NBA Power Rankings: Who is LeBron James not mad at?

Another week and another batch of rankings. Some teams are glad to see January finally come to an end (Cleveland Cavaliers, Toronto Raptors, Charlotte Hornets, Houston Rockets) and others were finally able to get their feet under them in 2017 (Indiana Pacers, Boston Celtics, Washington Wizards, Minnesota Timberwolves).

On the court issues have been overshadowed as of late by the off the court discussion surrounding LeBron James. James spoke his frustration with the Cavaliers top-heavy roster in the midst of Cleveland dropping seven out of their last 11 games. After a loss to the Dallas Mavericks, James anger found a new target: Charles Barkley.

King James, or Sherrif James as he will forever be known, was none too pleased with Barkley calling him whiny and questioning his competitive spirit. Naturally, James responded by dragging Barkley through the mud for not being a role model.

But back on the floor, there was much action around the league this past week. Let’s take a look at where all 30 teams stand as we get ready for February action.

30

Brooklyn Nets

9-39

Last week: 0-3
Last rank: 30th

Remember when we were all shocked by how well the Brooklyn Nets were playing. Seems like years ago right?

29

Phoenix Suns

15-33

Last week: 0-3
Last rank: 28th

The Buckets Influenza that Devin Booker picked up in Mexico seems to now be affecting Eric Bledsoe, yet the side effects of such a disease obviously make winning impossible.

28

Los Angeles Lakers

17-34

Last week: 1-2
Last rank: 29th

D’Angelo Russell: future superstar or another Smush Parker? (Yes, that was sarcasm and hyperbole all in one sentence).

27

Orlando Magic

19-31

Last week: 1-2
Last rank: 24th

Rob Hennigan is trying to keep his job. Trading Serge Ibaka might not be the best way to retain his position.

26

Sacramento Kings

19-30

Last week: 1-3
Last rank: 23rd

DeMarcus Cousins is still doing DeMarcus Cousins level things nightly, but without Rudy Gay –never thought I’d be saying that– the Kings don’t have enough to keep winning games.

25

Philadelphia 76ers

18-29

Last week: 1-2
Last rank: 22nd

The process is working even though we’re getting limited Joel Embiid. However, in that time away from the floor Embiid got the opportunity to meet his biggest fan.

24

Dallas Mavericks

18-30

Last week: 2-1
Last rank: 26th

Your 2016-17 Dallas Mavericks starting lineup: Yogi Ferrell, Seth Curry, Dorian Finney-Smith, Harrison “Superstar” Barnes, and Dirk “I guess I’m a center now” Nowitzki.

23

Miami Heat

19-30

Last week: 3-0
Last rank: 27th

For all of you that left Waiters Island, you will not be welcomed back. Also, Dion Waiters forgetting his favorite quote is the third most Dion Waiters thing ever. The first two being step back jumpers and yelling “AND-1!” on missed layups.

22

New Orleans Pelicans

19-30

Last week: 1-2
Last rank: 18th

The New Orleans Pelicans are starting to get healthy again which is great. The bad part is that it’s not helping them win many more games than they already were. Alvin Gentry’s seat is getting hot enough to boil a pot of gumbo on.

21

New York Knicks

21-29

Last week: 1-2
Last rank: 21st

Just trade Carmelo Anthony already so the basketball world can move on. The four-overtime loss to the Atlanta  Hawks was definitely the Basketball Gods’ way of saying it’s time for a breakup.

20

Detroit Pistons

21-27

Last week: 0-2
Last rank: 20th

Stan Van Gundy might be WOKE, but the Detroit Pistons surely aren’t.

19

Minnesota Timberwolves

19-29

Last week: 2-1
Last rank: 25th

Every time the Minnesota Timberwolves start creeping closer to the middle of these rankings they find a way to tumble right back down them again.

18

Milwaukee Bucks

21-26

Last week: 0-2
Last rank: 16th

The Milwaukee Bucks are one of the more exciting teams to watch thanks to Giannis Antetokounmpo being an alien and Jabari Parker finally cashing in on his potential. For everyone’s’ sake let’s hope they find their way back into the playoffs.

17

Charlotte Hornets

23-26

Last week: 0-3
Last rank: 14th

The Charlotte Hornets have been pretty awful lately; like fading into oblivion awful. At least they still have Roy Hibbert fighting hard for them (or did, until the traded him to the Milwaukee Bucks).

16

Chicago Bulls

24-25

Last week: 1-1
Last rank: 15th

Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler are mad at the younger guys. The younger guys don’t like that Wade doesn’t practice all the time. Rajon Rondo waxed poetically about “his vets” on Instagram. To come out of all this intrasquad drama with a .500 record is a blessing.

Damian Lillard, Terry Stotts, C.J. McCollum, Portland Trail Blazers

Jan 13, 2017; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts talks with Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) and guard C.J. McCollum (3) during a break in the action against the Orlando Magic at Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

15

Portland Trail Blazers

22-28

Last week: 2-1
Last rank: 19th

Damian Lillard is back and the Portland Trail Blazers have gotten their mojo back along with it. Aside from a loss to the Golden State Warriors –and in all honesty who hasn’t been losing to them lately– this team is looking more and more like the one we saw vault up the standings last season. Lillard shouldn’t get all the credit, though, CJ McCollum has been just as spectacular this season, including while Lillard was sidelined. For all his hard work, McCollum gets a shot to redeem himself in the 3-point contest instead of the vacation he was hoping to take.

Meanwhile, head coach Terry Stotts’ reconfiguration of the starting lineup has been a helpful contribution to the team. Adding Noah Vonleh and Evan Turner (the master Internet troller and tertiary playmaker) to the Lillard, McCollum, Mason Plumlee trio has both eased the burden on the dynamic backcourt duo and given Plumlee another big body to help battle on the boards. Yet, if the team needs a jolt they can just as quickly throw back in Maurice Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu and go with the small ball route.

Denver Nuggets forward Nikola Jokic (15) is in my FanDuel daily picks for today. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Denver Nuggets forward Nikola Jokic (15) is in my FanDuel daily picks for today. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

14

Denver Nuggets

21-26

Last week: 2-1
Last rank: 17th

Don’t look now but the Nikola Jokic hype train is coming at you full speed ahead! Jokic, the best passing big man since Arvydas Sabonis, is finally getting the minutes he needs to develop into the superstar the Denver Nuggets have been searching for since trading away Carmelo Anthony. Since the calendar turned to 2017, Jokic has played at least 25 minutes in all but two of the 11 games he has played in. A nagging hip flexor injury has kept him out of the past three Nuggets’ contests. Another young player developing well for Denver is rookie guard Jamal Murray. Murray had a rough month-plus after starting off the year on fire. However, as of late Murray is once again showing that spark that made him one of the top rookies in the NBA this season. Murray and Jokic have a very strong chemistry and the more time they can get on the floor together with the better it will serve the Nuggets in the future.

Another part of that bond is swingman Gary Harris. Like the other two players mentioned, Harris also has had inconsistent playing time and injuries stunt his growth some over his time in Denver. The trio of Jokic, Mudiay and Harris is a great one for the Nuggets to build towards the future with. Yet, they can’t get so caught up with what could potentially happen that they miss out on the opportunity in front of them this season. They are tied for eighth in the Western Conference with the Portland Trail Blazers. Making the playoffs would be a huge step in the right direction.

Jan 4, 2017; Orlando, FL, USA; Atlanta Hawks guard Dennis Schroder (17) smiles during the second quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 4, 2017; Orlando, FL, USA; Atlanta Hawks guard Dennis Schroder (17) smiles during the second quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

13

Atlanta Hawks

28-20

Last week: 1-1
Last rank: 12th

Aside from playing the game of the year (a quadruple-overtime thriller against the New York Knicks) there really isn’t much going on with the Atlanta Hawks. Their recent winning ways — they are currently three games back of the Boston Celtics for the second seed in the East — has made it less and less likely that they will actually move Paul Millsap by the trade deadline. Millsap has been his solidly efficient self every step of the way this season. They would be throwing their hand in and going with a full on rebuild if they choose to move on from Millsap.

The question is what could they possibly get in return and what would they actually want in return for the four-time All-Star. Especially while they still have a player like Dwight Howard on the roster. The last thing that Howard wants to be part of is a rebuild regardless of it it means still playing for his hometown team. Also, would you really want to build a team around Dennis Schroeder and Kent Bazemore for the foreseeable future? I know I wouldn’t. A situation like this one is why it’s always hard for a coach to serve in a front office role simultaneously. As a coach, your job is to try and win every night. Having Millsap helps that tremendously. As an executive, your job is to keep a winning team assembled as long as possible. Losing Millsap as a free agent would be a huge loss for the Hawks. Decisions, decisions.

Jan 27, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (13) reacts to scoring against the Sacramento Kings at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana defeats Sacramento in overtime 115-111. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 27, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (13) reacts to scoring against the Sacramento Kings at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana defeats Sacramento in overtime 115-111. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

12

Indiana Pacers

25-22

Last week: 3-0
Last rank: 13th

Surprise, surprise, when Paul George plays like his top-10 NBA player talent allows him to, the Indiana Pacers are a much better team. When George scores 25 or more points the Pacers have a 14-3 record. After a lowly week saw them go 0-3 ,they turned things around, literally, and went undefeated this week. On the season the Pacers are 18-6 at home. If they can keep up that pace of winning 75 percent of their home games they will find themselves in the playoffs this season. Once there we saw what Paul George can do — see last year’s seven-game series against the two-seeded Toronto Raptors. Jeff Teague and Myles Turner are bringing their A-games more consistently as of late and if they can get something from their bench consistently they could find themselves in the upper half of the standings.

As long as superstar Paul George sticks around the Pacers shouldn’t have much to worry about the second half of the season. Nate McMillian still isn’t the right coach for this team, but he isn’t a big enough detriment to Larry Bird’s uptempo ideals that it will keep them out of the postseason. Shoring up their bench at the deadline would be a great move for Indiana. Possibly adding one of the many wings from the Denver Nuggets (Wilson Chandler or Will Barton) would go a long way for this team.

All-Star

Jan 25, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) against the New Orleans Pelicans during the second quarter of a game at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

11

Oklahoma City Thunder

28-21

Last week: 1-2
Last rank: 9th

The Oklahoma City Thunder have been in a bit of a downward spiral recently. Russell Westbrook’s esteemed greatness hasn’t been enough to get the Thunder a win in any of their last three games. They have an upcoming game against the Memphis Grizzlies that could have major playoff implications at the end of the year. Oklahoma City and Memphis have been neck and neck in the standings all season long. Heading into tomorrow’s game both teams have split their two matchups with each team holding serve on their home court.

Friday’s game is at the Chesapeake Arena and the Thunder need to use that to their advantage. The more important thing to discuss with the Thunder is RUSSELL WESTBROOK TRIPLE-DOUBLE WATCH. Currently, Westbrook is averaging 30.7 points, 10.4 rebounds and 10.3 assists per game. He is one of only three players in the NBA this season to lead his team in points, rebounds and assists (Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James are the other two). We’re well over halfway through the year and Westbrook has shown no signs of slowing down.

Mike Conley

Jan 20, 2017; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley (11) leads a fast break as Sacramento Kings guard Matt Barnes (22) and center Kosta Koufos (41) look on in the second half at FedExForum. Memphis defeated Sacramento 107-91. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

10

Memphis Grizzlies

29-21

Last week: 2-1
Last rank: 11th

The Memphis Grizzlies have found a way to adopt their GRIT-N-GRIND niche to the modern day NBA. Coach David Fizdale has been nothing short of spectacular in his first year at the helm of this team. Marc Gasol is an All-Star once more, but Mike Conley is still getting snubbed sadly. However, Vince Carter is still making jaw-dropping plays at the ripe age of 40. Someone really needs to start a petition to get Carter back into the dunk contest. It won’t be anything near the infamous performance he put together in 2000, but just the fact that he’s 40 and can still sky higher than two-thirds of the league will likely get him some sympathy eights and nines from the judges. With Zach LaVine opting out we all know Aaron Gordon is going to win anyways.

The Grizzlies are going to be a tough out when the playoffs roll around as they always are, but now their ability to play differing styles will help them match up better with some of the top-tier teams in the West. The Conley-Gasol pick-and-roll combination might have made its way on the list of most deadly plays in the NBA. Gasol’s 3-point shooting should no longer be considered a fluke, teams should actively be playing the big man off the line. Doubt this team this year at your own risk.

Jan 24, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; LA Clippers center DeAndre Jordan (6) reacts after a score against the Philadelphia 76ers during the first quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 24, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; LA Clippers center DeAndre Jordan (6) reacts after a score against the Philadelphia 76ers during the first quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

9

Los Angeles Clippers

30-18

Last week: 0-1
Last rank: 8th

The Los Angeles Clippers have been doing just enough to keep their heads above water lately. They lost the first game of Blake Griffin’s return and then had to battle until late in the fourth quarter against the Phoenix Suns to pull out a 10-point victory on Wednesday night. A lot of the talk around this team has been about whether or not they should try to acquire New York Knicks forward, Carmelo Anthony. They’ve held steadfast that no deal will be done that involves any of their three All-Stars: Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul — having Jordan be the only representative in the All-Star game for the Clippers is probably one of the weirdest things about 2017.

A foursome of Anthony, Griffin, Jordan and Paul would easily be one of the most talented quartets in the league. However, with Paul out until March, it would be a rush to try and have these four stars figure out the best ways to accommodate everyone’s skills together. On the other hand, if you can bring in a player of Anthony’s caliber and only have to give up a player like J.J. Redick, Jamal Crawford or Austin Rivers you do it every time. The Clippers have grown tired of being the little brothers to the Los Angeles Lakers and making a move like this could help them capitalize on the fact that the Lakers are currently stinking up the Staples Center.

Jan 2, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (20) shoots against Brooklyn Nets forward Trevor Booker (35) in the fourth quarter at Barclays Center. Jazz win 101-89. Mandatory Credit: Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 2, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (20) shoots against Brooklyn Nets forward Trevor Booker (35) in the fourth quarter at Barclays Center. Jazz win 101-89. Mandatory Credit: Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

8

Utah Jazz

30-19

Last week: 1-1
Last rank: 7th

Rudy Gobert and the Utah Jazz have rounded into form as of late and are looking like a real threat to exceed the 50-win mark. Besides Gobert’s Defensive Player of the Year awesomeness, this team has been steady by the never properly rated or quantified production of George Hill and contract year Gordon Hayward (who is also making an All-Star appearance this season). Salt Lake City is fully behind this team, and as of a week ago are technically the owners of the franchise.

Utah has the type of depth that over teams envy. In a way, they have put together the Western Conference version of the 60-win Atlanta Hawks from a couple seasons ago. While Hayward and Gobert are arguably better players than anyone those Hawks had, Hayward is the lone representative for Utah heading to New Orleans in two weeks. The Jazz will be a team to follow as the season continues because it’ll be interesting to see if any of the teams higher in the standings start maneuvering to try and avoid facing the Jazz in the playoffs.

Jan 24, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (7) on the bench prior to an NBA game against the San Antonio Spurs at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 24, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (7) on the bench prior to an NBA game against the San Antonio Spurs at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

7

Toronto Raptors

30-19

Last week: 2-1
Last rank: 5th

Just once in my life, I want to do something as cool as Kyle Lowry saying he doesn’t want to edit his answer about President Trump’s executive order on immigration. Just once in my life, I want to do something as cool as Norman Powell dunking on top of Anthony Davis’ head. Just once in my life, I want Drake to sit courtside at my basketball game and shout insults at the opposing team. Just once I want to be able to shout out “WE THE NORTH!” and not sound like a tool. Just once I want to be able to say I’ve been to the great city of Toronto.

For all the coolness that is emanating North of the border, the Toronto Raptors have been struggling as of late. With DeMar DeRozan not playing, heis and Lowry’s bromance powers have taken a hit and so too has the Raptors play. The Raptors have dropped to third in the East after Isaiah Thomas and the surging Boston Celtics leapt  them in the standings. The Washington Wizards six-game winning streak has them only a couple games back as well. Toronto needs their buddy cops back on the floor again for their sequel, We STILL The North.

Jan 27, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) attempts to drive against Philadelphia 76ers forward Nerlens Noel (4) during the first quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 27, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) attempts to drive against Philadelphia 76ers forward Nerlens Noel (4) during the first quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

6

Houston Rockets

36-16

Last week: 2-1
Last rank: 3rd

I spent a better part of this post trying to think of a cunning play off of Seal’s “Did you know that when it snows, my eyes become larger” lyric from A Kiss From A Rose, as a tie-in to the above photo, but ultimately I failed you the reader and myself. Though, the Houston Rockets have seemingly stalled out as of late. They were on a tear and breathing down the necks of the San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors. Now, they’ve pretty much cemented themselves into the third place slot in the Western Conference standings. James Harden has still been playing MVP-caliber basketball — and for my money, he should be taking home the MVP trophy at the end of the year if the Rockets finish top three in the West — but it’s been a struggle for the surrounding parts to maintain their production from earlier in the season.

Ryan Anderson’s slump was the most profound as he battled sickness to try and return to form. However, it won’t be long before the Rockets are back to playing high-octane basketball and running opponents off the court while dropping 120-plus points nightly. James Harden is due for another explosive game and it’s only a matter of time before he breaks out the imaginary air pot and spoon and begins to cook up something good for the rest of the league.

Dec 14, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) celebrates with guard Bradley Beal (3) after scoring during the fourth quarter against the Charlotte Hornets at Verizon Center. Washington Wizards defeated Charlotte Hornets 109-106. Mandatory Credit: Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 14, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) celebrates with guard Bradley Beal (3) after scoring during the fourth quarter against the Charlotte Hornets at Verizon Center. Washington Wizards defeated Charlotte Hornets 109-106. Mandatory Credit: Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

5

Washington Wizards

28-20

Last week: 3-0
Last rank: 10th

The Washington Wizards are so hot right now. John Wall and Bradley Beal have joined together to help create one of the longest winning streaks currently going in the NBA. The Scott Brooks revolution is coming full force. No more upside-down play diagrams in timeouts. Now they can actually understand the after timeout plays their coach wants them to run. Brooks’ offense is very pointe guard dependent and when you have a point guard like John Wall that isn’t the worse idea. Wall has been nothing short of spectacular all season. His game has improved leaps and bounds from where he was coming out of Kentucky. Best of all, he has found a way to play at different speeds while still being explosive and fast.

Beal has been healthier than any season in recent memory. With those two on the court, this team has the chance to go toe-to-toe with almost anyone in the league. The biggest development from the nation’s capital has been the continued improvement of Otto Porter. Once thought of as a bust, Porter has become the perfect compliment to Beal and Wall. He’s a do-it-all forward that can knock down catch-and-shoot 3s at a high rate. He usually defends the best player on the opposing team and he’s adept enough as a playmaker that the team can trust him with the ball in his hands.

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Iman Shumpert (4) makes my DraftKings daily picks for this Christmas. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Iman Shumpert (4) makes my DraftKings daily picks for this Christmas. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

4

Cleveland Cavaliers

32-15

Last week: 2-1
Last rank: 4th

As noted above LeBron James is not the happiest right now. His team finished with a losing record in a month for the first time since he was with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2006. That was also the first year he was able to break through and carry the Cavaliers to the postseason. While Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and Kyle Korver — who is still trying to work his way into the rotation — are certainly upgrades over Larry Hughes, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and Daniel Gibson, this year’s iteration has not been performing up to standards. Love getting an MRI on his back is worrisome for sure as back injuries usually worsen over time as opposed to getting better. Irving has been supplying us with Uncle Drew level ankle breakers and highlights daily, but it can’t be overlooked that he was outplayed by 10-day contractee Yogi Ferrell in Cleveland’s loss to the Dallas Mavericks.

James, for his part, can do everything for Cleveland the only problem being that he would rather have to do that in June instead of January. David Griffin and Dan Gilbert seem to either be making an attempt to appease LeBron or just prove to him how shallow the market is for “F—— PLAYMAKERS!” by bringing in Kirk Hinrich, Lance Stephenson, and Mario Chalmers for a workout. Chalmers is probably the best option as he is used to being James’ whipping boy and right now that seems to be just what the sheriff needs.

Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) is in tonight's DraftKings daily picks. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) is in tonight’s DraftKings daily picks. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

3

Boston Celtics

30-18

Last week: 3-0
Last rank: 6th

Things could not be going better for the Boston Celtics. They have vaulted up to second in the East. The Nets continue to have the worst record in the league by a good margin. Finally, Isaiah Thomas is an absolute killer in the fourth quarter. Thomas’ 10-plus point average in the final quarter is tops in the entire NBA. The 5-foot-9 guard is making a killing getting to the basket and breaking down defenses with ease late in games. Having multiple shooters on the floor helps spread the defense thin and then Thomas just slices them to shreds or finds wide open players on the perimeter.

Brad Stevens seems to finally have in place the team he was brought in to coach by Danny Ainge. However, with a player like Carmelo Anthony or Jimmy Butler potentially available to Boston is now the time to break up this core in an attempt to land the type of player all of these assets have been collected for in the first place. Anthony might be at the end of his prime, but having him and Thomas on the floor to end games would be as dangerous, if not more, than what Boston has now. I think a trio of Thomas, Butler, and Horford is good enough to help this team hang with the Cavaliers in a potential Eastern Conference Finals clash. Either way, the 2016-17 season could not be going any better for Ainge and the Celtics.

San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) is in tonight's DraftKings daily picks. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) is in tonight’s DraftKings daily picks. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

2

San Antonio Spurs

37-11

Last week: 1-2
Last rank: 2nd

The San Antonio Spurs are a case study in consistency. Take away the head of their basketball devouring snake and two more will take its place. Tim Duncan was the head of the Spurs’ snake, but with him gone Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge have completely stepped up to keep this team as one of the best in the league. Leonard is even starting to break out of his robotic mold. For all the “he’s a product of the system” doubters, he showed some flare against the Oklahoma City Thunder with a double crossover, one-handed reverse layup.

But the real flare for this team comes off the bench. The combination of Patty Mills and Manu Ginobili has been the key to the Spurs having the second-best record in the NBA. Mills and Ginobili are both great facilitators. When the bench unit is in it’s almost like watching a flashback to those 2013 champion Spurs. The ball is whipped quickly across the court, the cuts seem to be coming in every imaginable direction, and every shot is a great shot. The Spurs just keep on replenishing their roster with stud after stud, year after year. It certainly helps when you can get players like Dejounte Murray, floater extraordinaire, with the second-to-last pick in the first round.

Stephen Curry

January 28, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) celebrates after making a half-court shot against the Los Angeles Clippers during the second quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

1

Golden State Warriors

41-7

Last week: 2-0
Last rank: 1st

It wasn’t that long ago when Steph Curry was getting benched on the final defensive possession against the Cleveland Cavaliers and looking reluctant to let rip his patented 30-plus foot bombs. People everywhere were questioning Curry and trying to decipher if adding Kevin Durant meant the Curry of the past two seasons was gone forever. Well, now he’s back. After dismantling the Los Angeles Clippers and Charlotte Hornets (the Portland Trail Blazers can thank his stomach flu for not ending up on that list), the questions of what was wrong with Curry are a thing of the past. Durant has fit in with the Warriors better than a round peg into a round hole. Klay Thompson is getting all those wide open shots he told Durant about in the Hamptons and is now knocking them down at a much higher rate. Draymond Green can save energy on offense to help him on his quest to finally become Defensive Player of the Year. JaVale McGee is handing out blankets on the team plane.

The team is on pace once again for 70 wins. Every and all problems and worries that came up in the Bay Area this season have dissipated. With Curry now finding the right flow of aggressiveness the Warriors look like the unbeatable juggernaut many predicted they would be before the season began. As long as there are no puddles of Donatas Motiejunas sweat lying around on any of the 30 NBA courts this team could waltz it way back to the NBA Finals and bring home another title to Oakland (and ultimately San Francisco in 2019).

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