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NBA Power Rankings 2.0: Nuggets, Celtics hold serve

It's time for the second iteration of the weekly bballdistrict Power Rankings! We'll count down each team from worst to best, check in on the state of each squad, and this week we'll tell you the most underrated player on all 30 teams thus far this season. (Stay tuned every Sunday for brand new rankings and a new theme!)

30. Houston Rockets (10-29) (=)

Most Underrated Player: Jae'Sean Tate

Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

The Houston Rockets have lost nine straight games. They were only even within five points at the end of one of those games.

29. San Antonio Spurs (13-30) (-3)

Most Underrated Player: Tre Jones

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Well, at least the Spurs did one cool thing this season, playing in front of a record 68,323 person crowd at the Alamodome for the team's 50th anniversary. They got run out of their own building, but still cool.

28. Charlotte Hornets (11-33) (=)

Most Underrated Player: Terry Rozier

Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Charlotte is at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, and it's not too difficult to see why. They've struggled to even keep games close as of late.

27. Detroit Pistons (12-34) (+2)

Most Underrated Player: Marvin Bagley III

Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images

The clock is ticking for the Pistons. An already bad Detroit team is just biding it's time until the trade deadline, when they'll inevitably get far worse.

26. Orlando Magic (16-27) (+1)

Most Underrated Player: Cole Anthony

Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

The Magic are continuing to build on their young core without much worry for the results this year. They're likely the happiest bottom-feeding team considering their future. Plus, Orlando hasn't been too bad as of late, splitting their last six games

25. Washington Wizards (18-25) (-1)

Most Underrated Player: Deni Avdija

Photo by Kenny Giarla/NBAE via Getty Images

Congratulations to the Wizards on winning the biannual Chicago vs Washington nail-biter, but there's not much reason to celebrate when that's just your second win since the new year. Tommy Sheppard is going to have some major decisions to make about his squad come February 9th.

24. Los Angeles Lakers (19-23) (-6)

Most Underrated Player: Lonnie Walker IV

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Two things are true about the Los Angeles Lakers. The first: they've been wildly disappointing again this season, leaving little reason for much hope. The second: they're just two games out from avoiding the play-in and being in position for a locked-in playoff spot. Even after an 0-2 week, the Lakers are still in the thick of the Western Conference, but only time will tell if they can capitalize.

23. Toronto Raptors (19-24) (+2)

Most Underrated Player: OG Anunoby

Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images

Toronto put together their first promising week of basketball in a while, going 3-1. Granted, they beat the Hornets twice, but it's positive progress for a team that likely still believes they can turn things around. They'll have their work cut out for them, though, as games against the Knicks, Bucks, Kings, and Celtics, among others, await.

22. Los Angeles Clippers (22-22) (-6)

Most Underrated Player: Luke Kennard

Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

It's safe to say the Clippers are not where they expected to be at this point in the season. After beginning the season as the championship favorites in the minds of many, Los Angeles now sits at .500 and the seven seed. And due to the incredibly tight Western Conference, the Clips are closer to falling all the way down to 13th than they are to moving up just two spots to fifth.

21. Phoenix Suns (21-23) (-1)

Most Underrated Player: Torrey Craig

Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

Mikal Bridges and company beat the Warriors this week without Devin Booker, Chris Paul, Deandre Ayton, and Cam Johnson. That's where the positives end for Phoenix. The Suns remarkably haven't won consecutive games since mid-December, putting them in grave danger of falling completely out of the play-in.

20. Portland Trailblazers (20-22) (-3)

Most Underrated Player: Justise Winslow

Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

Things have continued not to go to plan for a very talented Portland team. Before an encouraging win over Dallas on Saturday, the Trailblazers had lost five straight, including a deflating blown lead that allowed the Cavaliers to escape Portland with a win despite Damian Lillard's 50 point effort.

19. Chicago Bulls (19-24) (-4)

Most Underrated Player: Ayo Dosunmu

Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Last week we said something had to change in Chicago, and that's becoming more and more true by the day. After a forgivable loss to Boston to open their week, the Bulls then dropped games against Washington and Oklahoma City. Lonzo Ball was finally seen dunking this week, a step in the right direction for his recovery, but by the time he gets back, Chicago may have cleaned house.

18. Oklahoma City Thunder (20-23) (+5)

Most Underrated Player: Jeremiah Robinson-Earl

Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images

Oklahoma City is surging. A team that was originally expected to head up the race for Victor Wembanyama, they've now won five of their last seven, including blowout results over the Celtics, 76ers, and Bulls. The Thunder are just a half game out from the play-in. Challenges await, though, as their next seven opponents include the Nets, Kings, Nuggets, and Cavs.

17. Atlanta Hawks (21-22) (+5)

Most Underrated Player: Clint Capela

Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

With trade rumors swirling around the Hawks, as they likely will until the deadline, the team clings to a play-in spot. John Collins has been at the epicenter of the chatter, but he's played a bigger role for Atlanta, and looked solid doing it. In Friday's two point win over the Pacers, Collins was responsible for the go-ahead tip-in after Trae Young missed an ill-advised three and Dejounte Murray couldn't hit a putback jumper.

16. Utah Jazz (22-24) (+3)

Most Underrated Player: Jarred Vanderbilt

Photos by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images

Utah's inconsistencies have continued to present themselves this season. They've struggled to string together wins ever since their hot start, but still show the ability to beat strong competition, like in their victory over Cleveland on Tuesday. Their lack of superstar power has shown up in close games, though, as their last five losses have been by single-digit margins.

15. Minnesota Timberwolves (22-22) (+6)

Most Underrated Player: Naz Reid

Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

The Minnesota Timberwolves are on the up-and-up. Two rogue losses to the Detroit Pistons are head-scratchers, but those are Minnesota's only defeats since before New Year's Eve. This impressive stretch includes wins against the Nuggets, and more recently, Cavaliers. The Wolves' seats are still hot after the Rudy Gobert trade, but signs are pointing in the right direction.

14. Indiana Pacers (23-21) (-3)

Most Underrated Player: TJ McConnell

Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images

It remains to be seen if this is a sign of things to come, but the Pacers came crashing back down to earth this past week. They'll have to try to stay afloat without Tyrese Haliburton for a couple of weeks, and the early returns aren't promising. Indiana dropped games to their direct competition, the Knicks and Hawks, as well as the Grizzlies.

13. Golden State Warriors (21-21) (=)

Most Underrated Player: Andrew Wiggins

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Warriors have enjoyed a double dose of days off in between their last three games, leaving them with just two games to play this week, and it's safe to say the results were mixed. The Dubs suffered an embarrassing loss at home to the Phoenix Mikal Bridges' before heading to San Antonio to play in the aforementioned Alamodome, where they took care of business without any trouble.

12. Miami Heat (20-18) (+2)

Most Underrated Player: Caleb Martin

Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Heat Culture may be kicking in for Miami, as they're beginning to string together wins after a slow start to the season. The Heat played four games this week, all at "The Arena", and they showed out. A one-point loss to Brooklyn stung, but that pain was quickly eased by rattling off three straight, including back-to-back against Milwaukee.

11. Sacramento Kings (23-18) (+1)

Most Underrated Player: Malik Monk

Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

The Sacramento Kings are currently on track to have home court advantage in a playoff series. Need a minute to take that in? Understandable. The Kings lit the beam three more times this past week, as the legend of the beam may never stop growing. They beat the Rockets twice, plus the Magic, but those are games the Kings never would've won just a couple years ago, so credit where it's due.

10. Dallas Mavericks (24-20) (-3)

Most Underrated Player: Spencer Dinwiddie

Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

It's been a tough stretch for Dallas, which has lost three of their past four, including Sunday without Luka Doncic against the Thunder. If the Mavericks reliance on Doncic wasn't already obvious enough, Sunday's loss makes the Mavs 0-4 without their superstar this season, with the losses coming by an average margin of 12.5 points.

9. New York Knicks (24-19) (+1)

Most Underrated Player: Quentin Grimes

Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images

Everything is clicking in New York. The Knicks have won six of their last seven, and their only loss during that stretch was to a stellar Milwaukee squad. Julius Randle is on an absolute tear, Jalen Brunson's consistency has continued, and RJ Barrett looked solid in his first two games back from injury. Who would've thought the Knicks would be in playoff position come January?

8. Philadelphia 76ers (26-16) (+1)

Most Underrated Player: Shake Milton

Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

The 76ers started off their week by taking care of business in a couple of freebies against the Pistons (albeit without Joel Embiid for the first one), before suffering a rough loss to Oklahoma City. Nevertheless, they bounced back with a close win over Utah in the first of a five game Western Conference road slate for Philly. The Sixers have now won six of their past eight.

7. Cleveland Cavaliers (27-17) (-2)

Most Underrated Player: Isaac Okoro

Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images

The Cavaliers roller coaster of a season continued last week, as they finished out a 2-3 road trip. Just two days after a comeback win against Portland in Ricky Rubio's long anticipated return from ACL surgery, Cleveland blew a lead to Minnesota in an ugly loss. Things won't get any easier either, as each of the Cavs next five games will be played against teams who currently hold a non play-in playoff spot in their conference.

6. Milwaukee Bucks (27-16) (=)

Most Underrated Player: Grayson Allen

Giannis Antetokounmpo proved his value without even stepping on the court in two games in Miami. The Greek Freak missed both matchups with a knee injury, watching his Bucks lose by six and 16, respect

6. Milwaukee Bucks (27-16) (=)

Most Underrated Player: Grayson Allen

Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Giannis Antetokounmpo proved his value without even stepping on the court in two games in Miami. The Greek Freak missed both matchups with the Heat due to a knee injury, watching his Bucks lose by six and 16 on Thursday and Saturday, respectively, Still, Milwaukee has managed to stay put as the three-seed in the East, leaving them in good position for when Antetokounmpo returns.

5. New Orleans Pelicans (26-17) (+3)

Most Underrated Player: Trey Murphy III

Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

The Pelicans season has been one of perseverance, as they've continued to grind out wins and keep pace with other contenders all season, despite injuries. Brandon Ingram hasn't played since Black Friday, and Zion Williamson is currently on the shelf, but CJ McCollum and Jonas Valanciunas have been iron men for New Orleans, who settled for a 2-1 week, with their only loss coming in Boston.

4. Brooklyn Nets (27-14) (-1)

Most Underrated Player: Ben Simmons

Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

The Nets have cooled off a bit after their 12-game win streak, and they may have been thrown out of sync over the past week thanks to a bizarre schedule (thanks NBA), having them play just twice in eight days. Brooklyn snuck out of Miami with a one-point win before running into a buzzsaw at home against the Celtics. They'll have to find their stride quickly though, as they have two back-to-backs upcoming, including three road games.

3. Memphis Grizzlies (29-13) (+1)

Most Underrated Player: Brandon Clarke

Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

The Memphis Grizzlies are scorching hot, They haven't faced the most elite competition, but they've won nine straight, and have scored 130 or more points in three of their past six games. Ja Morant is playing phenomenally, and the Grizzlies roster is incredibly deep, making them a sturdy team that can endure injuries without skipping a beat.

2. Boston Celtics (32-12) (=)

Most Underrated Player : Malcom Brogdon

Photos by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images

Boston had themselves a busy week as well, which they navigated beautifully. They went 4-0 as part of their six-game winning streak, including winning both legs of a back-to-back against the Pelicans and Nets. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have both continued to play at an All-NBA level, picking one another up whenever needed. They've helped give the Celtics a slight cushion at the top of the East, 3.5 games ahead of the second-place Nets.

1. Denver Nuggets (29-13) (=)

Most Underrated Player: Michael Porter Jr

Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

The Nuggets held serve with a 3-0 week to keep them on top of the Western Conference table. Nikola Jokic had two vintage performances, and Denver didn't miss a beat when he had to sit out Friday's game against the Clippers. The Nuggets are in good shape going forward as well, as they tip off an eight-day, five-game road trip on Sunday. Only one of those five opponents is over .500, so don't be surprised if Denver keeps rolling.

That does it for this week's bballdistrict Power Rankings! Come back next week to see the updated rankings, risers and fallers, and to find out who each team's most likely trade candidate is!


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