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NBA Power Rankings: Each team's biggest cause for concern


The NBA Power Rankings are selected by a panel of theScore's basketball editors.

This week, we're highlighting one reason for concern for each of the league's 30 teams at the quarter mark of the season:

1. Boston Celtics (15-5)

Previous: 1

Jrue Holiday. The Celtics have been outstanding this season, but Holiday has regressed significantly on offense after an All-Star campaign last year. Boston doesn't really need his offense, but improved scoring couldn't hurt.

2. Minnesota Timberwolves (16-4)

Previous: 2

Offensive output. Despite being a stellar defensive team, the Timberwolves have to create more offense. Minnesota ranks 19th in points per game (112.3) and 19th in offensive rating (112.6).

3. Denver Nuggets (14-8)

Previous: 3

Bench scoring woes. The departures of Bruce Brown and Jeff Green have hurt the Nuggets' second unit more than anticipated. Zeke Nnaji hasn't taken the next step, while Peyton Watson and Julian Strawther have been inconsistent.

4. Orlando Magic (14-7)

Previous: 10

Taking care of the ball. Despite taking a leap on offense this season, the Magic are bottom-five in the league in turnovers (15.5), leading to 17.6 points for opposing teams.

5. Oklahoma City Thunder (13-7)

Joshua Gateley / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Previous: 6

Grabbing boards. The Thunder average 41.2 rebounds per game, ranking 25th in the Association. They also allow opponents to grab 46.5, the third-highest mark.

6. Milwaukee Bucks (15-6)

Previous: 4

Perimeter defense. Even with Brook Lopez and Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks are 22nd in defensive rating. With Jrue Holiday gone, they're relying on Damian Lillard and Malik Beasley for perimeter D. The results haven't been good.

7. Philadelphia 76ers (13-7)

Previous: 5

Two-way players. Tobias Harris and Tyrese Maxey are the rotation's two worst defenders - per defensive box plus-minus - and no bench player is taking more than five shots per game. Philly needs someone to bridge the gap.

8. New York Knicks (12-8)

Previous: 15

Lack of shot-blockers. The Knicks don't have a rim-protecting presence outside of Mitchell Robinson, and as such, opponents are shooting 68% at the rim. That ranks 26th league-wide, per Cleaning the Glass.

9. Phoenix Suns (12-9)

Previous: 11

Fourth-quarter offense. Despite boasting two of the game's top scorers, the Suns have struggled to put up points in the final frame. Portland is the only club averaging fewer points and shooting a worse percentage than Phoenix in the fourth.

10. Indiana Pacers (11-8)

Dylan Buell / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Previous: 13

Defense. The Pacers have the league's No. 1 offensive rating and No. 28 defensive rating, so this one's obvious. Run-and-gun is the priority, but more attention to detail on D would go a long way to legitimizing playoff hopes.

11. Dallas Mavericks (12-8)

Previous: 8

Interior defense. Despite some promising performances from rookie center Dereck Lively II, the Mavericks are struggling to protect the paint. Opposing teams are shooting 71.3% at the rim - the second-worst mark in the league.

12. Los Angeles Lakers (13-9)

Previous: 9

LeBron's minutes. The Lakers planned to limit regular-season game action for the 38-year-old James, but injuries and struggles have forced him to play 33.9 minutes per game, second on the team and top 50 league-wide.

13. Sacramento Kings (11-8)

Previous: 12

Domantas Sabonis' defense. The Kings are playing drop coverage in the pick-and-roll to hide Sabonis on defense, which allows opposing guards easy mid-range shots. Sacramento ranks 29th in opponents' field-goal percentage from 4-14 feet.

13. Cleveland Cavaliers (12-9)

Previous: 14

3-point efficiency. The Cavaliers rank 23rd in 3-point percentage (34.7%) and are 26th in makes per game (11.1). Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland are shooting under 35% as a duo. Yikes.

15. Miami Heat (12-9)

Nathaniel S. Butler / National Basketball Association / Getty

Previous: 7

Bam Adebayo's health. The Heat center has missed three of his last six games due to a lingering hip injury. Adebayo is the anchor of Miami's defense, and any extended absence would amount to a massive blow.

16. New Orleans Pelicans (12-10)

Previous: 17

Rim protection. The Pelicans rank near the bottom of the league in both 2-point percentage defense and blocks per game, an issue caused by an abundance of offensive-minded centers and 6-foot-6 Zion Williamson in the frontcourt.

17. Brooklyn Nets (11-9)

Previous: 20

Isolation scoring. The Nets have four players in the top 35 in isolation percentage, two of whom - Dennis Smith Jr. and Mikal Bridges - sit last and second-last, respectively, in points per possession on isolation plays. Not great.

18. Los Angeles Clippers (10-10)

Previous: 19

James Harden's lack of burst. It's clear the Beard no longer has the speed to blow by defenders. Only 18% of Harden's shot attempts this season have come at the rim, according to Cleaning the Glass.

19. Houston Rockets (9-9)

Previous: 16

Road woes. After their hot start, Ime Udoka and the Rockets have plummeted back to earth. The Rockets' youth is starting to show, as the team remains winless on the road. Houston, we have a problem.

20. Atlanta Hawks (9-11)

Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Previous: 21

Backcourt cohesion. In Year 2 of the Trae Young-Dejounte Murray pairing, the duo's net rating when they share the floor is nearly three points worse than Atlanta's overall net rating. Far from a recipe for success.

21. Golden State Warriors (10-11)

Previous: 18

Stephen Curry's supporting cast. Outside of Curry, no Warrior is averaging more than 20 points per game. Klay Thompson is scoring his lowest average since his rookie campaign (15.5), and Jordan Poole's buckets are desperately missed.

22. Toronto Raptors (9-12)

Previous: 22

Pascal Siakam's 3-point shooting. Over the last six games, the star forward has shot an abysmal 12.5% from three, connecting on 3-of-24 attempts. His drought from deep has impacted the Raptors, who are shooting 31.5% over that stretch.

23. Utah Jazz (7-14)

Previous: 24

Turnovers. The Jazz have started rookie point guard Keyonte George for the past 13 games. George has had some typical rookie moments, and as a result, the Jazz are averaging a league-worst 17.8 turnovers per game.

24. Portland Trail Blazers (6-14)

Previous: 28

Scoot Henderson. The third overall pick in 2023 is only averaging 9.2 points on 35.1% from the field. There's usually a transition period for guards entering the NBA, but these numbers are alarming.

25. Charlotte Hornets (6-13)

David Jensen / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Previous: 25

Another lost season. There's still time for Charlotte to turn things around, but the franchise is at risk of falling out of the playoffs for the eighth straight season, with star LaMelo Ball facing his latest potentially lengthy absence.

26. Chicago Bulls (8-14)

Previous: 23

Silence on Zach LaVine trade front. There's reportedly no market for two-time All-Star LaVine. While Chicago needs to pivot toward a rebuild, a minimal return for LaVine would be a disastrous end to his mercurial tenure.

27. Memphis Grizzlies (6-14)

Previous: 26

Mounting injuries. Down three key contributors to start the campaign, the Grizzlies have had additional players miss time - including Marcus Smart and Luke Kennard. Memphis is patiently awaiting Ja Morant's return to boost guard depth.

28. Washington Wizards (3-17)

Previous: 29

Stopping opposing teams. The Wizards are struggling on D, letting opponents score 125.4 points per game - the worst average league-wide. The opposition is also averaging an NBA-best 29.7 assists, moving the ball crisply and efficiently with little difficulty.

29. San Antonio Spurs (3-17)

Previous: 27

Continued struggles on both ends. It's going to take more than Victor Wembanyama to turn things around. San Antonio's on pace for a second straight bottom-five finish in both offensive and defensive efficiency.

30. Detroit Pistons (2-19)

Previous: 30

Stunted progress. The Pistons are on pace for a worse record despite signing coach Monty Williams to an NBA-record deal and getting Cade Cunningham back in the fold. Their current 18-game skid is the second-longest in franchise history.

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