Through Eric Bucher
FOX Sports Writer NBA
We’ve reached the midpoint of the 2021-22 NBA season, which means it’s time to check out where each team sits in the league hierarchy.
These are my midway NBA power rankings, with records through Tuesday’s games.
1. Phoenix Suns: 34-9, first in the Western Conference
It’s the most balanced team in the NBA, and no one has more blowout wins.
2. Golden State Warriors: 32-12, second in the West
The Warriors have the best net rating in the league but the 12th most effective offense (!).
3. miami heat: 28-16, second in the Eastern Conference
This team went 11-4 without Jimmy Butler or Bam Adebayo.
4. Milwaukee dollars: 27-19, fifth in the East
At full strength, the Bucks are the team in the East to beat. They haven’t been full all season.
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5. Utah Jazz: 29-15, fourth in the West
A recent loss to the Lakers revealed just how vulnerable the Jazz are when the 3s don’t go down.
6. brooklyn nets: 27-16, third in the East
This team was struggling even before being downgraded to 1.5 stars.
seven. Memphis Grizzlies: 31-15, third in the West
It’s no mirage: the Grizzlies are 19-10 against winning teams.
8. Chicago Bulls: 27-15, first east
The Bulls have the best winning percentage in the East despite being a COVID neighborhood all season long.
9. Cleveland Cavaliers: 27-18, fourth east
The Cavs are the Grizzlies of the East: a young team led by a dynamic point guard.
ten. Philadelphia 76ers: 25-18, sixth in the East
Joel Embiid’s best season (so far) is keeping this team afloat.
11. Dallas Mavericks: 25-19, fifth in the West
The Mavs have won nine of their last 10 games, including victories over the Warriors, Bulls and Grizzlies.
12. Charlotte Hornets: 24-20, seventh in the East
ABTO (Always Bet The Over): This is the highest offense in the NBA and the second most generous defense.
13. Denver nuggets: 22-20, sixth in the West
Denver is above .500 only because reigning MVP Nikola Jokic has been more valuable than ever.
14. Washington Wizards: 23-21, eighth in the East
This is an overall average team that has won eight close games leading the NBA, a credit to coach Wes Unseld Jr.
15. Boston Celtics: 23-22, 10th East
The Celtics’ defense (sixth) is surprisingly good and their offense (19th) surprisingly bad.
16. Toronto Raptors: 21-20, ninth in the East
Nick Nurse deals wins by overlapping his starters (every 34 minutes per game or more).
17. Minnesota Wolves: 22-22, seventh in the West
Their secret sauce? Forcing more turnovers than any other team in the league.
18. New York Knicks: 22-23, 11th in the East
The Knicks have a mediocre defense (15th) despite the slowest pace in the league.
19. Los Angeles Lakers: 22-22, seventh in the West
This team is 24th in points per game, despite LeBron James scoring better than he has in a decade.
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20. Atlanta Hawks: 18-25, 12th East
The Hawks’ (second) offense has never been better. Their defense (27th) has never been so bad.
21. LA Clippers: 22-23, ninth in the West
The Clips hold on (9-11) without Kawhi Leonard or Paul George.
22. Portland Trail Blazers: 18-25, 10th in the West
This organization thinks long and hard about what life would be like without Damian Lillard.
23. New Orleans Pelicans: 16-28, 13th in the West
Being relatively COVID-free didn’t make up for the Pelicans being completely Zion-free.
24. San Antonio Spurs: 16-28, 12th in the West
This team has no stars, is 29th in 3 and is last in free throws. Spurs have fallen and cannot get back up.
25. Sacramento Kings: 18-28, 11th in the West
Decent talent in the backcourt and none in the frontcourt equates to little inside defense or rebounding.
26. Indiana Pacers: 15-29, 13th East
The Pacers have problems galore, but being 1-10 in close games indicates a big problem: no closer.
27. Oklahoma City Thunder: 14-29, 14th in the West
Who knew tanking could be so entertaining?
28. Houston Rockets: 13-32, 14th in the West
What does it mean that the G League Ignite has more veteran leadership than the Rockets?
29. Detroit Pistons: 10-33, 14th East
The Pistons were already the league’s worst shooting team before losing leading scorer Jerami Grant.
30. Orlando Magic: 8-37, 15th East
Orlando is the most unfortunate place in the world: eight wins overall and 0-3 against the next two worst teams, the Pistons and Rockets.
Ric Bucher is an NBA writer for FOX Sports. He previously wrote for Bleacher Report, ESPN The Magazine and The Washington Post and authored two books, “Rebound,” the story of NBA forward Brian Grant’s battle with Parkinson’s disease, and “Yao: A Life In Two Worlds”, the story of NBA center Yao Ming. He also has a daily podcast, “On The Ball with Ric Bucher”. Follow him on Twitter @ricbucher.
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