- The Crossover's Kenny Ducey is back to preside over the NBA power rankings and return the crown to the Warriors, who followed Stephen Curry's brilliance to a big week.
Hey! Welcome back to The Crossover’s weekly power rankings. After a week off, I’m back by popular demand! I’ll try to make you as happy as Rohan Nadkarni did with where I put your favorite team, though I can’t make any promises. I can swear to keep this not-so-serious as always, and I will refrain from talking about Ray Felton, as much as it pains me to do so. Anyway, enough of this. Let’s get to the ranks:
(All stats and records used through Jan. 28).
30. Orlando Magic (14–34)
Last Week: 29
I’m mad I didn’t think of this pun first.
28. Sacramento Kings (15–34)
Last Week: 30
How long did it take to make this?
27. Atlanta Hawks (14–35)
Last Week: 27
The Cavaliers have reportedly checked on Kent Bazemore. Considering he’s owed over $37 million through 2020, I don’t see why the Hawks wouldn’t flip him for whatever the Cavs want to offer, especially if there’s a pick attached. Trade everyone.
26. Dallas Mavericks (16–34)
Last Week: 25
If Dennis Smith Jr. doesn’t win the dunk contest, what happens? Do Mavs fans riot? Does J.J. Barea decide he’s retiring? Will Mark Cuban call on the NBA to make sure the judges are really who they say they are?
25. Detroit Pistons (22–26)
Last Week: 22
Remember when the only problem Detroit had was that Andre Drummond was sorta not good sometimes? Now you’ve got a whole punchbowl to pick from.
24. Chicago Bulls (18–32)
Last Week: 18
Nikola Mirotic called Rajon Rondo his “the best teammate [he] ever had” this week. No, I’m serious. He did. Wonder who his least favorite teammate is...
23. Phoenix Suns (17–33)
Last Week: 29
Like I said a few weeks ago, the Suns should have ended the season after that win over the Thunder.
22. Brooklyn Nets (18–32)
Last Week: 23
Jah. Is. Free.
21. New York Knicks (22–28)
Last Week: 24
Well, you were warned about their struggles on the road. At least Trey Burke is looking really, really good these days! He’s forcing the Knicks to give him all sorts of playing time right now, and making other teams look bad for passing on him. This is kind of insane.
20. Charlotte Hornets (20–28)
Last Week: 21
I feel like I’m beating a dead horse here. The Hornets just fumbled away ANOTHER game down the stretch, this time against Miami on Saturday. Can you imagine what’s going to happen when Kemba leaves? I mean, they’re not going to be playing in so many of these close games in the fourth, but when they do, whew.
19. Utah Jazz (21–28)
Last Week: 26
God, this is just a mess at the bottom of these rankings. So incredibly sad. I’m supposed to believe in the Jazz now?
18. Los Angeles Lakers (19–30)
Last Week: 19
The league’s newest social media darling Kyle Kuzma might have gone too far here. What’s wrong with strawberries? They might me the most delicious thing I’ve ever tasted. And they’re healthy! Healthier than waffles, anyway. That might be a mountain of berries, but it’s not worth killing the man over. Let Lonzo live!
17. Denver Nuggets (26–23)
Last Week: 13
They finally picked up their first good win (against Portland) since the calendar turned to 2018. Other than a couple fantastic outputs from Jamal Murray, there’s not much to write home about here. Middling defense, inconsistent offense. Middle of the pack seems right.
16. New Orleans Pelicans (27–22)
Last Week: 8
As Tom Haberstroh notes, this DeMarcus Cousins injury should be a lesson to all about player overuse. In the month of January, Boogie played five games of 40 or more minutes, a 51-minute game against Chicago, and was taking oodles of shots. So sad to see him go down with a ruptured Achilles, just as I was beginning to believe in New Orleans as a contender. This probably kills all of that, though you should never say never about a team with Anthony Davis.
15. Cleveland Cavaliers (29–19)
Last Week: 16
You, lame and dumb: "Man, I’m really worried about the Cavs. Isaiah Thomas looks like he’s really not having fun and there’s some discord in that locker room."
LeBron, cool and good:
14. Milwaukee Bucks (26–22)
Last Week: 15
Here’s how uncultured I am: I thought “Cream City” was some sort of manufactured nickname by Nike to sell more jerseys. Turns out it’s a real Milwaukee thing! These are pretty awesome uniforms, if I don’t say so myself. There’s a reason they’re undefeated (1-0) in them.
13. Indiana Pacers (27–23)
Last Week: 14
Here’s something very encouraging: GM Chad Buchanan says Indiana is “in no hurry to change up anything with this team.” There’s definitely the temptation to try to transform a good team like this one into a great one, especially with someone like Kemba Walker available. The Pacers have a great core that has learned to play with one another in short time, though, and it’d be foolish to mortgage what could be a fantastic future.
This was June, man...what happened?
11. Washington Wizards (27–22)
Last Week: 17
Should this team still be running laps for losing to the freaking Mavs? Yes. Am I encouraged by Markieff Morris’s recent play? You bet. Don’t let him get hot!
10. Portland Trail Blazers (27–22)
Last Week: 12
It’s gotten to the point where I’m getting worried that Damian Lillard will lose that underdog edge. If he starts making All-Star teams, what’s going to cause him to carry that chip on his shoulder? Ah, wait. Thank goodness. Thank you Russ. This is like blowing on the fire just as it’s going out to reignite those embers and get it going again.
9. Los Angeles Clippers (25–24)
Last Week: 11
Don’t look now, but Danilo Gallinari’s return is right around the corner. How much better would you feel about this team if Gallinari was starting over Wes Johnson? I’d wager very.
8. Miami Heat (28–21)
Last Week: 9
Miami’s defense over the past week has been the fourth-best in the league (97.7 pts allowed per 100 possessions) but their offense has been atrocious, shooting just 30% from three. It’s times like this you miss Dion Waiters. Although…
7. Minnesota Timberwolves (32–20)
Last Week: 5
Did you see what just happened to DeMarcus Cousins because of overuse? Someone tell Thibs. It’d be a shame for Karl-Anthony Towns to have the same fate.
6. San Antonio Spurs (33–19)
Last Week: 7
Gregg Popovich celebrated his 69th birthday on Sunday, which gives me an excuse to share this with you, my favorite Pop moment:
5. Toronto Raptors (33–15)
Last Week: 4
What’s gotten into Jonas Valanciunas? He’s getting into fights now? He’s hitting threes? He’s blocking shots? He may single-handedly pique my interest in the Raptors.
4. Boston Celtics (35–15)
Last Week: 6
In that highly-anticipated showdown with Golden State, you kind of got the feeling that Kyrie is the heir to the throne, right? He’s going to be the one to snap LeBron’s Finals streak and he’s going to be the next one to challenge the Warriors for their crown. I mean, look at this:
3. Oklahoma City Thunder (30–20)
Last Week: 3
When you tick off Brock Lesnar, this happens:
Similarly, when you tick off Russ Westbrook, you lose and this happens:
2. Houston Rockets (35–13)
Last Week: 1
Houston’s loss to New Orleans was its first in a game started by James Harden, Chris Paul and Clint Capela all season. They’ve started 21 games together. That’s proof of this team’s dominance when healthy.
1. Golden State Warriors (40–10)
Last Week: 2
Hey, it wasn’t me who knocked them off their throne! Against Boston, Stephen Curry proved to all the doubters (I have to admit, even I was pretty skeptical of his powers a couple months ago) that he’s still otherworldly. He scored 13 points over the final 1:42. The Warriors just have too many bullets.