Here are the NBA power rankings as we head into week 17.
1. Golden State Warriors - The Golden State Warriors have lost just twice since the new year and DeMarcus Cousins has wasted no time getting comfortable with his new team. The big man is averaging 14.4 points and 7.3 rebounds in under 23 minutes of play.
2. Milwaukee Bucks - The Milwaukee Bucks have the best point differential in the NBA and 17 of their last 21 wins have come by double digits. Still, future odds will tell you the Bucks aren’t the favorites to win the East. There’s value there, folks.
3. Denver Nuggets - The Denver Nuggets are tied with the Warriors for the best record in the West and are riding a six-game winning streak. At some point the Nuggets need to be taken seriously as a West contender, as it feels like nobody is paying close enough attention.
4. Oklahoma City Thunder - Paul George is playing his best ball of his career and the Thunder are playing their most consistent ball of the season. Imagine how good OKC would be if Russell Westbrook cut back on the turnovers.
5. Toronto Raptors - The Toronto Raptors have been shaky as of late, but the depth of this team provides no reason to panic. The Raptors have had a different high scorer in eight of their last nine games.
6. Houston Rockets - James Harden continues to do what he does, but we’ll see the real potential of these Houston Rockets when CP3 and Clint Capela return to form. Chris Paul has shot well in his return, but he’s still not able to play on the end of back to backs.
7. Philadelphia 76ers - Consistency is an issue with the Philadelphia 76ers, but that road win over the Golden State Warriors told us a lot. When the 76ers lock in and want to play championship basketball, they can. It’s now a matter of approaching every game that way.
8. Boston Celtics - With wins in nine of their last 10 games, the Boston Celtics are starting to flip the switch with an improved offense. When the Celtics play to their ability, they’re the team to beat in the East.
9. Utah Jazz - The Utah Jazz have won 12 of their last 16 games and we should see an even more motivated Rudy Gobert after the way some NBA players treated his emotional presser. The Jazz are still a sleeping giant out West that opponents fear, even if they won’t admit it.
10. Portland Trail Blazers - The addition of Rodney Hood is a solid pickup for the Portland Trail Blazers, and I’d give him minutes over the overpaid Evan Turner. If Hood can return to the player he was with the Utah Jazz, the outlook for the Trail Blazers come playoff time looks a little brighter. I like that move more than most.
11. San Antonio Spurs - We’ll learn a lot about the San Antonio Spurs on their upcoming eight-game road trip, especially with five of those eight games coming against playoff teams.
12. Indiana Pacers - The Indiana Pacers still have enough pieces to right the ship at some point, but there has to be some concern with them being 1-4 SU since Victor Oladipo was ruled out for the season. The offense has been completely lost over the last week.
13. Los Angeles Clippers - The Los Angeles Clippers had some tough losses this week, but they’ve shown to be an above-average squad when healthy. A possible make or break stretch coming up for the Clippers with eight of their next 10 games on the road.
14. Brooklyn Nets - The Brooklyn Nets continue to play above expectations, especially without two of their top three players. With five of their next eight games against playoff contenders, we’ll quickly learn if the Nets are a team to keep an eye on or if this is a cute, fun team that’s doomed for an early playoff exit.
15. Los Angeles Lakers - LeBron James is back, but the question for the Los Angeles Lakers is how will this team look next week? If the Lakers gut the roster to bring Anthony Davis aboard, this season my be finished before the second half even begins. It will all about chasing a title come next year.
16. Sacramento Kings - The Sacramento Kings remain one of the more fun teams to watch on NBA League Pass and can turn some heads with upcoming games against the San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets. The Kings young players growing up before our eyes has been one of the best stories of the NBA season.
17. Minnesota Timberwolves - The Minnesota Timberwolves remain the most frustrating team in the league and it still amazes me how they shy away from Karl-Anthony Towns in big moments. Towns needs to be a lot more aggressive than he is and demand the ball in late game situations. It’s like this club often forgets how talented it is and it’s truly hard to watch.
18. Dallas Mavericks - The Dallas Mavericks threw this season away for the potential of Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis becoming one of the best 1-2 punches in the league. If it pays off, the Mavs are set for the next 10 years as a true threat out West. It’s a big risk, however, as that Porzingis injury is no joke.
19. Charlotte Hornets - Kemba Walker has led the Charlotte Hornets to a .500 record, and that alone should make him a top-10 MVP candidate. If Michael Jordan isn’t going to trade him, at least get the guy some help.
20. Miami Heat - The Miami Heat look like a team that’s starting to quit, as the roster is seriously flawed and those bad contracts leave no hope in sight. It gets worse, as a six-game west road trip is sure to get ugly. At this point, you have to question if the Heat will even make the playoffs.
21. Washington Wizards - Bradley Beal has been on fire recently, which includes 51.1 percent shooting in his last five games and an average of six assists. The Wizards would probably be better off moving some of their key pieces, but owner Ted Leonsis has made it clear that’s not going to happen.
22. Detroit Pistons - The Detroit Pistons are going nowhere fast and Blake Griffin is wasting his remaining good years on a team that can’t even compete in the watered down East. #FreeBG
23. New Orleans Pelicans - It seems like the New Orleans Pelicans are motivated to trade Anthony Davis before the trade deadline. If that’s the case, move Jrue Holiday as well and rebuild this thing the right way.
24. Atlanta Hawks - It’s not making much of a difference in the win column, but Trae Young and John Collins have played really good basketball the last couple of weeks and are providing serious hope for the future. The Hawks could make a leap quicker than some predicted. This is a team to keep a close eye on while everybody else is sleeping.
25. Orlando Magic - The Orlando Magic have allowed 100 or less points in three of their last five games, which is hard to do in today’s game. Keep that up and the Magic put themselves in a position to make a an improbable run for the last playoff spot in the East.
26. Memphis Grizzlies - The Memphis Grizzlies need to burn this thing to the ground by moving Mike Conley and Marc Gasol. The Grit and Grind days are over. Stock up on young players and draft picks, and we’ll talk to you in two or three years.
27. New York Knicks - The New York Knicks got a promising young point guard in Dennis Smith Jr. and will have oodles of cap space this summer. The Knicks could be a top-five team on paper in a few months. As for this remaining year, the Knicks should probably buyout Wesley Matthews and DeAndre Jordan, as they can only mess up the tank process.
28. Chicago Bulls - Bobby Portis has combined for 59 points on 23-40 shooting in his last two games. If only that was sustainable, the Bulls would have a much brighter future than they do currently.
29. Cleveland Cavaliers - The Cleveland Cavaliers are stockpiling on draft picks and trying to rebuild this thing the correct way. The next step should be trying to move Alec Burks and maybe Kevin Love. Get those assets, baby, get those assets.
30. Phoenix Suns - The Phoenix Suns have won three games since December 21, which is the same day 21 Savage released his new album. A lot has changed for the 26-year-old rapper, but everything stays the same for the Suns.