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Mike Meredith/CBS Sports

Perception is everything. As amateur philosopher David Brent once posited in the original UK version of "The Office," "Does a struggling salesman start turning up on a bicycle? No, he turns up in a newer car." It's funny how you can look at a roster during a winning streak and think you have what it takes to make the NBA Finals, and then look at the same roster during a rough patch and demand for a total overhaul.

As we approach Thursday's 3 p.m. ET trade deadline, teams like the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers may be more eager to pull the trigger on a deal given how much they've been losing lately. Consistent losses are generally associated with poor chemistry, and it's clear that things aren't going well in that department for either team. With all the chatter about James Harden and Russell Westbrook, respectively, it will be interesting to see how the Nets and Lakers handle their last chance to make a trade this season.

Another intriguing deadline team, of course, is the Philadelphia 76ers, who are in a much better spot than the Lakers and Nets but still dropped four spots in this week's Power Rankings with the Ben Simmons card waiting to be played. It's hard to imagine this roster winning the title as currently constructed if Simmons remains inactive, even with Joel Embiid playing like a Hall of Famer, so we'll see if they elect to make a win-now move.

The week's biggest riser in the rankings, the New Orleans Pelicans, already made a huge splash by trading for CJ McCollum. They're slowly climbing the Western Conference standings, and he could help accelerate that push. Then there's the league's hottest team, the Toronto Raptors, who were considered potential sellers prior to the season. Their seven-game win streak, however, might give Masai Ujiri a bit more pause before getting rid of one of the pieces that has been working so well lately.

Here is the final set of NBA Power Rankings before the 2022 trade deadline.

*Please keep in mind that our Power Rankings are based on the team's performance the previous week, not the entire season.

Biggest Movers
9 Pelicans
6 Hornets
Rk
Teams
 
Chg
Rcrd
1 Suns The seemingly invincible Suns suffered a brief misstep last Thursday in a loss to the Hawks, but bounced back for road wins over the Wizards, Bulls and 76ers. Phoenix continues to be laughably dominant in the clutch, outscoring opponents by a ridiculous 45 points per 100 possessions down the stretch in close games. That's largely due to Chris Paul, one of the game's best clutch performers. -- 48-33
2 Grizzlies The Grizzlies only had two games this week, scoring 135 points in each as they beat the pants off the Magic and Clippers. Ja Morant averaged 31.5 points, six assists and six rebounds in the two games, while Jaren Jackson Jr. was excellent with 23.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. Once again the depth of this team was on display, as they attacked helpless defenses in waves. 1 27-54
3 Warriors The Warriors had rattled off nine straight wins before an ugly hiccup in Utah in which they only scored 85 points. Despite the blip, the Warriors are playing well, and it appears that Steph Curry's slump may officially be behind him, as he shot 50 percent from the field and 44 percent from 3-point range this week. Klay Thompson saw his minutes limit increased against the Thunder, and looked like the old Klay while scoring 23 points in 24 minutes on 7-for-9 3-point shooting in a win over the Kings. 1 45-36
4 Bucks The Bucks won three games by an average of 23 points this week to make it four straight overall, as they continue to dominate when their three stars are in the lineup. Giannis Antetokounmpo absolutely destroyed the Lakers to the tune of 44 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists on 17-for-20 shooting. Meanwhile, Bobby Portis caught fire this week, averaging nearly 26 points per game on 15-for-22 3-point shooting. 1 49-32
5 Heat This week the Heat had its starting five intact for the first time since Thanksgiving, and the results speak for themselves -- three wins by an average of 19 points per game. Super sub Tyler Herro even missed one of those games, but it didn't matter one bit. Kyle Lowry played for the first time since mid-January, averaging 7.3 points and five assists while going 6 for 10 from 3-point range in the three games. The team's scary defensive potential was on full display, allowing just 95.6 points per 100 possessions. 2 45-36
6 Cavaliers The Cavs went 3-0 this week, including a victory over the Spurs in Caris LeVert's debut with the team. He put up 11 points off the bench, where he'll likely remain as the primary scorer and playmaker on the second unit. Jarrett Allen seemed a bit miffed over not making the All-Star team, averaging 20 points and 18 rebounds this week, including a 29-point, 22-rebound masterpiece in a win over Charlotte. 2 48-33
7 Mavericks The Mavs shook off perplexing losses to the Magic and Thunder to win three straight this week against the 76ers, Hawks and Pistons. Luka Magic is in full effect, as the All-Star averaged 28 points, 12.3 assists and 10 rebounds this week on 39 percent 3-point shooting. Jalen Brunson continues to be a steady source of production, while Reggie Bullock added 18 points and 5.7 rebounds per game this week on 48 percent 3-point shooting with Kristaps Porzingis sidelined due to a knee injury. 3 50-31
8 76ers The 76ers played three good teams this week, beating the Bulls while losing to the Mavs and Suns. Joel Embiid continued his MVP campaign, averaging 33.7 points and 11.7 rebounds on 52 percent shooting, while Tobias Harris added 22 points per game on 70 percent shooting. Of course, for Philly fans, the results may be secondary to the drama of the trade deadline as they await the fate of Ben Simmons and James Harden. 4 46-35
9 Raptors The streaking Raptors kept up their impressive play, beating the Bulls, Hawks, Hornets and Thunder this week to make it seven straight wins. Pascal Siakam has looked every bit like a No. 1 option, averaging 27.3 points, 12.3 rebounds and six assists this week on 61 percent shooting, while All-Star Fred VanVleet put up 22 points and 7.8 assists per game on 46 percent 3-point shooting. Essentially playing no true big men, the Raptors are a confounding matchup that is difficult to stop when things are rolling offensively. 5 25-56
10 Celtics The Celtics didn't have the hardest schedule this week, but they took care of business against the Pistons, Magic and depleted Nets on the road to bring their winning streak to six games. The Boston defense swarmed the struggling offenses, allowing 93 points or fewer in each of the three games. The scoring was spread, as none of the starters played more than 30 minutes per game this week, with Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum predictably leading the way. Robert Williams added 11 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per game. 1 63-18
11 Bulls The Bulls went 2-3 in a rare five-game week, beating the Pacers and Hornets, while losing to the Raptors, 76ers and Suns. The defense continues to struggle without Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso, allowing over 120 points per 100 possessions this week. DeMar DeRozan has been on another planet, averaging 35.6 points, six rebounds and 5.8 assists on 55 percent shooting this week, while Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic each added over 24 points per game. The starters have been fine, but the depth just isn't there for Chicago right now. 5 39-42
12 Nuggets After a loss to the Pelicans to start the week, the Nuggets picked up consecutive blowout wins against the visiting New York teams. The offense was humming, putting up 124 and 132 points in the wins over the Nets and Knicks, respectively. Nikola Jokic was his normal MVP self, with help from Will Barton and Aaron Gordon, who each averaged over 18 points per game and shot a combined 46 percent from 3-point range. 3 56-25
13 Jazz The Jazz must be ecstatic to have Donovan Mitchell back on the floor, as they won all three games this week behind 24.3 points and 6.7 assists on 44 percent 3-point shooting from their All-Star guard. Utah went 2-6 during Mitchell's eight-game absence due to a concussion. Bojan Bogdanovic put up 20.7 points per game on 38 percent 3-point shooting this week, as the Jazz traded for Nickeil Alexander-Walker to add some playmaking and shooting off the bench. 3 31-50
14 Hawks With a win over the Suns last Thursday, the Hawks proved that they can beat any team in the league when they're clicking on all cylinders, and that Trae Young can be the best player on the floor on any given night, no matter who's on the other side. Atlanta followed up that win with losses to the Raptors and Mavericks before beating the Pacers to close out the week. Young averaged 29 points and 10 assists for the week on 41 percent 3-point shooting, while John Collins has looked spry, putting up 21 points and nine rebounds per game this week. 1 36-45
15 Timberwolves The Wolves played four games this week but only had two opponents, winning consecutive matchups with the Pistons while splitting a back-to-back set with the Kings. Anthony Edwards struggled from the field, but Karl-Anthony Towns and D'Angelo Russell picked up the slack, each averaging 22 points per game for the week. Malik Beasley caught fire in the three wins, averaging 20 points on blistering 16-for-22 3-point shooting, but came back to Earth in a 1-for-7 performance in Wednesday's loss. 2 56-25
16 Pelicans This was a big week for the Pelicans. They picked up a big road win in Denver, beat the Rockets twice to make it four straight wins overall, and made perhaps the biggest pre-deadline trade thus far by acquiring CJ McCollum to create a fearsome offensive trio alongside Brandon Ingram and (eventually) Zion Williamson. New Orleans is sitting in play-in position after a dreadful start, and the Pels hope that McCollum can maintain their upward momentum for the rest of the season and beyond. 9 49-32
17 Clippers The Clippers beat the Lakers in the suddenly underwhelming battle for L.A., then were blown out by the Bucks and Grizzlies to finish the week. The Clippers' front office shrewdly picked up Norman Powell and Robert Covington in the Blazers' move to shed salary, and Powell has looked great, averaging 22 points on 46 percent 3-point shooting in his first two games. They should both help the team stay afloat until Kawhi Leonard and Paul George return, whether that's this season or next. 1 51-30
18 Hornets Charlotte has fallen back to .500, losing four more times this week to bring the dubious streak to six games. Normally if the Hornets are losing it's because of the defense, but this week they uncharacteristically struggled to put the ball in the basket, averaging just 101 points per 100 possessions compared to their season average of 111. LaMelo Ball earned an All-Star selection, likely the first of many, and averaged 18.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and five assists for the week on 40 percent 3-point shooting. 6 20-61
19 Nets Ugh. What was once the favorite to win the title has been one of the NBA's worst teams over the last couple of weeks. Three more losses brought the Nets' skid to nine games, as James Harden continues to sit out with a hamstring injury amid rampant trade speculation and Kevin Durant expected to miss at least a few more weeks. They lost all three games this week by 20 or more points, and Brooklyn has looked uninspired, at best, even with Kyrie Irving on the floor. Whether Harden goes or stays, perhaps the trade deadline and All-Star break can serve as a reset for a disoriented group. 2 32-49
20 Trail Blazers The Blazers made some drastic changes this week amid a six-game losing streak, moving longtime starting guard CJ McCollum to New Orleans in a reported effort to retool around Damian Lillard. We'll see if that actually happens or if Lillard is the next one to be traded, but the new roster got off to a great start with a gritty win over the Lakers on Wednesday. Justise Winslow has looked solid in three games since coming over from the Clippers in the Norm Powell deal, averaging 9.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists in nearly 30 minutes per game. 2 21-60
21 Lakers Oh boy. The Lakers continue to redefine rock bottom, getting embarrassed by the Bucks at home before a demoralizing loss to the Blazers on Wednesday. LeBron James basically said this roster doesn't have what it takes to win a championship, and there are reports that the front office is looking to ship out Russell Westbrook -- but we'll see if that's even possible. The Lakers look like a defeated team the second they step on the court every night, and they're certainly playing like one, having lost six of their last eight. 2 46-35
22 Knicks Just when it looked like the Knicks were starting to turn things around, they blew a 21-point lead in an eventual overtime loss to the Lakers, then fell to the Jazz and Nuggets to make it 10 losses in their last 12 games. Yikes. Julius Randle expressed frustration on the sideline by pushing away a video coordinator's laptop, but he was productive on the court, averaging 30 points, 10.7 rebounds and six assists for the week on 41 percent 3-point shooting. The other end has been the main culprit, as the Knicks allowed 119.2 points per 100 possessions in this week's losses. 1 49-32
23 Kings The new era is upon us in Sacramento! Sort of. The Kings made a relatively seismic trade, sending promising second-year guard Tyrese Haliburton to the Pacers for a package centered around All-Star big man Domantas Sabonis. So far so good, as Sabonis put up 22 points, 14 rebounds and five assists in his Kings debut, most importantly leading them to a victory. His new co-star, De'Aaron Fox, averaged 28 points, 7.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists on 6-for-10 3-point shooting in two games after Haliburton was traded. 5 45-36
24 Wizards The Wizards lost both games this week, to the Suns and Heat, and also found out that Bradley Beal will miss the remainder of the season after needing wrist surgery. They've obviously missed Beal on the offensive end, putting up just 80 points in a loss to the Suns on Saturday. Perhaps Beal's absence will bring out some aggressiveness from Spencer Dinwiddie, who scored four points in each game this week and took just 11 total shots. 4 15-66
25 Magic With another win this week, the Magic are now 5-5 over their last 10 -- no trifling matter for a team with 13 total victories on the season. The offense has been booming outside of a dud against the stingy Celtics, with Orlando scoring at least 110 points in six of its last seven games. Cole Anthony led the team this week with 18 points and six assists per game on 50 percent 3-point shooting, while Wendell Carter Jr. averaged 14.7 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks. 2 46-35
26 Spurs The Spurs lost to the Heat and Cavs this week, with a blowout win over the Rockets in between. Newly minted All-Star Dejounte Murray missed the loss to Miami, but averaged 17.5 points, 10 assists and 6.5 rebounds in the other two games. Keldon Johnson and Derrick White each averaged better than 17 points apiece, while big man Jakob Poeltl put up 14 points, 10.5 rebounds and three blocks per game. 1 21-60
27 Thunder The Thunder ran their winning streak to three games with a victory over Portland to start the week, but they lost their next three to the Kings, Warriors and Raptors. Offense has been a struggle without Shai Gilgeous-Alexander leading the charge, with Lu Dort stepping in as the primary scorer, averaging 21 points this week on almost 10 3-point attempts per game. Josh Giddey has taken over most of the playmaking responsibility, putting up 17.3 points, 7.8 rebounds and six assists per game this week. 1 56-25
28 Pacers Well, the rebuild is officially underway in Indiana after dealing Caris LeVert, Domantas Sabonis and maybe more. It lost all three games this week, but picking up Tyrese Haliburton from the Kings is a great way to start off a new era of Pacers basketball. Chris Duarte will have more offensive responsibility with the new roster, and he averaged almost 20 points on 43 percent shooting this week. 4 46-35
29 Rockets Houston lost to the Spurs to start the week, then dropped consecutive games to the Pelicans. Seven Rockets averaged double figures for the week, but they only mustered 104 points per 100 possessions, while they allowed 121.1 -- not exactly a recipe for success. Christian Wood led the way with 18 points and 9.3 rebounds per game, knocking down 44 percent of his 3-pointers. Kevin Porter Jr. has also been shooting well from deep, making 44 percent this week while scoring 13.3 points per game. -- 40-41
30 Pistons Detroit lost four straight games this week, all without Cade Cunningham, as Jerami Grant continues to re-acclimate himself to the lineup following a long absence. Grant has struggled offensively since his return, averaging 13.8 points on 33 percent shooting this week as his name makes the rounds in trade rumors. Saddiq Bey took the lead in Cunningham's absence, averaging a team-high 17.3 points to go along with 6.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game on 39 percent 3-point shooting. -- 14-67