NBA Power Rankings: Ours is much more of an emotional look than most. Recent events matter, and long-term projections are (mostly) ignored. After all, no one wants to simply read the Vegas odds for winning the title each week, right?
In celebration of the league's Noche Latina event -- "a program that recognizes the NBA's fans and players from across Latin America and U.S. Hispanic communities." -- we bring you an all Spanish version of the Power Rankings: ¡Los Lakers son los mejores! ¡Stephon Marbury es un cancer!
OK, maybe not. We'll stick (mostly) to English as we rank all 30 teams -- purely for the enjoyment of La Raza -- as follows:
- 1. Lakers (49-12) | Prev.: 1
The Lakers' bench has been mostly missing in action lately, and signs are showing that the team is starting to miss Andrew Bynum's presence in the starting lineup. And I know Pau Gasol can't continue to play 45 minutes a night, but DJ Mbenga isn't the answer, especially against the more solid teams on the schedule.
- 2. Cavaliers (47-12) | Prev.: 3
Delonte West is working his way back into the rotation, and Mo Williams is playing like the All-Star he so desperately campaigned to be. Ben Wallace's interior defense will be missed while heals from a broken leg, but he is expected back before the start of the playoffs.
- 3. Spurs (40-19) | Prev.: 4
The Tony Parker show while Tim Duncan rested a sore leg was impressive -- for a couple of games. Timmy's back for the stretch run, and the bench is getting plenty of minutes the last few weeks of the season, which includes the freshly acquired Drew Gooden.
- 4. Jazz (37-23) | Prev.: 5
The Jazz are 11-1 in their last 12, and haven't lost since before the All-Star break. Big game against the Rockets on Wednesday, considering they're 0-2 against them this season, and Houston is pretty hot themselves, winners in eight of their last nine games.
- 5. Celtics (47-14) | Prev.: 2
The curse of Starbury might have begun before he even arrived in Boston. The Celtics dropped one to the Clippers, then struggled to beat a depleted Pacers' team, before getting rolled at home by a rejuvenated Pistons team that was playing without Allen Iverson. Note to Celtics fans: Stephon Marbury and Mikki Moore are nowhere close in talent to last season's late pickups, Sam Cassell and P.J. Brown.
- 6. Magic (44-16) | Prev.: 6
Dwight Howard and Shaquille O'Neal went at each other pretty good on Tuesday in Orlando, with most of the verbal punches being thrown by Shaq. Howard refused to get into a war of words with O'Neal, which is probably wise considering it's an impossible battle to win. Meanwhile, Howard let his team's play do the talking, as they pulled away in the fourth to beat the Suns.
- 7. Rockets (39-22) | Prev.: 7
Big game Wednesday night against Utah. If Houston wins, I still won't be convinced that it is a contender, however: remember the 22 in a row last season? Call me crazy, but until this current group gets out of the first round of the playoffs, I'm not buying it.
- 8. Hornets (37-22) | Prev.: 10
The ownership group of the Hornets is nothing short of genius. After a season where New Orleans played mostly uninspired ball and hadn't looked as good as they were a season ago, they leaked information that they were trading Tyson Chandler for "financial reasons." Then, the trade was "rescinded," and since Chandler has returned, the team has won five straight. Crafty, man. Crafty.
- 9. Pistons (30-29) | Prev.: 20
Is this ranking a little high for a team that's just a game over .500? Perhaps. But you can't tell me that Detroit doesn't look completely revitalized since Rip Hamilton returned to the starting lineup, and the way they took down the Celtics on Sunday shows that these guys might yet right the ship in time for the playoffs.
- 10. Nuggets (39-22) | Prev.: 8
The latest Carmelo Anthony drama is completely unnecessary. Look, at this point, you know what you're getting from 'Melo: solid numbers, a lot of emotion, not a lot of leadership. Trade 'Melo or get rid of George Karl, but don't suspend him, because it's not going to do your team any good.
- 11. Blazers (37-22) | Prev.: 9
Will Blazers fans finally admit that drafting Greg Oden over Kevin Durant was a mistake? Amidst rumors that Oden isn't all that interested in hurrying back to the court, and with Durant looking like a guaranteed All-Star for like the next 10 years, I think it's time.
- 12. Suns (34-26) | Prev.: 11
Big win against the Lakers last Sunday, although one could argue that if Matt Barnes is going to go for 27 and 10 every night, this team might be unbeatable. This six-game stretch isn't going to determine whether or not the Suns make the playoffs, but it sure would be good for their psyche to beat some playoff quality opponents, especially on the road.
- 13. Heat (31-28) | Prev.: 13
Dwyane Wade is the MVP! (*slams mic down on the stage, feedback echoes throughout the arena.)
- 14. Hawks (34-26) | Prev.: 12
I don't know what to make of this team anymore. Are they coasting until the playoffs? Are they not as good as their record would indicate? You figure it out, I'm over it.
- 15. Mavericks (36-24) | Prev.: 14
Mark Cuban blasts his team for a lack of effort in a loss to a Thunder team playing without Uncle Jeff and Durantula. Um, has Cuban not been paying attention until now? Dallas has six or seven humiliating blowout losses on the season.
- 16. Sixers (29-30) | Prev.: 16
2-6 in their last eight, this is no time to start sliding as there are too many other equally average teams at the bottom of the East just waiting to sneak into the playoffs.
- 17. Bucks (29-34) | Prev.: 15
Milwaukee Bucks: playoff team. If they do end up with the eight seed, I'm not sure if there's a term other than sweep that we can come up with to explain the obliteration these guys will suffer at the hands of either the Cavs or the Celtics in the first round.
- 18. Nets (27-33) | Prev.: 18
Shouldn't this team be a lot better than six games under .500? In the East? With Devin Harris? And Vince Carter? And Brook Lopez? And Trenton Hassell? And Ryan Anderson? Oh. I just answered my own question(s).
- 19. Pacers (27-36) | Prev.: 22
If you want to know why the Indiana Pacers are the nakedest team in all of the NBA, you're just going to have to listen to the FanHouse Podcast.
- 20. Bobcats (26-35) | Prev.: 23
Hey, look at that. Four straight wins, and only one game back in the loss column from a playoff spot. Of course, there are really five teams in the same situation out East, but none of them have Gerald Wallace.
- 21. Raptors (23-39) | Prev.: 21
Complaining about Shaq getting preferential treatment from the officials will get you nowhere, which unfortunately is where this team is headed this season.
- 22. Knicks (24-35) | Prev.: 19
Like Charlotte, just one game back in the loss column from a playoff spot. Unlike Charlotte, surging in the wrong direction, losing 10 of their last 13 games.
- 23. Thunder (15-45) | Prev.: 26
Just a likable young team. Oh, and they put the media through a real live practice, which makes the organization pretty likable as well.
- 24. Warriors (21-39) | Prev.: 24
Don Nelson is officially tanking the rest of the season, under the guise of "hey, we're not going anywhere, I want to play my young guys." It's not surprising that this wouldn't sit well with someone like Jamal Crawford -- who actually wants to play -- and it's even less surprising that Nellie would basically flip a double tall man to the league office as he exploits the fact that there's really nothing they can do about it.
- 25. Timberwolves (18-42) | Prev.: 25
It was fun while it lasted: the T'Wolves have lost seven in a row. Now we just need to make sure Al Jefferson and Kevin McHale both return for a full season in 2009-10, and we could have some exciting developments in Minnesota.
- 26. Grizzlies (15-44) | Prev.: 27
Losers of eight straight, and it appears that O.J. Mayo has finally hit the dreaded rookie wall. Ugh.
- 27. Bulls (27-34) | Prev.: 17
Not gonna lie, Chicago is not this bad. But they deserved this for allowing our newly elected President to be ridiculed after he went to see his hometown Bulls get rolled by the Washington F. Wizards.
- 28. Wizards (14-46) | Prev.: 29
If only they could get Barack Obama to show up to every game, they might be title contenders.
- 29. Kings (13-43) | Prev.: 30
Tom Ziller: After Tuesday's putrid home defeat to the Pacers without Danny Granger and Mike Dunleavy, the Kings fell to 0-24 against the Eastern Conference. Yes, 24 games and no wins. Six more attempts to clear their name this season. Of course, none of this really matters considering the Kings find themselves in position to sweep the ...
- 30. Clippers (12-46) | Prev.: 28
The Clippers are 0-3 against the Kings this season. The teams hook up April 10 in what will be a must-watch affair. Can we dub it the Baron Davis-Beno Udrih Suck-off? (TZ) Editor's note: I did not appreciate the visual that was created by that last sentence earlier this morning.