This week’s biggest busts: Thunder -5, 76ers -5, Raptors -4, Pelicans -4, Trail Blazers -4
This week’s biggest successes: Mavericks +7, Heat +6, Bulls +6
1. Golden State Warriors (43-8, 3-1 this week) (last week: #1 [3-1] +0)
The Warriors appeased their fans this week by ridding themselves of the player whose hair most accurately predicts his style of play (“floppy”). Yep, Anderson Varejao is out of there, and while I maintain that their other too-old-to-score-points center, Zaza Pachulia, might be just as annoying, at least that guy can pretend to contribute positively on the court. Varejao couldn’t even pretend. I will now begin counting down the days until a Warriors player subtly makes fun of Varejao in front of the media.
2. San Antonio Spurs (39-11, 3-1 this week) (last week: #2 [2-1] +0)
After an anomalous loss to the in-state rival Mavericks, the Spurs took it to the teams that they should be beating with easy wins over the Sixers and Nuggets and a less-easy win over the Thunder. To be honest, I don’t know if anybody outside San Antonio, or maybe even inside San Antonio, realizes that Pau Gasol is injured and not playing. People smarter than me have questioned his on-court impact since his Chicago days, and now we’re seeing that the Spurs can blow out teams just as well without Gasol as they could with Gasol. Davis “The Gasol Successor” Bertans is currently on the phone with his Latvian mafia contacts, arranging for another “accident” to happen to Gasol’s hand.
3. Boston Celtics (32-18, 3-0 this week) (last week: #4 [3-1] +1)
Isaiah Thomas has been kicking so much booty lately that I caved in and wrote a letter to the league office pleading them to remove the height limit for NBA superstars. In that letter I acknowledged that nobody will ever buy a jersey for a sub-six-foot midget with a chubby gnome face, but I also laid out the argument that any player averaging thirty points per game or close to it should get to be a superstar regardless of midgetness. I have yet to receive a response to my letter.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers (34-15, 3-1 this week) (last week: #5 [1-2] +1)
The Cavs got back on track this week, but it’s too late. We’ve seen them at their must vulnerable. They’ve been EXPOSED, and even though they un-exposed themselves, we all remember what their exposure looked like. The stench of their losing stretch will never wash off. Now the path to the Finals will be much more difficult, because playoff teams that normally would have rolled over in the face of the LeBron juggernaut will remember how the Cavs seemed to fall apart in late January/early February. The only possible remedy is for the Cavs to win the rest of their games this season. Only then will they regain the playoff swagger that has been lost.
5. Houston Rockets (37-17, 2-2 this week) (last week: #3 [1-2] -2)
James Harden would have to average 13.5 rebounds per game for the rest of the season if he wants to finish the season averaging a triple-double. That doesn’t seem to be his implicitly explicit goal like it is for ex-teammate Russell Westbrook, but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t go for it. Here’s some things that need to happen for Harden to up his rebounding numbers: 1) Purposely miss fast-break layups for extra rebounds 2) Tell Montrezl Harrell that pizza is illegal now so that he gets sad and stops hustling so hard 3) Somehow get rid of Clint Capela, notice how I didn’t use the word “murder” 4) Invent new rule where every rebound counts as two rebounds
6. Utah Jazz (32-19, 2-0 this week) (last week: #7 [1-3] +1)
Rudy Gobert reconfirmed his status as “biggest all-star snub” by unleashing a dominant 26-point, 15-rebound performance upon the Bucks. Meanwhile, DeAndre Jordan averaged eight points per game over the week, albeit on a perfect nine-of-nine from the field. Gobert’s status as “best NBA Frenchman” is not quite as confirmed as his “biggest all-star snub” status, but it’s getting pretty close: his only real competitors are Nic Batum and Evan Fournier. Somewhere in Salt Lake City, Boris Diaw is trying to suppress his sadness by eating large amounts of food.
7. Washington Wizards (30-20, 4-0 this week) (last week: #9 [3-0] +2)
The Wizards still don’t have a bench, but now that they’re winning all their games, it doesn’t even matter. All they need is for Kelly Oubre to score ten or twelve points once every three games. That’s really all the production they need out of that assemblage of scrublords. Now that John Wall and Bradley Beal have regained the form that once had them being favorably compared to the Curry/Thompson backcourt in terms of sheer scoring power, Brooks can just ride those two guys to death and have a good chance of winning any particular game.
8. Atlanta Hawks (30-21, 3-1 this week) (last week: #10 [1-2] +2)
Now that Mike Dunleavy is really injured I feel bad about all those times that I said I wanted to punch him in his dumb face. It’s not like he blew up one of his cruciate ligaments or anything, but he did screw up his knee and it made me sort of realize how he’s a human being who feels pain too, just like me. If I landed bad on my knee and it really hurt, I would be sad if some know-nothing internet tough guy kept saying stuff about punches and fistfights. DTB has officially learned a valuable life lesson. But I still hate Mike Dunleavy.
9. Memphis Grizzlies (31-22, 3-1 this week) (last week: #11 [2-1] +2)
Deyonta Davis opened up the browser on his phone. In the URL bar, he typed the letter “y”, for YouTube. However, as always, his phone knew exactly what he wanted. It autocompleted not just the YouTube homepage, but the specific video that he was seeking out. After waiting a second for the page to load, Deyonta guiltily clicked on the “play” button for the video that appeared. Watching and rewatching “Deyonta Davis 17 Points Full Highlights (11/1/2016)” had become a daily ritual for him. The game had only occurred a few months before, but it seemed like a lifetime. Coach Fiz never gave him minutes like that anymore. Deyonta watched the video to its conclusion, then let the phone drop from his hands onto the carpeted floor beneath him as a fresh round of sobs caused his body to shudder.
10. Indiana Pacers (28-22, 4-0 this week) (last week: #13 [2-1] +3)
Jeff Teague walked out of his front door and stood on his front lawn, staring at the clear, cloudless afternoon sky. It was supposed to happen any minute. He had paid good money for it and if it wasn’t on time, there was going to be hell to pay. Soon, he saw the airplane in the sky, and his concerns were assuaged. The skywriter wrote the words that Jeff had instructed: “Jeff Teague is averaging 16 and 8 for the Pacers so people should pay attention to him more”. It took a little while for the words to be written from the tail of the plane, and the first words had started to get ripped apart by the wind before the sentences was finished, but Teague regarded it as $10,000 well-spent. Now people would surely recognize his status as a top-five PG in the East.
11. Oklahoma City Thunder (29-22, 1-3 this week) (last week: #6 [3-0] -5)
Why can’t OKC be a destination for Carmelo? All they would have to trade is Enes Kanter and Kanter already proved that he can’t coexist with the chairs they have in OKC. Westbrook is just a better, less-injured version of Derrick Rose so Carmelo can only improve by uprooting his whole life to move to middle America. La La (his wife in case you don’t regularly read tabloids like I do) would most likely hate Oklahoma but she’s not the one who’s making millions to play a children’s game so I don’t see why she would have any say in the matter.
12. Toronto Raptors (30-21, 1-3 this week) (last week: #8 [1-3] -4)
The Raptors looked like a lock for #2 in the East for basically the entire season up until this point. However, the Celtics have caught up to them and it’s any man’s race now. Which team will get the privilege of playing the Cavs in the conference finals? Everybody spent so much time figuring out how the Northern Dinos matched up against them that I still sort of hope that matchup happens. DTB’S IRRATIONAL HATE FOR DEMAR DEROZAN LEVEL: elevated thanks to his injury (“swelling” sounds like a coverup for something). Did MJ ever get injured? No.
13. Los Angeles Clippers (31-19, 1-1 this week) (last week: #12 [1-2] -1)
There’s not a lot of Chris Paul doubters out there these days, but those who are still lurking around must be looking at what’s happening with the Clippers and feeling some kind of internal conflict. It’s pretty obvious that the Clippers need CP3 in order to function. They can put in notorious lardball Raymond Felton (rumor has it he was once a starting-quality PG) but he only gives you about 30% of what Paul gives you, and that’s if only if he refrained from eating six Big Macs before the game. Blake Griffin can throw some lobs to DeAndre Jordan but it’s just not the same. IT’S JUST NOT THE SAME!!!
14. Miami Heat (21-30, 3-0 this week) (last week: #20 [4-0] +6)
Normally DTB doesn’t pay attention to that “conference player of the week” farce that the NBA puts on to distract the fans from what’s really going on (two words: ref party boat. okay three words), but I was forced to pay attention when Dion Waiters somehow was awarded this…award. I gotta give it to him, he was clutch as all HECK that week, and the Heat have extended their winning streak to ten thanks in part to his improved play. Was I secretly happy that he went one-of-nine from three against the Pistons? Maybe a little bit.
15. Chicago Bulls (25-26, 2-1 this week) (last week: #21 [1-2] +6)
The Bulls’ middling offense averaged 122 points per game this week after finally getting some contributions from their bench, a bench that theoretically possesses “shooting” that the starters don’t, but in practice has only possessed “missing”. The team looks a lot better when Mirotic, McDermott, and Zipser are reliably providing double-digit scoring. They might have even gone undefeated this week if James Harden hadn’t folded up MCW into a pretzel and then somehow tricked the refs through his powers of illusion into calling the foul on MCW.
16. Detroit Pistons (23-28, 2-2 this week) (last week: #19 [0-2] +3)
On February 1st, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 38 points against the Pelicans. Marcus Morris scored seven. Then, on February 3rd, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (the same one, not a different guy with the same name) scored two points against the Timberwolves, and Marcus Morris (not Markieff) scored 36. Both games were wins for the Pistons. So the secret to success is to have just one player score a career-high while everybody else sucks on their thumbs? When is it Tobias Harris’ turn?
17. Denver Nuggets (22-28, 1-3 this week) (last week: #14 [3-1] -3)
Nikola Jokic got his first career triple-double on Friday night against the Bucks in his first game back after the mysterious “hip injury” he sustained a few games prior (it was actually Jusuf Nurkic attacking him in the locker room with a golf club). The hype for Jokic has reached levels that might be unsustainable, but if we’re being honest, the hype would be ten times more hyped of Jokic had the conventional facial attractiveness of somebody like Gordon Hayward. Such a combination of skill, potential, youth, and attractiveness would likely be the impetus for the development of a supermassive black hole right at center court of the Pepsi Center.
18. Charlotte Hornets (23-28, 0-3 this week) (last week: #15 [0-4] -3)
The first domino fell when the Hornets traded Spencer Hawes (manbun trash) and Roy Hibbert (0 pts 0 rebs trash) for Miles Plumlee (overpaid trash). They did get half of an NBA brother pair to pair with the one they already had (too bad they waived Aaron Harrison), but it’s hard to see how they got “value” out of this trade otherwise. I suppose Plumlee is one dude angry about playing time instead of Hawes and Hibbert, who were two dudes angry about playing time. One angry dude is a lot easier to deal with than two angry dudes, but I still put coach Clifford at a 0% chance of winning any kind of fistfight with any of his players.
19. Dallas Mavericks (20-30, 4-0 this week) (last week: #26 [2-1] +7)
Um. The Mavs have one nine of twelve. After averaging just 88 points per game in November, they’ve turned it around and averaged a much more respectable 102 per game in January. But wait! There’s more! Yogi “Mr. 10-day” Ferrell scored 32 points while hitting nine three-pointers and parlayed that outrageous statline into a two-year contract. But I’m not done yet! I had a dream last night that Dirk Nowitzki was back to his old self and then he high-fived me. My dreams have been prophetic in the past so this is a good omen for the Mavs.
20. New Orleans Pelicans (19-32, 0-3 this week) (last week: #16 [2-1] -4)
The Pelicans, like most of the bad teams in the West, exist as somewhat of a paradox. They are not a good team, but they are only a few games out of the still wide-open eighth playoff spot. They have a decision to make. They could either tank the season, or they could make a hard push for wins, the final goal being to make the playoffs (something they were supposed to be doing this year anyway). Win-now and lose-now trades could both be on the table depending on the aims of the front office. Next question: would trading Omer Asik be the former or the latter?
21. Portland Trail Blazers (22-29, 1-2 this week) (last week: #17 [2-0] -4)
The Blazers almost beat the Warriors, losing 111-113, and since this was the Warriors’ closest win of the season, the Blazers honorarily get one EXTRA BONUS RANKING. However, the bonus ranking was nullified by a 104-108 loss to the Mavs (who are actually only a few games behind the Blazers…), so there is a net of zero EXTRA BONUS RANKINGS. Thus, the Blazers’ ranking this week accurately reflects their power within the league without outside influences muddying the waters. One day I will find a reason to give the Nets thirty EXTRA BONUS RANKINGS but today is not that day.
22. Milwaukee Bucks (22-28, 1-2 this week) (last week: #24 [1-3] +2)
The Bucks are losers of ten of twelve, but they’re still very much in the playoff hunt. That’s not much of a compliment, because, by my count, there are only four teams that are definitely out of the picture (Nets, Sixers, Suns, and Lakers). Khris Middleton will soon be coming back from an injury where he literally ripped his hamstring off his bone like a Super Bowl viewer hurriedly rips the meat off a chicken wing with his teeth during a stoppage in play (I feel sympathy pain in my leg while writing this), so the Bucks’ playoff chances might not be as remote as it would seem given their dismal play.
23. Philadelphia 76ers (18-32, 1-4 this week) (last week: #18 [2-1] -5)
The miracle run is over, and the team is back to their customary habit of getting handily beaten by mediocre teams, but it will take at least a month of consistent suckage before the 76ers are back in contention for last place on my OFFICIAL POWER RANKINGS. Since Ben Simmons will come back sometime soon (please please please), it’s possible that the addition of Simmons might even elevate the Sixers from their current position as the worst offense in the league. Perhaps the process is trustworthy after all.
24. Minnesota Timberwolves (19-32, 1-3 this week) (last week: #22 [3-1] -2)
DTB has learned a valuable lesson: if you write an OFFICIAL POWER RANKING too early, you risk it getting obsolesced by a major event occurring within the team in question. In this case, the team is the Timberpups, and the occurrence is that Zach LaVine is out for the season after he tore his ACL. I had to scrap an entire paragraph of informative, humorous, and creative text because of this. Basketball-reference tells me that the only other shooting guard on the roster is Brandon Rush but somehow I don’t have confidence that he can replace the 19 PPG that LaVine provided.
25. Sacramento Kings (20-31, 1-3 this week) (last week: #25 [3-1] +0)
After reading that big long Sports Illustrated article about DeMarcus Cousins and the Kings, it made me sad that I don’t have any sources. Since I have no sources, that means I can’t write click-driving insights into the inner workings of NBA teams. All I can do is watch from the outside and look at numbers on stats websites. If I did have a source, I bet my source would tell me that there are two factions in the Kings locker room: the Boogie faction and the Matt Barnes faction. Currently the fridge with the Gatorade in it is located in Barnes-controlled territory. Expect tensions to spill out on the court and into the media soon.
26. New York Knicks (22-30, 1-3 this week) (last week: #23 [2-1] -3)
I am handless and bodiless in this void, but I can’t stop myself from attempting to reach out and grab the scattered pieces of the no-trade clause that are drifting away. My efforts, of course, are futile. Suddenly, the crying baby is replaced by a man, also naked, his withered, wrinkled skin and wispy gray hair indicating that he is well advanced in years. For some reason, the shared consciousness of the Knicks players has decided not to focus on the baby Carmelo, but instead, whoever this old man represents. A million-dollar bill covers the man’s genitalia like a scene from the garden of Eden. This obscure symbolism holds meaning, but I cannot discern it.
27. Orlando Magic (20-33, 2-3 this week) (last week: #28 [0-3] +1)
If the Magic want to be relevant again they should somehow acquire permission to use Harry Potter stuff during their games. If the players all had wizard robes instead of warmups and if the PA guy yelled “AVADA KEDAVRA” whenever Aaron Gordon postered somebody, would that not be the raddest thing ever? Even somebody useless like Bismack Biyombo would immediately become awesome if his jersey read “Dumbledore” and during timeouts he reenacted the scene where Snape killed Dumbledore and he fell off the castle. Sorry, I should have put a spoiler alert there. (Jeff Green would be Snape)
28. Phoenix Suns (16-35, 1-3 this week) (last week: #27 [1-3] -1)
Thanks to the recent successes of the Heat and Sixers, the Suns are now the consensus second-worst team in the league, unless you want to go by something other than straight win-loss record, in which case the Lakers are still making their case for that honor. Always the prepared one, I have recently been collecting video evidence of Brandon Knight’s time on the court (when his coach deigns to supply him minutes), just so I have some proof that he really existed when Robert Sarver “eliminates” him 1984-style.
29. Los Angeles Lakers (17-36, 1-2 this week) (last week: #29 [0-3] +0)
D’Angelo Russell had his first double-digit assist game against the Nuggets on Tuesday, then had ANOTHER one against the Wizards three days later. For a “point guard” that had been struggling mightily in this facet of the game, this is a big deal. A huge deal. A huger deal than those four-for-four deals that all of the fast food restaurants have these days. His assist percentage is still in that Kyrie Irving/Kemba Walker range, but now there’s hope that he can get it up to the Mike Conley/Kyle Lowry range.
30. Brooklyn Nets (9-41, 0-3 this week) (last week: #30 [0-4] +0)
The Nets’ season has been over for a while now, so why not try to feature Luis Scola in the offense a bit more? Argentine fans have very little to cheer about these days, since Pablo Prigioni is retired, Manu Ginobili is mostly finished, Nicolas Laprovittola was waived, and Nicolas Brussino is averaging one point per game. The Nets could rake in the pesos by giving Scola thirty minutes per game and posting him up on every trip down the court. Thirty-six is old but you’re never too old to school these youngsters with your savvy hook shots.