Who is trending up? Which rotations are changing? What’s the latest with the notable injuries around the NBA?
Here’s a look around the league at the most fantasy relevant news and notes for all 30 teams:
Atlanta Hawks: Cam Reddish has impressed so far this season off the bench. In four games, he has averaged 15.2 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 1.0 APG, 1.2 SPG and 25.0 MPG, which is impressive considering the depth the Hawks have on the wing. Danilo Gallinari and Kevin Huerter will continue to play important roles, but Reddish could still thrive off the bench. It looks like he is going to have a breakout season and he’s currently rostered in only 20.5% of ESPN leagues.
Boston Celtics: Robert Williams III currently is the league’s leading shot blocker (3.2 BPG). On top of that, he has registered double-digit points and rebounds in three of his five games to go with six steals. Sporting a 72.4 FG%, an area where he figures to be among the best in the league, Williams’ statistical production shows that he can coexist with Al Horford, who’s recorded double-doubles in all three games he’s played this season. Williams is going to go boom on most nights.
Brooklyn Nets: Given the expectations of fantasy managers and his previous years of tremendous success, James Harden is off to a rough start this season. His scoring and shooting efficiency are down from a season ago, as are his rebounds and assists, while his turnovers are up. Through five games, Harden has put up 16.6 PPG, 8.0 APG, 7.0 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 2.6 3-pointers and 4.6 TPG. These are the type of numbers many expected if Kyrie Irving was on the court, but they are troubling considering how high Harden went on draft day and the fact that Irving is not currently playing.
Charlotte Hornets: Miles Bridges registered 31 points (11-21 field goals), six rebounds, one block, and five 3-pointers in 35 minutes on Wednesday as the exciting young Hornets team pulled off another victory. As a top-six player in nine categories, he’s literally propelling fantasy teams to victory right now. Bridges had his third game with 30 or more points and his fourth in a row with 25 or more points. Take a moment to reflect on that. Bridges is one of the best fantasy players in the NBA during the opening week of the season.
Chicago Bulls: A small tear in Zach LaVine‘s left thumb (non-shooting hand) will not stop him from playing. Still, for fantasy managers, this is far from an ideal situation when it comes to one of the top scorers in the NBA. LaVine averaged 27.4 PPG and 3.4 3PG while shooting 50.7% from the floor — rarefied air for someone at his position. That led to the Bulls swingman being drafted in the top 3 rounds of fantasy drafts this year. This is a situation worth tracking; if it comes down to pain tolerance, LaVine could end up skipping some games.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Darius Garland has not yet reached his ceiling, but the early returns this season — his third in the NBA — are encouraging. The 21-year-old has averaged 12.7 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 8.3 APG and 0.7 SPG while shooting 44% from the field. Garland is their best passer since LeBron James and as the video below shows he can also throw it down when needed.
Collin Sexton gets out in transition and throws down the monster dunk over Nicolas Batum.
Dallas Mavericks: Kristaps Porzingis has another injury (lower back stiffness). He could be rested given his injury history, and this might mean Maxi Kleber gets more minutes in the upcoming games. In 16 minutes against the Rockets on Tuesday night, Kleber had nine points and seven rebounds, taking him past 900 career defensive rebounds. As a key member of the Mavericks rotation, Kleber is a great perimeter shooter who does a little bit of everything defensively and rostered in only 0.8% of ESPN leagues.
Denver Nuggets: Nikola Jokic‘s knee is not structurally damaged, according to tests on Thursday. What a relief! Jokic did not practice Thusday due to soreness and is questionable for Friday’s game. Last season, he played in 72 of 72 games, showing up in the best shape of his life on his way to NBA MVP honors and was the near-unanimous choice for the No. 1 pick in fantasy drafts this season. Look for Jeff Green and JaMychal Green to pick up some minutes if Jokic sits.
Detroit Pistons: Isaiah Stewart is quietly having a good season. In 29 minutes Monday against the Hawks, the second-year pro had a season-high 13 points, a team-best seven rebounds and tied his career high with four blocks to go with five assists and a steal. Beef Stew is rostered in 72.1% of ESPN leagues. A breakout could be on the horizon. Fellow second-year pro Saddiq Bey has 41 points, 23 rebounds, three assists and three steals over his last two games, and hasn’t slowed down after an impressive rookie campaign. He should be rostered in all leagues.
Golden State Warriors: Damion Lee has scored in double figures in four-straight games and has been one of the Warriors’ best bench players so far. Lee is a great source of points and 3-pointers. Currently, he’s shooting 47% from 3-point range and should continue to do well while Klay Thompson is out. Lee, the brother-in-law of star teammate Stephen Curry, is only rostered in 1.9% of ESPN leagues.
Houston Rockets: Kevin Porter Jr. is oozing with talent, but his turnovers are a problem. When your league subtracts points for turnovers, all of Porter’s statistical goodness is negated. Remarkably, Porter already has 25 TOs in four games this season. Porter averages 14.2 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 6.0 APG, 1.2 SPG, and 0.5 BPG and has a high usage rate of 26.7%, but while his potential is limitless, it’s crucial that he decreases his turnover rate.
Indiana Pacers: Malcolm Brogdon left Wednesday’s game with a hamstring injury, which is a concern for the efficient guard who hasn’t played in more than 64 games since his rookie season with Milwaukee back in 2016-17. T.J. McConnell will get more minutes and opportunities if Brogdon misses time. However, Caris LeVert (stress fracture in back) is working his way to back and could return any game as well. Upon his return, a load management strategy will likely be implemented by head coach Rick Carlisle.
LA Clippers: Over the last two games, Paul George has connected on just 12 of 36 shots and scored 26 points. Wednesday night, he struggled against the Cavaliers along with Luke Kennard, who only scored six points, three rebounds and three assists. Kennard is someone to watch, though. He had 33 points, six rebounds, three assists and a block in the two previous games, is available in 98.6% of ESPN leagues, and is playing a healthy 26.0 MPG off the bench so far.
Los Angeles Lakers: Russell Westbrook triple-doubled against the Thunder last night, scoring 20 points (8-20 FGs), 14 rebounds and 13 assists. Unfortunately, he turned the ball over 10 times in the process. Westbrook now has the most quadruple-doubles (triple-double with 10 turnovers) with six since 1985, and his playmaking issues on this team – particularly when LeBron James is healthy and playing alongside him – remain a big question.
Memphis Grizzlies: Jaren Jackson Jr. has been plagued by foul trouble and poor shooting in the early going. The fourth-year forward has had four fouls in three straight games and is shooting just 31.3 from the field through Memphis’ first four games. Amazingly enough, despite JJJ’s shooting woes, the Grizzlies enter Thursday as the league’s second-most efficient offense, scoring 112.1 points per 100 possessions. Only the 76ers are better (112.6).
Miami Heat: This season, Jimmy Butler is doing it all. He’s in the top-15 overall in 9-category formats and is thriving with an upgraded supporting cast. Even though Butler was the 22nd player selected on average in ESPN drafts, he is outperforming his ADP. In fact, his stats (23.3 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 5.3 APG, 3.3 SPG) are eerily similar to last season, though his assists are down slightly in the early going.
Milwaukee Bucks: Bobby Portis made his season debut on Wednesday, playing 15 minutes with six points and three rebounds. He averaged 11.4 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 1.1 APG, 1.1 3PG and just 0.8 TPG last season as Brook Lopez‘s backup, but is best remembered for coming through in the clutch time and time again in the NBA Finals. Portis shot a career-high 52.3% from the field. Currently, Lopez is recovering from a back injury, and no return date has been set. Portis’ fantasy outlook would be even brighter if he supplants Lopez as the starter or siphons off additional minutes from the veteran center. He’s only rostered in 17.4% of ESPN leagues at this time.
Minnesota Timberwolves: D’Angelo Russell was outstanding against the Bucks. His 29 points included six assists, five rebounds and three 3-pointers, as well as numerous self-created layups with excellent touch around the rim. It’s easy to forget about Russell on this team of talents like Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Davis, but when right, Russell provides scoring, assists and 3s and always has the potential for a big night.
New Orleans Pelicans: With Zion Williamson out of the lineup, Jonas Valanciunas has stepped up big time. In 36 minutes against the Hawks, he had 16 points, 15 rebounds, three assists, a steal and a block. Valanciunas has had at least 15 points and 15 rebounds in three consecutive games. So how rare is that? As far as the Pelicans franchise is concerned, only Anthony Davis has a longer such streak.
New York Knicks: This season, Julius Randle has averaged 25.5 PPG, 11.3 RPG, and 6.5 APG. His defense has also improved – at least from a fantasy perspective — averaging 1.0 SPG and 1.8 BPG. Voted the NBA’s Most Improved Player last season, his second with the Knicks, Randle sits at No. 14 on ESPN’s Player Rater entering Thursday night.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Over the Thunder’s last three games, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander averaged 28.7 PPG, 5.7 APG and 5.3 RPG. Not surprisingly, the Thunder’s star was a key contributor to a 26-point comeback win against the Lakers on Wednesday night as well. Los Angeles entered play with a 230-0 record (including playoffs) when leading by at least 25 points in a game during the past 25 years, and SGA helped end that streak.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander gets the hoop and the harm
Orlando Magic: Wendell Carter Jr. and Mo Bamba are both ranked inside the top-60 for category leagues. Both are playing a substantial amount of minutes as Chuma Okeke and Jonathan Isaac remain sidelined due to injury. Carter and Bamba both produced double-doubles against the Hornets on Wednesday night, and this dynamic duo can coexist and flex their collective muscles on the offensive and defensive ends of the floor for as long as Okeke and Isaac remain sidelined.
Philadelphia 76ers: Joel Embiid (right knee soreness) is already dealing with an injury and, according to Embiid, the pain is significant. This is a strong reminder that Andre Drummond — a huge fantasy presence for the past half-decade prior to falling off abruptly last season with the Cavs and Lakers — warrants consideration. He’s only rostered in 48% of ESPN leagues.
Phoenix Suns: Last season, the addition of Chris Paul helped spring the Suns all the way to the NBA Finals. It hasn’t come as easy for the franchise this season. Paul got off to a hot start and achieved another statistical milestone, becoming the first player to reach 20,000 points and 10,000 assists in NBA history, but then he only scored 10 points in the next two games on 3 of 15 shooting. His offensive woes seemed to have spread to the rest of the team as well; the Suns are surprisingly 18th in offensive efficiency.
Portland Trail Blazers: Robert Covington has long been an underrated fantasy maven, especially in roto and category leagues due to his ability to rake in rebounds, blocks and 3-pointers, but so far this season he’s been anything but. With disappointing averages of 4.3 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 0.3 APG and 1.3 3PG through the first four games of the season, Covington is among the most dropped players in ESPN leagues and is now only 60% rostered.
Sacramento Kings: With each passing game, Harrison Barnes appears to be reaching higher and higher levels of play, and his early per-40 numbers are on pace to surpass his previous bests by a wide margin. In 37.2 MPG per game thus far, Barnes has put up 26.8 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 2.2 APG, 0.8 SPG and 4.3 3PG. Remember, Barnes had a 102.9 ADP and was somewhat of an afterthought for most fantasy managers heading into the season. At this point, he’s looking a fantasy steal.
San Antonio Spurs: Doug McDermott is expected to miss the next three games with a right knee injury. Thus, Devin Vassell (6.2% rostered) and Lonnie Walker IV (10.9% rostered) are viable options for deeper leagues. Vassell recorded 19 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals in the game against the Lakers, while Walker scored 21 points, two rebounds and six assists in that one.
Toronto Raptors: Gary Trent Jr. is off to a slow shooting start and is rostered in only 16.1% of ESPN leagues, but the former Trail Blazer already has two games with at least five steals and ranks fourth in the NBA with 2.8 SPG. It’s a trend to watch, as Trent only averaged 1.0 SPG last season in 31.1 MPG.
Utah Jazz: Joe Ingles continues to be one of the more underappreciated fantasy leagues, particularly in roto and category formats. Ingles finished last year ranked third among qualified players in 3-point percentage (45.5%) and put up an impressive 67.2 TS%, while also chipping in with 4.7 APG. It’s hard to find players like Ingles, yet still he’s available in 37.9% of ESPN leagues.
Washington Wizards: A thigh contusion caused Daniel Gafford to leave Wednesday night’s game. That opened the door for Montrezl Harrell to go off. The veteran Louisville product finished with a season-high 25 points (10-13 FGs), 11 rebounds and two blocks in 38 minutes. Harrell is rostered in 91.1% of ESPN leagues, but if he’s available in yours it’d be a good idea to get him..
Brooklyn Nets’ Joe Harris to undergo ankle surgery, out 4-8 weeks, agent says
NEW YORK — Brooklyn Nets guard Joe Harris will undergo surgery on his injured left ankle and is expected to miss four to eight weeks, with optimism he can return on the shorter end of that timeline, Harris’ agent Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Nets head coach Steve Nash said Harris’ surgery will address “a little bone particle” in the ankle and hopefully allow the shooter to move forward from the injury. Harris has missed the last six games since injuring his ankle in a win at Oklahoma City on Nov. 14.
“He is going to have a scope and then we’ll see what that means once they’ve had the procedure,” Nash said after Nets practice. “We think this is a really positive thing that can put this situation behind him long term rather than risking reoccurrences or uncertainty with the injury.”
Harris is averaging 11.3 points and shooting 46.6% from behind the 3-point arc this season.
“There’s a little bone particle in there,” Nash said. “Just the uncertainty of it, just better to take it out. We thought that it would potentially sort itself out because it’s been there but it’s not. Hopefully that’s the end of it.”
Denver Nuggets’ Michael Porter Jr. to undergoing back surgery, be out indefinitely
Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. will undergo a surgical procedure on his lower back Wednesday and miss an indefinite period, his agent Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports told ESPN on Monday.
Porter is expected to make a full recovery, and a timetable for his return will come after surgery, Bartelstein said.
Porter, who signed a five-year, $172 million max contract in September, has been searching for a non-surgical option since injuring his back on November 6, but multiple opinions landed on surgery.
Porter Jr., 23, had back surgery prior to the NBA Draft, spent his first season recovering and became one of the top young forwards in the league.
Murray is recovering from a torn ACL, and Jokic is expected back soon with a wrist injury.
Denver (9-10) has lost six straight games and begins a seven-game road trip in Miami on Monday.
NBA Power Rankings, Week 7
The battle for No. 1 in the NBA Power Rankings is on.
Phoenix, meanwhile, hasn’t lost in over a month and is one win shy of matching the franchise record of 17 straight victories.
Elsewhere in the NBA, the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks are looking like themselves again and have successfully broken out of the Eastern Conference play-in race. Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks have won seven straight ahead of a Wednesday night meeting with LaMelo Ball and the Charlotte Hornets.
LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers are back to .500, the injury-riddled Denver Nuggets continue to slide in the West standings and the Memphis Grizzlies prepare for a stretch without star guard Ja Morant, who suffered a sprained left knee on Friday.
Where do all 30 teams stand in the final rankings of November?
Note: Throughout the regular season, our panel (Tim Bontemps, Jamal Collier, Nick Friedell, 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 now and which teams are looking most like title contenders.
1. Golden State Warriors
2021-22 record: 18-2
Previous ranking: 1
The Warriors are 18-2. Klay Thompson appears to be just a few more weeks away from returning. Stephen Curry is playing like he’s on track to win the third MVP award of his career. Draymond Green continues to play like he’s headed to another Defensive Player of the Year award. They have a chance to snap Phoenix’s 16-game winning streak on Tuesday and will see the Suns again on Friday night. Everything is looking up for Steve Kerr and his talented roster right now. — Friedell
This week: @PHX, PHX, SA
2. Phoenix Suns
2021-22 record: 17-3
Previous ranking: 2
With one more win, the Suns would tie their franchise record with 17 consecutive victories. They’ll get the chance on Tuesday night against the only team in the league with as many wins as the Suns have this season — the Warriors. Phoenix’s 16-game streak is also tied for the third-longest win streak in NBA history for a team that lost in the NBA Finals the previous season. — Lopez
This week: GS, DET, @DET
3. Brooklyn Nets
2021-22 record: 14-6
Previous ranking: 3
Brooklyn is a team that can be viewed in a couple different ways. Good: The Nets have the NBA’s third-best record, the East’s best record and Kevin Durant and James Harden are healthy. Bad: They’ve had three games against the other elite teams in the NBA this season — Milwaukee, Golden State and Phoenix — and have been thoroughly beaten in all of them. — Bontemps
This week: NY, MIN, CHI
4. Milwaukee Bucks
2021-22 record: 13-8
Previous ranking: 9
The Bucks look like one of the powers in the Eastern Conference once again. They’ve won seven consecutive games, thanks to the best defensive efficiency in the NBA during that span, and they are still undefeated (9-0) this season when Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday are all in the starting lineup. Milwaukee has benefited from playing some soft competition recently, so hosting the Hornets and Heat this week should provide a better measuring stick. — Collier
This week: CHA, @TOR, MIA
5. Miami Heat
2021-22 record: 13-7
Previous ranking: 6
Playing without Tyler Herro, the Heat earned a strong win over the Bulls on Saturday night, thanks in part to the 20 points that Gabe Vincent poured in off the bench. Miami has another showdown with the Bucks coming up on Saturday night, but it has to feel good about the way things are going — especially with the way the defense continues to come together behind Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. — Friedell
This week: DEN, CLE, @IND, @MIL
6. Utah Jazz
2021-22 record: 13-7
Previous ranking: 5
It wasn’t a good week for the Jazz, who blew late leads in home losses to the Grizzlies and Pelicans. “This is not who we are,” Donovan Mitchell said after Friday’s loss to New Orleans, during which he was 6-of-21 from the floor days after going 5-of-20 against Memphis. “We have to be better. I have to be better. We have to start moving the ball or this is going to be who we are.” Utah responded by blowing out the Pelicans in a rematch the next night. — MacMahon
This week: POR, BOS, @CLE
7. Chicago Bulls
2021-22 record: 13-8
Previous ranking: 4
The Bulls dropped three of four games last week while letting some winnable games slip by with losses to the Heat and Rockets. Despite their hot start, their half-court offense is taking some time to gel against teams that stop them from running in transition. According to pbpstats.com data, Chicago ranks 27th in offensive efficiency after field goals made by their opponent. — Collier
This week: CHA, @NY, @BKN
8. Washington Wizards
2021-22 record: 13-7
Previous ranking: 7
The Wizards bounced back after a 127-102 loss at New Orleans with two straight wins. They pulled out a two-point win at Oklahoma City before getting a quality victory at Dallas. They will look to close this road swing at San Antonio with their third straight win. Washington is also starting to get reinforcements, as Davis Bertans has returned from injury and Rui Hachimura has been ramping up slowly for a possible return in December. The Wizards continue to play much-improved defense and are still one of the biggest surprises in the East. — Youngmisuk
This week: @SA, MIN, CLE, @TOR
9. Dallas Mavericks
2021-22 record: 10-8
Previous ranking: 10
Kristaps Porzingis‘ career-long streak of seven consecutive 20-plus-point performances was snapped in Saturday’s loss to the Wizards. He was particularly pleased about being a featured act in two games against the Clippers, as opposed to being used almost solely as a spacer in last season’s playoff series. “What a contrast, right?” said Porzingis, who scored 55 points on 19-of-34 shooting as the Mavs split the two games in L.A. “Honestly, I haven’t felt like this for a while. Last time I can remember was probably [with] New York.” — MacMahon
This week: CLE, @NO, NO, MEM
10. Charlotte Hornets
2021-22 record: 13-9
Previous ranking: 13
Charlotte continues to keep things interesting each and every week. The Hornets notched a win over the Timberwolves on Friday, followed by an overtime loss to the Rockets on Saturday night. The Hornets have three more intriguing road games this week against the Bulls, Bucks and Hawks. Kelly Oubre Jr. needs to stay hot in order to give the young team its best chance this week — he’s averaging 23.7 points per game over his past three contests. — Friedell
This week: @CHI, @MIL, @ATL
11. LA Clippers
2021-22 record: 11-9
Previous ranking: 12
The Clippers are beginning to get a little healthier. Marcus Morris Sr. returned last week, and Serge Ibaka is back, although not a major part of the rotation yet. But the Clippers miss Nic Batum, who has missed the past four games while in the health and safety protocols. The Clippers are 2-2 in that stretch, and a healthy Batum might’ve made the difference in the Clippers’ 112-104 overtime loss to the Mavericks on Tuesday. They played the Warriors tough on Sunday until Steph Curry put them away in the fourth. — Youngmisuk
This week: NO, SAC, @LAL, @SAC
12. Philadelphia 76ers
2021-22 record: 10-10
Previous ranking: 11
Philadelphia got Joel Embiid back after nearly three weeks away due to COVID-19 on Saturday night, but that wasn’t enough to stop the 76ers from losing in double overtime to the Timberwolves. More important in the long run, however, is that Embiid immediately looked like he was back to normal when he took the court. — Bontemps
This week: ORL, @BOS, @ATL
13. Atlanta Hawks
2021-22 record: 11-10
Previous ranking: 18
Atlanta’s seven-game win streak ended on Saturday against the Knicks, but it was another stellar night for Clint Capela, who finished with 16 points and 21 rebounds. It was his 22nd 15-point, 15-rebound game since joining the Hawks last season, tied with Rudy Gobert for the most in that span. In his past eight games, Capela is averaging 15.1 points and 15.1 rebounds per game. — Lopez
This week: @IND, PHI, CHA
14. New York Knicks
2021-22 record: 11-9
Previous ranking: 14
As Kemba Walker continues to struggle, at some point Tom Thibodeau will have to consider making a change to his starting lineup at the point. Of course, given how poorly the Knicks’ starting group has performed overall — it has been outscored by over 15 points per 100 possessions while being the most played five-man group in the NBA — some would argue he should do so now. — Bontemps
This week: @BKN, CHI, DEN
15. Portland Trail Blazers
2021-22 record: 10-10
Previous ranking: 17
Portland opened last week with its fourth straight win, a 19-point victory over Denver. But the Blazers lost at Sacramento the next night before losing by 15 to the Warriors on Friday. They’ll complete a three-game road swing at Utah on Monday. At 10-10, Chauncey Billups’ Blazers continue to struggle to find consistency. — Youngmisuk
This week: @UTAH, DET, SA, BOS
16. Denver Nuggets
2021-22 record: 9-10
Previous ranking: 8
The Nuggets are sinking fast with injuries crippling their season. Denver has lost six straight games, the last four without MVP Nikola Jokic (wrist). The Nuggets’ injury report is packed. Sitting alongside Jokic are Jamal Murray (knee) and Michael Porter Jr. (back), who are both out indefinitely. And Denver lost valued reserve P.J. Dozier for the season to a torn ACL. The Nuggets start a seven-game road swing on Monday at Miami, where the Nuggets will face the Heat for the first time since Jokic and Markieff Morris had their run-in that resulted in a one-game suspension for Jokic. Morris hasn’t played since that game. — Youngmisuk
This week: @MIA, @ORL, @NY
17. Boston Celtics
2021-22 record: 11-10
Previous ranking: 15
Boston got a win Sunday night over the Raptors to end November over .500, giving the Celtics a little bit of momentum going into a brutal month of December. How rough will it be? The Celtics have 15 games on the schedule — and every single opponent has a record of .500 or better. — Bontemps
This week: PHI, @UTAH, @POR
18. Los Angeles Lakers
2021-22 record: 11-11
Previous ranking: 16
“I mean, it ranks right at the top with any other challenge I’ve had in my career,” LeBron James said of the Lakers’ season after Sunday’s win over Detroit. “Which actually brings out the best in me and I love that.” L.A. fans will love to see some consistency out of their team after the see-saw continued this week. — McMenamin
This week: @SAC, LAC
19. Minnesota Timberwolves
2021-22 record: 10-10
Previous ranking: 23
The Timberwolves are fresh off a victory in one of the most thrilling games of the season so far, a double-overtime road win against the 76ers that marked Minnesota’s sixth win in its past seven games — including a five-game winning streak, the team’s longest since the 2016-17 season. With a defense that is 10th in the NBA in efficiency, the Wolves seem primed for a legitimate challenge for at least a spot in the play-in tournament. It would be just Minnesota’s second postseason appearance since 2003-04. — Collier
This week: IND, @WAS, @BKN
20. Cleveland Cavaliers
2021-22 record: 10-10
Previous ranking: 19
All it took for Cleveland to snap its five-game losing streak was to have Rookie of the Year front-runner Evan Mobley return to the lineup. Mobley came back from an elbow sprain absence to put up 13 points, nine rebounds and four blocks in Saturday’s 105-92 win over the Magic. — McMenamin
This week: @DAL, @MIA, @WAS, UTAH
21. Memphis Grizzlies
2021-22 record: 10-10
Previous ranking: 21
The MRI results on franchise star Ja Morant‘s sprained left knee were a relief, but he will miss at least a few weeks. “We avoided significant injury,” coach Taylor Jenkins said before Sunday’s game against the Kings. “Basically, there’s no set timeline, just so everyone understands.” The Grizzlies managed to stay afloat when Morant missed time due to a sprained ankle last season, going 4-4 in that stretch. — MacMahon
This week: @TOR, OKC, @DAL
22. Indiana Pacers
2021-22 record: 9-13
Previous ranking: 22
The Pacers have been one of the more difficult teams in the league to gauge, and they continued their up-and-down play last week. They won comfortably on the road against the Bulls and at home against the Raptors, but had an overtime loss to the Lakers and blowout loss to the Bucks mixed in. — Collier
This week: @MIN, ATL, MIA
23. Toronto Raptors
2021-22 record: 9-12
Previous ranking: 20
Toronto got off to a 6-3 start, powered by a five-game winning streak, but the Raptors have since dropped nine of 12, including Sunday’s loss at home to the Celtics. The Raptors need to get OG Anunoby back on the court, as his absence due to injury was felt in a big way against Boston, which simply wore Toronto down. — Bontemps
This week: MEM, MIL, WAS
24. Sacramento Kings
2021-22 record: 8-13
Previous ranking: 25
Leave it to the Lakers to make the Kings feel good about themselves for a night. Losers of eight out of 10 coming into Friday night’s game in L.A., the Kings overcame a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit and seven-point hole in the first overtime to beat the Lakers in triple overtime. Something to keep an eye on: Marvin Bagley III is back in the rotation with Alvin Gentry at the helm, and is averaging 11.5 points on 81.8% shooting and 7.5 rebounds in the Kings’ past two wins. — McMenamin
This week: LAL, @LAC, LAC
25. Oklahoma City Thunder
2021-22 record: 6-13
Previous ranking: 24
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander missed two games last week due to a sprained right ankle and has been struggling recently. He has scored fewer than 20 points in his past five games, the first time that has happened since the end of the 2019-20 season. Gilgeous-Alexander is shooting 30.8% from the floor and 19.4% from 3-point range in this slump. — MacMahon
This week: @HOU, HOU, @MEM
26. San Antonio Spurs
2021-22 record: 5-13
Previous ranking: 26
The free throw line has not been kind to San Antonio this season. The Spurs rank last in free throws made per game and second to last in free throws attempted per game. San Antonio is also shooting a league-low 69% from the stripe. San Antonio still ranks 18th in scoring this year despite ranking last in 3-pointers made and attempted. — Lopez
This week: WAS, @POR, @GS
27. Detroit Pistons
2021-22 record: 4-16
Previous ranking: 27
The Pistons’ week was most notable for the fallout after the on-court scuffle between LeBron James and Isaiah Stewart, but Detroit has also dropped a season-high six straight games. The Pistons have had issues making shots all season and are last in the league in 3-point percentage (29.7%). — Collier
This week: @POR, @PHX
28. New Orleans Pelicans
2021-22 record: 5-17
Previous ranking: 29
In Friday night’s win over the Jazz, the Pelicans’ Willy Hernangomez hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the end of the first half to take a lead into the break and then Devonte’ Graham nailed a 3-pointer with 1.3 seconds to go in the fourth quarter to lift New Orleans to a win. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, the Pelicans became the first team since 2013 to hit go-ahead 3-pointers in the final two seconds of each half. — Lopez
This week: @LAC, DAL, @DAL, @HOU
29. Orlando Magic
2021-22 record: 4-17
Previous ranking: 28
Orlando has dropped six straight and starts a four-game West Coast swing later this week. The good news for the Magic is that Markelle Fultz has started practicing with the team’s G League affiliate and appears to be inching closer to a return to the floor. The Magic need all the help they can get as young players Cole Anthony and Mo Bamba are dealing with injuries of their own. — Friedell
This week: @PHI, DEN, @HOU
30. Houston Rockets
2021-22 record: 3-16
Previous ranking: 30
John Wall‘s desire to play puts the franchise in the position of trying to figure out how to respect the five-time All-Star while still prioritizing the development of Kevin Porter Jr. It has been a rocky start to Porter’s first season as a full-time starting point guard, but he showed promise during the Rockets’ shocking two-game winning streak, averaging 18.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 10.5 assists in upsets of the Bulls and Hornets that came on the heels of a 15-game losing streak. — MacMahon
This week: OKC, @OKC, ORL, NO
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