NBA Power Rankings: Where do the Nets and Sixers rank after a blockbuster trade?

Thursday’s trade deadline is in the books, and the NBA looks quite a bit different entering this week than it did to start the last. The Philadelphia 76ers can finally move on from the Ben Simmons saga, adding a former MVP alongside Joel Embiid.

Simmons will join a Brooklyn Nets team that is left wondering “what if” in the wake of James Harden‘s departure, as he left behind a team that has lost 11 straight games. Kevin Durant has been out since Jan. 15 because of a sprained left MCL and has started doing more on-court work, but there is still no firm timetable set for his return. Kyrie Irving remains a part-time player due to his vaccination status, and cannot play with the team again until Feb. 26 in Milwaukee.

Embiid and the Sixers, on the other hand, have won seven of their past 10 games and have climbed into fifth place in a tight East race, just 2½ games behind the first-place Miami Heat. The race in the East continues to be neck and neck heading into Sunday’s All-Star Game, with the Sixers just half a game behind the Milwaukee Bucks and Cleveland Cavaliers, and 1½ games behind the second-place Chicago Bulls.

How did each team fare after Thursday’s deadline? Where does each team rank heading into the All-Star break? Our experts break down where all 30 teams stand heading into the homestretch of the 2021-22 NBA season.

Note: Throughout the regular season, our panel (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.

Chris Paul tied a season-high with 19 assists on Thursday against the Bucks and came out with 15 assists on Saturday. It was his second time this season with 19 assists, something no other player has done once. He also has seven 15-assist games this season, three more than the next closest player. The 34 assists also ties his career best for dimes in consecutive games. — Lopez

Klay Thompson is getting back his rhythm — as evidenced by his 33 points in Saturday’s win over the Lakers. Draymond Green is starting to do a little more in his rehab. Same goes for James Wiseman, who might finally be able to contribute later in the year after a meniscus injury sidetracked his second season. Stephen Curry and Co. head on the road for six of their next eight games as they try to keep things steady before Green returns. — Friedell

Memphis was the third-fastest team to 40 wins, trailing only the Suns and Warriors. The Grizzlies have the NBA’s best record (21-4) since Christmas. Ja Morant has averaged 28.9 points and 6.8 assists per game during that stretch, shooting 50.8% from the floor, to put himself on the fringe of the MVP conversation.— MacMahon

4. Miami Heat
2021-22 record: 37-20
Previous ranking: 4

Miami keeps rolling — riding a five-game winning streak into Tuesday’s meeting with the Mavericks. Bam Adebayo is a huge reason. He is averaging 23.2 points and 10.8 rebounds over six games in February. The Heat play with a toughness that figures to only strengthen as the wins pile up after the All-Star break. — Friedell

5. Milwaukee Bucks
2021-22 record: 35-22
Previous ranking: 5

The Bucks finally got the frontcourt help they have been seeking all season to help replace Brook Lopez by acquiring veteran forward Serge Ibaka before the trade deadline, but they traded away some of its wing depth to do so. That risk immediately came back to hurt the Bucks when Pat Connaughton, who has been their sixth man all season, fractured a finger in his right hand on the same day the team traded Donte DiVincenzo. Connaughton will undergo surgery Monday and is expected to return to the lineup before the end of the regular season, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Sunday. — Collier

Who wins the Serge Ibaka-Donte DiVincenzo deal?

6. Chicago Bulls
2021-22 record: 36-21
Previous ranking: 6

While the landscape of the Eastern Conference got shaken up in the week leading to Thursday’s trade deadline, the Bulls were one of the few teams among the top contenders not to make a move. Instead, Chicago is banking on its team getting healthy again, with Lonzo Ball (knee), Alex Caruso (wrist) and Patrick Williams (wrist) all expected to return sometime in March. — Collier

7. Philadelphia 76ers
2021-22 record: 34-22
Previous ranking: 7

Daryl Morey has finally been reunited with James Harden, and the Ben Simmons Saga is officially over. Now, as coach Doc Rivers said, it’s up to Philadelphia to follow through on the championship expectations that now surround the franchise after acquiring a former MVP to pair with Joel Embiid, who is quite possibly the 2022 MVP. — Bontemps

Inside the tense negotiations that led to a James Harden-Ben Simmons swap

8. Cleveland Cavaliers
2021-22 record: 35-22
Previous ranking: 8

Welcome to Cleveland, Caris LeVert. In just his second game with the Cavs, LeVert helped the team overcome an 18-point deficit against his former team, the Pacers, scoring three clutch jumpers in the game’s final three and a half minutes to get the win. The Cavaliers are No. 3 in the Eastern Conference and will be a tough out for anybody come playoff time. — McMenamin

What’s next for the Pacers and Cavs after the Caris LeVert deal?

9. Utah Jazz
2021-22 record: 35-21
Previous ranking: 10

After an injury-riddled funk of 11 losses in 13 games, the Jazz have run off five straight wins on a lengthy homestand, despite All-NBA center Rudy Gobert sitting due to a strained calf. Donovan Mitchell has been phenomenal since returning from a two-week absence due to a concussion, averaging 24.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 5.3 assists in the past four games, when he has an overall plus-minus of plus-57. — MacMahon

10. Dallas Mavericks
2021-22 record: 33-24
Previous ranking: 9

Luka Doncic scored 96 points in a split with the Clippers, the most in a two-game span by any NBA player this season and most ever by a Maverick. He has scored at least 30 points in seven of the past eight games, averaging 35.5 points, 9.8 rebounds and 10.5 assists in that stretch. After the Mavericks dealt Kristaps Porzingis to the Wizards at the deadline, is that kind of workload sustainable for Doncic?

“For sure,” he said. “It gets me in better shape, too. More cardio. Yeah, I can do it.” — MacMahon

The Wizards-Mavericks deal for Kristaps Porzingis should raise some eyebrows

11. Boston Celtics
2021-22 record: 33-25
Previous ranking: 14

Boston has been one of the league’s hottest teams in recent weeks, and made a couple of moves to bolster its roster by acquiring Derrick White and Daniel Theis ahead of the deadline. White made an immediate impact, playing the whole fourth quarter of Boston’s win over Denver on Friday, and should be an immediate fixture in closing lineups for the Celtics. — Bontemps

12. Denver Nuggets
2021-22 record: 31-25
Previous ranking: 11

The Nuggets didn’t make a deal at the trade deadline, but their biggest additions could come later in the season. Jamal Murray continues to work his way back, and Michael Porter Jr. could still return. Nuggets president Tim Connelly told Altitude Sports Radio that both could be cleared in the “not too distant future,” and that their returns will be determined by when they feel they are ready. Adding Murray back in the lineup is a scary proposition for any potential Western Conference playoff foe, considering how good Nikola Jokic has been this season. Jokic has the Nuggets in the sixth spot, despite all the injuries. And if Porter returns, the Nuggets will be that team no one wants to face in the first round. For now, Jokic will try to hold the fort down until reinforcements potentially return. — Youngmisuk

13. Toronto Raptors
2021-22 record: 31-24
Previous ranking: 13

Toronto showed faith in its team — which has now gone 16-7 in 2022 — by trading for Thaddeus Young prior to Thursday’s deadline. Young hasn’t played much this season in San Antonio, but if he can reclaim the form he showed in Chicago last season when he was one of the league’s best bench players, he should be a strong complement to the starting frontcourt trio of Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby and rookie Scottie Barnes. — Bontemps

14. Minnesota Timberwolves
2021-22 record: 30-27
Previous ranking: 15

Minnesota started the season carried by a surprising defense that ranked top 10 in the league, while their offense — which was expected to be potent entering the season — struggled. Well, the script has flipped for the Timberwolves since the calendar turned to 2022. The Wolves have the No. 1 offense in the NBA since the start of January, narrowly edging the Suns in offensive efficiency, while their defense has slipped to 21st. It’s added up to Minnesota posting the eighth-best net rating in the NBA since Jan. 1. — Collier

15. Brooklyn Nets
2021-22 record: 29-27
Previous ranking: 12

In less than two months, the Nets have fallen from the top of the Eastern Conference to the middle of the play-in tournament morass. James Harden is gone, Ben Simmons has arrived, and the team is going to be without its four best players — Simmons, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant and Joe Harris — for its final three games before the All-Star Break, having lost 11 in a row. — Bontemps

Risks, rewards and implications of the James Harden-Ben Simmons deal

16. LA Clippers
2021-22 record: 28-30
Previous ranking: 18

The Clippers were one of the winners at the trade deadline. They acquired Norman Powell and Robert Covington from Portland for Eric Bledsoe, Justise Winslow, rookie Keon Johnson and a 2025 second-round pick. But on Sunday, the Clippers found out that their playoff hopes for this season took another hit: Powell is out indefinitely due to a fractured bone in his left foot. With Kawhi Leonard and Paul George‘s returns uncertain for this season, Powell was supposed to help carry the scoring load. The Clippers did send Serge Ibaka to Milwaukee in exchange for Rodney Hood and Semi Ojeleye, clearing a logjam at center. Coach Ty Lue will try to keep the Clippers in the playoff hunt, but next season is when they truly hope to make their title run. — Youngmisuk

Who wins the five-player deal between the Blazers and Clippers?

17. Charlotte Hornets
2021-22 record: 29-29
Previous ranking: 17

Charlotte is in desperate need of the All-Star break. The Hornets have lost seven of eight and learned earlier this week that Gordon Hayward will be out indefinitely due to sprained ligaments in his ankle. Terry Rozier is going to have to do even more offensively in order to get this group back on track. He’s averaging 22.7 points per game over seven contests this month. — Friedell

18. Atlanta Hawks
2021-22 record: 26-30
Previous ranking: 16

Hawks forward John Collins left Friday night’s game against the Spurs with heel pain, and an MRI on Saturday revealed a right foot strain that will hold him out through the All-Star break. He entered Friday’s game with five 20-point games in his past seven, including one game in which he had a season-high 18 rebounds. During that stretch, Collins was averaging 18.7 points and 9.1 rebounds while shooting 56.3% overall. — Lopez

19. Los Angeles Lakers
2021-22 record: 26-31
Previous ranking: 19

L.A. has now lost seven of nine games after failing to protect a six-point lead in the final minutes against Golden State on Saturday. Despite dropping the Warriors game, however, the Lakers believed they could see a ray of sunshine through the clouds.

“We lost the game,” Russell Westbrook said. “But I’m optimistic and happy the way we played the game. For the most part, played the game the right way.” — McMenamin

20. Washington Wizards
2021-22 record: 25-30
Previous ranking: 20

With Bradley Beal done for the season and their 10-3 start in the rearview mirror, the Wizards were busy during Thursday’s trade deadline. Spencer Dinwiddie at point guard wasn’t working, so the Wizards sent Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans to the Mavs for Kristaps Porzingis, with nothing to lose outside of taking on Porzingis’ nearly $70 million on the final two years of his contract. The Wizards also traded Montrezl Harrell to the Hornets and Aaron Holiday to the Suns. While the Wizards are one game out of the 10th spot, the rest of this season will largely be about seeing if Porzingis can stay healthy and letting young players, like Kyle Kuzma, continue to grow. — Youngmisuk

The Wizards-Mavericks deal for Kristaps Porzingis should raise some eyebrows

21. New Orleans Pelicans
2021-22 record: 22-34
Previous ranking: 22

Coming off of very little sleep after landing in New Orleans at 12:30 a.m., CJ McCollum struggled from the floor in his first game with the Pelicans, going 6-of-21 for just 15 points. Two days later — and with some time to catch up on rest — McCollum looked like the player the Pelicans envisioned when they traded for him, as he dropped a season-high 36 points on 15-of-24 shooting while tying his career-high 11 rebounds. — Lopez

Who wins the Pelicans-Trail Blazers deal for CJ McCollum?

22. New York Knicks
2021-22 record: 25-32
Previous ranking: 21

How did New York follow up a great win against the Warriors on Thursday in San Francisco? By being outscored 35-11 in the fourth quarter on Saturday in Portland, turning a double-digit lead at the start of the quarter into a disastrous loss. The Knicks now come home for a couple of must-win games against the Thunder and the undermanned Nets before the All-Star break. — Bontemps

23. San Antonio Spurs
2021-22 record: 22-35
Previous ranking: 23

Dejounte Murray had 32 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds against Atlanta on Friday night, and he followed that up the next night with 31 points and 12 assists against the Pelicans. He had just one turnover in each game. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, Murray is the first player to record back-to-back games with at least 30 points and 10 assists with one or fewer turnovers since turnovers were tracked in 1977-78. — Lopez

24. Portland Trail Blazers
2021-22 record: 23-34
Previous ranking: 24

The Blazers began retooling the team at the deadline, sending Norman Powell and Robert Covington to the Clippers for Eric Bledsoe, Justise Winslow, rookie Keon Johnson and a 2025 second-round pick. Then they sent CJ McCollum, Larry Nance Jr. and Tony Snell to New Orleans for Josh Hart, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, a first-round pick, two second-round picks, Didi Louzada and Tomas Satoransky. They then moved Alexander-Walker to the Jazz and Satoransky to the Spurs, taking back Elijah Hughes, Joe Ingles and a 2022 second-round pick. What happens with Damian Lillard and how the Blazers build around him if he stays in Portland remains to be seen. Coach Chauncey Billups still has the Blazers in the 10th spot, but it will be difficult to remain there to punch a postseason ticket. — Youngmisuk

Who wins the Pelicans-Trail Blazers deal for CJ McCollum?

25. Sacramento Kings
2021-22 record: 22-36
Previous ranking: 26

Through his first two games with the franchise, Domantas Sabonis is averaging 19 points on 60.7% shooting, 12.5 rebounds and six assists, and the Kings are 2-0. Sacramento took a lot of flak for sending 21-year-old Tyrese Haliburton to Indiana in the trade, but 25-year-old Sabonis is certainly no slouch. — McMenamin

Making sense of the shocking deal between the Kings and Pacers

26. Indiana Pacers
2021-22 record: 19-39
Previous ranking: 25

Pacers president Kevin Pritchard called Tyrese Haliburton the team’s point guard of the future, heaping high praise on Indiana’s biggest deadline acquisition. Haliburton is off to a red-hot start in his first two games with his new team, averaging 22.5 points and 11 assists so far with Indy. — Collier

27. Oklahoma City Thunder
2021-22 record: 17-39
Previous ranking: 27

Aleksej Pokusevski, the skinny, 7-foot developmental project the Thunder picked in the first round of the 2020 draft, has shown signs of growth since spending most of last month in the G League. He averaged 13.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in his past four games, shooting 61.8% from the floor and 50% from 3-point range. — MacMahon

28. Houston Rockets
2021-22 record: 15-40
Previous ranking: 28

Kevin Porter Jr. is on a run that is boosting the Rockets’ optimism that he can be a long-term solution as their starting point guard. He has averaged 17.3 points and 6.8 assists over his past 12 games, shooting 49.7% from the floor and 48.2% from 3-point range during that span. — MacMahon

29. Orlando Magic
2021-22 record: 13-45
Previous ranking: 29

Orlando has lost four of its past five, but there continue to be some flashes of solid play from the group’s young core. Wendell Carter Jr. has played with a consistency the Bulls were hoping to see before they dealt for him a year ago in the Nikola Vucevic trade. Carter is averaging 17.6 points, 10.3 rebounds and three assists a game over seven games this month. — Friedell

30. Detroit Pistons
2021-22 record: 12-44
Previous ranking: 30

The Pistons took a flier on forward Marvin Bagley III at the trade deadline, hoping the former No. 2 overall pick will benefit from a change of scenery after spending four years in Sacramento. Bagley, who will be a restricted free agent this summer, had been having the worst year of his career with the Kings, but will get half a season to audition in Detroit before he hunts for his next home. — Collier

Grading the Pistons’ trade for Bagley