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NBA Power Rankings: Grizzlies, Clippers on way up, Hawks still No. 1

The Hawks could have as many as four All Stars in February's All Star Game.Getty Images

1. Atlanta Hawks (37-8, Previous: 1)- The Hawks simply cannot be stopped. They’ve pushed their winning streak up to 16 games and their defense is stifling opponents to a league-best 96.2 points per game.

2. Golden State Warriors (36-6, Previous: 2)- The Warriors are outscoring their opponents this season by 11.9 points per game – tops in the NBA. Klay Thompson notched 52 points in a win over the Kings this past Friday and he’s not even their best player. They’re easily the top team in the West right now and arguably the best team in the league.

3. Memphis Grizzlies (32-12, Previous: 5)- The Grizzlies have gone 7-1 in their last eight games with impressive wins over the Blazers and Raptors. Jeff Green is continuing to prove to be a spark offensively, averaging 13.6 points in 28.6 minutes. They’ll be tested this week against the Dallas Mavericks and Oklahoma City Thunder.

4. Los Angeles Clippers (31-14, Previous: 8)- The Clippers went a perfect 4-0 last week and outscored their opponents by 18 points per game. They’ll have some stiff battles in the frontcourt this week against the Jazz, Pelicans and Spurs. It’s up to Blake Griffin and his 22.8 points, 7.6 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game to prove what his team is made of.

5. Portland Trailblazers (31-11, Previous: 3) - The Blazers have hit a rough patch in what was looking like a very promising season when they discovered LaMarcus Aldridge's injured thumb. It couldn’t have come at a worse time, as they faced some very tough Clippers, Spurs, Grizzlies and Suns teams. When Celtics guard Evan Turner hit a game-winning three to sink them this past Thursday, it seemed like this team was in big trouble. But a 103-96 win over the Wizards Saturday might just get them back on track.

6. Houston Rockets (31-14, Previous: 6) - The Rockets just couldn’t shake the Warriors this season. They suffered their first season sweep (0-4) at the hands of the gold and white for the first time since the 1973-74 season. But that’s fine, 31-10 against the rest of the NBA with the league’s leading scorer James Harden (27.6 ppg) will make this team a dangerous one come playoff time.

7. Chicago Bulls (29-17, Previous: 12)- The Bulls have been one of the more inconsistent good teams in the league recently. With Joakim Noah now back in the lineup, after missing four games due to injury, wins should start to trend upward in the windy city. Impressive wins over the Spurs and Mavericks last week were diminished by losses to the Cavs and Heat. They can prove what team they truly are Tuesday against the Warriors.

8. Dallas Mavericks (30-15, Previous: 4) - A very scary moment in a loss to New Orleans on Sunday could’ve proved to be the end of the season for Dallas. Tyson Chandler had a right knee collision with Anthony Davis and immediately fell to the floor in pain. Luckily for the Mavs, it was just a little sore and they’ll have the chance to return to their winning ways this week against the Grizzlies Tuesday and Rockets on Wednesday.

9. San Antonio Spurs (29-17, Previous: 9) - The Spurs are only seven games off of their win total from a season ago, but have been decimated by injuries this season. They’ve sent out 23 different starting lineups, but with Kawhi Leonard back their balance should return and a beat down at the hands of the Bulls this past week will be in the distant past.

10. Washington Wizards (29-13, Previous: 7) - The Wizards were in perfect position to jump up in the rankings this week and prove they were worthy of contender status. Instead, they narrowly fell due to close losses to the Thunder and Blazers this past week. John Wall and Co. will have a tough week against the Suns Wednesday before facing the Raptors on Saturday.

11. Cleveland Cavaliers (25-20, Previous: 14) -Don’t look now, but the preseason favorites to win the NBA title may have finally found its winning formula. The Cavs have strung together six straight wins, with impressive beats of the Clippers, Bulls and Thunder.LeBron James is averaging 29.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game during the streak.

12. Toronto Raptors (29-15, Previous: 10)- With DeMar DeRozan finding his rhythm again, the Raptors went 3-1 last week but couldn’t take down the best of that group – the Grizzlies. Wins over the Bucks, Sixers and Pistons is to be expected from the third place team in the East.

13. Oklahoma City Thunder (23-22, Previous: 13)- The Thunder couldn’t find a way to beat the Hawks or Cavs this past week, but that seems to be the story with the rest of the league as well. Russell Westbrook averaged 22.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 8.2 assists this past week and they’ll need that to continue as the playoff race in the West continues to tighten.

14. New Orleans Pelicans (24-21, Previous: 17)- The Pelicans took a big blow at a crucial time when it was announced that Jrue Holiday has a stress reaction in his right leg last week. He’ll miss at least another month of action, which leaves Anthony Davis to literally carry this team in or out of the playoffs. The team strung together four-straight wins with Davis back in the lineup. He averaged 27.5 points and 10 rebounds per game in that span.

15. Phoenix Suns (25-18, Previous: 11) -Things are looking a little cloudy for the Suns. They’re clinging onto the eighth seed right now in the West, with the Pelicans and Thunder lurking just behind them. A James Harden dagger Friday in a loss to the Rockets coupled with a 20-point loss to the Clippers Sunday has them falling fast in the rankings.

16. Miami Heat (20-24, Previous: 16)- All aboard the Hassan Whiteside train. Whiteside has put together a strong month of January for the Heat, averaging 12.3 points, 8.6 rebounds and 4.0 blocks per game. He registered a nasty triple-double of 14 points, 13 rebounds and 12 blocks in a win over the Bulls Sunday. If he can bring that energy every night, the Heat could just be a sneaky contender the rest of the way in the East.

17. Milwaukee Bucks (22-22, Previous: 15)- You can’t fault the Bucks for giving maximum effort every night, but the losses of Jabari Parker (injury) and Larry Sanders (personal) for the season have shadowed how good this team could really be. They have a showdown with the Heat Tuesday which will indicate where they truly stand in the East.

18. Charlotte Hornets (19-26, Previous: 19)- The Hornets went 3-1 last week with the return of Al Jefferson. As a team they’ve won nine of their past 11 games. Regardless of a 39 point drubbing the Cavs gave them in their lone loss last week, it’s hard to overlook the hot Hornets right now. But with Kemba Walker now out for the season with an ACL tear, things could get ugly once again for Michael Jordan’s franchise.

19. Detroit Pistons (17-28, Previous: 18)- As if the city of Detroit hasn’t suffered enough, just when things seemed like they were turning around for the Pistons, Brandon Jennings suffered a ruptured Achilles in Saturday’s loss to the Bucks and is out for the season. Coming into Sunday, Detroit had won 12 of 16 to climb back into the Eastern Conference playoff race, but without Jennings it’s going to be tough for that trend to continue.

20. Boston Celtics (16-27, Previous: 25)– What are they putting in the water in Boston? After going 2-8 to start the month of January, they’ve won three of their past four games with just a three-point loss to the Warriors. Tanking doesn’t seem to be in the vocabulary of this team, if they keep it up they might just play themselves into the playoffs.

21. Utah Jazz (16-29, Previous: 27) -The Jazz are young and fun. As they continue to build their identity, they’ll continue to show their inconsistencies. Going 2-2 last week was full of positives from Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter and the “Stifle Tower” Rudy Gobert.

22. Denver Nuggets (18-27, Previous: 20)- The Nuggets seem to have hit the tank button after trading away center Timofey Mozgov earlier this month. They’ve now lost seven in a row, including a 12-point loss to lowly Minnesota.

23. Brooklyn Nets (18-26, Previous: 21) -TheNets lost back-to-back games by 39 and 35 points to the Clippers and Jazz this past week. Every player on their team is rumored to be in trade discussions. The end of the season can’t come soon enough for this veteran squad and everybody wants their ticket out.

24. Indiana Pacers (15-28, Previous: 22) -The Pacers ended the weekend with a two-point loss to the Heat Friday and a win over the Magic on Sunday. Respectable play from a tanking team, and it looks like they may have even found some life out of forward Damjen Rudez (18 points on Sunday) who signed with the team this summer.

25. Sacramento Kings (16-27, Previous: 23) –Winners of five of their first six games, it looked like the Kings would be one of the more promising team’s in the NBA this season. In their current six-game losing streak however, the season has reached a low point where DeMarcus Cousins (24.2 points, 12.6 rebounds) will likely get snubbed of an All-Star appearance.

26. Orlando Magic (15-33, Previous: 24) -Despite Nikola Vucevic averaging 24.2 points and 11.8 rebounds in the Magic’s last five games, the team can’t seem to shake its losing streak. They’ve now lost six in a row.

27. Los Angeles Lakers (12-33, Previous: 27) –The Lakers are doing what they should’ve been doing all along – flat out losing. They’ve now lost eight-straight games, Kobe Bryant is done for the season, Nick Young was benched by coach Byron Scott in their last game and all is tumultuous in Laker land.

28. New York Knicks (8-37, Previous: 30) –The Knicks have won three of their past four games, with one of their franchises’ all-time worst rosters. They silenced Sixers fans by improving their record to 2-0 against them on the season. They’re hoping that the NBA will just let them tank in peace.

29. Philadelphia 76ers (8-37, Previous: 28) –Tony Wroten is out for the year with an ACL tear, Nerlens Noel and Michael Carter-Williams keep sitting out games due to illnesses and Furkan Aldemir is playing meaningful NBA minutes. You’re not fooling us Brett Brown, Joel Embiid is not returning to the court next month.

30. Minnesota Timberwolves (7-37, Previous: 29) –A loss Wednesday against the Celtics and Friday against the Sixers will put the Timberwolvesin sole possession of last place in the NBA. This is exactly where they wanted to be immediately following Ricky Rubio’s injury in November. After losing Kevin Love last summer, it looks like they’re full-speed ahead for Duke’s Jahil Okafor this summer.

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