NBA Power Rankings – LeBron James making a push for scoring document –

It is formally 2023, and time is ticking for the Los Angeles Lakers to get in place to make the playoffs — although LeBron James is doing every little thing he can to offer them an opportunity.

As James closes in on the NBA’s all-time scoring document, he has helped the Lakers win three of their previous 4 video games in a stretch that features back-to-back 40-point performances. James, at 38, is hardly off the ground, and he has willed the Lakers from obscurity into the dialog for a play-in spot. Issues will get a lot tougher for James & Co. to start out the brand new yr, nonetheless, as they may run by a gauntlet that features the Western Convention-leading Denver Nuggets, Memphis Grizzlies, Dallas Mavericks, Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets, Boston Celtics and a number of different fringe contenders this month.

The Nuggets are the most recent staff to take excessive spot within the West in what has been a weekly shuffle of potential front-runners. Nikola Jokic is making his declare for a 3rd straight MVP title, as Denver seems to be able to overpowering any staff — even the mighty Celtics — with Jokic on the ground.

Boston has completed simply sufficient to capitalize on the Milwaukee Bucks’ current slide to retake the highest spot within the Japanese Convention, however every week it seems to be increasingly more just like the Nets are the staff to beat within the East — and probably the complete NBA.

Observe: All through the common season, our panel (Kendra Andrews, Tim Bontemps, Jamal Collier, Nick Friedell, Andrew Lopez, Tim MacMahon, Dave McMenamin and Ohm Youngmisuk) is rating all 30 groups from high to backside, taking inventory of which groups are taking part in one of the best basketball now and which groups are trying most like title contenders.

Earlier rankings: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8 | Week 9 | Week 10 | Week 11

1. Boston Celtics
2022-23 document: 26-12
Earlier rating: 1

After Tuesday evening’s beatdown by the hands of the Thunder — who had been lacking Shai Gilgeous-Alexander — Boston is now simply 8-8 throughout its previous 16 video games after going 18-4 to start the season. Sure, the Celtics are nonetheless, barely, forward of the Nets atop the East, however the heady days of the primary six weeks of this marketing campaign really feel very far-off. — Bontemps

2. Brooklyn Nets
2022-23 document: 25-12
Earlier rating: 4

Make that 12 wins in a row, as Brooklyn continues to be the most popular staff within the league and is following Kevin Durant’s MVP-type lead each evening. The gamers have purchased into new coach Jacque Vaughn’s less-is-more strategy and are constructing extra confidence with every contest. A 3-game journey this week to Chicago, New Orleans and Miami ought to present an excellent take a look at for a squad that cruised by the month of December with a 12-1 document. — Friedell

3. Denver Nuggets
2022-23 document: 24-13
Earlier rating: 2

The Timberwolves snapped a six-game shedding streak on Monday towards the visiting Nuggets, however Denver nonetheless sits atop the Western Convention and, total, is taking part in as probably the greatest groups within the league. It is turning into arduous to search out new methods to explain the pure dominance Nikola Jokic has been displaying. Denver nonetheless has to determine the best way to thrive within the non-Jokic minutes, however the continued emergence of Bones Hyland and a wholesome Michael Porter Jr. provides the Nuggets choices. — Andrews

4. Memphis Grizzlies
2022-23 document: 23-13
Earlier rating: 5

The Grizzlies have received three in a row, recovering from a funk of 4 losses in 5 video games. Heart Steven Adams has dominated the glass in the course of the successful streak, averaging 20.3 rebounds, probably the most ever by a Memphis participant over a three-game stretch. “It’s just a man amongst boys,” teammate Ja Morant stated after Adams matched his profession excessive with 23 rebounds (13 offensive) in Sunday’s win over the visiting Kings. — MacMahon

5. Milwaukee Bucks
2022-23 document: 24-13
Earlier rating: 3

The Bucks have been leaning on star Giannis Antetokounmpo, who dropped a career-high 55 factors on Tuesday — much more closely together with his co-stars lately sidelined by accidents. Khris Middleton will miss his tenth straight recreation on Wednesday, and Jrue Vacation has been absent for 3 of the previous 4 contests. Antetokounmpo owns the best utilization charge within the league at 38.6%, in accordance with — Collier

6. Cleveland Cavaliers
2022-23 document: 24-14
Earlier rating: 9

Take a bow, Donovan Mitchell. The Cleveland guard turned simply the seventh participant in league historical past to attain 70 or extra factors in a recreation together with his masterful 71-point efficiency throughout an additional time win towards the Bulls on Monday. Mitchell completed 22-of-34 from the sphere and 20-of-25 from the free throw line whereas including 11 assists and eight rebounds on the historic evening. — McMenamin

7. Philadelphia 76ers
2022-23 document: 22-14
Earlier rating: 8

Tyrese Maxey has lastly returned after a number of weeks on the sideline with a foot harm, and Doc Rivers opted to have him come off the bench. Philadelphia’s present beginning lineup has outscored opponents by 10.6 factors per 100 possessions with De’Anthony Melton in Maxey’s place, versus 5.2 factors per 100 with Maxey within the beginning 5. Will probably be intriguing to see how lengthy Rivers sticks with this alignment shifting ahead. — Bontemps

8. New Orleans Pelicans
2022-23 document: 23-14
Earlier rating: 6

The Pelicans went 10-5 in December with out Brandon Ingram, and it was ok to earn Willie Inexperienced the Western Convention Coach of the Month Award. Inexperienced turned the fourth coach in franchise historical past to be so honored, becoming a member of the late Paul Silas (April 2003), Byron Scott (January 2008, December 2008) and Monty Williams (January 2011). Inexperienced may have a difficult January arising, as Zion Williamson is slated to overlook a minimum of three weeks with a proper hamstring pressure. — Lopez

9. Dallas Mavericks
2022-23 document: 22-16
Earlier rating: 11

Luka Doncic is averaging 41.7 factors, 11.0 rebounds, 9.9 assists and a pair of.3 steals in the course of the Mavericks’ seven-game successful streak. It’s Dallas’ longest such streak since successful eight in a row in February and March 2011, in the course of the Mavs’ championship season. They’re lacking a starter and two key reserves as a result of accidents, however they’ve outscored opponents by 73 factors with Doncic on the ground in the course of the streak and been outscored by 27 when he rests. — MacMahon

10. LA Clippers
2022-23 document: 21-18
Earlier rating: 7

But once more, the Clippers cannot keep wholesome. Kawhi Leonard missed Monday’s loss to Miami with a non-COVID sickness, and Paul George tweaked a proper hamstring harm that beforehand stored him out of seven video games. It stays to be seen if they may have their two stars for the upcoming back-to-back journey to Denver and Minnesota. Leonard will nearly definitely be held out of a minimum of a kind of video games as a result of his regular harm administration. — Youngmisuk

11. Sacramento Kings
2022-23 document: 20-16
Earlier rating: 13

After it was unclear what Domantas Sabonis’ availability can be as a result of a proper thumb avulsion fracture, he delivered three straight double-double performances, together with a 30-point recreation towards the Nuggets. Sabonis has now put up 14 consecutive double-doubles. — Andrews

12. Miami Warmth
2022-23 document: 20-18
Earlier rating: 17

Miami has received 4 of its previous 5 video games, and it acquired an enormous efficiency from Bam Adebayo in Monday’s win over the Clippers, as he scored 31 factors and grabbed 13 rebounds. Sunday’s showdown towards the Nets ought to present an excellent litmus take a look at for each groups because the Warmth attempt to climb again up the East’s standings. — Friedell

13. Indiana Pacers
2022-23 document: 21-17
Earlier rating: 19

The Pacers are in the midst of a four-game successful streak, they usually personal one of the best offensive ranking within the NBA throughout that span at 127.7 factors per 100 possessions. — Collier

14. Golden State Warriors
2022-23 document: 20-18
Earlier rating: 16

The Warriors are using a five-game successful streak — their longest of the season. That is essential as they play eight straight video games at residence, the place they’ve one of the best document within the NBA (as in comparison with their league-worst street document). Draymond Inexperienced stated they’re beginning to type an id whereas their roster is depleted with accidents and sickness. If they’ll get wholesome on the proper time, Inexperienced stated nobody will need to see them within the postseason. — Andrews

15. Phoenix Suns
2022-23 document: 20-18
Earlier rating: 10

Phoenix’s nightmarish street journey hit its nadir with an 11-point first quarter on the Mecca of basketball in New York Metropolis. The Suns went 1-4. And whereas the win in Memphis was notable, Devin Booker cannot return quickly sufficient from his left hamstring harm as his staff slips within the standings. — McMenamin

16. Portland Path Blazers
2022-23 document: 19-17
Earlier rating: 15

The Blazers bought a much-needed blowout win over the hapless Pistons, thanks largely to Jerami Grant’s 36 factors. However Portland has misplaced 5 of its previous eight getting into a three-game street swing, and the staff will definitely want Jusuf Nurkic, who was restricted to only 14 minutes towards Detroit as a result of sickness. — Youngmisuk

17. New York Knicks
2022-23 document: 20-18
Earlier rating: 12

New York’s topsy-turvy play has lasted for greater than a month now. In a span of 17 video games since Nov. 30, the Knicks have both received or misplaced consecutive video games: two losses adopted by eight wins adopted by 5 defeats adopted by a pair of victories. The Knicks will likely be hoping to proceed their ascent and begin a successful streak anew Wednesday evening at residence towards the lowly Spurs. — Bontemps

18. Utah Jazz
2022-23 document: 19-21
Earlier rating: 18

The Jazz’s shedding streak was prolonged to 5 video games when Lauri Markkanen’s would-be recreation winner towards the Kings was a cut up second too late. Utah’s previous three defeats had been all by a single-possession margin. Markkanen continues to make a robust case to symbolize the Jazz within the upcoming Salt Lake Metropolis All-Star Sport, averaging an environment friendly 30.1 factors over his previous eight outings. — MacMahon

19. Atlanta Hawks
2022-23 document: 17-20
Earlier rating: 14

It was a tough week for Atlanta, beginning with a one-point loss to the Nets on Dec. 28. On Friday, the Hawks fell once more after giving up 47 factors to LeBron James on his thirty eighth birthday. After getting back from 21 factors down towards Golden State on Monday, the Hawks took a nine-point lead within the fourth quarter solely to see Warriors guard Donte DiVincenzo ship the competition to additional time on a 3-pointer with seven-tenths of a second left in regulation. In double additional time, the Hawks then watched the sport slip away, as Kevon Looney’s putback was good on the buzzer. — Lopez

20. Washington Wizards
2022-23 document: 17-22
Earlier rating: 26

It was an evening to overlook in Milwaukee, because the Wizards not solely had their five-game successful streak snapped but additionally misplaced Bradley Beal, once more. Beal aggravated a left hamstring challenge and was dominated out for the second half with hamstring soreness. He had simply missed three straight video games as a result of harm. To make issues worse, Daniel Gafford left late within the recreation with an harm, as nicely. — Youngmisuk

21. Los Angeles Lakers
2022-23 document: 16-21
Earlier rating: 24

LeBron James topped 40 factors for the second straight recreation in a win at Charlotte on Monday, turning into the one participant apart from Michael Jordan to take action previous the age of 38. James additionally performed a minimum of 39 minutes in each video games, however Darvin Ham stated the growing old celebrity is provided for the workload. “I just want to ride him,” Ham stated. “And he allows you to do that because he takes such great care of himself. So, it’s a great luxury to have.” — McMenamin

22. Minnesota Timberwolves
2022-23 document: 17-21
Earlier rating: 20

The 2022 calendar yr ended on a bitter be aware for the Timberwolves in dropping six consecutive video games. They began the brand new yr proper, nonetheless, by beating the Nuggets. However the Wolves nonetheless have an extended option to go to show their summer season commerce fireworks centered round Rudy Gobert can truly quantity to one thing. — Andrews

23. Toronto Raptors
2022-23 document: 16-21
Earlier rating: 21

Toronto continues to overlook open pictures and carry out poorly in half-court offense and transition protection — a mixture that has led to 12 losses previously 17 video games heading into Wednesday’s showdown with the Bucks on ESPN. With a six-game homestand starting with the Milwaukee tilt, now can be a really opportune time for the Raptors to get themselves out of the rut they have been in for the previous a number of weeks. — Bontemps

24. Chicago Bulls
2022-23 document: 16-21
Earlier rating: 23

After successful on buzzer-beaters towards the Hawks and Knicks a number of weeks in the past, the Bulls suffered back-to-back shut losses to the Cavs this week — on a DeMar DeRozan missed jumper on the buzzer and when Donovan Mitchell’s 71-point recreation erased a 21-point Chicago lead. — Collier

25. Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder
2022-23 document: 16-21
Earlier rating: 22

The Thunder put up 150 factors in a Tuesday evening victory towards the Celtics, marking probably the most scored for the reason that staff moved to Oklahoma Metropolis in 2008. The final time the franchise scored a minimum of 150 in a recreation was April 6, 2008, when a Seattle SuperSonics rookie named Kevin Durant posted 37 factors in a 151-147 win in double additional time versus the Allen Iverson/Carmelo Anthony-led Nuggets. In opposition to the Celtics — and with out Shai Gilgeous-Alexander — Oklahoma Metropolis had 5 completely different gamers tally a minimum of 20 factors, led by a season-high 25 from Josh Giddey. — Lopez

26. Orlando Magic
2022-23 document: 13-24
Earlier rating: 25

After rattling off eight wins in 9 video games earlier in December, Orlando dropped three straight to shut the calendar yr. The excellent news is that Jonathan Isaac seems to lastly be getting nearer to a return after lacking over two years due to a knee harm. The Magic have good younger gamers in place; now they only want to search out consistency and well being within the new yr.— Friedell

27. San Antonio Spurs
2022-23 document: 12-25
Earlier rating: 27

In his first three seasons, Keldon Johnson had three 30-point outings — and all of them got here inside an eight-game span in March. It was an indication of issues to come back, and Johnson has picked up the place he left off. After placing up 30 factors in back-to-back video games towards the Knicks and Mavericks, Johnson is as much as 5 30-point performances in 33 contests this season. — Lopez

28. Houston Rockets
2022-23 document: 10-27
Earlier rating: 28

Kevin Porter Jr. is within the midst of an excellent offensive stretch, averaging 24.0 factors and 6.9 assists whereas capturing 52.6% from the ground over the previous seven video games. Nevertheless, Houston misplaced six of these, largely as a result of awful protection, with the Rockets permitting 121.6 factors per 100 possessions with Porter on the ground throughout that span. — MacMahon

29. Charlotte Hornets
2022-23 document: 10-28
Earlier rating: 29

The hits simply carry on coming for the Hornets in one other misplaced season: They’re nonetheless shedding, and the protection is dangerous. However a minimum of LaMelo Ball is again. He completed December averaging 25 factors, 8.2 assists and 6.6 rebounds in 10 video games. — Friedell

30. Detroit Pistons
2022-23 document: 10-30
Earlier rating: 30

The Pistons will likely be with out Marvin Bagley III for an prolonged time period after the ahead injured his proper hand throughout a loss on the Blazers on Monday. Bagley has averaged 10.6 factors and 5.9 rebounds. — Collier