NBA Power Rankings: Latest risers and fallers

What has changed in the NBA Power Rankings this week?

Our experts rank the best teams in the league, from No. 1 to No. 30, with the Utah Jazz rising and the Brooklyn Nets sliding.

Throughout the regular season, our panel (ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, Andre’ Snellings, Royce Young and Bobby Marks, and The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears) is ranking all 30 teams from top to bottom, taking stock of which teams are playing the best basketball now and which teams are looking most like title contenders.

Previous rankings: Week 11 | 10 | 9 | 8 | 7 | 6 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | 1 | Training camp | Free agency | Post-Finals


1. Milwaukee Bucks
Record: 35-6
Week 12 ranking: 1

At 35-6, the Bucks have reached the halfway point of the season on pace for 70 wins, but they have managed to stay somewhat under the radar. Their defense has been stifling all season, allowing a league-low 101.6 points per 100 possessions. That defense is built upon controlling the paint, as Giannis Antetokounmpo, Brook Lopez and Robin Lopez make up the top three leaguewide in field goal percentage allowed at the rim. Antetokounmpo is also second in the league in defensive rebounds, trailing only Andre Drummond. — Snellings

This week: NY, BOS, @BKN

2. Los Angeles Lakers
Record: 32-7
Week 12 ranking: 2

Kyle Kuzma likely elevated his trade value during a 125-110 win at Oklahoma City sans LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The third-year forward scored a game-high 36 points and grabbed seven rebounds in 40 minutes as a starter against the Thunder. Kuzma is averaging 28 points per game in three contests as a starter this season. — Spears

This week: CLE, ORL, @HOU

3. Boston Celtics
Record: 26-11
Week 12 ranking: 3

What is the best remedy for a Boston team that had lost three straight games for the first time this season? How about a career-high 41 points from Jayson Tatum and a New Orleans team that did not have starters Jrue Holiday, JJ Redick, Derrick Favors and, of course, Zion Williamson. Tatum’s performance was one of the most efficient of the season — 22 shots with 16 makes, including 6-of-9 from 3. With three weeks before the trade deadline, the Celtics will get a good test Thursday when they travel to Milwaukee to face the top team in the Eastern Conference. — Marks

This week: CHI, DET, @MIL, PHX

4. Miami Heat
Record: 27-12
Week 12 ranking: 5

Miami has largely avoided letdown games this season, but boy did the Heat have one Sunday against the Knicks. These kinds of lackluster performances are excused, as long as it doesn’t start happening consistently. — Young

This week: SAS, @OKC, @SAS

5. LA Clippers
Record: 27-13
Week 12 ranking: 4

After Montrezl Harrell declared they Clippers aren’t a great team, they beat the Knicks and the Warriors, then lost on the road to the Nuggets in a game where they looked fairly outclassed. But again, Paul George wasn’t playing. Which remains the point with the Clippers so often in discussing their results and juxtaposing it with their potential. When George and Kawhi Leonard both play, the Clippers are 14-4 with an impressive net rating of plus 10.7. When it comes down to it, the Clippers’ top eight is very, very good. We just don’t get to see it all that often right now.— Young

This week: CLE, ORL, @NOP

6. Utah Jazz
Record: 27-12
Week 12 ranking: 9

Rudy Gobert is trying to make sure that the West coaches have no choice but to finally put him on the All-Star team. His plus-minus during the Jazz’s 13-1 run is a league-best plus-191 — 49 points better than any player who isn’t a Jazz teammate during that span. Gobert leads the West in rebounds (14.4 per game), field goal percentage (67.3%) and screen assists (7.6) in addition to his typical defensive dominance. — MacMahon

This week: @BKN, @NOP, SAC

7. Houston Rockets
Record: 26-12
Week 12 ranking: 6

The Rockets are 22-5 when James Harden scores at least 30 points and 4-7 when he doesn’t, including the one game that he missed due to injury. It’s no wonder that opposing defenses are willing to go to such extremes with double-teams trying to take the ball out of his hands. The other half of Houston’s new duo, Russell Westbrook, has gotten comfortable in his co-star role. He is producing consistently, scoring at least 20 points in 14 consecutive games, averaging 28.4 points per game in that span. — MacMahon

This week:@MEM, POR, LAL

8. Denver Nuggets
Record: 27-12
Week 12 ranking: 8

A perplexing loss followed by a convincing win over the Clippers. That’s a very Nuggets thing to do. Focus and consistency have been an issue at times, but when it comes down to it, the Nuggets play with most anybody. The Nuggets love to use their depth, and what coach Mike Malone is probably trying to figure out is who he can trust in a 10- or 11-man rotation. For example: Is Michael Porter Jr. going to be equipped and ready for playoff minutes? He’s looked the part of a possible X factor the past few weeks, but January minutes are a lot different from May ones. — Young

This week: CHA, @GSW, IND

9. Toronto Raptors
Record: 25-14
Week 12 ranking: 7

The Raptors are 25-14 through their first 39 games this season, only two games off of last year’s 27-12 pace, despite losing Kawhi Leonard to free agency and suffering massive numbers of player-games lost due to injury. They have good news on the horizon, as Pascal Siakam and Norman Powell returned to action Sunday against the Spurs with Marc Gasol expected to return this week. — Snellings

This week: @OKC, WAS, @MIN

10. Dallas Mavericks
Record: 24-15
Week 12 ranking: 10

The Mavs are 3-4 during Kristaps Porzingis’ absence due to right knee soreness. In particular, it’s his rim protection that has been missed, as the Mavs have allowed 114.6 points per 100 possessions and 55.4 paint points per game during that span. Dallas is hopeful that Porzingis, who ranks fifth in the league with 2.1 blocks per game, will be able to return for one of the games in the California back-to-back this week. — MacMahon

This week: @GSW, @SAC, POR

11. Philadelphia 76ers
Record: 25-15
Week 12 ranking: 12

The Sixers will be without Joel Embiid for at least one to two weeks as he recovers from a torn ligament in his left ring finger. First, the good news: Outside of the Monday’s game in Indiana, four of the 76ers’ next opponents — they play the Nets twice, the Bulls and the Knicks — are teams below .500. Now for the concern: With or without Embiid, the Sixers resemble a lottery team on the road. Philadelphia has now lost five straight road games and dropped to 7-13 on the road. In those five road losses, the 76ers shot 27% from 3 and averaged a point differential of -9.6. That is a sharp drop-off from the 45.3% that Philadelphia shot from 3 at home in last week’s wins against Oklahoma City and Boston. — Marks

This week: @IND, BKN, CHI, @NYK

12. Indiana Pacers
Record: 24-15
Week 12 ranking: 12

The Pacers have won this season with a balanced attack featuring one of the league leaders in assists (Malcolm Brogdon, 7.4 APG, 10th), rebounds (Domantas Sabonis, 13.1 RPG, 5th) and blocks (Myles Turner, 2.0 BPG, 6th). T.J. Warren and Jeremy Lamb have combined for 31.5 PPG. But they will get some help on the wing as All-Star guard Victor Oladipo makes his season debut Jan. 29, nearly a year after suffering a ruptured quad tendon. — Snellings

This week: PHI, @MIN, MIN, @DEN

13. Oklahoma City Thunder
Record: 22-17
Week 12 ranking: 11

The week ended on a low note with a loss to the Lakers’ B-team, but maybe it was understandable given how perfect Russell Westbrook’s return game went two nights before. With OKC wearing its city edition uniforms for the first time (which honor the victims of the 1995 Murrah Federal Building bombing), Westbrook was celebrated with a touching tribute video and raucous ovation. But then the ball went up and OKC routed Westbrook’s Rockets as Chris Paul capped it with a brilliant highlight nutmeg. If the marketing team would have drawn it up, it would’ve gone exactly the way it did. — Young

This week: @MIN, TOR, MIA, POR

14. Orlando Magic
Record: 18-21
Week 12 ranking: 15

The Magic approach the midway point of the season as perhaps the most all-around mediocre team in the league. They rank 14th out of 30 teams in win percentage, 14th in scoring differential and 14th in net difference between team offensive rating and defensive rating as essentially a net neutral, league average team in every statistically measurable way.— Snellings

This week: @SAC, @LAL, @LAC, @GSW

15. Memphis Grizzlies
Record: 18-22
Week 12 ranking: 17

Since Ja Morant’s return from a back injury, the Grizzlies have gone on a hot streak and worked into eighth place in the West standings. The Grizzlies’ talented kids get most of the spotlight in Memphis, but the contributions of 27-year-old big man Jonas Valanciunas shouldn’t be overlooked. He’s been steady all season, averaging 15.1 points and 9.9 rebounds while shooting 60.2% from the floor. — MacMahon

This week: HOU, CLE

16. San Antonio Spurs
Record: 17-21
Week 12 ranking: 16

LaMarcus Aldridge has morphed into a lethal 3-point threat over the last 10 games, shooting 56% from long range on five attempts per game. (He had five three 3-point attempts in a game only twice before this stretch). It seems like DeMar DeRozan has reaped the benefits of the gravity created by Aldridge’s perimeter shooting. DeRozan has averaged 27.3 points on 63.4% shooting in the 10 games, with all but six of his 161 shots coming inside the arc.— MacMahon

This week: @MIA, ATL, MIA

17. Brooklyn Nets
Record: 18-20
Week 12 ranking: 14

The win over Atlanta was a nice welcome back moment for Kyrie Irving. Yes, the Hawks were playing without injured Trae Young, but Brooklyn showed in the first quarter what a healthy roster looks like. The Nets scored not only a season-high 39 points in the first quarter but also held Atlanta to 16 points. Irving would finish the game with 21 points, only missing one shot. The real test starts this week, as Brooklyn will face Utah, Philadelphia and Milwaukee. — Marks

This week: UTA, @PHI, MIL

18. Portland Trail Blazers
Record: 16-24
Week 12 ranking: 18

The Blazers are 2-8 in their past 10 games. They averaged a defensive rating of 116.4 in those games, which would rank as the worst in the league — yes, worse than the Wizards’ — over the course of the season. Their starting five was torched (110.1 defensive rating) in those 10 games, and specifically, any lineup Carmelo Anthony is in is giving up heaps of points (115.8 individual defensive rating). Melo is still scoring, but the other side of the ball is beginning to catch up. — Young

This week: CHA, @HOU, @DAL, @OKC

19. Phoenix Suns
Record: 16-23
Week 12 ranking: 22

Kelly Oubre appears to be more than worth the two-year, $30 million contract he is in the midst of with the Suns. The 6-foot-7, 203-pounder is averaging 18.3 pounds and 6.2 rebounds while playing alongside sharpshooter Devin Booker. Oubre is averaging 22.2 points and 7.2 rebounds in January. — Spears

This week: @ATL, @NYK, @BOS

20. Minnesota Timberwolves
Record: 15-23
Week 12 ranking: 23

The Timberwolves have seemingly righted the ship in the absence of Karl-Anthony Towns, winning four of their past seven games, with all three losses on the road to the Bucks, Rockets and Grizzlies. Andrew Wiggins has returned after missing four games due to illness, and Towns’ return could be on the horizon. — Snellings

This week: OKC, IND, @IND, TOR

21. Sacramento Kings
Record: 15-24
Week 12 ranking: 25

Things might be looking up for the injury-riddled Kings. Marvin Bagley (left foot soreness) is listed as questionable for Monday’s game against Orlando after missing the past eight games. The 6-foot-11, 240-pounder is averaging 13.7 points and 6.9 rebounds in just nine games this season. As for the rest of the team, Richaun Holmes (right shoulder) and Bogdan Bogdanovic (ankle) missed a loss to Milwaukee last Friday while Harrison Barnes suffered a right thigh injury. — Spears

This week: ORL, DAL, @UTA

22. Chicago Bulls
Record: 14-26
Week 12 ranking: 20

Rookie forward Daniel Gafford scored 14 points and seven rebounds in the second start of his career in a 108-99 win over Detroit on Saturday after scoring just two points in his previous start. Gafford also was hit in the back of the head with the basketball by Pistons center Andre Drummond, who was ejected. The former Arkansas star, who was selected with the 47th overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft, replaced veteran Thaddeus Young in the starting lineup. — Spears

This week: @BOS, WAS, @PHI, CLE

23. Charlotte Hornets
Record: 15-27
Week 12 ranking: 21

Since their winning streak in mid-December, the Hornets have gone 2-8, including a current four-game losing streak. If there is a silver lining, it is the play of Miles Bridges. After an inconsistent first three months, the former lottery pick put together a strong three-game stretch last week. In those games, the forward averaged 18.3 points and shot 66.7% from the field and 56.3% from 3. — Marks

This week: @POR, @DEN

24. New Orleans Pelicans
Record: 14-26
Week 12 ranking: 19

The decision not to give Brandon Ingram a contract extension could be an expensive one for the Pelicans. Ingram is likely to command a maximum contract as a restricted free agent this summer after proving that he could be efficient and prolific as a primary scoring threat. Ingram’s emergence as a lethal 3-point shooter — he’s one of only nine players shooting better than 40% from long range while attempting at least six 3s per game — should bode well for his fit with Zion Williamson. — MacMahon

This week: @DET, UTA, LAC

25. Detroit Pistons
Record: 14-26
Week 12 ranking: 24

The Pistons lost All Star Blake Griffin to arthroscopic knee surgery this week, and while no definite return time has been announced, the team has reportedly applied for an injured player exemption. That is an indication that Detroit expects to be without him for an extended period. The team has lost 11 of its past 14 games and fallen out of the playoff race in the East, and it is a Drummond trade away from this officially becoming a rebuilding season. — Snellings

This week: NOP, @BOS, @ATL

26. Washington Wizards
Record: 13-26
Week 12 ranking: 26

It remains extremely true: If you’re a good team, don’t take the Wizards lightly. They beat the Nuggets and Celtics in back-to-back games, and they gave the streaking Jazz plenty of concern on Sunday. The Wizards are winning sporadically just enough to make one wonder if they could put together a four- or five-game streak and actually threaten the Eastern playoff picture. Especially now that they have Bradley Beal back. — Young

This week: @CHI, @TOR

27. Cleveland Cavaliers
Record: 12-27
Week 12 ranking: 29

To say that last week was filled with turmoil would be an understatement. After Kevin Love publicly apologized for his on-court behavior, Cleveland blew an 11-point fourth-quarter lead and lost by two points to the Pistons. The next day during a film meeting, coach John Beilein referred to the team as “a bunch of thugs.” Beilein issued a public apology and met individually with each player, insisting he meant to say “slugs.” On the court, however, Cleveland won consecutive road games. The Cavaliers followed a win at Detroit with their best win of the season at Denver. So, to sum up the week: two public apologies, a near mutiny in the locker room and consecutive road wins. — Marks

This week: @LAL, @LAC, @MEM, @CHI

28. New York Knicks
Record: 11-29
Week 12 ranking: 27

We’ve made it to the halfway point of the season and the Knicks have little to show for it. The team is 11-30, has featured 16 different starting lineups, players have missed a combined 90 games due to injuries and they have an interim head coach in Mike Miller. More importantly, though, their prized lottery picks from the past two seasons, RJ Barrett and Kevin Knox, have faced a steep learning curve while playing inconsistent minutes behind the veterans signed last summer. — Marks

This week: @MIL, PHX, PHI

29. Golden State Warriors
Record: 9-32
Week 12 ranking: 28

The Warriors have lost a season-high eight straight games overall and a season-high seven straight road games. Golden State is also now 3-19 on the road. Prior to this season, the last time the Warriors had a winning percentage under .500 through 41 games was the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season (18-23). — Spears

This week: DAL, DEN, ORL

30. Atlanta Hawks
Record: 8-32
Week 12 ranking: 30

The league-worst Hawks have lost four straight games while going 2-8 over their past 10, keeping them at the bottom of these power rankings with their -9.6 net rating.

This week: PHX, @SAS, DET

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