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NBA Power Rankings: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Lifts the Thunder to the Top


extreme hd iptv
extreme hd iptv

by extreme hd iptv

You know trade talks around a player are getting interesting when players from other teams start discussing them. That’s what happened this week when Los Angeles Clippers star Paul George debated the latest rumors surrounding Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam on his podcast.

“I saw them put [Siakam] and [Jonathan] Kuminga in a trade, and I thought about it, and I was like, ‘hat’s a win for both sides,’” George said. “Obviously, Golden State would have to add more … but that is a trade that works for both sides.”

There’s no hotter name in NBA trade talks right now than Siakam, a versatile, 6’8″ forward with championship experience. The Sacramento Kings want him. The Golden State Warriors, too. The Indiana Pacers are interested. The Los Angeles Lakers, if they had enough to offer, would be. Siakam is a plug-and-play guy on any roster and in the aftermath of Toronto’s decision to trade OG Anunoby—the clearest signal that the Raps are rebuilding around Scottie Barnes—Siakam is very likely to be moved before February’s trade deadline.

Toronto prioritized players—young players—over draft picks in the Anunoby deal, and there are indications that that is what they are looking for with Siakam. The Raptors want Keegan Murray (that’s a nonstarter for Sacramento), like Kuminga (there’s a league-wide sense the Warriors could warm up to that) and if the Dallas Mavericks put Dereck Lively II on the table (the Mavs are not) that’s a deal Toronto would get interested in.

Siakam is averaging 22.1 points and five assists per game this season.

Petre Thomas/USA TODAY Sports

The caveat to any Siakam trade is that Siakam, a free agent this summer, is going to be looking to cash in. At 29, this could be Siakam’s last chance to land a big contract. Would the Kings, who have $75 million committed to De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis next season, be willing to pay Siakam a max-level contract? Golden State could shed some salaries this summer—would Siakam extend the Warriors’ championship window?

It will be interesting. Siakam is a difference-maker. He can’t shoot the three (29.7% this season), but his shooting percentage overall is above 50% (52.3%, to be exact) for the first time since Toronto’s title-winning 2018–19 season. He’s proved that he can adapt to playing alongside a new star (see Leonard, Kawhi) and is widely regarded as a good guy to be around in the locker room. In a season when one deal could shift the balance of power, Siakam’s future bears watching.

Let’s jump into Sports Illustrated’s latest NBA power rankings … 

1. Oklahoma City Thunder

Last week: 2

O.K., so the Thunder didn’t exactly seize this spot, following up a season-best win over the Boston Celtics with back-to-back losses to the Atlanta Hawks and Brooklyn Nets before beating the Washington Wizards on Monday. Still, OKC’s recent run of wins over the Minnesota Timberwolves, Denver Nuggets and the Celtics offered the most concrete proof yet that the Thunder are legit, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s offense in those games (34, 40, 36 against Minnesota, Denver and Boston, respectively) is evidence he is a true leading man. Stop talking trades, folks. The Thunder don’t need one.

Gilgeous-Alexander is averaging 31.5 points on 54.9% shooting for the Thunder this season.

Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports

2. Boston Celtics

Last week: 1

Can we talk about the end of that Celtics-Pacers game on Monday? The one where the referees overturned a shooting foul on Jaylen Brown that from every angle looked un-overturnable? Yeesh. By all rights, Boston should have won three straight since the nail-biter against OKC and with Kristaps Porziņģis playing like an All-Star, remains the class of the NBA.

3. Denver Nuggets

Last week: 4

It’s hard to stop Nikola Jokić. It’s even harder when he’s shooting 56.9%. That’s what Jokić has been connecting on since a 4–12 Christmas Day clunker. He was 26–35 in back-to-back games against Golden State and the Orlando Magic last week, which included a 39-foot dagger of a shot to beat the Warriors. The former MVP is certainly playing like one.

4. Los Angeles Clippers

Last week: 6

Putting aside a weird loss to the Lakers—did Leonard really need a two-minute break in the final minutes of the fourth quarter?—the Clippers have been outstanding. They beat the Phoenix Suns twice in the last week, most recently a 27-point pounding in L.A. on Monday. The Clips are elite defensively, especially on the wings, and Leonard is playing like an MVP.

5. Minnesota Timberwolves

Last week: 3

Do we need to do a wellness check on the T-Wolves? Minnesota is 1–3 since the calendar turned to 2024. The defense and late-game execution that looked so sharp the first two months of the season have been sloppy. The offensive efficiency numbers have started to spiral with Karl-Anthony Towns—who is shooting 32% from three-point range the last four games—among the reasons why. The Timberwolves’ next two—on the road against Orlando and Boston—will be interesting.

6. New Orleans Pelicans

Last week: 10

It’s stretches like this—five wins in the last six, with its lone loss coming against the white-hot Clippers—that make you want to believe in the Pelicans. CJ McCollum is in the middle of a brilliant stretch, and New Orleans is up to sixth in defensive efficiency. Helps when you have wing players like Herbert Jones and Dyson Daniels ball-hawking on the perimeter.

McCollum has helped the Pelicans to a 22–15 record.

Ed Szczepanski/USA TODAY Sports

7. Indiana Pacers

Last week: 8

Now that we know Tyrese Haliburton’s injury isn’t season-ending—the Pacers say Haliburton has a strained left hamstring, a welcome diagnosis after the would-be All-Star took a scary spill in the first half against the Celtics on Monday—we can talk about how Indy has gotten its swagger back. The Pacers have been on a post-Christmas tear, capped by Monday’s win over Boston, while former Celtic Aaron Nesmith has turned himself into a prolific (and efficient) three-point shooter in Indiana’s vaunted offense.

8. New York Knicks

Last week: 16

Uh, so the OG Anunoby deal has worked out pretty well, huh? The Knicks are 4–0 since acquiring Anunoby from Toronto, with the NBA’s best defensive rating (103.1) during that stretch. Meanwhile, Jalen Brunson continues to carry the offense, averaging 27.3 points over the last four. Hey, Knicks fans: There’s no reason Brunson should be half a million votes behind Trae Young on the All-Star ballot.

9. Philadelphia 76ers

Last week: 7

Nick Nurse questioned his team’s effort after Philly dropped three of its last four, including a yikes loss to Utah on Saturday. Joel Embiid’s lingering knee problems are concerning, as is the Sixers’ record (2–6) without him. Nurse said Philadelphia needs to restore its foundation, adding, “There is a way we want to play, regardless of who’s out there, and that’s what I’ve got to make sure to do.”

10. Milwaukee Bucks

Last week: 5

Is Adrian Griffin’s seat getting warm? The Bucks’ defense has been abysmal the last five games (27th in efficiency), while its offense (17th) hasn’t been much better. On Saturday, Giannis Antetokounmpo delivered a strong postgame message about the need to play better. On Monday, Milwaukee coughed up 132 points in a loss to the Utah Jazz. Something has got to give.

11. Dallas Mavericks

Last week: 14

The scheduling gods delivered a soft stretch for Dallas—that’s what we call three games against Portland in the last 10 days—and the Mavs have taken advantage, winning five of the last six. Kyrie Irving is averaging 25.5 points since returning to the lineup on Jan. 1, connecting on an eye-catching 57.7% of his threes. Meanwhile, Dallas’s defense is fourth in defensive rating over the last six games.

Irving recorded 35 points in the Mavericks’ win over the Timberwolves.

Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports

12. Miami Heat

Last week: 12

Jimmy Butler is out. Miami wins, anyway. The Heat are 6–2 in the last eight games Butler has missed, most recently a home victory over Houston, when the injury list got a little longer as Kyle Lowry exited with a hand injury. Nikola Jović has stepped up of late, averaging eight points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists over the last three games, all starts.

13. Sacramento Kings

Last week: 9

The Kings looked good in back-to-back wins over the Magic and Raptors before getting walloped by the Pelicans at home. The Pascal Siakam rumors continue to linger, and it says here if Sacramento—still owners of a bottom-third defense—has any hope to contend it needs a two-way player like Siakam to match up with the top-tier teams in the Western Conference.

14. Cleveland Cavaliers

Last week: 15

Three straight wins over Washington (twice) and San Antonio aren’t evidence of a revival, but hey, you play the teams on the schedule. And the Cavaliers have quietly won eight of the last 11 dating back to mid-December. Their offense has clicked during that stretch (122 offensive rating, sixth in the NBA) with Donovan Mitchell, who connected on 50% of his threes in his first three games of 2024 before a 1–10 brickfest against the San Antonio Spurs, leading the way.

15. Orlando Magic

Last week: 11

The Magic salvaged a four-game road trip with a win in Denver, following it up with an overtime win over Atlanta in their first game back. Orlando will hopefully get Franz Wagner back from an ankle injury this week. Wagner and Paolo Banchero have been a formidable one-two punch for the Magic. Wagner and Banchero have scored 20+ points each in the same game 13 times this season. In those games, Orlando is 10–3.

16. Phoenix Suns

Last week: 13

Where’s the panic meter on Phoenix? Six? Seven? The Suns welcomed Kevin Durant back to the lineup Sunday and proceeded to lose to the Ja Morant–less Memphis Grizzlies and get shellacked in L.A. by the Clippers. Three of Phoenix’s six wins since mid-December have come against the Wizards, Charlotte Hornets and Portland Trail Blazers. The defense is lousy, and playing without a traditional playmaker isn’t working. More time together might not be all this team needs.

17. Utah Jazz

Last week: 20

The Jazz are good! How else do you describe a team that has opened the calendar year with wins over Dallas, Philadelphia and Milwaukee? O.K., so those teams had some injuries, but Utah has been playing good basketball since mid-December. The Collin Sexton revival continues to be a terrific story: Sexton is averaging 16 points in a shade under 24 minutes per game, making an early-season case for Sixth Man and Most Improved.

18. Houston Rockets

Last week: 19

Jalen Green, who has found himself in Ime Udoka’s crosshairs this season, is in the middle of a strong stretch. Over the last six games, Green is averaging 19 points, connecting on 41% of his threes. His shooting numbers—Green is connecting on a career-low 40.2% of his shots—remain a problem. Udoka’s advice to Green: “Always stay confident, be aggressive and take what the game gives you.”

19. Chicago Bulls

Last week: 21

The Bulls’ injury list got a lot shorter with Zach LaVine and Nikola Vučević coming off last week, with Chicago responding with back-to-back wins over Charlotte. LaVine’s return hasn’t slowed Coby White down. White scored 27 points against the Hornets on Monday, his 16th game this season with 20 or more.

White is averaging 18.2 points, 4.9 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game.

David Banks/USA TODAY Sports

20. Los Angeles Lakers

Last week: 17

When “the others,” as Anthony Davis termed his and LeBron James’s supporting cast, step up, as they did in a win over the Clippers on Sunday, the Lakers win. When they don’t, as they have not during a recent stretch where L.A. lost nine of 11 before beating the Clips, the Lakers struggle. With a month to go before the trade deadline, Rob Pelinka & Co. have to decide whether this team needs a shakeup.

21. Memphis Grizzlies

Last week: 22

Ja Morant’s season-ending injury obviously ends the Grizzlies’ long-shot bid to make the playoffs. The silver lining is the team can gear everything toward next season, when Morant and a healthy Brandon Clarke (who will no longer feel any pressure to return this season from an Achilles injury) will rejoin a contender-ready core (Jaren Jackson Jr., Desmond Bane, Marcus Smart) that will be bolstered by a high-lottery pick. The 2024–25 Grizz could be really good.

22. Toronto Raptors

Last week: 25

So far, so good for RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley in Toronto. The Raptors are 3–1 in the Barrett-Quickley era, with Barrett averaging 21 points (and shooting 52.6% from three) and Quickley, a full-time starter, bumping his scoring average to 17.3 per game. The Barrett-Quickley-Barnes core won’t win anything this season, but another year, another (probable) lottery pick and whatever Masai Ujiri gets for Siakam at the trade deadline could make the Raptors an interesting team next season.

23. Golden State Warriors

Last week: 18

It’s been a while since the Warriors were ranked this low, but here we are. Chris Paul is out, Jonathan Kuminga is disgruntled and no one is sure what a Draymond Green return will look like yet. Meanwhile, over the last 10 games, Golden State has sunk to 26th in defensive rating (120.7, per NBA.com), while opponents are blitzing the Warriors for 120.3 points per game during that stretch. A four-game road trip that begins Friday will be revealing.

24. Atlanta Hawks

Last week: 23

I don’t know what else to say about the Hawks. They followed up an upset win over Oklahoma City last Wednesday by giving up 150 points in a blowout loss to the Pacers two days later. This team doesn’t work. It feels like only a matter of time before the front office trades Young or Dejounte Murray—or both.

Murray’s second season in Atlanta could be his last, as trade rumors continue to circulate.

Kim Klement Neitzel/USA TODAY Sports

25. Brooklyn Nets

Last week: 24

The Nets followed up an inspired streak-busting win over Oklahoma City with an uninspired overtime home loss to Portland. Jacque Vaughn has shifted Cam Thomas to the bench to balance the scoring, while Ben Simmons’s return remains a mystery. Meanwhile Brooklyn’s defense, in the top half of the NBA last season, has slipped to the bottom third in this one.

26. Portland Trail Blazers

Last week: 26

How long do we think Chauncey Billups really wants to do this? Billups has been a steady hand in Portland, but he signed on to coach Damian Lillard and a would-be contender. The Blazers lost the first three games of the current road trip by 86 points before knocking off the Nets on Sunday. There is talent in Portland, but even with another high draft pick this June the Blazers are still a few years away from developing into a serious contender. I’m interested to see whether Billups is interested in sticking it out.

27. Charlotte Hornets

Last week: 28

There has to be a contender that could use Terry Rozier, right? In (another) lost Hornets season Rozier has been solid, averaging a career-best 24.3 points per game on a career-high 46.4% from the floor. And while it’s been years since Rozier has seen the postseason, he had a terrific run filling in for Kyrie Irving in the 2018 playoffs. In an emerging arms race, Charlotte should see what kind of return it can get for the 29-year-old guard.

28. Washington Wizards

Last week: 27

Jordan Poole had more points against Oklahoma City on Monday (24) than he did in the previous three games combined (20), continuing what’s been a disappointing first season in Washington. Tyus Jones, however, continues to shine. Jones leads the NBA with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 6.5 and has handed out 157 assists compared to just 22 turnovers over the Wizards’ last 27 games.

29. San Antonio Spurs

Last week: 29

Tre Jones’s last two games: 36 points, 10 assists (against five turnovers) on 66.6% shooting. There’s your starting point guard, San Antonio.

30. Detroit Pistons

Last week: 30

The good news: Cade Cunningham, injured in Sunday’s loss to Denver, shouldn’t miss more than a couple of weeks with a left knee injury. The bad news: Detroit, who has not won since the streak-ending victory over Toronto on Dec. 30, can’t afford its best player missing any time. Wednesday’s matchup with the Spurs will answer the question: When is it too soon to tank?

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