We are officially halfway through what has been one of the most exciting NBA seasons in recent memory. Not only is the playoff race in both conferences extremely heated, perennial playoff teams like the Mavericks and Lakers remain over three games out of a playoff spot. There has been a shake-up in the standings this year and some teams that haven’t even sniffed the post-season in recent years have legitimate chances to make noise in the playoffs. So at the mid-point of the season, the Power Rankings look as follows:
1. San Antonio Spurs (33-11)
It makes me cringe to put the Spurs in the number one spot. For really no reason that I can remember, I have always disliked the Spurs. I really couldn’t tell you why, but it’s the truth. While that is the case, I can’t deny that San Antonio has been very impressive this season. They currently hold the longest active win streak in the NBA with five straight, all the while giving their star players plenty of rest. The Spurs are dangerous, and with other top teams recently stumbling, San Antonio takes the top spot.
2. L.A. Clippers (32-10)
The Clippers have looked like the best team in the NBA at more than one point this season. They are very likely the deepest team in the league and by some standards may still look like the best team as well. There are plenty of people that think they deserve the number one spot, however I’m reserving that spot for the winner of their matchup with the Thunder on Tuesday night. The winner of that game will be sitting 1a and 1b alongside San Antonio; so don’t think that the Clippers or Thunder are being overlooked in any way.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder (32-9)
The Thunder currently sports the best record in the league, so the number three spot may look very questionable. They really shouldn’t be thought of as being as the third best team in the league, because the top three are almost in a tie. Like I said above, if the Thunder wins Tuesday against the Clippers, they would be along side the Spurs in the number one spot. The only real reason Oklahoma City is being “punished” with the number three spot is because they couldn’t find a way to win in overtime Sunday against Denver even though Durant and Westbrook combined for 73 points, and because they needed overtime on Friday to put away the Mavs, despite Durant’s career high 52 points.
4. Miami Heat (26-12)
Miami has had many ups and downs this season. They still hold the best record in the East, but have looked like far more of a pedestrian team as of late. Chris Bosh played in less than a minute in the fourth quarter last week in Utah. That’s more than can be said for Dwayne Wade though, who sat the entire period. Although the Heat hasn’t quite looked like the Heat of old lately, they are still the defending Champions. Until something serious happens, they will always be among the title contenders in the NBA.
5. Brooklyn Nets (25-16)
The NBA better take notice, because the Nets are rolling. After Joe Johnson’s game winner on Monday, Brooklyn has won nine of their last ten. Johnson and Deron Williams seemed to struggle getting on the same page early on but they have finally seemed to adjust to their roles on the team, and look like a better team right now than they have at any point in the season. Taking down the Knicks on Monday, Brooklyn solidified their spot among the top five in these ranks.
6. Memphis Grizzlies (26-14)
Sitting in the fourth spot in the West, Memphis is looking very good this season. They have won six of their last ten games and could have gotten another win Monday night had Rudy Gay gotten his shot off less than a second earlier. Okay maybe he needed more like two seconds. Either way, the Grizzlies are looking like one of the top teams in the West, despite trade rumors constantly surrounding the team.
7. Denver Nuggets (25-18)
Denver has been hot lately, and their record shows for it. They were able to take down Oklahoma City last week despite Kevin Durant pouring in a career-high 52 points. George Karl has these Nuggets at a great spot half way through the 2013 campaign and they will only get better once Wilson Chandler returns to form.
8. Golden State Warriors (25-15)
Golden State has been one of the biggest surprises of the season. I thought about moving them all the way to the number six spot after beating the Clippers Monday, but with only five wins in the last ten including the win against the Clips, I had to keep them behind Memphis and the hot Nuggets. The Warriors avoided a potential season crushing injury with Stephan Curry injuring his knee last week, but he returned this week and seems unscathed. With a healthy Curry, Golden State is a young team that could really scare some teams come playoff time.
9. New York Knicks (25-14)
Although the Knicks remain second in the East behind Miami, they have been stumbling lately. They only have four wins in their last ten and the Knicks next three games are against potentially dangerous teams in Boston, Philadelphia and Atlanta looking to move up in the East Playoff race. Shumpert returning is a huge boost to New York’s defense however and they should return to form, if not better very soon.
10. Indiana Pacers (26-16)
The Pacers have played very well this season and currently sit in the third spot in the East. They aren’t placed in the ten spot because of poor play of late, as much as great play from other teams recently. The Pacers look like the same team that made a run in the playoffs last year however, all the while without Danny Granger. Once he is able to return and Indiana is able to finally play with their team at full strength, they will be very dangerous.
11. Chicago Bulls (24-16)
The Bulls have been able to keep pace in the East this season without Derrick Rose. Even though some of the games have come way to close for comfort for the Bulls, they have won seven of their last ten. Rose is supposed to return to full contact drills soon, and could see in game action sooner than you would think. If Rose can return anywhere near his MVP form from two seasons ago, he will have Chicago shooting up the rankings.
12. Utah Jazz (22-19)
Utah has put together a strong season thus far and are in the midst of a three game winning-streak. They are sitting in the seventh spot in a very tight battle in the West. Although things are looking good right now, the trade-deadline fast approaches and if the Jazz would like a bright future as well, they may need to make some moves.
13. Milwaukee Bucks (21-18)
The Bucks have been great at times but their inconsistence is troublesome. They have won two straight but lost five of the last ten. They still sit in the seventh spot in the East however, with a game and a half lead on the Celtics. Milwaukee will need to improve night in and out to move up in the ranks.
14. Atlanta Hawks (23-18)
The Hawks got hit with a huge blow this past week, losing Lou Williams for the season with a torn ACL. He had been thriving with the Atlanta this season and having a career year. The immediate future is somewhat cloudy for the Hawks as trade rumors are now surrounding Josh Smith as well. They have only three wins in their last ten games and would likely be ranked even lower if some other playoff contenders didn’t slip up as well.
15. Houston Rockets (22-21)
The Rockets are struggling as of late, as well. They too have only won three of their last ten. Jeremy Lin and James Harden haven’t been playing their best basketball as of late but they are still in the hunt in the West. Houston is another team that holds this spot because of other teams struggles. If they can’t pick things up soon, expect them to fall.
16. Boston Celtics (20-20)
What is going on with the Celtics? Avery Bradley comes back and the team looks completely different. They have their swagger back. They’re the vintage Celts. Boston wins six in a row, their longest win-streak since 2010, then follows that up with three straight losses to the Hornets, Pistons and Bulls. As soon as they look back to being a Championship contender, they crash back down. Boston has been one of the most inconsistent teams in the NBA this year and will need to drastically improve that.
17. Portland Trail Blazers (20-21)
Portland looked like they finally got things together after a disappointing season last year. Damian Lillard has been an absolute stud and the Blazers looked like they may slowly keep moving up in the Western Conference. Thanks to six straight losses however, including Monday night against Washington, the Blazers are slipping. Luckily for them, there is a big gap between them and the next team in the rankings. Continued streaks like their current one however, and Portland will be dropping fast.
18. Detroit Pistons (15-25)
Detroit is having a sub-par year, but things look to be on the turnaround. With six wins in their last ten, they are closing in on a possible playoff chance. Their defense has picked up tremendously, and their young core seems to truly be heading them in the right direction.
The Hornets started off the season as possibly the worst team in basketball, while missing Eric Gordon, as well as rookie sensation Anthony Davis for some time. Since Gordon has returned however, they have gone 7-3 in their last ten. They were even able to take down the slumping Celtics last week without Eric Gordon. New Orleans has been getting hot, and they will continue to play better as they become more of a team.
20. Dallas Mavericks (18-24)
Now we come to one of the most disappointing teams so far in 2013. Right now, they sit three and a half games out of a playoff spot. Instead of rebuilding, they reloaded this offseason, and were supposed to have another chance to make a run at a Title. They have still only won five of their last ten, and will need to turn things around fast to make a run.
21. Minnesota Timberwolves (17-21)
The T-Wolves have actually done pretty well this season all things considered. They have missed Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio for much of the season, yet still sit just two and a half games out of the playoffs. Although they may continue to fall without Love, and have only won three games in their last ten, Minnesota has proved they can still be a team without their star caliber players.
22. L.A. Lakers (17-24)
Before I had said the Mavs was one of the most disappointing teams so far in 2013. That is because the Lakers are by far the most disappointing team. They’ve lost three straight and have won only twice in the last ten games. When L.A. acquired Dwight Howard and Steve Nash in the offseason, this is not the type of season fans or players had in mind. The Lakers need to get on track quickly to avoid an incredibly embarrassing season.
23. Sacramento Kings (16-26)
It’s pretty unbelievable to know that the Kings, with a 16-24 record sit only a game and a half back of the Lakers. Mood in Sacramento would be on the upswing, with players and coaches finally seeming to get along. However with recent news of the Kings being bought by a Seattle based group, with plans on moving the team to Seattle, have put a damper on the season for Kings fans.
24. Philadelphia 76’ers (17-24)
The Sixers started off the season so well. They have a lot of young solid talent, and Jrue Holliday has burst onto the scene this season. Some poor play of late though has them falling, and they will need to turn things around in a hurry if they want a chance to make it back to the playoffs. They are 3-7 in the last ten games.
25. Washington Wizards (9-30)
All of the sudden the Wizards are a team. They may only have nine wins on the season, but five of those wins have come in their last ten, and John Wall has looked like the same player we knew before this season. Jordan Crawford’s dagger Monday night hopefully has the Wizards rolling.
26. Toronto Raptors (15-26)
Toronto is in the middle of a tough season. They have the talent to be a good team but they have been set back by a few injuries to players like Andrea Bargnani and Kyle Lowry. With four wins in their last ten, they sit just above the bottom of the barrel.
27. Cleveland Cavaliers (10-32)
Cleveland took a huge blow this week, as they learned Anderson Varejao would be out for the remainder of the season with a blood clot. This is extremely disappointing as Varejao was having a career year. Kyrie Irving will need to pick up the slack as the teams only star player, but the season is all but over for the Cavs at this point, sitting at 10-32 and only three wins in the last ten games.
28. Phoenix Suns (13-28)
The Suns just continue to fall. They didn’t look this bad at the beginning of the season did they? Alvin Gentry was fired last week so the team should hopefully be on the turn around, however they have been the worst offensive team in the league the past month and their defense definitely isn’t good. They have won only two games in their last ten.
29. Orlando Magic (14-26)
Orlando is another team that looked far better at the beginning of the season. They looked like they may actually still be a team without Dwight Howard. Any optimism has quickly been shot down however, as Orlando only has 14 wins on the season, to go along with eight losses in the last ten games.
30. Charlotte Bobcats (10-31)
The lonely Bobcats are back at the very bottom of the ranks. For a while, they looked like they may not be the worst team in Basketball anymore. Charlotte has only won two of their last ten games as well. They hold the bottom spot based on previous reputation. The Bobcats will need to continue to improve severely to get the jokes off of their back.
>>> Check back at the Runner for Power Ranking updates
(Photo 1) http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nba-ball-dont-lie/harrison-barnes-arrives-dunk-candidate-nikola-pekovic-video-141557861–nba.html
(Photo 2) http://clipperblog.com/2013/01/21/last-call-warriors-106-clippers-99/
(Photo 3) http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1493920-what-we-learned-about-the-okc-thunder-during-first-half-of-the-season
(Photo 4) http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/basketball/nets/nets-top-pistons-johnson-game-winner-2ot-article-1.1220753
(Photo 5) http://www.mercurynews.com/warriors/ci_22420324/stephen-curry-leads-golden-state-warriors-past-los
(Photo 6) http://www.zimbio.com/pictures/KTdE-vVmOTD/Utah+Jazz+v+Phoenix+Suns/CrOf3CF-k6n/Gordon+Hayward
(Photo 7) http://indecentxposure.com/grind/james-harden/
(Photo 8) http://www.bloguin.com/crossoverchronicles/2012-articles/january/eric-gordon-may-miss-three-weeks-with-sore-knee.html
(Photo 9) http://www.northjersey.com/sports/Nets_fall_just_short_to_Lakers_95-90_in_LA.html
(Photo 10) http://www.basketnews.net/article/top-10-nba-le-buzzer-beater-de-jordan-crawford-4246
(Photo 11) http://www.beaumontenterprise.com/sports/article/Jefferson-scores-26-as-Jazz-defeat-Bobcats-112-102-4181162.php