NBA Rankings:

NBA Rankings

The NBA’s ranking first-ever in-season competition is almost over; on Thursday, the Western and Eastern semifinals will take place. However, the regular season carries on as clubs want to end 2023 with a bang and start the new year strong NBA ranking. NBA Rankings: The Oklahoma City Thunder, powered by All-Star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and rookie…

The NBA’s ranking first-ever in-season competition is almost over; on Thursday, the Western and Eastern semifinals will take place. However, the regular season carries on as clubs want to end 2023 with a bang and start the new year strong NBA ranking.

NBA Rankings:
NBA Rankings:

NBA Rankings:

The Oklahoma City Thunder, powered by All-Star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and rookie Chet Holmgren, have jumped into the top 5 this week. Furthermore, the Boston Celtics have not yet lost their Eastern Conference title despite the ongoing upheaval in the Western Conference.

Not far behind are the Indiana Pacers and Orlando Magic. Tyrese Haliburton, who is second in the league in three-pointers made (4.0) and has had a breakout season in assists (11.9). The Milwaukee Bucks and the Pacers will play each other On Saturday in Las Vegas, the New Orleans Pelicans and Los Angeles Lakers will square off to see who advances to the in-season tournament championship.

Boston Celtics

Previous ranking: 1

Next games: vs. CLE (Dec. 12)

The in-season tournament was expected to be won by Boston, but Tyrese Haliburton, the rising star, put on an incredible second half effort on Monday night that caused them to lose. The Celtics will now have a few days off from playing before hosting the Knicks at home on Friday. The one bright spot is that Boston, which leads the East and is ranked in the top 10 in terms of both offense and defense, will play its home games over the next few weeks before traveling to the West later this month. — Tim Bontemps.

Minnesota Timberwolves

2023-24 record: 15-4

Next games: vs. SA (Dec. 6), @ MEM (Dec. 8), @ NO (Dec. 11)

Despite Anthony Edwards missing the previous two games due to a hip injury, the Wolves are leading the Western Conference and have the best record in the NBA. Additionally, they are enjoying a four-game winning run. Edwards has been involved in practice for the last two days, and according to coach Chris Finch, he is likely to play against San Antonio on Wednesday. Only the Celtics, Thunder, and Sixers are higher in net rating than Minnesota, which leads the NBA in both defense and scoring.

Denver Nuggets

2023-24 record: 14-7

Next games: @ LAC (Dec. 6), vs. HOU (Dec. 8), @ ATL (Dec. 11), @ CHI (Dec. 12)

After playing five games in seven nights last week, the champions received some much-needed break, but all they need to do now is get well. After missing 11 games in a row due to a hamstring ailment, Jamal Murray made a comeback versus Houston but has since missed two games due to an ankle injury. In contrast, Nikola Jokic has been utterly dominant in terms of assists (9.8), rebounds (12.8), and points (29). Given that three of their next four games are away, and Murray’s comeback is still uncertain, they will need to rely on him going forward.

Oklahoma City Thunder

2023-24 record: 13-6

Next games: @ HOU (Dec. 6), vs. GS (Dec. 8), vs. UTAH (Dec. 11)

The only NBA club to rank in the top five in both offense and defense is Oklahoma City, which currently sits fifth in the league overall. With the second-highest overall plus-minus in the NBA (plus-163), Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has emerged as an early MVP candidate, and OKC’s net rating (plus-8.4) is only a tenth of a point behind Boston’s for league best.

Milwaukee Bucks

2023-24 record: 14-6

Next games: vs. CHI (Dec. 11)

The Bucks are now the greatest clutch squad in the NBA after Damian Lillard joined the team. Milwaukee has the highest net rating in the league and has won nine clutch games, which are games decided in overtime or during the last five minutes of the fourth quarter when the score is within five points. With an astounding plus-41 in 49 minutes, Lillard leads the NBA in clutch plus-minus. The Bucks defeated the Heat and Hawks last week thanks to their calmness in the closing minutes, and they will benefit from it on Thursday when they play the Pacers.

Philadelphia 76ers

2023-24 record: 12-7

Next games: @ WAS (Dec. 6), vs. ATL (Dec. 8), vs. WAS (Dec. 11)

Among the clubs eliminated from the in-season competition, Philadelphia emerged as a major winner, securing a road match against Washington and a home match against Atlanta. Beyond that, the 76ers will be able to regroup during the few days off between their loss to Boston on Friday and their game against the Washington Wizards on Wednesday. Tyrese Maxey and Joel Embiid will have recovered from last week’s illness, and Kelly Oubre Jr. will be starting for the first time since his hit-and-run accident last month.

Phoenix Suns

2023-24 record: 12-9

Next games: vs. GS (Dec. 12)

There’s no denying Kevin Durant and Devin Booker’s chemistry—it’s evident in everything from how well they compliment each other’s skills during media conferences to how well they get along off the court. With Booker’s help, Durant is hitting an incredible 81% on 3-pointers, which is a major contributor to the Suns’ eighth-ranked offense.

Orlando Magic

2023-24 record: 14-6

Next games: @ CLE (Dec. 6), vs. DET (Dec. 8), vs. CLE (Dec. 11)

As the Magic’s sixth man, Cole Anthony has been accustomed to his role and has contributed significantly to their nine-game winning run, scoring in double digits in eight of those games and at least twenty points in three of his past four. Despite only having five games from Wendell Carter Jr. and Markelle Fultz due to injuries, Orlando managed to secure a 14-6 record. However, Anthony and Mo Wagner, the backup center (13.1 points per game), have stepped up, and the squad hasn’t let up. A league-best 47.3 points are being averaged by Orlando’s bench.

New York Knicks

2023-24 record: 12-8

Next games: vs. TOR (Dec. 11)

When New York defeated Charlotte last week to get to the in-season tournament, it was ecstatic. The prize is two road games against the top two teams in the Eastern Conference heading into the season, in Milwaukee and Boston. After losing to the Bucks on Tuesday, the Knicks, who had won seven of their previous nine games, will now have to play 40 home games against as tough of opponents as possible.

Indiana Pacers

2023-24 record: 11-8

Next games: @ DET (Dec. 11)

With an unexpected victory over the Celtics on Monday, Indiana extended its unbeaten in-season tournament run and advanced to the tournament quarterfinals in Las Vegas. Tyrese Haliburton, who is off to one of the greatest starts in the league, led his club with his first career triple-double (26 points, 10 rebounds, and 13 assists with zero turnovers). With an average of 26.9 points, 11.9 assists, and 52% shooting, he is the first player in NBA history to record a 25–10 season while shooting 50%.

Sacramento Kings

2023-24 record: 11-8

Next games: vs. BKN (Dec. 11), @ LAC (Dec. 12)

The Kings’ in-season tournament run came to an end on Monday night when they lost to the Pelicans after blowing an early lead. Despite this setback, they have been winning games, especially against the Wolves and Nuggets, and are currently fifth in the tough Western Conference. Their consistency is a problem on both ends of the floor. When they triumph, they appear as though they could defeat anyone. But that’s a very other squad when they lose.

Miami Heat

2023-24 record: 11-9

Next games: @ TOR (Dec. 6), vs. CLE (Dec. 8), @ CHAR (Dec. 11)

Jimmy Butler scored thirty points in back-to-back games against the Pacers last week to emphasize his comeback after a two-game layoff. Butler is most effective for Miami when he is getting to the free throw line; on Saturday, he was 18 of 20. When Butler makes at least ten free throws this season, the Heat are 3-0; when he makes ten attempts from the charity line in the previous campaign, the Heat were 16-8.

Dallas Mavericks

2023-24 record: 11-8

Next games: vs. UTAH (Dec. 6), @ POR (Dec. 8), @ MEM (Dec. 11), vs. LAL (Dec. 12)

Moving forward The Mavs’ biggest free agent acquisition, Grant Williams, is in a rut following an explosive shooting debut during his time in Dallas. Williams is 7-of-31 (22.6%) from long range in the previous six games, four of which were defeats, after shooting 48% on threes in the first thirteen games. The three days off before the home game against the Jazz on Wednesday may be beneficial. For the first time in his career, Williams is a full-time starter, and his 28.8 minutes per game mark a career best.

New Orleans Pelicans

2023-24 record: 12-10

Next games: vs. MIN (Dec. 11)

Herbert Jones recorded his first career 20-point, five-assist, and five-rebound performance in the Pelicans’ quarterfinals matchup with the Kings. The Pelicans are at their best when Jones is involved on the offensive line. With Trey Murphy III back, Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, CJ McCollum, and Jones, the offense is a significant plus for New Orleans, which is 5-1 this year when Jones scores at least 15 points.

Los Angeles Lakers

2023-24 record: 13-9

Next games: @ DAL (Dec. 12)

With 15 of his 31 points coming in the fourth quarter, LeBron James helped the Lakers defeat the Suns on Tuesday and secure their trip to Las Vegas for their team’s matchup with the Pelicans in the in-season tournament semifinals. Regarding his performance in his 21st season, James stated, “I want to continue to defy the odds, continue to have this battle with Father Time that for so long has, everybody said, been undefeated.” “So, I’m trying to give him one loss.”

Brooklyn Nets

2023-24 record: 10-9

Next games: @ ATL (Dec. 6), vs. WAS (Dec. 8), @ SAC (Dec. 11)

Brooklyn boasts one of the most peculiar statistics in the NBA this season—leading the league in rebounds per game with 48.2 boards per game—which has allowed them to stay in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. The Brooklyn Nets are renowned for playing small, interchangeable lines; Nic Claxton and Ben Simmons have both missed significant portions of the season; and the team finished 29th the previous year. However, Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn stated before the season that the team wanted to improve on the boards, and so far, the league has seen one of the largest turnarounds in any one metric.

Cleveland Cavaliers

2023-24 record: 11-9

Next games: vs. ORL (Dec. 6), @ MIA (Dec. 8), @ ORL (Dec. 11), @ BOS (Dec. 12)

Let’s discuss about the Cavaliers’ offensive system. or absence of it. Under coach J.B. Bickerstaff, Cleveland has developed a strong defense over the past several seasons; it presently ranks eighth in defense, while the offense has faltered. The Cavaliers are 23rd in offensive efficiency and 25th in points per game this season. Despite his 27.1 point per game average, Donovan Mitchell cannot lead the Cavaliers by himself. They will face two of the top-10 defenses in the next five games, the Magic and the Celtics.

LA Clippers

2023-24 record: 9-10

Next games: vs. DEN (Dec. 6), @ UTAH (Dec. 8), vs. POR (Dec. 11), vs. SAC (Dec. 12)

The Clippers are still experiencing the ups and downs that they have since trading for James Harden. Following their worst defeat of the year last Monday against a Nuggets club without Aaron Gordon, Jamal Murray, or Nikola Jokic, they bounced back with a victory in Sacramento that gave Ty Lue what he termed “the blueprint” for how the Clippers should play. Harden, Kawhi Leonard, and Paul George alternated in attacking the defense with well-balanced shot distribution during the 131-117 victory over the Kings. They were defeated by Golden State the next night, but they came back home and stunned the Warriors last Saturday by rallying from a 22-point deficit, capped by George’s game-winning three with 9.2 seconds remaining. The Clippers experienced a crucial a three-day vacation before beginning a difficult 10-game run on Wednesday at home against the reigning champions.

Golden State Warriors

2023-24 record: 9-11

Next games: vs. POR (Dec. 6), @ OKC (Dec. 8), @ PHX (Dec. 12)

The product that the Warriors are putting on the floor is difficult to be enthusiastic about. They lost their last game against the Clippers, blowing a 22-point lead and letting up the game-winning 3-pointer with 9.2 seconds remaining, after blowing a 24-point lead against the Kings on Tuesday. Nevertheless, they recovered with a narrow victory over the Clippers. They need Stephen Curry to perform like a miracle since Chris Paul’s recovery is uncertain. Despite his great powers and ability to work magic, he urgently needs assistance.

Houston Rockets

2023-24 record: 8-9

Next games : vs. OKC (Dec. 6), @ DEN (Dec. 8), vs. SA (Dec. 11)

The Rockets are still the only club in the NBA without a road victory. Houston’s road losing skid to begin a season is tied for second longest in team history at 0–8. Based on analysis from ESPN Stats & Information, only the 2021–22 club had a longer road losing streak (11 games) to begin the season. The main issue is that the Rockets’ defense hasn’t played well. Houston is 8-1 at home and gives up 118.8 points per 100 possessions while playing on the road.

Atlanta Hawks

2023-24 record: 9-10

Next games: vs. BKN (Dec. 6), @ PHI (Dec. 8), vs. DEN (Dec. 11)

Trae Young’s play has shown indications of improvement on both ends of the court. In the last two years, he has led the NBA in assists per game with an average of a career-high 10.7, and he has reduced his turnovers. Young is averaging a career-high 1.6 steals per game, while his turnover percentage of 13.7% is the lowest of his career. Even yet, the Hawks are still very much in the running for a play-in spot, despite a challenging next two weeks.

Toronto Raptors

2023-24 record: 9-11

Next games: vs. MIA (Dec. 6), @ CHAR (Dec. 8), @ NY (Dec. 11)

Dennis Schroder’s statement to reporters in Toronto on Tuesday, “The next 20 games are going to show who we really are,” summed up the Raptors’ current situation. For the squad, the following twenty games will be crucial.” This seemed like an acknowledgment that the Raptors needed to start getting better or that changes could be on the way for a team that needs to make a decision and is currently sitting outside of the play-in mix in the East.

Utah Jazz

2023-24 record: 7-13

Next games: @ DAL (Dec. 6), vs. LAC (Dec. 8), @ OKC (Dec. 11)

Some optimism is present. Lauri Markkanen, an All-Star forward, may make a comeback this week from his hamstring injury, but the Jazz have won three of the five games he has missed. During that time, Simone Fontecchio averaged 11.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 3.2 assists. He frequently guarded the top wing scorer for the opposition. A real wing amid an otherwise crowded Jazz lineup dominated by big players and combo guards is Fontecchio. Could Fontecchio remain in the starting lineup so that 7-foot Markkanen may play power forward, as that is his natural position? That would entail relegating well-performing veteran John Collins to a sixth man role.

Chicago Bulls

2023-24 record: 7-14

Next games: vs. CHAR (Dec. 6), @ SA (Dec. 8), @ MIL (Dec. 11)

For the first time this season, the Bulls have triumphed against the Bucks and Pelicans in back-to-back games. The Bulls had two of their finest games of the season despite the absence of guard Zach LaVine. They had a season-high 32 assists in each game, which ignited a lackluster offensive flow. With LaVine anticipated to miss the next two games due to a foot ailment, the Bulls will seek to continue their winning run when they play the lowly Hornets and Spurs. They will rely on DeMar DeRozan (21.5 PPG) and Nikola Vucevic (10 RPG).

Charlotte Hornets

2023-24 record: 6-12

Next games: @ CHI (Dec. 6), vs. TOR (Dec. 8), vs. MIA (Dec. 11)

The good: Without the injured LaMelo Ball, Charlotte won 129–128 in Brooklyn last week. On Saturday, they led four points against a fast-rising Minnesota team with just five minutes remaining. With Ball out, Terry Rozier is taking up the load. He finished with 23 points, 7 assists, and 6 rebounds against the Wolves and 37 points and 13 assists in the victory over the Nets. Since his return from suspension, Miles Bridges has averaged 20.5 points and seven rebounds, which has also been a help. The less than ideal? They now rank dead last on defense and are ranked 12th in the East.

Portland Trail Blazers

2023-24 record: 6-13

Next games: @ GS (Dec. 6), vs. DAL (Dec. 8), @ LAC (Dec. 11)

The Trail Blazers’ young players are still fascinating, which is excellent news. Scoot Henderson scored a career-high 17 points in 21 minutes on Sunday, while Shaedon Sharpe combined for 54 points across two games. Although they have won most of their games against weaker offensive teams, their 10th-ranked defense should give them hope that their defensive approach is effective, especially after their victory against Indiana.

Memphis Grizzlies

2023-24 record: 5-14

Next games: @ DET (Dec. 6), vs. MIN (Dec. 8), vs. DAL (Dec. 11)

Desmond Bane is averaging career-highs of 23.8 points and 5.2 assists per game for the Grizzlies, a squad beset by injuries. His true shooting percentage is a career-low 57.3% as a result of his decreased effectiveness and the attention of the defense during Ja Morant’s ban, which is set to expire in six games. Bane feels that this experience has helped him grow as a person. “When he comes back, obviously he’s going to be the head of attention and that’ll take some stress off of me,” Bane stated to ESPN. “But if for some reason defenses do throw out different coverages, I’ll be prepared.”

San Antonio Spurs

2023-24 record: 3-16

Next games: @ MIN (Dec. 6), vs. CHI (Dec. 8), @ HOU (Dec. 11)

The Spurs are on the verge of breaking the franchise record for the most straight defeats for the second straight season. The Spurs lost a record 16 straight games from January 20 to February 28 of the 2022–2023 season. The Spurs of this season have now dropped 14 straight games following their defeat to New Orleans on Friday. It will be difficult to avoid, though, as they will need to upset the Chicago Bulls and former Spur DeMar DeRozan at home on Friday, or they must defeat Minnesota, the club with the best record in the Western Conference.

Washington Wizards

2023-24 record: 3-16

Next games: vs. PHI (Dec. 6), @ BKN (Dec. 8), @ PHI (Dec. 11)

Even though it’s just December, Kyle Kuzma has already seen enough to predict the Wizards’ season-long problems. According to Kuzma, “We can’t guard a stop sign,” The Athletic said. In eight of the previous twelve games, Washington has given up 130 points and has lost eleven of them. The Wizards may be looking at yet another protracted losing skid after snapping a nine-game losing record last Monday with a victory against a poor Detroit team. Washington plays the Sixers at home before going to Brooklyn and Philadelphia after suffering back-to-back defeats against Orlando.

Detroit Pistons

2023-24 record: 2-18

Next games: vs. MEM (Dec. 6), @ ORL (Dec. 8), vs. IND (Dec. 11)

The Pistons’ current losing run now stands at 17 games. following Saturday’s tight defeat to the Cavaliers. Being the first club to do so since the 2015 Process-era Sixers, Detroit finished November without a victory. The Pistons’ next game, against Memphis (5-14), is their greatest opportunity to end this run before they play a string of games that includes Orlando, Indiana, Philadelphia (twice), and Milwaukee.

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