We’re a couple of weeks shy of the halfway point to the 2016-17 NBA season, a season in which “triple-double” has become a frequently-seen expression in headlines while the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State warriors progress on a path to a Finals rematch. How’s your team doing this week? TheGruelingTruth.net and Alex Golden have your NBA Power Rankings right here.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers (25-7). LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love are too much for anyone to handle in the East. They’re just coasting until the Playoffs.
2. Golden State Warriors (29-5). The Warriors are the most talented team in the NBA. The top dogs of the West could give them some trouble, but we know that they’re the team to beat in the West.
3. San Antonio Spurs (27-6). The Spurs continue to impress people as they have the second-best record in the NBA. Leonard and Aldridge have put this team on their backs.
4. Houston Rockets (26-9). James Harden is playing some crazy good basketball right now, and this has led to the Rockets earning the fourth-best record in the NBA. If Houston keeps it up, Harden is winning this year’s MVP.
5. Toronto Raptors (22-10). The Raptors have distanced themselves from the clutter in the East and look like a tough out in the Playoffs. We saw DeMar DeRozan carrying them early in the season, but now Kyle Lowry is the man for Toronto. One of the best backcourts in the entire NBA.
6. Boston Celtics (20-14). It was only a matter of time until someone among the East’s 3-12 seeds stepped up and started playing better basketball. Coach Brad Stevens and his Celtics have started to pull away and are looking to challenge Toronto for the no. 2 seed in the conference.
7. Utah Jazz (21-13). Could Gordon Hayward be the most underrated player in the NBA? Every game I have seen this year of the Jazz, he has played extremely well. I think it’s only fair to give him and Rudy Gobert some serious All-Star consideration.
8. Oklahoma City Thunder (21-13). I know people are going to get worn out hearing about Russell Westbrook this season, but there Is just so much to say. He is truly the best point guard in the NBA right now. He does everything you need him to do and is the reason the Thunder as good as they are.
9. Memphis Grizzlies (22-14). The Grizzlies are full of veterans and they know exactly how one another play. They have maintained a consistent group of guys and their roster stability is what will carry them into the playoffs despite early season injuries.
10. Charlotte Hornets (19-15). Charlotte is a team predicated on defense with a point guard who can break you down. They are surrounded with 3-point shooters and guys who can muck it up. The Hornets are a very beatable team, but they can play with the top dogs of the league and make it interesting.
11. Atlanta Hawks (17-16). It has been a major up-and-down season for Atlanta. One minute they look like a top 3 team in the East, then slip and lose a ton of games to fall out of the playoff picture. Since righting that horrible losing streak ship, the Hawks are now back to fifth place in the East. Atlanta could be playoff bound after all.
12. Los Angeles Clippers (22-14). With recent injuries to Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, the Clippers just keep sliding in the standings. It appears that Doc Rivers is so annoyed with his lackluster roster that he continues to get himself thrown out of games so he doesn’t have to see his backups get dismantled. This team will still make the playoffs once they’re heathy, but right now this is some *ugly* basketball.
13. Washington Wizards (16-16). John Wall and Bradley Beal are playing some amazing basketball. They have taken this Wizards team from zero to hero by winning 7 of their last 10. We will see how long this play can continue, but right now we can’t ignore the way Washington has climbed up the standings in the East.
14. Milwaukee Bucks (16-16). With a young core continuing to grow, Milwaukee is a very scary team to play right now. They play loose and are led by two terrific young players in Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker. Their length and speed are lethal and they will continue to push teams to the limit.
15. New York Knicks (16-17). It is amazing how good Derrick Rose has looked since returning from injury. The Zinger and ’Melo are the keys to the offense, but every little bit that Rose contributes makes this team much better. The Knicks are still one of the weakest teams in the depth chart area so remaining healthy is key.
16. Chicago Bulls (16-18). Chicago will be much better once they trade or cut Rajon Rondo. Rondo has become a major head case and not even veteran Dwayne Wade can control him. The Bulls are a terrific rebounding team but they could use more scorers going forward.
17. Indiana Pacers (16-18). Indiana is the worst rebounding team in the NBA and they’ve lost 4 of their last 5. GM Larry Bird assembled a decent roster, but the defense and rebounding has taken a *huge* dip. Bird is aware that he needs to make changes after his interview with David Aldridge, and Indiana is just praying that Paul George can keep them afloat until they get more help.
18. Orlando Magic (15-19). Frank Vogel has done a solid job with this roster and getting them to believe in themselves. We are slowly starting to see Aaron Gordon emerge into the player they want him to be. Still though, it’s hard to see Orlando lasting through the remainder of the season and ending up in the playoffs.
19. Sacramento Kings (14-19). The last spot in the West is *wide* open, with the Kings hoping to hold onto that spot and prove they’re playoff-worthy – but we still have a lot of basketball left to play, as they say. It seems the Kings will most likely be active around the trade deadline so we’ll see what kind of pieces they can bring in to help get them into the playoffs.
20. New Orleans Pelicans (14-21). Once they are completely healthy, the Pelicans can really compete. A playoff bid remains a long shot with this roster, but Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday are playing inspired basketball of late.
21. Denver Nuggets (14-19). The Nuggets have a lot of good pieces but right now Emmanuel Mudiay is struggling badly; benching Mudlay is a difficult choice, because the team needs and wants him to develop. With Denver’s desire to grab a star this season, it is very possible they would use Mudiay in a package to get someone else. I think Nuggets fans are very hopeful on this stance.
22. Detroit Pistons (15-20). Detroit has been struggling recently, but they’re still only 5 games back of the no. 3 spot in the East. Every team goes through a rough patch in the NBA, and the Pistons are going through theirs right now. Stan Van Gundy is one of the better coaches in the league, and we should assume he will take this team out of its funk.
23. Portland Trailblazers (14-21). There is serious frustration in Portland right now. The Blazers have lost 7 of their last 8 games and haven’t really been very competitive in those matchups. It’s time for the Blazers to get some real talent to go with Damian Lillard; we know Dame and CJ McCollum can put up points, but the rest of this team is filled in with role players. Maybe a trade for Nerlens Noel from Philly would be a good start…
24. Dallas Mavericks (10-24). Dallas is not a good basketball team but now that they’re getting healthy, the Mavs are showing what they’re capable of. Harrison Barnes has played some nice basketball this season and has looked worthy of his max deal. The Mavericks just need to gain some consistency and they will be okay. It would be in Dallas’s best interests to rebuild this roster rather than patch the holes for Dirk’s final go-around.
25. Los Angeles Lakers (12-24). Young, talented, inexperienced, inconsistent, frustrating, entertaining: These are the adjectives to describe this Lakers team. We know they are looking forward to the future, but the future to me doesn’t seem promising with this core. I like some of the things each young player can do, but it would be smart for head coach Luke Walton to build this team around Brandon Ingram and not Deangelo Russell. [But … but … we need both –Ed., a Lakers diehard]
26. Minnesota Timberwolves (10-24). This is not the year the Timberwolves get back to the playoffs, but we know that they have a strong young core that can get them there in a year or two. It will be interesting to see what they do with their point guard position going forward because that’s where they need the most help. Ricky Rubio is more than likely on his way out, but is Kris Dunn the answer?
27. Miami Heat (10-24). You won’t find a group of guys that play harder every single night for their coach than the Heat. It just goes to show how good of a coach Erik Spoelstra is, despite the criticism early into Miami’s “Big 3” era. This lackluster roster isn’t going anywhere this season, but the effort and hustle is there every single night.
28. Phoenix Suns (10-24). This is a young team that has a lot of talent to continue to develop. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see the Suns make a few moves before the deadline, but it must be to acquire pieces to keep this rebuild moving forward. Devin Booker hasn’t been the breakout player everyone expected this season, but he is still young and has a lot of talent in his arsenal.
29. Philadelphia 76ers (8-24). I hate to say it Philly fans, but will the Sixers ever shed the reputation as the black hole of the NBA? I understand Ben Simmons is hurt but with Embiid back and some okay veterans, you would think this team would at least have 10 wins. I can’t figure out how Philly is going to turn this around, but I think it’s another five years until we see them break or hit a .500 record.
30. Brooklyn Nets (8-24). Unlike Philly, we know where Brooklyn is: They’re a team with no draft picks and a ton of cap space. It would be in Brooklyn’s best interests to acquire players that other teams may be looking to offload via trade or to wait it out until next year and to sign a star or two. Neither seems likely, but Nets fans can only hope for some type of change.