The NBA hasn’t had a whole lot of shake-ups up top since the start of the new year, much of what has changed has been at the middle and bottom, where Philly is very last again. Some things never change.
1. Atlanta Hawks – They can’t be beat. And that might not be hyberbole. The Hawks look better than any team has looked since the 2013-14 Championship Spurs, and that’s by design.
2. Golden State Warriors – Klay Thompson, y’all.
3. Memphis Grizzlies – People have forgotten about Memphis who has quietly climbed to second in the West, and third overall. And remember: they still have an MVP candidate in their midst.
4. Houston Rockets – Add another notch to Harden’s heroics.
5. Los Angeles Clippers – The Clips are on the heels of Houston and Dallas in the standings. With some more wins, they can leapfrog the loaded West.
6. San Antonio Spurs – The Spurs are exponentially better with Leonard in their ranks but are they anywhere near the team they were in June? Unlikely.
7. Dallas Mavericks – The Mavs just can’t seem to beat the league’s best as their close loss to Chicago reveals. And Rondo’s benching isn’t too peachy either.
8. Portland Trailblazers – The Trailblazers are looking fragile. And, as we all know, blood in the waters of the Western Conference never ends well for the ailing.
9. Phoenix Suns – Without a James Harden game-winning dagger, Phoenix could be 8-2 in the last ten, which is more indicative of their recent play.
10. Washington Wizards – The Wizards are looking like the East’s second-best team which still puts them at No. 10 league wise.
11. Toronto Raptors – Toronto continues to search for its defense.
12. Chicago Bulls – A much-needed win dropped to the Heat? Say it ain’t so, Chicago.
13. Cleveland Cavaliers – Cleveland is rolling thanks to…J.R. Smith?
14. Milwaukee Bucks – The Bucks might be leading the league in casualties but they keep indicating that they’re a team to watch.
15. Charlotte Hornets – Eighth place in the East, baby. And people said this team was doomed.
16. Oklahoma City Thunder – The Thunder are an A-bomb on the right nights, and Hawks’ fodder on the wrong ones. This team is stacked but are they fundamentally sound?
17. Miami Heat – Miami’s Whiteside adds on to Chicago’s woes. 12 blocks? May the power of Riley compel you.
18. New Orleans Pelicans – The Pelicans just can’t shake the Thunder and they’ll have an even harder time surmounting a surging Suns team.
19. Detroit Pistons – Brandon Jennings is out for the season. And just like that, the feel-good story of the year isn’t feeling so good.
20. Brooklyn Nets – The Nets gave up their playoff positioning to Charlotte which, sadly, is the least of their worries.
21. Denver Nuggets – When your star point guard gets booked for driving under the influence, your season is going to have a very hard time reflecting better decisions.
22. Orlando Magic – Vucevic is a god except where winning is concerned.
23. Boston Celtics – The C’s can still make the playoffs.
25. Sacramento Kings – Thank god Sacramento’s new run-and-gun game is paying off.
26. Indiana Pacers – The number you want to be tied with the Lakers on is banners owned and not active win streaks posted. (They’re both at seven-straight).
27. Los Angeles Lakers – Kobe is done for the season and maybe forever and Lakerland continues to be the car wreck we all saw coming.
28. New York Knicks – The Knicks are aiming for the top!
29. Minnesota Timberwolves – Can the Wolves be the team that stomps the league’s best? Don’t hold your breath.
30. Philadelphia 76ers – We all know this is Philly’s rightful place, by design.