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Power Rankings

NBA Power Rankings: Week 26

by Tommy Beer
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

With the 2017-18 NBA regular season wrapping up on Wednesday, this will be the final ‘Power Rankings’ column. I've thoroughly enjoyed working up these rankings each week, and I hope you guys have enjoyed reading them. With that in mind, please let me know if there is anything you would like to see changed or tweaked when we resume the rankings next season. Please feel free to email me (tsbeer7@gmail.com) or shoot me a DM on Twitter (@Tommy Beer).

 

Now, let’s get to business:
1. Houston Rockets
2017-18 record: 64-16
The Rockets had their 20-game home winning streak snapped on Saturday night when they lost to Oklahoma City. It was also just the third time Houston lost a game in which James Harden, Chris Paul and Clint Capela were all available. The Rockets are now 40-3 this season with their 'Big Three' in the same lineup together.

2. Toronto Raptors
2017-18 record: 58-22
The regular season hasn’t wrapped up the way the Raps would have liked (Toronto is just 5-5 over their last five games), but they have locked up the top overall seed in the Eastern Conference and are ready to move on to the playoffs. The postseason is where the Raptors team will be judged. Can they finally break through and dethrone King James?

3. Golden State Warriors
2017-18 record: 58-23
The Warriors had lost two in a row, and five of their last eight, before beating up on the Suns Sunday night. With Stephen Curry (knee) sidelined, Golden State will need the remaining Splash Brother, Klay Thompson, to step up in the first round of the playoffs. Thompson looked locked in on Sunday, scoring 22 points in the first quarter and finishing with 34 for the game.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers
2017-18 record: 49-31
LeBron James has led the Cavs in point and assists in each of Cleveland’s last 25 games. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that is the longest such streak by any player in NBA history, surpassing Nate Archibald’s 24-game streak spanning the 1971-72 and 1972-73 seasons.

5. Philadelphia 76ers
2017-18 record: 50-30
The Sixers extended their winning streak to 14 games with a victory over the Mavericks on Sunday. The 14 consecutive victories match a franchise record. Philadelphia also secured it 50th win of the season in the process. It’s the first time Philly has won 50 games in a season since Allen Iverson took them to the NBA Finals in 2000-01. During this current 14-game run, Ben Simmons is averaging 14.7 points, 10.1 rebounds, 10.9 assists and 2.0 steals, while shooting a scorching 61.1 percent from the floor. He's the first player in NBA history to average a triple-double during a winning streak of more than 12 games.

 

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6. Utah Jazz
2017-18 record: 47-33
The Jazz clinched a playoff spot on Sunday, holding the Lakers under 100 points in the victory over L.A. Utah has been the NBA’s best defensive team (by far) since Rudy Gobert returned to action following a knee injury in mid-January. The Jazz are 36-18 with Gobert in the lineup this season, and are just 11-15 without him.

7. Boston Celtics
2017-18 record: 54-26
Celtics fans received some devastating news last week when it was announced that Kyrie Irving needed to undergo surgery to remove two screws implanted in his patella from an injury suffered during the 2015 NBA Finals. Irving is expected to be sidelined for 4-5 months. The C’s will be forced to enter the playoffs without either of their two huge offseason acquisitions, Kyrie and Gordon Hayward. They’ll also be without Marcus Smart (thumb) for at least the first round.

8. Portland Trail Blazers
2017-18 record: 48-32
The Blazers had a chance to lock up home-court in the first round of the playoffs on Saturday night, but lost to the Spurs in San Antonio. It was the third straight loss for Portland. They play the Nuggets in Denver on Monday and then host the Jazz on Wednesday on the final day of the regular season.

9. Indiana Pacers
2017-18 record: 48-33
The Pacers will most likely finish with the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference. However, they still have an outside shot at winning the Central Division and earning homecourt in the first round. In order to do so, Indiana needs to beat the Hornets on Tuesday and have Cleveland lose it’s final two games. However, Cleveland's last two contests are against the Knicks.

10. San Antonio Spurs
2017-18 record: 46-34
The Spurs snapped a two-game losing streak by beating the Blazers on Saturday. It was their 10th straight win at home. With a victory over the Kings in San Antonio on Monday night, the Spurs can clinch a postseason berth. Incredibly, it would be the 21st straight season they have advanced to the playoffs.

 

11. Oklahoma City Thunder
2017-18 record: 46-34
Russell Westbrook enters the final week of the season averaging 25.6 points, 10.1 assists and 9.9 rebounds per game on the season. He needs to tally a total of 12 dimes and 34 boards over the Thunder’s final two games to average a triple-double for the second straight season. Even if he falls a few short, I guess 25/10/9.9 is still a decent final stat line.

12. New Orleans Pelicans
2017-18 record: 46-34
The middle of the Western Conference playoff picture is a jumbled mess, with the Pelicans, Spurs and Thunder all tied with identical 46-34 records. New Orleans’ closes out its season by taking on the Clippers Monday night on Los Angeles, and hosting the Spurs on Wednesday.

13. Minnesota Timberwolves
2017-18 record: 45-35
The Wolves host the Grizzlies on Monday and will look to avenge an embarrassing loss to Memphis from two weeks earlier. Fortunately, Minnesota will have star swingman Jimmy Butler in the lineup this time. Butler (knee) returned to game action on Friday's against the Lakers and finished with 18 points, two rebounds, one assist and four steals over 23 minutes.

14. Denver Nuggets
2017-18 record: 45-35
The Nuggets pulled into a virtual tie with the Timberwolves for the eighth and final spot in the West with a win over the Clippers on Sunday. However, Minnesota holds the tie-breaker over Denver. The Nuggets host Portland on Monday, and then end the season in Minneapolis on Wednesday night. A playoff berth could very well be on the line in that game.

15. Miami Heat
2017-18 record: 43-37
If Josh Richardson can somehow tally seven steals (and two assists) over Miami’s final two games, he’ll become just the fourth player in NBA history with at least 225 assists, 125 made 3-pointers, 125 steals and 75 blocks in one season.

16. Milwaukee Bucks
2017-18 record: 43-37
Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks in 2016-17. However, he’s “only” leading the team in points, boards and dimes this season. Eric Bledsoe has more steals, and John Henson has blocked two more shots.

17. Washington Wizards
2017-18 record: 42-38
The Wizards are veering off the track at precisely the wrong time. Washington has lost four straight games, capped off by an embarrassing loss to the Hawks at home on Friday night. Coach Scott Brooks called the Wizards a “selfish” team. When asked about his coach's comments on Sunday, center Marcin Gortat said: “I agree completely.” The Wiz face the Celtics on Tuesday and still have a chance to move up into the seventh seed to take on Boston in round one.

18. LA Clippers
2017-18 record: 42-38
The Clippers have lost four of their last five games were eliminated from playoff contention on Sunday afternoon when they lost to the Nuggets at home. The Clippers had qualified for the playoffs in six consecutive seasons. The last time they had to watch the postseason from their living rooms was 2011.

19. Detroit Pistons
2017-18 record: 38-42
Andre Drummond has recorded a double-double in 33 of the Pistons last 35 contests. Over this 35-game stretch, he’s averaging over 17 rebounds and just under 16 points per game, to go along with 2.2 blocks. Drummond won’t win the NBA's Most Improved Player award this season, but he deserves some love considering the progression he’s made in 2017-18.

20. Los Angeles Lakers
2017-18 record: 34-46
Kyle Kuzma (ankle) and Lonzo Ball (knee) sat out both of the Lakers games over the weekend. L.A. has just two games remaining on their schedule (Tuesday vs. the Rockets and Wednesday vs. the Clippers), which means we may have seen the last of the Lakers two up-and-coming rookies this season.

21. Charlotte Hornets
2017-18 record: 35-46
As the Hornets wrap up a disappointing season, owner Michael Jordan announced on Sunday that he had hired former Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak as Charlotte's new President of Basketball Operations and General Manager. The Hornets have a underperforming roster overflowing with unfavorable contracts, so Kupchak will have his hands full. His first order of business is deciding whether to trade away Kemba Walker and attempt a full-scale rebuild, or sign Walker to an extension and re-tool around him.

22. Brooklyn Nets
2017-18 record: 27-53
The Nets have not been near the top of the NBA leaderboard in many categories the past few years, but they have knocked down the second most 3-pointers in the league this season. The Nets nailed a total of 24 treys in their win over the Bulls on Saturday night. The all-time record for most made triples in one game is 25, set by the Cavs last season. Brooklyn has also hit double-double treys in 15 straight games, a franchise record.

23. New York Knicks
2017-18 record: 28-52
With Tim Hardaway Jr. (knee) sidelined, Damyean Dotson has seen some extra playing time, and he’s looked impressive. Over New York’s last two games, Dotson has tallied a total of 41 points (on 58.6 percent shooting), 14 rebounds, five 3-pointers and four steals. He’ll have a chance to earn a spot in the Knicks rotation next season.

24. Sacramento Kings
2017-18 record: 26-54
The Kings are the only team in the NBA this season without at least one player averaging 15-plus points per game. Zach Randolph, who leads the team in scoring, is averaging 14.5 points per contest.

25. Chicago Bulls
2017-18 record: 27-53
Lauri Markkanen is just the 11th player in NBA history to average at least 15 points, seven rebounds and two made 3-pointers per game. He the first rookie to ever accomplish this feat.

26. Dallas Mavericks
2017-18 record: 24-57
The Mavs have lost three straight games and six of their last seven. Sunday’s loss to the Sixers ensured that Dallas would finish inside the top-four in the lottery standings, and they still have a chance to finish with the third worst record in the league.

27. Atlanta Hawks
2017-18 record: 24-57
The Hawks have won two straight, and Taurean Prince is closing out his sophomore season in fine fashion. Prince poured in 33 points in Sunday’s victory against the Celtics and, over Atlanta’s past three games, he is averaging 25.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 3.7 triples and 1.3 steals, while shooting 57.1 percent from the floor, including 52.4 percent from behind the arc, and is a perfect 9-of-9 on his freebies.

28. Orlando Magic
2017-18 record: 24-56
How can you tell that a team is tanking? Jamel Artis leads the Magic in total minutes played (124) over Orlando’s last four games.

29. Memphis Grizzlies
2017-18 record: 22-58
The Grizzlies snapped a four-game losing streak on Sunday behind another strong effort from MarShon Brooks. Memphis signed Brooks to a multi-year contract last month after the former first-round pick spend three seasons in China. He’s played five games for the Grizz and, remarkably, Brooks has scored over 20 points in each of those contests. He is averaging 23.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.6 turnovers in just 27.6 minutes, while shooting 57.9 percent from the floor, 61.5 percent from downtown and 87.5 percent from the charity stripe.

30. Phoenix Suns
2017-18 record: 20-61
The Suns lost their 61st game of the season on Sunday night. That means they will finish with the NBA’s worst record in 2017-18. Considering all the teams that were dedicated to tanking this season, that’s quite an accomplishment. The Suns have never had the top overall pick in the draft, but will have a 25 percent chance at winning the lottery, which will be held on May 15th.