NBA Power Rankings: Moving on after the trade deadline
With the trade deadline passed and the buyout market tepid at best, what you see from teams now is pretty much what you’re getting when the playoffs arrive.
More than anything, teams and players are focused heavily on staying healthy, while building some depth to absorb those unexpected injuries that are sure to pop up from time to time.
But there are teams like the Boston Celtics who did nothing to their roster at the trade deadline and yet feel as though they will be a moderately new-looking team.
One of their biggest X-factors this season, Robert Williams III, has been out for weeks with a hip injury but is scheduled to be available shortly after the All-Star break.
Even when he does play, he’s unlikely to log major minutes or play significant stretches on the floor. But he will provide the Celtics with another option to turn to, something Boston and every other title-contender can not have too many players capable of providing that a lift.
30. Golden State Warriors (12-41)
Rank last week: 28
Acquiring Andrew Wiggins was good, but the draft picks that came with the deal is what really makes this trade a win for the Warriors.
29. Cleveland Cavaliers (13-40)
Rank last week: 25
With a frontline that includes Tristan Thompson and now Andre Drummond, spacing will be a major issue until the Cavaliers move either Thompson or Kevin Love this summer.
28. Minnesota Timberwolves (16-35)
Rank last week: 30
Only time will tell if D’Angelo Russell will be a better fit for the Timberwolves than Russell’s predecessor Andrew Wiggins, who is now in the Bay Area with Golden State.
27. Charlotte Hornets (16-36)
Rank last week: 27
The purging of the Hornets is on, with Marvin Williams and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist both being waived.
26. Atlanta Hawks (15-39)
Rank last week: 29
It won’t show up this year, but the Hawks are going to quickly become one of the more exciting teams in the league with a core of Trae Young, John Collins and Clint Capela.
25. Phoenix Suns (21-32)
Rank last week: 19
It’s hard to believe that Phoenix got off to such a great start to the season, only to stumble afterwards to the point now where they’re almost out of the playoff chase before the break.
24. New York Knicks (17-37)
Rank last week: 26
It remains to be seen if hiring superagent Leon Rose to run the basketball shop was a good idea for the Knicks. One thing we know for sure: Things can’t get much worse than they have been for Knicks, who are once again near the bottom of the league.
23. Chicago Bulls (19-35)
Rank last week: 22
Zach LaVine’s game has grown in many areas, but few are as impressive as what he’s become as a 3-point sniper which is why he’ll be competing in the NBA’s 3-point shooting contest during All-Star weekend.
22. Detroit Pistons (19-36)
Rank last week: 23
With Andre Drummond moving on, the Pistons are unofficially in a full-blown rebuild now.
21. Sacramento Kings (21-31)
Rank last week: 24
Sacramento is playing better lately, and its second unit scoring has played a role. In their last five games, the Kings' bench is averaging 44.0 points per game which ranks sixth in the league during that span.
20. Orlando Magic (22-31)
Rank last week: 18
The Magic’s chances of moving up from the No. 8 spot in the East aren’t looking great, not as they endure a poor stretch of play that has led to losses in eight of their last nine games.
19. Washington Wizards (18-33)
Rank last week: 23
Getting Jerome Robinson from the Los Angeles Clippers was one of those sneaky-good acquisitions by the Wizards at the trade deadline.
18. San Antonio Spurs (22-30)
Rank last week: 17
We keep looking for the Spurs to get on a roll and remind us how quickly they can get going. But this season is looking more and more like it’ll be a Spurs-less postseason.
17. New Orleans Pelicans (23-31)
Rank last week: 20
Smart move on the Pelicans’ part to not trade Jrue Holiday, a proven, established veteran who gives them the kind of floor leadership they need as they make a push towards the playoffs.
16. Brooklyn Nets (23-28)
Rank last week: 16
The Nets continue to play some of their best basketball with their best player, Kyrie Irving, sidelined with an injury. The Nets are 8-13 with Irving this year, 15-15 without him.
15. Portland Trail Blazers (25-29)
Rank last week: 14
Damian Lillard continues to be the best player in the NBA on a squad with a below-.500 record.
14. Memphis Grizzlies (27-26)
Rank last week: 15
Eating Dion Waiters’ contract in order to get Justise Winslow is a high price that should pay off for Memphis next season.
13. Indiana Pacers (31-22)
Rank last week: 9
The All-Star break can’t get here fast enough for the Paers, losers in each of their last five games.
12. Dallas Mavericks (32-21)
Rank last week: 11
Load management has been beneficial to both the Mavericks and Kristaps Porzingis. He has missed a total of 13 games this season with Dallas compiling an impressive 9-4 record.
11. Oklahoma City Thunder (32-21)
Rank last week: 12
The Thunder continue to roll along and with that, up the Western Conference standings with wins in nine of their last 11 games.
10. Houston Rockets (33-20)
Rank last week: 10
Houston’s small-ball lineup is going to rack up a good number of wins in the regular season. But when the playoffs roll around and the game slows down … things could get real ugly in H-Town.
9. Philadelphia 76ers (33-21)
Rank last week: 13
The Sixers added some much-needed shooting at the trade deadline, but the issues with this crew go much deeper than adding a couple of shot-makers.
7. Utah Jazz (34-18)
Rank last week: 6
After being one of the more ineffective teams offensively for a good chunk of the season, the Jazz had a league-best offensive rating of 119.9 in the month of January.
6. Los Angeles Clippers (37-16)
Rank last week: 7
Their current road trip will get increasingly tougher, opening at Cleveland followed by games at Philadelphia and then Boston.
5. Denver Nuggets (37-16)
Rank last week: 3
Having won five of their last six, the Nuggets get a shot at closing out the pre-All-Star break portion of their schedule with a potential message-sending game against the Los Angeles Lakers.
4. Boston Celtics (37-15)
Rank last week: 8
Jayson Tatum is making the leap from being a first-time All-Star, to someone who may very well wind up in the All-NBA conversation soon … like this season.
3. Toronto Raptors (39-14)
Rank last week: 4
They’ve won a franchise-record 14 in a row, but are just 9-12 (.429 winning percentage) against teams with a winning record. That’s the lowest winning percentage against above-.500 teams of the six NBA clubs with at least 35 wins to date.
2. Los Angeles Lakers (37-16)
Rank last week: 2
For most of this season, the Lakers have been a sneaky-good elite team defensively — a major factor in their success.
1. Milwaukee Bucks (45-7)
Rank last week: 1
Picking up Marvin Williams off waivers was very much a sign of the richer getting richer.