Joe Johnson. Lance Stephenson. Isaiah Thomas. No, this isn't the latest BIG3 free agent pool -- these household names all played in real-life, actual NBA games this week. That's how far down the barrel teams have gone to fill rosters, which have been almost universally affected by health and safety protocols over the past couple of weeks.
Seven more games were postponed this week, bringing the total to nine on the season as some teams field skeleton crews in the games they are able to play. Since you never know who's going to be in the lineup from one night to the next, the Power Rankings have gotten particularly difficult to compile.
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There was no doubt about the top team this week, however, as the Phoenix Suns got back to their juggernaut ways to dethrone last week's No. 1 Utah Jazz. The Chicago Bulls, who have had three games postponed in the past nine days, catapulted six spots to make their way into the top three after two solid wins with DeMar DeRozan back in action.
The Los Angeles Lakers were the biggest fallers of the week, dropping eight spots to No. 19 after three straight losses and the news that Anthony Davis will be out at least a month with a knee injury. Also falling eight spots were the Charlotte Hornets, who weren't immediately helped by the return of multiple players from protocols, including LaMelo Ball.
It's a fickle game these days, so things are likely to change drastically from week to week as players continue to go in and out of protocols. For now, though, here are this week's NBA Power Rankings.
*Please keep in mind that our Power Rankings are based on the team's performance the previous week, not the entire season.
|Guess who's back? The Suns reclaim the top spot in this week's rankings after thoroughly dominant wins over the Wizards, Hornets and Lakers. As if they weren't playing well enough, Phoenix welcomed back Devin Booker after a seven-game absence due to a hamstring injury. Apparently a lot of his rehab involved shooting, as he went 10 for 19 from 3-point range while averaging 20 points per game in the final two wins of the week. Phoenix put up 116.3 points per 100 possessions this week, while allowing just 93.6 -- sheesh.||2||64-18|
|Technically the Warriors lost to the Raptors this week, but they basically punted by resting the majority of their available regulars. In their two games with a relatively full roster, they picked up impressive wins over the Celtics and Kings. Steph Curry averaged 30 points in the two wins, while rookie Jonathan Kuminga racked up a career-high 26 points and four 3-pointers with the extra opportunity in the loss to Toronto.||--||53-29|
|The Bulls have had three games postponed in the last eight days, but they looked good in the two that they played, beating the Lakers and Rockets. DeMar DeRozan was a welcome sight for Chicago, picking up where he left off with averages of 32 points and six assists on 52 percent shooting in the two wins. An already depleted roster was further hampered by injuries to Alex Caruso and Derrick Jones Jr., but players like Javonte Green and Alfonzo McKinnie have stepped up to fill in the minutes.||6||46-36|
|Utah earned the No. 1 spot last week and promptly lost to the Spurs and Wizards at home. Classic curse. The Jazz righted the ship with a win over the Hornets to close out the week, as the offense continues to produce at near-historic levels. Bojan Bogdanovic found the range from deep, averaging 19 points this week on 45 percent 3-point shooting, including a 5-for-11 performance in the win over Charlotte.||3||49-33|
|If there's one thing we've learned from the Nets' COVID crisis, it's that Kevin Durant is still a bad, bad man. He put up 13 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter to close out a win over the 76ers alongside a nine-man roster that included four rookies. Unfortunately for Brooklyn, Durant entered protocols before the next game, a loss to the Magic, before the team's following two contests were mercifully postponed. Perhaps partly due to the recent toll on Durant, the Nets have decided to allow Kyrie Irving to be a part-time player once he gets out of protocols and into game shape, so we'll see how that affects the team moving forward.||1||44-38|
|Turns out the red-hot Cavs' most worthy adversary was health and safety protocols, decimating the team to the point that Tacko Fall started at center on Wednesday as the Celtics snapped Cleveland's six-game winning streak. Darius Garland had his hands full as one of the team's only consistent offensive threats, averaging 25 points and six assists in the two games. Kevin Love nearly averaged a double-double with 16.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.||1||44-38|
|The Heat took down the Magic and Pacers this week, but the offense went dry in a loss to the Pistons. Max Strus has been a welcome revelation with Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro all missing time -- the second-year wing averaged 24.7 points this week while hitting more than five 3-pointers per game. Gabe Vincent has also been a pleasant surprise of late, with Kyle Lowry the steadying force on both ends. Herro returned on Tuesday to score 26 points on 5-for-8 3-point shooting.||1||53-29|
|The Grizzlies started off the week by beating the Kings, making it 11 wins in 12 games, but they dropped the next two to the Blazers and Thunder. The loss to OKC was particularly rough since they had beaten them by 73 points a couple of weeks prior, and because it came in the return of Ja Morant, who was "hurt" by comments from Memphis fans telling him he should have stayed on the sidelines. What is wrong with people? Morant had 16 points and eight assists in his first game in nearly a month, while Dillon Brooks led the team this week with 26.3 points per game.||2||56-26|
|Like most teams, the Bucks have struggled with a limited roster recently, losing to the Pelicans and Cavs to start the week before beating the Rockets on Wednesday. Milwaukee continues to miss Giannis Antetokounmpo, and they were also without Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday at times this week. Jordan Nwora has enjoyed the extra opportunity, averaging 20 points and 11 rebounds on 50 percent 3-point shooting over the last three games.||2||51-31|
|The Clippers lost to the Thunder and Spurs before beating the Kings on Wednesday, as they were happy to welcome Paul George back into the fold. The team's leading scorer averaged 21 points and six assists in their final two games of the week, while Terance Mann and Eric Bledsoe were forced to step up with Reggie Jackson and Luke Kennard out of the lineup in the win over Sacramento. Serge Ibaka eclipsed the 20-minute mark for the first time since early December in the Clippers' last two games, averaging 10.5 points and 6.5 rebounds.||--||42-40|
|Philly lost to the severely short-handed Nets to start the week, but bounced back to beat the Celtics after their game against the Pelicans was postponed. Joel Embiid absolutely dominated down the stretch in the win over Boston, and he averaged 36.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists in the two games this week. Seth Curry stepped up as the de facto point guard with Tyrese Maxey and Shake Milton both missing time, putting up 27.5 points and 5.5 assists per game on 6-for-12 3-point shooting.||2||51-31|
|The Nuggets beat the Hawks and lost to the Thunder this week, while their matchup with the Nets was postponed. Nikola Jokic averaged just over 25 minutes in the two games due to foul trouble and a blowout, so his numbers looked more pedestrian with 16.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and five assists per game. Will Barton struggled mightily in the two games, averaging just six points on 24 percent shooting.||2||48-34|
|The Celtics beat the short-handed Knicks and depleted Cavs this week, while losing to the Warriors and 76ers. Jaylen Brown looked much more comfortable, leading the team with 26.8 points per game on 44 percent 3-point shooting while Jayson Tatum worked through a shooting slump. With Al Horford out, Robert Williams averaged a double-double of 14.3 points and 10 rebounds in three games this week, along with 1.3 blocks per game.||2||51-31|
|The Mavericks split with the Wolves this week, which can be considered an accomplishment given the roster Dallas ran out there for Tuesday's win. Jalen Brunson led the way with 28 points and six assists with Luka Doncic, Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr. all sidelined. Dorian Finney-Smith played in both games, averaging 21 points and four assists on 6-for-14 3-point shooting.||2||52-30|
|A loss to the Suns brought the Wizards' skid to four games before bouncing back to beat the Jazz in Utah for one of their biggest wins of the season. The next game against the Nets was postponed, so Washington will hope it can ride the momentum to get back to the winning ways of the early season. It starts with Bradley Beal, who is looking like his old self after averaging 31.5 points and six assists in the last two games on 57 percent shooting.||4||35-47|
|The Spurs continued their hot stretch this week, coming up with big road wins over the Jazz and Clippers, while falling in Sacramento. The offense is humming, as San Antonio has scored at least 112 points in their last seven games with a widespread attack led by Dejounte Murray, who nearly averaged a triple-double this week with 21.7 points, 11 assists and 9.7 rebounds per game. Keldon Johnson and Lonnie Walker IV have been knocking down their 3-pointers, which obviously makes things a lot easier.||4||34-48|
|The Wolves beat the Lakers convincingly to start the week, then split consecutive games with the Mavericks with Anthony Edwards in protocols for all three games. Karl-Anthony Towns, the self-proclaimed "greatest big man shooter of all time," averaged 26 points, 10.3 rebounds and 5.7 assists this week on 46 percent 3-point shooting, while D'Angelo Russell and Malik Beasley each put up over 17 points per game. Winners of four of their last five, the Wolves now find themselves in playoff position.||4||46-36|
|The Raptors only played one game this week, a dominant win over the Warriors' B-squad, having their other two games postponed. Six players scored in double figures in the win, led by Fred VanVleet's 27 points, 12 assists, seven rebounds and three steals.||--||48-34|
|The Lakers went 0-3 this week, but things are even worse than that. Anthony Davis is out for at least a month with a knee injury and Isaiah Thomas, who was out of the league as of a week ago, played over 26 minutes per game for them in the three losses. It seems like recently the Lakers haven't been able to win without Herculean performances from LeBron James, and that's a tall order for a soon-to-be 37-year-old nursing a few lingering injuries. Talen Horton-Tucker returned from protocols on Tuesday, and he's going to be crucial in trying to keep this team afloat with Davis out.||8||33-49|
|The Hornets are slowly getting all their main pieces back from protocols, but they've yet to find their cohesion with losses this week to the Blazers, Suns and Jazz. The good news is LaMelo Ball is back in action and looks no worse for wear, averaging 19 points, 7.7 assists and 6.7 rebounds this week on 39 percent 3-point shooting. When the Hornets struggle it usually starts on the defensive end, and that was the case again this week.||8||43-39|
|The Knicks were fortunate that they ran into the Rockets and Pistons this week with many of their key players out of the lineup, and they took care of business against them with a loss to the Celtics in between. Kemba Walker made his triumphant return to the rotation for the final two games of the week, averaging 25 points, seven rebounds and four assists on 40 percent 3-point shooting, and he could have more playing time headed his way with Derrick Rose out for at least six weeks after ankle surgery. Evan Fournier broke out of his season-long slump this week in a big way, putting up 25.7 points per game on 41 percent 3-point shooting.||1||37-45|
|Here comes OKC, who won consecutive games over the Clippers, Grizzlies and Nuggets this week. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander notched his first triple-double of the season with 27 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds in the win over Denver, while rookie Josh Giddey impressed with averages of 13.7 points, 9.3 rebounds and eight assists this week. The Thunder didn't shoot particularly well from the field, yet they were still able to grit out three straight wins.||6||24-58|
|The Pelicans won both games this week and had one postponed, as they're finally starting to see some progress by winning four out of their last five games. Brandon Ingram continued his stellar play, averaging 25 points, 6.5 assists and 6.5 rebounds in the two wins, while Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Devonte' Graham combined to shoot 18 for 37 from 3-point range. Josh Hart has done a little bit of everything, pulling down 15 rebounds against the Bucks on Friday and scoring 20 points the next game against the Blazers.||3||36-46|
|The Blazers finally looked to be gaining some momentum after wins over the Hornets and Grizzlies to start the week, but they lost in New Orleans on Tuesday night to stop the mini-streak. The wins unsurprisingly came on the shoulders of Damian Lillard, who has finally hit a hot stretch when Portland needs him the most, averaging 38 points and 6.7 assists this week on blistering 48 percent 3-point shooting. Norman Powell has stepped up as a strong No. 2 option in place of the injured CJ McCollum, averaging 19.3 points this week while hitting 48 percent from deep.||3||27-55|
|The Hawks lost to the Nuggets and Magic this week as their matchup with the Cavs was postponed. Atlanta's shell unit had a difficult time scoring in the loss to Orlando on Wednesday, but they were treated to a career-high 34 points from Cam Reddish. John Collins averaged 24 points and 11 rebounds in the two games on 44 percent 3-point shooting, and he'll need to continue to lead the way for as long as Trae Young is in health and safety protocols.||8||43-39|
|Indiana beat the Pistons to start the week before losing handily to the Heat. Malcolm Brogdon only got eight minutes into his return against Miami before exiting for the rest of the game. Caris LeVert averaged 24 points and four assists on 38 percent 3-point shooting, while Domantas Sabonis was held to an uncharacteristic 12 points and 6.5 rebounds in the two games.||3||25-57|
|The Magic's roster has thinned out to the point they started someone named Hassani Gravett on Wednesday (he was really good, by the way), but luckily they faced two teams with their own roster issues this week in the Nets and Hawks. Orlando won both those games after a loss to the Heat, with rookie Franz Wagner leading the team with 22 points per game. Chuma Okeke and his 7-foot wingspan swiped a career-high six steals in two different games this week, giving him 14 over his last three games.||2||22-60|
|The Kings managed to win one game this week with several players out in protocols, beating the Spurs along with losses to the Grizzlies, Warriors and Clippers. This week was all about Tyrese Haliburton, who averaged 23.5 points, 11.3 assists and shot 50 percent from the 3-point line as Sacramento's lone offensive creator with De'Aaron Fox sidelined. Buddy Hield and Harrison Barnes also filled it up from long distance, but it was hard for them and Haliburton to maintain performance with each averaging over 38 minutes per game.||3||30-52|
|Houston beat the Pistons this week, with losses to the Knicks, Bulls and Bucks. Christian Wood missed a game, but led the team with 21.3 points and 10 rebounds per game in the other three. The Rockets were able to generate offense, but allowing almost 124 points per 100 possessions is never a recipe for success. Prized rookie Jalen Green is expected to be back in the lineup soon after recovering from a hamstring issue, and the return of Kevin Porter Jr. reportedly isn't far behind.||5||20-62|
|The Pistons had a rough stretch of four games in six nights, but they managed to come away with a much-needed victory over the Heat on Sunday to snap their 14-game losing streak, despite only four points from Cade Cunningham. In Jerami Grant's absence, Saddiq Bey has taken advantage of the extra opportunity with 23 points per game this week on 35 percent 3-point shooting, and that's including a rough 3-for-13 performance in Tuesday's loss to the Knicks.||--||23-59|