1. Golden State Warriors (50-5) Last week: 1 – Congratulations to the Golden State Warriors, who became the fastest team ever to 50 wins. This can’t be a surprise to anybody who’s watched them play this season.
2. San Antonio Spurs (47-9) Last week: 2 – After getting spanked by the Clippers, 105-86, after he All-Star Break, the Spurs beat the lowly Lakers and Suns, but still allowed 113 and 111 points, respectively. That’s unlike them.
3. Toronto Raptors (37-18) Last week: 4 – Assuming last Friday’s loss in Chicago was nothing but a little rust out of the break, the Raptors are looking good after two double-digit wins, including a 27-point beat-down on the Knicks.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers (40-15) Last week: 5 – The Cavaliers ended up hanging on to Kevin Love, which only means the rumors will start back up in the offseason. But until then, it looks like he’s going to help. Post-break, he has a 15/15 game and 29/11 game. Pretty good.
5. Oklahoma City Thunder (40-16) Last week: 3 – Two straight losses by the Thunder at home, including one to the Cavs in which they lost by 23 points. It doesn’t get easier with games coming up against the Warriors (twice) and Clippers.
6. Los Angeles Clippers (37-19) Last week: 6 – The Clips will take a split, beating the Spurs by 19 and then losing to the Warriors by three. It was then followed up by a 40-point shellacking of the Suns. That about sums up where all these teams are at.
7. Boston Celtics (33-25) Last week: 7 – A disappointing 1-2 road trip for a Celtics team that really should have went 2-1 at worst (we’ll give the Jazz some credit). There’s no doubting that they play hard, but sometimes they don’t play hard enough for 48 minutes.
8. Indiana Pacers (30-26) Last week: 12 – The Pacers play their next three games at home, and have a chance to move up to the No. 3 seed by the beginning of next week. Either way, they look to be in better shape than their competitors in the Heat, Hawks, and Bulls.
9. Portland Trail Blazers(29-27) Last week: 16 – The Blazers are one of the hottest teams in the NBA, led by All-Star snub Damian Lillard. They’ve won five straight and 10 of their last 11. Lillard’s backcourt buddy CJ McCollum is really stepping up, too.
10. Atlanta Hawks (31-27) Last week: 10 – So the Hawks didn’t trade Al Horford or Jeff Teague but made everybody aware that they were on the trade block. Bold strategy and it’ll be interesting to see what that does to team morale.
11. Dallas Mavericks (30-27) Last week: 11 – The Mavericks have a great chance at passing the Grizzlies in the standings, as they trail them by three games but play the next eight of nine game at home. Just three of those games are against current playoff teams.
12. Miami Heat (32-24) Last week: 9 – Best wishes to Chris Bosh as he deals with blood clot issues. You obviously hate to see anybody go through that. With Bosh out, the Heat are going to have trouble. Here’s to hoping for a speedy and full recovery.
13. Memphis Grizzlies (32-23) Last week: 8 – It’s been a tough stretch for the Grizzlies, who lost Marc Gasol for the season after he underwent surgery on his foot on Tuesday. Jeff Green was traded. Courtney Lee was traded. Yeesh.
14. Utah Jazz (27-28) Last week: 14 – After a seven-game winning streak, the Jazz have lost three of four. Tuesday’s game against the Rockets is a big one as both teams fight for one of those final playoff spots.
15. Charlotte Hornets (29-26) Last week: 18 – Courtney Lee might be one of the nicest players to keep getting traded to other teams. I actually like this move for the Hornets, who get a little offensive boost without giving up much. He can help them make the playoffs.
16. Detroit Pistons (28-29) Last week: 13 – The Pistons finally stop the bleeding, ending a five-game losing streak with a good win over the Cavaliers. It wasn’t all good news for them, though, as they won’t get help from Donatas Motiejunas, who did not pass his physical, voiding the trade with Houston.
17. Chicago Bulls (29-26) Last week: 15 – Two straight wins for the Bulls, including one of the Lakers in which Pau Gasol introduced good friend and former teammate Kobe Bryant one last time in Chicago. That’s fun. The Bulls season? Not so fun.
18. Houston Rockets (28-28) Last week: 17 – Is this really a .500 team? Really? James Harden and Dwight Howard should be better than this. With the Jazz, Blazers, and Spurs on tap they’ll get a chance to prove they are.
19. Washington Wizards (25-29) Last week: 20 – I’m on the record as not being a Markieff Morris fan. I think he’s too much of a loose cannon. But the Wizards didn’t give up much for him, and hey at this point it can’t hurt giving him a shot.
20. Orlando Magic (24-30) Last week: 23 – Aaron Gordon was absolutely robbed in the dunk contest! I know it doesn’t mean anything in terms of the NBA season, but that would have been a nice thing for Magic fans who had a tough first half.
21. Sacramento Kings (23-31) Last week: 19 – Pray for the Kings. They’re about to play the Spurs, Clippers, Thunder, Grizzlies, Mavericks, and Spurs all in a row. This stretch could knock them out of the playoff hunt.
22. Milwaukee Bucks (24-33) Last week: 24 – Hmm . . . the Bucks are 4-1 over their last five games, and Giannis Antetokounmpo just had his first career triple-double: 27 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists. Perhaps things are looking up?
23. Denver Nuggets (22-34) Last week: 22 – Not sure exactly what the Nuggets plan on doing over the offeason, but it’s definitely worth monitoring Kenneth Faried and Danilo Gallinari.
24. New Orleans Pelicans (22-33) Last week: 25 – Every now and then Anthony Davis reminds everybody why he should still be considered one of if not the best overall player in the NBA. A 59-point, 20-rebound performance against the Pistons? Yeah, that will do it.
25. New York Knicks (24-34) Last week: 21 – I’m just going to take Kurt Rambis at his word that he didn’t mean what he did on Twitter. Just more proof that old people should leave the social media stuff up to us kids.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves (18-39) Last Week: 26 – Karl-Anthony Towns doesn’t get a lot of national exposure playing on the Timberwolves, but let me tell you that this guy is already one of the best centers in the NBA and will be a superstar for many, many years.
27. Brooklyn Nets (15-41) Last week: 27 – The Nets are still the Nets, but now they are the Nets with an actual, real life, GM! Congrats to Sean Marks, who has his work cut out for him.
28. Philadelphia 76ers (8-47) Last week: 28 – It is just so 76ers that a trade they were apart of was voided, and in the process they lost a dependable defender in JaKarr Sampson, who they waived thinking they’d be able to re-sign. Trust the process.
29. Los Angeles Lakers (11-47) Last week: 29 – The Kobe Bryant farewell tour rolls on through Memphis this week. Lakers results not important.
30. Phoenix Suns (14-43) Last week: 30 – Markieff Morris is gone, so let’s see if ridding themselves of a player who clearly became a problem will help in any way.