NBA Power Rankings: A new No. 1; Kings in Top 15
From 30 to 1...
Welcome to this week’s version of the Power Rankings, where the evidence continues to show, more than ever, that there is a Top 5, a Bottom 5 and a Middle 20 determined not to stay awake for more than three consecutive games.
30) 76ers (7-23)
We love Embiid. We like Nerlens. We’re looking for something to like about Jahlil. We see nothing. You fellas are growing so slowly it hurts to watch.
29) Suns (9-22)
When your last “good” win was last month, Bottom 2 is your home. We don’t blame Coach Earl. We blame your bosses. This is Trust The Process West, an ongoing test of patience.
28) Nets (8-22)
That win over the Hornets (we see you, Randy Foye) is enough to yank you out of your customary Bottom-2 spot. We know you’ll be back.
27) Heat (10-21)
Hassan and the Dragon, and not much else. South Beach – the actual beach – has never been more inviting. Explains why Pat Riley’s goatee is a bright shade of white.
26) Lakers (12-22)
We beat the Clippers! We beat the Clippers! We heard the noise 360 miles north. Even though the Clips were shorthanded, you’ve snapped an 11-game losing streak. Be proud. Hurry back, Leaping Larry Nance.
25) Mavericks (9-22)
Aussie Andrew’s absence is up to 11 games, but Dirk is back! Now call us when you boys win three in a row, regardless of who or when or where.
24) Nuggets (13-18)
Beating the Clippers in LA should mean something. It doesn’t in this case, with 60 percent of LA’s starting lineup on the bench. So you’re still the NBA equivalent of the music at the dentist’s office.
23) Timberwolves (10-21)
KAT continues to bring it. Zach gets more legit every day. Wiggs must be dealt with. We see the progress. We see no point guard on the roster capable of pushing you fellas into the playoffs.
22) Pelicans (12-21)
Winning five of nine is a slump for some teams. For you Pels, though, it’s cause for celebration on Bourbon Street. And we see Buddy the Rook is starting to discover the bottom of NBA nets.
21) Trail Blazers (13-20)
Six losses in a row, and 10 of 11. What the h*ll is going on? And now Dame is limping. Wait, we see your problem. Defense is still not a word.
20) Magic (15-18)
Serge is showing up, and Airspace Aaron is showing out. Nice bit of payback on the Grizz, boys. Is that a light flickering at the end of the tunnel?
19) Pacers (15-17)
Nate McMillan, the player, was a fine defender. Coach Nate is not conveying that to his team. So it’s up to PG and Myles to lift this team above .500. We’re not sure they can.
18) Pistons (15-18)
You boys may be the biggest teases in The League. Congrats on pushing the Warriors to the brink and then beating up on the tired and toothless bulldog that is the Cavs without LeBron.
17) Bulls (15-16):
Winning one in four and hating every second. We feel for you, D-Wade and Jimmy B. Six triples per game is dreadful, but with Dougie McBuckets out, the only shooter in the room is your coach.
16) Wizards (14-16)
We see you, Otto, trying to fulfill your promise. Keep at it, and maybe we’ll trust you. Can’t trust Johnny Wall or Brad Beal. Can’t trust any of you. Prove us wrong. Please.
15) Bucks (14-15)
Champs one night, chumps the next. That’s the curse of tantalizing youth. Meanwhile, the Greek Freak is on an All-NBA warpath. Moose Monroe? Oh, he’s a trade waiting to happen.
14): Kings (14-17)
Boogie is balling and so is the bench. Look at you, Succamento Kangs, winning four in a row. Last time that happened, you lost eight of the next nine. So don’t even think about carving your names into that No. 8 seed.
13) Knicks (16-14)
Your last “good” win was on Black Friday. Can any of you guard anybody with a pulse? Anyone? Didn’t think so. We love KP6. We barely tolerate the rest of you. That includes you, Phillip of the Rings.
12): Hornets (17-14)
We had you three spots higher . . . and then you went and lost to the Nets. We hate to punish you, but you give us no choice. You asked for this.
11) Hawks (15-16)
You lose an Al and add a Dwight and, presto, fall four games off your pace of a year ago. You did yourself no favors losing to Minny twice in six days in another example of widespread NBA mediocrity.
10) Grizzlies (20-13)
We don’t know how you’re doing it, but we’re loving it, Coach Fiz. Welcome back, Pretty Boy Parsons, though you’re clearly not ready. Now, let’s see if you gents can “grind” on the road.
9) Jazz (18-13)
You’ve lost three straight and still you’re in the top 10. Why? You have no guards. None. But we admire you for showing up anyway. And we know you’ll get well soon, very soon.
8) Thunder (19-12)
The Nightly Russ is proof that one man can temporarily lift mostly ordinary teammates to a level of interesting. If everyone had your batteries, Russ, there would be no need for caffeine.
7) Clippers (22-11)
We’re tempted to smack you around for losing three straight. And then we see CP3, Blake and JJ sitting on the bench in blazers. You usually don’t need an excuse for stunning losses, but you actually have one.
6) Celtics (18-13)
We knew you’d start to figure it out, and you are. You’re winning close games because Isaiah has wolverine blood and Avery is part badger. You’re poised to take off.
5) Rockets (23-9)
Beard Believers started lining up when you won in Oakland. That 10-game win streak was powerful stuff. You’ve even shown flashes of defense. We can see your future, and it looks like a top-three playoff seed.
4) Raptors (22-8)
Only two losses since Thanksgiving. Strong. Welcome to the party, Kyle. You’re coming up big and Canada is reaping the benefits. You’re still the best team in the East – until you shiver and shrink before LeBron & Co.
3) Spurs (25-6)
You are crouching tigers, lurking quietly behind the Warriors and Cavs. Hello, Dewayne Dedmon. From a minute or two with the Warriors three years ago, you’ve earned a place in The League.
2) Warriors (27-5)
You do not lose double-digit leads in the fourth quarter. How in the name of three blind refs do you lose a 14-point lead in the fourth? Klay is 100 percent right. Y’all should be “pissed” at yourselves.
1) Cavaliers (23-7)
Any team that comes from 14 down to beat the Dubs deserves big props, even if it loses the next night (without LeBron) at Detroit .We see you, Kyrie, demanding the ball in the clutch. And delivering.