NBA Power Rankings: Warriors fall to No. 3 as new No. 1 emerges
From 30 to 1...
Welcome to this week’s version of the NBA Power Rankings, where it becomes ever clearer that very little will matter before second round of the playoffs in the West and the Conference Finals in the East.
30) Nets (8-28)
This is where you belong when you lose six in a row, the last one after blowing an 11-point halftime lead at home to the Sixers. If there were a 31 or a 39, you’d be it.
29) Heat (11-28)
Lonzo Ball, Malik Monk, Markelle Fultz. That’s just a few of the names on your radar. It’s that time, Sir Pat. Best tanker wins. Rack up those frequent-flyer miles on the scouting trail.
28) Magic (16-23)
Watching you boys search for a bucket makes me tired, one of the most futile pursuits in today’s NBA. Never have so many sweated so much to score so few.
27) Timberwolves (11-26)
Ohhh, Thibs. We keep waiting. And waiting. And waiting. You’re supposed to nurture these guys, make them scary. Yet there are times, in the middle of games, when your guys look demoralized.
26) Mavericks (11-26)
You’re supposed to be getting better, yet you’ve lost five of seven. Times are so desperate in Big D that Dirk is offering to come off the bench. Is that an attempt at disassociation or a reach for anything that might work?
25) Suns (12-26)
Proud of y’all for pushing the Cavs hard before wilting under LeBron’s assault. You’ve got guts. Moxie. What you don’t have is a defense or a playmaker. The long season stays long.
24) 76ers (10-25)
It’s hallelujah time in Philly! You’ve already tied your win total of last season (10), so we shall free you from the Bottom-5. Go forth and multiply. Thank The Process.
23) Nuggets (14-23)
So, Coach Malone, you say you have the worst defense in the league? Ding-ding-ding! You know your stats. Last in defensive rating, yet first in rebounding percentage is proof that effort does not always produce results.
22) Lakers (15-26)
Playoffs? Don’t even think about them. They weren’t in the picture in September, and they aren’t now. The training wheels are back on, as they should be.
21) Knicks (17-20)
Skid City, eh? The losing streak would be eight, if not for that gutsy come back against the Bucks. Time to start dangling what little you have for a trade. Meanwhile, the Big Apple turns its lonely eyes to . . . Ron Baker.
20) Kings (15-22)
So, so predictable. Win four straight, spread good cheer, and follow that by losing five of six. That you’re still in the hunt for the 8-seed is a reflection on the slop inhabiting the bottom half of the conference.
19) Trail Blazers (16-23)
Yes, you too, are slop. You’re seven games back -- of Utah. We keep watching, and you keep disappointing the Great Northwest. And, please, don’t blame that wicked winter storm.
18) Pelicans (14-24)
Hmm. We’re not impressed, but we are starting to warm to your charms. Losing three straight hurts, but it hurts a lot less when we see that all three teams (Cavs, Hawks, Celtics) are superior. There’s your semi-excuse.
17) Pistons (18-21)
You’ve got a lot of name, Kentavious, and a lot of game, too. We believe you’ll be in the playoffs for another one-and-done, which is OK, considering you have neither a shooter nor a true point guard.
16) Bucks (18-18)
You’re long and athletic and nobody wants to play you. Coach J-Kidd needs a shooter or two but must be better at massaging the youthful roster. He knows it and says he will. Let’s see.
15) Wizards (18-18)
Figured you’d get to .500 around the first of the year. You’re late. Congrats, anyway. About time the rest of you started catching up to J-Wall.
14) Hornets (20-18)
No matter what Lil’ Kemba does, and he has been fantastic, it’s not enough. How good would you guys be if he were around in 1995, when Alonzo Mourning and Larry Johnson were suiting up?
13) Bulls (19-18)
Taj? Yes. Raj? No. Jimmy B is straight ballin. He’s in the MVP race . . . for the Eastern Conference. With a solid point guard, you’d have 23 wins. With another shooter, you’d have 25. Wish on.
12) Pacers (20-18)
Finally, after PG calls out everybody, including the refs, you respond. You have your first five-game win streak this season. Given your struggles, we don’t mind that it comes during a cotton-ball-soft stretch of the schedule.
11) Thunder (22-16)
The Russ Machine is up to 17 triple-doubles. Unstoppable. Last man to carry a mediocre roster into the Win Zone at this rate was AI in Philly. Yo, Billy D, those forwards are killing you on offense.
10) Hawks (21-16)
You basically hang a “For Sale” sign on most of your roster, and the wins start coming. You’re up to six in a row. You sure you want to move Millsap?
9) Jazz (23-16)
Tough road trip, eh, losing three of five. But your injury report is clean (at last) and you’re going home for nine of the next 12. Show us what you’ve got, right now, because LeBron’s coming Tuesday.
8) Grizzlies (24-16)
Like Tennessee whiskey, you’ve got plenty of age on you and you’re strong enough to melt paint. Stubborn as mule, and you can kick like one too. You strike fear into the minds of many. We hate that we love you.
7) Celtics (23-16)
You’re breathing green steam on the necks of Toronto, mostly because Lil’ Isaiah is out of his mind. You’re a shooter away from the 2-seed, from where you can sniff the Cavs. Danny has draft picks. If he adds a shooter, look out.
6) (tie) Raptors (24-13) and Clippers (26-14)
You two are here because neither of you deserves to be in the Top-5. Yo, Raps, how about that road-trip wakeup call? Bet it made you glad you’re in the East. And, Clips, we here you’re turning over a new leaf and chill out on the whining to the whistles. Go a week without a T, and we’ll find a way to give you some love.
4) Spurs (30-7)
Davis Bertans? Never heard of him? Better ask somebody. No organization is better at finding raw gems, except maybe the New England Patriots.
3) Warriors (32-6)
Barfing up a 24-point third quarter lead, at home, to a team that can’t score, should never happen, thus the demerit. We wonder if the momentary pain will lead to the soul-searching required to unlock your vast potential?
2) Cavaliers (28-8)
Can a team have too much shooting. Did you really need Double-K? No. And you went and got him anyway. To play him with either K-Love or Mr. Frye, however, is an invitation to get torched on the other end.
1) Rockets (30-9)
Eight wins in a row, two losses in the last 40 days. Mike D has done a magnificent job delivering the message, and The Beard has been great at implementation. We see you, E-Gordie. Props are in store.