Here is our compilation of power rankings as of March 31st, from 30 to 1.
30. Orlando Magic
The Magic pretty much gave up on the season during the trade deadline when they go rid of their best and most loved player J.J. Redick. The Magic are clearly saying that they are ready to rebuild the team after trading Dwight and J.J. to clear cap room. They clearly have two great young players in Nikola Vucevic and Moe Harkless, but the two can’t help that team. They are on a 8 game losing streak and things aren’t getting any better at this point. -timlingle10
29. Charlotte Bobcats
The Bobcats are still a very, very young group. Their backcourt of Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson have improved tremendously from the beginning of the season and are the reason the Bobcats have won the games they have.
They are helped out by the talented Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Other than those three, the Bobcats don’t have much depth, which is why they will get another top lottery pick in the upcoming draft. The Bobcats should look for a big man to help out their weak frontcourt, but if they do end up with the number 1 pick, look for them to take Ben McLemore. -timlingle10
28. Phoenix Suns
The Suns are definitely not a team that will be in the playoff picture for years to come, barring a huge trade in the future. The Suns have absolutely no star power on their team or even a leader for that matter. They recently traded for Marcus Morris to team him up with his brother, Markieff, to hopefully give them an extra boost, but that has not been successful. The Suns need a big change in their team, or nothing special is going to happen with this team. -timlingle10
27. Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavs weren’t expected a great season this year, but I don’t think they were expecting the things that happened this season. Everyone knows about the young phenom, Kyrie Irving. In a couple of years, I believe he is going to be the top point guard in the league.
However, he has seemed to be pretty injury-prone. His injuries started at Duke, injuring his toe and only playing 11 games. Since being a pro, Irving has injured his shoulder, knee, finger, jaw, and a concussion. That’s a lot of injuries for less than two years.
The Cavs, like the Bobcats, have a couple of young players with a bright future: Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, and Alonzo Gee. Anderson Varejao was having a great season until injuring his quad and missing four months so far this year. The key to their season next year will be staying healthy, in order to develop team chemistry and Kyrie Irving. -timlingle10
The Pistons are on what we like to call a cold streak. They have only won one game the entire month of March, that win being against the Bobcats (not a big confidence booster for the Pistons). The Pistons only have a few good wins being against the Heat, Celtics, and Spurs. They are going to need more quality wins to ever move up in the rankings.
However, Detroit is full of potential with their biggest name being Greg Monroe, averaging 15.7 ppg and 9.6 rpg. Andre Drummond and Kyle Singler have been playing better than expected for their rookie years with Singler started 65 out of their 73 games. You also can’t forget about the young point guard Brandon Knight, who has stepped up with the poor playing of Rodney Stuckey this year.
The Pistons are a young team that needs more time to develop and play as a team, but for now, they are on the bottom of the rankings. -timlingle10
There is not much to say about the New Orleans Hornets. While Anthony Davis has been a bright spot, nearly average a double-double in March, this season has been a disappointment in terms of developing their younger players. Their key players have not been able to stay healthy at the same time, derailing hopes of gaining team chemistry. Well, at least there is always next year. -ajhenneberger
24. Minnesota Timberwolves
The Timberwolves have had such a disappointing season. They currently stand as the third worst team in the Western Conference. Their troubling season comes in part to Kevin Love’s arm injury. The lone bright spot on this team is their young, talented center, Nikola Pekovic. The Wolves have not got what they wanted out of Derrick Williams, their 2nd overall pick a year ago and the same with J.J. Barea, who they signed last year. The Timberwolves hope for a new start next season with a healthy Kevin Love. -timlingle10
23. Sacramento Kings
This past month, the Kings have beaten the Warriors, Clippers, and Bulls, who are all top tier teams. Obviously, the Kings are not a team that compares to those three teams. Sacramento is one of the youngest teams in the NBA, having 9 players in the league for 3 years or less. The Kings are led by their aggressive center DeMarcus Cousins, while being surrounded by players that aren’t playing to their potential, i.e. Tyreke Evans and Jimmer Fredette. The Kings hope to develop their team a little more and add a couple pieces to in order to become competitive in the future. -timlingle10
Initially it appeared that the Gay Trade swung in favor towards the Raptors. However, thus far Gay has been anything but an aid to the Raptors, averaging 20 points, with 3.6 turnovers/game, and on 40% shooting. The Raptors are 11-16 since the trade and 4-12 since February 25th. -ajhenneberger
21. Washington Wizards
Even though it might not seem it, the Wizards have improved immensely from the previous season. The team had to deal without their phenom, John Wall, through the first part of the season. In that period, the Wizards struggled a little bit to get any momentum, but once he came back, the team actually had a chance to win some games. At the start of April last year, Washington had 12 wins; right now, the Wizards have 27 wins and are two spots away from the 8 seed. While not being playoff contenders, the improvements have significant and are putting this troubled franchise in the right direction.
The 76ers are doing better recently after stating the month losing 5 of 6 games. Unortunately, they have not lived up to those expectations. Philadelphia was supposed to be a great young team with tremendous talent being led by Jrue Holiday. He is lined up with Spencer Hawes, Ohio State great Evan Turner, and Thaddeus Young. The team wasn’t getting the job done, so they made a huge move to acquire Andrew Bynum.
Bynum has not played a game with the team, and he doesn’t plan on it because of his injured knees. The worst thing is that Bynum is a free agent at the end of the year. The Sixers are still in the race for the number 8 spot in the Eastern Conference, but being 5.5 games back of the Bucks and only 9 games left, their chances seem highly unlikely. -timlingle10
At 35 -37 the Bucks are currently in the eight spot in the Eastern conference, with a comfortable 5 game lead over the 76ers. After beating the Lakers and losing to the Thunder by ten, their next stretch of games against the Bobcats, Wolves, and Raptors are split by a game with the Knicks followed by the Magic and the Heat. If they can go 4-2 in that stretch, they may be able to outlast the 76ers. The team ahead of them, Celtics have two games against the Knicks, one against the Heat, Hawks, and Pacers, but apart from that they face all bottom feeders. -ajhenneberger
18. Portland Trail Blazers
The Trail Blazers have been somewhat of a disappointment this year. The Blazers were predicted to make the playoffs this year and maybe win a round or two, however that is far from the case. Portland is the fifth worst team in the West and is 8 games below .500. Currently, the team is on a 5 game losing streak to make matters worse.
LaMarcus Aldridge has had an All-Star type season, averaging 21 ppg and a career-high 8.9 rpg. However, the difference maker for the team has been rookie Damian Lillard from Weber State. This year he is averaging 19 ppg and 6.5 assists a game. There is no doubt that Lillard will walk away with the ROY award, but the Blazers need to get more depth to compete next year. -timlingle10
They have had a fantastic March, going 11-5. Recently, the team started a pact that no one would shave their beards until the team got back to .500, and they have definitely been sticking to it. Dirk Nowitzki looks like he can star in the show Duck Dynasty with his beard. Anyways, the Mavs are going to be in trouble in a few years.
They are one of the oldest teams in the league with players like Elton Brand, Vince Carter, Chris Kaman, Shawn Marion, and Dirk. The team has no future stars on their team, but have a decent player in Darren Collison. The Mavericks are back 1.5 games of the last spot for the playoffs but everyone is predicting the Jazz or Lakers to take that spot. The Mavs are definitely still in the hunt. -timlingle10
While on a four game win-stream, the only team that is a significant win was the Brooklyn Nets. Looking ahead at their schedule their last eight games, four of which are against the Nuggets, Warriors, Thunder, and Memphis. While Memphis is the game they play, which will most likely result in the resting or limited minutes of their key players.
Pending on how the Lakers injuries work out, as both the Jazz and Lakers have comparable SOS left, Utah will have the edge here to make the playoffs (assuming that Kobe and Nash come back with few games and do not play close to 100%). If the Lakers get healthy, this will be a race of momentum. -ajhenneberger
15. Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers are fighting for their lives to get the last seed in the playoffs over the Jazz and Mavericks. This whole season has consisted of drama with the adding of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. Howard’s shoulder injury has caused him to not play as well as he is used to, and he has been questioned by reporters and even Kobe Bryant, his teammate, on his toughness and willingness to play through injury.
Along with Dwight’s injury woes, Pau Gasol injured his foot and missed ample amount of time. This has not been the Lakers year. They haven’t been able to mesh with each other because of the injuries and haven’t really looked like a team. Whether they make the playoffs or not, the Lakers will be a better team next year. -timlingle10
14. Boston Celtics
The Celtics have not been on a hot streak during the latter part of this month. Currently, they hold the 7th spot in the Eastern Conference and are predicted to stay there. Everyone knows the Celtics have lost their star point guard Rajon Rondo to a torn ACL. The team has missed the young guard, but the play of Avery Bradley and Jason Terry has helped the team keep a steady pace. Boston is still lead by their Hall of Famers, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. In the playoffs, the Celtics are always a team to step up and win big . -timlingle10
The Rockets have a chance to move up to the sixth spot, while being 7.5 games back of the fifth spot is unattainable. They also have a slim chance at missing the playoffs, 2.5 games above the eight spot. Depending on how Harden’s “sore foot” plays out, the Rockets could wind up missing the playoffs. However, with the lowest SOS remaining in the western conference, assuming they win the games they should, be able to maintain the six seed. -ajhenneberger
12. Atlanta Hawks
The month of March has been an average one for the Hawks, going about .500. Surprisingly, the Hawks are in the 5 seed in the East, even with the loss of Joe Johnson. If you take a glance at the Hawks’ roster, no one would think they had the talent to be a good team. The combination of Josh Smith and Al Horford has been working out for Atlanta, each averaging 17.5 ppg. Other than those two, the Hawks do not have that much depth or talent on their roster. Atlanta just knows how to play together and get each other going. -timlingle10
11. Golden State Warriors
The Warriors have had an above average month, winning games against the Lakers, Rockets, and Knicks, and have the 6th spot in the Western Conference for now. The Warriors are full of talent, starting with guard Stephen Curry, who has the most points in a game this year with 52. Curry lines up to Klay Thompson and has big men David Lee and Andrew Bogut down low. Also, you can’t forget about leading sixth man of the year candidate, Jarrett Jack. The Warriors are definitely one of those up and coming teams in the NBA. -timlingle10
The Bulls have a real chance to make some noise as they are only a half game behind the 5 seed and only two behind the 4 seed. While the top three seeds are reserved for the division winners, the Bulls have next to zero chance of winning theirs as they are 6.5 GB.
The Hawks, currently number 5 have the sixth highest SOS remaining and the Bulls have the third lowest. Derrick Rose’s return is still up in the air, as according to him “God only knows”. While I will not argue the offensively challenged Bulls will be worse off with him, one could contend that his return could disrupt team chemistry. -ajhenneberger
9. Brooklyn Nets
The Nets have been playing a little lower than expectations this year. With the acquisition Joe Johnson and a full season of Gerald Wallace, the Nets were projected to be far beyond a .500 record. Don’t get me wrong, the Nets have improved tremendously from last season and are a great team, but they don’t have the team right now to win a championship over a team like the Heat.
Their starting forward last year, Kris Humphries, has had his minutes and points cut in half since last year. Also, MarShon Brooks, who had an incredible rooke season last year, has seen his minutes cut down to about 10 minutes and his points drop seven points.
However, Brook Lopez has shown that the Nets made the right decision to keep him and not trade for Dwight Howard. The Nets are fighting to keep their fourth spot in the playoffs, but you can expect them to win the first round and maybe even the second. -timlingle10
The Knicks have appeared to have been righting the ship as of late. While as a fan of the team, I am just waiting for them to drop the ball. Carmelo Anthony appears to be returning back to earth, as his field goal percentage has been dropping per game, sitting at slightly above or below 50%.
The biggest keys have been JR Smith using his creativity and athleticism to drive to the basket and Kenyon Martin, adding intimidation and tenacity to the defence. It will be interesting to see the effect of Chandler’s return.
In my opinion it should go Felton, Shumpert, Melo, Martin, and Chandler. This keeps the defensive intensity of Shumpert (who is a natural 2-guard) and puts Melo on SF who he will bang against down low, taking higher percentage shots and going to the foul line more often. Or he could kick it out once double-teamed to Felton (36% from the three) or Shumpert (last 10 games 41.1% from the three).
However their seeding is still up in the air. While up 4.5 games on the Nets, the nets own the lowest SOS remaining in the eastern conference, while the Knicks are tied for third highest with the Pacers. Speaking of the Pacers, up .5 game on the Knicks, this battle will come down to the wire and could come down to April 14 when the Pacers come into the Garden. -ajhenneberger
7. Indiana Pacers
The Pacers have won the last 7 of 8 games and own the number 3 position in the East. Indiana has definitely exceeded expectations this year, especially since they did not have Danny Granger in the beginning of the year. The Pacers have skill all around the court, starting with Roy Hibbert, David West, and new star Paul George. George leads the team with 17.8 ppg and averages over 7 rebounds a game. The Pacers will be tough to beat in the playoffs (remember, they almost eliminated the Heat last year). -timlingle10
6. Memphis Grizzlies
The Grizzlies have shown they are a force in the NBA. The team is 26 games above .500 and have done it even after trading one of their best players, Rudy Gay. After the trade, the team focused around the play of big men Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph.
Randolph is averaging more than 10 rebounds a game and Gasol around 8. The duo is the reason for most of the success for the team, but also get great play from their point guard, Mike Conley. The Grizzlies have the number 5 seed right now, but with a little push they can get up to the 3 position. -timlingle10
5. Denver Nuggets
The nuggets have been hot recently, the just broke a 15-game winning streak. Not many people saw this coming from the Nuggets, who currently are the third best team in the West. Denver has two key veterans on the team, Andre Iguodala and Andre Miller, with everyone else being in the league 5 years or less. They have one of the most athletic players in the game in the “Manimal” Kenneth Faried. Ty Lawson has become one of the leaders of the team, and JaVale McGee has been getting better and better as the season passes. Look out for the steaming hot Nuggets in the playoffs. -timlingle10
While the Clippers have been struggling, they are 7 games up in their division over the Warriors. This basically guarantees them a division title. However, they are too far back to catch the Thunder or the Spurs and will have to settle for the 3 seed.
With Blake Griffin having a sore calf and Matt Barnes this team needs to get healthy as the final push to the playoffs comes around. Their raw ability and athleticism is scary, but it is just as important to maintain momentum heading in to the postseason. -ajhenneberger
3. San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs have only lost 3 games in March, keeping them as the best team in the Western Conference. The aging Spurs just do not seem to care about their age and play like they are all in their 20’s. Tony Parker, 30, is having another season where he is an MVP candidate at 21 ppg and 7 apg.
Tim Duncan, 36, is having an All-Pro type season, averaging 17.6 ppg and 10.2 rpg. Other players have also stepped up on the team, including Danny Green, Tiago Splitter, and Kawhi Leonard. The Spurs are being chased down for that first seed by the Thunder, but the two are expected to meet each other in the Western Conference Finals either way. -timlingle10
While the Spurs and Thunder share the same remaining SOS, the Thunder have 8 games left, while the Spurs have 10. This distorts the SOS a fair amount in the favour of the Thunder. They have games against the Spurs, Knicks, Pacers, and Warriors, their remaining games are against pushovers. The Spurs on the other hand face the Heat, Grizzlies, Thunder, Hawks, Nuggets, and Warriors.
SanAntonio also have a game against the Lakers towards the end of the season, and assuming Kobe is playing, the Lakers will be fighting for their playoff lives, which will not be an easy game. As such, I look for the Thunder to finish the season as the number one seed in the western conference. -ajhenneberger
1. Miami Heat
What can I say about the Miami Heat? Everyone knows about the 2nd best winning streak in NBA history that they set at 27 games. The Heat hold the best record in the NBA over the Spurs. Behind the “Big 3” of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, the Heat have players that have contributed a lot to the team.
The Heat acquired Ray Allen in the off-season, adding to their star power. Mario Chalmers has become a great point guard recently, and you can’t forget about the defensive-minded Shane Battier, who hit over 50% of his 3-pointers during the 27 game win streak.
Chris Bosh’s ppg is at a career-low (besides his rookie season) but he has a different role than he did when he was a one-man team in Toronto. He provides versatility to the team and stretches out the floor with his 3-point range.
D-Wade has been on fire lately, especially during the streak. D-Wade is D-Wade, making space for himself and his teammates to create plays for everyone.
LEBRON JAMES. He is the best player in the NBA and has proved that this entire season. In February, he became the first player in the league history to score at least 30 points and shoot at least 60% in six straight games (that is absolutely insane). LeBron James will win the MVP this year, and the Heat are the absolute favorites to win the championship again this year. -timlingle10