);
NBA

NBA Power Rankings: Toronto Raptors are on the rise, Utah Jazz take a slide

After our own Micah Adams' incredible tribute to the late Kobe Bryant in last week's power rankings, marking the legend's best performance against every team in the NBA, we're back to regular form this week.

The Toronto Raptors are making some noise during their league's best win streak and the Boston Celtics are also climbing the ladder, while the Utah Jazz take a slide after their first rough week in over a month.

Where did your favourite NBA team fall in this week's power rankings?

10. Dallas Mavericks

Last week's ranking: 10th

Record: 30-19

Last week: 2-2 (win at OKC, loss vs. PHX, loss at HOU, win at ATL)

This week: at IND, vs. MEM, at WAS, at CHA

The Mavericks suffered a tough blow when All-Star and MVP candidate Luka Doncic sprained his ankle in the team's practice ahead of their matchup against the Rockets this week.

This injury comes on the very same right ankle that kept Doncic out for a stretch of four games earlier this season, though it has been reported that once again, it is not seen to be too serious of an injury. The report states that Doncic will miss "at least six games" and that included their loss to the Rockets and win over the Hawks this week.

Dallas missed their superstar against Houston, but reserve point guard Jalen Brunson stepped up in his absence against the Hawks going for a season-high 27 points and eight assists in a win.

Doncic is expected to be re-evaluated following this coming week.

9. Houston Rockets

Last week's ranking: 9th

Record: 31-18

Last week: 3-1 (win at UTA, loss at POR, win vs. DAL, win vs. NOP)

This week: vs. CHA, at LAL

The Rockets only loss this week was suffered at the hot hands of Damian Lillard, as All-Star guard Russell Westbrook has hit his stride at this point in the season. Over the past two weeks, Westbrook is averaging 34.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, 8.4 assists and 2.4 steals per game shooting an efficient 54.6% from the field.

Houston is just 4-4 over that span in games that Westbrook has played in, but it's encouraging to see him begin to thrive alongside James Harden.

Harden also finally shook off his miniature slump, scoring 40 points in a near-triple-double effort with 10 rebounds and nine assists in the Rockets win over the Pelicans to close out the week.

They only have two games this week, but one of them is a "circle the date" type game, facing off at the STAPLES Center against the Lakers.

8. Utah Jazz

Last week's ranking: 4th

Record: 32-17

Last week: 0-4 (loss vs. HOU, loss at SAS, loss at DEN, loss at POR)

This week: vs. DEN, vs. POR, at HOU

The Jazz were arguably the hottest team in the NBA (along with the first-place Bucks, of course) over the past month in a half, winning 19 of their last 21 games heading into this past week.

Over the last seven days, that hot streak came to a screeching halt as Utah dropped four-consecutive games. All four losses came against quality teams with three of those losses coming on the road. While it's hard to scrutinize this team too much for tough games like those, four losses are still four losses, moving them down in these power rankings.

They allowed 121 points per game on average over this four-game losing streak, a drastic difference from the 108.0 points per game average they've allowed this season that ranks them a top-10 defence in the NBA.

Their offensive output remained constant with their average for the season, but they struggled to come up with stops to result in this losing streak.

While this isn't something Jazz fans should be too concerned with - as this team has consistently been one of the best defensive units over the last few seasons - it's rough to see them come crashing back down to Earth after a red hot end of December and almost entire month of January.

On the bright side, both Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert were both honoured to their first career All-Star Game!

7. Miami Heat

Last week's ranking: 7th

Record: 33-15

Last week: 2-1 (win vs. ORL, loss vs. BOS, win at ORL)

This week: vs. PHI, at LAC, at SAC, at POR

The Heat lost their biggest game of the week at home to the Celtics, just their third loss at AmericanAirlines Arena this season with an impressive 21-3 record in Miami.

Aside from that, they picked up a pair of wins over their division rival Magic with newly honoured All-Star centre Bam Adebayo leading the way. Let's take this moment to show some real respect to Adebayo, who more than deserved his first career All-Star bid.

The 22-year-old has taken a massive leap this season and is considered to be one of the frontrunners for this year's Most Improved Player. In their first win over the Magic, Adebayo recorded a triple-double of 20 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists - his third triple-double of the season!

Going from a back-up centre last season to the starting role this year Adebayo has thrived, improving in every aspect of his game. His progress alone could be circled as the No. 1 reason that the Heat have been as surprisingly great as they have been this season.

6. Boston Celtics

Last week's ranking: 8th

Record: 33-15

Last week: 3-0 (win at MIA, win vs. GSW, win vs. PHI)

This week: at ATL, vs. ORL, vs. ATL, at OKC

It was a massive week for the Celtics as they picked up big wins over two conference foes in the Heat and 76ers.

They were without All-Star forward Jayson Tatum in their road win over the Heat, doing something only two other teams in the NBA have done this season in going into Miami and coming away with a victory. In their contest against the 76ers, Boston was without All-Star guard Kemba Walker but still found a way to avoid the season-series sweep against their biggest rivals.

And while the All-Stars stepped up in each other's absences as Walker was fantastic with Tatum out and Tatum was solid with Walker out, it was Jaylen Brown who stole the show against the Sixers.

Brown, playing with a chip on his shoulder after missing the All-Star team, went for a game-high 32 points shooting 12-for-13 on 2-pointers to go with nine rebounds to lead the Celtics to victory.

5. Toronto Raptors

Last week's ranking: 6th

Record: 36-14

Last week: 4-0 (win vs. ATL, win at CLE, win at DET, win vs. CHI)

This week: vs. IND, at IND, vs. BKN

The Raptors have rattled off 11-consecutive wins tying their best streak in franchise history, jumping from sixth place to sole possession of second place in the Eastern Conference.

Over that stretch, Toronto's offence has been clicking on all cylinders. For a team that averaged 110.3 points per game prior to this 11-game win streak, the Raptors have posted 120.7 points per game with various different players scoring with ease on any given night.

Unfortunately for Toronto, shortly after shaking the injury bug, it came back to bite again as Marc Gasol re-injured his hamstring and Norman Powell has suffered a fractured finger. There has been no update on Gasol and Powell has been ruled out indefinitely, but the Raptors have had no problems prevailing to pick up wins in the past this season.

4. Denver Nuggets

Last week's ranking: 5th

Record: 34-16

Last week: 2-2 (loss at MEM, win vs. UTA, win at MIL, loss at DET)

This week: vs. POR, at UTA, at PHX

The Nuggets picked up two statement wins this past week, defeating the red hot Jazz and seemingly unbeatable Bucks, but they dropped two games to teams below .500.

All-Star centre Nikola Jokic recorded a monster triple-double of 39 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds to go with three steals and two blocks against the Pistons, but Denver still found a way to give away an early lead in the contest that went into overtime.

Regardless, the team was able to pick up a pair of impressive wins without key players such as Jamal Murray, Paul Millsap and Mason Plumlee.

3. LA Clippers

Last week's ranking: 3rd

Record: 34-15

Last week: 1-1 (loss vs. SAC, win at MIN)

This week: vs. SAS, vs. MIA, at MIN, at CLE

Jan. 4 was the last time that Kawhi Leonard didn't score at least 30 points in a game.

While he has missed three games in that timespan due to his typical load management, the two-time Finals MVP has been a dominating force in the times he has taken the floor.

Scoring 30-plus in nine-consecutive games, Leonard is amidst the best stretch of his career - he's averaging 34.6 points, 7.7. rebounds, 5.2 assists and 2.2 steals per game, shooting 50.9% from the field and 39.7% from 3.

The Clippers are 8-1 in those games he has played, but they were blown out by the Kings without Leonard in the lineup. They finally got star forward Paul George back in the lineup this week after missing 10 of LA's last 11 games, so things seem to be trending upward for this team battling for a top seed in the West.

2. Los Angeles Lakers

Last week's ranking: 1st

Record: 37-11

Last week: 1-1 (loss vs. POR, win at SAC)

This week: vs. SAS, vs. HOU, at GSW

In what was an emotional week for the franchise, the Lakers perservered through one of the toughest situations possible to play two basketball games this week.

They honoured the late, great Kobe Bryant in a beautiful tribute leading up to their contest against the Trail Blazers and then immediately traveled to Sacramento for a back-to-back against the Kings.

In their first win since Kobe's passing, LeBron James put on a well-rounded display of basketball going for a triple-double of 15 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds against the Kings. Anthony Davis recorded a team-high 21 points and seven different Lakers stepped up, scoring in double figures to help pull together a team victory.

Hats off to the Lakers franchise, players and coaches for an amazing ceremony for an all-time great player, and also for being able to get back into game form after such a tragic event.

1. Milwaukee Bucks

Last week's ranking: 2nd

Record: 42-7

Last week: 2-1 (win vs. WAS, loss vs. DEN, win vs. PHX)

This week: at NOP, vs. PHI, at ORL

The Bucks have reclaimed their top spot even with a tough loss to the Nuggets.

We could talk about MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo and how he nearly had a 30-20-10 triple-double in Milwaukee's win over the Suns, but they do have another All-Star worth mentioning and he had a huge week for his first-place team.

Khris Middleton was honoured to his second-consecutive All-Star Game just days after going for a career-high 51 points with 10 rebounds against the Wizards.

He scored 24 points against in their loss to the Nuggets and posted a solid 25 points, eight rebounds and six assists against Phoenix, further proving just how valuable of a No. 2 guy he is. Middleton is quietly averaging 20.4 points per game shooting 50.8% from the field and 44.2 % from 3 - all of which are career-highs.

Rest of the NBA

11. Indiana Pacers

12. Oklahoma City Thunder

13. Philadelphia 76ers

All-Star centre Joel Embiid returned to the lineup this week and had two strong games and one... not so strong game.

He recorded 20-point double-doubles in his first two games back but had a rough outing against the Celtics, scoring 11 points shooting 1-for-11 from the field with just five rebounds in the team's second loss of the week.

The performance was the second-worst of Embiid's career, with his 0-for-11 shooting against the Raptors earlier this season being his worst.

14. Portland Trail Blazers

There is no player on planet Earth as locked in as Damian Lillard is right now.

The All-Star guard is averaging 48.8 points and 10.2 assists per game shooting 54.8% from the field and 57.0% from 3 over the Trail Blazers last six games. Portland is 5-1 in that span, making a push for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference.

Lillard is also the first player in NBA history with six or more 3s in six-straight games.

On. Fire.

15. Memphis Grizzlies

16. San Antonio Spurs

17. New Orleans Pelicans

18. Brooklyn Nets

Just as Kyrie Irving was starting to get back into the swing of things following an injury and the death of his close friend and mentor in Kobe Bryant, he went down with an ugly knee injury and was diagnosed with a medial ligament sprain, set to be re-evaluated in one week.

Irving had just had a 54-point outburst on just 23 shots, becoming the first player in over 25 seasons to score 50-plus points on 80% shooting from the field.

19. Phoenix Suns

20. Orlando Magic

21. Washington Wizards

Bradley Beal felt he was snubbed from the All-Star team - and he has a case - but he's using it as motivation to try and carry to the Wizards to the playoffs instead.

The Wizards are 2-0 since this statement and Beal is averaging 38.2 points, 6.0 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game shooting 53.6% from the field over his last six games.

22. Sacramento Kings

23. Chicago Bulls

24. Charlotte Hornets

25. Detroit Pistons

26. Atlanta Hawks

27. Cleveland Cavaliers

28. Minnesota Timberwolves

Things are not going well for the Timberwolves who have lost 11 games in a row, falling to second-to-last place in the Western Conference.

Although Karl-Anthony Towns has been solid in the eight games since returning from injury - averaging 28.6 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.0 blocks per game - Minnesota has not been able to pick up a win.

In fact, since Towns missed 15 games due to a knee injury, he hasn't earned a win since Nov. 27, 2019!

29. Golden State Warriors

30. New York Knicks

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

More from NBA.com

David Stern and Borislav Stankovic
OTD: FIBA drops restrictions against pros in 1989
Yash Matange
#Silver
Silver: No decision on season till May
Benyam Kidane
#Duncan
#NBATogetherLive: Duncan makes Finals history
Gilbert McGregor
DuoSNubs
The most slept on duos in NBA history
NBA.com Staff
ben-simmons-050320-ftr-getty.jpg
The incredible defensive versatility of Simmons
Scott Rafferty
nba-2k-players-tournament-ftr.jpg
Takeaways: First round of NBA 2K tourney
Gilbert McGregor
More News