This week’s biggest busts: Pelicans -6, Celtics -2, Clippers -2, Pistons -2
This week’s biggest successes: Raptors +3, Rockets +2, Kings +2, Mavericks +2, Trail Blazers +2, Magic +2
1. Golden State Warriors (49-9, 2-0 this week) (last week: #1 [1-1] +0)
This gimmick power rankings starts with a non-gimmick: the Golden State Warriors have a team containing several honest-to-god All-Stars. This isn’t mere speculation; this is fact, since the All-Star game just happened and there were a bunch of Warriors there to represent the West. Go back and watch it if you don’t believe me. Even Steve Kerr was there. That dude you thought was Chris McCullough? That was actually Kevin Durant. I don’t even know why you thought McCullough would be playing for the West.
2. San Antonio Spurs (44-13, 1-0 this week) (last week: #2 [2-1] +0)
A “Former All-Stars” team would be a very large team indeed, and a lot of its members would be found currently playing for the Spurs. Pau Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, and David Lee were all multiple-time All-Stars who are unlikely to see another All-Star game. We can put Tim Duncan on the team too since I refuse to acknowledge that he’s fully retired from basketball. In my mind he’s nursing a hand injury and will come back just in time for the playoffs. There is a carefully constructed reality build around this notion of Tim Duncan’s immortality so please be kind and don’t try to prove me wrong with facts.
3. Houston Rockets (42-18, 2-0 this week) (last week: #5 [0-1] +2)
The Rockets already were well-represented on the “Three Point Shooting” All-Star team, but then they went and traded Tyler Ennis (non three-point shooter and non-anything, really) for Lou Williams (definitely a three-point shooter). Williams joins James Harden, Ryan Anderson, and Eric Gordon on the team. On second thought, Trevor Ariza has made more three-pointers than Williams has this year, so Ariza can replace Williams on the team. Numbers don’t lie. It’s math. If you argue against math you’ll lose.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers (40-17, 1-1 this week) (last week: #4 [2-0] +0)
LeBron has had such a hand in constructing the Cavs’ roster that it’s almost like a “Players Favored by LeBron” All-Star team. You know for sure that any acquisition the Cavs make has LeBron’s express blessing. Kyle Korver, Deron Williams, Derrick Williams (not to be confused with Deron Williams), James Jones, these guys are all there to make LeBron more comfortable about his championship chances. And, what “Players Favored by LeBron” team would be complete without LeBron himself? Coming up with these fake All-Star teams is just way too easy.
5. Boston Celtics (37-21, 0-1 this week) (last week: #3 [2-1] -2)
The Celtics are the Beef All-Stars, and when I say “beef”, I mean “interpersonal conflict”, not “cow meat”. Who could forget Isaiah Thomas’ legendary beef with Dennis Schroder? And Jae Crowder beefing with Celtics fans? But those aren’t the only beefs going on in Boston. Danny Ainge is beefing with other owners over his huge stockpile of draft picks. Al Horford is beefing with rebounds. Kelly Olynyk is beefing with Kevin Love probably. Tommy Heinsohn is beefing with the refs. Marcus Smart is beefing with his shooting percentage. So much beef going on up there.
6. Utah Jazz (36-22, 1-0 this week) (last week: #7 [1-1] +1)
It’s hard to tell whether a Defensive All-Star team (otherwise known as an NBA All-Defense team) would include any Jazz players other than Rudy Gobert. While the Jazz’ team defense is fantastic, and they certainly have a preponderance of plus defenders, Gobert is the one who can cover up his team’s defensive lapses. Unfortunately, I couldn’t come up with another All-Star team that would fit the Jazz any better (Mormon All-Stars was a no-go), so this will have to do.
7. Washington Wizards (34-22, 0-1 this week) (last week: #6 [2-0] -1)
If there were an All-Star team comprised entirely of bad bench players who are forced to receive minutes despite their badness, the Wizards would have it on lock. Jason Smith probably wouldn’t get the nod as starting center, but he could sneak on as a reserve. Tomas Satoransky, on the other hand, would be first-ballot or perhaps even zeroth-ballet if such a thing even exists. Trey Burke would start at point guard and notch zero assists in the “All-Star” game even though nobody would be playing any defense.
8. Toronto Raptors (34-24, 1-0 this week) (last week: #11 [1-2] +3)
The Toronto Raptors are the All-Stars of “Players Who the Fanbase Can’t Decide Should be Traded or Not”. That’s an unwieldy name for a perfectly wieldy concept: Raptors fans are so fickle that they want to trade DeRozan for scraps one day and then not trade him for a package of Curry, Durant, and Thompson the next day. The trade deadline has passed, which means real trades can’t happen anymore, but I’m sure Raptors fans are currently debating whether or not DeMarre Carroll should be waived outright.
9. Memphis Grizzlies (34-25, 0-1 this week) (last week: #9 [1-1] +0)
The Grizzlies are the All-Stars of tough, grind-it-out basketball. That sounds like an unexpectedly reasonable proclamation from me until you realize that I’m pretty much required to say it. Memphis fans rationalize their team’s unabashedly boring style of play by pretending to enjoy slow-paced games where nobody shoots three-pointers, and I’m blatantly catering to them in order to sucker them into reading more of my OFFICIAL POWER RANKINGS. Hopefully they stopped reading at the first sentence of this one so that they don’t catch on. If you did read this far, Mr. unknown Grizzlies fan, this whole thing is written in jest so please don’t be mad at me.
10. Atlanta Hawks (32-26, 0-2 this week) (last week: #8 [1-1] -2)
The “Three Point Shooting” All-Star team is the Rockets’ domain, but the “Can Shoot Three Pointers if Necessary” All-Star team is the Hawks. Everybody on the team with the exception of Dwight Howard can shoot a three and have a decent chance of making it. This is assuming, of course, that DeAndre’ Bembry, a 6’6″ small forward, can actually shoot threes despite not making one this year. I think his afro gets in the way of his shot. Howard has no such excuses.
11. Oklahoma City Thunder (33-25, 0-1 this week) (last week: #12 [1-1] +1)
By definition, any player on my fantastical “Players who let Russell Westbrook Steal Their Rebounds” All-Stars would have to be on the Thunder. Every player on this current Thunder iteration understands one thing: if Westbrook is nearby and there no opposing players within arm’s distance, you let Westbrook have the rebound. Always. Meanwhile, players on, for example, the Pacers, don’t have to defer to Westbrook when it comes to rebounds because Westbrook is not on their team. Domantas Sabonis would be the All-Star game MVP if this team actually played a game, since he would get two rebounds at most.
12. Los Angeles Clippers (35-23, 0-2 this week) (last week: #10 [2-0] -2)
The narrative that the Clippers flop and whine too much is played out, so I’ll avoid using that one. Instead, I’ll use one that will somehow annoy Clippers fans even more: a Loser All-Star team! Chris Paul has never even played in a Conference Finals despite being the best PG in the league for a decade. DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin have never been to one either. Paul Pierce might be the only “winner” on the whole team. Luckily, the concept of labeling individual players as “winners” or “losers” while ignoring the quality of their teammates is something that only dumb people do. [note to self: rewrite this section so as to not appear dumb]
13. Chicago Bulls (30-29, 2-0 this week) (last week: #14 [2-1] +1)
The “Putting your Teammates on Blast” All-Stars would have a hard time fielding a complete starting five, given that most NBA players are aware enough of team chemistry to not complain to the media about their lesser teammates. However, the Bulls have a stranglehold on at least two positions: SG (Dwyane Wade) and SF (Jimmy Butler). Rajon Rondo could start at PG, I suppose, since he said something about “real veterans” instead of taking the insults lying down.
14. Miami Heat (27-32, 2-0 this week) (last week: #15 [1-1] +1)
Another easy one. An All-Star team of “Constantly Nonstop Partying in Miami” players necessarily has most of the members of the Miami Heat on it, since they are the ones who get to spend the most time in Miami. “Nonstop” is a bit generous since the Heat players have to cease their partying when they go on road trips, but the state of their Miami partying is much steadier than the average NBA player, who might only get to spend one or two weeknights in the city of Miami. Luke Babbitt is not a member of this All-Star team since he prefers playing Hearthstone on his laptop.
15. Detroit Pistons (28-30, 1-0 this week) (last week: #13 [3-0] -2)
Most of the players on an “I hate Reggie Jackson” All-Star team would be sourced from the Pistons. Some players from the Thunder teams that Jackson ruined would appear on the team for sure, but, other than a few of those guys, this team would be made up of current Pistons exclusively. But there’s a surprise entrant on the “I hate Reggie Jackson” team: that’s right, it’s Reggie Jackson! He secretly hates what he’s become, but he’s powerless to change himself, so he lives in a perpetual state of despair.
16. Indiana Pacers (30-29, 1-1 this week) (last week: #17 [0-3] +1)
The Nobody Cares All-Stars starts off with Monta Ellis and Al Jefferson, who both became instantly irrelevant as soon as they stepped one toe over the Indiana border. Paul George also gets to be on this team because he has been surpassed by Gordon Hayward and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Myles Turner shouldn’t even enter the “nobody cares” conversation given how good he is for a second-year player, but for some reason everybody would rather fawn over his rivals Kristaps and Embiid. Aaron Brooks and Rodney Stuckey are squarely in “nobody cares” territory even though they were good players once upon a time. Simply put, nobody cares about the Pacers or any player on the Pacers.
17. Denver Nuggets (26-32, 1-1 this week) (last week: #16 [1-1] -1)
The Nuggets’ case for fielding a Foreign All-Stars team was weakened when they traded away Jusuf Nurkic (Bosnia) for Mason Plumlee (Indiana). However, they still have Nikola Jokic (Serbia), Juan Hernangomez (Spain), Emmanuel Mudiay (Democratic Republic of the Congo), Danilo Gallinari (Italy), and Jamal Murray (Canada, but I don’t think that really counts). I’m too lazy to go through each team and find out if any of them have a higher number of foreign-born players, but if anybody wants to do that work and get back to me, you’re welcome to do that, except for the “get back to me” part, because I don’t want to know.
18. Sacramento Kings (25-34, 1-1 this week) (last week: #20 [2-1] +2)
The Kings hold the distinction of having every single one of their players appear on the make-believe All-Star team I have created for them: the “Unchained From the Distractions of DeMarcus Cousins” All-Stars. Actually, not every player on the Kings is a part of the team. Buddy Hield never played with Cousins and therefore never had the Chains of Distraction shackling him in the first place. However, Tyreke Evans does have residual chains left on him from his early years in Sacramento, so he does get to be part of the team.
19. Minnesota Timberwolves (23-36, 1-1 this week) (last week: #18 [2-1] -1)
A theoretical All-Star team of only young talent would definitely have Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins on it. Zach LaVine would be less definite but still pretty definite. Kris Dunn should have been on it based on the hype he was getting before the season, but he’s just another member of the disappointing 2016 draft class, a draft class that probably wouldn’t even send a single player to the theoretical Young Talent All-Stars. Bonus fun fact: in researching these OFFICIAL POWER RANKINGS, I discovered that Nemanja Bjelica is 28 years old.
20. Dallas Mavericks (23-35, 1-1 this week) (last week: #22 [0-2] +2)
The Failing Bodies All-Stars feature Andrew Bogut at center, Dirk Nowitzki at forward, and Wesley Matthews at guard. Andrew Bogut’s not on the team anymore but he’s still an honorary Maverick for the purposes of this OFFICIAL POWER RANKING, and besides, Nerlens Noel hasn’t sustained enough injuries for his body to truly be considered “failing”. I bet coach Thibs would love to get his hands on some of these players so he could play them forty minutes per game and end their careers for real.
21. Milwaukee Bucks (25-31, 0-1 this week) (last week: #21 [2-0] +0)
Much commotion has been made about the Bucks’ collective wingspan. Certainly, an All-Wingspan team would have to include Giannis Antetokounmpo, Thon Maker, and John Henson. Unfortunately, all that length doesn’t necessarily lead to increased defensive acumen, so it’s more of a gimmick to make Bucks fans feel better about their increasingly intolerable lives than anything else. Besides, all that length is negated by the noticeably stunted arms of one Matthew Dellavedova.
22. New York Knicks (24-35, 1-1 this week) (last week: #24 [1-1] +2)
I present you: the “Questionable Life Choices” All-Stars! Derrick Rose messed up with that thing over the summer with that girl and the “we men” comment. Carmelo Anthony messed up by forcing his way to a team where the fans would eventually turn on him. Joakim Noah messed up by willingly signing a contract that he knew was too generous given his declining basketball skills. Kristaps Porzingis messed up by trying to pump up his muscles with synthol but it didn’t work because he overdid it and then his muscles exploded. Mindaugas Kuzminskas messed up by consenting to that awful haircut.
23. Portland Trail Blazers (24-33, 1-0 this week) (last week: #25 [0-2] +2)
A “Tired of Dealing with Hipsters” All-Star team would consist mostly of Blazers players since there are just way too many hipsters in Portland. It is a well-known fact that Damian Lillard doesn’t give autographs to anybody older than eighteen for fear that they might be a hipster in disguise. Meanwhile, Evan Turner regularly composes mean tweets aimed at people he feel have unfairly co-opted Portland’s unique culture in order to seem “hip”. Jusuf Nurkic hasn’t had to deal with hipsters too much yet, but if he doesn’t punch the glasses right off somebody’s face within the next week, it’ll be two weeks.
24. Charlotte Hornets (25-33, 1-1 this week) (last week: #23 [0-2] -1)
I’m aware that some people frown upon using the word “bust” to describe players who are competent role-players. Luckily, I’m not one of those people, so I can include multiple Hornets players on my “Bust All-Stars” team and not feel bad about it. Marvin Williams and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist are the two most noteworthy members of this team, but don’t forget Marco Belinelli and Frank Kaminsky! The only solace for Hornets fans is that neither Kemba Walker or Cody Zeller are candidates for the Bust All-Stars.
25. New Orleans Pelicans (23-36, 0-2 this week) (last week: #19 [2-1] -6)
With the transactions (and lack of transactions) that have gone down recently, the Pelicans can now field a five-man lineup of only centers. It’s not quite an All-Star Center team, but it’s close with DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis in the lineup. Then you’ve got Donatas Motiejunas (who was good once upon a time), Alexis Ajinca (who I think could be good even if nobody else seems to think this way) and Omer Asik (quadruple LOL). You could post all five of them up at once. Wouldn’t that be the coolest thing ever?
26. Philadelphia 76ers (22-36, 1-1 this week) (last week: #26 [1-1] +0)
The Cheesesteak All-Stars are an exclusive bunch. Only those with the most unquenchable compulsion for the consumption of Philly cheesesteak sandwiches are allowed on the team. Joel Embiid is the team’s MVP for his ability to eat ten cheesesteaks in one sitting, but any close observer can see that Nik Stauskas is the cog that keeps the whole machine running with not only his prowess for eating cheesesteaks, but for his ability to prepare a cheesesteak so delicious that only his teammates on this team of cheesesteak All-Stars are allowed to eat it.
27. Orlando Magic (22-38, 1-1 this week) (last week: #29 [1-1] +2)
If you tried on purpose to create a team of mismatched players who can’t play together, you would probably get pretty close to assembling the exact roster of the Orlando Magic. Let’s call them the “Mismatched All-Stars”. I mean, we’re talking about a team that went out and ACQUIRED Jeff Green when they knew full well that Aaron Gordon was still on the roster. I don’t know what Rob Hennigan thinks he’s doing down there (maybe he’s trying to get fired so he can pursue his true passion – model trains) but if your roster is three-fourths of the way towards the Mismatched All-Stars, you know you’ve screwed up badly.
28. Phoenix Suns (18-40, 0-1 this week) (last week: #27 [1-1] -1)
The Young Talent All-Stars are already accounted for in Minnesota, but what about the Young-but-not-quite-as-talented All Stars? Devin Booker doesn’t qualify for that team since he’s actually good, but Alex Len absolutely does. So do Dragan Bender and Derrick Jones Jr. Throw Tyler Ulis and Marquese Chriss in there too even if they’ve shown flashes of being good. Sadly, T.J. Warren also has to be on the Not-As-Talented All-Stars until he regains his pre-mysterious-head-injury form. If everybody progresses as Suns fans hope, next year they can have the Young Talent All-Star team and the Timberwolves can have the All-Casserole-Eaters team or something.
29. Los Angeles Lakers (19-40, 0-1 this week) (last week: #28 [0-2] -1)
The All-Not-Kobe team includes every player in the league, but the Lakers players on the team are more notable because they wear the Purple and Gold like Kobe did but they still aren’t Kobe. Jordan Clarkson, Nick Young, and D’Angelo Russell all do a fair impersonation of Kobe at times, but none of them are actually Kobe. The Lakers also traded a Kobe-like player (Lou Williams) for somebody who is very not Kobe (Corey Brewer). Does anybody know where Kobe went? Does he realize that the season has been going on for months now and that everybody’s waiting for him to report to the team?
30. Brooklyn Nets (9-49, 0-2 this week) (last week: #30 [0-2] +0)
This is low-hanging fruit, but the Nets would clean up if the All-Star team didn’t include the best players and only included the worst players. In this scenario you would have to disallow fan voting (butthurt OKC fans voting in droves for Durant doesn’t sound fun for anybody) and leave the voting to those with the most knowledge of the scrubbiest scrubs of the NBA. Since all the big media guys are focused on stars/high-profile role-players, I might be the only one who gets to vote. And I’m casting all five of my votes for Anthony Bennett (RIP in peace).