Welcome back for this week’s edition of Around the NBA. I hope you watched this week as we had a couple of incredible performances including Klay’s record setting 3Q and Whiteside’s triple double with 12 blocks! To think if he could just pass he could get a quadruple double. Lots of exciting stuff to look at and all of it is represented in our weekly power rankings that had quite a few changes from last time we spoke. Our top four remain dominant but the other 26 did some leap-frogging.
Biggest Climb: LA Clippers +5
Biggest Drop: Orlando and Detroit -4
1. Atlanta Hawks (37-8, 0)
16 wins in a row and 30 of their last 32. In addition to that they probably have 3-4 players looking to be at All-Star weekend this year. They currently ride a 10 game win streak against Western Conference teams so don’t go saying that they haven’t played anyone either. Their 7-game pad in the East came clearly from overall dominant basketball. This team will burn you on one end of the floor or the other, and sometimes both.
2. Golden State Warriors (36-6, 0)
Of course we have to start this off with talk about Klay Thompson. His game 52-point game was just a taste of the true potential of this offense. They have the man who very well may be this years MVP in Curry, and it seems they can blow out teams whether he touches the ball or not. They’ll be tested this week in different ways with Chicago and Phoenix on the schedule.
3. Memphis Grizzlies (32-12, 0)
Started the week off with a tough loss to Dallas and walked over some easy opponents afterwards. They seem to be getting more and more into a groove of things as the season progresses and with Z-Bo on the floor they are 27-7, which is a tad bit better than the 5-5 they are without him. If Jeff Green can get going, this team could make a run but they have to work on beating the good teams. They’ll have Dallas again this week to test that D.
4. San Antonio Spurs (29-17, 0)
Still waiting for them to fall I see? Same here, but there is no reason to minus their recent game with Chicago. The Spurs haven’t been able to really play together all year and in that havoc they still pull out quality wins. Do I think they’re a championship team? Not really, but that’s how we all fell about them every year. Don’t forget Pop is a magician.
5. Los Angeles Clippers (31-14, +5)
Taking the biggest spike of any team this week is Ballmer’s Clippers!
This squad put up a couple of the most impressive wins this week with a 39-point victory over the Nets and then a 20-point victory on the road in Phoenix. They got bailed out Monday by their 6th Man of the Year who may very well be the only guy on that entire bench. If the starters keep playing the minutes they do, they can win a championship as long as they don’t run out of gas first.
6. Houston Rockets (31-14, +2)
The Warriors are truly the Kryptonite to this team. Seeing them twice in four days probably wasn’t the best thing but now its said and done and The Beard’s buzzer beater may have just put them on the good side of a little momentum. With Terrence Jones coming back soon, they may have all the tools to get it done. They better find a different seed before playoffs though, because they could be seeing the Splash Bros in the 2nd round, if they even make it that far.
7. Dallas Mavericks (30-15, -1)
Impressive road win against the Grizzlies but that was almost completely shadowed by the back-to-back losses to New Orleans and Chicago. Winning just 4 of their last nine matchups is unacceptable but we know this team can get it done. Hopefully for their sake Tyson will be good to go because they arguably the toughest next couple of weeks this season.
8. Portland Trailblazers (32-13, -3)
Regardless of win or lose, having LA play through a torn thumb is idiotic on both his and the franchises part. With that being said he is going to play through it and it would be hard to have ones performance drop with such an injury. They’ve dropped 5 of their last 7 games and although they were to quality teams, you just can’t pick up almost half of your losses in a stretch of a week. This teams future this season will depend on if LA can still stay at 20 and 10 a night.
9. Washington Wizards (30-15, -2)
Tough losses to OKC and the Blazers this week but it seems that every Eastern team, minus ATL, struggles with the West. In 14 of their 15 losses this year the Wizards have given up 101+ points to their opponent and in their other loss they gave up 99. This is black and white evidence of how much this team struggles defensively. They will surely have birth in the East but there on some offensive teams they may burn by them.
10. Chicago Bulls (29-17, +1)
This week’s final number in the top 10: West 7 East 3. Congrats to Chicago on not making it as much of a blowout and entering the top 10 for the first time. They dropped two games recently to LeBron’s old new team and his new old team but squeezed in quality wins over Dallas and San Antonio. So they can beat the West and not the East I guess… They’re of course first in their division, nearly 3rd in conference, and their Offense may be passing their respected Defense.
11. Phoenix Suns (26-20, -2)
This team pretty much only takes losses to Western teams with better records. Unfortunately, that’s exactly who they need to compete with to get to the last game of the season. 2 straight losses isn’t going to cut it in that conference when you’re trying to hold on to 8th place.
12. Cleveland Cavaliers (25-20, +3)
Timofey Mozgov , JR Smith, and Iman Shumpert may just be the glue that this team needs to win some ball games. They’re riding a 6-game winning streak that took them out of the sub-.500 club and it looks like they may not be looking back.
13. Toronto Raptors (29-15, 0)
The second placed Eastern team isn’t showing any signs of slowing or speeding up. They’ve had some easy wins but they just recently took down a hot Detroit team and Kyle Lowry is finally getting his deserved respect. The All-Star guard is driving this team to a place of power but they are going to have to last.
14. New Orleans Pelicans (24-21, +2)
Currently on a four game win streak including a hard fought win over the Mavericks. This team alongside the Suns and the Thunder will be fighting for the eighth seed so it looks and regardless of having AD, they are not the favorite of those 3. They need to clean up both sides to progress. Or switch to the Eastern Conference.
15. Oklahoma City Thunder (23-22, +1)
Like I mentioned with the Pelicans, this is another team that is fighting for the last spot. I defended them multiple times saying that Russ and Kev never got to play together but now they have and they aren’t helping me look any better. I’m just looking forward to the day when they realize that these two stars can’t win one together. They can’t even get there without Harden.
16. Miami Heat (20-24, +2)
Moving up a little from last week after a more than impressive performance out of Hassan Whiteside. He is part of the more hidden potential that is the Miami Heat. There’s a lot of rebuilding to do but that’s hard to do with both Wade and Bosh, not that they are dragging this team down. Playoffs seem like a likelihood if they can keep winning the easy ones.
17. Charlotte Hornets (19-26, +2)
7 wins in the last 9 games on the backs of their outstanding defense is enough to push them up a couple notches in the rankings. In the their last 4 wins they have held their opponents to an average of just 74.5 ppg. Big Al is back now but unfortunately it triggered the leaving of Kemba.
18. Detroit Pistons (17-28, -4)
Tied for the biggest drop of the week are the Pistons. It only makes sense after having such a huge a weird improvement that put them in the top half of the leagues teams. Three straight losses including one to the Bucks by 15 is not going to get them where they need to be, but they are still somehow better off since dropping Josh Smith.
19. Milwaukee Bucks (22-22, -2)
Finally crept up to having a possible .500 win season on their hands. They, like the team below, have tons of raw talent that Jason Kidd seems to be able to reel together better than they ever could have. Its been a rough couple of games for this squad with a nice win over Detroit sprinkled in but injuries and suspensions have hurt them all around. Luckily being at 50% is enough to be in the playoffs in their conference.
20. Utah Jazz (16-29, +1)
A thorough 35 point win over the Nets followed by a loss to the Celtics keeps us guessing about this team. They have tons of raw talent but it doesn’t seem like any of them play for the Utah Jazz. It may be more of an office problem with this team but either way it looks like this team maybe done this season already.
21. Denver Nuggets (18-27, -1)
An impressive race with the Clippers a few nights ago but still ended up on the bottom side. Their seven game losing streak is enough to drop them a rank but thanks to the horrendous performances by some other teams, they wont go far. Ty and Kenneth are gonna need some more help to get these wheels going.
22. Indiana Pacers (16-30, +3)
One nice little win over Orlando to end their losing streak, but nothing to be hyped up about. This team is looking forward to next season where Paul George may be able to lead them back to having more than 82 games in a season.
23. Brooklyn Nets (18-26, -1)
Only 2 wins in their last 12 games and they are probably lucky that they had their recent game with the Blazers postponed, because it may have been embarrassing. At least Plumlee made the dunk contest right? I’m sure that’s not just because All-Star weekend is at home for them.
24. Sacramento Kings (16-27, 0)
8 losses in their last 9 games almost proves that you should not fire coaches that far into the season. Sad to get the hopes up of patient Sacramento fans but it looks like they’re gonna be sitting in the same spot as last year despite changes.
25. Boston Celtics (16-27, +4)
Recent wins over Portland, Denver, and Utah as well as a battle with the Warriors that resulted in just a 3-point loss. I stand by my comments last week on their tanking but they sure are hiding it very well.
26. Los Angeles Lakers (12-33, 0)
Julius gone, Nash gone, and now Kobe gone. They’ve given Jordan Clarkson multiple starts. Swaggy is the worst shooter in January. It’s too painful to continuing writing so I’m just going to look back at the last decade and move on.
27. Orlando Magic (15-33, -4)
Tying for the biggest drop of the week are the Orlando Magic. Sticking on their current 6 game skid, that included the Knicks and Pacers, isn’t exactly the best idea. Aaron Gordon is back but Tobias Harris isn’t 100% and Gordon is more of a 2K player. Watching this team offensively makes me think that the organization probably misses the small taste of Afflalo that they had last year.
28. New York Knicks (8-37, +2)
The L Squad turned this team into a W squad. New York’s recent signing of Langston Galloway, Lance Thomas, and Lou Amundson literally drove the winning efforts of this squad. Hopefully the fact that these guys brought the team nearly half of its wins on their 10-day contracts is enough evidence for their extensions. Best move since ridding themselves of any and all talent.
29. Minnesota Timberwolves (7-37, -2)
Big Pek is back and looking pretty good alongside Dieng. Injuries have really left this team in the dumps and with the trade deadline approaching I think they should have other things on their mind than winning ball games.
30. Philadelphia 76ers (8-37, -2)
Its only fitting that the last ranked team has as many wins as the first ranked team has losses. They ride a six game losing streak that features losses by 35, 28, and 25 points. Perhaps their most impressive streak is the 21 straight games in which they haven’t broken 100 points.
Thanks for checking in with us this week! Make sure you stop by next week as we will keep you up to date on everything NBA and provide the new rankings. Find out where your team lands on the league food chain. Cheers!