||Despite producing 3 of their 4 worst games this year for 3P% in the past week, the Utah Jazz were still able to complete their latest 5 game stretch with a winning record and a margin of victory of +13.8 points. Donovan Mitchell has been getting buckets with 120 points in his last 3 contests and Utah’s home win streak is now up to 24 consecutive games. Of their final 19 opponents, only 5 (including the injured Lakers twice) currently have a W-L record over .500. Utah’s quest to secure the number one seed is well on track and with playoffs just around the corner, the team will start to really refine their game plan going forward and ensure that their stars are well rested and prepared for the games that really matter.
||I'm ready for the playoffs to start now.
||The Nets role players definitely play worse when Harden isn't on the floor and dictating the tempo of the floor. However, it helps having good passing big men in LMA and Blake to ease the load off Kyrie and KD. KD's handle has been a little rusty coming back, just like it was early in the season but Nets fans should expect it to improve as he gets back in the rhythm. His shooting touch is still the best in the league from that mid-range area and we'll see how the Nets fare without their lead playmaker for a few more games as Harden's hamstring heals.
||Rondo was an amazing pickup. While most people will meme that he won't do anything in the regular season, the real power he provides is his BBIQ. We just needed a passer who can control the flow of the offense, and with all the offensive weapons we have, Rondo is perfect for that, and Jackson is starting to ramp up as well. Unfortunately, Ibaka is still out and PatBev might miss some playoff games, so the lineup is a little messed up, but the Clippers look stronger than ever.
||The Sixers have had inconsistency at points right now as it seems they are hitting a bit of an end season wall. The play of Ben Simmons has overall been disappointing the last few games, but the real concern came with games such as @NOP when the whole team seemed to only show up in person rather than spirit. Wins like that are necessary when they are coming up with a 7-game stretch such as now. The Sixers are still clearly a contender and are (as of this posting) tied for the #1 seed, but their consistency and coherency (especially with the addition of George Hill coming soon) need to start showing up soon.
||What had been one of the most inconsistent teams in the league has turned into one of the hottest, posting a 16-4 record in March and April thus far, and has included an 8 game win streak that was just ended by Boston on Sunday. The impact that Aaron Gordon has made on both sides of the ball has been covered extensively, however as Michael Porter Jr. noted recently in an interview, the team defense has stepped up immensely since Gordon's arrival, and the versatility Gordon provides as a cutter and floor spacer has opened up the floor even more for Nikola Jokic to work his magic from the high post. Nuggets fans still need to remain cautiously optimistic, as the team has made up basically zero ground on Utah, Phoenix, or LAC, with all three have had similarly impressive stretches over the same period. Also, the Nuggets were two missed Spurs layups away from being on a two game losing streak currently, with both games turning against the Nuggets due to large second half leads being lost.
||The Bucks signed Jrue Holiday to a four year extension, but that's just about the only bright spot for the team in a 4-4 stretch since our last rankings. By far the most concerning development is that Giannis is still missing time with that lingering knee injury — hopefully he and the team are just playing it safe. Other Bucks developments include Thanasis still looking like a NBA player and Jordan Nwora showing some serious scoring potential for a 2nd round rookie.
||Dallas had an interesting two weeks since the last rankings, losing to Indiana but beating Boston, as well as beating Utah but losing to Houston. The Mavs have a key 2 weeks until the next rankings, facing Memphis, New York, Sacramento (twice), Detroit, and the Lakers twice without Lebron James or Anthony Davis (most likely). With Kristaps Porzingis fully engaged and in his best state, the Mavs need a long winning streak to take a jump in the tight Western Conference.
|| Trail Blazers
||Well, things don't look great in Portland. The defense is terrible and hasn't improved appreciably since Nurkic's return. Perhaps even more troubling, their big deadline trade looks like a lateral move at best. Something needs to change and fast, and there isn't any real clear way to do that.
||We hardly knew ye Victor Oladipo. He's not dead but he's had the misfortune of suffering an unknown knee injury in only his 4th game with the Miami Heat. Hopefully it is not something serious but only time will tell when we'll get him back. In other player news, the Miami Heat signed Dwayne Dedmon. He hasn't played for anyone since last season but my expectation is that he'll be able to step in and provide much needed depth at the Center position. Outside of that we've had quite a few good wins since the last power rankings including wins against the Knicks and Pacers who are our contemporaries at the bottom half of playoff seeding. Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson have also returned to form (some Heat fans may have speculated that they sucked to avoid being traded) but it's nice to have them contributing more consistently. We're starting to near the conclusion of the season and what's looking cool is that we're facing a lot of similar level and above teams in the final stretch. So either we're good enough to compete with them or we know what we have to do to be competitive next season. The upcoming games against the Nuggets and Suns should be really good for that as well.
||The Celtics are 5-3 since our last powerranking, and the Dr. Jekyll Mr Hyde routine continues to plague the team. One night they'll look like the team that's been to the ECF 3 of the last 4 years, and the next they'll look like 5 corpses on the court and a shoo in (TIL the spelling of that phrase) for a lottery pick. Against the Nuggets last night though, they looked absolutely deadly. Celtics play 7 times between now and the next ranking, with a murder's row of matchups against the Blazers, Lakers, Warriors, Bulls, Suns, Nets, and Hornets.
||We are over .500! That is pretty cool so early on in our rebuild, especially given that we still don't have JJJ.
||The shortened COVID season seems to be taking its toll on every team, and it’s now our time.No Ball, No Hayward, No Monk, but the Hornets are still staying afloat in the East playoff hunt. Terry Rozier and Miles Bridges have been leading the charge lately as this extremely thin roster continues to outperform expectations. Coach James Borrego has shown me everything I need to see this season; he’s the real deal. Play-in game, here we come. Hopefully we can kick the injury bug soon.
||RJ Barrett is the real deal. 20 years old and a top 3 hottest shooter in the NBA right now. Dramatic statistical improvements across the board, and visibly getting better each and every game. Killer mentality on the court, killer mentality off the court. New Yorkers would run through a brick wall for RJ.
||Man oh man have the Spurs been skidding the last few weeks. The team's identity seems to have evaporated, with our lone bright spot coming with DeMar's game-winner against Dallas last night. Here's hoping that the win kick starts some much-needed life into the team, because our schedule will be doing us no favors moving forward from here.
||Indiana's up-and-down season continues, but a 3-game win streak brings the Pacers back within striking distance of the playoff picture. Recent injuries to key players have thrust bench contributors like Goga Bitadze, Aaron Holiday, and Edmond Sumner into the spotlight, and they have largely stepped up to task. Holiday in particular has emerged from Nate Bjorkren's doghouse, averaging 15 points for Indiana over the last 5 games.
||Warriors narrowly squeaked a win out against the Giannis-less Bucks then lost a heart breaker to the Wizards. Seems like it has been a while since they Warriors had a win against a contender caliber team. It looks like Wiseman is likely out for the season with the meniscus injury in the right knee. Paschall should be back soon luckily for the piss-poor bench squad. This teams only shot is a healthy Steph. Warriors are 1-8 without him and needed a heroic 40 point game from Wiggins to get that 1 win.
||Raptors continue to suck. Gary Trent Jr has been a bright spot, posting an impressive first few games with the organization. Malachi Flynn has also shown a promising playmaking ability with Fred and Kyle out. Hopefully the raptors continue to lose as many games as possible, but it’s not pretty to watch.
||This team is not meeting expectations. While Nikola Vucevic has been the relevation on offense we've needed for years, overall the Bulls are regressing. Zach LaVine has been inefficient since his ankle injury, but remains the heart of the team and the go-to in crunch moments. I find it difficult to know where to place the blame for the Bulls' inability to close out cames, but pessimism will get us nowhere. Fans should shift hope from securing a 4-6 seed to simply making the 7-10 play-in.
||The Kings have dropped six in a row since our last rankings, including losses to the league's worst team and to the Pistons where Cory Joseph had a classic revenge game. You may recall there was some play-in buzz a few weeks ago, but the team now appears to have a clear direction towards the tank. Tyrese Halibutrton is returning to a bench role and may be approaching the rookie wall in terms of shooting, but he's been able to stay involved on the court with some great playmaking.
||No matter how rough this season gets, I take solace in the fact that Scott Brooks can no longer inexplicably keep giving Big Dome Jerome Robinson minutes. To the raucous cheers of Wiz fans everywhere, he has been waived, and is no longer on the roster. May the future of the Washington Wizards prosper under smaller foreheaded players.
||There are plenty of silver linings to look at instead of looking at our record. Garland is clearly getting better and is starting to display star-like ball handling capabilities, Okoro looks good on both ends but is so selective with his shots that the box score isn't great, and the acquisition of Hartenstein is looking like we may have found a diamond in the rough, as he's averaging 10p/9rb/3ast/1.7blk in just 23 mpg with the cavs. There's a future here, but it needs to come sooner rather than later with Sexton about to enter the final year of his rookie contract.
||It took until March, but this Oklahoma City team is finally playing like GM Sam Presti's vision entering the season: a really, really bad basketball team, albeit with some fun highlight-producing raw prospects. Serbian rookie Aleksej Pokusevski, affectionately known as "Poku" by fans and with a body more than befitting of the "Slim Reaper" knickname than Durant disowned, is quickly becoming the team's second 4-letter half-meme, half-serious star, scoring 20, 8, 19, 25, and 10 in recent games before beign forced out of Saturday night's game early with 0 points due to injury.
||Detroit has won a few games recently and the return of Killian Hayes has been a breath of fresh air, but at this point the only worry is that they maybe end up winning too many games. They shouldn’t win too many, there are so many holes in the roster but several other teams are clearly all-in on the tank in a way that Casey and the Pistons probably won’t be.
||Uhh watching this team is actually kinda fun? Okeke and Bamba have shown nice flashes with the minutes they're getting and who knows what this team can become with a couple lottery picks. Also, can't forget the return of Isaac and Fultz sometime next season.
||Wolves have been purchased by Arod and look to be staying in Minnesota for the foreseeable future. With DLO'S return, Ant's surging, and KAT's dominance Wolves are fun to watch again.
||Stage 5: Acceptance. We are tanking, and that is okay. As long as we don’t lose 20 in a row again, we’re happy. While it is not the same as seeing our team contend in the playoffs, there is a level of excitement to seeing the next generation of players develop and show their flashes of brilliance.