Magicians are beloved by everyone. Whether it is pulling a rabbit out of a hat or a sleight-of-hand card trick, they are always able to captivate their spectators and create a wow factor one can not necessarily find in other entertainment shows. While they may not have someone with the last name of Houdini or Copperfield on their roster, the Orlando Magic have made their losing ways disappear. This is why the Magic find themselves at the top of the NBA Power Rankings, something nobody had on their basketball Bingo card at the start of the 2023-24 season.
After their first ten games, the Magic were 5-5. A young team that has really bought into head coach Jamahl Mosley's defensive philosophy, Orlando has rallied to win seven straight games, the longest active win streak in the NBA, and move to 12-5 overall on the season. Over the span of their last seven games, the Magic have been tested. The Indiana Pacers, Boston Celtics, and Denver Nuggets are all strong and balanced teams, yet the Magic defeated the Pacers and Celtics by double-digits.
Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner have led the way for the Magic on offense, but Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs, Moritz Wagner, and Jonathan Isaac have all played their respective roles to perfection. Everyone in Orlando understands where they fit in and the fact that this team is finding success without starting big man Wendell Carter Jr. says a lot about their character. No matter the opponent, the Magic do not back down, a trait that makes them extremely dangerous in the Eastern Conference.
After defeating the Toronto Raptors this past Tuesday and the Celtics this past Friday, Orlando is now 3-1 in East Group C of the NBA In-Season Tournament. The Magic can clinch the group and a spot in the quarterfinals of the inaugural tournament if the Brooklyn Nets lose to the Toronto Raptors this coming Tuesday.
As the group stage of the in-season tournament wraps up on Tuesday night, the competition across the league couldn't be any higher. Every team, even those struggling in the standings, has shown a lot of fight during these tournament games, which is why the upcoming knockout stage of the tournament should be thrilling.
A battle for the top spot in the Western Conference standings takes place this week when the Oklahoma City Thunder take on the Minnesota Timberwolves, plus Draymond Green makes his return to the Golden State Warriors rotation in the team's final group stage game against the Sacramento Kings following his five-game suspension. And how could we fail to mention the Magic looking to extend their win streak to eight games on Wednesday against the Washington Wizards?
So much is happening around the league right now and in this fresh, new batch of NBA Power Rankings, we kick things off with this young, fiery Magic squad.
1. Orlando Magic (+9)
2023-24 Record: 12-5, Upcoming schedule: vs. WAS (11/29), vs. WAS (12/1), at BKN (12/2)
The Magic are winning games and they are doing so against some of the best of the best in the NBA. This past week, Orlando took down the Celtics and Nuggets on their home court and they did so in complete control of each game. What was really impressive was the fact that the Magic held Boston to just 96 points on 40.8 percent shooting from the floor.
Through 17 games, the Magic rank third in defensive rating and they are giving up an average of 107.4 points per game to their opponents, the fifth-best mark in the NBA. Orlando has length, they have athletes, and they have a roster that has bought in to the idea of sacrifice in order to win. For Orlando to be 12-5 without Wendell Carter Jr. is really impressive.
Jamahl Mosley is the clear favorite for Coach of the Year right now and Cole Anthony has put together a great case for Sixth Man of the Year. It shouldn't be a shock to anyone to see the Magic at the top of the NBA Power Rankings given what they've done through the first month of the season.
2. Boston Celtics (-1)
2023-24 Record: 13-4, Upcoming schedule: vs. CHI (11/28), vs. PHI (12/1)
While they did pick up wins at home over the Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks, the Boston Celtics went 0-2 on the road this past week, losing to the Charlotte Hornets in overtime and the Orlando Magic. Overall, the Celtics still appear to be the most complete team in the league and if the playoffs began today, they would undoubtedly be the favorites to win the NBA Finals. Boston ranks inside the top 10 in offensive and defensive rating, plus they have the best starting rotation in the entire league.
The Celtics can really kick things into a higher gear and reclaim the top spot in the NBA Power Rankings if Jrue Holiday settles in. Defensively, Holiday has been great, but he is averaging just 12.3 points per game while shooting 33.8 percent from three-point range. Nonetheless, Boston still appears to be the team to beat in the East and they are on track to win over 60 games for the first time since the 2008-09 season.
3. Minnesota Timberwolves (+1)
2023-24 Record: 12-4, Upcoming schedule: vs. OKC (11/28), vs. UTA (11/30), at CHA (12/2)
Even though they are coming off their worst home loss of the season to the Sacramento Kings, the Minnesota Timberwolves still remain one of the better teams in the league because of Anthony Edwards. No matter the opponent or situation he faces, no moment is too high for Edwards. This is why the young T-Wolves star has emerged as a serious MVP candidate this season.
Edwards ranks 10th in scoring and his defensive instincts have helped propel the Timberwolves to being an elite-level defensive team. Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert continue to gain confidence in one another as well, making Minnesota a tough team to attack on the interior. Offensively, it still seems like something is missing for the Timberwolves to truly be taken seriously in the Western Conference. Perhaps Jaden McDaniels will take a step forward and begin to grow on offense as the season progresses.
4. Oklahoma City Thunder (-1)
2023-24 Record: 11-5, Upcoming schedule: at MIN (11/28), vs. LAL (11/30), at DAL (12/2)
Much like the Magic, the Oklahoma City Thunder have been one of the pleasant surprises so far during the 2023-24 season. Led by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the Thunder are one of the league's youngest teams, yet they play like a group of veterans who have been together for years. This is due to the fact that this entire roster was basically brought in together through the draft. Chet Holmgren, Josh Giddey, Luguentz Dort, and Jalen Williams were all drafted by the Thunder, plus Gilgeous-Alexander was acquired by the Thunder after his rookie season.
Oklahoma City has one of the best developmental teams in the NBA. It should not come as a shock to anyone to finally see them take that next step as a franchise, emerging from their rebuild as threats in the West. Outside of the scoring production of SGA and Holmgren, Isaiah Joe has really helped the Thunder grow. Joe is shooting 48.5 percent from three-point range off the bench and opens up a lot of space for his teammates to create offensive opportunities.
The Thunder have a true MVP candidate in Gilgeous-Alexander, they have multiple playmakers, they have a young big man who looks to be an All-Star talent in no time, and their role players are only going to get better as they gain more experience given they were all recently drafted. Buy stock in the Thunder right now because this is a team that will finish with one of the better records in the NBA.
5. Milwaukee Bucks (+1)
2023-24 Record: 12-5, Upcoming schedule: at MIA (11/28), at CHI (11/30), vs. ATL (12/2)
The Milwaukee Bucks began the 2023-24 season with a 5-4 record, struggling to find their identity on both sides of the floor. Even with Damian Lillard and Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks had no flow to their offense other than running isolation sets for their two stars. While a lot of this still remains the same given how well Lillard and Antetokounmpo play in one-on-one situations, we are beginning to see others understand their roles on offense.
Malik Beasley looks comfortable on the perimeter, Pat Connaughton has aided his team as a shooter and secondary rebounder, and Brook Lopez has finally found his flow on both sides of the basketball. Over his last six games, Lopez is averaging 20.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks per game while shooting 36.7 percent from three-point range. With this version of the veteran center, the Bucks have completely flipped the script surrounding them.
The Bucks have won seven of their last eight games and their only loss was against the Celtics this past week, a game they lost by only three points after trailing by as many as 21 points. With Khris Middleton still working his way back to full speed from offseason knee surgery, the Bucks are certainly a dangerous team trending up in the East.
6. Philadelphia 76ers (-4)
2023-24 Record: 11-5, Upcoming schedule: vs. LAL (11/27), at NOP (11/29), at BOS (12/1)
If they were unable to pick up a win against the Thunder over the weekend, the Philadelphia 76ers would have fallen even further down the NBA Power Rankings. This was simply a bad week for the Sixers, as they got blown out in Minnesota without Joel Embiid and they lost a tough overtime game at home to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Even with Kelly Oubre Jr. out due to injury, the Sixers have been able to mold their identity offensively and turn themselves into one of the better-scoring teams in the league because of Embiid and Tyrese Maxey.
When one of them are out of the lineup though, there are major question marks that surround the 76ers. This team relies so heavily on Embiid and the production he gives them offensively. Since James Harden was traded, Embiid has taken on an even larger role offensively, becoming more of a facilitator than he was in years past. Wear and tear always seems to catch up with the reigning league MVP, which is why Philadelphia needs to be careful about Embiid's usage rate early on in the season.
The Sixers are going to be tested this upcoming week, as the Los Angeles Lakers, New Orleans Pelicans, and Celtics are all tough teams to face.
7. Denver Nuggets (-2)
2023-24 Record: 11-6, Upcoming schedule: at LAC (11/27), vs. HOU (11/29), at PHX (12/1), at SAC (12/2)
Since Jamal Murray last played on November 4 due to a hamstring injury, the Denver Nuggets have gone 5-5 with Nikola Jokic looking like a one-man team. We have to give credit to Aaron Gordon and Michael Porter Jr. for stepping up, as well as Christian Braun coming off the bench and supplying the Nuggets with key minutes out on the wing, but Denver does not look like the same dominant force right now as they did last season.
The Nuggets look somewhat vulnerable in transition and there is no flow to their offense when Jokic is not on the floor. If you know anything about Denver, you know that their offense strictly runs through Jokic and he has his fingerprints in every single play they run. This obviously works when Murray is on the floor and when the two-time MVP is going to work, but the Nuggets don't really have any playmakers outside of these two.
There is no reason to panic in Denver, as they are still one of the better teams in the league, but when their three-point shot isn't falling, the Nuggets are not as strong of a team as many may think they are.
8. Phoenix Suns (+6)
2023-24 Record: 11-6, Upcoming schedule: at TOR (11/29), vs. DEN (12/1), vs. MEM (12/2)
Next to the Magic, the Phoenix Suns are the hottest team in the league right now, as they are also in the midst of a seven-game win streak. Without Bradley Beal, the Suns have been rolling through Western Conference foes, recently picking up wins against the Timberwolves, Utah Jazz, Golden State Warriors, and Memphis Grizzlies. The Suns even went on the road over the weekend and took down the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden thanks to a game-winning triple by Devin Booker.
The duo of Booker and Kevin Durant has been sensational to begin the year, as both players are performing at an MVP-like level. Veteran guard Eric Gordon has also been balling his last few games, recently dropping 25 points against the Knicks. There is a lot to like about the Suns right now, especially since their offense is only going to get better once Beal is healthy.
However, the Suns' current seven-game win streak should be taken with a grain of salt given the level of competition they have faced. The Jazz, Portland Trail Blazers, and Memphis Grizzlies are all teams the Suns should handle with ease and four of their last seven wins have come against these teams. The Suns' upcoming matchup against Jokic and the Nuggets should paint a better picture of how we should evaluate the Suns.
9. Dallas Mavericks (-1)
2023-24 Record: 10-6, Upcoming schedule: vs. HOU (11/28), vs. MEM (12/1), vs. OKC (12/2)
The Dallas Mavericks still find themselves as a top 10 team in the NBA Power Rankings, but this is a team that is currently trending down. After an 8-2 start to the year, the Mavs have dropped four of their last six games. The good news is that all of these losses have come against teams vying for a playoff spot this season. The bad news is that Dallas really doesn't have a signature win this season other than defeating the Magic on the road at the start of the month.
Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving are fantastic, plus Tim Hardaway Jr. has emerged as the clear favorite for Sixth Man of the Year so far this season. As a whole, the Mavs have a lot of questions to answer regarding their offensive production and where scoring comes from when their two All-Stars are not on the floor together.
Defensively, the Mavs are a mess and this will ultimately be their downfall. Dereck Lively II is the team's only shot blocker and teams have found it easy to attack Dallas in half-court sets. Until the Mavs make some real adjustments on defense, they are going to continue to be a very average team when facing off against the best of the best in the league.
10. Cleveland Cavaliers (-1)
2023-24 Record: 9-8, Upcoming schedule: vs. ATL (11/28), vs. POR (11/30), at DET (12/2)
The only reason the Cleveland Cavaliers are 9-8 this season is because it always seems like they are missing someone. Whether it is Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen, or someone else, the Cavs have only played a couple of games with the entirety of their starting rotation. As a whole, Cleveland is a strong team that has plenty of depth and can wind up going on a deep playoff run.
Right now, the Cavs are an average basketball team because of the inconsistencies surrounding their nightly rotations. As their players continue to get healthy, the Cavs will emerge with one of the better records in the Eastern Conference.
11. Indiana Pacers (-)
2023-24 Record: 9-6, Upcoming schedule: vs. POR (11/27), at MIA (11/30), at MIA (12/2)
Although they do not defend whatsoever, the Indiana Pacers have proven that they are capable of scoring upwards of 130 points in every single game they play. The Pacers are the best offensive team in basketball right now and that is because of All-Star point guard Tyrese Haliburton. Indiana pushes the pace on every single possession and they have eight different players averaging at least 10 points per game.
Shooting over 50 percent from the floor and just under 40 percent from deep as a team, the Pacers can move the ball and knock down shots with ease. The Pacers have claimed East Group A and will be in the quarterfinals of the NBA In-Season Tournament. Keep an eye on them making a run to Las Vegas for the semifinals and a chance to compete for the first-ever NBA Cup.
12. New Orleans Pelicans (+3)
2023-24 Record: 9-8, Upcoming schedule: at UTA (11/27), vs. PHI (11/29), vs. SAS (12/1), at CHI (11/2)
Much like the Cavs, the New Orleans Pelicans are another one of those teams we have to sort of wait and see what they become due to injuries. Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson have both missed games, CJ McCollum has not played since Nov. 4 due to a collapsed lung, and the Pels have had plenty of secondary talents in and out of the lineup due to injuries.
New Orleans did recently pick up back-to-back wins over the Sacramento Kings, as well as a win over the Los Angeles Clippers this past week. Coming up this week, the Pelicans will play three teams with losing records, as well as the Sixers. Anything less than a 3-1 record this upcoming week will be troublesome for this team.
13. Sacramento Kings (-6)
2023-24 Record: 9-6, Upcoming schedule: vs. GSW (11/28), vs. LAC (11/29), vs. DEN (12/2)
De'Aaron Fox has been the identity of the Sacramento Kings offense, making him a dark-horse MVP candidate. While Fox continues to take his game to new heights, the Kings continue to search for answers on defense. So many teams have had their way scoring against Sacramento, which is why they have yet to really lock themselves in as one of the best teams in the league.
From a talent perspective and given what they did a season ago, the Kings are more than capable of turning things on at any given moment. This team can get hot from the perimeter on offense and when they truly want to, the Kings can get stops defensively. When looking at playoff-contending teams in the West, the Kings have been the most underwhelming to this point, as they lose games they are supposed to win and then win the games they are not necessarily favored in.
More will be learned about this team when they face the Warriors and Clippers on back-to-back nights.
14. New York Knicks (-1)
2023-24 Record: 9-7, Upcoming schedule: vs. CHA (11/28), vs. DET (11/30), at TOR (12/1)
Without Jalen Brunson, the New York Knicks there would be serious doubts about this team's playoff chances. Through 16 games, Brunson has averaged 24.9 points and 5.1 assists per game while shooting 47.2 percent from three-point range, making him a prime candidate to become a first-time All-Star this season. Outside of Brunson, all is not necessarily bad with the Knicks.
Mitchell Robinson is amongst the league leaders in rebounding and despite missing some games in the middle of the month, RJ Barrett is still off to a very fast start this season. If there is anything we should not question about the Knicks, it is their toughness and resilience. Down as many as 21 points to the Miami Heat on Friday night, New York was able to rally back late in the game to steal a victory and an in-season tournament win.
On paper, the Knicks have an easy week coming up, so they could be 12-7 by the time the next NBA Power Rankings come out.
15. Miami Heat (-3)
2023-24 Record: 10-7, Upcoming schedule: vs. MIL (11/28), vs. IND (11/30), vs. IND (12/2)
The Miami Heat are another one of those teams that are going to pick up some really good wins that make everyone believe that they can get back to the NBA Finals this season. However, they are also going to have some head-scratching losses to teams like the Detroit Pistons and Washington Wizards throughout the year. That's just the nature of the Heat, as they save their best for big matchups.
While there is not necessarily a reason to worry about the Heat since they are still a top-tier defensive team, it's hard to get a grasp on what their offense can be like since Tyler Herro has been out with an ankle injury. Miami is definitely a middle-of-the-pack team in the NBA right now, but nobody ever wants to play them.
16. Los Angeles Lakers (+2)
2023-24 Record: 10-7, Upcoming schedule: at PHI (11/27), at DET (11/29), at OKC (11/30), vs. HOU (12/2)
LeBron James has led the Los Angeles Lakers to seven wins in their last nine games. While there are some concerns surrounding LeBron's usage rate and minutes, the Lakers are beginning to form their identity. Jarred Vanderbilt and Gabe Vincent are on the road to recovery from injuries as well, giving the Lakers the depth they will need to rise in the West.
No matter how good James plays and what depth the Lakers have though, everything for this organization comes down to Anthony Davis and his availability. Davis is the key to Los Angeles possibly winning another championship and he will need to take the mantle of being the Lakers' best player from LeBron in order for this team to reach their full potential. There is no reason why Davis should be recording less than 25 points and 10 rebounds every single game.
17. Los Angeles Clippers (+4)
2023-24 Record: 7-8, Upcoming schedule: vs. DEN (11/27), at SAC (11/29), at GSW (11/30), vs. GSW (12/2)
The James Harden era did not get off to a great start for the Los Angeles Clippers, as they went 0-5 with Harden struggling to fit in. Since Ty Lue put Russell Westbrook on the bench and elevated Terence Mann to the starting lineup, the Clippers have won four of their last five games. Finally, the Clippers are trending in the right direction and finding their footing in the Western Conference.
On Monday night against the Denver Nuggets, they will have a chance to get to .500 on the season for the first time in weeks. This upcoming week is big for the Nuggets because they will play the Warriors twice. These two teams were neck-and-neck in the standings a season ago, which is why two wins over Golden State could really do dividends for the Clippers. Not to mention, it will continue to build this group's overall confidence as they look to build chemistry.
18. Atlanta Hawks (-2)
2023-24 Record: 8-8, Upcoming schedule: at CLE (11/28), at SAS (11/30), at MIL (12/2)
Trae Young has been on a tear over the last week or two, yet the Atlanta Hawks have once again been playing .500 basketball. To make matters even worse, The Hawks figure to be without breakout forward Jalen Johnson for a handful of weeks due to a wrist injury. Johnson, who has started in 13 of the Hawks' 16 games this season, was forced to leave Saturday night's game against Washington early due to said wrist injury.
Without Johnson, the Hawks will lose a chunk of scoring and rebounding production, putting pressure on De'Andre Hunter to finally step up. Atlanta gave Hunter a four-year, $90 million extension last season, yet he is only averaging 14.4 points and 4.2 rebounds per game this year. Hunter can finally put all the questions surrounding the Hawks' secondary talent to bed if he can step up and help his team pick up wins over the likes of the Cavs and Bucks.
19. Golden State Warriors (-2)
2023-24 Record: 8-9, Upcoming schedule: at SAC (11/29), vs. LAC (11/30), at LAC (12/2)
Here we are again wondering what's next for the Golden State Warriors and where they go from here. After their dreaded six-game losing skid came to an end this past week with a win over the Houston Rockets, the Warriors were unable to get past the Suns in a game NBA official Scott Foster ruined once again. This is a huge week coming up for the Warriors not only because Draymond Green returns from his suspension, but because of the stakes on the line.
The Warriors' game on Tuesday night will either keep them in or eliminate them from the in-season tournament, plus two wins over the Clippers can put Golden State in a position to rise back up the Western Conference standings. The best way to overcome a long losing streak is with a long win streak. With three games against the Clippers coming up on their schedule, as well as games against the Suns and Kings, now is the time for the Warriors to turn the meter on their offense.
20. Houston Rockets (-1)
2023-24 Record: 8-6, Upcoming schedule: at DAL (11/28), at DEN (11/29), at LAL (12/2)
There is no doubt that the Houston Rockets are a new and improved team in the West that can absolutely make some noise this season. Ime Udoka has his team locked in defensively and Alperen Sengun is quietly becoming an All-Star-like talent for this team at the center position. If Jalen Green is able to be the focal point for this team scoring-wise and Fred VanVleet embraces his role as a facilitator over a scorer, the Rockets can contend for a playoff spot. Until we see more from the Rockets, it is hard to truly say they are legit threats in the West.
21. Brooklyn Nets (-1)
2023-24 Record: 8-8, Upcoming schedule: vs. TOR (11/28), vs. CHA (11/30), vs. ORL (12/2)
Going back to the Eastern Conference, the Brooklyn Nets are another one of those teams that is hard to project right now until we see more of them in action. As far as depth goes, there is a lot to like about the Nets, especially since they don't necessarily have a focal point. Mikal Bridges is obviously the best player on this team, but there are at least six different players on Brooklyn's roster who are capable of scoring 20-plus points on any given night. If the Nets can start to improve defensively and really focus their energy on that end of the floor, they can being to creep up the NBA Power Rankings and pick up some victories that fly under the radar.
22. Toronto Raptors (-)
2023-24 Record: 8-9, Upcoming schedule: at BKN (11/28), vs. PHX (11/29), vs. NYK (12/1)
The Toronto Raptors will have some games where Pascal Siakam, Scottie Barnes, and OG Anunoby combine for 70-plus points and they go on to win. The key word here is “some,” as the Raptors are perhaps one of the weakest offensive teams in the entire league.
Toronto ranks amongst the bottom of the NBA in three-point shooting, they really don't have any presence in the paint, and there is nothing about this team that really instills fear in their opponents. The Raptors may have great players, but so does virtually every other team in the league now. It truly seems like we are trending towards seeing the Raptors make some interesting roster decisions.
23. Charlotte Hornets (+2)
2023-24 Record: 5-10, Upcoming schedule: at NYK (11/28), at BKN (11/30), vs. MIN (12/2)
For the first time all season, the Charlotte Hornets saw their first two-game win streak this past week after beating the Celtics and Wizards. Now, with Terry Rozier back from his injury, the Hornets are looking to utilize their offensive abilities to snap their early season losing skid. While Charlotte cannot stop anyone to save their life defensively, the Hornets can beat teams in more ways than one on offense.
Whether it is LaMelo Ball, Brandon Miller, Miles Bridges, Rozier, or someone else, the Hornets do have talented players who can score. This is why improving just by a hair could be the difference in this team having a chance to fight in the play-in tournament or missing the postseason altogether once again. The talent is certainly there for the Hornets to take a step forward.
24. Utah Jazz (-1)
2023-24 Record: 5-11, Upcoming schedule: vs. NOP (11/27), at MEM (11/29), at MIN (11/30), vs. POR (12/2)
I do not believe the 5-11 record owned by the Utah Jazz so far this season, as they are a better team than things may appear. Lauri Markkanen is an All-Star talent for a reason and Utah has lost a handful of games by a possession or two this season. At some point, things are going to begin clicking for this team and that moment may come this week with matchups against the Grizzlies, Pelicans, and Trail Blazers, three games the Jazz are capable of winning. Utah is a strong rebounding team and they need to begin utilizing this to their advantage, especially on the offensive side of the court in order to create second-chance scoring opportunities.
25. Chicago Bulls (-1)
2023-24 Record: 5-13, Upcoming schedule: at BOS (11/28), vs. MIL (11/30), vs. NOP (12/2)
Teams should never give up amid slow starts, but enough is enough for the Chicago Bulls. This core of Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic all seem to know what is about to happen, yet the Bulls are just delaying the inevitable. LaVine is going to be moved for the trade deadline and then questions will begin to pop up regarding DeRozan's future. The Bulls simply lack leadership and their body language speaks volumes on what the mood inside this organization is. It's just a matter of time at this point before the Bulls find themselves as sellers in trade talks.
26. Portland Trail Blazers (+3)
2023-24 Record: 4-12, Upcoming schedule: at IND (11/27), at CLE (11/30), at UTA (12/2)
The Trail Blazers have won just once in their last ten games. With their next four games on the road and Portland ranking last in offensive rating, things are not trending upward for the Blazers. It is clear that this organization is going through a soft rebuild and early-season injuries have not helped the Blazers whatsoever. Continuing to develop Scoot Henderson and the other youthful pieces on this roster is the only thing Portland can accomplish this season.
27. San Antonio Spurs (-1)
2023-24 Record: 3-14, Upcoming schedule: vs ATL (11/30), at NOP (12/1)
Victor Wembanyama has been fantastic since his first game with the San Antonio Spurs, but we are beginning to see Wemby settle down and look comfortable in the NBA. Consistency is what the Spurs have been preaching to their rookie big man and he has recorded 22 points in three straight games now as a result. The Spurs may only have three wins, but this is a young team that can fight against anyone in the league and create some headaches due to their size and athleticism. If Wembanyama can continue to play at the pace he currently finds himself at, the rookie will be in the All-Star Game come February.
28. Memphis Grizzlies (-1)
2023-24 Record: 3-13, Upcoming schedule: vs. UTA (11/29), at DAL (12/1), at PHX (12/2)
Ja Morant still has nine games left on his suspension and the Memphis Grizzlies cannot win a game right now. Throw in Marcus Smart yelling at the team on the bench during a timeout in their most recent game and we suddenly have the Grizzlies on red alert in the Western Conference. If Memphis cannot go .500 until Morant returns to the mix, they will be out of the playoff picture entirely in the West simply because they have no firepower on their roster.
This is a rebuilding year for the Grizzlies, as they very clearly made mistakes by giving up Tyus Jones and Dillon Brooks for nothing. Nobody on this roster can score outside of Desmond Bane, which makes the Grizzlies' immediate future very clouded.
29. Washington Wizards (+1)
2023-24 Record: 2-14, Upcoming schedule: at DET (11/27), at ORL (11/29), at ORL (12/1)
The Washington Wizards have won two games all year and they have lost nine straight. On Monday night, they will take on the Detroit Pistons, who currently find themselves on a 13-game losing streak. Someone has to win this game… right? Right now, Kyle Kuzma has been the only consistent bright spot for the Wizards, as Jordan Poole continues to be a puzzle Washington doesn't know how to solve at this point.
30. Detroit Pistons (-2)
2023-24 Record: 2-14, Upcoming schedule: vs. WAS (11/27), vs. LAL (11/29), at NYK (11/30), vs. CLE (12/2)
Look, I still like the Detroit Pistons and think they have a lot to offer. Just last season, the Magic started the year 5-20 and yet they finished with a 34-48 record, rallying during the back half of the season. I think we could see something similar happen here with the Pistons not only because Bojan Bogdanovic is on the road to recovery from his calf injury, but because Detroit is such a young team. As they gain experience, the Pistons will begin to grow and become more comfortable playing with one another. While rebuilds are tedious, they simply take time. The good news for the Pistons is that they have plenty of time on their side right now.