As has been the case for more than a decade under Gregg Popovich, the Spurs just know how to play. These days, they typically go how Tony Parker goes. And Parker’s as good as ever.
2 Thunder 39-12
just blowing people out of the gym. And it all seems as effortless as Kevin Durant’s ability to put up 30 against anyone.
3 Heat 34-14
No one is better at turning turnovers into gold. After last season, it was hard to envision LeBron James playing better. Well, guess what? 4 Clippers 37-17 +1
The injury bug bit hard, and, yes, the Clippers suffered a little. But once they’re completely healthy, the West could be theirs once again. 5 Grizzlies 32-18 +3
The ball is moving even better these days, and given Tayshaun Prince’s recent 8-for-8 performance, it’s safe to say Rudy Gay isn’t yet missed. Will be interesting to see where the Griz go from here.
6 Nuggets 33-19 +1
Danilo Gallinari isn’t an All-Star but, man, the guy can take over. The Nuggets continue to show what ball movement, hustle and veteran depth can do for a team. 7 Knicks 32-17 -1
The Knicks probably settle for too many 3s, and they’re not playing with as much of an edge as they did at beginning of year. There’s still time to rediscover it, but without it, the Knicks are considerably more beatable.
8 Pacers 31-21 +1
Well, what do you know? It took only three months for the Pacers to overcome the loss of starters Darren Collison (now with Dallas) and Danny Granger (injured). They’re pretty efficient offensively and just as physical defensively.
9 Bulls 30-21 +1
Even without Derrick Rose, they’ve been winning on the road. Still, all the Bulls talk is centered around Rose and when he might return. If and when he does, the Bulls could skyrocket toward the top.
10 Warriors 30-21 -6
They haven’t been able to figure things out since Andrew Bogut’s return. Hard to believe he’d make the Warriors worse, though. The stretch after All-Star break will be very telling.
11 Rockets 28-25 +1
The Rockets hit a little speed bump in January but rediscovered their fast-breaking ways, and James Harden has been remarkable. No one probably expected them to be this good, even with the deal that delivered Harden.
12 Nets 30-22 -1
They made a coaching change and now reportedly are looking to make another trade. The Nets are right there, so one move might be all they need. But maybe not.
13 Celtics 27-24 +4
This just in: Rajon Rondo was the problem all along. OK, that’s a (bad) joke. But the Celtics are playing with more resolve than ever since losing their engine. Make sense of that one. 14 Jazz 28-24 -1
Paul Millsap is majorly being shopped, so it’s hard to tell what the Jazz really are. But if they keep him, they’re clearly a team that is never out of it, having overcome deficits of 10 points or more 12 times in 42 games. 15 Lakers 24-28 +1
L.A. lost 18 road games before the All-Star break for the first time since 1977-78, and now Steve Nash and Dwight Howard seem to be at odds. And the hits just keep on coming.
16 Hawks 28-22 -2
Far from bad, but the Hawks are coming closer to the average squad we expected, which should make dealing Josh Smith or some of the other expiring contracts easier. This might be the biggest trading deadline in franchise history.
17 Bucks 25-25 -2
Clearly more cohesive since the start of the season, but the Bucks’ talent is a little inconsistent. The fact they usually have it together and play hard could make them a pesky playoff opponent.
18 Trail Blazers 25-26
Youth and lack of bench scoring is starting to show. Biggest reason for concern, however, might be that the Blazers look awfully soft on most nights.
19 Mavericks 22-29
Shawn Marion indicated he wouldn’t report if traded to a losing team. With the Mavs playing better, he’ll at least report to their games.
20 76ers 22-28
Most disappointing season this side of the Lakers when you consider expectations. Then again, if Andrew Bynum comes back healthy and motivated, the Sixers might have weathered worst of it. 21 Pistons 20-33 +1
Trading Piston-lifer Tayshaun Prince was actually a good thing. The future is still here in Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond and Brandon Knight, and that’s all that matters this season.
22 Raptors 19-32 +1
The good news? Rudy Gay is every bit as good as he was in Memphis. The bad? Results for the Raptors are still only slightly better.
23 Timberwolves 19-30 -2
They won only four of the first 20 games without Kevin Love. Can’t really be blamed, though. Without Love, they are nothing. Or very little at best. 24 Kings 19-33 +4
For a team that’s just waiting for relocation to become official, and has to know this is its final run together, things could be worse. The fact the Kings are in the top 25 is actually a victory of sorts.
25 Suns 17-35 +1
The Suns are looking to make a deal at the deadline. It took Orlando 10 years to recover after losing Shaq. The Suns hope to not take nearly that long after losing Steve Nash. 26 Hornets 18-34 +1
The Hornets matched Phoenix’s offseason offer for Eric Gordon, despite his wishes. Now they’re open to moving him. Eventually, the Hornets might get their act together. But they’re not close yet.
27 Cavaliers 16-36 -2
Had a nice little streak going at the beginning of the month, but they refuse to get up for every opponent. Young or not, that’s unacceptable.
28 Wizards 15-35 -4
There were actually jokes about the Wizards potentially passing Boston for the eighth playoff spot after Rajon Rondo went down. But the key word there is “jokes.”
29 Magic 15-36
J.J. Redick says he doesn’t want to be traded. The question now, of course, is “why?” The Magic have a lot of dealing to do before becoming relevant again.
30 Bobcats 12-39
Michael Jordan’s 50th birthday is Feb. 17. It’s fun to speculate how well he might fare in the NBA today. Especially if you’re the team he owns, which really has nothing else fun to talk about.