Ranking the NBA from worst to first…
30. Charlotte Bobcats (18-59)
Last week: 30, –
Maybe this will be the offseason that they finally find gold in the draft. Probably not, though.
29. Phoenix Suns (23-54)
Last week: 26, -3
Michael Beasley attempting to throw a punch was the one thing missing from this unfortunate Phoenix season. Now nothing is missing.
28. Detroit Pistons (26-52)
Last week: 28, –
A nice stretch from Greg Monroe over the past few games and Andre Drummond being back and healthy made the Pistons at least semi-watchable this week. But they’re still a mess.
27. Orlando Magic (19-59)
Last week: 29, +2
I really like watching Nikola Vucevic. I really like watching Tobias Harris. I really like watching the Magic.
26. New Orleans Hornets (27-50)
Last week: 27, +1
I really like the Hornets, too. With a good draft, they should be a playoff team next year.
25. Philadelphia 76ers (31-45)
Last week: 25, –
Okay. Here’s a team I don’t like. Finally. I’m not sure what the Sixers’ front office will be able to do this offseason to fix this mess they created.
24. Toronto Raptors (29-48)
Last week: 24, –
They went for the playoffs and missed horribly. They have inefficient players with long and large contracts and they seem destined for tenth to seventh seeds for the next three years. Fun.
23. Cleveland Cavaliers (24-52)
Last week: 23, –
Kyrie Irving is special enough to assume that the Cavs will be a top-four team in the East in three years. But to get to that point, Dan Gilbert will need to do a better job of getting good supporting players around his star than he did with LeBron.
22. Portland Trail Blazers (33-44)
Last week: 19, -3
Oh brother. A gentleman’s eight-game losing streak makes it difficult to remember the excitement and optimism that defined this Trail Blazers team earlier in the season.
21. Sacramento Kings (27-50)
Last week: 22, +1
While they’re losing on the court, the city seems to be optimistic off the court that they’ll be able to keep the Kings in Sacramento. We can only hope.
20. Washington Wizards (29-48)
Last week: 21, +1
John Wall is very fun to watch and I’m excited for a full, healthy season of this Wall next year. That is all I have to say about the Wizards.
19. Minnesota Timberwolves (29-47)
Last week: 20, +1
The Timberwolves would be a playoff team if records were erased right now and the playoffs were determined by the last two weeks of the season. They’re playing incredibly well and my love for Ricky Rubio is ever growing.
18. Dallas Mavericks (38-39)
Last week: 17, -1
Losses to the Lakers and Nuggets this week seem to have ended the Mavericks’ slim playoff hopes and sealed this season as an extreme disappointment for an organization just two years removed from a championship.
17. Milwaukee Bucks (37-39)
Last week: 18, +1
They’ve clinched a playoff berth and they’re two games under .500. Plan the parade!
16. Boston Celtics (40-37)
Last week: 16, –
They’re close to locking up the seventh seed. But the Celtics can’t get comfortable yet with the Bucks, who own the tiebreaker over the Celtics, and are only two losses behind them.
15. L.A. Lakers (40-37)
Last week: 14, -1
Mike D’Antoni said earlier this week that he thinks the Lakers are a top-four seed in the West. That’s cute.
14. Utah Jazz (41-37)
Last week: 15, +1
Thanks in large part to the Clippers domination of the Lakers on Sunday, the Jazz escaped last week still in control of the eighth seed in the Western Conference.
13. Houston Rockets (43-34)
Last week: 13, –
The Rockets seem to genuinely like spending time with each other and it shows with their chemistry during games. I’m excited to see how much noise this young team can make in the playoffs.
12. Golden State Warriors (44-33)
Last week: 12, –
The Warriors should be worried that their current playoff opponent would be the Nuggets, who they’re 1-3 against this season. If they could chose, Golden State would probably prefer to face the speed of Oklahoma City than the size of Denver.
11. Atlanta Hawks (42-36)
Last week: 10, -1
A loss to the hapless Sixers on Friday has basically sealed the Hawks into the six-seed.
10. Chicago Bulls (42-34)
Last week: 11, +1
They’ve played really well lately and are now within striking distance of the four-seed and homecourt advantage in the first round.
9. Indiana Pacers (48-29)
Last week: 6, -3
The Pacers were blown out by 19 in Washington. That’s unfortunate.
8. Brooklyn Nets (44-32)
Last week: 8, –
I don’t like the Bulls as a first round matchup for the Nets because I don’t think they’ll be able to handle the physicality of Chicago for seven games. Unfortunately for Brooklyn, that matchup seems inevitable unless Chicago severely falters down the stretch.
7. Memphis Grizzlies (52-25)
Last week: 7, –
The Grizzlies are in the unfortunate position of having a better record than the Clippers but still being the five seed since they aren’t winning their division. I hate that rule.
6. L.A. Clippers (51-26)
Last week: 5, -1
The Clippers clinched their first Pacific Division title on Sunday against the Lakers and they played well. This team definitely still has a ton of flaws, especially in the half-court, but at least they’re fun to watch.
5. New York Knicks (50-26)
Last week: 9, +4
Huge win for the Knicks in Oklahoma City on Sunday and they have extended their winning streak to 12 games. They’ll be able to beat anyone in the playoffs if they can keep up this level of play.
4. Denver Nuggets (53-24)
Last week: 4, –
I think they’re the second-most dangerous team in the Western Conference behind Oklahoma City and that’s mostly because of how dangerous their home court will be in the playoffs.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder (56-21)
Last week: 3, –
The Thunder seem flustered after a difficult loss at home to the Knicks. They’re still playing too much one-on-one basketball and they really need to pick their play up over the last few games to avoid stumbling into the playoffs.
2. San Antonio Spurs (57-20)
Last week: 2, –
The Spurs went through a five-game gauntlet last week with matchups against the Heat, Grizzlies, Thunder and Hawks. They somewhat survived, but after their win against Atlanta, Gregg Popovich was still unhappy with their lack of focus and defensive execution.
1. Miami Heat (60-16)
Last week: 1, –
They sat LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in San Antonio and won. I hope they allow the playoffs to be at least somewhat competitive.
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