NBA Power Rankings: Thunder take over from Pacers, Rockets and Suns climb
1. Oklahoma City Thunder (39-11, Previous: 2) - Durantula. The Slim Reaper. KD. The next name he he goes by will be pretty simple: MVP. You just can’t ignore what Kevin Durant has done in the absence of Russell Westbrook. A Thunder storm is coming.
2. Indiana Pacers (37-10, Previous: 1) - The Pacers automatically move down a slot due to their signing of Andrew Bynum. Kidding. The signing actually makes sense. Even if he doesn’t suit up for Indy, he won’t suit up for the Heat now, either.
3. Los Angeles Clippers (34-17, Previous: 5) - Tough way to lose at the buzzer in Denver Monday night. The Clips have four straight home games heading into the All-Star Break, starting with the Heat Wednesday night.
4. Houston Rockets (32-17, Previous: 6) - Two of the NBA’s hottest teams will face off on Wednesday, the Rockets and the Suns. There is a space joke in there somewhere, but we refuse to go there.
5. Portland Trailblazers (34-14, Previous: 3) – The Blazers have suffered five losses in their last eight games. They were uncharacteristically sloppy in their loss to the Wizards. Friday night’s game in Indy will be a huge test.
6. Miami Heat (34-13, Previous: 4) – Dwyane Wade had his second 30-point game of the season in Monday’s win over the Pistons. But the Heat just don’t seem like the sure thing they’ve been over the last couple of seasons.
7. San Antonio Spurs (35-13 Previous: 7) - Two wins over the Kings and Pelicans don’t do much in our book. But they did get Danny Green back, who missed the last 10 games with a finger injury.
8. Golden State Warriors (29-19, Previous: 8) - They went a disappointing 2-3 on their five-game homestead, but wins over the Clippers and Jazz should give them some momentum. Stephen Curry is averaging 24.5 points and 9.0 assists per game.
9. Memphis Grizzlies (26-21, Previous: 9) - The Griz are 11-2 in their last 13 games and sit in ninth place in the West. They play the currently-eighth-seeded Mavs on Wednesday. Be afraid, Dallas.
10. Phoenix Suns (29-18, Previous: 12) – The Suns swept the season series with the Pacers in convincing fashion. Eric Bledsoe is still out, but there’s hope he returns post-All-Star break. In a season full of disappointments and tank jobs, this team went against the grain.
11. Atlanta Hawks (25-21, Previous: 10) - Quick update for those in Atlanta still stuck in gridlock traffic: The Hawks are currently third in the Eastern Conference. Kyle Korver can’t be stopped from 3-point range. They play the Pelicans Wednesday and the Grizzlies Saturday. Find the games on your radio dials.
12. Dallas Mavericks (28-21, Previous: 11) - You know when you’re driving and somebody in a nice car flies up behind you and starts tailgating? The Suns are that tailgating car – and the Mavs are just staring in the rearview waiting for them to pass.
13. Toronto Raptors (26-22, Previous: 14) - The Raptors have 14 road wins this season after just 13 all of last season. But Kyle Lowry left Monday’s win over the Jazz with knee pain. It doesn’t sound serious, but it’s certainly something to keep an eye on.
14. Washington Wizards (24-23, Previous: 16) - That record is NOT a misprint. The Wizards have finally gone above .500 for the first time since the 2009 season! The even crazier part? They did it by beating the Thunder, Blazers, Warriors, and Suns over the last 11 days.
15. Denver Nuggets (23-23, Previous: 13) - More tough news in Denver as Nate Robinson will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL. It just isn’t Denver’s year, as it looks like they’ll stay on the outside looking in.
16. Brooklyn Nets (21-25, Previous: 15) - The more and more we learn about Sochi and the way things are over there in Russia, the more we begin to understand Mikhail Prokhorov. It’s still hard to understand the Nets, though.
17. Minnesota Timberwolves (23-24, Previous: 17) - The T-Wolves dip below .500 despite ranking third in points per game (105.9), third in rebounds per game (45.9), and fifth in assists per game (23.5).
18. Chicago Bulls (23-24, Previous: 18) - If anybody is wondering if Joakim Noah is just a little frustrated, check out his ejection from Monday’s game (a 99-70 loss against the Kings). Oh, and make sure you earmuff it.
19. Detroit Pistons (19-28, Previous: 19) - Out of all the East teams currently out of the playoffs, the Pistons have the most talent. Can they pull it together after the All-Star break?
20. Charlotte Bobcats (21-28, Previous: 20) - Charlotte is still hanging on to that eighth spot in the East and the rights to get swept by the Pacers in the first round.
21. New York Knicks (19-29, Previous: 21) - The Knicks lost their 29th game of the season on Monday. They lost just 28 games all of last season. To make matters even worse, the loss came against the Bucks.
22. New Orleans Pelicans (20-27, Previous: 22) – Pelicans center Jason Smith is now out for the season after undergoing surgery last week to remove loose cartilage in his knee. Pelicans in a tough spot.
23. Cleveland Cavaliers (16-32, Previous: 23) - Five straight losses for Cleveland, and at this point in the season you can’t help but think the Cavs actually are as bad as their record indicates.
24. Utah Jazz (16-32, Previous: 24) - Three straight losses to keep the Top-5 pick dreams well and alive in Utah. Unfortunately, they can’t lose again until Friday – their next game.
25. Boston Celtics (16-33, Previous: 25) - Get a good look at some of these Celtics players over the next few games. With the trade deadline on Feb. 20, a few will undoubtedly be wearing different jerseys soon enough.
26. Sacramento Kings (16-32, Previous: 26) - The Kings are finalizing plans to build a new arena in downtown Sacramento. If you build it, they will come. If you lose all the time, they will leave.
27. Los Angeles Lakers (16-31, Previous: 27) - NBA prospect Dante Exum reportedly has his fingers crossed to land in L.A. in the NBA Draft. What, no love for Milwaukee or Utah?!
28. Philadelphia 76ers (15-34, Previous: 28) - Evan Turner is reportedly being shopped around by the 76ers. The 25-year-old small forward is averaging 18 points and six rebounds this season. He shouldn’t come cheap.
29. Orlando Magic (13-37, Previous: 29) - Jameer Nelson’s knee pain will seriously help the Magic contend for that coveted worst record.
30. Milwaukee Bucks (9-39, Previous: 30) - When the Bucks and Knicks faced off Monday night, it was hard to pick a team to feel more sorry for. Call it a tie.