Three months in to the 2021-22 NBA season, the good teams are separating from the pack. Just ten teams in the NBA are more than one game over .500, with four in the Western Conference and six in the Eastern Conference.

In the West, it’s a three-team race at the top between the 29-7 Golden State Warriors, 29-8 Phoenix Suns, and 27-10 Utah Jazz. What’s even scarier is that the Warriors are getting Klay Thompson back very soon, and they already hold the best record in the NBA.

In the Eastern Conference, the 25-10 Chicago Bulls, 23-12 Brooklyn Nets, 25-14 Milwaukee Bucks, and 23-15 Miami Heat all look like potential title contenders.

How do the leagues 30 teams rank after the completion of games through January 4, 2022? Read on for my full Power Rankings, and if you’d like to debate or discuss any rankings, join the conversation with @SakSports on Twitter.

Previous Rankings: November, December

January Power Rankings

Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
  1. Golden State Warriors (29-7) [Last Month: 2]
    • Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors have the best record in the NBA, a +9.8 point differential, and allow an NBA-low 101.5 points per game. The Warriors are 8-2 in their last ten games, and oh yeah, that Klay Thompson guy is returning to the court soon. Golden State is scary good, and is set to get even better.
  2. Utah Jazz (27-10) [Last Month: 4]
    • The Utah Jazz have the top-scoring offense in the league, scoring 116.0 points per game led by 25.7 PPG from Donovan Mitchell and elite 70.6% shooting from big man Rudy Gobert. The Jazz hold an NBA-best +9.9 point differential, and are 7-3 in their last ten games.
  3. Phoenix Suns (29-8) [Last Month: 1]
    • The Western Conference has the three best teams in the NBA right now, with Devin Booker and the Phoenix Suns right up there with the Warriors and Jazz. Phoenix has the third-highest scoring offense in the NBA at 112.6 PPG, and gets extremely balanced production between Booker (23.9 PPG,) Deandre Ayton (17.0 PPG,) Chris Paul (12.1 PPG,) Mikal Bridges (12.3 PPG,) Cameron Johnson (11.5 PPG,) JaVale McGee (10.5 PPG,) and Cameron Payne (10.5 PPG.) That’s seven full-time players averaging double digits this season, a testament to the Suns deep offense.
  4. Brooklyn Nets (23-12) [Last Month: 3]
    • Almost every team in the NBA had to deal with COVID leaves of absence among their rosters, but when Kevin Durant and James Harden are sidelined, the Brooklyn Nets are a completely different team. Even with their stars missing time at the end of December, the Nets still have the fifth-best record in the NBA, and besides Durant and Harden returning to the court, Brooklyn will also get Kyrie Irving’s services for road games moving forward.
  5. Milwaukee Bucks (25-14) [Last Month: 7]
    • After a slow start, the reigning NBA Champions are heating up as the season progresses. December saw the Milwaukee Bucks win 12 of 18 games, despite losing Giannis Anetokounmpo to COVID protocols for part of the month. The Bucks currently hold the third-best record in the Eastern Conference, but are right behind Brooklyn and Chicago and have plenty of time to make up ground.
  6. Chicago Bulls (25-10) [Last Month: 6]
    • While the Nets and Bucks have fluctuated in these Power Rankings from month-to-month, the Chicago Bulls have been a model of consistency. It’s earned Lonzo Ball, DeMar DeRozan and the Bulls the best record in the Eastern Conference so far, and Chicago is currently riding an eight-game win streak with the sixth-best point differential (+3.7) in the NBA.
  7. Miami Heat (23-15) [Last Month: 5]
    • The Miami Heat are still a Top 10 team in the NBA, but have steadily declined in these Power Rankings after earning the #2 spot in the first edition of the rankings this season. Still, Miami sits fourth in the Eastern Conference, and possesses a well-rounded scoring attack with Jimmy Butler (23.2 PPG,,) Tyler Herro (20.4 PPG,) an injured Bam Adebayo (18.7 PPG,) Kyle Lowry (13.9 PPG,) Duncan Robinson (11.6 PPG,) and Max Strus (11.0 PPG) all averaging double digits.
Credit: Joe Robbins/Getty Images
  1. Memphis Grizzlies (25-14) [Last Month: 19]
    • On the heels of a six-game winning streak and 14-4 mark in the month of December, the Memphis Grizzlies are red-hot and are emerging as a powerful team in the Western Conference. Memphis has the seventh-highest scoring offense in the NBA, led by budding superstar Ja Morant (25.1 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 6.7 APG) and a more than capable supporting cast including Dillon Brooks, Desmond Bane, and Jaren Jackson Jr.
  2. Philadelphia 76ers (20-16) [Last Month: 15]
    • The Philadelphia 76ers enjoyed a decent December, going 9-6 since the last edition of my Power Rankings, and are obviously a much better team when Joel Embiid is on the court. Philadelphia has won four games in a row and currently sits fifth in the Eastern Conference.
  3. Cleveland Cavaliers (21-17) [Last Month: 22]
    • The Cleveland Cavaliers continue to exceed expectations, but may be running out of firepower. I had initially thought losing Colin Sexton for the season would relegate Cleveland to lottery team status once again, but the Cavaliers pushed forward with a 10-7 record over the last month. But with Ricky Rubio now being lost for the season as well, the Cavaliers overall prospects are lower, even if Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen are playing lights out basketball.
  4. Denver Nuggets (18-17) [Last Month: 20]
    • This is where the rankings start to get a little wonky. There are just ten teams in the NBA that are more than one game over .500, creating a mess in the middle of the pack. The Denver Nuggets have gone 8-7 since my last rankings, but are 3-1 with a win over the Warriors in their last four games.
  5. Dallas Mavericks (19-18) [Last Month: 18]
    • After going 5-5 in Luka Doncic’s 10-game absence, the Dallas Mavericks are in the middle of a crowded Western Conference, but could conceivably climb up the standings with a healthy squad. Dallas has won three straight games, and unlike most of the teams hovering around .500, holds a positive point differential (+1.2.)
  6. Charlotte Hornets (19-19) [Last Month: 10]
    • The Charlotte Hornets have gone 6-9 since my December Power Rankings, but recently enjoyed a three-game winning streak, promptly followed by a two-game losing streak. The Hornets have the second-best offense in the NBA (114.9 PPG) but need to play better defense to translate that offense in to more wins.
  7. Toronto Raptors (17-17) [Last Month: 23]
    • The Toronto Raptors came in at #17 in November and #23 in December, but see a decent rise in the Power Rankings after going 8-4 in their last 12 games. Toronto is currently riding a three-game winning streak, with wins over the Clippers, Knicks, and Spurs, as the Raptors find ways to win despite sitting 27th in the league in assists per game (21.9.)
  8. Boston Celtics (18-19) [Last Month: 13]
    • The Boston Celtics may have gone just 7-9 since the December Power Rankings, but compared to some of the teams coming up on this list, it’s a decent mark. Jaylen Brown had a career-high 50 points in Boston’s 116-111 overtime win over the Magic on Sunday night.
  9. New York Knicks (18-20) [Last Month: 12]
    • The New York Knicks were red-hot to start the season, with a 5-1 record and a #4 spot in my November Power Rankings, but have gone 13-19 since then. The past ten games haven’t been as bad, with a 6-4 mark and Julius Randle returning from the COVID list, but New York still has a ways to go if they wish to be an Eastern Conference contender this season.
  10. Washington Wizards (19-18) [Last Month: 8]
    • For the first two months of the season, I slotted the new-look Washington Wizards as a Top 10 team in the NBA. However, Washington has gone just 6-10 since my December Power Rankings, and is currently being outscored by 2.2 points per game. Kyle Kuzma had 36 points and Bradley Beal poured in 35 in a recent win over Charlotte, which could bode well for Washington moving forward.
Credit: USATSI/CBS Sports
  1. Los Angeles Lakers (20-19) [Last Month: 16]
    • The Los Angeles Lakers just can’t seem to find their groove. Sure, the Lakers have won three straight games at time of writing, but they also recently endured a five-game losing streak. In their last 14 games (7-7) Los Angeles has only beaten one team with a winning record. LeBron James is still playing out-of-this-world basketball, averaging 28.6 PPG, 7.4 RPG, and 6.5 APG, but its simply not enough with this current Lakers roster.
  2. Los Angeles Clippers (19-19) [Last Month: 14]
    • The Los Angeles Clippers have bounced up and down, with an 8-9 record over their last 17 games and a 3-7 mark in their last 10 games, and will be without Paul George for about a month after the star guard tore a ligament in his right shoulder.
  3. Minnesota Timberwolves (17-20) [Last Month: 11]
    • After showing signs of promise at 11-10, the Minnesota Timberwolves have gone 6-10 in their last 16 games, fading to ninth in the Western Conference. Minnesota is just 2-5 in their last seven games.
  4. Atlanta Hawks (16-20) [Last Month: 9]
    • Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks appeared to be on the rise in last month’s Power Rankings, but take a huge step back after a 5-10 showing in their last 15 games. Young has been playing incredible, averaging 28.4 PPG and posting a career-high 56 points in a loss to the Trail Blazers, but he simply needs more help if Atlanta wishes to make another deep postseason run this year.
  5. Sacramento Kings (16-23) [Last Month: 24]
    • Now, the swings on this list start to get less drastic. The Sacramento Kings came in at #22 in November, #24 in December, and now, #22 again in January. The Kings went 8-9 since the last Power Rankings, with a couple notable wins over Miami and San Antonio. Two-way guard De’Aaron Fox is averaging 20.6 PPG on the season.
  6. San Antonio Spurs (14-22) [Last Month: 25]
    • The San Antonio Spurs went 8-9 as well over their last 17 games, but are currently riding a four-game losing streak. Surprisingly, San Antonio has the sixth-highest scoring offense in the NBA despite lacking a 20.0+ PPG scorer: Dejounte Murray leads the Spurs with 17.8 PPG.
  7. Indiana Pacers (14-24) [Last Month: 21]
    • Despite being 10 games under .500, the Indiana Pacers have only been outscored by an average of 0.1 points per game this season. It’s an interesting anomaly but with a 2-8 record in their last 10 games and currently riding a five-game losing streak, I can’t use that statistic to justify putting Indiana any higher on this list.
  8. Oklahoma City Thunder (13-23) [Last Month: 27]
    • The Oklahoma City Thunder finished dad-last in my November Power Rankings, and 27th last month. But with a 7-9 record since the last edition of these Power Rankings, there’s five teams playing worse basketball at this moment in time. Young guard Josh Giddey has been playing well, with 11.0 PPG, 7.3 RPG, and 6.4 APG to fill out a well-rounded stat sheet.
  9. New Orleans Pelicans (13-25) [Last Month: 26]
    • Like the Thunder, the New Orleans Pelicans have a pretty bad record, but with a 7-8 mark since my December Power Rankings, they’re certainly not the weakest team in the NBA. The Pelicans even enjoyed a recent four-game win streak with wins over the Thunder, Bucks, Trail Blazers, and Magic.
  10. Portland Trail Blazers (14-22) [Last Month: 17]
    • The Portland Trail Blazers have fallen off hard since last month’s rankings, with an abysmal 3-11 record in their last 14 games. With Damian Lillard (24.0 PPG, 7.3 APG,) the lone bright spot on the Trail Blazers roster, out for at least the next three games, things will likely get worse in Portland before they get better.
  11. Houston Rockets (10-28) [Last Month: 28]
    • While the Houston Rockets actually won six games since last month’s Power Rankings, they couldn’t be colder right now: eight straight losses, and 12 in their last 14 games. This of course follows a miraculous seven-game winning streak, but Houston’s current play is much more indicative of where they stand as a team this season.
  12. Detroit Pistons (7-28) [Last Month: 29]
    • The Detroit Pistons have the second-worst record in the NBA, with the second-worst point differential in the league at -9.0. With the second-worst offense in basketball to boot, it’s fair to say Cade Cunningham and the Pistons are exactly that: the second-worst team in the league.
  13. Orlando Magic (7-31) [Last Month: 30]
    • The Orlando Magic hold an NBA-high 31 losses and have the third-worst offense in the NBA. After recently enduring a seven-game losing streak, the Magic are currently on a six-game losing streak which includes 18 and 27-point losses to the Bucks in back-to-back games.




More By Me

Be sure to follow Sak Sports Blog on Twitter or on Facebook for more NBA and NFL updates!

Header Photo Credit: AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s