Bucks rise to the top after 10-game win streak

The NBA saw plenty of high-profile players moved on Thursday as teams across the league made their final big moves for the remainder of the season ahead of the trade deadline.

The landscape of the league was altered drastically as several teams saw their championship odds improve after a flurry of moves. The Western Conference now looks to be as competitive as ever with teams like the Lakers, Mavericks and Suns all improving.

NBA championship odds 2023: Updated odds after wild trade deadline

The recent trades figure to set up a highly entertaining final two months of the season. While several teams made some moves, others opted to mostly stand pat and add supplementary pieces, such as the Bucks, Celtics and Grizzlies.

To make further sense of it, Rookie Wire took a look at the NBA and ranked each team from worst to first. We come back each week and provide our latest assessment of the best teams and those that are rising.

San Antonio Spurs (14-43)

Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 28

The organizational tanking by the Spurs is in midseason form as the team has dropped 12 straight games. One example: They led the Bulls by four points late in the third quarter on Monday and were then outscored 49-21 the rest of the way to lose. With some of their veterans gone now after the trade deadline, we can probably expect more results like that.

Charlotte Hornets (15-43)

Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Last Rank: 27

The Hornets have lost seven straight and appear full steam ahead toward positioning themselves in the lottery standings. One bright spot of late has been the emergence of rookie Mark Williams. He produced his second double-double of the season on Friday in his first start. With Mason Plumlee gone, Williams figures to get more playing time over the rest of the season.

Detroit Pistons (15-43)

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 30

The Pistons have just one win in their last five games, a seven-point decision in double-overtime versus the Spurs. Rookie Jalen Duren scored a career-high 30 points and 17 rebounds in that contest to become the youngest player ever to tally that stat line in a game (19 years, 84 days).

Story continues

It will now be worth watching how the team will integrate James Wiseman into the mix after the Pistons’ trade finally went through. The move figures to be very beneficial for Wiseman as he projects to have the opportunity to play right away.

Houston Rockets (13-43)

Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Last Rank: 29

The Rockets are also one of the four teams locked in on the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes. They are just 3-17 since Jan. 1, the second-worst mark in the league, and are 25th in offense and 29th in defense over that span. Head coach Stephen Silas had a heated postgame press conference after losing to the Kings last Monday and ripped his team’s effort in that contest. There is still some fire within the locker room, but it may not be that evident watching them play on some nights.

For more coverage on the Rockets, visit Rockets Wire

Indiana Pacers (25-33)

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 26

The recent skid by the Pacers continued last week as the team has gone just 2-15 since Jan. 11. They have the second-worst record in the league over that span and have fallen down to 12th in the Eastern Conference. The group was one of the feel-good stories over the first half of the season, but it has been on a downward spiral since Tyrese Haliburton was first injured. We’ll see if they can turn things around after the All-Star break.

Orlando Magic (23-34)

Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 24

The Magic fumbled away a couple of wins last week after blowing double-digit leads against the Knicks (12 points) and Heat (17 points) at home. Still, the team posted a dominating win over the Nuggets on Thursday and has already surpassed its win total (22) from last season. They are 3.5 games back from the Raptors in 10th and look to be a team in contention for the play-in tournament this year. That, as they say, is real progress.

Portland Trail Blazers (27-29)

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 21

The Trail Blazers have lost three of four games and appear to be trending in the wrong direction ahead of the All-Star break. The team made some moves at the trade deadline, though, and added Cam Reddish and Matisse Thybulle. They may not have been the splashy type of trades they were rumored to making, but those two players should help them this season and beyond.

Toronto Raptors (27-31)

Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 26

The Raptors have won four of five games and look to be playing better basketball of late. They were heavily rumored to be sellers ahead of the trade deadline but opted to keep their veterans for the stretch run. The front office added Jakob Poeltl from the Spurs, which could be a sneaky good move. It doesn’t help them become contenders this year, but Toronto looks to be a team to watch in the play-in race.

Atlanta Hawks (29-28)

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 25

Atlanta has won four out of its last six games and added a piece in Saddiq Bey at the trade deadline. As a team that ranks 26th in 3s per game (10.6), the addition of Bey figures to give them another shooting option over the rest of the season.

Chicago Bulls (26-30)

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 20

The Bulls have lost three straight, and probably suffered an even bigger loss by not making any moves ahead of the trade deadline. They are still in the play-in race but don’t feel like a dangerous team despite boasting a Big 3 that features DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic. Maybe the All-Star break can breathe some life into the team with a week off.

For more coverage on the Bulls, visit Bulls Wire

Washington Wizards (26-29)

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 23

The Wizards have won seven out of their last 10 games to move up to ninth in the Eastern Conference. They have been one of the most inconsistent teams in the NBA this season so they are far from being a playoff team, but they figure to find their way in at the end of the season.

Los Angeles Lakers (26-31)

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 19

Congratulations to LeBron James for surpassing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and becoming the all-time leading scorer in history. James and the Lakers will have some work to do to get into the playoffs, but adding D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt should help their efforts.

For more coverage on LeBron and the Lakers, visit LeBron Wire

Utah Jazz (28-30)

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 16

The Jazz opted to cash in on some of their veterans and traded away Malik Beasley, Mike Conley Jr. and Jarred Vanderbilt ahead of the deadline. The move could mean they miss the playoffs, but the season should already be considered a success: They have an All-Star in Lauri Markkanen, and have identified another franchise cornerstone in Walker Kessler. They will be celebrated this week at All-Star Weekend so it should be a fun time in Salt Lake City.

Oklahoma City Thunder (27-28)

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 18

The Thunder are up to 10th in the Western Conference after winning two straight games. They have gotten some help with the likes of the Jazz, Trail Blazers and Lakers struggling of late, but the Thunder should be a team to watch in the play-in race.

For more coverage on the Thunder, visit Thunder Wire

Golden State Warriors (28-28)

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 14

The Warriors were dealt a blow this week when it was revealed Gary Payton II will be sidelined with a core muscle injury. The news nearly derailed their trade with the Trail Blazers, but the Warriors ultimately opted to go through with it. His status for the rest of the season is unclear.

Maybe lost in all of that was the news that Stephen Curry will be out through the All-Star break with his leg injury. The team will need to rely on others on the roster in the meantime as it hangs around in the play-in race after losing two straight.

For more coverage on the Warriors, visit Warriors Wire

Minnesota Timberwolves (30-29)

Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 15

The Timberwolves added Mike Conley at the trade deadline after shipping D’Angelo Russell to the Lakers. The move could go down as one of the more underrated trades as Conley figures to be a great addition over the final two months of the season.

New York Knicks (31-27)

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 17

The Knicks have gone 6-4 over their last 10 games and are coming off a win over the Jazz. Josh Hart debuted in that win and had 11 points, seven rebounds, four assists and four steals. The team was excited to add him from Portland and believes he will be a key player as it looks to make a run toward the playoffs.

New Orleans Pelicans (29-28)

Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 13

Since losing 10 straight, the Pelicans have won three out of four games to get back above .500. However, they will be without All-Star Zion Williamson for “multiple weeks” beyond the All-Star break after aggravating his hamstring injury. The news comes as the team is set to hit the road with seven out of its next eight games away from Smoothie King Center. It will be worth monitoring how the team responds over that upcoming stretch.

Memphis Grizzlies (34-22)

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 11

The Grizzlies are 3-9 since Jan. 20 but have managed to stay in second place in the Western Conference over that skid. The team was mostly quiet at the trade deadline but added Luke Kennard from the Clippers. His addition should greatly help the team down the stretch as the Grizzlies look to build some consistency following the All-Star break.

LA Clippers (31-28)

Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 10

The Clippers added a couple of players in Eric Gordon and Bones Hyland at the trade deadline, which figures to bolster their bench unit. They are sixth in the West and will be looking to avoid the play-in over the final two months of the season. It will be worth watching how Gordon and Hyland can integrate themselves into the team.

Dallas Mavericks (31-27)

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 12

The Mavericks are 2-1 since acquiring Kyrie Irving as the eight-time All-Star is averaging 25.7 points, 7.3 assists, 4.7 rebounds and one steal since joining the team. As the Western Conference got better, the Mavericks figure to have a chance with Irving in the picture now but their path to returning to conference finals just got a bit more challenging.

Phoenix Suns (31-27)

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 9

The Suns stole the show at the trade deadline by acquiring Kevin Durant and TJ Warren from the Nets for Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, Jae Crowder and four first-round picks. The team gave up an awful lot of players and assets for Durant, but the opportunity to add a former MVP doesn’t happen often and the front office did what it needed to in order to get him. It is definitely championship or bust time now in Phoenix.

Brooklyn Nets (33-23)

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 5

The drama involving Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving is now over and the Nets can seemingly move on and focus on themselves. The team got a great haul of players and assets in return for them and should still be competitive in the Eastern Conference. Though they are no longer favorites, the Nets still have a lot of pieces that could make some noise in the playoffs.

For more coverage on the Nets, visit Nets Wire

Miami Heat (32-25)

Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 7

The Heat have won three straight games, and seven out of their last 10, entering play on Monday. They posted an overtime win on Saturday over the Magic after overcoming a 17-point deficit in the first half. Tyler Herro led the way with 23 points, and Jimmy Butler added 22. The group mostly stood pat at the trade deadline and will be looking to run it back this year in the playoffs. Getting healthy will be key for them over the final 25 games of the season.

Sacramento Kings (32-24)

Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 6

With the Western Conference now a juggernaut, it will be curious to see how the Kings fit in now. They are currently third and have been one of the best stories of the season. But now the Mavericks and Suns got better, and the Nuggets are still the top team in the conference. With all of that being said, the Kings are likely just focusing on themselves and breaking their playoff drought this year.

Cleveland Cavaliers (37-22)

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 8

The Cavaliers have won six straight games to get up to fourth in the East. With two games before the All-Star break (vs. San Antonio, at Philadelphia), Cleveland looks to be in a great spot at the moment and is well on its way to getting back into the playoffs.

Philadelphia 76ers (36-19)

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 2

The Sixers were mostly quiet at the trade deadline, only exchanging Matisse Thybulle for Jalen McDaniels, so the team certainly feels good about the roster moving forward. With Joel Embiid, James Harden and Tyrese Maxey leading the way, the Sixers should be considered one of the favorites to come out of the East.

For more coverage on the 76ers, visit Sixers Wire

Denver Nuggets (39-18)

Brian Westerholt-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 1

The Nuggets wrap up a three-game road trip on Monday in Miami. They are coming off a 119-105 win over Charlotte as Nikola Jokic registered his 20th triple-double of the season with 30 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists. Denver is undefeated when Jokic records a triple-double.

Boston Celtics (41-16)

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 4

The Celtics have won four straight and got a little better at the trade deadline by adding sharpshooter Mike Muscala. They will be without Jaylen Brown through the All-Star break due to a nasal fracture but should be fine with Jayson Tatum and others playing at a high level. With the Bucks winners of 10 straight, their lead over them for first place is down to just a game and a half ahead of their matchup on Tuesday.

For more coverage on the Celtics, visit Celtics Wire

Milwaukee Bucks (39-17)

Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Last Rank: 3

The Bucks have the longest active win streak in the NBA at 10 games and are closing in on the Celtics in first place, trailing only by a game and a half. The two teams will meet on Tuesday in Milwaukee for their second game of the season. Boston took the first one on Christmas Day. After going through a bit of a rough patch prior to the new year, the Bucks look to be firing on all cylinders at the moment.

Story originally appeared on Rookie Wire


You might like

About the Author: NBA NEWS SITE

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *