Welcome back to the Around the NBA blog for our first edition of 2015. I am proud to announce that I have been gifted with taking over this incredible blog for the rest of the season where I can pour on my basketball knowledge, which hopefully is larger than my ego about it. I don’t expect you all to agree with me, but lets at least try to not butt heads…
Since the last time that we have done power rankings, quite a lot has changed. Trades and injuries have scurried across the league and the team that was #16 in our last issue, now sits atop of the pole.
1) Atlanta Hawks (33-8)
I never thought that I would see this day this season but here it is. An Eastern team is quite possibly the best in the league. Since late November they have gone 26-2 and that speaks for itself. In their last three games in a row, they made The Blazers, Clippers, and Grizzlies deflate like Patriot footballs. Jeff Teague is one of the better guards in the league and with the All-Star bigs that they have, and lets not forget sharpshooter Korver, this team has shown they can get it done on both ends. Good Luck Eastern Conference, there is a real team on your side of the country.
2) Golden State Warriors (32-6)
Yes they still have the best record in the NBA and yes I’m a biased Laker fan, but the power rankings are about consistency and progression. The Hawks have shown just a bit more dominance even with the Warriors taking 9 of their last 10 with a win margin of 11+ points. This team sports the Splash Bros who are both All-Stars and possible MVP’s in both this season and those to come. Their offense is unstoppable and their D is enough to hold them up for now, especially with a returning Bogut.
3) Memphis Grizzlies (29-11)
A team that we know has been the best defensive team in the Western Conference now has gained a helpful offensive weapon in Jeff Green. With he and Conley on the floor to add to the twin towers down low, this team should have a surge in offensive flow and this will not hurt the defense that they pride themselves on. Moving a new piece into the puzzle usually takes time but this switch should go smoothly. Look for this team to continue their rise in this league as we’ve seen over the last few seasons.
4) San Antonio Spurs (26-16)
Yes they are in 4th place in their division, but have you seen that division?! If the Pelicans pick up another win then every team will be .500+ in their standings and it is possible for all of them to make playoffs. Anyways, with Kawaii back for this weekend we saw that the Spurs are still the Spurs so let’s forget about them until the Western Conference Finals like we do every year.
5) Portland Trail Blazers (30-11)
This team just picked up an easy win after dropping three in a row to quality teams. Despite their recent skid, they are still a dominant team with a more than worthy player at every position. Batum needs to pick up the slack soon to really help this team flourish, but Kaman has done an excellent job replacing Little Lopez. Damian Lillard has asserted himself as a Top-5 point guard in the league and one that plays all around. He and Aldridge will look to have another playoff berth this year, hopefully one that will stretch a little further than last year.
6) Dallas Mavericks (28-13)
With the addition of Rondo, it is no doubt that this team is a force to be reckoned with on the offensive end. They have proven their consistency as a team and with this new floor general they are that much better.
7) Washington Wizards (28-13)
Hey! Another Eastern team! Their record speaks for themselves, regardless of a questionable loss to Brooklyn recently. It is almost safe to say that you will see some Beal-Wall action in this years playoffs, because we know how this conference is. Pierce has provided a veteran ship that they truly lacked and with that, this team has a bright future. At least until Pierce retires in a game or two.
8) Houston Rockets (28-13)
Another record that speaks for itself. This is the 4thteam from the Southwest Division, as I mentioned they’re beast! Minus the horrible defense by James Harden, this team has found some success on both ends of the floor. Most thought this team would whittle away without Parsons but The Beard has other plans. With Terrence Jones returning soon, look for this squad to keep that division on top of the NBA.
9) Phoenix Suns (24-18)
The team that has more Point Guards than coaches on their roster has shown that they aren’t the team that Steve Nash left anymore. Alex Len has added a necessary spark and Markeif Morris has added in all the dirty work. They have the ability to beat any team that they want at anytime. Now they just need to do it.
10) Los Angeles Clippers (27-14)
This team has all of the tools. Legendary PG, flying bigs, good shooters, the 6th man of the year, and a Championship Coach. They beat up the best teams and lose sadly to the worst. They are a team who is a toss up on any given day but in a 7-game series, good luck to their opponents. They’ll need it.
11) Chicago Bulls (27-15)
Jimmy Butler and a healthy Rose have made this team into a real competitor and not just a defensive team that finds a way to win games. With Rose’s injuries the last couple of years, the Bulls were in limbo allowing guys like DJ Augustine to take the reins of the offense. Now things seem to be in order.
12) Oklahoma City Thunder (20-20)
Give them time. They started without KD and lost Russell for a little while. Don’t forget that that is pretty uch their team. This record isn’t evident of their true greatness but they lack a lot of pieces necessary to return to the ship, especially in the Western Conference.
13) Toronto Raptors (26-14)
One of the better teams in the East without a doubt. They went through a dry spell with Demar Derozan out for a while and T-Ross hasn’t looked like himself in one particular instance yet. With that being said, they still find a way to win ball games with their divine athleticism and hard work. Derozan is back now and is getting into his rhythm again. Expect a long night when they’re on your schedule.
14) Detroit Pistons (16-25)
This team shocked the league when they fired Josh Smith instead of at least trying to trade him. They shocked the world again when they hopped on a 7-game winning streak as soon as they did it. Now that everyone on the team gets to touch the ball, and some slow wannabe Melo isn’t taking random 3’s, things are looking up. They’ve taken 11 wins in their last 14 ball games.
15) Cleveland Cavaliers (21-20)
Ya, that’s right, they’re below Detroit and rightfully so. They are lucky to be over .500 the way that they have been playing. They’re coach gets less playing time than Anderson Varejao right now and that can be an issue. It took the Heat a while to get their game together but I don’t know if it took this long. K-Love isn’t acting like the Chris Bosh that the King needs and Kyrie is not an imitation of D-Wade right now providing just points.
16) New Orleans Pelicans (20-20)
This is a squad that you will see moved around a lot in the 13-18 spots throughout the year. Thanks to their backwards performance in the last few games, beating Detroit and Toronto without Davis and then losing to Boston and Philly, they find themselves at #16 this week. AD’s injury doesn’t seem to be worrisome so Eyebrows his return dates often. I mean I browse, sorry.
17) Milwaukee Bucks (21-19)
The 2nd overall pick is out for season, their Magic Johnson in Kendall Marshall the same and Larry Sanders sits on a suspension. J Kidd truly found himself a good squad to blow the whistle for but as of right now they may be saying goodbye to their over .500 record. Props on the overall improvement though.
18) Miami Heat (18-22)
Two words. Chris Bosh. The man might as well grow his dreads back out because he is balling like he did on that team where he was also the mascot. They are holding on to a playoff spot as of now but that isn’t saying much. A surge provided by Hassan Whiteside has definitely helped in the meantime but this team went from four Finals in a row, to four losses under an even record with the swing of one player. Uneducated followers saw it coming but I truly thought they would hangout a little close to the top. Until then, just know you guys are right behind one of the NBA’s laughing stalks from last year.
19) Charlotte Hornets (16-25)
For the second straight season, the Hornets are showing month-by-month improvement. The addition of Stephenson was more than helpful, especially in this short time where both Jefferson and Kemba are out. This team is literally in the process of building but with a weak east, success is up for grabs. This team has the potential but still needs to clean up the edges. And I mean clean!
20) Denver Nuggets (18-22)
I can’t willingly bad mouth a team ran by our very own Brian Shaw so I will try to frame positively. Two seasons ago when this team made a playoff appearance it was on the backs of a high scoring and quick offense and their athleticism allowed this to be so. They have only lost Iggy and Mozgov since then but the game plan has also changed. With Shaw’s approach which requires necessary rebuilding and trading, don’t look for him to make a playoff appearance for a couple seasons.
21) Utah Jazz (14-27)
If NBA games were like shootouts where members from each team play a series of one-on-one games, then this team would probably be Top-3. Unfortunately, this is not the case and you have to play with 5. They just rolled out the green carpet for a deserving Hayward and now its time to try and find someone to help him. They have the behind the scenes guys and simply are missing another player that can impose their will upon the game.
22) Brooklyn Nets (17-24)
This retirement home of an NBA team can still play some rec center basketball. This record is probably as good as any that they have had in the D-Will KG era which is sad to see but at least they’re still balling. This team is going to have to make a decision soon about its future before their starters become older than the front office. As of right now though, injuries keep them from ever being able to progress and Lopez isn’t going to stay forever. Is he?
23) Orlando Magic (15-29)
Another team that has been in a jumble with injuries and last year’s trades and acquisitions. Afflalo led them last year and they led him back to Denver to serve under The Gaucho. Tobias and their big pick Gordon haven’t seen enough time together to really see their potential. It could be a long time till this team returns to Finals again like the Dwight days but playoffs are always in reach in the east.
24) Sacramento Kings (16-24)
This team hopped out to an impressive lead to start this year off and began to slide a bit when D-Boogie was out with an illness. Drastically, the Kings fired Coach Malone after they fell below .500 and haven’t gone anywhere since. I guess that is what you can expect from an owner who actually and strongly believes in trying to Cherrypick in the NBA. I’d love to see this team win a game with four players on defense when one of them is Ben McLemore.
25) Indiana Pacers (15-27)
With an entire new cast of faces in the blue and gold, this team may just be waiting on their savior to come back from his Joe Theisman/Kevin Ware like accident. Solomon Hill has been surprising helpful in replacing a missing Lance Stephenson but it just truly isn’t the same. They are still riding the roller coaster down that they hopped on at the end of last season.
26) Los Angeles Lakers (12-29)
Injuries have hit this team like the plague time and time again. This seemed to be a blessing in disguise due to the fact that they need to tank if they hope to have a good pick this year, but for some reason they instead are deciding to try and win games. A hasty decision, but this may be the best bad team in the league as they have kept many losses close with outstanding teams.
27) Minnesota Timberwolves (7-32)
Love is gone and Pekovic, Rubio, and K-Mart have been out for while. This team has been completely in the control of Flip and the youngins. With the third least wins in the season, this team is simply looking to teach these kids to play in this league and Wiggins seems to be getting a hold of it.
28) Philadelphia 76ers (8-32)
By the looks of it, this team is ready to snag another possible Top-5 pick in this year’s draft. That would give them a starting five of nothing but young bloods ready to ball. Until then, lets hope they can all provide each other with some brotherly love because right now, actual 76erswould probably play better ball.
29) Boston Celtics (13-25)
They will gladly take 29th. Tank you very much. (No typo)
30) New York Knicks (5-36)
What can we even say? Melo took the money and unfortunately trading away JR and Shump didn’t work the same magic that Pistons saw in releasing Josh Smith. They are hiding in their tank like Brad Pitt in the movie Fury.
The NBA is quite the beautiful place so before taking off, lets reminisce on some of those beauties in our league. Have a great week!
Daniel’s internet struggles may have resulted in this post going up a few hours late, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check out next Wednesday’s Around the NBA!