Blakely's NBA Power Rankings: Hawks soar at No. 1
Blakely's NBA Power Rankings
LOS ANGELES — Between now and the Feb. 19 trade deadline, the pilfering of the Eastern Conference by Western Conference clubs will continue.
That's because out West, the competition at the top is as intense as we've seen in years.
Even though the San Antonio Spurs are the defending NBA champions, there's at least three or four other teams out West that on paper at least, are as good or better.
Meanwhile, teams at the top in the East have their rosters in good shape to make a run through their respective conference although a couple (Chicago and Cleveland immediately come to mind) have some clear needs that have to be addressed.
It makes for some crazy times in front offices across the NBA landscape. But it's great for the fans who are being taken on a wild, unpredictable ride.
And with that, here are the power rankings for this week.
BACK OF THE PACK
30. New York (Record: 6-36. Last week 30) - The Knicks are on to the second half of what has already been a historically bad season.
29. Minnesota (Record: 7-33. Last week 29) - Mo Williams had a great week individually. The Timberwolves? Not so much.
28. Philadelphia (Record: 8-33. Last week 28) - Reports questioning Joel Embiid's work ethic are only enhanced by the Sixers' desire to keep him sidelined all season.
27. Los Angeles Lakers (Record: 12-30. Last week 27) - Every year there's at least one player whose popularity trumps their actual play in the eyes of all-star voters. This year it's Kobe Bryant.
26. Indiana (Record: 15-28. Last week 22) - Losing to Philadelphia and Minnesota in the same week? Who does that?
25. Utah (Record: 14-27. Last week 26) - The more you watch the Jazz play, the clearer it becomes restricted free agent-to-be Enes Kanter doesn't appear to be a good fit for them going forward.
TRAILING THE PACK
24. Boston (Record: 13-27. Last week 23) - Considering the caliber of opponents left on the schedule in January, the Celtics may not win another game until next month.
23. Denver (Record: 18-23. Last week 19) - The return of Arron Afflalo hasn't worked out as well as he or the team anticipated.
22. Sacramento (Record: 16-25. Last week 24) - With this team going nowhere fast, expect the Kings to be "sellers" between now and Feb. 19 trade deadline.
21. Orlando (Record: 15-29. Last week 21) - It will be interesting to see what Tobias Harris will fetch on the free agent market this summer.
20. Charlotte (Record: 17-25. Last week 20) - Even with a "team-friendly" contract, the Hornets have few interested in taking Lance Stephenson off their hands.
19. Brooklyn (Record: 17-24. Last week 21) - Aging veterans, bad contracts, few draft picks ... who wouldn't want to buy the Nets?
MIDDLE OF THE PACK
18. Miami (Record: 18-22. Last week 14) - One of the few teams in the NBA with a sub-.500 record that will have two all-stars in Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.
17. Cleveland (Record: 22-20. Last week 18) - Despite what Kevin Love has said publicly, league sources believe he's open to playing elsewhere if the situation in Cleveland doesn't improve.
16. New Orleans (Record: 20-21. Last week 17) - Despite Omer Asik and his rim-protecting skills, teams are shooting 46.4 percent against the Pelicans which is the fourth-worst mark in the league.
15. Detroit (Record: 16-26. Last week 16) - Have three losses since getting rid of Josh Smith, with two coming at the hands of red-hot Atlanta.
14. Oklahoma City (Record: 20-20. Last week 15) - Don't be surprised if Reggie Jackson is on the move prior to the Feb. 19 trade deadline now that Dion Waiters is on the roster.
13. Phoenix (Record: 25-18. Last week 13) - Isaiah Thomas is a legit Sixth Man of the Year candidate with 14.6 points per game average along with 3.7 assists.
RUNNING WITH THE PACK
12. Chicago (Record: 27-16. Last week 5) - Legit concerns exist as to whether the Bulls are in a rut or need to make a major change via trade.
11. Milwaukee (Record: 21-20. Last week 12) - Jason Kidd has exceeded all expectations this year with the Bucks, an under-the-radar squad that's firmly entrenched in the playoff picture.
10. San Antonio (Record: 26-16. Last week 11) - Corey Joseph (9.7 points, 3.1 assists) has quietly gone about becoming one of the more improved backup point guards this season.
9. Los Angeles Clippers (Record: 28-14. Last week 10) - Even with the addition of Austin Rivers, depth remains a major issue for the Clippers.
8. Washington (Record: 29-13. Last week 8) - Important West coast trip coming up with at least a couple (Lakers, Nuggets) very winnable games.
7. Toronto (Record: 27-14. Last week 7) - Five of Toronto's next six opponents are below-.500, a great opportunity to pad the win total.
LEADERS OF THE PACK
6. Memphis (Record: 29-12. Last week 9) - So far, Jeff Green has given the Grizzlies a much-needed jolt during this important second half run of the season.
5. Portland (Record: 31-11. Last week 3) - Blazers are just 8-8 in games in which they score less than 100 points this season.
4. Dallas (Record: 29-13. Last week 6) - Rajon Rondo shooting almost 40 percent on 3s with the Mavs ... and we're not even in the playoffs yet.
3. Houston (Record: 29-13. Last week 4) - Having Josh Smith in a non shot-chucking role is a good look for him and the Rockets.
2. Golden State (Record: 33-6. Last week 2) - Of all the keys to the Warriors success this season, Draymond Green's play might be the most overlooked of them all.
1. Atlanta (Record: 34-8. Last week 1) - The league's best story keeps getting better with the Hawks continuing to roll over team after team.