The playoff picture for every team at the All-Star break


The stars of the NBA showed out over the weekend as the league converged on Salt Lake City for the 72nd All-Star Game and other related festivities in Utah.

The break serves as the unofficial halfway point of the season as teams solidify themselves on the court ahead of the postseason. Much of the league is still in contention for the play-in race with only four teams seemingly out of the running.

To make further sense of it, Rookie Wire took a look at the NBA and ranked each team from worst to first. We come back each week and provide our latest assessment of the best teams and those that are rising.

San Antonio Spurs (14-45)


Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 30

The Spurs, at the break, are in a prime position in the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes. They have lost 14 in a row and have three games remaining on their rodeo road trip when they resume play on Thursday. One positive, though: Their final 23 games will be a great chance to further evaluate the likes of Malaki Branham, Jeremy Sochan, Blake Wesley and others.

Houston Rockets (13-45)


Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 27

The Rockets lost seven straight games heading into the break, which was likely a welcomed time off. The on-court effort has been greatly lacking of late as they’ve suffered some rather lopsided losses during their recent skid. Currently with the worst record in the league, we could expect to see more of the same over their final 24 games.

For more coverage on the Rockets, visit Rockets Wire

Detroit Pistons (15-44)


Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 28

The remainder of the season will be a great opportunity for the Pistons to get a closer look at James Wiseman. He was finally able to join the team after his trade went through and debuted with the team on Wednesday, recording 11 points and five rebounds in 23 minutes. With seemingly plenty of minutes available for him, the trade could pay off in a huge way for the Pistons this season and beyond.

Charlotte Hornets (17-43)


Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 29

The Hornets responded to a seven-game losing streak by winning two straight before the break. LaMelo Ball was on a bit of a tear before the stoppage, dishing out at least 10 assists in four straight games. He left off with his third triple-double on Wednesday and looks to be playing his best basketball of the season.

The team is well out of the playoff picture at this point so it will be interesting to see how they approach their remaining 22 games. They currently have the fourth-worst record and will need to do a little bit of “work” to claim one of the three worst records and a 14% chance of winning the top pick.

Indiana Pacers (26-34)


Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 26

The Pacers lost for the 16th time in 18 games last Monday and looked to be heading toward another loss on Wednesday after trailing by 24 points in the first quarter. However, they rallied back and pulled out the win over the Bulls to post the fourth-largest first-quarter comeback in the shot-clock era (1954-55). Though it is just one win, the team will certainly hope that can kickstart things over its final 22 games to get back into the play-in race. They are currently two and a half games back of the Raptors in 10th place.

Portland Trail Blazers (28-30)


Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 24

The Trail Blazers are among the teams alive in a tight playoff race in the Western Conference. There are only five games that separate teams from fourth to 13th in the conference as the final 20-plus games for those clubs figure to be key for playoff positioning. With Damian Lillard leading the way, the Trail Blazers will need their All-Star to continue playing at a high level to have a chance.

Chicago Bulls (26-33)


Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 21

The Bulls lost six consecutive games entering the break, and are two games back of the Raptors in 10th place. For a team that was thought to be destined for the playoffs, they have looked to be anything but that. They’ve coughed up too many large leads, played shotty defense and can’t close games. Maybe a few days off will be what’s needed to turn things around.

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For more coverage on the Bulls, visit Bulls Wire

Orlando Magic (24-35)


Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 25

After a 5-20 start, the Magic have gone 19-15 since Dec. 7 and are alive in the play-in race. They are four games back of the Raptors in 10th place and will need to have a strong run over their final 23 games of the season to have a chance of getting in. Regardless of what happens over that time, the future looks to be bright in Orlando after their recent run.

Atlanta Hawks (29-30)


Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 22

The Hawks lost four out of six games prior to the break, but still remain firmly in the play-in race at eighth. They have looked great in stretches this season, and worse during others. Because of that, the Hawks are truly a wildcard team heading into their final 23 games. They could play well enough to avoid the play-in or bad enough to fall out of the race altogether. We’ll see what happens when they return on Friday.

Toronto Raptors (28-31)


Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 23

The Raptors went 5-1 over their last six games entering the break and are up to 10th in the standings. They opted to mostly keep things the same at the trade deadline to make another run at it and look to be playing like a playoff team at the moment. The addition of Jakob Poeltl has been a shot in the arm thus far after the former Raptor scored 30 points, nine rebounds and six blocks last Tuesday over the Magic.

Utah Jazz (29-31)


Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 18

The Jazz had a tremendous showing at All-Star Weekend and looked to be great hosts for the league. The team will return to its home court for three games starting on Thursday with the Thunder. They are just half of a game back of 10th place and figure to be in contention for the play-in race over their last 22 games.

Washington Wizards (28-30)


Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 20

Washington won four of its last five games before the break to climb up to ninth in the Eastern Conference. They posted an incredible 20-point comeback last Thursday after outscoring the Timberwolves 45-19 over the final 14 minutes of action to win. The group will be looking to continue that momentum starting on Friday versus New York.

Los Angeles Lakers (27-32)


Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 19

The Lakers flexed a little bit in their last game out, a 120-102 win over the Pelicans. Their new acquisitions — D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt and Mo Bamba — all made their home debuts in that contest and offered a glimpse of what they can give LeBron James and Anthony Davis on a nightly basis. The hype looks to be once again building in L.A. so we’ll see if their new look can live up to the billing.

For more coverage on LeBron and the Lakers, visit LeBron Wire

Golden State Warriors (29-29)


Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 16

The Warriors went just 3-5 over their last eight games before the break and are down to ninth in the standings. Though they are not cooked like Charles Barkley said, they will have a tough battle ahead with Stephen Curry still nursing a leg injury. They are hopeful to get him back onto the court soon, though.

For more coverage on the Warriors, visit Warriors Wire

Minnesota Timberwolves (31-30)


Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 15

The Timberwolves have alternated wins and losses for much of the past month, but are eighth in the Western Conference at the moment. It should be noted, though, that of their remaining 21 games, 13 of them are on the road so they will be tested over that stretch. They still look to be in a great position to claim a play-in spot.

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Oklahoma City Thunder (28-29)


Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 17

Watching the Thunder emerge as one of the top up-and-coming teams this season has been a nice development. They are currently 10th in the Western Conference and are firmly in the play-in race this year. Heading into the season, many were curious to see if the team would take the next step in its development and they have done just that. We’ll see how they can respond in high-pressure situations over their last 25 games.

For more coverage on the Thunder, visit Thunder Wire

New Orleans Pelicans (30-29)


Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 13

Since losing 10 straight, the Pelicans went 4-2 over their last six games before the break and are up to seventh in the Western Conference. They have a relatively easy schedule ahead, with only 10 games versus teams above .500, so the group figures to have a great shot at avoiding the play-in race. They are hopeful to get Zion Williamson back at some point, which will further strengthen their lineup moving forward.

New York Knicks (33-27)


Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 14

New York is trending upward at the right time after winning eight out of its last 12 games before the All-Star break. The addition of Josh Hart looks to be a great one as the sixth-year guard is averaging 17 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.7 steals in three games since joining the team.

LA Clippers (33-28)


Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 11

The Clippers are 5-4 since winning five straight late last month but posted a key win over the Suns before the break. They have 21 games left to get everyone on the same page before the playoffs and will now be adding Russell Westbrook into the mix. The Clippers figure to be must-watch TV down the stretch.

Brooklyn Nets (34-24)


Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 8

Mikal Bridges erupted for a career-high 45 points in his last time out as the Nets defeated the Heat. He became the fourth Nets player to score 45 points in a game this season, the most such games ever by a team. With essentially a new roster, we’ll see how the group can come together over its remaining 24 games.

For more coverage on the Nets, visit Nets Wire

Memphis Grizzlies (35-22)


Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 12

The Grizzlies went through a tough stretch — losing eight of nine — but appear to be through the worst of it. They won three of four games before the break and are playing at a high level once again. The team will have 25 games to build some momentum heading into the postseason as it looks to make another deep run. We’ll see if they can be the real deal in the ultra-competitive Western Conference.

Dallas Mavericks (31-29)


Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 10

Kyrie Irving is playing like an All-Star and is looking to be a great option next to Luka Doncic in the early going. He erupted for 26 points in the fourth quarter his last time out in a loss to the Timberwolves and was electric on the court. The Mavericks lost their last three before the break but figure to come out strong with a few days off.

Miami Heat (32-27)


Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 7

Miami lost its last two games before the break to fall to seventh in the Eastern Conference. They will have three games on the road when they resume action on Friday (at Milwaukee, at Charlotte, at Philadelphia) but will have seven out of their next eight after that in Miami. They have some work to do to avoid the play-in race but are set up with a friendly schedule.

Phoenix Suns (32-28)


Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 9

The Suns have the second-best record in the NBA since Jan. 19 (11-4) and look to be ascending once again. The addition of Kevin Durant makes them one of the favorites in the conference again, but it will be worth watching when he can debut and log playing time with his new teammates. They have 22 games remaining when they return to action on Friday.

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Sacramento Kings (32-25)


Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 6

Sacramento is well on its way to breaking its 16-year playoff drought, led by All-Stars De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis. The group is third in the Western Conference and will be looking to keep its home-court advantage in the first round over its remaining 25 games.

Cleveland Cavaliers (38-23)


Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 5

Donovan Mitchell became the fourth player in team history to score 40 points five times in a season last week as the Cavaliers sit in fourth place. Their seven-game win streak was snapped just before the break, but they appear to be playing some of their best basketball of the season.

Philadelphia 76ers (38-19)


Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 4

The Sixers are tied for the most wins in the NBA since Dec. 31 with 18. Everyone is curious about just how far they can advance in the playoffs so it is far too early to deem this a successful season, but they are emerging as one of the top teams in the East. Joel Embiid and James Harden have been a great offensive duo and are proving to be nearly unbeatable of late. We’ll see if they can continue that into their stretch run.

For more coverage on the 76ers, visit Sixers Wire

Denver Nuggets (41-18)


Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 3

The Nuggets became the first team in the Western Conference to reach 40 wins this season as they hold a five-game lead in first place. Nuggets coach Michael Malone was pleased to see his group win seven out of their last nine games before the break and believes they are in a great position at this point of the season. With Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. healthy, it will be worth watching how successful they can all be this postseason.

Boston Celtics (42-17)


David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 2

The Celtics have been the top team in the Eastern Conference for much of the season and are a clear title contender, as a result. Of their 23 games left to play, only 10 of them are against teams above .500 so they should continue to play at a high level over the remainder of the regular season. Now that Joe Mazzulla is officially their head coach, it will be worth watching if they can return to the NBA Finals.

For more coverage on the Celtics, visit Celtics Wire

Milwaukee Bucks (41-17)


Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Last Rank: 1

The Bucks have won 12 straight and have the best record in the league (18-5) since the start of the new year. However, Giannis Antetokounmpo was limited over All-Star Weekend due to a wrist injury suffered on Thursday in a win over Chicago. He is reportedly traveling to New York to undergo further testing on the injury, leaving his status after the break in question.

Milwaukee is just half of a game behind Boston for first place in the Eastern Conference. Of course, the status of Antetokounmpo will be a key topic of discussion over the next several days or so, but the team is holding out hope it is not a serious injury. With Antetokounmpo putting up some monster numbers, and the rest of the team contributing at a high level, the Bucks are in a prime position to make a deep run.

Story originally appeared on Rookie Wire

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