NBA Power Rankings 2022-23: The NBA All-Star Weekend usually serves as the informal midpoint of the season, even though it takes place four months into a six-month-long season. With the All-Star Game in the rearview mirror, most teams are left with around 20 to 25 regular-season games before shifting their focus to the NBA Playoffs, Play-In Tournament, and the NBA Draft Lottery in May. However, before thinking too far ahead to the postseason, there is still plenty to be decided in the final stretch of the regular season.
While top teams such as the Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks, and Denver Nuggets have maintained their positions, recent player movements have resulted in a power shift, and a few other teams now have a shot at becoming legitimate title contenders. As the unofficial second half of the season begins, post-All-Star Power Rankings provide an indication of where teams stand at this point of the season, while also highlighting a significant storyline for each team that fans can follow in the remaining games.
The rankings have been updated to reflect the latest developments in the league. In addition, they provide fans with an insight into which teams are currently in contention for the championship and which ones will have to work harder to make it to the postseason.
The rankings reveal that the Brooklyn Nets, with their star-studded lineup of Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving, have taken the top spot, followed closely by the Utah Jazz and the Phoenix Suns. Meanwhile, teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, and Golden State Warriors have struggled this season and will need to significantly improve their game to make it to the postseason.
- NBA Power Rankings 2022-23
- 1. Boston Celtics
- 2. Milwaukee Bucks
- 3. Denver Nuggets
- 4. Cleveland Cavaliers
- 5. Philadelphia 76ers
- 6. Memphis Grizzlies
- 7. LA Clippers
- 8. Phoenix Suns
- 9. Miami Heat
- 10. Dallas Mavericks
- 11. Sacramento Kings
- 12. Golden State Warriors
- 13. New York Knicks
- 14. Brooklyn Nets
- 15. New Orleans Pelicans
- 16. Minnesota Timberwolves
- 17. Los Angeles Lakers
- 18. Oklahoma City Thunder
- 19. Atlanta Hawks
- 20. Portland Trail Blazers
- 21. Toronto Raptors
- 22. Washington Wizards
- 23. Utah Jazz
- 24. Chicago Bulls
- 25. Indiana Pacers
- 26. Orlando Magic
- 27. Charlotte Hornets
- 28. Detroit Pistons
- 29. San Antonio Spurs
- 30. Houston Rockets
NBA Power Rankings 2022-23
1. Boston Celtics
Key storyline: Finishing the season as strong as they started it.
After coming two wins short of an NBA title, the Celtics have been on a mission all season. As a result, they’ve been a mainstay at the top of the power rankings, but that’s not the ultimate goal. Boston has to keep its foot on the gas to finish the season strong in preparation for another deep run in the postseason.
2. Milwaukee Bucks
Key storyline: Getting all the pieces in order for a playoff run.
The Bucks have gotten hot at the right time as they rode a 12-game win streak into the All-Star break. Giannis Antetokounmpo’s wrist injury scare is a reminder of how important it is for Milwaukee to be whole and healthy once the postseason rolls around. With arguably the best player in the world on its roster, Milwaukee just needs to get the complementary pieces on the same page to make a 2021-like run.
3. Denver Nuggets
Key storyline: Proving their status as a legitimate title contender.
Of course, this one can’t fully be proven until the postseason comes around, but the Nuggets aren’t treated with the respect that a team of their caliber would normally command. Nikola Jokic, the two-time reigning MVP, is working on his third, Jamal Murray is just about back to pre-injury form and the team has all the necessary pieces to make a run. It feels like no one will believe it until they actually do it.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers
Key storyline: The value of experience.
A few members of this Cavaliers roster have played on this postseason stage, but save for two duos that did it elsewhere (Jarrett Allen & Caris LeVert and Donovan Mitchell & Ricky Rubio), they haven’t done it together. Cleveland has the talent to make a legitimate run, but it will need Mitchell to lead the way for players like Darius Garland and Evan Mobley to follow.
5. Philadelphia 76ers
Key storyline: Continuing to develop chemistry between Joel Embiid and James Harden.
It may seem like they should have it completely together by now, but here’s your reminder that it’s been less than a year since Harden’s 76ers debut (Feb. 25, 2022), and he and Embiid have shared the floor fewer than 60 times in the regular season. With passing time, their connection grows stronger, a key component to Philly’s attempt to get past the conference semifinals for the first time since 2001.
6. Memphis Grizzlies
Key storyline: Maintaining separation from the rest of the jumbled West.
Memphis has sputtered a bit since Ja Morant’s claim that the team “was good in the West.” Steven Adams’ injury has had more to do with it than Morant’s words, but as the playoffs near, it’ll be imperative for the Grizzlies to keep their distance from the rest of the West in the standings. Home court is crucial.
7. LA Clippers
Key storyline: Can Paul George and Kawhi Leonard be the NBA’s best duo?
I can speak at length about the Clippers’ depth, but ultimately, it starts and ends with the team’s superstar duo. George is piecing together a pretty impressive season and Leonard is shaking the rust off. LA is scary good when the duo is at its peak, something that may not be that far-fetched.
8. Phoenix Suns
Key storyline: Incorporating Kevin Durant.
At the deadline, Phoenix pulled off what might be the biggest midseason trade in league history. Now, the Suns have two months to get an all-time great up to speed in order to make a run and maximize their championship window.
9. Miami Heat
Key storyline: Heating up at the right time.
It’s been a weird season for Miami, which stumbled out of the gates, got things together and seemingly stumbled again. The Heat have once again picked up the pieces and are primed for a late-season surge in the East standings. I’m not sure anyone wants to see Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler and company in the postseason.
10. Dallas Mavericks
Key storyline: Finding the Luka Doncic-Kyrie Irving balance.
Dallas’ move to acquire Irving ahead of the trade deadline was a splash that undoubtedly made the team better, but it’s forced him and Doncic to figure things out on the fly. The West may seem wide open, but the Mavs will need to be on the same page to take advantage.
11. Sacramento Kings
Key storyline: Ending the playoff drought.
It’s been 17 years since the Kings last played in the NBA Playoffs. Regardless of what anyone might say, holding the longest postseason drought in North American professional sports weighs heavily on everyone involved. Pressure will mount, but Sacramento is in the driver’s seat to end the drought.
12. Golden State Warriors
Key storyline: Will the defending champions get hot at the right time?
The Warriors sit at .500 despite an abysmal road record and multiple injuries to 2022 Finals MVP Stephen Curry. When their affairs are in order, no one wants to face the Warriors in a seven-game series … but will the Warriors have it together by the time the postseason comes around?
13. New York Knicks
Key storyline: Keeping the Garden magic alive.
This year has felt similar, but different to New York’s run to the playoffs in 2021. This time around, things feel more sustainable given the steady hand of Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle’s All-Star revival. The Knicks can keep the magic alive with a better postseason showing than they had a few years back.
14. Brooklyn Nets
Key storyline: A new team and a new identity.
After parting ways with Durant and Irving, it’s a new era in Brooklyn. The Nets may no longer be a title contender, but with competitors like Mikal Bridges, Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith and Cameron Johnson now on the roster, they’ll be scrappy and won’t go down without a fight.
15. New Orleans Pelicans
Key storyline: The health of Zion Williamson.
Williamson is the biggest key to New Orleans’ success. The Pelicans looked like a legitimate contender when he was at his best this season. In Williamson’s absence, the Pels have floundered. If New Orleans’ All-Star returns in time, they could still make noise in the postseason.
16. Minnesota Timberwolves
Key storyline: The impact of Karl-Anthony Towns’ impending return.
The fit between Towns and Rudy Gobert has been clunky at best. Things were simplified when Towns went down in November, but he’s reportedly set to return with 10-15 games remaining. All-Star Anthony Edwards has been leading the way, but can Minnesota adjust once its two bigs must coexist again?
17. Los Angeles Lakers
Key storyline: Going all-in on a playoff push.
LeBron James is still playing at an All-NBA level, Anthony Davis has shown MVP-like flashes this season and the team retooled at the deadline. LA is currently on the outside looking in but it will be doing everything in its power to finish the season on a hot streak and return to the postseason after missing out last year.
18. Oklahoma City Thunder
Key storyline: Just how far can Shai Gilgeous-Alexander lead this team?
Not many expected the Thunder to be in the thick of the West’s Play-In Tournament picture this late in the season, but here they are. Gilgeous-Alexander’s All-Star leap has been the driving force behind the Thunder being competitive. Will they fizzle before the season’s end or are they that ahead of schedule?
19. Atlanta Hawks
Key storyline: Gaining momentum to make a run.
When healthy, the Hawks have shown impressive flashes this season. The problem is they’ve rarely been healthy. Atlanta has playoff-level talent but its record doesn’t indicate that. If they can get healthy, the Hawks can surge to get some momentum going before the Play-In Tournament.
20. Portland Trail Blazers
Key storyline: Damian Lillard’s career season.
Since a hot start to the season, Portland has struggled mightily. Lillard, on the other hand, has not. He’s averaging a career-high 31.4 points per game to go along with 7.3 assists per game, numbers good enough to keep the Blazers in the hunt for a Play-In Tournament spot.
21. Toronto Raptors
Key storyline: Making good on their trade deadline strategy.
Many thought the Raptors would be sellers at the deadline, but they doubled down by holding on to their players and filled a major need by acquiring Jakob Poeltl. After making a win-now move, Toronto is expected to make a push for a playoff spot.
22. Washington Wizards
Key storyline: The strength of the Bradley Beal-Kyle Kuzma-Kristaps Porzingis triumvirate.
Beal’s missed extended time this season, but it’s extremely rare to see a trio of teammates averaging 20 points per game apiece. Beal’s 23.1 points lead the way, followed by Porzingis’ 22.8 and Kuzma’s 21.4. Washington’s hanging around in Play-In territory now. The scoring punch helps.
23. Utah Jazz
Key storyline: Bowing out gracefully.
The Jazz have plenty to be excited about but their moves at the deadline would indicate the focus is on the future. They may slide back in the standings, but that won’t take away from what was built this season.
24. Chicago Bulls
Key storyline: Salvaging the season.
The Bulls entered the All-Star break on a six-game skid but they’re still focused on the playoffs. There’s established talent in DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic. Will that be enough to turn things around before it’s too late?
25. Indiana Pacers
Key storyline: Building for the future.
Indiana stormed out of the gates and was a feel-good story early on, but its lost 16 of 19. While the season isn’t lost, the main focus now should be the growing chemistry between Tyrese Haliburton, Bennedict Mathurin, Andrew Nembhard and the team’s core. They’re ahead of schedule.
26. Orlando Magic
Key storyline: Paolo Banchero’s Rookie of the Year campaign.
With averages of 19.9 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists prior to the break, the award is essentially Banchero’s to lose. He stands to become the third player in franchise history to earn the honor.
27. Charlotte Hornets
Key storyline: Establishing an identity to build on.
Unlike the other teams towards the bottom of the league, the Hornets have an All-Star to build around in LaMelo Ball. The focus may be on the future, but in the present, they’ll need to decide what they want that future to look like.
28. Detroit Pistons
Key storyline: Making the most of young players’ reps.
Detroit recently added James Wiseman to a young core that also features Jalen Duren, Killian Hayes, Jaden Ivey, Isaiah Stewart and, of course, Cade Cunningham, who is out for the season. There’s potential for excitement there, so the young players should have some fun.
29. San Antonio Spurs
Key storyline: Growing and learning.
As Spurs standout rookie Jeremy Sochan noted, “we just want to learn and grow” through the ups and downs of the season. They can use each of the remaining games as valuable lessons for the future.
30. Houston Rockets
Key storyline: The youth development.
With Tari Eason, Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun and Jabari Smith Jr., the Rockets have one of the league’s best groups of young talent. The end of the season is all about how they grow.