NBA Power Rankings midseason reset: Milwaukee Bucks who we thought they’d be

Giannis Antetokounmpo (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Giannis Antetokounmpo (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

Back in October, before the season started, we had the Milwaukee Bucks at No. 1 in the NBA Power Rankings. Nearly everything else hasn’t been that close.

When we launched the NBA Power Rankings for the 2019-20 season back in late October, just before the regular season was set to tip off, it all seemed so out of joint.

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After five consecutive seasons of seeing the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals against either the Cleveland Cavaliers (four times in a row from 2015-18) or the Toronto Raptors (in 2019), there appeared to be seven teams that could make legitimate claims as title contenders.

None of those seven were the Warriors, Cavaliers (who fell off the map in 2018-19) or Raptors.

No, a new group of contenders had emerged after a wild offseason which saw nearly half of the players in the NBA change teams.

That group included, in no particular order, the Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets, LA Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers and Utah Jazz.

As the iconic 1960s comedy character Maxwell Smart often said, “Missed it by that much.”

As we run through the NBA Power Rankings entering Week 18 (which won’t begin until Thursday after the All-Star break concludes), we’ll take a look back at where we thought each team would be as well as breaking down their remaining schedule and their chances at a potential playoff berth.

That last one might sound crazy, but the truth is that every team in the Eastern Conference is within 9½ games of the eighth spot and only two teams in the West are more than seven games away from eighth place.

And with that, we dive into the NBA Power Rankings which only experienced some minor shifts since last week.

41. . 12-43. Previous: . Golden State Warriors. 30. team

Last week: Lost to Miami 113-101, lost at Phoenix 112-106

This week: Thursday vs. Houston

Look, after the Golden State Warriors lost Kevin Durant in free agency and had to trade Andre Iguodala to make room for the incoming contract of D’Angelo Russell in a sign-and-trade deal, it was expected to Warriors would fall from their half-decade long run at the top of the NBA.

But for crying out loud, we still thought Golden State would be moderately competitive.

We had the Warriors at No. 8 in the preseason NBA Power Rankings, just outside of the group of seven title contenders. They still had Stephen Curry, after all, and Draymond Green. Until they didn’t. Curry has played just four games due to a broken left hand, Klay Thompson hasn’t played at all, Russell has already been traded and the Warriors are dead last in the NBA.

Per Tankathon, the Warriors have the third-toughest remaining schedule, with their final 27 opponents posting a combined winning percentage of .538. Here’s how their schedule breaks down:

Home (15): Feb. 20 Houston, Feb. 23 New Orleans, Feb. 25 Sacramento, Feb. 27 Lakers, March 1 Washington, March 5 Toronto, March 7 Philadelphia, March 10 Clippers, March 12 Brooklyn, March 25 Atlanta, March 28 Oklahoma City, March 29 San Antonio, March 31 Denver, April 8 Cleveland, April 13 Portland.
Road (12): Feb. 29 at Phoenix, March 3 at Denver, March 14 at Milwaukee, March 16 at Toronto, March 18 at Indiana, March 20 at Detroit, March 21 at New York, April 2 at Houston, April 3 at San Antonio, April 9 at Lakers, April 11 at Clippers, April 15 at Sacramento

As for Golden State’s playoff chances? The Warriors trail the eighth-place Memphis Grizzlies by 16¾ games with 27 to play. While it might not be officially over, the ushers are getting ready to open the exit doors.

Game of the first half: The performance of the first half belonged to D’Angelo Russell, who on Nov. 8 lit up the Timberwolves (the team he was traded to on Feb. 6) for 52 points, with nine rebounds, five assists, three steals and two blocks in 40 minutes. He was 19-for-37 overall and hit 7-of-17 from 3-point range in Golden State’s 125-119 overtime loss.