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2022-23 Vendetta NBA Power Rankings: March

NBA Power Rankings
The Bucks sit atop the throne in this month’s NBA power rankings! (Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

2022-23 Vendetta NBA Power Rankings: March

We are weeks past the NBA All-Star break and approaching the final turn of our 2022-23 regular season. There’s been some shifting throughout both the East and the West, but let’s jump into this month’s NBA power rankings!

30. Houston Rockets

  • Last Ranking: 29
  • Average: 29.7
  • (Matt 30, Michael 29, Anthony 30)

The Rockets come in as the last-place team in this month’s power rankings, currently possessing the NBA’s worst record at 15-49, despite having won two straight in response to a 10-game losing streak. The Rockets still aren’t getting consistent production from their best young players outside of Alperen Sengun, but it’s encouraging to see Jalen Green score and pass like he did Sunday evening against the Spurs.

29. San Antonio Spurs

  • Last Ranking: 28
  • Average: 29.3
  • (Matt 29, Michael 30, Anthony 29)

The San Antonio Spurs had one of the worst losing streaks in franchise history with 16 straight losses. They just out tanked the Houston Rockets in the race for Victor Wembanyama. Devin Vassell is healthy and Jakob Poeltl is a Raptor now. The two main developments for one of the worst Spurs teams ever. — Michael Ivanoskos

28. Detroit Pistons

  • Last Ranking: 30
  • Average: 28
  • (Matt 28, Michael 28, Anthony 28)

Even though it’s a murky fit because of the already big-centric roster construction, the early returns with James Wiseman in Detroit have been promising. In an increased role, he’s averaging 10.6 points and 8.1 boards in 24.4 minutes, but Wiseman already looks as comfortable and decisive in the Motor City than he has at any point of his NBA career. It’s not perfect, but this could be exactly what he needs as he continues along his young professional career after his role was diminished in Golden State.

27. Charlotte Hornets

  • Last Ranking: 27
  • Average: 27
  • (Matt 27, Michael 27, Anthony 27)

After the Hornets were beginning to play better basketball, they unfortunately lost LaMelo Ball for the season after he fractured his ankle last week. It’s been a rough few seasons for Michael Jordan and his Hornets, who are in the thick-and-thin in the #WembyChase over the summer.

26. Orlando Magic

  • Last Ranking: 26
  • Average: 25.7
  • (Matt 26, Michael 25, Anthony 26)

The Magic, despite possessing one of the worst records in the NBA, still aren’t an easy out. Unfortunately, they lost Jonathan Isaac for the season due to injury, mere weeks after he came back, but they still have the presumptive rookie of the year in Paolo Banchero, a budding young star in Franz Wagner and Markelle Fultz, who’s averaging 14.4 points, 5.6 assists and 1.5 steals in 28 games since the New Year — along with Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs, Wendell Carter Jr. and Moritz Wagner, among others.

25. Oklahoma City Thunder

  • Last Ranking: 24
  • Average: 24
  • (Matt 25, Michael 22, Anthony 25)

All do respect to the likely Rookie of the Year in Banchero, but there’s arguably no rookie playing better recently than Thunder’s budding young stud in Jalen Williams. He averaged 19.0 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.5 steals over the last month, capping it off with a career-high 32 points, five rebounds and five assists with four stocks (steals plus blocks) in their 10-point win on Sunday. The Thunder have lost six of their last nine games and lost workhorse Kenrich Williams for the season, but Jalen Williams’ play has been one of the best rookie stories this season.

24. Indiana Pacers

  • Last Ranking: 21
  • Average: 23.3
  • (Matt 24, Michael 24, Anthony 22)

The Indiana Pacers have slipped a bit in the last month after a hot start to the season. However, the future is bright in Indy for multiple reasons. Tyrese Haliburton has ascended this year into All-Star status, Myles Turner dropped one of the most efficient 40 pieces ever against the Celtics, and Bennedict Mathurin is having the best rookie season out of anyone not named Banchero. — Ivanoskos

23. Portland Trailblazers

  • Last Ranking: 19
  • Average: 22.7
  • (Matt 21, Michael 26, Anthony 21)

Damian Lillard tallied the NBA’s 70-point game on Feb. 26, scoring 71 points on 22-of-38 shooting and 13-of-22 from 3-point range. He’s been on an absurd scoring terror in 2023, averaging 37.8 points on 50/39/94 shooting splits over his last 25 games, in addition to 5.3 rebounds and 7.2 assists. Over that span, he’s scored 40 points 11 times and 50 points thrice. In a time where scoring’s at a premium, Lillard is perhaps the league’s best.

22. Chicago Bulls

  • Last Ranking: 22
  • Average: 22.7
  • (Matt 22, Michael 23, Anthony 22)

The Bulls are still on the outside-looking-in on the play-in chase, currently slotted as the No. 11 seed in the East at 29-36. They’re 1.5 games back of the Wizards for the 10-seed and 2.5 games back of Toronto for the 9-spot. There’s 17 games left in the regular season for the Bulls, who are 3-3 over their last six after a costly six-game losing streak. The Bulls’ defense has been one of the best this season, but their murky offense will have to figure it out if they want to string together a final run heading into the homestretch.

21. Washington Wizards

  • Last Ranking: 20
  • Average: 22.3
  • (Matt 23, Michael 20, Anthony24)

The Wizards remain penciled in as the No. 10 seed in the East, having gone 6-5 over their last 11 games. Though in that stretch, they have the NBA’s 10th-best offense and sit in the middle-of-the-pack defensively, with four of those five losses having come by single digits. It’s unreasonable to bet on anything greater than a play-in spot for the Wizards, but they still have an intriguing triumvirate of Bradley Beal, Kyle Kuzma and Kristaps Porzingis, who’s playing some of the best basketball of his career.

20. New Orleans Pelicans

  • Last Ranking: 15
  • Average: 19
  • (Matt 20, Michael 19, Anthony 18)

After their 26-17 start, the Pelicans — whose season’s been mired by injuries — have dropped six of their last seven and 17 of their last 22 games. New Orleans has struggled scoring the basketball. They have the fifth-worst offense since the New Year and are in the bottom-third in both effective field goal percentage and true-shooting percentage over that stretch. It doesn’t help that they’re also No. 19 in defense over that stretch; if you can’t score in today’s NBA and can’t generate enough stops, you’re not going to win many NBA games. 

19. Los Angeles Lakers

  • Last Ranking: 23
  • Average: 18.7
  • (Matt 18, Michael 21, Anthony 17)

The Lakers will be without LeBron James for the next three weeks (at minimum), which could be detrimental to their play-in chances … except it hasn’t played much of a factor (yet), albeit a very small sample. The Lakers have won two of three since James’ absence, including a 113-105 win against the Golden State Warriors, who returned Stephen Curry, on Sunday. Los Angeles is now tied with the Utah Jazz — who hold the head-to-head tiebreaker — for the West’s final play-in spot, with LA possessing the fourth-easiest schedule the rest of the way. The Jazz also might be actively tanking, which also helps their odds, assuming they can continue stringing together wins without their 38-year-old superstar. 

18. Utah Jazz

  • Last Ranking: 18
  • Average: 18.7
  • (Matt 19, Michael 18, Anthony 19)

Speaking of Utah — they’ve lost three straight and six of their last 10. Walker Kessler has been a delight since the All-Star break — and really all season. Over his last five, he’s averaging 10.6 points, 13.2 rebounds and 4.6 blocks in 30.7 minutes; since the New Year, he’s posting 11-10-3 blocks on 70.1 percent shooting. While Lauri Markkanen has rightfully been the story of the season, Kessler isn’t that far behind — especially since he was the lone rookie lumped into the Rudy Gobert trade. Both are absolutely pieces to build around for the foreseeable future.

17. Toronto Raptors

  • Last Ranking: 25
  • Average: 17.7
  • (Matt 16, Michael 17, Anthony 20)

In one of our daily shows, I was a bit confused by the Raptors’ direction after it traded for Jakob Poeltl at the trade deadline; I thought there were moves to make that didn’t happen with Toronto’s core. But I look like an idiot — which shouldn’t be surprising. The Raptors have gone 6-4 with Poeltl in the lineup; he’s averaging 15.4 points, 8.9 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1.7 blocks in just 27.7 minutes. When he’s on the floor, they have a 6.2 NET Rating compared to a minus-12.2 NET Rating when he’s off (over that span). And Toronto’s slowly, but surely climbing up the standings and are now just three games back of Miami for the No. 7 seed. 

16. Minnesota Timberwolves

  • Last Ranking: 16
  • Average: 15.3
  • (Matt 17, Michael 15, Anthony 14)

There’s still a cloud of skepticism for the date when Karl-Anthony Towns returns from a calf injury that’s held him out since Nov. 28. The recent reporting suggests that Towns is expected to return in mid-to-late March, but who knows if those plans abruptly change if Minnesota isn’t in position for a play-in spot. Right now, that’s not the case — Minnesota, the No. 6 seed, is two games above .500, but are only 2.5 games ahead of the Blazers, Pelicans, Jazz and Lakers for the final play-in spot and three ahead of the No. 13-seeded Thunder. So a few bad games here and there could push them back in the standings, though the Wolves are winners of three straight and look better with Mike Conley at the helm compared to D’Angelo Russell.   

15. Atlanta Hawks

  • Last Ranking: 17
  • Average: 15
  • (Matt 15, Michael 14, Anthony 16)

I don’t think it’s fair to expect a drastic in-season change for the rest of the season from the Nate McMillan-led Hawks to Quin Snyder’s, even though Snyder was arguably the best hire that Atlanta could’ve hoped for at *this* point of the season.  Though I’m pleasantly surprised by the uptick in the roles of Jalen Johnson and Saddiq Bey, but equally as saddened by the downtick of A.J. Griffin’s.

The Hawks are, once again, in the middle of the pack in this month’s power rankings!

14. Miami Heat

  • Last Ranking: 11
  • Average: 14
  • (Matt 14, Michael 13, Anthony 15)

Heading into Monday, the Heat scored 125 points just twice all season; every other team had at least six games with at least 125 points. Miami reached the 125-point threshold against Atlanta on Monday, outlasting the Hawks 130-128 despite Atlanta making 15 of its first 18 shots and 63 percent of its first-half attempts. Small sample fever: The Heat are also shooting 40.6 percent of their 3-point attempts over their last five games, which is a promising sign with how dismal their shooting’s been this season.

13. Los Angeles Clippers

  • Last Ranking: 9
  • Average: 13.7
  • (Matt 13, Michael 16, Anthony 12)

The Clippers are finally in the win column! After a brutal five-game losing streak, the Clippers finally scratched out a 135-129 victory on their home floor against the Grizzlies after trailing by 16 in the fourth quarter. Los Angeles’ defense has been atrocious of late, surrendering 121.9 points per 100 possessions since the All-Star break. Ty Lue continuing to configure his rotations this late in the season raises an eyebrow, but Kawhi Leonard is playing his best basketball of the season and Paul George has largely been very good, too. 

12. Brooklyn Nets

  • Last Ranking: 10
  • Average: 11.7
  • (Matt 11, Michael 11, Anthony13)

The Brooklyn Nets are traveling some rough waters in the post Kyrie-KD trade. Ben Simmons is racking up DNPs.  They are 4-6 in their last 10 games. The improvement of Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson has been leaps and bounds. If they can keep up with solid play, then the play-in Tourney may be a starting point. — Ivanoskos

11. Dallas Mavericks

  • Last Ranking: 8
  • Average: 11.7
  • (Matt 12, Michael 12, Anthony 11)

The Dallas Mavericks have been on a roller coaster since acquiring Kyrie Irving at the trade Deadline. On paper, Luka and him may very well be the best Duo in the league. The concerning part is the lack of elite level defenders in their lineup, despite an All-World type offense.  I can see the Mavs finishing in the Top six but I do not trust a deep playoff run from a team that plays one way. — Ivanoskos

10. Golden State Warriors

  • Last Ranking: 14
  • Average: 9.7
  • (Matt 10, Michael 10, Anthony 9)

The Warriors have quieted all the doubters and they are comfortably back in the playoff picture. It was not looking the prettiest in the middle of the season. They are not playing great as they are currently 6-4 in their last ten but they are currently the five seed in the West. However, they are only a game in front of the eight seed and three games in front of the ten seed. The splash brothers are looking like they are in playoff form which is a good sign for the Warriors. Draymond Green is currently day-to-day and Andrew Wiggins is out for right now. Golden State needs to stay out of the play-in and get healthy for the playoffs. We have seen this story before and we know how the championship experience of the Warriors has benefited them in past postseasons. — Anthony Miranda

9. Sacramento Kings

  • Last Ranking: 6
  • Average: 8.3
  • (Matt 9, Michael 9, Anthony 7)

The Beam Team is 38-26 and they are currently the three seed in the West. However, Sacramento is only a half-game back from the two-seeded Memphis Grizzlies. I don’t think anyone before the season started saw the Kings as one of the best teams in the NBA but here they are in March. Domantas Sabonis and De’Aaron Fox were named All-Stars this year and they are continuing to play at a high level. The starting five is well rounded and Malik Monk and Trey Lyles continue to excel off the bench. However, this team has one clear weakness and that is defense. Hopefully, their offense, which is the best in the league, can carry them in the playoffs. They are going to need it. — Miranda

8. Memphis Grizzlies

  • Last Ranking: 7
  • Average: 8
  • (Matt 8, Michael 8, Anthony 8)

The Grizzlies, in summation, are currently a mess. Steven Adams has missed the last 17 games without a timetable to return, Brandon Clarke is out for the season after tearing his achilles, Dillon Brooks was suspended Sunday for picking up his 16th technical and Ja Morant will be away from team for an undetermined amount of time to learn from his recent off-court incidents (we hope he gets better!). Memphis is hanging onto the No. 2 seed with Sacramento a half-game back and the surging Suns three games back. 

7. New York Knicks

  • Last Ranking: 12
  • Average: 7
  • (Matt 6, Michael 5, Anthony 10)

The New York Knicks own the NBA’s longest active winning streak at nine games. They’re coming off two grueling road wins over the Heat and Celtics (without Jalen Brunson) after winning their previous six by north of 17 points per game, and it’s not going to get any easier with six of their next nine away from MSG. Immanuel Quickley’s 38-point, eight-rebound, seven-assist performance was the difference maker against Boston, while Randle’s 43-point masterclass against Adebayo and Butler shut down the 305 on Friday. New York’s playing their best basketball of the season and it’s fun to watch.

6. Phoenix Suns

  • Last Ranking: 13
  • Average: 6
  • (Matt 7, Michael 7, Anthony 4)

The Phoenix Suns have won seven of their last 10 and they are surging post-All-Star break. They are currently the four seed in the West and they are roughly two games back from the three seed. The Suns are 3-0 with Kevin Durant. Oh yeah, they have Kevin Durant now. Phoenix has KD, Devin Booker, Chris Paul, Deandre Ayton, and Josh Okogie as their starting five. I think that is a starting five that can make a run at a championship. The Suns’ depth may be an issue when compared to other playoff teams and their new starts still have to get used to each other. However, Phoenix fans should be happy that the Suns now have a team that can compete for a championship this year. — Miranda

5. Cleveland Cavaliers

  • Last Ranking: 5
  • Average: 5.7
  • (Matt 5, Michael 6, Anthony 6)

The Cavaliers have sputtered out of the All-Star break, losing three of their first four games, but picked up a 24-point win over the Detroit Pistons followed by an overtime victory over the Boston Celtics on Monday. Cleveland has the NBA’s easiest schedule the rest of the way, per Tankathon, but will have to travel to Miami for a road-road back-to-back before it squares off against Charlotte and Philadelphia shortly thereafter.

4. Philadelphia 76ers

  • Last Ranking: 4
  • Average: 4.3
  • (Matt 4, Michael 4, Anthony 5)

The Sixers were one of the hottest teams in basketball heading into the All-Star break, but are 4-3 in seven games since returning with all three of their losses coming by a combined 12 points. They trailed by 18 on Saturday with 2:30 left in the third quarter to Milwaukee, but outscored Milwaukee 48-31 in the 4th quarter  — including a 19-point quarter from James Harden with 12 more from Jalen McDaniels — to earn a massive 133-130 win over the Bucks on Saturday night. Philly also scored 147 points behind a 40-point outing from Embiid and a 20-assist night from Harden, moving two games back behind Boston and 2.5 ahead of Cleveland with 18 games left.

The Sixers come in 4th in this month’s NBA power rankings!

3. Denver Nuggets

  • Last Ranking: 2
  • Average: 2.3
  • (Matt 2, Michael 3, Anthony 2)

Barring an unforeseen collapse, the Nuggets will likely win the Western Conference with 18 games left in the schedule. They are seven games up on the Memphis Grizzlies and 7.5 up on the No. 3-seeded Kings. Denver has won four straight, nine of its last 11 and 12 of its last 15 with back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic, who might be the frontrunner for a third straight MVP. The Nuggets will play nine of their next 10 against Eastern Conference opponents before finishing the season with eight straight against West foes — including two against Phoenix and one against Sacramento. 

2. Boston Celtics

  • Last Ranking: 1
  • Average: 2
  • (Matt 3, Michael 2, Anthony 1)

The Celtics lose the top spot in this month’s power rankings, slipping up in three of their last four. They blew a 28-point lead to the Nets on Friday, a 14-point lead to the Knicks and another double-figure lead to Cleveland in an overtime loss on Monday. It was a tough night for Grant Williams, who missed two free throws at the end of regulation that would’ve put Boston ahead. Boston will also be without Robert Williams III for the next 10 days with a strained hamstring, changing the complexion of their back-line. They got a quick lift after last night’s loss for some reason, but I’m still going to be very interested to see how much they have their foot on the gas pedal heading into the final stretch.

1. Milwaukee Bucks

  • Last Ranking: 3
  • Average: 1.7
  • (Matt 1, Michael 1, Anthony 3)

The Milwaukee Bucks nab this month’s top spot in our NBA power rankings! Despite its brutal 3-point loss to the Philadelphia Sixers Saturday evening, the Bucks won 16 consecutive games behind the other-wordly play of Giannis Antetokounmpo — who averaged 31.9 points, 12.0 rebounds and 5.4 dimes on 58.2 percent shooting, including 37.8 percent from distance on 3.0 attempts per game. The Celtics are 1.5 games back of Milwaukee, though it owns the tiebreaker against its counterpart because of its superior East record. 

***

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