NBA Power Rankings V2: The Jazz Take Over the Top Spot

In our latest edition of NBA power rankings, we have a new No. 1 team thanks to the Jazz's ultra-hot play the past two weeks. So who slots in behind Utah?

Donovan Mitchell Jazz Celtics Utah 2021
USA Today Sports

Feb 9, 2021; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) dribbles the ball during the first quarter against the Boston Celtics at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russell Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Donovan Mitchell Jazz Celtics Utah 2021

We have a new No. 1 in the season’s second edition of our power rankings and that shouldn’t surprise anybody.

The Jazz has been playing incredible basketball, and while we all know the Lakers remain heavy favorites to repeat as world champions for all the obvious reasons, Utah is clearly the NBA’s top squad at the moment. Seriously, it ain’t even a debate.

Utah has the NBA’s best record, has only lost two games in a row once this season, and features the league’s top average margin of victory (9.30). They’re doing it with defense, they’re doing it by hitting a ton of their shots from beyond the arc, and they’re doing it by being incredibly unselfish.

“It’s like passing money around at a casino,” Jazz forward Georges Niang said after Utah’s win over Miami, talking about the team’s ball movement. “Everybody gets a little piece.”

Quick note regarding these power rankings: If you’re unfamiliar with net rating, know that it’s a team’s average point differential, or more specifically the difference between a team’s offensive rating per 100 possessions compared to its defensive rating per 100 possessions. We’re featuring it because NBA champions almost always end up owning a top 5 net rating—team’s that barely score more points than they allow usually do not end up having deep playoff runs. So it’s kind of noteworthy/important.

We’ll be updating the rankings every other week, so there are no massive knee jerk reactions to a few bad games. After Valentine’s Day, here’s where we stand:

30. Timberwolves

Josh Okogie Timberwolves Clippers 2021

29. Pistons

Delon Wright Mason Plumless Pistons Nets 2021

28. Wizards

Bradley Beal Kemba Walker Celtics Wizards 2021

27. Cavaliers

Cavaliers Bench Clippers LA 2021

26. Magic

Terrence Ross Magic Suns 2021

25. Thunder

Al Horford Justin Jackson Thunder Bucks 2021

24. Bulls

Zach LaVine Bulls Pelicans Chicago 2021

23. Rockets

John Wall Rockets Heat Houston 2021

22. Pelicans

Zion Williamson Steven Adams Pelicans Pistons 2021

21. Hawks

State Farm Arena Feb 2021

20. Grizzlies

Ja Morant Kyle Kuzma Los Angeles 2021

19. Raptors

Kyle Lowry Raptors Timberwolves Florida 2021

Record: 12-15

Net Rating: 1.94

Previously: 18

Some of Toronto’s advanced metrics, like its offensive rating (8th best in the league at 114.81) make them look a lot better than their record indicates. Zero excuses for losing to the Timberwolves Sunday when Minnesota didn’t even have the services of D’Angelo Russell.

18. Kings

Sacramento Kings Memphis Grizzlies Feb 2021

17. Heat

Jimmy Butler Knicks Heat Miami 2021

16. Knicks

Julius Randle Knicks Wizards Washington 2021

15. Hornets

Terry Rozier Hornets Wizards Feb 2021

14. Mavericks

Kristaps Porzingis Mavericks Pelicans 2021

Record: 13-15

Net Rating: -1.56

Previously: 17

Dallas is undoubtedly playing better since our last set of rankings. They just had a four-game winning streak snapped Sunday by the Blazers. But the Mavericks’ defensive issues—allowing way too points, 28th in rebounding—probably aren’t going to be fixed anytime soon so they better keep hitting those threes at a higher clip like we’ve seen the past two weeks.  

13. Celtics

Brad Stevens Celtics Huddle 2021

12. Warriors

Steph Curry Warriors Nets California 2021

11. Pacers

Aaron Holiday Pacers Hawks 2021

10. Spurs

DeMar DeRozan Spurs Hornets 2021

9. Blazers

Damian Lillard Blazers Mavericks 2021

8. Nuggets

Jamal Murray Nuggets Lakers LA 2021

7. Bucks

Giannis Antetokounmpo Bucks Thunder OKC 2021

Record: 16-11

Net Rating: 7.93

Previously: 7  

The Bucks are kind of weird this year. That sluggish start to the season appears to be behind them. But after ripping off a five-game winning streak, they followed that up last last week with a three-game slide that includes Sunday’s egregious loss to the Thunder in Oklahoma City. It continues to be a bit of a work in progress for Milwaukee, owner of the second-best net rating in the league entering Monday’s action, but this team has looked much better the past two weeks and really coach Mike Budenholzer is just using the regular-season to experiment for the postseason anyway.

6. Suns

Devin Booker Suns Magic 2021

5. 76ers

Joel Embiid Marvin Bagley Sixers Kings 2021

4. Nets

Kyrie Irving Kevin Durant Warriors Nets 2021 San Francisco

Record: 16-12

Net Rating: 3.45

Previously: 5

When Brooklyn’s super trio actually suits up together, which has only happened seven times for a variety of reasons since the Nets acquired James Harden in January, they look like the team to beat in the East. We’ll cool it harping on the defensive deficiencies for the moment since KD, Kyrie, and the Beard are playing beautiful basketball—Brooklyn entered the weekend second in the NBA in points per game (121.4) and third in offensive rating (116.5). They just need to stop playing down to their competitions since they’ve accumulated too many losses against terrible teams. And let’s hope Kevin Durant (out the next two games because of a hamstring injury) returns to action Thursday for that showdown against the Lakers on TNT. 

3. Clippers

Serge Ibaka Clippers Cavaliers LA 2021

2. Lakers

Anthony Davis Pistons Lakers LA 2021

1. Jazz

Donovan Mitchell Quin Snyder Jazz Heat 2021

Latest in Sports