NBA Power Rankings: 2/24/15
By: Alex Dittmar
A lot has happened since my last rankings. The NBA All-Star weekend came and went, as did the trade deadline, which was one of the more active deadlines in recent history. It changed the landscape of the entire NBA, mostly in the middle of the pack as the top teams remained intact for the most part. So with these new rosters in mind, here are the new NBA power rankings:
1. Golden State Warriors (43-10)
Taking the top spot thanks to their complete and utter domination over the course of this season. They are top 2 in both offensive and defensive efficiency and they lead the league in scoring margin and overall are playing like the best team in the league. If that doesn’t make you number 1, I don’t know what would.
2. Memphis Grizzlies (41-14)
Finally cracking the top 2, thanks in large part to 14-2 record since Jeff Green arrived, making this team extremely dangerous. On top of that, having beaten both the Warriors and Hawks is extremely helpful in elevating their status to the top.
3. Atlanta Hawks (44-12)
They certainly haven’t been any worse, it’s just that the Warriors and Griz are starting to fire on all cylinders and the Hawks have been struggling offensively as of late. This is still a very dangerous team and is the last in the group of teams above .700, but they’ll fall to 3 for now until they get their offense going.
4. Houston Rockets (38-18)
They are certainly missing Dwight Howard, but this is still a very dangerous team. James Harden is playing like a true MVP and Corey Brewer and Josh Smith have been massive additions to this team. They have the best chance to make a run at the title of the teams outside the .700 club at this point, especially when they get Howard back.
5. Toronto Raptors (37-19)
They’re on track for the first 50-win season in franchise history, and are positioning themselves to make some noise in the playoffs with the 2-seed in hand. They’ve lost two in a row, but they were tough road games against West opponents so they should be fine. It also helps to have a huge lead in the Atlantic division, guaranteeing some form of home-court advantage come playoff time.
6. Portland Trail Blazers (36-19)
This is one of my favorite teams in the league this season. Damian Lillard is a star, Lamarcus Aldridge is one of the better power forwards in the game, and now with Aaron Afflalo coming off the bench, this team is prepared to take the next step and compete deep into the playoffs.
7. Cleveland Cavaliers (35-22)
They are on an absolute tear, going 16-2 since the middle of January, being helped along by the additions of Timofey Mozgov and J.R. Smith. The Cleveland LeBrons are starting to find their rhythm, and that’s scary considering their enormous talent.
8. Los Angeles Clippers (37-20)
With Blake Griffin out, Deandre Jordan has stepped up and ensured the Clips don’t fall out of the top of the West, though they had to swallow a tough loss to the Grizzlies last night. This is a streaky team, and they’ve been playing very well of late, so they certainly hope that can continue with another big game coming up against Houston.
9. Dallas Mavericks (38-20)
A little banged up, and a tough schedule ahead, but this is still a high quality team out West that can do some damage with their scoring ability. And Dirk dunked at the All-Star game, so he’s certainly feeling alright.
10. Chicago Bulls (36-21)
There is a lot of negative energy surrounding this team, especially focusing on their uncharacteristic struggles on the defensive side. They certainly haven’t been setting the world on fire since the New Year (13-11), but they still have a lot of talent, and Derrick Rose is just trying to save something up for the postseason, so something tells me they’ll be doing just fine.
11. Oklahoma City Thunder (31-25)
Finally healthy, and very dangerous. Russell Westbrook is getting a lot of hype for the MVP now and I think they got the best out of the deal for Reggie Jackson, with D.J. Augustin filling that void more than adequately and Enes Kanter filling a need for depth down low. This team is just getting more dangerous as the season rolls on and are now easily title contenders again.
12. San Antonio Spurs (34-22)
These are still the Spurs, and in the end they’ll be fine and probably win the title again because that’s just what they do, but they don’t look like the same Spurs. They’ve been struggling on their recent road trip and it might be the year that father time finally catches them. Obviously, they’ll prove me wrong because they always do, but until then this is where they stand.
13. Milwaukee Bucks (31-25)
I love this team. I think they are built very well. They’re very young, and while this may not be their year it will be soon enough. Then they traded Brandon Knight, which certainly made me pause, but this is still a very good defensive team and still a quality playoff team, at least in the East.
14. Washington Wizards (33-23)
They may be playing horribly, but for one they don’t have Bradley Beal and they are still just way more talented than most of the East, so eventually they will get back on track and make some noise in the playoffs, they’re too good not to.
15. New Orleans Pelicans (29-27)
With OKC firing on all cylinders, life is much harder for the Pelicans, and Jrue Holiday and Anthony Davis are both banged up, which could drop them even further out of the playoff picture. However having Eric Gordon back will be nice, and this team is still talented enough to be at least a 4-seed in the East.
16. Indiana Pacers (23-33)
Rounding out the top half is a Pacers team that is playing quite well, winning 6 of 7 including a huge win over the Warriors. They are creeping towards the 8-seed in the East, and with Paul George possibly coming back they could be a scary first round opponent.
17. Detroit Pistons (23-33)
They got Reggie Jackson, which was big for them as they push towards the playoffs. We’ll see what he does with the keys to the offense, but it certainly represents an upgrade over D.J. Augustin with Brandon Jennings out. They’ve also come out of the break with two impressive victories that could be a sign of things to come.
18. Phoenix Suns (29-28)
I used to like this team. Then Goran Dragic wanted out. And they moved Isaiah Thomas And moved a likely top-10 pick. For Brandon Knight, who’s been playing well but really wasn’t a piece they needed. They put more investment in the future but also tried to salvage this season, and put themselves in a bind. Now they will miss the playoffs again and don’t have a top-10 pick to get them over the hump.
19. Brooklyn Nets (23-31)
They didn’t move the big pieces, but they moved KG for Thaddeus Young, who is a talented young power forward who could help this team push for the 8-seed in the East, though with other East teams making big improvements that might be a difficult proposition.
20. Boston Celtics (21-33)
Speaking of East teams getting better, Isaiah Thomas coming in sets this team up for an unexpected run at the playoffs, which some people don’t understand if they want to build for the future, but they are the same people who get angry at the 76ers for tanking so I just don’t understand that. They made a good move, they have some good young talent, why not make a push for the playoffs and see what happens?
21. Charlotte Hornets (22-32)
They need Kemba back. Badly. But with Kemba this is a solid team, and Mo Williams can maybe help ensure they don’t completely lose out when Kemba isn’t on the floor. They have a chance in the lowly East, so we’ll see what happens.
22. Miami Heat (24-31)
With Bosh out for the year, the addition of Goran Dragic is fairly inconsequential. I was personally excited to see those two play off each other, but now we have to wait until next year, if Bosh ever comes back. It’s a sad story that could really destroy the Heat’s playoff chances this season.
23. Utah Jazz (21-34)
Rudy Gobert has emerged as a beast of an interior defender, and the rest of this young team will just continue to get better. They have the talent, now they just need to wait for the experience to come.
24. Sacramento Kings (19-35)
They have a new, Hall of Fame worthy coach in George Karl coming to town, which could be exciting unless it drives Boogie Cousins away. They have some exciting pieces, so they are a team to watch when Karl actually gets a chance next offseason to make some moves.
25. Minnesota Timberwolves (12-43)
They got Kevin Garnett back, which is more sentimental than anything but still a fun trade to make. They are 4-4 this month, which certainly isn’t awful, and have overall been fairly competitive when at full strength, so they might be winning a couple more games.
26. Orlando Magic (19-39)
They had their first 3-game win streak in over a year and now have a coach locked in for the rest of the year. Things are looking up for the young Magic.
27. Denver Nuggets (20-36)
What are they doing? Seriously, they only moved Aaron Afflalo and continue to trap Ty Lawson in a terrible situation. This is a bad team that will just keep getting worse as this season rolls on.
28. Los Angeles Lakers (14-41)
They’re sure not good, but they’re at least a little better than the next two teams, so they got that going for them. And Kobe Bryant did an interview for Grantland in which he discussed blocking a trade away from the Lakers in 2007, so that’s a plus for the franchise.
29. Philadelphia 76ers (12-44)
Another case of what is going on? They traded away their point guard Michael Carter-Williams, they trading promising young player K.J. McDaniels, and now have an unthinkably awful line-up. In Hinkie we trust is the motto in Philly I guess. Maybe if he can get every second round pick he’ll be able to hit it big on at least one, so that could be a sound strategy.
30. New York Knicks (10-45)
They are just god awful. And with Melo out for the remainder of the year, it can only get worse for them, because I don’t know who will score at all.