Welcome to the DunkNDank NBA Power Rankings, where we break down the league into tiers and rank all 30 teams from top-to-bottom, back-to-front, ass-to-face until you’ve got a readable pulse on the entire Association!
The number in parentheses next to the team is how far they’ve risen (+) or fallen (-) relative to their ranking last week. Let’s get started:
30. New York Knicks (0)
29. Philadelphia 76ers (-2)
Philly has lost seven straight to reinsert themselves into the conversation for the league’s most dysfunctional squad. Welcome back, Sixers! It just wasn’t the same down here without you these last few weeks.
28. Los Angeles Lakers (+1)
The Lakers rise to the 28th spot this week has absolutely nothing to do with their own play, and everything to do with Philly simply sucking even worse than them as of late.
27. Minnesota Timberwolves (+1)
Uhhh… boy, how ’bout that Andrew Wiggins, huh?
26. Orlando Magic (+1)
More like Orlando Tragic, am-I-right? …Sorry. I got nothing. In all seriousness though, the black and blue have won 3 straight to lift themselves out from the demeaning depths of the Schwag Tier, and into the slightly-less-demeaning Outdoors Tier.
25. Sacramento Kings (0)
The Kings haven’t moved at all in the three weeks since I’ve been doing these rankings. I don’t know if that says more about their consistent mediocrity as a team, or my laziness as a writer, but either way I feel it’s worth mentioning.
24. Denver Nuggets (-1)
I’m not sure what the Nuggets’ mascot is — or if they even have one, for that matter — but in light of Colorado legalizing recreational marijuana, I really think they should change it to a giant nug of weed with arms, legs, and eyeballs. It’s what the fans want.
23. Detroit Pistons (+1)
22. Charlotte Hornets (0)
Considering they’re a hair’s breadth away from bowing out of the East’s playoff “race,” Charlotte drops down to the Outdoors Tier this week. They’ve lost two in a row and could be eliminated as soon as tonight’s game against Atlanta.
21. Utah Jazz (-1)
20. Phoenix Suns (-4)
The Suns dropped below .500 over the course of the past week, thereby surrendering any hopes of trying to sell this to their fans as a successful season. From Joe Johnson, to Shawn Marion, to Amare Stoudemire, to Steve Nash, to now Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas, the Suns haven’t gone a season in the last six years without trading away one of their top three players. What’s going on in the desert? Seems like it might be time for an ownership change.
19. Miami Heat (-1)
The Heat have been, well… pretty cold recently. Sorry — I just couldn’t resist. But seriously, they’re 3-7 over their last ten and currently sit in 10th in the East, despite having a cupcake of a schedule over the season’s last few weeks.
18. Indiana Pacers (+3)
Paul George did manage to come back before the regular season’s end, making a prophet out of Larry Bird and a suddenly dangerous first-round opponent out of his team. That is, if they just can make the playoffs first — Indy is a game back of 8th place Boston with four to play, and the Celtics hold the tiebreaker. George may have Supermanned himself back onto the court for nothing.
17. Boston Celtics (+1)
These guys just won’t go away. However, their next two games are both against Cleveland, and LeBron has vowed to play in the contests. So they may be going away pretty damn soon.
16. Brooklyn Nets (+1)
It looks like the Nets are going to make the playoffs after all, meaning their season wouldn’t be a complete and total waste. Granted, the fact that their place in the dance was ever even in question is almost enough to render their season a total waste in and of itself, but not quite. Brooklyn is peaking at the right time — which is to say, right before their season went down in flames.
Kind Bud Tier
15. Milwaukee Bucks (0)
The Bucks are doing the opposite of peaking at the right time. They’re hitting new lows as they tail-spin out of control. And they’re doing it at the wrong time. Lucky for them, the East is so bad that they haven’t even dropped a spot in the standings yet.
14. Oklahoma City Thunder (-1)
Oklahoma City has now lost four in a row to drop into a tie with the Pelicans for the 8th seed. I can’t say I’m too shocked — Russell Westbrook could only backpack them around for so long.
13. New Orleans Pelicans (+1)
If the season ended today, the Pelicans would be in the playoffs, by virtue of holding the head-to-head tie-breaker over the Thunder. Anthony Davis should be the MVP if they make it, but you’d have to think that even if they wind up missing out, this season will be considered a success by Pelicans players, staffers, and fans alike. They’ve got something to build on down in the bayou.
12. Toronto Raptors (-2)
11. Washington Wizards (+1)
The Wizards have run off four straight wins to move to within a game of the Raptors for home-court advantage in the first round. Washington is showing some signs of their early-season friskiness before the playoffs start.
10. Chicago Bulls (+1)
Derrick Rose is back on the floor, they’re currently sitting pretty in the 3rd seed of the East bracket, and they gutted out a win against a desperate Heat team on national television Thursday night. Things are looking up in the Windy City.
9. Dallas Mavericks (0)
The Mavericks are literally locked into the seventh seed now, unable to move up or down in the standings no matter what happens over their last four games. The last week of the season will essentially be a preseason for the postseason for the Mavs, if that makes any sense. Let’s see if they treat it as such.
8. Portland TrailBlazers (0)
Like Dallas, Portland is essentially locked into their current position as the fourth seed (without home-court) in the West. They do have a slight chance of catching the four-way clusterfuck of San Antonio, Memphis, Houston and LA two games ahead of them, which would allow them to regain home-court. But with so many teams ahead of jockeying for that spot, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to pass as many of them as they need to.
7. Houston Rockets (-2)
6. Memphis Grizzlies (+1)
5. Los Angeles Clippers (+1)
4. San Antonio Spurs (0)
These teams all sit within a half-game of each other. Three of them will get home-court advantage in the first round, while one of them will be forced to open on the road against whichever team finishes as the third seed. For these four franchises, the last week of the season is the exact opposite of the last week for the Blazers and Mavs. There is still very much at stake for these four Western superpowers.
The Spurs and Clippers sit a half-game back of the Rockets and Griz, who are tied, but the Spurs have won 9 straight and the Clippers have won 4 in a row, putting them in seemingly better position to prevail as the season winds to a close. San Antonio and Los Angeles each have three games left to play, while Houston and Memphis have four. Stay tuned.
Medical Grade Tier
3. Atlanta Hawks (-1)
2. Cleveland Cavaliers (+1)
Atlanta technically didn’t do anything over the course of the last week to lose the number two spot, as they won all three games they played and maintained their lead over the Cavs at a healthy eight games. But that being said, the Cavs could just not be denied any longer. They went 4-0 over the week and wrapped up both the Central Division title and the 2nd seed in the East, making them a tidy 8-2 over their last ten as opposed to Atlanta’s 6-4.
After struggling for much of the first few months, Cleveland’s average point-differential is now 5.1 on the season, right there on par with Atlanta’s 5.6. Not only that, but as a Celtics fan who’s team might be sneaking in at the bottom of the Eastern bracket, I know without a doubt which team I would rather face in the first round. I’ll give you a hint: it’s not the one that LeBron plays for. It’s high time to give Cleveland their due as the true best team in the East.
1. Golden State Warriors (0)
Might as well start getting some ring finger measurements on these guys.