NBA Power Rankings: Feb 22, 2016

Milwaukee Bucks v Cleveland CavaliersTeams are back on the court after the All-Star break and, already, a few of the top squads have lost. Golden State, San Antonio, Oklahoma City and Toronto are all trying to shake off the rust after losses, and one of these teams fell in our power rankings as a result. That said, let’s see which team this is, and here’s a look at last week’s power rankings.

1. Golden State Warriors (49-5); same spot – Perhaps fueled by his All-Star snub, Damian Lillard dropped 51 points on the Warriors to lead Portland to a 137-105 victory. Golden State righted the ship, though, with a 115-112 road win over the Clippers.

2. San Antonio Spurs (47-9); same spot – The Spurs came out of the break with a 105-86 loss to the Clippers, but have since won two easy ones against the Lakers and Suns.

3. Cleveland Cavaliers (40-14); up 1 spot – Blowout wins against the Bulls and Thunder recently have the Cavs looking like the cream of the East crop. It also doesn’t hurt that their lead on the Raptors is 4 games now.

4. Oklahoma City Thunder (40-16); down 1 spot – The Thunder have stumbled out of the mid-season pause with home losses to Indiana and Cleveland. But Durant and Westbrook should get them back in the contender conversation soon.

doug-mcdermott-career-high5. Toronto Raptors (36-18); same spot – Losing to a short-handed Bulls team and allowing Doug McDermott to score 30 had to hurt. But Toronto did come back with a nice 13-point victory over the Grizzlies.

6. Boston Celtics (33-24); same spot – No major trade for the Celtics this year, however, their current lineup is more than capable of a solid playoff run.

7. LA Clippers (36-19); same spot – Awkward handshakes aside, the Clippers are playing really well with a victory over the Spurs and a narrow 3-point loss to Golden State. It’ll be interesting to see how the Jeff Green trade impacts this team.

8. Memphis Grizzlies (32-23); same spot – It’s unclear if Lance Stephenson will help the Grizzlies win now. But they must be happy to part with Green and get a first-round pick.

9. Miami Heat (31-24); up 1 spot – Another health scare for Chris Bosh, but Miami is still playing pretty good in his absence right now. Hopefully Bosh can get his blood clot issue cleared up.

al-horford10. Atlanta Hawks (31-24); down 1 spot – Atlanta chose to keep their core together. They’re banking on doing well this year and re-signing Al Horford in the summer.

11. Indiana Pacers (30-25); up 1 spot – With George Best healthy and Myles Turner getting better all the time, Indiana could be a dark-horse contender in the East.

12. Charlotte Hornets (29-26); up 1 spot – The All-Star break didn’t cool off Charlotte since they’ve now won five straight and hold the East’s seventh seed.

13. Dallas Mavericks (30-27); down 2 spots – Dallas has been pretty mediocre lately. But they could get a little boost by signing David Lee in the near future.

14. Portland Trailblazers (28-27); up 2 spots – Portland has come out after the break and ripped off three straight wins, including the aforementioned Warriors victory. Pretty incredible for a team that lost several key players in the offseason.

15. Chicago Bulls (28-26); down 1 spot – Chicago needs to stay in the playoff hunt until Jimmy Butler and Nikola Mirotic return, which will be at least a couple more weeks.

dwight-howard-rockets16. Houston Rockets (28-28); up spots –  The Rockets just couldn’t find a decent trade for Dwight Howard, so they decided to keep him. This certainly makes Houston better in the short term.

17. Utah Jazz (27-27); down 2 spots – Utah is 8-2 in their last 10 games, but they’re still on the outside looking in regarding the postseason.

18. Detroit Pistons (27-29); down 1 spot – Detroit keeps losing, but adding Tobias Harris should help this team turn things around and compete for a playoff spot.

19. Washington Wizards (25-29); same spot – The big question is how Markieff Morris affects this team’s chemistry. But it’s undeniable that he’ll add more talent to the Wizards.

20. Orlando Magic (24-30); same spot – Orlando picked up a quality player in Brandon Jennings, and they are poised to hunt for stars in the free agent market.

21. New York Knicks (24-33); up 1 spot – New York was surprisingly quiet at the trade deadline. They’ll definitely be looking to get better in free agency this summer.

randy-foye-thunder22. Denver Nuggets (22-34); down 1 spot – Nice trade by Denver to get rid of veteran Randy Foye for a couple of second-round picks.

23. Sacramento Kings (23-31); same spot – The Kings have won two out of the break, but they have a lot of ground to make up for the last playoff spot.

24. New Orleans Pelicans (22-33); up 1 spot – Anthony Davis is coming off a franchise-record 59 points and 20 rebounds against the Pistons.

25. Milwaukee Bucks (23-33); down 1 spot – Surprisingly, the Bucks were interested in trading for Dwight Howard before the trade deadline.

26. Minnesota Timberwolves (17-39); same spot – The T-Wolves have really struggled to win at the Target Center, going just 9-20 on their home floor.

27. Brooklyn Nets (15-41); same spot – New GM Sean Marks quickly made an impact by cutting Andrea Bargnani.

28. Phoenix Suns (14-42); same spot – The losing continues for Phoenix as they’ve now dropped 11 in a row.

29. L.A. Lakers (11-45); same spot – Truly the only reason to pay attention to L.A. right now is to see Kobe play his last stretch of games.

30. Philadelphia 76ers (8-47); same spot – This team probably wants to fast-forward to next season and see just how “special” Joel Embiid can be.

LA Clippers Betting: What’s Jeff Green’s Impact?

jeff-green-clippers-impactTo hear some analysts talk, you’d think that Jeff Green suddenly elevates the L.A. Clippers to the top of the Western Conference. Green does, after all, seemingly fit the versatile forward role that the Clippers have been searching for to supplement their core of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. But is Green’s impact on the team being overstated a bit? Furthermore, will Green change how you bet on the Clippers from now on?

On paper, this trade definitely makes Los Angeles better right now – especially since they only gave up Lance Stephenson and a lottery protected 2019 first-rounder. Stephenson was only averaging 4.7 PPG and 2.5 RPG in 15.8 minutes for the Clippers, while Green contributed 12.2 PPG and 4.5 RPG in 29.1 minutes for the Grizzlies.

Cameron Stewart from HoopsHabit isn’t sold that Green will put L.A. above the Spurs and Warriors. But he does like what he sees out of the 29-year-old.

“Green can slide in at both forward positions and help stabilize an endlessly changing rotation of journeyman wings who have failed at opportunities to become a reliable small forward for the Clippers,” Stewart writes. “Green’s play in the absence of Blake Griffin will be very intriguing if the Clippers take a look at trading Blake Griffin in the offseason. Green is an unrestricted free agent after this season, but his time with the Clippers could be an audition to return to the Clippers next season on a bigger contract.”

This is of course true, and Green will certainly provide help while Griffin continues to sit with injuries to his hand and a stubborn quad muscle. Originally drafted fifth overall by the Boston Celtics in 2007, the seven-year pro has always teased scouts with his multi-dimensional game and 6’9″ frame. But the problem, as SB Nation’s Jesus Gomez points out, is that Green has never consistently been the player every team hopes he can be.

jeff-green-clippers-impact-1“We know that he has always been extremely inconsistent, his numbers have often been hollow and he’s never really figured out how to leverage his physical tools to help a team win over the long haul,” writes Gomez.

“Green rebounds like a small forward. He’s one of 24 players who are 6’8 or taller who pull down less than 15 percent of available defensive rebounds (minimum 1,000 minutes). Despite his length, he’s not a good post defender because of his slender frame, ranking in the 29th percentile in the league. He offers very little in the way of rim protection as well, allowing opponents to shoot over 50 percent on the attempts he contests at the basket. He commits so many mental errors defending the pick and roll and guarding players in isolation.”

These shortcomings might be alright, as Gomez points out, if Green could make the three-pointer at a high clip. But unlike a similar player such as Ryan Anderson (38.3% from three), he’s only hitting 31% from beyond the arc and 34% for his career.

Again, the Clippers will certainly be better with Green on the roster. But what kind of impact will he truly make once Griffin returns to the floor? Will he justifying slightly larger spreads for L.A. to cover with him?

The answer is really as hard to come up with as it has been for scouts to figure out how to unlock his Green’s physical gifts. One game he could hit 60% of his shots, score 20 points and look like the missing link to the Clippers’ championship squad. The next game he might make 30% of his shots, score 7 points and only grab 2 rebounds in 25 minutes.

Long story short, if you’re a Clippers bettor, proceed with caution for the first few games that Green is on the floor.