Power rankings

NBA Power Rankings Heading Into February

By Jason Cordner

NBA Power Rankings Heading Into February

Welcome to the dog days of the winter. We have major shake ups going on in the power ranking. It gets tiresome writing about the Warriors all the time, but this week, it’s time for some straight-up, simple praise. Not only are the Warriors the best team in the land with the No. 1 offense, No. 1 defense and No. 1 record, and not only is Stephen Curry back to setting worlds on fire, but there’s something to be said for their evolution. The Cavs have reached that mental roadblock in the season. With so much going on,  let’s take a look at the top 10 power teams heading into February.

NBA Playoffs

1. Golden State Warriors (41-7) : This team is the most adaptable of any team in the league. Their rim protection was bad? Kevin Durant has become a weak-side flyswatter and their schemes have tightened. Steph Curry was more of a nice garnish than the centerpiece? He’s moved back into being the main engine of the team, averaging 28.6 points, 6.6 assists and shooting 50 percent from both the field and the perimeter over the past five games. As if beating the Warriors wasn’t hard enough this season, they continue to methodically address their weaknesses.

San Antonio Spurs

2. San Antonio Spurs (37-11) : San Antonio’s dropped back-to-back games for just the second time this season and the fourth time in two calendar years. With the top of the league as messy as it is, it’s not enough to budge them from their perch this week. Still, they’re now 4.5 back of the Warriors. That ship hasn’t sailed, but it’s needs to start going if they want to secure home court in the playoffs.


3. Houston Rockets (36-16) : Led by MVP frontrunner James Harden, the Rockets — who dropped back-to-back games (to Milwaukee on Monday and Boston on Wednesday) for just the second time all season — were able to bounce back in Philadelphia on Friday. Harden poured in 51 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists to become the first player in NBA history with multiple 50-point triple-doubles in a single season.

Six of their next seven games at home looks welcoming for the Rockets, who have been seriously taxed by January travel. James Harden’s scoring is up this month, but the peripherals have taken a small, indicative dip, too.


4. Boston Celtics 30-18) : Boston has finally pulled into a tie with Toronto for the 2-seed. What’s interesting is that the East is considered to be the less flashy conference, but those two teams are living on offense. Boston’s back into the top 15 in defense over the past two months with an easy overall schedule over the next month. Their matchup with Toronto this week is huge; a loss by Boston and the Raptors clinch tiebreaker head to head.

All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas is averaging 29.1 points per game (second in the NBA) to go along with 6.3 assists and 2.8 rebounds while shooting a career-high 46.6% from the field. He’s also averaging 10 points per fourth quarter, which leads the NBA. The Celtics have won their last three games (Houston, Orlando and Milwaukee).

NBA Playoffs

 5. Cleveland Cavaliers ( 32-15) : The defending champs have lost six of their last 10 games. LeBron James has been publicly critical of the team’s roster, saying that the Cavs aren’t better than last year “from a personnel standpoint” and that they need to improve “if” they want to repeat as champions. And yet, they still sit comfortably atop the Eastern Conference standings, three games ahead of both the Raptors and Celtics.
They’ll get J.R. Smith back. They’ll find a backup point guard somewhere. They’ll make a run in the playoffs and look dominant again. Whether they can get past a fully healthy Golden State team is another matter, but all of this feels very much like a bunch of high school kids stirring up drama because they have nothing better to do.
Washington Wizards
6. Washington Wizards (28-20) : The Wizards are 8-2 in their last 10, and have the fourth-best winning percentage since December 1. They are for real. They jump here in part because they have wins over the Celtics and Hawks in the past week. If they keep playing like this they are not going to be a team you want to see in the playoffs. Remember when we thought enmity between John Wall and Bradley Beal was the NBA’s most notable bad chemistry situation? That seems so long ago. Things are finally looking up in DC.
7. Utah Jazz  ( 30-19) : The Jazz, just a 1/2 game behind the Clippers for fourth place in the West, have lost three of their last four but have won seven of their last 10. They have a three-day break before hosting Milwaukee on Wednesday.
The Jazz’s offense doesn’t quite pass the smell test for their 12th-ranked offense. They have weapons, to be sure, but in losses to Denver and Memphis, you saw how they struggled late to find offense. Then again, they have the fifth-best clutch-time offensive rating. So which is it? I guess we’ll find out in April.
memphis grizzlies

8. Memphis Grizzlies (29-21) : Hard to argue with Mike Conley getting “snubbed” for the All-Star Game yet again when his teammate Marc Gasol has been the driving force of the Memphis Grizzlies. Case in point: his career-high 42 points this week propelled Memphis to in a big win against Toronto.That being said, 40-year-old Vince Carter deserves some credit for what he’s still doing at his age, as does Zach Randolph and his steady contributions in his sixth man role. Looks like grind mode is still effective in today’s NBA.


9. Toronto Raptors ( 30-19) : The Raptors were coming off two tough but pretty good losses to San Antonio and Memphis. Then they turned around and lose to Orlando at home. So much for that idea. They face the Celtics this week in a game that could put them 1.5 games back of the 2-seed they held for months before Sunday’s loss to the Magic. The Raptors are 4-6 in their last 10 games.

Oklahoma City Thunder

10. Oklahoma City Thunder (28 -21) : OKC might have handled the tough run of schedule at full strength, but being without first Steven Adams and now Enes Kanter, the structure’s having trouble holding. The schedule doesn’t lighten up until after the All-Star Break so they’ll have to figure something out quick.

Thanks for reading NBA Power Rankings Heading Into February!


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