NBA Power Rankings: Pacers at top, Trail Blazers drop, Warriors climb
1. Indiana Pacers (27-6, Previous: 1) - Last week’s loss to the Raptors looks like nothing more than a blip on the radar. The Pacers will only get better as Danny Granger grows into his role off the bench.
2. Miami Heat (26-8, Previous: 2) - With Andrew Bynum now a free agent, could he head to Miami and be the big man they’re missing? If so, would Cavs owner Dan Gilbert go certifiably insane?
3. Oklahoma City Thunder (27-7, Previous: 3) - Reggie Jackson (27 points) had the best game of his young career on Sunday. If he can step in for the injured Russell Westbrook like that, the Thunder will be just fine.
4. Portland Trail Blazers (26-8, Previous: 4) - The Blazers have cooled off a bit, losing three of their last five going into Tuesday night. But with perhaps the best starting unit in the NBA, they remain dangerous.
5. Golden State Warriors (23-13, Previous: 7) - Winners of nine in a row going into Tuesday’s game against the hapless Bucks. In other words, winners of 10 in a row. They’re now a “grown man team”, as head coach Mark Jackson might say.
6. Houston Rockets (22-13, Previous: 5) - When you look at the Rockets roster – Dwight Howard, James Harden, Chandler Parsons, Jeremy Lin – you’d think they’d be better than sixth in West. That’s a testament to how deep the West is.
7. San Antonio Spurs (26-8 Previous: 6) - How much stock can you put in a blowout win over the Chris Paul-less Clippers? Some, but not a ton. The jury is still out on this crew. Me being the entire jury.
8. Los Angeles Clippers (24-13, Previous: 9) - When flops go wrong: Chris Paul out for up to six weeks after separating his shoulder. Just kidding on the flop, but that’s a big blow for the Clips.
9. Dallas Mavericks (19-15, Previous: 10) – Wednesday’s game against the Spurs in San Antonio, who they lost to at home the day after Christmas, is going to be a real test for the Mavs.
10. Phoenix Suns (20-12, Previous: 8) - Without Eric Bledsoe, the Suns just don’t have enough firepower. He’ll most likely miss the entire Suns five-game road trip. But Leandro Barbosa is back!
11. New Orleans Pelicans (15-17, Previous: 11) - To watch Anthony Davis do what he does with just one eyebrow is truly inspirational. Imagine the numbers he’d put up with two?
12. Memphis Grizzlies (15-18, Previous: 14) - The Griz aren’t bowing out. A trade for Courtney Lee should help the outside game a bit. Eventually they’ll get Marc Gasol back and make a run.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves (17-17, Previous: 18) - They’ve got talent. They’ve got health. In a long NBA season, those two things combined could help them sneak into the postseason. But the wins need to start following.
14. Atlanta Hawks (18-17, Previous: 12) - As expected, the Hawks are finding it difficult without Al Horford. Look for this team to make a move for a center before the deadline. Pero Antic, their 31-year-old rookie center, just isn’t cutting it (shocker!).
15. Denver Nuggets (16-17, Previous: 15) – The losing streak has finally ended with wins over the Grizzlies and Lakers. It looks like Andre Miller may be done in Denver after a falling out with coach Brian Shaw.
16. Toronto Raptors (16-16, Previous: 25) - OK, it’s time to give this team a bit more respect that it deserves. After all, they are now at .500. But seriously, they’ve beaten up on both good (Pacers) and bad (Knicks, twice) teams lately.
17. Detroit Pistons (14-20, Previous: 13) - A few weeks ago I said this team had potential for the “Disappointing Team of the Year” Award. Losing six of their last seven (five by double-digits) heading into Tuesday night, they are earning that award.
18. Washington Wizards (14-17, Previous: 16) - Once again, the Wizards toy with the idea of going over .500, and then say, “nahhhhh.” Three straight losses.
19. Brooklyn Nets (13-20, Previous: 21) - Three straight wins for the Nets, who are right on the cusp of a playoff seed. That’s fine and dandy, but they’re just too old and beat up.
20. Cleveland Cavaliers (11-23, Previous: 23) – The Andrew Bynum experiment was a colossal failure in Cleveland. But the Cavs sure-up their small forward spot with Luol Deng in return. It could get them into the playoffs.
21. Charlotte Bobcats (15-20, Previous: 19) - The Bobcats usually play good defense. The problem? They don’t score. They’ve lost 14 games to teams that have scored under 100 points. But lately they’re losing games and not playing defense either.
22. Chicago Bulls (14-18, Previous: 20) - The Bulls unloaded Luol Deng when it was apparent they weren’t going to re-sign him. They free up cap space and grab three draft picks in the process. And they got the satisfaction of waiving Andrew Bynum.
23. Boston Celtics (13-21, Previous: 17) - The trades that make Boston worse this season (Courtney Lee for Jerryd Bayless) have started. And this West Coast trip should be the nail in the coffin.
24. Sacramento Kings (9-20, Previous: 22) - There are bleak futures for some teams heading for the lottery, but the Kings certainly aren’t one of them – especially if they end up in the top five.
25. Los Angeles Lakers (14-20, Previous: 24) - Pau Gasol was once again involved in trade rumors … and once again was not traded. L.A. is alllll abouttttt the dramaaaaa…
26. Utah Jazz (11-25, Previous: 27) – Get this: The Jazz are 7-6 since a 4-19 start to the season. Tanking be damned!
27. Philadelphia 76ers (12-22, Previous: 28) - There’s nothing like ending a very impressive four-game winning streak – all on the road – with a 31-point loss to the T-Wolves at home. The NBA, everybody!
28. Orlando Magic (10-24, Previous: 26) - Losers of four straight with the next four coming on the road in Portland, Sacramento, Denver, and Dallas. Yeah.
29. New York Knicks (11-22, Previous: 29) - For one second try to get inside the mind of J.R. Smith … get out! Get out of there! There’s no turning back!
30. Milwaukee Bucks (7-26, Previous: 30) - Any amount of words wasted on this team is too many words. See? I just wasted words. And more words, and – I’m done.