The NBA’s Profits>Product season has quickly devolved into endless injuries and some complete nonsense results, making the Power Rankings very fluid and difficult to pinpoint. Here's my best stab at it this week.
1. Miami Heat (21-7): Sometimes you get your ass kicked by 17 3-pointers and a 24-rebound Dwight Howard performance – no shame in that.
2. San Antonio Spurs (19-9): Any more questions about how amazing Tim Duncan still is? They start a tough stretch next weekend (@LAC, @Utah, @Port, @Denv, Chi), but they just got Ginobili back so everyone’s about to have problems.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder (21-6): Do wins over Utah, Golden State, and Portland (which was bad-reffing ish) make up for a loss to the Kings and an absolute slaughtering at the hands of the Spurs? No, they do not, but no one else is stepping up to take OKC’s weak hold near the top. Westbrook has 59 turnovers in his last 10 games. 5.9 to/gm would destroy the NBA record if he keeps it up.
4. Dallas Mavericks (17-11): Have been very streaky this year (already had 6 runs of 3+ wins or 3+ losses in a row). Offensive rebounding has been dreadful against clubs with decent rebounders, so I’m calling the method of their eventual playoffs downfall right now.
5. Philadelphia 76ers (19-9): Haven’t had healthy centers in forever, which really hurts a team whose next biggest big man is 6-feet-9 and plays below the rim (Brand). Also, it’s only 6 years late, but Andre Iguodala finally made an All-Star team.
6. Orlando Magic (17-11): I’d be impressed if Howard could stop throwing his team under the bus while acting like other people are pushing him out of Orlando. #GrowUpAndShowSomeLeadership
7. Los Angeles Clippers (17-8): If the Clips finish as a top-2 seed in the West without Billups, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin deserve co-MVP Awards (or at least the co-runner-up award behind LeBron James). Will the bad replacement options for Billups push them down further?
8. Boston Celtics (15-12): Their turnaround that began 3.5 weeks ago lines up perfectly with Garnett’s resurgence. Make no mistake about it, Boston’s success still hinges on KG.
9. Chicago Bulls (23-7): With or without Rose, the Bulls continue to beat all the sub-.500 teams and lose to all the over-.500 teams (the Bobcats are the only team with more time than Chicago's 31 days between now and their last W over a winning club - think about that). Not a good sign come playoffs, and the reason they’re this low.
10. Atlanta Hawks (18-10): Josh Smith is the second-best all-around forward in the East behind LeBron James, so he may have a point with his “there is a lot of politics involved in the All-Star selection” comment.
11. Houston Rockets (16-12): 13-5 over the past month, but not an impressive resume overall.
12. Portland Trail Blazers (15-13): OT losses to OKC and Dallas that both smacked of referee incompetence aren’t that bad. The injury issues with Camby are far more troubling.
13. Los Angeles Lakers (16-12): Since the first week of the season, the Lakers have only 2 definitive wins (over Phoenix and Charlotte), and their biggest victory over a contender was by 5 against the Clippers in a one-sided free throw contest.
14. Indiana Pacers (17-10): Only went 2-4 on recent stretch vs. decent teams. Keep this in mind as I continue to point out that their record is deceiving and their schedule has been easy.
15. Denver Nuggets (16-12): String of good opponents + string of injuries to big men = string of losses and bad defense
16. Minnesota Timberwolves (13-15): That loss to Lin’s resurgent Knicks was their first to a non-winning team in over a month. But they’re also only 5-8 against winning teams during that stretch.
17. Utah Jazz (14-12): The inconsistent club we’re seeing now is probably a better representation of who the Jazz are than what the early-January string of victories over middling-to-awful opponents lead us to believe.
18. Memphis Grizzlies (14-14): Don’t get too excited about a few recent wins over some good teams; they’re only 5-12 against winning clubs and have numerous offensive issues that offset most of what their very good D sets up.
19. Milwaukee Bucks (12-15): Hard to get on a roll with Bogut’s injury record. Can they continue to own the Heat when they visit Milwaukee Monday tonight?
20. Phoenix Suns (12-15): Have been better lately, but nothing to wow anybody.
21. New York Knicks (13-15): Who wants to bet New York’s good fortune ends once Carmelo and Amar’e return? Plenty of nicknames for Lin already, so here’s my contribution: the Taiwanese Tebow.
22. Golden State Warriors (10-14): Are able to get some surprising wins, but they need to avoid losses to teams like the Kings in order to move up. Still waiting for Mark Jackson’s attention to defense to kick in.
23. Sacramento Kings (10-17): Winning some games with their occasionally great energy level and offense. Losing more games because of their defense.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers (10-16): You’re kinda screwed when your two best players are out with a concussion (Irving) and a broken wrist (Varejao).
25. Detroit Pistons (8-21): Won four in a row over nobody, then got killed by Washington. Either Monroe and Jerebko need to get out of there, or everyone else does.
26. Toronto Raptors (9-20): 3-13 without Bargnani, 6-7 with him; they’ll be without him for a while.
27. Washington Wizards (6-22): John Wall has regressed from his rookie campaign in virtually every department (assists down, turnovers up, shooting down, horrendous defense left intact). Can we please stop talking about him like he’s a future superstar in anything other than the decathlon?
28. New Orleans Hornets (4-23): When virtually all of your half-decent players are injured, your offense will suck.
29. New Jersey Nets (8-21): Current 6-game losing streak includes 2 in a row to the Pistons. Upcoming 2 to 3 weeks could be an absolute season buster.
30. Charlotte Bobcats (3-24): Michael Jordan with complete control, everybody!