NBA Power Rankings 3-6-15
*Photo via USA Today
1. Golden State Warriors- If you live on the East Coast and you go to bed early I pity you. This is the best team in basketball and a NBA League Pass must watch every night. Not only do they have two of the best shooters in the game, they also encapsulate fans with beautiful off ball screens and movement. Despite popular opinion they are not just an offensive machine using an absurd offensive barrage to defeat the opposition. They also happen to be anchored by great defensive players like Bogut, Green, and Iggy off the bench.
2.Atlanta Hawks- The Hawks haven’t been getting much love around the league after their crazy winning-streak ended, but they still hold the top spot in the East, which isn't going to change for the remainder of the season. Their floor spacing, teamwork, chemistry, and ball movement make them a tough out for anyone. Their starting five compliments each other so well, this team should get some more love.
3.Memphis Grizzlies- They may not be playing the best basketball right now, but they still bolster the best front court in the NBA. They are a physical throwback to 80’s and 90’s style basketball. They are not sexy, they don’t jump out of the gym or light it up from outside, but they do win. The Grizzlies play playoff brand basketball all year long and everyone faces a matchup problem dealing with Zbo and Gasol.
4.Cleveland Cavaliers- The Cavs have benefited from two things greatly, LeBron taking time off for rest and the trades they made for Smith, Shumpert, and Mozgov. Those two things have allowed the Cavs to be a dominant team over the last month. LeBron has looked like the MVP, we all know and love, well some of us love . The trades have allowed the Cavs to have an inside presence in Mozgov, another scorer in Smith, and an athletic wing off the bench in Shumpert. The Cavs are starting to look like a championship caliber team.
5.Oklahoma City Thunder- They have Russell Westbrook. Need I say more? You may be able to find dents in his face, but not in his game. They have a decent bench with the pieces received from the Reggie Jackson trade and this guy by the name of Kevin Durant, who I hear is decent at basketball expected to make a return before the post-season. I’ve even heard whispers of Durant getting up shots. This is a legitimate title contending team.
6.Portland Trail Blazers- Winners of 5 straight including a thriller over the Clippers recently this Blazers team is good. Additionally, they have a crazy determination about them when they are down by double digits winning over 50% with a record of 15-14 this year. The Wes Matthews injury is terribly unfortunate, but thankfully, for Blazers fans, they happened to secure a pretty solid shooting guard at the deadline in Aaron Afflalo.
7.Houston Rockets- They just win. Somehow, someway they manage to win. I love their grit and tenacity. Terrence Jones is starting to round into form and remind us how good he is when he’s healthy. They are deep at every position, but point guard and have one of the best offensive weapons in the association. Their only deficiency is defending dominate bigs when Howard is sidelined, which seems to be always.
8.Los Angeles Clippers- I’ve said it all year. This team has all the talent in the world, but they are at a mental disadvantage every game. DeAndre Jordan forgetting to tip in the game-winner against Portland was a perfect example of this. On the bright side Chris Paul has been playing like a potential MVP and Blake Griffin returns soon. If the Clippers can figure it out between the ears they can be dangerous.
9.Chicago Bulls- They lose Rose and Butler , but still have been finding ways to win. It seems there is always someone ready to step up in Chicago, whether its Nate Robinson, D.J. Augustin, and most recently E’Twaun Moore last night. The question will be is it enough to keep the second seed in the East, with teams like the Cavs and Raptors right behind them.
10.San Antonio Spurs – Remember when everyone was freaking out that the Spurs were done because they usually turn it on during the rodeo trip, but didn’t? Yeah, they’ve won 3 straight since then and Tony Parker is starting to look a little more like himself. Leonard has strung together some nice games and Ginobili is picking things up as well. The list of reasons to doubt this team is shorter than a Popovich 3rd quarter interview. Just wait until the playoffs.
11.Toronto Raptors- The Raptors went through a rough patch and are starting to bounce back, and it looks like Derozan is starting to find his groove again. Plus, Lou Williams has been great off the bench for Raptors, giving them another talented scorer. It might not be the sexy move resting Lowry with playoff seeding up for grabs, but it will pay dividends in the playoffs. Just remeber a healthy Lowry last postseason.
12.Miami Heat- The Heat lost Chris Bosh for the season, right after trading for Goran Dragic. That is a tough one to stomach for Heat fans. Luckily Hassan Whiteside has come out of nowhere, and has been making his presence felt in the paint. So the Heat won’t have Finals aspirations this season, but still could be a tough out in the playoffs.
13.New Orleans Pelicans- Anthony Davis is back and in a big way. This young team limped along without the likes of Davis, Holiday, and Anderson to the tune of a 6-4 record over their last ten games. Unfortunately, they probably won’t have enough to make a playoff push, but they are competitive and fun to watch.
14.Dallas Mavericks- Dirk is old, Parsons is injury prone, Monta needs help, and Rondo still can’t shoot free throws. The offense Coach Carsisle runs is one based on movement and Rondo is a dribbling machine. The parts don’t fit the system and Rondo’s “stint” in Dallas is already nearing its end. I predict they limp into the playoffs as the 8th seed because of the 6 game advantage they have on the Pelicans.
15.Washington Wizards- The Wizards have been on a downward spiral for a while now, it’s pretty crazy considering how well they were playing in the beginning of the year. Luckily for them Bradley Beal has returned, but he can only do so much. There has to be adjustments made by the coaching staff, if the Wizards want to rebound.
16.Milwaukee Bucks- The Bucks made an interesting move trading Brandon Knight, especially when you consider the season he was having for them. The only positive is they received last year’s ROY, Michael Carter-William. MCW is similar player to what head coach, Jason Kidd was, so Kidd should be able to help him reach his full potential. They will still make the playoffs, but won’t be as dangerous without Knight.
17.Indiana Pacers- The return of George Hill and David West has been great for the Pacers, and their grind out style has allowed them to hang around in the playoff race. Just in time for Paul George to come back, the question will be is he healthy enough to put them over the top.
18.Phoenix Suns- Two Wrights don’t make a wrong, but they don’t necessarily make them a playoff caliber team either. Unfortunately for Phoenix the Isaiah Thomas 3 point guard experience backfired, but only for the fact they tried the experiment. The 3 point rotation of Bledsoe, Dragic, and Thomas wasn’t bad on the court. The mismanagement of ego’s and roles was. The trade deadline drama and subsequent flipping of Dragic and Thomas was a direct result of the front office failing with conflict management. This is the definition of a fringe team.
19.Charlotte Hornets- The Hornets are kind of starting to look like the team we imagined in the off-season, and the addition of Mo Williams has been gold. Now they have Kemba Walker coming back soon, this team could be getting hot at the right time. Not to mention they play a grind it out style and limit their turnovers, a great style for success in the playoffs. The Hornets look likely to grab either the 7th or 8th spot in the East.
20.Brooklyn Nets- The Nets decided to switch back to a smaller lineup, similar to last season. A lot of that has to do with the exchange of Thad Young and Kevin Garnett at the deadline. With this change, the Nets have saw success, but still they don’t give a good enough effort on a daily basis to make anyone nervous. They will be right there for that last playoff spot, but who knows if they have enough will to go out and get it.
21.Detroit Piston- The Pistons decided to hand the keys to the franchise to Reggie Jackson. The results have been mixed, some night the Pistons look like they can be a playoff team, other nights they lose to the Knicks. Monroe and Drummond are monsters on the offensive end, but defensively have some work to do.
22.Boston Celtics- In an attempt to have a bad season, the Celtics still ended up finding their self in the playoff race for the 8th spot. The addition of Isaiah Thomas, makes them even more competitive, but still likely to come up short for the playoffs. Not bad for a tanking season .
23.Utah Jazz- The Jazz are still the most confusing team in the league. They have won 7 out of their last 10 including impressive wins over the Blazers, Spurs, and Grizzlies. The Stifle Tower has been great, Gordon Hayward is proving he was deserving of a max deal and Derrick Favors has been a pillar of consistency. They are also playing tremendous defense. Since the All-Star break the Jazz have a 87.7 defensive rating, which is good enough for first. The second best team is the Pacers who are 5.2 points worse per 100 possessions.
24.Orlando Magic- The Magic aren’t going to make the playoff, but they sure do have a nice core of players. There isn’t much for them to do, but to continue to develop their young players and prepare for next season.
25.Sacramento Kigns- King Karl has entered the building. The changes so far have been subtle, but noticeable. Aside from being blown out by the Spurs, which we can partially attribute to a brutal back-to-back from NY to SA the Kings have looked better. However, just because they beat Memphis and demolished a pathetic Knicks team doesn’t mean the turnaround is complete. There is still a lot of work to do before this team is consistently competitive.
26.Denver Nuggets- No Shaw, no problem. Since Brian Shaw was let go Kenneth Faried has been released and playing free and hard again. The Nuggets are currently on a two game heater, yes two games for them justifies a heater, and they seemed to be inspired once more.
27.Minnesota Timberwolves- The gang is all back! This team, despite being fun to watch is dealing with some growing pains learning how to play together. I’d be shocked if they remain in this position long, but it’s just hard to move them up given their current losing streak and overall record.
28.Philadelphia 76ers- The Sixers trades the reignging ROY at the deadline and want to continue to rebuild until they have every pick in the second round. Just kidding, but seriously, I don’t know what their plan is. I do know one thing Nerlens Noel has looked great this year.
29.Los Angeles Lakers- Other than people using the term Linsanity again, there is nothing to see here. They should probably just continue prepping for the off-season and fending off TMZ from turning Swaggy and Iggy into more of a story than the team’s performance. On second thought, the way the Lake show is playing, maybe they’d prefer no one talk about on court performance.
30.New York Knicks- The Knicks are not a good team at all, especially without Melo. The rest of the season is pretty much a try-out for the players currently on the roster, to see if they are worth keeping around. There isn’t much to see at MSG lately.
-By Dustin Bailey(West) and Nicholas Diesing-Fay(East)