Our weekly NBA power ranking, this time starting at the top…
1. Los Angeles Lakers (35-9) — Andrew Bynum is starting to earn what almost every great big man has to earn: entire fan bases who hate him for throwing his weight around. Cleveland still hasn’t forgotten when AB popped LeBron in the face on MLK Day. And now Charlotte fans will never forget what he did to Gerald Wallace. Meanwhile, the whole “Kobe’s supporting cast is great” argument took a hit when L.A. completely fell apart the moment Kobe walked off the floor in the Bobcats game.
2. Boston Celtics (38-9) — Eddie House, already a first team All-Garbage Time selection, is making a strong campaign for a Three-Point Shootout invitation. He knocked down eight threes against the Kings, dropped seven on the Mavs, and another seven on Miami in the last week. Meanwhile, his team has won nine in a row.
3. Orlando Magic (35-10) — For everyone who’s already printing the t-shirts for a Celts/Cavs Eastern Conference Finals, slow down: Remember that Orlando has won seven of its last nine games against LeBron’s team, and if these two meet in the second round, it’s anybody’s series.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers (35-9) — When Eric Snow gets traded at the deadline next month, will he report his own trade on NBA TV? That will be a first.
5. San Antonio Spurs (31-14) — There really shouldn’t be any debate over Tony Parker’s All-Star status. Check the numbers, and he’s having his best season as a pro, posting career-highs in points, assists and free-throw shooting.
6. New Orleans Hornets (28-14) — David West, on the other hand, is an All-Star pick you can rightfully question. Aside from that one game against the Lakers where he dropped 40, has he really done anything to stand out?
7. Denver Nuggets (30-16) — Carmelo is scheduled to return tonight against the Bobcats. Between the All-Star snub and the fact that he could have Adam Morrison guarding him for a significant amount of time, this could be the start of a killer second half of the season for ‘Melo.
8. Portland Trail Blazers (28-17) — Brandon Roy gets the All-Star nod, Rudy Fernandez cracks the Dunk Contest field, Greg Oden represents in the rookie game … and of course, nothing for LaMarcus Aldridge.
9. Phoenix Suns (25-19) — Are we sure it’s too late to get Jason Richardson in the Dunk Contest? Would anyone complain if he stepped in for Rudy Gay?
10. Houston Rockets (28-19) — While T-Mac is starting to look more like Old T-Mac and not Old-Man T-Mac, it’s been at the expense of Von Wafer, the spark-plug in a lot of Houston wins. Wafer’s PT has dropped drastically since Mac came back, as he’s averaging just 13 minutes per in each of the last three games. Perhaps it’s no coincidence the Rockets have lost three of their last four.
11. Miami Heat (25-19) — When you’re trying to talk yourself into Jamaal Magloire and Joel Anthony as a legit big-man combo, it’s time to make a trade. We don’t care if it’s Jermaine O’Neal or Jeff Foster; just make a move already.
12. Dallas Mavericks (26-19) — One of the hardest teams in the League to figure out. We do know this much: While you’ll certainly hear from them in the postseason stretch run, at this point, you can’t buy them as a legit contender.
13. Detroit Pistons (25-19) — See above.
14. Philadelphia 76ers (22-22) — In their last 11 games, Philly is 9-2. Elton Brand went for 14 points and six blocks his last time out as he works his way back into the rotation.
15. Utah Jazz (25-21) — TNT put Paul Millsap on their list of notable All-Star snubs, meaning Deron Williams even got snubbed for a list of snubs. He’s putting up 16.9 points and 10.2 assists per game, second-best in the NBA, and is the main reason Utah is still above-.500.
16. Atlanta Hawks (26-19) — Going 5-9 so far in January, they’re steadily losing ground as a top-four seed in the East. If they don’t get home court for the first round, we can’t see them winning a series.
17. New York Knicks (20-25) — Can you even imagine the amount of media hype for a Cavs/Knicks 1-versus-8 playoff series? If the Knicks keep winning (five of their last six) and Cleveland cooperates, it could happen.
18. Minnesota Timberwolves (16-28) — The day he got passed over for the Rookie Challenge roster, Kevin Love posted 17 points and 10 boards. How will Al Jefferson respond tonight to his ASG snub when the Wolves play the Lakers?
19. Charlotte Bobcats (19-27) — If you were gonna place a bet in October on who would suffer the most painful-sounding injury of the season, Gerald Wallace would have been high on everyone’s board.
20. Toronto Raptors (19-28) — Have quietly won three straight since getting Jose Calderon back. Granted, those W’s were against the Nets, Bulls and Kings, but the Raps will take ’em where they can get ’em.
21. Milwaukee Bucks (22-27) — Get ready for the great collapse. With Michael Redd gone for the year, Blake Griffin might wanna start scouting out condos in the greater Milwaukee area.
22. Chicago Bulls (19-27) — Just snapped a five-game skid. Tyrus Thomas has been all over the highlight reel lately, but more importantly, he’s putting together good all-around games.
23. New Jersey Nets (20-26) — We’re sure Vince Carter is just crushed that he didn’t make the All-Star team. Can’t you see VC spending the entire All-Star Weekend in the same chair in his living room, only moving to answer the door for the pizza delivery guy?
24. Indiana Pacers (18-28) — Now that Danny Granger has secured his ASG berth, can we talk a little bit about how good Troy Murphy has been? Often playing out of position at center because Jim O’Brien insists on going small, Murph is averaing 12.1 points, 11.4 boards (5th in the League) and with 81 triples (40.9%), is tied for 21st in the NBA.
25. Oklahoma City Thunder (11-35) — Kevin Durant’s late All-Star push wasn’t enough to sway the voters, but check out his numbers: In his last five games, KD was good for 31.4 points, 9.6 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game.
26. Golden State Warriors (14-32) — Monta Ellis was amazing in his first game back. Since then, not so much; he’s gone 6-of-22 from the floor (27%) and scored just 8.5 points per game.
27. Sacramento Kings (10-37) — You might as well just put 100 on the other team’s column in the scoreboard before the game. The Kings have lost seven straight and would probably get lit up by Dennis Rodman’s new teammates at this point.
28. Washington Wizards (9-36) — Stink.
29. Los Angeles Clippers (10-35) — Stank.
30. Memphis Grizzlies (11-34) — Stunk.