Power Rankings: Week Fifthteen

It remains clear of who the top teams are, but are any darkhorse teams rising? See where your team sits in this week’s power rankings.

  1. Golden State Warriors(44-4)- Golden State reassured the league they are the best team in basketball with their dismantling of the San Antonio Spurs. Unless Gregg Popovich can come up with a better gameplan with a healthy Duncan, Golden State looks ready to run away with the conference and a championship. Golden State will have another chance to flex their muscles when they face off against the Thunder on Saturday evening.
  2. San Antonio Spurs(39-8)- San Antonio had a tough week of basketball without Tim Duncan anchoring the defense. With the highly anticipated matchup against the Warriors turning into a blowout, San Antonio was left to question where they needed to improve. The game against Cleveland showed even more holes for this team. Once Duncan returns, San Antonio will be find, and Gregg Popovich will have this team performing at a high level in no time. Do not hit the panic button yet.
  3. Oklahoma City Thunder(36-13)-Oklahoma City had an easier schedule this week, and they capitalized. Russell Westbrook continues to add to his absurd triple-double totals for the past two seasons. Oklahoma City has a key game this Saturday when they face up against the Golden State Warriors at the Oracle. Oklahoma City needs to prove themselves in this game if they do not want to be continually overlooked.
  4. Cleveland Cavaliers(34-12)- Cleveland has started off hot under Coach Lue. Lue has figured out how to effectively play James, Irving, and Love to get the full effect from them, with them all scoring 20+ in the past two games. The rest of the schedule for the season is pretty easy going, so Cleveland has a great shot to separate themselves from Toronto, and win the Eastern Conference.
  5. Toronto Raptors(32-15)- Toronto continues to stay on the heels of the Cavaliers. Their defense has shown to be great the past few weeks, while the offense is one of the best in the league. Toronto has a lot of flexibility if they want to make a move at the trade deadline to counter the Cavaliers in the playoffs. However, unless a good defensive power forward becomes available, I do not see them making much moves.
  6. Los Angeles Clippers(32-16)- The Clippers continue to find ways to win without Blake Griffin. With the success without Griffin, one has to wonder whether or not if the Clippers would consider trading the star forward to get better pieces to build around. Los Angeles needs to keep up winning, because after this week, their schedule becomes full of playoff caliber teams.
  7. Dallas Mavericks(28-22)- We all look at Oklahoma City as being one of the most overlooked teams in the Western Conference, but Dallas continues to win without much press. Dallas does not have the talent to win a seven game series against the top three teams in the Western Conference, but they do have the chemistry to give those teams a run for their money. Dallas might look to be active on the trade deadline, as they have financial flexibility and trade pieces to make it happen.
  8. Memphis Grizzlies(28-20)- Memphis continues to find their groove for the season, winning eight of their last ten. Good news will continue to hit the Grizzlies, as right of the next ten games are against teams with losing records. Although Memphis does not have the talent to win the Western Conference, all of this winning will give them the confidence they need to be a thorn in the side, or even upset minded team to knock off the power three in the conference.
  9. Chicago Bulls(26-20)- Chicago continues their up and down play. They are really struggling with the other playoff teams in the league. Mike Dunleavy is scheduled to return soon, and this will be a big addition to the team, as they have struggled at the small forward position. Many people think Chicago needs to trade Pau Gasol, but a stabilizer like Dunleavy in the lineup could force Chicago to keep him for a run in the playoffs. This week has four teams under .500, so Chicago needs to separate themselves in the Eastern Conference standings.
  10. Miami Heat(27-21)- Miami was able to snap their four game losing streak, and are now on a four game winning streak. Miami is still working on showing us they can compete against other playoff contenders, but wins over Chicago and Atlanta are good first steps. Besides a matchup against the Knicks on the 28th, the entire month of Feburary consists of current playoff seeded teams. Miami will need to continue this winning streak if they hope to stay in contention for a playoff spot.
  11. Boston Celtics(27-22)- Boston had their five game winning streak snapped on Sunday night at the hands of the Orlando Magic. Other than this game, Boston has seen a dramatic rise in their overall offense, while their defense remains stout. Boston has a big matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night, and this will be the perfect proving grounds to show they belong as a darkhorse for the Eastern Conference.
  12. Atlanta Hawks(27-22)- Atlanta continues to play disappointing basketball. Rumors are even beginning to surface they are ready to sell some of their current starters for a rebuild. Jeff Teague should be moved, as they have a younger, cheaper replacement in Dennis Schroder. With the trade deadline only 17 days away, Atlanta will need to decide whether to be buyers or sellers at this crucial deadline for them.
  13. Indiana Pacers(25-22)- The great news out of Indianapolis is the emergence of rookie Myles Turner. Monta Ellis is also stepping up on his scoring efforts. They will need both of these players to continue playing at a high level if they want any chance of the playoffs. Look for Indiana to become active in trade talks, as they search for more pieces to the puzzle.
  14. Detroit Pistons(25-23)- Detroit has greatly improved this season, but they are still a season or two away from actually competing with the big boys of the league. They have the talent to knock anyone off, but the overall talent and chemistry is not there, and I expect the Pistons to move some pieces at the deadline. They are very interested in Ryan Anderson, but they want to wait until free agency, so we will see what Jeff Bower does.
  15. Houston Rockets(25-25)- After a good stretch of play, Houston went back to their losing ways, which plagued most of their early season. The schedule only gets harder and harder for the next few weeks, so Houston will need to refocus if they want to stay in the playoff picture. Houston looks to be active as always in free agency, so expect them to add some defensive pieces.
  16. New York Knicks(23-27)- We all know by now, New York is streaky. They snapped their four game slide with a win over lowly Phoenix, but were quickly destroyed by the Warriors in Madison Square Garden. Rumors have it that New York is looking to be active this deadline, but in reality, I see them selling some of their bench pieces to recoup their lost draft pick.
  17. Washington Wizards(21-24)- Washington continues to not be able to catch a break. The injury bug has torn apart this team, and now coach Randy Wittman will be sidelined, due to the sad news of his brother passing. Washington has all the talent to compete in the Eastern Conference, and still could be a dark horse contender, if they can add a few more pieces at the trade deadline. Washington needs a strong second half if they want any chance of luring Durant this offseason.
  18. Portland Trail Blazers(23-26)- Portland has now won nine of their past eleven games, and are sitting in prime position for the eighth seed in the Western Conference. Portland is now looking to become buyers at the deadline, instead of the sellers we anticipated them to be at the start of the season. I think a McCollum for Monroe trade would be fair, and beneficial for both teams, but I am just a fan not the GM.
  19. Charlotte Hornets(23-25)- Charlotte continues to streak. Their offense has shown deadly flashes, but for the most part, it stays timid. With so much of their roster headed for unrestricted free agency, Charlotte, with little hope of competing in the playoffs, could be a big seller at the deadline. Nic Batum would be able to net a nice return of prospects for Charlotte to start a new era with.
  20. Utah Jazz(21-25)- Now that Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert are back healthy together, Utah has found some rhythm. They are still desperate for point guard play, so they will likely be hitting the trade block to find a short term solution, until Dante Exum returns next season. The Jazz do not get any breaks on their schedule, as it remains consistently difficult.
  21. Sacramento Kings(20-27)- Sacramento was hot last week with a five game winning streak, but everything stopped, and they are now on a four game losing streak. This losing streak can be pinned on the lack of effort on the defensive side of the ball, and even if DeMarcus Cousins puts up 56, it is not enough for the Kings to win. They are still shopping Rudy Gay, so it will be interesting to see what they can get from him with all the other wings on the market.
  22. Orlando Magic(21-25)- Orlando finally snapped their eight game losing streak on Sunday night against the Boston Celtics. Although their defense still looked abysmal, their offense had enough juice to outlast the new, potent Boston offense. Orlando will be an interesting team to watch come the deadline, as they have a few veterans, but they might look to make a big move with all of their prospects, and likely lottery pick.
  23. New Orleans Pelicans(18-28)- New Orleans has started to find their groove as a team after such a disastrous start, winning seven of their last ten games. Although I firmly believe they should sell their assets for a better future around Anthony Davis, but they seem determined to make the playoffs with the current roster. Expect Ryan Anderson’s name to continue to remain hot over the next two weeks, as teams try to pry him away from the Pelicans.
  24. Milwaukee Bucks(20-29)- Although this may turn into a lost season for the up and coming Bucks, they were able to find some things out. Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo are franchise pillars, and Jabari Parker is showing great potential as well. Milwaukee should be looking to sell their veteran rentals, as they could use the future picks to continue adding to the talented, young roster.
  25. Denver Nuggets(18-30)- Although Denver is not having a great season, they are remaining to be a thorn in everyone’s side. Denver is a likely candidate to be a seller at the trade deadline, as they look to rid themselves of the veterans, in hope to rebuild around their talented youth.
  26. Minnesota Timberwolves(14-35)- I live in Minnesota, and although it has been warmer this winter, having the Wolves be this bad makes the winter months even harder. Towns has surpassed any expectations for this season, and has the potential to become the league’s best player if his play and development continue. Andrew Wiggins has been great this season too, but he will need to continue to increase his scoring totals if the Wolves want to compete in the Western Conference.
  27. Phoenix Suns(14-35)- Phoenix continues to be dreadful to watch. Devin Booker has been about the lone bright piece for the Suns. Although many expected Booker to only be a complementary scorer, or sixth man, Booker might have the potential to be a building piece. With how poorly built the roster is, Phoenix will likely be selling as many pieces as they can in hopes of rebuilding their franchise.
  28. Brooklyn Nets(12-36)- The terrible season continues for the Brooklyn Nets, who cannot catch any breaks. Management wants to become a seller at the trade deadline, but with so many overpaid veterans on the roster, and no star young players, Brooklyn may have to deal with their poor signings for awhile.
  29. Los Angeles Lakers(9-41)– The Lakers are currently on a ten game losing streak, and their schedule is about to become brutal for a team like themselves. As long as Randle, Russell, and Nance continue to develop, Los Angeles cannot ask for anything more from this season, as it has been a forgettable one.
  30. Philadelphia 76ers(7-41)- Philadelphia, although not always pleasant to watch, are becoming more watchable. It was nice to see them compete with the Golden State Warriors, who looked like they overlooked the game. With abundant cap space, expect Philadelphia to stay active in trade talks, in continue to add to their pile of draft picks for the future.

By: Mac Crowe, @Mac_Truck17

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