Blakely's NBA Power Rankings: Hawks still fly high
Blakely's NBA Power Rankings: Feb. 3, 2015
The gap continues to widen between the NBA haves and have-nots as we draw closer to the All-Star break.
While most agree that there are still deals to be made, most of the elite teams have already made moves to bolster their rosters.
The Memphis Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks struck separate deals with Boston to land Jeff Green and Rajon Rondo, respectively.
Oklahoma City bolstered their bench with a deal that landed them another scorer in Dion Waiters, while Cleveland addressed that glaring void in the middle by trading for Denver’s Timothy Mozgov.
Meanwhile, teams not expected to make much if any noise in the playoffs like the Boston Celtics will continue to keep porch light lit for anyone who wants to pick through their roster and strike a deal before the Feb. 19 trade deadline.
And for veterans like Tayshaun Prince or former Celtic Kevin Garnett, a buyout remains a possibility with the March 1 deadline for players to be eligible to signed and be able to participate in the playoffs.
BACK OF THE PACK
30. Minnesota (Last week 30. Record: 8-40) - Even Ricky Rubio’s return won’t keep Minnesota from being at the bottom of the NBA pecking order this season.
29. Philadelphia (Last week 29: Record: 10-39) - Sixers have a bit of momentum with wins in two of their last three games.
28. Los Angeles Lakers (Last week: 28. Record: 13-35) - With four of the next five on the road, look for Lakers to “strengthen” their lottery-bound position.
27. Indiana (Last week 23. Record: 17-32) - Pacers continue to sink further to the bottom of the East, losing nine of their last 11 games.
26. Sacramento (Last week 26. Record: 17-29) - Damian Lillard fans will hate this, but Commissioner Adam Silver selecting DeMarcus Cousins as an All-Star replacement was the right move.
25. Boston (Last week: 19. Record: 16-30) - Unable to handle prosperity; won 3 of 4 out West, have lost last 3.
TRAILING THE PACK
24. Utah (Last week: 24. Record 17-30) - Jazz building a defensively-rooted foundation with opponents averaging 98.4 points which is the 11th-lowest average in the NBA.
23. New York (Last week: 27. Record 10-38) - They’ve won five of last seven with good shooting and of course, Carmelo Anthony doing his thing as a lethal scorer.
22. Orlando (Last week 22: Record 15-36) - It’s hard to imagine Jacque Vaughn making it past the All-Star break, let alone this season as the Magic’s head coach.
21. Denver (Last week 25. Record 19-29) - Scoring has become a major issue lately, failing to reach 100 points in eight of their last 10 games.
20. Detroit (Last week 21. Record: 18-30) - With Brandon Jennings out for the season, look for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to become a much more assertive scorer.
19. Brooklyn (Last week 20. Record: 19-28) - If Kevin Garnett is bought out, look for the Clippers (Doc Rivers, Malibu, Calif. Home) to be the favorites to sign him.
MIDDLE OF THE PACK
18. Miami (Last week 16. Record: 21-26) - Chris Bosh has been one of the decade’s most consistent performers, evident by him being named to a 10th All-Star team.
17. Oklahoma City (Last week 17. Record: 24-24) - The road has been unkind to the Thunder of late, having lost four straight which includes a loss at New York.
16. New Orleans (Last week 15. Record: 26-22) - Beating Clippers without Anthony Davis (groin) was huge. Snapping the Hawks’ winning streak? Even better.
15. Charlotte (Last week 18. Record: 21-27) - The Hornets are winning, but they need more production from Kemba Walker’s replacement, Brian Roberts (10.3 points, 37.8 percent shooting).
14. Phoenix (Last week 13. Record: 28-22) - Even with the addition of Brandan Wright, Suns still look like a team that’s missing a player to solidify them as a playoff-caliber team.
13. San Antonio (Last week 8. Record: 30-18) - At 38 years old, Tim Duncan still a nightly double-double (14 points, 10 rebounds) who can drop dimes (3 per game) and swat shots (1.9 per game).
RUNNING WITH THE PACK
12. Milwaukee (Last week 14. Record: 26-22) - You can put Brandon Knight (17.7 points, 5.3 assists, 4.2 rebounds) near the top of the list of All-Star snubs this year.
11. Dallas (Last week 12. Record: 33-17) - Losing Rajon Rondo (out with orbital fracture) for a few games shouldn’t throw the Mavericks too far off course this season.
10. Chicago (Last week 9. Record: 30-19) - Hard team to figure out right now. Can win at Golden State, but lose to the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix?
9. Houston (Last week 10. Record: 33-15) - With Dwight Howard (knee) out for a while, have to wonder how much will James Harden have for the playoffs after carrying this team for so long.
8. Washington (Last week 11. Record: 31-18) - Paul Pierce just passed Alex English for 15th on NBA’s all-time scorers list. He now has 25,622 points.
7. Portland (Last week 5. Record: 32-16) - The league’s sixth-highest scoring team has lost four of their last five while being held to less than 100 points in each defeat.
LEADERS OF THE PACK
6. Cleveland (Last week 7. Record: 30-20) - We talk about LeBron James as an MVP candidate, but lately it has been Kyrie Irving carrying the Cavs to victories.
5. Toronto (Last week 6. Record: 33-16) - Important home stand with Clippers, Spurs and Wizards coming up.
4. Los Angeles Clippers (Last week 4. Record: 33-16) - Hack-a-DJ (DeAndre Jordan) will keep happening as long as he has nights like Monday when he shot 2-for-12 from the line.
3. Golden State (Last week 2. Record: 37-8) - The last time they lost back-to-back games, Warriors won their next eight.
2. Memphis (Last week 3. Record 36-12) - A healthy Zach Randolph makes the Grizzlies a tough, tough out for any team come playoff time.
1. Atlanta (Last week 1: Record 40-9) - Even with their 19-game winning streak coming to an end, the Hawks are still head and shoulders above the rest of the league right now.