NBA Power Rankings Week 15: Raptors, Jazz headline a top-10 shake-up

The second half of the regular season is underway. The No. 1 spot in our rankings has been owned by the Milwaukee Bucks in each of the previous seven weeks, and there is arguably some cushion between the best team in the NBA and the rest of the league.

It is starting to resemble 2019, with the Toronto Raptors rising to No. 2 in the Eastern Conference on the strength of a seven-game win streak. In the Western Conference, the Utah Jazz, with 14 wins in their past 15 games, have settled in behind the Los Angeles Lakers.

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 rankings: Week 14 | 13 | 12 | 11 | 10 | 9 | 8 | 7 | 6 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | 1 | Training camp | Free agency | Post-Finals

1. Milwaukee Bucks
Record: 40-6
Week 14 ranking: 1

The Bucks have won eight straight games and 13 of their past 14; it is the third non-overlapping time this season that they have won at least 12 times in 13 games. The team is known for its stifling defense, by far the best in the NBA with only 101.3 points allowed per 100 possessions. But its offense has been almost as impressive with 113.3 points scored per 100 possessions to rank second in the NBA. -- Snellings

This week: WAS, DEN, PHX

2. Los Angeles Lakers
Record: 36-10
Week 14 ranking: 2

Kobe Bryant, the Lakers' all-time leading scorer, tragically died Sunday in a helicopter crash that also killed his daughter Gianna and several others. Bryant is eligible to be elected into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this year, potentially joining posthumous inductees Dennis Johnson (2010), Gus Johnson (2010) and Drazen Petrovic (2002). -- Spears

This week: LAC, POR, @SAC

3. Utah Jazz
Record: 32-13
Week 14 ranking: 5

The Jazz, who have won 19 of their past 21 games, are easing point guard Mike Conley back into the mix after an extended absence due to a hamstring strain. Coming off the bench on a minutes restriction, Conley has averaged 7.8 points on 46.7% shooting in 17.8 minutes in the four games since he has returned. -- MacMahon

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

4. LA Clippers
Record: 33-14
Week 14 ranking: 3

Even as the Clippers await Paul George's return from a hamstring injury, they have played mostly good basketball, going 7-2 since George's injury on Jan. 8. It's mostly because the other All-Star has been fantastic, like against the Heat on Friday when Kawhi Leonard registered his first career triple-double -- and then followed it up with a 31-14-7 line against Orlando. Leonard has asserted himself and dominated in his last eight games without George, averaging 35.0 points, 7.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists. -- Young

This week: @LAL, SAC, MIN

5. Toronto Raptors
Record: 32-14
Week 14 ranking: 7

The Raptors have won seven straight games and have moved back to the No. 2 spot in the Eastern Conference. Led by All-Star starter Pascal Siakam, they are second in the NBA in team defensive rating with only 104.5 points allowed per 100 possessions. The Raptors are 26-9 in games that Siakam has played, a 74% win rate that would trail only the Bucks and Lakers for best in the NBA this season. -- Snellings

This week: ATL, @CLE, @DET, CHI

6. Denver Nuggets
Record: 32-14
Week 14 ranking: 6

Quietly, this has been one of the most impressive stretches of the season for the Nuggets. They are banged up all over but still won three of four, including a quality victory over Houston on Sunday. Nikola Jokic has been terrific, but Michael Porter Jr. continues to add intriguing depth as Mike Malone zeroes in on a postseason rotation. There was a little hiccup with some back tightness, but Porter says not to worry and his games against the Pelicans and Rockets should be good reason to listen. -- Young

This week: @MEM, UTAH, @MIL, @DET

7. Miami Heat
Record: 31-14
Week 14 ranking: 4

Somewhere in a remote location, rising from the depths of the ocean floor, Waiters Island has returned. After missing the Heat's first 44 games, Dion Waiters made his debut on Friday against the Clippers and put up 14 points in 18 minutes. It has been an uncomfortable season for Waiters, with team suspensions, medical incidents, injuries and other issues, but he is still a talented player who can help a good team. For a squad potentially shopping for more depth at the deadline, Waiters might be a solution. -- Young

This week: ORL, BOS, @ORL

8. Boston Celtics
Record: 30-15
Week 14 ranking: 8

Though the week ended with a loss to New Orleans, it was a success overall. Boston went 3-1 and outscored the Lakers, Grizzlies and Magic by a combined 67 points. The win against the Lakers proved that when healthy, the Celtics can compete with any team in the NBA. The loss to New Orleans, however, showed how vulnerable they are when playing short-handed, as both Jayson Tatum and Enes Kanter were injured. -- Marks

This week: @MIA, GSW, PHI

9. Indiana Pacers
Record: 30-17
Week 14 ranking: 10

The Pacers went 3-2 on their five-game road trip out West, and they have won seven of their past nine games ahead of Victor Oladipo's anticipated return on Wednesday. They have a nice runway of winnable games to get Oladipo up to speed this week, with home matchups against teams with a combined win percentage under 32%. -- Snellings

This week: CHI, NYK

10. Philadelphia 76ers
Record: 30-17
Week 14 ranking: 11

This year's version of the 76ers can turn on a switch against elite teams. In the two wins this season against the Bucks and Lakers, Philadelphia won by a combined 29 points. The win against the Lakers on Saturday not only saw Ben Simmons put on an All-NBA performance on both ends, it showed that rookie Matisse Thybulle continues to make a case for All-Defense. The team has a defensive rating of 95.7 in the 27 wins they have when Thybulle is on the court. -- Marks

This week: GSW, @ATL, @BOS

11. Houston Rockets
Record: 28-17
Week 14 ranking: 12

James Harden was battling through one of the worst slumps in his career before suffering a thigh contusion that forced him to sit out Sunday in Denver. The injury likely will sideline him Monday in Utah. Harden has made only 34.8% of his shots from the floor (22.9% from 3-point range) over the past eight games. His league-leading scoring average has dipped from 38.5 to 36.1 points since the slump started in Oklahoma City Jan. 9. -- MacMahon

This week: @UTAH, @POR, DAL, NOP

12. Dallas Mavericks
Record: 28-17
Week 14 ranking: 9

The Mavericks continue to search for solutions for their late-game offensive struggles, as the league's most efficient offense ranks 28th in the clutch (93.6 points per 100 possessions). Luka Doncic is shooting only 34.6% when the score is within five points in the final five minutes.

"Any team is going to do anything possible to make it hard on him down the stretch," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said after Doncic was held to two points in the fourth quarter of Saturday's loss in Utah. "I've got to do a better job of getting him in better situations." -- MacMahon

This week: @OKC, PHX, @HOU, ATL

13. Oklahoma City Thunder
Record: 28-19
Week 14 ranking: 13

It seems each week raises the question, "Wait, are the Thunder actually this good?" And the answer has consistently been, "Yes, the Thunder are this good." They are 22-8 in their past 30 games -- that is a 60-win pace -- and have won nine of their past 10 road games. And they've done it with plenty of adversity too, relying on their suddenly impressive depth. As long as Dennis Schroder, Chris Paul and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander play -- that trio has a net rating of plus-29.3 in 311 minutes -- they're good. -- Young

This week: DAL, @SAC, @PHX

14. Memphis Grizzlies
Record: 22-24
Week 14 ranking: 14

Rookie of the Year front-runner Ja Morant is establishing himself as an elite closer. He averages 7.9 points per fourth quarter, ranking behind only James Harden, Trae Young and Giannis Antetokounmpo this season. Morant has hit double digits in the fourth quarter in 13 games, including six of the past eight. -- MacMahon

This week: DEN, @NYK, @NOP

15. San Antonio Spurs
Record: 20-25
Week 14 ranking: 17

Guard Derrick White, who looked like a potential building block during the 2019 playoffs, has flashed some of that form recently. He has scored in double figures in five consecutive games for only the second time this season. White has averaged 15 points and 5.6 assists off the Spurs' bench in that span, highlighted by a season-high 25-point, seven-assist performance in a win over the Suns. -- MacMahon

This week: @CHI, UTAH, CHA

16. Orlando Magic
Record: 21-26
Week 14 ranking: 15

The Magic have struggled against good teams, with only five wins and 20 losses thus far against teams over .500. In the upcoming week, both of their games are against a Heat team with one of the best records in the league. The Heat are, however, one of the winning teams that the Magic have beaten this season -- a 20-point victory that Orlando will look to replicate this week. -- Snellings

This week: @MIA, MIA

17. Phoenix Suns
Record: 19-27
Week 14 ranking: 16

The Suns have not had an All-Star since Steve Nash in 2012. Will Devin Booker finally be able to break the streak for Phoenix? Booker has made a late push, averaging 31.6 points, 6.2 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 9.0 made free throws per game in January. -- Spears

This week: @DAL, OKC, @MIL

18. Brooklyn Nets
Record: 19-26
Week 14 ranking: 18

The Nets are entering a make-or-break week. After going 3-13 since Dec. 26, including losing streaks of seven and five games, the Nets are about to play the soft spot of their schedule. Before they compete in Toronto on Feb. 8, they will face Detroit, Chicago, Washington, Phoenix and Golden State -- five teams below .500. Despite its recent record, Brooklyn is still four games ahead of ninth-place Chicago in the loss column. -- Marks

This week: DET, CHI, @WAS

19. Portland Trail Blazers
Record: 20-27
Week 14 ranking: 20

Damian Lillard is not one to ever go quietly, and he's not about to stand idle as the Blazers' season slips away. In the past week, he dropped a career-high 61, followed it up with 47, then put 50 on the Pacers (plus 13 assists). Portland won two of those three games and has gotten back within shouting distance of the West's 8-seed. Plus, CJ McCollum is back from a sprained ankle. Lillard was asked about the Blazers' bad season and if that's got him thinking differently about his future and he put it simply: "I can weather the storm." Or maybe he just decided to be one. -- Young

This week: HOU, @LAL, UTAH

20. Chicago Bulls
Record: 18-30
Week 14 ranking: 21

Zach LaVine is making a strong last-minute statement for landing an East All-Star reserve spot in Chicago. The athletic guard is averaging 30 points and 3.1 3-pointers made per game in January. He has scored at least 40 points in three games this month, including 44 in a win over Cleveland on Jan. 25. -- Spears

This week: SAS, @IND, @BKN, @TOR

21. New Orleans Pelicans
Record: 18-29
Week 14 ranking: 19

Zion Williamson has lived up to sky-high expectations so far, scoring 58 points in 67 minutes in his first three NBA games while shooting 66.7% from the floor. Williamson going 4-of-4 from 3-point range in his debut was a pleasant surprise, and he has been as dominant a finisher as anticipated, hitting 18-of-23 in the restricted area with four dunks. -- MacMahon

This week: @CLE, MEM, @HOU

22. Detroit Pistons
Record: 17-30
Week 14 ranking: 22

Pistons center Andre Drummond has grabbed 8,104 rebounds in his career, the most rebounds by a player through his age-26 season in NBA history -- ahead of Wilt Chamberlain's 8,088. While Chamberlain was rebounding at a much higher per-game pace (26.0 RPG vs Drummond's 13.9 RPG) and joined the NBA at age 23 compared to Drummond's 19, Drummond likely is pulling down a higher percentage of the available rebounds than The Stilt due to the dramatic difference in pace between the two eras. That is a major accomplishment. -- Snellings

This week: CLE, @BKN, TOR, DEN

23. Sacramento Kings
Record: 16-29
Week 14 ranking: 24

Buddy Hield scored 21 points with five made 3-pointers off the bench to help end the Kings' six-game losing streak with a 98-81 win at Chicago on Friday. Hield hadn't come off the bench in Sacramento's previous 44 games. Bogdan Bogdanovic had 12 points in 26 minutes after replacing Hield in the starting lineup. -- Spears

This week: @MIN, OKC, @LAC, LAL

24. Washington Wizards
Record: 15-30
Week 14 ranking: 26

There was probably a lot of Googling as to what the most combined points in a game is before the Hawks and Wizards -- two of the worst defensive teams in the league -- squared off on Sunday. (It's 370, Nuggets-Pistons in 1983.) And the first half didn't disappoint with 150 combined. But as the Hawks kept scoring, the Wizards didn't keep pace, notching only 133 to Atlanta's 152. It's still amazing (and not in a flattering way) that the Wizards have held only three teams under 100 points this season - the same number of times opponents have scored at least 150 points against Washington in 2019-2020. -- Young

This week: @MIL, CHA, BKN

25. Minnesota Timberwolves
Record: 15-31
Week 14 ranking: 23

The Timberwolves continue to slide, losers of nine consecutive games overall and 13 straight in which Karl-Anthony Towns has played. The main cause for the collapse has been the defense, with Towns as the primary culprit. Since Dec. 1, the Wolves have an atrocious defensive rating of 123.4 points allowed per 100 possessions with Towns on the floor, but that improves to 104.5 when he sits. Towns is last among NBA centers with a defensive real plus-minus (DRPM) of -2.99 points per 100 possessions. -- Snellings

This week: SAC, @LAC

26. Charlotte Hornets
Record: 15-31
Week 14 ranking: 25

For two quarters, it appeared as though a trip across the Atlantic Ocean would be good enough to snap the Hornets' seven-game losing streak. Instead, Milwaukee dealt them their eighth consecutive loss, this time in Paris. The bright spot in the game was a career-high 31 points from Malik Monk, who went 8-of-9 from beyond the free throw line. -- Marks

This week: NYK, @WAS, @SAS

27. New York Knicks
Record: 13-34
Week 14 ranking: 29

With Sunday's win against the Nets, the Knicks accomplished something that they have only done three times this season: win two games in one week. The 2-2 week started with a 20-point victory at Cleveland and ended with a win against Brooklyn, with competitive losses to the Lakers and Raptors in between. If anything, the 2-2 record against Brooklyn this season gives New York bragging rights when it comes to their rivalry considering that the last two meetings were decisive Knicks wins. -- Marks

This week: @CHA, MEM, @IND

28. Cleveland Cavaliers
Record: 12-34
Week 14 ranking: 28

The Cavaliers have now lost seven straight games, marking the fourth time this season that they have lost five or more consecutive tilts. The Cavs' defense is largely to blame for the skid; Cleveland averaged 2.9 blocks during the losing streak, including a combined two blocks in two games against Chicago and Washington. Their 54.3 points allowed in the paint for the season ranks last in the NBA, and the team's 114.9 defensive rating is better than only Washington. -- Marks

This week: @DET, NOP, TOR, GSW

29. Golden State Warriors
Record: 10-37
Week 14 ranking: 27

Two-way player Marquese Chriss is starting at center after Willie Cauley-Stein was traded to the Mavericks last week. Chriss actually was waived by the Warriors earlier in January to make room for Damion Lee, before Chriss was signed to a two-way contract on Jan. 15. Chriss is averaging 7.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 0.9 blocks per game for the Warriors this season. -- Spears

This week: @PHI, @BOS, @CLE

30. Atlanta Hawks
Record: 12-35
Week 14 ranking: 30

Trae Young is the Hawks' first outright Eastern Conference All-Star starter since center Dikembe Mutombo in 1998. Young's growing popularity is evident, as he led all East guards with more than 2.8 million fan votes. -- Spears

This week: @TOR, PHI, @DAL