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
|4||Golden State Warriors||2|
|14||Los Angeles Clippers||16|
|16||New Orleans Pelicans||20|
|20||Los Angeles Lakers||19|
|23||New York Knicks||22|
|24||San Antonio Spurs||24|
|25||Portland Trail Blazers||25|
|29||Oklahoma City Thunder||28|