NBA Power Rankings (3-20-13)


Yes LeBron, your Miami Heat have been nasty. Photo Credit: Keith Allison,

Welcome to HoopsHabit’s NBA Power Rankings. It’s no surprise that the Miami Heat remain on top of the rankings, but how far did the Denver Nuggets jump after their win in Oklahoma City?

Previous week’s rank in parentheses.

1. (1) Miami Heat (52-14) – For the year, LeBron James is averaging 26.7 points, 8.2 rebounds, 7.2 assists and 1.7 steals while shooting 55.5/38.9/75.0. Is that good? Also of note, the comeback win in Boston said more about Miami’s resiliency than anything about Boston.

2. (2) Oklahoma City Thunder (50-18) – The loss at home to the Nuggets was a minor bump in the road, but this team isn’t worried. They take care of business against the inferior teams, like all elite teams should. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are shooting 27.9 and 22.6 percent from three over their last 10. Take it to the basket, men!

3. (3) San Antonio Spurs (51-16)  – The good news is that even without Tony Parker for the last seven games, the Spurs have held on to the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. The bad news is they’d be facing off against the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round at this point.

4. (5) Denver Nuggets (47-22) – To win in Oklahoma City is special, but it’s even better for the Nuggets this year. They seem to have the Thunder’s number and with how hot they are, they could even catch them for that No. 2 seed. They play so fast and are so deep that it’s going to be tough to see anyone beating them right now. Ty Lawson and Wilson Chandler are hot right now.

5. (4) Los Angeles Clippers (46-22) – A bad loss in Sacramento leaves the Clippers at just 4-4 during March. They’ve almost lost home court advantage in the first round and need to regain focus. Highlights are great, but winning is more important. Blake Griffin is up to 20 points, 8.4 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.1 blocks per game over his last 10. Stud.

6. (6) Memphis Grizzlies (45-21) – Even though they lost in Denver this week, they held them to just 87 points, which is terrific. The Grizz have snuck into the No. 3 seed and could make a huge statement with a win over the Thunder on Wednesday night. Marc Gasol is averaging 17.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 2.0 blocks over his last 10.

7. (7) Indiana Pacers (42-26) – Despite setbacks against the Lakers and 76ers, the Pacers still remain in the No. 2 seed in the East behind Paul George, David West and Roy Hibbert. It never hurts when your three leading scorers are shooting 83 percent or better from the free-throw line over their last 10. Lots of close games in the playoffs will be decided that way.

8. (8) Brooklyn Nets (39-28) – Brooklyn would be at home in round one if the playoffs started today, but they’ve just started an eight game road swing that sends them to Dallas, Los Angeles, Portland and Denver. As good as Deron Williams has been playing, I don’t think this team is going to hold onto that No. 4 spot.

9. (9) New York Knicks (39-26) – Injuries happen in the NBA and the Knicks are finding out that it’s not easy to overcome them. After a 1-3 week, the once elite Knicks look downright mediocre. J.R. Smith is putting up solid numbers, but he’s shooting 38.7 percent over his last 10. The next three for New York are Orlando and a home-and-home with Toronto. They better sweep.

10. (10) Golden State Warriors (39-30) – Some stats just don’t mean much. Like the fact that the Dubs are 6-0 Sunday-Thursday and are 0-5 on Friday-Saturday this month. Turnovers REALLY hurt this team. When they’re crisp, they look like contenders. The problem is, they just aren’t crisp very often. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson will be tested in San Antonio tonight.

11. (11) Boston Celtics (36-30) – It would have been a tremendous win for the Celtics over the Heat. Jeff Green had an otherworldly game, but it wasn’t enough. For those who want to say it was because Kevin Garnett didn’t play? It wasn’t. Kudos to a great crowd in Boston, though. It felt like the NBA Finals up there.

12. (12) Chicago Bulls (36-30) – Coach Tom Thibodeau can only do so much. The Bulls are running out of steam and aren’t playing the suffocating brand of defense they were earlier in the year. Still, Joakim Noah deserves some Defensive Player of the Year love. He’s at 13.8 points, 12.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 3.4 blocks in his last 10.

13. (13) Houston Rockets (36-31) – Something about the Rockets screams first-round sweep to me. Next week will answer a lot of questions, with games against the Spurs, Pacers, Grizzlies and Clippers. James Harden is now up to 25.9 points, 5.1 rebounds, 7.6 assists and 2.0 steals per game. That’s better than anyone not named LeBron.

14. (14) Los Angeles Lakers (36-33) – Their loss in Phoenix is excusable. On a back-to-back without Kobe Bryant or Pau Gasol, one can’t expect the Lakers to do a whole lot. Still, that loss (and every loss) really hurts them right now. They’re teetering on the edge and need every win. Where’s the urgency?

15. (16) Atlanta Hawks (37-30) – Atlanta wins in Brooklyn then comes home to get crushed by Dallas. Such is life for a middling team like the Hawks. They’ve been so inconsistent, it’s maddening. They can’t win close games, either. Josh Smith and Al Horford shoot 41.4 and 54.5 percent from the free-throw line. Ick.

16. (17) Milwaukee Bucks (34-32) – Monta Ellis controls his own destiny with his early termination option. He’s going to be highly coveted on the open market this summer if he keeps up his stellar play. In his last 10, he’s at 25.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 2.1 steals with a shooting line of 52.4/39.0/82.7.

17. (15) Utah Jazz (34-33) – The Jazz sit in the No. 9 spot in the Western Conference with the Texas Triangle upcoming. They’re not going to win at Houston, San Antonio or Dallas. It’s over for the Jazz. Time to figure out who gets re-signed and who moves on. Should have done this at the trade deadline.

18. (18) Dallas Mavericks (32-35) – The good news is that Dallas has a six-game home stand coming up. The bad news is that five of those teams are playoff teams. Then, they go to the Lakers and Nuggets. They’re on life support, but not dead. Vince Carter is shooting 52.5/52.1/95.7 over his last 10. Dirk Nowitzki is up to 50.0/48.3/96.8.

19. (19) Portland Trail Blazers (31-36) – LaMarcus Aldridge is looking completely healthy, with averages of 22.6 points, 10.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.6 blocks in his last 10. The trade to pickup Eric Maynor has paid dividends and will be big next season. They’re not far away from the playoffs, but it’s not happening this year.

20. (20) Toronto Raptors (26-41) – Pretty typical “best of the bad” team. They beat the Bobcats and Cavs, but lose to the Celtics and Heat. Rudy Gay is shooting just 22.6 percent from three in his last eight games. Amir Johnson has been a great surprise, though.

21. (22) Washington Wizards (23-43) – Now that’s the John Wall we love to watch. In his last 10, he’s up to 20.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, 7.7 assists and 2.1 steals. However, he’s also shooting 52.4/54.5/85.4. If he develops a solid jumper with that speed, he could be an MVP someday. Yes, I’m totally serious.

22. (23) Phoenix Suns (23-45) – Gotta love the hustle and energy from this team. When expectations are low, it’s easy to just go through the motions. Against the Lakers, Luis Scola took the fight right to Dwight Howard and beat him. That kind of desire spreads like wildfire.

23. (21) Detroit Pistons (23-46) – The Pistons haven’t won this month (still). Aside from Greg Monroe and Jose Calderon, the Pistons aren’t giving us much to like right now. We miss Andre Drummond. Will Bynum is stepping up his game, with 10.2 points in just 19.4 minutes of play in his last 10.

24. (25) Minnesota Timberwolves (23-42) – Getting Andrei Kirilenko and Nikola Pekovic back is big for the injury-ravaged Wolves. If you want to learn basketball, watch Kirilenko play. He does so many little things that don’t show up in the box score, like tipping rebounds to teammates when he knows he can’t secure it. Derrick Williams is finally looking like the star the Wolves hoped he’d become.

25. (27) Philadelphia 76ers (26-40) – All we can say is wow. Now Andrew Bynum is out for the season with surgery on both of his knees. Did the 76ers team doctors not do a thorough enough exam? Are the Lakers the smartest team in the NBA? Whatever the case, Bynum just made $16.9 million to style his hair in different ways this year.

26. (28) Sacramento Kings (24-44) – Very nice wins over the Los Angeles Clippers and Chicago Bulls this week, with Marcus Thornton, Isaiah Thomas and Tyreke Evans looking like a solid trio. They key has been finally making shots and not turning the ball over so much. I know, a stunning revelation.

27. (24) New Orleans Hornets (22-46) – When you’ve lost seven of eight games, the last thing you want to see is a schedule that has the Celtics, Grizzlies, Nuggets, Clippers and Heat as your next five. We’re still convinced that this team should be much better than their record indicates. Greivis Vasquez, Anthony Davis, Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson beats a lot of other team’s top four, right?

28. (26) Cleveland Cavaliers (22-45) – As if the Cavs fans haven’t suffered enough, they’re hosting LeBron and the Miami Heat on Wednesday night. It’s like watching your old girlfriend come back to town with a better looking, richer, smarter boyfriend. You want to punch him, but you know he’ll just crush you.

29. (29) Orlando Magic (18-50) – Totally serious fake question here: How much does the Magic organization cater to the Disney crowd? Do the Magic not want to win too much so everyone can get along better? In all seriousness, Tobias Harris, Nikola Vucevic and Maurice Harkless give them some hope.

30. (30) Charlotte Bobcats (15-52) – OK, let’s find some positives. They go to the basket with reckless abandon, which results in them being No. 4 in the NBA in free-throw attempts and makes. However, they also get blocked more than any team in the league.