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NBA Power Rankings: Celtics, Lakers climb slightly while Hornets hit a rough patch

Chinmay Vaidya updates his NBA power rankings ahead of the 2021-22 trade deadline.

Boston Celtics v Los Angeles Lakers
LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers and Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics fights for position during the game on December 7, 2021 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California.
Photo by Jim Poorten/NBAE via Getty Images

The Boston Celtics are starting to figure things out ahead of the trade deadline. There has been a lot of noise surrounding the tandem of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, but the Celtics have never seriously put out interest regarding either player. Eventually, the talent was going to pull through.

The Celtics have a favorable schedule coming up, with the 76ers and Nuggets being the only real threats over the next nine games. Boston does have two games against Brooklyn and two against Atlanta, which are teams the Celtics should be able to beat but are probably evenly matched with on paper. There’s a chance this stretch could vault Boston into the upper tier of the East standings.

On the West coast, the Los Angeles Lakers got LeBron James back at the right time. The Lakers were on their way to getting embarrassed at home by the lowly Knicks before James, Anthony Davis and Malik Monk woke up to rescue the team in an overtime win Saturday. LA does plenty of issues to work out but with James and Davis healthy, this team could make a push ahead of the All-Star break.

The Charlotte Hornets looked to be on the rise but have lost four straight heading into Monday’s game against the Raptors, another team on a nice winning streak. The Hornets don’t have many injury issues; they’re just playing poorly on defense. If this team can’t shore up its defense, it’ll be a play-in group at best the way the East is starting to shape up.

Let’s take a look at Chinmay Vaidya’s power rankings for Week 17 of the NBA season.

NBA Power Rankings: Week 17

Rank Team Previous Rank
Rank Team Previous Rank
1 Phoenix Suns 1
2 Golden State Warriors 2
3 Milwaukee Bucks 5
4 Memphis Grizzlies 4
5 Miami Heat 3
6 Utah Jazz 7
7 Philadelphia 76ers 6
8 Chicago Bulls 8
9 Cleveland Cavaliers 9
10 Dallas Mavericks 14
11 Denver Nuggets 12
12 Brooklyn Nets 10
13 Toronto Raptors 13
14 Boston Celtics 17
15 Minnesota Timberwolves 18
16 Los Angeles Lakers 19
17 Atlanta Hawks 16
18 Charlotte Hornets 11
19 Los Angeles Clippers 15
20 Washington Wizards 20
21 New York Knicks 21
22 Indiana Pacers 23
23 Portland Trail Blazers 22
24 San Antonio Spurs 24
25 New Orleans Pelicans 25
26 Sacramento Kings 26
27 Oklahoma City Thunder 28
28 Detroit Pistons 29
29 Orlando Magic 27
30 Houston Rockets 30