2013 NBA Power Rankings: Spurs, Thunder, Heat on Top; Lakers, Clippers, Mavs Fall
A quick look at the best and worst teams in the NBA.
1. San Antonio Spurs (38-11): The big news in San Antonio currently revolves around the knee sprain suffered by center Tim Duncan Saturday in a win against Washington, but if the NBA has learned anything about the Spurs, it’s that there will be someone to step up and replace his production.
2. Miami Heat (30-14): Miami still resides in the basement when it comes to rebounding in this league, but LeBron & Co. lead the Eastern Conference by half a game currently. With this team, one gets the feeling the Heat are coasting through the regular season and will raise their level of play once April rolls around.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder (35-12): OKC took a questionable loss home Saturday in Cleveland, and are 6-4 in their last 10. But the Thunder still reside in West’s second-seed and look like one of the West’s ultimate contenders as the halfway point has passed.
4. New York Knicks (30-15): The Knicks have won seven of their last 10 games, and lie only half a game behind Miami in the East. In Mike Woodson’s first full season the Knicks have evolved into one of the league’s better defensive teams, allowing only a shade under 96 ppg.
5. Chicago Bulls (29-18): Even without Derrick Rose, Chicago is still one of the Association’s premier defensive squads with opponents scoring just under 91 ppg. And with Rose getting closer to returning with every day that passes, the Bulls will likely be one of the league’s scariest teams heading into the postseason.
6. Los Angeles Clippers (34-15): Trouble with injuries lately have the Clippers winning only four of their last 10 contests, with superstar point guard Chris Paul still unable to even practice because of a knee injury.
7. Memphis Grizzlies (30-16): Memphis pulled off a shocker, sending Rudy Gay out of town and bringing in Tayshaun Prince, Austin Daye, and Ed Davis. In the first game since, the Grizzlies pulled out a nine-point victory at home against Washington.
8. Denver Nuggets (30-18): Denver’s high-octane style of play has kicked into another gear lately, as the Nugs have won eight of their last 10. Denver currently ranks in the Top 5 among all teams in scoring, rebounding, and assists per game.
9. Brooklyn Nets (28-19): Brooklyn picked up one of its best wins of the season Friday, beating Chicago 93-89. The Nets haven’t scored as much as people thought they would with the additions of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson, but Brooklyn ranks fifth in defense giving up under 95 ppg.
10. Indiana Pacers (28-19): Another team hitting its stride, the Pacers also won a signature game by taking out Miami by double-digits. Indiana will face a crucial contest Monday with a game against Chicago, with whom the Pacers trail by one game for the Central Division’s lead.
11. Golden State Warriors (30-17): The young Warriors are holding fast in the West and are getting better with the return of Andrew Bogut to anchor the team in the paint alongside All-Star David Lee. Lately, the Dubs have won seven of their past 10 and are only three games behind the Clippers for the Pacific Division lead.
12. Utah Jazz (26-22): Utah has continued to race with those vying for one of the West’s lower playoff spots, winning seven of 10 to stay strong in the seventh slot. Offensively, the Jazz are scoring as a team with an average of 23 apg and scoring 98 ppg.
13. Milwaukee Bucks (25-21): Very few have heard of what Milwaukee is doing, but the Bucks are playing solid basketball that should carry them into a playoff berth. Brandon Jennings have developed into the facilitator his team needed, scoring 19 ppg and handing out 6 apg.
14. Houston Rockets (26-23): Houston is scoring a lot, and letting its opponents score a lot. So far, it’s working with Houston sitting in eighth place in the West albeit by only a single game.
15. Atlanta Hawks (26-20): Atlanta is another team you won’t hear much about, but is getting it done. Saturday, however, the Hawks took a 17-point loss to the Bulls on the chin—an example of a team they’ll need to beat if Atlanta hopes to break into the upper echelon of Eastern Conference contenders.
16. Boston Celtics (24-23): The loss of Rajon Rondo will undoubtedly hurt the Celtics in the second half of the season, but Boston will play as if no one told them that. In the first game Rondo missed with a torn ACL, Paul Pierce led the Celtics to a double-overtime victory over the Heat Sunday.
17. Portland Trail Blazers (24-23): Portland sits a single game out of the eight-seed right now, but will need to avoid such losing streaks as the six-game skid the Blazers endured in the middle of January if they hope to climb into the playoffs.
18. Los Angeles Lakers (22-26): Just as soon as the Lakers show signs that they’ve seemingly figured things out, all signs go out the window such as the double-digit lead Los Angeles blew Friday in the first game of its “Grammy Trip” in Phoenix. Of hope for Laker fans, the efficient facilitation Kobe Bryant has showed off lately could be a huge key in gelling the Lakers talented roster.
19. Dallas Mavericks (20-27): The return of Dirk Nowitzki from injury hasn’t appeared to breathe life into the Mavericks as fans likely hoped it would. Dallas remains five games out of a playoff spot, and will need a hot start to its final 35 games to maintain hopes of postseason play alive.
20. Philadelphia 76ers (20-26): Philly needs Andrew Bynum’s return to the lineup sooner rather than later in hopes he can bring some life into a team that seems to be fading from the East’s playoff race despite the brilliance of Jrue Holiday and his averages of 19 ppg and 9 apg.
21. Cleveland Cavaliers (14-34): It’s crazy, but Cleveland is .500 in its last 10 games with the highlight coming in a 115-110 win over Oklahoma City Saturday night. Kyrie Irving continues to put together a stellar sophomore campaign, putting up 24 ppg and over 5 apg.
22. Detroit Pistons (18-30): Detroit almost pulled out a double-digit comeback win over the Lakers Sunday, but was unable to finish it off. Andre Drummond has been giving plenty of glimpses into what his future could be in Detroit, most notably with an 18-point, 18-rebound game against Milwaukee earlier in the week.
23. Toronto Raptors (17-31): Rudy Gay’s arrival in Toronto started with a bang with Gay scoring 20 points off the bench to guide the Raptors over the Clippers this week and scored 29 Sunday in a loss to Miami.
24. Phoenix Suns (16-32): The Suns delivered a comeback win over Los Angeles Friday, but were then beaten by 20 against Golden State Saturday. Phoenix has won only four of its last 10 match-ups, and will likely start looking toward next season especially with the trade deadline approaching.
25. Minnesota Timberwolves (18-26): Minnesota’s really just been dealt the worst possible hand it could’ve been given this season with injuries to Rubio and Love to start the season, and Love going down yet again. Minnesota is fading fast, having lost eight of its last 10.
26. New Orleans Hornets (15-33): Another team to almost come back from a double-digit deficit against the Lakers this past week, the Hornets have been showing signs of what the future will hold when they morph into Pelicans. But that’s still the future.
27. Sacramento Kings (17-32): Amongst the backdrop of the wheeling and dealing occurring to move the Kings to Seattle, the Kings are not helping Mayor Kevin Johnson’s case to keep them in Sacramento with their current level of play. Sacramento has lost eight of its last 10, and owns the league’s worst defense by allowing over 103 ppg to its opposition.
28. Washington Wizards (11-35): With the return of John Wall, the Wizards have shown some signs of life with wins over teams like Chicago, Portland, and Denver. Washington also gives encouragement for its fans with the defense its played this season, coming in eighth allowing a hair under 96 ppg.
29. Charlotte Bobcats (14-33): The Bobcats remain tied in the league’s cellar with Washington, but for once it’s safe to say the Bobcats haven’t been the worst team in the league of late even though they lost eight of their last 10.
30. Orlando Magic (14-33): Orlando’s playing like the team most expected it to when it received just about nothing in return for Dwight Howard, relatively. Orlando has only won once in its past 10 games. On the bright side, Nik Vucevic is making a case for Most Improved Player with 12 ppg and 11 rpg.