NBA Power Rankings: April 12, 2016

james-harden-rocketsGolden State needs just one more win tomorrow night to capture the best record in NBA history at 73-9. Moving further down the Western Conference standings, Houston and Utah are still fighting for who’ll play Golden State in the first round. One of these teams will earn a playoff berth, one is going to be headed to the lottery. See who we think it will be in our latest power rankings, and check out last week’s rankings here.

1. Golden State Warriors (72-9); same spot – Few thought that Golden State could beat the Spurs at the A&T Center on Sunday. The hard work is mostly out of the way for this team; they just need a win vs. Memphis to earn the best-ever NBA record.

2. San Antonio Spurs (65-15); same spot – San Antonio’s perfect 39-0 home record was snapped against the Warriors. Now, they can focus 100% on getting ready for the playoffs.

3. Cleveland Cavaliers (57-24); same spot – The Cavs got the important win they needed to clinch the East’s top spot. It’ll be interesting to see if they play everybody against the Pistons tomorrow.

kevin-durant4. Oklahoma City Thunder (55-26); same spot – OKC is another team that doesn’t really have anything to play for as the season winds down since they have the West’s #3 seed locked down.

5. Toronto Raptors (54-26); same spot – Like Cleveland, the Raptors are waiting to see if they’ll play the Pistons or Pacers in the first round.

6. LA Clippers (52-28); same spot – Blake Griffin’s return has definitely been a good thing for L.A. as they’ve won five straight.

7. Atlanta Hawks (48-33); up 1 spot – Another loss to the Cavs non-withstanding, Atlanta is still in control of the East’s #3 seed.

8. Miami Heat (47-33); up 1 spot – Currently seeded #4, Miami would make a dangerous second-round matchup for Cleveland if both teams make it there as seeded.

9. Charlotte Hornets (47-34); up 1 spot – The Hornets got a nice confidence boost by blowing out Boston last night.

isaiah-thomas-celtics10. Boston Celtics (47-34); down 3 spots – Boston lost some steam, dropping two straight contests. But they’re still battling for seeding with the Heat and Hornets.

11. Indiana Pacers (43-37); same spot – Indiana finishes up with New York at home and Milwaukee on the road, which is a much-more favorable path to the #7 seed than what the Pistons have.

12. Detroit Pistons (43-37); same spot – Speaking of which, Detroit finishes with Cleveland on the road and Miami at home. We’re predicting they wind up with the #8 seed.

13. Portland Trail Blazers (43-38); same spot – Nobody predicted at the season’s beginning – or even before the All-Star break – that Portland would clinch a playoff spot.

14. Dallas Mavericks (42-39); up 1 spot – Dallas can still earn the sixth seed over Memphis, but they must beat the Spurs to do it.

15. Memphis Grizzlies (42-38); down 1 spot – Memphis lost the fifth seed to the Trail Blazers. It’s hard to see them regaining it with a road game against Golden State.

16. Houston Rockets (40-41); up 1 spot – A recent loss to Phoenix made it look like Houston might not make the postseason. Now they have a chance to wrap up the #8 seed with a home win over Sacramento.

pau-gasol-bulls-playoffs17. Chicago Bulls (41-40); up 1 spot – Pau Gasol said the downfall of this season was the team’s lack of awareness, maturity and urgency. Yeah…that pretty much sums it up.

18. Utah Jazz (40-41); down 2 spots – Utah is still alive to grab the West’s #8 seed; however, even with a win over the Lakers, they need Sacramento to beat Houston

19. Washington Wizards (40-41); same spot – Washington could actually close out what’s been a rough season with a .500 record. But it won’t keep Randy Wittman from being fired.

20. Orlando Magic (35-46); same spot – Orlando picked up some nice wins to close the season, making it seem like the future could be good here.

21. Sacramento Kings (33-48); up 2 spots – For the first time in a while, Sacramento has actually cobbled together a winning record in a 10-game stretch, going 6-4.

22. Denver Nuggets (33-48); down 1 spot – All Denver has left is to play spoiler to Portland retaining the fifth seed in the West.

23. Milwaukee Bucks (33-48); down 1 spot – Milwaukee will attempt to beat a hungry Pacers team to close their season.

phil-jackson-new-york-turnaround-124. New York Knicks (32-49); same spot – After a failed two years in New York, is Phil Jackson heading back to the Lakers’ organization?

25. New Orleans Pelicans (30-51); same spot – Injuries certainly hit New Orleans hard this year; however, their 9-31 road record didn’t help matters either.

26. Minnesota Timberwolves (28-53); same spot – Minnesota will head into the offseason with a recent victory over the Warriors under their belt.

27. Phoenix Suns (22-59); up 1 spot – Recent victories at New Orleans and Houston give Phoenix something positive to build on as they head to the lottery.

28. Brooklyn Nets (21-60); down 1 spot
– With no draft picks in the foreseeable future, Brooklyn has little room to work this offseason.

29. L.A. Lakers (16-65); same spot – Kobe Bryant will officially end his storied career on Wednesday night against Utah.

30. Philadelphia 76ers (10-70); same spot – Philadelphia may have avoided the worst-ever record in NBA history. But now they are mired in controversy after hiring Bryan Colangelo to essentially replace Sam Hinkie.

NBA Power Rankings: March 7, 2016

lakers-vs-warriorsIn the biggest upset of the year, Golden State lost to the L.A. Lakers by a score of 102-85. It was no doubt an amazing win for Los Angeles, and a very forgettable night for the Warriors…especially since they went 4-for-30 from the three-point line. Despite the loss, Golden State remains firmly entrenched in our top spot, with L.A. moving up a place thanks to the big victory. See how everybody else ranks below, and here are last week’s power rankings.

1. Golden State Warriors (55-6); same spot – The Warriors look to get back on track with upcoming games against mediocre Orlando, Utah and Portland. Oh yeah…and they’re still on pace to beat Chicago’s 72-10 mark.

2. San Antonio Spurs (53-9); same spot – San Antonio is riding an 8-game win streak, but it doesn’t seem like they can catch Golden State for the top seed with just 20 games left.

3. Cleveland Cavaliers (44-17); up 1 spot – Blowout wins against Washington and Boston have quieted the drama in Cleveland.

4. Oklahoma City Thunder (43-20); down 1 spot – The Thunder have lost 5 of their last 8, but they’ve at least avoided the constant media speculation that Cleveland is under.

5. Toronto Raptors (41-20); same spot
 – Tough loss for the Raptors in Houston; it drops them back 3 games behind Cleveland for the East’s top seed.

6. LA Clippers (40-21); up 1 spot – The Clippers have played well against top competition, recently notching a win over the Thunder.

hassan-whiteside-miami7. Miami Heat (37-26); up 1 spot – Miami’s young trio of Hassan Whiteside, Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson are playing some excellent D for Miami lately.

8. Boston Celtics (36-26); down 2 spots – The jury is out on how far Boston will get in the playoffs, but they’ve definitely exceeded expectations with their young squad.

9. Memphis Grizzlies (37-25); same spot – Memphis won’t be expected to make it out of the first round with Marc Gasol done for the year. But don’t count this scrappy team out.

10. Atlanta Hawks (35-28); up 1 spot – Nobody is talking about Atlanta now that the trade deadline is over with. And that works to the advantage of this veteran team.

11. Charlotte Hornets (33-28); up 1 spot
 – Much of Charlotte’s recent rise can be attributed to the late-career surge of Marvin Williams.

12. Portland Trail Blazers (33-31); down 2 spots – Portland had a rough close to their road trip, losing three straight to Boston, Toronto and Detroit.

13. Indiana Pacers (33-30); same spot – It’ll be interesting to see what kind of help Ty Lawson can bring to the Pacers while backing up George Hill.

14. Dallas Mavericks (33-30); same spot – Dallas has had lots of difficulty with their own division, going just 5-8 against Southwest teams.

15. Detroit Pistons (32-31); same spot – It looks to be a battle between Chicago and Detroit for the last playoff spot in the East.

Andrew Wiggins, Jimmy Butler16. Chicago Bulls (31-30); up 1 spot – Jimmy Butler was very Jimmy Butler in his first game back, scoring 24 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and dishing 6 assists against Houston.

17. Houston Rockets (31-32); down 1 spot – The Rockets would be in the postseason if it started today. However, this already seems like a lost year for a team with bigger expectations.

18. Washington Wizards (30-32); same spot
 – Washington’s late-season run was cooled off by losses to the Cavs and Pacers.

19. Utah Jazz (29-33); same spot – Quinn Snyder has done a good job with this team, but it would be a great job if Utah can make the playoffs.

20. Orlando Magic (27-34); same spot – Scott Skiles questioned the Magic’s heart, which makes one wonder if changes are coming to the team this offseason.

21. Milwaukee Bucks (26-37); same spot – Milwaukee got bad news that Michael Carter-Williams will undergo season-ending surgery to his hip.

22. New York Knicks (26-38); up 1 spot – After what’s obviously been a failed season, there’s speculation that Carmelo Anthony will be asked to waive his no-trade clause.

23. Sacramento Kings (25-36); down 1 spot – Sacramento isn’t completely out of the playoff hunt, but they have to play very well to catch Houston.

24. Denver Nuggets (25-38); down 1 spot
 – The Nuggets earned a nice victory over the Dallas Mavericks last night.

25. New Orleans Pelicans (23-38); down 2 spots – Any postseason talk for the Pelicans has died down thanks to a four-game losing streak.

karl-anthony-towns26. Minnesota Timberwolves (20-43); same spot – Karl-Anthony Towns definitely seems like the type of future star that Minnesota can build around.

27. Brooklyn Nets (18-45); same spot – Brooklyn has actually played decent lately, winning 3 of their last 6 contests.

28. L.A. Lakers (13-51); up 1 spot – Maybe L.A. doesn’t deserve to be here record-wise. However, you definitely have to give them some credit for being one of six teams to beat Golden State.

29. Phoenix Suns (17-46); down 1 spot – Wins in two out of their last three games show that Phoenix may have some hope for next year.

30. Philadelphia 76ers (8-55); same spot – Philadelphia may be playing better, but they are now mired in a 12-game losing streak.

NBA Power Rankings: Feb 13, 2016

gregg-popovich-lebronWe’ve hit the All-Star break, and there are 30 games left in the season. Golden State has a pretty firm grasp on the league’s top record (48-4), so it won’t be a surprise if they eventually lock up home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. It’s also no surprise that they once again top our power rankings just over halfway through the season. See where everybody else ranks below, and here are last week’s power rankings.

1. Golden State Warriors (48-4); same spot – The only question now remains if the Warriors will beat the ’96 Chicago Bulls’ regular season mark of 73-9. Golden State is on pace to accomplish the feat.

2. San Antonio Spurs (45-8); same spot – LeBron James recently said that he wishes he could spend lots of time around Gregg Popovich. It’s little wonder why when you consider how Popovich just seems to win every year.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder (40-14); same spot – OKC may not catch either San Antonio or Golden State before the year is over. But they definitely can’t be overlooked once the postseason starts.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers (38-14); same spotCleveland Cavs trade rumors are a daily story right now. Ben McLemore, Trevor Ariza and Kyle Korver are all reported targets of the Cavaliers.

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Dallas Mavericks5. Toronto Raptors (35-17); same spot – Raptors stars Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan get to stick around their home city for the All-Star game. Then it’s back to work trying to catch Cleveland in the East.

6. Boston Celtics (32-23); up 2 spots – Boston continues to surge up the standings, with big wins over the Clippers and Cavs. Now rumors have them thinking about Al Horford in the trade market.

7. LA Clippers (35-18); down 1 spot – L.A. still remains in the upper echelon of the league while Blake Griffin sits. Unfortunately, Griffin will sit four games longer after he’s healed due to a suspension.

8. Memphis Grizzlies (31-22); down 1 spot – Memphis has a tough game coming up in Toronto on the 21st of this month.

9. Atlanta Hawks (31-24); up 1 spot – The Hawks may be talking about taking their team apart, but that hasn’t stopped them from winning.

10. Miami Heat (29-24); down 1 spot – Miami goes into the break with a two-game losing streak, but they have a chance to make up for it by playing Atlanta after the break.

11. Dallas Mavericks (29-26); up 1 spot – The Mavericks can boost their record with games against the Magic and 76ers coming out of the break.

12. Indiana Pacers (28-25); up 1 spot – Now a healthy team, perhaps Indiana can climb back up the Eastern Conference standings.

michael-kidd-gilchrist13. Charlotte Hornets (27-26); up 4 spots – The Hornets are playing their best basketball of the season and once again resembling the playoff team they looked like in November and December.

14. Chicago Bulls (27-25); down 3 spots – Chicago is playing worse than any legitimate playoff team right now with four straight losses.

15. Utah Jazz (26-26); up 1 spot – Much like their location, the Utah Jazz aren’t a flashy team. However, they have good chemistry and continue holding down a playoff seed.

16. Portland Trailblazers (25-27); up 3 spots – The Trail Blazers have played a couple more games than most teams, which lightens their load in the second half of the season.

17. Detroit Pistons (27-28); down 3 spots – Detroit definitely has the talent to win, but they haven’t found a way to put together consistent play for long stretches.

18. Houston Rockets (27-28); down 3 spots – Houston is a team at a crossroads between deciding if they want to build around James Harden, or dismantle the team and get draft picks/young players in return.

john-wall-wizards19. Washington Wizards (23-28); down 1 spot – The Wizards have a pretty solid core, but injuries have kept them from putting things together.

20. Orlando Magic (23-29); same spot – Orlando has played solid against the West, but they’re just 13-19 against their own conference.

21. Denver Nuggets (22-32); up 2 spots – Emmanuel Mudiay has gradually gotten better now that he’s healthy.

22. New York Knicks (23-32); down 1 spot – The big rumor now is that Carmelo Anthony could be on his way to Cleveland. But we’ll believe it when we see it.

23. Sacramento Kings (22-31); down 1 spot – Once in the thick of the playoff hunt, Sacramento has gone just 2-8 in their last 10 games.

24. Milwaukee Bucks (22-32); same spot – Milwaukee has a nice young core, but they need veteran role players around this talent.

tyreke-evans-trade25. New Orleans Pelicans (20-33); same spot – The Pelicans got the bad news that Tyreke Evans will miss the rest of the season after knee surgery.

26. Minnesota Timberwolves (17-37); same spot – Andrew Wiggins and Zach Lavine were undoubtedly the stars of the Rising Stars Challenge.

27. Brooklyn Nets (14-40); same spot – Joe Johnson reportedly isn’t interested in a contract buyout, so he’ll likely remain with Brooklyn until his deal ends.

28. Phoenix Suns (14-40); same spot – Phoenix currently owns the league’s longest losing streak at 9.

29. L.A. Lakers (11-44); same spot – Kobe Bryant gets one last chance to be in the All-Star game. Then it’s back to the dismal reality of playing his final season with one of the NBA’s worst team.

30. Philadelphia 76ers (8-45); same spot – The Sixers have a 6-16 record against the West, but they’re just 2-29 against their own conference.

NBA Power Rankings: Feb 8, 2016

golden-state-vs-okcGolden State proves that the rich keep getting richer as they’ve ripped off a 9-game win streak, extending their West lead over San Antonio to three and a half games. So it’s little surprise that they retain the top spot in our power rankings. See where everybody else ranks this week below, and take a look at last week’s rankings here.

1. Golden State Warriors (46-4); same spot – A 116-108 win over Oklahoma City further cements the Warriors’ firm grasp on the top spot. Aside from the occasional surprise loss, it’s hard to see anybody beating Golden State this year.

2. San Antonio Spurs (43-8); same spot – The Spurs have kept their perfect 28-0 home record intact, and they’re currently on a 4-game win streak.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder (38-14); up 1 spot – Oklahoma City played Golden State better than any other top-tier team recently. They even tied the game at 104-104 late, before eventually succumbing to Steph Curry.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers (36-14); down 1 spot – The Cavs got an easy win over an injury-riddled New Orleans team to take the sting out of their last-second loss to Boston.

5. Toronto Raptors (34-16); same spot – Toronto is truly a threat to take the top seed in the East from Cleveland. They square off again on February 26.

kevin-durant6. LA Clippers (34-17); same spot – Could the Clippers possibly deal Blake Griffin for Kevin Durrant? Rumors are swirling as the Clippers continue to win without Griffin on the floor.

7. Memphis Grizzlies (30-21); same spot – While the rest of the league is playing small ball, Memphis is proving that you can still win when playing big.

8. Boston Celtics (31-22); up 2 spots – The Celtics big road win over the Cavs proves that they’re a formidable foe in the Eastern Conference. You almost wonder if they’ll be better off avoiding any major trades this year.

9. Miami Heat (29-23); same spot – Hassan Whiteside’s emergence continues after a 10-point, 10-rebound, 10-block triple double against the Hornets. It makes you wonder why he only plays 28 minutes per game.

10. Atlanta Hawks (30-23); up 2 spots – Atlanta is another team stuck in the middle between making a big trade or making a serious playoff run.

11. Chicago Bulls (27-23); down 3 spots– Chicago is just 3-7 in their last 10 games and playing far lower than their talent level suggests. Could Fred Hoiberg be on the hot seat already if things get any worse?

12. Dallas Mavericks (29-25); down 1 spot – The Mavs had been flailing, with losses to the Hawks, Heat and Spurs. However, they got a big win over Memphis at the end of this gauntlet.

indiana-paul-george13. Indiana Pacers (27-24); same spot – The Pacers are finally healthy with George Best back and running the point. Now Paul George just needs to return to his early-season dominance.

14. Detroit Pistons (27-25); same spot – Detroit’s schedule has gotten much tougher lately, so there’s a good explanation for their recent lack of wins.

15. Houston Rockets (27-26); same spot – Houston has lost 4 out of their past 6, and now they have the unfortunate task of meeting the Warriors on Tuesday.

16. Utah Jazz (25-25); up 5 spots – The Jazz now own the second-longest winning streak in the league right now at 6. Of course, it helps that the Bulls are the only team they’ve played with a winning record in the last 6 contests.

17. Charlotte Hornets (23-25); same spot – Charlotte has been excellent in Time Warner Arena with an 18-9 record. If only they could improve on that 7-17 road mark…

18. Washington Wizards (22-27); down 2 spots – Washington is a rare team that plays far better on the road, sporting an 11-11 record away and an 11-16 record on their home floor.

damian-lillard-portland-trailblazers19. Portland Trailblazers (25-27); same spot – The Trail Blazers are the only West team within striking distance of Utah for the final playoff spot.

20. Orlando Magic (22-28); same spot – Orlando had a terrible month in January, and they’re just 2-8 in their last 10 contests. So they’ll look to put all this behind them as we move into February.

21. New York Knicks (23-31); down 3 spots – The Knicks fired Derek Fisher, which may be a good move considering that their talented roster is just 1-9 in their last 10 games.

22. Sacramento Kings (21-30); same spot – New York isn’t the only team that could be firing their coach. George Karl is on the hot seat once again amid the Kings’ 3-game losing streak.

23. Denver Nuggets (21-31); up 2 spots – Despite being far less talented than many teams in the league, Denver has played respectable as of late.

24. Milwaukee Bucks (20-32); down 1 spot – Milwaukee has really taken a step back this season, and things aren’t getting any better after the team has lost five straight games.

25. New Orleans Pelicans (18-32); down 1 spot – Any chance of making a run for the final postseason spot appears to be slipping away from the Pelicans. Of course, they can’t be blamed with all their injuries this season.

NBA: Preseason-Minnesota Timberwolves at Oklahoma City Thunder26. Minnesota Timberwolves (16-36); same spot – Minnesota won just two games in January. They’ve already matched that total in Feb. with big victories over the Bulls and Clippers.

27. Brooklyn Nets (13-39); up 1 spot – As if Brooklyn doesn’t already have enough problems, they are also dealing with some pretty terrible TV ratings too.

28. Phoenix Suns (14-38); down 1 spot – Earl Watson stepped into an impossible situation in Phoenix – an injury plagued team that hasn’t won much in the last two months.

29. L.A. Lakers (11-42); same spot – It’s been nice seeing Kobe Bryant looking like his old self over the past week. He’s averaging over 28 points a game in his last four contests, with two of these being wins.

30. Philadelphia 76ers (8-43); same spot – If nothing else, the Sixers are proving that they may be better than other league doormats after wins over Phoenix and Brooklyn in the last six games.