Miami Heat vs San Antonio Spurs

San Antonio Spurs, con siete puntos del argentino Emanuel Ginóbili,

venció anoche al actual campeón, Miami Heat, por 113-77, como local, y

se adelantó 2-1 en las finales de la Liga Estadounidense de Básquetbol

(NBA). Disfruta las mejores imágenes del tercer partido de las finales de la NBA entre Miami Heat y San Antonio Spurs.

The Miami Heat levelled their series against the Philadelphia 76ers as Dwyane Wade starred.
Wade helps Heat even series, Warriors take 2-0 lead over Spurs
The Miami Heat levelled their series against the Philadelphia 76ers as Dwyane Wade starred.
<p>Monday in the NBA brings us a brief reprieve from NCAA March Madness with an interesting landscape of injury news and late-season playoff implications. We’ve got two team stacks along with a number of good matchups on the schedule. Plug these plays into our <a href="https://protect-us.mimecast.com/s/dMPECkRgRXsmR5v9iVJdD9?domain=lineuplab.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:NBA Lineup Optimizer" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">NBA Lineup Optimizer</a> and you&#39;ll be on your way to winning on FanDuel and DraftKings. </p><h3>Team Stack Alerts</h3><p><strong>Chicago Bulls vs. New York Knicks</strong></p><p><strong>Denzel Valentine (FD: $6,300, DK: $5,700)</strong></p><p><em>Projected Points: FD: 29.32, DK: 30.58</em></p><p><strong>Cameron Payne (FD: $4,900, DK: $4,700)</strong></p><p><em>Projected Points: FD: 31.66, DK: 31.11</em></p><p><strong>Bobby Portis (FD: $7,000, DK: $7,100)</strong></p><p><em>Projected Points: FD: 37.59, DK: 38.3</em></p><p>Congratulations Universe, you win. Recommending a Bulls’ stack to start this thing off feels like entering some kind of Bizarro World. And yet here we are late in the NBA season with teams in full tank mode. The Bulls are right on board with that strategy. After accidentally winning four of seven games, they got wise and decided to start sitting everyone (in addition to the guys they were already sitting). Zach Lavine, Kris Dunn, and Lauri Markkanen are all out again Monday giving us a clear sense of where the minutes will go in their stead considering we saw the same situation Saturday against the Cavaliers.</p><p>Valentine was the clear winner, posting an absurd 34 points, seven rebounds and six assists in 39 minutes. The scoring was an outlier considering he shot 73% from three, but the minutes are there and he’s had solid fantasy production when given the opportunity. He sees an 18% price increase on FanDuel and 9% on DraftKings, though the outsized opportunity makes up for it. Don’t expect the same kind of scoring, but he’s still a high-floor play against a bad Knicks defense.</p><p>Meanwhile, Cameron Payne drew the start for Kris Dunn and finally saw a substantial minutes increase after coming back from a prolonged injury timetable. He was excellent against Cleveland with 13 points and 10 assists while also getting up six threes. He’s arguably the best bargain on the slate considering his price barely moved slate-over-slate. The Knicks have been below average against opposing point guards all season and more minutes out of Emmanuel Mudiay and Trey Burke doesn’t help those defensive stats in the slightest.</p><p>Finally, Portis is something of a GPP upside play off the bench. Few other players in the NBA have his kind of per minute fantasy upside, with the minutes as the only question on a night-to-night basis. I like him much more if Noah Vonleh is ruled out again, but it’s tough to trust him at these prices in cash games. From a tournament perspective though, he’s firmly in play.</p><h3>Golden State Warriors vs. San Antonio Spurs</h3><p><strong>Draymond Green (FD: $8,500, DK: $9,600)</strong></p><p><em>Projected Points: FD: 45.01, DK: 46.33</em></p><p><strong>Quinn Cook (FD: $5,200, DK: $4,500)</strong></p><p><em>Projected Points: FD: 25.37, DK: 27.29</em></p><p><strong>Nick Young, vs. Spurs (FD: $5,500, DK: $5,000)</strong></p><p><em>Projected Points: FD: 26.83, DK: 28.16</em></p><p>The Warriors have been ravaged by injuries in the short term. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant are all set to miss anywhere from a few games to extended time with a variety of ailments. That’s left the team paper thin and opened up crazy opportunity for their deep bench guys. Green has seen a dramatic usage increase in the short term, averaging 17 shots per game over the last two, nearly double his season average. The minutes are rather stable, but there’s no denying the increased scoring opportunity with the Warriors big three off the court.</p><p>Meanwhile, Cook and Young are getting nearly all of the backcourt run. Both touched up against 40 minutes on Saturday against the Suns. Cook went nuts from the field, putting up 17 shots and finishing with 28 points, four rebounds, and four assists. Young went for 20 points and seven rebounds. Now, remember, that was against the Suns: the worst defensive team in the league. The Spurs are a different animal and we can’t expect the same kind of scoring volume. But I still see this as an opportunity for all three considering the Warriors need to fill the minutes and have no issues running the latter two into the ground waiting for the varsity squad to get healthy.</p><h3>Other Plays</h3><h3>Point Guard/ Shooting Guard</h3><p><strong>Goran Dragic, vs. Nuggets (FD: $6,700, DK: $7,300)</strong></p><p><em>Projected Points: FD: 35.84, DK: 36.96</em></p><p>It’s always quite difficult predetermining the Miami Heat rotations because Erik Spoelstra changes things on the fly as much as any coach in the game. It makes for, at times, nail-biting moments around the starter’s minutes because they aren’t necessarily set in stone. But Dragic ranks as one of the “safer” Heat plays night-to-night mostly because he rarely loses significant time to matchups. On Monday he faces a Nuggets team allowing 4% more scoring than league average to opposing point guards thanks in large part to Jamal Murray’s struggles on that end. They’ll also be without their best backcourt defender in Gary Harris. This makes for a solid time to buy on Dragic, especially on FanDuel.</p><p><strong>Will Barton, vs. Heat (FD: $6,200, DK: $6,300)</strong></p><p><em>Projected Points: FD: 33.53, DK: 34.06</em></p><p>Speaking of Gary Harris sitting, Will Barton grabbed the start on Saturday against Memphis (an inexplicable loss by the Nuggets) and saw 34 minutes. He played poorly, shooting 3-12 from the field while turning the ball over four times. But he’s in a bounce-back spot on Monday and could crest up towards 40 minutes if playing well. Mike Malone has had no problem running Barton damn near the whole game in the right spot, and last game’s court time seems like the floor. He’s something of a jack-of-all-trades fantasy-wise and hasn’t been afraid to put up shots with the first unit (12 per game, a career high). Miami isn’t a perfect matchup, but Barton’s prices don’t reflect the starter role.</p><h3>Small Forward</h3><p><strong>LeBron</strong> <strong>James, vs. Bucks (FD: $12,700, DK: $11,700)</strong></p><p><em>Projected Points: FD: 59.32, DK: 61.69</em></p><p><strong>Giannis</strong> <strong>Antetokounmpo, vs. Cavaliers (FD: $12,000, DK: $10,800)</strong></p><p><em>Projected Points: FD: 56.57, DK: 57.53</em></p><p>Here’s where the biggest lineup decisions will be made tonight. We get both James and Giannis in the same price tier and matched up against each other in a game that matters for East playoff seeding. The Cavs have been an M-E-S-S lately, suffering injury after injury, reverting back to their “no defense” status from earlier in the season and relying on LeBron to basically do every single thing on the court. Luckily, he’s been up to the task, averaging 29 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists over the last five games (Cavs are 2-3 in that stretch), with 25 or more shots in each of the last two. We are likely buying at peak pricing for James, but on a night with so much middle/low tier value cropping up, fitting his salary isn’t any kind of stretch.</p><p>The case for Giannis has as much to do with the young superstar’s talent as it does with the opponent. He’s been exceptional in the short term (and all season as well) putting up a 35 point, 11 rebound, seven assist line in the last two and getting back to his 40 minute-per-game averages that spoiled us early in the year. But he also gets the aforementioned Cavaliers who, even for their trade deadline moves, still rank third-to-last in defensive efficiency. They’ve allowed more than 105 opponent points in ten of the last eleven games. It’s a close call between these two titans, but I slightly prefer Lebron.</p><p><strong>Jeremy Lamb, vs. 76ers (FD: $4,800, DK: $4,200)</strong></p><p><em>Projected Points: FD: 29.27, DK: 29.34</em></p><p>With Nicolas Batum ruled out for Monday, Lamb stands ready to enter the starting unit and pick up significant shooting guard minutes. The last time Batum sat (back in December), Lamb played 33 minutes and got up a team-high 17 shots (including seven threes). His bench minutes push up against value on these prices, meaning when he figures to run with the starters he’s all but a lock for cash games. The only thing that makes it close is guys like Valentine, Young and some other value that’s crept in along the edges.</p><h3>Power Forward/ Center</h3><p><strong>Julius Randle, vs. Pacers (FD: $7,400, DK: $8,300)</strong></p><p><em>Projected Points: FD: 44.67, DK: 47.0</em></p><p>The Lakers continue to play late-season spoiler, firming up their rotations, running starters and giving potential playoff teams hell down the stretch. It’s been fun to watch and few other players have had the kind of on-court and fantasy impact that Randle’s displayed over the last month. He’s been downright fantastic, averaging 23 points and 10 rebounds in March and double-doubling in his last four games. Luke Walton’s distrust of Randle’s effort and post defense is a thing of the past. The FanDuel price is a borderline joke considering his recent play.</p><p><strong>Bam Adebayo, vs. Nuggets (FD: $3,600, DK: $4,900)</strong></p><p><em>Projected Points: FD: 24.08, DK: 23.68</em></p><p>My reservations on Dragic extend to Adebayo (and really the rest of the Heat) as well. Just because Bam is starting for Whiteside doesn’t necessarily mean he’s locked into seeing the lion’s share of center minutes. But he’s coming near the minimum on FanDuel against a Denver team allowing 5% more scoring than league average to opposing centers. The DraftKings’ price is a little closer considering the minutes&#39; uncertainty, though the multi-position eligibility helps.</p><p><em>Two Notes</em>: If Larry Nance is ruled out again, then Jeff Green becomes a borderline must play at his prices. The same can be said of Al Jefferson if Myles Turner is ruled out. Two things to keep an eye out for throughout the day.</p>
NBA DFS Picks for March 19

Monday in the NBA brings us a brief reprieve from NCAA March Madness with an interesting landscape of injury news and late-season playoff implications. We’ve got two team stacks along with a number of good matchups on the schedule. Plug these plays into our NBA Lineup Optimizer and you'll be on your way to winning on FanDuel and DraftKings.

Team Stack Alerts

Chicago Bulls vs. New York Knicks

Denzel Valentine (FD: $6,300, DK: $5,700)

Projected Points: FD: 29.32, DK: 30.58

Cameron Payne (FD: $4,900, DK: $4,700)

Projected Points: FD: 31.66, DK: 31.11

Bobby Portis (FD: $7,000, DK: $7,100)

Projected Points: FD: 37.59, DK: 38.3

Congratulations Universe, you win. Recommending a Bulls’ stack to start this thing off feels like entering some kind of Bizarro World. And yet here we are late in the NBA season with teams in full tank mode. The Bulls are right on board with that strategy. After accidentally winning four of seven games, they got wise and decided to start sitting everyone (in addition to the guys they were already sitting). Zach Lavine, Kris Dunn, and Lauri Markkanen are all out again Monday giving us a clear sense of where the minutes will go in their stead considering we saw the same situation Saturday against the Cavaliers.

Valentine was the clear winner, posting an absurd 34 points, seven rebounds and six assists in 39 minutes. The scoring was an outlier considering he shot 73% from three, but the minutes are there and he’s had solid fantasy production when given the opportunity. He sees an 18% price increase on FanDuel and 9% on DraftKings, though the outsized opportunity makes up for it. Don’t expect the same kind of scoring, but he’s still a high-floor play against a bad Knicks defense.

Meanwhile, Cameron Payne drew the start for Kris Dunn and finally saw a substantial minutes increase after coming back from a prolonged injury timetable. He was excellent against Cleveland with 13 points and 10 assists while also getting up six threes. He’s arguably the best bargain on the slate considering his price barely moved slate-over-slate. The Knicks have been below average against opposing point guards all season and more minutes out of Emmanuel Mudiay and Trey Burke doesn’t help those defensive stats in the slightest.

Finally, Portis is something of a GPP upside play off the bench. Few other players in the NBA have his kind of per minute fantasy upside, with the minutes as the only question on a night-to-night basis. I like him much more if Noah Vonleh is ruled out again, but it’s tough to trust him at these prices in cash games. From a tournament perspective though, he’s firmly in play.

Golden State Warriors vs. San Antonio Spurs

Draymond Green (FD: $8,500, DK: $9,600)

Projected Points: FD: 45.01, DK: 46.33

Quinn Cook (FD: $5,200, DK: $4,500)

Projected Points: FD: 25.37, DK: 27.29

Nick Young, vs. Spurs (FD: $5,500, DK: $5,000)

Projected Points: FD: 26.83, DK: 28.16

The Warriors have been ravaged by injuries in the short term. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant are all set to miss anywhere from a few games to extended time with a variety of ailments. That’s left the team paper thin and opened up crazy opportunity for their deep bench guys. Green has seen a dramatic usage increase in the short term, averaging 17 shots per game over the last two, nearly double his season average. The minutes are rather stable, but there’s no denying the increased scoring opportunity with the Warriors big three off the court.

Meanwhile, Cook and Young are getting nearly all of the backcourt run. Both touched up against 40 minutes on Saturday against the Suns. Cook went nuts from the field, putting up 17 shots and finishing with 28 points, four rebounds, and four assists. Young went for 20 points and seven rebounds. Now, remember, that was against the Suns: the worst defensive team in the league. The Spurs are a different animal and we can’t expect the same kind of scoring volume. But I still see this as an opportunity for all three considering the Warriors need to fill the minutes and have no issues running the latter two into the ground waiting for the varsity squad to get healthy.

Other Plays

Point Guard/ Shooting Guard

Goran Dragic, vs. Nuggets (FD: $6,700, DK: $7,300)

Projected Points: FD: 35.84, DK: 36.96

It’s always quite difficult predetermining the Miami Heat rotations because Erik Spoelstra changes things on the fly as much as any coach in the game. It makes for, at times, nail-biting moments around the starter’s minutes because they aren’t necessarily set in stone. But Dragic ranks as one of the “safer” Heat plays night-to-night mostly because he rarely loses significant time to matchups. On Monday he faces a Nuggets team allowing 4% more scoring than league average to opposing point guards thanks in large part to Jamal Murray’s struggles on that end. They’ll also be without their best backcourt defender in Gary Harris. This makes for a solid time to buy on Dragic, especially on FanDuel.

Will Barton, vs. Heat (FD: $6,200, DK: $6,300)

Projected Points: FD: 33.53, DK: 34.06

Speaking of Gary Harris sitting, Will Barton grabbed the start on Saturday against Memphis (an inexplicable loss by the Nuggets) and saw 34 minutes. He played poorly, shooting 3-12 from the field while turning the ball over four times. But he’s in a bounce-back spot on Monday and could crest up towards 40 minutes if playing well. Mike Malone has had no problem running Barton damn near the whole game in the right spot, and last game’s court time seems like the floor. He’s something of a jack-of-all-trades fantasy-wise and hasn’t been afraid to put up shots with the first unit (12 per game, a career high). Miami isn’t a perfect matchup, but Barton’s prices don’t reflect the starter role.

Small Forward

LeBron James, vs. Bucks (FD: $12,700, DK: $11,700)

Projected Points: FD: 59.32, DK: 61.69

Giannis Antetokounmpo, vs. Cavaliers (FD: $12,000, DK: $10,800)

Projected Points: FD: 56.57, DK: 57.53

Here’s where the biggest lineup decisions will be made tonight. We get both James and Giannis in the same price tier and matched up against each other in a game that matters for East playoff seeding. The Cavs have been an M-E-S-S lately, suffering injury after injury, reverting back to their “no defense” status from earlier in the season and relying on LeBron to basically do every single thing on the court. Luckily, he’s been up to the task, averaging 29 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists over the last five games (Cavs are 2-3 in that stretch), with 25 or more shots in each of the last two. We are likely buying at peak pricing for James, but on a night with so much middle/low tier value cropping up, fitting his salary isn’t any kind of stretch.

The case for Giannis has as much to do with the young superstar’s talent as it does with the opponent. He’s been exceptional in the short term (and all season as well) putting up a 35 point, 11 rebound, seven assist line in the last two and getting back to his 40 minute-per-game averages that spoiled us early in the year. But he also gets the aforementioned Cavaliers who, even for their trade deadline moves, still rank third-to-last in defensive efficiency. They’ve allowed more than 105 opponent points in ten of the last eleven games. It’s a close call between these two titans, but I slightly prefer Lebron.

Jeremy Lamb, vs. 76ers (FD: $4,800, DK: $4,200)

Projected Points: FD: 29.27, DK: 29.34

With Nicolas Batum ruled out for Monday, Lamb stands ready to enter the starting unit and pick up significant shooting guard minutes. The last time Batum sat (back in December), Lamb played 33 minutes and got up a team-high 17 shots (including seven threes). His bench minutes push up against value on these prices, meaning when he figures to run with the starters he’s all but a lock for cash games. The only thing that makes it close is guys like Valentine, Young and some other value that’s crept in along the edges.

Power Forward/ Center

Julius Randle, vs. Pacers (FD: $7,400, DK: $8,300)

Projected Points: FD: 44.67, DK: 47.0

The Lakers continue to play late-season spoiler, firming up their rotations, running starters and giving potential playoff teams hell down the stretch. It’s been fun to watch and few other players have had the kind of on-court and fantasy impact that Randle’s displayed over the last month. He’s been downright fantastic, averaging 23 points and 10 rebounds in March and double-doubling in his last four games. Luke Walton’s distrust of Randle’s effort and post defense is a thing of the past. The FanDuel price is a borderline joke considering his recent play.

Bam Adebayo, vs. Nuggets (FD: $3,600, DK: $4,900)

Projected Points: FD: 24.08, DK: 23.68

My reservations on Dragic extend to Adebayo (and really the rest of the Heat) as well. Just because Bam is starting for Whiteside doesn’t necessarily mean he’s locked into seeing the lion’s share of center minutes. But he’s coming near the minimum on FanDuel against a Denver team allowing 5% more scoring than league average to opposing centers. The DraftKings’ price is a little closer considering the minutes' uncertainty, though the multi-position eligibility helps.

Two Notes: If Larry Nance is ruled out again, then Jeff Green becomes a borderline must play at his prices. The same can be said of Al Jefferson if Myles Turner is ruled out. Two things to keep an eye out for throughout the day.

<p>Welcome to Week 23 of the The Crossover’s NBA Power Rankings. We have another shakeup at the top this week, thanks to yet another crazy win streak in the West. Other familiar faces are also climbing the ladder, with the Spurs and Thunder coming on strong in recent games. Elsewhere, the Heat, Nuggets, and Bucks continue to frustrate, while the middle tier of the East is nearly impossible to separate.</p><p>The playoff races are far from settled on Each Coast, with seeding changing with seemingly every game. A win on the right night could give you homecourt, while an ill-timed loss could have you on the outside looking in. I’m finding the parity exciting because there’s meaningful basketball on every day, though it’s easy to question if any of this will matter once the postseason actually begins. Let’s move on from the existential questions, though, and see how each team stacks up headed into Week 23 of the season.</p><p><strong>30. Phoenix Suns (19–52)<br>Last Week: 29</strong></p><p><strong>29. Atlanta Hawks (20–50)<br>Last Week: 26</strong></p><p><strong>28. Dallas Mavericks (22–48)<br>Last Week: 24</strong></p><p><strong>27. Orlando Magic (21–49)<br>Last Week: 27</strong></p><p><strong>26. Chicago Bulls (24–45)<br>Last Week: 22</strong></p><p><strong>25. New York Knicks (25–45)<br>Last Week: 29</strong></p><p><strong>24. Memphis Grizzlies (19–50)<br>Last Week: 30</strong></p><p><strong>23. Brooklyn Nets (22–48)<br>Last Week: 25</strong></p><p><strong>22. Sacramento Kings (23–48)<br>Last Week: 23</strong><br>The Kings are 5–5 in their last 10 games, which is bad for their lottery hopes. The Grizzlies earned a much-needed win last week when they knocked off the Denver Nuggets—it was the kind of victory that shows Memphis still has pride but will continue to lose enough to ensure a solid chance at the No. 1 pick. Otherwise, things are as depressing here as usual. Enes Kanter made some noise when he said the Knicks aren’t tanking. And he’s kind of right! Players are obviously not trying to lose games. The Knicks just aren’t in a position to win very much with the players they have on the court.</p><p>Of course, with the NCAA Tournament taking place last weekend, I had a chance to scout some players for the NBA’s bottom feeders. I still know absolutely nothing about the draft, I only know one of these teams needs to select K.J. Maura from UMBC.</p><p><strong>21. Detroit Pistons (30–39)<br>Last Week: 20</strong><br>Detroit has lost three in a row. I wrote late last week <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/03/16/blake-griffin-trade-pistons-clippers-andre-drummond-chris-paul-deandre-jordan" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:why the Blake Griffin experiment hasn’t been working out" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">why the Blake Griffin experiment hasn’t been working out</a>.</p><p><strong>20. Charlotte Hornets (30–40)<br>Last Week: 21</strong><br>The Hornets had the indignity of losing to the Knicks last week but also notched a road win in Atlanta. Charlotte got some more bad news Sunday night when Nic Batum was <a href="http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/22827322/mri-reveals-chronic-tendinitis-left-achilles-hornets-nicolas-batum" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:diagnosed with tendinitis in his Achilles" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">diagnosed with tendinitis in his Achilles</a>.</p><p><strong>19. Los Angeles Lakers (31–38)<br>Last Week: 16</strong><br>The Lakers are coming back down to earth a bit after their hot stretch in February and early March, with an injury to Brandon Ingram not helping matters. Last week, Andrew Sharp pondered <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/03/16/lakers-free-agency-julius-randle-isaiah-thomas-lebron-james-paul-george" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:how much of L.A.’s current success will carry over into next season." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">how much of L.A.’s current success will carry over into next season.</a></p><p><strong>18. Denver Nuggets (38–32)<br>Last Week: 12</strong><br>Ugly, ugly loss for Denver against Memphis last week. The Nuggets are sliding precipitously in these rankings, thanks to defeats to the Grizzlies, Mavericks and Lakers in the last two weeks. You just can’t afford those kinds of losses during a playoff push. A knee injury to Gary Harris—expected to miss three or four games—could be the death knell of Denver’s postseason hopes.</p><p>?</p><p><strong>17. Los Angeles Clippers (37–32)<br>Last Week: 8</strong><br>As we predicted in the Week 22 rankings, the Clips’ schedule seems to be catching up to them. L.A. lost to Houston, OKC and Portland last week, and there will be few reprieves over the final few weeks of the season. Avery Bradley missing the rest of the season after sports hernia surgery certainly won’t help.</p><p><strong>16. Miami Heat (37–33)<br>Last Week: 9</strong><br>The Heat are perhaps the most volatile team in these rankings, thanks to their inconsistent nature throughout the season. Miami followed up its most inspiring stretch of the season with a deflating 1–2 road trip last week, which included its second loss of the season to the Kings. The Heat also just barely eked out a win over the Lakers to avoid going 0–3. I can’t imagine this team will move higher than eighth in the East. </p><p><strong>15. Milwaukee Bucks (37–32)<br>Last Week: 19</strong><br>Also not a lot of inspiring basketball being played by Milwaukee, who lost to the lowly Magic last week. The Bucks’ last three wins have all come against shameless tankers. The Malcolm Brogdon injury is really hurting Milwaukee, whose depth at guard is shallow.</p><p><strong>14. Minnesota Timberwolves (40–31)<br>Last Week: 13</strong><br>Tough losses back-to-back for the Wolves to finish last week after an impressive road win in Washington. Minny remains in good playoff standing thanks to Denver’s slide however, and the Wolves will play four of the league’s worst teams in their next six games.</p><p>On another note, I’m not sure <a href="https://twitter.com/DerekJamesNBA/status/973958329117626374" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:how upset Andrew Wiggins actually is" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">how upset Andrew Wiggins actually is</a> about being the third option here, but the Wolves would almost certainly be better right now with a Danny Green-type taking Wiggins’s minutes on the wing alongside Jimmy Butler and Karl Towns. I’m fascinated to see how this team deals with this situation moving forward.</p><p><strong>13. Philadelphia 76ers (38–30)<br>Last Week: 11</strong><br>Philly continues to lurk as a sleeping giant in the East. The 76ers are only 1 1/2 games behind the Cavs for third place, and they have the third-best net rating in the conference.</p><p>?</p><p><strong>12. Cleveland Cavaliers (40–29)<br>Last Week: 17</strong><br>The Cavs got through their six-game road trip with a 3–3 record, which is honestly a win for this team. It’s so hard to properly rank the Cavs, but this week Cleveland is No. 12 almost entirely on the strength of LeBron’s dunk on Jusuf Nurkic.</p><p><strong>11. New Orleans Pelicans (40–30)<br>Last Week: 14</strong><br>Big win against the Celtics on Sunday night for the Pelicans, who had lost four of five headed into the matchup. New Orleans’s latest starting lineup of Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, E’Twaun Moore, Emeka Okafor and Rajon Rondo has a net rating of 12.5, which is the best of their five most-used lineups of the season. That same lineup with Boogie Cousins in place of Okafor had a negative-2.9 net rating in 408 minutes together.</p><p><strong>10. Indiana Pacers (40–30)<br>Last Week: 5</strong><br>The Pacers closed out last week with back-to-back losses after a nice win In Philadelphia. Indy is in a tight battle with the Wizards and Sixers for homecourt in the first round, and whoever comes out ahead there could be the difference in a first-round playoff series.</p><p><strong>9. Washington Wizards (40–30)<br>Last Week: 15</strong><br>The Wizards rebounded from losses to Miami and Minnesota with a bonkers double-OT win over Boston and an important victory at home against the Pacers. How John Wall—who is inching closer to his return—fits back in here is going to be an interesting subplot moving forward.</p><p><strong>8. San Antonio Spurs (40–30)<br>Last Week: 18</strong><br>Three straight wins for the Spurs, who need every win in the bank with an upcoming stretch of six straight games against playoff teams. Still no Kawhi Leonard here, and it’s fair to wonder if he’ll even come back this season.</p><p>??</p><p><strong>7. Boston Celtics (47–23)<br>Last Week: 6</strong><br>Injuries are decimating this team, which can now only hope to have everyone (except Gordon Hayward) healthy for the playoffs. (Oh, and Marcus Smart may not return until late in the first or early in the second round.) Former Celtics are making more news than the current ones these days, with Rajon Rondo <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/03/18/rajon-rondo-ray-allen-book-celtics" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:trashing Ray Allen’s book" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">trashing Ray Allen’s book</a>, and Glen Davis <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/03/17/former-player-glen-davis" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:making a bizarre video to defend himself" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">making a bizarre video to defend himself</a> in light of a recent arrest.</p><p><strong>6. Utah Jazz (40–30)<br>Last Week: 7</strong><br>Another long win streak for the Jazz, who’ve won nine in a row to vault themselves into fifth-place in the West. Utah is only two games behind the Thunder for fourth and homecourt in the first round. This is a truly remarkable story—the Jazz have a real chance of making it just as far in the playoffs as they did with Gordon Hayward last year.</p><p><strong>5. Golden State Warriors (53–17)<br>Last Week: 4</strong><br>Injuries have led to some pretty hilarious lineups here lately, and will also probably keep the Warriors from catching Houston for the No. 1 seed. Golden State is still the prohibitive favorite in the West, but—and it’s a huge but—on some level you have to wonder if the recent swath of injuries are connected to the Dubs’ three consecutive long playoff runs.</p><p><strong>4. Oklahoma City Thunder (43–29)<br>Last Week: 10</strong><br>The Thunder leap six spots in the rankings this week. OKC has won six in a row, including an impressive victory over the Raptors in Toronto on Sunday. When Russell Westbrook is as committed to getting to the paint as he was in that game, the Thunder look so much better. Russ’s chemistry with Steven Adams is as good as any pick-and-roll pairing’s in the league. Meanwhile, the Corey Brewer signing may have saved this team’s season.</p><p><strong>3. Toronto Raptors (52–18)<br>Last Week: 1</strong><br>For all the talk about Toronto’s depth and if it will be as important come playoff time, people may be overlooking how good the Raptors’ starters have been. Toronto’s starting five of DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka, Jonas Valanciunas and OG Anunoby has the fourth-best net rating in the league among lineups that have played at least 300 minutes.</p><p>?</p><p><strong>2. Houston Rockets (56–14)<br>Last Week: 2</strong><br>The Rockets have shrugged off their loss in Toronto two Fridays ago to win five straight, the last four of which have come against teams fighting for a playoff spot in the West. Houston is a ruthless machine at this point, and four of their next six games are against lottery squads, meaning the Rockets have the inside track at finishing first in the West.</p><p><strong>1. Portland Trail Blazers (44–26)<br>Last Week: 3</strong><br>The Blazers have won 13 straight, so I can’t keep them out of the top spot any longer. I’m curious what long-term effects this streak (and this season) will have on Portland, but for now PDX fans should certainly enjoy the ride. The streak will certainly be tested this week, with games against the Rockets, Celtics and Thunder on deck. Portland could make a statement to the rest of the league if it comes out of that stretch unscathed.</p>
NBA Power Rankings: The Blazers Are Ready for Their Close-Up

Welcome to Week 23 of the The Crossover’s NBA Power Rankings. We have another shakeup at the top this week, thanks to yet another crazy win streak in the West. Other familiar faces are also climbing the ladder, with the Spurs and Thunder coming on strong in recent games. Elsewhere, the Heat, Nuggets, and Bucks continue to frustrate, while the middle tier of the East is nearly impossible to separate.

The playoff races are far from settled on Each Coast, with seeding changing with seemingly every game. A win on the right night could give you homecourt, while an ill-timed loss could have you on the outside looking in. I’m finding the parity exciting because there’s meaningful basketball on every day, though it’s easy to question if any of this will matter once the postseason actually begins. Let’s move on from the existential questions, though, and see how each team stacks up headed into Week 23 of the season.

30. Phoenix Suns (19–52)
Last Week: 29

29. Atlanta Hawks (20–50)
Last Week: 26

28. Dallas Mavericks (22–48)
Last Week: 24

27. Orlando Magic (21–49)
Last Week: 27

26. Chicago Bulls (24–45)
Last Week: 22

25. New York Knicks (25–45)
Last Week: 29

24. Memphis Grizzlies (19–50)
Last Week: 30

23. Brooklyn Nets (22–48)
Last Week: 25

22. Sacramento Kings (23–48)
Last Week: 23

The Kings are 5–5 in their last 10 games, which is bad for their lottery hopes. The Grizzlies earned a much-needed win last week when they knocked off the Denver Nuggets—it was the kind of victory that shows Memphis still has pride but will continue to lose enough to ensure a solid chance at the No. 1 pick. Otherwise, things are as depressing here as usual. Enes Kanter made some noise when he said the Knicks aren’t tanking. And he’s kind of right! Players are obviously not trying to lose games. The Knicks just aren’t in a position to win very much with the players they have on the court.

Of course, with the NCAA Tournament taking place last weekend, I had a chance to scout some players for the NBA’s bottom feeders. I still know absolutely nothing about the draft, I only know one of these teams needs to select K.J. Maura from UMBC.

21. Detroit Pistons (30–39)
Last Week: 20

Detroit has lost three in a row. I wrote late last week why the Blake Griffin experiment hasn’t been working out.

20. Charlotte Hornets (30–40)
Last Week: 21

The Hornets had the indignity of losing to the Knicks last week but also notched a road win in Atlanta. Charlotte got some more bad news Sunday night when Nic Batum was diagnosed with tendinitis in his Achilles.

19. Los Angeles Lakers (31–38)
Last Week: 16

The Lakers are coming back down to earth a bit after their hot stretch in February and early March, with an injury to Brandon Ingram not helping matters. Last week, Andrew Sharp pondered how much of L.A.’s current success will carry over into next season.

18. Denver Nuggets (38–32)
Last Week: 12

Ugly, ugly loss for Denver against Memphis last week. The Nuggets are sliding precipitously in these rankings, thanks to defeats to the Grizzlies, Mavericks and Lakers in the last two weeks. You just can’t afford those kinds of losses during a playoff push. A knee injury to Gary Harris—expected to miss three or four games—could be the death knell of Denver’s postseason hopes.

?

17. Los Angeles Clippers (37–32)
Last Week: 8

As we predicted in the Week 22 rankings, the Clips’ schedule seems to be catching up to them. L.A. lost to Houston, OKC and Portland last week, and there will be few reprieves over the final few weeks of the season. Avery Bradley missing the rest of the season after sports hernia surgery certainly won’t help.

16. Miami Heat (37–33)
Last Week: 9

The Heat are perhaps the most volatile team in these rankings, thanks to their inconsistent nature throughout the season. Miami followed up its most inspiring stretch of the season with a deflating 1–2 road trip last week, which included its second loss of the season to the Kings. The Heat also just barely eked out a win over the Lakers to avoid going 0–3. I can’t imagine this team will move higher than eighth in the East.

15. Milwaukee Bucks (37–32)
Last Week: 19

Also not a lot of inspiring basketball being played by Milwaukee, who lost to the lowly Magic last week. The Bucks’ last three wins have all come against shameless tankers. The Malcolm Brogdon injury is really hurting Milwaukee, whose depth at guard is shallow.

14. Minnesota Timberwolves (40–31)
Last Week: 13

Tough losses back-to-back for the Wolves to finish last week after an impressive road win in Washington. Minny remains in good playoff standing thanks to Denver’s slide however, and the Wolves will play four of the league’s worst teams in their next six games.

On another note, I’m not sure how upset Andrew Wiggins actually is about being the third option here, but the Wolves would almost certainly be better right now with a Danny Green-type taking Wiggins’s minutes on the wing alongside Jimmy Butler and Karl Towns. I’m fascinated to see how this team deals with this situation moving forward.

13. Philadelphia 76ers (38–30)
Last Week: 11

Philly continues to lurk as a sleeping giant in the East. The 76ers are only 1 1/2 games behind the Cavs for third place, and they have the third-best net rating in the conference.

?

12. Cleveland Cavaliers (40–29)
Last Week: 17

The Cavs got through their six-game road trip with a 3–3 record, which is honestly a win for this team. It’s so hard to properly rank the Cavs, but this week Cleveland is No. 12 almost entirely on the strength of LeBron’s dunk on Jusuf Nurkic.

11. New Orleans Pelicans (40–30)
Last Week: 14

Big win against the Celtics on Sunday night for the Pelicans, who had lost four of five headed into the matchup. New Orleans’s latest starting lineup of Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, E’Twaun Moore, Emeka Okafor and Rajon Rondo has a net rating of 12.5, which is the best of their five most-used lineups of the season. That same lineup with Boogie Cousins in place of Okafor had a negative-2.9 net rating in 408 minutes together.

10. Indiana Pacers (40–30)
Last Week: 5

The Pacers closed out last week with back-to-back losses after a nice win In Philadelphia. Indy is in a tight battle with the Wizards and Sixers for homecourt in the first round, and whoever comes out ahead there could be the difference in a first-round playoff series.

9. Washington Wizards (40–30)
Last Week: 15

The Wizards rebounded from losses to Miami and Minnesota with a bonkers double-OT win over Boston and an important victory at home against the Pacers. How John Wall—who is inching closer to his return—fits back in here is going to be an interesting subplot moving forward.

8. San Antonio Spurs (40–30)
Last Week: 18

Three straight wins for the Spurs, who need every win in the bank with an upcoming stretch of six straight games against playoff teams. Still no Kawhi Leonard here, and it’s fair to wonder if he’ll even come back this season.

??

7. Boston Celtics (47–23)
Last Week: 6

Injuries are decimating this team, which can now only hope to have everyone (except Gordon Hayward) healthy for the playoffs. (Oh, and Marcus Smart may not return until late in the first or early in the second round.) Former Celtics are making more news than the current ones these days, with Rajon Rondo trashing Ray Allen’s book, and Glen Davis making a bizarre video to defend himself in light of a recent arrest.

6. Utah Jazz (40–30)
Last Week: 7

Another long win streak for the Jazz, who’ve won nine in a row to vault themselves into fifth-place in the West. Utah is only two games behind the Thunder for fourth and homecourt in the first round. This is a truly remarkable story—the Jazz have a real chance of making it just as far in the playoffs as they did with Gordon Hayward last year.

5. Golden State Warriors (53–17)
Last Week: 4

Injuries have led to some pretty hilarious lineups here lately, and will also probably keep the Warriors from catching Houston for the No. 1 seed. Golden State is still the prohibitive favorite in the West, but—and it’s a huge but—on some level you have to wonder if the recent swath of injuries are connected to the Dubs’ three consecutive long playoff runs.

4. Oklahoma City Thunder (43–29)
Last Week: 10

The Thunder leap six spots in the rankings this week. OKC has won six in a row, including an impressive victory over the Raptors in Toronto on Sunday. When Russell Westbrook is as committed to getting to the paint as he was in that game, the Thunder look so much better. Russ’s chemistry with Steven Adams is as good as any pick-and-roll pairing’s in the league. Meanwhile, the Corey Brewer signing may have saved this team’s season.

3. Toronto Raptors (52–18)
Last Week: 1

For all the talk about Toronto’s depth and if it will be as important come playoff time, people may be overlooking how good the Raptors’ starters have been. Toronto’s starting five of DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka, Jonas Valanciunas and OG Anunoby has the fourth-best net rating in the league among lineups that have played at least 300 minutes.

?

2. Houston Rockets (56–14)
Last Week: 2

The Rockets have shrugged off their loss in Toronto two Fridays ago to win five straight, the last four of which have come against teams fighting for a playoff spot in the West. Houston is a ruthless machine at this point, and four of their next six games are against lottery squads, meaning the Rockets have the inside track at finishing first in the West.

1. Portland Trail Blazers (44–26)
Last Week: 3

The Blazers have won 13 straight, so I can’t keep them out of the top spot any longer. I’m curious what long-term effects this streak (and this season) will have on Portland, but for now PDX fans should certainly enjoy the ride. The streak will certainly be tested this week, with games against the Rockets, Celtics and Thunder on deck. Portland could make a statement to the rest of the league if it comes out of that stretch unscathed.

<p>Welcome to Week 23 of the The Crossover’s NBA Power Rankings. We have another shakeup at the top this week, thanks to yet another crazy win streak in the West. Other familiar faces are also climbing the ladder, with the Spurs and Thunder coming on strong in recent games. Elsewhere, the Heat, Nuggets, and Bucks continue to frustrate, while the middle tier of the East is nearly impossible to separate.</p><p>The playoff races are far from settled on Each Coast, with seeding changing with seemingly every game. A win on the right night could give you homecourt, while an ill-timed loss could have you on the outside looking in. I’m finding the parity exciting because there’s meaningful basketball on every day, though it’s easy to question if any of this will matter once the postseason actually begins. Let’s move on from the existential questions, though, and see how each team stacks up headed into Week 23 of the season.</p><p><strong>30. Phoenix Suns (19–52)<br>Last Week: 29</strong></p><p><strong>29. Atlanta Hawks (20–50)<br>Last Week: 26</strong></p><p><strong>28. Dallas Mavericks (22–48)<br>Last Week: 24</strong></p><p><strong>27. Orlando Magic (21–49)<br>Last Week: 27</strong></p><p><strong>26. Chicago Bulls (24–45)<br>Last Week: 22</strong></p><p><strong>25. New York Knicks (25–45)<br>Last Week: 29</strong></p><p><strong>24. Memphis Grizzlies (19–50)<br>Last Week: 30</strong></p><p><strong>23. Brooklyn Nets (22–48)<br>Last Week: 25</strong></p><p><strong>22. Sacramento Kings (23–48)<br>Last Week: 23</strong><br>The Kings are 5–5 in their last 10 games, which is bad for their lottery hopes. The Grizzlies earned a much-needed win last week when they knocked off the Denver Nuggets—it was the kind of victory that shows Memphis still has pride but will continue to lose enough to ensure a solid chance at the No. 1 pick. Otherwise, things are as depressing here as usual. Enes Kanter made some noise when he said the Knicks aren’t tanking. And he’s kind of right! Players are obviously not trying to lose games. The Knicks just aren’t in a position to win very much with the players they have on the court.</p><p>Of course, with the NCAA Tournament taking place last weekend, I had a chance to scout some players for the NBA’s bottom feeders. I still know absolutely nothing about the draft, I only know one of these teams needs to select K.J. Maura from UMBC.</p><p><strong>21. Detroit Pistons (30–39)<br>Last Week: 20</strong><br>Detroit has lost three in a row. I wrote late last week <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/03/16/blake-griffin-trade-pistons-clippers-andre-drummond-chris-paul-deandre-jordan" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:why the Blake Griffin experiment hasn’t been working out" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">why the Blake Griffin experiment hasn’t been working out</a>.</p><p><strong>20. Charlotte Hornets (30–40)<br>Last Week: 21</strong><br>The Hornets had the indignity of losing to the Knicks last week but also notched a road win in Atlanta. Charlotte got some more bad news Sunday night when Nic Batum was <a href="http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/22827322/mri-reveals-chronic-tendinitis-left-achilles-hornets-nicolas-batum" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:diagnosed with tendinitis in his Achilles" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">diagnosed with tendinitis in his Achilles</a>.</p><p><strong>19. Los Angeles Lakers (31–38)<br>Last Week: 16</strong><br>The Lakers are coming back down to earth a bit after their hot stretch in February and early March, with an injury to Brandon Ingram not helping matters. Last week, Andrew Sharp pondered <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/03/16/lakers-free-agency-julius-randle-isaiah-thomas-lebron-james-paul-george" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:how much of L.A.’s current success will carry over into next season." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">how much of L.A.’s current success will carry over into next season.</a></p><p><strong>18. Denver Nuggets (38–32)<br>Last Week: 12</strong><br>Ugly, ugly loss for Denver against Memphis last week. The Nuggets are sliding precipitously in these rankings, thanks to defeats to the Grizzlies, Mavericks and Lakers in the last two weeks. You just can’t afford those kinds of losses during a playoff push. A knee injury to Gary Harris—expected to miss three or four games—could be the death knell of Denver’s postseason hopes.</p><p>?</p><p><strong>17. Los Angeles Clippers (37–32)<br>Last Week: 8</strong><br>As we predicted in the Week 22 rankings, the Clips’ schedule seems to be catching up to them. L.A. lost to Houston, OKC and Portland last week, and there will be few reprieves over the final few weeks of the season. Avery Bradley missing the rest of the season after sports hernia surgery certainly won’t help.</p><p><strong>16. Miami Heat (37–33)<br>Last Week: 9</strong><br>The Heat are perhaps the most volatile team in these rankings, thanks to their inconsistent nature throughout the season. Miami followed up its most inspiring stretch of the season with a deflating 1–2 road trip last week, which included its second loss of the season to the Kings. The Heat also just barely eked out a win over the Lakers to avoid going 0–3. I can’t imagine this team will move higher than eighth in the East. </p><p><strong>15. Milwaukee Bucks (37–32)<br>Last Week: 19</strong><br>Also not a lot of inspiring basketball being played by Milwaukee, who lost to the lowly Magic last week. The Bucks’ last three wins have all come against shameless tankers. The Malcolm Brogdon injury is really hurting Milwaukee, whose depth at guard is shallow.</p><p><strong>14. Minnesota Timberwolves (40–31)<br>Last Week: 13</strong><br>Tough losses back-to-back for the Wolves to finish last week after an impressive road win in Washington. Minny remains in good playoff standing thanks to Denver’s slide however, and the Wolves will play four of the league’s worst teams in their next six games.</p><p>On another note, I’m not sure <a href="https://twitter.com/DerekJamesNBA/status/973958329117626374" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:how upset Andrew Wiggins actually is" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">how upset Andrew Wiggins actually is</a> about being the third option here, but the Wolves would almost certainly be better right now with a Danny Green-type taking Wiggins’s minutes on the wing alongside Jimmy Butler and Karl Towns. I’m fascinated to see how this team deals with this situation moving forward.</p><p><strong>13. Philadelphia 76ers (38–30)<br>Last Week: 11</strong><br>Philly continues to lurk as a sleeping giant in the East. The 76ers are only 1 1/2 games behind the Cavs for third place, and they have the third-best net rating in the conference.</p><p>?</p><p><strong>12. Cleveland Cavaliers (40–29)<br>Last Week: 17</strong><br>The Cavs got through their six-game road trip with a 3–3 record, which is honestly a win for this team. It’s so hard to properly rank the Cavs, but this week Cleveland is No. 12 almost entirely on the strength of LeBron’s dunk on Jusuf Nurkic.</p><p><strong>11. New Orleans Pelicans (40–30)<br>Last Week: 14</strong><br>Big win against the Celtics on Sunday night for the Pelicans, who had lost four of five headed into the matchup. New Orleans’s latest starting lineup of Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, E’Twaun Moore, Emeka Okafor and Rajon Rondo has a net rating of 12.5, which is the best of their five most-used lineups of the season. That same lineup with Boogie Cousins in place of Okafor had a negative-2.9 net rating in 408 minutes together.</p><p><strong>10. Indiana Pacers (40–30)<br>Last Week: 5</strong><br>The Pacers closed out last week with back-to-back losses after a nice win In Philadelphia. Indy is in a tight battle with the Wizards and Sixers for homecourt in the first round, and whoever comes out ahead there could be the difference in a first-round playoff series.</p><p><strong>9. Washington Wizards (40–30)<br>Last Week: 15</strong><br>The Wizards rebounded from losses to Miami and Minnesota with a bonkers double-OT win over Boston and an important victory at home against the Pacers. How John Wall—who is inching closer to his return—fits back in here is going to be an interesting subplot moving forward.</p><p><strong>8. San Antonio Spurs (40–30)<br>Last Week: 18</strong><br>Three straight wins for the Spurs, who need every win in the bank with an upcoming stretch of six straight games against playoff teams. Still no Kawhi Leonard here, and it’s fair to wonder if he’ll even come back this season.</p><p>??</p><p><strong>7. Boston Celtics (47–23)<br>Last Week: 6</strong><br>Injuries are decimating this team, which can now only hope to have everyone (except Gordon Hayward) healthy for the playoffs. (Oh, and Marcus Smart may not return until late in the first or early in the second round.) Former Celtics are making more news than the current ones these days, with Rajon Rondo <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/03/18/rajon-rondo-ray-allen-book-celtics" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:trashing Ray Allen’s book" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">trashing Ray Allen’s book</a>, and Glen Davis <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/03/17/former-player-glen-davis" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:making a bizarre video to defend himself" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">making a bizarre video to defend himself</a> in light of a recent arrest.</p><p><strong>6. Utah Jazz (40–30)<br>Last Week: 7</strong><br>Another long win streak for the Jazz, who’ve won nine in a row to vault themselves into fifth-place in the West. Utah is only two games behind the Thunder for fourth and homecourt in the first round. This is a truly remarkable story—the Jazz have a real chance of making it just as far in the playoffs as they did with Gordon Hayward last year.</p><p><strong>5. Golden State Warriors (53–17)<br>Last Week: 4</strong><br>Injuries have led to some pretty hilarious lineups here lately, and will also probably keep the Warriors from catching Houston for the No. 1 seed. Golden State is still the prohibitive favorite in the West, but—and it’s a huge but—on some level you have to wonder if the recent swath of injuries are connected to the Dubs’ three consecutive long playoff runs.</p><p><strong>4. Oklahoma City Thunder (43–29)<br>Last Week: 10</strong><br>The Thunder leap six spots in the rankings this week. OKC has won six in a row, including an impressive victory over the Raptors in Toronto on Sunday. When Russell Westbrook is as committed to getting to the paint as he was in that game, the Thunder look so much better. Russ’s chemistry with Steven Adams is as good as any pick-and-roll pairing’s in the league. Meanwhile, the Corey Brewer signing may have saved this team’s season.</p><p><strong>3. Toronto Raptors (52–18)<br>Last Week: 1</strong><br>For all the talk about Toronto’s depth and if it will be as important come playoff time, people may be overlooking how good the Raptors’ starters have been. Toronto’s starting five of DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka, Jonas Valanciunas and OG Anunoby has the fourth-best net rating in the league among lineups that have played at least 300 minutes.</p><p>?</p><p><strong>2. Houston Rockets (56–14)<br>Last Week: 2</strong><br>The Rockets have shrugged off their loss in Toronto two Fridays ago to win five straight, the last four of which have come against teams fighting for a playoff spot in the West. Houston is a ruthless machine at this point, and four of their next six games are against lottery squads, meaning the Rockets have the inside track at finishing first in the West.</p><p><strong>1. Portland Trail Blazers (44–26)<br>Last Week: 3</strong><br>The Blazers have won 13 straight, so I can’t keep them out of the top spot any longer. I’m curious what long-term effects this streak (and this season) will have on Portland, but for now PDX fans should certainly enjoy the ride. The streak will certainly be tested this week, with games against the Rockets, Celtics and Thunder on deck. Portland could make a statement to the rest of the league if it comes out of that stretch unscathed.</p>
NBA Power Rankings: The Blazers Are Ready for Their Close-Up

Welcome to Week 23 of the The Crossover’s NBA Power Rankings. We have another shakeup at the top this week, thanks to yet another crazy win streak in the West. Other familiar faces are also climbing the ladder, with the Spurs and Thunder coming on strong in recent games. Elsewhere, the Heat, Nuggets, and Bucks continue to frustrate, while the middle tier of the East is nearly impossible to separate.

The playoff races are far from settled on Each Coast, with seeding changing with seemingly every game. A win on the right night could give you homecourt, while an ill-timed loss could have you on the outside looking in. I’m finding the parity exciting because there’s meaningful basketball on every day, though it’s easy to question if any of this will matter once the postseason actually begins. Let’s move on from the existential questions, though, and see how each team stacks up headed into Week 23 of the season.

30. Phoenix Suns (19–52)
Last Week: 29

29. Atlanta Hawks (20–50)
Last Week: 26

28. Dallas Mavericks (22–48)
Last Week: 24

27. Orlando Magic (21–49)
Last Week: 27

26. Chicago Bulls (24–45)
Last Week: 22

25. New York Knicks (25–45)
Last Week: 29

24. Memphis Grizzlies (19–50)
Last Week: 30

23. Brooklyn Nets (22–48)
Last Week: 25

22. Sacramento Kings (23–48)
Last Week: 23

The Kings are 5–5 in their last 10 games, which is bad for their lottery hopes. The Grizzlies earned a much-needed win last week when they knocked off the Denver Nuggets—it was the kind of victory that shows Memphis still has pride but will continue to lose enough to ensure a solid chance at the No. 1 pick. Otherwise, things are as depressing here as usual. Enes Kanter made some noise when he said the Knicks aren’t tanking. And he’s kind of right! Players are obviously not trying to lose games. The Knicks just aren’t in a position to win very much with the players they have on the court.

Of course, with the NCAA Tournament taking place last weekend, I had a chance to scout some players for the NBA’s bottom feeders. I still know absolutely nothing about the draft, I only know one of these teams needs to select K.J. Maura from UMBC.

21. Detroit Pistons (30–39)
Last Week: 20

Detroit has lost three in a row. I wrote late last week why the Blake Griffin experiment hasn’t been working out.

20. Charlotte Hornets (30–40)
Last Week: 21

The Hornets had the indignity of losing to the Knicks last week but also notched a road win in Atlanta. Charlotte got some more bad news Sunday night when Nic Batum was diagnosed with tendinitis in his Achilles.

19. Los Angeles Lakers (31–38)
Last Week: 16

The Lakers are coming back down to earth a bit after their hot stretch in February and early March, with an injury to Brandon Ingram not helping matters. Last week, Andrew Sharp pondered how much of L.A.’s current success will carry over into next season.

18. Denver Nuggets (38–32)
Last Week: 12

Ugly, ugly loss for Denver against Memphis last week. The Nuggets are sliding precipitously in these rankings, thanks to defeats to the Grizzlies, Mavericks and Lakers in the last two weeks. You just can’t afford those kinds of losses during a playoff push. A knee injury to Gary Harris—expected to miss three or four games—could be the death knell of Denver’s postseason hopes.

?

17. Los Angeles Clippers (37–32)
Last Week: 8

As we predicted in the Week 22 rankings, the Clips’ schedule seems to be catching up to them. L.A. lost to Houston, OKC and Portland last week, and there will be few reprieves over the final few weeks of the season. Avery Bradley missing the rest of the season after sports hernia surgery certainly won’t help.

16. Miami Heat (37–33)
Last Week: 9

The Heat are perhaps the most volatile team in these rankings, thanks to their inconsistent nature throughout the season. Miami followed up its most inspiring stretch of the season with a deflating 1–2 road trip last week, which included its second loss of the season to the Kings. The Heat also just barely eked out a win over the Lakers to avoid going 0–3. I can’t imagine this team will move higher than eighth in the East.

15. Milwaukee Bucks (37–32)
Last Week: 19

Also not a lot of inspiring basketball being played by Milwaukee, who lost to the lowly Magic last week. The Bucks’ last three wins have all come against shameless tankers. The Malcolm Brogdon injury is really hurting Milwaukee, whose depth at guard is shallow.

14. Minnesota Timberwolves (40–31)
Last Week: 13

Tough losses back-to-back for the Wolves to finish last week after an impressive road win in Washington. Minny remains in good playoff standing thanks to Denver’s slide however, and the Wolves will play four of the league’s worst teams in their next six games.

On another note, I’m not sure how upset Andrew Wiggins actually is about being the third option here, but the Wolves would almost certainly be better right now with a Danny Green-type taking Wiggins’s minutes on the wing alongside Jimmy Butler and Karl Towns. I’m fascinated to see how this team deals with this situation moving forward.

13. Philadelphia 76ers (38–30)
Last Week: 11

Philly continues to lurk as a sleeping giant in the East. The 76ers are only 1 1/2 games behind the Cavs for third place, and they have the third-best net rating in the conference.

?

12. Cleveland Cavaliers (40–29)
Last Week: 17

The Cavs got through their six-game road trip with a 3–3 record, which is honestly a win for this team. It’s so hard to properly rank the Cavs, but this week Cleveland is No. 12 almost entirely on the strength of LeBron’s dunk on Jusuf Nurkic.

11. New Orleans Pelicans (40–30)
Last Week: 14

Big win against the Celtics on Sunday night for the Pelicans, who had lost four of five headed into the matchup. New Orleans’s latest starting lineup of Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, E’Twaun Moore, Emeka Okafor and Rajon Rondo has a net rating of 12.5, which is the best of their five most-used lineups of the season. That same lineup with Boogie Cousins in place of Okafor had a negative-2.9 net rating in 408 minutes together.

10. Indiana Pacers (40–30)
Last Week: 5

The Pacers closed out last week with back-to-back losses after a nice win In Philadelphia. Indy is in a tight battle with the Wizards and Sixers for homecourt in the first round, and whoever comes out ahead there could be the difference in a first-round playoff series.

9. Washington Wizards (40–30)
Last Week: 15

The Wizards rebounded from losses to Miami and Minnesota with a bonkers double-OT win over Boston and an important victory at home against the Pacers. How John Wall—who is inching closer to his return—fits back in here is going to be an interesting subplot moving forward.

8. San Antonio Spurs (40–30)
Last Week: 18

Three straight wins for the Spurs, who need every win in the bank with an upcoming stretch of six straight games against playoff teams. Still no Kawhi Leonard here, and it’s fair to wonder if he’ll even come back this season.

??

7. Boston Celtics (47–23)
Last Week: 6

Injuries are decimating this team, which can now only hope to have everyone (except Gordon Hayward) healthy for the playoffs. (Oh, and Marcus Smart may not return until late in the first or early in the second round.) Former Celtics are making more news than the current ones these days, with Rajon Rondo trashing Ray Allen’s book, and Glen Davis making a bizarre video to defend himself in light of a recent arrest.

6. Utah Jazz (40–30)
Last Week: 7

Another long win streak for the Jazz, who’ve won nine in a row to vault themselves into fifth-place in the West. Utah is only two games behind the Thunder for fourth and homecourt in the first round. This is a truly remarkable story—the Jazz have a real chance of making it just as far in the playoffs as they did with Gordon Hayward last year.

5. Golden State Warriors (53–17)
Last Week: 4

Injuries have led to some pretty hilarious lineups here lately, and will also probably keep the Warriors from catching Houston for the No. 1 seed. Golden State is still the prohibitive favorite in the West, but—and it’s a huge but—on some level you have to wonder if the recent swath of injuries are connected to the Dubs’ three consecutive long playoff runs.

4. Oklahoma City Thunder (43–29)
Last Week: 10

The Thunder leap six spots in the rankings this week. OKC has won six in a row, including an impressive victory over the Raptors in Toronto on Sunday. When Russell Westbrook is as committed to getting to the paint as he was in that game, the Thunder look so much better. Russ’s chemistry with Steven Adams is as good as any pick-and-roll pairing’s in the league. Meanwhile, the Corey Brewer signing may have saved this team’s season.

3. Toronto Raptors (52–18)
Last Week: 1

For all the talk about Toronto’s depth and if it will be as important come playoff time, people may be overlooking how good the Raptors’ starters have been. Toronto’s starting five of DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka, Jonas Valanciunas and OG Anunoby has the fourth-best net rating in the league among lineups that have played at least 300 minutes.

?

2. Houston Rockets (56–14)
Last Week: 2

The Rockets have shrugged off their loss in Toronto two Fridays ago to win five straight, the last four of which have come against teams fighting for a playoff spot in the West. Houston is a ruthless machine at this point, and four of their next six games are against lottery squads, meaning the Rockets have the inside track at finishing first in the West.

1. Portland Trail Blazers (44–26)
Last Week: 3

The Blazers have won 13 straight, so I can’t keep them out of the top spot any longer. I’m curious what long-term effects this streak (and this season) will have on Portland, but for now PDX fans should certainly enjoy the ride. The streak will certainly be tested this week, with games against the Rockets, Celtics and Thunder on deck. Portland could make a statement to the rest of the league if it comes out of that stretch unscathed.

<p>Welcome to Week 23 of the The Crossover’s NBA Power Rankings. We have another shakeup at the top this week, thanks to yet another crazy win streak in the West. Other familiar faces are also climbing the ladder, with the Spurs and Thunder coming on strong in recent games. Elsewhere, the Heat, Nuggets, and Bucks continue to frustrate, while the middle tier of the East is nearly impossible to separate.</p><p>The playoff races are far from settled on Each Coast, with seeding changing with seemingly every game. A win on the right night could give you homecourt, while an ill-timed loss could have you on the outside looking in. I’m finding the parity exciting because there’s meaningful basketball on every day, though it’s easy to question if any of this will matter once the postseason actually begins. Let’s move on from the existential questions, though, and see how each team stacks up headed into Week 23 of the season.</p><p><strong>30. Phoenix Suns (19–52)<br>Last Week: 29</strong></p><p><strong>29. Atlanta Hawks (20–50)<br>Last Week: 26</strong></p><p><strong>28. Dallas Mavericks (22–48)<br>Last Week: 24</strong></p><p><strong>27. Orlando Magic (21–49)<br>Last Week: 27</strong></p><p><strong>26. Chicago Bulls (24–45)<br>Last Week: 22</strong></p><p><strong>25. New York Knicks (25–45)<br>Last Week: 29</strong></p><p><strong>24. Memphis Grizzlies (19–50)<br>Last Week: 30</strong></p><p><strong>23. Brooklyn Nets (22–48)<br>Last Week: 25</strong></p><p><strong>22. Sacramento Kings (23–48)<br>Last Week: 23</strong><br>The Kings are 5–5 in their last 10 games, which is bad for their lottery hopes. The Grizzlies earned a much-needed win last week when they knocked off the Denver Nuggets—it was the kind of victory that shows Memphis still has pride but will continue to lose enough to ensure a solid chance at the No. 1 pick. Otherwise, things are as depressing here as usual. Enes Kanter made some noise when he said the Knicks aren’t tanking. And he’s kind of right! Players are obviously not trying to lose games. The Knicks just aren’t in a position to win very much with the players they have on the court.</p><p>Of course, with the NCAA Tournament taking place last weekend, I had a chance to scout some players for the NBA’s bottom feeders. I still know absolutely nothing about the draft, I only know one of these teams needs to select K.J. Maura from UMBC.</p><p><strong>21. Detroit Pistons (30–39)<br>Last Week: 20</strong><br>Detroit has lost three in a row. I wrote late last week <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/03/16/blake-griffin-trade-pistons-clippers-andre-drummond-chris-paul-deandre-jordan" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:why the Blake Griffin experiment hasn’t been working out" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">why the Blake Griffin experiment hasn’t been working out</a>.</p><p><strong>20. Charlotte Hornets (30–40)<br>Last Week: 21</strong><br>The Hornets had the indignity of losing to the Knicks last week but also notched a road win in Atlanta. Charlotte got some more bad news Sunday night when Nic Batum was <a href="http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/22827322/mri-reveals-chronic-tendinitis-left-achilles-hornets-nicolas-batum" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:diagnosed with tendinitis in his Achilles" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">diagnosed with tendinitis in his Achilles</a>.</p><p><strong>19. Los Angeles Lakers (31–38)<br>Last Week: 16</strong><br>The Lakers are coming back down to earth a bit after their hot stretch in February and early March, with an injury to Brandon Ingram not helping matters. Last week, Andrew Sharp pondered <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/03/16/lakers-free-agency-julius-randle-isaiah-thomas-lebron-james-paul-george" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:how much of L.A.’s current success will carry over into next season." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">how much of L.A.’s current success will carry over into next season.</a></p><p><strong>18. Denver Nuggets (38–32)<br>Last Week: 12</strong><br>Ugly, ugly loss for Denver against Memphis last week. The Nuggets are sliding precipitously in these rankings, thanks to defeats to the Grizzlies, Mavericks and Lakers in the last two weeks. You just can’t afford those kinds of losses during a playoff push. A knee injury to Gary Harris—expected to miss three or four games—could be the death knell of Denver’s postseason hopes.</p><p>?</p><p><strong>17. Los Angeles Clippers (37–32)<br>Last Week: 8</strong><br>As we predicted in the Week 22 rankings, the Clips’ schedule seems to be catching up to them. L.A. lost to Houston, OKC and Portland last week, and there will be few reprieves over the final few weeks of the season. Avery Bradley missing the rest of the season after sports hernia surgery certainly won’t help.</p><p><strong>16. Miami Heat (37–33)<br>Last Week: 9</strong><br>The Heat are perhaps the most volatile team in these rankings, thanks to their inconsistent nature throughout the season. Miami followed up its most inspiring stretch of the season with a deflating 1–2 road trip last week, which included its second loss of the season to the Kings. The Heat also just barely eked out a win over the Lakers to avoid going 0–3. I can’t imagine this team will move higher than eighth in the East. </p><p><strong>15. Milwaukee Bucks (37–32)<br>Last Week: 19</strong><br>Also not a lot of inspiring basketball being played by Milwaukee, who lost to the lowly Magic last week. The Bucks’ last three wins have all come against shameless tankers. The Malcolm Brogdon injury is really hurting Milwaukee, whose depth at guard is shallow.</p><p><strong>14. Minnesota Timberwolves (40–31)<br>Last Week: 13</strong><br>Tough losses back-to-back for the Wolves to finish last week after an impressive road win in Washington. Minny remains in good playoff standing thanks to Denver’s slide however, and the Wolves will play four of the league’s worst teams in their next six games.</p><p>On another note, I’m not sure <a href="https://twitter.com/DerekJamesNBA/status/973958329117626374" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:how upset Andrew Wiggins actually is" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">how upset Andrew Wiggins actually is</a> about being the third option here, but the Wolves would almost certainly be better right now with a Danny Green-type taking Wiggins’s minutes on the wing alongside Jimmy Butler and Karl Towns. I’m fascinated to see how this team deals with this situation moving forward.</p><p><strong>13. Philadelphia 76ers (38–30)<br>Last Week: 11</strong><br>Philly continues to lurk as a sleeping giant in the East. The 76ers are only 1 1/2 games behind the Cavs for third place, and they have the third-best net rating in the conference.</p><p>?</p><p><strong>12. Cleveland Cavaliers (40–29)<br>Last Week: 17</strong><br>The Cavs got through their six-game road trip with a 3–3 record, which is honestly a win for this team. It’s so hard to properly rank the Cavs, but this week Cleveland is No. 12 almost entirely on the strength of LeBron’s dunk on Jusuf Nurkic.</p><p><strong>11. New Orleans Pelicans (40–30)<br>Last Week: 14</strong><br>Big win against the Celtics on Sunday night for the Pelicans, who had lost four of five headed into the matchup. New Orleans’s latest starting lineup of Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, E’Twaun Moore, Emeka Okafor and Rajon Rondo has a net rating of 12.5, which is the best of their five most-used lineups of the season. That same lineup with Boogie Cousins in place of Okafor had a negative-2.9 net rating in 408 minutes together.</p><p><strong>10. Indiana Pacers (40–30)<br>Last Week: 5</strong><br>The Pacers closed out last week with back-to-back losses after a nice win In Philadelphia. Indy is in a tight battle with the Wizards and Sixers for homecourt in the first round, and whoever comes out ahead there could be the difference in a first-round playoff series.</p><p><strong>9. Washington Wizards (40–30)<br>Last Week: 15</strong><br>The Wizards rebounded from losses to Miami and Minnesota with a bonkers double-OT win over Boston and an important victory at home against the Pacers. How John Wall—who is inching closer to his return—fits back in here is going to be an interesting subplot moving forward.</p><p><strong>8. San Antonio Spurs (40–30)<br>Last Week: 18</strong><br>Three straight wins for the Spurs, who need every win in the bank with an upcoming stretch of six straight games against playoff teams. Still no Kawhi Leonard here, and it’s fair to wonder if he’ll even come back this season.</p><p>??</p><p><strong>7. Boston Celtics (47–23)<br>Last Week: 6</strong><br>Injuries are decimating this team, which can now only hope to have everyone (except Gordon Hayward) healthy for the playoffs. (Oh, and Marcus Smart may not return until late in the first or early in the second round.) Former Celtics are making more news than the current ones these days, with Rajon Rondo <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/03/18/rajon-rondo-ray-allen-book-celtics" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:trashing Ray Allen’s book" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">trashing Ray Allen’s book</a>, and Glen Davis <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/03/17/former-player-glen-davis" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:making a bizarre video to defend himself" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">making a bizarre video to defend himself</a> in light of a recent arrest.</p><p><strong>6. Utah Jazz (40–30)<br>Last Week: 7</strong><br>Another long win streak for the Jazz, who’ve won nine in a row to vault themselves into fifth-place in the West. Utah is only two games behind the Thunder for fourth and homecourt in the first round. This is a truly remarkable story—the Jazz have a real chance of making it just as far in the playoffs as they did with Gordon Hayward last year.</p><p><strong>5. Golden State Warriors (53–17)<br>Last Week: 4</strong><br>Injuries have led to some pretty hilarious lineups here lately, and will also probably keep the Warriors from catching Houston for the No. 1 seed. Golden State is still the prohibitive favorite in the West, but—and it’s a huge but—on some level you have to wonder if the recent swath of injuries are connected to the Dubs’ three consecutive long playoff runs.</p><p><strong>4. Oklahoma City Thunder (43–29)<br>Last Week: 10</strong><br>The Thunder leap six spots in the rankings this week. OKC has won six in a row, including an impressive victory over the Raptors in Toronto on Sunday. When Russell Westbrook is as committed to getting to the paint as he was in that game, the Thunder look so much better. Russ’s chemistry with Steven Adams is as good as any pick-and-roll pairing’s in the league. Meanwhile, the Corey Brewer signing may have saved this team’s season.</p><p><strong>3. Toronto Raptors (52–18)<br>Last Week: 1</strong><br>For all the talk about Toronto’s depth and if it will be as important come playoff time, people may be overlooking how good the Raptors’ starters have been. Toronto’s starting five of DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka, Jonas Valanciunas and OG Anunoby has the fourth-best net rating in the league among lineups that have played at least 300 minutes.</p><p>?</p><p><strong>2. Houston Rockets (56–14)<br>Last Week: 2</strong><br>The Rockets have shrugged off their loss in Toronto two Fridays ago to win five straight, the last four of which have come against teams fighting for a playoff spot in the West. Houston is a ruthless machine at this point, and four of their next six games are against lottery squads, meaning the Rockets have the inside track at finishing first in the West.</p><p><strong>1. Portland Trail Blazers (44–26)<br>Last Week: 3</strong><br>The Blazers have won 13 straight, so I can’t keep them out of the top spot any longer. I’m curious what long-term effects this streak (and this season) will have on Portland, but for now PDX fans should certainly enjoy the ride. The streak will certainly be tested this week, with games against the Rockets, Celtics and Thunder on deck. Portland could make a statement to the rest of the league if it comes out of that stretch unscathed.</p>
NBA Power Rankings: The Blazers Are Ready for Their Close-Up

Welcome to Week 23 of the The Crossover’s NBA Power Rankings. We have another shakeup at the top this week, thanks to yet another crazy win streak in the West. Other familiar faces are also climbing the ladder, with the Spurs and Thunder coming on strong in recent games. Elsewhere, the Heat, Nuggets, and Bucks continue to frustrate, while the middle tier of the East is nearly impossible to separate.

The playoff races are far from settled on Each Coast, with seeding changing with seemingly every game. A win on the right night could give you homecourt, while an ill-timed loss could have you on the outside looking in. I’m finding the parity exciting because there’s meaningful basketball on every day, though it’s easy to question if any of this will matter once the postseason actually begins. Let’s move on from the existential questions, though, and see how each team stacks up headed into Week 23 of the season.

30. Phoenix Suns (19–52)
Last Week: 29

29. Atlanta Hawks (20–50)
Last Week: 26

28. Dallas Mavericks (22–48)
Last Week: 24

27. Orlando Magic (21–49)
Last Week: 27

26. Chicago Bulls (24–45)
Last Week: 22

25. New York Knicks (25–45)
Last Week: 29

24. Memphis Grizzlies (19–50)
Last Week: 30

23. Brooklyn Nets (22–48)
Last Week: 25

22. Sacramento Kings (23–48)
Last Week: 23

The Kings are 5–5 in their last 10 games, which is bad for their lottery hopes. The Grizzlies earned a much-needed win last week when they knocked off the Denver Nuggets—it was the kind of victory that shows Memphis still has pride but will continue to lose enough to ensure a solid chance at the No. 1 pick. Otherwise, things are as depressing here as usual. Enes Kanter made some noise when he said the Knicks aren’t tanking. And he’s kind of right! Players are obviously not trying to lose games. The Knicks just aren’t in a position to win very much with the players they have on the court.

Of course, with the NCAA Tournament taking place last weekend, I had a chance to scout some players for the NBA’s bottom feeders. I still know absolutely nothing about the draft, I only know one of these teams needs to select K.J. Maura from UMBC.

21. Detroit Pistons (30–39)
Last Week: 20

Detroit has lost three in a row. I wrote late last week why the Blake Griffin experiment hasn’t been working out.

20. Charlotte Hornets (30–40)
Last Week: 21

The Hornets had the indignity of losing to the Knicks last week but also notched a road win in Atlanta. Charlotte got some more bad news Sunday night when Nic Batum was diagnosed with tendinitis in his Achilles.

19. Los Angeles Lakers (31–38)
Last Week: 16

The Lakers are coming back down to earth a bit after their hot stretch in February and early March, with an injury to Brandon Ingram not helping matters. Last week, Andrew Sharp pondered how much of L.A.’s current success will carry over into next season.

18. Denver Nuggets (38–32)
Last Week: 12

Ugly, ugly loss for Denver against Memphis last week. The Nuggets are sliding precipitously in these rankings, thanks to defeats to the Grizzlies, Mavericks and Lakers in the last two weeks. You just can’t afford those kinds of losses during a playoff push. A knee injury to Gary Harris—expected to miss three or four games—could be the death knell of Denver’s postseason hopes.

?

17. Los Angeles Clippers (37–32)
Last Week: 8

As we predicted in the Week 22 rankings, the Clips’ schedule seems to be catching up to them. L.A. lost to Houston, OKC and Portland last week, and there will be few reprieves over the final few weeks of the season. Avery Bradley missing the rest of the season after sports hernia surgery certainly won’t help.

16. Miami Heat (37–33)
Last Week: 9

The Heat are perhaps the most volatile team in these rankings, thanks to their inconsistent nature throughout the season. Miami followed up its most inspiring stretch of the season with a deflating 1–2 road trip last week, which included its second loss of the season to the Kings. The Heat also just barely eked out a win over the Lakers to avoid going 0–3. I can’t imagine this team will move higher than eighth in the East.

15. Milwaukee Bucks (37–32)
Last Week: 19

Also not a lot of inspiring basketball being played by Milwaukee, who lost to the lowly Magic last week. The Bucks’ last three wins have all come against shameless tankers. The Malcolm Brogdon injury is really hurting Milwaukee, whose depth at guard is shallow.

14. Minnesota Timberwolves (40–31)
Last Week: 13

Tough losses back-to-back for the Wolves to finish last week after an impressive road win in Washington. Minny remains in good playoff standing thanks to Denver’s slide however, and the Wolves will play four of the league’s worst teams in their next six games.

On another note, I’m not sure how upset Andrew Wiggins actually is about being the third option here, but the Wolves would almost certainly be better right now with a Danny Green-type taking Wiggins’s minutes on the wing alongside Jimmy Butler and Karl Towns. I’m fascinated to see how this team deals with this situation moving forward.

13. Philadelphia 76ers (38–30)
Last Week: 11

Philly continues to lurk as a sleeping giant in the East. The 76ers are only 1 1/2 games behind the Cavs for third place, and they have the third-best net rating in the conference.

?

12. Cleveland Cavaliers (40–29)
Last Week: 17

The Cavs got through their six-game road trip with a 3–3 record, which is honestly a win for this team. It’s so hard to properly rank the Cavs, but this week Cleveland is No. 12 almost entirely on the strength of LeBron’s dunk on Jusuf Nurkic.

11. New Orleans Pelicans (40–30)
Last Week: 14

Big win against the Celtics on Sunday night for the Pelicans, who had lost four of five headed into the matchup. New Orleans’s latest starting lineup of Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, E’Twaun Moore, Emeka Okafor and Rajon Rondo has a net rating of 12.5, which is the best of their five most-used lineups of the season. That same lineup with Boogie Cousins in place of Okafor had a negative-2.9 net rating in 408 minutes together.

10. Indiana Pacers (40–30)
Last Week: 5

The Pacers closed out last week with back-to-back losses after a nice win In Philadelphia. Indy is in a tight battle with the Wizards and Sixers for homecourt in the first round, and whoever comes out ahead there could be the difference in a first-round playoff series.

9. Washington Wizards (40–30)
Last Week: 15

The Wizards rebounded from losses to Miami and Minnesota with a bonkers double-OT win over Boston and an important victory at home against the Pacers. How John Wall—who is inching closer to his return—fits back in here is going to be an interesting subplot moving forward.

8. San Antonio Spurs (40–30)
Last Week: 18

Three straight wins for the Spurs, who need every win in the bank with an upcoming stretch of six straight games against playoff teams. Still no Kawhi Leonard here, and it’s fair to wonder if he’ll even come back this season.

??

7. Boston Celtics (47–23)
Last Week: 6

Injuries are decimating this team, which can now only hope to have everyone (except Gordon Hayward) healthy for the playoffs. (Oh, and Marcus Smart may not return until late in the first or early in the second round.) Former Celtics are making more news than the current ones these days, with Rajon Rondo trashing Ray Allen’s book, and Glen Davis making a bizarre video to defend himself in light of a recent arrest.

6. Utah Jazz (40–30)
Last Week: 7

Another long win streak for the Jazz, who’ve won nine in a row to vault themselves into fifth-place in the West. Utah is only two games behind the Thunder for fourth and homecourt in the first round. This is a truly remarkable story—the Jazz have a real chance of making it just as far in the playoffs as they did with Gordon Hayward last year.

5. Golden State Warriors (53–17)
Last Week: 4

Injuries have led to some pretty hilarious lineups here lately, and will also probably keep the Warriors from catching Houston for the No. 1 seed. Golden State is still the prohibitive favorite in the West, but—and it’s a huge but—on some level you have to wonder if the recent swath of injuries are connected to the Dubs’ three consecutive long playoff runs.

4. Oklahoma City Thunder (43–29)
Last Week: 10

The Thunder leap six spots in the rankings this week. OKC has won six in a row, including an impressive victory over the Raptors in Toronto on Sunday. When Russell Westbrook is as committed to getting to the paint as he was in that game, the Thunder look so much better. Russ’s chemistry with Steven Adams is as good as any pick-and-roll pairing’s in the league. Meanwhile, the Corey Brewer signing may have saved this team’s season.

3. Toronto Raptors (52–18)
Last Week: 1

For all the talk about Toronto’s depth and if it will be as important come playoff time, people may be overlooking how good the Raptors’ starters have been. Toronto’s starting five of DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka, Jonas Valanciunas and OG Anunoby has the fourth-best net rating in the league among lineups that have played at least 300 minutes.

?

2. Houston Rockets (56–14)
Last Week: 2

The Rockets have shrugged off their loss in Toronto two Fridays ago to win five straight, the last four of which have come against teams fighting for a playoff spot in the West. Houston is a ruthless machine at this point, and four of their next six games are against lottery squads, meaning the Rockets have the inside track at finishing first in the West.

1. Portland Trail Blazers (44–26)
Last Week: 3

The Blazers have won 13 straight, so I can’t keep them out of the top spot any longer. I’m curious what long-term effects this streak (and this season) will have on Portland, but for now PDX fans should certainly enjoy the ride. The streak will certainly be tested this week, with games against the Rockets, Celtics and Thunder on deck. Portland could make a statement to the rest of the league if it comes out of that stretch unscathed.

<p>Welcome to Week 23 of the The Crossover’s NBA Power Rankings. We have another shakeup at the top this week, thanks to yet another crazy win streak in the West. Other familiar faces are also climbing the ladder, with the Spurs and Thunder coming on strong in recent games. Elsewhere, the Heat, Nuggets, and Bucks continue to frustrate, while the middle tier of the East is nearly impossible to separate.</p><p>The playoff races are far from settled on Each Coast, with seeding changing with seemingly every game. A win on the right night could give you homecourt, while an ill-timed loss could have you on the outside looking in. I’m finding the parity exciting because there’s meaningful basketball on every day, though it’s easy to question if any of this will matter once the postseason actually begins. Let’s move on from the existential questions, though, and see how each team stacks up headed into Week 23 of the season.</p><p><strong>30. Phoenix Suns (19–52)<br>Last Week: 29</strong></p><p><strong>29. Atlanta Hawks (20–50)<br>Last Week: 26</strong></p><p><strong>28. Dallas Mavericks (22–48)<br>Last Week: 24</strong></p><p><strong>27. Orlando Magic (21–49)<br>Last Week: 27</strong></p><p><strong>26. Chicago Bulls (24–45)<br>Last Week: 22</strong></p><p><strong>25. New York Knicks (25–45)<br>Last Week: 29</strong></p><p><strong>24. Memphis Grizzlies (19–50)<br>Last Week: 30</strong></p><p><strong>23. Brooklyn Nets (22–48)<br>Last Week: 25</strong></p><p><strong>22. Sacramento Kings (23–48)<br>Last Week: 23</strong><br>The Kings are 5–5 in their last 10 games, which is bad for their lottery hopes. The Grizzlies earned a much-needed win last week when they knocked off the Denver Nuggets—it was the kind of victory that shows Memphis still has pride but will continue to lose enough to ensure a solid chance at the No. 1 pick. Otherwise, things are as depressing here as usual. Enes Kanter made some noise when he said the Knicks aren’t tanking. And he’s kind of right! Players are obviously not trying to lose games. The Knicks just aren’t in a position to win very much with the players they have on the court.</p><p>Of course, with the NCAA Tournament taking place last weekend, I had a chance to scout some players for the NBA’s bottom feeders. I still know absolutely nothing about the draft, I only know one of these teams needs to select K.J. Maura from UMBC.</p><p><strong>21. Detroit Pistons (30–39)<br>Last Week: 20</strong><br>Detroit has lost three in a row. I wrote late last week <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/03/16/blake-griffin-trade-pistons-clippers-andre-drummond-chris-paul-deandre-jordan" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:why the Blake Griffin experiment hasn’t been working out" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">why the Blake Griffin experiment hasn’t been working out</a>.</p><p><strong>20. Charlotte Hornets (30–40)<br>Last Week: 21</strong><br>The Hornets had the indignity of losing to the Knicks last week but also notched a road win in Atlanta. Charlotte got some more bad news Sunday night when Nic Batum was <a href="http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/22827322/mri-reveals-chronic-tendinitis-left-achilles-hornets-nicolas-batum" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:diagnosed with tendinitis in his Achilles" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">diagnosed with tendinitis in his Achilles</a>.</p><p><strong>19. Los Angeles Lakers (31–38)<br>Last Week: 16</strong><br>The Lakers are coming back down to earth a bit after their hot stretch in February and early March, with an injury to Brandon Ingram not helping matters. Last week, Andrew Sharp pondered <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/03/16/lakers-free-agency-julius-randle-isaiah-thomas-lebron-james-paul-george" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:how much of L.A.’s current success will carry over into next season." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">how much of L.A.’s current success will carry over into next season.</a></p><p><strong>18. Denver Nuggets (38–32)<br>Last Week: 12</strong><br>Ugly, ugly loss for Denver against Memphis last week. The Nuggets are sliding precipitously in these rankings, thanks to defeats to the Grizzlies, Mavericks and Lakers in the last two weeks. You just can’t afford those kinds of losses during a playoff push. A knee injury to Gary Harris—expected to miss three or four games—could be the death knell of Denver’s postseason hopes.</p><p>?</p><p><strong>17. Los Angeles Clippers (37–32)<br>Last Week: 8</strong><br>As we predicted in the Week 22 rankings, the Clips’ schedule seems to be catching up to them. L.A. lost to Houston, OKC and Portland last week, and there will be few reprieves over the final few weeks of the season. Avery Bradley missing the rest of the season after sports hernia surgery certainly won’t help.</p><p><strong>16. Miami Heat (37–33)<br>Last Week: 9</strong><br>The Heat are perhaps the most volatile team in these rankings, thanks to their inconsistent nature throughout the season. Miami followed up its most inspiring stretch of the season with a deflating 1–2 road trip last week, which included its second loss of the season to the Kings. The Heat also just barely eked out a win over the Lakers to avoid going 0–3. I can’t imagine this team will move higher than eighth in the East. </p><p><strong>15. Milwaukee Bucks (37–32)<br>Last Week: 19</strong><br>Also not a lot of inspiring basketball being played by Milwaukee, who lost to the lowly Magic last week. The Bucks’ last three wins have all come against shameless tankers. The Malcolm Brogdon injury is really hurting Milwaukee, whose depth at guard is shallow.</p><p><strong>14. Minnesota Timberwolves (40–31)<br>Last Week: 13</strong><br>Tough losses back-to-back for the Wolves to finish last week after an impressive road win in Washington. Minny remains in good playoff standing thanks to Denver’s slide however, and the Wolves will play four of the league’s worst teams in their next six games.</p><p>On another note, I’m not sure <a href="https://twitter.com/DerekJamesNBA/status/973958329117626374" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:how upset Andrew Wiggins actually is" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">how upset Andrew Wiggins actually is</a> about being the third option here, but the Wolves would almost certainly be better right now with a Danny Green-type taking Wiggins’s minutes on the wing alongside Jimmy Butler and Karl Towns. I’m fascinated to see how this team deals with this situation moving forward.</p><p><strong>13. Philadelphia 76ers (38–30)<br>Last Week: 11</strong><br>Philly continues to lurk as a sleeping giant in the East. The 76ers are only 1 1/2 games behind the Cavs for third place, and they have the third-best net rating in the conference.</p><p>?</p><p><strong>12. Cleveland Cavaliers (40–29)<br>Last Week: 17</strong><br>The Cavs got through their six-game road trip with a 3–3 record, which is honestly a win for this team. It’s so hard to properly rank the Cavs, but this week Cleveland is No. 12 almost entirely on the strength of LeBron’s dunk on Jusuf Nurkic.</p><p><strong>11. New Orleans Pelicans (40–30)<br>Last Week: 14</strong><br>Big win against the Celtics on Sunday night for the Pelicans, who had lost four of five headed into the matchup. New Orleans’s latest starting lineup of Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, E’Twaun Moore, Emeka Okafor and Rajon Rondo has a net rating of 12.5, which is the best of their five most-used lineups of the season. That same lineup with Boogie Cousins in place of Okafor had a negative-2.9 net rating in 408 minutes together.</p><p><strong>10. Indiana Pacers (40–30)<br>Last Week: 5</strong><br>The Pacers closed out last week with back-to-back losses after a nice win In Philadelphia. Indy is in a tight battle with the Wizards and Sixers for homecourt in the first round, and whoever comes out ahead there could be the difference in a first-round playoff series.</p><p><strong>9. Washington Wizards (40–30)<br>Last Week: 15</strong><br>The Wizards rebounded from losses to Miami and Minnesota with a bonkers double-OT win over Boston and an important victory at home against the Pacers. How John Wall—who is inching closer to his return—fits back in here is going to be an interesting subplot moving forward.</p><p><strong>8. San Antonio Spurs (40–30)<br>Last Week: 18</strong><br>Three straight wins for the Spurs, who need every win in the bank with an upcoming stretch of six straight games against playoff teams. Still no Kawhi Leonard here, and it’s fair to wonder if he’ll even come back this season.</p><p>??</p><p><strong>7. Boston Celtics (47–23)<br>Last Week: 6</strong><br>Injuries are decimating this team, which can now only hope to have everyone (except Gordon Hayward) healthy for the playoffs. (Oh, and Marcus Smart may not return until late in the first or early in the second round.) Former Celtics are making more news than the current ones these days, with Rajon Rondo <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/03/18/rajon-rondo-ray-allen-book-celtics" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:trashing Ray Allen’s book" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">trashing Ray Allen’s book</a>, and Glen Davis <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/03/17/former-player-glen-davis" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:making a bizarre video to defend himself" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">making a bizarre video to defend himself</a> in light of a recent arrest.</p><p><strong>6. Utah Jazz (40–30)<br>Last Week: 7</strong><br>Another long win streak for the Jazz, who’ve won nine in a row to vault themselves into fifth-place in the West. Utah is only two games behind the Thunder for fourth and homecourt in the first round. This is a truly remarkable story—the Jazz have a real chance of making it just as far in the playoffs as they did with Gordon Hayward last year.</p><p><strong>5. Golden State Warriors (53–17)<br>Last Week: 4</strong><br>Injuries have led to some pretty hilarious lineups here lately, and will also probably keep the Warriors from catching Houston for the No. 1 seed. Golden State is still the prohibitive favorite in the West, but—and it’s a huge but—on some level you have to wonder if the recent swath of injuries are connected to the Dubs’ three consecutive long playoff runs.</p><p><strong>4. Oklahoma City Thunder (43–29)<br>Last Week: 10</strong><br>The Thunder leap six spots in the rankings this week. OKC has won six in a row, including an impressive victory over the Raptors in Toronto on Sunday. When Russell Westbrook is as committed to getting to the paint as he was in that game, the Thunder look so much better. Russ’s chemistry with Steven Adams is as good as any pick-and-roll pairing’s in the league. Meanwhile, the Corey Brewer signing may have saved this team’s season.</p><p><strong>3. Toronto Raptors (52–18)<br>Last Week: 1</strong><br>For all the talk about Toronto’s depth and if it will be as important come playoff time, people may be overlooking how good the Raptors’ starters have been. Toronto’s starting five of DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka, Jonas Valanciunas and OG Anunoby has the fourth-best net rating in the league among lineups that have played at least 300 minutes.</p><p>?</p><p><strong>2. Houston Rockets (56–14)<br>Last Week: 2</strong><br>The Rockets have shrugged off their loss in Toronto two Fridays ago to win five straight, the last four of which have come against teams fighting for a playoff spot in the West. Houston is a ruthless machine at this point, and four of their next six games are against lottery squads, meaning the Rockets have the inside track at finishing first in the West.</p><p><strong>1. Portland Trail Blazers (44–26)<br>Last Week: 3</strong><br>The Blazers have won 13 straight, so I can’t keep them out of the top spot any longer. I’m curious what long-term effects this streak (and this season) will have on Portland, but for now PDX fans should certainly enjoy the ride. The streak will certainly be tested this week, with games against the Rockets, Celtics and Thunder on deck. Portland could make a statement to the rest of the league if it comes out of that stretch unscathed.</p>
NBA Power Rankings: The Blazers Are Ready for Their Close-Up

Welcome to Week 23 of the The Crossover’s NBA Power Rankings. We have another shakeup at the top this week, thanks to yet another crazy win streak in the West. Other familiar faces are also climbing the ladder, with the Spurs and Thunder coming on strong in recent games. Elsewhere, the Heat, Nuggets, and Bucks continue to frustrate, while the middle tier of the East is nearly impossible to separate.

The playoff races are far from settled on Each Coast, with seeding changing with seemingly every game. A win on the right night could give you homecourt, while an ill-timed loss could have you on the outside looking in. I’m finding the parity exciting because there’s meaningful basketball on every day, though it’s easy to question if any of this will matter once the postseason actually begins. Let’s move on from the existential questions, though, and see how each team stacks up headed into Week 23 of the season.

30. Phoenix Suns (19–52)
Last Week: 29

29. Atlanta Hawks (20–50)
Last Week: 26

28. Dallas Mavericks (22–48)
Last Week: 24

27. Orlando Magic (21–49)
Last Week: 27

26. Chicago Bulls (24–45)
Last Week: 22

25. New York Knicks (25–45)
Last Week: 29

24. Memphis Grizzlies (19–50)
Last Week: 30

23. Brooklyn Nets (22–48)
Last Week: 25

22. Sacramento Kings (23–48)
Last Week: 23

The Kings are 5–5 in their last 10 games, which is bad for their lottery hopes. The Grizzlies earned a much-needed win last week when they knocked off the Denver Nuggets—it was the kind of victory that shows Memphis still has pride but will continue to lose enough to ensure a solid chance at the No. 1 pick. Otherwise, things are as depressing here as usual. Enes Kanter made some noise when he said the Knicks aren’t tanking. And he’s kind of right! Players are obviously not trying to lose games. The Knicks just aren’t in a position to win very much with the players they have on the court.

Of course, with the NCAA Tournament taking place last weekend, I had a chance to scout some players for the NBA’s bottom feeders. I still know absolutely nothing about the draft, I only know one of these teams needs to select K.J. Maura from UMBC.

21. Detroit Pistons (30–39)
Last Week: 20

Detroit has lost three in a row. I wrote late last week why the Blake Griffin experiment hasn’t been working out.

20. Charlotte Hornets (30–40)
Last Week: 21

The Hornets had the indignity of losing to the Knicks last week but also notched a road win in Atlanta. Charlotte got some more bad news Sunday night when Nic Batum was diagnosed with tendinitis in his Achilles.

19. Los Angeles Lakers (31–38)
Last Week: 16

The Lakers are coming back down to earth a bit after their hot stretch in February and early March, with an injury to Brandon Ingram not helping matters. Last week, Andrew Sharp pondered how much of L.A.’s current success will carry over into next season.

18. Denver Nuggets (38–32)
Last Week: 12

Ugly, ugly loss for Denver against Memphis last week. The Nuggets are sliding precipitously in these rankings, thanks to defeats to the Grizzlies, Mavericks and Lakers in the last two weeks. You just can’t afford those kinds of losses during a playoff push. A knee injury to Gary Harris—expected to miss three or four games—could be the death knell of Denver’s postseason hopes.

?

17. Los Angeles Clippers (37–32)
Last Week: 8

As we predicted in the Week 22 rankings, the Clips’ schedule seems to be catching up to them. L.A. lost to Houston, OKC and Portland last week, and there will be few reprieves over the final few weeks of the season. Avery Bradley missing the rest of the season after sports hernia surgery certainly won’t help.

16. Miami Heat (37–33)
Last Week: 9

The Heat are perhaps the most volatile team in these rankings, thanks to their inconsistent nature throughout the season. Miami followed up its most inspiring stretch of the season with a deflating 1–2 road trip last week, which included its second loss of the season to the Kings. The Heat also just barely eked out a win over the Lakers to avoid going 0–3. I can’t imagine this team will move higher than eighth in the East.

15. Milwaukee Bucks (37–32)
Last Week: 19

Also not a lot of inspiring basketball being played by Milwaukee, who lost to the lowly Magic last week. The Bucks’ last three wins have all come against shameless tankers. The Malcolm Brogdon injury is really hurting Milwaukee, whose depth at guard is shallow.

14. Minnesota Timberwolves (40–31)
Last Week: 13

Tough losses back-to-back for the Wolves to finish last week after an impressive road win in Washington. Minny remains in good playoff standing thanks to Denver’s slide however, and the Wolves will play four of the league’s worst teams in their next six games.

On another note, I’m not sure how upset Andrew Wiggins actually is about being the third option here, but the Wolves would almost certainly be better right now with a Danny Green-type taking Wiggins’s minutes on the wing alongside Jimmy Butler and Karl Towns. I’m fascinated to see how this team deals with this situation moving forward.

13. Philadelphia 76ers (38–30)
Last Week: 11

Philly continues to lurk as a sleeping giant in the East. The 76ers are only 1 1/2 games behind the Cavs for third place, and they have the third-best net rating in the conference.

?

12. Cleveland Cavaliers (40–29)
Last Week: 17

The Cavs got through their six-game road trip with a 3–3 record, which is honestly a win for this team. It’s so hard to properly rank the Cavs, but this week Cleveland is No. 12 almost entirely on the strength of LeBron’s dunk on Jusuf Nurkic.

11. New Orleans Pelicans (40–30)
Last Week: 14

Big win against the Celtics on Sunday night for the Pelicans, who had lost four of five headed into the matchup. New Orleans’s latest starting lineup of Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, E’Twaun Moore, Emeka Okafor and Rajon Rondo has a net rating of 12.5, which is the best of their five most-used lineups of the season. That same lineup with Boogie Cousins in place of Okafor had a negative-2.9 net rating in 408 minutes together.

10. Indiana Pacers (40–30)
Last Week: 5

The Pacers closed out last week with back-to-back losses after a nice win In Philadelphia. Indy is in a tight battle with the Wizards and Sixers for homecourt in the first round, and whoever comes out ahead there could be the difference in a first-round playoff series.

9. Washington Wizards (40–30)
Last Week: 15

The Wizards rebounded from losses to Miami and Minnesota with a bonkers double-OT win over Boston and an important victory at home against the Pacers. How John Wall—who is inching closer to his return—fits back in here is going to be an interesting subplot moving forward.

8. San Antonio Spurs (40–30)
Last Week: 18

Three straight wins for the Spurs, who need every win in the bank with an upcoming stretch of six straight games against playoff teams. Still no Kawhi Leonard here, and it’s fair to wonder if he’ll even come back this season.

??

7. Boston Celtics (47–23)
Last Week: 6

Injuries are decimating this team, which can now only hope to have everyone (except Gordon Hayward) healthy for the playoffs. (Oh, and Marcus Smart may not return until late in the first or early in the second round.) Former Celtics are making more news than the current ones these days, with Rajon Rondo trashing Ray Allen’s book, and Glen Davis making a bizarre video to defend himself in light of a recent arrest.

6. Utah Jazz (40–30)
Last Week: 7

Another long win streak for the Jazz, who’ve won nine in a row to vault themselves into fifth-place in the West. Utah is only two games behind the Thunder for fourth and homecourt in the first round. This is a truly remarkable story—the Jazz have a real chance of making it just as far in the playoffs as they did with Gordon Hayward last year.

5. Golden State Warriors (53–17)
Last Week: 4

Injuries have led to some pretty hilarious lineups here lately, and will also probably keep the Warriors from catching Houston for the No. 1 seed. Golden State is still the prohibitive favorite in the West, but—and it’s a huge but—on some level you have to wonder if the recent swath of injuries are connected to the Dubs’ three consecutive long playoff runs.

4. Oklahoma City Thunder (43–29)
Last Week: 10

The Thunder leap six spots in the rankings this week. OKC has won six in a row, including an impressive victory over the Raptors in Toronto on Sunday. When Russell Westbrook is as committed to getting to the paint as he was in that game, the Thunder look so much better. Russ’s chemistry with Steven Adams is as good as any pick-and-roll pairing’s in the league. Meanwhile, the Corey Brewer signing may have saved this team’s season.

3. Toronto Raptors (52–18)
Last Week: 1

For all the talk about Toronto’s depth and if it will be as important come playoff time, people may be overlooking how good the Raptors’ starters have been. Toronto’s starting five of DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka, Jonas Valanciunas and OG Anunoby has the fourth-best net rating in the league among lineups that have played at least 300 minutes.

?

2. Houston Rockets (56–14)
Last Week: 2

The Rockets have shrugged off their loss in Toronto two Fridays ago to win five straight, the last four of which have come against teams fighting for a playoff spot in the West. Houston is a ruthless machine at this point, and four of their next six games are against lottery squads, meaning the Rockets have the inside track at finishing first in the West.

1. Portland Trail Blazers (44–26)
Last Week: 3

The Blazers have won 13 straight, so I can’t keep them out of the top spot any longer. I’m curious what long-term effects this streak (and this season) will have on Portland, but for now PDX fans should certainly enjoy the ride. The streak will certainly be tested this week, with games against the Rockets, Celtics and Thunder on deck. Portland could make a statement to the rest of the league if it comes out of that stretch unscathed.

<p>Week 22 of the NBA season is here, and we’re seeing a shake-up at the top of the Power Rankings. Drake Night was a successful endeavor in Toronto, as the <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/03/09/rockets-lose-win-streak-loss-raptors" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Raptors knocked off the Rockets" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Raptors knocked off the Rockets</a> in one of the best games of the season last week. Elsewhere, the Blazers and Jazz are absolutely rolling, while the Warriors are struggling without Steph Curry. Nearly a third of the league is completely tanking, while the middle 16 teams are packed together tightly.</p><p>You may be tempted to take your eye off the NBA as <a href="https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2018/03/11/ncaa-tournament-bracket-regional-breakdown-march-madness-upset-picks" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:March Madness ramps up" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">March Madness ramps up</a>, but there will be a ton of intriguing basketball played this week and the rest of the season. Let’s see where each team stands headed into Week 22.</p><p><strong>30. Memphis Grizzlies (18–48)<br>Last Week: 30</strong></p><p><strong>29. New York Knicks (24–43)<br>Last Week: 23</strong></p><p><strong>28. Phoenix Suns (19–49)<br>Last Week: 29</strong></p><p><strong>27. Orlando Magic (20–47)<br>Last Week: 24</strong></p><p><strong>26. Atlanta Hawks (20–47)<br>Last Week: 27</strong></p><p><strong>25. Brooklyn Nets (21–46)<br>Last Week: 26</strong></p><p><strong>24. Dallas Mavericks (21–46)<br>Last Week: 28</strong></p><p><strong>23. Sacramento Kings (21–46)<br>Last Week: 25</strong></p><p><strong>22. Chicago Bulls (23–43)<br>Last Week: 22</strong></p><p>The Bulls and Knicks have fully joined the ranks of the blurbless and the league’s bottom nine teams have separated themselves from the rest of the pack. The Grizzlies have somehow lost a whopping 17 games in a row despite having Mario Chalmers on the team. The Knicks are playing catch up to the rest of the tankers by having dropped seven straight themselves. The Suns are keeping the fight for the No. 1 pick interesting by staying only one game better than Memphis.</p><p><strong>21. Charlotte Hornets (29–38)<br>Last Week: 20</strong><br>Dwight Howard scored 30 points and collected 12 boards in Charlotte’s win over Phoenix on Sunday. Howard has quietly put together a very solid season. The Hornets are 5.8 points per 100 possessions better with Dwight on the court, and surprisingly, he’s been more impactful on offense than defense. Howard could have a little bit of trade value come the summer.</p><p><strong>20. Detroit Pistons (30–36)<br>Last Week: 21</strong><br>A somewhat troubling sign for the Pistons: Blake Griffin’s scoring, rebounding and efficiency have all dropped in Detroit compared to what he did in Los Angeles earlier this season.</p><p><strong>19. Milwaukee Bucks (35–31)<br>Last Week: 19</strong><br>Milwaukee plays three teams from the bottom eight this week. Any losses would be inexcusable.</p><p><strong>18. San Antonio Spurs (37–29)<br>Last Week: 14</strong><br>The Spurs are going to finish without a winning record on the road this season, the first time that’s happened in 20 years. Kawhi Leonard will reportedly return this week, and his services will be needed in what’s become a very tight race for the playoffs.</p><p><strong>17. Cleveland Cavaliers (38–28)<br>Last Week: 13</strong><br><em>The Cavs’ defensive rating before the All-Star break: 109.8</em></p><p><em>The Cavs’ defensive rating after the All-Star break: 109.3</em></p><p>No matter who has been on the roster, this team hasn’t defended well enough to be taken seriously as a title contender.</p><p><strong>16. Los Angeles Lakers (30–36) <br>Last Week: 12</strong><br>The Lakers are playing spoiler right now, and no team fighting for a playoff spot will look forward to playing these guys. L.A. looks like a better free-agent destination with each win. Monday’s showdown with the Nuggets should be fun.</p><p>?</p><p><strong>15. Washington Wizards (38–29)<br>Last Week: 17</strong><br>The ‘Zards were blown out by Miami on Saturday, and their next five games are against fellow playoff teams, four of whom are very desperate.</p><p><strong>14. New Orleans Pelicans (38–28)<br>Last Week: 5</strong><br>The Pelicans have lost two in a row after their 10 game win streak. Anthony Davis returned from a one-game absence to post a triple-double against the Jazz but it wasn’t enough. The schedule doesn’t get easier either, with matchups with the Spurs, Rockets and Celtics on the horizon.</p><p><strong>13. Minnesota Timberwolves (39–29)<br>Last Week: 16</strong><br>Big win for the Wolves over the Stephen Curry-less Warriors on Sunday. Minnesota is hanging on without Jimmy Butler, whose <a href="https://twitter.com/JimmyButler/status/972955384259342336" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:tweets have improved significantly" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">tweets have improved significantly</a> since his injury.</p><p><strong>12. Denver Nuggets (37–30)<br>Last Week: 8</strong><br>The Nuggets rebounded from Nikola Jokic’s fourth-quarter benching to win their last two games of Week 21. Still, if the playoffs started today, Denver would be on the outside looking in. The Nuggets’ defense has been the second-worst in the league since the All-Star break.</p><p><strong>11. Philadelphia 76ers (36–29)<br>Last Week: 9</strong><br>The 76ers have a very manageable schedule to close out this month. Philly has a legitimate chance to have homecourt in a first-round playoff series.</p><p><strong>10. Oklahoma City Thunder (39–29)<br>Last Week: 15</strong><br>Corey Brewer could end up being the Thunder’s best Andre Roberson replacement. The Russ-PG-Melo-Steven Adams-Brewer group has a 13.2 net rating in 40 minutes over three games. The defense has taken a hit, but Brewer is helping the offense.</p><p><strong>9. Miami Heat (36–31)<br>Last Week: 18</strong><br>The Heat seem to be regaining their stride, going 3–1 last week, with the only loss coming in OT on the road. Miami has the second-best net rating in the East over the last 10 games. Oh, and it was slightly interesting to see the team’s offense take off without Hassan Whiteside in a blowout win over the Wizards.</p><p><strong>8. Los Angeles Clippers (36–29)<br>Last Week: 10</strong><br>This is going to be a tough week for the Clips, who will play the Rockets, Thunder and Blazers. Los Angeles only has three games left against under-.500 teams the rest of the season.</p><p><strong>7. Utah Jazz (37–30)<br>Last Week: 11</strong><br>The Jazz are streaking again, winning six straight to put themselves on the cusp of a playoff spot in the West. Utah enters Week 22 with the third-best defense in the NBA.</p><p><strong>6. Boston Celtics (46–21) </strong><br><strong>Last Week: 6</strong><br>The Celtics have fallen 3 1/2 games behind the Raptors for the No. 1 seed in the East. Boston may be closer to the second tier of playoff teams than they are to Toronto.</p><p>?</p><p><strong>5. Indiana Pacers (39–28)<br>Last Week: 7</strong><br>Indiana is on pace to both win more games than last season and win more games than Paul George’s Thunder. Indy has three tough games coming up against Philly, Toronto and Washington this week, though.</p><p><strong>4. Golden State Warriors (51–16)<br>Last Week: 2</strong><br>The Dubs have lost two in a row in a win for the Curry-is-better-than-Durant crowd. Expect Golden State to not only right the ship, but be extra, extra cautious with Curry as the playoffs approach.</p><p><strong>3. Portland Trail Blazers (40–26)<br>Last Week: 4</strong><br>Portland is the hottest team in the league, now having won nine in a row. The Blazers still only have a two-game lead on the Pelicans and Wolves in the bunched-up West.</p><p><strong>2. Houston Rockets (52–14)<br>Last Week: 1</strong><br>The Rockets have been bumped from the top spot after Toronto ended their 17-game win streak. Houston still has a 1 1/2-game lead on the Warriors for first place and homecourt throughout the playoffs.</p><p><strong>1. Toronto Raptors (49–17)<br>Last Week: 3</strong><br>The Raptors have won eight in a row and nine of their last 10. It’s not too late for Drake to re-make the “God’s Plan” video and add one scene of DeMar DeRozan holding up the Larry O’Brien Trophy.</p>
NBA Power Rankings: These Raptors Are For Real

Week 22 of the NBA season is here, and we’re seeing a shake-up at the top of the Power Rankings. Drake Night was a successful endeavor in Toronto, as the Raptors knocked off the Rockets in one of the best games of the season last week. Elsewhere, the Blazers and Jazz are absolutely rolling, while the Warriors are struggling without Steph Curry. Nearly a third of the league is completely tanking, while the middle 16 teams are packed together tightly.

You may be tempted to take your eye off the NBA as March Madness ramps up, but there will be a ton of intriguing basketball played this week and the rest of the season. Let’s see where each team stands headed into Week 22.

30. Memphis Grizzlies (18–48)
Last Week: 30

29. New York Knicks (24–43)
Last Week: 23

28. Phoenix Suns (19–49)
Last Week: 29

27. Orlando Magic (20–47)
Last Week: 24

26. Atlanta Hawks (20–47)
Last Week: 27

25. Brooklyn Nets (21–46)
Last Week: 26

24. Dallas Mavericks (21–46)
Last Week: 28

23. Sacramento Kings (21–46)
Last Week: 25

22. Chicago Bulls (23–43)
Last Week: 22

The Bulls and Knicks have fully joined the ranks of the blurbless and the league’s bottom nine teams have separated themselves from the rest of the pack. The Grizzlies have somehow lost a whopping 17 games in a row despite having Mario Chalmers on the team. The Knicks are playing catch up to the rest of the tankers by having dropped seven straight themselves. The Suns are keeping the fight for the No. 1 pick interesting by staying only one game better than Memphis.

21. Charlotte Hornets (29–38)
Last Week: 20

Dwight Howard scored 30 points and collected 12 boards in Charlotte’s win over Phoenix on Sunday. Howard has quietly put together a very solid season. The Hornets are 5.8 points per 100 possessions better with Dwight on the court, and surprisingly, he’s been more impactful on offense than defense. Howard could have a little bit of trade value come the summer.

20. Detroit Pistons (30–36)
Last Week: 21

A somewhat troubling sign for the Pistons: Blake Griffin’s scoring, rebounding and efficiency have all dropped in Detroit compared to what he did in Los Angeles earlier this season.

19. Milwaukee Bucks (35–31)
Last Week: 19

Milwaukee plays three teams from the bottom eight this week. Any losses would be inexcusable.

18. San Antonio Spurs (37–29)
Last Week: 14

The Spurs are going to finish without a winning record on the road this season, the first time that’s happened in 20 years. Kawhi Leonard will reportedly return this week, and his services will be needed in what’s become a very tight race for the playoffs.

17. Cleveland Cavaliers (38–28)
Last Week: 13

The Cavs’ defensive rating before the All-Star break: 109.8

The Cavs’ defensive rating after the All-Star break: 109.3

No matter who has been on the roster, this team hasn’t defended well enough to be taken seriously as a title contender.

16. Los Angeles Lakers (30–36)
Last Week: 12

The Lakers are playing spoiler right now, and no team fighting for a playoff spot will look forward to playing these guys. L.A. looks like a better free-agent destination with each win. Monday’s showdown with the Nuggets should be fun.

?

15. Washington Wizards (38–29)
Last Week: 17

The ‘Zards were blown out by Miami on Saturday, and their next five games are against fellow playoff teams, four of whom are very desperate.

14. New Orleans Pelicans (38–28)
Last Week: 5

The Pelicans have lost two in a row after their 10 game win streak. Anthony Davis returned from a one-game absence to post a triple-double against the Jazz but it wasn’t enough. The schedule doesn’t get easier either, with matchups with the Spurs, Rockets and Celtics on the horizon.

13. Minnesota Timberwolves (39–29)
Last Week: 16

Big win for the Wolves over the Stephen Curry-less Warriors on Sunday. Minnesota is hanging on without Jimmy Butler, whose tweets have improved significantly since his injury.

12. Denver Nuggets (37–30)
Last Week: 8

The Nuggets rebounded from Nikola Jokic’s fourth-quarter benching to win their last two games of Week 21. Still, if the playoffs started today, Denver would be on the outside looking in. The Nuggets’ defense has been the second-worst in the league since the All-Star break.

11. Philadelphia 76ers (36–29)
Last Week: 9

The 76ers have a very manageable schedule to close out this month. Philly has a legitimate chance to have homecourt in a first-round playoff series.

10. Oklahoma City Thunder (39–29)
Last Week: 15

Corey Brewer could end up being the Thunder’s best Andre Roberson replacement. The Russ-PG-Melo-Steven Adams-Brewer group has a 13.2 net rating in 40 minutes over three games. The defense has taken a hit, but Brewer is helping the offense.

9. Miami Heat (36–31)
Last Week: 18

The Heat seem to be regaining their stride, going 3–1 last week, with the only loss coming in OT on the road. Miami has the second-best net rating in the East over the last 10 games. Oh, and it was slightly interesting to see the team’s offense take off without Hassan Whiteside in a blowout win over the Wizards.

8. Los Angeles Clippers (36–29)
Last Week: 10

This is going to be a tough week for the Clips, who will play the Rockets, Thunder and Blazers. Los Angeles only has three games left against under-.500 teams the rest of the season.

7. Utah Jazz (37–30)
Last Week: 11

The Jazz are streaking again, winning six straight to put themselves on the cusp of a playoff spot in the West. Utah enters Week 22 with the third-best defense in the NBA.

6. Boston Celtics (46–21)
Last Week: 6
The Celtics have fallen 3 1/2 games behind the Raptors for the No. 1 seed in the East. Boston may be closer to the second tier of playoff teams than they are to Toronto.

?

5. Indiana Pacers (39–28)
Last Week: 7

Indiana is on pace to both win more games than last season and win more games than Paul George’s Thunder. Indy has three tough games coming up against Philly, Toronto and Washington this week, though.

4. Golden State Warriors (51–16)
Last Week: 2

The Dubs have lost two in a row in a win for the Curry-is-better-than-Durant crowd. Expect Golden State to not only right the ship, but be extra, extra cautious with Curry as the playoffs approach.

3. Portland Trail Blazers (40–26)
Last Week: 4

Portland is the hottest team in the league, now having won nine in a row. The Blazers still only have a two-game lead on the Pelicans and Wolves in the bunched-up West.

2. Houston Rockets (52–14)
Last Week: 1

The Rockets have been bumped from the top spot after Toronto ended their 17-game win streak. Houston still has a 1 1/2-game lead on the Warriors for first place and homecourt throughout the playoffs.

1. Toronto Raptors (49–17)
Last Week: 3

The Raptors have won eight in a row and nine of their last 10. It’s not too late for Drake to re-make the “God’s Plan” video and add one scene of DeMar DeRozan holding up the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

<p>Week 22 of the NBA season is here, and we’re seeing a shake-up at the top of the Power Rankings. Drake Night was a successful endeavor in Toronto, as the <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/03/09/rockets-lose-win-streak-loss-raptors" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Raptors knocked off the Rockets" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Raptors knocked off the Rockets</a> in one of the best games of the season last week. Elsewhere, the Blazers and Jazz are absolutely rolling, while the Warriors are struggling without Steph Curry. Nearly a third of the league is completely tanking, while the middle 16 teams are packed together tightly.</p><p>You may be tempted to take your eye off the NBA as <a href="https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2018/03/11/ncaa-tournament-bracket-regional-breakdown-march-madness-upset-picks" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:March Madness ramps up" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">March Madness ramps up</a>, but there will be a ton of intriguing basketball played this week and the rest of the season. Let’s see where each team stands headed into Week 22.</p><p><strong>30. Memphis Grizzlies (18–48)<br>Last Week: 30</strong></p><p><strong>29. New York Knicks (24–43)<br>Last Week: 23</strong></p><p><strong>28. Phoenix Suns (19–49)<br>Last Week: 29</strong></p><p><strong>27. Orlando Magic (20–47)<br>Last Week: 24</strong></p><p><strong>26. Atlanta Hawks (20–47)<br>Last Week: 27</strong></p><p><strong>25. Brooklyn Nets (21–46)<br>Last Week: 26</strong></p><p><strong>24. Dallas Mavericks (21–46)<br>Last Week: 28</strong></p><p><strong>23. Sacramento Kings (21–46)<br>Last Week: 25</strong></p><p><strong>22. Chicago Bulls (23–43)<br>Last Week: 22</strong></p><p>The Bulls and Knicks have fully joined the ranks of the blurbless and the league’s bottom nine teams have separated themselves from the rest of the pack. The Grizzlies have somehow lost a whopping 17 games in a row despite having Mario Chalmers on the team. The Knicks are playing catch up to the rest of the tankers by having dropped seven straight themselves. The Suns are keeping the fight for the No. 1 pick interesting by staying only one game better than Memphis.</p><p><strong>21. Charlotte Hornets (29–38)<br>Last Week: 20</strong><br>Dwight Howard scored 30 points and collected 12 boards in Charlotte’s win over Phoenix on Sunday. Howard has quietly put together a very solid season. The Hornets are 5.8 points per 100 possessions better with Dwight on the court, and surprisingly, he’s been more impactful on offense than defense. Howard could have a little bit of trade value come the summer.</p><p><strong>20. Detroit Pistons (30–36)<br>Last Week: 21</strong><br>A somewhat troubling sign for the Pistons: Blake Griffin’s scoring, rebounding and efficiency have all dropped in Detroit compared to what he did in Los Angeles earlier this season.</p><p><strong>19. Milwaukee Bucks (35–31)<br>Last Week: 19</strong><br>Milwaukee plays three teams from the bottom eight this week. Any losses would be inexcusable.</p><p><strong>18. San Antonio Spurs (37–29)<br>Last Week: 14</strong><br>The Spurs are going to finish without a winning record on the road this season, the first time that’s happened in 20 years. Kawhi Leonard will reportedly return this week, and his services will be needed in what’s become a very tight race for the playoffs.</p><p><strong>17. Cleveland Cavaliers (38–28)<br>Last Week: 13</strong><br><em>The Cavs’ defensive rating before the All-Star break: 109.8</em></p><p><em>The Cavs’ defensive rating after the All-Star break: 109.3</em></p><p>No matter who has been on the roster, this team hasn’t defended well enough to be taken seriously as a title contender.</p><p><strong>16. Los Angeles Lakers (30–36) <br>Last Week: 12</strong><br>The Lakers are playing spoiler right now, and no team fighting for a playoff spot will look forward to playing these guys. L.A. looks like a better free-agent destination with each win. Monday’s showdown with the Nuggets should be fun.</p><p>?</p><p><strong>15. Washington Wizards (38–29)<br>Last Week: 17</strong><br>The ‘Zards were blown out by Miami on Saturday, and their next five games are against fellow playoff teams, four of whom are very desperate.</p><p><strong>14. New Orleans Pelicans (38–28)<br>Last Week: 5</strong><br>The Pelicans have lost two in a row after their 10 game win streak. Anthony Davis returned from a one-game absence to post a triple-double against the Jazz but it wasn’t enough. The schedule doesn’t get easier either, with matchups with the Spurs, Rockets and Celtics on the horizon.</p><p><strong>13. Minnesota Timberwolves (39–29)<br>Last Week: 16</strong><br>Big win for the Wolves over the Stephen Curry-less Warriors on Sunday. Minnesota is hanging on without Jimmy Butler, whose <a href="https://twitter.com/JimmyButler/status/972955384259342336" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:tweets have improved significantly" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">tweets have improved significantly</a> since his injury.</p><p><strong>12. Denver Nuggets (37–30)<br>Last Week: 8</strong><br>The Nuggets rebounded from Nikola Jokic’s fourth-quarter benching to win their last two games of Week 21. Still, if the playoffs started today, Denver would be on the outside looking in. The Nuggets’ defense has been the second-worst in the league since the All-Star break.</p><p><strong>11. Philadelphia 76ers (36–29)<br>Last Week: 9</strong><br>The 76ers have a very manageable schedule to close out this month. Philly has a legitimate chance to have homecourt in a first-round playoff series.</p><p><strong>10. Oklahoma City Thunder (39–29)<br>Last Week: 15</strong><br>Corey Brewer could end up being the Thunder’s best Andre Roberson replacement. The Russ-PG-Melo-Steven Adams-Brewer group has a 13.2 net rating in 40 minutes over three games. The defense has taken a hit, but Brewer is helping the offense.</p><p><strong>9. Miami Heat (36–31)<br>Last Week: 18</strong><br>The Heat seem to be regaining their stride, going 3–1 last week, with the only loss coming in OT on the road. Miami has the second-best net rating in the East over the last 10 games. Oh, and it was slightly interesting to see the team’s offense take off without Hassan Whiteside in a blowout win over the Wizards.</p><p><strong>8. Los Angeles Clippers (36–29)<br>Last Week: 10</strong><br>This is going to be a tough week for the Clips, who will play the Rockets, Thunder and Blazers. Los Angeles only has three games left against under-.500 teams the rest of the season.</p><p><strong>7. Utah Jazz (37–30)<br>Last Week: 11</strong><br>The Jazz are streaking again, winning six straight to put themselves on the cusp of a playoff spot in the West. Utah enters Week 22 with the third-best defense in the NBA.</p><p><strong>6. Boston Celtics (46–21) </strong><br><strong>Last Week: 6</strong><br>The Celtics have fallen 3 1/2 games behind the Raptors for the No. 1 seed in the East. Boston may be closer to the second tier of playoff teams than they are to Toronto.</p><p>?</p><p><strong>5. Indiana Pacers (39–28)<br>Last Week: 7</strong><br>Indiana is on pace to both win more games than last season and win more games than Paul George’s Thunder. Indy has three tough games coming up against Philly, Toronto and Washington this week, though.</p><p><strong>4. Golden State Warriors (51–16)<br>Last Week: 2</strong><br>The Dubs have lost two in a row in a win for the Curry-is-better-than-Durant crowd. Expect Golden State to not only right the ship, but be extra, extra cautious with Curry as the playoffs approach.</p><p><strong>3. Portland Trail Blazers (40–26)<br>Last Week: 4</strong><br>Portland is the hottest team in the league, now having won nine in a row. The Blazers still only have a two-game lead on the Pelicans and Wolves in the bunched-up West.</p><p><strong>2. Houston Rockets (52–14)<br>Last Week: 1</strong><br>The Rockets have been bumped from the top spot after Toronto ended their 17-game win streak. Houston still has a 1 1/2-game lead on the Warriors for first place and homecourt throughout the playoffs.</p><p><strong>1. Toronto Raptors (49–17)<br>Last Week: 3</strong><br>The Raptors have won eight in a row and nine of their last 10. It’s not too late for Drake to re-make the “God’s Plan” video and add one scene of DeMar DeRozan holding up the Larry O’Brien Trophy.</p>
NBA Power Rankings: These Raptors Are For Real

Week 22 of the NBA season is here, and we’re seeing a shake-up at the top of the Power Rankings. Drake Night was a successful endeavor in Toronto, as the Raptors knocked off the Rockets in one of the best games of the season last week. Elsewhere, the Blazers and Jazz are absolutely rolling, while the Warriors are struggling without Steph Curry. Nearly a third of the league is completely tanking, while the middle 16 teams are packed together tightly.

You may be tempted to take your eye off the NBA as March Madness ramps up, but there will be a ton of intriguing basketball played this week and the rest of the season. Let’s see where each team stands headed into Week 22.

30. Memphis Grizzlies (18–48)
Last Week: 30

29. New York Knicks (24–43)
Last Week: 23

28. Phoenix Suns (19–49)
Last Week: 29

27. Orlando Magic (20–47)
Last Week: 24

26. Atlanta Hawks (20–47)
Last Week: 27

25. Brooklyn Nets (21–46)
Last Week: 26

24. Dallas Mavericks (21–46)
Last Week: 28

23. Sacramento Kings (21–46)
Last Week: 25

22. Chicago Bulls (23–43)
Last Week: 22

The Bulls and Knicks have fully joined the ranks of the blurbless and the league’s bottom nine teams have separated themselves from the rest of the pack. The Grizzlies have somehow lost a whopping 17 games in a row despite having Mario Chalmers on the team. The Knicks are playing catch up to the rest of the tankers by having dropped seven straight themselves. The Suns are keeping the fight for the No. 1 pick interesting by staying only one game better than Memphis.

21. Charlotte Hornets (29–38)
Last Week: 20

Dwight Howard scored 30 points and collected 12 boards in Charlotte’s win over Phoenix on Sunday. Howard has quietly put together a very solid season. The Hornets are 5.8 points per 100 possessions better with Dwight on the court, and surprisingly, he’s been more impactful on offense than defense. Howard could have a little bit of trade value come the summer.

20. Detroit Pistons (30–36)
Last Week: 21

A somewhat troubling sign for the Pistons: Blake Griffin’s scoring, rebounding and efficiency have all dropped in Detroit compared to what he did in Los Angeles earlier this season.

19. Milwaukee Bucks (35–31)
Last Week: 19

Milwaukee plays three teams from the bottom eight this week. Any losses would be inexcusable.

18. San Antonio Spurs (37–29)
Last Week: 14

The Spurs are going to finish without a winning record on the road this season, the first time that’s happened in 20 years. Kawhi Leonard will reportedly return this week, and his services will be needed in what’s become a very tight race for the playoffs.

17. Cleveland Cavaliers (38–28)
Last Week: 13

The Cavs’ defensive rating before the All-Star break: 109.8

The Cavs’ defensive rating after the All-Star break: 109.3

No matter who has been on the roster, this team hasn’t defended well enough to be taken seriously as a title contender.

16. Los Angeles Lakers (30–36)
Last Week: 12

The Lakers are playing spoiler right now, and no team fighting for a playoff spot will look forward to playing these guys. L.A. looks like a better free-agent destination with each win. Monday’s showdown with the Nuggets should be fun.

?

15. Washington Wizards (38–29)
Last Week: 17

The ‘Zards were blown out by Miami on Saturday, and their next five games are against fellow playoff teams, four of whom are very desperate.

14. New Orleans Pelicans (38–28)
Last Week: 5

The Pelicans have lost two in a row after their 10 game win streak. Anthony Davis returned from a one-game absence to post a triple-double against the Jazz but it wasn’t enough. The schedule doesn’t get easier either, with matchups with the Spurs, Rockets and Celtics on the horizon.

13. Minnesota Timberwolves (39–29)
Last Week: 16

Big win for the Wolves over the Stephen Curry-less Warriors on Sunday. Minnesota is hanging on without Jimmy Butler, whose tweets have improved significantly since his injury.

12. Denver Nuggets (37–30)
Last Week: 8

The Nuggets rebounded from Nikola Jokic’s fourth-quarter benching to win their last two games of Week 21. Still, if the playoffs started today, Denver would be on the outside looking in. The Nuggets’ defense has been the second-worst in the league since the All-Star break.

11. Philadelphia 76ers (36–29)
Last Week: 9

The 76ers have a very manageable schedule to close out this month. Philly has a legitimate chance to have homecourt in a first-round playoff series.

10. Oklahoma City Thunder (39–29)
Last Week: 15

Corey Brewer could end up being the Thunder’s best Andre Roberson replacement. The Russ-PG-Melo-Steven Adams-Brewer group has a 13.2 net rating in 40 minutes over three games. The defense has taken a hit, but Brewer is helping the offense.

9. Miami Heat (36–31)
Last Week: 18

The Heat seem to be regaining their stride, going 3–1 last week, with the only loss coming in OT on the road. Miami has the second-best net rating in the East over the last 10 games. Oh, and it was slightly interesting to see the team’s offense take off without Hassan Whiteside in a blowout win over the Wizards.

8. Los Angeles Clippers (36–29)
Last Week: 10

This is going to be a tough week for the Clips, who will play the Rockets, Thunder and Blazers. Los Angeles only has three games left against under-.500 teams the rest of the season.

7. Utah Jazz (37–30)
Last Week: 11

The Jazz are streaking again, winning six straight to put themselves on the cusp of a playoff spot in the West. Utah enters Week 22 with the third-best defense in the NBA.

6. Boston Celtics (46–21)
Last Week: 6
The Celtics have fallen 3 1/2 games behind the Raptors for the No. 1 seed in the East. Boston may be closer to the second tier of playoff teams than they are to Toronto.

?

5. Indiana Pacers (39–28)
Last Week: 7

Indiana is on pace to both win more games than last season and win more games than Paul George’s Thunder. Indy has three tough games coming up against Philly, Toronto and Washington this week, though.

4. Golden State Warriors (51–16)
Last Week: 2

The Dubs have lost two in a row in a win for the Curry-is-better-than-Durant crowd. Expect Golden State to not only right the ship, but be extra, extra cautious with Curry as the playoffs approach.

3. Portland Trail Blazers (40–26)
Last Week: 4

Portland is the hottest team in the league, now having won nine in a row. The Blazers still only have a two-game lead on the Pelicans and Wolves in the bunched-up West.

2. Houston Rockets (52–14)
Last Week: 1

The Rockets have been bumped from the top spot after Toronto ended their 17-game win streak. Houston still has a 1 1/2-game lead on the Warriors for first place and homecourt throughout the playoffs.

1. Toronto Raptors (49–17)
Last Week: 3

The Raptors have won eight in a row and nine of their last 10. It’s not too late for Drake to re-make the “God’s Plan” video and add one scene of DeMar DeRozan holding up the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

<p>Week 22 of the NBA season is here, and we’re seeing a shake-up at the top of the Power Rankings. Drake Night was a successful endeavor in Toronto, as the <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/03/09/rockets-lose-win-streak-loss-raptors" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Raptors knocked off the Rockets" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Raptors knocked off the Rockets</a> in one of the best games of the season last week. Elsewhere, the Blazers and Jazz are absolutely rolling, while the Warriors are struggling without Steph Curry. Nearly a third of the league is completely tanking, while the middle 16 teams are packed together tightly.</p><p>You may be tempted to take your eye off the NBA as <a href="https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2018/03/11/ncaa-tournament-bracket-regional-breakdown-march-madness-upset-picks" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:March Madness ramps up" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">March Madness ramps up</a>, but there will be a ton of intriguing basketball played this week and the rest of the season. Let’s see where each team stands headed into Week 22.</p><p><strong>30. Memphis Grizzlies (18–48)<br>Last Week: 30</strong></p><p><strong>29. New York Knicks (24–43)<br>Last Week: 23</strong></p><p><strong>28. Phoenix Suns (19–49)<br>Last Week: 29</strong></p><p><strong>27. Orlando Magic (20–47)<br>Last Week: 24</strong></p><p><strong>26. Atlanta Hawks (20–47)<br>Last Week: 27</strong></p><p><strong>25. Brooklyn Nets (21–46)<br>Last Week: 26</strong></p><p><strong>24. Dallas Mavericks (21–46)<br>Last Week: 28</strong></p><p><strong>23. Sacramento Kings (21–46)<br>Last Week: 25</strong></p><p><strong>22. Chicago Bulls (23–43)<br>Last Week: 22</strong></p><p>The Bulls and Knicks have fully joined the ranks of the blurbless and the league’s bottom nine teams have separated themselves from the rest of the pack. The Grizzlies have somehow lost a whopping 17 games in a row despite having Mario Chalmers on the team. The Knicks are playing catch up to the rest of the tankers by having dropped seven straight themselves. The Suns are keeping the fight for the No. 1 pick interesting by staying only one game better than Memphis.</p><p><strong>21. Charlotte Hornets (29–38)<br>Last Week: 20</strong><br>Dwight Howard scored 30 points and collected 12 boards in Charlotte’s win over Phoenix on Sunday. Howard has quietly put together a very solid season. The Hornets are 5.8 points per 100 possessions better with Dwight on the court, and surprisingly, he’s been more impactful on offense than defense. Howard could have a little bit of trade value come the summer.</p><p><strong>20. Detroit Pistons (30–36)<br>Last Week: 21</strong><br>A somewhat troubling sign for the Pistons: Blake Griffin’s scoring, rebounding and efficiency have all dropped in Detroit compared to what he did in Los Angeles earlier this season.</p><p><strong>19. Milwaukee Bucks (35–31)<br>Last Week: 19</strong><br>Milwaukee plays three teams from the bottom eight this week. Any losses would be inexcusable.</p><p><strong>18. San Antonio Spurs (37–29)<br>Last Week: 14</strong><br>The Spurs are going to finish without a winning record on the road this season, the first time that’s happened in 20 years. Kawhi Leonard will reportedly return this week, and his services will be needed in what’s become a very tight race for the playoffs.</p><p><strong>17. Cleveland Cavaliers (38–28)<br>Last Week: 13</strong><br><em>The Cavs’ defensive rating before the All-Star break: 109.8</em></p><p><em>The Cavs’ defensive rating after the All-Star break: 109.3</em></p><p>No matter who has been on the roster, this team hasn’t defended well enough to be taken seriously as a title contender.</p><p><strong>16. Los Angeles Lakers (30–36) <br>Last Week: 12</strong><br>The Lakers are playing spoiler right now, and no team fighting for a playoff spot will look forward to playing these guys. L.A. looks like a better free-agent destination with each win. Monday’s showdown with the Nuggets should be fun.</p><p>?</p><p><strong>15. Washington Wizards (38–29)<br>Last Week: 17</strong><br>The ‘Zards were blown out by Miami on Saturday, and their next five games are against fellow playoff teams, four of whom are very desperate.</p><p><strong>14. New Orleans Pelicans (38–28)<br>Last Week: 5</strong><br>The Pelicans have lost two in a row after their 10 game win streak. Anthony Davis returned from a one-game absence to post a triple-double against the Jazz but it wasn’t enough. The schedule doesn’t get easier either, with matchups with the Spurs, Rockets and Celtics on the horizon.</p><p><strong>13. Minnesota Timberwolves (39–29)<br>Last Week: 16</strong><br>Big win for the Wolves over the Stephen Curry-less Warriors on Sunday. Minnesota is hanging on without Jimmy Butler, whose <a href="https://twitter.com/JimmyButler/status/972955384259342336" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:tweets have improved significantly" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">tweets have improved significantly</a> since his injury.</p><p><strong>12. Denver Nuggets (37–30)<br>Last Week: 8</strong><br>The Nuggets rebounded from Nikola Jokic’s fourth-quarter benching to win their last two games of Week 21. Still, if the playoffs started today, Denver would be on the outside looking in. The Nuggets’ defense has been the second-worst in the league since the All-Star break.</p><p><strong>11. Philadelphia 76ers (36–29)<br>Last Week: 9</strong><br>The 76ers have a very manageable schedule to close out this month. Philly has a legitimate chance to have homecourt in a first-round playoff series.</p><p><strong>10. Oklahoma City Thunder (39–29)<br>Last Week: 15</strong><br>Corey Brewer could end up being the Thunder’s best Andre Roberson replacement. The Russ-PG-Melo-Steven Adams-Brewer group has a 13.2 net rating in 40 minutes over three games. The defense has taken a hit, but Brewer is helping the offense.</p><p><strong>9. Miami Heat (36–31)<br>Last Week: 18</strong><br>The Heat seem to be regaining their stride, going 3–1 last week, with the only loss coming in OT on the road. Miami has the second-best net rating in the East over the last 10 games. Oh, and it was slightly interesting to see the team’s offense take off without Hassan Whiteside in a blowout win over the Wizards.</p><p><strong>8. Los Angeles Clippers (36–29)<br>Last Week: 10</strong><br>This is going to be a tough week for the Clips, who will play the Rockets, Thunder and Blazers. Los Angeles only has three games left against under-.500 teams the rest of the season.</p><p><strong>7. Utah Jazz (37–30)<br>Last Week: 11</strong><br>The Jazz are streaking again, winning six straight to put themselves on the cusp of a playoff spot in the West. Utah enters Week 22 with the third-best defense in the NBA.</p><p><strong>6. Boston Celtics (46–21) </strong><br><strong>Last Week: 6</strong><br>The Celtics have fallen 3 1/2 games behind the Raptors for the No. 1 seed in the East. Boston may be closer to the second tier of playoff teams than they are to Toronto.</p><p>?</p><p><strong>5. Indiana Pacers (39–28)<br>Last Week: 7</strong><br>Indiana is on pace to both win more games than last season and win more games than Paul George’s Thunder. Indy has three tough games coming up against Philly, Toronto and Washington this week, though.</p><p><strong>4. Golden State Warriors (51–16)<br>Last Week: 2</strong><br>The Dubs have lost two in a row in a win for the Curry-is-better-than-Durant crowd. Expect Golden State to not only right the ship, but be extra, extra cautious with Curry as the playoffs approach.</p><p><strong>3. Portland Trail Blazers (40–26)<br>Last Week: 4</strong><br>Portland is the hottest team in the league, now having won nine in a row. The Blazers still only have a two-game lead on the Pelicans and Wolves in the bunched-up West.</p><p><strong>2. Houston Rockets (52–14)<br>Last Week: 1</strong><br>The Rockets have been bumped from the top spot after Toronto ended their 17-game win streak. Houston still has a 1 1/2-game lead on the Warriors for first place and homecourt throughout the playoffs.</p><p><strong>1. Toronto Raptors (49–17)<br>Last Week: 3</strong><br>The Raptors have won eight in a row and nine of their last 10. It’s not too late for Drake to re-make the “God’s Plan” video and add one scene of DeMar DeRozan holding up the Larry O’Brien Trophy.</p>
NBA Power Rankings: These Raptors Are For Real

Week 22 of the NBA season is here, and we’re seeing a shake-up at the top of the Power Rankings. Drake Night was a successful endeavor in Toronto, as the Raptors knocked off the Rockets in one of the best games of the season last week. Elsewhere, the Blazers and Jazz are absolutely rolling, while the Warriors are struggling without Steph Curry. Nearly a third of the league is completely tanking, while the middle 16 teams are packed together tightly.

You may be tempted to take your eye off the NBA as March Madness ramps up, but there will be a ton of intriguing basketball played this week and the rest of the season. Let’s see where each team stands headed into Week 22.

30. Memphis Grizzlies (18–48)
Last Week: 30

29. New York Knicks (24–43)
Last Week: 23

28. Phoenix Suns (19–49)
Last Week: 29

27. Orlando Magic (20–47)
Last Week: 24

26. Atlanta Hawks (20–47)
Last Week: 27

25. Brooklyn Nets (21–46)
Last Week: 26

24. Dallas Mavericks (21–46)
Last Week: 28

23. Sacramento Kings (21–46)
Last Week: 25

22. Chicago Bulls (23–43)
Last Week: 22

The Bulls and Knicks have fully joined the ranks of the blurbless and the league’s bottom nine teams have separated themselves from the rest of the pack. The Grizzlies have somehow lost a whopping 17 games in a row despite having Mario Chalmers on the team. The Knicks are playing catch up to the rest of the tankers by having dropped seven straight themselves. The Suns are keeping the fight for the No. 1 pick interesting by staying only one game better than Memphis.

21. Charlotte Hornets (29–38)
Last Week: 20

Dwight Howard scored 30 points and collected 12 boards in Charlotte’s win over Phoenix on Sunday. Howard has quietly put together a very solid season. The Hornets are 5.8 points per 100 possessions better with Dwight on the court, and surprisingly, he’s been more impactful on offense than defense. Howard could have a little bit of trade value come the summer.

20. Detroit Pistons (30–36)
Last Week: 21

A somewhat troubling sign for the Pistons: Blake Griffin’s scoring, rebounding and efficiency have all dropped in Detroit compared to what he did in Los Angeles earlier this season.

19. Milwaukee Bucks (35–31)
Last Week: 19

Milwaukee plays three teams from the bottom eight this week. Any losses would be inexcusable.

18. San Antonio Spurs (37–29)
Last Week: 14

The Spurs are going to finish without a winning record on the road this season, the first time that’s happened in 20 years. Kawhi Leonard will reportedly return this week, and his services will be needed in what’s become a very tight race for the playoffs.

17. Cleveland Cavaliers (38–28)
Last Week: 13

The Cavs’ defensive rating before the All-Star break: 109.8

The Cavs’ defensive rating after the All-Star break: 109.3

No matter who has been on the roster, this team hasn’t defended well enough to be taken seriously as a title contender.

16. Los Angeles Lakers (30–36)
Last Week: 12

The Lakers are playing spoiler right now, and no team fighting for a playoff spot will look forward to playing these guys. L.A. looks like a better free-agent destination with each win. Monday’s showdown with the Nuggets should be fun.

?

15. Washington Wizards (38–29)
Last Week: 17

The ‘Zards were blown out by Miami on Saturday, and their next five games are against fellow playoff teams, four of whom are very desperate.

14. New Orleans Pelicans (38–28)
Last Week: 5

The Pelicans have lost two in a row after their 10 game win streak. Anthony Davis returned from a one-game absence to post a triple-double against the Jazz but it wasn’t enough. The schedule doesn’t get easier either, with matchups with the Spurs, Rockets and Celtics on the horizon.

13. Minnesota Timberwolves (39–29)
Last Week: 16

Big win for the Wolves over the Stephen Curry-less Warriors on Sunday. Minnesota is hanging on without Jimmy Butler, whose tweets have improved significantly since his injury.

12. Denver Nuggets (37–30)
Last Week: 8

The Nuggets rebounded from Nikola Jokic’s fourth-quarter benching to win their last two games of Week 21. Still, if the playoffs started today, Denver would be on the outside looking in. The Nuggets’ defense has been the second-worst in the league since the All-Star break.

11. Philadelphia 76ers (36–29)
Last Week: 9

The 76ers have a very manageable schedule to close out this month. Philly has a legitimate chance to have homecourt in a first-round playoff series.

10. Oklahoma City Thunder (39–29)
Last Week: 15

Corey Brewer could end up being the Thunder’s best Andre Roberson replacement. The Russ-PG-Melo-Steven Adams-Brewer group has a 13.2 net rating in 40 minutes over three games. The defense has taken a hit, but Brewer is helping the offense.

9. Miami Heat (36–31)
Last Week: 18

The Heat seem to be regaining their stride, going 3–1 last week, with the only loss coming in OT on the road. Miami has the second-best net rating in the East over the last 10 games. Oh, and it was slightly interesting to see the team’s offense take off without Hassan Whiteside in a blowout win over the Wizards.

8. Los Angeles Clippers (36–29)
Last Week: 10

This is going to be a tough week for the Clips, who will play the Rockets, Thunder and Blazers. Los Angeles only has three games left against under-.500 teams the rest of the season.

7. Utah Jazz (37–30)
Last Week: 11

The Jazz are streaking again, winning six straight to put themselves on the cusp of a playoff spot in the West. Utah enters Week 22 with the third-best defense in the NBA.

6. Boston Celtics (46–21)
Last Week: 6
The Celtics have fallen 3 1/2 games behind the Raptors for the No. 1 seed in the East. Boston may be closer to the second tier of playoff teams than they are to Toronto.

?

5. Indiana Pacers (39–28)
Last Week: 7

Indiana is on pace to both win more games than last season and win more games than Paul George’s Thunder. Indy has three tough games coming up against Philly, Toronto and Washington this week, though.

4. Golden State Warriors (51–16)
Last Week: 2

The Dubs have lost two in a row in a win for the Curry-is-better-than-Durant crowd. Expect Golden State to not only right the ship, but be extra, extra cautious with Curry as the playoffs approach.

3. Portland Trail Blazers (40–26)
Last Week: 4

Portland is the hottest team in the league, now having won nine in a row. The Blazers still only have a two-game lead on the Pelicans and Wolves in the bunched-up West.

2. Houston Rockets (52–14)
Last Week: 1

The Rockets have been bumped from the top spot after Toronto ended their 17-game win streak. Houston still has a 1 1/2-game lead on the Warriors for first place and homecourt throughout the playoffs.

1. Toronto Raptors (49–17)
Last Week: 3

The Raptors have won eight in a row and nine of their last 10. It’s not too late for Drake to re-make the “God’s Plan” video and add one scene of DeMar DeRozan holding up the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

<p>Week 21 of the NBA season is here, and I’m excited to see how the league will top a week in which a player was <a href="https://www.si.com/extra-mustard/2018/03/02/jr-smith-suspended-throwing-bowl-soup-cleveland-cavaliers" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:suspended for throwing soup" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">suspended for throwing soup</a> at a coach. On the court, while nine teams are blatantly tanking at this point, so much of the league is bunched together it should make for an exciting playoff race (though the bunching does make it hard to separate teams when you’re trying to rank them.)</p><p>Five teams are on win streaks of at least five games, all of which are in the Western Conference. Meanwhile, the East appears to have a pretty clear top eight, but the order in which they’ll finish seems totally up for grabs.</p><p>Oh, and before we dive in to the rankings, here’s <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/video/2018/03/01/crossover-tv-ep-14-hot-takes-and-bad-tweets" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:a shameless plug for the latest episode of Crossover TV" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">a shameless plug for the latest episode of Crossover TV</a>. Now let’s take a look at where each team stands headed into Week 21.</p><p><strong>30. Memphis Grizzlies (18–44)<br>Last Week: 29</strong></p><p><strong>29. Phoenix Suns (19-46)<br>Last Week: 30</strong></p><p><strong>28. Dallas Mavericks (19–45)<br>Last Week: 26</strong></p><p><strong>27. Atlanta Hawks (20–44)<br>Last Week: 25</strong></p><p><strong>26. Brooklyn Nets (20–44)<br>Last Week: 28</strong></p><p><strong>25. Sacramento Kings (20–44)<br>Last Week: 24</strong></p><p><strong>24. Orlando Magic (20–43)</strong><br><strong>Last Week: 27</strong></p><p>This group is still tanking hard. I almost ranked the Grizzlies at the top of this list, simply because they are doing the best job at gunning for the No. 1 pick, having lost 13(!) in a row. Memphis did a great job last week of gaining some lottery ground by losing to the Suns and Magic. Phoenix had a good showing against OKC, but forfeited any good will by losing to Atlanta.</p><p>Something we aren’t talking enough about (and I want to keep stressing) is how painful it is watching Dirk Nowitzki play for such a woeful team at the end of his career. Sure, Dirk can’t carry a contender, but he deserves to go out better than this. The NBA community still loves celebrating Nowitzki’s achievements—imagine if they happened in meaningful games!</p><p>On an unrelated note, I wish the Magic could loan their sweet City edition jerseys to a good team. If you’re looking for positives here, <a href="https://deadspin.com/the-kings-are-terrible-but-deaaron-fox-is-great-at-hit-1823469091" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:at least De’Aaron Fox is still really cool" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">at least De’Aaron Fox is still really cool</a>.</p><p><strong>23. New York Knicks (24–40)</strong><br><strong>Last Week: 22</strong></p><p><strong>22. Chicago Bulls (21–41)<br>Last Week: 23</strong><br>These two teams are rapidly approaching the tankstravaganza taking place with the bottom seven squads in the league. A troubling sign for the Bulls? Chicago has a –20.4 net rating in 158 minutes when Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen share the court. The front office should at least hope for some improvement out of that group. There’s not much to say about the Porzingis-less Knicks. New York has only one win over a team with a winning record this calendar year.</p><p><strong>21. Detroit Pistons (29–34)<br>Last Week: 20</strong><br>The Pistons have lost five of their last six, including a devastating defeat to the Magic in overtime on Friday. A loss to Miami the next night may have pushed Detroit out of the playoff race for good. The Andre Drummond-Blake Griffin frontcourt has been underwhelming at best. The Pistons have a –?0.9 net rating when those two are on the floor together.</p><p><strong>20. Charlotte Hornets (28–36)<br>Last Week: 18</strong><br>After a five-game win streak, the Hornets ran into some stiff competition, dropping three in a row against Boston, Philly and Toronto. Charlotte’s faint playoff hopes are all but extinguished, but good for this team for fighting until the bitter end.</p><p><strong>19. Milwaukee Bucks (34–29)<br>Last Week: 14</strong><br>The Bucks had lost four in a row before a much needed win over the 76ers on Sunday. Milwaukee should be better, and I wonder if or when the Bucks will commit to playing more often with Giannis at center. A Bledsoe-Middleton-Snell-Jabari-Giannis lineup sure as hell sounds fun on paper.</p><p>?</p><p><strong>18. Miami Heat (33–30)<br>Last Week: 19</strong><br>The Heat suffered an <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/game/1948056" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:ugly loss to the Lakers" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">ugly loss to the Lakers</a> on Thursday but rebounded with a win over the Pistons two nights later. Miami is maybe counting on Dwyane Wade too much, and Erik Spoelstra has played some weird lineup combinations over the last few weeks. Injuries have been a factor here, but Spo needs to find more time for the Kelly Olynyk-Bam Adebayo frontcourt, and for Justise Winslow, whose becoming something of a plus-minus phenomenon for the Heat.</p><p><strong>17. Washington Wizards (36–28)<br>Last Week: 5</strong><br>The Wizards faced a dose of reality to close Week 20, losing three in a row to the Warriors, Raptors and Pacers. Still, this team has more than stayed afloat in the <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/30/wizards-john-wall-injury-update-knee-surgery" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:absence of John Wall" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">absence of John Wall</a>. When the Wizards go small—with Markieff Morris at center, flanked by Beal, Sato, Oubre and Otto—they have a net rating of 28.1. That’s a very fun group to watch.</p><p><strong>16. Minnesota Timberwolves (38–28)<br>Last Week: 16</strong><br>The Wolves have lost two in a row, and their next six games are against teams with winning records, including matchups with Boston, Golden State and Houston. The starting lineup has actually been decent <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/02/24/minnesota-timberwolves-jimmy-butler-knee-injury-update" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:without Jimmy Butler" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">without Jimmy Butler</a>, but it will take a herculean effort to succeed in their upcoming gauntlet.</p><p><strong>15. Oklahoma City Thunder (37–28)<br>Last Week: 15</strong><br>The Thunder’s last win over a playoff team came nearly a month ago on Feb. 6, when they defeated the Warriors. Since then, OKC has lost to all winning teams its played and eked out wins over lottery opponents. The <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/27/andre-roberson-thunder-stretchered-fall-video" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Andre Roberson injury" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Andre Roberson injury</a> is a serious problem here, and it’s one Corey Brewer may not be able to fix.</p><p>?</p><p><strong>14. San Antonio Spurs (36–27)<br>Last Week: 13</strong><br>The Spurs only have two wins since the start of February. <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/02/24/minnesota-timberwolves-jimmy-butler-knee-injury-update" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Kawhi" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Kawhi</a><a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/02/24/minnesota-timberwolves-jimmy-butler-knee-injury-update" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:can’t come back soon enough" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"> can’t come back soon enough</a>.</p><p><strong>13. Cleveland Cavaliers (36–26)<br>Last Week: 7</strong><br>The Cavs’ new-look starting lineup of George Hill, LeBron. Cedi Osman, J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson is already their second-most used lineup of the season—and it has a –?6.0 net rating. Cleveland’s best lineups of the season aren’t replicable because of the trades they made, and the defense is still really bad. This team is far from out of the woods, and the honeymoon is officially over.</p><p><strong>12. Los Angeles Lakers (28–34)<br>Last Week: 21</strong><br>The Lakers are on a five-game win streak, so they get a huge bump this week. Los Angeles has lost only three times since the start of February, while notching wins over the Thunder, Heat and Spurs in that timespan. Lonzo Ball is shooting well and playing fun basketball, and Brandon Ingram looks like he could be a significant part of the future as well. It’s hard to discern what’s sustainable here, but it’s exciting to see this team flash its potential.</p><p><strong>11. Utah Jazz (33–30)<br>Last Week: 6</strong><br>The Jazz have a higher net rating than the Wizards, Blazers, Pelicans, Bucks and Cavaliers. It’s remarkable how this team has bounced back this season. Donovan Mitchell deserves a lot of love, but so does Rudy Gobert. The Stifle Tower is putting together another fine season, and he still has stretches in which he thoroughly dominates a game on the defensive end. Gobert’s game will never be sexy in the pace-and-space era, but he’s a huge factor in Utah’s success.</p><p>?</p><p><strong>10. Los Angeles Clippers (34–28)<br>Last Week: 17</strong><br>The Zombie Clippers may be my favorite story of the season. They keep rolling along toward the playoffs, including a huge come-from-behind <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/game/1948122/box-score" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:win over the Nuggets last week" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">win over the Nuggets last week</a>. The Clips’ top-three most-used lineups from the season still feature Blake Griffin. Their fourth most-used lineup has played only 62 minutes together. Doc Rivers is legitimately patching together units game-by-game this season, and yet this team still has a very realistic chance at the playoffs.</p><p><strong>9. Philadelphia 76ers (34–28)<br>Last Week: 12</strong><br>The East’s sleeping giant has a big three-game road trip this week, with cupcakes against Charlotte and Brooklyn sandwiching a final matchup with Miami. If the season ended today, the 76ers would face the Cavaliers in the first round of the playoffs. I’m not sure who I would pick in that series, but it could easily go seven games.</p><p><strong>8. Denver Nuggets (35–28)<br>Last Week: 11</strong><br>The Nuggets came away with a great road <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/game/1947593" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:win in Cleveland on Saturday" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">win in Cleveland on Saturday</a> on the second night of a back-to-back. Denver has won seven of its last 10, and will probably be favored to win its next six games. Stacking wins now will be important, because the Nuggets have a treacherous seven-game road trip looming at the end of March.</p><p><strong>7. Indiana Pacers (36–27)<br>Last Week: 8</strong><br>The Pacers inexplicably lost two in a row to Dallas and Atlanta last week, but rebounded with two impressive wins against the Bucks and Wizards. The Pacers have the fourth-best net rating in the East, and they play a fun brand of basketball. I’m not sure what impact he can make this late in the season, but I hope Glenn Robinson III works his way into the rotation. He could be a nice little injection of energy for the season’s final stretch.</p><p><strong>6. Boston Celtics (44–20)<br>Last Week: 4</strong><br>Tough <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/game/1948052" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:loss for Boston in Houston on Saturday" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">loss for Boston in Houston on Saturday</a> in one of the best games of the season. The C&#39;s are now three games behind Toronto in the loss column for the No. 1 seed in the East.</p><p><strong>5. New Orleans Pelicans (36–26)<br>Last Week: 10</strong><br>This week’s big winner is the Pelicans! Let’s bring David Kinch back to town, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsfm8jk59L0" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:fire up some Po’ Boys" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">fire up some Po’ Boys</a> and party in the bayou! <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/26/demarcus-cousins-injury-news" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Without Boogie Cousins" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Without Boogie Cousins</a>, New Orleans has still managed to win eight games in a row. This is honestly a remarkable story. Anthony Davis is absolutely wrecking opponents and single-handedly keeping this team from going away quietly. Can the fun times last? Something to note about the Pelicans’ win streak—three wins have come in overtime, and five have come against sub–.500 teams. So let’s just celebrate while we can.</p><p><strong>4. Portland Trail Blazers (37–26)<br>Last Week: 9</strong><br>Meanwhile, the Blazers have won six in a row and entered Week 21 with the fifth-best record in the league. This is a surprising development for a team that struggled for much of the early season. And shockingly, Portland’s success stems more from its No. 7 defense then its No. 16 offense. That’s right, the Blazers are scoring on par with the Hornets and Celtics but defending only 0.8 points per possession worse than the Warriors. Portland’s net rating would indicate the team has room to improve, but the Blazers are peaking at the right time.</p><p>?</p><p><strong>3. Toronto Raptors (45–17)</strong><br><strong>Last Week: 3</strong><br>The Raptors have lost only twice since the start of February by a combined six points. Toronto deserves to be the favorite to make the Finals in the East.</p><p><strong>2. Golden State Warriors (49–14)<br>Last Week: 2</strong><br>Draymond Green admitted last week the Warriors have been complacent at times this season. They still have the best offense in the league, and a top-five defense. I’m not sure we really know what it’s going to look like when this team finally decides to try.</p><p><strong>1. Houston Rockets (49–13)<br>Last Week: 1</strong><br>The Rockets have won 15 in a row—their second win streak in the teens—and are still looking over their shoulder at the Warriors. The race for the No. 1 seed in the West could be very fun over the last six weeks of the season.</p>
NBA Power Rankings: The Zombie Clippers Refuse to Go Away

Week 21 of the NBA season is here, and I’m excited to see how the league will top a week in which a player was suspended for throwing soup at a coach. On the court, while nine teams are blatantly tanking at this point, so much of the league is bunched together it should make for an exciting playoff race (though the bunching does make it hard to separate teams when you’re trying to rank them.)

Five teams are on win streaks of at least five games, all of which are in the Western Conference. Meanwhile, the East appears to have a pretty clear top eight, but the order in which they’ll finish seems totally up for grabs.

Oh, and before we dive in to the rankings, here’s a shameless plug for the latest episode of Crossover TV. Now let’s take a look at where each team stands headed into Week 21.

30. Memphis Grizzlies (18–44)
Last Week: 29

29. Phoenix Suns (19-46)
Last Week: 30

28. Dallas Mavericks (19–45)
Last Week: 26

27. Atlanta Hawks (20–44)
Last Week: 25

26. Brooklyn Nets (20–44)
Last Week: 28

25. Sacramento Kings (20–44)
Last Week: 24

24. Orlando Magic (20–43)
Last Week: 27

This group is still tanking hard. I almost ranked the Grizzlies at the top of this list, simply because they are doing the best job at gunning for the No. 1 pick, having lost 13(!) in a row. Memphis did a great job last week of gaining some lottery ground by losing to the Suns and Magic. Phoenix had a good showing against OKC, but forfeited any good will by losing to Atlanta.

Something we aren’t talking enough about (and I want to keep stressing) is how painful it is watching Dirk Nowitzki play for such a woeful team at the end of his career. Sure, Dirk can’t carry a contender, but he deserves to go out better than this. The NBA community still loves celebrating Nowitzki’s achievements—imagine if they happened in meaningful games!

On an unrelated note, I wish the Magic could loan their sweet City edition jerseys to a good team. If you’re looking for positives here, at least De’Aaron Fox is still really cool.

23. New York Knicks (24–40)
Last Week: 22

22. Chicago Bulls (21–41)
Last Week: 23

These two teams are rapidly approaching the tankstravaganza taking place with the bottom seven squads in the league. A troubling sign for the Bulls? Chicago has a –20.4 net rating in 158 minutes when Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen share the court. The front office should at least hope for some improvement out of that group. There’s not much to say about the Porzingis-less Knicks. New York has only one win over a team with a winning record this calendar year.

21. Detroit Pistons (29–34)
Last Week: 20

The Pistons have lost five of their last six, including a devastating defeat to the Magic in overtime on Friday. A loss to Miami the next night may have pushed Detroit out of the playoff race for good. The Andre Drummond-Blake Griffin frontcourt has been underwhelming at best. The Pistons have a –?0.9 net rating when those two are on the floor together.

20. Charlotte Hornets (28–36)
Last Week: 18

After a five-game win streak, the Hornets ran into some stiff competition, dropping three in a row against Boston, Philly and Toronto. Charlotte’s faint playoff hopes are all but extinguished, but good for this team for fighting until the bitter end.

19. Milwaukee Bucks (34–29)
Last Week: 14

The Bucks had lost four in a row before a much needed win over the 76ers on Sunday. Milwaukee should be better, and I wonder if or when the Bucks will commit to playing more often with Giannis at center. A Bledsoe-Middleton-Snell-Jabari-Giannis lineup sure as hell sounds fun on paper.

?

18. Miami Heat (33–30)
Last Week: 19

The Heat suffered an ugly loss to the Lakers on Thursday but rebounded with a win over the Pistons two nights later. Miami is maybe counting on Dwyane Wade too much, and Erik Spoelstra has played some weird lineup combinations over the last few weeks. Injuries have been a factor here, but Spo needs to find more time for the Kelly Olynyk-Bam Adebayo frontcourt, and for Justise Winslow, whose becoming something of a plus-minus phenomenon for the Heat.

17. Washington Wizards (36–28)
Last Week: 5

The Wizards faced a dose of reality to close Week 20, losing three in a row to the Warriors, Raptors and Pacers. Still, this team has more than stayed afloat in the absence of John Wall. When the Wizards go small—with Markieff Morris at center, flanked by Beal, Sato, Oubre and Otto—they have a net rating of 28.1. That’s a very fun group to watch.

16. Minnesota Timberwolves (38–28)
Last Week: 16

The Wolves have lost two in a row, and their next six games are against teams with winning records, including matchups with Boston, Golden State and Houston. The starting lineup has actually been decent without Jimmy Butler, but it will take a herculean effort to succeed in their upcoming gauntlet.

15. Oklahoma City Thunder (37–28)
Last Week: 15

The Thunder’s last win over a playoff team came nearly a month ago on Feb. 6, when they defeated the Warriors. Since then, OKC has lost to all winning teams its played and eked out wins over lottery opponents. The Andre Roberson injury is a serious problem here, and it’s one Corey Brewer may not be able to fix.

?

14. San Antonio Spurs (36–27)
Last Week: 13

The Spurs only have two wins since the start of February. Kawhi can’t come back soon enough.

13. Cleveland Cavaliers (36–26)
Last Week: 7

The Cavs’ new-look starting lineup of George Hill, LeBron. Cedi Osman, J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson is already their second-most used lineup of the season—and it has a –?6.0 net rating. Cleveland’s best lineups of the season aren’t replicable because of the trades they made, and the defense is still really bad. This team is far from out of the woods, and the honeymoon is officially over.

12. Los Angeles Lakers (28–34)
Last Week: 21

The Lakers are on a five-game win streak, so they get a huge bump this week. Los Angeles has lost only three times since the start of February, while notching wins over the Thunder, Heat and Spurs in that timespan. Lonzo Ball is shooting well and playing fun basketball, and Brandon Ingram looks like he could be a significant part of the future as well. It’s hard to discern what’s sustainable here, but it’s exciting to see this team flash its potential.

11. Utah Jazz (33–30)
Last Week: 6

The Jazz have a higher net rating than the Wizards, Blazers, Pelicans, Bucks and Cavaliers. It’s remarkable how this team has bounced back this season. Donovan Mitchell deserves a lot of love, but so does Rudy Gobert. The Stifle Tower is putting together another fine season, and he still has stretches in which he thoroughly dominates a game on the defensive end. Gobert’s game will never be sexy in the pace-and-space era, but he’s a huge factor in Utah’s success.

?

10. Los Angeles Clippers (34–28)
Last Week: 17

The Zombie Clippers may be my favorite story of the season. They keep rolling along toward the playoffs, including a huge come-from-behind win over the Nuggets last week. The Clips’ top-three most-used lineups from the season still feature Blake Griffin. Their fourth most-used lineup has played only 62 minutes together. Doc Rivers is legitimately patching together units game-by-game this season, and yet this team still has a very realistic chance at the playoffs.

9. Philadelphia 76ers (34–28)
Last Week: 12

The East’s sleeping giant has a big three-game road trip this week, with cupcakes against Charlotte and Brooklyn sandwiching a final matchup with Miami. If the season ended today, the 76ers would face the Cavaliers in the first round of the playoffs. I’m not sure who I would pick in that series, but it could easily go seven games.

8. Denver Nuggets (35–28)
Last Week: 11

The Nuggets came away with a great road win in Cleveland on Saturday on the second night of a back-to-back. Denver has won seven of its last 10, and will probably be favored to win its next six games. Stacking wins now will be important, because the Nuggets have a treacherous seven-game road trip looming at the end of March.

7. Indiana Pacers (36–27)
Last Week: 8

The Pacers inexplicably lost two in a row to Dallas and Atlanta last week, but rebounded with two impressive wins against the Bucks and Wizards. The Pacers have the fourth-best net rating in the East, and they play a fun brand of basketball. I’m not sure what impact he can make this late in the season, but I hope Glenn Robinson III works his way into the rotation. He could be a nice little injection of energy for the season’s final stretch.

6. Boston Celtics (44–20)
Last Week: 4

Tough loss for Boston in Houston on Saturday in one of the best games of the season. The C's are now three games behind Toronto in the loss column for the No. 1 seed in the East.

5. New Orleans Pelicans (36–26)
Last Week: 10

This week’s big winner is the Pelicans! Let’s bring David Kinch back to town, fire up some Po’ Boys and party in the bayou! Without Boogie Cousins, New Orleans has still managed to win eight games in a row. This is honestly a remarkable story. Anthony Davis is absolutely wrecking opponents and single-handedly keeping this team from going away quietly. Can the fun times last? Something to note about the Pelicans’ win streak—three wins have come in overtime, and five have come against sub–.500 teams. So let’s just celebrate while we can.

4. Portland Trail Blazers (37–26)
Last Week: 9

Meanwhile, the Blazers have won six in a row and entered Week 21 with the fifth-best record in the league. This is a surprising development for a team that struggled for much of the early season. And shockingly, Portland’s success stems more from its No. 7 defense then its No. 16 offense. That’s right, the Blazers are scoring on par with the Hornets and Celtics but defending only 0.8 points per possession worse than the Warriors. Portland’s net rating would indicate the team has room to improve, but the Blazers are peaking at the right time.

?

3. Toronto Raptors (45–17)
Last Week: 3
The Raptors have lost only twice since the start of February by a combined six points. Toronto deserves to be the favorite to make the Finals in the East.

2. Golden State Warriors (49–14)
Last Week: 2

Draymond Green admitted last week the Warriors have been complacent at times this season. They still have the best offense in the league, and a top-five defense. I’m not sure we really know what it’s going to look like when this team finally decides to try.

1. Houston Rockets (49–13)
Last Week: 1

The Rockets have won 15 in a row—their second win streak in the teens—and are still looking over their shoulder at the Warriors. The race for the No. 1 seed in the West could be very fun over the last six weeks of the season.

<p>Week 21 of the NBA season is here, and I’m excited to see how the league will top a week in which a player was <a href="https://www.si.com/extra-mustard/2018/03/02/jr-smith-suspended-throwing-bowl-soup-cleveland-cavaliers" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:suspended for throwing soup" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">suspended for throwing soup</a> at a coach. On the court, while nine teams are blatantly tanking at this point, so much of the league is bunched together it should make for an exciting playoff race (though the bunching does make it hard to separate teams when you’re trying to rank them.)</p><p>Five teams are on win streaks of at least five games, all of which are in the Western Conference. Meanwhile, the East appears to have a pretty clear top eight, but the order in which they’ll finish seems totally up for grabs.</p><p>Oh, and before we dive in to the rankings, here’s <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/video/2018/03/01/crossover-tv-ep-14-hot-takes-and-bad-tweets" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:a shameless plug for the latest episode of Crossover TV" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">a shameless plug for the latest episode of Crossover TV</a>. Now let’s take a look at where each team stands headed into Week 21.</p><p><strong>30. Memphis Grizzlies (18–44)<br>Last Week: 29</strong></p><p><strong>29. Phoenix Suns (19-46)<br>Last Week: 30</strong></p><p><strong>28. Dallas Mavericks (19–45)<br>Last Week: 26</strong></p><p><strong>27. Atlanta Hawks (20–44)<br>Last Week: 25</strong></p><p><strong>26. Brooklyn Nets (20–44)<br>Last Week: 28</strong></p><p><strong>25. Sacramento Kings (20–44)<br>Last Week: 24</strong></p><p><strong>24. Orlando Magic (20–43)</strong><br><strong>Last Week: 27</strong></p><p>This group is still tanking hard. I almost ranked the Grizzlies at the top of this list, simply because they are doing the best job at gunning for the No. 1 pick, having lost 13(!) in a row. Memphis did a great job last week of gaining some lottery ground by losing to the Suns and Magic. Phoenix had a good showing against OKC, but forfeited any good will by losing to Atlanta.</p><p>Something we aren’t talking enough about (and I want to keep stressing) is how painful it is watching Dirk Nowitzki play for such a woeful team at the end of his career. Sure, Dirk can’t carry a contender, but he deserves to go out better than this. The NBA community still loves celebrating Nowitzki’s achievements—imagine if they happened in meaningful games!</p><p>On an unrelated note, I wish the Magic could loan their sweet City edition jerseys to a good team. If you’re looking for positives here, <a href="https://deadspin.com/the-kings-are-terrible-but-deaaron-fox-is-great-at-hit-1823469091" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:at least De’Aaron Fox is still really cool" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">at least De’Aaron Fox is still really cool</a>.</p><p><strong>23. New York Knicks (24–40)</strong><br><strong>Last Week: 22</strong></p><p><strong>22. Chicago Bulls (21–41)<br>Last Week: 23</strong><br>These two teams are rapidly approaching the tankstravaganza taking place with the bottom seven squads in the league. A troubling sign for the Bulls? Chicago has a –20.4 net rating in 158 minutes when Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen share the court. The front office should at least hope for some improvement out of that group. There’s not much to say about the Porzingis-less Knicks. New York has only one win over a team with a winning record this calendar year.</p><p><strong>21. Detroit Pistons (29–34)<br>Last Week: 20</strong><br>The Pistons have lost five of their last six, including a devastating defeat to the Magic in overtime on Friday. A loss to Miami the next night may have pushed Detroit out of the playoff race for good. The Andre Drummond-Blake Griffin frontcourt has been underwhelming at best. The Pistons have a –?0.9 net rating when those two are on the floor together.</p><p><strong>20. Charlotte Hornets (28–36)<br>Last Week: 18</strong><br>After a five-game win streak, the Hornets ran into some stiff competition, dropping three in a row against Boston, Philly and Toronto. Charlotte’s faint playoff hopes are all but extinguished, but good for this team for fighting until the bitter end.</p><p><strong>19. Milwaukee Bucks (34–29)<br>Last Week: 14</strong><br>The Bucks had lost four in a row before a much needed win over the 76ers on Sunday. Milwaukee should be better, and I wonder if or when the Bucks will commit to playing more often with Giannis at center. A Bledsoe-Middleton-Snell-Jabari-Giannis lineup sure as hell sounds fun on paper.</p><p>?</p><p><strong>18. Miami Heat (33–30)<br>Last Week: 19</strong><br>The Heat suffered an <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/game/1948056" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:ugly loss to the Lakers" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">ugly loss to the Lakers</a> on Thursday but rebounded with a win over the Pistons two nights later. Miami is maybe counting on Dwyane Wade too much, and Erik Spoelstra has played some weird lineup combinations over the last few weeks. Injuries have been a factor here, but Spo needs to find more time for the Kelly Olynyk-Bam Adebayo frontcourt, and for Justise Winslow, whose becoming something of a plus-minus phenomenon for the Heat.</p><p><strong>17. Washington Wizards (36–28)<br>Last Week: 5</strong><br>The Wizards faced a dose of reality to close Week 20, losing three in a row to the Warriors, Raptors and Pacers. Still, this team has more than stayed afloat in the <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/30/wizards-john-wall-injury-update-knee-surgery" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:absence of John Wall" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">absence of John Wall</a>. When the Wizards go small—with Markieff Morris at center, flanked by Beal, Sato, Oubre and Otto—they have a net rating of 28.1. That’s a very fun group to watch.</p><p><strong>16. Minnesota Timberwolves (38–28)<br>Last Week: 16</strong><br>The Wolves have lost two in a row, and their next six games are against teams with winning records, including matchups with Boston, Golden State and Houston. The starting lineup has actually been decent <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/02/24/minnesota-timberwolves-jimmy-butler-knee-injury-update" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:without Jimmy Butler" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">without Jimmy Butler</a>, but it will take a herculean effort to succeed in their upcoming gauntlet.</p><p><strong>15. Oklahoma City Thunder (37–28)<br>Last Week: 15</strong><br>The Thunder’s last win over a playoff team came nearly a month ago on Feb. 6, when they defeated the Warriors. Since then, OKC has lost to all winning teams its played and eked out wins over lottery opponents. The <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/27/andre-roberson-thunder-stretchered-fall-video" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Andre Roberson injury" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Andre Roberson injury</a> is a serious problem here, and it’s one Corey Brewer may not be able to fix.</p><p>?</p><p><strong>14. San Antonio Spurs (36–27)<br>Last Week: 13</strong><br>The Spurs only have two wins since the start of February. <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/02/24/minnesota-timberwolves-jimmy-butler-knee-injury-update" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Kawhi" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Kawhi</a><a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/02/24/minnesota-timberwolves-jimmy-butler-knee-injury-update" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:can’t come back soon enough" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"> can’t come back soon enough</a>.</p><p><strong>13. Cleveland Cavaliers (36–26)<br>Last Week: 7</strong><br>The Cavs’ new-look starting lineup of George Hill, LeBron. Cedi Osman, J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson is already their second-most used lineup of the season—and it has a –?6.0 net rating. Cleveland’s best lineups of the season aren’t replicable because of the trades they made, and the defense is still really bad. This team is far from out of the woods, and the honeymoon is officially over.</p><p><strong>12. Los Angeles Lakers (28–34)<br>Last Week: 21</strong><br>The Lakers are on a five-game win streak, so they get a huge bump this week. Los Angeles has lost only three times since the start of February, while notching wins over the Thunder, Heat and Spurs in that timespan. Lonzo Ball is shooting well and playing fun basketball, and Brandon Ingram looks like he could be a significant part of the future as well. It’s hard to discern what’s sustainable here, but it’s exciting to see this team flash its potential.</p><p><strong>11. Utah Jazz (33–30)<br>Last Week: 6</strong><br>The Jazz have a higher net rating than the Wizards, Blazers, Pelicans, Bucks and Cavaliers. It’s remarkable how this team has bounced back this season. Donovan Mitchell deserves a lot of love, but so does Rudy Gobert. The Stifle Tower is putting together another fine season, and he still has stretches in which he thoroughly dominates a game on the defensive end. Gobert’s game will never be sexy in the pace-and-space era, but he’s a huge factor in Utah’s success.</p><p>?</p><p><strong>10. Los Angeles Clippers (34–28)<br>Last Week: 17</strong><br>The Zombie Clippers may be my favorite story of the season. They keep rolling along toward the playoffs, including a huge come-from-behind <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/game/1948122/box-score" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:win over the Nuggets last week" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">win over the Nuggets last week</a>. The Clips’ top-three most-used lineups from the season still feature Blake Griffin. Their fourth most-used lineup has played only 62 minutes together. Doc Rivers is legitimately patching together units game-by-game this season, and yet this team still has a very realistic chance at the playoffs.</p><p><strong>9. Philadelphia 76ers (34–28)<br>Last Week: 12</strong><br>The East’s sleeping giant has a big three-game road trip this week, with cupcakes against Charlotte and Brooklyn sandwiching a final matchup with Miami. If the season ended today, the 76ers would face the Cavaliers in the first round of the playoffs. I’m not sure who I would pick in that series, but it could easily go seven games.</p><p><strong>8. Denver Nuggets (35–28)<br>Last Week: 11</strong><br>The Nuggets came away with a great road <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/game/1947593" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:win in Cleveland on Saturday" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">win in Cleveland on Saturday</a> on the second night of a back-to-back. Denver has won seven of its last 10, and will probably be favored to win its next six games. Stacking wins now will be important, because the Nuggets have a treacherous seven-game road trip looming at the end of March.</p><p><strong>7. Indiana Pacers (36–27)<br>Last Week: 8</strong><br>The Pacers inexplicably lost two in a row to Dallas and Atlanta last week, but rebounded with two impressive wins against the Bucks and Wizards. The Pacers have the fourth-best net rating in the East, and they play a fun brand of basketball. I’m not sure what impact he can make this late in the season, but I hope Glenn Robinson III works his way into the rotation. He could be a nice little injection of energy for the season’s final stretch.</p><p><strong>6. Boston Celtics (44–20)<br>Last Week: 4</strong><br>Tough <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/game/1948052" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:loss for Boston in Houston on Saturday" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">loss for Boston in Houston on Saturday</a> in one of the best games of the season. The C&#39;s are now three games behind Toronto in the loss column for the No. 1 seed in the East.</p><p><strong>5. New Orleans Pelicans (36–26)<br>Last Week: 10</strong><br>This week’s big winner is the Pelicans! Let’s bring David Kinch back to town, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsfm8jk59L0" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:fire up some Po’ Boys" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">fire up some Po’ Boys</a> and party in the bayou! <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/26/demarcus-cousins-injury-news" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Without Boogie Cousins" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Without Boogie Cousins</a>, New Orleans has still managed to win eight games in a row. This is honestly a remarkable story. Anthony Davis is absolutely wrecking opponents and single-handedly keeping this team from going away quietly. Can the fun times last? Something to note about the Pelicans’ win streak—three wins have come in overtime, and five have come against sub–.500 teams. So let’s just celebrate while we can.</p><p><strong>4. Portland Trail Blazers (37–26)<br>Last Week: 9</strong><br>Meanwhile, the Blazers have won six in a row and entered Week 21 with the fifth-best record in the league. This is a surprising development for a team that struggled for much of the early season. And shockingly, Portland’s success stems more from its No. 7 defense then its No. 16 offense. That’s right, the Blazers are scoring on par with the Hornets and Celtics but defending only 0.8 points per possession worse than the Warriors. Portland’s net rating would indicate the team has room to improve, but the Blazers are peaking at the right time.</p><p>?</p><p><strong>3. Toronto Raptors (45–17)</strong><br><strong>Last Week: 3</strong><br>The Raptors have lost only twice since the start of February by a combined six points. Toronto deserves to be the favorite to make the Finals in the East.</p><p><strong>2. Golden State Warriors (49–14)<br>Last Week: 2</strong><br>Draymond Green admitted last week the Warriors have been complacent at times this season. They still have the best offense in the league, and a top-five defense. I’m not sure we really know what it’s going to look like when this team finally decides to try.</p><p><strong>1. Houston Rockets (49–13)<br>Last Week: 1</strong><br>The Rockets have won 15 in a row—their second win streak in the teens—and are still looking over their shoulder at the Warriors. The race for the No. 1 seed in the West could be very fun over the last six weeks of the season.</p>
NBA Power Rankings: The Zombie Clippers Refuse to Go Away

Week 21 of the NBA season is here, and I’m excited to see how the league will top a week in which a player was suspended for throwing soup at a coach. On the court, while nine teams are blatantly tanking at this point, so much of the league is bunched together it should make for an exciting playoff race (though the bunching does make it hard to separate teams when you’re trying to rank them.)

Five teams are on win streaks of at least five games, all of which are in the Western Conference. Meanwhile, the East appears to have a pretty clear top eight, but the order in which they’ll finish seems totally up for grabs.

Oh, and before we dive in to the rankings, here’s a shameless plug for the latest episode of Crossover TV. Now let’s take a look at where each team stands headed into Week 21.

30. Memphis Grizzlies (18–44)
Last Week: 29

29. Phoenix Suns (19-46)
Last Week: 30

28. Dallas Mavericks (19–45)
Last Week: 26

27. Atlanta Hawks (20–44)
Last Week: 25

26. Brooklyn Nets (20–44)
Last Week: 28

25. Sacramento Kings (20–44)
Last Week: 24

24. Orlando Magic (20–43)
Last Week: 27

This group is still tanking hard. I almost ranked the Grizzlies at the top of this list, simply because they are doing the best job at gunning for the No. 1 pick, having lost 13(!) in a row. Memphis did a great job last week of gaining some lottery ground by losing to the Suns and Magic. Phoenix had a good showing against OKC, but forfeited any good will by losing to Atlanta.

Something we aren’t talking enough about (and I want to keep stressing) is how painful it is watching Dirk Nowitzki play for such a woeful team at the end of his career. Sure, Dirk can’t carry a contender, but he deserves to go out better than this. The NBA community still loves celebrating Nowitzki’s achievements—imagine if they happened in meaningful games!

On an unrelated note, I wish the Magic could loan their sweet City edition jerseys to a good team. If you’re looking for positives here, at least De’Aaron Fox is still really cool.

23. New York Knicks (24–40)
Last Week: 22

22. Chicago Bulls (21–41)
Last Week: 23

These two teams are rapidly approaching the tankstravaganza taking place with the bottom seven squads in the league. A troubling sign for the Bulls? Chicago has a –20.4 net rating in 158 minutes when Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen share the court. The front office should at least hope for some improvement out of that group. There’s not much to say about the Porzingis-less Knicks. New York has only one win over a team with a winning record this calendar year.

21. Detroit Pistons (29–34)
Last Week: 20

The Pistons have lost five of their last six, including a devastating defeat to the Magic in overtime on Friday. A loss to Miami the next night may have pushed Detroit out of the playoff race for good. The Andre Drummond-Blake Griffin frontcourt has been underwhelming at best. The Pistons have a –?0.9 net rating when those two are on the floor together.

20. Charlotte Hornets (28–36)
Last Week: 18

After a five-game win streak, the Hornets ran into some stiff competition, dropping three in a row against Boston, Philly and Toronto. Charlotte’s faint playoff hopes are all but extinguished, but good for this team for fighting until the bitter end.

19. Milwaukee Bucks (34–29)
Last Week: 14

The Bucks had lost four in a row before a much needed win over the 76ers on Sunday. Milwaukee should be better, and I wonder if or when the Bucks will commit to playing more often with Giannis at center. A Bledsoe-Middleton-Snell-Jabari-Giannis lineup sure as hell sounds fun on paper.

?

18. Miami Heat (33–30)
Last Week: 19

The Heat suffered an ugly loss to the Lakers on Thursday but rebounded with a win over the Pistons two nights later. Miami is maybe counting on Dwyane Wade too much, and Erik Spoelstra has played some weird lineup combinations over the last few weeks. Injuries have been a factor here, but Spo needs to find more time for the Kelly Olynyk-Bam Adebayo frontcourt, and for Justise Winslow, whose becoming something of a plus-minus phenomenon for the Heat.

17. Washington Wizards (36–28)
Last Week: 5

The Wizards faced a dose of reality to close Week 20, losing three in a row to the Warriors, Raptors and Pacers. Still, this team has more than stayed afloat in the absence of John Wall. When the Wizards go small—with Markieff Morris at center, flanked by Beal, Sato, Oubre and Otto—they have a net rating of 28.1. That’s a very fun group to watch.

16. Minnesota Timberwolves (38–28)
Last Week: 16

The Wolves have lost two in a row, and their next six games are against teams with winning records, including matchups with Boston, Golden State and Houston. The starting lineup has actually been decent without Jimmy Butler, but it will take a herculean effort to succeed in their upcoming gauntlet.

15. Oklahoma City Thunder (37–28)
Last Week: 15

The Thunder’s last win over a playoff team came nearly a month ago on Feb. 6, when they defeated the Warriors. Since then, OKC has lost to all winning teams its played and eked out wins over lottery opponents. The Andre Roberson injury is a serious problem here, and it’s one Corey Brewer may not be able to fix.

?

14. San Antonio Spurs (36–27)
Last Week: 13

The Spurs only have two wins since the start of February. Kawhi can’t come back soon enough.

13. Cleveland Cavaliers (36–26)
Last Week: 7

The Cavs’ new-look starting lineup of George Hill, LeBron. Cedi Osman, J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson is already their second-most used lineup of the season—and it has a –?6.0 net rating. Cleveland’s best lineups of the season aren’t replicable because of the trades they made, and the defense is still really bad. This team is far from out of the woods, and the honeymoon is officially over.

12. Los Angeles Lakers (28–34)
Last Week: 21

The Lakers are on a five-game win streak, so they get a huge bump this week. Los Angeles has lost only three times since the start of February, while notching wins over the Thunder, Heat and Spurs in that timespan. Lonzo Ball is shooting well and playing fun basketball, and Brandon Ingram looks like he could be a significant part of the future as well. It’s hard to discern what’s sustainable here, but it’s exciting to see this team flash its potential.

11. Utah Jazz (33–30)
Last Week: 6

The Jazz have a higher net rating than the Wizards, Blazers, Pelicans, Bucks and Cavaliers. It’s remarkable how this team has bounced back this season. Donovan Mitchell deserves a lot of love, but so does Rudy Gobert. The Stifle Tower is putting together another fine season, and he still has stretches in which he thoroughly dominates a game on the defensive end. Gobert’s game will never be sexy in the pace-and-space era, but he’s a huge factor in Utah’s success.

?

10. Los Angeles Clippers (34–28)
Last Week: 17

The Zombie Clippers may be my favorite story of the season. They keep rolling along toward the playoffs, including a huge come-from-behind win over the Nuggets last week. The Clips’ top-three most-used lineups from the season still feature Blake Griffin. Their fourth most-used lineup has played only 62 minutes together. Doc Rivers is legitimately patching together units game-by-game this season, and yet this team still has a very realistic chance at the playoffs.

9. Philadelphia 76ers (34–28)
Last Week: 12

The East’s sleeping giant has a big three-game road trip this week, with cupcakes against Charlotte and Brooklyn sandwiching a final matchup with Miami. If the season ended today, the 76ers would face the Cavaliers in the first round of the playoffs. I’m not sure who I would pick in that series, but it could easily go seven games.

8. Denver Nuggets (35–28)
Last Week: 11

The Nuggets came away with a great road win in Cleveland on Saturday on the second night of a back-to-back. Denver has won seven of its last 10, and will probably be favored to win its next six games. Stacking wins now will be important, because the Nuggets have a treacherous seven-game road trip looming at the end of March.

7. Indiana Pacers (36–27)
Last Week: 8

The Pacers inexplicably lost two in a row to Dallas and Atlanta last week, but rebounded with two impressive wins against the Bucks and Wizards. The Pacers have the fourth-best net rating in the East, and they play a fun brand of basketball. I’m not sure what impact he can make this late in the season, but I hope Glenn Robinson III works his way into the rotation. He could be a nice little injection of energy for the season’s final stretch.

6. Boston Celtics (44–20)
Last Week: 4

Tough loss for Boston in Houston on Saturday in one of the best games of the season. The C's are now three games behind Toronto in the loss column for the No. 1 seed in the East.

5. New Orleans Pelicans (36–26)
Last Week: 10

This week’s big winner is the Pelicans! Let’s bring David Kinch back to town, fire up some Po’ Boys and party in the bayou! Without Boogie Cousins, New Orleans has still managed to win eight games in a row. This is honestly a remarkable story. Anthony Davis is absolutely wrecking opponents and single-handedly keeping this team from going away quietly. Can the fun times last? Something to note about the Pelicans’ win streak—three wins have come in overtime, and five have come against sub–.500 teams. So let’s just celebrate while we can.

4. Portland Trail Blazers (37–26)
Last Week: 9

Meanwhile, the Blazers have won six in a row and entered Week 21 with the fifth-best record in the league. This is a surprising development for a team that struggled for much of the early season. And shockingly, Portland’s success stems more from its No. 7 defense then its No. 16 offense. That’s right, the Blazers are scoring on par with the Hornets and Celtics but defending only 0.8 points per possession worse than the Warriors. Portland’s net rating would indicate the team has room to improve, but the Blazers are peaking at the right time.

?

3. Toronto Raptors (45–17)
Last Week: 3
The Raptors have lost only twice since the start of February by a combined six points. Toronto deserves to be the favorite to make the Finals in the East.

2. Golden State Warriors (49–14)
Last Week: 2

Draymond Green admitted last week the Warriors have been complacent at times this season. They still have the best offense in the league, and a top-five defense. I’m not sure we really know what it’s going to look like when this team finally decides to try.

1. Houston Rockets (49–13)
Last Week: 1

The Rockets have won 15 in a row—their second win streak in the teens—and are still looking over their shoulder at the Warriors. The race for the No. 1 seed in the West could be very fun over the last six weeks of the season.

<p>Week 21 of the NBA season is here, and I’m excited to see how the league will top a week in which a player was <a href="https://www.si.com/extra-mustard/2018/03/02/jr-smith-suspended-throwing-bowl-soup-cleveland-cavaliers" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:suspended for throwing soup" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">suspended for throwing soup</a> at a coach. On the court, while nine teams are blatantly tanking at this point, so much of the league is bunched together it should make for an exciting playoff race (though the bunching does make it hard to separate teams when you’re trying to rank them.)</p><p>Five teams are on win streaks of at least five games, all of which are in the Western Conference. Meanwhile, the East appears to have a pretty clear top eight, but the order in which they’ll finish seems totally up for grabs.</p><p>Oh, and before we dive in to the rankings, here’s <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/video/2018/03/01/crossover-tv-ep-14-hot-takes-and-bad-tweets" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:a shameless plug for the latest episode of Crossover TV" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">a shameless plug for the latest episode of Crossover TV</a>. Now let’s take a look at where each team stands headed into Week 21.</p><p><strong>30. Memphis Grizzlies (18–44)<br>Last Week: 29</strong></p><p><strong>29. Phoenix Suns (19-46)<br>Last Week: 30</strong></p><p><strong>28. Dallas Mavericks (19–45)<br>Last Week: 26</strong></p><p><strong>27. Atlanta Hawks (20–44)<br>Last Week: 25</strong></p><p><strong>26. Brooklyn Nets (20–44)<br>Last Week: 28</strong></p><p><strong>25. Sacramento Kings (20–44)<br>Last Week: 24</strong></p><p><strong>24. Orlando Magic (20–43)</strong><br><strong>Last Week: 27</strong></p><p>This group is still tanking hard. I almost ranked the Grizzlies at the top of this list, simply because they are doing the best job at gunning for the No. 1 pick, having lost 13(!) in a row. Memphis did a great job last week of gaining some lottery ground by losing to the Suns and Magic. Phoenix had a good showing against OKC, but forfeited any good will by losing to Atlanta.</p><p>Something we aren’t talking enough about (and I want to keep stressing) is how painful it is watching Dirk Nowitzki play for such a woeful team at the end of his career. Sure, Dirk can’t carry a contender, but he deserves to go out better than this. The NBA community still loves celebrating Nowitzki’s achievements—imagine if they happened in meaningful games!</p><p>On an unrelated note, I wish the Magic could loan their sweet City edition jerseys to a good team. If you’re looking for positives here, <a href="https://deadspin.com/the-kings-are-terrible-but-deaaron-fox-is-great-at-hit-1823469091" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:at least De’Aaron Fox is still really cool" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">at least De’Aaron Fox is still really cool</a>.</p><p><strong>23. New York Knicks (24–40)</strong><br><strong>Last Week: 22</strong></p><p><strong>22. Chicago Bulls (21–41)<br>Last Week: 23</strong><br>These two teams are rapidly approaching the tankstravaganza taking place with the bottom seven squads in the league. A troubling sign for the Bulls? Chicago has a –20.4 net rating in 158 minutes when Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen share the court. The front office should at least hope for some improvement out of that group. There’s not much to say about the Porzingis-less Knicks. New York has only one win over a team with a winning record this calendar year.</p><p><strong>21. Detroit Pistons (29–34)<br>Last Week: 20</strong><br>The Pistons have lost five of their last six, including a devastating defeat to the Magic in overtime on Friday. A loss to Miami the next night may have pushed Detroit out of the playoff race for good. The Andre Drummond-Blake Griffin frontcourt has been underwhelming at best. The Pistons have a –?0.9 net rating when those two are on the floor together.</p><p><strong>20. Charlotte Hornets (28–36)<br>Last Week: 18</strong><br>After a five-game win streak, the Hornets ran into some stiff competition, dropping three in a row against Boston, Philly and Toronto. Charlotte’s faint playoff hopes are all but extinguished, but good for this team for fighting until the bitter end.</p><p><strong>19. Milwaukee Bucks (34–29)<br>Last Week: 14</strong><br>The Bucks had lost four in a row before a much needed win over the 76ers on Sunday. Milwaukee should be better, and I wonder if or when the Bucks will commit to playing more often with Giannis at center. A Bledsoe-Middleton-Snell-Jabari-Giannis lineup sure as hell sounds fun on paper.</p><p>?</p><p><strong>18. Miami Heat (33–30)<br>Last Week: 19</strong><br>The Heat suffered an <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/game/1948056" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:ugly loss to the Lakers" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">ugly loss to the Lakers</a> on Thursday but rebounded with a win over the Pistons two nights later. Miami is maybe counting on Dwyane Wade too much, and Erik Spoelstra has played some weird lineup combinations over the last few weeks. Injuries have been a factor here, but Spo needs to find more time for the Kelly Olynyk-Bam Adebayo frontcourt, and for Justise Winslow, whose becoming something of a plus-minus phenomenon for the Heat.</p><p><strong>17. Washington Wizards (36–28)<br>Last Week: 5</strong><br>The Wizards faced a dose of reality to close Week 20, losing three in a row to the Warriors, Raptors and Pacers. Still, this team has more than stayed afloat in the <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/30/wizards-john-wall-injury-update-knee-surgery" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:absence of John Wall" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">absence of John Wall</a>. When the Wizards go small—with Markieff Morris at center, flanked by Beal, Sato, Oubre and Otto—they have a net rating of 28.1. That’s a very fun group to watch.</p><p><strong>16. Minnesota Timberwolves (38–28)<br>Last Week: 16</strong><br>The Wolves have lost two in a row, and their next six games are against teams with winning records, including matchups with Boston, Golden State and Houston. The starting lineup has actually been decent <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/02/24/minnesota-timberwolves-jimmy-butler-knee-injury-update" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:without Jimmy Butler" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">without Jimmy Butler</a>, but it will take a herculean effort to succeed in their upcoming gauntlet.</p><p><strong>15. Oklahoma City Thunder (37–28)<br>Last Week: 15</strong><br>The Thunder’s last win over a playoff team came nearly a month ago on Feb. 6, when they defeated the Warriors. Since then, OKC has lost to all winning teams its played and eked out wins over lottery opponents. The <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/27/andre-roberson-thunder-stretchered-fall-video" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Andre Roberson injury" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Andre Roberson injury</a> is a serious problem here, and it’s one Corey Brewer may not be able to fix.</p><p>?</p><p><strong>14. San Antonio Spurs (36–27)<br>Last Week: 13</strong><br>The Spurs only have two wins since the start of February. <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/02/24/minnesota-timberwolves-jimmy-butler-knee-injury-update" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Kawhi" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Kawhi</a><a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/02/24/minnesota-timberwolves-jimmy-butler-knee-injury-update" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:can’t come back soon enough" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"> can’t come back soon enough</a>.</p><p><strong>13. Cleveland Cavaliers (36–26)<br>Last Week: 7</strong><br>The Cavs’ new-look starting lineup of George Hill, LeBron. Cedi Osman, J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson is already their second-most used lineup of the season—and it has a –?6.0 net rating. Cleveland’s best lineups of the season aren’t replicable because of the trades they made, and the defense is still really bad. This team is far from out of the woods, and the honeymoon is officially over.</p><p><strong>12. Los Angeles Lakers (28–34)<br>Last Week: 21</strong><br>The Lakers are on a five-game win streak, so they get a huge bump this week. Los Angeles has lost only three times since the start of February, while notching wins over the Thunder, Heat and Spurs in that timespan. Lonzo Ball is shooting well and playing fun basketball, and Brandon Ingram looks like he could be a significant part of the future as well. It’s hard to discern what’s sustainable here, but it’s exciting to see this team flash its potential.</p><p><strong>11. Utah Jazz (33–30)<br>Last Week: 6</strong><br>The Jazz have a higher net rating than the Wizards, Blazers, Pelicans, Bucks and Cavaliers. It’s remarkable how this team has bounced back this season. Donovan Mitchell deserves a lot of love, but so does Rudy Gobert. The Stifle Tower is putting together another fine season, and he still has stretches in which he thoroughly dominates a game on the defensive end. Gobert’s game will never be sexy in the pace-and-space era, but he’s a huge factor in Utah’s success.</p><p>?</p><p><strong>10. Los Angeles Clippers (34–28)<br>Last Week: 17</strong><br>The Zombie Clippers may be my favorite story of the season. They keep rolling along toward the playoffs, including a huge come-from-behind <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/game/1948122/box-score" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:win over the Nuggets last week" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">win over the Nuggets last week</a>. The Clips’ top-three most-used lineups from the season still feature Blake Griffin. Their fourth most-used lineup has played only 62 minutes together. Doc Rivers is legitimately patching together units game-by-game this season, and yet this team still has a very realistic chance at the playoffs.</p><p><strong>9. Philadelphia 76ers (34–28)<br>Last Week: 12</strong><br>The East’s sleeping giant has a big three-game road trip this week, with cupcakes against Charlotte and Brooklyn sandwiching a final matchup with Miami. If the season ended today, the 76ers would face the Cavaliers in the first round of the playoffs. I’m not sure who I would pick in that series, but it could easily go seven games.</p><p><strong>8. Denver Nuggets (35–28)<br>Last Week: 11</strong><br>The Nuggets came away with a great road <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/game/1947593" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:win in Cleveland on Saturday" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">win in Cleveland on Saturday</a> on the second night of a back-to-back. Denver has won seven of its last 10, and will probably be favored to win its next six games. Stacking wins now will be important, because the Nuggets have a treacherous seven-game road trip looming at the end of March.</p><p><strong>7. Indiana Pacers (36–27)<br>Last Week: 8</strong><br>The Pacers inexplicably lost two in a row to Dallas and Atlanta last week, but rebounded with two impressive wins against the Bucks and Wizards. The Pacers have the fourth-best net rating in the East, and they play a fun brand of basketball. I’m not sure what impact he can make this late in the season, but I hope Glenn Robinson III works his way into the rotation. He could be a nice little injection of energy for the season’s final stretch.</p><p><strong>6. Boston Celtics (44–20)<br>Last Week: 4</strong><br>Tough <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/game/1948052" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:loss for Boston in Houston on Saturday" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">loss for Boston in Houston on Saturday</a> in one of the best games of the season. The C&#39;s are now three games behind Toronto in the loss column for the No. 1 seed in the East.</p><p><strong>5. New Orleans Pelicans (36–26)<br>Last Week: 10</strong><br>This week’s big winner is the Pelicans! Let’s bring David Kinch back to town, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsfm8jk59L0" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:fire up some Po’ Boys" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">fire up some Po’ Boys</a> and party in the bayou! <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/26/demarcus-cousins-injury-news" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Without Boogie Cousins" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Without Boogie Cousins</a>, New Orleans has still managed to win eight games in a row. This is honestly a remarkable story. Anthony Davis is absolutely wrecking opponents and single-handedly keeping this team from going away quietly. Can the fun times last? Something to note about the Pelicans’ win streak—three wins have come in overtime, and five have come against sub–.500 teams. So let’s just celebrate while we can.</p><p><strong>4. Portland Trail Blazers (37–26)<br>Last Week: 9</strong><br>Meanwhile, the Blazers have won six in a row and entered Week 21 with the fifth-best record in the league. This is a surprising development for a team that struggled for much of the early season. And shockingly, Portland’s success stems more from its No. 7 defense then its No. 16 offense. That’s right, the Blazers are scoring on par with the Hornets and Celtics but defending only 0.8 points per possession worse than the Warriors. Portland’s net rating would indicate the team has room to improve, but the Blazers are peaking at the right time.</p><p>?</p><p><strong>3. Toronto Raptors (45–17)</strong><br><strong>Last Week: 3</strong><br>The Raptors have lost only twice since the start of February by a combined six points. Toronto deserves to be the favorite to make the Finals in the East.</p><p><strong>2. Golden State Warriors (49–14)<br>Last Week: 2</strong><br>Draymond Green admitted last week the Warriors have been complacent at times this season. They still have the best offense in the league, and a top-five defense. I’m not sure we really know what it’s going to look like when this team finally decides to try.</p><p><strong>1. Houston Rockets (49–13)<br>Last Week: 1</strong><br>The Rockets have won 15 in a row—their second win streak in the teens—and are still looking over their shoulder at the Warriors. The race for the No. 1 seed in the West could be very fun over the last six weeks of the season.</p>
NBA Power Rankings: The Zombie Clippers Refuse to Go Away

Week 21 of the NBA season is here, and I’m excited to see how the league will top a week in which a player was suspended for throwing soup at a coach. On the court, while nine teams are blatantly tanking at this point, so much of the league is bunched together it should make for an exciting playoff race (though the bunching does make it hard to separate teams when you’re trying to rank them.)

Five teams are on win streaks of at least five games, all of which are in the Western Conference. Meanwhile, the East appears to have a pretty clear top eight, but the order in which they’ll finish seems totally up for grabs.

Oh, and before we dive in to the rankings, here’s a shameless plug for the latest episode of Crossover TV. Now let’s take a look at where each team stands headed into Week 21.

30. Memphis Grizzlies (18–44)
Last Week: 29

29. Phoenix Suns (19-46)
Last Week: 30

28. Dallas Mavericks (19–45)
Last Week: 26

27. Atlanta Hawks (20–44)
Last Week: 25

26. Brooklyn Nets (20–44)
Last Week: 28

25. Sacramento Kings (20–44)
Last Week: 24

24. Orlando Magic (20–43)
Last Week: 27

This group is still tanking hard. I almost ranked the Grizzlies at the top of this list, simply because they are doing the best job at gunning for the No. 1 pick, having lost 13(!) in a row. Memphis did a great job last week of gaining some lottery ground by losing to the Suns and Magic. Phoenix had a good showing against OKC, but forfeited any good will by losing to Atlanta.

Something we aren’t talking enough about (and I want to keep stressing) is how painful it is watching Dirk Nowitzki play for such a woeful team at the end of his career. Sure, Dirk can’t carry a contender, but he deserves to go out better than this. The NBA community still loves celebrating Nowitzki’s achievements—imagine if they happened in meaningful games!

On an unrelated note, I wish the Magic could loan their sweet City edition jerseys to a good team. If you’re looking for positives here, at least De’Aaron Fox is still really cool.

23. New York Knicks (24–40)
Last Week: 22

22. Chicago Bulls (21–41)
Last Week: 23

These two teams are rapidly approaching the tankstravaganza taking place with the bottom seven squads in the league. A troubling sign for the Bulls? Chicago has a –20.4 net rating in 158 minutes when Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen share the court. The front office should at least hope for some improvement out of that group. There’s not much to say about the Porzingis-less Knicks. New York has only one win over a team with a winning record this calendar year.

21. Detroit Pistons (29–34)
Last Week: 20

The Pistons have lost five of their last six, including a devastating defeat to the Magic in overtime on Friday. A loss to Miami the next night may have pushed Detroit out of the playoff race for good. The Andre Drummond-Blake Griffin frontcourt has been underwhelming at best. The Pistons have a –?0.9 net rating when those two are on the floor together.

20. Charlotte Hornets (28–36)
Last Week: 18

After a five-game win streak, the Hornets ran into some stiff competition, dropping three in a row against Boston, Philly and Toronto. Charlotte’s faint playoff hopes are all but extinguished, but good for this team for fighting until the bitter end.

19. Milwaukee Bucks (34–29)
Last Week: 14

The Bucks had lost four in a row before a much needed win over the 76ers on Sunday. Milwaukee should be better, and I wonder if or when the Bucks will commit to playing more often with Giannis at center. A Bledsoe-Middleton-Snell-Jabari-Giannis lineup sure as hell sounds fun on paper.

?

18. Miami Heat (33–30)
Last Week: 19

The Heat suffered an ugly loss to the Lakers on Thursday but rebounded with a win over the Pistons two nights later. Miami is maybe counting on Dwyane Wade too much, and Erik Spoelstra has played some weird lineup combinations over the last few weeks. Injuries have been a factor here, but Spo needs to find more time for the Kelly Olynyk-Bam Adebayo frontcourt, and for Justise Winslow, whose becoming something of a plus-minus phenomenon for the Heat.

17. Washington Wizards (36–28)
Last Week: 5

The Wizards faced a dose of reality to close Week 20, losing three in a row to the Warriors, Raptors and Pacers. Still, this team has more than stayed afloat in the absence of John Wall. When the Wizards go small—with Markieff Morris at center, flanked by Beal, Sato, Oubre and Otto—they have a net rating of 28.1. That’s a very fun group to watch.

16. Minnesota Timberwolves (38–28)
Last Week: 16

The Wolves have lost two in a row, and their next six games are against teams with winning records, including matchups with Boston, Golden State and Houston. The starting lineup has actually been decent without Jimmy Butler, but it will take a herculean effort to succeed in their upcoming gauntlet.

15. Oklahoma City Thunder (37–28)
Last Week: 15

The Thunder’s last win over a playoff team came nearly a month ago on Feb. 6, when they defeated the Warriors. Since then, OKC has lost to all winning teams its played and eked out wins over lottery opponents. The Andre Roberson injury is a serious problem here, and it’s one Corey Brewer may not be able to fix.

?

14. San Antonio Spurs (36–27)
Last Week: 13

The Spurs only have two wins since the start of February. Kawhi can’t come back soon enough.

13. Cleveland Cavaliers (36–26)
Last Week: 7

The Cavs’ new-look starting lineup of George Hill, LeBron. Cedi Osman, J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson is already their second-most used lineup of the season—and it has a –?6.0 net rating. Cleveland’s best lineups of the season aren’t replicable because of the trades they made, and the defense is still really bad. This team is far from out of the woods, and the honeymoon is officially over.

12. Los Angeles Lakers (28–34)
Last Week: 21

The Lakers are on a five-game win streak, so they get a huge bump this week. Los Angeles has lost only three times since the start of February, while notching wins over the Thunder, Heat and Spurs in that timespan. Lonzo Ball is shooting well and playing fun basketball, and Brandon Ingram looks like he could be a significant part of the future as well. It’s hard to discern what’s sustainable here, but it’s exciting to see this team flash its potential.

11. Utah Jazz (33–30)
Last Week: 6

The Jazz have a higher net rating than the Wizards, Blazers, Pelicans, Bucks and Cavaliers. It’s remarkable how this team has bounced back this season. Donovan Mitchell deserves a lot of love, but so does Rudy Gobert. The Stifle Tower is putting together another fine season, and he still has stretches in which he thoroughly dominates a game on the defensive end. Gobert’s game will never be sexy in the pace-and-space era, but he’s a huge factor in Utah’s success.

?

10. Los Angeles Clippers (34–28)
Last Week: 17

The Zombie Clippers may be my favorite story of the season. They keep rolling along toward the playoffs, including a huge come-from-behind win over the Nuggets last week. The Clips’ top-three most-used lineups from the season still feature Blake Griffin. Their fourth most-used lineup has played only 62 minutes together. Doc Rivers is legitimately patching together units game-by-game this season, and yet this team still has a very realistic chance at the playoffs.

9. Philadelphia 76ers (34–28)
Last Week: 12

The East’s sleeping giant has a big three-game road trip this week, with cupcakes against Charlotte and Brooklyn sandwiching a final matchup with Miami. If the season ended today, the 76ers would face the Cavaliers in the first round of the playoffs. I’m not sure who I would pick in that series, but it could easily go seven games.

8. Denver Nuggets (35–28)
Last Week: 11

The Nuggets came away with a great road win in Cleveland on Saturday on the second night of a back-to-back. Denver has won seven of its last 10, and will probably be favored to win its next six games. Stacking wins now will be important, because the Nuggets have a treacherous seven-game road trip looming at the end of March.

7. Indiana Pacers (36–27)
Last Week: 8

The Pacers inexplicably lost two in a row to Dallas and Atlanta last week, but rebounded with two impressive wins against the Bucks and Wizards. The Pacers have the fourth-best net rating in the East, and they play a fun brand of basketball. I’m not sure what impact he can make this late in the season, but I hope Glenn Robinson III works his way into the rotation. He could be a nice little injection of energy for the season’s final stretch.

6. Boston Celtics (44–20)
Last Week: 4

Tough loss for Boston in Houston on Saturday in one of the best games of the season. The C's are now three games behind Toronto in the loss column for the No. 1 seed in the East.

5. New Orleans Pelicans (36–26)
Last Week: 10

This week’s big winner is the Pelicans! Let’s bring David Kinch back to town, fire up some Po’ Boys and party in the bayou! Without Boogie Cousins, New Orleans has still managed to win eight games in a row. This is honestly a remarkable story. Anthony Davis is absolutely wrecking opponents and single-handedly keeping this team from going away quietly. Can the fun times last? Something to note about the Pelicans’ win streak—three wins have come in overtime, and five have come against sub–.500 teams. So let’s just celebrate while we can.

4. Portland Trail Blazers (37–26)
Last Week: 9

Meanwhile, the Blazers have won six in a row and entered Week 21 with the fifth-best record in the league. This is a surprising development for a team that struggled for much of the early season. And shockingly, Portland’s success stems more from its No. 7 defense then its No. 16 offense. That’s right, the Blazers are scoring on par with the Hornets and Celtics but defending only 0.8 points per possession worse than the Warriors. Portland’s net rating would indicate the team has room to improve, but the Blazers are peaking at the right time.

?

3. Toronto Raptors (45–17)
Last Week: 3
The Raptors have lost only twice since the start of February by a combined six points. Toronto deserves to be the favorite to make the Finals in the East.

2. Golden State Warriors (49–14)
Last Week: 2

Draymond Green admitted last week the Warriors have been complacent at times this season. They still have the best offense in the league, and a top-five defense. I’m not sure we really know what it’s going to look like when this team finally decides to try.

1. Houston Rockets (49–13)
Last Week: 1

The Rockets have won 15 in a row—their second win streak in the teens—and are still looking over their shoulder at the Warriors. The race for the No. 1 seed in the West could be very fun over the last six weeks of the season.

<p>Week 21 of the NBA season is here, and I’m excited to see how the league will top a week in which a player was <a href="https://www.si.com/extra-mustard/2018/03/02/jr-smith-suspended-throwing-bowl-soup-cleveland-cavaliers" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:suspended for throwing soup" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">suspended for throwing soup</a> at a coach. On the court, while nine teams are blatantly tanking at this point, so much of the league is bunched together it should make for an exciting playoff race (though the bunching does make it hard to separate teams when you’re trying to rank them.)</p><p>Five teams are on win streaks of at least five games, all of which are in the Western Conference. Meanwhile, the East appears to have a pretty clear top eight, but the order in which they’ll finish seems totally up for grabs.</p><p>Oh, and before we dive in to the rankings, here’s <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/video/2018/03/01/crossover-tv-ep-14-hot-takes-and-bad-tweets" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:a shameless plug for the latest episode of Crossover TV" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">a shameless plug for the latest episode of Crossover TV</a>. Now let’s take a look at where each team stands headed into Week 21.</p><p><strong>30. Memphis Grizzlies (18–44)<br>Last Week: 29</strong></p><p><strong>29. Phoenix Suns (19-46)<br>Last Week: 30</strong></p><p><strong>28. Dallas Mavericks (19–45)<br>Last Week: 26</strong></p><p><strong>27. Atlanta Hawks (20–44)<br>Last Week: 25</strong></p><p><strong>26. Brooklyn Nets (20–44)<br>Last Week: 28</strong></p><p><strong>25. Sacramento Kings (20–44)<br>Last Week: 24</strong></p><p><strong>24. Orlando Magic (20–43)</strong><br><strong>Last Week: 27</strong></p><p>This group is still tanking hard. I almost ranked the Grizzlies at the top of this list, simply because they are doing the best job at gunning for the No. 1 pick, having lost 13(!) in a row. Memphis did a great job last week of gaining some lottery ground by losing to the Suns and Magic. Phoenix had a good showing against OKC, but forfeited any good will by losing to Atlanta.</p><p>Something we aren’t talking enough about (and I want to keep stressing) is how painful it is watching Dirk Nowitzki play for such a woeful team at the end of his career. Sure, Dirk can’t carry a contender, but he deserves to go out better than this. The NBA community still loves celebrating Nowitzki’s achievements—imagine if they happened in meaningful games!</p><p>On an unrelated note, I wish the Magic could loan their sweet City edition jerseys to a good team. If you’re looking for positives here, <a href="https://deadspin.com/the-kings-are-terrible-but-deaaron-fox-is-great-at-hit-1823469091" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:at least De’Aaron Fox is still really cool" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">at least De’Aaron Fox is still really cool</a>.</p><p><strong>23. New York Knicks (24–40)</strong><br><strong>Last Week: 22</strong></p><p><strong>22. Chicago Bulls (21–41)<br>Last Week: 23</strong><br>These two teams are rapidly approaching the tankstravaganza taking place with the bottom seven squads in the league. A troubling sign for the Bulls? Chicago has a –20.4 net rating in 158 minutes when Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen share the court. The front office should at least hope for some improvement out of that group. There’s not much to say about the Porzingis-less Knicks. New York has only one win over a team with a winning record this calendar year.</p><p><strong>21. Detroit Pistons (29–34)<br>Last Week: 20</strong><br>The Pistons have lost five of their last six, including a devastating defeat to the Magic in overtime on Friday. A loss to Miami the next night may have pushed Detroit out of the playoff race for good. The Andre Drummond-Blake Griffin frontcourt has been underwhelming at best. The Pistons have a –?0.9 net rating when those two are on the floor together.</p><p><strong>20. Charlotte Hornets (28–36)<br>Last Week: 18</strong><br>After a five-game win streak, the Hornets ran into some stiff competition, dropping three in a row against Boston, Philly and Toronto. Charlotte’s faint playoff hopes are all but extinguished, but good for this team for fighting until the bitter end.</p><p><strong>19. Milwaukee Bucks (34–29)<br>Last Week: 14</strong><br>The Bucks had lost four in a row before a much needed win over the 76ers on Sunday. Milwaukee should be better, and I wonder if or when the Bucks will commit to playing more often with Giannis at center. A Bledsoe-Middleton-Snell-Jabari-Giannis lineup sure as hell sounds fun on paper.</p><p>?</p><p><strong>18. Miami Heat (33–30)<br>Last Week: 19</strong><br>The Heat suffered an <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/game/1948056" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:ugly loss to the Lakers" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">ugly loss to the Lakers</a> on Thursday but rebounded with a win over the Pistons two nights later. Miami is maybe counting on Dwyane Wade too much, and Erik Spoelstra has played some weird lineup combinations over the last few weeks. Injuries have been a factor here, but Spo needs to find more time for the Kelly Olynyk-Bam Adebayo frontcourt, and for Justise Winslow, whose becoming something of a plus-minus phenomenon for the Heat.</p><p><strong>17. Washington Wizards (36–28)<br>Last Week: 5</strong><br>The Wizards faced a dose of reality to close Week 20, losing three in a row to the Warriors, Raptors and Pacers. Still, this team has more than stayed afloat in the <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/30/wizards-john-wall-injury-update-knee-surgery" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:absence of John Wall" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">absence of John Wall</a>. When the Wizards go small—with Markieff Morris at center, flanked by Beal, Sato, Oubre and Otto—they have a net rating of 28.1. That’s a very fun group to watch.</p><p><strong>16. Minnesota Timberwolves (38–28)<br>Last Week: 16</strong><br>The Wolves have lost two in a row, and their next six games are against teams with winning records, including matchups with Boston, Golden State and Houston. The starting lineup has actually been decent <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/02/24/minnesota-timberwolves-jimmy-butler-knee-injury-update" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:without Jimmy Butler" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">without Jimmy Butler</a>, but it will take a herculean effort to succeed in their upcoming gauntlet.</p><p><strong>15. Oklahoma City Thunder (37–28)<br>Last Week: 15</strong><br>The Thunder’s last win over a playoff team came nearly a month ago on Feb. 6, when they defeated the Warriors. Since then, OKC has lost to all winning teams its played and eked out wins over lottery opponents. The <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/27/andre-roberson-thunder-stretchered-fall-video" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Andre Roberson injury" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Andre Roberson injury</a> is a serious problem here, and it’s one Corey Brewer may not be able to fix.</p><p>?</p><p><strong>14. San Antonio Spurs (36–27)<br>Last Week: 13</strong><br>The Spurs only have two wins since the start of February. <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/02/24/minnesota-timberwolves-jimmy-butler-knee-injury-update" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Kawhi" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Kawhi</a><a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/02/24/minnesota-timberwolves-jimmy-butler-knee-injury-update" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:can’t come back soon enough" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"> can’t come back soon enough</a>.</p><p><strong>13. Cleveland Cavaliers (36–26)<br>Last Week: 7</strong><br>The Cavs’ new-look starting lineup of George Hill, LeBron. Cedi Osman, J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson is already their second-most used lineup of the season—and it has a –?6.0 net rating. Cleveland’s best lineups of the season aren’t replicable because of the trades they made, and the defense is still really bad. This team is far from out of the woods, and the honeymoon is officially over.</p><p><strong>12. Los Angeles Lakers (28–34)<br>Last Week: 21</strong><br>The Lakers are on a five-game win streak, so they get a huge bump this week. Los Angeles has lost only three times since the start of February, while notching wins over the Thunder, Heat and Spurs in that timespan. Lonzo Ball is shooting well and playing fun basketball, and Brandon Ingram looks like he could be a significant part of the future as well. It’s hard to discern what’s sustainable here, but it’s exciting to see this team flash its potential.</p><p><strong>11. Utah Jazz (33–30)<br>Last Week: 6</strong><br>The Jazz have a higher net rating than the Wizards, Blazers, Pelicans, Bucks and Cavaliers. It’s remarkable how this team has bounced back this season. Donovan Mitchell deserves a lot of love, but so does Rudy Gobert. The Stifle Tower is putting together another fine season, and he still has stretches in which he thoroughly dominates a game on the defensive end. Gobert’s game will never be sexy in the pace-and-space era, but he’s a huge factor in Utah’s success.</p><p>?</p><p><strong>10. Los Angeles Clippers (34–28)<br>Last Week: 17</strong><br>The Zombie Clippers may be my favorite story of the season. They keep rolling along toward the playoffs, including a huge come-from-behind <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/game/1948122/box-score" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:win over the Nuggets last week" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">win over the Nuggets last week</a>. The Clips’ top-three most-used lineups from the season still feature Blake Griffin. Their fourth most-used lineup has played only 62 minutes together. Doc Rivers is legitimately patching together units game-by-game this season, and yet this team still has a very realistic chance at the playoffs.</p><p><strong>9. Philadelphia 76ers (34–28)<br>Last Week: 12</strong><br>The East’s sleeping giant has a big three-game road trip this week, with cupcakes against Charlotte and Brooklyn sandwiching a final matchup with Miami. If the season ended today, the 76ers would face the Cavaliers in the first round of the playoffs. I’m not sure who I would pick in that series, but it could easily go seven games.</p><p><strong>8. Denver Nuggets (35–28)<br>Last Week: 11</strong><br>The Nuggets came away with a great road <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/game/1947593" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:win in Cleveland on Saturday" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">win in Cleveland on Saturday</a> on the second night of a back-to-back. Denver has won seven of its last 10, and will probably be favored to win its next six games. Stacking wins now will be important, because the Nuggets have a treacherous seven-game road trip looming at the end of March.</p><p><strong>7. Indiana Pacers (36–27)<br>Last Week: 8</strong><br>The Pacers inexplicably lost two in a row to Dallas and Atlanta last week, but rebounded with two impressive wins against the Bucks and Wizards. The Pacers have the fourth-best net rating in the East, and they play a fun brand of basketball. I’m not sure what impact he can make this late in the season, but I hope Glenn Robinson III works his way into the rotation. He could be a nice little injection of energy for the season’s final stretch.</p><p><strong>6. Boston Celtics (44–20)<br>Last Week: 4</strong><br>Tough <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/game/1948052" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:loss for Boston in Houston on Saturday" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">loss for Boston in Houston on Saturday</a> in one of the best games of the season. The C&#39;s are now three games behind Toronto in the loss column for the No. 1 seed in the East.</p><p><strong>5. New Orleans Pelicans (36–26)<br>Last Week: 10</strong><br>This week’s big winner is the Pelicans! Let’s bring David Kinch back to town, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsfm8jk59L0" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:fire up some Po’ Boys" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">fire up some Po’ Boys</a> and party in the bayou! <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/26/demarcus-cousins-injury-news" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Without Boogie Cousins" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Without Boogie Cousins</a>, New Orleans has still managed to win eight games in a row. This is honestly a remarkable story. Anthony Davis is absolutely wrecking opponents and single-handedly keeping this team from going away quietly. Can the fun times last? Something to note about the Pelicans’ win streak—three wins have come in overtime, and five have come against sub–.500 teams. So let’s just celebrate while we can.</p><p><strong>4. Portland Trail Blazers (37–26)<br>Last Week: 9</strong><br>Meanwhile, the Blazers have won six in a row and entered Week 21 with the fifth-best record in the league. This is a surprising development for a team that struggled for much of the early season. And shockingly, Portland’s success stems more from its No. 7 defense then its No. 16 offense. That’s right, the Blazers are scoring on par with the Hornets and Celtics but defending only 0.8 points per possession worse than the Warriors. Portland’s net rating would indicate the team has room to improve, but the Blazers are peaking at the right time.</p><p>?</p><p><strong>3. Toronto Raptors (45–17)</strong><br><strong>Last Week: 3</strong><br>The Raptors have lost only twice since the start of February by a combined six points. Toronto deserves to be the favorite to make the Finals in the East.</p><p><strong>2. Golden State Warriors (49–14)<br>Last Week: 2</strong><br>Draymond Green admitted last week the Warriors have been complacent at times this season. They still have the best offense in the league, and a top-five defense. I’m not sure we really know what it’s going to look like when this team finally decides to try.</p><p><strong>1. Houston Rockets (49–13)<br>Last Week: 1</strong><br>The Rockets have won 15 in a row—their second win streak in the teens—and are still looking over their shoulder at the Warriors. The race for the No. 1 seed in the West could be very fun over the last six weeks of the season.</p>
NBA Power Rankings: The Zombie Clippers Refuse to Go Away

Week 21 of the NBA season is here, and I’m excited to see how the league will top a week in which a player was suspended for throwing soup at a coach. On the court, while nine teams are blatantly tanking at this point, so much of the league is bunched together it should make for an exciting playoff race (though the bunching does make it hard to separate teams when you’re trying to rank them.)

Five teams are on win streaks of at least five games, all of which are in the Western Conference. Meanwhile, the East appears to have a pretty clear top eight, but the order in which they’ll finish seems totally up for grabs.

Oh, and before we dive in to the rankings, here’s a shameless plug for the latest episode of Crossover TV. Now let’s take a look at where each team stands headed into Week 21.

30. Memphis Grizzlies (18–44)
Last Week: 29

29. Phoenix Suns (19-46)
Last Week: 30

28. Dallas Mavericks (19–45)
Last Week: 26

27. Atlanta Hawks (20–44)
Last Week: 25

26. Brooklyn Nets (20–44)
Last Week: 28

25. Sacramento Kings (20–44)
Last Week: 24

24. Orlando Magic (20–43)
Last Week: 27

This group is still tanking hard. I almost ranked the Grizzlies at the top of this list, simply because they are doing the best job at gunning for the No. 1 pick, having lost 13(!) in a row. Memphis did a great job last week of gaining some lottery ground by losing to the Suns and Magic. Phoenix had a good showing against OKC, but forfeited any good will by losing to Atlanta.

Something we aren’t talking enough about (and I want to keep stressing) is how painful it is watching Dirk Nowitzki play for such a woeful team at the end of his career. Sure, Dirk can’t carry a contender, but he deserves to go out better than this. The NBA community still loves celebrating Nowitzki’s achievements—imagine if they happened in meaningful games!

On an unrelated note, I wish the Magic could loan their sweet City edition jerseys to a good team. If you’re looking for positives here, at least De’Aaron Fox is still really cool.

23. New York Knicks (24–40)
Last Week: 22

22. Chicago Bulls (21–41)
Last Week: 23

These two teams are rapidly approaching the tankstravaganza taking place with the bottom seven squads in the league. A troubling sign for the Bulls? Chicago has a –20.4 net rating in 158 minutes when Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen share the court. The front office should at least hope for some improvement out of that group. There’s not much to say about the Porzingis-less Knicks. New York has only one win over a team with a winning record this calendar year.

21. Detroit Pistons (29–34)
Last Week: 20

The Pistons have lost five of their last six, including a devastating defeat to the Magic in overtime on Friday. A loss to Miami the next night may have pushed Detroit out of the playoff race for good. The Andre Drummond-Blake Griffin frontcourt has been underwhelming at best. The Pistons have a –?0.9 net rating when those two are on the floor together.

20. Charlotte Hornets (28–36)
Last Week: 18

After a five-game win streak, the Hornets ran into some stiff competition, dropping three in a row against Boston, Philly and Toronto. Charlotte’s faint playoff hopes are all but extinguished, but good for this team for fighting until the bitter end.

19. Milwaukee Bucks (34–29)
Last Week: 14

The Bucks had lost four in a row before a much needed win over the 76ers on Sunday. Milwaukee should be better, and I wonder if or when the Bucks will commit to playing more often with Giannis at center. A Bledsoe-Middleton-Snell-Jabari-Giannis lineup sure as hell sounds fun on paper.

?

18. Miami Heat (33–30)
Last Week: 19

The Heat suffered an ugly loss to the Lakers on Thursday but rebounded with a win over the Pistons two nights later. Miami is maybe counting on Dwyane Wade too much, and Erik Spoelstra has played some weird lineup combinations over the last few weeks. Injuries have been a factor here, but Spo needs to find more time for the Kelly Olynyk-Bam Adebayo frontcourt, and for Justise Winslow, whose becoming something of a plus-minus phenomenon for the Heat.

17. Washington Wizards (36–28)
Last Week: 5

The Wizards faced a dose of reality to close Week 20, losing three in a row to the Warriors, Raptors and Pacers. Still, this team has more than stayed afloat in the absence of John Wall. When the Wizards go small—with Markieff Morris at center, flanked by Beal, Sato, Oubre and Otto—they have a net rating of 28.1. That’s a very fun group to watch.

16. Minnesota Timberwolves (38–28)
Last Week: 16

The Wolves have lost two in a row, and their next six games are against teams with winning records, including matchups with Boston, Golden State and Houston. The starting lineup has actually been decent without Jimmy Butler, but it will take a herculean effort to succeed in their upcoming gauntlet.

15. Oklahoma City Thunder (37–28)
Last Week: 15

The Thunder’s last win over a playoff team came nearly a month ago on Feb. 6, when they defeated the Warriors. Since then, OKC has lost to all winning teams its played and eked out wins over lottery opponents. The Andre Roberson injury is a serious problem here, and it’s one Corey Brewer may not be able to fix.

?

14. San Antonio Spurs (36–27)
Last Week: 13

The Spurs only have two wins since the start of February. Kawhi can’t come back soon enough.

13. Cleveland Cavaliers (36–26)
Last Week: 7

The Cavs’ new-look starting lineup of George Hill, LeBron. Cedi Osman, J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson is already their second-most used lineup of the season—and it has a –?6.0 net rating. Cleveland’s best lineups of the season aren’t replicable because of the trades they made, and the defense is still really bad. This team is far from out of the woods, and the honeymoon is officially over.

12. Los Angeles Lakers (28–34)
Last Week: 21

The Lakers are on a five-game win streak, so they get a huge bump this week. Los Angeles has lost only three times since the start of February, while notching wins over the Thunder, Heat and Spurs in that timespan. Lonzo Ball is shooting well and playing fun basketball, and Brandon Ingram looks like he could be a significant part of the future as well. It’s hard to discern what’s sustainable here, but it’s exciting to see this team flash its potential.

11. Utah Jazz (33–30)
Last Week: 6

The Jazz have a higher net rating than the Wizards, Blazers, Pelicans, Bucks and Cavaliers. It’s remarkable how this team has bounced back this season. Donovan Mitchell deserves a lot of love, but so does Rudy Gobert. The Stifle Tower is putting together another fine season, and he still has stretches in which he thoroughly dominates a game on the defensive end. Gobert’s game will never be sexy in the pace-and-space era, but he’s a huge factor in Utah’s success.

?

10. Los Angeles Clippers (34–28)
Last Week: 17

The Zombie Clippers may be my favorite story of the season. They keep rolling along toward the playoffs, including a huge come-from-behind win over the Nuggets last week. The Clips’ top-three most-used lineups from the season still feature Blake Griffin. Their fourth most-used lineup has played only 62 minutes together. Doc Rivers is legitimately patching together units game-by-game this season, and yet this team still has a very realistic chance at the playoffs.

9. Philadelphia 76ers (34–28)
Last Week: 12

The East’s sleeping giant has a big three-game road trip this week, with cupcakes against Charlotte and Brooklyn sandwiching a final matchup with Miami. If the season ended today, the 76ers would face the Cavaliers in the first round of the playoffs. I’m not sure who I would pick in that series, but it could easily go seven games.

8. Denver Nuggets (35–28)
Last Week: 11

The Nuggets came away with a great road win in Cleveland on Saturday on the second night of a back-to-back. Denver has won seven of its last 10, and will probably be favored to win its next six games. Stacking wins now will be important, because the Nuggets have a treacherous seven-game road trip looming at the end of March.

7. Indiana Pacers (36–27)
Last Week: 8

The Pacers inexplicably lost two in a row to Dallas and Atlanta last week, but rebounded with two impressive wins against the Bucks and Wizards. The Pacers have the fourth-best net rating in the East, and they play a fun brand of basketball. I’m not sure what impact he can make this late in the season, but I hope Glenn Robinson III works his way into the rotation. He could be a nice little injection of energy for the season’s final stretch.

6. Boston Celtics (44–20)
Last Week: 4

Tough loss for Boston in Houston on Saturday in one of the best games of the season. The C's are now three games behind Toronto in the loss column for the No. 1 seed in the East.

5. New Orleans Pelicans (36–26)
Last Week: 10

This week’s big winner is the Pelicans! Let’s bring David Kinch back to town, fire up some Po’ Boys and party in the bayou! Without Boogie Cousins, New Orleans has still managed to win eight games in a row. This is honestly a remarkable story. Anthony Davis is absolutely wrecking opponents and single-handedly keeping this team from going away quietly. Can the fun times last? Something to note about the Pelicans’ win streak—three wins have come in overtime, and five have come against sub–.500 teams. So let’s just celebrate while we can.

4. Portland Trail Blazers (37–26)
Last Week: 9

Meanwhile, the Blazers have won six in a row and entered Week 21 with the fifth-best record in the league. This is a surprising development for a team that struggled for much of the early season. And shockingly, Portland’s success stems more from its No. 7 defense then its No. 16 offense. That’s right, the Blazers are scoring on par with the Hornets and Celtics but defending only 0.8 points per possession worse than the Warriors. Portland’s net rating would indicate the team has room to improve, but the Blazers are peaking at the right time.

?

3. Toronto Raptors (45–17)
Last Week: 3
The Raptors have lost only twice since the start of February by a combined six points. Toronto deserves to be the favorite to make the Finals in the East.

2. Golden State Warriors (49–14)
Last Week: 2

Draymond Green admitted last week the Warriors have been complacent at times this season. They still have the best offense in the league, and a top-five defense. I’m not sure we really know what it’s going to look like when this team finally decides to try.

1. Houston Rockets (49–13)
Last Week: 1

The Rockets have won 15 in a row—their second win streak in the teens—and are still looking over their shoulder at the Warriors. The race for the No. 1 seed in the West could be very fun over the last six weeks of the season.

<p>Welcome back to The Crossover’s NBA Power Rankings. We’re back after a week off following the All-Star break. Every team is now well into the back half of its schedule, and as the contenders separate themselves, the tankers have also fully retreated into their bunkers. The playoff race in each conference is pretty tight, with many of the top teams bunched together on both sides of the country. It should certainly be a compelling finish to the season. Let’s look at where each team stands as we head toward the homestretch.</p><p><strong>30. Phoenix Suns (18–43)</strong></p><p><strong>29. Memphis Grizzlies (18–40)</strong></p><p><strong>28. Brooklyn Nets (19–41)</strong></p><p><strong>27. Orlando Magic (18–41)</strong></p><p><strong>26. Dallas Mavericks (18–42)</strong></p><p><strong>25. Atlanta Hawks (18–42)</strong></p><p><strong>24. Sacramento Kings (18–41)</strong><br>These teams are so bad! I’m sorry, but if they don’t care about the regular season, then I don’t care about showing them any attention in my power rankings. The bottom seven teams in the NBA have combined to lose 41 straight games and are engaged in <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/02/26/nba-draft-2018-tanking-lottery-odds-bulls-knicks-lakers-kings" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the great tank-off" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the great tank-off</a>. I would be fine if we relegated at least four of these squads into the G-League, and I’m not sure if every outfit in this group has really turned up the tank meter all the way yet. There’s plenty of bad basketball left to be played down the stretch.</p><p><strong>23. Chicago Bulls (20–39)</strong><br>The Bulls have significantly cooled off since their mini midseason renaissance, and are now looking to increase their lottery odds. Chicago’s terrible start to the season means the Bulls are only three games up on the worst record in the league, but they’ll have to play a lot worse to catch the likes of Phoenix and Atlanta.</p><p><strong>22. New York Knicks (24–37)</strong><br>The Knicks are 1–9 in their last 10 games and are quickly approaching the bottom of the league since losing Kristaps Porzingis. I just hope Michael Beasley gets bought out in time to join a contender.</p><p><strong>21. Los Angeles Lakers (25–34)</strong><br>This team doesn’t quite make sense at the moment, but you know what, they’re frisky enough that they shouldn’t be lumped in with the league’s worst. Lonzo Ball has been shooting well for a couple months, and their black alternate jerseys make watching their absurd number of national TV games almost bearable.</p><p><strong>20. Detroit Pistons (28–31)</strong><br>The Pistons have lost five of their last six and the Blake Griffin Effect has seemed to cool off. It’s going to be really disappointing if Detroit still doesn’t make the playoffs after reshuffling the deck at the deadline. At some point you have to wonder if the sword will fall down on Stan Van Gundy.</p><p><strong>19. Miami Heat (31–29)</strong><br>The Heatles reunion tour is sputtering a bit. Miami is only 2–8 in its last 10 games, as the team has started to lose all the close games it was winning earlier this year. A healthy Kelly Olynyk will be important for the stretch run, but Erik Spoelstra still has some work to do to find the right lineup combinations to unlock his roster’s full potential. A return to last year’s form from James Johnson would help mightily.</p><p><strong>18. Charlotte Hornets (27–33)</strong><br>Let’s show some love to the Hornets, who have won four in a row to avoid a full-on tank after losing four straight earlier this month. Charlotte’s infant-like ineptitude in close games looked like it would stop them from having any hope at the playoffs. But with 22 games left, the Hornets are only four games out of the eight seed in the East. Maybe they can make the last couple months interesting.</p><p><strong>17. Los Angeles Clippers (31–27)</strong><br>The Clippers are staying right on the edge of the playoff race, entering this week only one game out of the bracket in the West. I’m going to stress this every week: Doc Rivers deserves more consideration for the Coach of the Year. I’m not even worried about the Avery Bradley injury because of the emergence of [squints]...Tyrone Wallace!</p><p><strong>16. Minnesota Timberwolves (37–26)</strong><br>The <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/02/24/jimmy-butler-knee-injury-minnesota-timberwolves-playoff-hopes" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Butler injury is an absolute killer" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Butler injury is an absolute killer</a>. The Wolves play like a top-five team in the league with Butler on the court, and a bottom-five team without him. Minnesota already had issues with depth, and losing its star player for any amount of time is going to have dire consequences. It’s unfair to blame the Butler injury all on Tom Thibodeau...but at some point Thibs needs to look in the mirror and think about how many minutes he plays his starters. And as the head of basketball ops, Thibs has only himself to blame for not having anyone to go to on the bench.</p><p>?</p><p><strong>15. Oklahoma City Thunder (34–27)</strong><br>I’m tempted to leave the Thunder at No. 15 for the rest of the season because they cancel out all their good wins with baffling losses. Saturday’s <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/game/1947551" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:blowout loss to the Warriors" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">blowout loss to the Warriors</a> was a sobering reminder of the gap between OKC and Golden State. If Sam Presti can’t find another wing on the buyout market, this team may find itself in a struggle just to get out of the first round.</p><p><strong>14. Milwaukee Bucks (33–26)</strong><br>The Bucks have big games coming up in the next seven days, with matchups against the Wizards, Pacers and 76ers all on the docket. With the tight nature of the East, a streak of wins against that competition could have Milwaukee in the top half of the playoff bracket. Not bad for a team that <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/22/jason-kidd-fired-milwaukee-bucks-head-coach" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:fired its coach" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">fired its coach </a><a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/22/jason-kidd-fired-milwaukee-bucks-head-coach" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:midseason" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">midseason</a>.</p><p><strong>13. San Antonio Spurs (36–25)</strong><br>The Spurs had lost six of seven before their win over the <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/game/1947579" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Cavaliers on Sunday" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Cavaliers on Sunday</a>. Pop rewards our faith every season, but this has been a particularly dull year for the franchise. This trying period will have all been worth it though if <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/02/22/kawhi-leonard-injury-spurs-gregg-popovich-warriors-rockets-western-conference" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Kawhi mystery is solved" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Kawhi mystery is solved</a> and he returns in terminator mode and the Spurs upset someone in the first round.</p><p><strong>12. Philadelphia 76ers (32–26)</strong><br>This is one of my favorite stats of the season: The 76ers’ second most-used lineup of the season has played only 86 minutes together. Their most used has played 426.</p><p><strong>11. Denver Nuggets (33–27)</strong><br>The Nuggets have been hot this month. They can’t quite figure out the Rockets, but the pieces are falling into place in Denver, especially with Paul Millsap returning to practice.</p><p><strong>10. New Orleans Pelicans (33–26)</strong><br>The Pelicans have won five in a row, and are staying afloat without Boogie Cousins. The scheduled has helped, but so has an absurd stretch from Anthony Davis. Nikola Mirotic was a nice pickup at the deadline, and it’s also fun to see Emeka Okafor getting some playing time here, even if it’s worrisome to think about how much the team is counting on him. As long as Davis keeps playing like the all-universe talent that he is, this team won’t go away quietly.</p><p><strong>9. Portland Trail Blazers (34–26)</strong><br>With the Butler injury in Minnesota and the malaise in San Antonio, the Blazers have a realistic path toward the third seed in the Western Conference. Portland entered this week only a game and a half out.</p><p><strong>8. Indiana Pacers (34–25)</strong><br>The sleeper in the East. The Pacers have won four in a row, and they play two cupcakes in the Mavs and Hawks this week. Indiana has been legit for much of the season—did you know the Pacers have the ninth-best net rating in the league? And as if things weren’t going well enough for this franchise, Victor Oladipo recently <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/02/19/victor-oladipo-nba-all-star-weekend-musical-behind-the-scenes" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:received the Lee Jenkins treatment" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">received the Lee Jenkins treatment</a>.</p><p><strong>7. Cleveland Cavaliers (35–24)</strong><br>The Cavs have lost two of three since the All-Star break, but I’m giving them one more honeymoon week for the new pieces to gel around LeBron. As long as the expectations here are Finals or bust, the most will always be demanded of no matter the group on the floor.</p><p><strong>6. Utah Jazz (31–29)</strong><br>The Jazz are back on track after <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/game/1947626/box-score" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Portland ended their 10-game" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Portland ended their 10-game</a> winning streak. This is a big week for Utah with matchups against Houston and Minnesota on the schedule. If the Wolves can’t hang on without Butler, the Jazz may end up being the biggest beneficiaries.</p><p>?</p><p><strong>5. Washington Wizards (35–25)</strong><br>Break up the Wizards! Give me your John Wall trades! The Wiz are playing their best basketball of the year, and it’s all happening without their star point guard. Washington has wins over the Pacers, Raptors, Cavs and 76ers this month. Tomas Satoransky has been a revelation, sliding into Wall’s spot in the starting lineup and giving the team heroic minutes. The Sato-Beal-Porter-Morris-Gortat five-man unit has a net rating of 15.2. Meanwhile, the Sato-Beal-Porter-Oubre-Gortat group has a 22.0 net rating.</p><p>Satoransky may not have the same impact playing with other bench players once Wall returns, but he’s proven he can be an asset to this team. The Wizards will really be tested over the next month, however. From <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/team/washington-wizards/schedule" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:now through March 23" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">now through March 23</a>, Washington will only play teams who are currently in the top eight of each conference.</p><p><strong>4. Boston Celtics (42–19)</strong><br>Greg Monroe hasn’t exactly been the answer to Boston’s offensive woes, as the Celtics—while still a great team—have looked just the slightest bit creaky over the past month. I’m not sure I could pick Boston over Toronto or Cleveland in a playoff series right now.</p><p><strong>3. Toronto Raptors (41–17)</strong><br>The Raptors keep rolling, but more importantly, I really want to commend DeMar DeRozan for <a href="https://www.thestar.com/sports/raptors/2018/02/25/raptors-derozan-hopes-honest-talk-on-depression-helps-others.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:speaking out about his battles with depression" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">speaking out about his battles with depression</a>. That’s not an easy thing to admit, let alone discuss publicly. DeMar is having a great season, and we’re sending positive vibes his way.</p><p><strong>2. Golden State Warriors (46–14)</strong><br>Let Javale McGee coach against the Knicks if only for the Enes Kanter reaction. The Warriors are seemingly never firing on all cylinders but they are still right there with Houston at the top of the league. The difference is the Rockets actually seem to care.</p><p><strong>1. Houston Rockets (46–13)</strong><br>James Harden is the MVP if the season ended today.</p>
NBA Power Rankings: The Wizards Are Rolling Without John Wall

Welcome back to The Crossover’s NBA Power Rankings. We’re back after a week off following the All-Star break. Every team is now well into the back half of its schedule, and as the contenders separate themselves, the tankers have also fully retreated into their bunkers. The playoff race in each conference is pretty tight, with many of the top teams bunched together on both sides of the country. It should certainly be a compelling finish to the season. Let’s look at where each team stands as we head toward the homestretch.

30. Phoenix Suns (18–43)

29. Memphis Grizzlies (18–40)

28. Brooklyn Nets (19–41)

27. Orlando Magic (18–41)

26. Dallas Mavericks (18–42)

25. Atlanta Hawks (18–42)

24. Sacramento Kings (18–41)
These teams are so bad! I’m sorry, but if they don’t care about the regular season, then I don’t care about showing them any attention in my power rankings. The bottom seven teams in the NBA have combined to lose 41 straight games and are engaged in the great tank-off. I would be fine if we relegated at least four of these squads into the G-League, and I’m not sure if every outfit in this group has really turned up the tank meter all the way yet. There’s plenty of bad basketball left to be played down the stretch.

23. Chicago Bulls (20–39)
The Bulls have significantly cooled off since their mini midseason renaissance, and are now looking to increase their lottery odds. Chicago’s terrible start to the season means the Bulls are only three games up on the worst record in the league, but they’ll have to play a lot worse to catch the likes of Phoenix and Atlanta.

22. New York Knicks (24–37)
The Knicks are 1–9 in their last 10 games and are quickly approaching the bottom of the league since losing Kristaps Porzingis. I just hope Michael Beasley gets bought out in time to join a contender.

21. Los Angeles Lakers (25–34)
This team doesn’t quite make sense at the moment, but you know what, they’re frisky enough that they shouldn’t be lumped in with the league’s worst. Lonzo Ball has been shooting well for a couple months, and their black alternate jerseys make watching their absurd number of national TV games almost bearable.

20. Detroit Pistons (28–31)
The Pistons have lost five of their last six and the Blake Griffin Effect has seemed to cool off. It’s going to be really disappointing if Detroit still doesn’t make the playoffs after reshuffling the deck at the deadline. At some point you have to wonder if the sword will fall down on Stan Van Gundy.

19. Miami Heat (31–29)
The Heatles reunion tour is sputtering a bit. Miami is only 2–8 in its last 10 games, as the team has started to lose all the close games it was winning earlier this year. A healthy Kelly Olynyk will be important for the stretch run, but Erik Spoelstra still has some work to do to find the right lineup combinations to unlock his roster’s full potential. A return to last year’s form from James Johnson would help mightily.

18. Charlotte Hornets (27–33)
Let’s show some love to the Hornets, who have won four in a row to avoid a full-on tank after losing four straight earlier this month. Charlotte’s infant-like ineptitude in close games looked like it would stop them from having any hope at the playoffs. But with 22 games left, the Hornets are only four games out of the eight seed in the East. Maybe they can make the last couple months interesting.

17. Los Angeles Clippers (31–27)
The Clippers are staying right on the edge of the playoff race, entering this week only one game out of the bracket in the West. I’m going to stress this every week: Doc Rivers deserves more consideration for the Coach of the Year. I’m not even worried about the Avery Bradley injury because of the emergence of [squints]...Tyrone Wallace!

16. Minnesota Timberwolves (37–26)
The Butler injury is an absolute killer. The Wolves play like a top-five team in the league with Butler on the court, and a bottom-five team without him. Minnesota already had issues with depth, and losing its star player for any amount of time is going to have dire consequences. It’s unfair to blame the Butler injury all on Tom Thibodeau...but at some point Thibs needs to look in the mirror and think about how many minutes he plays his starters. And as the head of basketball ops, Thibs has only himself to blame for not having anyone to go to on the bench.

?

15. Oklahoma City Thunder (34–27)
I’m tempted to leave the Thunder at No. 15 for the rest of the season because they cancel out all their good wins with baffling losses. Saturday’s blowout loss to the Warriors was a sobering reminder of the gap between OKC and Golden State. If Sam Presti can’t find another wing on the buyout market, this team may find itself in a struggle just to get out of the first round.

14. Milwaukee Bucks (33–26)
The Bucks have big games coming up in the next seven days, with matchups against the Wizards, Pacers and 76ers all on the docket. With the tight nature of the East, a streak of wins against that competition could have Milwaukee in the top half of the playoff bracket. Not bad for a team that fired its coach midseason.

13. San Antonio Spurs (36–25)
The Spurs had lost six of seven before their win over the Cavaliers on Sunday. Pop rewards our faith every season, but this has been a particularly dull year for the franchise. This trying period will have all been worth it though if Kawhi mystery is solved and he returns in terminator mode and the Spurs upset someone in the first round.

12. Philadelphia 76ers (32–26)
This is one of my favorite stats of the season: The 76ers’ second most-used lineup of the season has played only 86 minutes together. Their most used has played 426.

11. Denver Nuggets (33–27)
The Nuggets have been hot this month. They can’t quite figure out the Rockets, but the pieces are falling into place in Denver, especially with Paul Millsap returning to practice.

10. New Orleans Pelicans (33–26)
The Pelicans have won five in a row, and are staying afloat without Boogie Cousins. The scheduled has helped, but so has an absurd stretch from Anthony Davis. Nikola Mirotic was a nice pickup at the deadline, and it’s also fun to see Emeka Okafor getting some playing time here, even if it’s worrisome to think about how much the team is counting on him. As long as Davis keeps playing like the all-universe talent that he is, this team won’t go away quietly.

9. Portland Trail Blazers (34–26)
With the Butler injury in Minnesota and the malaise in San Antonio, the Blazers have a realistic path toward the third seed in the Western Conference. Portland entered this week only a game and a half out.

8. Indiana Pacers (34–25)
The sleeper in the East. The Pacers have won four in a row, and they play two cupcakes in the Mavs and Hawks this week. Indiana has been legit for much of the season—did you know the Pacers have the ninth-best net rating in the league? And as if things weren’t going well enough for this franchise, Victor Oladipo recently received the Lee Jenkins treatment.

7. Cleveland Cavaliers (35–24)
The Cavs have lost two of three since the All-Star break, but I’m giving them one more honeymoon week for the new pieces to gel around LeBron. As long as the expectations here are Finals or bust, the most will always be demanded of no matter the group on the floor.

6. Utah Jazz (31–29)
The Jazz are back on track after Portland ended their 10-game winning streak. This is a big week for Utah with matchups against Houston and Minnesota on the schedule. If the Wolves can’t hang on without Butler, the Jazz may end up being the biggest beneficiaries.

?

5. Washington Wizards (35–25)
Break up the Wizards! Give me your John Wall trades! The Wiz are playing their best basketball of the year, and it’s all happening without their star point guard. Washington has wins over the Pacers, Raptors, Cavs and 76ers this month. Tomas Satoransky has been a revelation, sliding into Wall’s spot in the starting lineup and giving the team heroic minutes. The Sato-Beal-Porter-Morris-Gortat five-man unit has a net rating of 15.2. Meanwhile, the Sato-Beal-Porter-Oubre-Gortat group has a 22.0 net rating.

Satoransky may not have the same impact playing with other bench players once Wall returns, but he’s proven he can be an asset to this team. The Wizards will really be tested over the next month, however. From now through March 23, Washington will only play teams who are currently in the top eight of each conference.

4. Boston Celtics (42–19)
Greg Monroe hasn’t exactly been the answer to Boston’s offensive woes, as the Celtics—while still a great team—have looked just the slightest bit creaky over the past month. I’m not sure I could pick Boston over Toronto or Cleveland in a playoff series right now.

3. Toronto Raptors (41–17)
The Raptors keep rolling, but more importantly, I really want to commend DeMar DeRozan for speaking out about his battles with depression. That’s not an easy thing to admit, let alone discuss publicly. DeMar is having a great season, and we’re sending positive vibes his way.

2. Golden State Warriors (46–14)
Let Javale McGee coach against the Knicks if only for the Enes Kanter reaction. The Warriors are seemingly never firing on all cylinders but they are still right there with Houston at the top of the league. The difference is the Rockets actually seem to care.

1. Houston Rockets (46–13)
James Harden is the MVP if the season ended today.

<p>Welcome back to The Crossover’s NBA Power Rankings. We’re back after a week off following the All-Star break. Every team is now well into the back half of its schedule, and as the contenders separate themselves, the tankers have also fully retreated into their bunkers. The playoff race in each conference is pretty tight, with many of the top teams bunched together on both sides of the country. It should certainly be a compelling finish to the season. Let’s look at where each team stands as we head toward the homestretch.</p><p><strong>30. Phoenix Suns (18–43)</strong></p><p><strong>29. Memphis Grizzlies (18–40)</strong></p><p><strong>28. Brooklyn Nets (19–41)</strong></p><p><strong>27. Orlando Magic (18–41)</strong></p><p><strong>26. Dallas Mavericks (18–42)</strong></p><p><strong>25. Atlanta Hawks (18–42)</strong></p><p><strong>24. Sacramento Kings (18–41)</strong><br>These teams are so bad! I’m sorry, but if they don’t care about the regular season, then I don’t care about showing them any attention in my power rankings. The bottom seven teams in the NBA have combined to lose 41 straight games and are engaged in <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/02/26/nba-draft-2018-tanking-lottery-odds-bulls-knicks-lakers-kings" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the great tank-off" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the great tank-off</a>. I would be fine if we relegated at least four of these squads into the G-League, and I’m not sure if every outfit in this group has really turned up the tank meter all the way yet. There’s plenty of bad basketball left to be played down the stretch.</p><p><strong>23. Chicago Bulls (20–39)</strong><br>The Bulls have significantly cooled off since their mini midseason renaissance, and are now looking to increase their lottery odds. Chicago’s terrible start to the season means the Bulls are only three games up on the worst record in the league, but they’ll have to play a lot worse to catch the likes of Phoenix and Atlanta.</p><p><strong>22. New York Knicks (24–37)</strong><br>The Knicks are 1–9 in their last 10 games and are quickly approaching the bottom of the league since losing Kristaps Porzingis. I just hope Michael Beasley gets bought out in time to join a contender.</p><p><strong>21. Los Angeles Lakers (25–34)</strong><br>This team doesn’t quite make sense at the moment, but you know what, they’re frisky enough that they shouldn’t be lumped in with the league’s worst. Lonzo Ball has been shooting well for a couple months, and their black alternate jerseys make watching their absurd number of national TV games almost bearable.</p><p><strong>20. Detroit Pistons (28–31)</strong><br>The Pistons have lost five of their last six and the Blake Griffin Effect has seemed to cool off. It’s going to be really disappointing if Detroit still doesn’t make the playoffs after reshuffling the deck at the deadline. At some point you have to wonder if the sword will fall down on Stan Van Gundy.</p><p><strong>19. Miami Heat (31–29)</strong><br>The Heatles reunion tour is sputtering a bit. Miami is only 2–8 in its last 10 games, as the team has started to lose all the close games it was winning earlier this year. A healthy Kelly Olynyk will be important for the stretch run, but Erik Spoelstra still has some work to do to find the right lineup combinations to unlock his roster’s full potential. A return to last year’s form from James Johnson would help mightily.</p><p><strong>18. Charlotte Hornets (27–33)</strong><br>Let’s show some love to the Hornets, who have won four in a row to avoid a full-on tank after losing four straight earlier this month. Charlotte’s infant-like ineptitude in close games looked like it would stop them from having any hope at the playoffs. But with 22 games left, the Hornets are only four games out of the eight seed in the East. Maybe they can make the last couple months interesting.</p><p><strong>17. Los Angeles Clippers (31–27)</strong><br>The Clippers are staying right on the edge of the playoff race, entering this week only one game out of the bracket in the West. I’m going to stress this every week: Doc Rivers deserves more consideration for the Coach of the Year. I’m not even worried about the Avery Bradley injury because of the emergence of [squints]...Tyrone Wallace!</p><p><strong>16. Minnesota Timberwolves (37–26)</strong><br>The <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/02/24/jimmy-butler-knee-injury-minnesota-timberwolves-playoff-hopes" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Butler injury is an absolute killer" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Butler injury is an absolute killer</a>. The Wolves play like a top-five team in the league with Butler on the court, and a bottom-five team without him. Minnesota already had issues with depth, and losing its star player for any amount of time is going to have dire consequences. It’s unfair to blame the Butler injury all on Tom Thibodeau...but at some point Thibs needs to look in the mirror and think about how many minutes he plays his starters. And as the head of basketball ops, Thibs has only himself to blame for not having anyone to go to on the bench.</p><p>?</p><p><strong>15. Oklahoma City Thunder (34–27)</strong><br>I’m tempted to leave the Thunder at No. 15 for the rest of the season because they cancel out all their good wins with baffling losses. Saturday’s <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/game/1947551" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:blowout loss to the Warriors" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">blowout loss to the Warriors</a> was a sobering reminder of the gap between OKC and Golden State. If Sam Presti can’t find another wing on the buyout market, this team may find itself in a struggle just to get out of the first round.</p><p><strong>14. Milwaukee Bucks (33–26)</strong><br>The Bucks have big games coming up in the next seven days, with matchups against the Wizards, Pacers and 76ers all on the docket. With the tight nature of the East, a streak of wins against that competition could have Milwaukee in the top half of the playoff bracket. Not bad for a team that <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/22/jason-kidd-fired-milwaukee-bucks-head-coach" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:fired its coach" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">fired its coach </a><a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/22/jason-kidd-fired-milwaukee-bucks-head-coach" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:midseason" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">midseason</a>.</p><p><strong>13. San Antonio Spurs (36–25)</strong><br>The Spurs had lost six of seven before their win over the <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/game/1947579" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Cavaliers on Sunday" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Cavaliers on Sunday</a>. Pop rewards our faith every season, but this has been a particularly dull year for the franchise. This trying period will have all been worth it though if <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/02/22/kawhi-leonard-injury-spurs-gregg-popovich-warriors-rockets-western-conference" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Kawhi mystery is solved" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Kawhi mystery is solved</a> and he returns in terminator mode and the Spurs upset someone in the first round.</p><p><strong>12. Philadelphia 76ers (32–26)</strong><br>This is one of my favorite stats of the season: The 76ers’ second most-used lineup of the season has played only 86 minutes together. Their most used has played 426.</p><p><strong>11. Denver Nuggets (33–27)</strong><br>The Nuggets have been hot this month. They can’t quite figure out the Rockets, but the pieces are falling into place in Denver, especially with Paul Millsap returning to practice.</p><p><strong>10. New Orleans Pelicans (33–26)</strong><br>The Pelicans have won five in a row, and are staying afloat without Boogie Cousins. The scheduled has helped, but so has an absurd stretch from Anthony Davis. Nikola Mirotic was a nice pickup at the deadline, and it’s also fun to see Emeka Okafor getting some playing time here, even if it’s worrisome to think about how much the team is counting on him. As long as Davis keeps playing like the all-universe talent that he is, this team won’t go away quietly.</p><p><strong>9. Portland Trail Blazers (34–26)</strong><br>With the Butler injury in Minnesota and the malaise in San Antonio, the Blazers have a realistic path toward the third seed in the Western Conference. Portland entered this week only a game and a half out.</p><p><strong>8. Indiana Pacers (34–25)</strong><br>The sleeper in the East. The Pacers have won four in a row, and they play two cupcakes in the Mavs and Hawks this week. Indiana has been legit for much of the season—did you know the Pacers have the ninth-best net rating in the league? And as if things weren’t going well enough for this franchise, Victor Oladipo recently <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/02/19/victor-oladipo-nba-all-star-weekend-musical-behind-the-scenes" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:received the Lee Jenkins treatment" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">received the Lee Jenkins treatment</a>.</p><p><strong>7. Cleveland Cavaliers (35–24)</strong><br>The Cavs have lost two of three since the All-Star break, but I’m giving them one more honeymoon week for the new pieces to gel around LeBron. As long as the expectations here are Finals or bust, the most will always be demanded of no matter the group on the floor.</p><p><strong>6. Utah Jazz (31–29)</strong><br>The Jazz are back on track after <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/game/1947626/box-score" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Portland ended their 10-game" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Portland ended their 10-game</a> winning streak. This is a big week for Utah with matchups against Houston and Minnesota on the schedule. If the Wolves can’t hang on without Butler, the Jazz may end up being the biggest beneficiaries.</p><p>?</p><p><strong>5. Washington Wizards (35–25)</strong><br>Break up the Wizards! Give me your John Wall trades! The Wiz are playing their best basketball of the year, and it’s all happening without their star point guard. Washington has wins over the Pacers, Raptors, Cavs and 76ers this month. Tomas Satoransky has been a revelation, sliding into Wall’s spot in the starting lineup and giving the team heroic minutes. The Sato-Beal-Porter-Morris-Gortat five-man unit has a net rating of 15.2. Meanwhile, the Sato-Beal-Porter-Oubre-Gortat group has a 22.0 net rating.</p><p>Satoransky may not have the same impact playing with other bench players once Wall returns, but he’s proven he can be an asset to this team. The Wizards will really be tested over the next month, however. From <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/team/washington-wizards/schedule" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:now through March 23" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">now through March 23</a>, Washington will only play teams who are currently in the top eight of each conference.</p><p><strong>4. Boston Celtics (42–19)</strong><br>Greg Monroe hasn’t exactly been the answer to Boston’s offensive woes, as the Celtics—while still a great team—have looked just the slightest bit creaky over the past month. I’m not sure I could pick Boston over Toronto or Cleveland in a playoff series right now.</p><p><strong>3. Toronto Raptors (41–17)</strong><br>The Raptors keep rolling, but more importantly, I really want to commend DeMar DeRozan for <a href="https://www.thestar.com/sports/raptors/2018/02/25/raptors-derozan-hopes-honest-talk-on-depression-helps-others.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:speaking out about his battles with depression" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">speaking out about his battles with depression</a>. That’s not an easy thing to admit, let alone discuss publicly. DeMar is having a great season, and we’re sending positive vibes his way.</p><p><strong>2. Golden State Warriors (46–14)</strong><br>Let Javale McGee coach against the Knicks if only for the Enes Kanter reaction. The Warriors are seemingly never firing on all cylinders but they are still right there with Houston at the top of the league. The difference is the Rockets actually seem to care.</p><p><strong>1. Houston Rockets (46–13)</strong><br>James Harden is the MVP if the season ended today.</p>
NBA Power Rankings: The Wizards Are Rolling Without John Wall

Welcome back to The Crossover’s NBA Power Rankings. We’re back after a week off following the All-Star break. Every team is now well into the back half of its schedule, and as the contenders separate themselves, the tankers have also fully retreated into their bunkers. The playoff race in each conference is pretty tight, with many of the top teams bunched together on both sides of the country. It should certainly be a compelling finish to the season. Let’s look at where each team stands as we head toward the homestretch.

30. Phoenix Suns (18–43)

29. Memphis Grizzlies (18–40)

28. Brooklyn Nets (19–41)

27. Orlando Magic (18–41)

26. Dallas Mavericks (18–42)

25. Atlanta Hawks (18–42)

24. Sacramento Kings (18–41)
These teams are so bad! I’m sorry, but if they don’t care about the regular season, then I don’t care about showing them any attention in my power rankings. The bottom seven teams in the NBA have combined to lose 41 straight games and are engaged in the great tank-off. I would be fine if we relegated at least four of these squads into the G-League, and I’m not sure if every outfit in this group has really turned up the tank meter all the way yet. There’s plenty of bad basketball left to be played down the stretch.

23. Chicago Bulls (20–39)
The Bulls have significantly cooled off since their mini midseason renaissance, and are now looking to increase their lottery odds. Chicago’s terrible start to the season means the Bulls are only three games up on the worst record in the league, but they’ll have to play a lot worse to catch the likes of Phoenix and Atlanta.

22. New York Knicks (24–37)
The Knicks are 1–9 in their last 10 games and are quickly approaching the bottom of the league since losing Kristaps Porzingis. I just hope Michael Beasley gets bought out in time to join a contender.

21. Los Angeles Lakers (25–34)
This team doesn’t quite make sense at the moment, but you know what, they’re frisky enough that they shouldn’t be lumped in with the league’s worst. Lonzo Ball has been shooting well for a couple months, and their black alternate jerseys make watching their absurd number of national TV games almost bearable.

20. Detroit Pistons (28–31)
The Pistons have lost five of their last six and the Blake Griffin Effect has seemed to cool off. It’s going to be really disappointing if Detroit still doesn’t make the playoffs after reshuffling the deck at the deadline. At some point you have to wonder if the sword will fall down on Stan Van Gundy.

19. Miami Heat (31–29)
The Heatles reunion tour is sputtering a bit. Miami is only 2–8 in its last 10 games, as the team has started to lose all the close games it was winning earlier this year. A healthy Kelly Olynyk will be important for the stretch run, but Erik Spoelstra still has some work to do to find the right lineup combinations to unlock his roster’s full potential. A return to last year’s form from James Johnson would help mightily.

18. Charlotte Hornets (27–33)
Let’s show some love to the Hornets, who have won four in a row to avoid a full-on tank after losing four straight earlier this month. Charlotte’s infant-like ineptitude in close games looked like it would stop them from having any hope at the playoffs. But with 22 games left, the Hornets are only four games out of the eight seed in the East. Maybe they can make the last couple months interesting.

17. Los Angeles Clippers (31–27)
The Clippers are staying right on the edge of the playoff race, entering this week only one game out of the bracket in the West. I’m going to stress this every week: Doc Rivers deserves more consideration for the Coach of the Year. I’m not even worried about the Avery Bradley injury because of the emergence of [squints]...Tyrone Wallace!

16. Minnesota Timberwolves (37–26)
The Butler injury is an absolute killer. The Wolves play like a top-five team in the league with Butler on the court, and a bottom-five team without him. Minnesota already had issues with depth, and losing its star player for any amount of time is going to have dire consequences. It’s unfair to blame the Butler injury all on Tom Thibodeau...but at some point Thibs needs to look in the mirror and think about how many minutes he plays his starters. And as the head of basketball ops, Thibs has only himself to blame for not having anyone to go to on the bench.

?

15. Oklahoma City Thunder (34–27)
I’m tempted to leave the Thunder at No. 15 for the rest of the season because they cancel out all their good wins with baffling losses. Saturday’s blowout loss to the Warriors was a sobering reminder of the gap between OKC and Golden State. If Sam Presti can’t find another wing on the buyout market, this team may find itself in a struggle just to get out of the first round.

14. Milwaukee Bucks (33–26)
The Bucks have big games coming up in the next seven days, with matchups against the Wizards, Pacers and 76ers all on the docket. With the tight nature of the East, a streak of wins against that competition could have Milwaukee in the top half of the playoff bracket. Not bad for a team that fired its coach midseason.

13. San Antonio Spurs (36–25)
The Spurs had lost six of seven before their win over the Cavaliers on Sunday. Pop rewards our faith every season, but this has been a particularly dull year for the franchise. This trying period will have all been worth it though if Kawhi mystery is solved and he returns in terminator mode and the Spurs upset someone in the first round.

12. Philadelphia 76ers (32–26)
This is one of my favorite stats of the season: The 76ers’ second most-used lineup of the season has played only 86 minutes together. Their most used has played 426.

11. Denver Nuggets (33–27)
The Nuggets have been hot this month. They can’t quite figure out the Rockets, but the pieces are falling into place in Denver, especially with Paul Millsap returning to practice.

10. New Orleans Pelicans (33–26)
The Pelicans have won five in a row, and are staying afloat without Boogie Cousins. The scheduled has helped, but so has an absurd stretch from Anthony Davis. Nikola Mirotic was a nice pickup at the deadline, and it’s also fun to see Emeka Okafor getting some playing time here, even if it’s worrisome to think about how much the team is counting on him. As long as Davis keeps playing like the all-universe talent that he is, this team won’t go away quietly.

9. Portland Trail Blazers (34–26)
With the Butler injury in Minnesota and the malaise in San Antonio, the Blazers have a realistic path toward the third seed in the Western Conference. Portland entered this week only a game and a half out.

8. Indiana Pacers (34–25)
The sleeper in the East. The Pacers have won four in a row, and they play two cupcakes in the Mavs and Hawks this week. Indiana has been legit for much of the season—did you know the Pacers have the ninth-best net rating in the league? And as if things weren’t going well enough for this franchise, Victor Oladipo recently received the Lee Jenkins treatment.

7. Cleveland Cavaliers (35–24)
The Cavs have lost two of three since the All-Star break, but I’m giving them one more honeymoon week for the new pieces to gel around LeBron. As long as the expectations here are Finals or bust, the most will always be demanded of no matter the group on the floor.

6. Utah Jazz (31–29)
The Jazz are back on track after Portland ended their 10-game winning streak. This is a big week for Utah with matchups against Houston and Minnesota on the schedule. If the Wolves can’t hang on without Butler, the Jazz may end up being the biggest beneficiaries.

?

5. Washington Wizards (35–25)
Break up the Wizards! Give me your John Wall trades! The Wiz are playing their best basketball of the year, and it’s all happening without their star point guard. Washington has wins over the Pacers, Raptors, Cavs and 76ers this month. Tomas Satoransky has been a revelation, sliding into Wall’s spot in the starting lineup and giving the team heroic minutes. The Sato-Beal-Porter-Morris-Gortat five-man unit has a net rating of 15.2. Meanwhile, the Sato-Beal-Porter-Oubre-Gortat group has a 22.0 net rating.

Satoransky may not have the same impact playing with other bench players once Wall returns, but he’s proven he can be an asset to this team. The Wizards will really be tested over the next month, however. From now through March 23, Washington will only play teams who are currently in the top eight of each conference.

4. Boston Celtics (42–19)
Greg Monroe hasn’t exactly been the answer to Boston’s offensive woes, as the Celtics—while still a great team—have looked just the slightest bit creaky over the past month. I’m not sure I could pick Boston over Toronto or Cleveland in a playoff series right now.

3. Toronto Raptors (41–17)
The Raptors keep rolling, but more importantly, I really want to commend DeMar DeRozan for speaking out about his battles with depression. That’s not an easy thing to admit, let alone discuss publicly. DeMar is having a great season, and we’re sending positive vibes his way.

2. Golden State Warriors (46–14)
Let Javale McGee coach against the Knicks if only for the Enes Kanter reaction. The Warriors are seemingly never firing on all cylinders but they are still right there with Houston at the top of the league. The difference is the Rockets actually seem to care.

1. Houston Rockets (46–13)
James Harden is the MVP if the season ended today.

<p>Welcome back to The Crossover’s NBA Power Rankings. We’re back after a week off following the All-Star break. Every team is now well into the back half of its schedule, and as the contenders separate themselves, the tankers have also fully retreated into their bunkers. The playoff race in each conference is pretty tight, with many of the top teams bunched together on both sides of the country. It should certainly be a compelling finish to the season. Let’s look at where each team stands as we head toward the homestretch.</p><p><strong>30. Phoenix Suns (18–43)</strong></p><p><strong>29. Memphis Grizzlies (18–40)</strong></p><p><strong>28. Brooklyn Nets (19–41)</strong></p><p><strong>27. Orlando Magic (18–41)</strong></p><p><strong>26. Dallas Mavericks (18–42)</strong></p><p><strong>25. Atlanta Hawks (18–42)</strong></p><p><strong>24. Sacramento Kings (18–41)</strong><br>These teams are so bad! I’m sorry, but if they don’t care about the regular season, then I don’t care about showing them any attention in my power rankings. The bottom seven teams in the NBA have combined to lose 41 straight games and are engaged in <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/02/26/nba-draft-2018-tanking-lottery-odds-bulls-knicks-lakers-kings" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the great tank-off" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the great tank-off</a>. I would be fine if we relegated at least four of these squads into the G-League, and I’m not sure if every outfit in this group has really turned up the tank meter all the way yet. There’s plenty of bad basketball left to be played down the stretch.</p><p><strong>23. Chicago Bulls (20–39)</strong><br>The Bulls have significantly cooled off since their mini midseason renaissance, and are now looking to increase their lottery odds. Chicago’s terrible start to the season means the Bulls are only three games up on the worst record in the league, but they’ll have to play a lot worse to catch the likes of Phoenix and Atlanta.</p><p><strong>22. New York Knicks (24–37)</strong><br>The Knicks are 1–9 in their last 10 games and are quickly approaching the bottom of the league since losing Kristaps Porzingis. I just hope Michael Beasley gets bought out in time to join a contender.</p><p><strong>21. Los Angeles Lakers (25–34)</strong><br>This team doesn’t quite make sense at the moment, but you know what, they’re frisky enough that they shouldn’t be lumped in with the league’s worst. Lonzo Ball has been shooting well for a couple months, and their black alternate jerseys make watching their absurd number of national TV games almost bearable.</p><p><strong>20. Detroit Pistons (28–31)</strong><br>The Pistons have lost five of their last six and the Blake Griffin Effect has seemed to cool off. It’s going to be really disappointing if Detroit still doesn’t make the playoffs after reshuffling the deck at the deadline. At some point you have to wonder if the sword will fall down on Stan Van Gundy.</p><p><strong>19. Miami Heat (31–29)</strong><br>The Heatles reunion tour is sputtering a bit. Miami is only 2–8 in its last 10 games, as the team has started to lose all the close games it was winning earlier this year. A healthy Kelly Olynyk will be important for the stretch run, but Erik Spoelstra still has some work to do to find the right lineup combinations to unlock his roster’s full potential. A return to last year’s form from James Johnson would help mightily.</p><p><strong>18. Charlotte Hornets (27–33)</strong><br>Let’s show some love to the Hornets, who have won four in a row to avoid a full-on tank after losing four straight earlier this month. Charlotte’s infant-like ineptitude in close games looked like it would stop them from having any hope at the playoffs. But with 22 games left, the Hornets are only four games out of the eight seed in the East. Maybe they can make the last couple months interesting.</p><p><strong>17. Los Angeles Clippers (31–27)</strong><br>The Clippers are staying right on the edge of the playoff race, entering this week only one game out of the bracket in the West. I’m going to stress this every week: Doc Rivers deserves more consideration for the Coach of the Year. I’m not even worried about the Avery Bradley injury because of the emergence of [squints]...Tyrone Wallace!</p><p><strong>16. Minnesota Timberwolves (37–26)</strong><br>The <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/02/24/jimmy-butler-knee-injury-minnesota-timberwolves-playoff-hopes" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Butler injury is an absolute killer" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Butler injury is an absolute killer</a>. The Wolves play like a top-five team in the league with Butler on the court, and a bottom-five team without him. Minnesota already had issues with depth, and losing its star player for any amount of time is going to have dire consequences. It’s unfair to blame the Butler injury all on Tom Thibodeau...but at some point Thibs needs to look in the mirror and think about how many minutes he plays his starters. And as the head of basketball ops, Thibs has only himself to blame for not having anyone to go to on the bench.</p><p>?</p><p><strong>15. Oklahoma City Thunder (34–27)</strong><br>I’m tempted to leave the Thunder at No. 15 for the rest of the season because they cancel out all their good wins with baffling losses. Saturday’s <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/game/1947551" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:blowout loss to the Warriors" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">blowout loss to the Warriors</a> was a sobering reminder of the gap between OKC and Golden State. If Sam Presti can’t find another wing on the buyout market, this team may find itself in a struggle just to get out of the first round.</p><p><strong>14. Milwaukee Bucks (33–26)</strong><br>The Bucks have big games coming up in the next seven days, with matchups against the Wizards, Pacers and 76ers all on the docket. With the tight nature of the East, a streak of wins against that competition could have Milwaukee in the top half of the playoff bracket. Not bad for a team that <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/22/jason-kidd-fired-milwaukee-bucks-head-coach" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:fired its coach" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">fired its coach </a><a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/22/jason-kidd-fired-milwaukee-bucks-head-coach" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:midseason" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">midseason</a>.</p><p><strong>13. San Antonio Spurs (36–25)</strong><br>The Spurs had lost six of seven before their win over the <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/game/1947579" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Cavaliers on Sunday" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Cavaliers on Sunday</a>. Pop rewards our faith every season, but this has been a particularly dull year for the franchise. This trying period will have all been worth it though if <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/02/22/kawhi-leonard-injury-spurs-gregg-popovich-warriors-rockets-western-conference" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Kawhi mystery is solved" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Kawhi mystery is solved</a> and he returns in terminator mode and the Spurs upset someone in the first round.</p><p><strong>12. Philadelphia 76ers (32–26)</strong><br>This is one of my favorite stats of the season: The 76ers’ second most-used lineup of the season has played only 86 minutes together. Their most used has played 426.</p><p><strong>11. Denver Nuggets (33–27)</strong><br>The Nuggets have been hot this month. They can’t quite figure out the Rockets, but the pieces are falling into place in Denver, especially with Paul Millsap returning to practice.</p><p><strong>10. New Orleans Pelicans (33–26)</strong><br>The Pelicans have won five in a row, and are staying afloat without Boogie Cousins. The scheduled has helped, but so has an absurd stretch from Anthony Davis. Nikola Mirotic was a nice pickup at the deadline, and it’s also fun to see Emeka Okafor getting some playing time here, even if it’s worrisome to think about how much the team is counting on him. As long as Davis keeps playing like the all-universe talent that he is, this team won’t go away quietly.</p><p><strong>9. Portland Trail Blazers (34–26)</strong><br>With the Butler injury in Minnesota and the malaise in San Antonio, the Blazers have a realistic path toward the third seed in the Western Conference. Portland entered this week only a game and a half out.</p><p><strong>8. Indiana Pacers (34–25)</strong><br>The sleeper in the East. The Pacers have won four in a row, and they play two cupcakes in the Mavs and Hawks this week. Indiana has been legit for much of the season—did you know the Pacers have the ninth-best net rating in the league? And as if things weren’t going well enough for this franchise, Victor Oladipo recently <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/02/19/victor-oladipo-nba-all-star-weekend-musical-behind-the-scenes" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:received the Lee Jenkins treatment" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">received the Lee Jenkins treatment</a>.</p><p><strong>7. Cleveland Cavaliers (35–24)</strong><br>The Cavs have lost two of three since the All-Star break, but I’m giving them one more honeymoon week for the new pieces to gel around LeBron. As long as the expectations here are Finals or bust, the most will always be demanded of no matter the group on the floor.</p><p><strong>6. Utah Jazz (31–29)</strong><br>The Jazz are back on track after <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/game/1947626/box-score" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Portland ended their 10-game" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Portland ended their 10-game</a> winning streak. This is a big week for Utah with matchups against Houston and Minnesota on the schedule. If the Wolves can’t hang on without Butler, the Jazz may end up being the biggest beneficiaries.</p><p>?</p><p><strong>5. Washington Wizards (35–25)</strong><br>Break up the Wizards! Give me your John Wall trades! The Wiz are playing their best basketball of the year, and it’s all happening without their star point guard. Washington has wins over the Pacers, Raptors, Cavs and 76ers this month. Tomas Satoransky has been a revelation, sliding into Wall’s spot in the starting lineup and giving the team heroic minutes. The Sato-Beal-Porter-Morris-Gortat five-man unit has a net rating of 15.2. Meanwhile, the Sato-Beal-Porter-Oubre-Gortat group has a 22.0 net rating.</p><p>Satoransky may not have the same impact playing with other bench players once Wall returns, but he’s proven he can be an asset to this team. The Wizards will really be tested over the next month, however. From <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/team/washington-wizards/schedule" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:now through March 23" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">now through March 23</a>, Washington will only play teams who are currently in the top eight of each conference.</p><p><strong>4. Boston Celtics (42–19)</strong><br>Greg Monroe hasn’t exactly been the answer to Boston’s offensive woes, as the Celtics—while still a great team—have looked just the slightest bit creaky over the past month. I’m not sure I could pick Boston over Toronto or Cleveland in a playoff series right now.</p><p><strong>3. Toronto Raptors (41–17)</strong><br>The Raptors keep rolling, but more importantly, I really want to commend DeMar DeRozan for <a href="https://www.thestar.com/sports/raptors/2018/02/25/raptors-derozan-hopes-honest-talk-on-depression-helps-others.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:speaking out about his battles with depression" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">speaking out about his battles with depression</a>. That’s not an easy thing to admit, let alone discuss publicly. DeMar is having a great season, and we’re sending positive vibes his way.</p><p><strong>2. Golden State Warriors (46–14)</strong><br>Let Javale McGee coach against the Knicks if only for the Enes Kanter reaction. The Warriors are seemingly never firing on all cylinders but they are still right there with Houston at the top of the league. The difference is the Rockets actually seem to care.</p><p><strong>1. Houston Rockets (46–13)</strong><br>James Harden is the MVP if the season ended today.</p>
NBA Power Rankings: The Wizards Are Rolling Without John Wall

Welcome back to The Crossover’s NBA Power Rankings. We’re back after a week off following the All-Star break. Every team is now well into the back half of its schedule, and as the contenders separate themselves, the tankers have also fully retreated into their bunkers. The playoff race in each conference is pretty tight, with many of the top teams bunched together on both sides of the country. It should certainly be a compelling finish to the season. Let’s look at where each team stands as we head toward the homestretch.

30. Phoenix Suns (18–43)

29. Memphis Grizzlies (18–40)

28. Brooklyn Nets (19–41)

27. Orlando Magic (18–41)

26. Dallas Mavericks (18–42)

25. Atlanta Hawks (18–42)

24. Sacramento Kings (18–41)
These teams are so bad! I’m sorry, but if they don’t care about the regular season, then I don’t care about showing them any attention in my power rankings. The bottom seven teams in the NBA have combined to lose 41 straight games and are engaged in the great tank-off. I would be fine if we relegated at least four of these squads into the G-League, and I’m not sure if every outfit in this group has really turned up the tank meter all the way yet. There’s plenty of bad basketball left to be played down the stretch.

23. Chicago Bulls (20–39)
The Bulls have significantly cooled off since their mini midseason renaissance, and are now looking to increase their lottery odds. Chicago’s terrible start to the season means the Bulls are only three games up on the worst record in the league, but they’ll have to play a lot worse to catch the likes of Phoenix and Atlanta.

22. New York Knicks (24–37)
The Knicks are 1–9 in their last 10 games and are quickly approaching the bottom of the league since losing Kristaps Porzingis. I just hope Michael Beasley gets bought out in time to join a contender.

21. Los Angeles Lakers (25–34)
This team doesn’t quite make sense at the moment, but you know what, they’re frisky enough that they shouldn’t be lumped in with the league’s worst. Lonzo Ball has been shooting well for a couple months, and their black alternate jerseys make watching their absurd number of national TV games almost bearable.

20. Detroit Pistons (28–31)
The Pistons have lost five of their last six and the Blake Griffin Effect has seemed to cool off. It’s going to be really disappointing if Detroit still doesn’t make the playoffs after reshuffling the deck at the deadline. At some point you have to wonder if the sword will fall down on Stan Van Gundy.

19. Miami Heat (31–29)
The Heatles reunion tour is sputtering a bit. Miami is only 2–8 in its last 10 games, as the team has started to lose all the close games it was winning earlier this year. A healthy Kelly Olynyk will be important for the stretch run, but Erik Spoelstra still has some work to do to find the right lineup combinations to unlock his roster’s full potential. A return to last year’s form from James Johnson would help mightily.

18. Charlotte Hornets (27–33)
Let’s show some love to the Hornets, who have won four in a row to avoid a full-on tank after losing four straight earlier this month. Charlotte’s infant-like ineptitude in close games looked like it would stop them from having any hope at the playoffs. But with 22 games left, the Hornets are only four games out of the eight seed in the East. Maybe they can make the last couple months interesting.

17. Los Angeles Clippers (31–27)
The Clippers are staying right on the edge of the playoff race, entering this week only one game out of the bracket in the West. I’m going to stress this every week: Doc Rivers deserves more consideration for the Coach of the Year. I’m not even worried about the Avery Bradley injury because of the emergence of [squints]...Tyrone Wallace!

16. Minnesota Timberwolves (37–26)
The Butler injury is an absolute killer. The Wolves play like a top-five team in the league with Butler on the court, and a bottom-five team without him. Minnesota already had issues with depth, and losing its star player for any amount of time is going to have dire consequences. It’s unfair to blame the Butler injury all on Tom Thibodeau...but at some point Thibs needs to look in the mirror and think about how many minutes he plays his starters. And as the head of basketball ops, Thibs has only himself to blame for not having anyone to go to on the bench.

?

15. Oklahoma City Thunder (34–27)
I’m tempted to leave the Thunder at No. 15 for the rest of the season because they cancel out all their good wins with baffling losses. Saturday’s blowout loss to the Warriors was a sobering reminder of the gap between OKC and Golden State. If Sam Presti can’t find another wing on the buyout market, this team may find itself in a struggle just to get out of the first round.

14. Milwaukee Bucks (33–26)
The Bucks have big games coming up in the next seven days, with matchups against the Wizards, Pacers and 76ers all on the docket. With the tight nature of the East, a streak of wins against that competition could have Milwaukee in the top half of the playoff bracket. Not bad for a team that fired its coach midseason.

13. San Antonio Spurs (36–25)
The Spurs had lost six of seven before their win over the Cavaliers on Sunday. Pop rewards our faith every season, but this has been a particularly dull year for the franchise. This trying period will have all been worth it though if Kawhi mystery is solved and he returns in terminator mode and the Spurs upset someone in the first round.

12. Philadelphia 76ers (32–26)
This is one of my favorite stats of the season: The 76ers’ second most-used lineup of the season has played only 86 minutes together. Their most used has played 426.

11. Denver Nuggets (33–27)
The Nuggets have been hot this month. They can’t quite figure out the Rockets, but the pieces are falling into place in Denver, especially with Paul Millsap returning to practice.

10. New Orleans Pelicans (33–26)
The Pelicans have won five in a row, and are staying afloat without Boogie Cousins. The scheduled has helped, but so has an absurd stretch from Anthony Davis. Nikola Mirotic was a nice pickup at the deadline, and it’s also fun to see Emeka Okafor getting some playing time here, even if it’s worrisome to think about how much the team is counting on him. As long as Davis keeps playing like the all-universe talent that he is, this team won’t go away quietly.

9. Portland Trail Blazers (34–26)
With the Butler injury in Minnesota and the malaise in San Antonio, the Blazers have a realistic path toward the third seed in the Western Conference. Portland entered this week only a game and a half out.

8. Indiana Pacers (34–25)
The sleeper in the East. The Pacers have won four in a row, and they play two cupcakes in the Mavs and Hawks this week. Indiana has been legit for much of the season—did you know the Pacers have the ninth-best net rating in the league? And as if things weren’t going well enough for this franchise, Victor Oladipo recently received the Lee Jenkins treatment.

7. Cleveland Cavaliers (35–24)
The Cavs have lost two of three since the All-Star break, but I’m giving them one more honeymoon week for the new pieces to gel around LeBron. As long as the expectations here are Finals or bust, the most will always be demanded of no matter the group on the floor.

6. Utah Jazz (31–29)
The Jazz are back on track after Portland ended their 10-game winning streak. This is a big week for Utah with matchups against Houston and Minnesota on the schedule. If the Wolves can’t hang on without Butler, the Jazz may end up being the biggest beneficiaries.

?

5. Washington Wizards (35–25)
Break up the Wizards! Give me your John Wall trades! The Wiz are playing their best basketball of the year, and it’s all happening without their star point guard. Washington has wins over the Pacers, Raptors, Cavs and 76ers this month. Tomas Satoransky has been a revelation, sliding into Wall’s spot in the starting lineup and giving the team heroic minutes. The Sato-Beal-Porter-Morris-Gortat five-man unit has a net rating of 15.2. Meanwhile, the Sato-Beal-Porter-Oubre-Gortat group has a 22.0 net rating.

Satoransky may not have the same impact playing with other bench players once Wall returns, but he’s proven he can be an asset to this team. The Wizards will really be tested over the next month, however. From now through March 23, Washington will only play teams who are currently in the top eight of each conference.

4. Boston Celtics (42–19)
Greg Monroe hasn’t exactly been the answer to Boston’s offensive woes, as the Celtics—while still a great team—have looked just the slightest bit creaky over the past month. I’m not sure I could pick Boston over Toronto or Cleveland in a playoff series right now.

3. Toronto Raptors (41–17)
The Raptors keep rolling, but more importantly, I really want to commend DeMar DeRozan for speaking out about his battles with depression. That’s not an easy thing to admit, let alone discuss publicly. DeMar is having a great season, and we’re sending positive vibes his way.

2. Golden State Warriors (46–14)
Let Javale McGee coach against the Knicks if only for the Enes Kanter reaction. The Warriors are seemingly never firing on all cylinders but they are still right there with Houston at the top of the league. The difference is the Rockets actually seem to care.

1. Houston Rockets (46–13)
James Harden is the MVP if the season ended today.

<p>Welcome back to The Crossover’s Power Rankings! It’s our first edition of the rankings post-trade deadline, so expect even more wild overreactions than usual. There’s a lot going on in the Association these days, from the streaking Rockets and Jazz to the revived Cavaliers, not to mention the first-place the Toronto Raptors. But let’s not waste time speaking in generalities so it looks like there’s a normal-sized paragraph at the top of this article, let’s get to these rankings, huh?</p><p>(All stats and records through Feb. 12)</p><p><strong>30. Memphis Grizzlies (18–37)</strong><br>It hurts me to put the Grizzlies this low, but this team is aimless right now. Not trading Tyreke Evans for anything at the deadline was a bad decision, and Marc Gasol probably should have been moved as well. Management is really going down with the ship here. I don’t want to be all negative, though, so <a href="https://www.gq.com/story/easy-baby-back-ribs-recipe-super-bowl" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:go ahead and make these ribs" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">go ahead and make these ribs</a> courtesy of Lang Whitaker.</p><p><strong>29. New York Knicks (23–34)</strong><br>Losers of six in a row, Kristaps Porzingis tore his ACL, and Joakim Noah is still hanging around. I swear, the Knicks were actually really fun for the first few weeks of the season. We’re one J.D. and the Straight Shot ballad about the fickle nature of the NBA beast from moving this team to No. 30.</p><p><strong>28. Phoenix Suns (18–39)</strong><br>I’m only half-surprised the Suns didn’t trade back for Isaiah Thomas at the deadline. There is nothing this team could do that I wouldn’t believe. The Suns have lost five in a row, and I don’t know how they can win one in their next five, either.</p><p><strong>27. Brooklyn Nets (19–38)</strong><br>Brooklyn didn’t do anything splashy at the deadline, even though they had a couple somewhat-coveted players in Spencer Dinwiddie and Joe Harris. Still, Sean Marks has had a deft hand in restocking the cupboard here, and the process is going to take a long time. For now, Brooklyn has lost five in a row, reminding its fans just how long the process to respectability could take.</p><p><strong>26. Sacramento Kings (17–38)</strong><br>Twenty-six somehow feels extremely high for the Kings. Don’t be fooled. This team is still mostly a mess.</p><p><strong>25. Atlanta Hawks (18–39)</strong><br>This may be my favorite random stat of the season: Miles Plumlee is making roughly 76% of the salary the Warriors are paying Draymond Green. Get rid of salary caps!</p><p><strong>24. Dallas Mavericks (18–39)</strong><br>I swear every time I’m watching the Mavericks on League Pass they’re about to upset a good team but somehow they’re still really bad. I wish the end of Dirk’s career could be spent on a better team.</p><p><strong>23. Orlando Magic (18–37)</strong><br>The Magic are up here on the strength of Frank Vogel’s beard and their incredibly dope City Edition jerseys.</p><p><strong>22. Chicago Bulls (19–36)</strong><br>Chicago’s win over Minnesota had to be satisfying for a front office that was dragged for the <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2017/06/22/jimmy-butler-trade-bulls-wolves-nba-draft-grades-zach-lavine-kris-dunn" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:deal that sent Jimmy Butler" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">deal that sent Jimmy Butler</a> to the Wolves. The Bulls still aren’t quite good, but they’re fun to watch.</p><p><strong>21. Los Angeles Lakers (23–32)</strong><br>It feels like it’s only a matter of days before Lavar Ball and Isaiah Thomas are sniping at each other in the media over some kind of slight, perceived or otherwise. Still, L.A. did good at the deadline, scooping up a draft pick and clearing cap space for the summer.</p><p><strong>20. Charlotte Hornets (23–33)</strong><br>This team really deserves better. The Hornets would be fighting for a playoff spot if they weren’t so terrible in close games. Losing Kemba Walker as a sweetener to get rid of bad contracts at the deadline would have been devastating, but management still has their work cut out for them here.</p><p><strong>19. Detroit Pistons (27–28)</strong><br>I’ve really liked the Pistons with Blake Griffin, who’s busting his ass for that team right now. ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz wrote <a href="http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/22373807/can-blake-griffin-change-course-franchise" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:a great piece about Griffin’s role in Detroit" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">a great piece about Griffin’s role in Detroit</a> late last week. But the Pistons are still facing an uphill climb for a playoff spot, and right now, the top eight in the East seem to be rounding into form.</p><p><strong>18. Los Angeles Clippers (28–26)</strong><br>Keeping DeAndre Jordan at the trade deadline actually made a lot of sense—L.A. can now let him opt out this summer and hoard cap space instead of taking on any future salary. The Clippers have been frisky all season, and that’s partly in credit to Doc Rivers. Are they sure they want to make the playoffs, though? Maybe the eighth seed should get better lottery odds than the ninth-place team in the conference.</p><p><strong>17. New Orleans Pelicans (29–26)</strong><br>I’m not sure how long this team can hold on without Boogie Cousins, but the Pelicans have a manageable schedule headed into mid-March. They should still hang around in the playoff race.</p><p><strong>16. Miami Heat (30–26)</strong><br>Dwyane Wade is back, Luke Babbit is a Spoelstra favorite, and the Heat are back in the win column after a five-game losing streak. Miami still needs to figure out its frontcourt, where James Johnson has struggled and Hassan Whiteside has infuriated. A full return to health for Kelly Olynyk and Wayne Ellington will be key for the homestretch.</p><p><strong>15. Philadelphia 76ers (28–25)</strong><br>Winners of three in a row, the Sixers really are the cliché “Nobody wants to see them in the playoffs” team this season. And Joel Embiid’s All-Star Weekend promises to be the stuff of legends.</p><p><strong>14. Denver Nuggets (30–26)</strong><br>The internet’s once-favorite team has won four of its last five, and is hanging around in the middle of the pack until Paul Millsap’s return. Denver picked up Devin Harris at the deadline, but the team could still use a little more depth. Torrey Craig has been one of the season’s underrated stories, though.</p><p><strong>13. Indiana Pacers (32–25)</strong><br>The Pacers have won three of four, including wins over the Sixers and Celtics. And Victor Oladipo has been good for one LeBron-in-barbershop gif highlight for most of the season. The impact he’s had on this team is just insane. Oh, and the better Indy plays, the more Lance Stephenson starts to feel himself.</p><p><strong>12. Oklahoma City Thunder (32–25)</strong><br>The Thunder have either won two of their last three or lost five of their last seven, depending on how you want to judge them. A win over the Warriors is kind of negated when it’s sandwiched between losses to the Lakers. Sam Presti needs to be working the buyout market for help on the perimeter to make up for the loss of Andre Roberson.</p><p><strong>11. Portland Trail Blazers (31–26)</strong><br>The Blazers are 2–4 in February, and they play the Warriors in their last game before the All-Star break.</p><p>?</p><p><strong>10. Milwaukee Bucks (31–24)</strong><br>The coaching switch in Milwaukee has appeared to turn things around. If the Bucks play the kind of defense their length suggests their capable of, they become a top-four team in the East. It’s also great to see Jabari Parker back on the court.</p><p><strong>9. Washington Wizards (32–24)</strong><br>The OT loss to the Celtics was a bummer, and the bickering needs to stop, but the Wizards are looking frisky even in the wake of John Wall’s injury. It would be nice if Washington could become a player in the buyout market.</p><p><strong>8. San Antonio Spurs (35–22)</strong><br>The Spurs have lost three of four this month. Pop still has this team in third place, but it’s hard to get excited about anything they do without Kawhi, whose injury situation has zapped most of the joy to be felt around San Antonio.</p><p><strong>7. Minnesota Timberwolves (35–24)</strong><br>Please don’t sign Derrick Rose! Tyus Jones and Jeff Teague have been more than serviceable at point guard, and Jamal Crawford is already giving you no-defense minutes off the bench. If Thibs is looking to get the Chicago band back together, Marco Belinelli would make more sense here. </p><p><strong>6. Boston Celtics (40–18)</strong><br>The Celtics enter this week as the only team in the top-eight of the East on a losing streak, having dropped two in a row. This team could use a jolt of energy, and I’m not sure if Greg Monroe is the guy to provide it.</p><p><strong>5. Utah Jazz (28–28)</strong><br>Break up the Jazz! Utah has won nine straight, including wins over the Spurs, Warriors, Raptors and Blazers. Losing Rodney Hood is tough, but it’s possible Jae Crowder finds new life here. The Jazz would perhaps be better off in the lottery, but their super streak has them in the thick of the hunt for the final playoff spot out west.</p><p><strong>4. Cleveland Cavaliers (33–22)</strong><br>Oh, you thought putting the Jazz at five was an overreaction? Here come the Cavs! Cleveland spanked Boston on what was supposed to be Paul Pierce’s day, according to Paul Pierce. One game with LeBron and Jordan Clarkson already looks like a young Scottie Pippen. </p><p>Okay, fine, in all seriousness, the trade deadline seemed to rejuvenate the Cavs, particularly LeBron, who seems to be putting in his most consistent effort over the last week of the season. Will it last? Can this team actually play defense? There are still lots of questions here, and Cleveland isn’t out of the woods yet. But for the last week? Yeah, sure, the Cavs deserve a leap for remaking themselves for the final two months of the season. If they start playing the way they were pre-deadline, they’ll shoot right back down.</p><p><strong>3. Golden State Warriors (43–13)</strong><br>The most notable moment for the Warriors at the deadline was Bob Myers telling his players to stop complaining so much. They still don’t really care about the regular season, and frankly, they don’t need to.</p><p><strong>2. Toronto Raptors (39–16)</strong><br>The Raptors are No. 1 in the East, and their bench lineup has been one of the most fun units to watch across the league this season. OG Anunoby isn’t in the Rookie of the Year conversation, but he’s had an incredible impact on a team with Finals aspirations. If the Raptors make the Finals this year, their end-of-season documentary will spend a good eight minutes on how silly <em>Sports Illustrated</em> looked disrespecting DeMar DeRozan.</p><p><strong>1. Houston Rockets (42–13)</strong><br>The Rockets are winners of eight straight and haven’t received any stern talking-tos from their general manager. They’re adding Joe Johnson and Brandan Wright for the stretch run, two players who can have a decent impact on the roster. And Mike D’Antoni deserves a ton of credit for handling Chris Paul’s and James Harden’s minutes really well, even amid a swirl of injuries. If you squint hard enough, you can see this team reaaallly pushing the Warriors in a playoff series.</p>
NBA Power Rankings: Revived Cavaliers Surge After Trade Deadline

Welcome back to The Crossover’s Power Rankings! It’s our first edition of the rankings post-trade deadline, so expect even more wild overreactions than usual. There’s a lot going on in the Association these days, from the streaking Rockets and Jazz to the revived Cavaliers, not to mention the first-place the Toronto Raptors. But let’s not waste time speaking in generalities so it looks like there’s a normal-sized paragraph at the top of this article, let’s get to these rankings, huh?

(All stats and records through Feb. 12)

30. Memphis Grizzlies (18–37)
It hurts me to put the Grizzlies this low, but this team is aimless right now. Not trading Tyreke Evans for anything at the deadline was a bad decision, and Marc Gasol probably should have been moved as well. Management is really going down with the ship here. I don’t want to be all negative, though, so go ahead and make these ribs courtesy of Lang Whitaker.

29. New York Knicks (23–34)
Losers of six in a row, Kristaps Porzingis tore his ACL, and Joakim Noah is still hanging around. I swear, the Knicks were actually really fun for the first few weeks of the season. We’re one J.D. and the Straight Shot ballad about the fickle nature of the NBA beast from moving this team to No. 30.

28. Phoenix Suns (18–39)
I’m only half-surprised the Suns didn’t trade back for Isaiah Thomas at the deadline. There is nothing this team could do that I wouldn’t believe. The Suns have lost five in a row, and I don’t know how they can win one in their next five, either.

27. Brooklyn Nets (19–38)
Brooklyn didn’t do anything splashy at the deadline, even though they had a couple somewhat-coveted players in Spencer Dinwiddie and Joe Harris. Still, Sean Marks has had a deft hand in restocking the cupboard here, and the process is going to take a long time. For now, Brooklyn has lost five in a row, reminding its fans just how long the process to respectability could take.

26. Sacramento Kings (17–38)
Twenty-six somehow feels extremely high for the Kings. Don’t be fooled. This team is still mostly a mess.

25. Atlanta Hawks (18–39)
This may be my favorite random stat of the season: Miles Plumlee is making roughly 76% of the salary the Warriors are paying Draymond Green. Get rid of salary caps!

24. Dallas Mavericks (18–39)
I swear every time I’m watching the Mavericks on League Pass they’re about to upset a good team but somehow they’re still really bad. I wish the end of Dirk’s career could be spent on a better team.

23. Orlando Magic (18–37)
The Magic are up here on the strength of Frank Vogel’s beard and their incredibly dope City Edition jerseys.

22. Chicago Bulls (19–36)
Chicago’s win over Minnesota had to be satisfying for a front office that was dragged for the deal that sent Jimmy Butler to the Wolves. The Bulls still aren’t quite good, but they’re fun to watch.

21. Los Angeles Lakers (23–32)
It feels like it’s only a matter of days before Lavar Ball and Isaiah Thomas are sniping at each other in the media over some kind of slight, perceived or otherwise. Still, L.A. did good at the deadline, scooping up a draft pick and clearing cap space for the summer.

20. Charlotte Hornets (23–33)
This team really deserves better. The Hornets would be fighting for a playoff spot if they weren’t so terrible in close games. Losing Kemba Walker as a sweetener to get rid of bad contracts at the deadline would have been devastating, but management still has their work cut out for them here.

19. Detroit Pistons (27–28)
I’ve really liked the Pistons with Blake Griffin, who’s busting his ass for that team right now. ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz wrote a great piece about Griffin’s role in Detroit late last week. But the Pistons are still facing an uphill climb for a playoff spot, and right now, the top eight in the East seem to be rounding into form.

18. Los Angeles Clippers (28–26)
Keeping DeAndre Jordan at the trade deadline actually made a lot of sense—L.A. can now let him opt out this summer and hoard cap space instead of taking on any future salary. The Clippers have been frisky all season, and that’s partly in credit to Doc Rivers. Are they sure they want to make the playoffs, though? Maybe the eighth seed should get better lottery odds than the ninth-place team in the conference.

17. New Orleans Pelicans (29–26)
I’m not sure how long this team can hold on without Boogie Cousins, but the Pelicans have a manageable schedule headed into mid-March. They should still hang around in the playoff race.

16. Miami Heat (30–26)
Dwyane Wade is back, Luke Babbit is a Spoelstra favorite, and the Heat are back in the win column after a five-game losing streak. Miami still needs to figure out its frontcourt, where James Johnson has struggled and Hassan Whiteside has infuriated. A full return to health for Kelly Olynyk and Wayne Ellington will be key for the homestretch.

15. Philadelphia 76ers (28–25)
Winners of three in a row, the Sixers really are the cliché “Nobody wants to see them in the playoffs” team this season. And Joel Embiid’s All-Star Weekend promises to be the stuff of legends.

14. Denver Nuggets (30–26)
The internet’s once-favorite team has won four of its last five, and is hanging around in the middle of the pack until Paul Millsap’s return. Denver picked up Devin Harris at the deadline, but the team could still use a little more depth. Torrey Craig has been one of the season’s underrated stories, though.

13. Indiana Pacers (32–25)
The Pacers have won three of four, including wins over the Sixers and Celtics. And Victor Oladipo has been good for one LeBron-in-barbershop gif highlight for most of the season. The impact he’s had on this team is just insane. Oh, and the better Indy plays, the more Lance Stephenson starts to feel himself.

12. Oklahoma City Thunder (32–25)
The Thunder have either won two of their last three or lost five of their last seven, depending on how you want to judge them. A win over the Warriors is kind of negated when it’s sandwiched between losses to the Lakers. Sam Presti needs to be working the buyout market for help on the perimeter to make up for the loss of Andre Roberson.

11. Portland Trail Blazers (31–26)
The Blazers are 2–4 in February, and they play the Warriors in their last game before the All-Star break.

?

10. Milwaukee Bucks (31–24)
The coaching switch in Milwaukee has appeared to turn things around. If the Bucks play the kind of defense their length suggests their capable of, they become a top-four team in the East. It’s also great to see Jabari Parker back on the court.

9. Washington Wizards (32–24)
The OT loss to the Celtics was a bummer, and the bickering needs to stop, but the Wizards are looking frisky even in the wake of John Wall’s injury. It would be nice if Washington could become a player in the buyout market.

8. San Antonio Spurs (35–22)
The Spurs have lost three of four this month. Pop still has this team in third place, but it’s hard to get excited about anything they do without Kawhi, whose injury situation has zapped most of the joy to be felt around San Antonio.

7. Minnesota Timberwolves (35–24)
Please don’t sign Derrick Rose! Tyus Jones and Jeff Teague have been more than serviceable at point guard, and Jamal Crawford is already giving you no-defense minutes off the bench. If Thibs is looking to get the Chicago band back together, Marco Belinelli would make more sense here.

6. Boston Celtics (40–18)
The Celtics enter this week as the only team in the top-eight of the East on a losing streak, having dropped two in a row. This team could use a jolt of energy, and I’m not sure if Greg Monroe is the guy to provide it.

5. Utah Jazz (28–28)
Break up the Jazz! Utah has won nine straight, including wins over the Spurs, Warriors, Raptors and Blazers. Losing Rodney Hood is tough, but it’s possible Jae Crowder finds new life here. The Jazz would perhaps be better off in the lottery, but their super streak has them in the thick of the hunt for the final playoff spot out west.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers (33–22)
Oh, you thought putting the Jazz at five was an overreaction? Here come the Cavs! Cleveland spanked Boston on what was supposed to be Paul Pierce’s day, according to Paul Pierce. One game with LeBron and Jordan Clarkson already looks like a young Scottie Pippen.

Okay, fine, in all seriousness, the trade deadline seemed to rejuvenate the Cavs, particularly LeBron, who seems to be putting in his most consistent effort over the last week of the season. Will it last? Can this team actually play defense? There are still lots of questions here, and Cleveland isn’t out of the woods yet. But for the last week? Yeah, sure, the Cavs deserve a leap for remaking themselves for the final two months of the season. If they start playing the way they were pre-deadline, they’ll shoot right back down.

3. Golden State Warriors (43–13)
The most notable moment for the Warriors at the deadline was Bob Myers telling his players to stop complaining so much. They still don’t really care about the regular season, and frankly, they don’t need to.

2. Toronto Raptors (39–16)
The Raptors are No. 1 in the East, and their bench lineup has been one of the most fun units to watch across the league this season. OG Anunoby isn’t in the Rookie of the Year conversation, but he’s had an incredible impact on a team with Finals aspirations. If the Raptors make the Finals this year, their end-of-season documentary will spend a good eight minutes on how silly Sports Illustrated looked disrespecting DeMar DeRozan.

1. Houston Rockets (42–13)
The Rockets are winners of eight straight and haven’t received any stern talking-tos from their general manager. They’re adding Joe Johnson and Brandan Wright for the stretch run, two players who can have a decent impact on the roster. And Mike D’Antoni deserves a ton of credit for handling Chris Paul’s and James Harden’s minutes really well, even amid a swirl of injuries. If you squint hard enough, you can see this team reaaallly pushing the Warriors in a playoff series.

<p>Welcome back to The Crossover’s Power Rankings! It’s our first edition of the rankings post-trade deadline, so expect even more wild overreactions than usual. There’s a lot going on in the Association these days, from the streaking Rockets and Jazz to the revived Cavaliers, not to mention the first-place the Toronto Raptors. But let’s not waste time speaking in generalities so it looks like there’s a normal-sized paragraph at the top of this article, let’s get to these rankings, huh?</p><p>(All stats and records through Feb. 12)</p><p><strong>30. Memphis Grizzlies (18–37)</strong><br>It hurts me to put the Grizzlies this low, but this team is aimless right now. Not trading Tyreke Evans for anything at the deadline was a bad decision, and Marc Gasol probably should have been moved as well. Management is really going down with the ship here. I don’t want to be all negative, though, so <a href="https://www.gq.com/story/easy-baby-back-ribs-recipe-super-bowl" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:go ahead and make these ribs" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">go ahead and make these ribs</a> courtesy of Lang Whitaker.</p><p><strong>29. New York Knicks (23–34)</strong><br>Losers of six in a row, Kristaps Porzingis tore his ACL, and Joakim Noah is still hanging around. I swear, the Knicks were actually really fun for the first few weeks of the season. We’re one J.D. and the Straight Shot ballad about the fickle nature of the NBA beast from moving this team to No. 30.</p><p><strong>28. Phoenix Suns (18–39)</strong><br>I’m only half-surprised the Suns didn’t trade back for Isaiah Thomas at the deadline. There is nothing this team could do that I wouldn’t believe. The Suns have lost five in a row, and I don’t know how they can win one in their next five, either.</p><p><strong>27. Brooklyn Nets (19–38)</strong><br>Brooklyn didn’t do anything splashy at the deadline, even though they had a couple somewhat-coveted players in Spencer Dinwiddie and Joe Harris. Still, Sean Marks has had a deft hand in restocking the cupboard here, and the process is going to take a long time. For now, Brooklyn has lost five in a row, reminding its fans just how long the process to respectability could take.</p><p><strong>26. Sacramento Kings (17–38)</strong><br>Twenty-six somehow feels extremely high for the Kings. Don’t be fooled. This team is still mostly a mess.</p><p><strong>25. Atlanta Hawks (18–39)</strong><br>This may be my favorite random stat of the season: Miles Plumlee is making roughly 76% of the salary the Warriors are paying Draymond Green. Get rid of salary caps!</p><p><strong>24. Dallas Mavericks (18–39)</strong><br>I swear every time I’m watching the Mavericks on League Pass they’re about to upset a good team but somehow they’re still really bad. I wish the end of Dirk’s career could be spent on a better team.</p><p><strong>23. Orlando Magic (18–37)</strong><br>The Magic are up here on the strength of Frank Vogel’s beard and their incredibly dope City Edition jerseys.</p><p><strong>22. Chicago Bulls (19–36)</strong><br>Chicago’s win over Minnesota had to be satisfying for a front office that was dragged for the <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2017/06/22/jimmy-butler-trade-bulls-wolves-nba-draft-grades-zach-lavine-kris-dunn" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:deal that sent Jimmy Butler" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">deal that sent Jimmy Butler</a> to the Wolves. The Bulls still aren’t quite good, but they’re fun to watch.</p><p><strong>21. Los Angeles Lakers (23–32)</strong><br>It feels like it’s only a matter of days before Lavar Ball and Isaiah Thomas are sniping at each other in the media over some kind of slight, perceived or otherwise. Still, L.A. did good at the deadline, scooping up a draft pick and clearing cap space for the summer.</p><p><strong>20. Charlotte Hornets (23–33)</strong><br>This team really deserves better. The Hornets would be fighting for a playoff spot if they weren’t so terrible in close games. Losing Kemba Walker as a sweetener to get rid of bad contracts at the deadline would have been devastating, but management still has their work cut out for them here.</p><p><strong>19. Detroit Pistons (27–28)</strong><br>I’ve really liked the Pistons with Blake Griffin, who’s busting his ass for that team right now. ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz wrote <a href="http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/22373807/can-blake-griffin-change-course-franchise" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:a great piece about Griffin’s role in Detroit" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">a great piece about Griffin’s role in Detroit</a> late last week. But the Pistons are still facing an uphill climb for a playoff spot, and right now, the top eight in the East seem to be rounding into form.</p><p><strong>18. Los Angeles Clippers (28–26)</strong><br>Keeping DeAndre Jordan at the trade deadline actually made a lot of sense—L.A. can now let him opt out this summer and hoard cap space instead of taking on any future salary. The Clippers have been frisky all season, and that’s partly in credit to Doc Rivers. Are they sure they want to make the playoffs, though? Maybe the eighth seed should get better lottery odds than the ninth-place team in the conference.</p><p><strong>17. New Orleans Pelicans (29–26)</strong><br>I’m not sure how long this team can hold on without Boogie Cousins, but the Pelicans have a manageable schedule headed into mid-March. They should still hang around in the playoff race.</p><p><strong>16. Miami Heat (30–26)</strong><br>Dwyane Wade is back, Luke Babbit is a Spoelstra favorite, and the Heat are back in the win column after a five-game losing streak. Miami still needs to figure out its frontcourt, where James Johnson has struggled and Hassan Whiteside has infuriated. A full return to health for Kelly Olynyk and Wayne Ellington will be key for the homestretch.</p><p><strong>15. Philadelphia 76ers (28–25)</strong><br>Winners of three in a row, the Sixers really are the cliché “Nobody wants to see them in the playoffs” team this season. And Joel Embiid’s All-Star Weekend promises to be the stuff of legends.</p><p><strong>14. Denver Nuggets (30–26)</strong><br>The internet’s once-favorite team has won four of its last five, and is hanging around in the middle of the pack until Paul Millsap’s return. Denver picked up Devin Harris at the deadline, but the team could still use a little more depth. Torrey Craig has been one of the season’s underrated stories, though.</p><p><strong>13. Indiana Pacers (32–25)</strong><br>The Pacers have won three of four, including wins over the Sixers and Celtics. And Victor Oladipo has been good for one LeBron-in-barbershop gif highlight for most of the season. The impact he’s had on this team is just insane. Oh, and the better Indy plays, the more Lance Stephenson starts to feel himself.</p><p><strong>12. Oklahoma City Thunder (32–25)</strong><br>The Thunder have either won two of their last three or lost five of their last seven, depending on how you want to judge them. A win over the Warriors is kind of negated when it’s sandwiched between losses to the Lakers. Sam Presti needs to be working the buyout market for help on the perimeter to make up for the loss of Andre Roberson.</p><p><strong>11. Portland Trail Blazers (31–26)</strong><br>The Blazers are 2–4 in February, and they play the Warriors in their last game before the All-Star break.</p><p>?</p><p><strong>10. Milwaukee Bucks (31–24)</strong><br>The coaching switch in Milwaukee has appeared to turn things around. If the Bucks play the kind of defense their length suggests their capable of, they become a top-four team in the East. It’s also great to see Jabari Parker back on the court.</p><p><strong>9. Washington Wizards (32–24)</strong><br>The OT loss to the Celtics was a bummer, and the bickering needs to stop, but the Wizards are looking frisky even in the wake of John Wall’s injury. It would be nice if Washington could become a player in the buyout market.</p><p><strong>8. San Antonio Spurs (35–22)</strong><br>The Spurs have lost three of four this month. Pop still has this team in third place, but it’s hard to get excited about anything they do without Kawhi, whose injury situation has zapped most of the joy to be felt around San Antonio.</p><p><strong>7. Minnesota Timberwolves (35–24)</strong><br>Please don’t sign Derrick Rose! Tyus Jones and Jeff Teague have been more than serviceable at point guard, and Jamal Crawford is already giving you no-defense minutes off the bench. If Thibs is looking to get the Chicago band back together, Marco Belinelli would make more sense here. </p><p><strong>6. Boston Celtics (40–18)</strong><br>The Celtics enter this week as the only team in the top-eight of the East on a losing streak, having dropped two in a row. This team could use a jolt of energy, and I’m not sure if Greg Monroe is the guy to provide it.</p><p><strong>5. Utah Jazz (28–28)</strong><br>Break up the Jazz! Utah has won nine straight, including wins over the Spurs, Warriors, Raptors and Blazers. Losing Rodney Hood is tough, but it’s possible Jae Crowder finds new life here. The Jazz would perhaps be better off in the lottery, but their super streak has them in the thick of the hunt for the final playoff spot out west.</p><p><strong>4. Cleveland Cavaliers (33–22)</strong><br>Oh, you thought putting the Jazz at five was an overreaction? Here come the Cavs! Cleveland spanked Boston on what was supposed to be Paul Pierce’s day, according to Paul Pierce. One game with LeBron and Jordan Clarkson already looks like a young Scottie Pippen. </p><p>Okay, fine, in all seriousness, the trade deadline seemed to rejuvenate the Cavs, particularly LeBron, who seems to be putting in his most consistent effort over the last week of the season. Will it last? Can this team actually play defense? There are still lots of questions here, and Cleveland isn’t out of the woods yet. But for the last week? Yeah, sure, the Cavs deserve a leap for remaking themselves for the final two months of the season. If they start playing the way they were pre-deadline, they’ll shoot right back down.</p><p><strong>3. Golden State Warriors (43–13)</strong><br>The most notable moment for the Warriors at the deadline was Bob Myers telling his players to stop complaining so much. They still don’t really care about the regular season, and frankly, they don’t need to.</p><p><strong>2. Toronto Raptors (39–16)</strong><br>The Raptors are No. 1 in the East, and their bench lineup has been one of the most fun units to watch across the league this season. OG Anunoby isn’t in the Rookie of the Year conversation, but he’s had an incredible impact on a team with Finals aspirations. If the Raptors make the Finals this year, their end-of-season documentary will spend a good eight minutes on how silly <em>Sports Illustrated</em> looked disrespecting DeMar DeRozan.</p><p><strong>1. Houston Rockets (42–13)</strong><br>The Rockets are winners of eight straight and haven’t received any stern talking-tos from their general manager. They’re adding Joe Johnson and Brandan Wright for the stretch run, two players who can have a decent impact on the roster. And Mike D’Antoni deserves a ton of credit for handling Chris Paul’s and James Harden’s minutes really well, even amid a swirl of injuries. If you squint hard enough, you can see this team reaaallly pushing the Warriors in a playoff series.</p>
NBA Power Rankings: Revived Cavaliers Surge After Trade Deadline

Welcome back to The Crossover’s Power Rankings! It’s our first edition of the rankings post-trade deadline, so expect even more wild overreactions than usual. There’s a lot going on in the Association these days, from the streaking Rockets and Jazz to the revived Cavaliers, not to mention the first-place the Toronto Raptors. But let’s not waste time speaking in generalities so it looks like there’s a normal-sized paragraph at the top of this article, let’s get to these rankings, huh?

(All stats and records through Feb. 12)

30. Memphis Grizzlies (18–37)
It hurts me to put the Grizzlies this low, but this team is aimless right now. Not trading Tyreke Evans for anything at the deadline was a bad decision, and Marc Gasol probably should have been moved as well. Management is really going down with the ship here. I don’t want to be all negative, though, so go ahead and make these ribs courtesy of Lang Whitaker.

29. New York Knicks (23–34)
Losers of six in a row, Kristaps Porzingis tore his ACL, and Joakim Noah is still hanging around. I swear, the Knicks were actually really fun for the first few weeks of the season. We’re one J.D. and the Straight Shot ballad about the fickle nature of the NBA beast from moving this team to No. 30.

28. Phoenix Suns (18–39)
I’m only half-surprised the Suns didn’t trade back for Isaiah Thomas at the deadline. There is nothing this team could do that I wouldn’t believe. The Suns have lost five in a row, and I don’t know how they can win one in their next five, either.

27. Brooklyn Nets (19–38)
Brooklyn didn’t do anything splashy at the deadline, even though they had a couple somewhat-coveted players in Spencer Dinwiddie and Joe Harris. Still, Sean Marks has had a deft hand in restocking the cupboard here, and the process is going to take a long time. For now, Brooklyn has lost five in a row, reminding its fans just how long the process to respectability could take.

26. Sacramento Kings (17–38)
Twenty-six somehow feels extremely high for the Kings. Don’t be fooled. This team is still mostly a mess.

25. Atlanta Hawks (18–39)
This may be my favorite random stat of the season: Miles Plumlee is making roughly 76% of the salary the Warriors are paying Draymond Green. Get rid of salary caps!

24. Dallas Mavericks (18–39)
I swear every time I’m watching the Mavericks on League Pass they’re about to upset a good team but somehow they’re still really bad. I wish the end of Dirk’s career could be spent on a better team.

23. Orlando Magic (18–37)
The Magic are up here on the strength of Frank Vogel’s beard and their incredibly dope City Edition jerseys.

22. Chicago Bulls (19–36)
Chicago’s win over Minnesota had to be satisfying for a front office that was dragged for the deal that sent Jimmy Butler to the Wolves. The Bulls still aren’t quite good, but they’re fun to watch.

21. Los Angeles Lakers (23–32)
It feels like it’s only a matter of days before Lavar Ball and Isaiah Thomas are sniping at each other in the media over some kind of slight, perceived or otherwise. Still, L.A. did good at the deadline, scooping up a draft pick and clearing cap space for the summer.

20. Charlotte Hornets (23–33)
This team really deserves better. The Hornets would be fighting for a playoff spot if they weren’t so terrible in close games. Losing Kemba Walker as a sweetener to get rid of bad contracts at the deadline would have been devastating, but management still has their work cut out for them here.

19. Detroit Pistons (27–28)
I’ve really liked the Pistons with Blake Griffin, who’s busting his ass for that team right now. ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz wrote a great piece about Griffin’s role in Detroit late last week. But the Pistons are still facing an uphill climb for a playoff spot, and right now, the top eight in the East seem to be rounding into form.

18. Los Angeles Clippers (28–26)
Keeping DeAndre Jordan at the trade deadline actually made a lot of sense—L.A. can now let him opt out this summer and hoard cap space instead of taking on any future salary. The Clippers have been frisky all season, and that’s partly in credit to Doc Rivers. Are they sure they want to make the playoffs, though? Maybe the eighth seed should get better lottery odds than the ninth-place team in the conference.

17. New Orleans Pelicans (29–26)
I’m not sure how long this team can hold on without Boogie Cousins, but the Pelicans have a manageable schedule headed into mid-March. They should still hang around in the playoff race.

16. Miami Heat (30–26)
Dwyane Wade is back, Luke Babbit is a Spoelstra favorite, and the Heat are back in the win column after a five-game losing streak. Miami still needs to figure out its frontcourt, where James Johnson has struggled and Hassan Whiteside has infuriated. A full return to health for Kelly Olynyk and Wayne Ellington will be key for the homestretch.

15. Philadelphia 76ers (28–25)
Winners of three in a row, the Sixers really are the cliché “Nobody wants to see them in the playoffs” team this season. And Joel Embiid’s All-Star Weekend promises to be the stuff of legends.

14. Denver Nuggets (30–26)
The internet’s once-favorite team has won four of its last five, and is hanging around in the middle of the pack until Paul Millsap’s return. Denver picked up Devin Harris at the deadline, but the team could still use a little more depth. Torrey Craig has been one of the season’s underrated stories, though.

13. Indiana Pacers (32–25)
The Pacers have won three of four, including wins over the Sixers and Celtics. And Victor Oladipo has been good for one LeBron-in-barbershop gif highlight for most of the season. The impact he’s had on this team is just insane. Oh, and the better Indy plays, the more Lance Stephenson starts to feel himself.

12. Oklahoma City Thunder (32–25)
The Thunder have either won two of their last three or lost five of their last seven, depending on how you want to judge them. A win over the Warriors is kind of negated when it’s sandwiched between losses to the Lakers. Sam Presti needs to be working the buyout market for help on the perimeter to make up for the loss of Andre Roberson.

11. Portland Trail Blazers (31–26)
The Blazers are 2–4 in February, and they play the Warriors in their last game before the All-Star break.

?

10. Milwaukee Bucks (31–24)
The coaching switch in Milwaukee has appeared to turn things around. If the Bucks play the kind of defense their length suggests their capable of, they become a top-four team in the East. It’s also great to see Jabari Parker back on the court.

9. Washington Wizards (32–24)
The OT loss to the Celtics was a bummer, and the bickering needs to stop, but the Wizards are looking frisky even in the wake of John Wall’s injury. It would be nice if Washington could become a player in the buyout market.

8. San Antonio Spurs (35–22)
The Spurs have lost three of four this month. Pop still has this team in third place, but it’s hard to get excited about anything they do without Kawhi, whose injury situation has zapped most of the joy to be felt around San Antonio.

7. Minnesota Timberwolves (35–24)
Please don’t sign Derrick Rose! Tyus Jones and Jeff Teague have been more than serviceable at point guard, and Jamal Crawford is already giving you no-defense minutes off the bench. If Thibs is looking to get the Chicago band back together, Marco Belinelli would make more sense here.

6. Boston Celtics (40–18)
The Celtics enter this week as the only team in the top-eight of the East on a losing streak, having dropped two in a row. This team could use a jolt of energy, and I’m not sure if Greg Monroe is the guy to provide it.

5. Utah Jazz (28–28)
Break up the Jazz! Utah has won nine straight, including wins over the Spurs, Warriors, Raptors and Blazers. Losing Rodney Hood is tough, but it’s possible Jae Crowder finds new life here. The Jazz would perhaps be better off in the lottery, but their super streak has them in the thick of the hunt for the final playoff spot out west.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers (33–22)
Oh, you thought putting the Jazz at five was an overreaction? Here come the Cavs! Cleveland spanked Boston on what was supposed to be Paul Pierce’s day, according to Paul Pierce. One game with LeBron and Jordan Clarkson already looks like a young Scottie Pippen.

Okay, fine, in all seriousness, the trade deadline seemed to rejuvenate the Cavs, particularly LeBron, who seems to be putting in his most consistent effort over the last week of the season. Will it last? Can this team actually play defense? There are still lots of questions here, and Cleveland isn’t out of the woods yet. But for the last week? Yeah, sure, the Cavs deserve a leap for remaking themselves for the final two months of the season. If they start playing the way they were pre-deadline, they’ll shoot right back down.

3. Golden State Warriors (43–13)
The most notable moment for the Warriors at the deadline was Bob Myers telling his players to stop complaining so much. They still don’t really care about the regular season, and frankly, they don’t need to.

2. Toronto Raptors (39–16)
The Raptors are No. 1 in the East, and their bench lineup has been one of the most fun units to watch across the league this season. OG Anunoby isn’t in the Rookie of the Year conversation, but he’s had an incredible impact on a team with Finals aspirations. If the Raptors make the Finals this year, their end-of-season documentary will spend a good eight minutes on how silly Sports Illustrated looked disrespecting DeMar DeRozan.

1. Houston Rockets (42–13)
The Rockets are winners of eight straight and haven’t received any stern talking-tos from their general manager. They’re adding Joe Johnson and Brandan Wright for the stretch run, two players who can have a decent impact on the roster. And Mike D’Antoni deserves a ton of credit for handling Chris Paul’s and James Harden’s minutes really well, even amid a swirl of injuries. If you squint hard enough, you can see this team reaaallly pushing the Warriors in a playoff series.

<p>The 2018 NBA trade deadline day is finally upon us! </p><p>A number of big names have been rumored to possibly change teams, from DeAndre Jordan and Kemba Walker to Tyreke Evans and George Hill. </p><p>With a limited number of teams expected to have salary cap space this summer, the trade deadline could feature several different types of moves. Many organizations are looking to shed dollars off their cap sheets, while others are looking to retool for the postseason and/or buy low on younger players to add into development programs. </p><p>The Crossover&#39;s live blog will keep you updated on the latest news with instant analysis from our staff of writers and NBA experts. For even more rumors, <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/02/08/nba-trade-rumors-news-deandre-jordan-tyreke-evans-rodney-hood-updates" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:click here." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">click here.</a></p><h3><strong>3:20 p.m.: Trade deadline closes: DeAndre Jordan, Kemba Walker, Tyreke Evans stay put</strong></h3><p>As the buzzer sounded at 3 p.m. ET., Thursday&#39;s trade activity came to a resounding hush during the activity&#39;s final hour. The Clippers opted to keep DeAndre Jordan, who will likely decline his player option for next season and enter free agency. In the most surprising development of the day, the Grizzlies ultimately held on to Tyreke Evans, unable to draw a first-round pick that once appeared highly like towards the end of last week. Memphis began telling teams around 2:45 ET they were keeping Evans. The Hornets remained quiet after Kemba Walker, Nic Batum and Jeremy Lamb were heavily rumored and discussed leading up to the deadline. During the final 50 minutes before the deadline, the buyout market emerged as more attractive to many teams rather than sacrificing a future pick to add reinforcements. Joe Johnson, Johnny O&#39;Bryant, Willie Reed, Okaro White, Brice Johnson, Derrick Rose, Rashad Vaughn and Sheldon Mac are all players dealt before the deadline that could reach a buyout agreement with their new teams and hit free agency. Unmoved Players like Marco Bellineli, Kenneth Faried, Wilson Chandler, Courtney Lee and Shabazz Muhammad are also buyout candidates. Teams have until Mar. 1 to sign a bought-out player before he loses playoff eligibility. The next three weeks could ultimately play a large factor in shaping the postseason picture. </p><h3><strong>2:06 p.m.: Emmanuel Mudiay to the Knicks</strong></h3><p>The Knicks, Mavericks and Nuggets have agreed on a three-team deal that will send Emmanuel Mudiay to the Knicks, according to Adrian Wojnarowski. The deal will also land Devin Harris in Denver and Doug McDermott in Dallas. This deal makes sense for Denver, who realized Mudiay was not the point guard of the future and needed a solid backup. For McDermott, a former first-round pick of the Bulls, this could mean more opportunity on a Dallas team that is clearly rebuilding. – DeAntae Prince</p><h3><strong>1:50 p.m.: Bruno Caboclo is heading to the Kings</strong></h3><p>Finally we can take a bit of a breather and discuss a trade that doesn&#39;t involve the Cleveland facelift. Bruno Caboclo was a longtime pipe dream for Raptors fans, who saw his youth and athleticism as a major upside. Malachi Richardson, a 6&#39;6&quot; guard who lit up the NCAA tournament, was in a similar situation. The Kings picked him in the first round but he rarely played. Perhaps a change of scenery will benefit both players. – DeAntae Prince</p><h3><strong>1:07 p.m.: Dwyane Wade back to Miami?!?</strong></h3><p>The Cavaliers are absolutely cleaning house. At this rate, LeBron James will have an entirely new roster when he returns to the court after the trade deadline. Dwyane Wade is yet another player the Cavaliers have shipped away. Wade, a legend with the Miami Heat, will return to South Beach, according to Adrian Wojnarowski. The Heat will send a heavily protected second-round pick to Cleveland in return. The Cavaliers, a team full of veterans at the start of the season, have made it clear that their priority is to add young wings. – DeAntae Prince</p><h3><strong>1:02 p.m.: Cavs acquire George Hill and Rodney Hood in three-team deal with Kings, Jazz</strong></h3><p>After the first gigantic move of deadline day, the Cavs added George Hill and Rodney Hood to their artillery of sharp-shooting guards and defensive wings that surround LeBron James. It&#39;s a massive deal with a lot of moving parts, adding a lot of context to why the Hill-to-Cleveland talks stalled. Cavs fans may have been annoyed about the delay, but Cleveland was certainly wise to be patient and smooth out each wrinkle of this deal. </p><p>Jae Crowder and Derrick Rose were, to put it politely, struggling mightily to perform in Cleveland. To replace those two essentially with Hill and Hood is a massive upgrade for the Cavs. It appears that Iman Shumpert will also head to the Kings, with Cleveland receiving a 2020 second-round pick (via Miami) as part of the three-team deal. Once the deal is finished, the Jazz are likely to waive Rose, <a href="https://twitter.com/ShamsCharania/status/961671048356909056" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:according to Shams Charania" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">according to Shams Charania</a>. He could land in Minnesota with Tom Thibodeau, who coached him in Chicago, <a href="https://twitter.com/thesteinline/status/961673010263547904" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Marc Stein reports" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Marc Stein reports</a>. – Jake Fischer</p><h3><strong>12:22 p.m.: Pistons trade Brice Johnson for James Ennis, not Dante Cunningham </strong></h3><p>After the Pistons and Pelicans were in serious talks to swap Brice Johnson and a second-round pick for Dante Cunningham, Detroit ultimately swapped that package for a younger, more versatile, and arguably more talented wing.</p><p>It&#39;s a very solid move for Detroit, a team that was desperate for greater wing depth and shooting to compliment their frontcourt tandem of Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond. Ennis is a career 36.9% three-point shooter and a long, 6-7 wing that can guard multiple positions. – Jake Fischer</p><h3><strong>12:05 p.m.: Cleveland trades Isaiah Thomas and Channing Frye for Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance</strong></h3><p>Everyone in the league and their mother knew the Lakers were trying to get off Jordan Clarkson&#39;s contract, and were willing to attach Larry Nance as a sweetener. <span>ESPN&#39;s Adrian Wojnarowski was first to break the news.</span> The Cavs sent an interesting package to Los Angeles that includes Isaiah Thomas, whose short time with the Cavaliers was riddled with drama and losses. Veteran Channing Frye will also head to Los Angeles in the trade. </p><p>It&#39;s a deal that makes sense for both sides. Thomas has not returned to his All-Star play since recovering from offseason hip surgery and his expiring contract helps the Lakers get off money for their pursuit of 2018 free agency. The Cavs absorbing Clarkson&#39;s contract affirms their commitment to build around LeBron James for the immediate future and, for Cleveland, hopefully beyond. – Jake Fischer</p><h3><strong>11:55 a.m.: Cavs courting Kemba Walker</strong></h3><p>Due to their recent string of losses, the Cavaliers were expected to be active at the trade deadline. It doesn&#39;t seem like they&#39;ll disappoint. They&#39;re pushing to add Kemba Walker at the trade deadline, according to Adrian Wojnarowski. One thing to keep in mind: Hornets owner Michael Jordan said he wanted an All-Star back in return for Walker. Who would the Cavaliers be willing to part with? We could soon see. – DeAntae Prince</p><h3><strong>11:16 a.m.: Pistons talking Dante Cunningham </strong></h3><p>League sources told The Crossover on Wednesday night that Dante Cunningham requested a trade. Sources confirmed the talks ongoing between Detroit and New Orleans on Thursday. It is unclear if the Pelicans would keep Johnson at this time. – Jake Fischer </p><h3><strong>11:08 a.m.: Sound the Trade Alarm!!</strong></h3><p>Willie Reed, who is serving a suspension, will reportedly head to Chicago in the deal. The trade reunites Stan Van Gundy with Nelson, who coached the guard on his 2009 Orlando Magic team that made the Finals. The Pistons are putting together a squad that should challenge for a playoff spot in the East. (Detroit entered Thursday one game out.) Let the trades begin! – Rohan Nadkarni</p><h3><strong>10:45 a.m.: Booooooooo</strong></h3><p>The worst trade deadlines are the ones with no trades. The NBA is just in a weird spot right now because of the static nature of the salary cap. It looks like it’s hard to move contracts, and teams are reluctant to give up first-round picks. Let’s see if this is just posturing, though. – Rohan Nadkarni</p><h3><strong>10:09 a.m.: Rodney Hood is the Most Popular Kid in School</strong></h3><p>Whoa! Hood is a young player with the potential to grow into a pretty solid perimeter piece. He’ll be a restricted free-agent this summer, which means he could be a little expensive to retain in the summer. Still, he would certainly be a nice pickup for numerous teams, so the interest makes sense. The Jazz still have a nice core in place, and loading up for this year&#39;s draft is their best long-term play. – Rohan Nadkarni</p><h3><strong>9:20 a.m.: Spurs, Nuggets Making Noises</strong></h3><p>This is the extremely good stuff. The Spurs are <a href="https://twitter.com/TheSteinLine/status/961605162325499906" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:still in on Avery Bradley" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">still in on Avery Bradley</a>, according to Marc Stein. A potential framework for the deal could send Danny Green and a first-round pick to the Clippers for Bradley. I’m not sure how I feel about that move. That seems...lateral at best? Why give up a pick in that situation? The trade only really makes sense if the Spurs are trying to clear cap space for the summer. Hm, I wonder if anyone notable is going to be a free agent? </p><p>Meanwhile, Woj says <a href="https://twitter.com/wojespn/status/961605118289379328" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the Denver Nuggets are working the phones" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the Denver Nuggets are working the phones</a> on a number of moves. Denver is in on the Tyreke Evans sweeptakes, and are also looking at trades involving Emmanuel Mudiay, Wilson Chandler and Kenneth Faried. I would love to see the Nuggets make a move. They desperately need another ball-handler off the bench, and moving Wilson Chandler would open up space in the lineup for Paul Millsap when he returns from injury. We may have some moves yet! – Rohan Nadkarni</p><h3><strong>8:52 a.m.: The Cavs Are Still Trying?</strong></h3><p>God bless the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are apparently still trying to win a title this season despite their comically inept defense. The latest scuttlebutt has the Cavs <a href="https://twitter.com/wojespn/status/961596340122935297" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:trying to improve that defense with DeAndre Jordan" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">trying to improve that defense with DeAndre Jordan</a>, according to Woj. The DeAndre-to-Cleveland deal has been in the trade ethers for much of the season, and if you squint, it makes sense for the Cavs. They need something—anything—to improve their defense. It won’t bring them closer to the Warriors, but at least a trade would signal to LeBron that Cleveland isn’t going to throw in the towel. </p><p>Elsewhere:</p><p>Things are heating up! – Rohan Nadkarni</p><h3><strong>8:25 a.m.: Paul George is staying put</strong></h3><p>There&#39;s been chatter this season that if the Thunder struggled they might look into trading Paul George before the deadline (and his summer free agency). But with OKC at 31–24 and building some positive momentum (including a recent win over the Warriors), it appears Paul George is staying put for the rest of the season. <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nba/2018/02/07/thunder-gambling-paul-george-russell-westbrook-pairing/317686002/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:USA Today&#39;s Sam Amick" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">USA Today&#39;s Sam Amick</a> is reporting George is &quot;untouchable&quot; ahead of today&#39;s deadline. </p><p>With George clicking on offense and turning in a DPOY-worthy campaign, it makes sense for the Thunder to roll the dice on keeping George. They&#39;re unlikely to find another star as talented as PG-13 to pair with Westbrook and all signs indicate George is enjoying his time in OKC. — Matt Dollinger</p><h3><strong>6:50 a.m.: Less talk, more movement!</strong></h3><p>If you&#39;re just waking up, I hate to disappoint you, but there were no blockbuster trades while you were sleeping. Nevertheless, our good friend <a href="https://twitter.com/wojespn" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Adrian Wojnarowski at ESPN" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Adrian Wojnarowski at ESPN</a> did reveal some interesting chatter going on around the league while we were all catching some z&#39;s:</p><p><br></p><p>In addition to the Marc Gasol and Julius Randle non-news, Woj also reports that the <a href="https://twitter.com/wojespn/status/961490619637125120" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Pacers are actively looking to acquire a first-round pick" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Pacers are actively looking to acquire a first-round pick</a> in exchange for absorbing a bad contract (and sending Al Jefferson back as filler). He also tweeted that Memphis is <a href="https://twitter.com/wojespn/status/961492463637749761" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:holding out for a first-round pick for Tyreke Evans," class="link rapid-noclick-resp">holding out for a first-round pick for Tyreke Evans,</a> but has come up dry so far. It seems like teams are really holding their draft picks tight this year, which could lead to a stagnant (or at least uneventful) deadline. </p><p>And in case you thought everything was fine after the Cavaliers&#39; thrilling OT victory last night—well, you were really, really wrong. Isaiah Thomas had to tell reporters after the game that he does not want to be dealt—&quot;I&#39;m tired of being traded&quot;—despite being only 15 games into his Cavaliers career.</p><p>The Crossover will keep the updates rolling all day. Be sure to check back! — Matt Dollinger</p><h3><strong>Midnight: Let the games begin</strong></h3><p>Welcome to The Crossover’s trade deadline live blog! It’s like Twitter, but not really! In all seriousness, deadline day can be the most exciting day of the NBA season, but it can also be the most frustrating, and it’s the sheer unpredictability of the deadline that makes it so exciting. Two dominos are already off the board (do people put dominos on boards?) with Blake Griffin finding a new home in Detroit, and Lou Williams—an oft-rumored target—staying put in L.A. Here’s how things stand in the first hour of Thursday:</p><p>The Spurs are <a href="https://twitter.com/TheSteinLine/status/961454125325144064" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:interested in Avery Bradley" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">interested in Avery Bradley</a>, reports Marc Stein. The price for Bradley is apparently a first-round pick, but the Spurs would also have to match salary in the deal—would they really give away Danny Green or Rudy Gay to acquire Bradley? I’m not quite sure how San Antonio would make this one work, but the thought of Bradley, Green and eventually Kawhi Leonard roaming the perimeter on defense sounds pretty exciting (Bradley’s troubling on-off numbers notwithstanding.)</p><p>There isn’t much else in terms of hot goss at midnight, but there should be many more rumors in the hours to come. If you need badly need a hit, make sure to <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/02/06/nba-trade-deadline-preview-cavaliers-clippers-deandre-jordan-lou-williams-tyreke-evans" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:check out Jake Fischer’s trade deadline FAQ" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">check out Jake Fischer’s trade deadline FAQ</a>. </p><p>Happy trading! — Rohan Nadkarni</p><h3>Completed Trades </h3><p>Entering Thursday, we&#39;ve already had a flurry of activity surrounding the trade deadline. In case you&#39;ve forgotten: </p><p>• <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/31/blake-griffin-trade-pistons-clippers-stan-van-gundy-doc-rivers" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:The Clippers traded Blake Griffin to the Detroit Pistons" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">The Clippers traded Blake Griffin to the Detroit Pistons</a></p><p>•? <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/02/01/nikola-mirotic-pelicans-bulls-trade-grades-omer-asik" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:The Pelicans acquired Nikola Mirotic from the Bulls" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">The Pelicans acquired Nikola Mirotic from the Bulls</a></p><p>• <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/02/07/lou-williams-clippers-trade-contract-extension" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:The Clippers opted to extend Lou Williams&#39; contract rather than trade the high-scoring guard" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">The Clippers opted to extend Lou Williams&#39; contract rather than trade the high-scoring guard</a></p><p>•? <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/02/05/bucks-nets-tyler-zeller-rashad-vaughn-trade" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:The Nets traded Tyler Zeller to the Bucks for Rashad Vaughn" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">The Nets traded Tyler Zeller to the Bucks for Rashad Vaughn</a></p><p>•? <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/video/2018/02/07/willy-hernangomez-trade-knicks-hornets" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:The Knicks traded Willy Hernangomez to the Charlotte Hornets" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">The Knicks traded Willy Hernangomez to the Charlotte Hornets</a></p>
2018 NBA Trade Deadline: The Crossover's Running Diary

The 2018 NBA trade deadline day is finally upon us!

A number of big names have been rumored to possibly change teams, from DeAndre Jordan and Kemba Walker to Tyreke Evans and George Hill.

With a limited number of teams expected to have salary cap space this summer, the trade deadline could feature several different types of moves. Many organizations are looking to shed dollars off their cap sheets, while others are looking to retool for the postseason and/or buy low on younger players to add into development programs.

The Crossover's live blog will keep you updated on the latest news with instant analysis from our staff of writers and NBA experts. For even more rumors, click here.

3:20 p.m.: Trade deadline closes: DeAndre Jordan, Kemba Walker, Tyreke Evans stay put

As the buzzer sounded at 3 p.m. ET., Thursday's trade activity came to a resounding hush during the activity's final hour. The Clippers opted to keep DeAndre Jordan, who will likely decline his player option for next season and enter free agency. In the most surprising development of the day, the Grizzlies ultimately held on to Tyreke Evans, unable to draw a first-round pick that once appeared highly like towards the end of last week. Memphis began telling teams around 2:45 ET they were keeping Evans. The Hornets remained quiet after Kemba Walker, Nic Batum and Jeremy Lamb were heavily rumored and discussed leading up to the deadline. During the final 50 minutes before the deadline, the buyout market emerged as more attractive to many teams rather than sacrificing a future pick to add reinforcements. Joe Johnson, Johnny O'Bryant, Willie Reed, Okaro White, Brice Johnson, Derrick Rose, Rashad Vaughn and Sheldon Mac are all players dealt before the deadline that could reach a buyout agreement with their new teams and hit free agency. Unmoved Players like Marco Bellineli, Kenneth Faried, Wilson Chandler, Courtney Lee and Shabazz Muhammad are also buyout candidates. Teams have until Mar. 1 to sign a bought-out player before he loses playoff eligibility. The next three weeks could ultimately play a large factor in shaping the postseason picture.

2:06 p.m.: Emmanuel Mudiay to the Knicks

The Knicks, Mavericks and Nuggets have agreed on a three-team deal that will send Emmanuel Mudiay to the Knicks, according to Adrian Wojnarowski. The deal will also land Devin Harris in Denver and Doug McDermott in Dallas. This deal makes sense for Denver, who realized Mudiay was not the point guard of the future and needed a solid backup. For McDermott, a former first-round pick of the Bulls, this could mean more opportunity on a Dallas team that is clearly rebuilding. – DeAntae Prince

1:50 p.m.: Bruno Caboclo is heading to the Kings

Finally we can take a bit of a breather and discuss a trade that doesn't involve the Cleveland facelift. Bruno Caboclo was a longtime pipe dream for Raptors fans, who saw his youth and athleticism as a major upside. Malachi Richardson, a 6'6" guard who lit up the NCAA tournament, was in a similar situation. The Kings picked him in the first round but he rarely played. Perhaps a change of scenery will benefit both players. – DeAntae Prince

1:07 p.m.: Dwyane Wade back to Miami?!?

The Cavaliers are absolutely cleaning house. At this rate, LeBron James will have an entirely new roster when he returns to the court after the trade deadline. Dwyane Wade is yet another player the Cavaliers have shipped away. Wade, a legend with the Miami Heat, will return to South Beach, according to Adrian Wojnarowski. The Heat will send a heavily protected second-round pick to Cleveland in return. The Cavaliers, a team full of veterans at the start of the season, have made it clear that their priority is to add young wings. – DeAntae Prince

1:02 p.m.: Cavs acquire George Hill and Rodney Hood in three-team deal with Kings, Jazz

After the first gigantic move of deadline day, the Cavs added George Hill and Rodney Hood to their artillery of sharp-shooting guards and defensive wings that surround LeBron James. It's a massive deal with a lot of moving parts, adding a lot of context to why the Hill-to-Cleveland talks stalled. Cavs fans may have been annoyed about the delay, but Cleveland was certainly wise to be patient and smooth out each wrinkle of this deal.

Jae Crowder and Derrick Rose were, to put it politely, struggling mightily to perform in Cleveland. To replace those two essentially with Hill and Hood is a massive upgrade for the Cavs. It appears that Iman Shumpert will also head to the Kings, with Cleveland receiving a 2020 second-round pick (via Miami) as part of the three-team deal. Once the deal is finished, the Jazz are likely to waive Rose, according to Shams Charania. He could land in Minnesota with Tom Thibodeau, who coached him in Chicago, Marc Stein reports. – Jake Fischer

12:22 p.m.: Pistons trade Brice Johnson for James Ennis, not Dante Cunningham

After the Pistons and Pelicans were in serious talks to swap Brice Johnson and a second-round pick for Dante Cunningham, Detroit ultimately swapped that package for a younger, more versatile, and arguably more talented wing.

It's a very solid move for Detroit, a team that was desperate for greater wing depth and shooting to compliment their frontcourt tandem of Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond. Ennis is a career 36.9% three-point shooter and a long, 6-7 wing that can guard multiple positions. – Jake Fischer

12:05 p.m.: Cleveland trades Isaiah Thomas and Channing Frye for Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance

Everyone in the league and their mother knew the Lakers were trying to get off Jordan Clarkson's contract, and were willing to attach Larry Nance as a sweetener. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski was first to break the news. The Cavs sent an interesting package to Los Angeles that includes Isaiah Thomas, whose short time with the Cavaliers was riddled with drama and losses. Veteran Channing Frye will also head to Los Angeles in the trade.

It's a deal that makes sense for both sides. Thomas has not returned to his All-Star play since recovering from offseason hip surgery and his expiring contract helps the Lakers get off money for their pursuit of 2018 free agency. The Cavs absorbing Clarkson's contract affirms their commitment to build around LeBron James for the immediate future and, for Cleveland, hopefully beyond. – Jake Fischer

11:55 a.m.: Cavs courting Kemba Walker

Due to their recent string of losses, the Cavaliers were expected to be active at the trade deadline. It doesn't seem like they'll disappoint. They're pushing to add Kemba Walker at the trade deadline, according to Adrian Wojnarowski. One thing to keep in mind: Hornets owner Michael Jordan said he wanted an All-Star back in return for Walker. Who would the Cavaliers be willing to part with? We could soon see. – DeAntae Prince

11:16 a.m.: Pistons talking Dante Cunningham

League sources told The Crossover on Wednesday night that Dante Cunningham requested a trade. Sources confirmed the talks ongoing between Detroit and New Orleans on Thursday. It is unclear if the Pelicans would keep Johnson at this time. – Jake Fischer

11:08 a.m.: Sound the Trade Alarm!!

Willie Reed, who is serving a suspension, will reportedly head to Chicago in the deal. The trade reunites Stan Van Gundy with Nelson, who coached the guard on his 2009 Orlando Magic team that made the Finals. The Pistons are putting together a squad that should challenge for a playoff spot in the East. (Detroit entered Thursday one game out.) Let the trades begin! – Rohan Nadkarni

10:45 a.m.: Booooooooo

The worst trade deadlines are the ones with no trades. The NBA is just in a weird spot right now because of the static nature of the salary cap. It looks like it’s hard to move contracts, and teams are reluctant to give up first-round picks. Let’s see if this is just posturing, though. – Rohan Nadkarni

10:09 a.m.: Rodney Hood is the Most Popular Kid in School

Whoa! Hood is a young player with the potential to grow into a pretty solid perimeter piece. He’ll be a restricted free-agent this summer, which means he could be a little expensive to retain in the summer. Still, he would certainly be a nice pickup for numerous teams, so the interest makes sense. The Jazz still have a nice core in place, and loading up for this year's draft is their best long-term play. – Rohan Nadkarni

9:20 a.m.: Spurs, Nuggets Making Noises

This is the extremely good stuff. The Spurs are still in on Avery Bradley, according to Marc Stein. A potential framework for the deal could send Danny Green and a first-round pick to the Clippers for Bradley. I’m not sure how I feel about that move. That seems...lateral at best? Why give up a pick in that situation? The trade only really makes sense if the Spurs are trying to clear cap space for the summer. Hm, I wonder if anyone notable is going to be a free agent?

Meanwhile, Woj says the Denver Nuggets are working the phones on a number of moves. Denver is in on the Tyreke Evans sweeptakes, and are also looking at trades involving Emmanuel Mudiay, Wilson Chandler and Kenneth Faried. I would love to see the Nuggets make a move. They desperately need another ball-handler off the bench, and moving Wilson Chandler would open up space in the lineup for Paul Millsap when he returns from injury. We may have some moves yet! – Rohan Nadkarni

8:52 a.m.: The Cavs Are Still Trying?

God bless the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are apparently still trying to win a title this season despite their comically inept defense. The latest scuttlebutt has the Cavs trying to improve that defense with DeAndre Jordan, according to Woj. The DeAndre-to-Cleveland deal has been in the trade ethers for much of the season, and if you squint, it makes sense for the Cavs. They need something—anything—to improve their defense. It won’t bring them closer to the Warriors, but at least a trade would signal to LeBron that Cleveland isn’t going to throw in the towel.

Elsewhere:

Things are heating up! – Rohan Nadkarni

8:25 a.m.: Paul George is staying put

There's been chatter this season that if the Thunder struggled they might look into trading Paul George before the deadline (and his summer free agency). But with OKC at 31–24 and building some positive momentum (including a recent win over the Warriors), it appears Paul George is staying put for the rest of the season. USA Today's Sam Amick is reporting George is "untouchable" ahead of today's deadline.

With George clicking on offense and turning in a DPOY-worthy campaign, it makes sense for the Thunder to roll the dice on keeping George. They're unlikely to find another star as talented as PG-13 to pair with Westbrook and all signs indicate George is enjoying his time in OKC. — Matt Dollinger

6:50 a.m.: Less talk, more movement!

If you're just waking up, I hate to disappoint you, but there were no blockbuster trades while you were sleeping. Nevertheless, our good friend Adrian Wojnarowski at ESPN did reveal some interesting chatter going on around the league while we were all catching some z's:


In addition to the Marc Gasol and Julius Randle non-news, Woj also reports that the Pacers are actively looking to acquire a first-round pick in exchange for absorbing a bad contract (and sending Al Jefferson back as filler). He also tweeted that Memphis is holding out for a first-round pick for Tyreke Evans, but has come up dry so far. It seems like teams are really holding their draft picks tight this year, which could lead to a stagnant (or at least uneventful) deadline.

And in case you thought everything was fine after the Cavaliers' thrilling OT victory last night—well, you were really, really wrong. Isaiah Thomas had to tell reporters after the game that he does not want to be dealt—"I'm tired of being traded"—despite being only 15 games into his Cavaliers career.

The Crossover will keep the updates rolling all day. Be sure to check back! — Matt Dollinger

Midnight: Let the games begin

Welcome to The Crossover’s trade deadline live blog! It’s like Twitter, but not really! In all seriousness, deadline day can be the most exciting day of the NBA season, but it can also be the most frustrating, and it’s the sheer unpredictability of the deadline that makes it so exciting. Two dominos are already off the board (do people put dominos on boards?) with Blake Griffin finding a new home in Detroit, and Lou Williams—an oft-rumored target—staying put in L.A. Here’s how things stand in the first hour of Thursday:

The Spurs are interested in Avery Bradley, reports Marc Stein. The price for Bradley is apparently a first-round pick, but the Spurs would also have to match salary in the deal—would they really give away Danny Green or Rudy Gay to acquire Bradley? I’m not quite sure how San Antonio would make this one work, but the thought of Bradley, Green and eventually Kawhi Leonard roaming the perimeter on defense sounds pretty exciting (Bradley’s troubling on-off numbers notwithstanding.)

There isn’t much else in terms of hot goss at midnight, but there should be many more rumors in the hours to come. If you need badly need a hit, make sure to check out Jake Fischer’s trade deadline FAQ.

Happy trading! — Rohan Nadkarni

Completed Trades

Entering Thursday, we've already had a flurry of activity surrounding the trade deadline. In case you've forgotten:

The Clippers traded Blake Griffin to the Detroit Pistons

•? The Pelicans acquired Nikola Mirotic from the Bulls

The Clippers opted to extend Lou Williams' contract rather than trade the high-scoring guard

•? The Nets traded Tyler Zeller to the Bucks for Rashad Vaughn

•? The Knicks traded Willy Hernangomez to the Charlotte Hornets

<p>The 2018 NBA trade deadline has come and gone.</p><p>After a number of big names were rumored to possibly change teams, from DeAndre Jordan and Kemba Walker to Tyreke Evans, <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/02/08/nba-trade-deadline-cavaliers-isaiah-thomas-lebron-james-makeover" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the Cleveland Cavaliers stole the show," class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the Cleveland Cavaliers stole the show,</a> trading seven players to four different teams and completely overhauling their roster. </p><p>With a limited number of teams expected to have salary cap space this summer, the trade deadline featured several different types of moves. Many organizations looked to shed dollars off their cap sheets and tax bill, while others looked to retool for the postseason or buy low on younger players to add into development programs. </p><p>The Crossover&#39;s live blog kept up-to-the-minute updates on the latest news and provided instant analysis from our staff of writers and NBA experts. The following is a reverse-chronological running diary of deadline day. For more rumors on the impending buyout market, <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/02/08/nba-trade-rumors-news-deandre-jordan-tyreke-evans-rodney-hood-updates" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:click here." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">click here.</a> To check out every completed trade, <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/02/08/nba-trade-deadline-completed-deals-tracker" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:click here." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">click here.</a></p><h3><strong>3:20 p.m.: Trade deadline closes: DeAndre Jordan, Kemba Walker, Tyreke Evans stay put</strong></h3><p>As the buzzer sounded at 3 p.m. ET., Thursday&#39;s trade activity came to a resounding hush during the activity&#39;s final hour. The Clippers opted to keep DeAndre Jordan, who will likely decline his player option for next season and enter free agency. In the most surprising development of the day, the Grizzlies ultimately held on to Tyreke Evans, unable to draw a first-round pick that once appeared highly like towards the end of last week. Memphis began telling teams around 2:45 ET they were keeping Evans. The Hornets remained quiet after Kemba Walker, Nic Batum and Jeremy Lamb were heavily rumored and discussed leading up to the deadline. During the final 50 minutes before the deadline, the buyout market emerged as more attractive to many teams rather than sacrificing a future pick to add reinforcements. Joe Johnson, Johnny O&#39;Bryant, Willie Reed, Okaro White, Brice Johnson, Derrick Rose, Rashad Vaughn and Sheldon Mac are all players dealt before the deadline that could reach a buyout agreement with their new teams and hit free agency. Unmoved Players like Marco Bellineli, Kenneth Faried, Wilson Chandler, Courtney Lee and Shabazz Muhammad are also buyout candidates. Teams have until Mar. 1 to sign a bought-out player before he loses playoff eligibility. The next three weeks could ultimately play a large factor in shaping the postseason picture. <em>— Jake Fischer</em></p><h3><strong>2:06 p.m.: Emmanuel Mudiay to the Knicks</strong></h3><p>The Knicks, Mavericks and Nuggets have agreed on a three-team deal that will send Emmanuel Mudiay to the Knicks, according to Adrian Wojnarowski. The deal will also land Devin Harris in Denver and Doug McDermott in Dallas. This deal makes sense for Denver, who realized Mudiay was not the point guard of the future and needed a solid backup. For McDermott, a former first-round pick of the Bulls, this could mean more opportunity on a Dallas team that is clearly rebuilding. <em>– DeAntae Prince</em></p><h3><strong>1:50 p.m.: Bruno Caboclo is heading to the Kings</strong></h3><p>Finally we can take a bit of a breather and discuss a trade that doesn&#39;t involve the Cleveland facelift. Bruno Caboclo was a longtime pipe dream for Raptors fans, who saw his youth and athleticism as a major upside. Malachi Richardson, a 6&#39;6&quot; guard who lit up the NCAA tournament, was in a similar situation. The Kings picked him in the first round but he rarely played. Perhaps a change of scenery will benefit both players. <em>– DeAntae Prince</em></p><h3><strong>1:07 p.m.: Dwyane Wade back to Miami?!?</strong></h3><p>The Cavaliers are absolutely cleaning house. At this rate, LeBron James will have an entirely new roster when he returns to the court after the trade deadline. Dwyane Wade is yet another player the Cavaliers have shipped away. Wade, a legend with the Miami Heat, will return to South Beach, according to Adrian Wojnarowski. The Heat will send a heavily protected second-round pick to Cleveland in return. The Cavaliers, a team full of veterans at the start of the season, have made it clear that their priority is to add young wings. <em>– DeAntae Prince</em></p><h3><strong>1:02 p.m.: Cavs acquire George Hill and Rodney Hood in three-team deal with Kings, Jazz</strong></h3><p>After the first gigantic move of deadline day, the Cavs added George Hill and Rodney Hood to their artillery of sharp-shooting guards and defensive wings that surround LeBron James. It&#39;s a massive deal with a lot of moving parts, adding a lot of context to why the Hill-to-Cleveland talks stalled. Cavs fans may have been annoyed about the delay, but Cleveland was certainly wise to be patient and smooth out each wrinkle of this deal. </p><p>Jae Crowder and Derrick Rose were, to put it politely, struggling mightily to perform in Cleveland. To replace those two essentially with Hill and Hood is a massive upgrade for the Cavs. It appears that Iman Shumpert will also head to the Kings, with Cleveland receiving a 2020 second-round pick (via Miami) as part of the three-team deal. Once the deal is finished, the Jazz are likely to waive Rose, <a href="https://twitter.com/ShamsCharania/status/961671048356909056" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:according to Shams Charania" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">according to Shams Charania</a>. He could land in Minnesota with Tom Thibodeau, who coached him in Chicago, <a href="https://twitter.com/thesteinline/status/961673010263547904" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Marc Stein reports" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Marc Stein reports</a>. <em>– Jake Fischer</em></p><h3><strong>12:22 p.m.: Pistons trade Brice Johnson for James Ennis, not Dante Cunningham </strong></h3><p>After the Pistons and Pelicans were in serious talks to swap Brice Johnson and a second-round pick for Dante Cunningham, Detroit ultimately swapped that package for a younger, more versatile, and arguably more talented wing.</p><p>It&#39;s a very solid move for Detroit, a team that was desperate for greater wing depth and shooting to compliment their frontcourt tandem of Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond. Ennis is a career 36.9% three-point shooter and a long, 6-7 wing that can guard multiple positions.<em> – Jake Fischer</em></p><h3><strong>12:05 p.m.: Cleveland trades Isaiah Thomas and Channing Frye for Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance</strong></h3><p>Everyone in the league and their mother knew the Lakers were trying to get off Jordan Clarkson&#39;s contract, and were willing to attach Larry Nance as a sweetener. <span>ESPN&#39;s Adrian Wojnarowski was first to break the news.</span> The Cavs sent an interesting package to Los Angeles that includes Isaiah Thomas, whose short time with the Cavaliers was riddled with drama and losses. Veteran Channing Frye will also head to Los Angeles in the trade. </p><p>It&#39;s a deal that makes sense for both sides. Thomas has not returned to his All-Star play since recovering from offseason hip surgery and his expiring contract helps the Lakers get off money for their pursuit of 2018 free agency. The Cavs absorbing Clarkson&#39;s contract affirms their commitment to build around LeBron James for the immediate future and, for Cleveland, hopefully beyond. <em>– Jake Fischer</em></p><h3><strong>11:55 a.m.: Cavs courting Kemba Walker</strong></h3><p>Due to their recent string of losses, the Cavaliers were expected to be active at the trade deadline. It doesn&#39;t seem like they&#39;ll disappoint. They&#39;re pushing to add Kemba Walker at the trade deadline, according to Adrian Wojnarowski. One thing to keep in mind: Hornets owner Michael Jordan said he wanted an All-Star back in return for Walker. Who would the Cavaliers be willing to part with? We could soon see. <em>– DeAntae Prince</em></p><h3><strong>11:16 a.m.: Pistons talking Dante Cunningham </strong></h3><p>League sources told The Crossover on Wednesday night that Dante Cunningham requested a trade. Sources confirmed the talks ongoing between Detroit and New Orleans on Thursday. It is unclear if the Pelicans would keep Johnson at this time. <em>– Jake Fischer </em></p><h3><strong>11:08 a.m.: Sound the Trade Alarm!!</strong></h3><p>Willie Reed, who is serving a suspension, will reportedly head to Chicago in the deal. The trade reunites Stan Van Gundy with Nelson, who coached the guard on his 2009 Orlando Magic team that made the Finals. The Pistons are putting together a squad that should challenge for a playoff spot in the East. (Detroit entered Thursday one game out.) Let the trades begin! <em>– Rohan Nadkarni</em></p><h3><strong>10:45 a.m.: Booooooooo</strong></h3><p>The worst trade deadlines are the ones with no trades. The NBA is just in a weird spot right now because of the static nature of the salary cap. It looks like it’s hard to move contracts, and teams are reluctant to give up first-round picks. Let’s see if this is just posturing, though. <em>– Rohan Nadkarni</em></p><h3><strong>10:09 a.m.: Rodney Hood is the Most Popular Kid in School</strong></h3><p>Whoa! Hood is a young player with the potential to grow into a pretty solid perimeter piece. He’ll be a restricted free-agent this summer, which means he could be a little expensive to retain in the summer. Still, he would certainly be a nice pickup for numerous teams, so the interest makes sense. The Jazz still have a nice core in place, and loading up for this year&#39;s draft is their best long-term play. <em>– Rohan Nadkarni</em></p><h3><strong>9:20 a.m.: Spurs, Nuggets Making Noises</strong></h3><p>This is the extremely good stuff. The Spurs are <a href="https://twitter.com/TheSteinLine/status/961605162325499906" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:still in on Avery Bradley" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">still in on Avery Bradley</a>, according to Marc Stein. A potential framework for the deal could send Danny Green and a first-round pick to the Clippers for Bradley. I’m not sure how I feel about that move. That seems...lateral at best? Why give up a pick in that situation? The trade only really makes sense if the Spurs are trying to clear cap space for the summer. Hm, I wonder if anyone notable is going to be a free agent? </p><p>Meanwhile, Woj says <a href="https://twitter.com/wojespn/status/961605118289379328" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the Denver Nuggets are working the phones" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the Denver Nuggets are working the phones</a> on a number of moves. Denver is in on the Tyreke Evans sweeptakes, and are also looking at trades involving Emmanuel Mudiay, Wilson Chandler and Kenneth Faried. I would love to see the Nuggets make a move. They desperately need another ball-handler off the bench, and moving Wilson Chandler would open up space in the lineup for Paul Millsap when he returns from injury. We may have some moves yet! <em>– Rohan Nadkarni</em></p><h3><strong>8:52 a.m.: The Cavs Are Still Trying?</strong></h3><p>God bless the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are apparently still trying to win a title this season despite their comically inept defense. The latest scuttlebutt has the Cavs <a href="https://twitter.com/wojespn/status/961596340122935297" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:trying to improve that defense with DeAndre Jordan" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">trying to improve that defense with DeAndre Jordan</a>, according to Woj. The DeAndre-to-Cleveland deal has been in the trade ethers for much of the season, and if you squint, it makes sense for the Cavs. They need something—anything—to improve their defense. It won’t bring them closer to the Warriors, but at least a trade would signal to LeBron that Cleveland isn’t going to throw in the towel. </p><p>Elsewhere:</p><p>Things are heating up! – Rohan Nadkarni</p><h3><strong>8:25 a.m.: Paul George is staying put</strong></h3><p>There&#39;s been chatter this season that if the Thunder struggled they might look into trading Paul George before the deadline (and his summer free agency). But with OKC at 31–24 and building some positive momentum (including a recent win over the Warriors), it appears Paul George is staying put for the rest of the season. <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nba/2018/02/07/thunder-gambling-paul-george-russell-westbrook-pairing/317686002/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:USA Today&#39;s Sam Amick" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">USA Today&#39;s Sam Amick</a> is reporting George is &quot;untouchable&quot; ahead of today&#39;s deadline. </p><p>With George clicking on offense and turning in a DPOY-worthy campaign, it makes sense for the Thunder to roll the dice on keeping George. They&#39;re unlikely to find another star as talented as PG-13 to pair with Westbrook and all signs indicate George is enjoying his time in OKC. <em>— Matt Dollinger</em></p><h3><strong>6:50 a.m.: Less talk, more movement!</strong></h3><p>If you&#39;re just waking up, I hate to disappoint you, but there were no blockbuster trades while you were sleeping. Nevertheless, our good friend <a href="https://twitter.com/wojespn" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Adrian Wojnarowski at ESPN" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Adrian Wojnarowski at ESPN</a> did reveal some interesting chatter going on around the league while we were all catching some z&#39;s:</p><p><br></p><p>In addition to the Marc Gasol and Julius Randle non-news, Woj also reports that the <a href="https://twitter.com/wojespn/status/961490619637125120" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Pacers are actively looking to acquire a first-round pick" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Pacers are actively looking to acquire a first-round pick</a> in exchange for absorbing a bad contract (and sending Al Jefferson back as filler). He also tweeted that Memphis is <a href="https://twitter.com/wojespn/status/961492463637749761" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:holding out for a first-round pick for Tyreke Evans," class="link rapid-noclick-resp">holding out for a first-round pick for Tyreke Evans,</a> but has come up dry so far. It seems like teams are really holding their draft picks tight this year, which could lead to a stagnant (or at least uneventful) deadline. </p><p>And in case you thought everything was fine after the Cavaliers&#39; thrilling OT victory last night—well, you were really, really wrong. Isaiah Thomas had to tell reporters after the game that he does not want to be dealt—&quot;I&#39;m tired of being traded&quot;—despite being only 15 games into his Cavaliers career.</p><p>The Crossover will keep the updates rolling all day. Be sure to check back! <em>— Matt Dollinger</em></p><h3><strong>Midnight: Let the games begin</strong></h3><p>Welcome to The Crossover’s trade deadline live blog! It’s like Twitter, but not really! In all seriousness, deadline day can be the most exciting day of the NBA season, but it can also be the most frustrating, and it’s the sheer unpredictability of the deadline that makes it so exciting. Two dominos are already off the board (do people put dominos on boards?) with Blake Griffin finding a new home in Detroit, and Lou Williams—an oft-rumored target—staying put in L.A. Here’s how things stand in the first hour of Thursday:</p><p>The Spurs are <a href="https://twitter.com/TheSteinLine/status/961454125325144064" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:interested in Avery Bradley" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">interested in Avery Bradley</a>, reports Marc Stein. The price for Bradley is apparently a first-round pick, but the Spurs would also have to match salary in the deal—would they really give away Danny Green or Rudy Gay to acquire Bradley? I’m not quite sure how San Antonio would make this one work, but the thought of Bradley, Green and eventually Kawhi Leonard roaming the perimeter on defense sounds pretty exciting (Bradley’s troubling on-off numbers notwithstanding.)</p><p>There isn’t much else in terms of hot goss at midnight, but there should be many more rumors in the hours to come. If you need badly need a hit, make sure to <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/02/06/nba-trade-deadline-preview-cavaliers-clippers-deandre-jordan-lou-williams-tyreke-evans" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:check out Jake Fischer’s trade deadline FAQ" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">check out Jake Fischer’s trade deadline FAQ</a>. </p><p>Happy trading!<em> — Rohan Nadkarni</em></p><h3>Completed Trades </h3><p>Entering Thursday, we&#39;ve already had a flurry of activity surrounding the trade deadline. In case you&#39;ve forgotten: </p><p>• <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/31/blake-griffin-trade-pistons-clippers-stan-van-gundy-doc-rivers" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:The Clippers traded Blake Griffin to the Detroit Pistons" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">The Clippers traded Blake Griffin to the Detroit Pistons</a></p><p>•? <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/02/01/nikola-mirotic-pelicans-bulls-trade-grades-omer-asik" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:The Pelicans acquired Nikola Mirotic from the Bulls" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">The Pelicans acquired Nikola Mirotic from the Bulls</a></p><p>• <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/02/07/lou-williams-clippers-trade-contract-extension" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:The Clippers opted to extend Lou Williams&#39; contract rather than trade the high-scoring guard" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">The Clippers opted to extend Lou Williams&#39; contract rather than trade the high-scoring guard</a></p><p>•? <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/02/05/bucks-nets-tyler-zeller-rashad-vaughn-trade" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:The Nets traded Tyler Zeller to the Bucks for Rashad Vaughn" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">The Nets traded Tyler Zeller to the Bucks for Rashad Vaughn</a></p><p>•? <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/video/2018/02/07/willy-hernangomez-trade-knicks-hornets" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:The Knicks traded Willy Hernangomez to the Charlotte Hornets" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">The Knicks traded Willy Hernangomez to the Charlotte Hornets</a></p>
2018 NBA Trade Deadline: The Crossover's Running Diary

The 2018 NBA trade deadline has come and gone.

After a number of big names were rumored to possibly change teams, from DeAndre Jordan and Kemba Walker to Tyreke Evans, the Cleveland Cavaliers stole the show, trading seven players to four different teams and completely overhauling their roster.

With a limited number of teams expected to have salary cap space this summer, the trade deadline featured several different types of moves. Many organizations looked to shed dollars off their cap sheets and tax bill, while others looked to retool for the postseason or buy low on younger players to add into development programs.

The Crossover's live blog kept up-to-the-minute updates on the latest news and provided instant analysis from our staff of writers and NBA experts. The following is a reverse-chronological running diary of deadline day. For more rumors on the impending buyout market, click here. To check out every completed trade, click here.

3:20 p.m.: Trade deadline closes: DeAndre Jordan, Kemba Walker, Tyreke Evans stay put

As the buzzer sounded at 3 p.m. ET., Thursday's trade activity came to a resounding hush during the activity's final hour. The Clippers opted to keep DeAndre Jordan, who will likely decline his player option for next season and enter free agency. In the most surprising development of the day, the Grizzlies ultimately held on to Tyreke Evans, unable to draw a first-round pick that once appeared highly like towards the end of last week. Memphis began telling teams around 2:45 ET they were keeping Evans. The Hornets remained quiet after Kemba Walker, Nic Batum and Jeremy Lamb were heavily rumored and discussed leading up to the deadline. During the final 50 minutes before the deadline, the buyout market emerged as more attractive to many teams rather than sacrificing a future pick to add reinforcements. Joe Johnson, Johnny O'Bryant, Willie Reed, Okaro White, Brice Johnson, Derrick Rose, Rashad Vaughn and Sheldon Mac are all players dealt before the deadline that could reach a buyout agreement with their new teams and hit free agency. Unmoved Players like Marco Bellineli, Kenneth Faried, Wilson Chandler, Courtney Lee and Shabazz Muhammad are also buyout candidates. Teams have until Mar. 1 to sign a bought-out player before he loses playoff eligibility. The next three weeks could ultimately play a large factor in shaping the postseason picture. — Jake Fischer

2:06 p.m.: Emmanuel Mudiay to the Knicks

The Knicks, Mavericks and Nuggets have agreed on a three-team deal that will send Emmanuel Mudiay to the Knicks, according to Adrian Wojnarowski. The deal will also land Devin Harris in Denver and Doug McDermott in Dallas. This deal makes sense for Denver, who realized Mudiay was not the point guard of the future and needed a solid backup. For McDermott, a former first-round pick of the Bulls, this could mean more opportunity on a Dallas team that is clearly rebuilding. – DeAntae Prince

1:50 p.m.: Bruno Caboclo is heading to the Kings

Finally we can take a bit of a breather and discuss a trade that doesn't involve the Cleveland facelift. Bruno Caboclo was a longtime pipe dream for Raptors fans, who saw his youth and athleticism as a major upside. Malachi Richardson, a 6'6" guard who lit up the NCAA tournament, was in a similar situation. The Kings picked him in the first round but he rarely played. Perhaps a change of scenery will benefit both players. – DeAntae Prince

1:07 p.m.: Dwyane Wade back to Miami?!?

The Cavaliers are absolutely cleaning house. At this rate, LeBron James will have an entirely new roster when he returns to the court after the trade deadline. Dwyane Wade is yet another player the Cavaliers have shipped away. Wade, a legend with the Miami Heat, will return to South Beach, according to Adrian Wojnarowski. The Heat will send a heavily protected second-round pick to Cleveland in return. The Cavaliers, a team full of veterans at the start of the season, have made it clear that their priority is to add young wings. – DeAntae Prince

1:02 p.m.: Cavs acquire George Hill and Rodney Hood in three-team deal with Kings, Jazz

After the first gigantic move of deadline day, the Cavs added George Hill and Rodney Hood to their artillery of sharp-shooting guards and defensive wings that surround LeBron James. It's a massive deal with a lot of moving parts, adding a lot of context to why the Hill-to-Cleveland talks stalled. Cavs fans may have been annoyed about the delay, but Cleveland was certainly wise to be patient and smooth out each wrinkle of this deal.

Jae Crowder and Derrick Rose were, to put it politely, struggling mightily to perform in Cleveland. To replace those two essentially with Hill and Hood is a massive upgrade for the Cavs. It appears that Iman Shumpert will also head to the Kings, with Cleveland receiving a 2020 second-round pick (via Miami) as part of the three-team deal. Once the deal is finished, the Jazz are likely to waive Rose, according to Shams Charania. He could land in Minnesota with Tom Thibodeau, who coached him in Chicago, Marc Stein reports. – Jake Fischer

12:22 p.m.: Pistons trade Brice Johnson for James Ennis, not Dante Cunningham

After the Pistons and Pelicans were in serious talks to swap Brice Johnson and a second-round pick for Dante Cunningham, Detroit ultimately swapped that package for a younger, more versatile, and arguably more talented wing.

It's a very solid move for Detroit, a team that was desperate for greater wing depth and shooting to compliment their frontcourt tandem of Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond. Ennis is a career 36.9% three-point shooter and a long, 6-7 wing that can guard multiple positions. – Jake Fischer

12:05 p.m.: Cleveland trades Isaiah Thomas and Channing Frye for Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance

Everyone in the league and their mother knew the Lakers were trying to get off Jordan Clarkson's contract, and were willing to attach Larry Nance as a sweetener. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski was first to break the news. The Cavs sent an interesting package to Los Angeles that includes Isaiah Thomas, whose short time with the Cavaliers was riddled with drama and losses. Veteran Channing Frye will also head to Los Angeles in the trade.

It's a deal that makes sense for both sides. Thomas has not returned to his All-Star play since recovering from offseason hip surgery and his expiring contract helps the Lakers get off money for their pursuit of 2018 free agency. The Cavs absorbing Clarkson's contract affirms their commitment to build around LeBron James for the immediate future and, for Cleveland, hopefully beyond. – Jake Fischer

11:55 a.m.: Cavs courting Kemba Walker

Due to their recent string of losses, the Cavaliers were expected to be active at the trade deadline. It doesn't seem like they'll disappoint. They're pushing to add Kemba Walker at the trade deadline, according to Adrian Wojnarowski. One thing to keep in mind: Hornets owner Michael Jordan said he wanted an All-Star back in return for Walker. Who would the Cavaliers be willing to part with? We could soon see. – DeAntae Prince

11:16 a.m.: Pistons talking Dante Cunningham

League sources told The Crossover on Wednesday night that Dante Cunningham requested a trade. Sources confirmed the talks ongoing between Detroit and New Orleans on Thursday. It is unclear if the Pelicans would keep Johnson at this time. – Jake Fischer

11:08 a.m.: Sound the Trade Alarm!!

Willie Reed, who is serving a suspension, will reportedly head to Chicago in the deal. The trade reunites Stan Van Gundy with Nelson, who coached the guard on his 2009 Orlando Magic team that made the Finals. The Pistons are putting together a squad that should challenge for a playoff spot in the East. (Detroit entered Thursday one game out.) Let the trades begin! – Rohan Nadkarni

10:45 a.m.: Booooooooo

The worst trade deadlines are the ones with no trades. The NBA is just in a weird spot right now because of the static nature of the salary cap. It looks like it’s hard to move contracts, and teams are reluctant to give up first-round picks. Let’s see if this is just posturing, though. – Rohan Nadkarni

10:09 a.m.: Rodney Hood is the Most Popular Kid in School

Whoa! Hood is a young player with the potential to grow into a pretty solid perimeter piece. He’ll be a restricted free-agent this summer, which means he could be a little expensive to retain in the summer. Still, he would certainly be a nice pickup for numerous teams, so the interest makes sense. The Jazz still have a nice core in place, and loading up for this year's draft is their best long-term play. – Rohan Nadkarni

9:20 a.m.: Spurs, Nuggets Making Noises

This is the extremely good stuff. The Spurs are still in on Avery Bradley, according to Marc Stein. A potential framework for the deal could send Danny Green and a first-round pick to the Clippers for Bradley. I’m not sure how I feel about that move. That seems...lateral at best? Why give up a pick in that situation? The trade only really makes sense if the Spurs are trying to clear cap space for the summer. Hm, I wonder if anyone notable is going to be a free agent?

Meanwhile, Woj says the Denver Nuggets are working the phones on a number of moves. Denver is in on the Tyreke Evans sweeptakes, and are also looking at trades involving Emmanuel Mudiay, Wilson Chandler and Kenneth Faried. I would love to see the Nuggets make a move. They desperately need another ball-handler off the bench, and moving Wilson Chandler would open up space in the lineup for Paul Millsap when he returns from injury. We may have some moves yet! – Rohan Nadkarni

8:52 a.m.: The Cavs Are Still Trying?

God bless the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are apparently still trying to win a title this season despite their comically inept defense. The latest scuttlebutt has the Cavs trying to improve that defense with DeAndre Jordan, according to Woj. The DeAndre-to-Cleveland deal has been in the trade ethers for much of the season, and if you squint, it makes sense for the Cavs. They need something—anything—to improve their defense. It won’t bring them closer to the Warriors, but at least a trade would signal to LeBron that Cleveland isn’t going to throw in the towel.

Elsewhere:

Things are heating up! – Rohan Nadkarni

8:25 a.m.: Paul George is staying put

There's been chatter this season that if the Thunder struggled they might look into trading Paul George before the deadline (and his summer free agency). But with OKC at 31–24 and building some positive momentum (including a recent win over the Warriors), it appears Paul George is staying put for the rest of the season. USA Today's Sam Amick is reporting George is "untouchable" ahead of today's deadline.

With George clicking on offense and turning in a DPOY-worthy campaign, it makes sense for the Thunder to roll the dice on keeping George. They're unlikely to find another star as talented as PG-13 to pair with Westbrook and all signs indicate George is enjoying his time in OKC. — Matt Dollinger

6:50 a.m.: Less talk, more movement!

If you're just waking up, I hate to disappoint you, but there were no blockbuster trades while you were sleeping. Nevertheless, our good friend Adrian Wojnarowski at ESPN did reveal some interesting chatter going on around the league while we were all catching some z's:


In addition to the Marc Gasol and Julius Randle non-news, Woj also reports that the Pacers are actively looking to acquire a first-round pick in exchange for absorbing a bad contract (and sending Al Jefferson back as filler). He also tweeted that Memphis is holding out for a first-round pick for Tyreke Evans, but has come up dry so far. It seems like teams are really holding their draft picks tight this year, which could lead to a stagnant (or at least uneventful) deadline.

And in case you thought everything was fine after the Cavaliers' thrilling OT victory last night—well, you were really, really wrong. Isaiah Thomas had to tell reporters after the game that he does not want to be dealt—"I'm tired of being traded"—despite being only 15 games into his Cavaliers career.

The Crossover will keep the updates rolling all day. Be sure to check back! — Matt Dollinger

Midnight: Let the games begin

Welcome to The Crossover’s trade deadline live blog! It’s like Twitter, but not really! In all seriousness, deadline day can be the most exciting day of the NBA season, but it can also be the most frustrating, and it’s the sheer unpredictability of the deadline that makes it so exciting. Two dominos are already off the board (do people put dominos on boards?) with Blake Griffin finding a new home in Detroit, and Lou Williams—an oft-rumored target—staying put in L.A. Here’s how things stand in the first hour of Thursday:

The Spurs are interested in Avery Bradley, reports Marc Stein. The price for Bradley is apparently a first-round pick, but the Spurs would also have to match salary in the deal—would they really give away Danny Green or Rudy Gay to acquire Bradley? I’m not quite sure how San Antonio would make this one work, but the thought of Bradley, Green and eventually Kawhi Leonard roaming the perimeter on defense sounds pretty exciting (Bradley’s troubling on-off numbers notwithstanding.)

There isn’t much else in terms of hot goss at midnight, but there should be many more rumors in the hours to come. If you need badly need a hit, make sure to check out Jake Fischer’s trade deadline FAQ.

Happy trading! — Rohan Nadkarni

Completed Trades

Entering Thursday, we've already had a flurry of activity surrounding the trade deadline. In case you've forgotten:

The Clippers traded Blake Griffin to the Detroit Pistons

•? The Pelicans acquired Nikola Mirotic from the Bulls

The Clippers opted to extend Lou Williams' contract rather than trade the high-scoring guard

•? The Nets traded Tyler Zeller to the Bucks for Rashad Vaughn

•? The Knicks traded Willy Hernangomez to the Charlotte Hornets

<p>Former NBA player Rasual Butler and his wife, Leah LaBelle were killed in a single car crash in the early hours of Wednesday morning in Studio City, California. The deaths were <a href="http://www.tmz.com/2018/01/31/rasual-butler-dead-car-crash/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:first reported by" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">first reported by</a> TMZ. </p><p>At around 2 a.m., Butler reportedly lost control of his Range Rover, struck a parking meter and flipped before slamming into a wall. According to TMZ, police officers believe that Butler&#39;s car was speeding before it lost control. NBC Los Angeles <a href="https://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Two-People-Dead-After-Car-Plows-Into-Studio-City-Building-471914503.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:reported" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">reported</a> that police said the vehicle was traveling at speeds two to three times higher than the limit.</p><p>The Los Angeles County coroner&#39;s department <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nba/2018/01/31/ex-nba-player-rasual-butler-dies-single-vehicle-accident/1083466001/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:confirmed" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">confirmed</a> Butler&#39;s identity to <em>USA Today</em>.</p><p>Butler, 38, was drafted out of La Salle by the Miami Heat in the second round of the 2002 NBA draft. He went on to play for the Heat, Hornets, Clippers, Bulls, Raptors, Pacers, Wizards and Spurs from 2002 to 2016. Most recently, Butler was expected to play a second season in the BIG3 League.</p><p>The Indiana Pacers issued the following statement:</p><p>&quot;Our entire organization is deeply saddened after learning of the death of Rasual Butler and his wife, Leah LaBelle. In his one season with us, Rasual was the consummate team player and a great role model for our younger players on how a professional should prepare and act, while being a positive influence on everyone who associated with him. We offer our sincerest condolences to he and his wife&#39;s family.&quot;</p><p>LaBelle was a contestant on the third season of American Idol.</p>
Former NBA Player Rasual Butler and Wife Leah LaBelle Killed In Car Crash

Former NBA player Rasual Butler and his wife, Leah LaBelle were killed in a single car crash in the early hours of Wednesday morning in Studio City, California. The deaths were first reported by TMZ.

At around 2 a.m., Butler reportedly lost control of his Range Rover, struck a parking meter and flipped before slamming into a wall. According to TMZ, police officers believe that Butler's car was speeding before it lost control. NBC Los Angeles reported that police said the vehicle was traveling at speeds two to three times higher than the limit.

The Los Angeles County coroner's department confirmed Butler's identity to USA Today.

Butler, 38, was drafted out of La Salle by the Miami Heat in the second round of the 2002 NBA draft. He went on to play for the Heat, Hornets, Clippers, Bulls, Raptors, Pacers, Wizards and Spurs from 2002 to 2016. Most recently, Butler was expected to play a second season in the BIG3 League.

The Indiana Pacers issued the following statement:

"Our entire organization is deeply saddened after learning of the death of Rasual Butler and his wife, Leah LaBelle. In his one season with us, Rasual was the consummate team player and a great role model for our younger players on how a professional should prepare and act, while being a positive influence on everyone who associated with him. We offer our sincerest condolences to he and his wife's family."

LaBelle was a contestant on the third season of American Idol.

<p>Hey! Welcome back to The Crossover’s weekly power rankings. After a week off, I’m back by popular demand! I’ll try to make you as happy <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/23/nba-power-rankings-cavaliers-rumors-struggles-rockets-warriors" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:as Rohan Nadkarni did" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">as Rohan Nadkarni did</a> with where I put your favorite team, though I can’t make any promises. I can swear to keep this not-so-serious as always, and I will refrain from talking about Ray Felton, as much as it pains me to do so. Anyway, enough of this. Let’s get to the ranks:</p><p>(All stats and records used through Jan. 28).</p><p><b>30. Orlando Magic (14–34)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 29</strong><br>I’m mad I didn’t think of this pun first.</p><p><b>29. Memphis Grizzlies (17–31)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 20</strong><br>Who did the <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/23/nba-power-rankings-cavaliers-rumors-struggles-rockets-warriors" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:rankings last week" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">rankings last week</a>, JaMychal Green? This team is bad, and now that <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/video/2018/01/27/mike-conley-memphis-grizzlies-heel-injury-update-miss-season-nba" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Mike Conley is out for the year" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Mike Conley is out for the year</a>, their season is over.</p><p><strong>28. Sacramento Kings (15–34)</strong><br><strong>Last Week: 30</strong><br>How long did it take to make this?</p><p><b>27. Atlanta Hawks (14–35)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 27</strong><br>The Cavaliers have reportedly <a href="http://www.nba.com/article/2018/01/22/cleveland-cavaliers-koby-altman-lebron-james-future-2018-trade-deadline#/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:checked on" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">checked on</a> Kent Bazemore. Considering he’s owed over $37 million through 2020, I don’t see why the Hawks wouldn’t flip him for whatever the Cavs want to offer, especially if there’s a pick attached. Trade everyone.</p><p><b>26. Dallas Mavericks (16–34)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 25</strong><br>If Dennis Smith Jr. <i>doesn’t</i> win the dunk contest, what happens? Do Mavs fans riot? Does J.J. Barea decide he’s retiring? Will Mark Cuban <a href="https://twitter.com/mcuban/status/957686987229618176" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:call on the NBA" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">call on the NBA</a> to make sure the judges are really who they say they are?</p><p><b>25. Detroit Pistons (22–26)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 22</strong><br>Remember when the only problem Detroit had was that Andre Drummond was <i>sorta</i> not good <i>sometimes</i>? Now you’ve got a whole punchbowl to pick from.</p><p><b>24. Chicago Bulls (18–32)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 18</strong><br>Nikola Mirotic called Rajon Rondo his “the best teammate [he] ever had” this week. No, I’m serious. <a href="https://chicago.suntimes.com/sports/nikola-mirotic-rajon-rondo-best-teammate-bulls/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:He did" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">He did</a>. Wonder who his <i>least</i> favorite teammate is...</p><p><b>23. Phoenix Suns (17–33)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 29</strong><br>Like I said a few weeks ago, the Suns should have ended the season after that win over the Thunder.</p><p><b>22. Brooklyn Nets (18–32)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 23</strong><br>Jah. Is. Free.</p><p><b>21. New York Knicks (22–28)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 24</strong><br>Well, you were warned about their struggles on the road. At least Trey Burke is looking really, really good these days! He’s forcing the Knicks to give him all sorts of playing time right now, and making other teams look bad for passing on him. This is kind of insane.</p><p><b>20. Charlotte Hornets (20–28)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 21</strong><br>I feel like I’m beating a dead horse here. The Hornets just fumbled away ANOTHER game down the stretch, this time against Miami on Saturday. Can you imagine what’s going to <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/19/charlotte-hornets-trade-rumors-kemba-walker" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:happen when" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">happen when </a><a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/19/charlotte-hornets-trade-rumors-kemba-walker" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Kemba" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Kemba</a><a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/19/charlotte-hornets-trade-rumors-kemba-walker" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:leaves" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"> leaves</a>? I mean, they’re not going to be playing in so many of these close games in the fourth, but when they do, whew.</p><p><b>19. Utah Jazz (21–28)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 26</strong><br>God, this is just a mess at the bottom of these rankings. So incredibly sad. I’m supposed to believe in the Jazz now?</p><p><b>18. Los Angeles Lakers (19–30)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 19</strong><br>The league’s newest social media darling Kyle Kuzma might have gone too far here. What’s wrong with strawberries? They might me the most delicious thing I’ve ever tasted. And they’re healthy! Healthier than waffles, anyway. That might be a mountain of berries, but it’s not worth killing the man over. Let Lonzo live!</p><p><b>17. Denver Nuggets (26–23)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 13</strong><br>They finally picked up their first good win (against Portland) since the calendar turned to 2018. Other than a couple fantastic outputs from Jamal Murray, there’s not much to write home about here. Middling defense, inconsistent offense. Middle of the pack seems right.</p><p><strong>16. New Orleans Pelicans (27–22)</strong><br><strong>Last Week: 8</strong><br>As Tom Haberstroh <a href="http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2756366-fatigue-likely-contributed-to-demarcus-cousins-achilles-injury" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:notes" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">notes</a>, this DeMarcus Cousins injury should be a lesson to all about player overuse. In the month of January, Boogie played five games of 40 or more minutes, a 51-minute game against Chicago, and was taking oodles of shots. So sad to see him go down <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/27/demarcus-cousins-pelicans-torn-ruptured-achilles" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:with a ruptured Achilles" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">with a ruptured Achilles</a>, just as I was beginning to believe in New Orleans as a contender. This probably kills all of that, though you should never say never about a team with Anthony Davis.?</p><p><b>15. Cleveland Cavaliers (29–19)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 16</strong><br>You, lame and dumb: &quot;Man, I’m really worried about the Cavs. Isaiah Thomas looks like he’s really not having fun and there’s some discord in that locker room.&quot; </p><p>LeBron, cool and good:</p><p><b>14. Milwaukee Bucks (26–22)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 15</strong><br>Here’s how uncultured I am: I thought “Cream City” was some sort of manufactured nickname by Nike to sell more jerseys. Turns out it’s a real Milwaukee thing! These are pretty awesome uniforms, if I don’t say so myself. There’s a reason they’re undefeated (1-0) in them.</p><p><b>13. Indiana Pacers (27–23)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 14</strong><br>Here’s something very encouraging: <a href="http://www.foxsports.com/indiana/video/1147608131920" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:GM Chad Buchanan says" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">GM Chad Buchanan says</a><a href="http://www.foxsports.com/indiana/video/1147608131920" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Indiana" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"> Indiana</a> is “in no hurry to change up anything with this team.” There’s definitely the temptation to try to transform a good team like this one into a great one, especially with someone like Kemba Walker available. The Pacers have a great core that has learned to play with one another in short time, though, and it’d be foolish to mortgage what could be a fantastic future.</p><p><b>12. Philadelphia 76ers (24–22)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 10</strong><br>Uhhh, is <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/19/markelle-fultz-76ers-brett-brown-ben-simmons-joel-embiid" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Markelle Fultz" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Markelle Fultz</a><a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/19/markelle-fultz-76ers-brett-brown-ben-simmons-joel-embiid" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:OK" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"> OK</a>? I don’t even care about what happens this season with the Sixers, I just hope this man can have the NBA career he deserves.</p><p>This was June, man...what happened?</p><p><b>11. Washington Wizards (27–22)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 17</strong><br>Should this team still be running laps for losing to the freaking Mavs? Yes. Am I encouraged by Markieff Morris’s recent play? You bet. Don’t let him get hot!</p><p><b>10. Portland Trail Blazers (27–22)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 12</strong><br>It’s gotten to the point where I’m getting worried that Damian Lillard will lose that underdog edge. If he starts making All-Star teams, what’s going to cause him to carry that chip on his shoulder? Ah, wait. Thank goodness. Thank you Russ. This is like blowing on the fire just as it’s going out to reignite those embers and get it going again.</p><p><b>9. Los Angeles Clippers (25–24)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 11</strong><br>Don’t look now, but Danilo Gallinari’s return is right around the corner. How much better would you feel about this team if Gallinari was starting over Wes Johnson? I’d wager <i>very</i>.</p><p><b>8. Miami Heat (28–21)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 9</strong><br>Miami’s defense over the past week has been the fourth-best in the league (97.7 pts allowed per 100 possessions) but their offense has been atrocious, shooting just 30% from three. It’s times like this you miss Dion Waiters. Although…</p><p><b>7. Minnesota Timberwolves (32–20)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 5</strong><br>Did you see what just happened to DeMarcus Cousins because of overuse? Someone tell Thibs. It’d be a shame for Karl-Anthony Towns to have the same fate.</p><p><b>6. San Antonio Spurs (33–19)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 7</strong><br>Gregg Popovich celebrated his 69th birthday on Sunday, which gives me an excuse to share this with you, my favorite Pop moment:</p><p><b>5. Toronto Raptors (33–15)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 4</strong><br>What’s gotten into Jonas Valanciunas? He’s <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CS40W2tqmQ" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:getting into fights" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">getting into fights</a> now? He’s hitting threes? He’s blocking shots? He may single-handedly pique my interest in the Raptors.</p><p><b>4. Boston Celtics (35–15)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 6</strong><br>In that highly-anticipated showdown with Golden State, you kind of got the feeling that Kyrie is the heir to the throne, right? He’s going to be the one to snap LeBron’s Finals streak and he’s going to be the next one to <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/28/celtics-warriors-biggest-threat-nba-finals-series" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:challenge the Warriors for their crown" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">challenge the Warriors for their crown</a>. I mean, look at this:</p><p><b>3. Oklahoma City Thunder (30–20)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 3</strong><br>When you tick off Brock Lesnar, this happens:</p><p>Similarly, when you tick off Russ Westbrook, you lose and this happens:</p><p><b>2. Houston Rockets (35–13)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 1</strong><br>Houston’s loss to New Orleans was its first in a game started by James Harden, Chris Paul and Clint Capela all season. They’ve started 21 games together. That’s proof of this team’s dominance when healthy.</p><p><b>1. Golden State Warriors (40–10)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 2</strong><br>Hey, it wasn’t me who knocked them off their throne! Against Boston, Stephen Curry proved to all the doubters (I have to admit, even I was pretty skeptical of his powers a couple months ago) that he’s still otherworldly. He scored 13 points over the final 1:42. The Warriors just have too many bullets.</p>
NBA Power Rankings: The Warriors Take Back Their Throne

Hey! Welcome back to The Crossover’s weekly power rankings. After a week off, I’m back by popular demand! I’ll try to make you as happy as Rohan Nadkarni did with where I put your favorite team, though I can’t make any promises. I can swear to keep this not-so-serious as always, and I will refrain from talking about Ray Felton, as much as it pains me to do so. Anyway, enough of this. Let’s get to the ranks:

(All stats and records used through Jan. 28).

30. Orlando Magic (14–34)
Last Week: 29
I’m mad I didn’t think of this pun first.

29. Memphis Grizzlies (17–31)
Last Week: 20
Who did the rankings last week, JaMychal Green? This team is bad, and now that Mike Conley is out for the year, their season is over.

28. Sacramento Kings (15–34)
Last Week: 30
How long did it take to make this?

27. Atlanta Hawks (14–35)
Last Week: 27
The Cavaliers have reportedly checked on Kent Bazemore. Considering he’s owed over $37 million through 2020, I don’t see why the Hawks wouldn’t flip him for whatever the Cavs want to offer, especially if there’s a pick attached. Trade everyone.

26. Dallas Mavericks (16–34)
Last Week: 25
If Dennis Smith Jr. doesn’t win the dunk contest, what happens? Do Mavs fans riot? Does J.J. Barea decide he’s retiring? Will Mark Cuban call on the NBA to make sure the judges are really who they say they are?

25. Detroit Pistons (22–26)
Last Week: 22
Remember when the only problem Detroit had was that Andre Drummond was sorta not good sometimes? Now you’ve got a whole punchbowl to pick from.

24. Chicago Bulls (18–32)
Last Week: 18
Nikola Mirotic called Rajon Rondo his “the best teammate [he] ever had” this week. No, I’m serious. He did. Wonder who his least favorite teammate is...

23. Phoenix Suns (17–33)
Last Week: 29
Like I said a few weeks ago, the Suns should have ended the season after that win over the Thunder.

22. Brooklyn Nets (18–32)
Last Week: 23
Jah. Is. Free.

21. New York Knicks (22–28)
Last Week: 24
Well, you were warned about their struggles on the road. At least Trey Burke is looking really, really good these days! He’s forcing the Knicks to give him all sorts of playing time right now, and making other teams look bad for passing on him. This is kind of insane.

20. Charlotte Hornets (20–28)
Last Week: 21
I feel like I’m beating a dead horse here. The Hornets just fumbled away ANOTHER game down the stretch, this time against Miami on Saturday. Can you imagine what’s going to happen when Kemba leaves? I mean, they’re not going to be playing in so many of these close games in the fourth, but when they do, whew.

19. Utah Jazz (21–28)
Last Week: 26
God, this is just a mess at the bottom of these rankings. So incredibly sad. I’m supposed to believe in the Jazz now?

18. Los Angeles Lakers (19–30)
Last Week: 19
The league’s newest social media darling Kyle Kuzma might have gone too far here. What’s wrong with strawberries? They might me the most delicious thing I’ve ever tasted. And they’re healthy! Healthier than waffles, anyway. That might be a mountain of berries, but it’s not worth killing the man over. Let Lonzo live!

17. Denver Nuggets (26–23)
Last Week: 13
They finally picked up their first good win (against Portland) since the calendar turned to 2018. Other than a couple fantastic outputs from Jamal Murray, there’s not much to write home about here. Middling defense, inconsistent offense. Middle of the pack seems right.

16. New Orleans Pelicans (27–22)
Last Week: 8
As Tom Haberstroh notes, this DeMarcus Cousins injury should be a lesson to all about player overuse. In the month of January, Boogie played five games of 40 or more minutes, a 51-minute game against Chicago, and was taking oodles of shots. So sad to see him go down with a ruptured Achilles, just as I was beginning to believe in New Orleans as a contender. This probably kills all of that, though you should never say never about a team with Anthony Davis.?

15. Cleveland Cavaliers (29–19)
Last Week: 16
You, lame and dumb: "Man, I’m really worried about the Cavs. Isaiah Thomas looks like he’s really not having fun and there’s some discord in that locker room."

LeBron, cool and good:

14. Milwaukee Bucks (26–22)
Last Week: 15
Here’s how uncultured I am: I thought “Cream City” was some sort of manufactured nickname by Nike to sell more jerseys. Turns out it’s a real Milwaukee thing! These are pretty awesome uniforms, if I don’t say so myself. There’s a reason they’re undefeated (1-0) in them.

13. Indiana Pacers (27–23)
Last Week: 14
Here’s something very encouraging: GM Chad Buchanan says Indiana is “in no hurry to change up anything with this team.” There’s definitely the temptation to try to transform a good team like this one into a great one, especially with someone like Kemba Walker available. The Pacers have a great core that has learned to play with one another in short time, though, and it’d be foolish to mortgage what could be a fantastic future.

12. Philadelphia 76ers (24–22)
Last Week: 10
Uhhh, is Markelle Fultz OK? I don’t even care about what happens this season with the Sixers, I just hope this man can have the NBA career he deserves.

This was June, man...what happened?

11. Washington Wizards (27–22)
Last Week: 17
Should this team still be running laps for losing to the freaking Mavs? Yes. Am I encouraged by Markieff Morris’s recent play? You bet. Don’t let him get hot!

10. Portland Trail Blazers (27–22)
Last Week: 12
It’s gotten to the point where I’m getting worried that Damian Lillard will lose that underdog edge. If he starts making All-Star teams, what’s going to cause him to carry that chip on his shoulder? Ah, wait. Thank goodness. Thank you Russ. This is like blowing on the fire just as it’s going out to reignite those embers and get it going again.

9. Los Angeles Clippers (25–24)
Last Week: 11
Don’t look now, but Danilo Gallinari’s return is right around the corner. How much better would you feel about this team if Gallinari was starting over Wes Johnson? I’d wager very.

8. Miami Heat (28–21)
Last Week: 9
Miami’s defense over the past week has been the fourth-best in the league (97.7 pts allowed per 100 possessions) but their offense has been atrocious, shooting just 30% from three. It’s times like this you miss Dion Waiters. Although…

7. Minnesota Timberwolves (32–20)
Last Week: 5
Did you see what just happened to DeMarcus Cousins because of overuse? Someone tell Thibs. It’d be a shame for Karl-Anthony Towns to have the same fate.

6. San Antonio Spurs (33–19)
Last Week: 7
Gregg Popovich celebrated his 69th birthday on Sunday, which gives me an excuse to share this with you, my favorite Pop moment:

5. Toronto Raptors (33–15)
Last Week: 4
What’s gotten into Jonas Valanciunas? He’s getting into fights now? He’s hitting threes? He’s blocking shots? He may single-handedly pique my interest in the Raptors.

4. Boston Celtics (35–15)
Last Week: 6
In that highly-anticipated showdown with Golden State, you kind of got the feeling that Kyrie is the heir to the throne, right? He’s going to be the one to snap LeBron’s Finals streak and he’s going to be the next one to challenge the Warriors for their crown. I mean, look at this:

3. Oklahoma City Thunder (30–20)
Last Week: 3
When you tick off Brock Lesnar, this happens:

Similarly, when you tick off Russ Westbrook, you lose and this happens:

2. Houston Rockets (35–13)
Last Week: 1
Houston’s loss to New Orleans was its first in a game started by James Harden, Chris Paul and Clint Capela all season. They’ve started 21 games together. That’s proof of this team’s dominance when healthy.

1. Golden State Warriors (40–10)
Last Week: 2
Hey, it wasn’t me who knocked them off their throne! Against Boston, Stephen Curry proved to all the doubters (I have to admit, even I was pretty skeptical of his powers a couple months ago) that he’s still otherworldly. He scored 13 points over the final 1:42. The Warriors just have too many bullets.

<p>Hey! Welcome back to The Crossover’s weekly power rankings. After a week off, I’m back by popular demand! I’ll try to make you as happy <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/23/nba-power-rankings-cavaliers-rumors-struggles-rockets-warriors" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:as Rohan Nadkarni did" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">as Rohan Nadkarni did</a> with where I put your favorite team, though I can’t make any promises. I can swear to keep this not-so-serious as always, and I will refrain from talking about Ray Felton, as much as it pains me to do so. Anyway, enough of this. Let’s get to the ranks:</p><p>(All stats and records used through Jan. 28).</p><p><b>30. Orlando Magic (14–34)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 29</strong><br>I’m mad I didn’t think of this pun first.</p><p><b>29. Memphis Grizzlies (17–31)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 20</strong><br>Who did the <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/23/nba-power-rankings-cavaliers-rumors-struggles-rockets-warriors" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:rankings last week" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">rankings last week</a>, JaMychal Green? This team is bad, and now that <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/video/2018/01/27/mike-conley-memphis-grizzlies-heel-injury-update-miss-season-nba" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Mike Conley is out for the year" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Mike Conley is out for the year</a>, their season is over.</p><p><strong>28. Sacramento Kings (15–34)</strong><br><strong>Last Week: 30</strong><br>How long did it take to make this?</p><p><b>27. Atlanta Hawks (14–35)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 27</strong><br>The Cavaliers have reportedly <a href="http://www.nba.com/article/2018/01/22/cleveland-cavaliers-koby-altman-lebron-james-future-2018-trade-deadline#/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:checked on" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">checked on</a> Kent Bazemore. Considering he’s owed over $37 million through 2020, I don’t see why the Hawks wouldn’t flip him for whatever the Cavs want to offer, especially if there’s a pick attached. Trade everyone.</p><p><b>26. Dallas Mavericks (16–34)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 25</strong><br>If Dennis Smith Jr. <i>doesn’t</i> win the dunk contest, what happens? Do Mavs fans riot? Does J.J. Barea decide he’s retiring? Will Mark Cuban <a href="https://twitter.com/mcuban/status/957686987229618176" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:call on the NBA" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">call on the NBA</a> to make sure the judges are really who they say they are?</p><p><b>25. Detroit Pistons (22–26)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 22</strong><br>Remember when the only problem Detroit had was that Andre Drummond was <i>sorta</i> not good <i>sometimes</i>? Now you’ve got a whole punchbowl to pick from.</p><p><b>24. Chicago Bulls (18–32)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 18</strong><br>Nikola Mirotic called Rajon Rondo his “the best teammate [he] ever had” this week. No, I’m serious. <a href="https://chicago.suntimes.com/sports/nikola-mirotic-rajon-rondo-best-teammate-bulls/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:He did" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">He did</a>. Wonder who his <i>least</i> favorite teammate is...</p><p><b>23. Phoenix Suns (17–33)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 29</strong><br>Like I said a few weeks ago, the Suns should have ended the season after that win over the Thunder.</p><p><b>22. Brooklyn Nets (18–32)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 23</strong><br>Jah. Is. Free.</p><p><b>21. New York Knicks (22–28)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 24</strong><br>Well, you were warned about their struggles on the road. At least Trey Burke is looking really, really good these days! He’s forcing the Knicks to give him all sorts of playing time right now, and making other teams look bad for passing on him. This is kind of insane.</p><p><b>20. Charlotte Hornets (20–28)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 21</strong><br>I feel like I’m beating a dead horse here. The Hornets just fumbled away ANOTHER game down the stretch, this time against Miami on Saturday. Can you imagine what’s going to <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/19/charlotte-hornets-trade-rumors-kemba-walker" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:happen when" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">happen when </a><a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/19/charlotte-hornets-trade-rumors-kemba-walker" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Kemba" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Kemba</a><a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/19/charlotte-hornets-trade-rumors-kemba-walker" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:leaves" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"> leaves</a>? I mean, they’re not going to be playing in so many of these close games in the fourth, but when they do, whew.</p><p><b>19. Utah Jazz (21–28)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 26</strong><br>God, this is just a mess at the bottom of these rankings. So incredibly sad. I’m supposed to believe in the Jazz now?</p><p><b>18. Los Angeles Lakers (19–30)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 19</strong><br>The league’s newest social media darling Kyle Kuzma might have gone too far here. What’s wrong with strawberries? They might me the most delicious thing I’ve ever tasted. And they’re healthy! Healthier than waffles, anyway. That might be a mountain of berries, but it’s not worth killing the man over. Let Lonzo live!</p><p><b>17. Denver Nuggets (26–23)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 13</strong><br>They finally picked up their first good win (against Portland) since the calendar turned to 2018. Other than a couple fantastic outputs from Jamal Murray, there’s not much to write home about here. Middling defense, inconsistent offense. Middle of the pack seems right.</p><p><strong>16. New Orleans Pelicans (27–22)</strong><br><strong>Last Week: 8</strong><br>As Tom Haberstroh <a href="http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2756366-fatigue-likely-contributed-to-demarcus-cousins-achilles-injury" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:notes" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">notes</a>, this DeMarcus Cousins injury should be a lesson to all about player overuse. In the month of January, Boogie played five games of 40 or more minutes, a 51-minute game against Chicago, and was taking oodles of shots. So sad to see him go down <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/27/demarcus-cousins-pelicans-torn-ruptured-achilles" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:with a ruptured Achilles" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">with a ruptured Achilles</a>, just as I was beginning to believe in New Orleans as a contender. This probably kills all of that, though you should never say never about a team with Anthony Davis.?</p><p><b>15. Cleveland Cavaliers (29–19)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 16</strong><br>You, lame and dumb: &quot;Man, I’m really worried about the Cavs. Isaiah Thomas looks like he’s really not having fun and there’s some discord in that locker room.&quot; </p><p>LeBron, cool and good:</p><p><b>14. Milwaukee Bucks (26–22)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 15</strong><br>Here’s how uncultured I am: I thought “Cream City” was some sort of manufactured nickname by Nike to sell more jerseys. Turns out it’s a real Milwaukee thing! These are pretty awesome uniforms, if I don’t say so myself. There’s a reason they’re undefeated (1-0) in them.</p><p><b>13. Indiana Pacers (27–23)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 14</strong><br>Here’s something very encouraging: <a href="http://www.foxsports.com/indiana/video/1147608131920" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:GM Chad Buchanan says" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">GM Chad Buchanan says</a><a href="http://www.foxsports.com/indiana/video/1147608131920" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Indiana" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"> Indiana</a> is “in no hurry to change up anything with this team.” There’s definitely the temptation to try to transform a good team like this one into a great one, especially with someone like Kemba Walker available. The Pacers have a great core that has learned to play with one another in short time, though, and it’d be foolish to mortgage what could be a fantastic future.</p><p><b>12. Philadelphia 76ers (24–22)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 10</strong><br>Uhhh, is <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/19/markelle-fultz-76ers-brett-brown-ben-simmons-joel-embiid" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Markelle Fultz" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Markelle Fultz</a><a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/19/markelle-fultz-76ers-brett-brown-ben-simmons-joel-embiid" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:OK" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"> OK</a>? I don’t even care about what happens this season with the Sixers, I just hope this man can have the NBA career he deserves.</p><p>This was June, man...what happened?</p><p><b>11. Washington Wizards (27–22)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 17</strong><br>Should this team still be running laps for losing to the freaking Mavs? Yes. Am I encouraged by Markieff Morris’s recent play? You bet. Don’t let him get hot!</p><p><b>10. Portland Trail Blazers (27–22)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 12</strong><br>It’s gotten to the point where I’m getting worried that Damian Lillard will lose that underdog edge. If he starts making All-Star teams, what’s going to cause him to carry that chip on his shoulder? Ah, wait. Thank goodness. Thank you Russ. This is like blowing on the fire just as it’s going out to reignite those embers and get it going again.</p><p><b>9. Los Angeles Clippers (25–24)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 11</strong><br>Don’t look now, but Danilo Gallinari’s return is right around the corner. How much better would you feel about this team if Gallinari was starting over Wes Johnson? I’d wager <i>very</i>.</p><p><b>8. Miami Heat (28–21)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 9</strong><br>Miami’s defense over the past week has been the fourth-best in the league (97.7 pts allowed per 100 possessions) but their offense has been atrocious, shooting just 30% from three. It’s times like this you miss Dion Waiters. Although…</p><p><b>7. Minnesota Timberwolves (32–20)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 5</strong><br>Did you see what just happened to DeMarcus Cousins because of overuse? Someone tell Thibs. It’d be a shame for Karl-Anthony Towns to have the same fate.</p><p><b>6. San Antonio Spurs (33–19)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 7</strong><br>Gregg Popovich celebrated his 69th birthday on Sunday, which gives me an excuse to share this with you, my favorite Pop moment:</p><p><b>5. Toronto Raptors (33–15)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 4</strong><br>What’s gotten into Jonas Valanciunas? He’s <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CS40W2tqmQ" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:getting into fights" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">getting into fights</a> now? He’s hitting threes? He’s blocking shots? He may single-handedly pique my interest in the Raptors.</p><p><b>4. Boston Celtics (35–15)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 6</strong><br>In that highly-anticipated showdown with Golden State, you kind of got the feeling that Kyrie is the heir to the throne, right? He’s going to be the one to snap LeBron’s Finals streak and he’s going to be the next one to <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/28/celtics-warriors-biggest-threat-nba-finals-series" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:challenge the Warriors for their crown" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">challenge the Warriors for their crown</a>. I mean, look at this:</p><p><b>3. Oklahoma City Thunder (30–20)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 3</strong><br>When you tick off Brock Lesnar, this happens:</p><p>Similarly, when you tick off Russ Westbrook, you lose and this happens:</p><p><b>2. Houston Rockets (35–13)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 1</strong><br>Houston’s loss to New Orleans was its first in a game started by James Harden, Chris Paul and Clint Capela all season. They’ve started 21 games together. That’s proof of this team’s dominance when healthy.</p><p><b>1. Golden State Warriors (40–10)</b><br><strong>Last Week: 2</strong><br>Hey, it wasn’t me who knocked them off their throne! Against Boston, Stephen Curry proved to all the doubters (I have to admit, even I was pretty skeptical of his powers a couple months ago) that he’s still otherworldly. He scored 13 points over the final 1:42. The Warriors just have too many bullets.</p>
NBA Power Rankings: The Warriors Take Back Their Throne

Hey! Welcome back to The Crossover’s weekly power rankings. After a week off, I’m back by popular demand! I’ll try to make you as happy as Rohan Nadkarni did with where I put your favorite team, though I can’t make any promises. I can swear to keep this not-so-serious as always, and I will refrain from talking about Ray Felton, as much as it pains me to do so. Anyway, enough of this. Let’s get to the ranks:

(All stats and records used through Jan. 28).

30. Orlando Magic (14–34)
Last Week: 29
I’m mad I didn’t think of this pun first.

29. Memphis Grizzlies (17–31)
Last Week: 20
Who did the rankings last week, JaMychal Green? This team is bad, and now that Mike Conley is out for the year, their season is over.

28. Sacramento Kings (15–34)
Last Week: 30
How long did it take to make this?

27. Atlanta Hawks (14–35)
Last Week: 27
The Cavaliers have reportedly checked on Kent Bazemore. Considering he’s owed over $37 million through 2020, I don’t see why the Hawks wouldn’t flip him for whatever the Cavs want to offer, especially if there’s a pick attached. Trade everyone.

26. Dallas Mavericks (16–34)
Last Week: 25
If Dennis Smith Jr. doesn’t win the dunk contest, what happens? Do Mavs fans riot? Does J.J. Barea decide he’s retiring? Will Mark Cuban call on the NBA to make sure the judges are really who they say they are?

25. Detroit Pistons (22–26)
Last Week: 22
Remember when the only problem Detroit had was that Andre Drummond was sorta not good sometimes? Now you’ve got a whole punchbowl to pick from.

24. Chicago Bulls (18–32)
Last Week: 18
Nikola Mirotic called Rajon Rondo his “the best teammate [he] ever had” this week. No, I’m serious. He did. Wonder who his least favorite teammate is...

23. Phoenix Suns (17–33)
Last Week: 29
Like I said a few weeks ago, the Suns should have ended the season after that win over the Thunder.

22. Brooklyn Nets (18–32)
Last Week: 23
Jah. Is. Free.

21. New York Knicks (22–28)
Last Week: 24
Well, you were warned about their struggles on the road. At least Trey Burke is looking really, really good these days! He’s forcing the Knicks to give him all sorts of playing time right now, and making other teams look bad for passing on him. This is kind of insane.

20. Charlotte Hornets (20–28)
Last Week: 21
I feel like I’m beating a dead horse here. The Hornets just fumbled away ANOTHER game down the stretch, this time against Miami on Saturday. Can you imagine what’s going to happen when Kemba leaves? I mean, they’re not going to be playing in so many of these close games in the fourth, but when they do, whew.

19. Utah Jazz (21–28)
Last Week: 26
God, this is just a mess at the bottom of these rankings. So incredibly sad. I’m supposed to believe in the Jazz now?

18. Los Angeles Lakers (19–30)
Last Week: 19
The league’s newest social media darling Kyle Kuzma might have gone too far here. What’s wrong with strawberries? They might me the most delicious thing I’ve ever tasted. And they’re healthy! Healthier than waffles, anyway. That might be a mountain of berries, but it’s not worth killing the man over. Let Lonzo live!

17. Denver Nuggets (26–23)
Last Week: 13
They finally picked up their first good win (against Portland) since the calendar turned to 2018. Other than a couple fantastic outputs from Jamal Murray, there’s not much to write home about here. Middling defense, inconsistent offense. Middle of the pack seems right.

16. New Orleans Pelicans (27–22)
Last Week: 8
As Tom Haberstroh notes, this DeMarcus Cousins injury should be a lesson to all about player overuse. In the month of January, Boogie played five games of 40 or more minutes, a 51-minute game against Chicago, and was taking oodles of shots. So sad to see him go down with a ruptured Achilles, just as I was beginning to believe in New Orleans as a contender. This probably kills all of that, though you should never say never about a team with Anthony Davis.?

15. Cleveland Cavaliers (29–19)
Last Week: 16
You, lame and dumb: "Man, I’m really worried about the Cavs. Isaiah Thomas looks like he’s really not having fun and there’s some discord in that locker room."

LeBron, cool and good:

14. Milwaukee Bucks (26–22)
Last Week: 15
Here’s how uncultured I am: I thought “Cream City” was some sort of manufactured nickname by Nike to sell more jerseys. Turns out it’s a real Milwaukee thing! These are pretty awesome uniforms, if I don’t say so myself. There’s a reason they’re undefeated (1-0) in them.

13. Indiana Pacers (27–23)
Last Week: 14
Here’s something very encouraging: GM Chad Buchanan says Indiana is “in no hurry to change up anything with this team.” There’s definitely the temptation to try to transform a good team like this one into a great one, especially with someone like Kemba Walker available. The Pacers have a great core that has learned to play with one another in short time, though, and it’d be foolish to mortgage what could be a fantastic future.

12. Philadelphia 76ers (24–22)
Last Week: 10
Uhhh, is Markelle Fultz OK? I don’t even care about what happens this season with the Sixers, I just hope this man can have the NBA career he deserves.

This was June, man...what happened?

11. Washington Wizards (27–22)
Last Week: 17
Should this team still be running laps for losing to the freaking Mavs? Yes. Am I encouraged by Markieff Morris’s recent play? You bet. Don’t let him get hot!

10. Portland Trail Blazers (27–22)
Last Week: 12
It’s gotten to the point where I’m getting worried that Damian Lillard will lose that underdog edge. If he starts making All-Star teams, what’s going to cause him to carry that chip on his shoulder? Ah, wait. Thank goodness. Thank you Russ. This is like blowing on the fire just as it’s going out to reignite those embers and get it going again.

9. Los Angeles Clippers (25–24)
Last Week: 11
Don’t look now, but Danilo Gallinari’s return is right around the corner. How much better would you feel about this team if Gallinari was starting over Wes Johnson? I’d wager very.

8. Miami Heat (28–21)
Last Week: 9
Miami’s defense over the past week has been the fourth-best in the league (97.7 pts allowed per 100 possessions) but their offense has been atrocious, shooting just 30% from three. It’s times like this you miss Dion Waiters. Although…

7. Minnesota Timberwolves (32–20)
Last Week: 5
Did you see what just happened to DeMarcus Cousins because of overuse? Someone tell Thibs. It’d be a shame for Karl-Anthony Towns to have the same fate.

6. San Antonio Spurs (33–19)
Last Week: 7
Gregg Popovich celebrated his 69th birthday on Sunday, which gives me an excuse to share this with you, my favorite Pop moment:

5. Toronto Raptors (33–15)
Last Week: 4
What’s gotten into Jonas Valanciunas? He’s getting into fights now? He’s hitting threes? He’s blocking shots? He may single-handedly pique my interest in the Raptors.

4. Boston Celtics (35–15)
Last Week: 6
In that highly-anticipated showdown with Golden State, you kind of got the feeling that Kyrie is the heir to the throne, right? He’s going to be the one to snap LeBron’s Finals streak and he’s going to be the next one to challenge the Warriors for their crown. I mean, look at this:

3. Oklahoma City Thunder (30–20)
Last Week: 3
When you tick off Brock Lesnar, this happens:

Similarly, when you tick off Russ Westbrook, you lose and this happens:

2. Houston Rockets (35–13)
Last Week: 1
Houston’s loss to New Orleans was its first in a game started by James Harden, Chris Paul and Clint Capela all season. They’ve started 21 games together. That’s proof of this team’s dominance when healthy.

1. Golden State Warriors (40–10)
Last Week: 2
Hey, it wasn’t me who knocked them off their throne! Against Boston, Stephen Curry proved to all the doubters (I have to admit, even I was pretty skeptical of his powers a couple months ago) that he’s still otherworldly. He scored 13 points over the final 1:42. The Warriors just have too many bullets.

<p>Welcome to a special edition of The Crossover’s NBA Power Rankings! Well, special in the sense that I’ve literally never done this before. Drunk with power ranking power, I’ve decided the best way to tackle this week’s list is to be super reactionary (sorry, Cavs fans) and reward teams playing better than they should be (go Clippers!) We won’t dive deep into every team today, but headed into Week 15 of the NBA season, here’s a snapshot of how each team has looked in its most recent games. </p><p>(All stats and records used through Jan. 22).</p><p><strong>30. Sacramento Kings (13–33)</strong><br>I had a little bit of excitement for the Kings headed into this season, but they have been far and away the worst team in the Association. Selling off any veterans at practically any price would be a smart move here. De’Aaron Fox can still lead this team out of the woods one day, but the front office needs to make sure his talent isn’t cultivated in a losing environment forever. </p><p><strong>29. Phoenix Suns (17–30)</strong><br>The Greg Monroe Revenge Game was almost a thing in their Monday night loss to the Bucks. </p><p><strong>28. Orlando Magic (14–32)</strong><br>Aaron Gordon has cooled considerably from deep after a scorching start to the season. Still, if he settles somewhere in the mid-30%s from distance, that will be a massive improvement over the rest of his career. </p><p><strong>27. Atlanta Hawks (14–32)</strong><br>Looking a little friskier the last couple weeks. </p><p><strong>26. Utah Jazz (19–28)</strong><br>The Jazz look very much like a team relying on a rookie to carry the offensive load. Utah needs to be aggressively looking for a long-term answer at point guard in the offseason to help ease the burden on Donovan Mitchell. </p><p><strong>25. Dallas Mavericks (16–31)</strong><br>The Mavs had a nice little win against the Jekyll-and-Hyde Wizards on Monday. Dennis Smith Jr. is also putting together some of his best performances of the season over the last couple weeks. They’ve almost become more entertaining than Shark Tank reruns. Almost.</p><p><strong>24. New York Knicks (21–26)</strong><br>The return of Tim Hardaway Jr. earlier this month has helped the offense, but this team is still awful on the road. Upcoming games at Golden State and Denver won’t help. </p><p><strong>23. Brooklyn Nets (18–29)</strong><br>Brooklyn has won two in a row over teams above them in the East standings. The Nets play in a decent amount of close games, and they often make better teams work for wins. I like this squad a lot. </p><p><strong>22. Detroit Pistons (22–23)</strong><br>Losers of five in a row!</p><p>?</p><p><strong>21. Charlotte Hornets (19–26)</strong><br>Charlotte has played much better over the last two-and-a-half weeks of the season than it did to start the year. And the return of Steve Clifford earlier this month is reason to celebrate. But when <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/23/charlotte-hornets-michael-jordan-kemba-walker-trade-rumors" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Michael Jordan is basically confirming reports that" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Michael Jordan is basically confirming reports that </a><a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/23/charlotte-hornets-michael-jordan-kemba-walker-trade-rumors" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Kemba" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Kemba</a><a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/23/charlotte-hornets-michael-jordan-kemba-walker-trade-rumors" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Walker could be moved" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"> Walker could be moved</a> for the right price, it’s hard to pretend that things are looking up for the Hornets. A major shake-up may be in play here. </p><p><strong>20. Memphis Grizzlies (17–29)</strong><br>Break up the Grizz! Memphis has won five of its last seven, including wins over the 76ers and Pelicans. The tank will probably continue after the trade deadline, but the Grizzlies have been relatively hot for a couple weeks so they get a bump here. He may never be a star, but I enjoy watching Dillon Brooks every time he’s on the court. </p><p><strong>19. Los Angeles Lakers (17–29)</strong><br>Winners of six of their last eight, which means they’re slightly hotter than Memphis. </p><p><strong>18. Chicago Bulls (18–29)</strong><br>Chicago lost a nail-biter to the Pelicans on Monday, but the Bulls appear competent enough to play spoiler on any given night. The front office needs to strike while the Nikola Mirotic iron is hot. </p><p><strong>17. Washington Wizards (26–21)</strong><br>Washington should not be second in its own division and in the bottom half of the East playoff bracket. What a disappointing season here. A guy like Mirotic would help, but an attitude adjustment would probably help even more. The Wizards are playing like a team that can flip the switch when they aren’t exactly proven playoff contenders. And John Wall calling J.J. Barea a “midget” was absolutely weak. This franchise needs a jolt. </p><p>?</p><p><strong>16. Cleveland Cavaliers (27–18)</strong><br>Where do we even start with the Cavs? Their defense is worse than the 2012 Bobcats, the team with the worst winning percentage in NBA history. Some players held a clandestine meeting earlier this month with select media members to complain about the roster. And then Monday night, <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/22/cavaliers-team-meeting-kevin-love-illness" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Woj" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Woj</a><a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/22/cavaliers-team-meeting-kevin-love-illness" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:reported everyone was mad at Kevin Love." class="link rapid-noclick-resp"> reported everyone was mad at Kevin Love.</a> Cleveland definitely won’t beat the Warriors as presently constructed, and the Cavs would be lucky to even make the Finals at this point. </p><p><strong>15. Milwaukee Bucks (24–22)</strong><br>A close win over the Suns wasn’t the best start to the post-Jason Kidd era, but <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/22/jason-kidd-fired-milwaukee-bucks-giannis-antetokounmpo-coaching-search" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:his firing should ultimately help the team." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">his firing should ultimately help the team.</a> Giannis Antetokounmpo’s reservations aside, Kidd never really proved he could take this team to the next level. His defensive scheme was lacking, and the addition of Eric Bledsoe should have been more impactful. The Bucks are still very talented, and will be a sought after coaching destination. They still have time to turn things around this season as well. </p><p><strong>14. Indiana Pacers (25–22)</strong><br>Indiana is holding steady and remains very much in the thick of the East playoff race. The Pacers play their favorite punching bag, the Cavs, later this week. </p><p><strong>13. Denver Nuggets (24–23)</strong><br>Denver is just barely holding on without Paul Millsap. Jamal Murray has made big strides this season, but this team could still use one more guard off the bench. Maybe the Nugs can get in play for George Hill? Millsap’s return should be a big enough boost to get Denver back into the top eight. </p><p><strong>12. Portland Trail Blazers (25–22)</strong><br><a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/23/portland-trail-blazers-damian-lillard-future" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Damian Lillard’s" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Damian Lillard’s</a><a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/23/portland-trail-blazers-damian-lillard-future" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:meeting with Paul Allen" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"> meeting with Paul Allen</a> doesn’t seem all doom and gloom. Dame didn’t ask for a trade, and star players should be putting pressure on management to build winning teams. Can the Blazers catch up to the West’s best? Not the way the roster is put together right now. Portland desperately needs to get rid of some of its bad contracts, which could mean sending away someone like C.J. McCollum. Dame won’t be patient forever. </p><p><strong>11. Los Angeles Clippers (23–23)</strong><br>This team has absolutely no business fighting for a playoff spot. Not with guys like Sindarius Thornwell and Jawun Evans routinely playing big minutes and injuries up and down the roster. Somehow, the Clips have the ninth-best offense in the league. Doc Rivers deserves some Coach of the Year love if he keeps this up. </p><p><strong>10. Philadelphia 76ers (22–21)</strong><br>A blown lead to the Grizzlies was a bad look, but they were 3–0 last week, and will have two big opportunities to make a statement this week with road games at OKC and San Antonio. </p><p><strong>9. Miami Heat (27–20)</strong><br>An overachieving team that can still be frustrating. Losses to Chicago and Brooklyn last week, but also wins over the Bucks and Hornets—the latter of which had schedule loss written all over it. Miami, without its starting backcourt, took Houston down to the wire Monday, but the Heat can’t afford to keep playing in close games every night. </p><p><strong>8. New Orleans Pelicans (25–21)</strong><br>New Orleans has won three of its last four, and Boogie and Anthony Davis are capable of putting up a historic stat lines against any frontcourt in the league. The hot streak gives them a nice showing in these rankings, but the Pelicans still need to find consistency. They should be better than their record. </p><p><strong>7. San Antonio Spurs (30–18)</strong><br>The mystery around Kawhi Leonard’s injury grew as ESPN reported Leonard was upset with the Spurs for how his season has been handled. The report sent every NBA fan scrambling for the trade machine, but San Antonio is obviously still being very supportive of its superstar. Leonard’s absence has certainly been baffling this season. It’s unclear how serious his quad ailment is or how much of his inaction has to do with the Spurs being overly cautious. If he continues to miss time, it’s fair to wonder if the Spurs are just punting on this season. </p><p><strong>6. Boston Celtics (34–13)</strong><br>They’ve lost three straight, and the offense’s struggles can’t be ignored heading into the All-Star break. On the bright side, Gordon Hayward has been practicing his threes…</p><p><strong>5. Minnesota Timberwolves (31–18)</strong><br>The Wolves won their 31st game of the season Monday. They won 31 all of last season. </p><p><strong>4. Toronto Raptors (31–14)</strong><br>If they don’t make the Finals this season, it’s time to blow it up. No more excuses for Toronto. </p><p><strong>3. Oklahoma City Thunder (26–20)</strong><br>OKC went 3–0 last week and the schedule looks pretty soft this week. Things are never simple with the Thunder, but their starting lineup is becoming one of the more dominant units in the league. </p><p><strong>2. Golden State Warriors (37–10)</strong><br>They are bored. </p><p><strong>1. Houston Rockets (33–12)</strong><br>Houston gets the top spot thanks to its win over Golden State to end last week. The Rockets are 18–0 when James Harden, Chris Paul and Clint Capela are all in the lineup. Mike D’Antoni is doing a great job of staggering Harden and Paul, and the role players are doing a great job of supporting their stars. Don’t sleep on Luc Mbah a Moute. </p>
NBA Power Rankings: Cavs Plummet as Rumors Swirl

Welcome to a special edition of The Crossover’s NBA Power Rankings! Well, special in the sense that I’ve literally never done this before. Drunk with power ranking power, I’ve decided the best way to tackle this week’s list is to be super reactionary (sorry, Cavs fans) and reward teams playing better than they should be (go Clippers!) We won’t dive deep into every team today, but headed into Week 15 of the NBA season, here’s a snapshot of how each team has looked in its most recent games.

(All stats and records used through Jan. 22).

30. Sacramento Kings (13–33)
I had a little bit of excitement for the Kings headed into this season, but they have been far and away the worst team in the Association. Selling off any veterans at practically any price would be a smart move here. De’Aaron Fox can still lead this team out of the woods one day, but the front office needs to make sure his talent isn’t cultivated in a losing environment forever.

29. Phoenix Suns (17–30)
The Greg Monroe Revenge Game was almost a thing in their Monday night loss to the Bucks.

28. Orlando Magic (14–32)
Aaron Gordon has cooled considerably from deep after a scorching start to the season. Still, if he settles somewhere in the mid-30%s from distance, that will be a massive improvement over the rest of his career.

27. Atlanta Hawks (14–32)
Looking a little friskier the last couple weeks.

26. Utah Jazz (19–28)
The Jazz look very much like a team relying on a rookie to carry the offensive load. Utah needs to be aggressively looking for a long-term answer at point guard in the offseason to help ease the burden on Donovan Mitchell.

25. Dallas Mavericks (16–31)
The Mavs had a nice little win against the Jekyll-and-Hyde Wizards on Monday. Dennis Smith Jr. is also putting together some of his best performances of the season over the last couple weeks. They’ve almost become more entertaining than Shark Tank reruns. Almost.

24. New York Knicks (21–26)
The return of Tim Hardaway Jr. earlier this month has helped the offense, but this team is still awful on the road. Upcoming games at Golden State and Denver won’t help.

23. Brooklyn Nets (18–29)
Brooklyn has won two in a row over teams above them in the East standings. The Nets play in a decent amount of close games, and they often make better teams work for wins. I like this squad a lot.

22. Detroit Pistons (22–23)
Losers of five in a row!

?

21. Charlotte Hornets (19–26)
Charlotte has played much better over the last two-and-a-half weeks of the season than it did to start the year. And the return of Steve Clifford earlier this month is reason to celebrate. But when Michael Jordan is basically confirming reports that Kemba Walker could be moved for the right price, it’s hard to pretend that things are looking up for the Hornets. A major shake-up may be in play here.

20. Memphis Grizzlies (17–29)
Break up the Grizz! Memphis has won five of its last seven, including wins over the 76ers and Pelicans. The tank will probably continue after the trade deadline, but the Grizzlies have been relatively hot for a couple weeks so they get a bump here. He may never be a star, but I enjoy watching Dillon Brooks every time he’s on the court.

19. Los Angeles Lakers (17–29)
Winners of six of their last eight, which means they’re slightly hotter than Memphis.

18. Chicago Bulls (18–29)
Chicago lost a nail-biter to the Pelicans on Monday, but the Bulls appear competent enough to play spoiler on any given night. The front office needs to strike while the Nikola Mirotic iron is hot.

17. Washington Wizards (26–21)
Washington should not be second in its own division and in the bottom half of the East playoff bracket. What a disappointing season here. A guy like Mirotic would help, but an attitude adjustment would probably help even more. The Wizards are playing like a team that can flip the switch when they aren’t exactly proven playoff contenders. And John Wall calling J.J. Barea a “midget” was absolutely weak. This franchise needs a jolt.

?

16. Cleveland Cavaliers (27–18)
Where do we even start with the Cavs? Their defense is worse than the 2012 Bobcats, the team with the worst winning percentage in NBA history. Some players held a clandestine meeting earlier this month with select media members to complain about the roster. And then Monday night, Woj reported everyone was mad at Kevin Love. Cleveland definitely won’t beat the Warriors as presently constructed, and the Cavs would be lucky to even make the Finals at this point.

15. Milwaukee Bucks (24–22)
A close win over the Suns wasn’t the best start to the post-Jason Kidd era, but his firing should ultimately help the team. Giannis Antetokounmpo’s reservations aside, Kidd never really proved he could take this team to the next level. His defensive scheme was lacking, and the addition of Eric Bledsoe should have been more impactful. The Bucks are still very talented, and will be a sought after coaching destination. They still have time to turn things around this season as well.

14. Indiana Pacers (25–22)
Indiana is holding steady and remains very much in the thick of the East playoff race. The Pacers play their favorite punching bag, the Cavs, later this week.

13. Denver Nuggets (24–23)
Denver is just barely holding on without Paul Millsap. Jamal Murray has made big strides this season, but this team could still use one more guard off the bench. Maybe the Nugs can get in play for George Hill? Millsap’s return should be a big enough boost to get Denver back into the top eight.

12. Portland Trail Blazers (25–22)
Damian Lillard’s meeting with Paul Allen doesn’t seem all doom and gloom. Dame didn’t ask for a trade, and star players should be putting pressure on management to build winning teams. Can the Blazers catch up to the West’s best? Not the way the roster is put together right now. Portland desperately needs to get rid of some of its bad contracts, which could mean sending away someone like C.J. McCollum. Dame won’t be patient forever.

11. Los Angeles Clippers (23–23)
This team has absolutely no business fighting for a playoff spot. Not with guys like Sindarius Thornwell and Jawun Evans routinely playing big minutes and injuries up and down the roster. Somehow, the Clips have the ninth-best offense in the league. Doc Rivers deserves some Coach of the Year love if he keeps this up.

10. Philadelphia 76ers (22–21)
A blown lead to the Grizzlies was a bad look, but they were 3–0 last week, and will have two big opportunities to make a statement this week with road games at OKC and San Antonio.

9. Miami Heat (27–20)
An overachieving team that can still be frustrating. Losses to Chicago and Brooklyn last week, but also wins over the Bucks and Hornets—the latter of which had schedule loss written all over it. Miami, without its starting backcourt, took Houston down to the wire Monday, but the Heat can’t afford to keep playing in close games every night.

8. New Orleans Pelicans (25–21)
New Orleans has won three of its last four, and Boogie and Anthony Davis are capable of putting up a historic stat lines against any frontcourt in the league. The hot streak gives them a nice showing in these rankings, but the Pelicans still need to find consistency. They should be better than their record.

7. San Antonio Spurs (30–18)
The mystery around Kawhi Leonard’s injury grew as ESPN reported Leonard was upset with the Spurs for how his season has been handled. The report sent every NBA fan scrambling for the trade machine, but San Antonio is obviously still being very supportive of its superstar. Leonard’s absence has certainly been baffling this season. It’s unclear how serious his quad ailment is or how much of his inaction has to do with the Spurs being overly cautious. If he continues to miss time, it’s fair to wonder if the Spurs are just punting on this season.

6. Boston Celtics (34–13)
They’ve lost three straight, and the offense’s struggles can’t be ignored heading into the All-Star break. On the bright side, Gordon Hayward has been practicing his threes…

5. Minnesota Timberwolves (31–18)
The Wolves won their 31st game of the season Monday. They won 31 all of last season.

4. Toronto Raptors (31–14)
If they don’t make the Finals this season, it’s time to blow it up. No more excuses for Toronto.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder (26–20)
OKC went 3–0 last week and the schedule looks pretty soft this week. Things are never simple with the Thunder, but their starting lineup is becoming one of the more dominant units in the league.

2. Golden State Warriors (37–10)
They are bored.

1. Houston Rockets (33–12)
Houston gets the top spot thanks to its win over Golden State to end last week. The Rockets are 18–0 when James Harden, Chris Paul and Clint Capela are all in the lineup. Mike D’Antoni is doing a great job of staggering Harden and Paul, and the role players are doing a great job of supporting their stars. Don’t sleep on Luc Mbah a Moute.

<p>Welcome to a special edition of The Crossover’s NBA Power Rankings! Well, special in the sense that I’ve literally never done this before. Drunk with power ranking power, I’ve decided the best way to tackle this week’s list is to be super reactionary (sorry, Cavs fans) and reward teams playing better than they should be (go Clippers!) We won’t dive deep into every team today, but headed into Week 15 of the NBA season, here’s a snapshot of how each team has looked in its most recent games. </p><p>(All stats and records used through Jan. 22).</p><p><strong>30. Sacramento Kings (13–33)</strong><br>I had a little bit of excitement for the Kings headed into this season, but they have been far and away the worst team in the Association. Selling off any veterans at practically any price would be a smart move here. De’Aaron Fox can still lead this team out of the woods one day, but the front office needs to make sure his talent isn’t cultivated in a losing environment forever. </p><p><strong>29. Phoenix Suns (17–30)</strong><br>The Greg Monroe Revenge Game was almost a thing in their Monday night loss to the Bucks. </p><p><strong>28. Orlando Magic (14–32)</strong><br>Aaron Gordon has cooled considerably from deep after a scorching start to the season. Still, if he settles somewhere in the mid-30%s from distance, that will be a massive improvement over the rest of his career. </p><p><strong>27. Atlanta Hawks (14–32)</strong><br>Looking a little friskier the last couple weeks. </p><p><strong>26. Utah Jazz (19–28)</strong><br>The Jazz look very much like a team relying on a rookie to carry the offensive load. Utah needs to be aggressively looking for a long-term answer at point guard in the offseason to help ease the burden on Donovan Mitchell. </p><p><strong>25. Dallas Mavericks (16–31)</strong><br>The Mavs had a nice little win against the Jekyll-and-Hyde Wizards on Monday. Dennis Smith Jr. is also putting together some of his best performances of the season over the last couple weeks. They’ve almost become more entertaining than Shark Tank reruns. Almost.</p><p><strong>24. New York Knicks (21–26)</strong><br>The return of Tim Hardaway Jr. earlier this month has helped the offense, but this team is still awful on the road. Upcoming games at Golden State and Denver won’t help. </p><p><strong>23. Brooklyn Nets (18–29)</strong><br>Brooklyn has won two in a row over teams above them in the East standings. The Nets play in a decent amount of close games, and they often make better teams work for wins. I like this squad a lot. </p><p><strong>22. Detroit Pistons (22–23)</strong><br>Losers of five in a row!</p><p>?</p><p><strong>21. Charlotte Hornets (19–26)</strong><br>Charlotte has played much better over the last two-and-a-half weeks of the season than it did to start the year. And the return of Steve Clifford earlier this month is reason to celebrate. But when <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/23/charlotte-hornets-michael-jordan-kemba-walker-trade-rumors" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Michael Jordan is basically confirming reports that" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Michael Jordan is basically confirming reports that </a><a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/23/charlotte-hornets-michael-jordan-kemba-walker-trade-rumors" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Kemba" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Kemba</a><a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/23/charlotte-hornets-michael-jordan-kemba-walker-trade-rumors" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Walker could be moved" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"> Walker could be moved</a> for the right price, it’s hard to pretend that things are looking up for the Hornets. A major shake-up may be in play here. </p><p><strong>20. Memphis Grizzlies (17–29)</strong><br>Break up the Grizz! Memphis has won five of its last seven, including wins over the 76ers and Pelicans. The tank will probably continue after the trade deadline, but the Grizzlies have been relatively hot for a couple weeks so they get a bump here. He may never be a star, but I enjoy watching Dillon Brooks every time he’s on the court. </p><p><strong>19. Los Angeles Lakers (17–29)</strong><br>Winners of six of their last eight, which means they’re slightly hotter than Memphis. </p><p><strong>18. Chicago Bulls (18–29)</strong><br>Chicago lost a nail-biter to the Pelicans on Monday, but the Bulls appear competent enough to play spoiler on any given night. The front office needs to strike while the Nikola Mirotic iron is hot. </p><p><strong>17. Washington Wizards (26–21)</strong><br>Washington should not be second in its own division and in the bottom half of the East playoff bracket. What a disappointing season here. A guy like Mirotic would help, but an attitude adjustment would probably help even more. The Wizards are playing like a team that can flip the switch when they aren’t exactly proven playoff contenders. And John Wall calling J.J. Barea a “midget” was absolutely weak. This franchise needs a jolt. </p><p>?</p><p><strong>16. Cleveland Cavaliers (27–18)</strong><br>Where do we even start with the Cavs? Their defense is worse than the 2012 Bobcats, the team with the worst winning percentage in NBA history. Some players held a clandestine meeting earlier this month with select media members to complain about the roster. And then Monday night, <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/22/cavaliers-team-meeting-kevin-love-illness" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Woj" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Woj</a><a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/22/cavaliers-team-meeting-kevin-love-illness" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:reported everyone was mad at Kevin Love." class="link rapid-noclick-resp"> reported everyone was mad at Kevin Love.</a> Cleveland definitely won’t beat the Warriors as presently constructed, and the Cavs would be lucky to even make the Finals at this point. </p><p><strong>15. Milwaukee Bucks (24–22)</strong><br>A close win over the Suns wasn’t the best start to the post-Jason Kidd era, but <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/22/jason-kidd-fired-milwaukee-bucks-giannis-antetokounmpo-coaching-search" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:his firing should ultimately help the team." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">his firing should ultimately help the team.</a> Giannis Antetokounmpo’s reservations aside, Kidd never really proved he could take this team to the next level. His defensive scheme was lacking, and the addition of Eric Bledsoe should have been more impactful. The Bucks are still very talented, and will be a sought after coaching destination. They still have time to turn things around this season as well. </p><p><strong>14. Indiana Pacers (25–22)</strong><br>Indiana is holding steady and remains very much in the thick of the East playoff race. The Pacers play their favorite punching bag, the Cavs, later this week. </p><p><strong>13. Denver Nuggets (24–23)</strong><br>Denver is just barely holding on without Paul Millsap. Jamal Murray has made big strides this season, but this team could still use one more guard off the bench. Maybe the Nugs can get in play for George Hill? Millsap’s return should be a big enough boost to get Denver back into the top eight. </p><p><strong>12. Portland Trail Blazers (25–22)</strong><br><a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/23/portland-trail-blazers-damian-lillard-future" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Damian Lillard’s" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Damian Lillard’s</a><a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/23/portland-trail-blazers-damian-lillard-future" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:meeting with Paul Allen" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"> meeting with Paul Allen</a> doesn’t seem all doom and gloom. Dame didn’t ask for a trade, and star players should be putting pressure on management to build winning teams. Can the Blazers catch up to the West’s best? Not the way the roster is put together right now. Portland desperately needs to get rid of some of its bad contracts, which could mean sending away someone like C.J. McCollum. Dame won’t be patient forever. </p><p><strong>11. Los Angeles Clippers (23–23)</strong><br>This team has absolutely no business fighting for a playoff spot. Not with guys like Sindarius Thornwell and Jawun Evans routinely playing big minutes and injuries up and down the roster. Somehow, the Clips have the ninth-best offense in the league. Doc Rivers deserves some Coach of the Year love if he keeps this up. </p><p><strong>10. Philadelphia 76ers (22–21)</strong><br>A blown lead to the Grizzlies was a bad look, but they were 3–0 last week, and will have two big opportunities to make a statement this week with road games at OKC and San Antonio. </p><p><strong>9. Miami Heat (27–20)</strong><br>An overachieving team that can still be frustrating. Losses to Chicago and Brooklyn last week, but also wins over the Bucks and Hornets—the latter of which had schedule loss written all over it. Miami, without its starting backcourt, took Houston down to the wire Monday, but the Heat can’t afford to keep playing in close games every night. </p><p><strong>8. New Orleans Pelicans (25–21)</strong><br>New Orleans has won three of its last four, and Boogie and Anthony Davis are capable of putting up a historic stat lines against any frontcourt in the league. The hot streak gives them a nice showing in these rankings, but the Pelicans still need to find consistency. They should be better than their record. </p><p><strong>7. San Antonio Spurs (30–18)</strong><br>The mystery around Kawhi Leonard’s injury grew as ESPN reported Leonard was upset with the Spurs for how his season has been handled. The report sent every NBA fan scrambling for the trade machine, but San Antonio is obviously still being very supportive of its superstar. Leonard’s absence has certainly been baffling this season. It’s unclear how serious his quad ailment is or how much of his inaction has to do with the Spurs being overly cautious. If he continues to miss time, it’s fair to wonder if the Spurs are just punting on this season. </p><p><strong>6. Boston Celtics (34–13)</strong><br>They’ve lost three straight, and the offense’s struggles can’t be ignored heading into the All-Star break. On the bright side, Gordon Hayward has been practicing his threes…</p><p><strong>5. Minnesota Timberwolves (31–18)</strong><br>The Wolves won their 31st game of the season Monday. They won 31 all of last season. </p><p><strong>4. Toronto Raptors (31–14)</strong><br>If they don’t make the Finals this season, it’s time to blow it up. No more excuses for Toronto. </p><p><strong>3. Oklahoma City Thunder (26–20)</strong><br>OKC went 3–0 last week and the schedule looks pretty soft this week. Things are never simple with the Thunder, but their starting lineup is becoming one of the more dominant units in the league. </p><p><strong>2. Golden State Warriors (37–10)</strong><br>They are bored. </p><p><strong>1. Houston Rockets (33–12)</strong><br>Houston gets the top spot thanks to its win over Golden State to end last week. The Rockets are 18–0 when James Harden, Chris Paul and Clint Capela are all in the lineup. Mike D’Antoni is doing a great job of staggering Harden and Paul, and the role players are doing a great job of supporting their stars. Don’t sleep on Luc Mbah a Moute. </p>
NBA Power Rankings: Cavs Plummet as Rumors Swirl

Welcome to a special edition of The Crossover’s NBA Power Rankings! Well, special in the sense that I’ve literally never done this before. Drunk with power ranking power, I’ve decided the best way to tackle this week’s list is to be super reactionary (sorry, Cavs fans) and reward teams playing better than they should be (go Clippers!) We won’t dive deep into every team today, but headed into Week 15 of the NBA season, here’s a snapshot of how each team has looked in its most recent games.

(All stats and records used through Jan. 22).

30. Sacramento Kings (13–33)
I had a little bit of excitement for the Kings headed into this season, but they have been far and away the worst team in the Association. Selling off any veterans at practically any price would be a smart move here. De’Aaron Fox can still lead this team out of the woods one day, but the front office needs to make sure his talent isn’t cultivated in a losing environment forever.

29. Phoenix Suns (17–30)
The Greg Monroe Revenge Game was almost a thing in their Monday night loss to the Bucks.

28. Orlando Magic (14–32)
Aaron Gordon has cooled considerably from deep after a scorching start to the season. Still, if he settles somewhere in the mid-30%s from distance, that will be a massive improvement over the rest of his career.

27. Atlanta Hawks (14–32)
Looking a little friskier the last couple weeks.

26. Utah Jazz (19–28)
The Jazz look very much like a team relying on a rookie to carry the offensive load. Utah needs to be aggressively looking for a long-term answer at point guard in the offseason to help ease the burden on Donovan Mitchell.

25. Dallas Mavericks (16–31)
The Mavs had a nice little win against the Jekyll-and-Hyde Wizards on Monday. Dennis Smith Jr. is also putting together some of his best performances of the season over the last couple weeks. They’ve almost become more entertaining than Shark Tank reruns. Almost.

24. New York Knicks (21–26)
The return of Tim Hardaway Jr. earlier this month has helped the offense, but this team is still awful on the road. Upcoming games at Golden State and Denver won’t help.

23. Brooklyn Nets (18–29)
Brooklyn has won two in a row over teams above them in the East standings. The Nets play in a decent amount of close games, and they often make better teams work for wins. I like this squad a lot.

22. Detroit Pistons (22–23)
Losers of five in a row!

?

21. Charlotte Hornets (19–26)
Charlotte has played much better over the last two-and-a-half weeks of the season than it did to start the year. And the return of Steve Clifford earlier this month is reason to celebrate. But when Michael Jordan is basically confirming reports that Kemba Walker could be moved for the right price, it’s hard to pretend that things are looking up for the Hornets. A major shake-up may be in play here.

20. Memphis Grizzlies (17–29)
Break up the Grizz! Memphis has won five of its last seven, including wins over the 76ers and Pelicans. The tank will probably continue after the trade deadline, but the Grizzlies have been relatively hot for a couple weeks so they get a bump here. He may never be a star, but I enjoy watching Dillon Brooks every time he’s on the court.

19. Los Angeles Lakers (17–29)
Winners of six of their last eight, which means they’re slightly hotter than Memphis.

18. Chicago Bulls (18–29)
Chicago lost a nail-biter to the Pelicans on Monday, but the Bulls appear competent enough to play spoiler on any given night. The front office needs to strike while the Nikola Mirotic iron is hot.

17. Washington Wizards (26–21)
Washington should not be second in its own division and in the bottom half of the East playoff bracket. What a disappointing season here. A guy like Mirotic would help, but an attitude adjustment would probably help even more. The Wizards are playing like a team that can flip the switch when they aren’t exactly proven playoff contenders. And John Wall calling J.J. Barea a “midget” was absolutely weak. This franchise needs a jolt.

?

16. Cleveland Cavaliers (27–18)
Where do we even start with the Cavs? Their defense is worse than the 2012 Bobcats, the team with the worst winning percentage in NBA history. Some players held a clandestine meeting earlier this month with select media members to complain about the roster. And then Monday night, Woj reported everyone was mad at Kevin Love. Cleveland definitely won’t beat the Warriors as presently constructed, and the Cavs would be lucky to even make the Finals at this point.

15. Milwaukee Bucks (24–22)
A close win over the Suns wasn’t the best start to the post-Jason Kidd era, but his firing should ultimately help the team. Giannis Antetokounmpo’s reservations aside, Kidd never really proved he could take this team to the next level. His defensive scheme was lacking, and the addition of Eric Bledsoe should have been more impactful. The Bucks are still very talented, and will be a sought after coaching destination. They still have time to turn things around this season as well.

14. Indiana Pacers (25–22)
Indiana is holding steady and remains very much in the thick of the East playoff race. The Pacers play their favorite punching bag, the Cavs, later this week.

13. Denver Nuggets (24–23)
Denver is just barely holding on without Paul Millsap. Jamal Murray has made big strides this season, but this team could still use one more guard off the bench. Maybe the Nugs can get in play for George Hill? Millsap’s return should be a big enough boost to get Denver back into the top eight.

12. Portland Trail Blazers (25–22)
Damian Lillard’s meeting with Paul Allen doesn’t seem all doom and gloom. Dame didn’t ask for a trade, and star players should be putting pressure on management to build winning teams. Can the Blazers catch up to the West’s best? Not the way the roster is put together right now. Portland desperately needs to get rid of some of its bad contracts, which could mean sending away someone like C.J. McCollum. Dame won’t be patient forever.

11. Los Angeles Clippers (23–23)
This team has absolutely no business fighting for a playoff spot. Not with guys like Sindarius Thornwell and Jawun Evans routinely playing big minutes and injuries up and down the roster. Somehow, the Clips have the ninth-best offense in the league. Doc Rivers deserves some Coach of the Year love if he keeps this up.

10. Philadelphia 76ers (22–21)
A blown lead to the Grizzlies was a bad look, but they were 3–0 last week, and will have two big opportunities to make a statement this week with road games at OKC and San Antonio.

9. Miami Heat (27–20)
An overachieving team that can still be frustrating. Losses to Chicago and Brooklyn last week, but also wins over the Bucks and Hornets—the latter of which had schedule loss written all over it. Miami, without its starting backcourt, took Houston down to the wire Monday, but the Heat can’t afford to keep playing in close games every night.

8. New Orleans Pelicans (25–21)
New Orleans has won three of its last four, and Boogie and Anthony Davis are capable of putting up a historic stat lines against any frontcourt in the league. The hot streak gives them a nice showing in these rankings, but the Pelicans still need to find consistency. They should be better than their record.

7. San Antonio Spurs (30–18)
The mystery around Kawhi Leonard’s injury grew as ESPN reported Leonard was upset with the Spurs for how his season has been handled. The report sent every NBA fan scrambling for the trade machine, but San Antonio is obviously still being very supportive of its superstar. Leonard’s absence has certainly been baffling this season. It’s unclear how serious his quad ailment is or how much of his inaction has to do with the Spurs being overly cautious. If he continues to miss time, it’s fair to wonder if the Spurs are just punting on this season.

6. Boston Celtics (34–13)
They’ve lost three straight, and the offense’s struggles can’t be ignored heading into the All-Star break. On the bright side, Gordon Hayward has been practicing his threes…

5. Minnesota Timberwolves (31–18)
The Wolves won their 31st game of the season Monday. They won 31 all of last season.

4. Toronto Raptors (31–14)
If they don’t make the Finals this season, it’s time to blow it up. No more excuses for Toronto.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder (26–20)
OKC went 3–0 last week and the schedule looks pretty soft this week. Things are never simple with the Thunder, but their starting lineup is becoming one of the more dominant units in the league.

2. Golden State Warriors (37–10)
They are bored.

1. Houston Rockets (33–12)
Houston gets the top spot thanks to its win over Golden State to end last week. The Rockets are 18–0 when James Harden, Chris Paul and Clint Capela are all in the lineup. Mike D’Antoni is doing a great job of staggering Harden and Paul, and the role players are doing a great job of supporting their stars. Don’t sleep on Luc Mbah a Moute.

<p>Welcome to a special edition of The Crossover’s NBA Power Rankings! Well, special in the sense that I’ve literally never done this before. Drunk with power ranking power, I’ve decided the best way to tackle this week’s list is to be super reactionary (sorry, Cavs fans) and reward teams playing better than they should be (go Clippers!) We won’t dive deep into every team today, but headed into Week 15 of the NBA season, here’s a snapshot of how each team has looked in its most recent games. </p><p>(All stats and records used through Jan. 22).</p><p><strong>30. Sacramento Kings (13–33)</strong><br>I had a little bit of excitement for the Kings headed into this season, but they have been far and away the worst team in the Association. Selling off any veterans at practically any price would be a smart move here. De’Aaron Fox can still lead this team out of the woods one day, but the front office needs to make sure his talent isn’t cultivated in a losing environment forever. </p><p><strong>29. Phoenix Suns (17–30)</strong><br>The Greg Monroe Revenge Game was almost a thing in their Monday night loss to the Bucks. </p><p><strong>28. Orlando Magic (14–32)</strong><br>Aaron Gordon has cooled considerably from deep after a scorching start to the season. Still, if he settles somewhere in the mid-30%s from distance, that will be a massive improvement over the rest of his career. </p><p><strong>27. Atlanta Hawks (14–32)</strong><br>Looking a little friskier the last couple weeks. </p><p><strong>26. Utah Jazz (19–28)</strong><br>The Jazz look very much like a team relying on a rookie to carry the offensive load. Utah needs to be aggressively looking for a long-term answer at point guard in the offseason to help ease the burden on Donovan Mitchell. </p><p><strong>25. Dallas Mavericks (16–31)</strong><br>The Mavs had a nice little win against the Jekyll-and-Hyde Wizards on Monday. Dennis Smith Jr. is also putting together some of his best performances of the season over the last couple weeks. They’ve almost become more entertaining than Shark Tank reruns. Almost.</p><p><strong>24. New York Knicks (21–26)</strong><br>The return of Tim Hardaway Jr. earlier this month has helped the offense, but this team is still awful on the road. Upcoming games at Golden State and Denver won’t help. </p><p><strong>23. Brooklyn Nets (18–29)</strong><br>Brooklyn has won two in a row over teams above them in the East standings. The Nets play in a decent amount of close games, and they often make better teams work for wins. I like this squad a lot. </p><p><strong>22. Detroit Pistons (22–23)</strong><br>Losers of five in a row!</p><p>?</p><p><strong>21. Charlotte Hornets (19–26)</strong><br>Charlotte has played much better over the last two-and-a-half weeks of the season than it did to start the year. And the return of Steve Clifford earlier this month is reason to celebrate. But when <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/23/charlotte-hornets-michael-jordan-kemba-walker-trade-rumors" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Michael Jordan is basically confirming reports that" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Michael Jordan is basically confirming reports that </a><a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/23/charlotte-hornets-michael-jordan-kemba-walker-trade-rumors" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Kemba" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Kemba</a><a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/23/charlotte-hornets-michael-jordan-kemba-walker-trade-rumors" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Walker could be moved" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"> Walker could be moved</a> for the right price, it’s hard to pretend that things are looking up for the Hornets. A major shake-up may be in play here. </p><p><strong>20. Memphis Grizzlies (17–29)</strong><br>Break up the Grizz! Memphis has won five of its last seven, including wins over the 76ers and Pelicans. The tank will probably continue after the trade deadline, but the Grizzlies have been relatively hot for a couple weeks so they get a bump here. He may never be a star, but I enjoy watching Dillon Brooks every time he’s on the court. </p><p><strong>19. Los Angeles Lakers (17–29)</strong><br>Winners of six of their last eight, which means they’re slightly hotter than Memphis. </p><p><strong>18. Chicago Bulls (18–29)</strong><br>Chicago lost a nail-biter to the Pelicans on Monday, but the Bulls appear competent enough to play spoiler on any given night. The front office needs to strike while the Nikola Mirotic iron is hot. </p><p><strong>17. Washington Wizards (26–21)</strong><br>Washington should not be second in its own division and in the bottom half of the East playoff bracket. What a disappointing season here. A guy like Mirotic would help, but an attitude adjustment would probably help even more. The Wizards are playing like a team that can flip the switch when they aren’t exactly proven playoff contenders. And John Wall calling J.J. Barea a “midget” was absolutely weak. This franchise needs a jolt. </p><p>?</p><p><strong>16. Cleveland Cavaliers (27–18)</strong><br>Where do we even start with the Cavs? Their defense is worse than the 2012 Bobcats, the team with the worst winning percentage in NBA history. Some players held a clandestine meeting earlier this month with select media members to complain about the roster. And then Monday night, <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/22/cavaliers-team-meeting-kevin-love-illness" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Woj" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Woj</a><a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/22/cavaliers-team-meeting-kevin-love-illness" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:reported everyone was mad at Kevin Love." class="link rapid-noclick-resp"> reported everyone was mad at Kevin Love.</a> Cleveland definitely won’t beat the Warriors as presently constructed, and the Cavs would be lucky to even make the Finals at this point. </p><p><strong>15. Milwaukee Bucks (24–22)</strong><br>A close win over the Suns wasn’t the best start to the post-Jason Kidd era, but <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/22/jason-kidd-fired-milwaukee-bucks-giannis-antetokounmpo-coaching-search" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:his firing should ultimately help the team." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">his firing should ultimately help the team.</a> Giannis Antetokounmpo’s reservations aside, Kidd never really proved he could take this team to the next level. His defensive scheme was lacking, and the addition of Eric Bledsoe should have been more impactful. The Bucks are still very talented, and will be a sought after coaching destination. They still have time to turn things around this season as well. </p><p><strong>14. Indiana Pacers (25–22)</strong><br>Indiana is holding steady and remains very much in the thick of the East playoff race. The Pacers play their favorite punching bag, the Cavs, later this week. </p><p><strong>13. Denver Nuggets (24–23)</strong><br>Denver is just barely holding on without Paul Millsap. Jamal Murray has made big strides this season, but this team could still use one more guard off the bench. Maybe the Nugs can get in play for George Hill? Millsap’s return should be a big enough boost to get Denver back into the top eight. </p><p><strong>12. Portland Trail Blazers (25–22)</strong><br><a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/23/portland-trail-blazers-damian-lillard-future" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Damian Lillard’s" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Damian Lillard’s</a><a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/23/portland-trail-blazers-damian-lillard-future" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:meeting with Paul Allen" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"> meeting with Paul Allen</a> doesn’t seem all doom and gloom. Dame didn’t ask for a trade, and star players should be putting pressure on management to build winning teams. Can the Blazers catch up to the West’s best? Not the way the roster is put together right now. Portland desperately needs to get rid of some of its bad contracts, which could mean sending away someone like C.J. McCollum. Dame won’t be patient forever. </p><p><strong>11. Los Angeles Clippers (23–23)</strong><br>This team has absolutely no business fighting for a playoff spot. Not with guys like Sindarius Thornwell and Jawun Evans routinely playing big minutes and injuries up and down the roster. Somehow, the Clips have the ninth-best offense in the league. Doc Rivers deserves some Coach of the Year love if he keeps this up. </p><p><strong>10. Philadelphia 76ers (22–21)</strong><br>A blown lead to the Grizzlies was a bad look, but they were 3–0 last week, and will have two big opportunities to make a statement this week with road games at OKC and San Antonio. </p><p><strong>9. Miami Heat (27–20)</strong><br>An overachieving team that can still be frustrating. Losses to Chicago and Brooklyn last week, but also wins over the Bucks and Hornets—the latter of which had schedule loss written all over it. Miami, without its starting backcourt, took Houston down to the wire Monday, but the Heat can’t afford to keep playing in close games every night. </p><p><strong>8. New Orleans Pelicans (25–21)</strong><br>New Orleans has won three of its last four, and Boogie and Anthony Davis are capable of putting up a historic stat lines against any frontcourt in the league. The hot streak gives them a nice showing in these rankings, but the Pelicans still need to find consistency. They should be better than their record. </p><p><strong>7. San Antonio Spurs (30–18)</strong><br>The mystery around Kawhi Leonard’s injury grew as ESPN reported Leonard was upset with the Spurs for how his season has been handled. The report sent every NBA fan scrambling for the trade machine, but San Antonio is obviously still being very supportive of its superstar. Leonard’s absence has certainly been baffling this season. It’s unclear how serious his quad ailment is or how much of his inaction has to do with the Spurs being overly cautious. If he continues to miss time, it’s fair to wonder if the Spurs are just punting on this season. </p><p><strong>6. Boston Celtics (34–13)</strong><br>They’ve lost three straight, and the offense’s struggles can’t be ignored heading into the All-Star break. On the bright side, Gordon Hayward has been practicing his threes…</p><p><strong>5. Minnesota Timberwolves (31–18)</strong><br>The Wolves won their 31st game of the season Monday. They won 31 all of last season. </p><p><strong>4. Toronto Raptors (31–14)</strong><br>If they don’t make the Finals this season, it’s time to blow it up. No more excuses for Toronto. </p><p><strong>3. Oklahoma City Thunder (26–20)</strong><br>OKC went 3–0 last week and the schedule looks pretty soft this week. Things are never simple with the Thunder, but their starting lineup is becoming one of the more dominant units in the league. </p><p><strong>2. Golden State Warriors (37–10)</strong><br>They are bored. </p><p><strong>1. Houston Rockets (33–12)</strong><br>Houston gets the top spot thanks to its win over Golden State to end last week. The Rockets are 18–0 when James Harden, Chris Paul and Clint Capela are all in the lineup. Mike D’Antoni is doing a great job of staggering Harden and Paul, and the role players are doing a great job of supporting their stars. Don’t sleep on Luc Mbah a Moute. </p>
NBA Power Rankings: Cavs Plummet as Rumors Swirl

Welcome to a special edition of The Crossover’s NBA Power Rankings! Well, special in the sense that I’ve literally never done this before. Drunk with power ranking power, I’ve decided the best way to tackle this week’s list is to be super reactionary (sorry, Cavs fans) and reward teams playing better than they should be (go Clippers!) We won’t dive deep into every team today, but headed into Week 15 of the NBA season, here’s a snapshot of how each team has looked in its most recent games.

(All stats and records used through Jan. 22).

30. Sacramento Kings (13–33)
I had a little bit of excitement for the Kings headed into this season, but they have been far and away the worst team in the Association. Selling off any veterans at practically any price would be a smart move here. De’Aaron Fox can still lead this team out of the woods one day, but the front office needs to make sure his talent isn’t cultivated in a losing environment forever.

29. Phoenix Suns (17–30)
The Greg Monroe Revenge Game was almost a thing in their Monday night loss to the Bucks.

28. Orlando Magic (14–32)
Aaron Gordon has cooled considerably from deep after a scorching start to the season. Still, if he settles somewhere in the mid-30%s from distance, that will be a massive improvement over the rest of his career.

27. Atlanta Hawks (14–32)
Looking a little friskier the last couple weeks.

26. Utah Jazz (19–28)
The Jazz look very much like a team relying on a rookie to carry the offensive load. Utah needs to be aggressively looking for a long-term answer at point guard in the offseason to help ease the burden on Donovan Mitchell.

25. Dallas Mavericks (16–31)
The Mavs had a nice little win against the Jekyll-and-Hyde Wizards on Monday. Dennis Smith Jr. is also putting together some of his best performances of the season over the last couple weeks. They’ve almost become more entertaining than Shark Tank reruns. Almost.

24. New York Knicks (21–26)
The return of Tim Hardaway Jr. earlier this month has helped the offense, but this team is still awful on the road. Upcoming games at Golden State and Denver won’t help.

23. Brooklyn Nets (18–29)
Brooklyn has won two in a row over teams above them in the East standings. The Nets play in a decent amount of close games, and they often make better teams work for wins. I like this squad a lot.

22. Detroit Pistons (22–23)
Losers of five in a row!

?

21. Charlotte Hornets (19–26)
Charlotte has played much better over the last two-and-a-half weeks of the season than it did to start the year. And the return of Steve Clifford earlier this month is reason to celebrate. But when Michael Jordan is basically confirming reports that Kemba Walker could be moved for the right price, it’s hard to pretend that things are looking up for the Hornets. A major shake-up may be in play here.

20. Memphis Grizzlies (17–29)
Break up the Grizz! Memphis has won five of its last seven, including wins over the 76ers and Pelicans. The tank will probably continue after the trade deadline, but the Grizzlies have been relatively hot for a couple weeks so they get a bump here. He may never be a star, but I enjoy watching Dillon Brooks every time he’s on the court.

19. Los Angeles Lakers (17–29)
Winners of six of their last eight, which means they’re slightly hotter than Memphis.

18. Chicago Bulls (18–29)
Chicago lost a nail-biter to the Pelicans on Monday, but the Bulls appear competent enough to play spoiler on any given night. The front office needs to strike while the Nikola Mirotic iron is hot.

17. Washington Wizards (26–21)
Washington should not be second in its own division and in the bottom half of the East playoff bracket. What a disappointing season here. A guy like Mirotic would help, but an attitude adjustment would probably help even more. The Wizards are playing like a team that can flip the switch when they aren’t exactly proven playoff contenders. And John Wall calling J.J. Barea a “midget” was absolutely weak. This franchise needs a jolt.

?

16. Cleveland Cavaliers (27–18)
Where do we even start with the Cavs? Their defense is worse than the 2012 Bobcats, the team with the worst winning percentage in NBA history. Some players held a clandestine meeting earlier this month with select media members to complain about the roster. And then Monday night, Woj reported everyone was mad at Kevin Love. Cleveland definitely won’t beat the Warriors as presently constructed, and the Cavs would be lucky to even make the Finals at this point.

15. Milwaukee Bucks (24–22)
A close win over the Suns wasn’t the best start to the post-Jason Kidd era, but his firing should ultimately help the team. Giannis Antetokounmpo’s reservations aside, Kidd never really proved he could take this team to the next level. His defensive scheme was lacking, and the addition of Eric Bledsoe should have been more impactful. The Bucks are still very talented, and will be a sought after coaching destination. They still have time to turn things around this season as well.

14. Indiana Pacers (25–22)
Indiana is holding steady and remains very much in the thick of the East playoff race. The Pacers play their favorite punching bag, the Cavs, later this week.

13. Denver Nuggets (24–23)
Denver is just barely holding on without Paul Millsap. Jamal Murray has made big strides this season, but this team could still use one more guard off the bench. Maybe the Nugs can get in play for George Hill? Millsap’s return should be a big enough boost to get Denver back into the top eight.

12. Portland Trail Blazers (25–22)
Damian Lillard’s meeting with Paul Allen doesn’t seem all doom and gloom. Dame didn’t ask for a trade, and star players should be putting pressure on management to build winning teams. Can the Blazers catch up to the West’s best? Not the way the roster is put together right now. Portland desperately needs to get rid of some of its bad contracts, which could mean sending away someone like C.J. McCollum. Dame won’t be patient forever.

11. Los Angeles Clippers (23–23)
This team has absolutely no business fighting for a playoff spot. Not with guys like Sindarius Thornwell and Jawun Evans routinely playing big minutes and injuries up and down the roster. Somehow, the Clips have the ninth-best offense in the league. Doc Rivers deserves some Coach of the Year love if he keeps this up.

10. Philadelphia 76ers (22–21)
A blown lead to the Grizzlies was a bad look, but they were 3–0 last week, and will have two big opportunities to make a statement this week with road games at OKC and San Antonio.

9. Miami Heat (27–20)
An overachieving team that can still be frustrating. Losses to Chicago and Brooklyn last week, but also wins over the Bucks and Hornets—the latter of which had schedule loss written all over it. Miami, without its starting backcourt, took Houston down to the wire Monday, but the Heat can’t afford to keep playing in close games every night.

8. New Orleans Pelicans (25–21)
New Orleans has won three of its last four, and Boogie and Anthony Davis are capable of putting up a historic stat lines against any frontcourt in the league. The hot streak gives them a nice showing in these rankings, but the Pelicans still need to find consistency. They should be better than their record.

7. San Antonio Spurs (30–18)
The mystery around Kawhi Leonard’s injury grew as ESPN reported Leonard was upset with the Spurs for how his season has been handled. The report sent every NBA fan scrambling for the trade machine, but San Antonio is obviously still being very supportive of its superstar. Leonard’s absence has certainly been baffling this season. It’s unclear how serious his quad ailment is or how much of his inaction has to do with the Spurs being overly cautious. If he continues to miss time, it’s fair to wonder if the Spurs are just punting on this season.

6. Boston Celtics (34–13)
They’ve lost three straight, and the offense’s struggles can’t be ignored heading into the All-Star break. On the bright side, Gordon Hayward has been practicing his threes…

5. Minnesota Timberwolves (31–18)
The Wolves won their 31st game of the season Monday. They won 31 all of last season.

4. Toronto Raptors (31–14)
If they don’t make the Finals this season, it’s time to blow it up. No more excuses for Toronto.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder (26–20)
OKC went 3–0 last week and the schedule looks pretty soft this week. Things are never simple with the Thunder, but their starting lineup is becoming one of the more dominant units in the league.

2. Golden State Warriors (37–10)
They are bored.

1. Houston Rockets (33–12)
Houston gets the top spot thanks to its win over Golden State to end last week. The Rockets are 18–0 when James Harden, Chris Paul and Clint Capela are all in the lineup. Mike D’Antoni is doing a great job of staggering Harden and Paul, and the role players are doing a great job of supporting their stars. Don’t sleep on Luc Mbah a Moute.

<p>Well, well, well. Welcome back to The Crossover’s weekly Power Rankings, where we have officially reached the NBA&#39;s midseason point. The Warriors are still the best team in basketball and the Grizzlies are still the worst, but there have been some surprising runs going on in between. The Heat have somehow cracked the top-five (!), the Cavs are barely hanging in the top-10 and the Lakers are the new kings of the world. Also Drake is back again.</p><p>With 41 games in the books for just about everyone, and <a href="https://www.si.com/nba/2018/01/14/five-storylines-nba-mlk-day-lebron-cavs-warriors-bucks-wizards" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the Warriors-Cavs set to meet Monday night in an MLK Day showdown," class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the Warriors-Cavs set to meet Monday night in an MLK Day showdown,</a> let&#39;s get down to business. Here are this week&#39;s Power Rankings!</p><p>(All stats and records through Jan. 14).</p><p><strong>30. Memphis Grizzlies (13–28)<br>Last Week: 30</strong><br>I’ll wager a guess that two guys with little-to-no trade value will have even worse value considering how desperate Memphis is to make a trade!</p><p><strong>29. Orlando Magic (12–31)<br>Last Week: 28</strong><br>On the bright side, Orlando has been making good on the New Year’s resolution I gave them and playing Mario Hezonja more than 27 minutes per game! He’s averaged 11.7 and 5.7 and is shooting 47.5% from the field! That’s exciting, I guess. </p><p><strong>28. Atlanta Hawks (11–31)<br>Last Week: 29</strong><br>It’s only a matter of time before the Hawks trade Dennis Schroder to the Nets, right? They’re in burn-it-down mode, he’s not exactly a player you build around, and Brooklyn has German national coach Chris Fleming on its bench. I’m starting the stopwatch now, let’s see how long this actually takes.</p><p><strong>27. Utah Jazz (17–25)<br>Last Week: 27</strong><br>This was absolutely worth the $35,000 fine.</p><p>Wanna hear something insane about the phone slap, though?</p><p>Surely couldn’t have been an iPhone. Those screens will crack if you just look at them the wrong way.</p><p><strong>26. Phoenix Suns (16–28)<br>Last Week: 23</strong><br>The five-day gap between games this week made me think they should have just ended their season after beating the the Thunder last Sunday. Don’t even show up. Just take all the losses, get the lottery pick, and let people hold on to that good feeling they had after the Thunder win. </p><p><strong>25. Sacramento Kings (13–29)<br>Last Week: 20</strong><br>The thought dawned upon me this week—what is Vivek going to do in order to draft Trae Young, who’s been touted as the next Steph Curry? We all know he’s obsessed with finding the next Steph, so what happens if the Kings get the sixth pick? Does he just trade up to No. 1 to get him? What does he give up? The deed to his house?</p><p><strong>24. Dallas Mavericks (15–29)<br>Last Week: 26</strong><br>This was supposed to be Harrison Barnes’s team once upon a time, but I think that window’s sealed shut. We need a new guy now. After two big games I was ready to give the team to Yogi Ferrell. Now I’m thinking it’s Dennis Smith Jr.’s. Next week it’ll probably be Dwight Powell’s.</p><p><strong>23. Brooklyn Nets (16–27)<br>Last Week: 22</strong><br>Can Spencer Dinwiddie actually make the All-Star team? Well, no, as Joel Embiid showed us last year even the most successful viral voting campaign in history won’t be enough. But man, these Nets fans are <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/GoNets/comments/7qgwzl/goat_dinwiddie443atr_leads_nbavotedinwiddie/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:going HARD" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">going HARD</a> to get Dinwiddie there this season. It’s pretty admirable, and he’s got some pretty solid numbers.</p><p><strong>22. Charlotte Hornets (16–25)<br>Last Week: 21</strong><br>I thought for a moment on Saturday that the Hornets might actually knock off the Thunder, then Jeremy Lamb was cut off on a drive and tried a post fade early in the shot clock which he missed badly. They couldn’t close, which has been the problem all year.</p><p><strong>21. Chicago Bulls (16–27)<br>Last Week: 24</strong><br>The Bulls are now 3–0 against the Knicks this year. If they narrowly miss out on a top-five pick, and New York misses the postseason by a few games, this might go down as the funniest season series ever. Mutually assured destruction!</p><p><strong>20. Philadelphia 76ers (19–20)</strong><br><strong>Last Week: 19</strong><br>What in the hell is this? How did this happen?</p><p><strong>19. Los Angeles Lakers (15–27)<br>Last Week: 25</strong><br>Four-game winning streak! Fire up DUCKTALES</p><p><strong>18. New York Knicks (19–24)<br>Last Week: 14</strong><br>Give Kristaps Porzingis a lot of credit: There was a lot of chatter this week that he wasn’t built to be a franchise player. He came out next game—against Boogie Cousins and Anthony Davis—and scored 25 (on 10-of-24 shooting) with six boards, five steals and two blocks. There haven’t been a ton of bright spots for this team lately, maybe that’s one.</p><p><strong>17. Denver Nuggets (22–21)<br>Last Week: 15</strong><br>This team can’t defend, can’t hang with good teams, barely beats bad teams, and touts Nikola Jokic and Gary Harris as their only legit good players at the moment. I am very excited to see what this core does in three years, but I’m not too interested right now. I think we can cool the talk on this team making the playoffs this year. Maybe if Paul Millsap comes out of his injury firing and 2016-17 Wilson Chandler returns then we can re-open the discussion.</p><p><strong>16. New Orleans Pelicans (22–20)<br>Last Week: 18</strong><br>I’m not sure why more people aren’t talking about this. To me, this was like one of the craziest things I’ve seen on a basketball court in weeks.</p><p><strong>15. Detroit Pistons (22–19)<br>Last Week: 13</strong><br>With the Pistons continuing to boast a top defense, we can’t be <em>too </em>worried about them. That being said, there is certainly chemistry to be built. Reggie Bullock had Tobias Harris open for a potential game-tying bucket at the end of that Bulls loss and decided to take it himself. He was blocked. It just feels like this is representative of the Pistons’ larger problem at the moment, that sometimes guys seem to be out for themselves or out of sync with the rest of the team.</p><p><strong>14. Oklahoma City Thunder (23–20)<br>Last Week: 12</strong><br>When Carmelo Anthony takes 15 or more shots, the Thunder are 10-15. When Carmelo Anthony takes fewer than 15 shots, the Thunder are 13–5.</p><p><strong>13. Indiana Pacers (23–20)<br>Last Week: 17</strong><br>Besides male pattern baldness and maybe bear attacks, is there a single greater threat to LeBron James than Lance Stephenson?</p><p><strong>12. Portland Trail Blazers (22–21)<br>Last Week: 11</strong><br>Wanna know how I know Dame is a stone-cold assassin on the court? Watch this:</p><p><strong>11. Milwaukee Bucks (22–20)<br>Last Week: 10</strong><br>So I’ll admit it: I haven’t been a big Bucks guy this year. I find their inconsistency maddening, every five days there’s a cavalry of fans calling for Jason Kidd to be fired and they refuse to make simple adjustments. But I think I might be becoming a fan now. There might be hope for Milwaukee. Look at what Tony Snell <a href="https://www.jsonline.com/story/sports/nba/bucks/2018/01/12/basketball-family-one-same-bucks-tony-snell/1015032001/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">told the <em>Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel</em>:</a></p><p>“I go into the locker room and everybody’s got their head down on their phone the whole time,” said Snell. “I’m the only one who’s got my head up. It’s the saddest thing ever. Technology is the worst. Everybody walks like this (Snell staggers with his head down), not even paying attention. It’s the worst thing ever.”</p><p>Yes. 100% yes. Everybody’s got to put down the phones. What’s happened to camaraderie? Team bonding? Enjoying human interaction? Apologies if you&#39;re reading this on your phone.</p><p><strong>10. Cleveland Cavaliers (26–16)<br>Last Week: 4</strong><br>The Cavs had the worst week of anyone, losing by 28 points to the Timberwolves only to follow it up with a 34-point embarrassment against the Kyle Lowry-less Raptors in Toronto. Then, to top it all off, LeBron and Co. blew a 22-point lead in a back-breaking loss to the Pacers. </p><p>Cleveland’s offense has been a mess for awhile, but I’m not overly concerned because I still think the Cavs are going to hit their shots and score on most nights, and Isaiah Thomas is eventually going to mesh. I’m more interested in Cleveland’s defense. That&#39;s what this team&#39;s fate is ultimately going to come down to in the postseason. It remains their biggest question mark.</p><p><strong>9. L.A. Clippers (21–21)<br>Last Week: 16</strong><br>The injuries continue to pile up (this week it was DeAndre Jordan) yet the Clippers continue to win! These random dudes have gotten so good that I actually yelled out loud in the Sports Illustrated office when C.J. Williams sprained his ankle against the Warriors. I kid you not! I guess the bright side of the injuries is that even more random players you’ve never heard of will start making plays. On Thursday it was someone named Tyrone Wallace. Also, I’ve got to mention—and tip my hat—to Lou Freaking Williams. Fifty. Boy, am I looking bad right now! I love Lou, but I never thought he would do THIS!</p><p><strong>8. Washington Wizards (25–18)<br>Last Week: 9</strong><br>Love this stat that the Wizards tweeted out. He’s the reason Washington stayed afloat with John Wall out, and he’s been one of the most consistent performers in the league this season.</p><p><strong>7. Toronto Raptors (29–12)<br>Last Week: 5</strong><br>Drake telling C.J. Miles—a professional shooter—how to shoot just killed me.</p><p>Also, Drake getting really mad at this ref made me laugh.</p><p>Also also, remember what I said about questioning whether or not Fred VanVleet could score consistently off the bench? Turns out I was wrong! </p><p><strong>6. Minnesota Timberwolves (29–16)<br>Last Week: 8</strong><br>The Timberwolves’ offense is on fire right now, scoring 120 points per 100 possessions over the past week (tops in the league) and posting a tasty 2.41 assist-to-turnover ratio. Now comes the hard part, though; Minnesota just wrapped up a five-game homestand and will play seven of their next nine on the road, where they’re 11–10 this season.</p><p><strong>5. Miami Heat (25–17)<br>Last Week: 7</strong><br>Welcome to the top-five, Miami. It’s an exclusive club and you’re probably one loss away from dropping this spot to the Wolves or Raptors, but enjoy it! You’ve earned it, though, in spite of a devastating injury to Dion Waiters. Perhaps the silver lining will be increased minutes for guys that have been super-efficient like Josh Richardson and Tyler Johnson.</p><p><strong>4. San Antonio Spurs (29–15)<br>Last Week: 6</strong><br>So LaMarcus Aldridge reportedly wanted out, but now he and Pop are cool? How often does a coach get this to happen when other teams actually want the player who requested a trade?</p><p>BONUS MANU HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK:</p><p><strong>3. Houston Rockets (30–11)<br>Last Week: 3</strong><br>Last season, a James Harden injury would have spelled doom for the Rockets. This season, it just gives Chris Paul a chance to shine. CP3 is doing a fine job holding down the fort (4–2) while Harden gets right.</p><p><strong>2. Boston Celtics (34–10)<br>Last Week: 2</strong><br>Absolutely mental, bruv! Innit!?</p><p><strong>1. Golden State Warriors (35–9)<br>Last Week: 1</strong><br>Why are the Warriors letting Steph Curry play on an ankle that’s not 100%? There is no reason to. Period. The Warriors are 11–4 when Curry sits this season—why not be overly cautious? </p><p>June is all that matters to this team.</p>
NBA Power Rankings: Warriors Cruising, Cavs Crumbling at Halfway Point

Well, well, well. Welcome back to The Crossover’s weekly Power Rankings, where we have officially reached the NBA's midseason point. The Warriors are still the best team in basketball and the Grizzlies are still the worst, but there have been some surprising runs going on in between. The Heat have somehow cracked the top-five (!), the Cavs are barely hanging in the top-10 and the Lakers are the new kings of the world. Also Drake is back again.

With 41 games in the books for just about everyone, and the Warriors-Cavs set to meet Monday night in an MLK Day showdown, let's get down to business. Here are this week's Power Rankings!

(All stats and records through Jan. 14).

30. Memphis Grizzlies (13–28)
Last Week: 30

I’ll wager a guess that two guys with little-to-no trade value will have even worse value considering how desperate Memphis is to make a trade!

29. Orlando Magic (12–31)
Last Week: 28

On the bright side, Orlando has been making good on the New Year’s resolution I gave them and playing Mario Hezonja more than 27 minutes per game! He’s averaged 11.7 and 5.7 and is shooting 47.5% from the field! That’s exciting, I guess.

28. Atlanta Hawks (11–31)
Last Week: 29

It’s only a matter of time before the Hawks trade Dennis Schroder to the Nets, right? They’re in burn-it-down mode, he’s not exactly a player you build around, and Brooklyn has German national coach Chris Fleming on its bench. I’m starting the stopwatch now, let’s see how long this actually takes.

27. Utah Jazz (17–25)
Last Week: 27

This was absolutely worth the $35,000 fine.

Wanna hear something insane about the phone slap, though?

Surely couldn’t have been an iPhone. Those screens will crack if you just look at them the wrong way.

26. Phoenix Suns (16–28)
Last Week: 23

The five-day gap between games this week made me think they should have just ended their season after beating the the Thunder last Sunday. Don’t even show up. Just take all the losses, get the lottery pick, and let people hold on to that good feeling they had after the Thunder win.

25. Sacramento Kings (13–29)
Last Week: 20

The thought dawned upon me this week—what is Vivek going to do in order to draft Trae Young, who’s been touted as the next Steph Curry? We all know he’s obsessed with finding the next Steph, so what happens if the Kings get the sixth pick? Does he just trade up to No. 1 to get him? What does he give up? The deed to his house?

24. Dallas Mavericks (15–29)
Last Week: 26

This was supposed to be Harrison Barnes’s team once upon a time, but I think that window’s sealed shut. We need a new guy now. After two big games I was ready to give the team to Yogi Ferrell. Now I’m thinking it’s Dennis Smith Jr.’s. Next week it’ll probably be Dwight Powell’s.

23. Brooklyn Nets (16–27)
Last Week: 22

Can Spencer Dinwiddie actually make the All-Star team? Well, no, as Joel Embiid showed us last year even the most successful viral voting campaign in history won’t be enough. But man, these Nets fans are going HARD to get Dinwiddie there this season. It’s pretty admirable, and he’s got some pretty solid numbers.

22. Charlotte Hornets (16–25)
Last Week: 21

I thought for a moment on Saturday that the Hornets might actually knock off the Thunder, then Jeremy Lamb was cut off on a drive and tried a post fade early in the shot clock which he missed badly. They couldn’t close, which has been the problem all year.

21. Chicago Bulls (16–27)
Last Week: 24

The Bulls are now 3–0 against the Knicks this year. If they narrowly miss out on a top-five pick, and New York misses the postseason by a few games, this might go down as the funniest season series ever. Mutually assured destruction!

20. Philadelphia 76ers (19–20)
Last Week: 19
What in the hell is this? How did this happen?

19. Los Angeles Lakers (15–27)
Last Week: 25

Four-game winning streak! Fire up DUCKTALES

18. New York Knicks (19–24)
Last Week: 14

Give Kristaps Porzingis a lot of credit: There was a lot of chatter this week that he wasn’t built to be a franchise player. He came out next game—against Boogie Cousins and Anthony Davis—and scored 25 (on 10-of-24 shooting) with six boards, five steals and two blocks. There haven’t been a ton of bright spots for this team lately, maybe that’s one.

17. Denver Nuggets (22–21)
Last Week: 15

This team can’t defend, can’t hang with good teams, barely beats bad teams, and touts Nikola Jokic and Gary Harris as their only legit good players at the moment. I am very excited to see what this core does in three years, but I’m not too interested right now. I think we can cool the talk on this team making the playoffs this year. Maybe if Paul Millsap comes out of his injury firing and 2016-17 Wilson Chandler returns then we can re-open the discussion.

16. New Orleans Pelicans (22–20)
Last Week: 18

I’m not sure why more people aren’t talking about this. To me, this was like one of the craziest things I’ve seen on a basketball court in weeks.

15. Detroit Pistons (22–19)
Last Week: 13

With the Pistons continuing to boast a top defense, we can’t be too worried about them. That being said, there is certainly chemistry to be built. Reggie Bullock had Tobias Harris open for a potential game-tying bucket at the end of that Bulls loss and decided to take it himself. He was blocked. It just feels like this is representative of the Pistons’ larger problem at the moment, that sometimes guys seem to be out for themselves or out of sync with the rest of the team.

14. Oklahoma City Thunder (23–20)
Last Week: 12

When Carmelo Anthony takes 15 or more shots, the Thunder are 10-15. When Carmelo Anthony takes fewer than 15 shots, the Thunder are 13–5.

13. Indiana Pacers (23–20)
Last Week: 17

Besides male pattern baldness and maybe bear attacks, is there a single greater threat to LeBron James than Lance Stephenson?

12. Portland Trail Blazers (22–21)
Last Week: 11

Wanna know how I know Dame is a stone-cold assassin on the court? Watch this:

11. Milwaukee Bucks (22–20)
Last Week: 10

So I’ll admit it: I haven’t been a big Bucks guy this year. I find their inconsistency maddening, every five days there’s a cavalry of fans calling for Jason Kidd to be fired and they refuse to make simple adjustments. But I think I might be becoming a fan now. There might be hope for Milwaukee. Look at what Tony Snell told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

“I go into the locker room and everybody’s got their head down on their phone the whole time,” said Snell. “I’m the only one who’s got my head up. It’s the saddest thing ever. Technology is the worst. Everybody walks like this (Snell staggers with his head down), not even paying attention. It’s the worst thing ever.”

Yes. 100% yes. Everybody’s got to put down the phones. What’s happened to camaraderie? Team bonding? Enjoying human interaction? Apologies if you're reading this on your phone.

10. Cleveland Cavaliers (26–16)
Last Week: 4

The Cavs had the worst week of anyone, losing by 28 points to the Timberwolves only to follow it up with a 34-point embarrassment against the Kyle Lowry-less Raptors in Toronto. Then, to top it all off, LeBron and Co. blew a 22-point lead in a back-breaking loss to the Pacers.

Cleveland’s offense has been a mess for awhile, but I’m not overly concerned because I still think the Cavs are going to hit their shots and score on most nights, and Isaiah Thomas is eventually going to mesh. I’m more interested in Cleveland’s defense. That's what this team's fate is ultimately going to come down to in the postseason. It remains their biggest question mark.

9. L.A. Clippers (21–21)
Last Week: 16

The injuries continue to pile up (this week it was DeAndre Jordan) yet the Clippers continue to win! These random dudes have gotten so good that I actually yelled out loud in the Sports Illustrated office when C.J. Williams sprained his ankle against the Warriors. I kid you not! I guess the bright side of the injuries is that even more random players you’ve never heard of will start making plays. On Thursday it was someone named Tyrone Wallace. Also, I’ve got to mention—and tip my hat—to Lou Freaking Williams. Fifty. Boy, am I looking bad right now! I love Lou, but I never thought he would do THIS!

8. Washington Wizards (25–18)
Last Week: 9

Love this stat that the Wizards tweeted out. He’s the reason Washington stayed afloat with John Wall out, and he’s been one of the most consistent performers in the league this season.

7. Toronto Raptors (29–12)
Last Week: 5

Drake telling C.J. Miles—a professional shooter—how to shoot just killed me.

Also, Drake getting really mad at this ref made me laugh.

Also also, remember what I said about questioning whether or not Fred VanVleet could score consistently off the bench? Turns out I was wrong!

6. Minnesota Timberwolves (29–16)
Last Week: 8

The Timberwolves’ offense is on fire right now, scoring 120 points per 100 possessions over the past week (tops in the league) and posting a tasty 2.41 assist-to-turnover ratio. Now comes the hard part, though; Minnesota just wrapped up a five-game homestand and will play seven of their next nine on the road, where they’re 11–10 this season.

5. Miami Heat (25–17)
Last Week: 7

Welcome to the top-five, Miami. It’s an exclusive club and you’re probably one loss away from dropping this spot to the Wolves or Raptors, but enjoy it! You’ve earned it, though, in spite of a devastating injury to Dion Waiters. Perhaps the silver lining will be increased minutes for guys that have been super-efficient like Josh Richardson and Tyler Johnson.

4. San Antonio Spurs (29–15)
Last Week: 6

So LaMarcus Aldridge reportedly wanted out, but now he and Pop are cool? How often does a coach get this to happen when other teams actually want the player who requested a trade?

BONUS MANU HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK:

3. Houston Rockets (30–11)
Last Week: 3

Last season, a James Harden injury would have spelled doom for the Rockets. This season, it just gives Chris Paul a chance to shine. CP3 is doing a fine job holding down the fort (4–2) while Harden gets right.

2. Boston Celtics (34–10)
Last Week: 2

Absolutely mental, bruv! Innit!?

1. Golden State Warriors (35–9)
Last Week: 1

Why are the Warriors letting Steph Curry play on an ankle that’s not 100%? There is no reason to. Period. The Warriors are 11–4 when Curry sits this season—why not be overly cautious?

June is all that matters to this team.