With almost a month of the NBA season in the books, fans can really start to dig into the strengths and weaknesses of their squads. MVP debates are starting to take shape (although it’s still too early for that) and stringing together wins or losses can really affect the entire season at this point. Here is where everyone stacks up heading into Thanksgiving week!
1. Boston Celtics
Boston takes over the top spot for the first time this season! They have obtained the best record in the league with a top-five ranking in offense and defense. Multiple wins over the Sixers last week proved the C’s are in the driver’s seat in the East.
2. Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets have floundered ever so slightly with Jamal Murray continuing to miss time. Jokic’s stats are phenomenal as always, but he needs his second scoring option to carry the weight on random Wednesday night road games.
3. Minnesota Timberwolves
The Wolves have built a devastating roster full of weapons, size, and strength. It’s important to shine a light on role players like Naz Reid and Kyle Anderson, who provide shooting, defensive skills, and patience when they enter the game.
4. Milwaukee Bucks
Giannis has rounded into “best player in the world” form the last week, and the Bucks have been much better because of it. He outplayed Luka on Saturday night with 40 points, 15 rebounds, and 7 assists.
5. Dallas Mavericks
Dallas continues to have a magnificent season, but they falter against the top teams in the league. Losses to Denver and Milwaukee prove the Mavs may not be on the highest echelon of contenders yet, but they are approaching greatness.
6. Philadelphia 76ers
The Sixers’ fairytale has started to stall against the Celtics with multiple losses to their rivals in the same week. Danuel House and Tobias Harris had big games to help out Joel Embiid on Friday against the Hawks.
7. Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder’s combination of Shai-Gilgeous Alexander and Chet Holmgren is delivering incredible results right now. OKC’s young talent is manifesting into wins in a way it hasn’t since the days of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
8. Sacramento Kings
De’Aaron Fox has returned for the Kings, and he certainly has boosted their offensive attack in a myriad of ways, including a 43-point performance against the Spurs. Coach Mike Brown believes Fox should be an MVP candidate this season.
9. Miami Heat
The Heat started slow, but have come on strong in the middle of November with the Eastern Conference’s longest winning streak. Injuries never seem to affect Miami, as Tyler Herro is out again and the team plugs other bench players like Jaime Jaquez into his place.
10. Indiana Pacers
A weird scheduling week for the Pacers means they went five days without a game. Tyrese Haliburton is combining scoring and passing statistical prowess in a way that resembles legendary players like Nate Archibald and Kevin Johnson.
11. New York Knicks
The Knicks are outworking their opponents on the glass and slowing the pace way down to classic Tom Thibodeau style. New York might need one more offensive weapon to launch themselves into the top of the East.
12. Phoenix Suns
Kevin Durant is quietly having one of the most impressive seasons ever for a 35-year-old player. Averaging 30 points, seven rebounds, and five assists, KD has carried the team on his back without Bradley Beal and Devin Booker, the former of which is going to miss three more weeks with a back strain.
13. Orlando Magic
Orlando got a huge win over the Pacers this weekend, but they still have to prove their hot start isn’t fool’s gold. The defense for the Magic continues to soar with young athletes all over the roster making plays.
14. Los Angeles Lakers
Cam Reddish has filled in the void that Austin Reaves’ lack of production left behind. Anthony Davis needs to become more consistent, but LeBron’s longevity often makes up for it.
15. Houston Rockets
Houston’s winning streak ended in close fashion against the Clippers, but the Rockets look to be here for the long haul. H-Town plays hard and pays attention to the defensive end of the floor as they have the fourth-highest rating in the league on that end of the floor.
16. Cleveland Cavaliers
Cleveland’s bulky athleticism is starting to bother teams more on a nightly basis, but the Cavs are still hovering in the middle of the pack. Max Strus has been a pleasant surprise, averaging nearly 15 points per game.
17. Atlanta Hawks
Third-year forward Jalen Johnson has taken a leap forward, propelling the Hawks’ offense alongside Trae Young and Dejounte Murray. If they can stop turning the ball over so much, Atlanta can climb the standings.
18. Brooklyn Nets
Lonnie Walker’s scoring has jolted since Cam Thomas’ injury, but Brooklyn doesn’t have the fire power to get above .500 right now. The Nets should look to sell some of their pieces if they can’t get into the playoff picture in the East.
19. New Orleans Pelicans
Zion Williamson needed to be rested for load management earlier this week. A 23-year-old star player who isn’t injured taking games off because he’s tired represents everything that is wrong with the Pelicans and the NBA at large.
20. Toronto Raptors
Toronto still struggles to find consistency without a true first option. Scottie Barnes and Pascal Siakam certainly show talent frequently, but the Raptors need more firepower.
21. Los Angeles Clippers
Russell Westbrook went to the bench to make the Clippers’ starting lineup more sensical, but Ty Lue needs to find more minutes for him. Westbrook will be key to unlocking the team’s energy and toughness.
22. Golden State Warriors
The Warriors are as bad as they’ve ever looked with their core intact and healthy (excluding Draymond Green’s suspension). After a 5-1 start, Golden State has dropped out of the playoffs. Steve Kerr should switch Klay Thompson and Jonathan Kuminga in the starting lineup for a boost.
23. Utah Jazz
The Jazz often don’t even try on defense, ranking 29th in the league on that end of the floor. Utah has some prospects they could look to trade if they want to really bottom out and start over.
24. Chicago Bulls
The trade rumors are starting to swirl around Chicago, with the Lakers in the forefront of the discussions. If the Bulls work with Los Angeles, they should ask for Austin Reaves and Cam Reddish in any trades for Zach LaVine or DeMar DeRozan.
25. Memphis Grizzlies
The Grizzlies are trying to get up off the mat and work their way back into the season. Wins against the Clippers and Spurs were much needed, and Jaren Jackson Jr. has taken more responsibility of the offense.
26. Portland Trail Blazers
Many people expected Portland to be a bottom-dwelling team, and with a seven-game losing streak the prediction has become reality. Scoot Henderson is out, so the team can’t even see what they’ve got in their top draft pick.
27. Charlotte Hornets
Miles Bridges returned to the court last week after a lengthy absence due to domestic violence against his girlfriend. The way the Hornets haven’t addressed Bridges’ immoral acts is nothing short of despicable.
28. San Antonio Spurs
The Wemby hype has slowly simmered as the Spurs flounder to the bottom of the Western Conference. This team desperately needs a talent boost at every position besides center, and they may get it in the form of another top draft pick.
29. Washington Wizards
Washington is even worse than most people expected, as Jordan Poole and Kyle Kuzma haven’t been able to put up enough points to keep the Wizards in games. Washington could think about tanking soon for a top draft pick.
30. Detroit Pistons
The Pistons expected Monty Williams to bring respectability back to Detroit, but the same old losing has permeated their organization. The Pistons must figure out how to avoid the bottom spot in the East. Nothing seems positive for this franchise at the moment.