As we come back from the All-Star break, the 2022-23 NBA season is already 72% complete with teams having an average of just 23 games left to play. That’s not a lot, and 23 games on the schedule doesn’t mean teams will have 23 games with a fully healthy rotation.
Given the parity of this season – there are nine teams within two games of .500 – there’s probably more urgency across the league than we usually have at this time. LeBron James said this weekend that the Lakers’ remaining schedule is “23 of the most important games of my career, for a regular season.”
And given all the movement we saw at the trade deadline, there are also a lot of teams (James’ Lakers included) that need to integrate important new pieces on the fly. The biggest of those pieces, of course, is the Phoenix Suns’ Kevin Durant, who isn’t the only All-Star who will be coming back from injury in the coming weeks.
The Milwaukee Bucks are one of the teams who hope their star isn’t out too long. But as they come back from the break, the Bucks are still riding a 12-game winning streak, and they’re back in the No. 1 spot in the Power Rankings for the first time since they were 9-0.
Plus-Minus Players of the Week
- Right Way: Jalen Brunson (NYK) was a plus-45 in two games last week.
- Wrong Way: Patrick Williams (CHI) was a minus-57 in three games last week.
Teams of the Week
- Make It Last Forever: New York (2-0) — The Knicks went into the break with wins over the Nets and Hawks by a total of 37 points.
- Something Just Ain’t Right: Atlanta (0-2) — Before getting clobbered by the Knicks, the Hawks lost in Charlotte.
East vs. West
- The East is 183-166 (.524) against the West in interconference games after going 5-3 in Week 18.
Schedule strength through Week 18
- Toughest: 1. Detroit, 2. Charlotte, 3. Houston
- Easiest: 1. Philadelphia, 2. Sacramento, 3. Denver
- Schedule strength is based on cumulative opponent record, and adjusted for home vs. away and days of rest before a game.
Movement in the Rankings
- High jumps of the week: LA Clippers (+4), New York (+4), Phoenix (+4), Washington (+4)
- Free falls of the week: Miami (-6), Atlanta (-3), Five teams (-2)
Week 19 Team to Watch
- Denver — The first-place Nuggets have six games remaining within the top six in the West, and two of those six games are this weekend. First, they’ll open their post-break schedule with a game in Cleveland on Thursday. Then they’ll be in Memphis (where the Grizzlies are 24-5) on Saturday, and they’ll be back in Denver to host the surging Clippers 24 hours later.
Previous Power Rankings
- Thursday’s notebook: Key stats on every 2023 All-Star
- This time last year: Top 10 sees shake-up as season resumes after break — The NBA celebrated its 75th Anniversary Team, Stephen Curry scored 50 points and won All-Star MVP, Obi Toppin won the Dunk Contest, and Karl-Anthony Towns won the 3-point Contest. The Suns had seven fewer losses than every other team, but Chris Paul was set to miss a month with an injured thumb after playing in all 58 games before the break. James Harden was set to make his debut with the Sixers, but it wasn’t clear if Ben Simmons would be ready in Brooklyn. Gregg Popovich was two wins from tying Don Nelson atop the all-time wins list for coaches, Giannis Antetokounmpo dropped 50 on the Pacers, and Monte Morris beat the Warriors at the buzzer.
- The archive: NBA.com Power Rankings
OffRtg: Points scored per 100 possessions (League Rank)
DefRtg: Points allowed per 100 possessions (League Rank)
NetRtg: Point differential per 100 possessions (League Rank)
Pace: Possessions per 48 minutes (League Rank)
The league has averaged 113.7 points scored per 100 possessions and 99.8 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes this season.
NBA.com’s Power Rankings, released every Monday during the season, are just one man’s opinion. If you have an issue with the rankings, or have a question or comment for John Schuhmann, send him an e-mail or contact him via Twitter.