Lots of shuffling within the Grueling Truth Power Rankings table this week, representing some fluidity with a month to go before the All-Star break and the homestretch run. Here’s to thinking that if willpower decided these games alone, the snubbed Russell Westbrook will drag the Thunder up about 10 stops next week.
Rankings compiled Sunday, January 22.
1. Golden State Warriors. The Warriors have won 7 straight and slaughtered the Cavaliers by 35 points.
2. San Antonio Spurs. San Antonio had a big win on the road against LeBron in overtime. Kawhi Leonard is playing out of his mind.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers. Rough stretch here of late for the Cavs, but the rest of the East has struggled recently as well. No changes needed here.
4. Utah Jazz (+4). This is quite jump for the Jazz, but they have won 6 straight and they’re playing terrific defense.
5. Boston Celtics (-1). The Celtics have lost two straight games to sub-.500 teams at home. Great teams protect home court.
6. Houston Rockets (-1). The Rockets have 34 wins, tied for second-most this season with the Spurs. They’ve been inconsistent recently and really need to fix that sooner rather than later.
7. Atlanta Hawks (+4). While teams like Boston and Toronto have lost two straight, the Hawks find themselves only two games out of 2nd place in the East. Not bad.
8. Toronto Raptors (+1). After getting embarrassed in back-to-back games – losing to Philly and then to Charlotte by 35 – it appears the Raptors are hitting that midseason wall, anxiously awaiting All-Star break.
9. Washington Wizards (+5). This might be a little too high for the Wizards but they have been flat out balling in the last ten games. The Wizards are still 5th in the East.
10. Los Angeles Clippers (-4). Blake Griffin will make his return soon, but CP3 is out for 6-8 weeks. LA must maintain things until their leader is back on the floor.
11. Charlotte Hornets (+4). Huge defensive improvements of late have gotten the Hornets back on the winning track. That’s 3 straight.
12. Memphis Grizzlies (-5). They have been struggling recently, only winning four of their last 10 games. However, they are still six games over .500.
13. Oklahoma City Thunder (-3). Russell Westbrook was snubbed from the All-Star starters: The man is averaging a historic triple-double this season but the fans like Steph and Harden better. Either way, seeing how he responds to the fans’ opinions will be interesting.
14. Indiana Pacers (-1). Basically, Indiana is great at home and horrific on the road. They have won seven of their last 10, but they desperately need to improve their starting 2 guard.
15. Chicago Bulls (+2). The Bulls have continued to play .500 basketball with a 22-23 record and going 5-5 in the last 10. Usually a .500 record gets you into the playoffs if you’re in the East, but I’m not so sure this season.
16. Detroit Pistons (+4). The Pistons have won three straight and it’s about time the Pistons got their act together. They’re only three games out of 5th place, so they’re very much alive.
17. Milwaukee Bucks (-5). I like Milwaukee, but there is a concerning issue with Jabari Parker going on recently. The chemistry seemed to be working well for the Bucks, but now they have lost five straight.
18. Philadelphia 76ers (+5). Since Nerlens Noel joined Joel Embiid, the 76ers have won eight of their last 11. The 76ers fans should be happy with the progress of this team and it is great to see coach Brett Brown with a serviceable roster.
19. Denver Nuggets (+5). The Nuggets have taken advantage of the Blazers and Kings struggles and have climbed into the 8th seed. Portland is still a major threat to Denver because Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum are too dynamic together.
20. Portland Trailblazers (-4). Huge wins over Cleveland and Boston but the losses to Orlando, Charlotte and Washington won’t cut it. The Blazers must get better if they want any shot of moving up in the standings.
21. New York Knicks (-2). Talk about a dysfunctional organization. We won’t see anything of excellence from this group for a while. Sorry Knicks fans, but I think you’re missing the Playoffs this season if Melo doesn’t waive the no-trade clause.
22. New Orleans Pelicans (-4). Let’s just say this: If you give up 143 points to worst team in the NBA you’re in trouble. I know it’s just one game, but sheesh. The Pelicans should still have enough talent to compete for that 8th seed in the West.
23. Minnesota Timberwolves (-1). I truly believe that once the Wolves deal Ricky Rubio they will be better off. Thibs won’t just make a deal to make a deal and I respect that. Minny could actually sneak into the playoffs if they hit the right strides at the right time.
24. Orlando Magic (+1). The Magic aren’t really a threat to make the playoffs in the East but they’re still gritty enough to be a spoiler to some of those teams that are. I absolutely think the Magic need some new tricks. Pun intended.
25. Los Angeles Lakers (+1). So the Lakers are moving up and that is large in part to three things: Lou Williams is a beast off the pine; Larry Nance Jr. is set to return soon; and the continued growth of Brandon Ingram is pivotal for the future of this team.
26. Miami Heat (+2). The Heat are set on keeping Goran Dragic until they find a perfect fit. Orlando offered Nikola Vucevic and a first-rounder but with Hassan Whiteside, the Heat declined. They are stuck in the mud until the end of the season.
27. Dallas Mavericks.. I have no reason to believe in Dallas, but with their veterans I think they are better off than the teams below them. That’s really all I can say positively about them. The negatives would take up too much of your time.
28. Sacramento Kings (-7). The Kings have gone 2-8 in their last ten. They lost a 19-point lead and Rudy Gay to the Pacers on Wednesday in the 2nd half. They have the most average players in the league around Cousins and they’re not playing their young guys Willie-Cauley Stein and Ben McLemore. Sounds like a terrifically run franchise, doesn’t it?
29. Phoenix Suns (-1). Well, they’re young and improving. Tyson Chandler is having a career season. The team wants to deal Brandon Knight and they can’t win basketball games. We can’t put too much stock into this team until we see development and growth.
30. Brooklyn Nets. What a great win for the Nets fans this week in their thrashing of the Pelicans! They hadn’t won a game in 12 tries so those loyal Nets fans better hold on tight to that memory because it’s not going to happen very often with that crap load of a roster.