After an All-Star break that was more exciting than normal and a trade deadline that may have been the most exciting of all time, we’re settling back into the NBA grind with a new edition of the power rankings, with a new team in the top spot. Really, the Warriors have had a case to be first pretty much every week, so we’ve finally granted them the top spot on the rankings to go along with the best record in the NBA. Many would argue that the Warriors success is a true team effort, but that might be undermining how much Steph Curry really does for this team. Without him, I would not be shocked if this Warriors roster won maybe 35 games. Stay gold, Steph.
The Warriors have made their first appearance at the top of these rankings, despite the hiccup against the Pacers on Sunday. This guy might be the reason they’re good. I’d say I aspire to be like him, but I can barely tie my own shoe.
The Cavs are back in full gear right now and it would not be completely out of the realm of possibility for them to climb up as high as the second seed in the East with the pace they’re playing at. It also seems like their acquisitions from the Knicks are really starting to pay off:
They did not fare as well as they would have liked, losing to both the Thunder and Clippers, and barring a furious fourth quarter rally in Portland, would have dropped that game as well. I’m less worried about this team than I am about, say, the Blazers, but you still ideally want to win. There’s only so many “Brush it off, we’ll get ’em next time”s until it becomes “Shit, we needed to get ’em earlier”.
The Hawks were bound to regress, with their difficult schedule combined with just an expected regression to the mean. This isn’t really cause for concern, but rather the natural flow of a season. There was no way that team could keep up such a torrid pace, especially without a true go-to superstar to win games all by himself when adversity strikes.
Amare returned to the court, debuting for the Mavericks in their win over the Hornets Sunday. He also did this, which we haven’t seen in a very long time:
If Amare can provide 20-25 high quality minutes off the bench, this team is significantly more dangerous than it was pre-deadline.
I read that the 2016 draft is key for the Raptors, since they have a high pick from either the Knicks are Nuggets, who are both expected to suck (Can I just say that it concerns me that these floundering teams also manage to have no draft picks to build a future? How do you mess up that badly?). While this may be the case, I think that’s also somewhat brushing off the fact that the Raptors are second in the East, and have recent quality wins over the Clippers, Spurs, Wizards (meh), and Hawks.
Well, the Clippers really slapped me in the face for putting them tenth in the last edition of the rankings. They won all four games in the last couple weeks with Blake sidelined. These included a win in Dallas and home wins against Houston and San Antonio, despite the fact that DeAndre Jordan took 54 freethrows combined against Houston and San Antonio. He made 22 (Spoiler: That’s terrible.).
8: Houston Rockets (37-18) 2 Last Week: 6
The Rockets acquired Pablo Prigioni and K.J. McDaniels at the deadline, but I’m sure they would have given all that up for a chance to bring in Goran Dragic (again). McDaniels shores up their wing defense to some extent, which for the last couple seasons has been highlighted by this man:
I really should stop picking on him, because this year he really has made a concerted effort to improve on the defensive end.
They really would have preferred not to completely blow that last home game against Memphis. It should serve as a haunting reminder that you’re not allowed to take even a quarter off in a game, especially in such a competitive conference, or you’ll find yourself in free fall before you know it. Seeds three to six in the West are separated by one game. Literally every game from now till the end of the season is important for them.
There is hardly anything in the news about the Spurs ever. They just do their thing until May and then suddenly you look back at the end of the playoffs and say “Wait… Tim Duncan is HOW old?” I’m pretty sure they haven’t even had an SportsCenter Top 10 play since 1999.
The Thunder, or specifically, Russell Westbrook, have quelled any concerns about struggling after Kevin Durant’s millionth foot injury. Westbrook is averaging 29.33 points and 12.33 assists per game since the All-Star Game. (Side note, Russell REALLY wanted that All-Star Game MVP (He took 28 shots. Hello?)
A 3-1 stretch is usually enough to get some recognition and move up in the rankings, but with the Thunder’s recent surge, someone had to move down. If Pau continues his production rate (and screaming), the Bulls might find themselves up into the top 10 soon.
This drop is more of a testament to how much of a mistake I think the Bucks are making by trading for Michael Carter-Williams. Sure, we could argue that they’re destined to lose in the first round of the playoffs anyway, but I really thought Brandon Knight was a key target to re-sign in the offseason. While MCW has all the tools to be the next Jason Kidd (large frame, questionable jump shot early in his career, a little too loosey-goosey with the ball), it’s definitely a step back at the moment. Also, pour one out for Larry Sanders.
I have no idea what’s happening here with the Pelicans. It’s not helping them at all that Anthony Davis can’t seem to stay fully healthy, and now they’ve also lost Ryan Anderson for 2-4 weeks as well. It’s really not looking good for them, especially when they’re trying to take over the eighth spot from the roaring Thunder and trying to hold off the setting Suns (Cute puns are key.).
The Suns turned their point guard crisis into a “We now have an appropriate number of starting guards but unfortunately we still suck” crisis. Brandon Knight is an All-Star in my heart, so for all we know, they’ll be back on track soon, but they also traded away Miles Plumlee and now have even less big men.
The Wizards have lost their last two games by a combined 55 points. They’re 2-8 in their last ten.
I feel the same, Randy.
Clearly Larry, Frank Vogel, and the Pacers are preparing for something we’re not ready for. They calmly beat the Warriors and are now only half a game out from the eighth playoff spot. If Paul George actually does come back and they make the playoffs, who knows?
Reggie Jackson is the on-the-fly replacement for Brandon Jennings, but I’m not sure how confident I am that he will be the guy to get them over the hump into the playoffs. For the same reason I was (obviously mistakenly) skeptical of Eric Bledsoe being as good as he is, the sample size for Reggie Jackson isn’t as big as I would want it to make that call. Still, it’s a good bargain, since they only gave up D.J. Augustin, the prototypical backup point guard, and Kyle Singler, token white guy number 500 out of Duke.
We might have put them at first if they’d somehow managed to talk someone into taking Joe Johnson or Deron Williams off their hands. Conversely, we would have put them last if they traded Brook Lopez away, because he’s almost the only one on the roster that’s worth investing in long term. Moving Garnett for a useful Thaddeus Young is very good work, though.
Another instance of the Celtics refusing to be completely horrible. They brought in Isaiah Thomas at the deadline, who if I’m not mistaken, is a GOOD point guard. The point of rebuilding is to be BAD.
21: Miami Heat (23-31) Last Week: 21
Losing Chris Bosh for the season is a huge blow to a team that just invested in bringing in what now could be just a Goran Dragic rental. The addition of a top-10 point guard would have been huge for a team pushing hard to lose in the first round of the playoffs. Now they might not even make it there.
22: Charlotte Hornets (22-32)5 Last Week: 17
Since the Hornets were unable to find someone to take Lance away from them at the deadline, we’ll have a “LANCE NO!” segment on our rankings to reminisce on amusing Lance moments.
23: Utah Jazz (20-34) Last Week: 23
RUDY GOBERT! Unleash the Frenchman!
Rudy epitomizes the main skill I want every big man to have, which is simply “knowing what to do with his arms”.
If I’m being completely honest, I didn’t know who James Borrego was before he got the interim head coaching job for the Magic. I Googled him and learned that he has three rings with the San Antonio Spurs as one of Pop’s assistants. It could be worse.
George Karl is here! On a less exciting note, the ancient Andre Miller is also here. Maybe the two of them combined can make Boogie less of a bonehead. Unlikely, but a girl can dream.
Yes, the 25th ranking was ambitious, but I was just excited about Wiggins being very good and Ricky Rubio and Kevin Martin coming back. It’s cute to see Kevin Garnett back with the team that drafted him almost twenty years ago. This is one of those teams that aren’t going anywhere very soon, so we might have alternating weeks of “What Did Andrew Wiggins Do This Week?” and Kevin Garnett #tbtom’s (Throwback Thursdays on Monday)
The Nuggets have won once in the month of February. It was in Los Angeles against the terrible Lakers. Ty Lawson is getting too old for this shit (He’s already 27. I was shocked to read that.).
So GM Sam Hinkie’s master plan involves trading away last year’s Rookie of the Year and bringing in Javale McGee. This is… brilliant? Check back in ten years.
At least the Lakers can take solace in the fact that apparently Goran Dragic views them as a “perfect fit” for him. I’m not sure where he got that idea. Maybe he hasn’t seen their record.
Amare’s gone, Carmelo is shut down, the Knicks best player right now might be Andrea Bargnani. Oh no…
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