The NBA: Power Rankings: Week 17

We are getting close to the 75% mark of the regular season. Elite teams (Heat, Spurs, Thunder) are starting to separate themselves from the pack while the race for the 8th spots in both conferences are still up for grabs! Nothing is guaranteed right now and teams like the Lakers, Raptors, Sixers and Blazers have fighting chances in their last 20+ games.

The trade deadline passed last week with no major deals happening. The biggest move was JJ Redick going to the Bucks while Josh Smith and Andrea Bargnani remained with their teams.

The Heat remain at the top of the Power Rankings for the 2nd straight week due to their current 12-game winning streak which is tied for the longest streak in the Heat Big 3 era. The top 3 teams remain at their spots since they have established themselves as legitimate contenders for the Larry O'Brien trophy.

The Clippers, Pacers and Grizzlies are not too far behind the elite teams but they can be considered as the next level of contenders. Meanwhile, the Lakers are making some headway into having a .500 record but they are still 3 games behind the Rockets for the 8th spot. The Bucks are sputtering in the East which have given the Raptors and Sixers some hope.

The standings are current up to February 27, 2013. The rankings from last week refer to Week 15.

The Power Rankings for Week 16 was skipped due to the All-Star break.
LBJ had an impressive February that
propelled the Heat to 12 straight wins
(Image from: Miami Herald)

1. Miami Heat | 41-14 | Last Week: 1 | Same
LeBron James (PER: 31.9) had another Player of the Week award and his stiffest competition for East Player of the Month is teammate, Dwyane Wade who is also shooting a career-high 51% and has averaged 8 points in 4th quarters in their last 5 games.

2. San Antonio Spurs | 45-13 | Last Week: 2 | Same
The Spurs have the best home record at 22-2 and the best road record at 23-11.They finished their Rodeo Road Trip at 7-2 with key players missing games too. Tony Parker (21 points, 8 assists) continues to get noticed as a MVP-candidate but cannot realistically win that award.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder | 41-15 | Last Week: 3 | Same
The Thunder lost 3 straight including to Harden and the Rockets but they still have the 3rd bst record in the NBA. Westbrook is having a great year (22 ppg, 8 apg, 5 rpg) but he still gets criticized when he takes more shots than Durant.

4. Memphis Grizzlies | 37-18 | Last Week: 6 | +2
The Grizzlies have quietly won 7 straight games and they are winning ugly games with their 2nd-best team defense. They still struggle offensively with Zach Randolph leading them in scoring at 15.7 a game while Tayshaun Prince is only averaging a shade under 10 points.

5. Los Angeles Clippers | 41-18 | Last Week: 4 | -1
The Clippers were humbled by the Spurs for the first time last week by 26 points. Still, the Clippers are running away with the Pacific division title by 6 games over the Warriors. Tough week for the Clippers as they play the Pacers and Thunder this week.

6. Indiana Pacers | 36-21 | Last Week: 8 | +2
Danny Granger is back and that was good timing since Roy Hibbert was suspended for a game after he got involved in a fight with David Lee and Steph Curry of the Warriors. Granger has started slow (2-17) which was expected but that's okay as long as Paul George remains the star.

7. New York Knicks | 33-20 | Last Week: 5 | -2
Amare has been playing well recently but the Knicks have gone 5-5 in their last 10 games and the Pacers have crept closer to getting the 2nd seed in the East. Melo is still getting his points but his efficiency has gone down and his percentage in their last 5 games stands at 38%.

8. Denver Nuggets | 36-22 | Last Week: 7 | -1
The Nuggets ran allover the Lakers in their last game by racking up 33 points in transition while giving up only 3 to the slow Lakers. Kenneth Faried and McGee manhandled Dwight Howard in the paint. Wilson Chandler has been great in 4 of his past 5 games (13 points and 5 boards).

9. Brooklyn Nets | 34-24 | Last Week: 9 | Same
The Nets are encountering some injury woes with their star backcourt (Johnson and Williams). Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries have been disappointing this season but Reggie Evans and Andray Blatche have welcomed the minutes and have contributed.

10. Atlanta Hawks | 32-23 | Last Week: 15 | +5
The Hawks have won 3 straight and 4 of 5 so maybe keeping Josh Smith was the right move. Smith has been good the last 5 games: 19 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists. If you take away his 3-point shots, Smith would be shooting around 55% from the floor.

11. Golden State Warriors | 33-24 | Last Week: 11 | Same
After Bogut blasted his team during their losing streak, he went down with a back injury that sidelined him indefinitely again. Then the Warriors started winning including a an OT win over the Spurs. Jarrett Jack is making a run for the Sixth Man of the Year with his clutch shooting.

12. Chicago Bulls | 32-25 | Last Week: 10 | -2
The Bulls are 4-8 in February and still no sign of Derrick Rose coming back. They have lost to teams missing key players, most recently to the Cavs who played without Kyrie Irving. The Bulls trail the Pacers by 4 games in the Central Division.

13. Utah Jazz | 31-26 | Last Week: 12 | -1
That OT loss to the Celtics hurt because the Jazz was playing at home and was facing a tired Celtics' team. The good news is that Gordon Hayward has been spectacular in the 3 games that he has played (22 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists).

14. Houston Rockets | 31-27 | Last Week: 14 | Same
James Harden had his revenge vs the Thunder by burning them for a career-high 46 points on a super-efficient night. The Rockets need to win games against inferior teams (Wizards) if they want to prevent the Lakers from snatching that last spot. They have one more game vs the Lakers.

15. Boston Celtics | 30-27 | Last Week: 13 | -2
The Celtics traded for Jordan Crawford but in 3 games, he has played 11 mins and averaged 4 points. Paul Pierce has upped his game to all-around dominance to cover for their injuries at the PG spot. Jeff Green continues to shoulder more scoring opportunities.

16. Los Angeles Lakers | 28-30 | Last Week: 17 | +1

The Lakers cant defend in transition and they still havent beaten a top notch team even after winning 11 of 16. Kobe Bryant plays with passion and effort every game but the same cannot be said for Howard who appears lost or disinterested in defense most of the time.

17. Milwaukee Bucks | 27-28 | Last Week: 16 | -1
The Bucks traded for a shooter in JJ Redick who has been decent in his 2 games (15 points and 48% shooting). The better news is that Larry Sanders is playing again and had 3 consecutive double-doubles while getting 3 blocks per game.

18. Portland Trailblazers | 26-30 | Last Week: 18 | Same
The Blazers are somewhat fading from the race to the 8th spot after going 3-7 in their last 10 games. They traded for PG Eric Maynor but he has played 1 game and done nothing for them. Lillard is still on track to win ROY.

19. Dallas Mavericks | 25-31 | Last Week: 19 | Same
It's more likely that the Mavs will miss the playoffs. They did not participate in any trades and during Dirk's first 30-point game and double-double of the season, they still lost to the Lakers. Then the Mavs lost to the Bucks after Dirk posted 21 points and 20 rebounds.

20. Toronto Raptors | 23-34 | Last Week: 21 | +1
The Raptors have some small hope of sneaking into the playoffs to play the Heat in the 1st round. They will need Rudy Gay to start shooting more efficiently (20 points, 38%) and Andrea Bargnani (4 points in last 5) needs to contribute more now that he gets to stay in Toronto.

21. Philadelphia 76ers | 22-33 | Last Week: 20 | -1
The Sixers have lost 6 straight including a collapse in the 4th quarter vs the Magic. Coach Doug Collins lambasted his players and criticized everyone including Bynum who has yet to play. Hard to see the Sixers winning when the players they traded for Iguodala are not even playing.

22. Detroit Pistons | 22-37 | Last Week: 22 | Same
Jose Calderon has been steady with the Pistons with his 13 points and 6 assists but the Pistons have lost more games with him in command. Andre Drummond is still a few weeks from returning. The Pistons are headed for another year at the draft lottery.

23. Minnesota Timberwolves | 20-34 | Last Week: 23 | Same
Ricky Rubio is playing extremely well in his last 5 games (13 points, 9 assists and 6 boards) but that is way too late to save the T'wolves. Even the return of Kevin Love in 2 weeks wont matter. Love might be better served to just skip the rest of the year to avoid more injuries.

24. New Orleans Hornets | 20-38 | Last Week: 24 | Same
Anthony Davis has decent numbers for him to be considered ROY but he gets injured often, albeit only minor injuries. He sprained his shoulder recently that could push him past 15 games missed to injury. Ryan Andersen and Grievis Vasquez are both playing well and could be considered for awards.

25. Cleveland Cavaliers | 19-38 | Last Week: 28 | +3
The Cavs beat the Bulls without Kyrie Irving after Dion Waiters scored 25 points. They also almost upset the Heat in their previous game. There's talk that Irving could already be the best PG in the East. Hard not to argue when Irving scores 23+ and can shoot 42% from three.

26. Phoenix Suns | 19-39 | Last Week: 27 | +1
The Suns traded for Marcus Morris but he has played sparingly (10 mins, 5 ppg). The mostly down season for Beasley continues after the Suns decided not to trade the free agent bust. Beasley injured his elbow after going for 4 ppg on 28% shooting in their last 5.

27. Washington Wizards | 18-37 | Last Week: 26 | -1
The Wizards have won 3 straight and is still the 3rd-worst team in the standings. Okafor and Bradley Beal have been playing well to support John Wall while Nene and Martell Webster have added some scoring. The Wizards can compete with everyone healthy.

28. Sacramento Kings | 19-39 | Last Week: 25 | -3
The Kings have lost 6 straight and 4 of them in double-digits. Marcus Thornton and Tyreke Evans had great games vs the Heat and if they can bring that effort every game, the Kings (or Supersonics) should win more games assuming that DMC keeps his head in the game.

29. Orlando Magic | 16-41 | Last Week: 29 | Same
The Magic unloaded JJ Redick and got Tobias Harris and Beno Udrih in return. Both guys have played very well in their 2 games with the Magic. The only remaining player of the team that went to the 2009 Finals is Jameer Nelson.

30. Charlotte Bobcats | 13-44 | Last Week: 30 | Same
Bobcats have the worst home record and worst record in the NBA. Player discontent is growing and there are rumors of tension among Coach Dunlap and some of his players (Gordon, Thomas). MKG struggled mightily after his return from a concussion (8 points, 4 boards).

Biggest Rise: Hawks +5
Biggest Fall: Kings -3

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