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NBA Power Rankings – Joel Embiid returns for 76ers as regular season wraps


Welcome to the last Power Rankings of the 2023-24 NBA regular season!

The Boston Celtics have dominated the Eastern Conference standings and this season’s Power Rankings, holding the No. 1 spot since November.

Will they be able to show that same level of consistency throughout the playoffs? Or will there be a repeat of last year’s conference finals upset?

And as the NBA wraps up its regular season, the pressure is only rising as teams jostle for positioning in the postseason — and the draft.

In the East, the Nos. 2-8 seeds are each separated by a game or less. The return of Joel Embiid for the Philadelphia 76ers could throw a wrench into an already volatile playoff picture, as the No. 2 Milwaukee Bucks are coming off a four-game losing streak and the Orlando Magic and New York Knicks are quickly ascending.

In the Western Conference, the race for the No. 1 seed has remained constant throughout the season and will continue on Wednesday as the top-seeded Minnesota Timberwolves take on the second-place Denver Nuggets.

The season ends Sunday. Here’s where all 30 teams stack up for this final week of the 2023-24 regular season.

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 | Jan. 24 | Jan. 31 | Feb. 7 | Feb. 14 | Feb. 28 | March 6 | March 13 | March 20 | March 27 | April 3

Jump to a team:


1. Boston Celtics
2023-24 record: 62-17

Boston is closing the season as one of the most dominant teams in recent memory: The Celtics are more than two points per 100 possessions better than any other team offensively; they rank second defensively; and they are the only team in the top five in both categories. They have a plus-12 net rating, one of the best in NBA history. Given Boston is 14 games ahead of the Bucks — second in the East — it’s safe to say anything short of an NBA Finals trip is going to be a massive disappointment for the Celtics. — Bontemps



Payton Pritchard’s flashy assist caps off Celtics’ weekly top plays

Payton Pritchard’s no-look dime headlines the Boston Celtics’ best plays from this past week.

2. Denver Nuggets
2023-24 record: 55-24

Jamal Murray is back, but Aaron Gordon now has missed two straight games with a foot injury. The Nuggets have only lost five times since the All-Star break, but health will be the biggest key for Michael Malone, who needs his starting five in good shape before the playoffs begin. Nikola Jokic, the front-runner for a third MVP trophy, will look to pick up where he left off last postseason when he had a legendary run. But the Nuggets will need someone to step up off the bench this time around with Malone leaning heavily on his starters. — Youngmisuk

3. Minnesota Timberwolves
2023-24 record: 55-24

The Wolves entered Tuesday tied with Denver for the best record in the Western Conference, and they are aiming to become the No. 1 seed for only the second time in franchise history (2003-04). The top seed could be decided on Wednesday night in Denver when Minnesota travels for the second half of a back-to-back against the Nuggets. — Collier

4. Dallas Mavericks
2023-24 record: 49-30

The Mavs are heading into the playoffs with as much momentum as any team. Dallas has the West’s best record since the trade deadline, going 20-7 after improving Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving‘s supporting cast by acquiring forward P.J. Washington and center Daniel Gafford. The Mavs are all but locked into the fifth seed and a potential first-round matchup with the Clippers, who have eliminated Doncic twice in the playoffs. How much have things changed since the last Mavs-Clippers playoff meeting in 2021? Doncic is the only current Mavs starter who played in that series. — MacMahon



Dallas Mavericks’ top plays of the week

Relive some of the Dallas Mavericks’ best plays from this past week, including Dante Exum’s buzzer-beater vs. the Rockets.

5. Oklahoma City Thunder
2023-24 record: 54-25

Oklahoma City remains in the mix for the Western Conference’s top seed but will need a pair of the Thunder’s stars to regain their rhythm in the final week. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander returned Tuesday night after missing six of the previous seven games due to a quadriceps contusion, and Jalen Williams also was back after sitting four games because of a sprained left ankle. Wednesday’s Timberwolves-Nuggets game will be extremely important for the Thunder, as they have the tiebreaker over Denver but not over Minnesota. — MacMahon

6. LA Clippers
2023-24 record: 51-28

After being in a malaise for a 22-game stretch in February and March, the Clippers have slowly begun to rediscover the play that had them in first place in the West back on Feb. 6. More than anything else, though, the Clippers need to get healthy entering the postseason. Kawhi Leonard has missed four straight games with inflammation in his surgically repaired right knee, and the Clippers’ title hopes rest on his health. James Harden is dealing with inflammation in his right foot that kept him out of Tuesday’s game at Phoenix. Getting those two stars healthy is the most important thing heading into the postseason, especially with Paul George and Russell Westbrook playing some of their best basketball. — Youngmisuk



Paul George’s heroics among Clippers’ top plays of last week

Check out the Clippers’ best plays from Paul George, Ivica Zubac and Norman Powell from this past week.

7. Milwaukee Bucks
2023-24 record: 48-31

As the playoffs draw near, the Bucks are headed in the wrong direction. They dropped four games in a row, their longest losing streak since December 2022, before defeating the Celtics on Tuesday night. The skid has caused Milwaukee’s lead for the No. 2 seed in the conference to shrink to 1.5 games, and the Bucks close out the regular season with three games against playoff teams, hosting the Magic on Wednesday before a trip through Oklahoma City and Orlando. — Collier

8. New York Knicks
2023-24 record: 47-32

With Julius Randle done for the season because of shoulder injury, New York desperately needed OG Anunoby back on the court. Wish granted: With Anunoby’s return Friday, New York has the opportunity to get itself as high as No. 2 in the East this week, as the Knicks would love — like every other team in the East — to avoid being on the same side of the bracket as Boston until the conference finals. — Bontemps



The Knicks’ best plays from this week

Check out some of the best plays from the New York Knicks from last week.

9. Orlando Magic
2023-24 record: 46-33

Orlando is set for just its third playoff trip in the past 12 seasons and only its second winning record in that time frame. It’s been part of the growth under third-year coach Jamahl Mosley, who was 22-60 in his first year with the team before improving to 34-48 last season. Orlando — currently No. 3 in the East — is also in a spot where it could host a playoff series in the first round, something that hasn’t happened since 2010-11. — Lopez



Banchero shines in Orlando’s top plays from last week

Paolo Banchero’s one-handed slam highlights the Magic’s best plays from this past week.

10. Phoenix Suns
2023-24 record: 46-33

Phoenix finishes the slate on a three-game trip: at the Clippers, the Kings and the Timberwolves. The Suns are in the No. 7 spot, having lost two in a row, including a 105-92 decision on Tuesday to a Clippers team that was without James Harden and Kawhi Leonard in a game in which Phoenix trailed by as many as 37. Anything is possible for Phoenix at this point, from ending up No. 6 and avoiding the play-in tournament to participating in the Nos. 9-10 play-in game. — McMenamin

11. New Orleans Pelicans
2023-24 record: 47-32

The Pelicans are in position to have their best season since 2017-18, when they won 48 games and advanced to the second round of the playoffs. If they win two of their last three games, it would be their most wins since the 2008-09 New Orleans Hornets went 49-33. But the finish will be tough. New Orleans — currently No. 7 in the West — has games at Sacramento and Golden State before finishing at home against the Lakers in a contest that could have massive implications in the standings. — Lopez

12. Los Angeles Lakers
2023-24 record: 45-35

On Saturday, after winning for the ninth time in 10 games, L.A. moved up to No. 8 in the West for the first time since December. Two losses later — with LeBron James missing the Minnesota game and Anthony Davis out most of that contest and the Golden State matchup — the Lakers could find themselves in the Nos. 9-10 play-in game. If the Lakers have any hope of moving back up, the first order of business is closing out with wins at Memphis and New Orleans — then waiting to see how the Suns, Kings, Warriors and Pelicans fare the rest of the way. — McMenamin

13. Philadelphia 76ers
2023-24 record: 45-35

After beating Detroit on Tuesday, Philadelphia has ripped off six straight wins — four of which have included Joel Embiid, who has quickly rounded back into his dominant form. Philly has two more games left, and if the 76ers can win them both, they’ll have a real chance of getting into the top six and avoiding the play-in tournament. More important than anything, though, is that Embiid has almost immediately regained his pre-injury scoring touch — averaging 27.7 points in his first three games back — and now has a couple of weeks to get ramped up before either the play-in or the playoffs. — Bontemps

14. Indiana Pacers
2023-24 record: 46-34

The Pacers are currently holding onto the No. 6 spot in the East after securing a major victory over Miami on Sunday to give them some extra cushion. Indiana has won the season series over the Heat and the Sixers, giving it the tiebreaker over both teams in the event of a three-way tie; the Pacers have a one-game advantage before heading to Cleveland then closing out at home against Atlanta. — Collier

15. Cleveland Cavaliers
2023-24 record: 46-33

A late-season swoon has the Cavaliers free-falling in the East standings. Losers of eight of their past 11, Cleveland is now in fifth place after being No. 2 as recently as March 13. The Cavs have a one-game lead over the No. 6 Pacers, whom they face during an important three-game homestand to end the string. Cleveland has gone just 1-2 against the Pacers so far this season. — McMenamin

16. Golden State Warriors
2023-24 record: 44-35

The Warriors are teetering between ninth and 10th place in the West. But one thing they know for sure: They have to win two games in the play-in tournament in order to make the playoffs. Coming off a recent six-game winning streak and playing much improved through March, Golden State looks like it has a shot at making the postseason. But would they rather face the Lakers or Kings in the play-in? The Warriors haven’t earned the position to choose, but one matchup is highly favorable — and is about a 90-minute drive northeast from them. — Andrews

17. Sacramento Kings
2023-24 record: 45-34

Boy, oh boy, the Kings are just hoping they can hang on to the 8-seed, but they are not making it easy on themselves. And their schedule isn’t helping. Three of their final four games are against teams playing for Western Conference seeding, so the Kings have to be nearly perfect in order to secure their spot. Question is: Can they do that against the Suns and Pelicans, missing a key player in Malik Monk? — Andrews

18. Miami Heat
2023-24 record: 44-35

After a tough loss to the Pacers on Sunday, Miami will likely have to pull out a repeat of last season and make their playoff run starting in the play-in tournament. The team has battled injuries on and off all season, and Terry Rozier, Nikola Jovic and Bam Adebayo are now day-to-day. To make any sort of run, they’ll need some semblance of rotation consistency along with another epic “Playoff Jimmy” run. — Lopez

19. Chicago Bulls
2023-24 record: 37-42

The Bulls are headed for the 9-10 game in the play-in tournament for the second consecutive season. The only remaining question is whether they can hold off Atlanta for home-court advantage in the winner-take-all contest. Chicago holds a one-game lead for the No. 9 seed and the tiebreaker advantage after winning two of the three matchups between the teams this season. — Collier

20. Houston Rockets
2023-24 record: 39-40

Coach Ime Udoka’s Rockets are the NBA’s most improved team from last season in terms of wins. The free agency signings of Fred VanVleet and Dillon Brooks provided Houston structure and credibility. The collection of young talent — headlined by Alperen Sengun, Jalen Green, Amen Thompson and Jabari Smith Jr. — is the biggest reason to be excited about the Rockets’ future. There has been a lot of discussion around the league about the young core’s fit after Green, Thompson and Smith thrived when an injury sidelined Sengun. If the opportunity presents itself, the Rockets can take a big swing in the trade market with Brooklyn’s draft capital from the James Harden deal as bait. — MacMahon

21. Atlanta Hawks
2023-24 record: 36-43

The Hawks would need a big turnaround in the final three games to jump the Bulls — who own the tiebreaker after winning the season series — but this will be the third consecutive season the Hawks have played in the play-in tournament. In 2022 and 2023, the Hawks made it through to the playoffs, doing so from the 9-10 game two seasons ago. Atlanta did beat Chicago 113-101 on April 1 in Chicago, and it could get a boost from Trae Young, who was cleared to return to practice this week. — Lopez

22. Brooklyn Nets
2023-24 record: 31-48

It’s been an extremely disappointing season for the Nets, who expected to be competing for a play-in spot throughout the spring. Instead, they have been in a tailspin for more than three months, since the infamous tank game against the Bucks on Dec. 27. Now, Brooklyn heads into a critical offseason in which it not only has to decide whom to hire at head coach, but what direction the franchise should be taking after such a dismal campaign. To add insult to injury, they’re without a draft pick this year as a reward for their failures. — Bontemps

23. Memphis Grizzlies
2023-24 record: 27-52

Memphis should be able to bounce back next season when Ja Morant returns from shoulder surgery and Desmond Bane is healthy and back in his co-star role. The silver lining in Memphis’ injury-marred season? Jaren Jackson Jr., who is averaging a career-high 22.6 points per game, has shown growth while frequently forced into a No. 1 option role, and recent second-round picks Vince Williams Jr. and GG Jackson look like rotation players. On top of that, the Grizzlies, who need to find a starting center, will get a pick in the top half of the lottery. — MacMahon

24. Toronto Raptors
2023-24 record: 25-54

Toronto’s rash of injuries has caused it to sink in the standings to the point where the Raptors now have a good chance of keeping their top-six protected first round pick, which otherwise would go to the Spurs as part of last season’s Jakob Poeltl trade. If the Raptors do keep it, they’ll get another young piece to add to their group of Scottie Barnes, Immanuel Quickley, RJ Barrett and Gradey Dick, as the franchise officially turns the page on the past decade and moves forward after trading OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam during the season. — Bontemps

25. Utah Jazz
2023-24 record: 29-50

Utah has lost enough in the two months since the trade deadline — when the Jazz subtracted three rotation players and added two 2024 draft picks — to be comfortable that it will keep its own top-10-protected first-round pick this year. It’s the second straight year that the Jazz made deadline deals that weakened the team. With an acclaimed 2025 draft class, will the Jazz prioritize, ahem, player development all next season? — MacMahon

26. Portland Trail Blazers
2023-24 record: 21-58

The Blazers have already turned the page on the season and are prepping for the draft, where they will have a top pick. Their young core of guards Anfernee Simons, Scoot Henderson and Shaedon Sharpe gives them three ball handlers — two of whom can score at all three levels. Because of that, filling out their frontcourt — which already has Jerami Grant and DeAndre Ayton — should be what they go after in the draft. — Andrews

27. San Antonio Spurs
2023-24 record: 20-59

With Year 1 of Victor Wembanyama nearly in the books, the Spurs’ focus this offseason will shift to how to build around their unique star. San Antonio could be positioned to add two more lottery picks to the roster next season (they have a top-six protected pick from the Raptors) and could also look to the trade market. — Lopez

28. Charlotte Hornets
2023-24 record: 19-60

New Hornets GM Jeff Peterson has plenty to do this summer, starting with hiring a new head coach to replace Steve Clifford, who is moving into a front office role. That new coach will inherit a roster that features LaMelo Ball and Brandon Miller. Ball has to get healthy after playing in a total of 58 games over the past two seasons, and Miller showed massive potential in his rookie season. Peterson will also have to decide on Miles Bridges’ future as he will be an unrestricted free agent and the Hornets retain his Bird rights. — Youngmisuk

29. Washington Wizards
2023-24 record: 15-65

The next chapter of Michael Winger’s and Will Dawkins’ rebuild begins this offseason as they look for a new head coach. They have two first-round picks and hope to find another gem after hitting on Bilal Coulibaly with the seventh overall pick last summer. Despite their season looking mostly drab, Kyle Kuzma led the team in scoring, Jordan Poole played much better toward the end of the season and Deni Avdija played his best basketball this season. Winger and Dawkins will continue to identify who they want to retain as they continue to reshape the franchise. — Youngmisuk

30. Detroit Pistons
2023-24 record: 13-66

Detroit is closing out the final week of a miserable regular season in which they could finish with the lowest win total in franchise history. The Pistons have already lost as many games (65) as they did during the 2022-23 season, when they finished with the worst record in the NBA. The Pistons will finish their season against the playoff-bound Bulls and Mavs as well as the Wemby-led Spurs. — Collier


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