NBA Power Rankings: How Will The West Be Won?

There are no teams hotter than the Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors right now. With both poised to battle for supremacy in the West, who has the edge as we pass the quarter-pole of the NBA season?
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NBA Power Rankings: How Will The West Be Won?

NBA expert Ryan Kirksey steps in to take a look at how the NBA is shaping up and give us his weekly NBA Power Rankings. He starts at the bottom, with his bottom-tier teams, and ends by grouping his top 10 in an elite group of their own.

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NBA Power Rankings - Bottom Tier

30. Detroit Pistons (Record: 4-19)

29. Oklahoma City Thunder (7-16)

28. Orlando Magic (5-20)

27. New Orleans Pelicans (7-19)

26. Indiana Pacers (10-16)

25. Sacramento Kings (10-14)

24. Houston Rockets (7-16)

23. San Antonio Spurs (8-14)

22. Portland Trail Blazers (11-14)

21. Toronto Raptors (11-13)

- After losing 15 straight games in October and November, the young, scrappy Houston Rockets have won six games in a row, which had never been done before according to Elias Sports. With a young core of Christian Wood, Kevin Porter Jr. and Jalen Green, this team could sniff the playoffs as early as 2022-2023. As impressive as the six-game win streak is, however, they dug a huge hole for this season and remain +4000 to make the playoffs.

- Things are getting tumultuous for the Portland Trail Blazers this week. First came injuries to Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons. Now Lillard leaked through some sources that he would like to play with some defensive-minded wings, throwing some shade at CJ McCollum. Their General Manager was fired last week and they got blow out three times as well. Don't be surprised if this ends up in a blow-it-all-up move that tries to give Dame one more shot at a title. Despite hanging onto tenth in the West, odds-makers give Portland a -154 shot at the postseason. Portland looks destined for the play-in tournament.

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NBA Power Rankings - Mid-Tier

20. New York Knicks (11-12)

19. Minnesota Timberwolves (11-13)

18. Denver Nuggets (11-12)

17. Los Angeles Lakers (12-12)

16. Los Angeles Clippers (13-12)

15. Dallas Mavericks (11-11)

14. Cleveland Cavaliers (13-12)

13. Atlanta Hawks (13-12)

12. Charlotte Hornets (14-12)

11. Boston Celtics (13-11)

- A .500 record at the quarter point of the season is definitely not what Los Angeles Lakers' management nor fans had in mind when they brought in Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony this offseason. The relative parity in the Western Conference allows the Lakers to sit at sixth in the West, but in no way do they look ready to challenge the Utahs, Golden States and Phoenixes of the league. There is little value in betting the Lakers (-385) to make the playoffs, and the odds would have to be much longer for me to take a shot on them winning the West (currently +600)

- If this were the entertaining team power rankings, the Charlotte Hornets might be number one with a bullet. With LaMelo Ball contributing on both sides of the court, Miles Bridges proving his doubters wrong and Gordon Hayward looking like his old self, this is one of the most fun and surprising teams of the season. They recently lost several players to a COVID outbreak, but still managed to defeat the Hawks before losing by just three to the 76ers in OT on Monday. At full strength, this team definitely can win a round of the playoffs, and their +100 odds to make the postseason today looks extremely enticing.

NBA Power Rankings - Elite Tier

10. Philadelphia 76ers (12-11)

9. Memphis Grizzlies (14-10)

8. Washington Wizards (14-11)

7. Miami Heat (14-11)

6. Chicago Bulls (17-8)

5. Utah Jazz (16-7)

4. Milwaukee Bucks (16-9)

3. Brooklyn Nets (16-7)

2. Phoenix Suns (20-4)

1. Golden State Warriors (20-4)

- The two heavyweights at the top of the West exchanged haymakers the past few days, each earning a win, but the most devastating defeat may not have been on the scoreboard. The Phoenix Suns lost Devin Booker for a period of time, and he has just been cleared for contact. Hopefully he won't be out too long, because this Suns-Warriors battle for supremacy looks like it could last all season and it works best when each side can play all of their cards. The Suns odds to make the postseason are unplayable of course (-10000), but they now sit extremely close to Golden State in the odds race to win the West (Phoenix is +400)

- The Golden State Warriors are like the Man in Black or Inigo Montoya fighting left-handed right now. They are clearly superior in every way you can imagine, but they are still at a small disadvantage. Once the Warriors switch the sword to their right hand (get Klay Thompson and James Wiseman back), they may just be unstoppable, no matter how dominant the Suns or Brooklyn Nets may appear. Right now, the Nets still have the shortest championship odds of any team (+315), but I would empty the wallet to make a bet on the Warriors while you can still get good value (+600).


Proudest husband and dad you will ever find. When I'm not with my wife and two kids I split my time working in higher ed, grinding DFS and season-long, collecting silver age comics, studying behavioral economics, and drinking coffee. I once played Pat Connaughton in an actual NBA DFS lineup for money. Astros, Rockets, and Texans for life.


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