Nets, Mavericks big risers in New Year’s 2022-23 NBA Power Rankings

Celtics stay as top-two team in 2022-23 NBA Power Rankings originally appeared on NBC SportsBoston

New year, new me.

Or for many teams, repeating the same old, same old.

The 2022-23 NBA season continues to be filled with parity, as teams have seen a dramatic dip in form (Utah Jazz, Toronto Raptors) while others have soared following a murky beginning (Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers).

The latest edition of the NBA power rankings will have an extra layer to it: New Year’s resolutions – things we should do, but never follow up on until it’s too late.

Let’s dig into it, as there’s a first-timer this season in the No. 1 spot:

30. Houston Rockets, 10-27: When Eric Gordon is saying you’re not good, you’re probably not good. (Last ranking: 29)

New Year’s Resolution: Keep tanking for Victor Wembanyama.

29. Detroit Pistons, 10-30: Motor City still has a jammed engine. Nothing much should change with Cade Cunningham out for the season. (Last ranking: 28)

New Year’s Resolution: Keep tanking for Victor Wembanyama. Cade with Wemby would be special.

28. San Antonio Spurs, 12-25: They’re no longer last, but the Spurs still have so many roster holes that even potentially adding Wembanyama wouldn’t make them that good next year. (Last ranking: 30)

New Year’s Resolution: Get Gregg Popovich better talent in the offseason, especially at guard.

27. Charlotte Hornets, 10-28: The Hornets have several scorers on offense and watching LaMelo Ball is good for the aesthetics, but that defense is not. (Last ranking: 27)

New Year’s Resolution: If you can’t pair Ball with Wembanyama, at least find a star big man who isn’t a Plumlee brother.

26. Orlando Magic, 1-12pm: Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner have so much potential as a forward pairing, but Jalen Suggs’ absence has been a tough blow. (Last ranking: 26)

New Year’s Resolution: Be in position to get Scoot Henderson.

25. Chicago Bulls, 16-21: Nothing much has changed in the Windy City – things still remain iffy. DeMar DeRozan is still having a superb season, however. (Last ranking: 25)

New Year’s Resolution: Moving on from Billy Donovan.

24. Los Angeles Lakers, 4-9pm: It’s the LeBron James show in Hollywood. Anthony Davis getting – and most importantly, staying – healthy is the only viable path to the postseason. (Last ranking: 22)

New Year’s Resolution: A prayers’ circle for Anthony Davis. He was destroying teams before the injury setback.

23. Atlanta Hawks, 17-20: The Hawks haven’t been flying lately, and the drama surrounding Nate McMillan’s potential departure doesn’t seem optimistic. They should be much better than they are. (Last ranking: 17)

New Year’s Resolution: Trading John Collins. Will 2023 finally be the year?

22. Toronto Raptors, 16-21: The Raptors’ wing-heavy, no-center approach hasn’t been paying dividends lately. Pascal Siakam, however, deserves a legit All-Star nod despite the team’s poor record. (Last rankings: 21)

New Year’s Resolution: Adding at least one traditional centre. Nick Nurse has seen better days.

21. Oklahoma City Thunder, 16-21: The Thunder keep pushing up the ranks, and dropping 150 on the Celtics guarantees a few spots up the ladder. (Last ranking: 23)

New Year’s Resolution: Stay within striking distance of a high draft pick.

20 Washington Wizards, 17-22: After a 10-game skid, the Wizards won five in a row before dropping the sixth. Those wins included Sacramento, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Milwaukee. That deserves a bump. (Last rankings: 24)

New Year’s Resolution: Don’t be fooled by the wins, this team needs its top-14 protected pick if they want a chance at adding better young talent next to Bradley Beal. Their draft record lately doesn’t bode well, though.

19. Utah Jazz, 7-9pm: Utah has lost five in a row and seven of its last nine. The hot start has cooled considerably, and it’s best if it stays that way. (Last ranking: 13)

New Year’s Resolution: If teams call for your players (Kelly Olynyk, maybe Mike Conley), collect the assets. Winning is not the goal this season.

18Minnesota Timberwolves, 17-21: The Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert duo still needs tinkering. This team needs to find an identity after lofty pre-season expectations, and fast.

New Year’s Resolution: A contract extension for Naz Reid. He’s one of the most underrated players in the league.

17. Miami Heat, 20-18: The Heat have been much better to watch lately, but Kyle Lowry might need a smaller role at this stage of his career. (Last ranking: 16)

New Year’s Resolution: Somehow getting off Duncan Robinson’s contract.

16. Golden State Warriors, 20-18: The Warriors are starting to find some rhythm, and Stephen Curry is nearing a return. Golden State is bound to peak at some point. It just needs to stay patient and weather the storm. (Last ranking: 18)

New Year’s Resolution: Hover around .500, manage Curry’s health and make a run for a top seed after the All-Star break. The Western Conference is wide open.

15. Portland Trail Blazers, 19-17: What a trio Damian Lillard, Anfernee Simons and Jerami Grant form. Getting Gary Payton II back is a huge help at the wing spots, but this team has a weakness in the roster construction. (Last rankings: 12)

New Year’s Resolution: Keep Lillard healthy and add better backup bigs.

14. New York Knicks, 20-18: An eight-game win streak followed by a five-game skid, snuffing out the Knicks is still difficult – but they stay put this time. (Last rankings: 14)

New Year’s Resolution: Swapping backup centers. Isaiah Hartenstein’s role with the Clippers suited him better.

13. Phoenix Suns, 20-18: The Suns are in real danger without Devin Booker. They need to hover around .500 until he returns, otherwise it won’t be pretty. (Last rankings: 7)

New Year’s Resolution: Trading Jae Crowder. This saga has prolonged and the Suns need real wing help with Cam Johnson still sidelined.

12. Los Angeles Clippers, 21-18: The Clippers have always had a tough time staying healthy in the Kawhi Leonard-Paul George era, and that’ll likely continue the rest of the season. They just need to manage the squad until playoff time. (Last rankings: 9)

New Year’s Resolution: Keeping everyone healthy is important, but a backup behind Ivica Zubac will be needed come the postseason.

11. Indiana Pacers, 21-17: Should the Pacers maintain this and make the playoffs, Bennedict Mathurin is the Rookie and Sixth Man of the Year. I don’t make the rules. (Last ranking: 20)

New Year’s Resolution: Don’t field any trade calls just yet. Buddy Hield and Myles Turner might be key for a potential spot in the postseason.

10. Dallas Mavericks, 22-16: The Mavericks are back in the top 10 and are one of the hottest teams in the league, having notched seven in a row. Christian Wood has been spectacular lately. (Last ranking: 19)

New Year’s Resolution: A true second option behind Luka Dončić is still needed.

9. Sacramento Kings, 20-16: They’ve had some hiccups, as expected, but the Kings have the second-highest scoring offense in the league and have legitimate All-Star shouts in De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis. (Last ranking: 10)

New Year’s Resolution: A bigger beam. This team, if healthy, can top their 30-win mark from last season – and are on pace for over 40.

8.Philadelphia 76ers, 22-14: Like the Liberty Bell, Philadelphia has cracked the top 10. Winning 10 of your last 12 will surely earn you a raise in the rankings. (Last rankings: 11)

New Year’s Resolution: The bench depth is still shaky. Can they bolster it to strengthen their playoff odds?

7. New Orleans Pelicans, 23-14: Zion Williamson’s latest setback will test New Orleans, so let’s see how the squad handles it. (Last rankings: 3)

New Year’s Resolution: Keep Zion, Brandon Ingram and Co. healthy. This will be a tough team to beat four times in a series if so.

6. Memphis Grizzlies, 23-13: The Grizzlies haven’t done anything to warrant a fall from the last edition, but another team’s hot run has bumped Memphis down. (Last rankings: 5)

New Year’s Resolution: Just like the Pelicans, and any team really, a healthy Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr. is vital. However, it’s promising to see the Grizzlies weather the storm without them for a good chunk of the season.

5. Milwaukee Bucks, 24-13: The Bucks have been slipping up quite a bit lately, and it’s cost them the top spot – and nearly a top-five one. (Last rankings: 1)

New Year’s Resolution: Khris Middleton is still rusty, but they’ll need him to offer much more in his minutes than he’s currently providing.

4Denver Nuggets, 24-13: The Nuggets may not be stout defensively, but they have all the scoring around The Joker to counter it. They have a legit shot at being the top seed. (Last rankings: 6)

New Year’s Resolution: Backup bigs have been a theme for other teams, but should Nikola Jokić miss any period of time, the Nuggets (DeAndre Jordan, Zeke Nnaji) would be in shambles.

3Cleveland Cavaliers, 24-14: Donovan Mitchell’s 71-11-8 statline is just further evidence that the Cavaliers are for real. They have a little of everything, if they can stay healthy compared to last year’s fall. (Last rankings: 4)

New Year’s Resolution: More consistency from the bench.

2.Boston Celtics, 26-12: The C’s could’ve reclaimed the top spot, but allowing OKC to score 150 made that impossible. One game ultimately doesn’t mean much, but it does in the sense that another team jumped them for the No. 1 slot. (Last rankings: 2)

New Year’s Resolution: Malcolm Brogdon has been a revelation, but do they need another playmaking guard? Their frontcourt depth and size is also a bit wobbly.

1.Brooklyn Nets, 25-12: Winning 12 in a row doesn’t always guarantee you a first-place finish, but in this context, the Nets have every right to be No. 1. The team has rallied around Jacque Vaughn in an impressive way and are the hottest team on the planet. They have notable weaknesses, but it hasn’t mattered with the momentum they’re enjoying. Also, TJ Warren deserves a shoutout for his role in the run.

New Year’s Resolution: If the Nets keep this up, tying down Vaughn to a longer contract beyond 2023-24 might be necessary.

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