NBA Power Rankings
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 2/19/2010
The All-Star Game and the NBA Trade Deadline have come and gone. Most of the moves made at the trade deadline are for positioning in the offseason, which is unfortunate for the NBA, but some teams up top, most notably the Cavaliers, made moves to boost championship hopes this year.
- Cleveland Cavaliers (1)
Antawn Jamison is not Amare Stoudemire, but the Cavaliers did good here to improve even though they are comfortably ahead in the Eastern Conference. The results may not be immediate (especially after a tough home overtime loss to Denver on Thursday) but after last season Cleveland knew it could not just stand by and wait.
2. Los Angeles Lakers (2)
The Cavaliers may have the best record and the best player but a recent player poll conducted by Sports Illustrated revealed that 67 percent of the players polled believe Los Angeles will repeat. Long live the defending champions.
3. Denver Nuggets (4)
The Nuggets overcame the NBA’s top team, in the hardest place to play on a night when LeBron James went for a triple-double. That is how you open the second half of the season.
4. Orlando Magic (3)
There are not many players more valuable to their team than Dwight Howard, who leads the Magic in points, rebounds, field goal percentage, steals and blocks. The only major stat he does not lead the team in, assists, he ranks fifth in on the team with 88.
5. Utah Jazz (5)
The Jazz continue their assault on the Western Conference. First, they hold onto Carlos Boozer at the trade deadline even after desperate attempts from Miami. Then they stretch their run of 11 wins in the past 12 games with huge road wins after the All-Star Break at Houston and at New Orleans.
6. Boston Celtics (8)
The Celtics are one of the worst bets in the NBA lately but they are still a threat in the East. They bounced back from two losses heading into the break to win at Sacramento on the other side of the break. Bettors beware: Boston is 2-11-1 ATS over its last 14 games.
7. Atlanta Hawks (7)
As unbalanced as more top teams seem to be, Atlanta is just the opposite. Joe Johnson takes care of the scoring and assists, Al Horford is a force inside leading the team in rebounds and Josh Smith is the unsung hero leading the team in steals and blocks.
8. Dallas Mavericks (6)
A drop for the second consecutive week for the Mavericks who peaked at No. 3, but this drop has more to do with the teams around Dallas. The Mavericks had a bad 13-point loss at Oklahoma City to open the second half but bounced back with a 10-point win over the Suns.
9. Oklahoma City Thunder (13)
The Thunder finally make their splash in the Top 10. The All-Star Break was not long enough to cool off the red-hot Thunder, who had won six in a row and then opened the second half with a thumping of Dallas at home. The Mavericks still get the nod in the Power Rankings because of the body of work.
10. San Antonio Spurs (10)
The Spurs are almost through a wicked road trip where they have managed to go 4-2, including that impressive win at Denver. San Antonio has the pieces in place to make a run if they can hang around and stay healthy.
11. Phoenix Suns (12)
The NBA’s top offense looks to be safely on its way into the postseason as the top eight seeds are separating from the pack. The defense still ranks second worst in the NBA but it has been improving slightly and Amare Stoudemire is around for the remainder of the season as Suns’ fans have to feel they dodged a bullet at the trade deadline.
12. Portland Trail Blazers (9)
The Blazers were beginning to slip in the standings and almost on cue Portland comes up with a huge win at Phoenix and then opens up the second half holding serve at home with a 22-point thumping of the Clippers.
13. Toronto Raptors (11)
As far as devastating losses go, Toronto’s second half lid lifter against Memphis, at home, in overtime, drastically changed the forecast of this team. It went from a team on the verge of climbing into the top four of the Eastern Conference, to a team looking over its shoulder at the oncoming pack.
14. Chicago Bulls (18)
The Bulls did what they needed to do at the trade deadline (it will hurt the team this year but that is a problem with all of basketball); they dumped players for expiring contracts, created flexibility for the much ballyhooed free agent summer of 2010 and they somehow remained a competitive ball club heading into the playoffs looking like a seven or eight seed in the East.
15. Miami Heat (19)
The Heat snapped out of their five-game losing funk to reel off four consecutive wins, three on the road, to completely turn the season around. What would have really turned the franchise around was prying Carlos Boozer out of Utah but that did not happen and the Heat will pay for not getting a frontcourt presence. It will hurt them in these playoffs and it will hurt them this summer when Wade may look elsewhere.
16. Houston Rockets (14)
All signs were pointing to this team falling apart and then the trade deadline came and they look like the big winners out of the group by landing Jared Jeffries and Jordan Hill, among other players. The future looks bright for Houston, especially with Yao Ming coming back next season. However, even at three games over .500 the playoffs are looking like a stretch still for this season.
17. New Orleans Hornets (17)
The Hornets are doing an okay job of keeping their heads above water without Chris Paul, who will be out for at least another month. They are 3-5 SU without their point guard but they are slowly falling out of the playoff picture.
18. Charlotte Bobcats (16)
Bringing in Tyrus Thomas is a calculated risk but at least the Bobcats made the move. They were slowly slipping out of the eight seed in the East. With Larry Brown at the helm the Bobcats should be a tough out if they can reach the postseason.
19. Memphis Grizzlies (15)
The only thing that makes their 109-102 overtime win at surging Toronto more incredible is the fact that it came on the heels of a five-game slide and just a day after a 14-point loss at home to Phoenix. The Grizzlies are a resilient bunch.
20. Milwaukee Bucks (20)
Hey, at least the Bucks are trying. Bringing in John Salmons is not going to scare anybody in the Eastern Conference but the Bucks look poised to make a serious run at an eight seed in the East.
21. Detroit Pistons (28)
The Pistons are avoiding losing streaks finally. They have yet to lose two in a row in the month of February.
22. New York Knicks (22)
The Knicks are the big winners at the trade deadline. This season is over for all intents and purposes but the Knicks are the ones entering the summer with at least $30 million in salary cap space.
23. Philadelphia 76ers (27)
And just like that the 76ers of old are back. They put together an unprecedented five-game winning streak only to turn around and lose by 11 at Toronto and then open up the second half at home and get spanked by 27 points by the Heat.
24. Los Angeles Clippers (21)
The wheels have officially come off for the Clippers. They snapped out of a four-game losing streak only to lose six straight more. They are vying for lottery position at this point.
25. Sacramento Kings (24)
The Kings have now won four games this decade not including the NBA/WNBA Three-Ball challenge.
26. Washington Wizards (25)
This will be an awfully tough rebuilding process to watch.
27. Indiana Pacers (23)
There were rumors but in the end no trades, the Pacers may be reluctant to toy with a promising nucleus of young talent.
28. Golden State Warriors (26)
When the offense is on, it is like watching the NBA All-Star Game. In two recent wins Golden State scored 132 and 130, respectively, in wins over the Clippers and Sacramento. That is mind boggling that the third worst team in the NBA has the second-best offense.
29. Minnesota Timberwolves (29)
Years from now NBA historians will look back and never fully be able to realize how this team, who has six losing streaks of at least four games long, won four consecutive games right in the middle of the season.
30. New Jersey Nets (30)
The only team that could possibly overtake the Nets for 30th place is the Charlotte Bobcats. The Nets have now defeated the Bobcats twice. If the playoffs started right now the Bobcats would be in the NBA playoffs but yet they lost twice to the 5-49 (read that record twice) New Jersey Nets. The Nets meet Charlotte one more time, April 12, so mark your calendar. If the Nets win that game the Bobcats could be the first team in Power Rankings history to be last in the rankings but also in the playoffs.