The NBA: Power Rankings: Week 17

The All-Star break is over and the "2nd Half" of the season is here. Teams are jockeying for playoff positions and going for home-court advantage. Most of the games will now have the feel of a "playoff game".

The NBA Trade Deadline finished last week with over 20 players moving to new teams. Here are the Trade Grades

Hero team of the week: The Heat have won 5 straight games including games without Dwyane Wade or LeBron James.

Sucky team of the week: The Sixers have lost 10 straight and they traded away Hawes and Turner which is an obvious ploy of tanking.

The standings are current up to February 23, 2014 and the rankings from Last Week refer to Week 15.

There were no rankings for Week 16 due to the All-Star break.

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LeBron James broke his nose versus OKC. He left that game in the 4th quarter and did not return.
LBJ tweeted a picture where he was wearing Bane's mask.

1. Indiana Pacers | 42-13 | Last Week: 1 | Same
They once had a 4-game lead against Miami but that has been trimmed to 1.5 games with still 2 games vs the Heat. Getting Evan Turner for Danny Granger might put them over the top since he can guard LBJ and Wade. ET is expected to make his debut on Tuesday.

2. Oklahoma City Thunder | 43-14 | Last Week: 2 | Same
Kevin Durant still leads LBJ for the MVP race but that margin got smaller especially with Russell Westbrook back. OKC was 22-6 without Russ but they are now 0-2 with him as Westbrook adjusts to find his rhythm (14.5 ppg, 28% shooting).

3. Miami Heat | 40-14 | Last Week: 7 | +4
Miami went 5-1 in their 6-game Western road trip with the lone loss coming from Utah. They are 8-1 in February and have won 5 straight games. LBJ has been on fire averaging 34 points in his last 5 games plus that game-winner vs the GSW.

4. San Antonio Spurs | 40-16 | Last Week: 4 | Same
The Spurs finished their 9-game road trip at 6-3 even with Parker and Ginobili missing some games. Danny Green and Tiago Splitter are back while Kawhi Leonard might play this week. Marco Belinelli is averaging 17 points in his last 5 games. 

5. Houston Rockets | 38-18 | Last Week: 5 | Same
The Rockets won 9 of 10 and are pushing for the 3rd spot in the West. Dwight Howard defeated the Lakers handily in his first game against them in Staples. Omer Asik was not traded but they made space in their backcourt by trading Aaron Brooks.

6. Portland | 38-18 | Last Week: 3 | -3
The Blazers are 5-5 in their last 10 games and they need to survive another game or two without LaMarcus Aldridge who has a sprained groin. They have injury problems with their frontcourt due to Meyers Leonard and Joel Freeland being out.

7. Los Angeles Clippers | 38-20 | Last Week: 6 | -1
The Clippers are just 3-2 in the 5 games Chris Paul played since his shoulder injury (16 ppg & 12 apg). Things don't get any easier with JJ Redick out indefinitely. Help might be on the way with Glen Davis rumored as a possible acquisition.

8. Phoenix Suns | 34-22 | Last Week: 8 | Same
The Suns lead the league in fastbreak points and are 5th in team scoring. It helps a lot when you have guys who can run down the court (Green, Morris twins, Plumlee, Tucker) and a speedy PG who can shoot and finish at the rim (Dragic).

9. Dallas Mavericks | 34-23 | Last Week: 9 | Same
The Mavs are 8-2 in their last 10 games with the losses coming from Miami and Charlotte. Devin Harris has been okay in his 14 games back from injury. He is getting 9 ppg and 4 apg in just 19 minutes. Dirk is shooting just below 50% which is his 3rd-highest.

10. Golden State Warriors | 34-22 | Last Week: 10 | Same
Jermaine O'Neal has been good in his last 2 games playing heavy minutes, both wins by the Dubs. He came up huge with a block on a dunk attempt by Chandler Parsons during the closing seconds then he erupted with a double-double (23 and 13) vs the Nets.

11. Memphis Grizzlies | 31-24 | Last Week: 11 | Same
Defensive specialist Tony Allen is back after missing 21 games. He is averaging 9 points and 6 boards in his first 2 games back. Mike Conley is also back from a sprained ankle. The Grizzlies are 16-6 since acquiring Courtney Lee from the Celtics.

12. Toronto Raptors | 31-25 | Last Week: 12 | Same
Kyle Lowry is continuing his dominance as possibly the best PG in the East. In his last 5 games, Lowry is getting 20 points, 9 assists and 5 rebounds. Sophomore Jonas Valanciunas has not been impressive this year but he leads them in rebounds.

13. Chicago Bulls | 29-26 | Last Week: 15 | +2
The Bulls never give up. They have won 5 of 6 and even after trading Luol Deng, they have competed and now sit within striking distance of the 3rd seed in the East. Joakim Noah leads them in total assists which is amazing for a center.

14. Washington Wizards | 28-28 | Last Week: 14 | Same
Nene had a career-high 30 points on 13-19 shooting vs the Pelicans and he made the winning basket at the buzzer. The Wizards are 26-22 in games that he plays. Unfortunately, Nene hurt his knee vs the Cavaliers and his status is unknown.

15. Minnesota Timberwolves | 27-29 | Last Week: 17 | +2
Kevin Love is doing his best to keep Minny close to a playoff spot but they are 6.5 games behind the 8th spot (Mavs). Love earned his first career triple-double vs the Jazz in a win but they could not defeat the Blazers without LaMarcus Aldridge.

16. Brooklyn Nets | 26-29 | Last Week: 19 | +3
The Nets are giving Jason Collins a chance to play for them. It makes sense because they traded away Reggie Evans who was a good post defender. Collins played 11 minutes in his debut while Marcus Thornton has yet to play for them.

17. Charlotte Bobcats | 27-30 | Last Week: 20 | +3
The Bobcats have won 4 straight and are making a push for the playoffs with the additions of Luke Ridnour and Gary Neal. They are expected to boost their shooting and ball-handling. Kemba Walker had 31 and 8 to lead them beat the Grizzlies.

18. Atlanta Hawks | 26-29 | Last Week: 13 | -5
The Hawks are holding on to the 8th spot in the East after going 2-8 in their last 10 games. Their most recent win was vs the Knicks where Mike Scott had a career-high 30 points while shooting 11-14. Kyle Korver still has his shooting streak at 123 games.

19. Denver Nuggets | 25-30 | Last Week: 16 | -3
The addition of Aaron Brooks (17 points in his debut) will help their team but making the playoffs probably won't happen for them. Danilo Gallinari has been ruled out for the year while JaVale McGee just had surgery that ended his season.

20. New Orleans Pelicans | 23-32 | Last Week: 18 | -2
Ryan Anderson is most likely out for the season due to a herniated disc while Jrue Holiday is out indefinitely. Eric Gordon was not traded in spite of multiple reports that said he would be gone. Gordon is having a down year with 16 ppg on 43% shooting.

21. Detroit Pistons | 23-33 | Last Week: 21 | Same
The Pistons fired their coach a week ago and they should have fired GM Joe Dumars as well. Dumars signed Jennings and Smith and that together with Monroe and Drummond has not worked for them. Although, Andre has been fantastic this year.

22. Cleveland Cavaliers | 22-35 | Last Week: 27 | +5
The Cavs are 6-4 in their last 10 games and are showing signs of life but they are 5 games out of a playoff spot. Spencer Hawes was okay in his debut with 7 points and 10 rebounds. All-Star MVP Kyrie Irving is only averaging 17 points after the break.

23. New York Knicks | 21-35 | Last Week: 22 | -1
The Knicks are an abysmal 2-8 in their past 10. They could not beat a tanking Orlando team and they lost to the Hawks who were without Horford and Millsap. They were unable to get anyone to help them and now they are trying to buyout MWP and Beno Udrih.

24. Sacramento Kings | 20-36 | Last Week: 26 | +2
The Kings received Jason Terry from the Nets but they declared him out for the season instead of waiving him or buying him out. The addition of veteran Reggie Evans should help DMC mature and improve defensively if DMC listens to Evans.

25. Utah Jazz | 19-36 | Last Week: 25 | Same
Derrick Favors has played only 4 of their last 10 games due to a hip injury. His return to good health is uncertain. Meanwhile, Gordon Hayward is slumping in their past 10 games where he is getting only 11 points on 30% shooting.

26. Los Angeles Lakers | 19-37 | Last Week: 23 | -3
Steve Blake is gone while Pau Gasol was not traded again and Kobe will miss another 3 weeks to get healthy. In other news, Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks were instrumental in helping the Lakers beat the Celtics to end 8 straight defeats in LA.

27. Boston Celtics | 19-38 | Last Week: 24 | -3
Rajon Rondo was not traded even though chances of him re-signing with the Celtics are not that high. Rondo has struggled finding his rhythm yet and the lack of talent in Boston does not help especially with injuries to Bradley and Sullinger.

28. Orlando Magic | 17-41 | Last Week: 28 | Same
Orlando is trying to tank by releasing Glen Davis although they did not trade Arron Afflalo. With Davis gone, more minutes should go to Tobias Harris, Maurice Harkless and Andrew Nicholson. Victor Oladipo has been okay in his rookie season.

29. Milwaukee Bucks | 10-45 | Last Week: 30 | +1
OJ Mayo has been a complete bust for the Bucks this year. He is struggling offensively and he isn't even trying on defense. They should give all his minutes to newly acquired Ramon Sessions or the younger players (Middleton and Greek Freak).

30. Philadelphia 76ers | 15-41 | Last Week: 29 | -1
The Sixers have lost 10 straight and unloaded two of their top players (Hawes and Turner). Nerlens Noel has not been cleared to play and all signs point to him sitting out the season.

Biggest Jump of the Week: Cavs +5

Biggest Drop of the Week:  Hawks -5

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