September 27, 2022

NBA Power Rankings: James Harden catapults 76ers to No. 1; Lakers’ stumble continues; Jazz starting to peak?

Philly couldn’t have asked for a better performance in Harden’s first three games

Don’t you love it when a plan comes together? Well, at least the Philadelphia 76ers do — maybe not the other 29 NBA teams. All of the drama surrounding James Harden for the past few seasons has resulted in his pairing with Joel Embiid in Philly, and the early returns are absolutely spectacular.

Harden hasn’t only performed well individually in his first three games with his latest team, but his presence has made the 76ers look like a bona fide juggernaut. They put on an offensive clinic this week, earning them the No. 1 spot in the first edition of the Power Rankings after the All-Star break. They narrowly edged out the Utah Jazz, who jumped 11 spots and are suddenly looking like the team that dominated the early season before hitting a skid a few weeks ago.

On the other side we have the Portland Trail Blazers, whose tanking efforts allowed them to lose three games by gigantic margins this week to drop them 12 spots to dead last. The Golden State Warriors and Chicago Bulls, top-five staples for a large chunk of the season, dropped out of the top 10 after rough weeks. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Lakers lost three more games and are now in danger of missing the play-in tournament altogether.

Here are this week’s NBA Power Rankings with a little more than a month remaining in the regular season.