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NBA

NBA Power Rankings: Los Angeles Lakers take the top spot, Houston Rockets are on the rise

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Los Angeles Lakers take over the No. 1 spot [NBA Getty Images]

We're one month into the 2019-20 NBA season and the power rankings have seen plenty of change already.

Everything is taken into consideration in ordering these teams: results, quality of the opponent, winning streaks and losing streaks, and even where the team was placed in the previous week's rankings.

This week, the Houston Rockets jumped up seven spots to crack the top-five, while the Miami Heat also made great progress to slide toward the top. The Los Angeles Lakers leaped over the Boston Celtics to overtake the No.1 spot while the Dallas Mavericks fell out of the top-10.

Where did your favourite NBA team fall in our Week 4 power rankings?

10. Philadelphia 76ers

Last week's ranking: 6th

Record: 8-5

Last week: 2-2 (win vs. CLE, loss at ORL, loss at OKC, win at CLE)

This week: vs. NYK, vs. SAS, vs. SAS

The 76ers drop a couple spots following a subpar week with two tough losses.

After becoming the NBA's last remaining unbeaten team at 5-0, Philly has now dropped five out of their last eight contests. Part of that was due to the suspension handed out to centre Joel Embiid, while star point guard Ben Simmons missing time with an injury played a factor as well.

The team has returned to full strength but just has not been clicking the way it was to start the season.

They closed the week strong with a their second win over the Cavaliers and Tobias Harris - who has had his struggles in games this season - stepped up with 24 points on an efficient 12-for-14 shooting from the field. Harris signed a five-year, $180 million extension this offseason and has posted similar numbers overall, but shooting 25.5% from beyond the arc has been an issue for a team that desperately needs perimeter scoring.

In Simmons first week back from his shoulder injury, the All-Star guard had a solid stretch of 14.8 points, 7.5 assists, 7.0 rebounds, 1.0 blocks and 1.0 steals per game.

9. Toronto Raptors

Last week's ranking: 4th

Record: 8-4

Last week: 1-2 (loss at LAC, win at POR, loss at DAL)

This week: vs. CHA, vs. ORL, at ATL

The Raptors started their Western Conference road trip hot but injuries and fatigue caused a lackluster finish.

Toronto was forced to play without Kyle Lowry (thumb) and Serge Ibaka (ankle) in all three games this week, while OG Anunoby suffered an eye contusion on the first play of the contest against the Clippers and missed the entire game against the Trail Blazers.

The Raptors still closed their road trip with a solid 3-2 record, maintaining the course though undermanned.

Fred VanVleet has stepped up in a big way with Lowry out of the lineup, averaging 22.8 points and 8.0 assists shooting 44.4% from the field and 40.6% from 3-point range in the last four games without their All-Star point guard and leader.

Some variation of their role players - Norman Powell, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Chris Boucher, Matt Thomas or Terence Davis - have came through with quality games to make up for the lack of a consistent presence without Lowry or Ibaka.

We've learned that the Raptors bench - though it might not be individuals consistently stepping up - is more talented and slightly deeper than expected.

8. LA Clippers

Last week's ranking: 5th

Record: 8-5

Last week: 2-2 (win vs. TOR, loss at HOU, loss at NOP, win vs. ATL)

This week: vs. OKC, vs. BOS, vs. HOU, vs. NOP

The 2-2 record this week doesn't necessarily matter for the Clippers.

What matters is the return of their All-Star forward Paul George, and he looked good in the two games he played in. George made his return in Los Angeles' loss to the Pelicans, going for 33 points, nine rebounds, five blocks and four assists shooting 58.8% from the field and 60.0% from 3-point range.

He wasn't satisfied with his performance due to a couple late turnovers that affected the outcome, but he made up for that with another monster game versus the Hawks.

George only needed 20 minutes to score 37 points, leading the Clippers to a ridiculous 49-point win.

After the game, George preached about how healthy he feels, "I got new shoulders... They haven't been this healthy in a long time."

We're yet to see him and two-time Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard take the floor together, as Leonard has been nursing a sore left knee, but that debut is sure to come at some point this upcoming week.

7. Denver Nuggets

Last week's ranking: 8th

Record: 9-3

Last week: 2-1 (loss vs. ATL, win vs. BKN, win at MEM)

This week: vs. HOU, vs. BOS, vs. PHX

The Nuggets haven't necessarily impressed the way that people thought they were going to out of the gate this season, but they still stand in with an impressive 9-3 record sitting in third place in the Western Conference.

They've been solid defensively but haven't been able to get their offence going the way it was last season. Part of that is because Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray haven't been scoring at the pace they were last season so far, but Jokic has still knocked down a handful of clutch shots and Murray finally had an explosion in the Nuggets' win over the Grizzlies to close out the week.

The Canadian guard went for a season-high 39 points in 32 minutes, shooting 14-for-24 from the field and 7-for-12 from beyond the arc to go with eight assists.

It's no secret that when Murray is at his best, the Nuggets are at their best. We saw it in the postseason last year and this scoring outburst should help the 22-year-old gain some momentum to keep this hot hand going moving forward.

Denver has a tough week coming up with three big matchups that have major power ranking implications.

6. Utah Jazz

Last week's ranking: 7th

Record: 8-4

Last week: 2-1 (win at GSW, win vs. BKN, loss at MEM)

This week: vs. MIN, at MIN, vs. GSW, vs. NOP

The Jazz have looked as good as everyone expected this offseason.

As a team, according to NBA stats, they boast the second-best defensive rating in the league at 100.0 points per 100 possessions. They have sustained their elite defensive presence from a season ago and they're through-and-through a deeper roster with additions like Mike Conley Jr. and Bojan Bogdanovic.

Rudy Gobert has been the double-double, shot blocking machine we've seen the last couple years and their star player Donovan Mitchell is looking like a darkhorse MVP candidate.

The biggest thing for Mitchell's improvement early on this season has been his efficiency - he's averaging 25.4 points per game shooting career-highs of 47.9% from the field and 36.8% from 3-point range.

He's rebounding the ball at a higher rate and has also been taking on more playmaking responsiblities within the offence, posting five or more assists in five of Utah's last six games.

Keep an eye on Mitchell quietly continuing to build his case as a legitimate contender for the league's Most Valuable Player.

5. Houston Rockets

Last week's ranking: 12th

Record: 10-3

Last week: 4-0 (win at NOP, win vs. LAC, win vs. IND, win at MIN)

This week: vs. POR, at DEN, at LAC, vs. DAL

Since being blown out by the Miami Heat by 29 points, the Rockets have rattled off an NBA-best seven consecutive wins.

Though they've been short-handed dealing with injuries to key players like Russell Westbrook, Eric Gordon, Clint Capela and Danuel House Jr., James Harden has turned into a human flame thrower to keep this team afloat.

Harden is up to a league-leading 39.5 points per game - something that hasn't been seen through the first 13 games of the season since Wilt Chamberlain in 1962! Over this seven game winning streak, Harden is posting a ridiculous 43.0 points, 7.9 assists, 6.7 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game shooting 44.9% from the field and 41.4% from beyond the arc.

He has scored 40 or more points in three straight games and there are no signs of the prolific scorer slowing down. This run from Harden and the Rockets has shot them up seven spots in this week's rankings, the highest jump of any team.

4. Miami Heat

Last week's ranking: 9th

Record: 9-3

Last week: 3-0 (win vs. DET, win at CLE, win vs. NOP)

This week: vs. CLE, at CHI, at PHI

The Heat are rolling and have established themselves as one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference early on this season.

According to NBA stats, they're a top-five defensive team in the league in terms of defensive rating. That should come as a surprise to no one, because head coach Erik Spolstra has a number of versatile defenders headlined by Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Justise Winslow.

Adebayo is putting together quite the Most Improved Player of the Year campaign averaging a double-double of 13.9 points and 10.6 rebounds to go with a career-high 4.6 assists per game while averaging 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks, too.

Butler is thriving in the role as the Heat's lead playmaker, averaging a career-high 7.2 assists while still leading the team in scoring with 18.4 points per game. He had two 13-assist double-doubles this past week, really showcasing his ability as a passer.

And lastly, the undrafted rookie Kendrick Nunn helps pace this team's scoring, averaging 17.8 points per game including six games with 20-plus points and three consecutive games with 20 or more points.

The Heat have the pieces to make a run in the East, they've made that clear.

3. Milwaukee Bucks

Last week's ranking: 3rd

Record: 9-3

Last week: 2-0 (win at CHI, win at IND)

This week: at CHI, at ATL, vs. POR, vs. DET

The Bucks only had two games this week and took care of business with two wins.

Giannis Antetokounmpo has been incredible to start this season, averaging 30.1 points, 14.3 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.4 steals per game shooting 58.0% from the field. He's dominating every time he steps on the court and as of late, there's been an even scarier development than the generational talent scoring over 30 points on nearly 60% shooting from the field.

Antetokounmpo has slowly began to work a 3-point jumper into his game.

Averaging 4.2 3-point attempts per game - a career-high - The Greek Freak is converting 3s at a 32.0% clip. While that's still well shy of what is considered to be a solid perimeter shooter in the NBA, Antetokounmpo has been getting 3s to drop at a higher rate over the last handful of games.

Over his last five games, Giannis is shooting 12-for-27 (44.4%) from beyond the arc on 5.4 attempts a night.

If Antetokounmpo can consistently knock down 3-pointers, the rest of the league is in big, big trouble.

2. Boston Celtics

Last week's ranking: 1st

Record: 10-2

Last week: 3-1 (win vs. DAL, win vs. WAS, win at GSW, loss at SAC)

This week: at PHX, at LAC, at DEN

The Celtics had their 10-game winning streak snapped by the Kings when Marcus Smart's potential game-winning tear-drop floater sat on the rim for what felt like an eternity before falling out.

Nonetheless, Boston has still taken the NBA by storm to start the season, finding ways to pick up wins despite dealing with injuries to key rotational players. Since Gordon Hayward's hand injury, Jaylen Brown has stepped up massively in his absence averaging 23.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game, shooting 51.2% from the field and 50.0% from beyond the arc.

Kemba Walker's 23.8 points per game leads the team while Jayson Tatum's 19.7 points per game adds a third offensive punch. According to NBA stats, their 112.0 offensive rating is tied for second-best in the league while they rank in the top-10 in defensive rating, too.

Their plus-8.0 net rating is third best in the NBA, trailing only the Lakers and Bucks.

The Celtics have overcome any doubts that surrounded this team in the offseason and preseason and this team is very clearly a contender to win the Eastern Conference.

1. Los Angeles Lakers

Last week's ranking: 2nd

Record: 11-2

Last week: 4-0 (win at PHX, win vs. GSW, win vs. SAC, win vs. ATL)

This week: vs. OKC, at OKC, at MEM

LeBron James has been an unstoppable force and the Lakers' NBA-best record reflects that.

In four games this past week, LeBron posted four consecutive double-doubles translating to four straight wins. He's leading the NBA with 11.2 assists per game and he's still scoring with ease, too, as Los Angeles' leading scorer at 25.0 points per game. In Year 17, he's still capable of throwing down ridiclous dunks - just ask Nemenja Bjelica.

The dynamic duo of James and Anthony Davis has been as great as expected, as Davis has been a monster averaging 24.5 points, 9.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 3.2 blocks and 1.2 steals per game. His 38 blocks leads the NBA and together, they headline the league's top defence as the Lakers are rolling on both ends of the floor.

This team is performing way ahead of schedule as there has been no sight of growing pains in getting used to playing with a new crop of players.

Rest of the NBA

11. Phoenix Suns

12. Dallas Mavericks

13. Minnesota Timberwolves

Andrew Wiggins is really putting things together at the start of the season. He scored 30 points to go with eight rebounds and seven assists in a win over the Spurs - his fifth consecutive game with 25-plus points and five-plus assists.

Wiggins is averaging an impressive 25.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists shooting 47.8% from the field and 36.1% from 3-point range.

14. Indiana Pacers

15. Portland Trail Blazers

The Trail Blazers are just 5-8 this season after reaching the Western Conference Finals last season. In need of some help, they've brought in 35-year-old forward Carmelo Anthony to try and add a spark to their roster and locker room.

Its been over a year since Melo last stepped on an NBA floor - he's expected to make his debut against the Pelicans this upcoming week!

16. Oklahoma City Thunder

17. Brooklyn Nets

18. San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs are struggling after getting off to a strong start in the first two weeks of the season. San Antonio has now lost five games in a row and are 2-8 in their last 10 games.

They have been fine offensively, ranking in the top-10 in the league in terms of offensive rating, but their defensive rating ranks in the bottom-five in the NBA. They hit the road this upcoming week, traveling to take on the Mavericks, Wizards, 76ers and Knicks, looking to right the ship before things get out of hand.

19. Atlanta Hawks

20. Charlotte Hornets

The Hornets had a thrilling week, earning two wins on two game-winning jump shots!

First, it was Malik Monk who knocked down a toughly contested buzzer-beater 3-pointer to defeat the Pistons. The very next day, Devonte Graham - a Most Improved Player of the Year candidate - drained his ninth (!) 3-pointer of the game to defeat the Knicks at the buzzer.

A list of players with more made 3-pointers than Graham this season - James Harden, Buddy Hield, Kemba Walker. That's it. That's the list.

21. Orlando Magic

22. Memphis Grizzlies

Ja Morant made some noise this week and is looking like an early frontrunner for Rookie of the Year.

He had an impressive game-winner against the Hornets, finishing at the rim with several defenders draped around him. Then he spoiled Mike Conley Jr.'s return game in Memphis, going for 25 points and eight assists to lead the Grizzlies to victory.

The rookie point guard led the Grizzlies to a solid 3-1 week, shooting Memphis up seven spots in this week's power rankings.

23. Sacramento Kings

24. Detroit Pistons

25. Washington Wizards

26. Cleveland Cavaliers

27. New Orleans Pelicans

28. Chicago Bulls

29. New York Knicks

30. Golden State Warriors

The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.

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