NBA Power Rankings: Durant back, Warriors on 14-game win streak
From 30 to 1...
Welcome to the final installment of the NBA Power Rankings for 2016-17. For 16 teams, it’s on to the playoffs. For the others, it’s off to the golf course or a beach somewhere under bright blue sky.
30) Knicks (30-51)
Sorry, fellas, dead last is where you belong even if the standings offer modest protest. Lottery-bound Markelle Fultz was in the house Sunday, saying it would be “amazing” to play in the Big Apple. You wish.
29) 76ers (28-52)
Good riddance to this year, and get healthy for next. Wait. Is it true? Did Ben Simmons really grow two inches since last summer? OK, if you say so. Trouble is we can’t decide if that’s good or bad.
28) Magic (28-52)
You’ve lost six of your last seven. You’ve alienated Aaron Gordon, a player made for Disney’s imagination. The Magic Kingdom weeps.
27) Suns (24-57)
Build a roster with a couple vets and a bunch of kids. Fall out of playoff contention. Turn to the kids for, um, evaluation. It’s the perfect Tank salad.
26 Lakers (25-55)
Yo, Luke, what are you doing? A four-game win streak is wildly counterproductive. Your game is Lose for Lonzo.
25) Nets (20-60)
Only six teams have been better over the past 10 games. The good news is J-Lin is back; you’re 13-19 when he starts, 7-41 when he doesn’t. The bad news: You’re utterly dependent on Jeremy Lin’s hamstrings.
24) Timberwolves (31-49)
All this young talent and great length. You’ve got KAT, and he’s a lion. We expected more from you, Thibs. We know they’re puppies, but come on. Your process is infuriating.
23) Kings (31-49)
We’re with you, Buddy, even though you are not the next Steph. But let’s face it. It’s Skal Time in Sactown. Hey Vlade, we think bringing in Sam Hinkie for front-office support is a sound idea.
22) Hornets (36-44)
Let’s see. Props to Frank the Tank and, of course, to Kemba, too. Nic? Hello? Anybody seen Nic Batum? Time for a change, MJ, and we don’t mean your shoes.
21) Mavericks (32-48)
The only time HB can crack a smile is when he glances at his bank account. That could change Tuesday, if Mark Cuban actually goes through with giving retired Cowboys QB Tony Romo a Mavs jersey and a seat on the bench.
20) Pelicans (33-47)
The Boogie experiment did not go as well as you would have liked. No matter. Makes sense that he would come back. We still like ya, Brow. We like Coach Alvin. Heck, we like GM Dell, too. We fear Alvin or Dell, or both, may be sacrificed by those who make the real decisions.
19) Pistons (37-43)
Lose 10 of 12, fall out of the playoff race and respond with back-to-back wins over playoff teams. We see your plan, guys. Quit first. Try later.
18) Bulls (39-41)
You have no discernable plan. We’re going to be blunt. You don’t deserve the playoffs and the humiliating fate that would await you. Welcome back, D-Wade.
17) Heat (38-42)
Gritty and gutty, your second-half comeback made us proud. You chased the playoffs and we all know you have no business there. There’s still a chance, but getting in now would spoil the story.
16) Nuggets (38-42)
So Hibbs and Plums were not the answer, eh? You look like you’ve been run over by a Blazer named Russ.
15) Pacers (40-40)
The playoffs are in your hands. All you have to do is not drop it, and the Sixers are next. You should be fine. Who knew the key all along was ... Dancin’ Lance Stephenson?
14) Grizzlies (43-38)
Losing four of your last five -- and the only win was over the NY Sicks. Brutal. My goodness, are you boys staggering to the finish. Good to see Cool Mike’s eye injury was not serious. Dude has had enough eye issues.
13) Thunder (46-34)
Russ, Russ, Russ and more Russ. We bow to you. We also have a question: On which planet do you go to find your batteries?
12) Bucks (41-39)
We’ve identified the East bottom-four seed that nobody wants to see. It is you. Good luck, Greek Freak, in your quest to become the first player ever to finish in the top 20 in scoring, rebounding, steals, assists and blocks.
11) Trail Blazers (40-40)
Dammm, Dame. That was furious, hanging 59 in a must-win game and leading the boys into the playoffs by posting the second-best net rating and No. 3 winning percentage after the All-Star break. Bravo.
10) Hawks (42-38)
Between the impressive double over the Cavs and dropping the Celts, you’ve had your most impressive week of the season. What does it mean? Not much, we fear. You still look like meat awaiting a place on the first-round grill.
9) Wizards (48-32)
The No. 4 seed in the East is all yours. You’ll have homecourt advantage in the first round. It won’t do much good unless you find your defense, which has been abysmal.
8) Jazz (49-31)
It’s been 40 days since you lost to a non-playoff team. Nice. We see you, Rudy. Oh, and congrats to Old Joe on reaching the 20K points summit. You’re still here. We thought you were done a year ago. Fabulous rebuttal.
7) Clippers (49-31)
Well, well, well. Glad you’re finally awake. Five in a row tells us y’all want to play after all. The league is better when you guys matter. We see you, Blake. Can you keep it up?
6) Celtics (51-29)
Congrats, IT, for wrapping up the highest scoring average for an under-6-foot player. Well deserved. As much as we like you gents, we’re seeing too many cracks to believe this will end well. Still, it has been a terrific season.
5) Cavaliers (51-29)
Blame it on the D. Blame it on the refs. Blame it on all the scrambling the front office has been doing this season. Maybe you’re bored, but you look so ordinary for a team set to defend its title.
4) Rockets (54-26)
Look, in the distance. Is that the MVP award wobbling and shrinking? Just may be. The Beard has been phenomenal, but the Other Guy -- the one you’ll be seeing in the first round of the playoffs -- would . . . not . . . stop.
3) Raptors (50-31)
K-Low is back and, suddenly, so are the teeth you were missing for a while. You’re tougher now. The timing is good. We still don’t believe, but we’re at least curious about where you boys can take this.
2) Spurs (61-19)
Didn’t like what you saw over the weekend, eh Pop? So you’re vowing to play everybody over the final two games. Bluff? Serious? We don’t believe. Keep an eye on the minutes for Kawhi, LA and Tony P.
1) Warriors (66-14)
KD is back and anxious to get on to the playoffs, Steph’s knee enjoyed the day off and these guys have been such a finely tuned machine that a season-ending, 16-game win streak is conceivable yet totally unnecessary.