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!
 

Schwag Tier

 

30.  New York Knicks (0)

29.  Los Angeles Lakers (0)

 
I really didn’t want to give any of these teams in the Schwag Tier the satisfaction of having me write about them, but it warrants saying that the Lakers need to be careful.  Their whole season has essentially been an exercise in maximizing the value of their draft pick, but if it falls anywhere outside the top-5, they won’t even get to be the ones to use it. 
 
At 20-54, they currently clock-in with the fourth-worst record in the league.  But Orlando — having lost 9 of their last 10 — is making a final push for ineptitude, only 1.5 games of Los Angeles ahead at 22-53.  The Lakers better watch their backs… I mean, fronts.  They better watch their fronts.
 

28.  Minnesota Timberwolves (-1)

27.  Orlando Magic (-1)

26.  Philadelphia 76ers (+2)

 
Nerlens Noel is starting to show why there was so much fuss over him leading up to the draft before he blew his ACL a couple years ago.  For the month of March, Noel put up averages of 14.8 points, 11.2 boards, 1.8 assists, 2.1 blocks and 2.4 steals per game. 
 
Those are KG-like numbers if I’ve ever seen them.  Granted, it’s not translating to any more wins for the punchless Sixers, but still.
 

Outdoors Tier

 

25.  Sacremento Kings (0)

24.  Detroit Pistons (-1)

23.  Denver Nuggets (+1)

 
If you take these three teams in the Outdoors Tier and add their records up over the last 10 games, you get a grand total record of 14-16.  They are mediocrity incarnate. 
 
I’m not really sure what keeps Denver afloat, but it’s safe to say that if it weren’t for Boogie Cousins and Andre Drummond, the Kings and Pistons would be occupying the Schwag Tier with the rest of the dregs of the league.
 

Middies Tier

 

22.  Charlotte Hornets (-2)

Charlotte’s home loss to Boston earlier in the week all but buried their playoff hopes for this season.
 

21.  Indiana Pacers (-2)

 
Most Pacer fans can probably be found in a padded cell somewhere right about now, gently rocking back and forth while they hug their knees and croon “Paul George will be back in March… Paul George will be back in March…” to themselves over and over.  He’s not coming back, guys.  We all got fooled.
 

20.  Utah Jazz (+2)

Utah went 3-0 over the course of the week, and in doing so they’ve raised their point-differential out from the negatives and up to a semi-respectable zero.  Congratulations, Jazz — you now officially no longer give up more points than you score!  Woo-hoo!
 

19.  Boston Celtics (-1)

18.  Miami Heat (-1)

17.  Brooklyn Nets (+5)

 
The Nets have won five straight and 8 of their last 10 to move into the seventh seed in the wasteland that is the Eastern Conference.  Apparently they’ve just been saving their best for last all season long.  Good trick, Brooklyn.
 

Kind Bud Tier

 

16.  Phoenix Suns (0)

There’s always next year, Suns fans.  By which I mean, there’s always next year to get your hopes built up and then have your best players traded away out from under you for no apparent reason again.
 

15.  Milwaukee Bucks (-1)

It’s been a good season for the Bucks, but just think where this team will be next year — with a healthy Jabari Parker in tow.
 

14.  New Orleans Pelicans (+1)

 
The Pellies are showing some real moxie.  They went 3-0 over the course of the week to claw themselves back within 1.5 games of the playoff picture, but it’s probably too little, too late at this point.  They do own the tie-breaker over the Thunder, however, after winning the season series 3-1.
 

13.  Oklahoma City Thunder (0)

After keeping them afloat single-handedly for the last two months, Russell Westbrook is finally starting to seem a bit human, as his Thunder went just 1-3 last week and let the Pelicans back into the race for the eight seed.
 

Kush Tier

 

12.  Washington Wizards (0)

Washington appears to be coasting towards the playoffs, content to occupy the fifth seed in the East.  They’re 5-5 over their last ten.
 

11.  Chicago Bulls (-1)

10.  Toronto Raptors (+1)

 
The battle for the third seed in the East is one of the few story-lines worth following in the conference as the season wraps up, with the other one being the cat-fight for the final playoff spot. 
 
One of these two teams will get to play the just-happy-to-be-here Bucks, while the other will have to play the we-think-we-can-beat-you Wizards.  That is a world of difference, and one that both squads seem to recognize, as so far these teams have avoided resting starters like some of the other Eastern playoff teams are doing. 
 
Should they finish with the same records, the Bulls own the tie-breaker, having won all four meetings with the Raptors this season.
 

9.  Dallas Mavericks (0)

 

Exotics Tier

 

8.  Portland TrailBlazers (-2)

7.  Memphis Grizzlies (-3)

 
The Blazers and Grizzlies were humming along all season long, but both appear to be hitting some slight rough patches at the worst possible time.  The Grizz are 6-4 over their last ten, losing their grip on the second seed in the West, and Portland is just 4-6, relinquishing its hold on home-court advantage for the first round. 
 
Luckily they’ve still got two weeks left in the regular season to get things turned around.
 

6.  Los Angeles Clippers (+1)

5.  Houston Rockets (0)

4.  San Antonio Spurs (+4)

 
These three teams just keep going about their victorious business, each going 8-2 over their last 10 to soar into the playoffs on a high-note.  But the Spurs, in particular, are on a hell of a roll. 
 
Led by a finally-healthy Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs have won five straight and went 12-3 over the month of March, with two of those losses coming in overtime.  If anybody can keep the Warriors out of the finals, it’s probably one of these teams.  Most likely the Spurs.  What else is new?
 

Med-Grade Tier

 

3.  Cleveland Cavaliers (0)

2.  Atlanta Hawks (0)

1.  Golden State Warriors (0)

 
No changes at the top this week.  And why should there be?  I was tempted to swap the Cavaliers with the Hawks, since the Hawks are on cruise-control (5-5 in their last 10) while the Cavs are still playing for keeps (8-2), but despite the obvious difference in their senses of urgency, Atlanta still maintains a 7.5 game lead over Cleveland. 
 
They deserve a little cruise-control.  The Warriors, on the other hand, are turning up their noses at the notion of easing up.  They’ve won 11 straight to actually extend their stranglehold of a lead on the West, up to 11.5 games.  Can anybody stop these guys?  We’ll find out.
 
[Photo: espn.com]
 

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