Chicago had a big win over Oklahoma City on Christmas Day, but it doesn't prove that they're out of the woods just yet.
Yes, 2016 is nearly upon us, and jeez, can things change in a year. At this time 365 days or so ago, the West felt like the infinitely deeper conference, people were demanding playoff realignment, the Pacers and Heat were bad, the Pelicans and Trail Blazers were good, and nobody had the slightest idea who Kristaps Porzingis was.
We like to think we’ve got a pretty good feel for things now, with everyone having played around 30 games, but the truth is that the landscape changes quickly in this strange, modern NBA. With the New Year on deck, a tight playoff race shaping up, and more big spending expected in free agency, take a step back and soak in the state of the league as we enter the final week of 2015, because the only thing we can count on is it’s sure to be fleeting.
To hammer home that point, let’s hop in the DeLorean, back to Matt Dollinger’s Power Rankings from exactly one year ago. Entering 2015, the Bulls—at present, scuffling through an identity crisis—were streaking and ranked first, one ahead of the Warriors, who had just lost Andrew Bogut to an injury and didn’t know what to do at center (funny how that one worked out). The Blazers, starring LaMarcus Aldridge and Wes Matthews, and were third. The Spurs were, again, looking kind of old and sitting in ninth, and the now-troubled Suns were somehow 11th, ahead of the Thunder and Cavaliers. The Pistons, at No. 26, had just cut Josh Smith to begin their journey back to relevance. And the Knicks, not the Sixers, were in dead last.
You might look back at a year from now and laugh at me while wearing your new Kevin Durant Warriors jersey (technically, it could happen) and opening up your Ben Simmons Timberwolves rookie card (wishful thinking, admittedly). But until that future arrives, here’s 2015’s final set of Power Rankings.