Sáb. Mar 2nd, 2024

As we close in on the NBA trade deadline (Feb. 8, 3 p.m. ET) trade talks are beginning to heat up around the league.

With just over two weeks left until the deadline, the Miami Heat made a big move Tuesday, sending Kyle Lowry and a protected 2027 first-round pick to the Charlotte Hornets for guard Terry Rozier.

Just last week, the Indiana Pacers made a big move themselves, acquiring Pascal Siakam to pair with MVP candidate Tyrese Haliburton, as the Pacers try to rocket up the Eastern Conference standings.

Will any of it move the needle? Can these deals help Miami and Indiana chase down the NBA’s top contenders? Or will the Boston Celtics, Oklahoma City Thunder and Denver Nuggets continue to dominate their respective conferences?

Here’s where all 30 teams shake out this week.

Note: Throughout the regular season, our panel (Kendra Andrews, Tim Bontemps, Jamal Collier, Andrew Lopez, Tim MacMahon, Dave McMenamin and Ohm Youngmisuk) is ranking all 30 teams from top to bottom, taking stock of which teams are playing the best basketball and which teams are looking most like title contenders.

Previous rankings: Post-Finals | Nov. 1 | Nov. 8 | Nov. 15 | Nov. 22 | Nov. 29 | Dec. 6 | Dec. 13 | Dec. 20 | Dec. 27 | Jan. 3 | Jan. 10 | Jan. 17

Jump to a team:


1. Boston Celtics
2023-24 record: 34-10

  • Previous ranking: 1

  • Next games: @ MIA (Jan. 25), vs. LAC (Jan. 27), vs. NO (Jan. 29), vs. IND (Jan. 30)

Jayson Tatum is all but certain to be unveiled on Thursday night as one of the three starters in the Eastern Conference frontcourt in next month’s All-Star Game. Even though his numbers have dipped from last season, Tatum is more than deserving of the honor. He has played in almost every game and is averaging 27-8-4 for a Celtics team that ranks in the top five in both offense and defense. — Bontemps

2. Denver Nuggets
2023-24 record: 31-14

While Nikola Jokic continues to post MVP-like numbers, Jamal Murray has turned his play up in January. In search of his first All-Star berth, Murray is averaging 24 points and 7.1 assists, and shooting 49.2% from the floor with three 30-plus point performances this month. Murray has stiff competition at guard to make the Western Conference All-Star team, but if he has more scoring outbursts like his 35-point outing in a win at Boston on Friday and his 31-point performance against Indiana on Tuesday, he’ll make the coaches’ choices that much harder. — Youngmisuk

3. Oklahoma City Thunder
2023-24 record: 30-13

  • Previous ranking: 4

  • Next games: @ SA (Jan. 24), @ NO (Jan. 26), @ DET (Jan. 28), vs. MIN (Jan. 29)

In the Thunder’s 42nd game, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had his 30th 30-point performance of the season in Sunday’s win over the Timberwolves. It’s the fewest games needed to reach the mark by any player in SuperSonics/Thunder franchise history, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Only three SuperSonics/Thunder players had 25 30-point performances at this point: Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook during their respective MVP seasons and Gilgeous-Alexander a year ago. Oklahoma City is 23-8 when Gilgeous-Alexander scores at least 30 and 7-5 when he doesn’t. — MacMahon



Chet Holmgren’s clutch 3 headlines Thunder’s top plays of the week

A buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Chet Holmgren is among the top plays of the week for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

4. Philadelphia 76ers
2023-24 record: 29-13

  • Previous ranking: 8

  • Next games: @ IND (Jan. 25), @ DEN (Jan. 27), @ POR (Jan. 29), @ GS (Jan. 30)

Joel Embiid’s historic 70-point outburst Monday night against the Spurs not only fueled the league’s fifth-ranked offense, but continued Embiid’s torrid scoring pace for the season, increasing his margin of points scored (1,156) over minutes played (1,096) — something only Wilt Chamberlain has done in the history of the NBA over the course of a full season. — Bontemps



Joel Embiid paces Sixers in top plays of the week

Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey feature heavily in the top plays of the week from the Philadelphia 76ers.

5. Minnesota Timberwolves
2023-24 record: 30-13

  • Previous ranking: 2

  • Next games: @ WASH (Jan. 24), @ BKN (Jan. 25), @ SA (Jan. 27) , @ OKC (Jan. 29)

The Timberwolves have dropped back-to-back games, spoiling Karl-Anthony Towns’ franchise record 62-point game on Monday night with a loss to the Hornets that coach Chris Finch described as «a disgusting performance of defense and immature basketball.» Not a good look for Minnesota. Yet, they still own the No.1 defense in the NBA despite being overtaken by the Thunder for the top seed in the West. — Collier

6. Milwaukee Bucks
2023-24 record: 30-13

  • Previous ranking: 5

  • Next games: vs. CLE (Jan. 24), vs. CLE (Jan. 26), vs. NO (Jan. 27), @ DEN (Jan. 29)

Despite having one of the league’s top records through 43 games, the Bucks fired first-year head coach Adrian Griffin on Tuesday. Griffin went 30-13 (.698), the best record by a head coach to get dismissed during a season since the Cleveland Cavaliers fired David Blatt in 2015-16. Cleveland went on to hire Ty Lue and win the championship that season, a fate the Bucks — who will move quickly to hire their next head coach — are hoping to replicate. Among the chaos, Giannis Antetokounmpo posted his sixth triple-double of the season Monday — matching his total from last year and just one away from his career high (seven in 2020-21). — Collier

7. LA Clippers
2023-24 record: 28-14

Since losing six straight games in mid-November, the Clippers have been able to handle almost every obstacle that has come their way. They beat the Lakers on Tuesday behind Kawhi Leonard’s second career triple-double to improve to 28-7 since that losing skid. But now comes the annual Grammys trip, which begins Friday as the awards show takes over Crypto.com Arena for its Feb. 4 event. This year’s jaunt will span seven away games over 11 days, meaning the team will be on the road for a total of 13 days and play two sets of back-to-backs before returning home Feb. 6. The Clippers’ hot play over the past two months will be tested at Toronto, Boston, Cleveland, Washington, Detroit, Miami and Atlanta. — Youngmisuk



Kawhi Leonard’s big slam headlines Clippers’ top plays of the week

Kawhi Leonard has a beautiful slam dunk in the LA Clippers’ top plays from the past week.

8. Cleveland Cavaliers
2023-24 record: 26-15

The Cavs are on an eight-game winning streak that has rocketed them to fourth in the Eastern Conference standings, and one of those wins might have had something to do with the major shakeup in Milwaukee. On Wednesday, Cleveland beat the Bucks 135-95 while shooting 59.1% from the field and 42.9% from 3. Less than a week later, the Bucks dismissed head coach Adrian Griffin. The Cavs can perhaps do even more damage this week, tightening the three-game gap between them and the No. 2 Bucks as they’re set to face them twice in the next three nights. — McMenamin



Jarrett Allen’s big dunk headlines Cavs’ top plays

Check out the Cavaliers’ top plays of the week, including Jarrett Allen’s big dunk against the Hawks.

9. Phoenix Suns
2023-24 record: 25-18

  • Previous ranking: 15

  • Next games: @ DAL (Jan. 24), @ IND (Jan. 26), @ ORL (Jan. 28), @ MIA (Jan. 29)

It’s obvious that Phoenix’s offensive firepower from Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal is fueling the Suns’ six-game winning streak, but let’s give Jusuf Nurkic his flowers for the turnaround, too. Nurkic is averaging 12.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists and shooting 60.6% from the field. There were questions about whether Phoenix gave up on Deandre Ayton too soon after the Nurkic deal went down, but so far Nurkic has been crucial, appearing in 41 out of 43 games. — McMenamin



KD and Booker highlight Suns’ top plays of the week

Kevin Durant and Devin Booker get it done for some of the best plays from the Phoenix Suns this past week.

10. New York Knicks
2023-24 record: 27-17

  • Previous ranking: 12

  • Next games: vs. DEN (Jan. 25), vs. MIA (Jan. 27), @ CHA (Jan. 29), vs. UTA (Jan. 30)

Thanks to a last-second win over the Nets on Tuesday, the Knicks improved to 10-2 in January, which coincides with OG Anunoby’s Knicks debut. New York has the NBA’s second-best defense and its second-best net rating over that span. Anunoby, since joining the Knicks, is shooting 52.3% and averaging 14.9 points — both numbers that can only improve as he settles in with his new team. — Bontemps

11. Miami Heat
2023-24 record: 24-19

  • Previous ranking: 9

  • Next games: vs. MEM (Jan. 24), vs. BOS (Jan. 25), @ NY (Jan. 27), vs. PHX (Jan. 29)

Guard Terry Rozier should provide a boost to Miami’s lineup after being acquired in a trade Tuesday. Rozier is averaging a career-high 23.2 points and has recorded a 63% effective field goal percentage when taking a jump shot as the ball handler following an on-ball screen. That is the best in the NBA among players with 60-plus attempts, per Second Spectrum. — Lopez

12. New Orleans Pelicans
2023-24 record: 26-18

Since Dec. 31, Herbert Jones has seen quite the uptick in his 3-point shooting. Jones is shooting 56% (26-of-45) from distance in his past 12 games — the best amongst players with at least 40 three-point attempts in that stretch. Jones shot 33.7% and 33.5% in his first two seasons, but he’s up to 37.8% this season. Add this type of shooting to his all-world defense, and Jones will continue his ascension as one of the more intriguing two-way players. — Lopez

13. Dallas Mavericks
2023-24 record: 24-19

  • Previous ranking: 6

  • Next games: vs. PHX (Jan. 24), @ ATL (Jan. 26), vs. SAC (Jan. 27), vs. ORL (Jan. 29)

The struggles of forward Grant Williams — whom the Mavs gave a four-year, $53 million contract in a sign-and-trade deal — are a significant concern in Dallas, losers of three of four. After getting off to a sizzling start, Williams has shot 36.2% from the floor and 27.7% from 3-point range over the past two months, losing his starting job and dealing with ankle and knee injuries during that span. Williams, who has earned a reputation as a solid 3-and-D role player, hasn’t had a positive impact on the defensive end, either. Dallas has allowed 120.0 points per 100 possessions with Williams on the floor over the past two months, compared to 109.8 without him. — MacMahon

14. Indiana Pacers
2023-24 record: 24-20

The Pacers haven’t had much time to get newly acquired forward Pascal Siakam acclimated playing next to Tyrese Haliburton. The two have played in only one game together, a loss against Portland, before Haliburton was sidelined again by a hamstring injury that cost him five games earlier this month. Indiana has dropped four of its past five games and will be without Haliburton for at least the next two games — against the Sixers on Thursday and Suns on Friday — before he is reevaluated Saturday. — Collier

15. Sacramento Kings
2023-24 record: 24-18

The Kings snapped their four-game losing streak with an uninspiring win over a struggling Atlanta team. Looking at the glass half full: Sacramento is still a strong offensive team — De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis are scoring a combined 47.4 points per game with Sabonis leading the team in assists (7.9) and the league in rebounds (12.8). Second-year forward Keegan Murray has also taken a step forward, shooting 46.8% with room to grow. — Andrews

16. Orlando Magic
2023-24 record: 23-21

Orlando has dropped six of its past eight games as it tries to avoid falling below .500. The Magic did get a boost Sunday with the return of Franz Wagner, who had not played since injuring an ankle Jan. 3 against the Kings. Wagner’s return will help lift some of the burden off Paolo Banchero. In the full eight games Wagner missed, Banchero shot 39.9% from the field. Prior to that, Banchero was shooting 46.5% on the season and was right back around that number — 46.4% — in the two games since Wagner returned. — Lopez

17. Los Angeles Lakers
2023-24 record: 22-23

  • Previous ranking: 20

  • Next games: vs. CHI (Jan. 25), @ GS (Jan. 27), @ HOU (Jan. 29), @ ATL (Jan. 30)

After scoring 18 points on 13 shots in the first half, Anthony Davis took only seven shots after halftime in a loss to the Clippers on Tuesday night. Davis left without speaking to reporters, but teammate Taurean Prince seemingly passed on the message for him. «I think playing through AD on the post has been good for us,» Prince said. «We just got to knock down shots [around him].» — McMenamin

18. Utah Jazz
2023-24 record: 22-23

  • Previous ranking: 17

  • Next games: @ WAS (Jan. 25), @ CHA (Jan. 27), @ BKN (Jan. 29), @ NY (Jan. 30)

Despite the Jazz teetering around .500, Lauri Markkanen continues to prove that his Most Improved Player campaign a year ago was a breakout season, not an outlier. He is one of four players in the league to average at least 24 points with a .640 or better true shooting percentage both last season and this season. The others have all won MVP awards: Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid and Kevin Durant. — MacMahon

19. Houston Rockets
2023-24 record: 20-22

  • Previous ranking: 18

  • Next games: vs. POR (Jan. 24), @ CHA (Jan. 26), @ BKN (Jan. 27), vs. LAL (Jan. 29)

Houston has lost six of its past eight games to slip to 11th in the West, a spot out of the play-in picture. Jalen Green, the former No. 2 overall pick whose career has been marked by inconsistency, has slumped during the Rockets’ downturn. Green is averaging 15.6 points on only 36.3% shooting during the 2-6 stretch. His effective field goal percentage has dipped to a career-low 46.8%, the worst among 103 players with at least 400 attempts. — MacMahon

20. Chicago Bulls
2023-24 record: 21-24

The Bulls embarked on a West Coast road trip without guard Zach LaVine after the two-time All-Star suffered a sprained ankle that will sideline him for at least a week. As one of the hottest names in trade talks, this injury, of course, derails his on-court momentum, but also any trade development, with just weeks until the Feb. 8 trade deadline. But Chicago has managed to stay afloat without LaVine, going 11-8. LaVine is expected to travel with the team but miss both of this week’s games, against the Lakers and Blazers. — Collier

21. Golden State Warriors
2023-24 record: 18-22

  • Previous ranking: 21

  • Next games: vs. ATL (Jan. 24), vs. SAC (Jan. 25), vs. LAL (Jan. 27), vs. PHI (Jan. 30)

This season has been almost every kind of bad for the Warriors, but no one could have imagined they would be dealing with the death of assistant coach Dejan Milojević. Before the group was rocked by tragedy, it suffered an embarrassing loss to the Grizzlies — who were missing five of their best players — despite the return of Draymond Green. At this point, it’s hard to pinpoint one move the Warriors could make at the deadline to save their season. And it’s harder, still, to believe this group can turn it around if they don’t make changes. — Andrews

22. Atlanta Hawks
2023-24 record: 18-25

  • Previous ranking: 23

  • Next games: @ GS (Jan. 24), vs. DAL (Jan. 26), vs. TOR (Jan. 28), vs. LAL (Jan. 30)

Atlanta worked its way back into play-in contention with three consecutive victories last week, which included Dejounte Murray hitting go-ahead field goals in the final five seconds in back-to-back games against the Magic and Heat. In doing so, according to Elias Sports Bureau, Murray became the fourth player in the past 15 seasons to hit clutch winners in consecutive games. With Trae Young out indefinitely with a concussion, the Hawks will need more Murray magic if they hope to remain competitive — that is, if he’s still on the roster. — Lopez

23. Toronto Raptors
2023-24 record: 16-28

Toronto has its eyes on the future in moving on from both OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam — and that’s good, because the present isn’t so pleasant. The Raptors are 4-8 since the start of January, when Immanuel Quickley and RJ Barrett made their debuts with the Raptors, and it doesn’t help that Toronto has the league’s 26th-ranked offense over that span. The Raptors are stuck in a three-game losing streak — with the Clippers on deck Friday. — Bontemps

24. Brooklyn Nets
2023-24 record: 17-26

A miserable month continued for the Nets on Tuesday night when they blew a second straight fourth-quarter lead to lose to the crosstown rival Knicks at home — with the crowd making it seem like it was a game at Madison Square Garden, rather than Barclays Center. Brooklyn has now lost 11 of its past 13 games since tanking a game against Milwaukee at home last month and has fallen outside of the play-in spots in the Eastern Conference. — Bontemps

25. Memphis Grizzlies
2023-24 record: 16-27

  • Previous ranking: 25

  • Next games: @ MIA (Jan. 24), vs. ORL (Jan. 26), @ IND (Jan. 28), vs. SAC (Jan. 29)

Wing Luke Kennard, one of the league’s premier 3-point shooters, will generate interest leading up to the trade deadline. Kennard, who led the league in 3-point percentage the past two seasons, has shot 46.3% from long range in the past 12 games since returning from an extended absence due to a bone bruise in his knee. His contract includes a $14.8 million team option for next season. — MacMahon

26. Portland Trail Blazers
2023-24 record: 12-31

  • Previous ranking: 26

  • Next games: @ HOU (Jan. 24), @ SA (Jan. 26), vs. CHI (Jan. 28), vs. PHI (Jan. 29)

The Blazers’ season is going as expected: full of growing pains. The bright side? There is a lot of promise within the youth of this group, centered around Anfernee Simons and this year’s No. 3 pick Scoot Henderson. Henderson has upped his career high in points three times over the past month — most recently scoring 33 points against the Suns on Jan. 14. — Andrews

27. Charlotte Hornets
2023-24 record: 10-31

  • Previous ranking: 27

  • Next games: @ DET (Jan. 24), vs. HOU (Jan. 26), vs. UTA (Jan. 27), vs. NY (Jan. 29)

With about three weeks left before the NBA trade deadline, Charlotte sent Terry Rozier to Miami for a 2027 protected first-round pick and Kyle Lowry. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports the Hornets will continue to be busy working the phones before the Feb. 8 deadline, looking to accumulate future assets and potentially moving Lowry. With Rozier’s scoring headed to South Beach, LaMelo Ball and Brandon Miller should get more opportunities offensively. Miller, for his part, is averaging 24.6 points over his past three games, including a 27-point outburst on 11-of-13 shooting in a win over Minnesota on Monday. — Youngmisuk

28. San Antonio Spurs
2023-24 record: 8-35

  • Previous ranking: 28

  • Next games: vs. OKC (Jan. 24), vs, POR (Jan. 26), vs. MIN (Jan. 27), vs. WAS (Jan. 29)

Lost in Joel Embiid’s historic 70-point performance Tuesday was Victor Wembanyama’s 33 points in the Spurs’ defeat. It’s the second-highest total for Wembanyama as he set season highs for free throws made (11) and free throw attempts (12). Wembanyama upped his averages to 20.3 points, 10.0 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per game. The only rookies to average 20-10 and three blocks since blocks became official in 1973-74 are David Robinson, Shaquille O’Neal and Alonzo Mourning. –– Lopez

29. Washington Wizards
2023-24 record: 7-35

  • Previous ranking: 29

  • Next games: vs. MIN (Jan. 24), vs. UTA (Jan. 25), @ DET (Jan. 27), @ SA (Jan. 29)

The French ambassador showed up last Saturday to watch former French teammates and longtime friends Bilal Coulibaly and Victor Wembanyama face each other for the first time in the NBA. While the Wizards lost to the Spurs, Coulibaly — averaging 8.3 points and 4.2 rebounds in 26.3 minutes — will get another chance in San Antonio when the two teams face each other again on Jan. 29. Washington would love to see its French rookie reunited with Wembanyama next month in Indiana at the Rising Stars game during All-Star Weekend. — Youngmisuk

30. Detroit Pistons
2023-24 record: 4-39

Second-year center Jalen Duren continues to be a bright spot in an otherwise nightmare season for Detroit. He’s posted a double-double in 13 of his past 15 appearances, bumping up his season averages to 14.0 points and 11.5 rebounds. The Pistons went 0-3 this week against the Timberwolves and Bucks (twice), but they have a lighter schedule upcoming: hosting the Hornets and Wizards before traveling to Oklahoma City. — Collier


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