Power Rankings: Worst to First
All 30 NBA teams. Plus, 10 great games before the All-Star break.
by Doobie Okon
30) Charlotte Bobcats (4-27) – Finally refused to surrender to the longest futility streak in Toronto. Hey, I’m trying to make it as eloquent as possible for the horrendous ‘Cats.
29) Washington Wizards (7-25) – John Wall will never be considered an elite point guard unless his shooting drastically improves. A good start came last Tuesday night at Portland when he hit his second three ball…of the season.
28) New Orleans Hornets (7-24) – Three-gamer, including solving Lin, and a top 10 defense doesn’t change the fact that New Orleans has officially been LeBron’d by Chris Paul. Good news: ‘least they got the Saints. Sorry Cleveland.
Playoffs All But Gone
27) New Jersey Nets (10-24) – DWill’s been great, but before beating the Rose-less Bulls, the Nets had lost eight straight, 10 of 11 and possessed exactly one win over a +.500 team, coming in an OT victory in Philly. Jersey also gives up triple digits on average and sits last in rebounding, which Brook’s 6.0 won’t help. Bright side: Comeback win over America (oh sorry, I mean the Knicks) made a statement.
26) Toronto Raptors (9-23) – Some silver linings for this ugly squad that nobody cares about: a) Calderon proving he’s still a good point guard, b) Bargnani’s 23.5 points return soon and c) Toronto boasts the League’s 14th best defense, only surrendering 94.3 ppg.
25) Sacramento Kings (10-21) – Big W over OKC to then lose five straight. For all their youth, talent and rebounding (4th in the NBA), the Kings are going nowhere with that pitiful 30th-ranked defense and 17.0 team assists, also good for dead last.
24) Detroit Pistons (11-22) – 7-2 since Feb. 1st, including two big wins over Boston but also a 21-point pummeling by the Wiz at the Palace. The fact that Greg Monroe’s a budding star at center mildly masks their terrible offense, even though the Pistons are averaging 99 points in those seven wins, way up from their season mark of 88.8.
Glimmers Of Hope
23) Milwaukee Bucks (13-19) – A measly 3-8 since beating the Heat for a second time, and three unimpressive wins at that (TOR, CLE, NJ). After getting blown out by Miami in game three, surrendering a huge lead in Orlando then failing to sustain multiple five-point leads at home against the Magic, Milwaukee is suddenly holding on to their season for ‘deer’ life. Brandon Jennings (32.4% shooting in February) needs to step up if the Bucks want the 8th seed.
22) Phoenix Suns (14-19) – Although his two MVP awards have been the subject of great debate, what Steve Nash is doing now at 38 should propel him into to the top five all-time point guards argument. Without him, Phoenix might have 12-14 fewer wins.
21) Cleveland Cavaliers (12-17) – Kyrie Irving has transformed the Cavs from laughing-stock to playoff hopefuls, and it looks like the concussion hasn’t slowed down the rook. Last six wins, albeit in 13 games, have come against New York, Boston, Dallas, Indy, Lob City and Sacramento. When Irving and Varejao are healthy, Cleveland’s not to be overlooked.
20) Golden State Warriors (12-17) – Different year, same story. Killer offense that still manages a negative point differential because of such a futile defense (100.7 points against). Curry, Ellis, and Lee are fun to watch, but for god’s sake, Oakland, get yourself a big man or two that can guard the damn basket already.
In It ‘Til The End
19) Utah Jazz (15-16) With Jefferson, Millsap and Favors, the frontcourt for the Jazz should scare every other team. It’s just a shame that starting PG Devin Harris (8.8/4.4) has been so awful or else Utah could have maintained their impressive 9-4 start. Instead, they’ll now have to fight just to sneak in to the second season and to stay out of the Northwest cellar.
18) Minnesota Timberwolves (16-17) – Four straight L’s after topping .500 for the first time since KG left (excluding 1-0 starts in ‘08 & ‘09). Although it was a setback for the young Wolves, they played four good teams very hard, and redeemed themselves with big wins over Houston and Philly. With such a great 1-2 punch in Rubio-Love, Minny remains an awfully dangerous team that should keep its sights on the playoffs.
17) New York Knicks (16-17) – As annoying as new media-craze ‘Linsanity’ is, the Harvard grad is straight balling, no question about it. But he’s also diverting attention away from what is still a horribly disappointing season for NY, whose two superstars have failed miserably together. The true test: Can Lin, ‘Melo & Amar’e co-exist enough to keep the wins coming? Bad losses to Hornets and Nets are first ‘crevices’ in the armor.
16) Boston Celtics (15-16) – Huh. After playing so well for three weeks, Boston has suffered some very weird losses this past week including double-digit defeats to the Raptors and Pistons (TWICE??) and a spanking by the Rose-less Bulls. The C’s should be fine with that suffocating ‘D’, except they need to get better actually finishing the defensive sequence, as they sit tied with the Nets for last in rebounding (38.8 per game). Now would be the time to break up the trio, Beantown.
15) Portland Trailblazers (17-16) – Yeesh. Portland is 10-14 in their last 24 contests, and besides double digit losses to the Spurs and Lakers and an inexcusable home meltdown to the Wiz, their other 11 defeats come by an average of four points. Compare that to a 17.5-point differential in those ten wins, and what does that tell ya? The Blazers aren’t winning close ones anymore. That’s on Nate McMillan and the vets.