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Apr112011

Behind The Basket Final Power Rankings

About how it went for Boston on Sunday.The Behind The Basket Power Rankings examine how comparatively powerful or dominant each NBA team is right now (for clarity’s sake – this is how I think the team’s would finish in a giant round-robin tournament this week with no further injuries or fatigue between games). Obviously more recent contests and happenings weigh heavier than those in the past, but a look at how the clubs have progressed throughout the season is necessary to get a sense of patterns that will continue or possibly change. Unlike college rankings, these are re-evaluated each time; no one has to wait for someone else to lose in order to move up if they’re doing well. Again, these look at how powerful a club is RIGHT NOW.

1. Chicago Bulls (60-20): A deep, defense-first team with stars aplenty that’s heating up with everyone healthy. Good luck Eastern Conference.

2. San Antonio Spurs (61-19): Team back together = many big wins in a row. People keep writing them off, thinking they’ll get upset in the first two rounds of the playoffs. The only way this happens is if the Lakers drop to 4th in the West and get hot in two weeks.

3. Miami Heat (56-24): Still fairly streaky, still more capable than any other team of blowing someone out. I know they get embarrassed far more often than the Bulls, but Miami is one scary team once LeBron is mad, but will this post-season be different for him?

4. OKC Thunder (54-26): Remember us? We’re hot again…but for how long?

5. Denver Nuggets (49-31): That kinda sucks they had to face OKC twice in four days (with Dallas in the middle) right before getting them in the first round of the playoffs. And being a banged up club right now – that also sucks.

6. Portland Trail Blazers (47-33): Have gutted out wins over LAL, Dallas, and OKC in the past 10 days to stay ahead of Memphis for the #6 spot (avoiding the Spurs and Lakers in round one, presumably), but Tuesday’s match-up with the Grizzlies is the most important hurdle toward that end.

7. Memphis Grizzlies (46-34): Clinched a spot in the playoffs and could end up as high as the #6 seed. They will be tough and rough for whichever team’s interior has to bang with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph in the first round. Defense is gelling at the right time.

8. Orlando Magic (50-30): Were one-tenth of a second away from taking Chicago to overtime even without Dwight Howard. Their defense could give fans one heck of a second round match-up with the Bulls, probably the surest second round pairing you can count on.

9. LA Lakers (55-25): I’m not sure the “they can flip the switch anytime” argument really exists for a team that loses 5 in a row while in a dogfight for homecourt advantage with Dallas, OKC, Miami, and Boston; they have no reason to be coasting right now. Don’t believe me? Here’s the LA Times. Obviously they have the talent to turn this around by the end of the first round, but a losing streak this late in the year with this much on the line can’t exactly give fans much confidence.

10. Houston Rockets (42-38): Spirits are a little broken now that they’re out of the playoff hunt, and I’m still a little confused by that Battier-Thabeet trade.

11. Dallas Mavericks (55-25): Just lost to two playoff teams, including Portland who could give them fits in the first round if that showdown happens. Memphis is another team they don’t want to face early.

12. New Orleans Hornets (46-34): Are right in the fight with Portland and Memphis for the #6 through #8 spots out West with Utah and Dallas left on the docket – not the worst spot to be in.

13. Indiana Pacers (37-44): Clinched the East’s #8 spot just as Darren Collison and the offense are really coming together.

14. Boston Celtics (55-25): Just played the two Eastern Conference teams ahead of them in the standings—Chicago and Miami—and lost both by a combined 39 points. Hmmmm

15. Philadelphia 76ers (41-39): If Lou Williams is back and healthy by the playoffs, the Sixers will be the only Eastern playoff team without homecourt advantage that has a real chance of moving on.

16. Atlanta Hawks (44-36): Four losses in a row, with Miami tonight, is making Atlanta look like a sure out in the first round.

17. Golden State Warriors (35-45): Wow! Just beat Dallas, Portland, and LAL in a row, including a back-to-back with the last two, behind Ellis’ 88 points and Curry’s 60.

18. New York Knicks (42-38): They’re heating up against mostly scrubs (last 6 wins: NJ, Clv, Tor, Phil, NJ, Ind), but I’m confused why so many pundits seem to think they could give Miami a run for their money. Oh well, the Knicks will likely get Boston anyway.

19. Milwaukee Bucks (33-47): Win your final one at home (Toronto tonight) and get healthy this summer – look forward to seeing what you guys can do when not tremendously injured (team leader in games played? Keyon Dooling).

20. Detroit Pistons (29-51): Sure it’s against a sub-par string of teams, but winning 3 in a row (NJ, Milw, Char) will do wonders for keeping fans at least a little bit interested in the offseason, especially with the return of Jonas Jerebko and maturation of Greg Monroe to look forward to.

21. Phoenix Suns (38-42): Whose decent season was the saddest: Steve Nash on the sputtering Suns, Jerry Sloan getting ousted from Utah, or Blake Griffin being stuck on the Clippers? In case you missed it, Nash has overtaken Rondo as the league’s top assist man.

22. LA Clippers (31-50): I wish them better luck in this year’s draft, or Griffin is gone in a few seasons. If you see even one highlight this summer of the Clippers that is not of Griffin, please let me know.

23. Sacramento Kings (24-56): Still have two games left to match last year’s 25 wins. Unfortunately those two are with the Thunder and Lakers. So sorry it has to end this way for Sacramento fans.

24. Washington Wizards (22-58): Everyone got hot in a 115-83 blowout over the Hawks (7 players in double figures). Have a chance to win their finale in Cleveland.

25. Utah Jazz (37-43): With their season limping to a sad end and with a depleted lineup, the Jazz still managed to beat the Lakers in LA. Let’s just leave their season at that.

26. Charlotte Bobcats (32-48): Wanna know Gerald Wallace’s impact on the toughness of an entire club? Look at the Bobcats, look at the Blazers.    

27. Toronto Raptors (22-58): Beat the Nets and lost to the Cavs – have been almost as sure a thing at the bottom of the rankings all year as Cleveland.

28. NJ Nets (24-56): With everybody injured, they still reached 24 wins, doubling last year’s total. Not a bad baby step.

29. Cleveland Cavaliers (17-63): Considering they end with Detroit and Washington, Cleveland has an excellent chance of not finishing the season with the least amount of wins. Don’t forget to send a gift basket to David Kahn.

30. Minnesota Timberwolves (17-63): Even with the Cavs’ historically bad season, Minnesota is worse and will likely end with less wins. 

 

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    Behind The Basket Final Power Rankings - Behind the Basket - The Antidote for Conventional Wisdom

Reader Comments (7)

Im interested in how you can have both Philadelphia and Indiana ahead of the Knicks even though they are two of the "scrub" teams New York has beaten in their current 7-game win streak. Yes 7. You conviently left out the win over Orlando. And please spare me the "Jameer Nelson was hurt" argument. If Chicago's win over Orlando can be considered a quality win without their star, a Knick win without a role player has to count too. And dont get me started about the Hawks! They got rocked by 30+ points vs the lowly Wizards! What advanced metric do you use to get them that high?

April 11, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterleearmon

Zach, Check out Sam Smith's column today at Bulls.com. He has the same opinion of John Wall as you do.

April 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSteve R.

@leearmon
Thanks for the comment. You've conveniently left a few things out which help make you look right. Let me help clear up the missing facts for people. 1) I said the Knicks were doing well against "mostly scrubs." That means they're not all scrubs. Guess who isn't? The two playoff teams you mentioned, although it has to be said that neither of them actually counts as a "good win" for a team with two stars as big as Melo and Amar'e. 2) I didn't say the Knicks were on a 6-game win streak. Sure they beat the super injured (4 starters had to play over 40 minutes, including Arenas), PG-less Magic over 2 weeks ago in overtime at home, which I guess constitutes a big win in your book. Great. 3) I never said Chicago's win over Orlando was quality, so now you're just making stuff up. 4) I'm not sure why you're so upset by the Hawks' #16 ranking. They've locked up their #5 playoff position for quite some time and have nothing to play for at this point, so guess what, their starters aren't playing big minutes and they barely look like they're trying. In the past 3 games, not one starter has reached 30 minutes in a game.

Thanks again but remember to be factually correct and to include relevant details in future comments.

April 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterZachariah Blott

Exactly where was i "factually incorrect"? I never once said that you stated the Knicks weren't on a 7-game win streak, just noted that you conviently left that out. As a journalism major, and a current producer at a RSN, thats a huge no-no. Consider it a piece of journalistic advice. Plus I kind of think beating two teams that are currently ahead of you in these so called "Power Rankings" is relevant don't you? Also, I've read countless articles on this very site that claims that Amar'e and Carmelo are "overreated"* and not necessarily stars.. your words not mine. So yes, I do think beating two teams that are ranked higher than you has some merit. Are we making excuses for the Magic having to play 4 starters over 40 minutes? I mean come on, you, in your infinite wisdom have the Magic currently 8th in your "Power Rankings". Surely a top 8 team wouldn't have problems vs the Knicks with 4 of their starters playing 40+ minutes. If anything it shows just how much Stan Van Gundy wanted to win that game, because poor little Orlando were sooo injured. Also its worth noting that a few days later this same Magic team lost at Toronto, and guess what? Hedo played 36 minutes, Dwight Howard played 39, Jason Richardson played 43 & Nelson played 42. You may not know this, but the players I just named are all starters, and BTW that was a regulation game. I dont think Van Gundy would have benched Hedo and Howard in O-T, and seriously doubt that J-Rich and Jameer would have had their minutes deducted. Just a hunch.

You're not so sure why one would be upset over Atlanta. Im assuming (hoping) you understand the Knicks currently are tied with the longest current win streak in the league along side the Bulls (get to them in a second) as for your mighty Hawks? They have lost 5 in a row, including an impressive oh-fer last week. Hmmm but thats probably not "relevant" to you either. Its also rather funny you conviently leave out that the Hawks played 4 games last week. Guess who played over 30 minutes too?!?!?! I'll give you a second to think, or just check the boxscore...

Al Horford (39), Joe Johnson (37), Kirk Hinrich (33) even the reigning 6th man of the year Jamal Crawoford played 31 minutes. In, you guessed it! A loss. In a game that happened last week. Not just in a 3-game span which you pick that makes your argument look stronger than it actually is. I believe you state before the rankings that "...this is how I think the team’s would finish in a giant round-robin tournament this week..." Funny because another astonishing thing about these supreme Hawks is that they lost to the Pacers, a team the Knicks beat, who you oddly have ranked higher. Wow you're a true master of relevancy aren't you? Which brings me to the Chicago Bulls, the only team who has a current winning streak that matches New York's. If we are to truly believe that these rankings are a glimpse of what has happened recently or in the past week, and nothing more, how is the Bulls' resume THAT much more impressive than the Knicks? Unlike you, i'll list ALL of the teams who Chicago has beaten.. T'wolves, Pistons, Raptors, Suns, Celtics, Cavs & Magic. Now it seemed as if you were saying that you don't consider that last victory at Orlando a quality win. Ill take your word for it, but just for argument sake, the Bulls almost went into O-T vs a Magic team without their best player. Oh and the minutes argument. In regulation Hedo played 36, Bass 38, J-Rich 37 with Anderson & Nelson both coming in at 35. As for the other 6 teams Chicago beat, 5 of them aren't going to the playoffs and could be considered "scrubs". Actually 2 of them are because they each beat two of the same teams. Now granted the win vs the Celtics is a far more impressive victory than what New York accomplished, but to use one of your excuses, only 3 of Boston's starters played more than 30 minutes! And the Celtics are injured too! I know sarcasm can't be picked up over a blog post, but rest assured that was the angle I was trying. But I digress, back to the point. Although the win over the C's was the best win between the Bulls & Knicks, according to your own "Power Rankings" the Pacers have been a more impressive team, at least recently. So using your own rankings a win at Indiana (13) should, theoretically be a better win than at home vs Boston (14). I think even you can see the absurdity in this. So thanks for responding, I think i finally get your reasoning. Your keen sense of "relevancy" is just misguided information, or blatant ignorance and fact ignoring. I still can't put my finger on it. But im sure i'll get another example rather shortly...

April 12, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterleearmon

@leearmon
I wish you better luck in understanding context in the future because a big journalistic no-no is twisting it, ignoring it, and changing it. I suspect you're one of those people who believes half the crap said on draft night, watches SportsCenter for NBA insight, and actually thought Amar'e was an MVP candidate in the middle of the year when there was plenty of contextual numbers sitting around to say it wasn't so.

April 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterZachariah Blott

Funny, how you say I twist, ignore and change context. When in actuality all I have done is present facts, challenge your opinion and ask for your explanations. And I have still yet to receive one answer. If you could understand the basics you would face the questions presented to you, rather than become defensive and begin the childish and baseless accusations and claims that have no relevance to this discussion i.e. "Believes half the crap said on draft night, watches SportsCenter for NBA insight..." yadda yadda yadda. If you re-read my initial post (before you got your feelings hurt) you would see the first sentence I wrote was "Im interested in how you can have both Philadelphia and Indiana ahead of the Knicks even though they are two of the "scrub" teams New York has beaten in their current 7-game win streak." Now for any respectable journalist this is a simple reply. No matter how I feel about said reply it is still your opinion. However this seems to be much too daunting a task for the pulitzer prize author of "Hoops Karma" oops Behind the Basket. All kidding aside. You have made several claims about me "twisting" and "changing" context, when again, all I have done is present facts. How did I twist the facts about Atlanta's 5-game losing streak? How did I ignore the fact that Chicago's & New York's 7-game win streak are very similar. (Both have beaten two playoff teams and 5 scrubs". How did I change the fact that the Knicks beat both the Pacers & 76ers? Did I change the minutes played in the Bulls-Magic or Magic-Raptors games? I wish I had these powers to actually change facts, if I did i would not be going back and forth with you, I would try to do something a little more substantial.

At the end of the day, obviously despite the good natured ribbing, I enjoy this site. The ongoing debate between the "eyeball" test and conventional statistics and advanced statistics or analytics is a very intriguing one. However, you do your site and all the other writers on BTB a disjustice when you carry on like this. One simple question and a tongue and cheek last line has obstructed all credible journalistic integrity you have. Im assuming you don't have a degree in journalism, and thats fine. Im not here to pass judgement at all. But if you will ignore facts, ignore questions, all the while hurl random and inconsequential assumptions to get off of topic, ask yourself what good does it really do?

April 12, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterleearmon

You are strongly implying by the way you say things that I am saying things incorrectly or using incorrect facts. That's my issue with what you're doing. Glad you like the site.

April 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterZachariah Blott

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