in exchange for Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith and draft picks. It will be curious to see how their new pieces are integrated into the mix but with Kevin Durant leading the way, the Nets still figure to be one of the top teams in the East. Durant is still at least a week away from returning so the team will need to step up in the meantime.

For more coverage on the Nets, visit Nets Wire

Boston Celtics (37-16)

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Last Rank: 4

The Celtics are 2-4 since winning nine straight games. Despite that stretch, they are still first in the East, but the Bucks and Sixers are both within two games. Boston still looks to be the team to beat in the conference, though, as those teams still haven’t proven to be the top group yet.

For more coverage on the Celtics, visit Celtics Wire

Milwaukee Bucks (36-17)

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 6

The Bucks have won seven consecutive games since Giannis Antetokounmpo returned from a five-game absence due to knee soreness. Antetokounmpo erupted for a season-high 54 points on Thursday as the Bucks overcame a 21-point deficit to defeat the Clippers at home. He is averaging 39.4 points, 14.7 rebounds and five assists since returning.

Philadelphia 76ers (34-17)

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 3

The Sixers have been one of the hottest teams in the league after posting the best record (14-4) since Dec. 31. We’ll forget about how they blew a 21-point lead in a loss to the Magic last Monday and what happened versus the Knicks on Sunday because their cast looks to be playing some of the best basketball in the NBA of late.

For more coverage on the 76ers, visit Sixers Wire

Denver Nuggets (37-16)

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 1

While Nikola Jokic is putting up triple-doubles seemingly every night and leading the way for the Nuggets, the team has also gotten some incredible play from Jamal Murray recently. He has put up at least 30 points in three straight games and last dropped a season-high 41 points on Saturday in a win over the Hawks. With the Grizzlies struggling some, the Nuggets have established themselves as the top team in the West and nearly have the best record in the league. It is probably a shame they only had one All-Star this year.

Story originally appeared on Rookie Wire