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Feb. 13, 2018

SCOs biweekly NBA power rankings

by Noah Stern, Staff Writer
Welcome to SCOs very first NBA power rankings, where we rank the National Basketball Association teams based on what their record is and how they played in the week prior. We are more than halfway through the 2017-18 season, and the playoffs are starting to take shape. There are 30 teams in the NBA and we will share a short blurb on why we put each team where they are, and what the contenders have to do to ensure a spot in the postseason.

30. Phoenix Suns (18-39)
The Suns are in shambles. They made a steal of a trade for PG Elfrid Payton at the trade deadline but it still won't matter. They are an extremely young team with talent in the making, but the way this season is going they could be looking for the number one overall pick this upcoming draft.
29. Dallas Mavericks (18-38)
The Mavs are so bad, they have to start Dwight Powell or Maxi Kleber for some games. They expected to improve just a little bit this season after an injury riddled season last year, but clearly that hasn't happened. An old Dirk Nowitzki isn't enough to carry this franchise anymore. Dallas needs to rebuild.
28. Atlanta Hawks (17-39)
The Hawks are at the bottom of the barrell in a really dreadful eastern conference. Their best player, Dennis Schroeder, doesn't know the word "defense" and their starting center is maybe the worst player on their team.
27. New York Knicks (23-33)
Watch out New York, your basketball team is about to get a whole lot more exciting. The GOAT of New York, Michael "The King" Beasley is making basketball fun again. PF/C Kristaps Porzingis' season ending ACL injury put a damper on any Knicks hopes this season, but they'll probably secure a high draft pick, and continue to develop their young talent for the future.
26. Memphis Grizzlies (18-36)
Where do I even start with this team? They have been far and away the most boring team to watch for the past several seasons, the only difference this year is the fact that they just aren't winning. With Mike Conley out, they can tank without a lot of controversy and aim for a high draft pick and hopefully learn how to rebuild. They have a long way to go though.
25. Brooklyn Nets (19-38)
The Nets have been terrible in their last 10 games, only going 1-9. They have a lot of talented players that don't mesh well together. The trade for center Jahlil Okafor from Philadelphia has not been working out and it looks like Okafor really has been a huge bust. When your best player is Spencer Dinwiddie you clearly aren't doing too well.
24. Chicago Bulls (19-36)
After the Bulls traded Nikola Mirotic, things have gone downhill. The losing ways have begun again in Chicago and their best player is gone. Kris Dunn with a concussion and Zach Lavine not able to play back to backs hurts them even more. Three of their five starters from the beginning of the year are either injured or off the team by now. They will be aiming for a high pick this upcoming draft.
23. Sacramento Kings (17-37)
The Kings are just as bad as the other teams below them, the only difference is they are young, fun and exciting. Their players are improving every game and the veterans on their team give the younger players a person to talk to. The veteran presence allows young players to listen to their wisdom which leads to improvement. They should still be tanking but things may be looking up in years to come.
22. Orlando Magic (18-37)
The Magic started off strong this season, and then the injuries hit. They've been getting a tiny bit more healthy recently and have won half of their last 10 games. This season they finally learned how to play Aaron Gordon at the 4 and he's been having a career year. As they won't make the playoffs, the Magic need to stop winning and go for the high draft pick to compliment rookie SF, Jonathan Isaac.
21. Charlotte Hornets (23-33)
Man what a disappointing season the Hornets have had. They had playoff aspirations and they have flunked painfully. C Dwight Howard was clearly not the answer and has been a locker room problem like he has always been. Guard Kemba Walker should have been an official all star this season but he has been their lone bright spot. They need to find a way to get out of the Nicolas Batum contract and rebuild through Kemba.
20. New Orleans Pelicans (29-26)
The Pelicans had just started to get things together and their stars were playing great basketball, but then, Boogie got hurt. That loss really hurt. They were in the playoff hunt and now they are about to give up the last spot to the Clippers. It looks like it'll be another disappointing year for the brow. Interestingly enough though, veteran guard Rajon Rondo is in New Orleans, and he dropped a triple double in an OT win over Brooklyn, so that's something.
19. Los Angeles Lakers (23-32)
No, the Lakers are not going to make the playoffs. Yes, the Lakers are young and exciting. The trade for Isaiah Thomas won't do much for them in the future. He is a nice addition to the roster but the trade was only to get out of Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance's contract in order to make more room for 2 max contracts this offseason. The rest of the season is pretty much set. They will tank to try and get a nice draft pick to help out Lonzo Ball.
18. Philadelphia 76ers (28-25)
Who knows what's going to with this team. They will most likely not make the playoffs with the Pistons going on a tear, but that's what rebuilding is all about. They may be the most exciting team in the league but exciting doesn't mean good. Trust the process philly fans, the playoffs are coming sooner or later. It may not be this year but they are coming.

17. Miami Heat (30-26)
This team has been terrible recently. 3-7 in their last team doesn't scream playoffs. Then again, they just made a nice trade to re-acquire Dwyane Wade, their franchise savior. He should help them get much needed points off the bench most games and help them get back on track and look like a playoff team again.
16. Utah Jazz (27-28)
En Fuego. That is the only way to describe this team right now. Getting rid of Rodney Hood will hurt more than most fans will know. He provided a nice scoring touch off the bench and Jae Crowder just isn't the same. However, going on an 8 game win streak doesn't mean that they aren't legit. Only good teams do that. The Jazz will make a run for the playoffs coming out of the all star break.
15. Detroit Pistons (27-27)
That Blake Griffin trade could be considered a steal. They traded away a bad Boban Marjanovic contract, an Avery Bradley who was just not working out, and a protected first round pick. Griffin is an upgrade from Tobias Harris and that's all this trade was about. He has been teaming up with 2018 all-star Andre Drummond and it has been working. They are on the verge of a playoff spot and should eventually overtake the 76ers for the final spot.
14. Los Angeles Clippers (28-26)
Somehow, someway the Clippers are still alive. Through all the injuries and bad play, they are just outside a playoff spot. Getting out of the Griffin contract will allow them to sign a few role players during free agency this offseason. As of right now, they are looking to make the playoffs.
13. Denver Nuggets (30-26)
After a horrible start to the season, the Nuggets are starting to pull it together. Jokic still hasn't been himself but the guards of this team have been incredible on the offensive end. Getting rid of Mudiay was maybe the best thing this team could have done. They should be competing for a playoff spot in the 4-7 range in the West.
12. Indiana Pacers (31-25)
Wow. I don't even know where to begin with this team. I believe that the Pacers stole the trade of Paul George. All-star SG Victor Oladipo has carried this team to a game out of the 4th seed in the playoffs. They aren't great on the defensive end but it clearly hasn't mattered quite yet. Look out for this team in the playoffs. They are fast and exciting and better than people think.
11. Cleveland Cavaliers (33-22)
The Cavs somehow went through a complete team swap midseason. Isaiah Thomas sucked in Cleveland and should be relieved to be out of there. Veteran George Hill is actually an upgrade compared to this years Isaiah Thomas. Lebron should go back to his MVP-like play late in the season and lead this team back to the promised land. As of right now, they still stink and don't deserve to be in the top 10.


10. Milwaukee Bucks (31-24)
Giannis Antetokounmpo is a monster and is leading this team into the middle of the eastern conference pack. He has nice compliments in Eric Bledsoe, John Henson, and Khris Middleton who are all underrated. This team has legit title aspirations with the greek freak on this roster. Going 8-2 into their last ten games, this is a team that wants to win.
9. Washington Wizards (32-24)
Oh man. Without John Wall, Tomas Satoransky has stepped up and been a complete beast. They won 5 straight after Wall went down and then lost 2 straight. They might be streaky but they are the 4th seed in the playoffs. SF Otto Porter Jr. has been Ottomatic and SG Bradley Beal has been absolutely incredible this season. Wall will be sidelined 6-8 weeks, so Washington needs its role players to continue their strong play in order to keep pace in the East. If Wall is 100% for the postseason, the Wiz are one of five teams that would have title aspirations.
8. Oklahoma City Thunder (31-25)
This team has finally been putting it together recently. After a sub .500 start to the season, Russell Westbrook is leading this team back into contention. They have beaten the top competition in the western conference and that shows that they are ready to make a run in the playoffs.
7. Portland Trail Blazers (31-25)
The Trail Blazers have three great players and that's about it. But apparently that's all they need. Damian Lillard, C.J McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic are leading this team into the playoffs. They have a bunch of other decent role players. I don't care how they're doing it but it is working and as long as they keep winning, it doesn't matter whose on their team.
6. Minnesota Timberwolves (34-24)
This team is better than people think. They are in the 4th seed in an always impressive western conference. KAT, Wiggins and Butler are leading the offense to 10 games above .500 and should make the playoffs for the first time in years. They didn't make the trade they needed to make for a good defender at the deadline but as long as they keep winning, it shouldn't matter that much.
5. San Antonio Spurs (35-22)
The Spurs are doing what they always do. Even without Kawhi Leonard, they are 14 games over .500 and are once again, for 20 straight seasons, title contenders. LaMarcus Aldridge is having a bounceback season and is taking the role of Leonard so far. They will storm into the playoffs with Gregg Popovich and be legit title contenders.
4. Boston Celtics (40-18)
This team hasn't fallen off, other teams have just been better. Kyrie has been incredible as always. The Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum tandem has been just as good. Al Horford has been the best defender in the NBA and Marcus Morris has filled the role of the 3 and D guy that Avery Bradley was last season. And to top it off they just signed former Suns center PF/C Greg Monroe to strengthen their frontcourt for the playoffs. This team still looks like the favorites in the eastern conference.

3. Golden State Warriors (43-13)
This team has been faltering down the stretch, limping into the all-star break. But the thing is, this team can't actually falter. They're too good. They are still the number one team in the incredible western conference. They are still most likely going to win the championship and few tough losses shouldn't hurt them in the slightest.
2. Houston Rockets (41-13)
This team is so good. The signing of Joe Johnson should help them with some scoring off the bench, even though they don't really need it. They are a half game behind the Warriors but they are the most efficient team in the NBA. Clint Capela is vastly underrated and is a bigger help to this team than most think. It isn't all about James Harden.
1. Toronto Raptors (39-16)
This team may be boring to watch, but man are they good. They have overtaken the Celtics as the number 1 seed in the eastern conference. DeRozan and Lowry are both all stars. Ibaka, Anunoby, and Valanciunas are all valuable role players and are helping this team rise to the top.



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