NBA Power Rankings: The Grizzlies Are Climbing

Back-to-back victories have Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies comfortably in the lead for the eighth seed in the West. Which other teams moved this week?

With three-quarters of the 2019-20 NBA regular season in the books, it's time to take a look at numberFire's power rankings.

Teams will be ranked in terms of nERD, which is our efficiency metric based on in-game data. These ratings allow us to understand which teams and players are performing best. nERD is indicative of a team's expected winning percentage, so an average team will have a nERD score of 50.0.

Only seven teams moved multiple spots in our rankings, as most squads have already established their identity. Nevertheless, let’s take a look at how each team stacks up.

The Bottom 10

RankingTeamRecordnERDLast RankingPlus/Minus
30Cleveland Cavaliers17-4420.6300
29Atlanta Hawks19-4424.4290
28Golden State Warriors14-4825.1280
27Charlotte Hornets21-4027.8270
26New York Knicks19-4231.1260
25Chicago Bulls21-4036.1240
24Minnesota Timberwolves18-4236.9T23-1
23Washington Wizards22-3837.8T230
22Detroit Pistons20-4238.6220
21Sacramento Kings27-3444.3210

- Just one team in this tier moved even a single spot. Consistently sucking is an art, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

- The Cleveland Cavaliers actually won a game this week, beating the Philadelphia 76ers. That said, beating the Sixers when they're on the road these days is akin to beating a three-year-old in a footrace.

- Like Neil Armstrong famously said, “That’s one small step for the Atlanta Hawks, one giant letdown for their fans.” Atlanta won two in a row by an average of 12.5 points, and then the Memphis Grizzlies throttled them by 39 points.

- The Detroit Pistons managed to get their first win since trading Andre Drummond. But fret not, they blew a 17-point lead two days later.

The Middle of the Pack

RankingTeamRecordnERDLast RankingPlus/Minus
20Phoenix Suns24-3845.815-5
19Portland Trail Blazers27-3546.1190
T17Orlando Magic27-3446.8T170
T17New Orleans Pelicans25-3346.8T170
16San Antonio Spurs26-3446.9160
15Memphis Grizzlies30-3147.120+5
14Brooklyn Nets27-3347.4140
13Philadelphia 76ers37-2555.7T12-1
12Denver Nuggets41-2056.69-3
11Oklahoma City Thunder37-2457.48-3

- Not many people are talking about it, but the Phoenix Suns accomplished the impossible this week -- they lost two home games to teams that are tanking their asses off (Pistons and Warriors -- combined records of 34-90). They're the honored recipients of our Faller of the Week Award.

- Just when it seemed like the Memphis Grizzlies were going to poo-poo away their lead for the eighth seed in the West by losing five in a row, they go and win two in a row by an average of 28 points. Their impressive victory over the Los Angeles Lakers is enough to net them our Riser of the Week Award. Memphis is throwing the clock back, as they have the third-best defensive rating over their last 15 games, coupled with the fourth-worst offensive efficiency. That is Memphis Grizzlies basketball at its core.

- The 76ers are missing both Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, but you can't lose to the Cavs and expect to come out unscathed. On another note, Philly hasn't won a road game since January 20th. Their net rating over their last eight roadies is 5.3 points worse than any team in the league.

- In a two-game span, the Denver Nuggets beat the Toronto Raptors by 15 and lost to the Warriors by 16. Go figure. Denver also lost by 29 to the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday, which doesn't help matters.

- The Oklahoma City Thunder dropped two games this week, one of them by an astounding 49 points. Granted, it came at the hands of the league-leading Milwaukee Bucks, but there's no excuse for a loss like that.

The Best of the Best

RankingTeamRecordnERDLast RankingPlus/Minus
10Utah Jazz38-2257.5T12+2
9Indiana Pacers37-2458.011+2
8Miami Heat39-2259.210+2
7Houston Rockets39-2160.670
6Los Angeles Clippers42-1964.660
5Dallas Mavericks37-2565.450
4Boston Celtics41-1966.840
3Toronto Raptors43-1868.930
2Los Angeles Lakers47-1372.220
1Milwaukee Bucks52-984.810

- Let's track the streakiness of the Utah Jazz once again: At the end of November, they lost six of nine, then they won 19 of 21, lost five in a row, won five straight, lost four consecutive games, and now they've won two straight. They make three drunk guys on a seesaw look balanced.

- The Indiana Pacers have won four straight and six of their last seven. They're currently clinging to a half-game lead for the fifth seed in the East.

- After losing seven of nine, the Miami Heat have garnered victories in each of their last three -- all over playoff-bound teams. Most impressively, they handed the Bucks their ninth loss of the season and held them to under 100 points for just the second time all year.

- None of the top seven teams in our rankings saw any movement this week.