NBA Top 10 Power Rankings: April 15
LeBron James will not be a part of the NBA Playoffs for the second year as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, but that discussion is for another day.
The postseason is near and the time to judge rosters and their overall performance has arrived. With that being said, here are my unofficially official power rankings, and a personal invitation to expect the unexpected.
1. Phoenix Suns (64-18)
It seemed likely, but few expected the Phoenix Suns to obtain the most wins in a season by any team since the 2017-18 Houston Rockets. Getting better as a unit is difficult, but exponential growth is what this formidable roster is about.
The growth of Devin Booker, who averages 26.8 points per game, and the individual effort of Mikal Bridges as a top candidate for Defensive Player of the Year are two of the many reasons why the Suns are the most feared team in the league.
2. Milwaukee Bucks (51-31)
Unsurprisingly, the Bucks are once again the best team representing the Eastern Conference.
Giannis Antetokounmpo continues to average almost 30 points per game, and makes up one-third of possibly the best trident in basketball. When healthy, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday add a spark to Milwaukee’s presence on the court, especially in playoff time.
3. Boston Celtics (51-31)
Some say the Celtics have the best starting five in the league, but others suggest they will crumble under pressure. The only truth is that Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are capable of holding their own in scoring as the team continues to amaze on both sides of the court
The Boston Celtics currently lead the NBA in points allowed, giving up just 104.5 points per game.
4. Golden State Warriors (53-29)
Facing a team with four players averaging 17 points or more is frightening, especially when two of those are Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
The Warriors are not nearly as efficient as they were in previous years, but with talent at every position and rising stars such as Jordan Poole, they will continue to be a force to be reckoned with in a playoffs series.
5. Miami Heat (53-29)
Speaking about good defenses, Miami is back once again due to coach Erik Spoelstra’s efficiency and court layout.
Oddly enough, the Heat hold the highest three-point percentage and most points in the paint, but also a proficient mix of veteran leaders and young talent. Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro seem to take a breath of fresh air during the playoffs.
6. Memphis Grizzlies (56-26)
Ja Morant has made himself a case for most improved player.
The Memphis Grizzlies shocked everyone by becoming one of the top seeds in the NBA, but will need to continue their display of great basketball as competition demands it. With a healthy Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr., this team will be in good hands, but it might come down to Desmond Bane and the rest of the supporting cast to keep them in contention.
7. Philadelphia 76ers (51-31)
As the biggest trade acquisition during the regular season, James Harden granted the 76ers a second wind during the back half of the season.
Joel Embiid is averaging 30.6 points per game in another MVP-worthy season. Defenses will deal with a handful when facing the Sixers and their newfound versatility. As a unit, though, Philly tends to struggle against good teams and also have a poor rebounding percentage.
8. Dallas Mavericks (52-30)
Their record says it all.
The Mavericks have been able to succeed in the regular season, but Luka Dončić leads the team in points, rebounds, assists and steals. There might be a lack of household names, but the quality of their defense and streakiness always keeps them in play.
The Dallas Mavericks may be inconsistent from game to game, but their offensive efficiency and chemistry is indistinguishable.
9. Denver Nuggets (48-34)
Nikola Jokić sits comfortably once again in the MVP race, averaging 27.1 points, 13.8 rebounds and almost eight assists per game.
The Nuggets, not reliant on depth, have seen players such as Aaron Gordon step up on both sides of the floor, but lack an X-factor when Jokić is not available.
If Jamal Murray is able to come back, Denver’s chances get significantly better.
10. Toronto Raptors (48-34)
The Raptors continue to be the dark horse of the playoffs since their championship run.
Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet are playing the best basketball of their careers, all while maintaining their physicality and rugged playstyle. Scottie Barnes and Gary Trent Jr. added great value to the roster, but will be truly tested during the postseason.
Juan Mendez is a second year student majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email @firstname.lastname@example.org.