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Dime NBA Power Rankings, Vol. VI: The Most Overlooked Team Makes A Big Jump

By 02.16.12
LaMarcus Aldridge

LaMarcus Aldridge (photo. Hance Taplin)

20. Utah Jazz (14-14)
LW: 10, -10
Can you fall off any worse. This is the worst nosedive since half the Rebellion’s X-Wings got lit up and dropped by the Empire in A New Hope. Your backup point (Earl Watson) is still playing better than the starter (Devin Harris). Your starting shooting guard (Raja Bell) is like, the worst player on your team. And you just got cooked and served by Oklahoma City so bad that no one even wanted to eat your broiled remains.

19. Golden State Warriors (11-15)
LW: 21, +2
The Warriors are one wild three from Jamal Crawford away from riding a four-game win streak. David Lee is back to his old self (19 points, 10.1 rebounds) after leaving on sabbatical last year. But where’s the defense you promised, Mark Jackson? Everyone on the team has been saying “Mama there goes that man” on every defensive possession for the sixth-worst defense in the league.

18. Indiana (17-12)
LW: 8, -10
See Jazz, Utah. The Pacers had a chance to proclaim themselves a viable threat in the East with a recent string of games against Atlanta, Memphis, Denver, Miami and the Cavs. Then, they lost them all as their offense continued to drop (an efficiency of 99.2, now down to No. 21 in the NBA). At least Paul George is in the dunk contest. But he’s an in-game dunker. He’s not going to win.

17. Minnesota Timberwolves (14-16)
LW: 17, —
Lost in the Amasian stuff going on right now is the man out in Minnesota that goes by the name of Tyrannosaurus Pex. Nikola Pekovic has BEEN A MONSTER since earning big minutes (16 points, 10.6 rebounds in his last five games). It’s like the Wolves traded in a fake European tough guy (Darko) for a real one. Off the floor, it sounds like Pek is a teddy bear, or at least that’s what Anthony Tolliver is saying. On the court though, he plays like a European Charles Bronson.

16. Portland Trail Blazers (16-14)
LW: 14, -2
Now we’ll really see what the Blazers are made of. With LaMarcus Aldridge going down with a nice lil’ ankle injury, the Blazers’ front line is old and creaky with a bunch of vultures circling around. The Blazers problem is their strength: depth. After LMA, who’s the No. 2 guy? No one knows. Gerald Wallace plays like a monster at home, and then on the road he’s a different player. Nic Batum is up and down, and hasn’t shown emotion since he donned a Blazer uni. If I’m Portland, I’m making a deal to try to jump start this team.

15. Houston Rockets (17-13)
LW: 13, -2
Kevin Martin (32 points last night) woke up, and Kyle Lowry stayed up (14.8 points, 7.7 assists a game). The Rockets are tied for fourth in the NBA in rebounding rate (51.6), and they can thank Sam Dalembert for that. He’s averaging 7.9 in less than half the game. Who would’ve EVER thought Kevin McHale would resemble anything involving solid front office/coaching personnel?

14. Memphis Grizzlies (16-14)
LW: 18, +4
They just keep finding different ways to survive don’t they? No Z-Bo? Okay, Rudy Gay will pick it up and Marc Gasol will make the All-Star Game. No bench production? O.J. Mayo will step up for a few games. Tony Allen just iced a game with a three-pointer, and Marreese Speights had 20 and 18. The next thing you know Hamed Haddadi will step in with his own dose of inspired basketball.

13. Denver Nuggets (17-13)
LW: 9, -4
I can’t take anyone serious who’s won just two of their last eight games, especially when those two came against the reeling Pacers and the Phoenix Scrubs. Every since they started airing episodes of “The Association” following the Nuggets, the team has been garbage. Even our man Arron Afflalo has been TERRIBLE this year (11.6 points, 11.41 PER) since he got the dough in the offseason.

12. Boston Celtics (15-13)
LW: 16, +4
I’m sure Rajon Rondo never expected the foundation to burn to the ground so quickly that he’d be left in a shootout with a bunch of revolver pistols, a couple of rusty knives and Chris Wilcox. But alas, here we are. Rondo can go off for as many 36-13-12 trip-dubs and 40-point games as he wants, and the Celtics are still done. COMPLETELY done. As in, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett should sell the property now and started sending out feelers to other teams with cap room now. These dudes just by double digits to Detroit. DETROIT!

11. Atlanta Hawks (19-11)
LW: 5, -6
How bad is life post-Al Horford? Ask Josh Smith. He gets dissed by every Eastern Conference coach, and then even perhaps the best game of his career (30-17-7-4-3) overshadowed because of the “Free Steve Nash” movement and because, quite simply, no one cares about the Desert anymore.

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