The Best Teams in the NBA Right Now, Vol. 3

The Denver Nuggets and Boston Celtics have fell from our ranks of the top teams in the NBA. Grizzlies? Sixers? Here's our five best teams in the NBA right now.

Joel Embiid and James Harden for the Sixers

Image via Getty/Tim Nwachukwu

Joel Embiid and James Harden for the Sixers

 Whew, last week started off testy, huh? Last Monday’s heavyweight bout between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Sacramento Kings was worth the price of admission, with both teams duking it out metaphorically and physically on the court. The Los Angeles Lakers are still hobbling to the Play-In Tournament without LeBron James but losers of three of five, one of them to the god-awful Houston Rockets; who’s taking them seriously? Another one of those L’s came at the shooting hand of Dallas Mavericks’ Maxi Kleber. Exciting, but the Mavs are still 7-9 since Kyrie Irving came to town. Watch out, folks, L.A.’s “little brother,” the Clippers, are showing a pulse, winners of five of their last six.

Ja Morant is soon returning from his eight-game suspension. But he messed up so badly for his Memphis Grizzlies teammates that they’re reportedly going home immediately after road games—“The Ja Rule.” With eleven straight road losses (7-29, overall), Klay Thompson can lamely count to four to Dillion Brooks all he wants but the Golden State Warriors are still trash away from The Bay.

Those numbers don’t lie. Neither do the ones that determined this week’s power rankings. We’re shaking it up with two new teams cracking the list.


The Denver Nuggets are unserious. They’ve lost five of their last seven, including four straight within that span. They’re still the top seed in the Western Conference but are in “chill mode” like they clinched it and DGAF. Then you have the Boston Celtics, who were atop the Eastern Conference a month ago. The C’s have been struggling in their last ten games, losing five, and are officially on “Fraud Watch.” So much so that because they bookended last week with losses to the middling Utah Jazz and the 15-win Rockets, the C’s are also on timeout this week.

So, it written!

That said, let’s get to the business. 

5. Memphis Grizzlies

Tyus Jones after another Grizzlies win as the starting point guard

4. Cleveland Cavaliers

Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Cleveland Cavaliers

3. Sacramento Kings

Deaaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis

Every newly successful team that graduated from “also-rans” to “young team on the rise” eventually will have to show if they’re ‘bout that life before taking the next step to “legitimate title contender.” That’s where the Kings are because they’ve been tested as if their number two seeding in the Western Conference is smoke and mirrors. In their gutsy loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, they showed they wanted that smoke when Trey Lyles (after instigating the scuffle, real spit) yoked up Bucks’ center Brook Lopez toward the end of the game, and his team still had his back.  

Nevertheless, the Kings continued to light the beam with three straight victories. Against the Chicago Bulls, De’Aaron Fox’s game-winning three earned him number one in clutch points. Domantas Sabonis notched 21 boards in Brooklyn versus the Nets and a league-leading 56th double-double. And in a win against the Washington Wizards, they earned their seventh straight road win. Not only is Sacramento winners of eight of their last ten games, but they also snapped 16 consecutive seasons without a winning record, the longest in the league. 

Their defense still ranks in the bottom portion of the NBA and will be their albatross come playoff time. Who Sac Town faces in the first round depends on how they finish the season. They’re still trading blows with the Memphis Grizzlies in the standings, and big matchups this week against the Boston Celtics and Phoenix Suns will show how powerful their hook is. 

2. Milwaukee Bucks

Giannis Antetokounmpo holds up three fingers

Even if you were a casual basketball fan, you’d think a team winning 21 of their last 25 games, which included a 16-game winning streak, is assuredly running roughshod on its league and running away with its conference. Alas, even with Milwaukee’s insane performance (they haven’t lost consecutive games since January 12), they sit only two and a half games ahead of the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics. That’s after they became the first team to win 50 games on the season and clinch a playoff berth last week.

The Bucks haven’t deviated from their modus operandi. Their go-to pick-and-roll with Giannis Antetokounmpo as the focal point is still effective. Khris Middleton’s return to the starting lineup has yielded expected benefits, averaging over 20 points and seven assists since the March 7th promotion. And they’re showing that dawg in them if last Monday’s brouhaha against the Sacramento Kings was any indication.

By all accounts, everything is working for the 2021 NBA Champions. Still, they’re 7-3 in their last ten games, with the only glaring misstep against the sub-.500 Indiana Pacers without their All-Star Tyrese Haliburton. Quite frankly, Coach Bud and crew damn sure didn’t foresee Philly threatening their top-seed position becoming white hot this late in the season. That’s why they’re knocked down a peg in this week’s rankings.  

1. Philadelphia Sixers

James Harden jumping on the back of Joel Embiid

It’s time to tuck the MVP conversation in bed and go night-night because Joel Embiid has been having a dream of a season, especially during Philly’s current eight-game win streak. The Cameroonian big man, who leads the NBA in points (33.5), has been smoking on that Joker Pack averaging 35.2 points per game, 9.1 rebounds per game, and 4.3 assists per game in his last ten games. The Sixers were 9-1 during that stretch. He is also the first player in the team’s storied history to put up 30 or more points in nine consecutive games. Of those nine, “The Process” was so dominant that he sat out the entire fourth quarter in four contests.

Holy crap.

Certainly, the Milwaukee Bucks and their fans had the same sentiment when they realized the surging 76ers are two and a half games behind them in the Eastern Conference, with under 15 games to go in the season. We’re a little while away from April 2nd, but the way things are shanking out, that primetime Sunday matchup versus the Bucks in Brew City will be a gift from the basketball Gods to us…and Adam Silver…and advertisers.


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