Power Rankings Week 12

1. Indiana (32-7): The Pacers are back to their winning ways.  They have also held their last 20 opponents under 100 points, so I guess that’s good too.  With Miami looking very complacent and the East being the East, the number one seed is becoming more and more within reach.

2. San Antonio (32-9) With Tiago Splitter, Matt Bonner, Danny Green and Tony Parker all battling various ailments the depth of the Spurs will be tested going forward. This might be a death sentence to most teams, but the Spurs quietly go along, winning games, cementing their status as kings of the West.

3. Portland (31-10): The Blazers are officially the “hot girl with a tragic flaw” of the NBA.  Beautiful face, great body, but dumb as all hell.  The Blazers play a very volatile brand of basketball that relies on scoring from all angles.  On both baskets.  When you are allowing opponents to shoot freely, you have to be able to outscore them on a nightly basis.  If one or two guys are off their game, the strategy falls apart and losses are easier to come by.

4. Oklahoma City (31-10): Kevin Durant has initiated “God Mode” and everyone is screwed.  Check out his latest entry into his “pooping on opponents” diary:

That was the game I needed to see.  Durant begging for the ball even when he was triple teamed.  Taking “ill-advised” shots when he had teammates open.  He was that hot.  No one was taking the ball from him and we needed to see the killer in his eyes.  Good sign for OKC.


5. LA Clippers (29-14): Winners of 8 of 10, the red hot Clippers look to be playing well.  Their only recent losses are to San Antonio and Indiana, the two best teams in the NBA. Blake Griffin continues to impress me with his jump to superstardom this season. He is scoring, rebounding, and defending on a championship level.  Chris Paul being out has allowed him to take on greater leadership and i think that will be key when the second season starts in April.


6. Miami (29-12): The Heat started to turn it around after a three game losing streak, but a victory vs. Philly and an overtime win against Charlotte are hardly confidence inspiring. Then Miami couldn’t beat an average Atlanta team and the worry returns in Miami. Still they are the defending champs with all the same pieces. They will be fine.


7. Golden State  (26-16): The Warriors continue to live and die by the three.  They are 3rd in the league at nearly 39% and take over 24 per game, when you have Steph Curry and Klay Thompson that’s not a bad strategy. They lost a tough one this week when Durant went off for 54, but overall, I really like what I see from Golden State recently.


8. Houston (28-15) Despite the Rockets big victory over the trailblazers last night this Rockets team still need to make an addition in order to join the elite in the Western conference. According to Sam Smith, this help could come in the form of Jeff Green.


9. Phoenix  (23-17): The Suns lead the NBA in 3 point attempts per game. They have 9 players averaging over 9 points per game, and well, I can’t help it.  I root for this underdog team. I know deep down that they won’t make the playoffs, but I refuse to allow myself to truly believe it.


10. Dallas (25-18): The Mavs just chug along, beating the teams they are superior to and losing most of the games they should. The injury to Gal Mekel will create more playing time for Shane Larkin which might be the best thing for their future. Devin Harris returned from injury last night , with all three healthy this team will have point guard depth to burn come the trading deadline


11. Memphis (20-20): Last night’s loss to the Pelicans notwithstanding the Grizzlies recently have looked poised to capture one of the last playoff spots in the west. After a five game winning streak spurred by the return of Big Spanish himself, Marc Gasol (really Memphis? that’s the best nickname you could come up with?) the Grizzlies are poised to win the only way they know how, through superb defense and post scoring.

12. Atlanta (21-19): The Hawks had lost two in a row, luckily for them they were in for a cakewalk against a reeling Heat squad. Despite knocking off the defending champs by double digits the losses to Brooklyn and Memphis beforehand are more indicative of how good these Hawks are.

13. Chicago (20-20):  When it is all said and done, Coach Thibs should be in consideration for the Coach of the Year trophy.  This team has met disappointment time and time again and now, post Deng trade, they are mere remnants of their former selves.  The next bunch of games should serve as a good barometer for how much fight this Chicago team has – they face the Clippers, Wolves and Spurs within the next week.

14. Minnesota (19-21): Minnesota is so disappointing.  Even when they get players like Chase Buddinger back, other flaws seems to have developed.  Due to Love and Pekovic’s lack of interior defense, the Wolves struggle against teams with talented offensive big men (San Antonio and Sacramento).  In the West, that won’t cut it.

15. Brooklyn (17-22): Winners of 7 of 8 games since the new year, and slowly moving up the eastern standings, the Nets look to have found their identity.  Offensively they are moving the rock well and are playing a very physical style of defense.  I’m a fan of the new look team.  Suddenly Joe Johnson looks to be a good NBA player again…

16. Toronto (20-20): The Raptors have lost 3 of 4 at the hands of Boston, LAL, and the Bobcats.  This team still has a fun young core, but it’s certainly a work in progress. Jonas Valanciunas has had a very rough week scoring less than 4 points per game over his last 4.  They need the big fellow to step up and support their quality guard play.

17. Washington (20-20): The Wizards are a .500 team in a conference where most of the teams are much worse than that. They have recently given big money to John Wall before he fully deserved to be paid. Word is The Wizards are ready to make the same mistake again in the form of a trade/big contract  offer to Greg Monroe.

18. Denver (20-20): Easily the weirdest, hardest to analyze team in the league.  Apparently, when the clock struck 12 at midnight on December 31st, the Nuggets turned back into the “old” Nuggets.  They have lead the league in scoring in 2014 and have seemed to abandon the new defensive philosophy that Brian Shaw has been harping on as head coach.  If anyone can clue me in to what kind of team the Nuggets are, I’d be happy to pick your brain.

19. Charlotte (18-25) The Bobcats have been bolstered recently by the return of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who might not always light up the stat sheet but provides the type of defense and energy that shows up in the win column. But this new found health was short lived after Kemba Walker went down with an ankle injury.

20. Detroit (17-24):  This team has no identity.  No one knows when to shoot or how much to shoot (Josh Smith has been struggling with that issue his entire career).  In order to maximize the growth of Andre Drummond, the Pistons need to make a move and either acquire value or build some pieces for the future.  They are far too inconsistent to make any noise in the conference.

21. New Orleans (16-24): No NBA team has been hit with the amount of injuries the Pelicans have suffered. First they lost Anthony Davis for an extended period, then when he came back, Jrue Holiday, Ryan Anderson and now Jason Smith all went down. WIth the 76ers owning NO’s top five protected pick this year the Pellies either need to right the ship and hop into the playoff race or go on a long losing streak. Either way I expect NOLA to be one of the most active teams at the trade deadline.

22. Sacramento (14-25): The Kings have lost 3 of 4, but have played well for long stretches in all of those games.  Isiah Thomas, the Pint Sized Pitbull (can this nickname please catch on!?), has been on fire as of late, and, I can only imagine, continues to inspire all you short people.  Also, Demarcus Cousins=beast.

23. Cleveland (16-26): The state of the Cavs is as such:

This team needs to be blown up and have their minds erased so that they forget they drafted Anthony Bennett with the #1 pick.  Then and only then can they salvage anything.


24. New York (15-26):The Knicks have lost 4 in a row after a scorching start to the new year.  Carmelo has been the lone bright spot for this team and his 26 point 20 rebound effort in Friday’s loss to the Clippers was impressive.  I do think they will make the postseason, but they are making it much harder on themselves with this inconsistent play.


25. LA Lakers (16-25): Well the Lakers broke their losing stream by stringing together wins against Boston and the Raptors.  While this team has zero chance to make the playoffs, you have to respect the all out play they have showed.  I’ve said it before but they really need to trade Pau Gasol to the highest bidder.  Do it. Do it now Mitch Kupchak.


26. Boston(14-28): The Celtics have lost 11 of 12 and look to be heading in the right direction for a top lottery pick. The return of Rajon Rondo has led to two 4th quarter losses after he entered the game with the C’s on top. While a bit rusty, the flashes he has showed in limited minutes reminded us C’s fans of how good he can be. The Celtics will use the rest of the season to develop their young talent and prepare for the draft.  Hey, did you all notice Kelly Olynyk going off for 25 against the Lakers?


27. Utah (14-28): Can’t tell if this team has taken off it’s tanking pants or not, but they aren’t bad per say.  They are just not good.  They’ve leaped from the pantheon of awful to the much more populated group of teams that are not good at basketball.  Not a spot to be if you want a ton of lottery balls.


28. Philadelphia (13-28): Well the 76ers are terrible and it’s a great thing for the franchise.  With the addition of 2 lottery picks (their own and the Pelicans), along with Nerlens Noel and their new franchise player MCW, I love the future for this team. I really can only talk about this team in the future because the current is just terrible.


29. Orlando (11-30): The Magic had been on a ten game losing streak then they had a team meeting and now they are poised to go on a long winning streak… In reality they beat a Boston team in transition, and they are still one of the worst teams in the league.


30. Milwaukee (7-33): They haven’t won since 2013, so there isn’t much good on the “winning” front.  They are CRUSHING it from a tanking perspective, though.  If I were Embiid, Wiggins, Randle, Parker, or Player X, I’d start buying winter clothes now.  The Polar Vortex is no joke.

In Giannis related news: his hands are huge, so that’s awesome?

 

Thank you for your continued support and be sure to check out the first in our weekly roundtable on all thing NBA.

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