NBA Power Rankings: Are the Warriors coming out of hibernation?
From 30 to 1
Monte Poole stacks up all 30 teams...
30) Suns (18-39)
It’s one thing to lose five in a row, quite another that the average loss margin is 22.8 points per game. Hurry back Devin Booker (hip pointer) and welcome to the Valley of the Sun, Elfrid Payton.
29) Bulls (19-36)
They were 12-7 in the 19 games before Zach LaVine returned, and they’re 4-9 since. Yet LaVine’s 18.65 PER is No. 2 on the team. No. 1, Bobby Portis (20.57), continues to leave us wondering if he has anger-management issues.
28) Grizzlies (18-32)
They’re best player this season, Tyreke Evans, was stashed for trade that never came. Did they not understand that in today’s NBA no contender is desperate enough to move a No. 1 pick for a three-month rental?
27) Knicks (23-34)
Six consecutive losses and now KP6 is gone, another in the long and nauseating line of season-ending injuries. With 25 games remaining, the Knicks are as done as a 12-hour pot roast.
26) Hawks (18-39)
They lose eight in a row in the first three weeks but haven’t lost more than four straight since. GM Travis Schlenk needs a catchy slogan to help fans through the misery of rebuilding. Trust the Process is taken.
25) Kings (17-38)
The George Hill trade pushes the Kings’ cap space to $24 million this summer. That may increase. There will be openings for a star or two, but 10,000 silver tongues couldn’t sell this haphazard organization.
24) Nets (19-38)
They still play fast and occasionally hard, but the losing and the injuries appear to be taking a toll on them. They’ve lost five straight and nine of 10. No team in the league is more eager to get to the All-Star break.
23) Magic (18-37)
The year still is a bust, but now there is a highlight. Beating LeBron James and the Cavs, no matter their condition, in the middle of a three-game win streak is worthy of celebration. Invite Mickey.
22) Mavericks (18-39)
There are times when it seems Rick Carlisle could coach five college intramural players well enough to compete in the NBA. There are times when his nondescript current Mavs look like . . . five intramural players.
21) Hornets (23-33)
How does Michael Jordan, the most competitive player of the past quarter century, tolerate such consistent sub-mediocrity? Congrats to Kemba Walker, who passed Dell Curry to become the franchise leader in 3-pointers.
20) Clippers (28-26)
Lou Williams has carried a few teams but never one that could make a serious run toward the playoffs. This bunch is. If he gets them into the final 16, Sweet Lou deserves retroactive All-Star status.
19) Lakers (23-32)
Welcome to LA, Isaiah Thomas. He’s joining a squad that was 11-27 before Jan. 6 and is 12-5 since. Looking forward to the IT-Lonzo backcourt, though we don’t expect it until after the All-Star break.
18) Pelicans (29-26)
Boogie Cousins’ season ends just as they’re surging toward the playoffs. Goodnight, Pels, right? Well, maybe not. The deal for stretch-4 Nikola Mirotic fills a need, and as long as AD is healthy the playoffs are possible.
17) Pistons (27-28)
Blake Griffin chucks up 10 3-pointers in a loss to lowly Atlanta and regrets it. Coach Van Gundy sums up the game by saying, “Our defense stinks.” As usual, they’re all on the same page in Detroit.
16) Heat (30-26)
Welcome home, Dwyane Wade. This is where he belongs, which explains the standing ovation upon his return. One of the best stories of the week.
15) Pacers (32-25)
While eyeballs are following Victor Oladipo, who has been fantastic, young big Donatas Sabonis is doing work. He’s rebounding at a rate that dwarfs those of starting big men Myles Turner and Thaddeus Young.
14) 76ers (28-25)
Welcome to Philly, Marco Belinelli. His shooting is needed and he’ll get more run here than he would’ve anywhere else. Scary fall for Joel Embiid, but all seems OK. Still, resting him on Monday makes sense. It’s the Knicks.
13) Nuggets (30-26)
They’re 7-3 over their last 10 games, losing only to Boston, at Houston and at San Antonio. The Nuggets finally seem to realize that with a dash of defense they can beat any team.
12) Wizards (32-24)
They lose four of five, their “best” player goes down and, voila, they win six of eight. The Wizards are an annual contender for the most enigmatic team in the NBA. See you next month, John Wall.
11) Trail Blazers (31-26)
We know the Lillard/McCollum combo can cook with the best of them. We know the Blazers do a fabulous job of beating lesser teams. But the ceiling is limited until Nurk decides he wants to be his best self.
10) Spurs (35-22)
A look at the record and the wounded roster tells us LaMarcus Aldridge has become Anthony Davis or Gregg Popovich, at age 69, is doing his best work ever. This is a .500 team with most any other coach.
9) Bucks (31-24)
Amazing how they lose the Hall of Famer J-Kidd and begin to find themselves. They’re right to ease Jabari Parker into the action, but it will be another few weeks before they have an idea how much he can give them.
8) Thunder (32-25)
They lose to the Lakers twice in the past eight days, with fans in LA chanting their desire for Paul George. OKC is a load at either end, but the ankle woes of Russ and Melo might retard their progress.
7) Timberwolves (35-24)
They haven’t lost more than two in a row all season, but that could change with their dreadful road performances. At home, though, wow. Their 23-6 mark at Target Center is the best in the West.
6) Jazz (28-28)
Healthy and habanero hot, they beat the Warriors, the Raptors, the Blazers and the Spurs, twice, during their nine-game win streak. The Jazz band that couldn’t score is averaging 113.2 points per game during that stretch.
5) Celtics (40-18)
The dog days arrive and there goes their vaunted defense. They’ve allowed an average of 110.8 points over their past four games. That’s not who they’ve been. The All-Star break beckons not a minute too soon.
4) Cavaliers (33-22)
The remodel makes them younger and friskier and out to prove something. Teams on such a mission are dangerous, as the Celtics discovered Sunday. It will be a few weeks, though, before we can reach conclusions.
3) Raptors (39-16)
They are fairly healthy and in full destruction mode. The five-game win streak is nice. The 21-point average win margin during that stretch is downright mind-blowing. We see you, Fred VanVleet. Ball on.
2) Warriors (43-13)
Is the defense coming out of hibernation? Too soon to tell, but signs are good. They were quiet at the trade deadline, opting to study the buyout market. They don’t need much, but would like to add a luxury item.
1) Rockets: (42-13)
They’re 26-1 when Harden, Paul and Capela are in the lineup. Yikes! The hottest team in the West (eight in a row) adds “Iso Joe” and “Achy, Breaky” Brandan Wright. GM Daryl Morey, you are relentlessly relentless.