We are at the all-star break in the NBA. This has been the season of high drama and players on the move.
The Sports Whisperer’s Top 10 Power Rankings:
Please note: The Indiana Pacers are 38-20. They are a great story and are still playing well without their star, Victor Oladipo. But let’s be honest, they won’t do anything in the post-season. The Pacers are not in my top 10 despite their record.
10) San Antonio Spurs, (33-26): This is not an elite team that San Antonio is used to, but, they play very well together. The Spurs will battle for the 5-8 spot in the Western Conference all-season long. San Antonio has 2 first round picks in the off-season, so they should be in good shape.
#9) Houston Rockets, (33-24): James Harden is averaging 36.6 points 7.7 assists and 6.7 rebounds per game. He is doing everything he can to carry his team. The problem here is all that offense slows down in the post-season. I don’t see the Rockets ever getting to an NBA Finals with Mike D’Antoni as their coach.
#8) Portland Trail Blazers, (34-23): Portland added Rodney Hood and Enes Kanter over the past week. This roster is very deep and as long as Damian Lillard is healthy, this team is dangerous. Lillard averages 26.3 points, 6.4 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game. Would anyone be shocked if Portland goes further in the playoffs than Houston?
#7) Denver Nuggets, (39-18): The Nuggets are 2nd in the Western Conference. Denver plays hard and has a plethora of guys who contribute. The problem is they don’t have a #1 scoring option. They will battle for a top 4 seed but they won’t make it to the Western Conference finals.
#6) Boston Celtics, (37-21): I am in the minority here, but I think the Celtics peaked last season. I don’t see them getting to the NBA finals. I expect Danny Ainge to be active this off-season and change the identity and core of this team.
#5) Oklahoma City Thunder, (37-20): Is their a better 1-2 combo than Paul George and Russell Westbrook? The two are averaging 60 points, 19 rebounds and 15 assists combined, per game. If they can get consistent bench production, they can get to the Western Finals.
#4) Milwaukee Bucks, (43-14): Giannis Antetokounmpo has been “all that and a bag of chips”. He is averaging 27.2 points, 12.7 rebounds and 6 assists per game. The Bucks have surrounded him with shooters. Brook Lopez, Malcolm Brogdon and Nikola Mirotic can help get Milwaukee to the Finals.
#3) Toronto Raptors, (43-16): The Raptors acquired Marc Gasol at the NBA Trading deadline from the Memphis Grizzlies. Gasol is a solid 17 points and 8 rebounds per night basketball player. He has a tremendous basketball IQ. He will help Toronto tremendously but, I don’t see this team having a legitimate #2 scoring option. Does anyone have confidence in Kyle Lowry scoring 20 points in a game 5 on the road? I don’t.
#2) Philadelphia 76ers, (37-21): The 76ers added, Tobias Harris,Jonathon Simmons, Mike Scott and Boban Marjanovic at the trading deadline. Head coach, Brett Brown has to figure out a way to make sure his players know their roles and minutes, before the post-season starts. They have the best starting five in the entire NBA.
#1) Golden State Warriors, (41-16): The only way the Warriors don’t make it to the Finals is if someone gets injured. Draymond Green will be left open because he is the worst shooter in their starting 5. If he can hit shots, they can’t be stopped.
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