WE have reached the 40% mark of the season as each NBA team has played between 31-36 games. That gives us MORE than enough of a sample size to shit on or sing praises for each of the league’s 30 teams. Again this is purely a reflection of where I place each NBA team after the first 30ish games of the season.
Biggest Rise: Indiana Pacers (+10), Oklahoma City Thunder (+7)
Biggest Fall: Orlando Magic (-11), Memphis Grizzlies (-9)
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27. Orlando Magic ( 11)
SHOOTING over 40% from three in the first dozen games, some thought that the Magic could be turning a corner. Oh how times have changed. Losers of eight straight and 19 of their last 22 Orlando is back where they are accustomed to being. Sorry Magic fans, there’s no light at the end of the tunnel yet.
26. Phoenix Suns ( 1)
DEVIN Booker being out hurts the Suns. This is not groundbreaking. Yet, they have still managed to put up three wins in nine tries without their stud thanks to solid defense and inconsistent big box scores from their big men. Still a bottom five team, no matter when D-Book returns and inevitably lights it up he lacks support. Period.
25. Chicago Bulls ( 5)
WTF. The return of Nikola Mirotic was expected to be awkward and uncertain and instead, the Bulls won seven straight and came close to making it eight straight against the Cavaliers. There’s no doubt that those results aren’t sustainable and the Bulls will probably finish in the bottom 3-5 spots. Until then though let’s see if MVP Nikola Mirotic (who has the 15th highest PER of eligible players) can drive them to the championship! 🙌
24. Sacramento Kings ( 4)
THIS is almost exactly where we can expect the Kings to finish in four months time. A recent Z-Bo surge (averaging 21.2 points and 8.9 rebounds in December) has helped vault them up a few rungs. Now it’s time for generation next to stand up.
23. Charlotte Hornets ( 2)
I really expect more from the Hornets. I gave them the benefit of the doubt and expected them to be better with a healthy Nic Batum back. A 4-12 record since my last check-in is not good enough and it seems like their playoff hopes are fast extinguishing.
22. Los Angeles Clippers ( 5)
I know that the Clippers invested in injury ridden players this offseason, but I still think they have an OK team. The team on the floor right now is a shell of their potential and until they return the lottery is their destiny.
21. Los Angeles Lakers ( 2)
ONE of the hardest teams to read in the competition the Lakers change on a nightly basis. One night Lonzo is confidently knocking down jumpers and posting 17/8/8 and Brandon Ingram is dropping 25 with ease. The other, an 8/5/4 line from Lonzo and five points from Ingram on 12 shots is the storyline. They are tough to gauge, but still slightly on the rise in my eyes.
20. Brooklyn Nets ( 2)
THE Nets were 6-10 when we last checked in and 12-20 today. They stayed consistent even without D’Angelo Russell in uniform and I’ve been a fan of their offense and hustle since the start of the season. A recent trade will keep them on track for 18-30 in the 60% rankings.
19. Utah Jazz ( 5)
A string of recent losses can be attributed to a tough schedule, so we can probably expect more wins to be around the corner. That being said I think their destiny is to finish just outside the playoff race at about 40-42. However, in Donovan Mitchell everyone trusts.
18. Philadelphia 76ers ( 8)
SIMILARLY to Utah, I expect the 76ers to finish almost bang on .500. With Joel Embiid’s injury woes and their reliance on younger players, demanding so much success over seven months means that they are destined to have lull’s like the one they are currently on.
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17. Portland Trailblazers ( 6)
DAMIAN Lillard’s absence hasn’t helped the Blazers who have faltered in three of their last four. Aside from his injury issues Portland just look too inconsistent and patchy to warrant a higher ranking. In the NBA’s toughest division more losses are likely before a hefty win total floods through.
16. Miami Heat ( 4)
I don’t believe in Miami and I have gone on record saying that before. That might mean they are still an East playoff team though and they sit right on the bubble without Hassan Whiteside. In fact, they have been without their starting center for the past 15 contests and are still hovering around the .500 mark. Maybe I am a believer?
15. New Orleans Pelicans (even)
I’M very intrigued to see if the ‘Twin Towers’ plus Rondo, Nelson, Holiday and the hot-handed E’Twuan can string some wins together and make a playoff push. They seem destined to yo-yo for the rest of the season and finish around the 44-38 mark, but with a few more shooters they are capable of so much more.
14. New York Knicks ( 1)
NEW York finds themselves in a similar spot and a weird spot at the same time. They clearly have a star on their hands in Porzingis, and he lacks serious All-Star level support. The likes of Ntilikina, McDermott and yes, Beasley have been good for the Knicks at providing bench depth and some form of support. This team has a chance to be a 7/8 seed if they can time their run right.
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13. Washington Wizards ( 1)
THE Wizards get somewhat of a hall-pass from me given the fact that John Wall has been injured for an extended length of time. If he was in uniform then I would expect them to push for a top-four seed in their conference. With a tough schedule coming up we will find out what they are made of.
12. Detroit Pistons ( 6)
OH Detroit. How dare you flirt with us and seem like a legitimate team. In your defense, you have taken a win away in four of your last five, but you can’t perform at the same level of success you flirted with earlier on in the season. It’s such a shame because I wanted to get around the Andre-Drummond-dark-horse chatter. Oh well.
11. Oklahoma City Thunder ( 7)
MUCH like Washington, this placing is a ‘pending’ placement’. By the next time we check in with OKC I really need to see more of the team that they have channelled in the past fortnight. If not expect a quick backhand and tumble down the standings. If Melo buys in to being the third-stringer and FINALLY comes off the bench then they will stay at this spot.
10. Denver Nuggets ( 1)
DENVER is a victim of the injury bug too, but at the time of writing, they are still sitting in a 6th seed, which is where I kind of expect them to finish at seasons end. Getting Paul Millsap back and gelling as a team could make them a dangerous first-round matchup come playoff time. Don’t believe me? Just ask the Dubs.
9. Milwaukee Bucks ( 5)
DON’T sleep on the Bucks going on a surge in the near future. They have a few tough games coming up and if they pick a few wins up then there is a chance they can go on a charge through inferior competition. Besides ever since the first two weeks, the Giannis Antetokounmpo MVP chatter has died down, which means we’re due for some big box scores.
8. Minnesota Timberwolves ( 1)
OF course, as soon as I bag the T-Wolves they find their mojo and go on a run. Thibs has miraculously realised that you can play more than seven dudes in December and it’s no coincidence that they have gone on a recent run. Maintaining it is another discussion entirely.
7. Indiana Pacers ( 10)
GOD it’s hard not to love what Victor Oladipo is doing on a basketball court right now. The OG Hoosier is loving life as their main man, throwing up 28/6/5 a night without breaking a sweat and hyping the crowd up throughout the entire process.
6. San Antonio Spurs ( 1)
IT doesn’t surprise me that the Spurs are taking the cautious approach with Kawhi right now. Straight out of the gate he looked like his MVP calibre self however, it’s clear that he lacks conditioning and as we know with Pop and Co they have their eye on a bigger prize. I almost feel bad putting them down because I know they are going to make me pay for it…
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5. Toronto Raptors ( 1)
I really want this to finally be the year that Toronto takes another step. Superfriends DeRozan and Lowry are obviously leading the charge for a Raps team that is a shoe-in to finish in the top four in the East. They are still the 3rd best team in their conference, for now, and if they can keep revolutionising their O, watch out.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers ( 4)
WE all knew it was coming. Winners of 18 out of 20 games the Cavaliers are doing what many expected. The impending return of IT is still one of the biggest storylines in all of the NBA though. Watch this space.
3. Boston Celtics ( 2)
IT was always going to be hard for the Celtics to keep riding their massive winning streak to the best record in the league. In fairness, the schedule has partially screwed them and I expect them at the time of writing to still be the No. 1 seed once the season ends. Does it matter though?
2. Golden State Warriors (even)
I might be a hater, I might be crazy, but right now Golden State still looks like the second-best team in the league. Does that mean they will finish second once the season is all said and done? Probably not. For now, though I need to see Steph/Thompson/Green/Durant go on a killer 10 game streak and prove otherwise.
1. Houston Rockets ( 2)
IT’S impossible to not have the Rockets as the best team in the NBA now. With a record-setting offense spearheaded by the MVP favourite, everyone in Houston believes that they have a recipe capable of knocking off the other superteams in the mix for the title. I’m starting to believe they do too.
Merry Christmas 🎅🎄⛄️
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