NBA Power Rankings: Bucks Claim Top Spot

The Toronto Raptors have been slumping, and it cost them the top spot in our power rankings this week. T'was a good run while it lasted.

There was a shakeup in the top 10 this week, while the bottom five also saw some changes. Here is where every team stands as we head into the new year.

30. Cleveland Cavaliers (8-29)

After losing to the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday, the Cavaliers cemented themselves as the worst team in the NBA heading into the new year. At least every loss increases their draft lottery chances.

29. New York Knicks (9-28)

Welp. Seven straight losses for the Knicks, and they tend to be embarrassing blowout losses. At least the Knicks have a chance at landing Kevin Durant in free agency. And a realistic shot at the first overall pick.

28. Phoenix Suns (9-28)

More than half of Phoenix's wins on the season have come over their last 10 games. Keep in mind they were expected to be bad this year. It'll be worth it if they land a lottery pick, though.

27. Chicago Bulls (10-26)

The good news: The Bulls aren't the worst team in the NBA right now. The bad news: Their draft lottery odds are shrinking as the other bottom feeders continue to unravel.


26. Atlanta Hawks (11-24)

Consecutive wins is enough to move Atlanta outside of the bottom four this week. Up next, a tough road contest against the red hot Indiana Pacers.

25. Washington Wizards (14-23)

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With All-Star point guard John Wall surely done for the season, the Wizards are probably just counting down the days until the draft lottery. There are literally no positives about this dismal season.

24. New Orleans Pelicans (16-21)

The Pelicans have gone a woeful 3-7 over their last 10 games. This is not the way to try and secure Anthony Davis long-term. At least the Saints are having themselves a terrific season.


23. Orlando Magic (15-19)

That was quite the blowout win against the Raptors on Friday. More scoring outbursts like that would have Orlando right in the playoff picture. They have some big games looming against the Pistons and Hornets - who are occupying two of the final three playoff spots in the East.

22. Minnesota Timberwolves (16-19)

Not good when Andrew Wiggins has to call out the fans for booing a team following a pathetic home loss to the lowly Hawks. You wonder how much longer until Tom Thibodeau is fired. This has been one messy year in the Gopher State.

21. Brooklyn Nets (17-21)

Consecutive losses Brooklyn outside the playoff race slightly more. Their schedule doesn't get any easier, with the Boston Celtics (twice) and Toronto Raptors looming on the schedule.

20. Dallas Mavericks (16-18)

The Mavericks have lost seven of their last 10 games, which is kind of pathetic. But hey, Luka Doncic has kept them in the playoff race - and he looks like a runaway winner for Rookie of the Year.

19. Detroit Pistons (16-17)

The Pistons have lost seven of their last 10 games. There isn't much support from the back end. Markelle Fultz, anyone?

18. Utah Jazz (18-19)

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The Jazz continue to fight for a .500 record, but it won't be easy. Their upcoming four-game road trip includes stops against the Bucks and Raptors - the top two teams in the East.

17. Miami Heat (17-17)

Josh Richardson is enjoying a breakout year. Good thing the Minnesota Timberwolves didn't end up accepting him in a proposed Jimmy Butler trade after all. Other than that, nothing really fancy about this Heat team. They're the definition of mediocre.

16. Charlotte Hornets (17-18)

Now the Hornets are slipping a bit. They still haven't traded for anybody to complement the talents of All-Star point guard Kemba Walker. GM Mitch Kupchak needs to do something if the wants to boast Charlotte's playoff chances.

15. Memphis Grizzlies (18-16)

That was an inexcusable meltdown against Boston on Saturday. Might it serve as the start as an inevitable unraveling for the Grizzlies? They're starting to play like the mediocre team we all expected in 2018-19.

14. San Antonio Spurs (20-17)

Well, the Spurs are starting to regain their old form again. They had a big-time road win against the Clippers. Up next, a tough home contest against the Boston Celtics on Monday.

13. Sacramento Kings (19-16)

We keep expecting the Kings to regress, but De'Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield won't let it happen. The Kings have won three of their last four, with big games against the Lakers and Trail Blazers coming up.

12. Los Angeles Lakers (20-16)

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The Lakers are going to struggle for as long as LeBron James is sidelined. But what a statement road win that was against the Warriors on Christmas day. If James returns soon, the Lakers should continue to challenge for the top seed in the West.

11. Portland Trail Blazers (20-16)

Saturday's home loss to the Warriors is another reminder that Portland simply isn't able to keep up with the top teams. It would be great if the front office could find another star to help out Damian Lillard.

10. Los Angeles Clippers (21-15)

Predictably, the Clippers have began to slide a bit after a 15-16 start to the season. The good news is that their schedule is a bit easier in the coming weeks, with only the 76ers and Nuggets being the worrisome opponents.

9. Houston Rockets (20-15)

Even without Chris Paul, the Rockets are among the hottest teams right now. James Harden has paced them to four straight victories, and Houston has taken nine of their last 10. Watch out, folks. They're back.

8. Boston Celtics (21-14)

They're well above .500 now, but the Celtics have to start finding consistency. It's always one step forward, one step back with this team. The schedule eases down over these next two weeks, so it's time to take advantage.

7. Philadelphia 76ers (23-13)

This Philly team doesn't have much else to prove, except for their ability to match up against the Celtics. That was a terrible meltdown in the late stages during their Christmas game. If the 76ers don't solve their Kryptonite, this season goes to waste. It's that simple.

6. Oklahoma City Thunder (22-12)

Russell Westbrook has to be considered a front runner for the MVP award. Almost nobody though OKC would be keeping pace with the Warriors. Sunday's road contest against Luka Doncic's Mavericks will test the surging Thunder big time.

5. Indiana Pacers (24-12)

Nobody expected the Pacers to be challenging for the best record in the NBA, but here we are. Victor Oladipo and co. have won four straight games, and eight of their last 10 in total.

4. Toronto Raptors (26-11)

The slumping and banged-up Raptors have gone 5-5 over their last 10, losing in blowout fashion to the 76ers and Magic during that span. Once the starters get healthy again, Toronto should push hard for the top spot again.

3. Denver Nuggets (23-11)

We all thought the Nuggets would be good, but not at the point where they'd be first in the West at this stage of the season. Jamal Murray, Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap are going to be tough to stop in the playoffs. Only one team in the West looks better right now.

2. Golden State Warriors (24-13)

They're "only" 11 games above .500, but so what? Everybody knows what they're capable of when the playoffs roll around. That was quite an impressive road victory over the Trail Blazers on Saturday. Make no mistake, this is the team to beat, regardless of record.

1. Milwaukee Bucks (25-10)

Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Three straight wins for the Bucks, who now own the best record in the NBA. With the Raptors slumping, there's no doubting that Milwaukee is top team in the East right now. The Bucks will have a chance to reaffirm that when they host Toronto next Sunday.


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