Week 17 NBA Power Ranking is here! This week we will be looking at where I project each team to end up come playoff time.
*Stats and scores from games on 4/27/21 or 4/28/21 are not included.
NBA Power Ranking: 1-10
1. Brooklyn Nets Record: 42-20 Previous: 5
The Brooklyn Nets are back in the number one spot after going 3-0 last week, including wins over Boston, Phoenix, and Toronto. With ten games left, Brooklyn is finally mostly healthy besides James Harden, and they should remain in the top seed as long as their big three decide to play.
2. Utah Jazz Record: 44-17 Previous: 1
The Jazz had a rough week, losing both ends of a home-and-home to the abysmal Minnesota Timberwolves. Donovan Mitchell’s injury couldn’t have come at a worse time, and I’m projecting them to drop down to the third seed at the start of the playoffs.
3. Phoenix Suns Record: 43-18 Previous: 2
The Suns dropped a spot after enduring a 1-2 week that included a win against the streaking New York Knicks. The Suns have overachieved all year and, with eleven games left, should remain in the two seed come playoff time.
4. Los Angeles Clippers Record: 43-20 Previous: 4
The Clippers had a decent week 16, going 1-1, including a win over the Houston Rockets and a loss to the Pelicans. With them being this healthy and only two games behind Utah, I expect the Clippers to make a run and grab the top seed in the West.
5. Philadelphia 76ers Record: 40-21 Previous: 3
After a rough stretch of games without Ben Simmons, Philadelphia was able to get back on track last week with a win over Oklahoma City. While Philly has been the one seed for much of the year, Brooklyn has caught fire, so Philly will likely remain in second.
6. Denver Nuggets Record: 40-21 Previous: 6
The Nuggets had another great week, going 2-1, with wins over the Houston Rockets and Memphis Grizzlies. While Denver has been playing well, the West is deep, and I’m projecting them to be the fourth seed with a tough first-round matchup against the Lakers.
7. Milwaukee Bucks Record: 38-23 Previous: 7
Milwaukee had a great week, going 3-1, with a pair of wins against Philadelphia and a win against the Charlotte Hornets. While they have been able to keep themselves in play for the top spot, I expect Milwaukee to remain the third seed in the East.
8. Los Angeles Lakers Record: 36-25 Previous: 9
The Lakers continue to struggle as they went 1-2 last week with a pair of losses against Dallas, despite the return of Anthony Davis. LeBron James’ timeline remains unclear, and the Lakers likely won’t be able to move up from their fifth seed.
9. Dallas Mavericks Record: 34-27 Previous: 12
The Mavericks have been one of the hottest teams in the league and crack the top ten for the first time since the week one power ranking. While they should be able to hold off Portland and avoid the play-in games, Dallas likely won’t move up much further from the sixth seed.
10. New York Knicks Record: 34-28 Previous: 11
Who would have thought the Knicks would ever crack the top ten? For the time all year (and likely in a few years), the Knicks are back in the top ten after going 1-1 in week 16. Currently, fourth in the East, I have the Knicks earning the fifth seed come playoff time.
NBA Power Ranking: 11-20
11. Atlanta Hawks Record: 34-28 Previous: 13
Another team that has set the league on fire, Atlanta barely misses the top ten after going 2-1 last week. Atlanta is currently positioned as the fifth seed in the East, but I expect them to drop one spot, setting up a first-round matchup with Milwaukee.
12. Portland Trail Blazers Record: 33-28 Previous: 10
The Trail Blazers are finally healthy, but they have struggled and are currently positioned as the seventh seed in the East. Dallas has been on fire, so I’m projecting Portland to have to face the play-in games for the second straight season.
13. Boston Celtics Record: 32-30 Previous: 8
After looking like they had gotten back on track, Boston fell into another rough patch, going 1-3, including an abysmal loss to Oklahoma City. With ten games left, I expect Boston to be able to go 7-3 or better and get a home-field advantage as the fourth seed in the East.
14. Miami Heat Record: 32-30 Previous: 14
The Heat have all but secured not missing the playoffs, but the question is whether they will face the play-in games. Atlanta, Boston, and New York all have favorable schedules the rest of the way, so I’m projecting Miami to be the seventh seed, needing to win a play-in game.
15. San Antonio Spurs Record: 31-29 Previous: 17
San Antonio has caught fire at the right time, now 7-3 in their previous seven games and winner of three straight. Despite the team’s sudden surge, I’m projecting San Antonio to be the ninth seed, facing Golden State in their first play-in game.
16. Memphis Grizzlies Record: 31-29 Previous: 16
The Grizzlies had another solid week in week 16, going 2-1, with two wins against the Portland Trail Blazers. Memphis has an extremely easy schedule for the rest of the year and should be able to move up to the eighth seed.
17. Golden State Warriors Record: 31-31 Previous: 15
Steph Curry continues to carry the Warriors on his back as the team went 2-1 last week, with wins over Denver and Sacramento. Despite the play of Curry, Golden State is in a challenging position and likely won’t be able to improve from their current placement as the tenth seed.
18. Indiana Pacers Record: 29-32 Previous: 19
With most of the team fully healthy, Indiana has a chance to get back to .500 next week as they are currently positioned as the ninth seed. Only one game behind Charlotte, I’m projecting Indiana to move up and play Miami as the eighth in round one of the play-in games.
19. Charlotte Hornets Record: 30-31 Previous: 18
LaMelo Ball’s return remains unclear, and the Hornets have struggled, going 3-7 in their previous ten games. While Ball is expected to return soon, their recent struggles will likely cause them to fall to the ninth seed.
20. Washington Wizards Record: 27-34 Previous: 20
The Wizards have been on a sudden tear as of late, but their success was largely due to facing an easy stretch in their schedule. Russell Westbrook is known to choke late in the season, and I’m projecting Washington to fall to the eleventh seed by the end of the season.
NBA Power Ranking: 21-30
21. New Orleans Pelican Record: 27-34 Previous: 22
Despite a 2-1 week, the Pelicans have not been able to gain much ground on Golden State to earn a playoff spot. Currently 3.5 games out of the tenth, I’m projecting New Orleans to miss the playoffs, finishing 11th in the West.
22. Chicago Bulls Record: 26-35 Previous: 23
Chicago has yet to get themselves into playoff position, despite going 2-1 last week and beating Miami and Charlotte. Regardless, Zach LaVine should return from COVID-19 in a few days, and I expect Chicago to steal the tenth seed from Washington.
23. Toronto Raptors Record: 26-36 Previous: 21
Toronto has been extremely disappointing all year, and that trend continued in week 16 as they went 1-2 and are now 1.5 games behind Washington for the tenth seed. With a brutal schedule ahead, I’m projecting Toronto to stay put as the twelfth seed in the East.
24. Sacramento Kings Record: 25-36 Previous: 24
Sacramento is in an awful spot where they are far out of playoff contention and not bad enough to improve their lottery position. Therefore, Sacramento will likely remain as the twelfth seed in the West for the rest of the year.
25. Minnesota Timberwolves Record: 19-44 Previous: 27
The Timberwolves had one of their best weeks of the season, going 3-0 last week with two wins against Utah and a win against Houston. Minnesota should not be trying to win games, but Oklahoma City does a better job at tanking, so I’m projecting the Timberwolves to move up to the 13th seed in the West.
26. Oklahoma City Thunder Record: 21-41 Previous
Oklahoma City finally snapped its 13-game losing streak, beating Boston in a close game on Tuesday. Currently positioned as the 13th seed in the West, OKC clearly wants to lose and will finish as the 14th seed in the West, giving them good lottery odds.
27. Cleveland Cavaliers Record: 21-40 Previous: 25
The Cavaliers continued to struggle in week 16, going 0-3 as they are currently positioned as the 13th seed in the East. While Cleveland has struggled, Detroit and Orlando are even worse, so Cleveland will likely remain as the third-worst team in its conference.
28. Detroit Pistons Record: 19-43 Previous: 29
Detroit moves up one spot on the ranking after they went 1-2 last week, beating the Atlanta Hawks. Detroit has been the bottom seed for much of the year, and they should be able to sink below Orlando to have the worst record in the East this season.
29. Orlando Magic Record: 18-43 Previous: 28
For the first time all season, Orlando has reached a new low, currently as the fifteenth seed in the East. However, they have some winnable games and should pass Detroit to become the fourteenth seed in the East this year.
30. Houston Rockets Record: 15-47 Previous: 30
This ranking should be a shock to no one as the Rockets remain last in the power ranking, now 4-37 in their previous 41 games. Houston is clearly the worst team in the league, but that will give them the highest chance at winning the lottery at the end of the season.
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