Here is a look at the NBA Power Rankings through Week 8 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, Dec. 9.
10. Dallas Mavericks
Last week's ranking: 14
Overall record: 13-11
Last week: 3-1 (win vs. Clippers, win vs. Trail Blazers, loss at Pelicans, win vs. Rockets)
This week: vs. Magic, vs. Hawks, at Suns, at Kings
The Mavericks are making their first appearance in the top-10 so far this season. They had three impressive wins over the weekend, but none more impressive than their comeback win over the Rockets. Rookie phenom Luka Doncic went on an 11-0 scoring run by himself to give his team a lead it would never surrender with under two minutes to go:
That time @luka7doncic went on an 11-0 run... pic.twitter.com/w9Y85cV9RR- Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) December 9, 2018
Doncic has been amazing through the first quarter of his rookie season - he's averaging 18.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game and has the Mavericks looking like a playoff team when he's at his best. They're 7-3 in their last 10 games and have four very winnable games coming up this week. You could see this team continue to climb up these rankings should they take care of business.
9. Los Angeles Clippers
Last week's ranking: 4
Overall record: 16-9
Last week: 1-2 (win at Pelicans, loss at Grizzlies, loss vs. Heat)
This week: at Suns, vs. Raptors, at Spurs, at Thunder
The Clippers allowed Dwyane Wade to go for 25 points off the bench to hand them their second loss at the STAPLES Center this season, finishing off the week with two losses after edging the Pelicans in a close one to start the week. They've cooled off a bit since their blazing hot start but still look like they're more than an overperforming team through 27 games.
They have multiple players who can beat you, resulting in a sixth-best offensive rating of 111.3. They still have five players averaging double-figures through Week 8 of the season, making it seem like that might not change all year long. Tobias Harris has played to the calibre of an All-Star, earning November's Western Conference Player of the Month leading the team in points (21.0 per game) and rebounds (8.4 per game). They have two extremely tough tests against the Raptors and at OKC this week, giving yet another chance to prove their legitimacy.
8. Denver Nuggets
Last week's ranking: 5
Overall record: 17-9
Last week: 2-2 (win at Raptors, win at Magic, loss at Hornets, loss at Hawks)
This week: at Hawks, at Cavaliers, at Bucks
The Nuggets started off the week with one of their biggest wins of the season on the road in Toronto. Nikola Jokic was ridiculous in that game, posting a triple-double with 23 points, 15 assists and 11 rebounds to knock off the league's top team on its home floor. They proceeded to drop the last two out of their last three road games, including an unexplainable loss to the struggling Atlanta Hawks on Saturday.
They are an extremely talented team and have a top-five defence in terms of defensive rating (104.3), but have been bit by the injury bug big time. They were already without Isaiah Thomas, first-round pick Michael Porter Jr. and Will Barton going into last week. Then they lost Gary Harris (hip) in the Raptors game, who will be evaluated from week to week, and had Paul Millsap suffer a broken toe against the Hornets and he'll be out indefinitely. Now, it's time to see how this team's depth can fare while their key players try and get healthy.
7. Los Angeles Lakers
Last week's ranking: 8
Overall record: 16-10
Last week: 2-1 (win vs. Spurs, loss at Spurs, win at Grizzlies)
This week: vs. Heat, at Rockets, at Hornets, at Wizards
If it wasn't for a 44-point fourth quarter from the second matchup of the week against the Spurs, the Lakers would have gone 3-0 this week with three quality wins. Regardless of that loss, LeBron James and co. looks to have hit their stride winning seven of their last 10 games. James has been his normal incredible self, averaging 28.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game but he's had a lot of help from young forward Kyle Kuzma. Over the last four games, Kuzma has averaged 23.0 points on 49.3 percent shooting from the field and 37.5 percent from 3-point range to go with 8.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists per contest.
Monday's matchup against the Heat should be an emotional one being Wade and LeBron's final meeting, but then they hit the road for a three-game stretch with a chance to improve upon their mediocre 6-6 record away from the STAPLES Center.
6. Boston Celtics
Last week's ranking: 10
Overall record: 15-10
Last week: 2-0 (win vs. Knicks, win at Bulls)
This week: vs. Pelicans, at Wizards, vs. Hawks, at Pistons
After an extremely slow start out to a 10-10 record, the Celtics have now strung together five consecutive wins, currently the longest streak in the league. This team seems to finally have things clicking after moving Marcus Smart into the starting lineup with Jaylen Brown getting things done off the bench. Brown scored 21 points as a reserve in their win versus the Knicks, then had his best game this season in Saturday's 56-point win over the Bulls, scoring 23 points off the bench en route to the largest victory in Celtics' history.
They are back to the second-best defence in the league with a defensive rating of 102.1, which helps explain their recent success. Their offence has also hit its' stride during this five-game winning streak, averaging 126.2 points per game shooting 51.4 percent from the field and knocking down 17.6 3-pointers at a 45.1 percent rate.
With four games this week against teams outside the top-10 on this list, they have a shot to extend this streak even further to continue to climb these rankings.
5. Philadelphia 76ers
Last week's ranking: 3
Overall record: 18-9
Last week: 1-1 (loss at Raptors, win at Pistons)
This week: vs. Pistons, vs. Nets, vs. Pacers, at Cavaliers
It was a slow week for the 76ers with only two games. They battled in a close loss to the Raptors but bounced back with a win over the Pistons without star centre Joel Embiid. Jimmy Butler has really come into his own on this team, scoring 38 points in both games this week. Philly is 9-3 since acquiring Butler and they do not look to be slowing down any time soon.
Embiid expressed some frustrations with his role in the offence since the acquisition of Butler, but the big man is still putting together an MVP-calibre season averaging 26.3 points, 13.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists. Right now, it seems like the only thing that can stop the 76ers is themselves and that situation may be something to follow throughout this week.
They'll take on the Pistons again on Monday in the final meeting between Embiid and Drummond, but do not have a particularly tough week moving forward.
4. Toronto Raptors
Last week's ranking: 1
Overall record: 21-7
Last week: 1-3 (loss vs. Nuggets, win vs. 76ers, loss at Nets, loss vs. Bucks)
This week: at Clippers, at Warriors, at Trail Blazers, at Nuggets
Two of the Raptors' three losses this past week came on their home court. Prior to last week, they had lost two games all season at Scotiabank Arena. They started their week with a close loss to the Nuggets but bounced back quickly to pull off an impressive win over the 76ers. The loss in overtime at Brooklyn came as a major shock and their comeback against the Bucks on Sunday fell just short to wrap up a rough seven days.
It's been a bad five-game stretch for the Raptors' all-star point guard Kyle Lowry, whose numbers could directly correlate with the outcomes of their recent games. Over the past five games he's played in, he's averaging 5.0 points per game shooting 19.1 percent from the field (8-for-42) and 15.6 percent from beyond the arc (5-for-32). Throughout this cold streak, he's only attempted four free throws, showing that he's settling for outside shots to try and break this funk as opposed to attacking the rim.
They now head on their toughest road stretch of the season which includes a rematch with the defending NBA Champion Golden State Warriors who, this time around, will have Stephen Curry and Draymond Green. Lowry is going to have to return to the player he was in the first 20 games of the season if the Raptors are going to have any sort of success on this West Coast swing.
3. Milwaukee Bucks
Last week's ranking: 6
Overall record: 17-8
Last week: 2-1 (win vs. Pistons, loss at Warriors, win at Raptors)
This week: vs. Cavaliers, at Pacers, at Cavaliers
It was a solid 2-1 week for the Bucks who capped things off with a huge road win over the Eastern Conference's top team. Giannis Antetokounmpo posted a 19-point, 19-rebound double-double in the win, but it was Malcolm Brogdon who knocked down a pair of clutch 3-pointers late in the game to secure the victory.
Malcolm Brogdon knocks down two triples to put the @Bucks ahead for good!- NBA (@NBA) December 10, 2018
FINAL in Toronto:#FearTheDeer 104#WeTheNorth 99 pic.twitter.com/4RaXUSjdwm
Their sole loss came against the Warriors, which explains how they moved up in this week's rankings. At times this season, Milwaukee has looked like the best team in the East; other times, they look like they have not improved in the slightest from a season ago. They have the second-highest offensive rating in the NBA (114.1) and have only played one game in which they did not score over 100 points. When they hold teams under 115 points, they're 15-2.
They play the Cavaliers twice this week with one tough road game against a hot Indiana Pacers squad, but the Bucks should be able to take a shot at the No. 1 spot in next weeks rankings if they get the job done.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder
Last week's ranking: 2
Overall record: 16-8
Last week: 2-1 (win at Pistons, win at Nets, loss at Bulls)
This week: vs. Jazz, at Pelicans, at Nuggets, vs. Clippers
If not for a buzzer-beater shot from Bulls' forward Lauri Markkanen, the Thunder could have taken over the top spot on these rankings with a 3-0 week. However, they still put together two solid wins and remain one of the hottest teams in the league. Take into consideration their 0-4 start and you have a team that has won 16 of their last 20 games.
They have the NBA's best defence with a 101.4 defensive rating, leading the league with 10.4 steals per game while forcing their opponents to turn the ball over at a league-high 17.4 times per game. Paul George has found his groove offensively and is up to 24.0 points per game while Russell Westbrook is up to his usual antics, averaging a triple-double of 22.8 points, 10.6 rebounds and 10.2 assists per game.
Keep an eye on them this week, as they have four extremely tough games ahead of them.
1. Golden State Warriors
Last week's ranking: 7
Overall record: 18-9
Last week: 3-0 (win at Hawks, win at Cavaliers, win at Bucks)
This week: vs. Timberwolves, vs. Raptors, at Kings
This was their first full week with Stephen Curry back in the lineup so naturally, it resulted in a perfect 3-0 record. None of the games they played were even close, defeating the Hawks by 17 and the Cavaliers by 24. They also avenged their blowout loss against the Bucks from earlier this season by picking up a big 10-point road win.
Also, per Nick Friedell of ESPN, Draymond Green will return to action on Monday against the Timberwolves, so the reigning champions are inching closer and closer to being back to full strength.
The highlight of this week is surely their second meeting against the Raptors with their first contest resulting in the best game of the NBA season to date. Golden State was without both Curry and Green in that one as Kevin Durant tried to fill that void by dropping 51 points. Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors got the best of the Warriors in overtime but with Curry and Green back in action, that'll have the feel of another NBA Finals game. It will be the last time these two teams face each other, unless they do reach the NBA Finals.
Rest of the NBA
11. Memphis Grizzlies
12. Indiana Pacers
The Pacers started to skid once their star guard Victor Oladipo went down with a knee injury. He's missed the past 10 games and they were 3-4 through the first four, but put together three wins this past week beating the Bulls, Magic and Kings. While those aren't the most glorious wins, any win without a player of Oladipo's calibre is impressive.
They've had different guys step up every game with a different player leading the team in scoring in all three of those games. Darren Collison had a team-high 23 points in the win over the Bulls, followed by Bojan Bogdanovic's team-high 26 points versus the Magic and Thaddeus Young's team-high 20 points versus the Kings. They also got it done defensively, holding each of those opponents under 100 points.
"We have a lot of weapons on this team and now everybody is playing with confidence." - @Original_Turner pic.twitter.com/FrDNBozv1G- Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) December 9, 2018
13. Portland Trail Blazers
14. Utah Jazz
The Jazz had a 2-1 week in which they picked up a pair of decisive wins. They started the week with a 34-point win over the Spurs where they had seven different players score in double-figures. Then they destroyed the Rockets by 27 behind a combined 39 points off the bench from Derrick Favors and Dante Exum. After falling to the Spurs on Sunday, the Jazz are still under .500 at 13-14 but are playing better compared to their underwhelming start to the season.
Since acquiring Kyle Korver via trade, the Jazz are 3-1, and he's added a solid 8.8 points per game off the bench making 47.1 percent of his attempts from deep.
They're still waiting for last year's Rookie of the Year runner-up Donovan Mitchell to play at the level he competed at a season ago - he's averaging 20.6 points per game but at an inefficient rate. He's attempting 18.3 shots per game, but converting at 42.7 percent from the field and only 29.2 percent from three.
They've been better defensively as of late, allowing 103.8 points per game over their last five games - a slight improvement over the 107.2 points they've allowed across the entire season thus far. These little improvements are exactly what you'd want to see if you're a Jazz fan, as your team is getting closer to playing at the level they competed at all last year.
15. Minnesota Timberwolves
16. Detroit Pistons
17. Sacramento Kings
18. New Orleans Pelicans
19. Houston Rockets
While it's still only 25-or-so games into the season, the Rockets need to get things going sooner rather than later. They had another brutal week, losing to the Timberwolves by 12 and the Jazz by 27, then they blew a late lead against the Mavericks to end the week 0-3. They're 11-14 and currently have the second-worst record in the Western Conference, a polar opposite of how things went a season ago.
They average the second-least rebounds per game in the league and rank in the bottom five in assists per game and opponent field goal percentage, allowing teams to shoot 47.5 percent against them.
Eric Gordon, one of their veterans, opened up to the media about how he feels about this season so far and it seems like if they don't get things going in the right direction soon, this team could be in trouble.
Eric Gordon isn't holding back 👀 pic.twitter.com/QQoInKsgii- NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) December 7, 2018
20. Miami Heat
21. Charlotte Hornets
22. San Antonio Spurs
23. Orlando Magic
24. Washington Wizards
25. Brooklyn Nets
26. Cleveland Cavaliers
27. Atlanta Hawks
28. Chicago Bulls
It was a hectic week for the Bulls who fired their head coach Fred Hoiberg on Monday. They replaced him by promoting assistant coach Jim Boylen, who has had a less than ideal start to his head coaching career. After the Bulls' loss to the Pacers, the first game under Boylen, it was reported that he used the two days in-between games to have gruelling two-hour practices filled with intense conditioning drills.
They surprisingly responded well, pulling off a win over the Thunder on a game-winning shot from forward Lauri Markkanen, who recently returned from an elbow injury that had him sidelined for the beginning of the season:
Good to have @MarkkanenLauri back, especially if he's just gonna go ahead and hit game winners like this: pic.twitter.com/VGKNec5syp- Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) December 8, 2018
They followed this victory by losing to the Celtics 133-77 - the 56-point loss was the largest loss in Bulls' history. The new head coach chose to pull the starters early in the game because 'practice tomorrow would be more beneficial', which would make an entire week with no days off.
Remember, Boylen said he didn't go back to starters last night because he deemed blowout not winnable and today's practice would be of more benefit. Team has been meeting for close to 2 hours and hasn't taken floor.- K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) December 9, 2018
The players nearly elected to skip practice all together, before deciding to take the floor after a players-only meeting. It was an interesting past seven days in Chicago, who enter a three-game week going up against the Kings, Magic and Spurs.
29. New York Knicks
30. Phoenix Suns