1. Indiana Pacers
Paul George & co. have simply shined this season. They’re the best defensive team in the game with rising stars offensively in PG and Born Ready. They’re also a very deep squad with the return on Danny Granger to the bench.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder
Kevin Durant is the leagues MVP and since Rus has gone down he’s been simply incredible. His supporting cast hasn’t been bad either. Young guys like Jackson, Lamb, Adams & PJIII have been great pieces to this success. Oh yeah, Rus comes back after the All-Star break.
3. Miami Heat
They are still the THREE time East reps in the Finals, TWO time defending champs but Miami has shown some weaknesses this season. Another injury plagued season for Wade, Allen has been subpar, and they haven’t been very good from away home. Still the team to beat. Watch out for them in the second half of the season.
4. San Antonio Spurs
What do ya know. Another season San Antonio written off, another season they’re near the top of the Western Conference. Only current playoff team with a better road record than home. Health is always the concern for the ageless wonders in SA.
5. Portland Trailblazers
Terry Stotts has his team playing GREAT. They score the most points per game in the entire league, but give up the THIRD most in the association. Robin Lopez has been one of the more underrated pickups of the entire offseason. More double doubles than he’s had in his entire career in this lone season.
6. Los Angeles Clippers
Blake Griffin has simply been great. Top 5 MVP candidate this year and his numbers since CP3 went down, similar to KD’s with Rus, were on a different level. DeAndre leads the NBA in rebounding. Oh yeah, CP3 came back tonight. LAC won by 55. Coincidence? This is the team I look for a jump in the standings by the end of the year.
7. Houston Rockets
Quietly, surprisingly even with Dwight being there, Houston has been playing very good basketball. 8-2 in there last 10 games, 5 wins in a row. Terrance Jones and Chandler Parsons have been playing great for them and seem to compliment the two stars in Dwight & James.
8. Phoenix Suns
Even without Eric Bledsoe, Phoenix hasn’t missed a beat. 8-3 in there last 11 games, Goran Dragic has emerged as a guy who can go out and get you 20 & 6 each night. Gerald Green seemed to finally find his place, the bench mostly the Morris twins have been extremely productive and Jeff Hornacek may be the coach of the year to this point. No such thing as tanking in PHX!
9. Golden State Warriors
I put them at 9, but GS has holes. Steph has shined, so has David Lee & even Andrew Bogut has been very good for them. Iggy & Harrison haven’t been very productive and it seems as if Marc Jackson isn’t very good using with using his rotations. They’ve had highs like 10 game win streaks, but other than that, have been very average.
10. Dallas Mavericks
All the way up from Mark Cuban to Rick Carlisle, the Mavs have been good since the off-season. Monte Ellis has been a great pickup for Dallas, along with his back-court mate Jose Calderon. Dirk is back to being Dirk. They’re in the top ten in points & assists per game and have a very solid bench lead by Vince Carter.
11. Memphis Grizzlies
Mike Conley is having a career year, Marc Gasol is back, Courtney Lee who nobody seems to want has been very solid since being traded to Memphis and all of a sudden, Memphis is making a playoff play. Zero percent of Memphis being 10-4 in there last 14 is a coincidence due to Marc Gasol’s return the 1st game of that span. IF Memphis get’s into a playoff spot, I’m sorry for whoever has to play them in a series. They will be a tough out.
12. Toronto Raptors
Rudy Gay gone? No problem. Drake’s team has gone 18-11 since the trade and seen the emergence of Kyle Lowry who has been an outstanding Robin to Batman, DeMarr DeRozen. They’ve allowed the 4th least amount of points per game and have 6 different players who score in double figures. This has landed them the 3 seed in the Eastern Conference to this point.
13. Atlanta Hawks
Lose Josh Smith? No problem. Lose Al Horford to injury? No problem. Coach Bud has been a great influence to this team and Paul Millsap, the All-Star has been great, along with getting Lou Williams back to have a legitimate scoring threat off the bench has been huge. Atlanta has been a surprise out of the East.
14. Washington Wizards
John Wall & Bradley Beal have to be one of the more exciting back-courts off the future across the league. Beal, more than Wall, has been semi-volume shooting the ball. The Wiz don’t get much bench production other than Martell Webster & the only way they have a chance at winning a playoff series is if they avoid the 7 or 8 seed.
15. Chicago Bulls
Losing Derrick Rose & Luol Deng and you’d think a team losing that star power would be dead in the dirt. Wrong. Coach Thibs along with our All-Star leader Joakim Noah have this team maximizing their potential each and every night. DJ Augustin, without an E at the end of his name, has been a godsend and they would not be anywhere close to .500 if he hadn’t been signed. Taj Gibson has been a 20/10 guy as a starter this year and the Carlos Boozer era in Chicago is dwindling down with every game.
16. Brooklyn Nets
I knew all it took for it to click in Brooklyn was for Jason Kidd to stop wearing his tie! But seriously, BK has been good since the calendar has read 2014; 13-5 to be exact. Guys like Livingston, Blatche & Teletovic have been very good when called upon whether its been due to injuries, others struggling etc. Brooklyn has played well, even though Joe Johnson being an All-Star is so fluky.
17. Denver Nuggets
Denver, is a team full of better than average role players, outside Ty Lawson who is a very good, but not great player in this league. The Gallo injury has really hurt them and I still feel like people in Denver are waiting for Kenneth Faried to learn how to do things other than just be athletic. Best part of this Nuggets team has been the guys they acquired in the off-season; Nate Rob, Hickson & Foye have all been very good for them.
18. Minnesota Timberwolves
Minnesota gets around 62 percent of there scoring from 3 guys only. The 2 Kevin’s and Pek. That’s not a recipe for success, especially if you don’t have nearly any scoring after them. Rubio shooting splits are at 36/35/80 and teams don’t even guard him anywhere beyond the free throw line. They’re top 10 in points, rebounds & assists per game, but in the bottom half in defense.
19. Charlotte Bobcats
Al Jefferson has been EATING since the new year. He averaged 24/11 in January on 53% & has been back at the start of this month at a 22/9 clip. With Kemba back from injury, look for Charlotte, and there top 5 defense, to hover around the 7/8/9 seed for the second half of the season.
20. New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans haven’t been as bad as they’ve been in recent years, due in large part to the Brow. They’ve had a lot of key guys miss a lot of games and as a result are 6 games under .500. NOLA is middle of the pack in offense and defense and if they don’t get healthy, they will stay middle of the pack in the second half of the season.
21. Detroit Pistons
Detroit, with all that ‘firepower’ they signed this offseason, has underperformed greatly. Thus, the first head coach firing was awarded to Mo Cheeks. Brandon Jennings & Josh Smith have been nothing but VOLUME. This is a bright spot in the Motor City. That bright spot is 2nd year man Andre Drummond who is averaging 13/13 this year. To bad he shoots 41% from the foul line.
22. New York Knicks
One of the more upsetting 1st halfs in the entire league. After a huge season last year, the Knicks have fallen off of the map, not even being a playoff team if the season ended today. Outside of Carmelo, who has been a top 5 player this year, everyone is struggling. Even Tyson Chandler has been mediocre, AT BEST. TH Jr. can be considered a bright spot for NYK. The very talented rook has a lot of good years ahead of him. The Knicks have arguably the worst PG in the league & the biggest distraction getting big minutes. That says it all.
23. Boston Celtics
Rondo’s back! Jeff Green is still average! Avery Bradley is playing himself to get a nice contract, elsewhere! Jared Sullinger is actually very, very solid! Really the only things worth mentioning for this years Boston squad since they traded Steez, who was playing a great PG before Rajon came back. Oh yeah, they got Joel Anthony in that same deal!
24. Los Angeles Lakers
This Lakers roster that has been assembled is something else. Something else as in really, really bad. Pau & Nash are always hurt, not even mentioning Kobe because who knows when he’s coming back and Swaggy P scores the 2nd most points per touch in the entire league behind Kevin Durant. One positive, Kendall Marshall is really highlighting how great his court-vision & passing is. He’s scoring the ball pretty well, too.
25. Utah Jazz
Seems like getting Trey Burke back got Utah going & out of the cellar of the league. If Utah can retain Gordon Hayward in the offseason, the core of Burke, Hayward, Derrick Favors & there high draft pick in this stacked 2014 draft will be pretty solid.
26. Cleveland Cavaliers
Cleveland is a mess. Kyrie wants out & still can’t play defense. The ultimate professional Luol Deng has even spoken out on how porous the organization is as of now. There GM was fired and Cleveland is simply not any good. Besides overtime where they’re 5-2. Oh yeah, the #1 draft pick Anthony Bennett has had the worst rookie season for a #1 overall pick, ever.
27. Sacramento Kings
The Kings are so intriguing to me. They have 3 players in Isaiah Thomas, Rudy Gay & Boogie Cousins that can all go out and score 20+ one night & drop the ball the next. The future of this team is bright, McLemore & Derrick Williams off the bench along with the other 3 and that’s a lot of talent but it’s all about getting them to all mesh and play together.
28. Orlando Magic
I believe in the Magic’s front office plans. They have a nice core of young talent lead by Vucevic, Oladipo & Tobias Harris but they’re simply not ready to contend yet. They need a number 1 guy, who this year has been the always improving Arron Afflalo, who got snubbed out of the ASG. But that’s another story.
29. Philadelphia 76ers
Fresh off a 55 point loss to the Clippers where they shot 27-100 from the floor, my opinion of the 76ers is that they’re very bad. They’re going to strike gold in the draft with whatever direction they decide to go. Don’t comeback this season Nerlens, there is no need.
30. Milwaukee Bucks
Brandon Knight has been revived from his casket after being castrated by DAJ last season and has been good for the Bucks. Giannis Antetounmpo’s tweets must be the best part of the Bucks season, right?