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As the NBA season approaches its all-star break, teams are separating themselves from the competition. Who is a legit title contender and which fan bases should start looking at draft prospects? Let’s take a look at where all 30 NBA teams rank.
30. Orlando Magic: 12-42
It’s been a tough season for the Orlando Magic after deciding to trade their most valuable players a year ago. They do have a promising young core and likely a top 3 draft pick to look forward to.
29. Detroit Pistons: 12-40
A week from now, Detroit fans will have to watch their former quarterback compete in his first Super Bowl appearance only a year after being traded from the team. Unfortunately for them, their basketball team hasn’t done much to ease the pain. The good news is that they do have the likely rookie of the year in Cade Cunningham to build off of, but this is still a team that needs a lot of work.
28. Oklahoma City Thunder: 17-35
Part of the reason the Thunder fall behind the Houston Rockets is because leading scorer Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is out until after the all-star break with an ankle injury. However, this wasn’t exactly a team that was lighting it up before he got hurt. Oklahoma City averages the least amount of points per game in the league.
27. Houston Rockets: 15-37
Houston’s men’s college basketball team has four more wins than the Rockets in 31 less games. Enough said.
26. Sacramento Kings: 21-34
It’s been a disastrous season for the Kings, beginning with firing their head coach after only 17 games, and now trade rumors swirl among their top players. Somehow they’re only 1.5 games out from a play-in spot, but that doesn’t seem like an obtainable goal.
25. Indiana Pacers: 19-35
Sunday night, the Pacers shipped Caris LeVert to the Cavaliers. The team is clearly going to be rebuilding and more moves are likely on the way.
24. Portland Trail Blazers: 21-33
Portland made headlines this week with the first trade before the deadline – and it wasn’t well received. Trading guard Norman Powell to the Los Angeles Clippers seems to show the beginning of what could be a total makeover in Portland. Will Damian Lillard and/or CJ McCollum be next?
23. San Antonio Spurs: 20-34
This is a roster without many household names, but they are still a good team that continues to spread the ball around efficiently. The Spurs average the most assists per game in the league
22. New Orleans Pelicans: 20-32
Even without Zion Williamson this whole season and Brandon Ingram missing a handful of games as well, the New Orleans Pelicans are still the 11 seed in the West and within striking distance of taking a play-in spot. Will Zion return this season? Could be a scary team to face in the play-in game if he does.
21. New York Knicks: 24-29
A disappointing season for a team that was probably the biggest surprise success a year ago. However, although they rank in the bottom five in points per game, they also are in the top 10 for points allowed per game. Coach Thibs still has a strong defense in New York.
20. Washington Wizards: 24-28
After starting the season hot, the Wizards have cooled off. In their past 10 games they hold a 2-8 record and have not been the defense juggernauts they started the season as. It will be interesting to see which direction they go at the trade deadline.
19. Los Angeles Lakers: 26-28
What a wild season it’s been for the purple and gold. A lot of fingers are being pointed in Los Angeles, and certainly health has been a factor (both Lebron James and Anthony Davis have played in under 40 games this season). However, this is simply not a well put together roster.
18. Minnesota Timberwolves: 27-25
Slightly a surprise team this season, the Timberwolves are the first team in these rankings with a positive point differential. They’re currently a game behind the Nuggets for the six seed and avoiding the play-in game.
17. Los Angeles Clippers: 27-27
Even without Kawhi Leonard this whole season and Paul George for the last 22 games (and maybe the remainder of the season), the Clippers are still the 8th seed in the West. Adding Norman Powell via the Trail Blazers should certainly improve their offense.
16. Charlotte Hornets: 28-26
Somewhat surprisingly, the Charlotte Hornets had no one make the all-star team from their roster. They are, however, in good position for a play-in spot as they currently hold the 9th seed in the East.
15. Atlanta Hawks: 25-27
After starting off the season slow, and people theorizing Trae Young won’t be able to adjust to the new NBA rule changes, the Hawks are right back in the thick of things. They’re 8-2 in their last 10 games and have beaten the Bucks, Heat, Suns, Hornets, Celtics and Lakers during that time. That’s an impressive list
14. Boston Celtics: 29-25
The Celtics are finally starting to hit their stride. They’ve won seven of the past 10 games with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown looking like the dominant duo Celtics fans hoped they’d become. Will this trend continue or is it just a hot streak?
13. Toronto Raptors: 28-23
After missing the playoffs a year ago, the Raptors have turned it around this season and a lot of that has to do with the play of first time all-star, Fred Vanvleet, whose scoring 21.6 PPG and shooting almost 40% from three.
12. Brooklyn Nets: 29-23
The Nets with a full roster is the best team in the league. However, that has barely happened this season, and that will continue not to happen with Kevin Durant sidelined at least until the all-star break. The cracks are beginning to show, having lost seven in a row and now fall to the 6th seed in the East.
11. Denver Nuggets: 28-24
Nikola Jokic is having another MVP year and has carried the Nuggets to the 6th seed even without both Michael Porter Jr. and Jamal Murray. If the Nuggets are able to get one, or both players back, this is a scary team come playoff time.
10. Utah Jazz: 32-21
Another team trending in the wrong direction, the Utah Jazz have a 3-7 record in the past 10 games. Plus, Joe Ingles is set to miss the rest of the season after tearing his ACL. This is still a very good team with championship aspirations, but they have to get back on track.
9. Dallas Mavericks: 30-23
It’s been another very good season for Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks, but they’re still not quite over the hump into the best of the best when it comes to teams in the league. It will be interesting to see their activity at the trade deadline.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers: 32-21
The biggest surprise in the NBA this season has been the Cleveland Cavaliers. It has been their defense that has led to their success, allowing the least amount of points per game in the entire league. After acquiring Caris LeVert, they’ve added another legitimate scoring threat.
7. Chicago Bulls: 33-19
Certainly still a top team in the league, but the Bulls land 7th on this list. The team really misses Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso and is .500 in their last 10 games.
6. Miami Heat: 34-20
Another dominant defensive team, Miami is now first place in the Eastern Conference. This team can no doubt make it to their second NBA finals in three years.
5. Philadelphia 76ers 31-21
One thing hurting Ben Simmons trade value (outside of Daryl Morey absurd asking price) is how well the team has played without him. Particularly Joel Embiid who’s averaging 29 points per game. He is no doubt the MVP front-runner right now.
4. Milwaukee Bucks: 32-21
The defending champs have another great chance to make it to the NBA finals. Giannis is having another phenomenal season and they still have their core group from a year ago. On top of that, Brook Lopez should make his return to the team soon.
3. Memphis Grizzlies: 37-18
If you disagreed with me saying that the Cavs were the biggest surprise team this year, it’s probably because you think the Grizzlies are. No one picked them to have the third best record in the NBA by February and they have proven to be a legitimate threat.
2. Golden State Warriors: 40-13
After Draymond Green initially got injured the Warriors struggled a bit, but have since bounced back. They’ve won nine of their last 10 and still aren’t fully healthy.
1. Phoenix Suns: 42-10
This team is just so good. Chris Paul is averaging over 10 assists per game and only 2.3 turnovers. Devin Booker is averaging over 25 points per game. And the roster is loaded top to bottom. The Suns have a serious chance to return to the NBA finals and this time, win it.