Chasing Down The Latest NBA News
Fun Fact: You can actually spell “awful” B-O-B-C-A-T-S. You want to know how bad things are in Charlotte? At this point, if the Bobcats were to lose their next game by fourteen points, it would just barely improve their point differential of 14.3. That Cleveland team from last year everyone thought was so bad? Their differential was 9.5. No team in the last 5 years has even had a point differential higher than 11. So if you are watching Bobcats games, do your family a favor. DVR it and wait for the kids to go to bed.
29. Washington Wizards 7-27 Last 10: 3-7 Last Month: 29
So things have to be looking up somewhat in Washington with the new head coach Randy Wittman right? That might be what you would think, but sadly, not so much. John Wall is rebounding from a rough start, but still isn’t nearly where everyone though he would be in his sophomore campaign. The supporting cast also remains predictably terrible. For God’s sakes, Javale McGee ran back on defense……while his team was still on offense. It’s going to take more than locker room sticker charts and cigarette analogies to right the ship here, I’m afraid.
28. New Orleans Hornets 8-26 Last 10: 4-6 Last Month: 28
Things in the Big Easy sadly remain anything but. Eric Gordon was supposed to try to help Nawlins with they’re Chris Paul hangover, but he is STILL out, now slated to have knee surgery that could keep him sidelined until early April. I wouldn’t be surprised if they decided to just shelve him for the season and let him recover. One of the only bright spots remains Gustavo Ayon, who has had a promising rookie season just by playing within his limits and providing solid big man play.
27. Toronto Raptors 10-24 Last 10: 2-8 Last Month: 24
Toronto would be doing alright, but it’s hard to produce wins when the best player on your team (Andrea Bargnani) is constantly sidelined with calf injuries. The team also needs Demar DeRozan to start playing with some type of consistency. His points are down from last year along with his field goal percentages, while turnovers are actually up. Jose Calderon is playing well though, enough to get some people wondering if he will be moved before the deadline, or if they will actually keep him around for whatever comes next in the Great White North.
26. Sacramento Kings 11-22 Last 10: 3-7 Last Month: 26
Sacramento is a bit of an enigma. It is essentially a team where all of the best players that you need to step up and play well and provide leadership are all younger than I am. I almost feel like packaging some of their young talent and picks after the season for a veteran starter of some kind would have this team ready to compete for a playoff spot next year. On the plus side, all reports for getting a new arena in Sac-town are positive, so it looks like the Here We Stay campaign could be a success.
25. Detroit Pistons 11-25 Last 10: 5-5 Last Month: 27
Greg Monroe is still balling out of control, looking like the next good NBA center in a league that desperately needs more talented big men. Outside of that, things remain essentially the same in Mo-Town. Rodney Stuckey is still way too inconsistent to be running this team. Brandon Knight is scoring way too inconsistently to be of much help now, but he is getting plenty of burn, averaging 30+ minutes nightly. He will develop into a fine player I believe, but the bottom line is this team goes nowhere fast until they shed the bloated contracts plaguing their roster.
24. New Jersey Nets 11-25 Last 10: 3-7 Last Month: 25
Let me level with you guys. The only reason that the Nets are even ranked this high is that I feel like the Dwight trade is imminent. And even if it isn’t, Brook Lopez is back, and should be helpful once he get back in the swing of things. Jordan Farmar and Mehmet Okur’s return should help as well. But the question here remains as it was. What is the cost of getting Dwight to Brooklyn? Whatever it is, the Nets have to pay, even if it means a year of growing pains like Knicks experienced early this year.
23. Phoenix Suns 14-20 Last 10: 4-6 Last Month: 23
Okay guys. This whole “Steve Nash is so classy not to request a trade” bit has been fun. But when the only other player on the roster playing well is Marcin Gortat, it is truly the saddest thing ever to see one of the best point guards of my generation wasting away on a team that is just too overmatched to compete. Please Phoenix. I know you and Nash have had so many good times together. But remember the old saying: If you love someone, you have to let them go.
22.Golden State Warriors 13-18 Last 10: 5-5 Last Month: 22
I thought real hard about whether or not to look to include the Dubs in this category, but then I looked at their schedule for this upcoming month and say that it is fairly light on games that I’m absolutely sure they can’t win. Don’t get me wrong though, I’d still be surprised to see this team make a run at the eight seed. Golden State is deeply flawed, needing a big man but likely having to trade Monta Ellis or Steph Curry to get one, which is a decision the team has been balking on forever.
21. Utah Jazz 15-17 Last 10: 2-8 Last Month: 15
The Jazz were off to such a hot start and then just fell off a cliff this month, winning only three of their thirteen games this month. What gives? Well, looking at their schedule, you’ll notice two things. First, the schedule got a good deal harder, with nearly all of their games this month coming against teams that either are in the playoffs or wouldn’t surprise me if they made it. Second, their early schedule was loaded with games at their own stadium, a place where the Jazz are traditionally strong. The schedule get a little lighter, but the games are still mainly away, so we’ll see if they rebound.
20. Milwaukee Bucks 14-20 Last 10: 4-6 Last Month: 19
Things were looking a lot more rosy for Milwaukee a month ago, but now the weight of their decision to compete with the current group is starting to catch up to them. Brandon Jennings is coming back down to Earth after looking like a fringe All-Star for most of the early season, with his numbers situating themselves between his promising rookie campaign and his disappointing sophomore outing. Stephen Jackson hasn’t played in ten days, and the Bucks are surely glad that they didn’t give in to his odd demand for a contract extension. If this wasn’t a Scott Skiles team, I would say an implosion was imminent. And if Jennings doesn’t shut his mouth about wanting out, it still may be.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers 14-20 Last 10: 4-6 Last Month: 18
While Kyrie Irving will (and should) win Rookie of the Year, it is still worth noting how the loss of Anderson Varejao is quickly submarining the Cav’s playoff hopes. Turns out that tough rebounders who defend and otherwise do the “dirty work” things on the court do not grow on trees. This may be for the best, actually. This Cavaliers team is on the rise, but a low playoff seed this year possibly has them running into the white-hot Heat and a certain man who took his talents to South Beach. Losing that series (as they likely would) might cause riots on the streets of Cleveland.
18. Minnesota Timberwolves 17-17 Last 10: 5-5 Last Month: 16
Things are looking better for Minnesota then they were last year, to be sure. But that said, This team is right around .500 and at the time of writing had gone 5-5 in their last ten. That all sounds just about right to me. Now if the team were able to deal Michael Beasley for some type of pieces, maybe they could make a bit of noise. But what could you get for Beas? Not too much I’m thinking. Still, if Rubio continues to develop, this team will be a force someday with the right pieces.
17. Boston Celtics 16-17 Last 10: 3-7 Last Month: 17
The Boston Celtics are so far proving all of the writers who said they were too old and not deep enough to compete to be completely correct. They have had to deal with Rajon Rondo missing time to injuries and suspensions this season, and with him out, saying the offense struggles to produce is like saying Jenna Jameson struggles to find serious acting parts. If Rondo misses much more time this season for any reason, the Celts will find the Cavs happy to take the eight seed.
16. Atlanta Hawks 20-14 Last 10: 4-6 Last Month: 6
I wrote in the last Power Rankings that I wanted to like this team more, and I know that I am being entirely too hard on them here, but something about this team bothers me. It may be the Joe Johnson’s swelling contract and declining production. It may be the injuries at the center position. I love the incredible season that Josh Smith is having, but I still see this team giving up seeding to New York and getting caught in the Miami/Chicago meat grinder.
15. Denver Nuggets 18-17 Last 10: 3-7 Last Month: 7
Injury, thy name is Nuggets. After a super-hot start, the Nuggets leveled out after Nene and unlikely team leader Danilo Gallinari were injured, only to have that compounded with more injuries to Rudy Fernandez and Ty Lawson, who has looked like an All-Star himself for stretches this season. The good news? All of these guys are due to be coming back soon, and barring more tragedy, the Nuggets should find themselves rebounding and making some noise come playoff time.
14. Portland Trailblazers 18-16 Last 10: 4-6 Last Month: 12
Fun Fact: The Blazer’s point differential of +5.6 is higher than everyone else in the conference other than Oklahoma City. The reason you can’t trust that? They absolutely annihilated the Spurs by approximately 67 kadrillion points on a night that Pop decided to rest a lot of important starters. Still, Portland is a good basketball team, but they are going to need Raymond Felton to return to his New York form to hold off the Nuggets.
13. Houston Rockets 21-14 Last 10: 7-3 Last Month: 13
Kyle Lowry, Luis Scola, and Kevin Martin are trying really hard to make me look foolish for calling for the Rockets to go ahead and blow it up before the season, but I do still have my reservations. What happens when Kevin Martin has a cold night during the playoffs? Will Luis Scola be able to continue to be productive against longer front lines like Los Angeles and Memphis? How in the world is Kyle Lowry STILL this underrated? God there are ton of great point men right now.
12. Indiana Pacers 22-12 Last 10: 5-5 Last Month: 9
And here is another team that I am likely not being entirely fair to here. But who is the go-to-guy on this team? Are we still saying its Danny Granger? Anyone else aware of the fact that he is shooting lower than 39% this year? Am I asking too many questions now? David West would be the likely recipient of some of Granger’s shots, and even his percentages have fallen some. I call this the “I don’t play with Chris Paul anymore” factor.
11. Philadelphia 21-14 Last 10: 3-7 Last Month: 8
Okay, so maybe they aren’t the world beaters that everyone thought they were, but this is still a team that I believe is to be taken seriously. Lou Williams is an assassin. Andre Iguodala is still helping to fuel a top defense in this league. So maybe the team lacks in star power. Maybe they don’t sell a lot of tickets. But they do have a ton of grit. The bad news? Their schedule for the month of March is still a murderer’s row, and they are likely to relinquish some positioning here.
10. Orlando Magic 22-13 Last 10: 7-3 Last Month: 20
So remember that time I was saying the Magic were probably about to implode? Apparently didn’t happen. Which is weird. Almost seemed inevitable. But rebound they have, in what is likely going to be a failed attempt to get Dwight Howard to stay in the Magic Kingdom. And if he does go? We probably get to see Stan Van Gundy pull a George Karl and lead an intriguing new team to an early round playoff exit.
9. Los Angeles Lakers 20-14 Last 10: 6-4 Last Month: 11
So everyone understands that the Lakers have no bench. Like at all. But I still thought it was odd to hear that they were looking to possibly sign Gilbert Arenas. So you can only imagine how strange it was when several internet sources started reporting that the purple and gold were looking to sign Rasheed “Ball Don’t Lie” Wallace. But the fact remains that without some type of productive bench and help at point, the Lakers don’t look like real title contenders this season. Desperation is a stinky cologne, and not one that entirely suits the Lakers.
8. Memphis Grizzlies 19-15 Last 10: 7-3 Last Month: 14
Guess what kids? Zach Randolph is slated to return in the early part of March. Guess what? The Grizzlies have still been pretty good without him. I would not be surprised to see a the Grizz drop a game or two before getting used to the new rotations and roles that his return will bring, but make no mistake. The Gasol/Randolph combination is almost as good as the Gasol/Bynum combination, and the Grizz have better supporting pieces. Memphis will be a tough out again this year, even for Oklahoma.
7. New York Knicks 17-18 Last 10: 7-3 Last Month: 21
So this may be (and likely is) a complete overreaction to all of this Linsanity that’s been going around, but the more I think about it, the more I’m kinda drinking the Kool-Aid on this team. The addition of JR Smith to a contending team gives them the scoring punch off the bench that they need, and if Baron Davis improves even to a shadow of his former self, then suddenly the Knicks second unit is a dangerous force. I don’t think they are ready to take Miami or Chicago, but few are. This team may be a straight murderer next year.
6. Dallas Mavericks 21-14 Last 10: 7-3 Last Month: 4
So it is appearing that we may need to throw Rick Carlisle into the “Amazing Coaches” Pantheon for the way this season is turning out. With Dirk’s shot not falling earlier in the season the team had to learn how to play together, and still play defense more than tough enough to win games. Now with Dirk having his legs back under him, the Mavs look just as good as anyone else out West. With the exception of the Thunder. Not bad for a team that many had written off to start the season.
5. San Antonio Spurs 24-10 Last 10: 9-1 Last Month: 10
Yes, I know the Spurs continue to win just about all of the games they play, and currently hold the second best record in the West after reeling off an eleven game winning streak before basically gifting one to the Blazers. But I still feel like over the course of a seven game series they will be relying too heavily on Tony Parker to create points when the three ball stops falling. And you always have a point where the three ball stops falling. Nothing says they couldn’t shock me and make a Finals trip before that happens though.
4. Los Angeles Clippers 27-7 Last 10: 8-2 Last Month: 5
This is still a team that doesn’t defend nearly as well as they need to, but the addition of Kenyon Martin is starting to fix this, and they are still leading the Pacific division over the hallway rival Lakers. Also, the fact remains that this is the best supporting cast that Chris Paul has ever had, and he has elevated his play to the point where in a world where Lebron didn’t exist, we’d be having nice long chats about Paul and Durant for MVP. Paul damn near tore the Lakers apart on his own last year. Can’t wait to see what he does with this team.
3. Chicago Bulls 28-8 Last 10: 8-2 Last Month: 3
With all the time Derrick Rose has missed with a back injury, it’s a wonder that the Bulls didn’t fall out of the top three. But everyone (with the possible exception of Carlos Boozer, as always) stepped up and kept winning games. I don’t have to tell you what a Bulls team that could find scoring outside of Rose could mean for Chicago come playoff time. I would have actually put them higher, but the competition this high is TOUGH, and basically meaningless, as any of these teams could hoist the Larry O’Brien and I wouldn’t bat an eye.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder 27-7 Last 10: 8-2 Last Month: 2
So when a team in your conference can rattle off an eleven game winning streak and still be three games behind you that should tell you something. The three-headed monster of Westbrook, Durant, and Harden is absolutely murdering the West, scoring one hundred points a night like you or I would breathe air. Much has been said about how well this team is constructed, and they are reaping the benefits now, but still. One has to wonder if the West’s glut of good teams will be a burden come playoff time.
1. Miami Heat 27-7 Last 10:9-1 Last Month: 1
Okay. We get it. Lebron James is really, really good at basketball. Maybe even better than we originally thought. The shame is that even if Lebron averaged 50-20-20 the rest of the season, the only question that matters in his career would still be unanswered. Can he win a ring? Not like he has to do it on his own. The supporting cast is chipping in beautifully, more than you could usually say last year, and the defense remains strangling. But it’s like they say. You don’t win championships in the regular season.