Yesterday, I wrote about the NBA Power Rankings from several major sports websites and where the Milwaukee Bucks stand, according to several prominent NBA analysts. Today, I will point out what I think these NBA Power Rankings mean for the Bucks and how this might affect them in the playoffs and the hunt for another Championship.
Below is a list of each team that appeared more than twice in the Top Ten, by conference, and how many times they appeared in the Top 10 of each NBA Power Rankings article and where they were ranked.
NBA Power Rankings: Eastern Conference
- Milwaukee Bucks. Appeared in all five Power Rankings, ranked between #1 and #4.
- Boston Celtics. Appeared in all five Power Rankings, ranked between #1 and #3.
- Philadelphia 76ers. Appeared in all five Power Rankings, ranked between #2 and #5,
- Cleveland Cavaliers. Appeared in all five Power Rankings, ranked between #4 and #7.
- Brooklyn Nets. Appeared in three Power Rankings, ranked between #6 and #7.
- New York Knicks. Appeared in three Power Rankings, ranked between #9 and #10.
- Miami Heat. Appeared in three Power Rankings, ranked at #8 three times.
NBA Power Rankings: Western Conference
- Denver Nuggets. Appeared in all five Power Rankings, ranked between #2 and #4.
- Los Angeles Clippers. Appeared in all five Power Rankings, ranked between #7 and #10.
- Sacramento Kings. Appeared in all five Power Rankings, ranked between #6 and #9.
- Memphis Grizzlies. Appeared in four Power Rankings, ranked between #5 and #7.
Power Rankings Stats Breakdown
What can we glean from these NBA Power Rankings statistics, and how do they affect the Milwaukee Bucks? Essentially there are eleven teams that most writers can agree have “Top 10 Caliber” level talent. The Western Conference has four “Top 10 Caliber” teams, and three of those teams are consistently ranked in the bottom half of that “Top 10 Caliber” metric, with the Denver Nuggets being the exception. Meanwhile the East has seven “Top 10 Caliber” teams, and four of them consistently ranked in the upper half of that “Top 10 Caliber” metric.
TL;DR: The East is stronger than the West this year, and it’s not very close. This is not good news for Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks.
NBA Power Rankings aren’t perfect, and obviously, things can change between now and the NBA Playoffs, but what we can see from these rankings is that at roughly the halfway point of the season, the Bucks have a much harder path to get to the Finals than a team from the West.
The Celtics are considered to be of the same caliber or better than the Bucks as it stands right now, with a superstar duo in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown and some extremely talented depth on their bench. The 76ers can say the same thing but swap out Jayson Tatum with Joel Embiid and Jaylen Brown with James Harden.
The Heat has two proper superstars as well, in Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, though they are of a lesser quality than the 76ers and Celtics can brag about. The Nets and Cavaliers each boast one true superstar (Kevin Durant and Donovan Mitchell, respectively), but they also have some of the best role players and secondary stars. The Knicks don’t have traditional superstars (no MVP contenders or guaranteed Hall of Famers on their rosters), but they do have two current All-Stars in Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson, and they’re one of the few teams who can say that this year.
NBA Power Rankings Takeaways
This isn’t to say that Milwaukee Bucks don’t match up; they obviously can and do. But unlike previous years, where there were seemingly two or three true tests that the Bucks might match up with in the playoffs, there are now six before we even start to count up-start teams who may get hot at the right time. While parity has been the theme of the 2022-2023 NBA season, with no team seeming like a juggernaut compared to the rest of the league in NBA Power Rankings, it would seem that parity has hit the Eastern Conference more than the Western Conference.
This doesn’t mean the Bucks won’t make it back to the NBA Finals, but being in the Eastern Conference means their Yellow Brick Road (“Celtics, Heat, and Nets? Oh My!”) is more of a Mad Max Fury Road.