2016-17 NBA Power Rankings: Raptors, Pelicans Jump In Week 19 After Trade Deadline

NBA Power Rankings

Feb 24, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors forward Serge Ibaka (9) celebrates after hitting a three-pointer against the Boston Celtics at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Celtics 107-97. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

In Week 19 of NBA Power Rankings, the Toronto Raptors and New Orleans Pelicans make a jump after successful trade deadlines…but not as big of a jump as you might think.

Following the All-Star break, the NBA landscape is set for the home stretch of the 2016-17 season.

The contenders have bolstered their roster for postseason runs, while the tankers have aided playoff teams by sending them useful players in exchange for future draft picks and young assets for their respective rebuilds.

Some teams that needed to make a move move — the Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers, for example — didn’t make one. Some teams that needed to make a move and made the wrong one — the Atlanta Hawks and Chicago Bulls come to mind — could regret it soon enough.

For our focus however, two teams that needed to improve at the trade deadline and supposedly did so — the Toronto Raptors and New Orleans Pelicans — make the biggest jumps in this week’s NBA Power Rankings…but not as big as you might think given NOLA’s early struggles and a key injury for the Raptors.

After taking a Week 18 hiatus to focus on the fallout from the All-Star break and NBA Trade Deadline during a shortened week, here’s a look at our Week 19 NBA Power Rankings.

NBA Power Rankings

February 25, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie (8) dribbles the basketball against Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) during the third quarter at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Nets 112-95. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

30

Brooklyn Nets

9-48

Last week: 0-3
Last rank: 30th

Trading away their starting shooting guard, Bojan Bogdanovic, definitely isn’t going to help the Brooklyn Nets in their quest to end the NBA’s longest losing streak of the season, which currently stands at 16 games.

However, general manager Sean Marks did well to secure a first round pick despite not being able to move Brook Lopez, while also taking a flier on the athletic K.J. McDaniels. With Luis Scola being waived as well, here’s hoping youngsters like Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Caris LeVert and the suddenly promising Spencer Dinwiddie can continue to show signs of life.

NBA Power Rankings

Feb 24, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson watches action against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

29

Los Angeles Lakers

19-41

Last week: 0-4
Last rank: 27th

Everyone wanted to clown on the Los Angeles Lakers when it was announced Magic Johnson would take over as president of basketball operations just days before the trade deadline. No general manager was in place at the time of the Lakers’ first move and a quick look at his Twitter history made the potential for disaster seem very high.

And yet, Magic was quietly excellent at the deadline, cashing in on Lou Williams‘ value by sending him to Houston for a first-rounder. That flier on Tyler Ennis probably won’t pan out, but it’s a better play than continuing to employ Marcel Huertas. With their leading scorer gone and the team on a four-game losing streak, the Lakers are also in prime position to keep their top-three protected pick. Well played, Magic.

NBA Power Rankings

Feb 26, 2017; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Phoenix Suns head coach Earl Watson talks to guard Eric Bledsoe (2) in the second quarter during the game against the Milwaukee Bucks at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

28

Phoenix Suns

18-41

Last week: 1-3
Last rank: 29th

Derrick Jones Jr. didn’t win the Slam Dunk Contest, the Phoenix Suns didn’t put together a blockbuster deal at the trade deadline as sellers, and they couldn’t really ship off any veterans at the deadline as buyers — with the exception of sending defensive ace P.J. Tucker to the Raptors.

However, an underwhelming deadline may have been the best thing for the Suns, who appear to finally be taking the youth movement/tank job seriously. Alex Len is starting as the Suns prepare for his tricky restricted free agency, Tyler Ulis and Jones Jr. are getting real rotation minutes and Alan Williams set a new career-high in scoring twice this week — all this while the Suns tank their young butts off to keep what is currently slated to be this year’s No. 2 overall pick.

NBA Power Rankings

Feb 25, 2017; Sacramento, CA, USA; Charlotte Hornets center Frank Kaminsky III (44) takes a shot over Sacramento Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein (00) during the third quarter at Golden 1 Center. The Charlotte Hornets defeated the Sacramento Kings 99-85. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

27

Charlotte Hornets

25-34

Last week: 1-4
Last rank: 24th

Kemba Walker‘s first All-Star appearance was great and all, but we can’t ignore that the Charlotte Hornets — who have now lost 20 of their last 26 games — were unable to do anything at this year’s trade deadline. Losing out on Lou Williams was really the only noteworthy trade news the came through the pipeline.

Frank Kaminsky has found a way to be a regular contributor, but Charlotte has zero help for Kemba and Nicolas Batum otherwise. With three games separating the Hornets from a playoff spot, a season that started on such an optimistic note is unraveling fast.

NBA Power Rankings

Feb 25, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) battles Philadelphia 76ers forward Dario Saric (9) for the ball during first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

26

Philadelphia 76ers

22-37

Last week: 2-3
Last rank: 22nd

A week that started with a smart trade involving Ersan Ilyasova quickly unraveled for the Philadelphia 76ers. The trade moving Nerlens Noel was just a terrible Plan B after failing to move Jahlil Okafor, and the news got worse from there.

After the All-Star break, the team not only announced that Ben Simmons would not play this season, but that Joel Embiid was dealing with soreness in his knee as well. And they said The Process was dead….

NBA Power Rankings

Feb 23, 2017; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings guard Buddy Hield (24) holds his face after a play against the Denver Nuggets during the second quarter at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

25

Sacramento Kings

25-35

Last week: 2-3
Last rank: 19th

That 16-point win over Denver in the Sacramento Kings’ first game without DeMarcus Cousins was a mirage. This team stills sucks, the trade that moved Boogie to New Orleans sucks even worse and Vlade Divac telling the world he had a better trade lined up two days prior sucks the most.

Buddy Hield could still be a nice player, but that package was a piss-poor return for a top-10 NBA player. The Kings have to not only miss the playoffs to keep their pick (via a trade with the Bulls), but also have to make sure they’re not too terrible so as to have a worse pick than the Sixers, who own swapping rights. The league’s most dysfunctional franchise is still in the house, everybody!

NBA Power Rankings

Feb 25, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) dribbles the ball against Philadelphia 76ers during second half at Madison Square Garden. The New York Knicks defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 110-109.
Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

24

New York Knicks

24-36

Last week: 1-3
Last rank: 26th

Carmelo Anthony filled in for Kevin Love in the All-Star Game, Kristaps Porzingis won the Skills Challenge and Melo’s game-winner against the Sixers served as both a reminder of his value and revenge for Philly’s game-winner against the New York Knicks earlier in the season.

However, losing Joakim Noah for the season due to knee surgery and then waiving Brandon Jennings were quick and painful reminders of how bad this organization’s decision-making has been since Phil Jackson took over.

NBA Power Rankings

Feb 25, 2017; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic forward Terrence Ross (31) and Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic (9) high five against the Atlanta Hawks at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

23

Orlando Magic

22-38

Last week: 2-2
Last rank: 28th

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but Aaron Gordon is a much better player when he’s actually playing at his true position of power forward. The Serge Ibaka trade was all about mitigating the Orlando Magic’s impending losses, and was still a defeat in the larger context of how this team got to this point with such poor asset management.

However, the Magic are 2-1 since the Ibaka trade, and though that’s a tiny sample size, they’ve looked more like an actual basketball team. Mario Hezonja is playing, Terrence Ross has put up 37 points over his first two appearances and maybe now we’ll finally get to see what Gordon can do.

NBA Power Rankings

Feb 15, 2017; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic (27) reacts in the fourth quarter against the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena. The Utah Jazz defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 111-88. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

22

Portland Trail Blazers

24-34

Last week: 1-3
Last rank: 20th

On the bright side, Jusuf Nurkic seems to be fitting in well so far, averaging 11.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.3 steals per game in his first three appearances with the Portland Trail Blazers.

Unfortunately, Rip City has dropped seven of its last 10 games and now sits 1.5 games behind Denver for the eighth seed — despite the Nuggets dropping six of their last 10. Does anyone actually want that final playoff spot in the West?

NBA Power Rankings

Feb 15, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) and forward Andrew Wiggins (22) during the second half against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center. The Timberwolves won 112-99. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

21

Minnesota Timberwolves

24-36

Last week: 3-2
Last rank: 25th

The Minnesota Timberwolves narrowly avoided a big mistake when they pulled out of Ricky Rubio-for-Derrick Rose trade talks at the deadline, especially since they already have a point guard to bridge the gap between now and the day when Kris Dunn is ready to take over.

However, aside from the best assist of Dunn’s career, the bigger story has been Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, who are both averaging just over 29 points per game since Zach LaVine went down. Could the playoffs still be in reach with the T-Wolves only 2.5 games behind the Nuggets for the eighth seed?

NBA Power Rankings

Feb 26, 2017; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon (13), forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) and guard Khris Middleton (22) reacts after beating the Phoenix Suns 100-96 at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

20

Milwaukee Bucks

26-32

Last week: 3-2
Last rank: 21st

Two Milwaukee Bucks questions have grabbed our attention for this week, the first being: How long before Giannis Antetokounmpo is the undisputed best player in the NBA? Because after watching him tear up the NBA All-Star Game, an answer of 3-4 years feels appropriate.

Our second question is: With Joel Embiid possibly done for the year, what does Malcolm Brogdon have to do for his Rookie of the Year case to legitimately pick up steam? We’re not sure he has a chance, but 20 points and 15 points in his last two games isn’t a bad place to start.

NBA Power Rankings

Feb 26, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward DeMarcus Cousins (0) reacts after fouling out against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the fourth quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

19

New Orleans Pelicans

23-37

Last week: 2-3
Last rank: 23rd

Don’t get us wrong, the trade/heist the New Orleans Pelicans pulled off for DeMarcus Cousins is still a huge victory for the franchise, especially since it came on the heels of Anthony Davis winning All-Star MVP honors in the host city while breaking Wilt Chamberlain‘s record with 52 points.

However, as good as Boogie has been in his first three games as a Pelican (23.3 PPG, 13.0 RPG, 4.7 APG, 2.7 SPG, 1.3 BPG), he’s already racked up a technical foul that will result in a one-game suspension unless it’s rescinded, and New Orleans has gone 0-3 in that span. Cousins and AD should still work out, but the playoffs are slipping away fast, and losing Omri Casspi to a broken thumb (and then waiving him) certainly doesn’t help.

NBA Power Rankings

Feb 6, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Seth Curry (30) in the fourth quarter against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

18

Dallas Mavericks

24-35

Last week: 2-3
Last rank: 18th

You guys, Seth Curry might actually be good. What other logical conclusion can we draw after the Dallas Mavericks waived Deron Williams and Curry responded with 31 points and 29 points in two of his last three games?

Oh and speaking of player movement, the Mavs may have gotten the best non-Boogie deal of the entire trade deadline by swiping Nerlens Noel from Philly. Just wait until he gets back into a full rhythm and starts playing starter’s minutes under Rick Carlisle.

NBA Power Rankings

Feb 15, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets center Mason Plumlee (24) looks on during the first half against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

17

Denver Nuggets

26-33

Last week: 2-3
Last rank: 15th

Let this sink in: A team seven games under .500 currently holds the last playoff spot in the Western Conference. Nikola Jokic has been a ton of fun, but no one should go mistaking the Denver Nuggets for a good team.

Case in point: Denver coming out of the All-Star break so flat they lost to the DeMarcus Cousins-less Kings in their first game back. Mason Plumlee has looked pretty good so far, but no matter who fills that 8-seed, the Warriors should enjoy an easy first round matchup…even after that 22-point beatdown the Nuggets handed Golden State heading into the break.

NBA Power Rankings

Feb 23, 2017; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Detroit Pistons guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (5) celebrates a win in overtime over the Charlotte Hornets at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Detroit defeated Charlotte 114-108. Mandatory Credit: Leon Halip-USA TODAY Sports

16

Detroit Pistons

28-31

Last week: 2-2
Last rank: 14th

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope made sure to let everyone know how he felt about his name popping up in NBA trade rumors leading up to the deadline, dropping 33 points — including the overtime-forcing three-pointer — in the team’s first game back against Charlotte.

The Detroit Pistons are clinging to the final playoff spot in the East despite being three games under .500, but at least Rip Hamilton’s jersey retirement was a nice moment to cap off the week.

NBA Power Rankings

Feb 25, 2017; Miami, FL, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (13) reacts after reaching a double technical foul and then ejected during the second half against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

15

Indiana Pacers

31-29

Last week: 2-4
Last rank: 13th

Glenn Robinson III winning the Slam Dunk Contest feels like so long ago in the wake of all the trade deadline drama involving Paul George. Larry Bird was adamant about keeping the Indiana Pacers’ franchise player, but he also did nothing at the deadline to give him more help.

Now the clock is ticking for Indiana to help him contend for a championship, or his hometown Los Angeles Lakers could swoop him up in 2018 free agency. The Pacers’ recent 2-4 skid doesn’t give much hope for those lofty short-term goals, even as they pass Atlanta for sixth in the East.

NBA Power Rankings

Feb 25, 2017; Orlando, FL, USA; Atlanta Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer talks with forward Ersan Ilyasova (7) during the second quarter against the Orlando Magic at Amway Center. Orlando defeated Atlanta 105-86. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

14

Atlanta Hawks

33-25

Last week: 2-3
Last rank: 10th

A 16-point win over Boston saved the week, but things haven’t been going well for the Atlanta Hawks since entering the trade deadline as buyers and making a move for Ersan Ilyasova.

That’s not to pin the blame on Ilyasova, of course, but with the Hawks sliding two games behind Washington for the East’s fourth seed, we have to wonder for what feels like the millionth time: Are we SURE not trading Paul Millsap was the right way to go?

NBA Power Rankings

Jan 24, 2017; Orlando, FL, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Dwyane Wade (3) and forward Jimmy Butler (21) looks on against the Orlando Magic during the second quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

13

Chicago Bulls

30-29

Last week: 4-0
Last rank: 17th

We still think the Chicago Bulls got worked over in their nonsensical deadline deal with the Thunder, but at least they’re on a four-game win streak to distract everyone’s attention from it.

Jimmy Butler has a triple-double in the last week, Dwyane Wade almost got one himself (and was agonizingly close, at that), Nikola Mirotic is averaging 17 points and nine rebounds since the deadline and Denzel Valentine is playing well off the bench. We still don’t understand why Chicago made a trade to get worse without also moving Butler, but hey, at least they’re 2-0 so far in an exceedingly small sample size against the lowly Suns and LeBron James-less Cavaliers!

NBA Power Rankings

Feb 24, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors forward P.J. Tucker (2) reacts after securing a rebound inside the final minute of play against the Boston Celtics at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Celtics 107-97. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

12

Toronto Raptors

36-24

Last week: 4-1
Last rank: 16th

The Toronto Raptors made it clear they know their time for contention is now, landing a major upgrade at the 4 in Serge Ibaka and bolstering the team’s defense by adding P.J. Tucker as well. Coming into the trade deadline as losers in 11 of their last 15 games, those deals represented a power move clearly meant to right the ship.

Unfortunately, Kyle Lowry‘s wrist injury was out of their control, leaving the Raptors without their All-Star point guard until right before the playoffs begin. This is not only a crippling blow to their hopes of seriously challenging Cleveland’s reign in the East, but potentially their long-term future if things don’t come together in April and May, since Lowry, Ibaka and Tucker are all free agents this summer. Here’s hoping DeMar DeRozan can continue to hold things down in the meantime.

NBA Power Rankings

Feb 24, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Miami Heat guard Dion Waiters (11) drives to the basket against the Atlanta Hawks in the first quarter at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

11

Miami Heat

27-33

Last week: 3-2
Last rank: 11th

By standing pat at the trade deadline, Pat Riley embraced this team’s unlikely midseason turnaround and its commitment to returning to the playoffs with a plucky bunch of Goran Dragic, Dion Waiters, James Johnson and Hassan Whiteside.

Now that the ninth-placed Miami Heat only sit 1.5 games back of the Pistons for that eighth spot, it’s hard to fault him for that decision. Only time will tell if it was the right one compared to shipping off Dragic somewhere and tanking, but you can’t ignore how well the Heat have been playing since their 13-game win streak.

NBA Power Rankings

Feb 26, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Memphis Grizzlies forward Chandler Parsons (25) stretches before the game against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

10

Memphis Grizzlies

35-25

Last week: 2-2
Last rank: 8th

The Memphis Grizzlies’ lead over the Thunder for the sixth seed in the West has slipped to 0.5 games. Though Mike Conley, Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph are still thriving, you have to wonder if Chandler Parsons will ever step up and make it a Big Four.

So far this year, Parsons is averaging 6.2 points in 19.4 minutes per game on awful .344/.256/.857 shooting splits. In the first year of his four-year, $98 million deal, the returns haven’t just underwhelmed; they’ve been downright alarming.

NBA Power Rankings

Feb 26, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers talks with guard J.J. Redick (4) and guard Chris Paul (3) during a time out in the second half of the game against the Charlotte Hornets at Staples Center. Clippers won in OT 124-121. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

9

Los Angeles Clippers

36-23

Last week: 3-2
Last rank: 12th

Doc Rivers didn’t have much to work with at this year’s trade deadline, but with Chris Paul back in the lineup, we were reminded how good a fully healthy Los Angeles Clippers team can be. Even without a trade for more depth or an upgrade on the wing, that might be enough to put together a playoff run deep enough to convince this core to stick together.

Lob City fell to a superior Spurs team in CP3’s first game back, but watching him finish with 17 assists (and zero turnovers) in his second game back, not to mention Blake Griffin‘s monster 43-10-5 stat line in the same game, served as a reminder of how potent this Big Three can be.

NBA Power Rankings

Feb 26, 2017; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) reacts during the third quarter against the Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

8

Boston Celtics

38-22

Last week: 3-3
Last rank: 4th

The Boston Celtics still have a firm two-game grip on the East’s No. 2 seed, but we have to wonder if their inability to make a move for a Paul George or a Jimmy Butler (or even a P.J. Tucker or Tyson Chandler) will come back to haunt them in the playoffs.

The Celtics are a great team and Isaiah Thomas is playing MVP-caliber basketball, but with all of Cleveland’s newfound depth (and, you know, their LeBron James), Boston has little chance of usurping the currently rulers of the East. Maybe a PG-13 or Butler trade will align once the draft arrives, but for now, a No. 1 overall pick doesn’t help an aging core contend in the here and now.

NBA Power Rankings

Feb 26, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) is fouled by New Orleans Pelicans forward DeMarcus Cousins (0) on a dunk during the fourth quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

7

Oklahoma City Thunder

34-25

Last week: 3-1
Last rank: 9th

If the Oklahoma City Thunder can climb to sixth or even fifth in the Western Conference standings by season’s end, will Russell Westbrook‘s triple-double averages be enough to earn him MVP honors over James Harden or Kawhi Leonard?

Russ is on pace to hold up his end of the bargain after recording his 28th and 29th triple-doubles of the season; now the Thunder need to do their part. With Enes Kanter back and Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott joining the party, that’s not out of the question either.

NBA Power Rankings

Feb 26, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) dunks the ball against the Utah Jazz in the second quarter at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

6

Washington Wizards

34-23

Last week: 2-2
Last rank: 5th

The Washington Wizards have yet to win a game since adding Bojan Bogdanovic, who had only two points in his debut, but make no mistake about it: That was a smart trade for a team with one of the worst benches in the NBA. His 15-point outing on 5-of-10 shooting in his second game for the team was closer to what the Wizards can expect moving forward.

Unfortunately, back-to-back losses coming out of the All-Star break wasn’t the best way to return to action, especially since it dropped the Wizards BLANK three games out of the No. 2 seed behind Boston.

NBA Power Rankings

Feb 26, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (20) celebrates with teammates on the court against the Washington Wizards in the fourth quarter at Verizon Center. The Jazz won 102-92. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

5

Utah Jazz

37-22

Last week: 3-1
Last rank: 7th

Can the Utah Jazz hold off a fully healthy Clippers team for home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs? As long as the Jazz themselves avoid the injury bug, it’s looking like a definite possibility.

Gordon Hayward is playing as well as he ever has coming off his first All-Star appearance; Rudy Gobert is reinforcing his own opinion that he was an All-Star snub; and even Derrick Favors is starting to look more like himself again.

NBA Power Rankings

Feb 25, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard Lou Williams (12) drives against Minnesota Timberwolves forward Gorgui Dieng (5) in the second half at Toyota Center. Houston Rockets won 142 to 130. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

4

Houston Rockets

42-19

Last week: 2-2
Last rank: 6th

The well dried up Monday night in a disappointing loss to the Pacers, but in the Houston Rockets’ first two games with the newly acquired Lou Williams, the NBA’s least three-point shy team knocked down 20 and 22 three-pointers.

With Eric Gordon winning the NBA’s Three-Point Contest and Lou Will averaging 24.0 points per game on blistering .500/.500/.842 shooting splits so far in a Rockets jersey, we have to wonder about the possibility of co-Sixth Man of the Year awards coming to H-Town.

NBA Power Rankings

Feb 23, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) moves to the basket during the first half against the New York Knicks at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

3

Cleveland Cavaliers

41-17

Last week: 4-1
Last rank: 3rd

A year ago, we lamented how the Cleveland Cavaliers’ bench compared so poorly to the extensive depth of the Golden State Warriors. This year, after adding Kyle Korver, Derrick Williams, Deron Williams and possibly Andrew Bogut to the end of the rotation, that storyline has done a complete 360.

Kevin Love being out for another month or so is a tough blow, but the Cavs haven’t shown any signs of slowing down in the meantime. They still have a four-game lead for the No. 1 seed in the East, LeBron is still LeBron and with these experienced vets joining the edge of the lineup, Cleveland looks as dangerous as it ever has.

NBA Power Rankings

Feb 26, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili (20) and center Pau Gasol (16) and forward Kawhi Leonard (2) watch in the second half against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

2

San Antonio Spurs

45-13

Last week: 4-0
Last rank: 2nd

Since our last edition of Power Rankings, the San Antonio Spurs secured their NBA-record 20th straight winning season, Kawhi Leonard threw his name back into the MVP conversation and Pau Gasol started coming off the bench behind Dewayne Dedmon.

The Spurs have virtually no shot at passing the Warriors for the West’s No. 1 seed, but it’s starting to feel like we might be overlooking them every time we talk about that “inevitable” Finals rematch between the Warriors and Cavs.

NBA Power Rankings

February 23, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) holds onto forward Draymond Green (23) as Green argues with NBA referee J.T. Orr (72) during the third quarter against the Los Angeles Clippers at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Clippers 123-113. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

1

Golden State Warriors

50-9

Last week: 4-1
Last rank: 1st

Busy week for the Golden State Warriors, who sent four players and a head coach to the NBA All-Star Game, became the fastest team in league history to secure a playoff spot, dropped a 50-point quarter on the Clippers and cut Briante Weber so they could pursue Jose Calderon for the edge of the bench.

The Dubs are still elite by every measure, recording wins even in games where Draymond Green gets ejected or Stephen Curry goes 0-for-11 from downtown. But with the Cavs adding guys like Kyle Korver, Deron Williams and possibly even Andrew Bogut, it’s starting to feel like depth is leaning heavily in Cleveland’s favor.

Where does your favorite NBA team land in Week 19 and where SHOULD they be? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!

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