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NBA Power Rankings: East heavyweights rise while West contenders falter

Chinmay Vaidya updates his 2022 NBA power rankings.

Phoenix Suns v Milwaukee Bucks
Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks talk during a tv timeout in the second half against the Phoenix Suns at Fiserv Forum on March 06, 2022 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Phoenix Suns 132-122.
Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The All-Star break has done some weird things to the 2021-22 NBA season, and the return of some prominent players is set to upset the balance of power many more times at the tail end of the regular season.

For years, the Eastern Conference was LeBron James and the rest. James was so dominant even the best remaining teams didn’t have enough to deal with him. With The King out West, that dynamic has changed completely. The East is now loaded, especially at the top. The Miami Heat have remained a consistent threat all season despite the rotation shuffling, and now they might be getting Victor Oladipo back. The Philadelphia 76ers look legitimate with James Harden and Joel Embiid working together. And then, there’s the defending champions Milwaukee Bucks who have dispatched the Heat, Chicago Bulls and Phoenix Suns in their last three games. The Boston Celtics, who took care of Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets Sunday, appear to have figured out their issues. And those Nets will still be getting a key piece back when Ben Simmons returns to the floor.

The Suns are in a bit of turmoil at the moment with Devin Booker in COVID protocols and Chris Paul sidelined. They’re not the only West team dealing with issues. The Golden State Warriors saw James drop 56 on them Saturday in a loss to the Lakers, who have been inconsistent all year. Golden State is getting Draymond Green back soon, which should change things. The Utah Jazz have gotten wins, but also got demolished by the upstart New Orleans Pelicans. The Memphis Grizzlies are also coming in hot.

Here’s a look at the updated power rankings.

NBA Power Rankings: Week 20

Rank Team Previous Rank
Rank Team Previous Rank
1 Miami Heat 1
2 Milwaukee Bucks 5
3 Philadephia 76ers 4
4 Golden State Warriors 2
5 Memphis Grizzlies 7
6 Chicago Bulls 6
7 Phoenix Suns 3
8 Utah Jazz 8
9 Boston Celtics 12
10 Dallas Mavericks 9
11 Cleveland Cavaliers 11
12 Denver Nuggets 10
13 Minnesota Timberwolves 13
14 Los Angeles Clippers 16
15 Brooklyn Nets 15
16 New Orleans Pelicans 20
17 Toronto Raptors 14
18 Atlanta Hawks 17
19 Charlotte Hornets 18
20 Los Angeles Lakers 19
21 Washington Wizards 21
22 Indiana Pacers 23
23 New York Knicks 22
24 San Antonio Spurs 24
25 Portland Trail Blazers 25
26 Orlando Magic 29
27 Detroit Pistons 27
28 Sacramento Kings 26
29 Oklahoma City Thunder 28
30 Houston Rockets 30