NBA Power Rankings
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 1/20/2010
It is mid-January and that means most of the NBA talk focuses to All-Star controversy about who will compete in the dunk contest, who is “injured” and will have to miss the game, not to mention which players are getting snubbed by the fan voting. But we still have plenty of meaningful games going on and surprisingly tight playoff races.
1. Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers continue to get the nod over the Cavs here for the top spot despite their Christmas Day loss to them. A win over Orlando Monday night showed that L.A. can win without hustling for the first three quarters and without Kobe making any shots.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavaliers have been underwhelming in two games since the buzzer-beater road loss at Utah. They escaped at Los Angeles against the Clippers with a one-point win and were trailing for most of the game in a home win over Toronto. The other four Cavaliers starters may soon be questioned by an usher to show their ticket stubs if they continue to sit around and watch Lebron.
3. Dallas Mavericks
The Mavericks are 12-2 following a loss. A little stat like that means a lot at this point in the season.
4. Denver Nuggets
A 115-point and 119-point effort in back-to-back games, the only thing more amazing is who it came against, Orlando and Utah.
5. Boston Celtics
They continue to play .500 ball without Kevin Garnett but they are staying well within shooting distance of Cleveland (three games back) for the top seed overall in the Eastern Conference.
6. Atlanta Hawks
They remain inconsistent, losing four in a row then winning five of six only to lose at home to Oklahoma City on Monday.
7. San Antonio Spurs
Not the kind of team you want to let stick around, the Spurs are aging like fine wine and the infusion of youth with DeJuan Blair has been the biggest reason. They avoided what could have been a dreadful three-game losing streak with an impressive 97-90 win at New Orleans.
8. Portland Trail Blazers
The Trail Blazers have owned the Western Conference, winning 17 of 24 games there and they managed to go 2-2 in a recent Eastern Conference swing.
9. Orlando Magic
The Magic are experiencing the toughest stretch of the season so far losing seven of their last 10. Hedo Turkoglu is not having another breakout season in Toronto but he is sorely missed in Orlando.
10. Charlotte Bobcats
The unlikeliest of the Top 10 this season, the Bobcats have ascended in the NBA upper echelon with a home stand for the ages, getting past Memphis, Houston, San Antonio, Phoenix and Sacramento in the span of nine days.
11. Phoenix Suns
The Bobcats are in, the Suns are out of the Top 10, losers of their last four games, Phoenix cannot win on the road and cannot play much defense either.
12. Houston Rockets
The Rockets are finding ways to win the close games, they won two overtime games in the span of five days, a 120-114 win over Minnesota and a 101-98 win over Milwaukee. That makes three overtime wins for the Rockets this season.
13. Memphis Grizzlies
Memphis may be 10th in the West right now, but they are only two losses behind the fifth-seeded Trail Blazers; that is how tight things are in the Western Conference. Memphis has won four in a row to stay in the discussion.
14. Utah Jazz
The buzzer-beater win over Cleveland, thanks to previously unknown Sundiata Gaines, was the highlight of the season and it came in the midst of a four-game winning streak.
15. Miami Heat
Survival of the fittest when it comes to road trips and the Heat had a solid showing, splitting 3-3 and then coming home and drubbing Indiana by 30 points on Tuesday.
16. Toronto Raptors
On a 10-4 run and in a loss at Cleveland Tuesday they showed what makes them a special and dangerous team. They have plenty of big men and they can all shoot; not to mention the emergence of rookie dunk contest contestant Demar DeRozan, who the league is finally starting to find out about.
17. Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder lost back-to-back one-point games to San Antonio and at Dallas. The young team did not get disheartened -- they got even. They then knocked off Miami and Atlanta on the road in back-to-back games.
18. New Orleans Hornets
Sound the alarms, New Orleans lost a home game (97-90 to the Spurs on Monday). They are going to need to protect their home court to hang in the playoff picture. They have done next to nothing on the road.
19. Chicago Bulls
Just when you want to completely give up on the Bulls they win four in a row to close out December. Then, once Chicago fan’s hopes are up again, they lose three in a row. But the Bulls are here to stay, they put together another four-game winning streak including a win over nemesis Boston on the road.
20. Los Angeles Clippers
Four-game winning streak followed by a four-game losing streak, the Clippers are about as inconsistent as any team in the league.
21. New York Knicks
I know it is the first season but a Mike D'antonio team will not be successful when the top four scorers are forwards.
22. Milwaukee Bucks
The 55-point outbreak by Brandon Jennings may have been one of the worst things to happen to the rookie. He has never recovered and his scoring average is down to 18 points per game, although that is still impressive for a rookie.
23. Washington Wizards
Since the indefinite absence of Gilbert Arenas began, the Wizards have played inspired ball, much more than can be said for when Arenas was still around.
24. Indiana Pacers
Indiana has been getting blown out of the water in the first half and being forced to play catch-up the rest of the way. If the young Pacers can keep their head above water early on they can remain competitive the rest of the season.
25. Detroit Pistons
Only the Pistons can begin a 13-game losing streak right after a five-game winning streak and then end the losing streak with three-straight wins. The Pistons lost on Monday at New York and now welcome the Celtics to town. Who knows when they will win again?
26. Sacramento Kings
After toying with .500 for most of the season the Kings have slowly dropped off the Western Conference map. A four-game road trip proved to be enough to undo the youthful Kings.
27. Golden State Warriors
The record books are not safe with the Warriors’ defense that is allowing over 111 points per game this season.
28. Philadelphia 76ers
Maybe the most amazing thing about the 76ers this season is they could actually have an all-star. Right now the fans seem dead set on getting Allen Iverson into the game.
29. Minnesota Timberwolves
Al Jefferson is going for the quadruple crown in Minnesota. He leads the team in scoring, rebounding, field-goal percentage and blocks to name a few categories.
30. New Jersey Nets
The Nets’ current eight-game losing streak is only their third longest of the season. Reaching double-digit wins looks almost impossible right now.