NBA Midseason Power Rankings
Published: Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 23:01
As we hit the halfway mark in this season’s edition of the reality series known as the NBA, something dawned on your friendly Eastern Conference NBA writer: I haven’t submitted a power rankings column yet. Have no fear UConn country, there’s no better time to start than now. Over the course of the next few months and running all the way to the 82nd game of the year, I’ll be writing a power rankings piece on a biweekly basis. You can call it unoriginal, disagreeable and maybe even perhaps full of more ennui than your Intro to Stats class. I call it giving the people what they need. Let’s roll out the rankings, shall we? The following records were taken before Tuesday night’s games concluded.
15) Cleveland (10-32)—The Cavs are still reeling from a massive post-decision hangover, and now that breakout center Anderson Varejao is going to miss the rest of the 2013 campaign due to a blood clot in his lung, it appears that Cleveland is going to have a copious amount of ping-pong balls in the lottery this spring. A silver lining: Kyrie Irving is playing some great basketball, and it looks like he’s destined to become one of the league’s best point guards if he can stay healthy.
14) Washington (9-30)—Although the Wizards technically have the worst record in the East, they won’t end up in the cellar by season’s end. Now that John Wall has finally returned after missing the first 33 games of the year with knee issues, the Wiz are actually almost watchable. Also, you should do yourself a favor, and YouTube Jordan Crawford’ buzzer-beating, game-winning trey against Portland on Monday night, and prepare to hear one of the most amusing radio calls of the season.
13) Charlotte (10-31)—Good: UConn hero Kemba Walker dropped a career-high 35 points in his most recent showing. Bad: The Bobcats lost that game to the Houston Rockets, 100-94. Ugly: The last time Charlotte won a game at home was before Thanksgiving.
12) Orlando (14-26)—Truthfully, the Magic could be a whole lot worse with the roster they’re currently trotting out this year. Although the team doesn’t have a ton of talent, Orlando is competing every night. They have a few curious losses over the past five games (they lost to Charlotte at home and lost to Washington by 29 on the road), but they’ve also taken down the Clippers on the road and the Pacers at the Amway Center during the same stretch. Basically, Orlando makes no sense.
11) Toronto (15-26)—Although the lone Canadian team in the Association is likely headed to the lottery for the umpteenth year in a row, they’ve had some bright spots. From 2005-2011, Toronto forward Alan Anderson played in the D-League, Italy, Russia, Croatia, Israel, the D-League again and Spain before signing a 10-day contract with the Raptors last season. Now that he’s finally getting some playing time in 2013, Anderson is averaging 12.3 points per game in just about 24 minutes per game. The Raptors aren’t going anywhere the year, but they might have one of the best stories of the year in Anderson.
10) Detroit (bold) (15-25)—Former UConn one-and-done Andre Drummond is only averaging 19.8 minutes per game this season, so his numbers aren’t that mind-boggling. However, if you average his stats to 36 minutes per game in a vacuum, Drummond would be averaging 13 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks per game. Moreover, Drummond’s per 36 minute stats eclipse Dwight Howard’s during his rookie season.
9) Philadelphia (bold) (17-24)—I’m a Celtics fan, but the fans got it wrong this season. Jrue Holiday is having a ridiculous year and absolutely should be starting for the Eastern Conference in the All-Star Game.
8) Milwaukee (bold) (21-18)—The Bucks have played six games since firing Scott Skiles on Jan. 8 and have won four of them (including a victory at Chicago). The backcourt of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis is still incredibly frustrating and exciting to watch at the same time. Center Larry Sanders is only playing 25 minutes per game but leads the league with 3.18 blocks per game.
7) Boston (bold) (20-20)—It comes down to this: when Avery Bradley is active, the Celtics are one of the best teams in the East and a legitimate conference threat. When the oft-injured Bradley is inactive, Boston is difficult to watch without wanting to poke your eyes out with sharp utensils.
6) Atlanta (bold) (23-18)—In the first couple weeks of the season, Atlanta looked like it was going to be one of the very few teams that could topple Miami as the class of the Eastern Conference. Today, however, that narrative has changed dramatically. The Hawks have dropped eight of their last 12 – which included a 58-point performance against Chicago—and microwave man Louis Williams shredded his ACL, ending his season.
5) New York (bold) (25-14)—New York is a really good team, but I have a hard time calling a squad that relies so heavily on the three-pointer one of the best in the conference. They’re just too erratic. However, Carmelo Anthony is having a career year and should garner some serious MVP attention.
4) Chicago (bold) (24-16)—Even without all-world point guard Derrick Rose, the Bulls are still capable of defeating any team on any night. Forward Luol Deng has picked up the slack in Rose’s absence, as he is averaging 17.5 points per game while logging the most minutes per game in the NBA for the second straight year. Power forward Carlos Boozer has also been blistering hot over the past couple weeks, averaging 22 points per game over the past 10 games.
3) Brooklyn (bold) (25-16)—Even though I have no affiliation to either basketball team in New York, I want a playoff series between the Nets and the Knicks. Badly. BK has been hot recently and has only dropped two games since firing Avery Johnson in late December.
2) Indiana (bold) (26-16)—If you haven’t seen the Pacers play yet this season, you need to find yourself on a couch and watch their next game. I’m not saying you should pirate their games on the Internet…but I’m also not saying I’d tattle on you for doing so. Paul George needs to be seen to be believed.
1) Miami (bold) (26-12)—Miami is going to hold this top spot until further notice and with good reason. It pains me to see the Heat playing so well while also doing it so effortlessly. It just doesn’t seem fair.