20. Houston Rockets (22-27) — Contenders need depth, and the Rockets, despite their notable injuries, do have a young and talented bench. Aaron Brooks (for now) leads the second unit with Courtney Lee, Chase Budinger, Patrick Patterson and Jordan Hill.
19. Philadelphia 76ers (21-26) — Andre Iguodala isn’t going out to score 25 points every night, but he’s stepping up as a leader lately and making plays all over the court.
18. Charlotte Bobcats (20-26) — Kwame Brown has six double-digit rebound games in January, to go with four double-doubles.
17. Phoenix Suns (22-24) — Steve Nash, Vince Carter and Grant Hill have seen it all (except the NBA Finals), but can their legs hold up through a grueling postseason?
16. Los Angeles Clippers (18-28) — Why does Rick Carlisle gotta be Buzz Killington? Ever since the Mavs figured out a way to neutralize Blake Griffin last week, the R.O.Y. front-runner is shooting just 41% from the field.
15. Utah Jazz (28-20) — Seven losses in their last eight games, with the only win coming against the Wolves. Injuries are killing them.
14. Memphis Grizzlies (24-24) — Put it this way: I do think these Grizzlies can make it to the playoffs. I don’t think they’ll change the franchise’s winless postseason record.
13. Portland Trail Blazers (25-22) — As brightly as LaMarcus Aldridge has shined, without Brandon Roy, the Blazers don’t have a go-to scorer on the perimeter. That will cost them games down the stretch.
12. New York Knicks (25-22) — When Danilo Gallinari is knocking down his threes, the Knicks may be the most dangerous offense in the League.
11. Denver Nuggets (28-19) — It seems like a weight was lifted from Chauncey Billups’ shoulders after the Nets/Nuggets/Pistons trade fell through. He’s averaging 18.2 points over his last five games, hitting 57% beyond the arc and 100% at the line.