Tue Mar 31 01:15pm EDT
The BDL NBA Power Rankings combine two parts hard work with one part deep and devoted research to create ...no, they're power rankings. They're inherently stupid. But we have fun with them, and so should you.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers - You wanted the best, you got the best. The hottest band in the land ... Cavs? Let's cut to it, while we're here. Cleveland has been better than the Lakers overall. Not just without Andrew Bynum, but collectively, for the fun run that has been 2008-09. Do the Lakers have a matchup edge over these guys? Are they the 2007 Warriors to Cleveland's 2007 Dallas Mavericks? We'll find out in June. I'm pretty confident in that.
2. Los Angeles Lakers - Ticked off that I just compared the Lakers to the Warriors? Lighten up, Francis. Legs and schedule and young upstarts can still get to these guys. Still, this team has essentially played the entire season as would-be favorites, taken to be nearly the defending champs by every team they match up against. For all the injuries, and for all the teams looking to dethrone a team that actually hasn't been on the throne yet, it's impressive how they've hung on.
3. Boston Celtics - A close loss in Orlando with KG ineffective = win to me. At the very least, a push. Orlando's a game up in the standings, Boston's a game up in ... I'll stop.
4. Orlando Magic - Even including Dwight Howard's age and Courtney Lee's rookie status, this is an old team. This is a team full of guys that are in or past their primes. This is not something to worry about (though those 16 first half turnovers against the Heat were pretty lousy for a team full of geezers), rather, this is more fuel for the "SVG/Dwight are awesome" camp.
5. Houston Rockets - You were hoping for something interesting about the Rockets? Some funny YouTube clip or cute photo? I've got news for you, there's nothing interesting about the Rockets. Save for the fact that this team appears to suck horribly on paper, and yet they're among the NBA's elite.
6. Portland Trail Blazers - Issue numero uno? LaMarcus Aldridge is this league's most underappreciated defensive sieve. Issue numero two-o? Brandon Roy is this league's most underappreciated player, constantly having his status and stats diminished by Portland's slow pace. Now, go do something about this.
7. Denver Nuggets - They are the Nuggets, and they will find a way to fall out of our top ten by next Tuesday.
8. San Antonio Spurs - Full strength, and a little angry. If you want a grey-haired comet to grab hold of, this is the one. It will only get better for the Spursies.
9. Utah Jazz - Just pretend Portland is, I dunno, the team that really wanted Martell Webster. Just pretend they're the Heat. You lost to the Heat? The Bulls, then. The Bulls, too? Um ... the Kings. Picture every team in their underwear, and make sure the undergarments have a Sacramento Kings logo. It's the key to tough road wins. It's totally what the Magic do. I promise.
10. Atlanta Hawks - Another underachiever to round out the top third. Do the Hawks sniff of overachievers to you? Then why do they play knockdown, bollocks-out defense one night, and let crummy teams score at will on them the next? Isn't Mike Bibby dreamy?
12. Dallas Mavericks - I hope you know you've ruined the playoffs for everyone. By working hard and defending and beating out a team that can't stop Beno Udrih. Does that feel good? Accomplishing things you deserve?
13. Phoenix Suns - Does that feel good? Beno Udrih?
15. Philadelphia 76ers - Considering that they could ably take down the Cavs or Lakers while falling victim to the Clippers or Wizards, I think 15 is about right.
16. Detroit Pistons - Well, Allen Iverson has returned, which will allow the rest of the world to finally realize that it doesn't matter one lick whether or not AI starts or comes off the bench, because the Pistons traded for his contract and not his diminishing skills, and because Rasheed Wallace was always the most important player on this team. And Rasheed completely dogged it this year.
17. Chicago Bulls - I want to know what it's like to live in a world where it seems OK to bench important players for the entire fourth quarter, just ‘cuz of the flow ... man. Are things hazy where you are, Vinny Del Negro? Are the Turtles playing? Is there room on the slide for everyone?
18. Charlotte Bobcats - Still alive. Still boring. Still betting everything on the eighth seed for 2009. On the plus side, an older and crankier Raja Bell will be fun to watch as he approaches retirement.
19. New Jersey Nets - Possibly the league's worst first quarter defending team, and yet, I keep defending Lawrence Frank. At some point, this mess has to fall on the players. FALL!
20. Indiana Pacers - I'm not going to write a piece comparing Danny Granger to Kobe Bryant, because that would make the least amount of sense that I've ever not made, and I've made a career out of not making sense made very well, sensibly.
21. Milwaukee Bucks - Detroit Pistons? Chicago Bulls? You are lucky, lucky sons of beestings. Choose either Michael Redd or Andrew Bogut to stay healthy, and the Bucks are in the playoffs comfortably.
23. New York Knicks - A team created to clear cap space and barely compete is on pace to win 33 games, while remaining completely and utterly entertaining to watch just about every night out. As if the "you can't rebuild in New York" pillocks didn't look bad enough already ...
24. Golden State Warriors - And then there are the Warriors, who are competitive on some nights while entertaining on most, but you're constantly frustrated with them. Partially because you know the players on the court could do better, but mostly because you know the coaching staff is purposely not playing the best players they have for ... well, there's no reason for it. Or none that wouldn't involve curse words.
25. Oklahoma City Thunder - And then there are the Thunder, who had all the reason in the world to mope through a season, given the benefit of a loud crowd who were right chuffed just to see pro ball. Instead, the Thunder worked, it got better, it listened to its coach, and it genuinely appeared to like playing with the roster it was afforded. Yay, basketball. I mean, look at the kid in that picture. That ball is going in the bucket.
27. Memphis Grizzlies - How is a club so seemingly full of offense-first players ranked 29th in offense? Quinton Ross and Greg Buckner combining to average about 31 minutes a night. That's, um ... what? Fans, these little role players -- these guys who supposedly do the "little things" -- they count. And they hurt.
28. Sacramento Kings - Young team, good GM, solid potential. Now, no more signing 31-year olds to MLE contracts, OK Geoff?
29. Washington Wizards - We knew Gilbert Arenas could do whatever he wanted in a flat-footed, Johnny Neumann kind of way. The trick now is getting him to not try to score 40 in a flat-footed, Ron Artest kind of way.
30. Los Angeles Clippers - Marcus Camby will be out for a spell, and that might actually improve the team's defense. Sorry for ripping on the one Clipper that brought the effort all season long, but Marcus' screen and roll showings haven't been much to behold this year.