NBA Power Rankings: Jan 23, 2016

tyronn-lue-cavs-coachThe big news this week is definitely the Cleveland Cavaliers decision to fire head coach David Blatt. Cleveland is leading the Eastern Conference with a 30-11 record, but apparently they felt it was time to shake things up. See how this coaching change affects our latest NBA power rankings.

1. Golden State Warriors (40-4); same spot – After a surprising 18-point loss to the Detroit Pistons, Golden State beat Cleveland by 34, Chicago by 31 and the Pacers by 12.

2. San Antonio Spurs (38-6); same spot – Like Golden State, San Antonio is also on pace for 70+ wins, thanks in large part to their recent 13-game win streak.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder (33-12); up 1 spot – OKC has taken care of business against a soft recent schedule, winning seven straight. There’s more good news in the fact that Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are the only two All-Star starters from the same team.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers (30-11); down 1 spot – Can Tyronn Lue integrate Kevin Love’s wide range of skills into the offense, which Blatt failed to do? He must if Cleveland is to win a title.

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Dallas Mavericks5. Toronto Raptors (28-15); up 1 spot – DeMar DeRozan is on fire lately, scoring 30+ points in three straight games for the Raptors.

6. LA Clippers (28-15); down 1 spot – Blake Griffin still isn’t ready to play after missing 13 games. So L.A. will have to remain in the hunt for a top West seed without him for a little longer.

7. Atlanta Hawks (26-18); up 2 spots – Atlanta may be 11 games off the blistering start they had last year, but they’re still #3 in the East right now.

8. Memphis Grizzlies (25-19); up 4 spots – Expect Memphis to keep climbing the standings and our power rankings. They’re on a 4-game win streak and their next six opponents are all below .500.

9. Chicago Bulls (24-18); down 2 spots – Things are not going so great in Chicago right now. Even star player Jimmy Butler agrees with the assessment that the Bulls are soft.

10. Detroit Pistons (23-20); up 3 spots – Detroit recently became one of the rare teams to beat Golden State this year. But their bench has to be more consistent if they’re to become an elite team.

11. Boston Celtics (23-20); up 3 spots – Boston gets an opportunity to pump up their record with six straight opponents with below-500 records.

paul-george-pacers12. Indiana Pacers (23-20); down 1 spot – Paul George has fallen off his torrid early season pace. But Indiana is also struggling lately due to injuries and cold shooting.

13. Dallas Mavericks (25-20); same spot – Injuries and two losses to the Thunder have hit Dallas hard over the last week.

14. Houston Rockets (23-22); up 1 spot – Houston still continues to struggle compared to their 56 wins last season. But the recent Josh Smith trade could definitely help them.

15. Miami Heat (23-21); down 7 spots – The Heat have went from the biggest Eastern Conference threat to Cleveland, to merely hanging onto the eighth seed.

16. Washington Wizards (20-21); up 1 spot – With Bradley Beal back in the lineup, Washington is averaging 112 points per 100 possessions and looking like a playoff team.

17. Sacramento Kings (19-23); up 3 spots – DeMarcus Cousins has yet to play in the postseason in his 5-year career. But a current 4-game win streak has Sacramento qualified with the #8 seed.

18. New York Knicks (22-23); same spot – New York has been given plenty of praise this year, but they need to make a breakthrough eventually to warrant the compliments.

michael-kidd-gilchrist19. Charlotte Hornets (18-21); same spot – Charlotte could really use Michael Kidd-Gilchrist returning from a shoulder injury to boost their porous defense.

20. Orlando Magic (20-23); down 4 spots – The Magic will be happy when January is over with. They’re just 1-9 since the New Year started.

21. Portland Trailblazers (19-26); up 1 spot – The Blazers are guard heavy and rely on lots of outside shooting, which has led to some very inconsistent play during the season.

22. Utah Jazz (18-24); down 1 spot – If the Jazz are going to beat out Portland and Sacramento for the West’s final playoff seed, they have to improve their 1-4 mark against these two squads.

23. Milwaukee Bucks (19-26); up 1 spot – Trade rumors continue swirling around Greg Monroe, who typically drags down the defense when he’s on the floor.

24. Denver Nuggets (16-27); down 1 spot – Emmanuel Mudiay is shooting historically bad, connecting on just 32.1% of his shots this season.

25. New Orleans Pelicans (15-27); same spot – New Orleans may have had a terrible start, but they’re still just 4 games out of a postseason spot.

26. Minnesota Timberwolves (13-31); up 1 spot – The playoffs are definitely out of the question after a terrible December/January stretch. But at least Minnesota can start developing their young talent now.

27. Phoenix Suns (13-31); down 1 spot – The Suns are on yet another losing streak, dropping six in a row.

28. Brooklyn Nets (11-33); same spot – Brooklyn tried to cobble together a cheap bench to stay under the luxury tax line – and they’re really paying for it this year.

29. L.A. Lakers (9-36); same spot – Perhaps the only highlight from this season will be Kobe Bryant getting one last All-Star game start.

30. Philadelphia 76ers (6-38); same spot – Winners of 2 of their last 3, Philadelphia could be a respectable team over the final half of the season.

2014 NBA All-Star Rosters set – 7 First-Time Players make Cut

lamarcus-aldridge-all-star-gameThe 2014 NBA All-Star reserves were recently announced, which means that we now have complete teams to discuss. In all, seven players received their first ever All-Star selection, with Stephen Curry both getting his first nod and a starting role thanks to the fan vote.

Other first-time players who’ll be joining Curry on the Western Conference team include LaMarcus Aldridge, Damian Lillard and Anthony Davis. The latter will be taking Kobe Bryant’s place on the team since he’s injured and can’t play. Lillard is not only playing in his first All-Star game, but also competing in four other contests over the weekend. As for Aldridge, he’s not only a first-time All-Star, but also a legitimate MVP candidate this year.

Moving to the Eastern Conference, first-time selections include DeMar DeRozan, Paul Millsap and John Wall. Now in his fifth year, DeRozan really seems to have stepped his game up while averaging 22 PPG and leading Toronto to the top of the Atlantic Division. Millsap, who’s spent most of his career in the West, seems to be enjoying his change of scenery in Atlanta. And Wall has now reached the potential that everybody predicted for him coming out of Kentucky.

Now that we’ve covered the first-timers in the 2014 NBA All-Star game, let’s take a quick look at the complete rosters, with stats included.

* = Starter
+ = Injured player

Eastern Conference All-Stars

* F Carmelo Anthony, New York – 27.3 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 3.0 APG
* F Paul George, Indiana – 22.7 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 3.4 APG
* F LeBron James, Miami – 26.3 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 6.6 APG
* G Kyrie Irving, Cleveland – 21.4 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 6.4 APG
* G Dwayne Wade, Miami – 18.7 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 4.7 APG
F/C Chris Bosh, Miami – 16.6 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.1 APG
G DeMar DeRozan, Toronto – 22.0 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 3.8 APG
C Roy Hibbert, Indiana – 12.2 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 1.1 APG
G Joe Johnson, Nets – 15.4 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 2.7 APG
F Paul Millsap, Atlanta – 17.7 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 2.9 APG
C Joakim Noah, Chicago – 11.5 PPG, 11.3 RPG, 4.2 APG
G John Wall, Washington – 20.0 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 8.5 APG

Western Conference

* F Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City – 31.0 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 5.3 APG
* F Blake Griffin, LA Clippers – 23.7 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 3.5 APG
* F Kevin Love, Minnesota – 25.6 PPG, 13.3 RPG, 4.0 APG
*+ G Kobe Bryant, LA Lakers – 13.8 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 6.3 APG
* Stephen Curry, Golden State – 24.5 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 9.1 APG
F/C LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland – 24.1 PPG, 11.6 RPG, 2.8 APG
F/C Anthony Davis, New Orleans – 20.7 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 1.4 APG
G James Harden, Houston – 23.8 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 5.4 APG
C Dwight Howard, Houston – 18.6 PPG, 12.4 RPG, 1.7 APG
G Damian Lillard, Portland – 20.9 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 5.8 APG
F Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas – 21.9 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 2.8 APG
G Tony Parker, San Antonio – 18.1 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 6.3 APG
G Chris Paul, LA Clippers – 19.6 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 11.2 APG