NBACat Teams in the Rankings
One of the things I have always liked about college basketball are the coaches and AP polls that come out every Monday ranking all the teams. While the NBA doesn’t have polls, they do have power rankings, and here is where the teams with NBACats currently reside in the rankings, courtesy of ESPN.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder (29-8) – Nazr Mohammed
Perhaps we made his All-Star Weekend scoring outburst sound a little too inevitable. Before Durant’s MVP-clinching 36 points, then his 38 on Thursday night to power OKC’s come-from-behind win over the Magic on TNT, KD averaged just 15.3 ppg on 31.8 percent shooting in four previous games in Orlando.
7. Los Angeles Clippers (22-13) – Eric Bledsoe
The Clippers lead the Pacific Division! Remember how often you heard that line throughout the first half of the season? Without Sunday’s overtime win over Houston, CP3 and Blake suddenly would have been looking up at the Lakers, thanks to a pretty pedestrian 7-6 record since Chauncey Billups went down.
10. Orlando Magic (24-14) – DeAndre Liggins, Daniel Orton
If you believe the GM grapevine: After an 11-4 February, Orlando is serious about rolling the dice and keeping Dwight past the trading deadline, figuring that a 10 percent chance of changing his mind (but also potentially losing him for nothing in free agency) beats what they can get in a trade for him.
13. Philadelphia 76ers (22-16) – Jodie Meeks
The Sixers have held their last nine opponents to 88.7 ppg on 41.5 percent shooting. They’ve been outscored by a single, solitary point in that stretch. And yet they’ve lost seven of those nine games, continuing to suffer without the injured Spencer Hawes and from their lack of even one steady shot-creator.
14. Houston Rockets (21-17) – Patrick Patterson
The Rockets were feeling good about themselves as recently as Wednesday, at a season-high seven games over .500. Then came their three most dispiriting Ls of the season: a 21-point rout in Utah, then the home surrender of 117 points to Denver, then Sunday’s OT defeat to the Clips.
15. Boston Celtics (19-17) – Rajon Rondo
There are two ways to look at that ridiculous Rondo stat line that I was lucky enough to witness in person: (1) Trading someone with that sort of stat-stuffing ability is pure lunacy; (2) The fact that Boston is even pondering the prospect of trading Rondo tells you what a, um, challenge managing him must be.
16. New York Knicks (18-19) – Josh Harrellson
Not totally sure I can get away with saying this after Rondo abused them at Sunday brunch, but here goes: Still think the Knicks, at playoff time, can be the East’s most dangerous team outside of the Miami-Chicago duopoly. At the very least you must agree no team in the East has more in-season room to improve.
17. Utah Jazz (17-19) – Enes Kanter
The justifiable euphoria generated by a one-point win over mighty Miami, with the winning margin coming from a three-point play from the forgotten Devin Harris, has to be tempered by the fact that Utah’s subsequent loss in Dallas was its sixth straight on the road. Or maybe it doesn’t. You tell us, Utahns.
25. Sacramento Kings (12-25) – Demarcus Cousins, Chuck Hayes
Can’t quite put it on a par with the news about the new arena that will keep the Kings in Sactown, but the earnest manner in which Boogie Cousins told my man Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe about wanting to stay with the Kings and consulting Chris Webber as a mentor were undeniably promising.
26. Detroit Piston (12-26) – Brandon Knight, Tayshaun Prince
Pardon them if it seems as if the Pistons are struggling to cope with the fact that February is a memory. That was their first winning month (8-6) since December 2008 … with Brandon Knight becoming the first Detroit rookie to average 14.0 ppg for an entire month since (gulp) Grant Hill in 1994-95.
27. Toronto Raptors (12-25) – Jamaal Magloire
The Raps were offensively challenged with Andrea Bargnani and are on-their-knees grateful when they get to 90 points without him. Yet they’ve actually proved that they can consistently beat their own kind with their improved D under Dwane Casey, posting a 10-8 record against sub-.500 teams.
29. Washington Wizards (8-28) – John Wall
The recent benchings of Young and McGee, as well as Wittman’s proclamation that he’s “done with young guys,” inevitably makes you wonder if JaVale is more available than he’s ever been. The scarcity of big men out there would still stop me from trading him, but rest assured that the Wiz are getting that question.