NBA Power Rankings

Posted: 02/25/2013 by levcohen in Basketball

Time for a ranking of each of the NBA’s 30 teams.

TIER 1:

1. Miami Heat (40-14).. They don’t have the best winning percentage in the NBA, but #1 is the Heat’s spot to lose until they prove otherwise. Right now, they are just widening between themselves and the gap. Their winning streak has stretched to 11 games, including a home win over the Clippers and a four game road winning streak in that span that included wins over the Thunder, Bulls and Hawks. LeBron is going to win the MVP unless something drastic happens, and Dwyane Wade has quietly continued being dominant. When your top three shooters are shooting a combined 46 times per game and making more than 25 of those shots (close to 55%), you know you have a good team.

2. San Antonio Spurs (45-13).. The Spurs have the best record in the NBA, and have extended their lead over the Thunder to three games. Right now, it looks like San Antonio is going to get the #1 seed in the West, and their team looks poised to wreak havoc in the playoffs.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder (41-15).. The Thunder wrap up the big three in the NBA right now, and these three teams really won’t be judged by what they do in the regular season. Right now, the Thunder just have to be holding their breath and hoping they don’t have to face the Houston Rockets in the first round of the playoffs. The Rockets, led by former Thunder and emerging OKC-killer James Harden, could cause OKC a lot of problems. Kevin Durant, putting up 18 shots per game, isn’t even shooting the most on his team. That distinction goes to Russell Westbrook, who is shooting just 43% from the floor (Durant is at 51%). Durant needs to shoot more, even though he is already scoring an easy 28 points per game.

TIER 2:

4. Memphis Grizzlies (37-18).. The Grizzlies are now 8-3 since the trade of Rudy Gay. That includes a seven game roll that they are riding right now. This Memphis team is very good defensively. They have given up 82 points or fewer in their last three wins, which is reflected by Zach Randolph’s 46 rebounds in that span. Tayshaun Prince is obviously not the player that Gay is, but it sure looks like he fits their team better than the younger Rudy Gay did. The Grizzlies are the #4 seed in the West right now, and I think they will be happy to hold onto home field advantage in the first round.

5. Indiana Pacers (35-21).. The Pacers continue to roll. In the game before the All Star break, they beat the Bobcats by 24. In their three games after the break, they have won by an average of 28 points. Enough said. Oh one more thing: Danny Granger is back. That is all.

6. Los Angeles Clippers (40-18).. The Clippers have won five of their last six, but I still didn’t want to rank them this high, as they lost at home to the Spurs by 26. Still, they have a better record than the two teams immediately above them, so I’ll keep them here.

7. Denver Nuggets (35-22).. The Nuggets have lost four of their last six, but five of their last six games have been on the road. 15 of their last 25 games are at home. The Nuggets have a worse record than the Knicks, but I’m ranking them higher because I believe that they would beat the Knicks in a winner take all game.

8. New York Knicks (33-20).. The Knicks are the last team in tier two. They have really been struggling recently, but are still the #3 team in the East and I wouldn’t be surprised if they turned it around a little bit going into the playoffs. They need more production from guys other than Carmelo Anthony. Melo is averaging 12.4 more points per game than the second highest scorer on the team, J.R. Smith. Maybe it’s time to consider putting Amare Stoudemire back in the starting lineup. Amare’s 22 PER is close to Melo’s 23.

TIER 3:

9. Houston Rockets (31-27).. The Rockets do not have a good record, but I expect it to only get better from here. Their 106.3 points per game is second best in the NBA. Their win over Oklahoma City was intriguing, as is Jeremy Lin and his play of late.

10. Golden State Warriors (33-23).. The Warriors three game winning streak came at the perfect time: off a six game losing streak. They beat the Spurs for the first time since 2008, which might be a sign of things to come.

11. Los Angeles Lakers (28-29).. Here come the Lakers… This doesn’t mean I think they will make the playoffs, but if they played the Jazz, Nets, Bulls or Hawks right now, I believe they would win.

12. Brooklyn Nets (33-24).. The Nets will go into the playoffs as a 4-6 seed, most likely. They need everyone healthy (Joe Johnson is hurt now) if they want a chance to get deep into the playoffs, because without Johnson they are starting… C.J. Watson. Ouch.

13. Chicago Bulls (32-24).. Still playing ugly games, still without Derrick Rose, still comfortably in the playoffs… Things haven’t changed in Chi-town.

14. Atlanta Hawks (31-23)
15. Utah Jazz (31-25)
.. I’m putting these two together because both were expected to make big trades (Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson, Josh Smith all could have moved) but didn’t. They are both mediocre.

TIER 4:

16. Boston Celtics (29-27).. The Celtics now look safely in the playoffs, and could even climb to the six or five seed. They have been stumbling recently, but I think the Jordan Crawford for nothing trade was excellent.

17. T0ronto Raptors (23-33).. The Raptors have climbed into a tie for 9th with the Sixers, and they could possibly pass the Bucks. They have won seven of their last 10, gaining tons of precious ground.

18. Dallas Mavericks (25-30).. Dirk is averaging close to 20 points per game over his last nine, and he has hit more than half of his three point attempts in that time. Still, they are 5 games out of the playoffs and would have to jump the Blazers, Lakers (doesn’t seem likely) and one of the Jazz or Rockets to make the playoffs.

19. Portland Trailblazers (26-30).. The Blazers had a cinderella first half to the season, but we all knew they would end up in the lottery. Still, they look to have a bright future.

20. Milwaukee Bucks (26-28).. The Bucks are in a seemingly never ending skid, as they’ve lost nine of their last 11. Luckily for them, the teams below the Bucks haven’t exactly been playing like the Heat, so they still are comfortably in the playoffs. As a side note, if the Bucks don’t give up 130 points per game, Larry Sanders should win defensive player of the year. Look at the lineup they will be rolling with for much of each game:
Brandon Jennings-Monta Ellis backcourt (two of the worst perimeter defenders in the NBA)
JJ “I have to play defense? But I can shoot!” Redick
Ersan “I’m to small to play PF, so it’s not my fault that Al Horford scored against me” Ilyasova
Larry Sanders.

TIER 4:

21. Washington Wizards (17-37).. If I were the Heat, Thunder or Spurs coach, I’d much rather want to play the four teams directly above the Wizards than I would the Wizards. They are rolling of late, and look to be a dangerous team coming out of the all-star break.

22. New Orleans Hornets (20-37).. Quietly, the Hornets have started to turn it around. This could be a sign of things to come. After shopping Eric Gordon at the trade deadline, they held EG, who is not playing in most games since returning from a knee injury (seems to be a recurring theme, no?). Anthony Davis has a fantastic 21 PER, and Ryan Anderson continues to hit 3+ three point shots per game. The frontcourt of Davis-Robin Lopez (20+ PER) has been better than we expected.

23. Minnesota Timberwolves (20-33).. There hasn’t been many positive things to say about the T-Wolves. Hey, at least Ricky Rubio has been playing well.

24. Cleveland Cavaliers (18-38).. The Cavs are 7-6 since their underrated trade for Marressee Speights. Hey, I’m trying to find some positives. Oh, that Kyrie dude is pretty good.

25. Detroit Pistons (22-36).. Two positives: The Pistons are getting Andre Drummond back soon, and they are one of only two teams to beat the Spurs since January 11th.

26. Philadelphia 76ers (22-32).. This team is disgusting.

TIER 5:

27. Sacramento Kings (19-38).. They are a mess. But they aren’t as much of a mess as the bottom three.

28. Orlando Magic (15-41).. At least they have one guy (Nikola Vucevic) who has had a breakout season this year and is averaging a double double.

29. Phoenix Suns (18-39).. The Suns are even worse than their record indicates

30. Charlotte Bobcats (13-43).. I guess they aren’t as bad as they were last year.

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