1. Los Angeles Lakers (38-12) The big road trip hasn't really slowed the Lakers and evidence showed as they went into Boston last Sunday and beat the Celtics. LeBron might be the best but it's hard to argue in the closing seconds that Kobe is the most clutch
2. Denver Nuggets (33-16) I like Chauncey calling out J.R. Smith recently. The Nuggets are right in the sense that last year they had guys like Dahntay Jones and Linas Kleiza in case Smith decided to tune out of games. This year they need him a lot more and the success of the team might depend on it.
3. Dallas Mavericks (31-18)
I'll admit I wouldn't mind if Mark Cuban was an owner for a Minnesota team because I know he'll do whatever it takes to win. But it is funny to read things like "Cuban will consider trades." I wonder how much input Cuban does have on trades. I think the Mavericks should try to mix it up, they're not going to beat Denver or the Lakers and some other teams below them might beat them too.
4. Phoenix Suns (30-21) Amare Stoudemire sweepstakes go back and forth every day. I expect him to stay put with the Suns because I think he is happy there in Phoenix playing with Steve Nash. Once Nash is gone though, he'll probably want out.
5. San Antonio Spurs (28-19)The Richard Jefferson experiment probably has panned out the way most thought it would. The Spurs are still the team you don't want to see in the playoffs as they are built for that time of the season. The regular season doesn't mean much to some of these guys that have a few rings already.
6. Utah Jazz (30-18) They haven't lost since our power rankings two weeks ago, so that gives them a big time jump. Outside of Cleveland they're the hottest team in the league, and Illinois Fighting Illini fans are smiling too because at the front and center is Deron Williams.
7. Portland Trail Blazers (29-22) I expect the Blazers to make some type of deal that involves a wing or point guard to a team for a big. You see a guy like Jeff Foster's name get thrown around. Has Foster really spent 11 seasons with the Pacers??
8. Oklahoma City Thunder (28-21) They have to make the playoffs! This is the team people want to see, maybe not against the Lakers although that would be a great learning experience.
9. Memphis Grizzlies (26-22) Last time I said Zach Randolph seems to be the difference maker so far. An all-star selection for the well-traveled power forward points to evidence that good things can actually happen for the Grizzlies franchise.
10. Houston Rockets (26-22) You could put the Rockets with a team like the Clippers, you have a major piece of the puzzle out for the whole year so you just try to play through and hope for the best. If you don't make the playoffs, best of luck in the lottery.
11. New Orleans Hornets (26-23) Prediction: this team is blown up this summer. Roster wise, not arena or anything.
12. Los Angeles Clippers (21-28) A Clippers fan can be pretty disappointed with how the season has gone but if you've held on this long, you might as well stay a little more patient. Having another lottery pick this year could definitely help but technically they aren't out of the playoff race yet.
13. Sacramento Kings (16-32) The Kings should float Kevin Martin around the league to a team that could send them some expiring contracts and a good younger player. Put that guy with Tyreke Evans, Spencer Hawes and Jason Thompson and you might actually have something. What if Kings land number 1? Wall/Evans??
14. Golden State Warriors (16-32) Losers of seven in a row, the direction of this franchise could be questioned but so could many others. Some type of trade with the Warriors will happen before the deadline. Just my prediction.
Timberwolves (11-38) A two game win streak for the second time of the season! The Wolves are in a decent spot for lots of ping pong balls for the lottery but some teams like Golden State and Sacramento don't appear to be moving up in the wins column. It comes down to what do Wolves fans want more, wins or increased chances to win the lottery?
If Im the Bucs I'd take a WR like John Ross over Conley. They need another WR to put with Evans because I think Jackson might be gone next year. Somebody like Ross would be good with Evans. With th way their D-line played against Seattle & with the way Spence is looking better they might not go D-line right away now. It might be a WR 1st round now & then they go D, OL & everything else after that.