NBA Power Rankings: Nets on top as the season reaches the halfway point

The 2022-23 season has reached the halfway point of the schedule for most teams as several clubs around the NBA are beginning to solidify their places in the standings.

Teams have a good idea by now if they will be contenders, while others are still trying to figure things out. Of course, there are a handful of teams that appear to be heading toward the lottery with Victor Wembanyama awaiting the group that is awarded the top pick.

With one month to go until the Feb. 9 trade deadline, the next four weeks in the NBA should be worth monitoring as teams emerge as buyers and sellers. There are seemingly some looking to make some moves while others could surface in the coming weeks.

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.

Houston Rockets (10-30)

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 29

The Rockets have lost seven straight and are just 1-12 since Dec. 15. The group is getting outscored by 10.4 points per 100 possessions over that span and is last in the NBA in offense and 25th in defense. Maybe Eric Gordon was right after all.

For more coverage on the Rockets, visit Rockets Wire

Charlotte Hornets (11-30)

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Last Rank: 30

Charlotte is just 3-7 over its last 10 games but exploded on Friday in a win over the Bucks. The team dropped 51 points alone in the first quarter and coasted to the 138-109 win. That is seemingly the only positive news to report at this moment.

Detroit Pistons (11-32)

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Last Rank: 28

Detroit posted just one win last week, but it was an exciting one. Saddiq Bey sank the game-winning 3-point shot on Wednesday to beat the Warriors at the buzzer and send the Pistons to their first season series sweep over Golden State since the 2008-09 season. They have since lost two in a row and will see the Sixers again on Tuesday.

San Antonio Spurs (13-27)

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Last Rank: 27

The Spurs have lost four out of their last five games entering play on Monday. They have a tough upcoming stretch and could continue to slip in the standings: at Memphis, at Memphis, vs. Golden State, vs. Sacramento.

Oklahoma City Thunder (18-22)

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Last Rank: 26

The Thunder embarrassed the Celtics early last week after dropping a team-record 150 points without Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Speaking of Gilegous-Alexander, the fifth-year guard is staying hot on the court after dropping three straight 30-point games. He is second in the NBA with 24 30-point games.

For more coverage on the Thunder, visit Thunder Wire

Orlando Magic (15-25)

Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 25

The Magic have gone 10-5 over their last 15 games after defeating Golden State on Saturday. Paolo Banchero scored a team-high 25 points to lead the Magic, who defeated the Warriors on the road for the first time since December 2012. It marked their first season series sweep over the Warriors since 2012-13.

Washington Wizards (17-23)

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Last Rank: 24

The Wizards have lost two straight since winning five in a row. The group gave up a career-high 55 points to Giannis Antetokounmpo on Tuesday and then lost to OKC on Friday. They have five out of their next six games in the District so we’ll see if they can get back on track at home.

Toronto Raptors (17-23)

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Last Rank: 20

The Raptors are 6-13 since the start of December and have lost five out of their last seven games. They nearly pulled out a comeback win over the Bucks on Wednesday in tremendous fashion but fell in overtime to Giannis Antetokounmpo & Co. Toronto should be a team to monitor ahead of the trade deadline next month because it is clear it may not have enough to compete in the East.

Atlanta Hawks (19-21)

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Last Rank: 18

The Hawks wrapped up their four-game West Coast road trip on Sunday with a win over the Clippers. They split the trek and will now have a few days off before hosting Milwaukee on Wednesday. The team has nearly completed half of the season and looks to be anything but a contender after trading for Dejounte Murray. The long-term outlook of the group isn’t exactly encouraging so it will be worth monitoring how the group moves forward ahead of the trade deadline.

Minnesota Timberwolves (20-21)

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Last Rank: 23

The Timberwolves have posted four straight wins after defeating the Rockets on Sunday. Rudy Gobert is on a bit of a hot streak of late after putting up his third straight double-double. Included in that run is a 25-point, 21-rebound effort on Friday against the Clippers. Minnesota is 10-5 when Gobert has a double-double.

Chicago Bulls (19-21)

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Last Rank: 22

The Bulls had quite a week. It started off by giving up 71 points to Donovan Mitchell on Tuesday in a loss to the Cavaliers. They then ended the Nets’ 12-game win streak two nights later and knocked off the Sixers on Friday to snap a 12-game losing streak to Philly. Chicago closed out the week with a win over Utah on Saturday. We still don’t quite know what to make of the Bulls this season but they are 8-3 since Dec. 20.

For more coverage on the Bulls, visit Bulls Wire

Utah Jazz (20-23)

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Last Rank: 15

The Jazz continue their fall down the standings after losing seven out of their last eight games. Lauri Markkanen is performing like an All-Star this season, though, and has led the team in scoring in each of its last eight games. He is averaging 31.5 points, 9.4 rebounds and one assist over that span, including a career-high 49 points on Thursday in a win over Houston.

Portland Trail Blazers (19-20)

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Last Rank: 14

The Trail Blazers are just 3-8 since Dec. 16 to fall to 10th in the Western Conference. Remarkably, the team is still 11th in defense in the NBA over that span, likely an indication that it can continue to hang around this year. They got Gary Payton II back for one game before he missed the next three games with an ankle injury. He is expected to return this week, which will give the team a boost.

Miami Heat (21-20)

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Last Rank: 17

The Heat recently finished their five-game West Coast road trip with a 3-2 record. Victor Oladipo had a season-high 26 points for the Heat in a win over Phoenix on Friday to close it out. The Heat have plenty of firepower on the roster, but getting those sorts of performances from Oladipo will go a long way for the group this season.

Los Angeles Lakers (19-21)

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Last Rank: 21

The Lakers have won six out of their last seven games, including a season-high five straight. LeBron James led the way on Saturday in a win over Sacramento with 37 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. He was named the Western Conference Player of the Week after averaging 35 points, 8.7 rebounds and 7.7 assists. The team is getting strong contributions from others on the roster over its recent run, including Russell Westbrook, Dennis Schroder and Thomas Bryant, who had a season-high 29 points and 14 rebounds over the Kings.

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

Phoenix Suns (20-21)

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Last Rank: 13

The Suns have lost six straight games and are just 1-9 over their last 10 games. The group is under .500 for the first time since Oct. 30, 2021, and is down to eighth in the West. They are playing without Devin Booker and just lost Chris Paul due to a hip injury. However, his injury is not considered serious and should return this week. They begin a four-game road trip Tuesday with Golden State.

New York Knicks (22-18)

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Last Rank: 19

The Knicks are streaking again after posting their fourth straight win on Friday over the Raptors as Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson have stepped up to lead the team of late. They combined to score 58 points in that win over Toronto.

Los Angeles Clippers (21-21)

Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 11

The Clippers have dropped six straight to fall to .500 for the first time since Nov. 6. The team was embarrassed on national TV Thursday in Denver after trailing by as many as 43 points. Then, they blew an 11-point fourth-quarter lead to the Hawks on Sunday. The group is halfway through the season now and may only be an average team at this point.

Indiana Pacers (23-18)

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Last Rank: 16

Indiana is 8-2 over its last 10 games and is up to sixth in the East. Rookie Bennedict Mathurin continues to be a revelation for the Pacers after averaging 17.1 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 41 games this season. He leads all players in bench scoring (681) and is second in overall scoring by a rookie.

Golden State Warriors (20-20)

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 10

The Warriors are 6-5 since losing Stephen Curry to a shoulder injury. They may only need to hold on for a little longer, though, as Curry could return this week after participating in practice over the weekend. They return to action on Tuesday versus Phoenix, who has lost six straight.

For more coverage on the Warriors, visit Warriors Wire

Sacramento Kings (20-18)

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 12

The Kings continue a five-game homestand on Monday. The group dropped the first two matchups after losing to the Hawks and Lakers by a combined five points. Domantas Sabonis has registered a double-double in 16 straight games to lead the Kings of late and is averaging 21.4 points, 14.8 rebounds and 7.2 assists over that span.

New Orleans Pelicans (24-16)

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 7

The Pelicans have lost four out of their last five games after falling to Dallas on Saturday. The group will be forced to move forward without Zion Williamson for at least three weeks due to a hamstring injury. However, they are 7-4 this season without Williamson and should be in good shape.

Dallas Mavericks (23-18)

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 9

Dallas‘ seven-game win streak was snapped on Thursday but the team has gone 8-2 over its last 10 games. They are fourth now in the West and look to be playing some of their best basketball of the season. As long as Luka Doncic is on the court, the Mavericks seemingly have a chance to make another deep playoff run.

Milwaukee Bucks (25-14)

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Last Rank: 6

The Bucks are just 4-6 over their last 10 games and are coming off of a blowout loss to the Hornets on Friday after giving up 51 points in the first quarter. However, Giannis Antetokounmpo erupted for a career-high 55 points on Tuesday to continue a superb run of late. They start a four-game road trip on Monday in New York.

Cleveland Cavaliers (26-15)

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Last Rank: 8

Donovan Mitchell put up the best game of his career on Monday in an overtime win over the Bulls with 71 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds. His 71 points were the most in a game since Kobe Bryant had 81 points in January 2006 as he became the seventh player ever to score at least 70 points in a game. Behind that outburst, Mitchell was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week.

With the stellar play of Mitchell, the Cavaliers have won four of five games to improve to fourth in the Eastern Conference. Cleveland is 10th in the NBA in offense and first in defense, and is one of five teams to rank in the top 10 in both categories. Acquiring Mitchell has been a tremendous move by the team as it looks to be one of the best in the East.

Philadelphia 76ers (24-15)

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Last Rank: 5

The Sixers have gone 7-3 over their last 10 games to improve to a season-high nine games above .500. The team looks to be clicking on all cylinders with Tyrese Maxey back in the fold. He is averaging 17.4 points, 3.4 assists and two rebounds in five games since missing a month of action.

For more coverage on the 76ers, visit Sixers Wire

Memphis Grizzlies (26-13)

Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 4

The Grizzlies have posted six straight wins as Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane lead the way. Remarkably, Jackson is fifth in the NBA in total blocks (74) despite playing 15 fewer games than the league leader, Brook Lopez (98). Meanwhile, Bane is averaging career highs across the board as the Grizzlies are 14-5 when he plays. They are tied for the best record in the West with the Nuggets.

Boston Celtics (28-12)

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Last Rank: 2

Boston wrapped up a four-game road trip out west with a 2-2 record. They suffered a rather embarrassing loss on Tuesday after giving up 150 points to a Thunder team playing without Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. They have since won two in a row and return home on Monday with Chicago.

For more coverage on the Celtics, visit Celtics Wire

Denver Nuggets (26-13)

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Last Rank: 3

Denver is 4-2 over its last six games to stay atop the standings in the West. Nikola Jokic posted his league-leading 10th triple-double during their last time out on Friday with 28 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists in a win over the Cavaliers. They continue a home-heavy slate with the Lakers on Monday as seven out of their next eight games are in the Mile High City.

Brooklyn Nets (27-13)

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Last Rank: 1

The Nets saw their 12-game win streak snapped on Wednesday, but continue to perform at a high level. They are just one game back of first place in the East after posting a 25-7 record since Nov. 4. They are fourth in offense and second in defense over that span. However, the Nets will be without Kevin Durant for at least two weeks due to a left MCL sprain. We’ll see if Kyrie Irving, Ben Simmons and the rest of the team can carry the load without Durant.

For more coverage on the Nets, visit Nets Wire

Story originally appeared on Rookie Wire