Sunday, January 5, 2014

How Are the Wizards a Potential Top-Four Seed? (Power Rankings, Week 10)

Last week was the first time this season that I neglected my power rankings,* and I'm sure you were all sadder than the average Derrick Rose fan. But I'm back with a vengeance this week, about to go on a tear like Blake Griffin has experienced the last few weeks.

*We spent New Year's skiing in Vermont and, since nobody pays me to do this, I called in sick for the week.

Since my last power rankings, it seems like half the league's stars have gone down with injuries. But there were still plenty of holiday-season goodies around the Association, including LeBron showing the Hawks how to soar; Miles Plumlee heating up for the Suns; and Reggie Jackson reminding Amar'e what healthy knees allow you to do.

One more thing: Even though it happened two weeks ago, I have to mention Magic Johnson's tweet about the LeBron-Wade alley oop on Christmas:

Now, onto the rankings. In this week's edition, the streaking Warriors jumped to the No. 6 slot and the Nuggets plummeted all the way to No. 16. Meanwhile, the Pacers reclaimed the top spot, thanks in no small part to Russell Westbrook's injury in Oklahoma City.

Following the complete rankings, we'll take a deeper look at the Washington Wizards and the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Here are my Week 10 Power Rankings:
30. Milwaukee Bucks (7-26)
29. Orlando Magic (10-23)
28. New York Knicks (10-22)
27. Cleveland Cavaliers (11-22)
26. Philadelphia 76ers (12-21)
25. Utah Jazz (11-25)
24. Sacramento Kings (10-22)
23. Brooklyn Nets (12-21)
22. Boston Celtics (13-20)
21. Detroit Pistons (14-20)
20. Los Angeles Lakers (14-19)
19. Memphis Grizzlies (15-18)
18. Charlotte Bobcats (15-20)
17. Chicago Bulls (14-18)
16. Denver Nuggets (15-17)
15. Washington Wizards (14-16)
14. New Orleans Pelicans (15-17)
13. Toronto Raptors (16-15)
12. Minnesota Timberwolves (16-17)
11. Atlanta Hawks (18-16)
10. Dallas Mavericks (19-14)
9. Phoenix Suns (20-12)
8. Los Angeles Clippers (23-13)
7. Houston Rockets (22-13)
6. Golden State Warriors (22-13)
5. Oklahoma City Thunder (26-7)
4. San Antonio Spurs (26-8)
3. Portland Trail Blazers (26-8)
2. Miami Heat (25-8)
1. Indiana Pacers (26-6)

Washington Wizards

Well, look who's got a puncher's chance at a top-four seed in the Leastern Conference. Washington's front office pledged to compete for a playoff spot this year, and the Wizards have lucked out as most of their conference has morphed into this:
Anyways, the Wizards traded for Marcin Gortat in October and the big man averaged 13.6 points and 9.4 rebounds in November. His production has dropped a bit since, but he's still a very solid frontcourt presence. 

Meanwhile, John Wall is constantly attacking the basket and creating opportunities for an otherwise below-average offense. It remains to be seen if his massive contract will pay off in the long term, but Wall will definitely lead his team to the postseason this year.

Minnesota Timberwolves
Rick Adelman's squad will likely come up thiiiiiiis short of a playoff berth.
Before we get into the Timberwolves' playoff chances, let's take a second to appreciate Kevin Love. The only time I read the paper anymore is when I go to the deli for lunch every day. I consider it a treat to read the Wolves' box scores* a few times a week, because Love is putting up such absurd numbers.  

*My All-Box Score Team:
PG: Chris Paul (40 points/15 assists is always in play.)
SG: Dwyane Wade (Once a week, when he actually plays.) 
SF: LeBron (Is he even a SF?)
PF: Kevin Love (He put up a ho-hum 30-14-5 in Saturday's loss to the Thunder.)
C: Dwight Howard (Even though I'd take Roy Hibbert over him on a real team.)

At point guard, Ricky Rubio is usually beautiful to watch, capable of marvelous passes like this one from last night. Having said that, he's shooting just 35 percent from the field. That's not a typo. THIRTY-FIVE PERCENT!!!! At this point, it almost seems like he's afraid to shoot. I mean, I know the feeling because I was always scared to shoot, too. Then again, I'm not an NBA point guard.*

*Wait, I'm not?

Minnesota has a good overall point differential (+4.0), a pretty strong indicator that they're a solid team. But barring a serious injury in Phoenix or Dallas, the T-Wolves are in trouble.

Minnesota is one of my three NBA League Pass teams* because it plays such a fun style. However, I probably won't be watching them play in May unless they make a significant trade in the next few weeks.

*Read: One of the three teams I watch when I hack into Kavanaugh's account.

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