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

Ranking the NBA from worst to first…

30. Charlotte Bobcats (3-26)
Last Week: 30, —
They haven’t won a game in what seems like ages, and have progressed to searching for moral victories. When your best player – going by PER – is D.J. Augustin (15.9), then you might as well throw in the towel. They have a chance to join the upper echelon of worst NBA teams ever.

29. New Jersey Nets (8-22)
LW: 23, -6
Never did I think I’d see the day this year where a team would lose back-to-back games to the bullet-less Pistons. But the Nets managed to do it. Now they’ve lost seven in a row, and Deron Williams is so pissed off he’s the only human being on the planet hating on Jeremy Lin. Deduct five points for that. That’s like hating on The Godfather or soft serve ice cream. We can’t have it.

28. New Orleans Hornets (6-23)
LW: 29, +1
Chris Kaman in his last five games: 18 points and 11 rebounds. Of course, he’s also barely shooting 40 percent. As a big man, you’d think he could shoot a little better than that. The Hornets have actually won two in a row, and their point differential (-5.5) isn’t nearly as bad as, say, Sacramento. Now if Eric Gordon would ever get healthy…

27. Washington Wizards (7-23)
LW: 27, —
The funnest, bad team to watch EVER. Even without Andray Blatche in there, this is like a bad mixed drink. One time in college when myself and a few friends were visiting Montreal, all we had to drink was some awful rum and grape juice. Mixed that up, suffered it down, and boom, we ended up having a great time in the best strip club in the city. And does anyone realize John Wall is starting to make jump shots (He’s shooting 50 percent in his last five games)?

26. Toronto Raptors (9-22)
LW: 22, -4
I’ll give them credit. Without Il Mago, they’ve at least been competitive. Losses by seven to the Spurs, three to Lisanity, two to the Lakers, OT to the Wiz and six to Miami. And that’s all this month.

25. Detroit Pistons (9-22)
LW: 28, +3
The Pistons actually won four games in a row recently. Too bad they beat Milwaukee, New Orleans and NJ twice. Out of everyone on their roster, I’m keeping Monroe, Stuckey, Knight, Jerebko and maybe Gordon. The rest should be packaged in a deal to bring back Proof from the dead.

24. Sacramento Kings (10-19)
LW: 26, +2
Even with all of that offensive talent, the Kings are worse royalty than Joffrey. They’re averaging 92.6 points a game (No. 22 in the NBA) and are dead last in field-goal percentage (barely above 40). If it wasn’t for DeMarcus Cousins using more of the good side of his ‘Sheed tendencies rather than the bad, we’d be talking about a complete train wreck. He’s averaging 11.3 rebounds in less than 30 minutes a night.

23. Phoenix Suns (12-18)
LW: 25, +2
The Suns somehow jumped two spots despite blowing a 15-point second half lead at home to Atlanta. Maybe it’s out of respect for Steve Nash, who sat out a game the other night just to show how terrible Phoenix is without him (They scored 92 points, lost and the fans had to suffer through Ronnie Price, Shannon Brown and a bunch of other jackers.).

22. Cleveland Cavaliers (11-16)
LW: 24, +2
Andy Varejao‘s injury couldn’t have come at a worse time for me. He was helping to anchor my fantasy team. By anchor I don’t mean putting up crazy numbers (He’s averaging 10.8 and 11.5 rebounds.). But he was solid, consistent and always there every night. Kinda like Cleveland. They’ll compete and play hard every night, and Alonzo Gee will have at least one ridiculous dunk per week.

21. Milwaukee Bucks (12-17)
LW: 15, -6
We love Brandon Jennings. After he was snubbed for the All-Star Game, he spewed off, saying he was going to play with a boulder-sized chip on his shoulder. Then after last night’s Courtney Love-ugly three-point loss to the Hornets, Jennings – who scored 18 but missed 14 shots – said he needed to play with more energy and had to decide if he really wanted it. Okay…

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.

10. L.A. Lakers (17-12)
LW: 11, +1
Kobe and Vanessa are back together again? Whatever’s going on in Kobe’s personal life has him now playing his age. The MVP talk is out the window and in his last five, he’s going for 25.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists on 38 percent shooting. The Lakers look like a first-round exit waiting to happen.

9. Orlando Magic (19-11)
LW: 19, +10
As we wrote in Smack, how the hell did this team suddenly become decent again? Either way, they’re still flawed. Ryan Anderson is your second-best player, and even after scoring 27 with seven triples in a win, he’s getting called out by the Master of Panic in a postgame press conference. Anderson had only two rebounds, which normally would piss off any coach. but shouldn’t SVG be used to this by now?

8. New York Knicks (15-15)
LW: 20, +12
Won’t say anything other than this: During this run, the Knicks are scoring 104 points per 100 possessions with Lin on the floor, while just 87 with him on the bench (stat from John Schuhmann).

7. Philadelphia 76ers (20-10)
LW: 7, —
The Sixers are still No. 1 in defensive efficiency (94.3) but probably more importantly, they NEVER turn the ball over. Their turnover rate is 18.7; the next-best is San Antonio at 23. No, they don’t have one guy who can take over a game, but they may not need it as long as everyone shares more than Barney.

6. L.A. Clippers (18-9)
LW: 4, -2
So now Chauncey Billups is done for the year and Chris Paul‘s courtship of J.R. Smith doesn’t sound like it’ll work. What’s next? Can they really survive with three or four legit NBA players? The talent at the top will get them a top-three seed in the West, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them lose early in the playoffs.

5. Dallas Mavericks (19-11)
LW: 6, +1
Dirk has dropped at least 20 in four straight games. He’s back. You know who else is? The old Mavs. They’re versatile, long, can hit shots and depend on different guys each night. But do they want it bad enough to last in the playoffs? It’s too early to tell.

4. San Antonio Spurs (21-9)
LW: 12, +8
Nine wins in a row, and No. One. Cares. Thanks Knick fans. But now Manu Ginobili is back, Tony Parker must be hitting Kate Upton because he’s playing like the happiest man in the world and even Tim Duncan has momentarily held off fossilization. Even the defense is up to No. 16 in the NBA (defensive efficiency of 99.9).

3. Oklahoma City Thunder (22-7)
LW: 2, -1
In his last five games, Serge Ibaka has averaged 10.2 points, 8.2 rebounds and 4.4 blocks. Nothing crazy, but it’s all OKC needs. The Big Three has been phenomenal, but to finally break through in the playoffs, someone off that frontline is going to have to score more than one or two buckets a night.

2. Chicago Bulls (24-7)
LW: 3, +1
Even without Derrick Rose, the Bulls have now passed Philly and have the NBA’s No. 1 point differential (plus-9.8). Their backups point guards have unrealistic expectations of themselves (someone tell them to stop shooting), but Luol Deng and Joakim Noah have both stepped it up when necessary.

1. Miami Heat (23-7)
LW: 1, —
Remember when people actually cared about the Heat? Now they can become the first team in over 40 years to win three straight road games on back-to-back-to-back nights by double digits, and they barely get acknowledged. That has to feel good for them.

Did I get it right?

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