NBA Power Rankings: Kings rise, Warriors no doubt the team to beat
From 30 to 1...
James Ham ranks all 30 NBA teams as we head into the final week of January...
30) Hawks (14-35)
Every once in a while you run across a team that just doesn’t have enough talent to compete. The Atlanta Hawks are that team. Dennis Schroder is only 24, maybe he can make it through the rebuild and be part of the future.
29) Magic (14-34)
Something is missing. When you watch the Magic play, they have a nice collection of talent. It just doesn’t seem like anyone is on the same page. Aaron Gordon is putting up numbers, but someone has too, right?
280 Mavs (16-34)
Dallas should have a big “For Sale” sign hanging out front of their building come the trade deadline. It might look more like a flea market than a quality used car lot. A full rebuild is in order with Dennis Smith Jr. as the centerpiece.
27) Kings (15-34)
Wins over the Magic and Heat saved the Kings from tumbling all the way to the bottom of the ranks. De’Aaron Fox is figuring out how to use his incredible speed and Bogdan Bogdanovic was a real find for the rebuilding team from Sacramento.
26) Suns (17-33)
The mystery of why Greg Monroe doesn’t play more is entering its third season. There is no way you can convince me that the Suns are better with him sitting the bench. Maybe winning games isn’t the point of the exercise.
25) Grizzlies (17-31)
Chandler Parsons makes $23 million this season and is owed another $49 million over the next two seasons. Tyreke Evans signed a one-year, $3.3 million deal in Memphis. NBA economics always make perfect sense.
24) Nets (18-32)
The Nets are having such a good season, you don’t even hear about how much the Cavs could get in trade for their pick
23) Bulls (18-32)
I liked this team better when Bobby Portis was punching his own teammates. It’s good to see Zach LaVine back in action after a long layoff.
22) Lakers (19-30)
Somewhere in Lithuania, LaVar Ball is getting that much needed “professional head coach” box checked on his resumé. Luke Walton better look out.
21) Hornets (20-28)
Steve Clifford is back, but is it in time to help get Charlotte back in the playoff picture? Kemba Walker was on the block. And then he wasn’t. Confusing times in the hive.
20) Jazz (21-28)
Donovan Mitchell is the future. So is Rudy Gobert. Everyone else is available. Free agency turned the Jazz from a potential contender to a rebuild in a couple of swishes of a pen.
19) Knicks (22-28)
Trey Burke to the rescue. The ninth overall selection in the 2013 NBA Draft was out of the league, but he’s making the most of his opportunity in New York. Now if only Frank Ntilikina wasn’t buried behind Burke and 34-year-old Jarrett Jack.
18) Pistons (22-26)
Is Stan Van Gundy safe? This team is underachieving yet again. They’ve lost seven straight and are just 2-11 over their last 13 games. It’s a hot mess in the Motown.
17) Clippers (25-24)
This is a MASH unit. It hasn’t been pretty, but Doc Rivers may have done the best coaching job of his career this season. He’s using G-Leaguers to keep the Clipps in the running. Lou Williams has been spectacular.
16) Bucks (26-22)
Watch out Lee Majors, Jason Kidd is the new Fall Guy. Milwaukee has too much talent to be a fringe playoff team in the Eastern Conference. Whether Giannis Antetokounmpo likes it or not, the Bucks needed a new voice.
15) Philly (24-22)
It’s really hard not to love this team. They are an up and coming group with so much talent it’s crazy. Ben Simmons is a perfect compliment to Joel Embiid. So are Robert Covington and J.J. Redick. If they can get Fultz on the right path, this team has a huge future.
14) Nuggets (26-23)
Nikola Jokic and his band of young players have held down the fort waiting for the return of Paul Millsap. He’ll return around the All-Star break, giving the Nuggets a huge boost down the stretch.
13) Pacers (27-23)
Victor Oladipo - NBA All-Star. The 25-year-old guard has blossomed under Nate McMillan and has his team firmly planted in the Eastern Conference playoff chase. Indiana did a nice job building a competitive roster in the offseason.
12) Trail Blazers (27-22)
Portland spent a lot of money of role players to support Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. Very few of them have lived up to their contracts. Someone else needs to step up or this is nothing more than a first round out in the playoffs for the next few seasons.
11) Wizards (27-22)
This team should be better than it is. Washington went all in on this roster and will pay dearly in luxury tax to do so. You didn’t expect a five or a six seed out of this group in a soft Eastern Conference.
10) Pelicans (27-22)
The DeMarcus Cousins injury puts a dark cloud over a really good story. New Orleans was 9-3 over their last 12 games and moving up the standings. Big Cuz might be ready for the 2018-19 season, but the Achilles rupture is a huge blow to his free agency outlook.
9) Heat (28-21)
Erik Spoelstra continues to amaze. He has his ragtag group in the middle of the pack in the East and his teams notoriously finish strong. He’s spread the scoring load amongst seven or eight individuals and his team always play physical defense.
8) Cavs (29-19)
So much noise. This team looks like an All-Star team on paper, but they can’t seem to get a handle on the drama. They’ve got 35 games to put it all together or this could be the swan song for LeBron in Cleveland.
7) Thunder (30-20)
Does anyone want to see this team in the playoffs? I’m guessing not. The loss of Andre Roberson hurts. They may have to hit the trade market to fill some holes, but this team is rolling.
6) Timberwolves (32-20)
Minny gave up a lot to get Jimmy Butler, but he has proven to be the missing ingredient for the young and exciting team. The T-Wolves currently sit in the fourth spot in the west and they’ve even started to play a little bit of defense for coach Thibs.
5) Spurs (33-19)
Kawhi Leonard’s quad injury has everyone concerned in San Antonio. The star defender is out indefinitely, leaving the Spurs without the best two-way player in the game. And yet they still cling to the three seed in the West.
4) Raptors (33-15)
Dwane Casey doesn’t get his proper due. This team has the league’s fourth highest offensive rating and the third best defensive rating. If they can stay healthy, which is always a big if, this might be the team to beat in the East.
3) Rockets (35-13)
When this team is 100%, they are extremely tough to beat. The Western Conference playoffs should be a fun watch this season. Houston has the firepower to compete with the Warriors, but they need to wrap Chris Paul in bubble wrap to get through the second half of the season.
2. Celtics (35-15)
Brad Stevens has built something special in Boston. Despite their current top seed, this team is probably a year away from being a true contender to the Warriors. It’s a well coached and well built team with a bright future.
1. Warriors (40-10)
Is there a fast forward button somewhere? This is the team to beat. They boast four All-Stars and an eclectic group of veterans. All roads lead through Oakland come playoff time.
The Top 10
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