Here is a look at the NBA Power Rankings through Week 15 of the 2018-19 NBA season.
Let's make one thing clear: These power rankings are a snapshot of where things stand now, not necessarily how they'll look at the end of the season. We're all about giving credit where it's due and, likewise, holding teams accountable for speed bumps encountered along the way.
All records and stats are through games played Sunday, Jan. 27.
10. Philadelphia 76ers
Last week's ranking: 11
Overall record: 32-18
Last week: 2-1 (win vs. Rockets, win vs. Spurs, loss at Nuggets)
This week: at Lakers, at Warriors, at Kings
The 76ers still put together a solid week despite missing star guard Jimmy Butler.
Butler was sidelined all week with a wrist injury and is scheduled to see a wrist specialist before expecting to return in their upcoming road trip.
Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons stepped up in a big way in Butler's absence this week - Simmons posted a triple-double in the Sixers' win over the Rockets and a double-double in the win over the Rockets. Embiid had 32 points and 14 rebounds, then improved upon that with 31 points and 19 rebounds in those same games.
31 PTS / 19 REB / 3 AST- Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) January 24, 2019
Just another night at the office for @JoelEmbiid. #HereTheyCome pic.twitter.com/LOu0IfurUQ
Embiid got the day off on Saturday to rest and they fell to an elite team, the Denver Nuggets, with Embiid and Butler both out of the lineup but things seem to be trending in the right direction for Philly, who have won five of their last seven games.
9. San Antonio Spurs
Last week's ranking: 7
Overall record: 29-22
Last week: 2-1 (loss at 76ers, win at Pelicans, win vs. Wizards)
This week: vs. Suns, vs. Nets, vs. Pelicans
The Spurs responded well with a pair of wins after a tough loss to the Sixers to start the week.
LaMarcus Aldridge put the team on his back in the wins over the Pelicans and Wizards - he had 28 points and 12 rebounds versus the Pelicans on Saturday and on the second leg of a back-to-back, he posted 30 points and nine boards against the Wizards.
30 PTS | 9 REB | 6 AST | AND-1- San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) January 28, 2019
Have a night, @aldridge_12! pic.twitter.com/E19SJtuXGt
The Spurs are one of the few teams in the league that have not abandoned the midrange game. They attempt the most amount of midrange jumpers in the league with players like Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan who are two of the best midrange scorers at their position. The catch is that the Spurs actually have the best 3-point percentage in the NBA at 40.7 percent despite taking the second-least threes per game.
To no surprise, Gregg Popovich has gotten the most out of his role players in this system - Rudy Gay, Bryn Forbes, Marco Belinelli, Patty Mills and Derrick White are all shooting above 35.0 percent from long range though they don't take many per game.
The Spurs have cooled since their red hot month of December but are still a solid 7-5 in January.
8. Portland Trail Blazers
Last week's ranking: 8
Overall record: 31-20
Last week: 3-1 (win at Jazz, loss at Thunder, win at Suns, win vs. Hawks)
This week: vs. Jazz
The Trail Blazers put together another successful week by defeating the Jazz on the road and taking care of business against two of the bottom teams in the league.
Portland has now won five of their last six games and seven of their last 10. Over those 10 games, Damian Lillard is posting 25.5 points and 6.9 assists per game while CJ McCollum has scored 21.0 points per game shooting 44.6 percent from long range.
First career triple-double for Christian James!- Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) January 27, 2019
Watch highlights from @CJMcCollum's big Saturday night 🎥 pic.twitter.com/h2J8DKw4iE
Their depth has provided a huge help to their starting unit and they're beginning to look like one of the deeper teams in the NBA. For the majority of the first half of the season the Blazers were floating around the bottom half of the playoff picture, but this team has made a major push giving themselves a decent cushion nearing the All-Star break.
With just one game next week hosting a hot Jazz team after just defeating them at their place, the Blazers will look to hold down their home court to keep this good streak going.
7. Boston Celtics
Last week's ranking: 6
Overall record: 30-19
Last week: 2-1 (win vs. Heat, win vs. Cavaliers, loss vs. Warriors)
This week: vs. Nets, vs. Hornets, at Knicks, vs. Thunder
The Celtics had their five-game winning streak and their 10-game home winning streak snapped with Saturday's loss to the Warriors. Boston battled and showed that they can certainly compete with the reigning champions, but fell just short in the end.
Kyrie Irving has been downright ridiculous in the Celtics' recent stretch of success posting 31.0 points and 10.8 assists shooting 56.2 percent from the field and 51.4 percent from long range in his last five games. He has gone for over 30 points and 10 assists in four of those five contests.
Kyrie Irving has dished out 10+ assists in 4 of his last 5 games, after doing so 7 times total through his first 38 contests this season- Celtics Stats (@celtics_stats) January 27, 2019
Even more encouraging has been the play of Al Horford, who has battled knee issues all season. Brad Stevens had tried to keep Horford on some sort of a minutes restriction of around 25 minutes each game, but Horford doesn't seem to need that minutes restriction any longer.
The centre played 35 minutes against Golden State notching his first 20-point, 10-rebound game of the season. He's averaging roughly 32 minutes in Boston's last five games and has looked back to his normal self.
The Celtics have four games next week to try and bounce back from the tough home loss, including a huge home game against the Thunder on Sunday.
6. Oklahoma City Thunder
Last week's ranking: 9
Overall record: 31-18
Last week: 4-0 (win at Knicks, win vs. Blazers, win vs. Pelicans, win vs. Bucks)
This week: at Magic, at Heat, at Cetlics
After a rough 1-2 week last week, the Thunder bounced back in a major way with a perfect 4-0 record this week. They are now riding a five-game winning streak and with the way that Paul George is playing, they look like a serious contender to the Warriors in the West.
Over the five game winning streak, George is posting 31.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 2.6 steals while shooting 48.0 percent from the field and a jaw-dropping 54.3 percent from 3-point range. He's gone for 30 points in four of the five wins and is making huge plays coming up clutch for OKC left and right.
PAUL. GEORGE. 😤🔥@okcthunder | #ThunderUp pic.twitter.com/6mb2EvqiAQ- NBA (@NBA) January 28, 2019
Russell Westbrook might be struggling with his outside shot but the former MVP has found other ways to make an impact for his team. He has now recorded a triple-double in three consecutive games and is averaging 20.6 points, 12.0 rebounds and 11.2 assists over his team's winning streak.
The Thunder have kept up their stout defence as well, ranking third in the NBA with a defensive rating of 104.5.
OKC's hot hand will be put to the test with an East Coast road trip that is concluded with a huge matchup against the Celtics on Sunday.
5. Houston Rockets
Last week's ranking: 5
Overall record: 29-20
Last week: 3-1 (loss at 76ers, win at Knicks, win vs. Raptors, win vs. Magic)
This week: vs. Pelicans, at Nuggets, at Jazz
The Rockets have strung together three wins including a quality win over the Raptors in Houston.
We could go on and on about James Harden, who had another absurd week where he scored 37, 61, 35 and 40, but you always hear about that as of late.
Instead, it's worth highlighting the play of Kenneth Faried who just joined the Rockets this week. Faried slid right into the lineup playing big minutes in all four games. He brought an energy to each game that played a huge role in Houston's 3-1 week including back-to-back double-doubles to close out the week.
💪 #UnleashTheManimal 💪 pic.twitter.com/ow4NqfntTd- Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) January 28, 2019
Notice in that highlight who the passer was - Chris Paul, who returned from a 17-game absence on Sunday. Paul played 26 minutes scoring 12 points to go with six assists and five rebounds in his first game back. All of a sudden the Rockets' depth, which has been their biggest problem all season, seems to be less worrisome with the addition of Faried and the return of Paul.
They have two tough road games this week against the Nuggets and Jazz which should give us a better idea of what this team is capable of at full strength.
4. Toronto Raptors
Last week's ranking: 3
Overall record: 37-15
Last week: 2-2 (win vs. Kings, loss at Pacers, loss at Rockets, win at Mavericks)
This week: vs. Bucks, vs. Clippers
The Raptors suffered a pair of tough losses to the Pacers and Rockets but came up with a huge road win over the Mavericks to close the week.
Kawhi Leonard returned in the game against the Rockets after resting for four consecutive games, going on to put up 32 points and seven rebounds in the loss. He stepped up again in the game against Dallas scoring 33 points and 10 rebounds.
The last time that Leonard did not score at least 20 points in a game dates back to November 27th, marking 22 consecutive games eclipsing the 20-point mark.
The most encouraging moment of the week for the Raptors came on Sunday when Kyle Lowry found his shooting stroke.
L👌🏽👌🏽👌🏽👌🏽👌🏽WRY pic.twitter.com/KHdbX8fx6y- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) January 28, 2019
Lowry scored 19 points on 5-for-10 shooting from deep, his first game hitting five 3-pointers since, ironically, November 27th. It was also his first game since the beginning December in which he finished shooting 50.0 percent or better from down town.
It's no secret that the Raptors are at their best when Lowry is playing his best and Sunday's game should give him some good momentum going into a two-game week where they take on the first place Bucks and the surging Clippers.
3. Denver Nuggets
Last week's ranking: 4
Overall record: 33-15
Last week: 2-1 (loss at Jazz, win vs. Suns, win vs. 76ers)
This week: at Grizzlies, at Pelicans, vs. Rockets, at Timberwolves
After being run out of their own gym by the Warriors to start last week, the Nuggets have gotten back to their ways winning four of their past five games.
They fell to the Jazz on the road but did their job in beating the Suns and 76ers at home. Will Barton has returned to the player the Nuggets were expecting before his injury to start the season, averaging 17.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.6 assists shooting over 50.0 percent from the field this past week.
Nikola Jokic has continued his high caliber play, capping off the week with 32 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists for his seventh triple-double of the season. Fun fact: the Nuggets are a perfect 15-0 when Jokic notches a triple-double on their home floor .
Nikola Jokic (32 PTS, 18 REB, 10 AST) records his 23rd career triple-double in the @nuggets home victory! #MileHighBasketball pic.twitter.com/wPQXlzOefV- NBA (@NBA) January 27, 2019
Denver has two home games and two road games this upcoming week, highlighted by the opportunity to try and slow down James Harden and the Rockets.
2. Milwaukee Bucks
Last week's ranking: 2
Overall record: 35-13
Last week: 2-1 (win vs. Mavericks, win vs. Hornets, loss at Thunder)
This week: at Pistons, at Raptors, at Wizards
Even with Sunday's loss to the Thunder, the Bucks hold strong at the No. 2 spot for the third week in a row.
They still own the NBA's best record and have still yet to lose back-to-back games this season. They are quietly dominating teams on a nightly basis behind the play of their MVP-candidate forward Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The Greek Freak is averaging 26.6 points, 12.6 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.4 steals - the only player in the NBA to average over 25 points, 10 rebounds and five assists per game.
The best of @Giannis_An34, the @NBAAllStar Captain, from the 1st half of the season!!#FearTheDeer | #Giannis pic.twitter.com/cejPwjOwTf- Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) January 27, 2019
But his supporting cast has played a huge role in Milwaukee's success too.
Khris Middleton, Malcolm Brogdon and Eric Bledsoe all average over 15 points a game. Brook Lopez has recreated himself as a 7-foot 3-point specialist shooting 38.4 percent from long range, good for 12.0 points per game.
They are still the only team in the NBA that ranks in the top five in both offensive and defensive rating, giving them a league-best plus-9.4 net rating. The Warriors are next closest with a plus-6.5 net rating.
They missed out on the top spot again this week, but they're holding strong waiting for Golden State to slip up to claim the throne.
1. Golden State Warriors
Last week's ranking: 1
Overall record: 35-14
Last week: 3-0 (win at Lakers, win at Wizards, win at Celtics)
This week: at Pacers, vs. 76ers, vs. Lakers
The Warriors are clicking on all cylinders which is bad news for the rest of the league.
They've now won 10 games in a row including an insane eight-game road win streak over some tough opponents. They've outscored their opponents by a total of 160 points over their 10 game streak and centre DeMarcus Cousins has fit into their offensive and defensive schemes seamlessly.
🔟 Consecutive W's...- NBA (@NBA) January 27, 2019
👀 the BEST PLAYS from the @warriors 10-game winning streak! #DubNation pic.twitter.com/HF2JQcht2E
Cousins is averaging 13.5 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists over his first four games with the Warriors, slightly increasing his number of minutes played over that time span. Both Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant are playing MVP-level basketball and their offensive performances in Boston reminded everyone of just how fast these two can get going.
They boast the highest offensive rating in the NBA at 115.6 points per 100 possessions but even scarier is that number jumps up to 116.2 when they are on the road.
For a team that is nearly impossible to beat at home in Oracle Arena to be playing this well on the road makes them even more threatening than they look on paper.
They play three quality teams this upcoming week to further prove they are deserving of the top spot in these power rankings yet again.
Rest of the NBA
11. Utah Jazz
The Jazz continue to rise in these rankings after yet another solid 3-1 week.
Utah is one of the hottest teams in the NBA today winning nine of their last 10 games. They're 11-3 in the month of January after standing in one game under .500 going into the New Year.
Donovan Mitchell's has been on fire and his play has been the No. 1 reason the Jazz have hit this hot streak.
He's averaging 28.1 points, 5.4 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game this month and he's shooting considerably better than the start of the season. He's shooting 45.1 percent from the field and 41.4 percent from 3-point range in 2019 after shooting 41.3 percent from the field and 29.3 percent from beyond the arc the first three months of the season.
📹| Donovan with 22 points in the second half 🕷- Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) January 28, 2019
29p | 5a | 4r | 10 fta pic.twitter.com/YnZEwPDgnW
12. Indiana Pacers
13. Brooklyn Nets
14. LA Clippers
15. Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers have been struggling but saved a winless week with a win over the Suns on Sunday.
Luckily for them, their best player has returned to full-contact practice and seems to be nearing a return sooner than later.
LeBron James returned to full contact defensive drills for the first time since his injury, but won't play Sunday against the Suns. pic.twitter.com/e8y9z8kbI8- Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) January 26, 2019
Los Angeles is 6-10 since James went down on Christmas Day and fell from the No. 4 seed in the West to just outside the playoff picture, 2.0 games out of the No. 8 seed.
Rajon Rondo just returned this past week as well, so the Lakers are close to being back to full strength. With the first place Warriors on the schedule for this coming Saturday, you'd hope that LeBron could make his return against the team he got hurt against last month.
16. Sacramento Kings
17. Charlotte Hornets
18. Miami Heat
19. Minnesota Timberwolves
20. Washington Wizards
21. Dallas Mavericks
22. New Orleans Pelicans
It was a rough stretch of days for the Pelicans who were without Anthony Davis, Julius Randle and Nikola Mirotic - three of the team's top four scorers.
Randle and Mirotic missed the final two games of the week while Davis missed all four contests. The Pelicans went 1-3 on the week. They dropped to 22-28 and are in danger of letting this season slip away as they are 5.5 games out of the Western Conference playoff picture.
With Mirotic and Davis expected to miss another week and Randle on day-to-day evaluation, responsibilities fall on Jrue Holiday to keep the team alive. On the bright side, former No. 3 overall pick Jahlil Okafor has strung together a solid stretch of games in the absence of the team's top forwards.
Jahlil Okafor has quietly been balling in his last four games:- Bleacher Report NBA (@BR_NBA) January 27, 2019
20 PTS | 10 REB
17 PTS | 10 REB | 6 BLK
18 PTS | 8 REB
24 PTS | 15 REB | 3 BLK pic.twitter.com/Uj6sbjTF1v
23. Detroit Pistons
24. Atlanta Hawks
Yes the Hawks went 1-2 this week, but if you're a Hawks fan you have to be excited about the future of this team.
Forward John Collins has seriously hit a stride at this point in the season. Over Atlanta's last 10 games, he's averaged 21.3 points and 10.1 rebounds per game while shooting 63.9 percent from the field and 59.1 percent from 3-point land.
He's scored in double figures in 25 consecutive games and recorded a double-double in 18 of those games.
Added to that, Trae Young has continued to quietly impress on a game-to-game basis proving that the future is bright in Atlanta - especially if they finish with a top pick in this year's NBA Draft.
.@jcollins20_ was a man possessed last night, going for 35 points and grabbing 8 boards #TrueToAtlanta pic.twitter.com/B3U4RLv80A- Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) January 24, 2019
25. Memphis Grizzlies
26. Orlando Magic
27. Phoenix Suns
28. Chicago Bulls
29. New York Knicks
30. Cleveland Cavaliers