NBA Power Rankings: Who will make the playoffs in the West?

NBA Power Rankings: Who will make the playoffs in the West?

There are just two weeks left in the 2022-23 NBA season, but there are still countless possibilities regarding the Western Conference playoff seeding.

The top three seeds are nearly locked up by the Denver Nuggets, Memphis Grizzlies and Sacramento Kings, but there is an eight-team logjam for the final seven seeds of the playoff and play-in picture. All eight teams are separated by 3.5 games. (The Utah Jazz, meanwhile, are still hanging around below them at 1.5 games out of the last play-in spot.)

A handful of head-to-head games between teams in the playoff race in the coming days will go a long way in determining the final playoff picture, including showdowns between the Minnesota Timberwolves and Los Angeles Lakers on Friday and the LA Clippers and New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday.

Note: Throughout the regular season, our panel (Kendra Andrews, 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 and which teams are looking most like title contenders.

Previous rankings: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8 | Week 9 | Week 10 | Week 11 | Week 12 | Week 13 | Week 14 | Week 15 | Week 16 | Week 17 | Week 18 | Week 19 | Week 20 | Week 21 | Week 22

1. Milwaukee Bucks
2022-23 record: 54-21
Previous ranking: 1

The Bucks will host both the Celtics and Sixers this weekend as Milwaukee looks to wrap up home-court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs. Khris Middleton is starting to look like his old self just in time, averaging 20.8 points, 7.1 assists and 5.0 rebounds on 48% shooting and 31.5 minutes since moving back into the starting lineup on March 7. — Collier

2. Boston Celtics
2022-23 record: 52-24
Previous ranking: 3

Any realistic hope of passing Milwaukee for the 1-seed disappeared in a loss in Washington on Tuesday night. The only question left is whether Celtics will potentially open the door for Philadelphia, now just one game back in the loss column (though Boston holds the tiebreaker), to claim the 2-seed. Next Tuesday’s game in Philadelphia between the two teams could loom large. — Bontemps

3. Denver Nuggets
2022-23 record: 51-24
Previous ranking: 4

The Nuggets seem to be coming out of their rough patch of the season, picking up wins over the Bucks and 76ers. And Nikola Jokic is continuing his strong campaign for his third consecutive MVP Award, becoming just the third player in NBA history to have at least 10 games in a season in which he posts 20 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists. — Andrews

4. Philadelphia 76ers
2022-23 record: 49-26
Previous ranking: 2

While the NBA world was disappointed to miss out on the MVP showdown between Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic on Monday in Denver, Philadelphia’s goal is to have Embiid healthy and ready to go when the playoffs start in a couple of weeks. Ditto for James Harden, who could return from his Achilles soreness Wednesday at home against Dallas. — Bontemps

5. Memphis Grizzlies
2022-23 record: 48-27
Previous ranking: 7

The Grizzlies have the league’s longest active winning streak at six games, half of which came without All-Star guard Ja Morant, who came off the bench in his first two games after his suspension in large part because he wanted to reintegrate into the team without disrupting its chemistry. Morant returned to the starting lineup in Sunday’s road win over the Hawks, scoring 27 points and making six assists. — MacMahon

6. Cleveland Cavaliers
2022-23 record: 48-29
Previous ranking: 5

Momentous week for the Cavs. Donovan Mitchell reached 10,000 career points the same week Cleveland reached the playoffs for the first time without LeBron James since 1998. Bonus points if you can name all five starters on that ’98 team. — McMenamin

7. Sacramento Kings
2022-23 record: 45-30
Previous ranking: 6

The Kings just can’t seem to clinch a playoff berth, but they’re closing in on their first postseason appearance in 17 years — the longest playoff drought in any professional sport. They’ve had an opportunity almost every night since Saturday, but based on the results of their games or others that could help them clinch, the wait has to continue. And Sacramento is getting antsy. — Andrews

8. Phoenix Suns
2022-23 record: 40-35
Previous ranking: 8

Undefeated thus far with Kevin Durant in the lineup — the former MVP averaging 26.7 points on a ridiculous 69% shooting with 7.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists in three games — Phoenix is finally anticipating Durant’s return from an ankle injury this week. “I think it’s good timing,” Devin Booker told reporters. “Playoffs are right around the corner, so it’s a good time to be at full strength.” — McMenamin

9. New York Knicks
2022-23 record: 43-33
Previous ranking: 9

New York, despite going 4-6 in its past 10 games, could go a very long way toward locking up the fifth seed in the East with a win Wednesday at home against the Heat, who are coming off a loss in Toronto on Tuesday night. Of equal importance to the Knicks: getting Jalen Brunson healthy after he has dealt with a series of nagging injuries. — Bontemps

10. LA Clippers
2022-23 record: 40-36
Previous ranking: 10

The Clippers got good news when they learned Paul George had a sprained knee and wouldn’t require any surgery. However, they also won’t have George for the remainder of the season and possibly the first round if they secure a playoff berth. Without George, the Clippers beat the Thunder behind a monster game from Kawhi Leonard but then were crushed by the Pelicans at home. Leonard then suffered a facial contusion but helped the Clippers beat the Bulls. Now comes a difficult three-game road swing with two games at Memphis and a rematch with the Pelicans — the second of a back-to-back. — Youngmisuk

11. Miami Heat
2022-23 record: 40-36
Previous ranking: 12

Miami dropped a tough one to the Raptors on Tuesday without Jimmy Butler (sore neck), setting up a big game Wednesday at MSG against the Knicks. The Heat currently sit precariously in the 7th spot in the East with a 40-36 record and need to find more help around Butler to jump ahead of the Nets — and out of the play-In tournament. — Friedell

12. Golden State Warriors
2022-23 record: 40-37
Previous ranking: 11

The Warriors keep bouncing from the sixth seed to the seventh to the eighth and back again — a telling sign of just how tight the latter portion of the playoff race is in the Western Conference, and also of how Golden State continues to be inconsistent. The Warriors lost to the Timberwolves then beat the Pelicans thanks to a 20-point comeback. The Warriors hope to find some stability through their final five games for wherever they end up in the standings. — Andrews

13. Brooklyn Nets
2022-23 record: 40-35
Previous ranking: 13

A complete meltdown against the Cavs late on Thursday followed by a dominant win over the Heat in Miami on Saturday, then a disappointing loss to the Magic on Sunday, and the Nets are clinging to the No. 6 spot in the East. The hope is that a softer schedule in the final two weeks will get them through the finish line and out of the play-in. Mikal Bridges just keeps rolling in March, he’s averaging 28 points per game this month, including 44 in Sunday’s loss to the Magic. — Friedell

14. Minnesota Timberwolves
2022-23 record: 39-37
Previous ranking: 16

Finally whole, the Timberwolves are confident they can go on a mini run through the final two weeks of the season and not only secure a spot in the postseason, but a top-six seed in particular. Minnesota has looked good since the return of Karl-Anthony Towns, but it’s hard to imagine that after five months apart — and how tough it was before his injury — that the Timberwolves will click without any bumps. — Andrews

15. New Orleans Pelicans
2022-23 record: 38-38
Previous ranking: 22

A five-game winning streak vaulted the Pelicans back into the thick of the playoff conversation in the Western Conference. At 38-38, they are in sole possession of eighth place, but things won’t get easier from here on out. The Pelicans finish at Denver then have a four-game homestand against the Clippers, Sacramento, Memphis and New York, before finishing the season at Minnesota. According to opponent winning percentage, the Pelicans have the league’s hardest remaining schedule. — Lopez

16. Los Angeles Lakers
2022-23 record: 37-38
Previous ranking: 18

LeBron James’ return, which coincided with the Lakers halting a three-game winning streak with a disjointed effort against Chicago, is what people in the business call a good problem to have. Coach Darvin Ham will have to figure out a way to iron out the rotation and get L.A. back in the win column, quickly. The Lakers are No. 9 but have just a half-game lead over No. 11 Dallas, and the Mavs own the tiebreaker. — McMenamin

17. Atlanta Hawks
2022-23 record: 38-38
Previous ranking: 17

The Hawks extended their NBA-record streak of being a game within .500 to 30 games with a win Tuesday over the Cleveland Cavaliers that put their record at 38-38 on the season. Dejounte Murray had 29 points, 5 assists and 2 steals, while Onyeka Okongwu tied his career high with 21 off the bench. Atlanta stayed in the middle of the play-in race in the Eastern Conference, sitting 2.5 games back of Brooklyn in sixth and two games back of Miami in seventh. The Hawks are tied with the Raptors in eighth place. — Lopez

18. Oklahoma City Thunder
2022-23 record: 37-39
Previous ranking: 15

In the loss to Charlotte on Tuesday, Isaiah Joe (33 points), Josh Giddey (31 points) and Jalen Williams (31 points) became just the second trio of teammates in NBA history all age 23 or younger to score 30 points or more in the same game. The only other trio to accomplish the feat? Also members of the Oklahoma City Thunder: James Harden, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook did it on March 7, 2012. — Lopez

19. Chicago Bulls
2022-23 record: 36-39
Previous ranking: 21

The Bulls have built a 2.5-game cushion as the No. 10 seed in the Eastern Conference, which has put them in position to secure their spot in the play-in tournament. Next up, Chicago can set its sights on moving up in the standings. It trails No. 8 Atlanta by one game. — Collier

20. Dallas Mavericks
2022-23 record: 37-39
Previous ranking: 14

The performance of rookie guard Jaden Hardy, who looks like a steal as a second-round pick, has been a silver lining during the Mavs’ miserable March. Hardy, 20, has averaged 16.4 points with a 60.7 true shooting percentage this month. Scouts have compared Hardy, a speedy 6-foot-4 guard with a smooth 3-point stroke, to Jordan Clarkson and Jordan Poole and project him to be an instant-offense type of sixth man soon. — MacMahon

21. Toronto Raptors
2022-23 record: 38-38
Previous ranking: 19

Toronto’s win over Miami on Tuesday night not only allowed the Raptors to keep pace with Atlanta for eighth in the East, but it also gave Toronto the season series win over the Heat and kept alive its hopes of getting up to seventh in the play-in standings. The difference between eighth and ninth is massive — it means needing only one win to secure a playoff berth as opposed to two — and now Toronto is in position to be a top-eight team. — Bontemps

22. Utah Jazz
2022-23 record: 35-40
Previous ranking: 20

Walker Kessler had his fourth seven-block game of the season in Monday’s loss to the Suns, something no rookie has done since Spurs legend Tim Duncan in 1997-98, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. Milwaukee’s Brook Lopez is the only other player in the league with multiple seven-block performances this season. — MacMahon

23. Washington Wizards
2022-23 record: 34-42
Previous ranking: 23

The Wizards stunned the Celtics and won for the second time in three games but still remain 2.5 games out of 10th behind the Bulls. Bradley Beal and Kyle Kuzma remain out, but Kristaps Porzingis and Deni Avdija have been playing well. Washington has Orlando, New York, Milwaukee, Atlanta, Miami and Houston remaining on the schedule. — Youngmisuk

24. Indiana Pacers
2022-23 record: 33-43
Previous ranking: 24

The Pacers have given up at least 125 points in five straight home games, the second-longest streak in NBA history, according to research by ESPN Stats & Information, and longest since the 1969 Philadelphia 76ers. Next up to visit Indiana: the Milwaukee Bucks. — Collier

25. Portland Trail Blazers
2022-23 record: 32-43
Previous ranking: 25

The Blazers are holding out veterans like Damian Lillard, Jusuf Nurkic, Jerami Grant and Anfernee Simons, and the draft positioning continues. Portland has dropped nine of 10 games, and all there is to look forward to is improving its lottery odds. — Youngmisuk

26. Orlando Magic
2022-23 record: 32-44
Previous ranking: 26

Orlando had its three-game winning streak snapped by the Grizzlies on Tuesday night — but they continue to show some improvement down the stretch. Franz Wagner had 25 points in Tuesday’s loss and remains consistent while averaging just over 18 points a game. — Friedell

27. Charlotte Hornets
2022-23 record: 26-51
Previous ranking: 27

Charlotte has found a little rhythm at the end of the season. The Hornets racked up their third straight win on Tuesday night over the Thunder- after two straight against the Mavericks. P.J. Washington racked up a career high 43 points. He has 92 points over his last three games. — Friedell


28. San Antonio Spurs
2022-23 record: 19-56
Previous ranking: 29

As soon as the Spurs acquired Sandro Mamukelashvili off waivers from the Milwaukee Bucks, he was quickly inserted into the team’s lineup to play a role off the bench. He also has started three games so far for San Antonio and is doing his best to earn another contract with the Spurs. He has scored in double figures in four consecutive games and in 12 games overall, and he’s averaging 9.5 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists in just under 22 minutes a game. — Lopez

29. Houston Rockets
2022-23 record: 18-58
Previous ranking: 28

The Rockets have lost six in a row, but second-year guard Jalen Green has put up big numbers, averaging 25.7 points on .471/.390/.913 shooting splits during the skid. Green is on pace to join an exclusive club of players who have averaged at least 22 points per game at age 20 or younger, a feat accomplished by only Devin Booker, Luka Doncic, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, Shaquille O’Neal and Zion Williamson. — MacMahon

30. Detroit Pistons
2022-23 record: 16-59
Previous ranking: 30

Pistons rookie Jaden Ivey scored a season-high 32 points on Monday, becoming the fourth rookie in team history to put up 30 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists (Cade Cunningham, Grant Hill and Dave Bing). — Collier


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