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NBA Power Rankings: Where Warriors, Kings have a month to go

NBA Power Rankings: Where Warriors, Kings sit with one month left originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

And just like that, the 2023-2024 NBA regular season ends in a month.

Aside from the still-rising Boston Celtics, every team is vying for the best possible positioning, whether that’s for playoff seeding or draft purposes.

The top of the Western Conference remains exciting. The Minnesota Timberwolves, Oklahoma City Thunder and Denver Nuggets all have 47 wins and the race will likely go down to the wire.

Elsewhere, the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors remain close. If things stay the same, another potential play-in tournament thriller could follow.

Let’s recap it all with the 13th edition of the 2023-24 NBA Power Rankings:

The Wizards recently won two in a row – against Charlotte, in Miami – to end a double-digit losing streak, but that doesn’t put them in last place. Since then, they have lost four in a row and the future remains muddy. (Last ranking: 30)

Without Washington, Detroit would die last. Next season will require a miraculous turnaround, starting with more internal growth under head coach Monty Williams. (Last ranking: 29)

Charlotte has the league’s worst net rating and is 2-8 in its last 10 games. At least Brandon Miller has shown potential in a short amount of time, otherwise this would have been another wasted year for the Hornets. (Last ranking: 28)

At least the Spurs have Victor Wembanyama, who was a different breed as a rookie. The number of jumps he has made in just one season is absurd, but it’s a shame he couldn’t rack up that many wins in his debut campaign. (Last ranking: 27)

There isn’t much news in Portland other than the hope that Scoot Henderson can end the season on a high note now that he’s back from injury. (Last ranking: 26)

It looks like Toronto has made its decision. The Raptors have a first-round pick protected by the top six, otherwise it goes to San Antonio. Toronto has gone 1-9 in its last ten games, losing seven in a row. That choice could be huge for the team’s future. (Last ranking: 23)

Memphis rises one spot thanks to the fall of Toronto. It’s been a terrible injury season for the Grizzlies, so the main goal is to finish without any further serious injuries. (Last ranking: 25)

The Nets are also benefiting from Toronto’s fall, but they have their own issues to worry about. Since the last edition, Ben Simmons was ruled out for the season. Brooklyn has plenty of roster construction to do this offseason. (Last ranking: 25)

Utah has been streaky all season, but maybe this last fall will stick around. The Jazz have gone 2-8 in their last ten games, but their first-round pick could be diverted to Oklahoma City (however, it is protected via picks 1-10). There may not be another big winning streak until next season. (Last ranking: 21)

Atlanta remains a middle-of-the-road team and it seems like nothing will change that. Roster retooling, primarily via a potential trade involving Dejounte Murray, will be key this offseason. However, Atlanta is moving up because of Utah’s drop. (Last ranking: 22)

The Bulls still have time to reach new heights this season. They have won six of their last 10 games, but their chances of continually improving this campaign without Zach LaVine are slim. The transaction should have occurred at the deadline. (Last ranking: 19)

Houston still boasts a top-10 defense, but its 9-24 road record has put a significant dent in the ceiling. Memphis, for context, has a road record of 15-19. That, along with improved offensive play, will be key to an increase next year. Avoiding a serious injury for Alperen Sengun was also crucial. (Last ranking: 20)

18. Golden State Warriors, 35-32

There is plenty of parity from this spot to around the top 10. The Warriors sink three places from the previous edition after their solid run in recent matches came to a halt. There is still time to potentially avoid a play-in game, but the margins are extremely slim for where Golden State currently stands. (Last ranking: 15)

The Heat are on shaky ground right now, having lost five of their last seven games. The only two wins were in Detroit. As mentioned, the margins around this region are small, so Miami is also taking a dip. (Last ranking: 13)

Indiana had a downward trend last edition, and that continues here. The Pacers continue to fluctuate between wins and losses and need Tyrese Haliburton to rediscover his early-season magic to have a legitimate shot this season. (Last ranking: 14)

15. Los Angeles Lakers, 37-32

You never know which version of the Lakers you’re going to get – they beat Milwaukee and Minnesota back-to-back and then lost to Golden State and Sacramento – which is ultimately both good and bad and will likely be the reason for their demise (along with coaching issues ). For now, their recent play is worth an increase of one spot. (Last ranking: 16)

The 76ers are entering a difficult stretch. They have lost five of their last eight games and now head on a four-game road trip against four Western Conference playoff hopefuls. They need to stay afloat while Joel Embiid is out. (Last ranking: 11)

The Kings have a peculiar problem where they regularly get into quality battles with the elite teams, but completely stumble against teams they should be beating. Maybe that could be a good thing come the playoffs, but they need to get a good seeding first. (Last ranking: 18)

Phoenix hasn’t quite flamed out yet, but is also fluctuating between wins and losses, dropping the team out of the top 10. (Last ranking: 9)

The Mavericks have won five of their last six against solid opposition, with Kyrie Irving’s left-handed hook-shot buzzer beater over Nikola Jokic serving as the ultimate prize. (Last ranking: 12)

Orlando is the biggest riser in this edition and has won eight out of ten, but that has to come with context. Those wins came against Brooklyn (x2), Toronto (x2), Detroit, Washington, Charlotte and Utah. The two losses were against New York and Indiana. But teams on the rise, like Orlando, should take care of their business, something teams below them haven’t always done. (Last ranking: 17)

Compared to other teams above the Clippers, it was a bit of a rough patch for LA. They have lost four out of five and were also in a downward trend in the last edition. LA will have to find form again before next month. (Last ranking: 6)

New Orleans has won six of its last seven, but that’s still not enough to keep climbing. Staying healthy during this time is what really matters, especially with Zion Williamson at the helm. (Last ranking: 8)

The Knicks started to slip in the last few editions as injuries piled up, but they’ve won four of five since then and aren’t quite healthy yet. There could be more to come from Jalen Brunson and Co. (Last ranking: 10)

Cleveland’s form from late January to mid-February has worn thin, with recent weeks showing a turbulent side in terms of results. Donovan Mitchell isn’t quite back yet, so that’s something to keep in mind if you’re wondering if they can get back to their previous levels. (Last ranking: 6)

Milwaukee will likely have to settle for the No. 2 seed in the East and is 3-3 in its last six games. However, the Bucks’ next game is a game in Boston. Talk about a huge test in what could be a preview of the Eastern Conference Finals. (Last ranking: 5)

4. Minnesota Timberwolves, 47-21

The top three in the West are almost identical in terms of record, so it’s still all to play for in the action-packed month ahead. However, Minnesota will have to make do without Karl-Anthony Towns, so his resilience will certainly be tested. Fortunately, Anthony Edwards doesn’t seem to be impressed by anything. (Last ranking: 3)

3. Oklahoma City Thunder, 47-20

Oklahoma City regains a spot after winning six of its last eight. The team’s youth will be tested during the playoffs, but that hasn’t slowed them down yet. (Last ranking: 4)

2. Denver Nuggets, 47-21

Denver remains the best of the top three from West and is also in incredible form. The Nuggets have won 11 of their last 13 games, including a thriller at home against Boston. Their next opponent? Off to Minnesota. (Last ranking: 2)

1. Boston Celtics, 54-14

The Celtics remain first for the ninth consecutive edition. Their starting five has the perfect balance in every position and they are currently on a six-match winning streak in the league. As long as they stay the course, this is their first shot at Banner No. 18. (Last ranking: 1)

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