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NBA power rankings: Clippers rounding into form, Knicks and Heat rise as well

Here’s Chinmay Vaidya’s updated power rankings after the eighth week of the 2023-24 season.

Sacramento Kings v Los Angeles Clippers
James Harden of the LA Clippers and Kawhi Leonard laugh after a Sacramento Kings foul during the first half at Arena on December 12, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

We’re two months into the 2023-24 NBA season, which means we’re entering the part of the year where most fans really start to pay attention and the games start mattering more. The standings in both conferences remain extremely tight as we enter the holiday season, and hopefully that continues throughout the season to heighten the intensity during what could be considered a somewhat mundane stretch of the campaign.

The Los Angeles Clippers know all too well championships aren’t won in December. The Clippers have made some big moves over the last few seasons in an attempt to add some hardware, with the latest being a trade for James Harden to form a “Big 3” with him, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. There were some struggles initially, but the Clippers have ripped off seven wins in a row heading into a stretch where they’ll face the Pacers, Mavericks, Thunder and Celtics. It’s a good test for LA, and it shows they can be a championship team if they can stay healthy late in the season.

Two other teams hoping to be in the championship mix are the New York Knicks and Miami Heat. The Knicks have still been trying to bust out of a bit of a funk but the reason they get a boost is the play of Jalen Brunson. Brunson arrived as a star for New York a season ago, and he’s looking to grab his first All-Star berth this year. The point guard is averaging 28.4 points and 7.3 assists per game on 49/43/76 splits over the last eight.

The Heat have managed to tread water as well. They’re getting Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro, two key pieces of their core, back Monday. Adebayo will bring more defensive prowess in the middle, while Herro should give Miami another perimeter star to take pressure off Jimmy Butler. The Heat have made deep playoff runs consistently, but never quite seem to be able to take the final step. Hopefully Adebayo, Herro and Butler can stay healthy this time around.

One team that has not gotten the benefit of injury luck is the Cleveland Cavaliers. Darius Garland and Evan Mobley are both sidelined for at least a couple weeks, with Mobley expected to miss up to two months. The Cavaliers added perimeter scoring during the offseason after they were exposed in a 4-1 playoff series loss to the Knicks, but they still rank poorly in three-point percentage and offensive rating. Losing Garland Mobley won’t help those numbers.

Here’s a look at the full power rankings after the eighth week.

NBA Power Rankings After Week 8

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