NBA Power Rankings: Raptors return to top spot after impressive weekend
Ron Turenne / National Basketball Association / Getty

During the regular season, theScore's NBA Power Rankings will be published every two weeks. This edition was compiled by editors John Chick, Andrew Joe Potter, and Wael Saghir.

1. Toronto Raptors (30-12)

Just when you think the banged-up Raptors are heading toward a mid-season swoon, they reel off a pair of wins on back-to-back nights against the No. 2- and No. 3-seeded Bucks and Pacers, bouncing back to the top of the overall league standings in dramatic fashion. - Potter

2. Denver Nuggets (26-11)

The Nuggets didn't miss a beat during the December absences of Paul Millsap and Gary Harris, with Mason Plumlee and Malik Beasley filling in admirably. Denver is 16-4 over its last 20 games, the league's best record during that period. - Chick

3. Milwaukee Bucks (27-11)

Minus a loss to the Kyle Lowry-less Raptors, the Bucks have been on a tear, winning nine of their last 11 games to sit as the Association's second-best team. Giannis Antetokounmpo has been untouchable (outside of a nine-point stinker vs. the pesky Heat), averaging 27.8 points, 11.5 boards, and 6.5 assists during that stretch. - Saghir

4. Indiana Pacers (26-13)

Indiana has flown under the radar despite being on pace for 54 wins. Head coach Nate McMillan has instilled the hard-nosed approach that got him two All-Defensive selections during his playing career, and now Indy's No. 2-ranked defense is the real deal. - Potter

5. Golden State Warriors (26-14)

As the rest of the NBA waits for the Warriors to flip the switch, their current defensive ranking (18th) is the lowest Golden State has been ranked this late in a season during the team's five-year run of excellence. Draymond Green - the catalyst for that unit - hasn't been himself, and is too frequently absent offensively as well. - Chick

6. Oklahoma City Thunder (25-14)

Zach Beeker / National Basketball Association / Getty

The Thunder continue to stifle opponents on defense, allowing a league-leading 101.7 points per 100 possessions. They're winning games despite Russell Westbrook's atrocious shooting, though his newfound defensive effort has been a delight. - Saghir

7. Houston Rockets (22-15)

Since Chris Paul went down on Dec. 20, James Harden is averaging almost 42 points and nine assists per game. The Rockets have posted a 7-1 record in that span, and they're 12-2 since Dec. 11. Harden is logging the highest usage rate of his career, and his league-leading 33.7 points per contest through Sunday puts him on pace for the highest scoring average since Kobe Bryant in 2005-06. - Chick

8. Philadelphia 76ers (26-14)

Philly is 7-3 over its last 10 games, but that success hasn't come without question marks. Jimmy Butler wants more action as a pick-and-roll ball-handler, according to head coach Brett Brown, leading some to believe there's tension in the locker room. Butler's past abrasiveness aside, it's important to remember that the Sixers' chemistry remains a work in progress. - Chick

9. San Antonio Spurs (23-17)

The Spurs were recently among the worst defensive teams in the league, but they've quickly become one of the best over the past month, and are tied with the Jazz for the best defensive efficiency since Dec. 7. San Antonio has also recorded multiple blowout victories over playoff contenders during that run. - Saghir

10. Boston Celtics (23-15)

The Celtics boast the 10th-ranked offense and fourth-ranked defense adjusted for pace, even after a middling 5-5 stretch. The only thing holding them back is a lack of success against elite teams. Boston has notched just two victories over teams with winning records since their Nov. 16 win over the Raptors. - Potter

11. Portland Trail Blazers (23-17)

Sam Forencich / National Basketball Association / Getty

Portland has been wildly inconsistent the past two weeks. The Trail Blazers recorded wins over the Warriors and 76ers, but the Jazz blew them out twice. CJ McCollum's play is compounding that inconsistency, as he's shooting 24.6 percent from deep since Dec. 19. - Chick

12. Los Angeles Clippers (23-16)

The Clippers didn't tally any statement wins since our last edition of these power rankings on Dec. 24. They beat an erratic Kings team, the LeBron-less Lakers, and a bad Suns squad. Still, they've generally improved since their early-December issues. - Potter

13. Miami Heat (19-19)

The Heat have won 12 of their last 18 games since starting the year 7-13. That's partly due to their weirdly effective two-three zone, which has kept opponents under 100 points in nine of Miami's last 15 contests. Unfortunately, a horrific loss to the Hawks led to a sour ending to what's been a mostly positive few weeks. - Saghir

14. Los Angeles Lakers (21-19)

There's been nothing enjoyable about the Lakers since the team lost LeBron James to a groin injury on Christmas Day. They've dropped five of their last six contests and stand just one game ahead of the Jazz for the eighth seed in the competitive Western Conference. - Saghir

15. Brooklyn Nets (20-21)

With the Hornets, Pistons, and Magic sliding in recent weeks, the Nets improbably find themselves occupying the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. Given their struggles over the past three seasons, that improvement is a welcome change. - Potter

16. Utah Jazz (20-20)

Chris Schwegler / National Basketball Association / Getty

As usual, Utah's stout defense has been keeping the team in contention. The Jazz have played better offensively in recent weeks, but blowout wins over the lowly Knicks and Cavs are partly inflating that unit. - Chick

17. Charlotte Hornets (19-20)

The Hornets reportedly believe that packaging frequent DNP-receiver Frank Kaminsky with Nicolas Batum will allow them to shed the Frenchman's remaining $76.7 million in outstanding salary (including this season). If that piques anyone's interest, I've got some prime Arizona beachfront for sale. - Potter

18. Sacramento Kings (19-20)

Remember when Kings owner Vivek Ranadive reportedly believed Buddy Hield had "Stephen Curry potential"? That still may be a stretch, but Hield is very good. He's shooting over 47 percent from deep in his last 10 games while averaging 24 points. - Chick

19. Minnesota Timberwolves (19-21)

The Timberwolves beat the Magic and Lakers by a combined 39 points over their past two games, and ownership rewarded Tom Thibodeau with a pink slip. Something had to give, as with an All-NBA talent in Karl-Anthony Towns already in his fourth year, Minnesota needed to start acting with a greater sense of urgency. - Potter

20. Dallas Mavericks (18-21)

Nothing is slowing down "Lukamania" halfway through the season, but Luka Doncic's increasingly strong play hasn't led to victories over the past month. The Mavericks are the Jekyll and Hyde of the league, going 15-3 at home but a nauseating 3-18 on the road. - Saghir

21. Orlando Magic (17-22)

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty

The Magic are still fighting to remain relevant in the Eastern Conference, with the Hornets and Pistons refusing to pull away. Nikola Vucevic has continued his stellar play, though his affordable (and expiring) deal could make him a trade candidate if Orlando falls out of the playoff picture. - Saghir

22. New Orleans Pelicans (18-22)

The Pelicans have lost 15 of their last 23 games, dropping to 14th in the Western Conference as of Monday. Anthony Davis is getting help from his fellow starters, but in two straight games last week the Pelicans received just 23 points from their bench. - Chick

23. Detroit Pistons (17-20)

It's a shame the Pistons are wasting a career-best year so far from Blake Griffin, who's averaging 25.1 points, 8.7 boards, and 5.2 assists. They're the third-worst 3-point shooting team in the league and have lost 13 of their last 17 games. - Saghir

24. Memphis Grizzlies (18-21)

The Grizzlies' offense has been a disaster over their last 15 games, scoring 101.9 points per 100 possessions. They've been one of the worst rebounding teams in the league despite playing a more traditional frontcourt. On the bright side, Mike Conley is continuing his resurgent year after missing 70 games last season. - Saghir

25. Washington Wizards (16-24)

These Wizards shouldn't strike anyone as powerful purveyors of prestidigitation. Rather, they evoke the fraudster behind the curtain in "The Wizard of Oz," presenting the illusion of a team with playoff aspirations, but with precious little substance to back it up. They've been a profound disappointment. - Potter

26. Atlanta Hawks (12-27)

Stacy Revere / Getty Images Sport / Getty

With Kent Bazemore on the shelf, DeAndre' Bembry is getting a crack at starter's minutes and he's playing well. In his last three games, the 2016 first-rounder out of Saint Joseph's is averaging 15 points on 58 percent shooting.
- Chick

27. Phoenix Suns (9-32)

Deandre Ayton is living up to his billing as the 2018 No. 1 pick. The center leads all first-year players with 4.2 win shares, and he's putting up the most rebounds per game (10.7) from a rookie since Blake Griffin (12.1) in 2010-11. - Potter

28. Chicago Bulls (10-30)

Going from a soft-spoken Fred Hoiberg to a hard-nosed Jim Boylen has done nothing to change the Bulls' fortunes. Chicago's roster features only one player with more than five years of experience (Robin Lopez), and the Jabari Parker experiment has become embarrassing. - Saghir

29. New York Knicks (10-29)

The Knicks are 3-13 since Dec. 1, with games against Portland, Golden State, Indiana, and Philadelphia upcoming. Feel free to dream hard about Zion Williamson now, Gotham. - Chick

30. Cleveland Cavaliers (8-31)

It's only early January, and 21 players have already appeared in a game for the Cavaliers this season, putting the Grizzlies' 2015-16 all-time record of 28 within reach. At this point, the Cavs are just a collection of contracts and not a team. - Potter

NBA Power Rankings: Raptors return to top spot after impressive weekend
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