DimeMag

NBA Power Rankings, Vol. 5: No One Can Stop The Miami Heat… Or The Denver Nuggets

Ranking the NBA from worst to first…

30. Charlotte Bobcats (14-52)
Last week: 30, –
The Bobcats are pretty well locked in the last spot in the league. That’s good! With another high pick to go along with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Kemba Walker, Charlotte might actually be decent next season. Hopefully.

29. New Orleans Hornets (22-45)
Last week: 28, -1
The Hornets signed Lou Amundson for the rest of the season on Tuesday. That’s how their season is going.

28. Orlando Magic (18-49)
Last week: 29, +1
Orlando led throughout Sunday’s game in Milwaukee. But unfortunately they ran into an unreal Monta Ellis, who erupted for 25 points in the fourth, and they lost. The Magic have definitely meshed since the addition of Tobias Harris, but their youth and inexperience is catching up to them late in games.

27. Phoenix Suns (22-45)
Last week: 23, -4
This was a productive, winless week for the Suns. With a little luck, they may be able to catch the Magic for the second-worst record in the league and a greater chance at a top-3 pick.

26. Philadelphia 76ers (25-40)
Last week: 26, –
An under-covered aspect of the botched Andrew Bynum trade is that the Sixers also sent Nikola Vucevic to Orlando in the deal. Vucevic has more double-doubles (36) than LeBron James. I’m sorry, Philadelphia.

25. Detroit Pistons (23-45)
Last week: 22, -3
The Pistons became a whole lot less fun to watch once Andre Drummond injured his back. I can only take so much Charlie Villanueva.

24. Sacramento Kings (23-44)
Last week: 24, –
DeMarcus Cousins was egged on by Mike Dunleavy last Sunday and elbowed him in the head. Every time it seems that Cousins has matured, he does something like this. I’m not sure what team will give him a huge contract in a few years when he’s so unpredictable and seemingly uncontrollable now.

23. Washington Wizards (23-42)
Last week: 27, +4
A 3-1 week for the Wizards bumps them up a few spots. John Wall is playing like a No. 1 pick and it’s fun. But it’s too bad that these wins are only hurting Washington’s lottery chances.

22. Minnesota Timberwolves (23-41)
Last week: 25, +3
I’m still convinced that the Timberwolves would have been a top four seed in the West if they had just stayed healthy. But they didn’t. So now they’re here.

21. Cleveland Cavaliers (22-44)
Last week: 20, -1
The injury to Kyrie Irving makes the Cavaliers extremely difficult to watch. But it’s great news for the organization as Irving will get some rest, stay safe from suffering a more serious injury in meaningless games and the team will only improve their lottery chances.

20. Toronto Raptors (26-41)
Last week: 21, +1
The Raptors are in the ninth seed. That’s literally the worst position for a NBA team to be in and it’s a position that it seems Toronto will be destined to finish around for the next few years. Sigh.

19. Dallas Mavericks (31-35)
Last week: 19, –
Vince Carter is playing just like circa-2000 Vince Carter. But with less dunks. And with a jump shot. And on a losing team.

18. Utah Jazz (34-32)
Last week: 17, -1
The Jazz had an impressive win against the Grizzlies on Saturday. But with the Lakers starting to sort of play like the Lakers should, Utah’s playoff odds are diminishing.

17. Portland Trail Blazers (31-34)
Last week: 18, +1
I really like Damian Lillard. He is good at basketball and fun to watch play basketball. That’s all I have to say.

16. Milwaukee Bucks (33-32)
Last week: 13, -3
Ugh. I was excited about the Bucks a week ago. They were playing like a playoff team and seemed like a legit threat to advance to the second round. But then they lost to Dallas, Washington and barely squeaked past Orlando. Life in Milwaukee is tough.

15. New York Knicks (38-26)
Last week: 11, -4
This. Team. Is. Gross. And. Old.

14. Houston Rockets (36-31)
Last week: 12, -2
The Rockets beat the teams that they were supposed to this week. But an ugly loss at home against the Warriors on Sunday ruined what could’ve been a huge chance to pull within a half-game of the sixth seed.

13. Chicago Bulls (36-29)
Last week: 10, -3
This drop is solely for their loss by 42 points in Sacramento on Wednesday. I’m still in shock.

12. Golden State Warriors (38-30)
Last week: 16, +4
Someone on Twitter compared the Warriors season to a race car sputtering across the finish line with no gas and a flat tire. That seems accurate. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see them pick up some steam once Andrew Bogut is fully integrated into the system.

11. L.A. Lakers (36-32)
Last week: 15, +4
The Lakers have finally made it into a playoff spot, Pau Gasol is set to return soon and they seem close to playing at the level that was predicted to begin the season. With a little work, we may be looking at a possible L.A. vs. L.A. first round matchup.

10. Atlanta Hawks (37-29)
Last week: 14, +4
The Hawks had a nice week with a solid win against the Lakers. They’ll be a dangerous matchup in the playoffs as long as they avoid falling to the eighth seed.

9. Boston Celtics (36-29)
Last week: 9, –
The Celtics lost by 26 points to the Bobcats on Tuesday. Then they beat the Bobcats by 17 on Saturday. Consistency.

8. Brooklyn Nets (38-28)
Last week: 8, –
Catching New York and the three seed has become a realistic possibility for the Nets. If that happens, it would mean Brooklyn wouldn’t have to play Miami until the Eastern Conference Finals.

7. Indiana Pacers (40-26)
Last week: 6, -1
With the Knicks playing like trash, the two seed is the Pacers to lose. It’s been a pretty incredible season for a team that lost its best player for most of the year.

6. Memphis Grizzlies (44-21)
Last week: 5, -1
The defense was there for the Grizzlies this weekend, but the offense was nowhere to be found. They are now tied with Denver for the coveted four seed and homecourt advantage in the first round.

5. L.A. Clippers (46-21)
Last week: 4, -1
The Clippers are a vulnerable team. But they’ve played well lately and they’ll need to continue if they hope to hang on to the three seed.

4. Denver Nuggets (45-22)
Last week: 7, +3
The Nuggets just keep winning and outside of the Thunder and Spurs, I’m not sure if there’s a more dangerous team in the Western Conference.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder (50-17)
Last week: 2, -1
The Thunder are now only one game behind the Spurs and the one seed. But as the standings are currently setup, they would be looking at a first round matchup with James Harden and the Houston Rockets. That would be fun.

2. San Antonio Spurs (51-16)
Last week: 3, +1
The Spurs are incredible. Gregg Popovich is incredible. Who needs Tony Parker?

1. Miami Heat (51-14)
Last week: 1, –
The streak is now at 22 games and it doesn’t seem like they’ll be slowing down anytime soon.

Is Denver as good as OKC and San Antonio?

Follow Jon on Twitter at @jhartzell2.

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