Week 12 NBA Power Rankings
With another week of NBA action in the books, it’s time to revisit the Oddsseeker NBA Power Rankings to see which teams rank above the rest. While COVID is still running rampant through NBA locker rooms, the hope is it will all be over soon–especially because COVID will run out of players to infect at the rate it’s currently going.
But as the 2021-22 NBA season enters the new year, some familiar faces are expected to return to play sooner rather than later. Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson is expected to return from a year-long knee injury this month, and his presence should only bolster this already incredible offense. Unfortunately for the Warriors, they are not the only team having some talent return, as Nets PG Kyrie Irving is expected to play away games starting in the coming weeks.
While the return of these two future hall of farmers are sure to shake things up, it’s important not to look too far into the future. So, without further ado, here are this week’s NBA Power Rankings.
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1. Chicago Bulls (24-10) (+4)
I’ll be brave enough to do what no other sportswriters are. The Bulls are atop my NBA Power Rankings list and I dare you to say otherwise. In the last week, the Bulls went 3-0 atop of the four-game win streak they were already on. This propelled them into first place in the Eastern Conference, with a game lead over both the Nets and the Bucks. This Bulls offense has scored an average of 122.2 points per game in their last four games, with a majority of that effort coming from veteran forward DeMar DeRozen.
DeRozen is having an incredible season this year, averaging 26.8 ppg on almost 50% shooting from the field. His MVP odds (as per BetMGM) have been skyrocketing through the last weeks, as he currently sits at +4000 (the sixth-best odds in the league) to take home the hardware.
Upcoming Schedule: 01/03 vs Magic, 01/07 vs Wizards, 01/09 @ Mavericks
2. Golden State Warriors (28-7) (-1)
The Warriors are going to be spending some time in the #2 spot for as long as this Bulls team stays hot. It also doesn’t help that the Warriors saw an ugly loss to the Nuggets on 12/28, where they only scored 86 points at home behind a 6-16 shooting performance from Steph Curry. However, after a New Years’ win over the Jazz on the road, everything seems to be back to normal for Steph and the Warriors.
They are expecting the return of Klay Thompson in the coming weeks, which should be a huge addition to an already incredible season. The Warriors currently have the second-best odds to win the NBA Championship as per BetMGM, and those odds may move if Thompson’s return comes without a hitch.
Upcoming Schedule: 01/03 vs Heat, 01/05 @ Mavericks, 01/06 @ Pelicans, 01/09 vs Cavaliers
3. Phoenix Suns (28-8) (+1)
The Suns picked up an unfortunate loss on the road last week in Boston against the Celtics, but were able to pick up wins against the Thunder and Hornets in order to improve their record to 28-8. The Suns are seeing some surprising production out of their 2020 first-rounder Jalen Smith, who is averaging 16 points and 10.5 rebounds per game while seeing increased minutes due to COVID-related shortages. If the Suns can continue to show their depth and offensive versatility, they will find themselves ranked amongst the top-three more often than not this season.
Upcoming Schedule: 01/03 @ Pelicans, 01/06 vs Clippers, 01/08 vs Heat
4. Memphis Grizzlies (23-14) (+3)
It’s incredibly hard to ignore what the Grizzlies are doing right now–more specifically, it’s hard to ignore what Ja Morant is doing right now. He’s scored over 30 points in three straight games, averaging 34.7 ppg on 55.7% from the floor and 80% from behind the arc. Morant is surrounded by an incredibly talented supporting cast of stars which allows them to be a contender in any game on their schedule. As long as Morant can stay healthy, this Grizzlies team is as dangerous as they come.
Upcoming Schedule: 01/03 @ Nets, 01/04 @ Cavaliers, 01/06 vs Pistons, 01/08 @ Clippers, 01/09 @ Lakers
5. Milwaukee Bucks (25-13) (+1)
The Bucks have seemingly snuck their way into a six-game winning streak right under our noses. Since his return to COVID (which was two games into this winning streak), Giannis Antetokounmpo has averaged 33 points and 12 rebounds per game, and the Bucks have won their games by an average margin of 15.5 points in that stretch. PG Jrue Holiday also seems to be finding his groove, averaging 21.5 points and 7.2 assists in this six-game stretch, so the Bucks seem to be returning to last-seasons form.
Upcoming Schedule: 01/03 vs Pistons, 01/05 vs Raptors, 01/07 @ Nets, 01/08 @ Hornets
6. Utah Jazz (26-10) (-2)
The Jazz would have been a bit higher on this list had they not lost to the Warriors in the fashion they did on Saturday night. With backup center Hassan Whiteside sidelined, the Jazz were forced to play a bit of small ball that…well…didn’t work. While Jordan Clarkson, Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, and Bojan Bogdanovic were all good for 20 points apiece, the Jazz still got the L due to lack of depth as the game went on.
As COVID cools off and players return from injury this should no longer be a problem.
Upcoming Schedule: 01/03 @ Pelicans, 01/05 @ Nuggets, 01/07 @ Raptors, 01/08 @ Pacers
7. Brooklyn Nets (23-11) (-5)
With Kevin Durant returning to action on Thursday, you would think the Nets would be in the perfect position to take the #1 spot on these power rankings. Especially with two home games against the Sixers and the Clippers who, let’s be honest, should be easy wins for a team like the Nets, no? Well, think again.
The Nets dropped both of these games at home despite 30 point efforts from both Kevin Durant and James Harden. We could see Kyrie Irving suit up as soon as this Wednesday, but it is unclear as to when he will return to action.
Upcoming Schedule: 01/03 vs Grizzlies, 01/05 @ Pacers, 01/07 vs Bucks, 01/09 vs Spurs
8. Miami Heat (23-14) (-)
The Heat were cruising last week before they had their five-game win streak snapped in Sacramento on Saturday. During that broken streak they were winning their games by an average of 11.8 points, thanks to some solid play from both Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro.
The Heat will look to get back on the winning side of things but may find that tough, all thanks to the four-game road trip they have ahead of them.
Upcoming Schedule: 01/03 @ Warriors, 01/05 @ Trailblazers, 01/08 @ Suns
9. Philadelphia 76ers (19-16) (+1)
Don’t look now, but the Sixers may just be finding their grove. They closed out 2021 with three straight road wins, the biggest coming on Thursday night in Brooklyn. While Joel Embiid scoring over 30 points a night seems to be a given at this point in the season (he’s done so in five of his last six) the remaining 12 or so players on the Sixers are about as inconsistent as inconsistent gets. While Tobias Harris is good for at least 15 points a night, the remaining support seems to come from someone new every game.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a terrible thing–depth is what always proves strongest in a playoff team. However, god forbid anything happens to Embiid and this Sixers team could find themselves in a lot of trouble.
Upcoming Schedule: 01/03 vs Rockets, 01/05 @ Magic, 01/07 vs Spurs
10. Denver Nuggets (18-16) (+2)
The Nuggets come into this week riding a three-game win streak that is mostly due to the play of reigning MVP Nikola Jokic. Jokic is averaging 24 points and 17 rebounds in these last three wins, and seems to be carrying an otherwise below-average team to a top-10 spot in the entire league. Without MPJ or Jamal Murray, this may prove to be difficult down the stretch, but as long as it works I don’t think anyone will complain.
Upcoming Schedule: 01/03 @ Mavericks, 01/05 vs Jazz, 01/07 vs Kings, 01/09 @ Thunder
11. Cleveland Cavaliers (21-16) (-2)
After dropping three of their last four, the Cavs have slid a bit down my rankings to the number 11 spot. While veteran Kevin Love is continuing to piece together an impressive season, the Cavs #1 enemy seems to be the ability to stay on the court. After losing Collin Sexton early in the season due to a meniscus tear, and losing backup Ricky Rubio just the other day to a blown ACL, this Cavs team will have to play without some key talents for a majority of the season.
They hope to see Darius Garland back on the court soon which will help, and if Kevin Love can keep this level of play, things may sort themselves out.
Upcoming Schedule: 1/04 vs Grizzlies, 1/07 @ Trail Blazers, 1/09 @ Warriors
12. Charlotte Hornets (19-18) (-1)
The Hornets had their three-game win streak snapped after their blowout loss to the Suns, but if there’s any silver lining its that LaMelo Ball is continuing to show improvement in his sophomore season. Ball’s scoring almost 20 points per game, while grabbing an average of seven rebounds and dishing out seven assists at the same time. A lot of the Hornet’s future depends on the growth of Ball, and things are pointed in the right direction as of now.
Upcoming Schedule: 01/03 @ Wizards, 01/05 vs Pistons, 01/08 vs Bucks
13. Los Angeles Lakers (19-19) (+5)
After winning three of their last four (thanks to LeBron James-esque performances from…well…LeBron James) the Lakers have slid into the top half of the league in this week’s power rankings. With Anthony Davis out likely until late Januray, Lakers coach Frank Vogel has expressed his interest in starting LeBron James at Center until Davis’ return–and even after his return. Maybe the change in position will light a spark under James’ shoes, and hopefully its enough to string together a few more wins.
Upcoming Schedule: 01/04 vs Kings, 01/07 vs Hawks, 01/09 vs Grizzlies
14. Los Angeles Clippers (19-18) (-1)
Still recovering from the news that they will be without Paul George for at least a month due to an elbow injury, the Clippers are going to have to dig deep if they want to remain relevant in the Western Conference playoff picture. They’ve done a good job of it recently, winning two of their last three, but a though schedule ahead of them should lead to some harsher matchups.
Upcoming Schedule: 01/03 vs Timberwolves, 01/06 @ Suns, 01/08 vs Grizzlies, 01/09 vs Hawks
15. Dallas Mavericks (18-18) (-1)
The Mavericks managed to go 5-5 during Luka Doncic’s absence which, all things considered, is pretty darn good. With Luka back the Mav’s will look to get some games back and make moves towards the top of the Western Conference.
Upcoming Schedule: 01/03 vs Nuggets, 01/05 vs Warriors, 01/07 @ Rockets, 01/09 vs Bulls
Here's How the Rest of the League Stands:
16. Boston Celtics (18-19) (-)
17. Washington Wizards (18-18) (-2)
18. Toronto Raptors (16-17) (+5)
19. Minnesota Timberwolves (16-20) (-2)
20. New York Knicks (17-20) (-1)
21. Atlanta Hawks (16-19) (-1)
22. Sacramento Kings (16-22) (+4)
23. San Antonio Spurs (14-21) (-2)
24. Oklahoma City Thunder (13-23) (+1)
25. New Orleans Pelicans (13-23) (+2)
26. Indianapolis Pacers (14-23) (-2)
27. Portland Trail Blazers (13-22) (-5)
28. Houston Rockets (10-27) (-)
29. Orlando Magic (7-30) (-)
30. Detroit Pistons (6-28) (-)