NBA power rankings: LeBron James injury update as Lakers surge in wild West playoff race

There were mixed signals out of Los Angeles on Thursday as Lakers star LeBron James continued to rehabilitate a foot injury that has kept him out of the lineup for the past month.

The Lakers announced James has resumed on-court activity and is on a “gradual basketball movement progression.” The team provided no official timeline for James’ return, but there were multiple reports, citing unnamed sources, suggesting James was hoping to return for the last three or four games of the regular season.

The four-time MVP, out since Feb. 26 with a tendon injury in his right foot, took to social media to issue an update of his own.

“There wasn’t an evaluation today and there hasn’t been any target date for my return,” James tweeted. “I’m jut working around the clock, every day(3X a day) to give myself (the) best chance of coming back full strength whenever that is. Gold bless y’all sources. I speak for myself!”

The Lakers (36-37) have gone 11-6 since making a series of moves at the trade deadline. They are now tied for ninth in a wild Western Conference playoff race.

The Denver Nuggets, Memphis Grizzlies and Sacramento Kings have the three best records in the West. Those teams are well positioned to secure automatic playoff bids, but the next nine teams are separated by only three games. The Utah Jazz and New Orleans Pelicans wouldn’t even make the play-in tournament as of now, but they were only three games behind the No. 4 Phoenix Suns going into Thursday’s games.

A lot could happen over the last two weeks of the regular season. That could include the return of the NBA’s new all-time scoring leader. In the meantime, let’s take a look at our latest NBA power rankings.

* Through games played 3/22

1. Milwaukee Bucks (52-20)

Last week: 1

2. Boston Celtics (50-23)

Last week: 2

3. Philadelphia 76ers (49-23)

Last week: 3

4. Denver Nuggets (49-24)

Last week: 4

5. Cleveland Cavaliers (46-28)

Last week: 6

6. Memphis Grizzlies (45-27)

Last week: 7

7. Sacramento Kings (43-29)

Last week: 5

8. New York Knicks (42-32)

Last week: 8

9. Miami Heat (40-34)

Last week: 11

10. Phoenix Suns (38-34)

Last week: 9

11. Brooklyn Nets (39-33)

Last week: 10

12. Los Angeles Clippers (38-35)

Last week: 12

13. Golden State Warriors (38-36)

Last week: 14

14. Oklahoma City Thunder (36-36)

Last week: 17

15. Minnesota Timberwolves (37-37)

Last week: 16

16. Dallas Mavericks (36-37)

Last week: 13

17. Los Angeles Lakers (36-37)

Last week: 19

18. Atlanta Hawks (36-37)

Last week: 15

19. New Orleans Pelicans (35-37)

Last week: 21

20. Utah Jazz (35-37)

Last week: 20

21. Toronto Raptors (35-38)

Last week: 18

22. Chicago Bulls (34-38)

Last week: 22

23. Indiana Pacers (33-40)

Last week: 24

24. Portland Trail Blazers (32-40)

Last week: 25

25. Washington Wizards (32-41)

Last week: 23

26. Orlando Magic (30-43)

Last week: 26

27. Charlotte Hornets (23-50)

Last week: 27

28. San Antonio Spurs (19-54)

Last week: 29

29. Houston Rockets (18-55)

Last week: 28

30. Detroit Pistons (16-57)

Last week: 30