With less then 25-games left this season, the NBA Playoff race is tightening up. In addition to the Playoff race, the Tank-Race is in full effect too. Take a look at this week's NBA Power Rankings to see where your favorite team stacks up against the rest of the league.
All Stats and Information were collected on Sunday (2/25/2018) at 10:00 AM EST
30) Memphis Grizzlies: The Memphis Grizzlies have lost 9-straight games and are now opting to not start Marc Gasol. It is clear that the Grizzlies are in full tank mode for the finals 24-games of their season.
Offensive Rating: 27th (102.1)
Defensive Rating: 20th (107.0)
Net Rating: 26th (-4.9)
Record: 18-40 (Lost 9 in a row)
Last Ranking: 24th
29) Phoenix Suns: The Phoenix Suns are the worst team statistically in the league. They have young, impactful players for the future so that is why they are not 30th in my ranking. The Suns however are in complete tank mode once again this season.
Offensive Rating: 29th (101.5)
Defensive Rating: 30th (110.5)
Net Rating: 30th (-9.0)
Record: 18-43 (Lost 9 in a row)
Last Ranking: 25th
28) Brooklyn Nets: The Brooklyn Nets have disappointed me here lately. They have no reason to lose games, so the fact that they have lost 8-straight means they’re just not talented enough to win the necessary games. The only solid thing about the Nets losing, is that the Cavaliers look like genius for holding onto the Nets 2018 1st overall draft pick.
Offensive Rating: 26th (103.0)
Defensive Rating: 23rd (108.0)
Net Rating: 27th (-5.0)
Record: 19-41 (Lost 8 in a row)
Last Ranking: 23rd
27) Orlando Magic: Orlando is a team that is too in tank mode. The race at the bottom of the NBA is close to 33% of the league vying to tank. Orlando has a lot of questions they will have to answer this off-season, and that first question will be addressing restricted free agent, Aaron Gordon. The Magic can easily match any offer and continue to rebuild the roster, or they could let him walk and commit to Jonathan Isaac as their power forward of the future.
Offensive Rating: 19th (104.7)
Defensive Rating: 27th (109.0)
Net Rating: 24th (-4.3)
Record: 18-41 (Lost 5 in a row)
Last Ranking: 30th
26) Atlanta Hawks: I got to see the Atlanta Hawks in person Friday evening, and they are not a good basketball team. Remember a few summers ago when they signed Kent Bazmore to a 4-year/$70M contract? During Friday’s game I didn’t even realize he was on the floor. Dennis Schroeder continues to underwhelm me, and I have doubts that the Hawks will be relevant in the East in 5-years.
Offensive Rating: 23rd (103.6)
Defensive Rating: 22nd (108.0)
Net Rating: 25th (-4.3)
Record: 18-42 (Lost 7 of their last 10)
Last Ranking: 29th
25) Sacramento Kings: The Kings are completely committed to the tank/rebuild phase of their franchise for the 10th straight season and they’ll be players in the Draft Lottery come May once again. It is rather disappointing to see a franchise that once was competing against Shaq and Kobe in the NBA Western Conference Finals, to the bottom 3 of the Western Conference on a yearly basis. There seems to be hope in De’Aaron Fox and Bogdon Bogdanovic, but outside of those 2, they are years away.
Offensive Rating: 30th (101.0)
Defensive Rating: 29th (110.0)
Net Rating: 29th (-8.7)
Record: 18-41 (Lost 7 of their last 10)
Last Ranking: 28th
24) Dallas Mavericks: The Mavericks have a solid coach and a point guard of the future. Unfortunately, the Mavericks have been in the headlines recently for all the wrong reasons. While this depressing story hangs over the franchise, we are souring the storyline of Dirk’s career coming to an end. Dallas has the right pieces to rebuild properly, but it will take time.
Offensive Rating: 21st (104.1)
Defensive Rating: 21st (107.4)
Net Rating: 23rd (-3.3)
Record: 18-42 (Lost 4 in a row and losers of 8 of their last 10)
Last Ranking: 26th
23) New York Knicks: The Knicks are not in a good place. With Hornacek looking to coach for his job, he is playing Jarrett Jack over his younger guards Emmanuel Mudiay and Frank Ntilikina. This is not what is best for the Knicks, as they too need to fully embrace tanking, so they can add talent to surround Kristaps Porizingis.
Offensive Rating: 22nd (104.0)
Defensive Rating: 19th (106.8)
Net Rating: 22nd (-2.9)
Record: 24-37 (Lost 9 of their last 10)
Last Ranking: 22nd
22) Chicago Bulls: The Chicago Bulls have never been the same since Scottie Pippen, Phil Jackson and Michael Jordan left the Bulls following their Finals victory in 1998. During that timeframe we have seen them rebuild 3-times. So, in 20-years the Bulls have tried to rebuild their roster numerous times and to no avail. They were extremely close with Rose, but once injuries got the best of him, they were doomed. I think the league is a better place when Chicago is in the playoff hunt, but it won’t be happening soon.
Offensive Rating: 28th (101.8)
Defensive Rating: 26th (108.4)
Net Rating: 28th (-6.6)
Record: 20-39 (Lost 8 of their last 10)
Last Ranking: 27th
21) Los Angeles Lakers: The Lakers have a solid future ahead of them. Julius Randle often gets critiqued for his play, but I am a fan of his game. Randle recorded a triple-double Friday evening and continues to impress as the season prolongs. Lonzo Ball has been injured often this season, and it should concern Lakers fans, because this could be more of a problem then his father.
Offensive Rating: 25th (103.2)
Defensive Rating: 12th (105.6)
Net Rating: 21st (-2.4)
Record: 25-34 (Winners of 6 of their last 10)
Last Ranking: 21st
20) Detroit Pistons: Since the Pistons traded for Blake Griffin they have gone 6-5. They are 5-5 in the games that Blake has played. After a hot start, the Pistons have cooled off and as I always say “water has met its’ level”.
Offensive Rating: 20th (104.6)
Defensive Rating: 11th (105.2)
Net Rating: 19th (-0.6)
Record: 28-30 (Winners of 6 of their last 10)
Last Ranking: 17th
19) Miami Heat: After looking like a top team in the East, the Heat have been on the unlucky side of things. In their last 10-games, 5 of the Heat’s losses have been 1-possession games. The Heat have a relatively light schedule the remainder of the season, so Heat fans can expect to be on the positive side of some of those losses they have received recently.
Offensive Rating: 24th (103.3)
Defensive Rating: 7th (104.1)
Net Rating: 20th (-0.8)
Record: 31-29 (Losers of 8 of their last 10)
Last Ranking: 16th
18) Charlotte Hornets: In the Hornets 3-game winning streak they are 5th in offensive rating and 6th in defensive rating. The Hornets are only 4.5 games back of the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference. I don’t expect them to make the playoffs, but they are going to push for it. Also, keep an eye out on the Hornets front-office moves for this summer. There could be a huge shakeup in Charlotte, even if it is a year or two, too late.
Offensive Rating: 15th (105.4)
Defensive Rating: 14th (105.7)
Net Rating: 18th (-0.3)
Record: 26-33 (Winners of 3 straight and 6 of their last 10)
Last Ranking: 20th
17) Los Angeles Clippers: The Clippers are fighting hard every single night and are looking to make a push to get in the playoffs. The Pelicans are without Cousins for the remainder of the season and that has given both LA and Utah optimism to try and make a late season push. Lou Williams continues to be the focal point for this offense.
Offensive Rating: 9th (107.4)
Defensive Rating: 17th (106.4)
Net Rating: 13th (1.0)
Record: 31-37 (Winners of 7 of their last 10)
Last Ranking: 19th
16) San Antonio Spurs: The Spurs are in trouble. Pop has publicly made it known that he is beyond frustrated with Kawhi Leonard and his injury situation. The Spurs are not a threat in the Western Conference without Kawhi. This is a huge disappointment to many Spurs fans around the NBA, but if they don’t fix their problems on the court, they could fall even further down the standings than 4th.
Offensive Rating: 16th (105.3)
Defensive Rating: 2nd (102.2)
Net Rating: 6th (3.1)
Record: 35-25 (Losers of 4 straight and 7 of their last 10)
Last Ranking: 6th
15) Oklahoma City Thunder: I am still a believer in OKC, especially come playoff time. The loss of Andre Roberson is troublesome, but Paul George, Steven Adams and Russel Westbrook are too talented. They are struggling some right now, but I believe this ship will be righted. With injuries to Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler, the Thunder have a very solid shot of becoming the 3rd overall seed in the Western Conference.
Offensive Rating: 12th (106.8)
Defensive Rating: 8th (104.3)
Net Rating: 8th (2.5)
Record: 34-27 (Losers of 6 of their last 10)
Last Ranking: 10th
14) New Orleans Pelicans: I love what the Pelicans are doing, winning 4-games in a row. During their 4-game winning streak the Pelicans have led the league in Pace at 107.14. Alvin Gentry may have found something that he can hang his hat on the remainder of the season, to ensure that his team doesn’t miss out on the postseason, despite the loss of Cousins.
Offensive Rating: 8th (107.6)
Defensive Rating: 18th (106.7)
Net Rating: 14th (0.9)
Record: 32-26 (Winners of 4 in a row)
Last Ranking: 13th
13) Minnesota Timberwolves: The Timberwolves have been mediocre at best the last 10-games. After Saturday’s game, heartbreaking news followed, the Wolves will be without All-Star Forward, Jimmy Butler (yes, he was an All-Star, he just decided to REST). The load will have to be lifted by All-Star Karl Anthony Towns and veteran leaders Jeff Teague and Taj Gibson. I still believe in the talent of the Wolves, but I am fearful that they will get leap frogged by the likes of Portland, Denver and Oklahoma City if they can’t find the perfect game plan to patch the loss of Butler.
Offensive Rating: 3rd (111.3)
Defensive Rating: 25th (108.3)
Net Rating: 7th (2.9)
Record: 37-26 (Winners/Losers of 5 of the Last 10 Games)
Last Ranking: 5th
12) Milwaukee Bucks: Milwaukee looked incredible in their win against the Raptors on Friday night. The Bucks are still figuring things out with Parker returning to the lineup, but they can only get better from here. Kudos to Jason Terry as well for making big plays when called upon despite his inconsistency in the rotation.
Offensive Rating: 10 (107.4)
Defensive Rating: 16th (106.1)
Net Rating: 12th (1.3)
Record: 33-25 (Winners of 7 of their last 10)
Last Ranking: 8th
11) Utah Jazz: The Utah Jazz have been on fire recently. In the last 14-games the Jazz are number 1 in Defensive Rating. They are hanging their hats on the defensive end of things and running an offensive system that fits their makeup perfectly. It is still yet to be determined if they can sneak into the playoffs before the season is over, but if they play like they were before the All-Star Break (and not the two games after) it would be hard to bet against them.
Offensive Rating: 14th (105.5)
Defensive Rating: 6th (103.7)
Net Rating: 10th (1.8)
Record: 31-29 (Winners of 12 of their last 13)
Last Ranking: 15th
10) Washington Wizards: No Wall, no problem. The Wizards have been playing well for John Wall being on the shelf. I get that Wall is the face of the franchise and that the Wizards are a deeper team with Wall on the floor, but I really like what I am seeing from Beal and Porter with Wall not on the court. These two players are thriving in Scott Brooks system and you have to wonder if John Wall will be willing to play off the ball more once he returns.
Offensive Rating: 11th (107.3)
Defensive Rating: 13th (105.7)
Net Rating: 11th (1.6)
Record: 34-25 (winners of 7 of their last 10)
Last Ranking: 7th
9) Portland Trailblazers: The Blazers are an above-average, average team. I know, that doesn’t make since entirely, but what I am trying to say is that the Blazers are easily better than 15-18 teams in the NBA, but after that, they are just average. With 22-games left in the season, I would love to see the Blazers make a crazy push for the 3rd seed in the Western Conference. They have the talent to do it, but as we have seen in past seasons, the Blazers could wind up just making the playoffs on the last day of the season.
Offensive Rating: 17th (105.3)
Defensive Rating: 9th (104.6)
Net Rating: 15th (0.7)
Record: 34-26 (Winners of 3-straight and 6 of their last 10)
Last Ranking: 12th
8) Denver Nuggets: NBA Twitter blew up this summer about Nikola Jokic and I was all excited to watch that hype train cruise into the sunset as the Nuggets Center wins Most Improved Player of the Year. However, that is not what happened the first half of the season. We would see flashes of Jokic’s greatness, but it was never a consistent thing. During the last month or so, Jokic has started playing like the player peopled raved about this summer. I believe the Nuggets are the most underrated team in the Western Conference and are the biggest threat to upset a top seed come April.
Offensive Rating: 6th (108.4)
Defensive Rating: 24th (108.0)
Net Rating: 17th (0.4)
Record: 33-26 (Winners of 4-straight and 7 of their last 10)
Last Ranking: 14th
7) Indiana Pacers: The Indiana Pacers have one of the toughest schedules remaining for the season. In the month of March, they have a game every other day. This schedule could really make or break the Pacers, because they still have a chance to get into a top-4 seed in the East. Indiana currently sits 1.5 behind the 3rd place Cavaliers, but if they do wind up in a tie with Cleveland, they have already won the season series 3-1. The return of Glenn Robinson III will help increase the athleticism on this team, and once Darren Collison returns from his knee surgery rehab, this Pacers squad could be a real threat in the Eastern Conference.
Offensive Rating: 7th (108.4)
Defensive Rating: 15th (106.0)
Net Rating: 9th (2.4)
Record: 34-25 (Winners of 4-straight and 8 of their last 10)
Last Ranking: 9th
6) Philadelphia 76ers: The 76ers are one of the hottest teams in the league right now. With Joel Embiid able to play back-to-back games now, the 76ers are going to be a force in the Eastern Conference. In this 7-game winning streak the 76ers are 2nd in defensive rating and 4th in net rating. They have been a top-3 team in the league the last 7-games.
Offensive Rating: 13th (105.8)
Defensive Rating: 3rd (102.7)
Net Rating: 5th (3.1)
Record: 32-25 (Winners of 7-straight games)
Last Ranking: 18th
5) Cleveland Cavaliers: The Cavaliers are excited about their moves at the trade deadline. While the moves are significant upgrades, they are still going to miss Kevin Love. They acquired four solid role players, but nobody who can help take over a game like Kyrie Irving did last season. While I sill think Cleveland is the favorite to win the East, you have to worry about their lack of star talent outside of LeBron.
Offensive Rating: 5th (109.8)
Defensive Rating: 28th (109.3)
Net Rating: 15th (0.5)
Record: 35-23 (Winners of 6 of their last 10)
Last Ranking: 11th
4) Boston Celtics: The Celtics offense is a little low for me to really believe in them as a contender in the East. You can’t argue on how great their defense has been all season long, but they are going to need help from their young starters Tatum and Brown come playoff time. I am excited to see the type of player Tatum is come playoff time. If he relishes in the moment, he could be a major x-factor for them. Other than that, Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart are going to be huge contributors to their success.
Offensive Rating: 18th (104.8)
Defensive Rating: 1st (101.0)
Net Rating: 4th (3.8)
Record: 42-19 (Winners of 6 of their last 10)
Last Ranking: 3rd
3) Golden State Warriors: Golden State is still the team to beat in the NBA, despite their inconsistent play over the last 10-games. After their dominating win over the Thunder Saturday, questions begin to rise about the careless play and acts of Zaza Pachulia. Watching the tape over and over, I have to agree that it was excessive and unnecessary, similar to his play on Kawhi Leonard in the Western Conference Finals. The NBA will be monitoring this closer than before, and the Warriors need to monitor his actions too. The last thing you want if you’re the Warriors is your starting center out of the rotation in a crucial playoff series.
Offensive Rating: 1st (114)
Defensive Rating: 103.5 (5th)
Net Rating: 1st (10.5)
2) Toronto Raptors: I find it hysterical that every NBA podcast over the past three weeks has been raving about the Raptors, but they always start off by saying, “I want to talk about a team that nobody is talking about. I want to talk about the Toronto Raptors”. It’s like, hello, everyone is noticing the Raptors now, and rightfully so. Toronto has been phenomenal this season. There are still going to be concerns come playoff time because that is where it matters the most, and that is where the Raptors have struggled the most. I am all on board for the job Casey has done and like Charles Barkley has been saying, the Raptors are the best team in the Eastern Conference.
Offensive Rating: 4th (110.7)
Defensive Rating: 4th (102.8)
Net Rating: 7.9 (3rd)
Record: 41-17 (Winners of 8 of their last 10)
Last Ranking: 4th
1) Houston Rockets: The Rockets have been the hottest team in the NBA the last month. Their willingness to share the basketball and defend ensures they are a team destined to for greatness come April, May and June. Everyone is proclaiming the Rockets to be the biggest threat to the Warriors, but that job is much easier said than done. The Rockets will be a legitimate threat if they can overcome their ghosts of playoffs past.
Offensive Rating: 2nd (113.4)
Defensive Rating: 10th (104.7)
Net Rating: 2nd (8.8)
Record: 45-13 (Winners of 11-straight games)
Last Ranking: 2nd
30) Orlando Magic: The Orlando Magic look to be (huge) sellers come this week's Trade Deadline. Lots of changes on the way for Orlando.
Overall Record: 15-36
Previous Rank: 29th
Last 5-Games Stats: Offensive Rating: 111.9 (8th) Defensive Rating: 114.4 (29th) Net Rating: -2.5 (20th)
29) Atlanta Hawks: The Atlanta Hawks are a team that is in transition. They could either be active or non-active come this week's NBA Trade Deadline. I expect this rebuild to last 3 to 5-years. The positive, Atlanta's front-office and coaching staff seem to all be on the same page.
Overall Record: 16-37
Previous Rank: 30th
Last 5-Games Stats: Offensive Rating: 108 (15th) Defensive Rating: 119.1 (30th) Net Rating: -11.1 (28th)
28) Sacramento Kings: The Kings have a talented point-guard in De'Aaron Fox. While they did hit on their Lottery-Level pick, I believe they will regret trading the 10th overall pick for picks 15 and 20. Harry Giles and Justin Jackson might be role players one day, but had Sacramento kept their 10th overall pick, they could have drafted Rookie of the Year candidate, Donovan Mitchell. This is what makes being a Kings fan so hard.
Overall Record: 16-36
Previous Rank: 28th
Last 5-Games Stats: Offensive Rating: 102.8 (23rd) Defensive Rating: 107.9 (13th) Net Rating: -5.1 (21st)
27) Chicago Bulls: The Bulls traded away Nikola Mirotic for New Orleans 1st overall pick, Jameer Nelson, Tony Allen and Amir Osik. The Bulls are completely focused on their "youth movement" so dealing Mirotic was best for everyone involved. Chicago has elected to waive Tony Allen but they will keep Jameer Nelson. Nelson is a terrific professional, and his experience will be helpful for the young players on this team (specifically, Kris Dunn).
Overall Record: 18-34
Previous Rank: 24th
Last 5-Games Stats: Offensive Rating: 99.5 (27th) Defensive Rating: 113.0 (27th) Net Rating: -13.6 (29th)
26) Dallas Mavericks: Many Mavericks fans have accepted that their season is all but over, and many are embracing 'tank mode'. I have to agree with these Mavericks fans. While Dallas still has solid talent, they are multiple years away from being anything special. The first move was drafting Dennis Smith Jr. The next move, will once again have to come in this year's draft.
Overall Record: 17-36
Previous Rank: 27th
Last 5-Games Stats: Offensive Rating: 98.4 (29th) Defensive Rating: 104.8 (10th) Net Rating: -6.4 (23rd)
25) Phoenix Suns: Aside Devin Booker, this Suns team is a mess. Marquese Chriss allegedly got into a verbal altercation with a Suns' assistant coach. Chris Haynes from ESPN reported that Chriss would be serving a one-game suspension. A team of dysfunction and problems stems from the top, down. This front office in Phoenix has been awful in decision making, despite their one lucky move of drafting Devin Booker. A complete overhaul from management, to coaching staff to players is a must, if Phoenix wants to be taken seriously, ever again.
Overall Record: 18-35
Previous Rank: 26th
Last 5-Games Stats: Offensive Rating: 97.3 (30th) Defensive Rating: 112.1 (24th) Net Rating: -14.8 (30th)
24) Memphis Grizzlies: The Grizzlies have a roster full of unknown guys. They're in a weird situation right now, but I expect them to be active during this week's trade deadline, this off-season and during the NBA Draft. With too much money tied up in Marc Gasol, Mike Conley Jr. and Chandler Parsons, they will have to make big decisions on the direction this franchise wants to go.
Overall Record: 18-34
Previous Rank: 23rd
Last 5-Games Stats: Offensive Rating: 102.7 (24th) Defensive Rating: 110.2 (21st) Net Rating: -7.5 (25th)
23) Brooklyn Nets: With no intentions to tank, the Nets have been playing a brand of basketball that is fun to watch. Kenny Atkinson continues to impress, as his team is growing in all areas of their game. While they still don't have 'the guy' in Brooklyn, they have some nice pieces to go around their future face of the franchise. This is the last season we will have to hear about Brooklyn not having their number one overall pick. Nets' fans have to be ecstatic for the future.
Overall Record: 19-34
Previous Rank: 25th
Last 5-Games Stats: Offensive Rating: 101.9 (25th) Defensive Rating: 112.5 (25th) Net Rating: -10.7 (27th)
22) New York Knicks: The Zen-Master really screwed the New York Knicks when he signed free-agent center Joakim Noah to a 4-years/$72M contract in the summer of 2016. With Noah not set to come off the books till 2020, this contract is all but unmovable. The Knicks have asked Noah to take a leave of absence after his "lengthy disconnect" with head coach, Jeff Hornacek and his staff. The only way that I can see New York ridding themselves of this problem is by pairing Noah with their 2018 draft pick. This would not be a popular move, but this is the price you will have to pay to unload the problem.
Overall Record: 23-31
Previous Rank: 22
Last 5-Games Stats: Offensive Rating: 100 (26th) Defensive Rating: 101.7 (6th) Net Rating: -1.7 (19th)
21) Los Angeles Lakers: The Lakers are expected to make some big changes heading into the off-season. With Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. all placed on the trade-block, I expect them to be extremely active before the trade-deadline. Los Angeles is still hoping to lure a big-time free agent to sign with this franchise.
Overall Record: 21-31
Previous Rank: 18th
Last 5-Games Stats: Offensive Rating: 104.2 (20th) Defensive Rating: 109.6 (17th) Net Rating: -5.5 (22nd)
20) Charlotte Hornets: There are so many questions to be answered regarding the future of this team. Kemba Walker is reportedly available for an All-Star level talent in return. Marvin Williams is OUT with an ankle injury. Nicolas Batum has been underwhelming since signing his 5-year/$120M contract in 2016. This means that the Hornets have a lot of money invested in role players, preventing them for cap flexibility to strengthen their roster. It is apparent that the Hornets will make a move at some point in the next 6-months.
Overall Record: 22-29
Previous Rank: 21st
Last 5-Games Stats: Offensive Rating: 114.1 (4th) Defensive Rating: 111 (23rd) Net Rating: 3.1 (10th)
19) Los Angeles Clippers: It was the shot heard round the NBA world Monday evening. After promising the highly coveted free agent a career of bliss as the face of the Clippers franchise, the front office in Los Angeles traded their star Blake Griffin. Blake Griffin was dealt to the Detroit Pistons for: a 1st and 2nd round draft pick, Boban Marjanovic, Tobias Harris and Avery Bradley. While many praised the Clippers for moving this lengthy and loaded contract, I think this move will come back to hurt the Clippers in the future. With trade talks of DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams, you are now embracing a complete rebuild. If you were wanting to rebuild this team, why did you invest $64M/3-years for Danilo Gallinari? I get that Jerry West rebuilt the Warriors and they are the best team in the NBA, but Stephen Curry is a once in a lifetime player. The Clippers will have a lot to prove to their franchise going forward, but I am worried that this move will bite Los Angeles in the butt.
Overall Record: 26-25
Previous Rank: 17th
Last 5-Games Stats: Offensive Rating: 103.4 (21st) Defensive Rating: 100.9 (5th) Net Rating: 2.5 (11th)
18) Philadelphia 76ers: The 76ers are sitting at .500 with a 25-25 record. With a half game lead over the Detroit Pistons, the 76ers will have to take care of business for the remaining 32-games. With that said, Philadelphia only faces 13 opponents with a record of .500 or better. Embiid played his first back-to-back game on Saturday against the Pacers. The 76ers are a much better team with Embiid on the court, so if playing him every night is an option, I think Philly should do that. However, monitoring his minutes will be key, since Embiid is injury-prone.
Overall Record: 25-25
Previous Rank: 7th
Last 5-Games Stats: Offensive Rating: 106.7 (17th) Defensive Rating: 113.7 (28th) Net Rating: -7.0 (24th)
17) Detroit Pistons: The Pistons made a blockbuster deal on Monday evening, acquiring 5-time NBA All-Star Blake Griffin. Hoping to make some noise in the Eastern Conference, the Pistons threw all their cards on the table and acquired a perfect piece to play alongside Andre Drummond. In the deal, Detroit also acquired Brice Johnson and Willy Reed. They parted ways with a 1st round pick, a 2nd round pick, Boban Marjanovic, Tobias Harris and Avery Bradley. The weakness for Detroit is their bench and their back court. While I applaud the efforts of Stan Van Gundy and the Pistons' front office for making a deal to improve, I am hesitant to love this trade. Detroit will have to hit on a trade or two, to solidify the back court and make this team a contender in the East. Regardless, this deal gives Pistons' fans something to cheer about.
Overall Record: 25-26
Previous Rank: 20th
Last 5-Games Stats: Offensive Rating: 110.3 (10th) Defensive Rating: 110.8 (22nd) Net Rating: -0.5 (15th)
16) Miami Heat: Earlier this week, the Miami Heat had a chance to surpass Cleveland as the 3rd best team in the Eastern Conference. 3-games later, they find themselves as the 7th best team in the Eastern Conference with losses to Cleveland, Detroit and Philadelphia. While Miami might be hitting a bad stretch right now, they should be ecstatic to hear that point guard, Goran Dragic is going to Los Angeles to represent the Heat in the 2018 All-Star Game. This honor should've been given to Dragic prior to the 3, Team LeBron injuries, but it is what it is. Miami could be a bit of a wild card here before the trade deadline. This is one team I would keep my eyes on.
Overall Record: 29-24
Previous Rank: 10th
Last 5-Games Stats: Offensive Rating: 99.2 (28th) Defensive Rating: 100.0 (4th) Net Rating: -0.7 (16th)
15) Utah Jazz: The Jazz have won 5-straight games. This is the longest, current winning-streak in the NBA. With rumors looming all season long on Rodney Hood, Joe Johnson and Derrick Favors, the Jazz could make a move any day now. It would be smart for Utah to play it safe and not rush to make a deal, but if the right deal comes along, they will pounce on it. This 5-game stretch has been impressive thanks to the play of Ricky Rubio. During this stretch, Rubio is averaging 19.2 points per game on 56% shooting and 8.0 assists per game. The Jazz might still be able to squeeze into the 8th seed of the Western Conference, but it will be a long journey the remainder of the season.
Overall Record: 24-28
Previous Rank: 19th
Last 5-Games Stats: Offensive Rating: 112.8 (7th) Defensive Rating: 96.7 (1st) Net Rating: 16.2 (1st)
14) Denver Nuggets: Denver desperately needs a backup point-guard. Jamal Murray, Gary Harris and Nikola Jokic have been really fun to watch all season long, but they are in need of some bench help to solidify a late-season playoff push. I am anxious to see how Millsap's return effects this team down the stretch. His return from injury could be equivalent to acquiring a player via trade before the trade deadline.
Overall Record: 28-25
Previous Rank: 13th
Last 5-Games Stats: Offensive Rating: 109.6 (14th) Defensive Rating: 109.9 (19th) Net Rating: -0.3 (14th)
13) New Orleans Pelicans: I applaud the Pelicans for making a move to complement Anthony Davis. I also applaud the Pelicans for finally being able to rid themselves of the horrible Amir Osik contract. Losing Tony Allen and Jameer Nelson won't be a back breaker, especially since you're adding in a power forward that has been terrific this season stretching the floor. I think New Orleans will still look to make another move before the deadline, but they don't have much cap flexibility to do that easily. It would have been a much more productive season had Solomon Hill not went out with an injury. Hill is a solid wing-stretch four that can provide the Pelicans with defense and shooting. The friendliest contract on New Orleans is E'Twaun Moore's. It would be hard for New Orleans to deal Moore because he has been a big part of their rotation, but it might be the only contract viable to unload for a player of equal or greater value.
Overall Record: 28-24
Previous Rank: 6th
Last 5-Games Stats: Offensive Rating: 105.2 (19th) Defensive Rating: 106.2 (11th) Net Rating: -1.0 (17th)
12) Portland Trailblazers: Portland is one of the most interesting teams of the NBA the last few seasons. They've got an All-Star point guard, a star at shooting guard and a head coach that the team leaders have endorsed. There are a lot of holes on this roster and they are a few moves away from being able to compete with the upper echelon teams of the Western Conference.
Overall Record: 29-24
Previous Rank: 12th
Last 5-Games Stats: Offensive Rating: 109.5 (13th) Defensive Rating: 107.3 (14th) Net Rating: 2.2 (12th)
11) Cleveland Cavaliers: Kevin Love was unfortunately injured this week with a broken hand. Love is expected to miss 6-8 weeks of action. This injury comes at the worst time possible for the struggling Cavaliers. The Cavaliers are 0-8 in their last 8-games on national television. I am tired of seeing the Cavaliers on my television screen every night there is a "big game" on. The constant talk of what the Cavaliers should do, is getting extremely old. I am ready for the NBA trade deadline to get here so we can see what moves Cleveland makes.
Overall Record: 30-21
Previous Rank: 15th
Last 5-Games Stats: Offensive Rating: 103.1 (23rd) Defensive Rating: 104.4 (8th) Net Rating: -1.3 (19th)
10) Oklahoma City Thunder: Oklahoma City is going to miss the defensive presence of shooting guard, Andre Roberson. Terrance Ferguson and Alex Abrines will fill the role for the remainder of the season, unless the Thunder make a trade before Thursday. This is a team that feels like they'll make a deal before the trade deadline. With Paul George's free agency looming, the Thunder will want to show Paul that they are all in. Oklahoma City is going through a bit of a rough stretch, but once they come back from the All-Star Break, I expect them to be a top-4 team in the West.
Overall Record: 30-24
Previous Rank: 3rd
Last 5-Games Stats: Offensive Rating: 110.1 (11th) Defensive Rating: 109.5 (18th) Net Rating: 0.6 (13th)
9) Indiana Pacers: The Pacers have been playing some terrific basketball as of late. Winners of 6 of their last 8, the Pacers currently sit as the 6th seed in the Eastern Conference (.002 % behind 5th seed Milwaukee). Indiana has the 4th most home wins in the Eastern Conference and the 6th most road wins in the Eastern Conference. I don't anticipate the Pacers being players come the trade deadline, but Kevin Pritchard might catch us by surprise, just like he did when he acquired Sabonis and Oladipo.
Overall Record: 30-24
Previous Rank: 11th
Last 5-Games Stats: Offensive Rating: 114.1 (4th) Defensive Rating: 109.9 (20th) Net Rating: 4.2 (8th)
8) Milwaukee Bucks: Since Jason Kidd was fired, the Bucks have went 6-1. Jabari Parker made his return to the roster Friday night against the New York Knicks. The return of Parker is as good as a trade acquisition at this point in the season. Milwaukee still needs a center to solidify the middle, but they will be a tough out in the East with their current roster.
Overall Record: 29-23
Previous Rank: 16th
Last 5-Games Stats: Offensive Rating: 108.5 (15th) Defensive Rating: 99.6 (3rd) Net Rating: 8.9 (4th)
7) Washington Wizards: After John Wall suffered an injury that would keep him out 6-8 weeks, the Wizards went on (and are still on) a 4-game winning streak. Not only is Bradley Beal playing terrific in Wall's absence, Otto Porter is stepping up too. During the last 5-games, the Wizards are number one in the league in assists (31.4). How is it that the Wizards lose their leading assist man, but jump up in team assists. I know people love John Wall, but he is a ball dominant point guard who hurts the efficiency of the offense. I will be eager to see how the rest of the season goes for Washington without John Wall. If they are significantly better, would it be smart to consider moving John Wall? Not saying they should, but it would be worth pondering.
Overall Record: 30-22
Previous Rank: 14th
Last 5-Games Stats: Offensive Rating: 115.0 (2nd) Defensive Rating: 107.0 (12th) Net Rating: 8.0 (6th)
6) San Antonio Spurs: Although the Spurs have been winning games and proving to us why their system is magic, I don't feel as confident in them as I have in years' past. This Kawhi Leonard injury seems to be worse than they are letting us believe, but that is just the way the Spurs are. They keep things in-house. Despite my gut feeling about this team, I still am a huge believer in Gregg Popovich. This is a team that could play spoiler to a handful of teams in the Western Conference.
Overall Record: 34-21
Previous Rank: 9th
Last 5-Games Stats: Offensive Rating: 105.3 (18th) Defensive Rating: 113.0 (25th) Net Rating: -7.7 (27th)
5) Minnesota Timberwolves: Minnesota will have to unload Shabazz Muhammad sooner rather than later. According to Adrian Wojnarowski, Muhammad is seeking a trade or release. Since Muhammad has been taken out of the rotation for Minnesota, he has grown increasingly frustrated with how he has been handled this season. The Timberwolves have made the right move in not playing him though, as their defense and offense has improved.
Overall Record: 34-22
Previous Rank: 8th
Last 5-Games Stats: Offensive Rating: 110.2 (10th) Defensive Rating: 104.6 (9th) Net Rating: 5.6 (7th)
4) Toronto Raptors: Toronto's DeMar DeRozan was named Player of the Month for the month of January. DeRozan has been impressive all season long and continues to prove why he is a go-to-guy. Kyle Lowry has been playing much better as well. It would be easy for Toronto to look to make a move before the deadline, but I would stay pat if I were them. This team is deep and has developed terrific chemistry. I am more optimistic about this Raptors team then the last two seasons.
Overall Record: 36-16
Previous Rank: 5th
Last 5-Games Stats: Offensive Rating: 117.0 (1st) Defensive Rating: 107.3 (13th) Net Rating: 9.8 (3rd)
3) Boston Celtics: Al Horford just drained a game-winning shot against the Portland Trailblazers to give them a much needed victory. Terry Rozier has been a huge surprise for this team as well. In recent rumors, we heard that Boston was looking to acquire Lou Williams and/or Tyreke Evans. I think the Celtics are ahead of schedule when it comes to being a title contender, but if Boston really believes they can make it to the NBA Finals, then by all means necessary, make the moves you need to make to get there.
Overall Record: 39-15
Previous Rank: 4th
Last 5-Games Stats: Offensive Rating: 109.2 (14th) Defensive Rating: 100.6 (5th) Net Rating: 8.6 (5th)
2) Houston Rockets: The Rockets have won 4-games in a row, and are winners of 8 of their last 10. They are currently just 2.0 games behind the number one seed, Golden State Warriors. Houston shouldn't look to make any moves this week unless they can somehow trade Ryan Anderson for a better player. I don't see that happening, but stranger things have happened. This team is incredibly deep and I expect them to challenge Golden State for the #1 overall seed.
Overall Record: 38-13
Previous Rank: 2nd
Last 5-Games Stats: Offensive Rating: 113.6 (5th) Defensive Rating: 101.9 (7th) Net Rating: 11.7 (2nd)
1) Golden State Warriors: After a 30-point loss to the Utah Jazz and a 7-point loss to the Denver Nuggets, Steve Kerr stated that "...it's painfully obvious that our guys are mentally fried right now". The Warriors are not playing their best brand of basketball lately, but it would be dumb to assume that there is a team that is better than them. Yes, Houston has made a very good case to be a threat, but the playoff resume' of James Harden and Chris Paul isn't the best arguing point. The Warriors are going to be locked and loaded once they return from the All-Star Break.
Overall Record: 41-12
Previous Rank: 1st
Last 5-Games Stats: Offensive Rating: 111.0 (8th) Defensive Rating: 108.6 (17th) Net Rating: 2.4 (11th)
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