Power Rankings, Week 9: Jazz jump Lakers for No. 1 spot; Suns enter Top 5 – NBA.com

Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell have led Utah to an 18-1 record since early January.

The Utah Jazz had been pretty healthy. Through Feb. 5, their top nine guys had missed a total of eight games, four from Joe Ingles and two each from Donovan Mitchell and Derrick Favors. That had earned their 18-5 record at that point, but compared to other teams, they had been lucky in regard to health.

Then they lost Mike Conley, the guy who, at the time, led the league in on-off differential, with the Jazz having been 23.6 points per 100 possessions better with him on the floor (+17.7) than they’d been with him off the floor (-5.9). And a hamstring issue has had Conley out each of the last four games.

But the Jazz have just kept rolling along, beating four good teams to run their current winning streak to seven games, tied for the second longest winning streak of the season thus far. The longest, of course, was the Jazz’s 11-game streak that preceded it.

So yeah, the Jazz are finally No. 1 in the Power Rankings. And they’ve got three more tough games on the schedule this week, hosting the Sixers on Monday and then facing the Clippers twice in LA. Getting to No. 1 is one thing. Staying there is another.

Plus-Minus Players of the Week

Teams of the Week

  • Make It Last Forever: Portland (4-0) — The Blazers continue to turn lemons into lemonade.
  • Something Just Ain’t Right: Houston (0-4) — All four losses were to teams with losing records, and three of the four were by 22 points or more.

East vs. West

Schedule Strength through Week 8

  • Toughest: 1. Detroit, 2. Denver, 3. Oklahoma City
  • Easiest: 1. Orlando, 2. Philadelphia, 3. Toronto
  • Schedule strength is based on cumulative opponent record, and adjusted for home vs. away and days of rest before a game.

Movement in the Rankings

  • High jumps of the week: Dallas (+6), Miami (+5), Detroit (+4), Phoenix (+4)
  • Free falls of the week: Houston (-9), Sacramento (-5), Cleveland (-4)

Week 9 Team to Watch

  • Toronto — The Raptors were making some hay with a 5-1 stretch, but have taken a step backward with losses to the Celtics (who have been struggling themselves) and Wolves (eternal struggle). So this feels like a big week, and it brings some old rivals and an opportunity to get back one of those games they dropped last week. The Raps will have a two-game series in Milwaukee on Tuesday and Thursday. Then they’ll visit Minnesota on Friday and return to Tampa for a game against the Sixers on Sunday.

Previous Power Rankings

  • This time last year: Lakers return to No. 2 as regular season enters stretch run — The Sixers benched Al Horford, Spencer Dinwiddie hit a step-back game-winner in Indiana, and the Nets also put an end to the Raptors’ 15-game winning streak. The last game before the All-Star break was one of the best games of the season, with Jayson Tatum scoring 39 points to help the Celtics edge the Clippers in double-overtime. Buddy Hield won the 3-point Contest, Derrick Jones Jr. edged Aaron Gordon in the Dunk Contest, and Kawhi Leonard was the MVP of a thrilling, Elam-Ending, All-Star Game.

Stats Key

Pace: Possessions per 48 minutes (League Rank)
OffRtg: Points scored per 100 possessions (League Rank)
DefRtg: Points allowed per 100 possessions (League Rank)
NetRtg: Point differential per 100 possessions (League Rank)

The league has averaged 100.1 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 111.1 points scored per 100 possessions this season.

NBA.com’s Power Rankings, released every Monday during the season, are just one man’s opinion. If you have an issue with the rankings, or have a question or comment for John Schuhmann, send him an e-mail or contact him via Twitter.