Surprisingly we haven’t done any power rankings for hoops this year, so we were about due for this post! We’re approaching the halfway point in the season, and this is how we think the top 16 looks as of today.
1. Los Angeles Lakers – As negative as we are about the Lakers on Doin Work, we respect them. Aside from losing to their freeway rivals Wednesday, the Lake Show still have the best record in the league, and only have 7 losses on the season. I watch them more than I want to, and they’ve had a few injuries, but if Kobe is in the lineup they seem to find a way to win. Their defense might be a concern going forward, but when Ron and Pau are both healthy and back in the lineup they should be solid in the defensive department again. Bynum has been stepping up in a major way.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers – I’m not really sure how the Cavs lost to Charlotte, but other than that mini-speed bump they’ve been very consistent since destroying the Lakers on Christmas. I have a feeling that Nike could get their lame MVPuppet match up this year. It’s sad that I think beginning to be less of a Lebron fan because of those commercials!
3. Boston Celtics – No contending team outside of Portland has more injuries to key guys than the Celtics. Even without Rondo, KG, and Pierce they somehow beat a Toronto team that is playing surprisingly well lately. I guess it’s not a surprise for the leagues oldest team is having injury problems. I’m sure they’re just hoping that they are healthy at the right time.
4. Dallas Mavericks – If the playoffs started today, the Mavs would have the #2 seed. I was actually surprised to see this, but it’s true! Cuban has reigned over the Mavs for a decade now, and seems like he’s pushing the right buttons with his squad this year. They may have stunk up the court against the Lakers, but they beat all the teams they are supposed to and are deeper than I imagined they would be.
5. Orlando Magic – Matt Barnes has been playing some great ball since being put in the starting rotation. Unfortunately for the Magic, he has been their best player as of late and they don’t look like a very deep team anymore. Coach Van Gundy thinks they are in a rut, and it seems like he’s right as they’ve lost three straight. If guys don’t know their roles on the team, it always leads to unhappy players…
6. Denver Nuggets – I’m not sure how the Nuggets are hanging onto their division lead, but they are without Chauncey and Melo. The refs gave them a gift of a foul against the Warriors. They better watch out though, because the Blazers are closing in fast, and have overcome many more injuries than these Nuggets.
7. Portland Trailblazers – Can you say enough good things about Brandon Roy. He’s the ultimate team player. He didn’t have huge stats in the beginning of the year because the team didn’t need him as much. Now that 80% of the team is on the IR he’s playing with D-Leaguers and still has this Blazers team hunting down Denver for the division lead. Roy put up a stinker against the Clips, but if Kobe gets a pass, so does he!
8. Phoenix Suns – This might be too high for the Suns, but screw it. They have beat the best in the league and seem to lose to the worst. I really don’t know what to make of them, since they are so inconsistent, but as long as Nash is running the show they will win. If Richardson can get a little bit more consistent, I like where this team is going.
9. San Antonio Spurs – The Spurs started off the year slow, but as is the case every year, they’re right in the thick of things now. Winners of 12 of their last 15, the Spurs haven’t been flashy, but rank second in the league in FG% and third in 3PT%. Tim Duncan is averaging nearly 20 and 10.
10. Atlanta Hawks – The Hawks have stumbled as of late, dropping 5 of their last 7, but they have plenty of talent to carry them into the playoffs. With Josh Smith continuing to mature with each game, and Jamal Crawford finding his stride as a bench player, they simply need to keep pace in the top half of the Eastern Conference standings and they can be a dangerous playoff team once again.
11. Utah Jazz – It’d be easy to chalk up the Jazz’ early struggles to injuries, but they haven’t really had many. Carlos Boozer has played all 35 games, while Deron Williams and Mehmet Okur have missed a combined 7 games. As long as Williams’ wrist injury doesn’t linger all season long, Utah should find themselves right in the thick of the playoff race.
12. Houston Rockets – The Rockets have been proving doubters wrong all season so far, and despite their current three game losing streak, they’re sitting pretty at 20-16. Those three losses have come at the hands of the Hornets, Lakers, and Suns, all on the road. They’ve been beating the teams they’re supposed to. In this league, if you do that, you’ll find yourself in playing in the postseason. Houston currently sits in the 7th spot, but only by a half a game. In fact, only 3 games separate them from the 12th spot right now.
13. Oklahoma City Thunder – A trendy preseason pick to make the playoffs, the Sonics have not disappointed. Kevin Durant has carried the load, leading the team in scoring, rebounding, steals, and blocks. Their 19-16 record is impressive enough, but what really stands out is their 10-8 record on the road. The only teams in the West with worse home records are Minnesota and Golden State. It’s too bad they’re in OKC, as I’m sure the Seattle fans would provide them a much better home court advantage.
14. Miami Heat – The Heat were hot, no pun intended, to start the season but have since cooled off. Nonetheless, they’re still lingering around the .500 mark, which historically would get you in the playoffs in the East. Dwyane Wade should also garner some MVP attention should Miami finish in the top half of the standings. He’s averaging 27 pts, 5 reb, and 6 ast per game.
15. New Orleans Hornets – Riding a four game win streak, the Hornets are now over .500 for the first time this season at 17-16. That’s not good enough for the playoffs in the Western Conference, but with Chris Paul back healthy, they’ve got to like their chances to pass up Houston and/or Oklahoma City before the season ends.
16. Toronto Raptors – Let’s face it, this could be any team here at #16. The Raptors haven’t exactly impressed this season, but they’re still right in the thick of things. The Chris Bosh farewell tour is going strong. Now, if only Jose Calderon could regain his form, Toronto could have a good shot at knocking off a higher seed in the first round of the playoffs. I wouldn’t count on it though.