NBA Power Rankings Week 10: Milwaukee Bucks stay No. 1, Toronto Raptors make history

Giannis Antetokounmpo showed the world why he's the favorite to repeat as MVP, dropping 34 points -- with a career-high five 3-pointers -- as the Milwaukee Bucks toppled LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers in this season's most-anticipated game.

But that was all the way back on Thursday.

The real fireworks of the past week came less than 24 hours ago, when the injury-riddled Toronto Raptors pulled off the near-impossible, rallying from a 30-point deficit -- 23 points in the fourth quarter -- to cap the biggest comeback in franchise history in beating the Dallas Mavericks.

Let's see where all 30 teams stand as we gear up for a Christmas Day feast of NBA basketball -- all day Wednesday on ESPN and ABC.

Throughout the regular season, our panel (ESPN's Tim MacMahon, Andre' Snellings, Royce Young and Bobby Marks, and The Undefeated's Marc J. Spears) is ranking all 30 teams from top to bottom, taking stock of which teams are playing the best basketball now and which teams are looking most like title contenders.

Previous: Week 9 | 8 | 7 | 6 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | 1 | Camp | Free agency | Post-Finals

1. Milwaukee Bucks
Record: 27-4
Week 9 ranking: 1

The Bucks solidified their spot as the top team in the NBA with a convincing win over the Lakers on Thursday night. The Bucks have a tough matchup in Philadelphia on Christmas Day; after that, they play 10 straight games against teams with losing records and an overall win percentage of under 35. -- Snellings

This week: @PHI, @ATL, ORL

2. Los Angeles Lakers
Record: 24-6
Week 9 ranking: 2

On Sunday, LeBron James missed a game for the first time this season. Hopefully for the Lakers, he will not miss the next game -- the big Christmas showdown against the LA Clippers. James has scored 321 points in 13 Christmas games, surpassed only by Kobe Bryant's 395 points in his NBA-record 16 games and Oscar Robertson's 377 points in 12 games. -- Spears

This week: LAC, @POR, DAL

3. LA Clippers
Record: 22-10
Week 9 ranking: 3

It has been a tad choppy lately for the Clippers, who are 2-3 in their past five games. Some of that is because of their choppy lineups as they rest players and deal with injuries. Their game Sunday in Oklahoma City featured a fourth-quarter stumble, as the Thunder shut down Paul George and Lou Williams and scored at will on the other end while Kawhi Leonard and Patrick Beverley sat. But it might just mean the stars are properly aligned for Christmas Day against the Lakers; people certainly will not overreact at all to the outcome of that game. -- Young

This week: @LAL, UTAH

4. Miami Heat
Record: 21-8
Week 9 ranking: 4

Call the loss to the Grizzlies a trap game if you want, but following it up with a statement win in Philly was the mark of a very good team. For extended stretches, the best player on the floor in that game was Bam Adebayo; he is putting together a strong early case for Most Improved Player, raising his level of play in every category. If the Heat are going to continue to ascend in the East, Adebayo's development is going to run parallel. -- Young

This week: UTAH, IND, PHI

5. Boston Celtics
Record: 20-7
Week 9 ranking: 6

The Celtics continued the next-man-up approach in wins over Dallas and Detroit last week. With Gordon Hayward sidelined once again, this time because of a left foot injury, Boston got a combined 82 points from Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum in a road win at Dallas. When Walker struggled, going 0-for-6 two nights later at home against Detroit, rookie Grant Williams chipped in with 18 points. The win over the Pistons also saw fan favorite Tacko Fall score a career-high five points in his home debut. -- Marks

This week: @TOR, CLE, TOR

6. Toronto Raptors
Record: 21-8
Week 9 ranking: 7

The Raptors are beset by injuries, with Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol and Norman Powell out indefinitely. So what? Toronto has won five straight, with none more thrilling than the franchise-best 30-point comeback win Sunday over the Mavericks. Moving forward, Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet will be relied upon even more to provide offense from the backcourt; they are averaging a combined 37.8 points as the team's second- and third-leading scorers. -- Snellings

This week: @IND, BOS, @BOS, OKC

7. Houston Rockets
Record: 20-9
Week 9 ranking: 10

Russell Westbrook has averaged 29.3 points on 50.7% shooting in his past seven games, highlighted by a 40-point performance in a road win over the Clippers. He attributed his drastically improved efficiency recently to better health, specifically regarding the fingers on his right hand that he dislocated during the preseason. The Rockets are 9-1 when Westbrook hits at least half of his shots from the field, with the lone loss coming at the buzzer against the Kings. -- MacMahon

This week: @SAC, @GS, BKN, @NO

8. Denver Nuggets
Record: 20-8
Week 9 ranking: 9

So LeBron wasn't playing, but it's tough not to be impressed by the Nuggets' dominant second half at Staples Center on Sunday to win their sixth straight game. The brilliant balance of Denver was on full display, with six players in double figures. After a lull a couple of weeks ago, the Nuggets' offense has come alive, sending the firm reminder that this contender is still to be taken very seriously. -- Young

This week: @PHX, NO, MEM, SAC

9. Dallas Mavericks
Record: 19-10
Week 9 ranking: 8

The Mavs managed to go 2-3 without Luka Doncic against the beasts of the Eastern Conference (Miami, Milwaukee, Boston, Philadelphia and Toronto) and would have finished that run with a winning record if not for a meltdown after building a 30-point lead over the Raptors. "We're not looking to be a little better than expected," coach Rick Carlisle said after Sunday's loss. "We're looking to do exceptional things. So that's why this is really disappointing." -- MacMahon

This week: SA, @GS, @LAL

10. Philadelphia 76ers
Record: 21-10
Week 9 ranking: 5

According to Joel Embiid, the Sixers are "playing scared." Philly has lost three of four -- including games to a depleted Brooklyn team, Miami and Dallas. Those most recent losses came with the Heat and Mavericks employing a zone defense, something more opponents might copy as the season continues. Per Second Spectrum, Miami played 38 possessions of zone Wednesday -- the most by any team in a game this season -- and Dallas played 35 on Friday. -- Marks

This week: @DET, MIL, @ORL, @MIA

11. Indiana Pacers
Record: 20-10
Week 9 ranking: 11

The Pacers are one of the most under-the-radar teams in the NBA, winners of five straight games, including a victory over the Lakers, before losing in Milwaukee on Sunday night. The Pacers win with defense, ranking in the top six in the NBA in opponents' points, field goal percentage and 3-point percentage. -- Snellings

This week: TOR, @MIA, @NO

12. Utah Jazz
Record: 18-11
Week 9 ranking: 13

Utah is taking advantage of a soft stretch of schedule, winning six of its past seven games, with all the victories coming against teams with losing records. But the Jazz still have to figure out how to get much better production from the bench. It seems that the experiment of Joe Ingles as a sixth man has ended. He remained in the starting lineup when Mike Conley made his return Tuesday (only to aggravate his hamstring in that game) with Royce O'Neale shifting to a reserve role. -- MacMahon

This week: @MIA, POR, @LAC

13. Brooklyn Nets
Record: 16-13
Week 9 ranking: 12

A 16-13 record won't generate much Coach of the Year attention, but Kenny Atkinson and his staff should receive high praise for keeping the Nets afloat. Besides Kevin Durant being out for the season, Brooklyn has dealt with injuries to Kyrie Irving and Caris LeVert, a Wilson Chandler suspension and now a season-ending injury to reserve David Nwaba. It is also time to recognize that backup guard Spencer Dinwiddie is inching closer to earning a spot in the All-Star Game. Last week, Dinwiddie averaged 37 points as Brooklyn went 2-1. -- Marks

This week: NY, @HOU

14. Oklahoma City Thunder
Record: 15-14
Week 9 ranking: 15

Four straight wins put the Thunder on the right side of .500, but even more so, they're 9-3 dating to Nov. 29. They've found a rhythm and an identity, playing egoless, fun basketball. Dennis Schroder is making a strong case as an early front-runner for the Sixth Man Award and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander set a career high with 32 points against the Suns, then matched it Sunday against the Clippers. -- Young

This week: MEM, @CHA, @TOR

15. Portland Trail Blazers
Record: 14-16
Week 9 ranking: 20

A 4-0 week has the Blazers right back in the playoff mix and feeling much better about themselves. They've won five of six, all against sub-.500 teams, but the Blazers hadn't been taking advantage of those kind of games before. Damian Lillard is looking healthy again, averaging 30.7 points on 47% shooting during Portland's winning streak. -- Young

This week: NO, @UTAH, LAL

16. Sacramento Kings
Record: 12-17
Week 9 ranking: 14

De'Aaron Fox returned to the starting lineup for Sunday's loss in Memphis after coming off the bench the previous two games following an ankle injury. Fox has averaged 18.6 points, 6.7 assists and 3.9 rebounds in 10 games as a starter this season. -- Spears

This week: HOU, MIN, PHX, @DEN

17. Orlando Magic
Record: 12-17
Week 9 ranking: 17

The Magic continue to have trouble against quality teams, having lost six straight games against teams that made the playoffs last season. The Magic have been solid on defense, ranking 12th in defensive rating with 107.2 points allowed per 100 possessions. Their struggles have come on the other end of the court, as they have scored only 105.0 points per 100 possessions for the sixth-worst offensive rating in the NBA. -- Snellings

This week: CHI, PHI, @MIL

18. San Antonio Spurs
Record: 11-17
Week 9 ranking: 23

Point guard Dejounte Murray has returned to the starting lineup with mixed results. He has been productive in four games since getting his starting job back, averaging 14.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists while shooting 61% from the field. But he has the Spurs' worst plus-minus during that 2-2 stretch, as San Antonio was outscored by 45 points in Murray's 110 minutes. -- MacMahon

This week: @MEM, @DAL, DET

19. Charlotte Hornets
Record: 13-20
Week 9 ranking: 18

Instead of focusing on the disappointing two-point loss at Cleveland, we will focus on the good -- the play of Malik Monk. Since entering the league in 2017, Monk has struggled with his consistency and role. Last week, the guard put together a strong stretch of games -- 10.3 points per game on 53.3% shooting and 41.7% from deep -- all coming off the bench. In the lone win against Sacramento, Monk scored 23 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and handed out 4 assists. -- Marks

This week: OKC, @MEM

20. Chicago Bulls
Record: 12-19
Week 9 ranking: 22

Zach LaVine and the Bulls are finally making a run after winning two straight and four of their past six. LaVine has been the key, averaging 29.0 points, 3.5 made 3-pointers and 6.5 made free throws over his past six games, including 35-, 31- and 33-point performances in wins over Atlanta, the LA Clippers and Detroit, respectively. -- Spears

This week: @ORL, ATL

21. Phoenix Suns
Record: 11-18
Week 9 ranking: 16

The Suns have dropped six straight games, and while injuries have stymied them, the biggest problem has been missing starting center Deandre Ayton. The No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA draft, who returned from a 25-game suspension Tuesday and recorded 18 points and 12 rebounds, has now missed the past two games because of a sprained ankle. -- Spears

This week: DEN, @GS, @SAC

22. Memphis Grizzlies
Record: 11-19
Week 9 ranking: 24

Memphis is 6-6 in December despite Rookie of the Year front-runner Ja Morant missing five games. Jaren Jackson Jr. has been much more aggressive offensively this month, averaging 20.8 points and hitting 39.4% of his 7.8 3-point attempts per game. Jackson had launched at least seven 3s in only seven games in his career before this month. -- MacMahon

This week: SA, @OKC, @DEN, CHA

23. Detroit Pistons
Record: 11-19
Week 9 ranking: 19

Before Blake Griffin went down because of a knee issue last week, the Pistons had won three of four games and five of seven, capped by an upset victory over the Rockets in Houston. Since Griffin's injury, the Pistons have lost four straight games by an average of 15 points. Griffin played in one of those losses before returning to the shelf for the next two outings, and is considered day-to-day heading into this week's slate. -- Snellings

This week: PHI, WSH, @SA

24. Minnesota Timberwolves
Record: 10-18
Week 9 ranking: 21

The Timberwolves have lost 10 straight games with a defense that seems to have left the building; Minnesota is giving up 122.2 points per game during the losing streak. Of even more concern, though, is the health of big man Karl-Anthony Towns, who has missed three straight games and is day-to-day because of a left knee sprain. -- Snellings

This week: @GS, @SAC, CLE

25. Washington Wizards
Record: 8-20
Week 9 ranking: 25

The Wizards haven't held a team under 110 points since Nov. 4. In fact, they've held only three teams under 110 this season. As pointed out by Fred Katz of The Athletic, the Wizards are on pace to win almost 10 fewer games than last season -- and yet there's a lot more optimism and positivity around them this season. Amazing what having an apparent plan and identity can do, even for a bad team. -- Young

This week: @NY, @DET, NY

26. Cleveland Cavaliers
Record: 8-21
Week 9 ranking: 28

For only the second time this season, the Cavaliers won two in a row: home games against Charlotte and Memphis. While the highlight in the Grizzlies win was certainly the almost-spectacular dunk by Ja Morant over Kevin Love, Cavs reserve Jordan Clarkson quietly put together a 33-point performance in the win. Speaking of Love, in the two wins, the forward averaged 21 points, 13 rebounds and shot 45.5% from 3. -- Marks

This week: ATL, @BOS, @MIN

27. New York Knicks
Record: 7-23
Week 9 ranking: 27

The Knicks got a dose of reality in back-to-back losses to East juggernauts Miami and Milwaukee. After going 3-3 under interim head coach Mike Miller, including a 23-point win over Atlanta, the Knicks lost by a combined 36 points to the Heat and Bucks. For the season, New York has point differential of minus-9.3; only the Hawks are worse. In the two losses, rookie RJ Barrett continued to struggle, averaging 9.5 points on 26.9% shooting. -- Marks

This week: WSH, @BKN, @WSH

28. New Orleans Pelicans
Record: 7-23
Week 9 ranking: 26

The Pelicans' franchise-record 13-game losing streak mercifully came to an end in Minnesota. With the playoffs already a pipe dream, the intrigue with the Pelicans revolves around the eventual debut of Zion Williamson and possible departure of Jrue Holiday. Williamson is still "a ways away," GM David Griffin said on the team's broadcast; the initial timetable of six to eight weeks for the rookie's recovery from a knee scope has already passed. Holiday, a premier two-way guard in his prime, could be the biggest name moved in the trade market this season. -- MacMahon

This week: @POR, @DEN, IND, HOU

29. Golden State Warriors
Record: 6-24
Week 9 ranking: 30

Rookie forward Eric Paschall has cooled after playing like a Rookie of the Year candidate early. The former Villanova star is averaging 15.4 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 29.5 minutes per game this season. But Paschall is averaging 11.8 points in December after a drop in attempts of about four shots per game. -- Spears

This week: MIN, HOU, PHX, DAL

30. Atlanta Hawks
Record: 6-24
Week 9 ranking: 29

Trae Young is still flying high while the rest of the Hawks are grounded. The second-year guard has recorded four 40-point games this season and has scored 30 points in 16 of them. Help is on the way Monday night, when center John Collins is available after serving a 25-game suspension. -- Spears

This week: @CLE, MIL, @CHI