2014-15 NBA Power Rankings, post trade deadline edition
This is the fifth in a series of NBA Power Rankings for the 2014-15 NBA season.
The previous edition can be seen here.
The latest edition is below:
1. Golden State Warriors (44-10): The Warriors continue to win. Steve Kerr's team has won eight out of their past ten games, despite Steph Curry missing his first game of the season with an ankle issue. They have the league's most efficient defense and second-most efficient offense, and remain its top team.
2. Atlanta Hawks (44-12): Atlanta's hold on the East's top spot remains strong, although some slippage has been seen as of late. The Hawks have lost three of their last five, and are only 4-4 in February. The Hawks are still the East's top team, but they don't look quite as invincible as they once did.
3. Memphis Grizzlies (41-14): While Atlanta and Golden State have gotten much of the hype, and deservedly so, Memphis has quietly posted a solid 41-14 record. They have won eight of their past ten, and boast a top-5 defense. Don't overlook the Grizz.
4. Houston Rockets (38-18): The Rockets have holes, noticeably at the backup point guard position. They also have a top-3 defense, a couple solid wing reserves in Corey Brewer and K.J. McDaniels, and an MVP-candidate in James Harden. They need a healthy Dwight Howard to have a serious shot at a playoff push however.
5. Toronto Raptors (37-20): The Raptors didn't make any moves at the trade deadline, essentially saying that they thought they were good enough to contend as is. Looking at the rest of the East, they were probably right. The Raptors are on pace for the first 50-win season in franchise history.
6. Portland Trail Blazers (36-19): Despite going 4-6 over their last ten games, Portland added a much-needed piece in Aaron Afflalo, who should provide a legitimate boost to the bench.
7. Dallas Mavericks (39-20): The addition of Amare Stoudemire provides Dallas with another serviceable big man; something that they needed. Stoudemire could be useful, and even productive, in a spot role for the Mavericks, who have been somewhat up-and-down since the arrival of Rajon Rondo. If they can figure things out and get healthy however, they are in position to make a playoff push.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers (36-22): The Cavaliers continue to add pieces to the puzzle, as the team has been almost completely re-tooled since the start of the season. With Kendrick Perkins, Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith, and Timofey Mosgov in tow, Cleveland is starting to look like the Eastern Conference power they were expected to be. LeBron James has emerged in MVP conversations, and Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving are both getting increasingly comfortable. Cleveland is on a 17-2 tear, and has to be looked at as the favorite to come out of the East at this point.
9. Chicago Bulls (36-21): Derrick Rose can't catch a break. The Bulls announced that the former MVP is sidelined likely for the rest of the season needing another knee procedure. It is difficult to see someone so talented be unable to fully utilize that talent. The Bulls are still contenders without Rose. They have become accustomed to playing without him over the past couple years, and this year's iteration is the Bulls' most talented team in recent memory. Still, the loss of Rose (again) feels like too big of a blow to overcome.
10. Los Angeles Clippers (37-20): Inconsistency and depth remain the biggest issues for the Clippers, who have gone 5-5 over their last ten games. They continue to feel like a good-but-not-great team.
11. San Antonio Spurs (34-22): The Spurs have been inconsistent as of late, splitting their last ten games 5-5. That being said however, is anyone willing to write them off come playoff time?
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (32-25): The Thunder finally pushed their way into the playoff picture, as many expected. The recent injury issues of Kevin Durant have been mollified by the play of Russell Westbrook, who has been putting up MVP-type numbers. This is a team that no one out West is going to want to face come playoff time.
13. Washington Wizards (33-24): What happened to Washington? After a strong start to the season, the Wizards evened out, and have only won two out of their past ten contests. After starting as a top team, Washington is free-falling down the East's standings. At least John Wall still leads the league in assists.
14. Milwaukee Bucks (31-25): The Bucks didn't rest on their surprising early season success, trading their starting point guard, Brandon Knight to Phoenix and acquiring Michael Carter-Williams from Philadelphia. Carter-Williams is a good fit for Coach Jason Kidd, who possessed a similar skill set, but there could be a period of adjustment for both sides.
15. New Orleans Pelicans (29-27): Jrue Holiday may be sidelined for the rest of the season, and both Anthony Davis and Ryan Andersen are facing their own injury issues. The Pelicans had a nice first half of the season, and have a lot to build upon moving forward, namely Anthony Davis, but it doesn't appear that this is their year to make that playoff appearance.
16. Phoenix Suns (29-28): The Suns traded two of their three point guards, keeping only Eric Bledsoe, and adding Brandon Knight, who was having a borderline All-Star season in Milwaukee. The move likely moved Phoenix out of the playoff picture this season, but Dragic was unhappy, and they got themselves some future firsts. It could be worse.
17. Miami Heat (24-31): Losing Chris Bosh for the season is an insurmountable blow for Miami, and serves as a reminder that some things are bigger than basketball. They may still make the playoffs, but the Heat can't be expected to make any real noise without Bosh. That is unfortunate, especially after the addition of Goran Dragic had people excited about their ability to contend.
18. Brooklyn Nets (23-31): The Nets swapped Kevin Garnett for Thaddeus Young, which may be a good deal on paper, but they failed to move any of the big contracts they have on the books for next season. With health, and the addition of Young, Brooklyn has a solid shot at a playoff spot.
19. Charlotte Hornets (22-32): It is going to be difficult for the Hornets to make the playoffs, the clear goal of the organization. The addition of Mo Williams was a wise one, as he should help fill the void left by Kemba Walker nicely until the former Huskie returns. Still though, with Brooklyn and Miami currently ahead of them, and Indiana and Detroit breathing down their neck, the battle for the last couple spots in the East won't be an easy one.
20. Indiana Pacers (23-34): Indiana has won seven out of ten to remain firmly in the playoff picture. With Paul George set to return this season, it would not be so surprising to see the Pacers make a final playoff push and make it in in the East. Still though, changes can be expected this offseason.
21. Detroit Pistons (23-34): Detroit is still squarely in the playoff picture in the East, sitting only a game and a half out of the final spot. The acquisition of point guard Reggie Jackson should help to give them a boost down the stretch in the absence of Brandon Jennings.
22. Boston Celtics (21-33): Isiah Thomas was an interesting pick-up for Boston. Is he potentially their point guard of the future? Questions remain, but the Celtics are in good position with nine first round picks spread out over the next four drafts. Take that, Sam Hinkie.
23. Utah Jazz (21-34): The Jazz have played .500 ball over their past 10, and the trade of Enes Kanter opens up the starting spot for Rudy Gobert, who is the only player in the league holding opponents to below 40% shooting at the rim.
24. Denver Nuggets (20-36): The Nuggets made some moves at the trade deadline, including ridding themselves of the unwanted contract of JaVale McGee. The team is still without an identity however, leaving both the franchise's, and Coach Brian Shaw's futures murky.
25. Sacramento Kings (19-35): Can George Karl turn the Kings around and turn them back into contenders? It is too late to do so this season, but it will be interesting to see how the team looks after an offseason under the 2013 Coach of the Year.
26. Orlando Magic (19-39): Orlando is 4-2 under interim head coach John Borrego, including three straight wins; maybe they have something in him as a coach. However, at this point in the season, those wins are just moving them away from the highest lottery spots. Some nice pieces are there, the team just needs to continue to add and develop.
27. Minnesota Timberwolves (12-43): Too bad nostalgia doesn't count in the win column, or the Wolves would have seen a big boost by bringing back long-time face-of-the-franchise Kevin Garnett. Garnett's on-court impact is limited at this point, but he can serve as a mentor to the team's young core, including budding star Andrew Wiggins.
28. Los Angeles Lakers (14-41): If the Lakers draft pick falls out of the top five it swings to the Sixers, so it seems safe to say that the team has an incentive to lose a lot. With Kobe Bryant sidelined for the season, that shouldn't be too difficult.
29. Philadelphia 76ers (12-44): While the moves made on deadline day by the Sixers may have made sense for the future, they made the team slightly worse in the present. After removing two of the team's two contributors in Carter-Williams and McDaniels, Coach Brett Brown is left trying to fit in new pieces on the fly yet again. The rest of the schedule will be continued to be dedicated to development, as the real season for the Sixers starts in the summer with the lottery, the draft, and free agency.
30. New York Knicks (10-45): Carmelo Anthony shut it down for the season, leaving the Knicks with little hope for the rest of the regular season schedule, and a whole lot of offseason questions.
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