2019 NBA Power Rankings: Kings fall as Warriors remain the top dog
30. Knicks (15-63)
The only time Coach Fiz can force a smile is on payday. No doubt he, Spike and the fans of this team hope Jeff Bezos comes to the rescue.
29. Cavaliers (19-60)
There was a time when the Q was rocking. Those were the days and tickets were hot. That was 10 months ago, but it feels more like five years.
28. Bulls (22-57)
May every scary test being run on Lauri Markkanen come back negative or, at worst, treatable. Get better big fella, and come back next year. You’re built to play this game.
27. Suns (18-61)
Look what you’ve done to his franchise, Robert Sarver, reducing it to D-Book starring in a series of “I got mine” games. And now, Book is done for the season with a sprained ankle.
26. Pelicans (32-47)
Coming Soon, a basketball man given personnel powers in the front office, something dismissed general manager Dell Demps never had. It’s too late to save AD, so the best that can happen is a deal that jump-starts the rebuild.
25. Wizards (32-47)
Ernie Grunfeld is, from what we hear, a decent guy. But no GM in the league was as bad he was for as long as he was. The next guy has a very low bar to clear. And good luck with Year 1 of Johnny Wall’s super-max deal.
24. Hawks (29-50)
GM Travis Schlenk has made some wise moves and hiring Lloyd Pierce as coach is just one of them. The Hawks are one star away from being a playoff team, and two years from approaching 50 wins.
23. Grizzlies (31-47)
On the bench, perhaps for the remaining four games: Avery Bradley, Mike Conley, Joakim Noah, Chandler Parsons and Jonas Valanciunas. It’s hibernation time for these bears.
22. Mavericks (31-47)
One of the most storied careers NBA history seems to be coming to an end. We hope so, because it’s getting more and more painful to watch Dirk.
21. Lakers (35-44)
The roster, misbegotten from the word go, was built to get somebody fired. If Luke Walton takes the fall, why would any coach ever trust that front office? Beware, J-Kidd.
20. Timberwolves (35-43)
With 32 million motivating factors, KAT is ballin’. But is it good that he shows more fight chasing a bonus than he did when challenged by Jimmy Butler?
19. Hornets (36-42)
Four more games, and Kemba gets to see what the rest of the league has to offer. We think he’s ready to escape the vacuum of eternal mediocrity.
18. Kings (39-40)
Youth. Speed. Pluck. It has been an inspirational season, and a .500 finish would be a rousing success. The future is too bright to bollix. Maybe.
17. Heat (38-40)
We want one more playoff run for D-Wade, but the schedule is unforgiving. A home-and-home against Boston, followed by two of the final four games against the Raptors and Sixers. Better hope Philly gets Miami’d. You know what we mean.
16. Magic (39-40)
Do you really want Giannis and the Bucks? Kawhi and the Raptors? Didn’t think so. That’s what the Magic are up against as they pursue their first playoff berth since Stan Van Gundy and Dwight Howard left town.
15. Nets (39-40)
The Kings East, with a chance to be one year ahead. Like the guys in Sac, Brooklyn is skidding down the stretch. Still in it, though, and we’d love to see what Coach Kenny can do in a playoff series.
14. Pistons (39-39)
Jacking up 41 3-pointers, making 11, in a blowout loss to resilient Indy is how the Pistons tried to overcome the absence of Big Blake (knee). How many daydreams this season has Dwane Casey had about his days in Toronto?
13. Pacers (47-32)
After recovering fabulously after losing VO, the squad is stumbling into the playoffs. The blowout in Detroit was only the second road win since the All-Star break. We smell a first-round adios.
12. Thunder (45-33)
Big dap for Russ getting that 20-21-20 game, and dedicating it to Nip. No team in the West has a higher variance potential in the playoffs. But it’s all bottom unless they find their missing offense.
11. Spurs (45-34)
We’re giving them a chance to take out any first-round opponent except the Warriors or Rockets – and they’d stretch Houston. Pop is that good.
10. Clippers (47-32)
The league’s most dangerous bench, a coach back on his game and Jerry West sitting upstairs. Get ‘em now, opponents, because you do not want to deal with this team after they reload in the offseason.
9. Celtics (47-32)
That transformative flight to the West Coast last month was said to cure their teamwide I-got-this disease. Well, no. After immediately winning five of six, they’ve since gone 4-5. They win the Mercurial Team of the Year award.
8. Jazz (48-30)
Hottest team going, winning 11 of its last 12 games. Wait. Hold up. Only two of those teams are in the playoff mix, and both (Hornets and Nets) are lunging for the bottom edge. At least some of the gold is of the fool’s variety.
7. 76ers (49-30)
Jojo’s knee is cranky and if it continues to throb, this postseason could end with a whimper. Rest helps, but the front office has to be pretty nervous to add Greg Monroe, who has played on 51 teams with 653 teammates this season.
6. Nuggets (52-26)
Jamal Murray is relentless, but it has become evident that The Joker is subject to unraveling, dominating some centers, withering before others. They need to avoid the Thunder and the Spurs in the second season.
5. Trail Blazers (50-28)
We keep waiting, after losing CJ and Nurk, for y’all to falter and Dame keeps making sure you don’t. You’ve won eight of nine. You’ll have homecourt advantage in the first round. We will not count you out.
4. Raptors (56-23)
We hear there will be no more rest days for Kawhi. Prove it. Our man Patrick McCaw is expected to miss the first round with a thumb sprain, giving him plenty of time to heal before a Raptors-Warriors Finals. We want the spice.
3. Rockets (51-28)
The Beard has been fantastic, but this team’s second-half secret ... is its defense. Rated 27th through Jan. 31, Houston is sixth since – and No. 2 since March 1. Jeff Bzdelik returned to the coaching staff and worked a miracle.
2. Bucks (59-20)
They’re going to own the best record and No. 1 overall seed, which they’ll need beyond the first round. We love Giannis, but we can’t trust a team with no history of playoff success. It would help if, as expected, Malcolm Brogdon is back in early May.
1. Warriors (54-24)
With turned-up griping, they’ve become what they hated about the Lob City Clips. But Boogie is on a mission, KD is stroking it, Draymond and Klay are baring their defensive fangs and Steph can see again. They’re smelling playoffs.