Week 17 Power Rankings

Power Rankings makes a return after a break during the All-Star break. While the Spurs stay on top, there was much buzz that the Clips, Heat, and Thunder all deserve a place up there as well. Let us know what you think!

(The Spurs D has been stifling this year.)

1. San Antonio Spurs 42-12
The team has won 14 of its last 15 games including multiple wins without Tim Duncan or Manu Ginobli who were hobbled with minor leg injuries.  They have the best coach in the league, an MVP candidate in Tony Parker, and the strongest supporting cast in basketball.  They are the biggest challenger for the Heat as the postseason approaches. (AL)

2. Miami Heat 36-14
-The only question after Lebron’s unreal shooting streak that remains? How many times is he going to do it again, and if anyone can stop it come playoff time. (BF)

3. Oklahoma City Thunder 39-14
Despite not having the best record in the league I still think they have the best team.  OKC ranks number one because they play great defense, are explosive on the break and have players to knock down important shots in clutch situations. (EJ)

4. Los Angeles Clippers 39-17
-If their recent slide proved anything, this team is going nowhere without Chris Paul. And while Eric Bledsoe has shown he can be a strong back-up, his worth to gain some more bigs might be more important to the Clippers. (BF)

5. Memphis Grizzlies 33-18
I’m still not sure what to make of this team since the trade that shipped Rudy Gay out of town went down. I actually like their team more in a normal game setting thanks to the added depth, but I worry about them in last shot opportunities without the go-to wing scorer. Memphis may not be done dealing as the deadline is just 3 days away. (AL)

6. New York Knicks 32-18
The Knicks have looked vulnerable in their last week of games behind ice cold shooting from the likes of JR Smith and Jason Kidd.  6. The good news is that Amar’e looks like he is going to remain playing at a high level for the remainder of the season if he stays healthy. (AL)

7. Chicago Bulls 30-22
This entire season the Bulls have outperformed expectations without Derrick Rose. However, the longer this season has gone on the less likely it seems that he will return.  Without him returning their championship ceiling is going to crash through the floor. (EJ)

(Derrick Rose might be waiting until next year, and it is probably the right, but tough choice.)

8. Denver Nuggets 33-21
The Nuggets are finally playing up to their talent level. They are one of the hottest teams in the league, the only reason they aren’t higher is because they lack a true go to scorer who can put the team on his back. (EJ)

9. Indiana Pacers 32-21
To me the Pacers are the only team in the east that has a chance at competing with the Heat in the Eastern Conference. They are the best rebounding team in the league. Indiana’s only downfall has been their scoring, which could be remedied when Danny Granger returns tomorrow. (EJ)

10. Brooklyn Nets 31-22
This squad has split their last six games including a couple of nice back to back wins against Indi and Denver, but it’s time they put it together more regularly.  No more excuses, they have all the pieces, it’s time to see them make a run here. (AL)

11. Golden State Warriors 30-22
-No team may have needed the All-Star break than the Warriors. Losers of five in a row, the Warriors need to get back on track quickly to keep pace with the rest of the playoff teams in the West. They are scary close to drawing OKC or SAS in round one. (BF)

12. Utah Jazz 30-24
The Jazz have been rumored to be a landing spot for Eric Bledsoe. Getting an elite point guard would give Utah great prospects at every position, making their future even brighter. (EJ)

(Could Bledsoe be the right fit in Utah?)

13. Atlanta Hawks 29-22
-Until Thursday, expect to hear Josh Smith’s name come up alot. You can’t expect to know where the Hawks’ season is going to go until they know whether Smith is on the roster come playoff time. (BF)

14. Boston Celtics 28-24
This team continues to defy logic, playing great ball since their team was ravaged by injuries to three key contributors.  They face their toughest stretch of the year now, with 9 of their next 11 away from The Garden.  The first of 5 straight on the road starts tomorrow in Denver, before they play a tough back to back in LA against the Lakers.  Danny Ainge will be one of the most active GMs in the next few days as he has key decisions to make about the near future of this franchise. (AL)

15. Houston Rockets 29-26
Houston’s next two games are tough against OKC and Brooklyn, but after that look for them to get hot and make their stand to hold onto their playoff spot as 7 of the 10 games after those next two games are below .500 on the season. This is Clutch City’s chance to prove they are a playoff team this season. (EJ)

16. Portland Trailblazers 25-28
Expect Portland to use the all-star break to their advantage. The Blazers play their starters heavier minutes than almost any team. Expect their starters to come back well rested and spur them to a hot start out of the all-star break. (EJ)

17. Milwaukee Bucks 26-25 
Larry Sanders statistically is the second best defender in the league behind Tim Duncan. The Bucks should be building around him instead of watching their black hole of a back court jack up shots. Hopefully the Bucks move either Jennings or Ellis soon so that the Larry Sanders era can begin in earnest. (EJ)

(Larry Sanders is a strong part of the future of the Bucks.)

18. Los Angeles Lakers 25-29
-The loss of Jerry Buss is just another heartbreaking turn within the Lakers’ disastrous season. The NBA truly lost a legend this week. (BF)

19. Dallas Mavericks 23-29 
The Bank of Cuban is always open.  What will it buy this year? This team has playoff tested veterans, but they need another piece to truly be a scary team and make a run at the 8th seed. (AL)

20. Toronto Raptors 21-32
This team has reached a new level of excitement since the trade.  Everyone is now healthy and if there is ever a time to make a run for a playoff spot it starts now as they are 6 game back of Milwaukee.  Look for Andrea Bargnani to be moved at the deadline too, hopefully bringing back a rotation player in return. The team has won 4 in a row and counting. (AL)

21. Detroit Pistons 21-33
This team is one of my favorite to watch when Monroe and Drummond are both healthy. Pair those two with a good floor general in Calderon and you have the makings of an excellent team. Next year when they pair those three with a solid wing prospect expect this team to take off. (EJ)

(If the Pistons decide to keep Calderon, his unselfish, veteran attitude could pay dividends.)

22. Minnesota Timberwolves 19-31

-The wolves are in a curious position. They have a roster stocked with talent but will undoubtedly not make the playoffs due to injuries. Normally if a team has so many good players and is not in the playoff talks they sell of pieces, but since all their good pieces are injured you can expect the status quo of losing to continue in Minnesota. (EJ)

23. Philadelphia 76ers 22-29
Blah blah blah Andrew Bynum blah blah.  I’ll believe it when I see it. Until then, it’s straight to the lottery for the Sixers. (AL)

24. Phoenix Suns 17-36
-The Suns are like gas station sushi: a number of a bad decisions. It wasn’t a shock that literally no one for the Suns was around for all-star weekend in any form.

25. New Orleans Hornets 19-34
The team continues to play poorly, but I am predicting much better play in the second half led by Anthony Davis.  Davis should be a double double guy night in and night out here in the final few months.  Monty Williams is a good coach too, I like this team a lot for the future. (AL)

26. Sacramento Kings 19-35
-The Kings have been working hard to try to build a base for a future. Unfortunately, their base might not even be in Sacramento. With the Kings unsure of their future, it is going to be tough to make any inside personnel situations. (BJ)

27. Washington Wizards 15-36
-The Wizards look like a decent team that could have had a chance at the 8 seed in a weaker East this year. Unfortunately injuries derailed that. The Wizards however, seem to be a team that is finally taking a turn. (BF)

28. Cleveland Cavaliers 16-37
The Cavs have a bright future. Lost in the shuffle of Kyrie’s great play is the emergence of Tristan Thompson as an elite big man prospect.  Since Varejao has went down Thompson has shown himself to be a big that can play Robin to Kyrie’s Bat man. (EJ)

29. Orlando Magic 15-37
-The Magic are very much lost for the rest of this year. With so many injuries and many of the players tied up in contracts, the Magic are going to have to try to build from within.

30. Charlotte Bobcats 12-40 
-The Bobcats could be where the Wizards were two years ago: Alot of immature talent that needs to bloom. Unfortunately, it’s tough to bloom when your veterans don’t want to be there to help. Here’s lookin’ at you Ben Gordon. (BF)




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