NBA Power Rankings: Raptors rising after strong weekend

DeMar DeRozan scored a game-high 22 points as the Raptors rolled to a 116-91 victory over the Indiana Pacers.

They may rank dead last (by a decent margin) in terms of assists per game, but the Toronto Raptors have otherwise been playing solid basketball since the all-star break despite the absence of Kyle Lowry, particularly on the defensive end.

And thanks to a big weekend, with wins over East playoff teams Detroit and Indiana, the Raptors are rising on Sportsnet’s NBA Power Rankings for the first time in, well, a long time.

Rank Team
1

Despite going 2-2 in the last week, the Spurs have been the NBA’s best team since the all-star break. Particularly encouraging is LaMarcus Aldridge’s play since having a scare when he had to sit a game due to potential heart issues. They’ll need him to contend come playoff time.
2016–17 record: 53-16

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2

Last week ESPN’s Ethan Strauss said a Warriors player told him “We’ve got problems and it ain’t basketball.” After three straight losses, an easy stretch of the schedule has the Dubs winners of three in a row, but the team is looking vulnerable. They still own the NBA’s best record but have ‘just’ the 7th best win percentage since the All-Star break.
2016–17 record: 55-14

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3

Per Elias Sports, James Harden is the only player to score 40 and record a triple-double in back-to-back games, as he did this weekend.
2016–17 record: 48-22

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4

Became the first team in the East to clinch a playoff spot after their drubbing of the Lakers on Sunday night. Per NBA Reddit, Kyrie Irving has become just the fourth player since 2000 to average 25 points on an eFG% of .537 before his 25th birthday.
2016–17 record: 46-23

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5

They may be separating from the pack to hold onto home court advantage in the West, but the Jazz have now dropped two straight on their East coast road trip.
2016–17 record: 43-27

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6

Currently up a game and a half on Washington for the East’s no.2 seed, but a convincing loss has the Celtics looking far from invincible. Speaking of invincible, rookie Jaylen Brown has scored just seven total points with one steal and zero blocks in 15 minutes per game over his last three.
2016–17 record: 44-26

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7

Don’t look now, but the Raptors own the 3rd best defensive rating in the NBA since the all-star break. In that span, they also have the East’s third-best win percentage (behind Miami and Milwaukee) and are once again within grasp of the coveted 3rd seed in the East.
2016–17 record: 41-29

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8

1-3 in their last four, the Wiz are slumping at the wrong time and are now just a game and a half up on the Raptors for the East’s third seed. Toronto holds the tie-break after winning the season series.
2016–17 record: 42-27

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9

Russell Westbrook had his four-game triple-double run come to an end over the weekend, but the Thunder still pulled out the win over Sacramento, their fifth straight.
2016–17 record: 40-29

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10

No team in the East has a better win percentage than Miami since the all-star break. They are now tied with Detroit for the NBA’s 8-seed.
2016–17 record: 34-36

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11

The Grizzlies have now won four straight and are getting contributions up and down the roster, including from Vince Carter, who last week became the first 40-year old in NBA history to both go perfect from the floor and score at least six three-pointers in a game.
2016–17 record: 40-30

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12

The Clippers beat up on the Cavs with Cleveland’s ‘big three’ out of the lineup, but have been struggling mightily of late with four losses in their last seven games.
2016–17 record: 41-29

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13

Only the Rockets have scored more ppg than the Nuggets since the all-star break. They’re also the top-ranked rebounding team in the NBA this season. Whether they hold on to the West’s 8-seed or not, there’s a bright future ahead in Denver.
2016–17 record: 33-36

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14

The Bucks have quietly been on fire since losing Jabari Parker and are 8-2 in their last ten. Rookie Malcom Brogdon is picking up the slack, and became just the fourth rookie to average more than four assists per game while shooting at least 40 per cent from deep.
2016–17 record: 34-35

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15

Portland is shooting an absurd 43.5 per cent from deep since the all-star break and are fuelled by Damian Lillard’s nutso 31.2 ppg in that span.
2016–17 record: 22-37

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16

Bottom-ten in both ppg and 3-PT shooting since the all-star break, as the Hawks are now looking behind them in the standings with the Pacers and Bucks in hot pursuit of the fifth seed.
2016–17 record: 37-32

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17

The Pacers haven’t been able to string together two straight wins since Feb.6, yet are still within two games of the aforementioned Hawks.
2016–17 record: 35-34

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18

Snapped a three-game skid vs. Phoenix on Sunday as their big man tandem of Andre Drummond and Aron Baynes combined for 35 rebounds.
2016–17 record: 34-36

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19

A game vs. the Raptors, whom they’ve notoriously owned over the years, might be just what the Bulls need after winning just two of their last nine.
2016–17 record: 33-37

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20

They’re in tough to make the playoffs— currently three games out with two scorching teams, Denver and Portland, ahead in the standings—but Dirk Nowitzki is doing all he can, including dropping 23 points in the Mavs’ comeback over lowly Brooklyn this weekend.
2016–17 record: 30-39

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21

2-3 in their last five, the Hornets are in no mans land, out of reach of both a playoff spot and top-end lottery pick.
2016–17 record: 30-39

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22

With Ricky Rubio rolling it looked the Timberwolves would be poised to make a run at the West’s eighth seed. Instead, they’ve now lost three-straight.
2016–17 record: 28-41

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23

From the last power rankings: “The Boogie Cousins-Anthony Davis experiment hasn’t succeeded yet with just two wins in seven tries.” The duo remain an awkward fit, but at least the Pels have now won four of their last five.
2016–17 record: 29-41

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24

Buddy Hield and Willie Cauley-Stein have been given free reign since the DeMarcus Cousins trade and are making the Kings as watchable as they’ve been in recent memory.
2016–17 record: 27-43

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25

They’ve surpassed their Vegas odds of reaching 25 wins, thanks in large part to the continued stellar play of rookie Dario Saric, now the likely favourite to take home RoY honours.
2016–17 record: 26-43

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26

Knicks fans are already looking ahead to the draft lottery, and a Knicks landscape without either Carmelo Anthony or Phil Jackson in the picture.
2016–17 record: 27-42

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27

A team and fan base looking squarely ahead to the lottery, where they’ll be hoping to jump up a couple of spots into the top three and land a potential franchise player Orlando desperately needs.
2015–16 record: 25-45

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28

The youth (and tank) movement is in full swing. And while it hasn’t resulted in wins (…a good thing when jockeying for lottery positioning), their talent is flourishing, like rookie point guard Tyler Ulis, who posted a double-double over the weekend.
2016–17 record: 22-48

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29

With one win in their last 15, the Lakers are tanking while giving their prospects time to shine. On Sunday, D’Angelo Russell became the youngest Laker to score 40 points.
2016–17 record: 20-50

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30

Asked this last week and I’ll ask it again: Is this the saddest team in pro sports? Does anybody have a bleaker future than the Nets?
2016–17 record: 13-56

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