NBA Week 21 Power Rankings: The Warriors Have Their Foot on the Gas

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With another Warriors week at the top, there was some concern, but the good news here is that WE’VE FOUND MORE SONGS. Bring it, Steph. Also WHAT IS GOING ON at the end of this video?

 1:gsw Golden State Warriors (56-13)Ellipse 1 copy 3 #1     Last Week: 1   

It takes all my willpower to not just put an endless stream of Steph Curry highlights under the Warriors. They beat the Hawks convincingly this time in the battle of the NBA’s best and it’s ignorant to think otherwise with this Warriors team right now. We love Steph.

 2:cle Cleveland Cavaliers (46-26)Ellipse 1 copy 31   Last Week: 3   

Amidst all the controversy and cynicism that comes with a Lebron James-centric team, the Cavaliers are quietly second in the East and it’s difficult to see any teams in the East (except perhaps the Hawks) with a real shot at taking them out in a seven game series. We can say what we want about Kevin Love not being the player they expected, which is true, but anyone that was expecting even 20 and 12 was ambitious. I agree, Love is not the superstar they expected and he’s the prime example of inflated numbers on a terrible team, but it doesn’t help him that there are not consistent touches to go around in Cleveland, not just in volume but also in terms of location. Bosh learned to cope in Miami because while the volume was not there, the ball would go to him early enough in designated spots (The elbow comes to mind immediately.).

 3:mem Memphis Grizzlies (49-21)Ellipse 1 copy 32   Last Week: 5   

The Grizzlies are steadily getting back on track after a significant funk, partially due to finding new balance in their lineup, with Jeff Green switching to a consistent sixth man role and this team is one of the scarier outs in the Western conference playoffs.

 4:sas San Antonio Spurs (44-25)Ellipse 1 copy 33   Last Week: 7   

Another week of good times. We’re in the “Hello, the Spurs are getting hot right now AGAIN?” part of the season. Also this gem:

If you haven’t seen the original “Too Many Cooks” it comes highly recommended. Also, what prompted Manu to be the Dalai Lama?

 5:atl Atlanta Hawks (53-17) Ellipse 1 copy 3 #23   Last Week: 2   

This was exciting and then they got bodied. People are worried about their ability to compete in a seven game series, but really no team in the East has shown any proof that they can consistently beat them, so it’s probably foolish to say that right now.

 6:lac Los Angeles Clippers (46-25)Ellipse 1 copy 32   Last Week: 8   

Blake’s return has been crucial for the Clippers, who posted a perfect week, and Blake seems to be getting back on track. It’s still a little concerning that a guy who averaged double digit rebounds his rookie season can’t seem to consistently get eight boards, a function of him wanting to show off his improved jumper and his penguin skills.

 7:hou Houston Rockets (46-23)  Ellipse 1 copy 3 #21   Last Week: 6   

The major concern with the Rockets is the “What happens when James Harden goes 4-28 and scores 12 points?” factor. The Rockets and the Pelicans may be the two teams most dependent on one guy. The Rockets are 40-12 when Harden scores 20 and 6-11 when he doesn’t, which is actually better than I expected, but still concerning in do-or-die situations.

 8*:okc Oklahoma City Thunder (40-30)   Ellipse 1 copy 32   Last Week: 10

The asterisk will remain on any ranking of the Thunder from here on out, now with the news that Kevin Durant is out indefinitely. With Durant, this team could be in the conversation for best in the West (Read: Westbrook and Durant themselves put this team in the conversation.). Without Durant they’re irritating at best.

 9:por Portland Trail Blazers (44-24)  Ellipse 1 copy 3 #25   Last Week: 4   

At one point, Afflalo seemed like THE piece that pushed Portland into the actual championship contenders conversation. Also, it was assumed that bringing in Afflalo (initially to be the sixth man) would not mean a big step down in terms of ability on the defensive end from Wes Matthews. Well, now Wes is dead, and this is not at all good:

10:dal Dallas Mavericks (44-27)Ellipse 1 copy 3 #21   Last Week: 9   

Not only do the Mavs have a Rajon Rondo problem right now, they also seem to have a Monta Ellis problem. Ellis has been putting up really concerning numbers recently (7-31 shooting in his last two games, for example) and when he struggles like he has been consistently since the All-Star break, the entire offense seems to struggle as he does. Definitely some concern here.

11:tor Toronto Raptors (42-28)Ellipse 1 copy 34   Last Week: 15

3-1 this week and back into third in the East. #WeTheFound?

12:chi Chicago Bulls (42-29)Ellipse 1 copy 32   Last Week: 14

The hero Chicago needs:

13:phx Phoenix Suns (38-33) Ellipse 1 copy 33   Last Week: 16

In light of the fact that the Suns are fading from the playoff picture (Although after an abysmal week by the Pels, the Suns are back in ninth place.) I think it’s important to instead take some time to recognize the best Sun of all time, Steve Nash, who announced his retirement from the NBA this past week.

14:nop New Orleans Pelicans (37-33) Ellipse 1 copy 3 #23   Last Week: 11

In a time when it seems you either need to put together three NBA stars at least to win a ring (minus the Spurs, although I would say that Timmy, Tony, and Manu are definitely stars in their own right), Anthony Davis fights alone. Jrue Holiday was supposed to be a second star… he’s not. Tyreke was supposed to be a third star… he’s not. Eric Gordon was supposed to be a top three shooting guard in the league… he’s DEFINITELY not.

15:utah Utah Jazz (31-38)Ellipse 1 copy 32   Last Week: 17

My boyfriend Rudy Gobert is top ten in the league in the following categories: Offensive Rebounds, Offensive Rebound Percent, Defensive Rebound Percent, Total Rebound Percent, Blocks, Blocks Per Game, Block Percent, Defensive Rating, Win Shares Per 48 Minutes, Box Plus/Minus, and Defensive Box Plus/Minus (I love advanced stats.). He even has a rising star video!

16:was Washington Wizards (40-30)Ellipse 1 copy 32   Last Week: 18

The Wizards once again seemed to be rounding into form and then got absolutely wrecked by the Kings. They’re trending upward slowly, but not really convincingly.

17:mia Miami Heat (32-37)Ellipse 1 copy 33   Last Week: 20

The only thing Heat fans need to notice is that Dwyane Wade is turning back the clock, breaking 20 points in eight of his last ten games. As long as Wade is healthy* we’ll see them in late April.

18:ind Indiana Pacers (30-39)Ellipse 1 copy 3 #26   Last Week: 12

Just as it seemed the Pacers were gearing up to be a real problem for the Cavs in the playoffs… they died. On the bright side, HELLO?

19:bos Boston Celtics (30-39)Ellipse 1 copy 3 #26   Last Week: 13

And now it’s gone. The Celtics, like the Pacers, seemed to have hit a great stride, but lost three of their four games this past week, leading to Marcus Smart becoming the idiotic headcase of the week, taking the mantle from Hassan Whiteside.

I figured both the Pacers and Celtics would distance themselves from the crap pack, given that the Hornets are bad, the Heat are dead, the Nets are awful, and the Pistons are worse than awful.

20:bkn Brooklyn Nets (29-39) Ellipse 1 copy 33   Last Week: 23

The games around this time are actually supremely important for the Nets, who have Brook Lopez almost singlehandedly trying to carry them to the playoffs. Wins against the Bucks and Pacers to vault them into ninth and wins against the Celtics and Hornets this upcoming week will vault them towards the heralded position of getting swept by the Hawks

21:det Detroit Pistons (26-44)Ellipse 1 copy 33   Last Week: 24

Technically the Pistons are back in it with a shot to get swept by the Hawks, but I’m not buying it. They’re an even more severe case than the upcoming Bucks in the “Well… at least we still have…” ranks. “Well… at least we still have Andre Drummond”.

22:cha Charlotte Hornets (30-38) Ellipse 1 copy 3 #21   Last Week: 21

LANCE NO!

23:mil Milwaukee Bucks (34-36)Ellipse 1 copy 3 #24   Last Week: 19

Well the Bucks were having a breakout season led by unofficial All-Star Brandon Knight with a plan to cause problems in the playoffs. Now they’ve returned to “Well… at least we still have Giannis” form with six losses in a row.

24:den  Denver Nuggets (27-44)Ellipse 1 copy 3 #22   Last Week: 22

Don’t let the record fool you right now. Sure, they dropped three of four, but there’s definitely a significant change in play style and commitment to the game after their coaching change. Gallo hung FORTY!

25:sac Sacramento Kings (24-45)Ellipse 1 copy 31   Last Week: 26

When the season is lost, sometimes you have to just race babies…

26:orl Orlando Magic (22-50)Ellipse 1 copy 3 #21   Last Week: 25

And once again, the Magic have me enticed by Elfrid Payton’s emergence. I want them to be good, dammit.

27:phi Philadelphia 76ers (17-52)Ellipse 1 copy 31   Last Week: 28

After three quarters in the Sunday night game between the Lakers and Sixers (clearly the marquee matchup of the season), the Sixers led 75-74 and looked good to pull off a win, and then switched into “Shit, we want that pick mode” and were outscored 27-12 in the fourth quarter (The Sixers traded for a Lakers first round pick, top-5 protected in the 2015 draft).

28:min Minnesota Timberwolves (15-53)Ellipse 1 copy 3 #21   Last Week: 27

The Wolves ended up on the wrong side of this week’s matchup with the Knicks in the “Kill for Jahlil” sweepstakes, winning 95-92 in overtime, despite probably their best efforts to sneakily lose. Also notable, Kevin Garnett has missed seven straight games.

29:lal Los Angeles Lakers (18-50)Ellipse 1 copy 3 #1      Last Week: 29

Even winning that last game against the Sixers could end up badly for them. What if they accidentally keep winning and lose their first round pick (top-5 protected)?

H/T: sbnation.com
H/T: sbnation.com

30:nyk New York Knicks (14-56)Ellipse 1 copy 3 #1     Last Week: 30

This week in “What the Shved?”:

 

Featured Image: www.bluemanhoop.com

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Souriyo is a recent graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, an aspiring writer with a passion for just about every sport ever played. He's a tears-level fan of the San Jose Sharks, but follows the NBA, NFL, MLB, tennis, and college sports, in addition to the NHL. He is determined to continue contributing to sports coverage until he usurps Bill Simmons at Grantland as the new Sports Guy (RIP Grantland Bill 2007-2015)

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