The wintry dog days of the 2021-22 NBA regular season have arrived. We are officially halfway through the season with every team reaching the 41-game mark, save for the Toronto Raptors, Denver Nuggets and Chicago Bulls. The All-Star Game is near (Feb. 20th) and more and more blowouts are occurring on a nightly basis. Halfway through the first month of 2022, it’s time to ask an important question: who’s hot and who’s not?
January NBA Hot and Not
Let’s take a look at the top-5 offensive and top-5 defensive ratings over the last two weeks, per Cleaning The Glass. (Numbers listed are points per 100 possessions with garbage time excluded.)
Top-5 Offensive Ratings Last Two Weeks:
- Miami Heat 121.9
- Los Angeles Lakers 119.8
- Minnesota Timberwolves 119.4
- Philadelphia 76ers 118.0
- Brooklyn Nets 116.6
Top-5 Defensive Ratings Last Two Weeks:
- Dallas Mavericks 98.9
- Philadelphia 76ers 103.9
- Denver Nuggets 105.2
- Phoenix Suns 105.4
- Golden State Warriors 105.5
Featured in both top-5 lists, the Philadelphia 76ers stand out the most, but the Los Angeles Lakers being 2nd in offense and the Dallas Mavericks 1st in defense also jump off the page.
- The Sixers have been red-hot, winners of 8 out of the last 9 games. Sure, there are some softies in there — the Magic, Spurs and Rockets twice — but Philly’s average margin of victory in those four games was 17+ points. Joel Embiid has reinserted himself into the MVP-conversation, regaining his shooting touch and averaging an eyebrow-raising 34.7 points over the last 12 games.
- Who else is averaging over 34 points per game over the last 12 games? That would be 37-year-old LeBron James, carrying the Lakers’ offense on his king-sized back. LeBron at the 5 has helped contribute to the Lakers 2nd-ranked offense over the last two weeks, however, the Lakers offense is still just 22nd on the season, and the defense over the same two-week stretch has been a lowly 24th. Can they pull off a trade for Myles Turner?
- Over the first month-and-a-half of the season, the Mavericks struggled as a bottom-10 defense, ranked 22nd in the NBA and giving up 109.4 points per 100 possessions. Since December 1st, Dallas has been 3rd in defense, batting down the hatches and holding opponents to 104.7 points per 100. The Mavs 98.9 rating over the last two weeks is absurd! How have they pulled it off? The Dallas Mavericks are bought into defense.
Who’s Not? (Hot)
Let’s now take a look at the bottom-5 offensive and bottom-5 defensive ratings over the last two weeks, per Cleaning the Glass.
Bottom-5 Offensive Ratings Last Two Weeks:
- 30. Los Angeles Clippers 102.6
- 29. Orlando Magic 104.6
- 28. Detroit Pistons 104.8
- 27. San Antonio Spurs 105.9
- 26. Houston Rockets 107.1
Bottom-5 Defensive Ratings Last Two Weeks:
- 30. Atlanta Hawks 123.2
- 29. Houston Rockets 121.8
- 28. Utah Jazz 119.9
- 27T. Portland Trail Blazers 119.7
- 27T. Chicago Bulls 119.7
There are no surprises in the bottom-5 offenses over the last two weeks, seeing as all five teams rank in the bottom-10 in offense for the season. And the Spurs are actually the only team on that list that isn’t in the season-long bottom-5 . The one team missing? The Thunder who have the 24th offense over the last two weeks.
On the defensive side, seeing the Utah Jazz in the bottom-5 is very unusual, but Rudy Gobert has missed the last 5 games, out in the health and safety protocols. Without their defensive anchor in Gobert, the Jazz haven’t been able to stop a newborn baby deer from scoring, giving up 120+ points to the Raptors, Pacers and Pistons who have had the worst offense in the league the entire season.
According to Basketball-Reference, the Jazz have a defensive rating of 106.3 with Gobert on the floor, good for 4th in the league. And with Gobert off the floor? The Jazz have a defensive rating of 114.7, equal to the 3rd-worst defense in the NBA this season. Utah has lost four in a row, but the good news for Jazz fans is that Gobert is expected to return to the court for Sunday night’s game in Denver.
We’re Going Streaking!
Except not really. Both of the longest streaks in the NBA came to an end on Friday night.
- The Memphis Grizzlies franchise-record 11-game winning streak was halted by Luka Doncic and the aforementioned Dallas Mavericks’ stout defense. It was the Grizzlies first loss since December 23rd at Golden State when Steph Curry dropped 46. It should also be noted that the Mavs have won seven out of the last eight.
- Friday night’s 116-109 victory in Charlotte over the Hornets snapped the Orlando Magic’s 10-game losing streak. It was the Magic’s first win since December 22nd when B.J. Johnson and Admiral Schofield cooked Lance Stephenson’s Atlanta Hawks.
The longest winning streak in the NBA now belongs to the Miami Heat with four straight wins, fresh off a 4th quarter comeback against the Hawks who themselves have lost four in a row. In a clash of hot vs. hot, the Sixers play the Heat tonight in Miami with both teams on the second night of a back-to-back.
The longest losing streak? That’s now held by the San Antonio Spurs at five consecutive losses. The Spurs get another chance to end that streak tonight, the second night of a back-to-back at home vs. the Clippers in a duel between two of the bottom-5 offenses listed above. (The Spurs are currently favored to win by 1.5 points.) San Antonio is 1-9 in the last 10 games, a dismal record matched by the Magic and also the Indiana Pacers.
A final note: the ice cold player of the month thus far has been banned from this article.