The NBA All-Star weekend and trade deadline have come and gone, and while the deadline was a bit disappointing, there were still plenty of moves made.
The biggest, of course, was the Sacramento Kings finally trading DeMarcus Cousins, and he now forms the best big men pair in recent history with Anthony Davis on the New Orleans Pelicans.
Many other teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers, Toronto Raptors, Houston Rockets and Washington Wizards also made moves to help them in the postseason, while along with the Kings, the Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns and Philadelphia 76ers all made moves to help them tank and get a better pick in the upcoming loaded draft.
Now that the deadline has passed, our weekly edition of Lakers Nation Power Rankings shows which teams are in a place to make a postseason run and which are headed in the opposite direction.
1. Golden State Warriors (49-9) – After just 58 games the Warriors recently became the fastest team to ever clinch a playoff spot. Regular season success means nothing to the team with the best record in the NBA after what happened last season, so Golden State is just waiting for the postseason to start.
2. San Antonio Spurs (45-13) – San Antonio closed their annual Rodeo Road Trip with a 6-2 record, and are finally beginning to get healthy after Pau Gasol’s return from a broken hand.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers (40-17) – The Cavaliers quietly have made some great additions this season, as they first added Kyle Korver, and now look to be the favorites to land buyout guys Derron Williams and Andrew Bogut, leaving them ready to make a run at repeating as NBA Champions.
4. Houston Rockets (42-18) – Mike D’Antoni and James Harden continue to surprise the NBA with the success they have had this season, chucking up threes and scoring at a record pace. The addition of Lou Williams looks to be one of the best at the deadline, as he has already fit in seamlessly.
5. Boston Celtics (38-21) – The Celtics did not make a big move at the deadline to acquire a Paul George or Jimmy Butler, but they are still one of the best teams in the East while also having a multitude of draft picks, including possibly the No. 1 pick this upcoming draft.
6. Toronto Raptors (35-24) – Masai Ujiri did another fabulous job at the deadline, acquiring both Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker, strengthening his team tremendously on the defensive end.
7. Washington Wizards (34-23) – The Wizards lost a couple tough games this past week, but are still tied for the third seed in the East. They acquired Bojan Bogdanovic to help bolster their bench that has struggled this season, but that may not have been enough to put them over the top.
8. Utah Jazz (37-22) – Utah’s young core of players, led by Gordon Hayward, is blossoming before our eyes as the Jazz look poised to compete in the West for many years to come. Unfortunately, they are not quite good enough to make a deep playoff run just yet.
9. Los Angeles Clippers (36-23) – The return of Chris Paul means the Clippers are back to being healthy, but they still needed overtime and 43 points from Blake Griffin to beat the Charlotte Hornets at home.
10. Memphis Grizzlies (35-25) – Mike Conley and Marc Gasol are both playing like All-Stars, and the Grizzlies have proven they can play against the NBA’s elite teams. They are another team that is just trying to make it out of the regular season healthy to see what they can accomplish in the postseason.
11. Oklahoma City Thunder (34-25) – The Thunder made one of the best deadline moves, acquiring Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott from the Chicago Bulls to give Russell Westbrook some help. Their best bench scorer Enis Kanter has also returned from injury, putting OKC in prime position to climb the playoff ladder in the West.
12. Atlanta Hawks (32-26) – The Hawks reportedly tried to acquire Paul George or Jimmy Butler at the trade deadline but struck out on both superstars. Trading Kyle Korver while still trying to compete will certainly hurt them come playoff time.
Hanging On The Cusp Of The Playoffs:
13. Chicago Bulls (30-29) – The Bulls have won four straight games, including a win against the LeBron James-less Cavaliers in which Jimmy Butler had a triple-double and Dwyane Wade was a rebound shy of a triple-double. Not all is well in Chicago, but they are currently playing their best basketball of the season.
14. Miami Heat (27-32) – It has been a tale of two seasons for the Heat, as after being one of the worst teams in the league the first half of the season there are 16-2 in their last 18 games. Dio Waiters is playing like a superstar, averaging 20.6 points per game over that span, and the Heat have entering the playoff conversation.
15. Indiana Pacers (30-29) – The Pacers had two options at the trade deadline: acquire help for Paul George to compete in the East, or trade George and start a rebuilding process around center Myles Turner. They did neither of those, a while they will likely make the playoffs this season, they will again shop George in the summer as the likelihood of his re-signing in 2018 gets less and less each day.
16. Detroit Pistons (28-31) – Andre Drummond still remains a handful no matter the opponent, but their were some trade rumors surrounding him before the deadline as the Pistons have been middle-of-the-pack all season long and don’t look to be competing for a championship anytime soon.
17. Denver Nuggets (26-33) – The Nuggets can score with the best of them, but they are one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA. Young point guard Emmanuel Mudiay is currently in the doghouse, as veteran Jameer Nelson has replaced him in the starting lineup.
18. Portland Trail Blazers (24-34) – Portland lost a tough road game to Toronto on Sunday despite the Raptors being without Kyle Lowry, but as their roster in constructed the Trail Blazers still post the biggest threat to the Nuggets to earn that eighth seed in the West.
19. Milwaukee Bucks (26-31) – The injury to Jabari Parker was a devastating one, but the return of Khris Middleton has bolstered Milwaukee a bit and they have won three of their last four games. There may not be a single player in the league that the Bucks would trade Giannis Antetokounmpo straight up for.
20. Dallas Mavericks (23-35) – The Mavericks likely won’t be making the playoffs for just the second time since 1999-2000, but the worked out a fabulous trade at the deadline, acquiring center Nerlens Noel. The first round pick they gave up in top 18 protected, and will likely turn into two second round picks.
21. Charlotte Hornets (25-34) – While the Hornets continue to celebrate the first All-Star bid for Kemba Walker, they have slumped tremendously and have fallen out of the top eight teams in the East. They took the Clippers to the limit Sunday night but ultimately fell in overtime on the road.
22. Minnesota Timberwolves (23-36) – Karl-Anthony Towns had a monster 37 point, 22 rebound game over the weekend, but it came in a losing effort to the Houston Rockets. Him and Andrew Wiggins look to form a formidable superstar duo in the future.
23. New Orleans Pelicans (23-37) – The Pelicans made the biggest splash at the trade deadline, acquiring DeMarcus Cousins from the Sacramento Kings. They are 0-3 since their paired two of the best big men in the game, though, and Cousins picked up his 18th technical foul in their last game, earning himself another one-game suspension.
24. Sacramento Kings (25-34) – Oddly enough, even after trading Cousins, the Kings are still in the playoff race after beating the Denver Nuggets this past week. A playoff berth would help put out the massive fire that has been lit within the Kings organization.
The Lottery Sweepstakes:
25. New York Knicks (24-35) – Carmelo Anthony is playing at a high level as he hit a game-winner to beat the Philadelphia 76ers over the weekend, but this season is still a very forgettable one for Anthony and the Knicks.
26. Philadelphia 76ers (22-36) – The trade of Nerlens Noel to the Mavericks didn’t make too much sense Joel Embiid is set to miss an extended period of time with the knee injury, and No. 1 overall pick Ben simmons was just ruled out for the rest of the season. Trust the process?
27. Orlando Magic (22-38) – Trading Serge Ibaka to the Raptors enables Aaron Gordon to return to his natural power forward position, but the Magic still have a long way to go in their rebuilding process.
28. Los Angeles Lakers (19-41) – A lot has changed in Laker Land in recent weeks, as Magic Johnson took over as president of basketball operations, and Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak have both been relieved of their duties. With Johnson trading Lou Williams, the Lakers are giving their young core a bulk of the minutes to close out the season, which will naturally lead to losses in hopes to keep their top three protected first round pick.
29. Phoenix Suns (18-41) – It is no secret that Earl Watson’s team has underachieved this season, and now the Suns traded P.J. Tucker to the Raptors, and have moved Tyson Chandler to the bench to tank the rest of the season.
30. Brooklyn Nets (9-49) – The Nets are the frontrunner for the top pick in next year’s NBA draft, but they will not be able to cash in a potential star in the next draft class. The Celtics own the rights to the pick, as Kenny Atkinson’s debut as a head coach hasn’t panned out as expected, with the worst record and the lowest payroll in the NBA.