By Danny Dragin
The NBA is entering its home stretch, and that means another installment of Danny Dragin’s NBA power rankings (previous rank in parentheses).
1. Houston Rockets (1): 47-13
James Harden came out this week and said, “This is probably the best team I’ve ever been a part of from top to bottom,” which is saying a lot for someone who was on the same team as Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Houston hasn’t lost since January.
2. Golden State Warriors (2): 48-14
The Warriors held the Thunder to 80 points the other night. After the game Golden State big man Zaza Pachulia was called a dirty player by Russell Westbrook. In the midst of the game Pachulia fell on Westbrook’s knee but some are saying he meant to do it.
3. Toronto Raptors (3): 43-17
Toronto has been toying with the idea that it might try to seek some type of buyout for an unknown player. They were also seeking to get a player who could be bought out by another team but they could not figure anything out.
4. Boston Celtics (4): 44-19
Kyrie Irving is currently getting more points per minute than any other player in the NBA post All Star Break. The Celtics were undefeated entering Saturday’s game against the Rockets.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers (5): 36-25
JR Smith was suspended one game by the Cavaliers for “Detrimental Conduct to the Team”. According to ESPN.com’s Dave McMenamin, head coach Tyronn Lue said “something happened after shootaround” which they felt warranted a punishment.
6. Portland Trail Blazers (9): 36-26
The Trail Blazers are another team who is undefeated since the All Star Break, but they easily have one of the most difficult schedules in the league going forward.
7. Milwaukee Bucks (8): 33-28
Giannis Antetokounmpo left the game against the Pistons when he got poked in the right eye. He spoke after the game and explained that his vision was definitely affected but they don’t expect it to be long term whatsoever.
8. Oklahoma City Thunder (6): 36-27
So far the Thunder have not had a very pretty comeback from the All Star Break. They lost to the Warriors 112-80 and then they only beat the Mavericks by one point. Although the fans of Oklahoma City do have something to be happy about which is the acquisition of Corey Brewer who was bought out by the Lakers.
9. Washington Wizards (12): 36-26
Bradley Beal continues to impress and prove that he has the talent that is required to carry a team. The Wizards have been extremely successful since they lost John Wall, which is not what many people expected.
10. San Antonio Spurs (7): 36-26
San Antonio has not had the type of season that many of us are used to and it got even worse in their game against the Pelicans. LaMarcus Aldridge sprained his right ankle in the first quarter and tried to re-enter the game in the first half but had to leave to the locker room soon after.
11. Detroit Pistons (10): 29-32
It was reported this week that the Pistons plan to fire Stan Van Gundy if the Pistons miss the playoffs.
12. Minnesota Timberwolves (11): 38-27
Timberwolves fans had an extremely scary moment when Jimmy Butler hit the ground holding his knee after an awkward step. It came out after that he suffered a meniscus injury which required surgery. The Timberwolves hope he will be able to make it back before the playoffs.
13. Los Angeles Clippers (16): 32-27
Reports came out that apparently Doc Rivers could be a frontrunner for the Knicks head coaching position in the offseason. Although this is not the same Clippers team that it was even a year ago, they are still an extremely interesting team watch. If Patrick Beverley and Avery Bradley were healthy they would be deadly on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.
14. Denver Nuggets (14): 33-28
Nikola Jokic is a player that not many people are giving credit to. He is extremely young and has the same intangibles as players like DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis.
15. New Orleans Pelicans (18): 31-26
Anthony Davis is definitely climbing the ladder of the MVP race since the injury to DeMarcus Cousins. The other night he had 53 points and 18 rebounds against the Suns.
16. Indiana Pacers (13): 34-27
Thaddeus Young became the fifth player in NBA history to average at least 13.5 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.4 steals, 49 percent field goals, and 30 percent 3-point shooting in 800 career outings, which puts amongst names like Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan and LeBron James. No, really. It does.
17. Miami Heat (15): 32-30
Dwyane Wade managed to run the clock back against the 76ers the other night, scoring 27 points and hitting the game winner. This came after he received news that a victim of the Stoneman Douglas shooting was buried in his jersey.
18. Utah Jazz (17): 31-30
The Jazz had a huge 11 game win streak going into the All Star Break but they were not able to carry that momentum to the second half of the season.
19. Philadelphia 76ers (19): 33-27
A billboard went up in Philadelphia this past week which was asking for LeBron to “Complete the Process”. Markelle Fultz was also seen shooting before the game the other night and it looked like he was the player who was drafted number one overall.
20. Los Angeles Lakers (20): 27-34
Isaiah Thomas said this week that he was going to weigh to his options in free agency but he was focused on helping the Lakers get to the next level in the meantime.
21. Charlotte Hornets (21): 28-34
The Hornets were destroyed by the Celtics the other night 134-106 to snap their win streak. Dwight Howard was bullied by Aron Baynes the entire game.
22. New York Knicks (22): 24-38
Many are awaiting the return of Joakim Noah who many hoe could at least fill the space left by Kristaps Porzingis. It also came out this week that the Knicks could potentially eye Doc Rivers at the end of the season.
23. Brooklyn Nets (23): 20-43
D’Angelo Russell had 25 points and six assists in their six point loss to the Cavs. The Nets didn’t have what it took to fend off Cleveland and LeBron James who had 31 points, 11 assists, and 12 rebounds.
24. Chicago Bulls (24): 20-41
Currently Kris Dunn ranks fourth in the NBA for steals but he is not satisfied. A report came out this week that the Bulls “Big Three” of Lauri Markkanen, Kris Dunn, and Zach LaVine have statistically not played well together this season. Honestly I think you could look at their record to figure that out.
25. Phoenix Suns (25): 19-44
Apparently the Suns would be open to hiring David Fizdale as their head coach at the end of the season. Fizdale was fired by Memphis early in the season.
26. Memphis Grizzlies (26): 18-42
The Grizzlies have lost their last four games since the All Star Break, which prompted Marc Gasol to say “This is the NBA, not the G league.” Could this have been a slight to the Grizzlies front office who picked up players like Andrew Harrison and Mario Chalmers in the off season?
27. Sacramento Kings (27): 19-43
Sacramento seems to be the same team it was in the first half of the season losing its first four games since the All Star Break.
28. Orlando Magic (28): 18-43
The Magic are another team that has lost all four games since the All Star Break. Reports also came out that apparently the Indiana Pacers would eye Aaron Gordon during the offseason.
29. Atlanta Hawks (29): 19-43
Jaylen Morris played in his first game with the Hawks a couple hours after he signed a 10 day contract with the team.
30. Dallas Mavericks (30): 19-43
The Mavericks can only go up since the news that came out last week about the Mavericks front office being a hostile work environment, and Mark Cuban telling his players that they should tank the season to get a good draft pick.
Full article @ NBA Power Rankings: Rockets retain No. 1 spot, thanks to huge winning streak
Source: GreenStreet Blog