Does anyone want to win in the West? Our NBA Power Rankings update

8:00 AM ET

Five weeks into the 2022-23 NBA season, the Utah Jazz still have the most wins in the Western Conference. But the topsy-turvy standings fun doesn’t end there, because now the red-hot Sacramento Kings are gaining ground with a seven-game winning streak.

In between the world-beating Jazz and Kings, the Phoenix Suns, Denver Nuggets and LA Clippers are starting to meet expectations, but none have managed to separate from the pack.

Then there are the teams that boast two of the best players in the NBA so far this season in the Luka Doncic-led Dallas Mavericks and Stephen Curry-led Golden State Warriors. Dallas and Golden State haven’t quite fully wasted the MVP-caliber performances of Doncic and Curry, but they definitely haven’t capitalized enough so far as both teams hover around .500.

The Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks still look like the two primary contenders in the Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, just when it looked like the Brooklyn Nets might finally have the look of a real challenger, they dropped a game to a short-handed Philadelphia 76ers team that was playing without Joel Embiid and James Harden. Still, with Kyrie Irving back on the court for Brooklyn and Ben Simmons starting to find his form, the Nets could have a chance to get back into the conversation.

See where the East’s elite, the West’s surprises and all 30 teams stand this week.

Note: Throughout the regular season, our panel (Kendra Andrews, Tim Bontemps, Jamal Collier, Nick Friedell, Andrew Lopez, Tim MacMahon, Dave McMenamin and Ohm Youngmisuk) 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 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5

1. Boston Celtics
2022-23 record: 13-4
Previous ranking: 1

Boston is now 12-0 this season against teams not playing in Cleveland and Chicago, and 1-4 against the Cavaliers and Bulls after a second shellacking in Chicago on Monday night. That said, Boston still is cruising along with the league’s second-ranked offense and inching northward in the defensive ranks, all while Robert Williams III continues to progress toward returning from knee surgery two months ago. — Bontemps

2. Milwaukee Bucks
2022-23 record: 12-4
Previous ranking: 2

Brook Lopez collected five blocks in Monday’s win over the Trail Blazers to follow up his four-block performance in the previous game against the Sixers and increase his league-high total to 44. As the anchor of Milwaukee’s league-leading defense, Lopez is also one of the early favorites for Defensive Player of the Year. — Collier

3. Phoenix Suns
2022-23 record: 11-6
Previous ranking: 6

Phoenix has won three out of four to stabilize while Chris Paul continues to miss time because of a heel injury. The Suns have caught fire from the outside, averaging 18 made 3s on 47.8% in those three wins. — McMenamin

4. Cleveland Cavaliers
2022-23 record: 11-6
Previous ranking: 7

Donovan Mitchell (29.8 points, 6.0 assists) and Darius Garland (23.9 points, 7.8 assists) continue to make their case as the most talented backcourt in the league. Now they just have to do something about Garland’s turnovers. He’s averaging 7.0 turnovers over the Cavs’ past three games, bringing his season average to 4.0 per game — second worst in the NBA behind Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid (4.4). — McMenamin

5. Utah Jazz
2022-23 record: 12-7
Previous ranking: 9

Malik Beasley — one of the players acquired in the Rudy Gobert trade — had a sizzling stretch interrupted by an off night in Monday’s loss to the Clippers. Beasley was 34-of-71 (47.9%) from 3-point range in the previous seven games, when he averaged 19.4 points per game. The Jazz are 6-2 when Beasley hits at least four 3s. — MacMahon

6. Denver Nuggets
2022-23 record: 10-7
Previous ranking: 3

Even though back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray were back in the lineup, Denver lost to a Detroit Pistons team without Cade Cunningham and Isaiah Stewart. The Nuggets rank 24th in defensive rating, but two of their next three opponents rank in the bottom five of offensive efficiency, providing them with a get-right opportunity. — Andrews

7. Memphis Grizzlies
2022-23 record: 10-8
Previous ranking: 5

Ja Morant was expected to be week-to-week with a left ankle sprain, but he missed only one game before returning Tuesday night against the Kings. He scored 20 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter, but Morant missed a first free throw when he had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds. — MacMahon

8. LA Clippers
2022-23 record: 11-7
Previous ranking: 12

The Clippers have won three straight games with Kawhi Leonard back in the starting lineup. But as is the Clippers’ way, just as one star returns, another star gets hurt. Paul George missed Monday’s win over Utah because of a right hamstring strain. It doesn’t appear to be a serious issue, but it also isn’t clear yet when George will return. Still, the Clippers are beginning to score and defend at a high level, Norman Powell is heating up, and Reggie Jackson is finding a rhythm. — Youngmisuk

9. New Orleans Pelicans
2022-23 record: 10-7
Previous ranking: 15

While some fans lament the Warriors’ sitting Stephen Curry for the fourth straight game in New Orleans, the Pelicans aren’t complaining. New Orleans defeated the Warriors by 45 points on Monday — the second-largest win in Pelicans franchise history. Brandon Ingram had 34 points against Golden State — his first 30-point game of the season. Ingram’s 3-point shooting has stood out this season; he’s up to 48.2% on 4.3 attempts per game, which is up from 32.7% on 4.1 attempts a season ago. — Lopez

10. Atlanta Hawks
2022-23 record: 10-7
Previous ranking: 8

Minutes were spotty for Hawks rookie AJ Griffin to start the season, but he has made the most of the time he has been on the floor in the past two games. On Saturday against Toronto, Griffin had 17 points in 30 minutes off the bench and scored the overtime winner against the Raptors on an alley-oop from Trae Young. Griffin earned his first-ever start Monday in place of De’Andre Hunter (non-COVID-19 illness) and again put up 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting. — Lopez

11. Portland Trail Blazers
2022-23 record: 10-7
Previous ranking: 4

The Blazers are in a tough stretch, not only losing three of their past four games but missing Damian Lillard for at least another week after the point guard strained his calf. Snapping the slide will be difficult with the Blazers’ next four games against the Cavs, Knicks, Nets and Clippers. — Youngmisuk

12. Sacramento Kings
2022-23 record: 10-6
Previous ranking: 18

Light the beam! The Kings are on a seven-game win streak, and in their most recent win against the Grizzlies they put together their best defensive performance of the season. De’Aaron Fox is playing at an All-Star level, and all is well in Kings land. — Andrews

13. Dallas Mavericks
2022-23 record: 9-7
Previous ranking: 10

Dallas has a trend of playing down against depleted teams. The Mavs have managed to lose to the Pelicans without Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, the Orlando Magic without Paolo Banchero, the Wizards without Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis, and the Nuggets without Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and Aaron Gordon. Dallas is also 0-4 when Luka Doncic doesn’t score 30 points — including a loss to the Rockets he sat out to rest. — MacMahon

14. Indiana Pacers
2022-23 record: 10-6
Previous ranking: 20

Don’t ship the Rookie of the Year award to Orlando just yet because Indiana’s Bennedict Mathurin is making a strong case to be the league’s best rookie despite coming off the bench. Mathurin is averaging 19.3 points per game, and his 22-point performance Tuesday was his seventh 20-point game as a reserve this season, breaking a tie with Dallas’ Christian Wood for the most in the league. — Collier

15. Washington Wizards
2022-23 record: 10-7
Previous ranking: 13

Washington has won six of its past seven games. Kyle Kuzma is averaging 20.4 points, 8.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists in November. Bradley Beal is back from the health and safety protocols and averaging 26 points and 6.3 assists over his past three games. Perhaps the most important thing is Kristaps Porzingis remaining available. He was big in an overtime win over the undermanned Heat, dropping 20 points, 17 rebounds and 5 assists. — Youngmisuk

16. Toronto Raptors
2022-23 record: 9-8
Previous ranking: 14

Another season, another slate of injuries for the Raptors, who should get Gary Trent Jr. back Wednesday when Toronto hosts the Nets and have Pascal Siakam following along behind him in the near future. That said, Toronto is still in the top 10 in offense and overall net rating even with all the injuries it has had — pointing to the possible upside for this group if coach Nick Nurse can get all of his players on the floor for an extended period of time together. — Bontemps

17. Philadelphia 76ers
2022-23 record: 9-8
Previous ranking: 11

The return of Ben Simmons became a galvanizing moment for the 76ers, who managed to beat the star-studded Nets with their three leading scorers — Joel Embiid, James Harden and Tyrese Maxey — sidelined by injuries. Still, it’s going to be an uphill climb to scrap out victories until reinforcements arrive, but there’s at least a chance Embiid could return as soon as this weekend in Orlando. — Bontemps

18. Minnesota Timberwolves
2022-23 record: 9-8
Previous ranking: 21

The Timberwolves are on a four-game winning streak and seemingly starting to put everything together after a rocky start. They’re 10th in the West, but 10th and fourth are separated by only a game and a half. — Andrews

19. New York Knicks
2022-23 record: 9-9
Previous ranking: 19

New York managed to not only survive its five-game West Coast trip, but actually finished it with a 3-2 record to come back home at .500, and now will play six of its next seven in New York. The bad news is its upcoming opponents — Portland, Memphis, Milwaukee, Dallas, Cleveland and Atlanta — are all likely playoff teams. — Bontemps

20. Brooklyn Nets
2022-23 record: 8-10
Previous ranking: 22

There is no roller coaster quite like a Brooklyn Nets roller coaster. In the span of a week they gave up 153 points in a loss to the Kings, picked up their best win of the season two days later against the Blazers, brought Kyrie Irving back after an eight-game suspension during a Sunday win over the Grizzlies, then were beaten by an undermanned Sixers team in Ben Simmons’ return to Philadelphia on Tuesday. The good news for the inconsistent group is that Simmons finally appears to have found his stride. He has 14.8 points, 8.3 rebounds and 6.5 assists over his past four games. — Friedell

21. Golden State Warriors
2022-23 record: 8-10
Previous ranking: 17

The good news for the Warriors: They finally got a road win! Also, Klay Thompson put together two consecutive strong performances, including a 41-point game in which he made 10 3s. The not so good for Golden State: Its bench is still struggling mightily, and it got blown out by the Pelicans. — Andrews

22. Miami Heat
2022-23 record: 7-11
Previous ranking: 16

Miami has lost four straight and is struggling without swingman Jimmy Butler, who is dealing with a knee injury. About the only good news is that Kyle Lowry is averaging 17.6 points, 11.7 assists and 4.6 rebounds over his past five games. — Friedell

23. Chicago Bulls
2022-23 record: 7-10
Previous ranking: 23

The Bulls got a much-needed victory against the Celtics on Monday to halt a four-game losing streak. But now Chicago will embark on a six-game road trip across the next two weeks that begins in Milwaukee and includes a West Coast swing against the Thunder, Jazz, Suns, Warriors and Kings. — Collier

24. Oklahoma City Thunder
2022-23 record: 7-10
Previous ranking: 24

In last Wednesday’s game against the Washington Wizards, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 1.1 seconds left. It was the fourth tying or go-ahead 3-pointer he has hit in the final five seconds of the fourth quarter or overtime in the past two seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. That’s twice as many as any other player during that span. Another Stats & Info nugget: Gilgeous-Alexander became the second player to record 10 games of 30 points and 50% shooting in his first 14 games of the season — joining Wilt Chamberlain, who did it in 1962-63. — Lopez

25. Los Angeles Lakers
2022-23 record: 5-11
Previous ranking: 28

Anthony Davis‘ stat line against the Suns on Tuesday had never been logged before in NBA history: 37 points on 11-for-17 shooting (15-for-16 free throws), 21 rebounds, 5 steals and 5 blocks. He is hoping his play is giving LeBron James some peace of mind to fully recover from his groin strain before returning. “We want him to take his time,” Davis said after James missed his fifth straight game. “God forbid, it lingers onto something else.” — McMenamin

26. Orlando Magic
2022-23 record: 5-13
Previous ranking: 27

Orlando has lost four of its past five, but the good news for the Magic is that Franz Wagner continues to improve in the midst of a solid month. The second-year forward is averaging 22.2 points, 4.9 assists and 4.1 rebounds in 34.3 minutes per game in November. — Friedell

27. Charlotte Hornets
2022-23 record: 4-14
Previous ranking: 26

Charlotte is 1-10 in November. The bright spot for the Hornets recently is the play of Kelly Oubre Jr. The veteran swingman is averaging 24.7 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.0 steals over his past three games. — Friedell

28. San Antonio Spurs
2022-23 record: 6-12
Previous ranking: 25

Maybe a return to the AT&T Center can help the Spurs get back on track. After a 5-2 start, the Spurs have lost 10 of their past 11, but the lone win in that time was a home victory over Milwaukee. The Spurs have had the league’s worst defensive rating this season (117.9), but that number has been even worse in the past 11 as San Antonio has given up 120.2 points per 100 possessions over that stretch. — Lopez

29. Detroit Pistons
2022-23 record: 4-15
Previous ranking: 29

The Pistons can’t stop anybody. They give up the second-most points per 100 possessions in the NBA, behind only San Antonio, and their defense is the main reason they had dropped seven in a row before a victory Tuesday night in Denver. — Collier

30. Houston Rockets
2022-23 record: 3-14
Previous ranking: 30

The Rockets are competitive late in games much more often than last season — a sign of progress — but closing them has been a big problem. Houston ranks last in the league by a wide margin in clutch offensive rating (71.9 points per 100 possessions). Point guard Kevin Porter Jr. is 4-of-14 from the floor (1-of-7 on 3s) with only one assist in 24 clutch minutes. — MacMahon

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