As you can see, this week’s rankings have been extended as part of a Mid-Season Review for all 30 NBA teams. All Star Weekend, although it finished on a high note, left plenty to be desired, yet again. I appreciate KLove and Duratnula as much as the next, but the league’s top guards should be ashamed of themselves with small/power forwards now being the best shooters from distance. Until LeBron and Blake Griffin compete in the dunk contest, I have no desire to see another car/motorcycle/midget being jumped over. Either get the stars to compete, or stop wasting our time. Best line (on the dunk contest via Twitter) “The best acting of the year was by the broadcast team of Charles Barkley, Shaq, and Kenny Smith for ‘acting’ like that contest was actually exciting.” @PurpleVapors.
1.) Miami Heat (27-7) Heading into the 2nd half of the season on a roll. DWade’s unnecessary hack on Kobe, which resulted in a broken nose (in an All-Star game) may have just made this coming Sunday’s meeting in LA that much more compelling.
2.) Oklahoma City Thunder (27-7) The duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are nowbecoming legitimately good enough to be considered the best in the league. Skip Bayless may ‘want’ there to be friction between the young stars simply because it gives him another ‘talking point’ to obsess over…and over…and over on ESPN First Take, but this young core of players seem to not only get along, but actually look as though they love playing together.
3.) San Antonio Spurs (24-10) Manu Ginobili is still out with a strained oblique (“several weeks”), but the Spurs should be fine over that stretch. The postseason is a different situation altogether, as they will definitely need a healthy Ginobili and Tiago Splitter (2/weeks calf-strain) to have any shot at challenging the Thunder in the playoffs.
4.) Chicago Bulls (27-8) Health will be a major determining factor for the Bulls, as well. If they can get a healthy Rip Hamilton to go along a rejuvenated Derrick Rose, then they can still make some noise in the Eastern Conference playoff run. To be a contender, they’ll need far more consistent play from Boozer and Joakim Noah…and I doubt anyone in Chicago will be holding their breath for that to take place.
5.) Los Angeles Clippers (20-11) The Clippers have reportedly added ex-player Bobby Simmons to the roster, with hopes to absorb some of the scoring/shooting lost with Chauncey Billup’s injury. Not sure how much Simmons has left in the tank, but with the other weapons Lob-City has, I still expect them to finish the season in the mid-to-high 40’s in terms of wins. Overall team experience may be the eventual pitfall.
6.) Dallas Mavericks (21-13) Even with the tough home loss to the Lakers heading into the break, Dallas has looked much better over the last couple weeks. Dirk’s rounding into shape, and even though they won’t likely return to 2011 playoff form, they will likely be a tough ‘out’ for whichever team ends up representing the Western Conference.
7.) Orlando Magic (22-13) Will he stay, or will he go? That’s the million dollar question that will remain on everyone in Orlando’s mind until the March 15th Trade Deadline. No sense in reporting or even speculating on all of the rumors…as there seem to be a new batch every few hours.
8.) Indiana Pacers (21-12) Indiana salvaged an impressive 1st half of the season (after hitting a wall) by running off 4 consecutive wins heading into the break. The true test will be holding off teams like the Hawks, Knicks, and Sixers from pushing them down into the bottom half of the playoff bracket.
9.) Los Angeles Lakers (20-14) Congrats to Kobe for passing Michael Jordan for most total points in All Star Game history! He also received a broken/bloodied nose for his troubles. What he, and the Lakers have yet to receive, is help at the point guard and small forward positions. Rumors have Rasheed Wallace nearing a contract offer from the Lakers, which would only trigger an additional three dozen trade proposals. If Howard doesn’t happen, additions of Felton/Sessions and Beasley could be the difference between a 1st round exit and another run at a title for Los Angeles.
10.) Philadelphia 76ers (20-14) Much like the Pacers, the true test for this group will be how they respond after the AS break, having gone 3-7 over their previous 10 games. Andre Iguodala’s name has been in trade rumors for the past 3 years, so why should this trade deadline be any different?
One line for you minds
11.) Houston Rockets (20-14) Kevin McHale deserves some credit for how well he’s had this team playing this year.
12.) Memphis Grizzlies (19-15) Z-Bo should be returning from injury over the next couple weeks, and the Grizzlies look primed to make another run down the stretch.
13.) Atlanta Hawks (20-14) Marvin Williams wants out, but does anyone want him?
14.) Portland Trail Blazers (18-16) Team with too much talent to be only 2 games over .500
15.) Denver Nuggets (18-17) Refer to previous response…only add another loss, but injuries are the main culprit.
16.) New York Knicks (17-18) Hype aside, Lin will settle into a good player…but will D’Antoni settle the Knicks into a good team?
17.) Minnesota Timberwolves (17-17) Didn’t win their 17th win last season, and have an additional 32 games to improve upon an impressive start. Pau on the horizon? Playoff push to follow?
18.) Boston Celtics (15-17) When will they stop lying about Rondo being in their future plans?
19.) Utah Jazz (15-17) Had a good run at one point, but not likely going to play Ty Corbin into a Coach of the Year Award anytime soon.
20.) Golden State Warrriors (13-17) Impressive home wins vs. tough teams, but nothing sustained. Monta Ellis is reportedly available, and I wouldn’t put it past Jerry West to pull off some type of surprise before the deadline.
21.) Phoenix Suns (14-20) I don’t know that I completely buy into that “Free Steve Nash” sentiment being thrown around, but I will acknowledge it is a bit sad thinking his last couple seasons of excellence will be wasted on a lottery team.
22.) Cleveland Cavaliers (13-18) Kyrie Irving has been well worth the price of admission. Couldn’t have happened to a nice guy, in Dan Gilbert…
23.) Milwaukee Bucks (13-20) Without personally starting the “free Brandon Jennings” chant, it definitely sounds as though some roster activity is bound to happen shortly.
Don’t Be Mad At Me…Be Angry With Your Team
24.) Detroit Pistons (11-24) To think, this franchise made the Eastern Conference Finals something like 5 consecutive times at one point…Good thing they signed Tayshawn Prince to that extended deal.
25.) Toronto Raptors (10-23) Remember when Kobe put 81 on them? (Nothing to say about them) Oh, yes, Demar DeRozen plays here. Bargnani back from injury, yet?
26.) New Jersey Nets (10-25) This is where Dwight Howard wants to play?? Really?
27.) Sacramento Kings (11-22) One thing I will grant Coach Keith Smart, is the fact that he has Demarcus Cousins playing some decent basketball. Andrew Bynum says he feels sorry for Cousins having to play in Sacramento.
28.) New Orleans Hornets (8-25) Wondering if NBA Commissioner David Stern will still try to convince me the trade they received for the Clippers was truly the best deal they could have gotten. They failed to sign Eric Gordon and Chris Kaman to extensions, and Minnesota’s draft pick almost certainly won’t be in the top 15.
29.) Washington Wizards (7-26) At least, John Wall isn’t on the worst team in the NBA. Then again, this did happen…
30.) Charlotte Bobcats (4-28) Not sure what it says when (arguably) the greatest player to grace a pair of Nike kicks might just be the worst GM in professional sports. With how vehemently he and several other owners fought against the player’s rights during the league-imposed lockout, a bit of #SportsKarma may be the works.
Jabari A. Davis
@RealTalkOnSprts on Twitter
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