With many injuries around the league and a blockbuster trade, week 15 was a notable one. Now in week 16, here is a ranking of all 30 teams.
1.Golden State Warriors 40-10 Prev:1
*The Warriors held off a late comeback from the Boston Celtics on Friday night. *Both teams are first in their respective conference so it’s a possible prelude to the NBA Finals.
*Stephen Curry had a season-high 49 points in the win. Averaging 28.1 points per game, he ranks third in the NBA behind James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
2.Houston Rockets 35-13 Prev:2
*The return of James Harden has made all the difference for the Rockets. Houston is 5-1 since his return and only failed to record 100 points in one of those games. *They have big games this week against the Spurs and Cavs.
3.Oklahoma City Thunder 30-20 Prev:6
*Oklahoma City’s win streak continued last week; it’s now at eight games. *Russell Westbrook has looked amazing of late. He has at least 30 points in four consecutive contests. On the year, he is just 0.5 rpg away from averaging a triple double.
4.Boston Celtics 36-15 Prev:3
*Jaylen Brown hit a clutch three in the last minute of the game on Monday night to beat the Denver Nuggets.
*Jayson Tatum had a good performance against Denver, scoring 20 points. However, it has not been a good month for Tatum, who is only averaging 11.4 ppg in January in comparison to 14.6 ppg in December.
5.Toronto Raptors 33-15 Prev:4
*Fred VanVleet had a career-high 23 points in just 20 minutes on Sunday as the Raptors outperformed the Lakers. The second year guard from Wichita State is having the best month of his career, scoring 12.1 ppg in January.
*With the recent struggles of the Boston Celtics, the Raptors are only 1.5 games out of first in the east.
6.Minnesota Timberwolves 32-21 Prev:5
*Minnesota’s rough, 1-3 week was capped off by a loss to the Atlanta Hawks.
*Despite the poor week, Minnesota has been efficient all season. They only commit 12.5 turnovers per game which is second best in the NBA.
7.San Antonio Spurs 33-19 Prev:7
*San Antonio’s bench continues to be one of the best in the NBA. In their win over Sacramento, the backups contributed 68 points.
*Bryn Forbes provided a big spark off the bench, scoring a season-high 23 points.
8.Cleveland Cavaliers 29-19 Prev:10
*Cleveland took a step in getting back in the right direction, going 2-1 in week 15.
*Their defensive struggles continued, though, and they are ranked 26th in NBA, allowing 109.4 ppg.
9.Miami Heat 29-21 Prev:9
*Tyler Johnson’s value showed as the Heat won both of their games after his return from an ankle injury.
*Miami’s success is largely due to their balanced scoring attack. Eight players are averaging over 10 points per game.
10.Philadelphia 76ers 24-23 Prev:11
*Before losing back to back nights on Sunday and Monday, the Sixers were on a roll with a big win over the Spurs.
*Turnovers are the biggest issue for the Sixers as they often are with young teams. The Sixers commit 17.2 turnovers per game, the most in the NBA.
*The Sixers have a back-to-back next Friday and Saturday; Joel Embiid is expected to play in back-to-back nights for the first time in his career.
11.Portland Trail Blazers 27-22 Prev:12
*Damian Lillard has been on fire this month as he averages 25.9 ppg in January and hasn’t failed to record 20 points.
*The Trail Blazers are one of many teams who were affected by the Demarcus Cousins injury. The path to the playoffs becomes easier for the Blazers with the Pelicans becoming less of a threat.
12.Indiana Pacers 28-23 Prev:13
*Victor Oladipo’s breakout season continued on Monday as his 25 points led the Pacers over the Hornets.
*The second overall pick in the 2013 draft, Oladipo has to be the favorite for most improved player. He is averaging career-highs in almost every offensive category.
13.New Orleans Pelicans 27-22 Prev:15
*Poor Boogie. He was having arguably the best month of his career and the Pelicans were finally establishing themselves as a playoff team.
*Nikola Mirotic is a possible option for the Pelicans but he would have to approve for the trade to go through, dropping his rights to a 2018-2019 team option from a contract signed this summer.
*Either way, Demarcus Cousins is hard to replace and a huge loss for the Pelicans.
14.Washington Wizards 27-22 Prev:8
*The Wizards have gone through a rough stretch, just 4-6 in their last 10.
*John Wall will undergo a procedure to deal with nagging knee issues; obviously a huge loss for the Wizards. Adam Silver will have to pick a replacement for the All Star weekend. Ben Simmons?
15.Milwaukee Bucks 27-22 Prev:17
*Since the firing of Jason Kidd, the Bucks have caught fire, winning four games in a row.
*Interim coach, Joe Prunty, has done a good job of keeping Milwaukee afloat after the firing. With their wins last week, the Bucks are up to fifth in the east.
16.Denver Nuggets 26-24 Prev:16
*Denver often gets overlooked due to their lack of a true superstar. However, they are two games over .500% and helped by the Demarcus Cousins injury.
*Nikola Jokic is excellent; he averages 16.3 points and 10.5 rebounds per game this season.
17.Utah Jazz 21-28 Prev:21
*With the Demarcus Cousins injury and Blake Griffin trade, a seemingly unlikely playoff team looks much more likely to get a spot.
*Rudy Gobert is back and Donovan Mitchell is playing well so it’s the perfect time for the Jazz to make a run.
18.Los Angeles Clippers 25-24 Prev:14
*Blake Griffin was finally shipped out of LA after weeks of trade rumors.
*Avery Bradley will reunite with his former coach, Doc Rivers.
* On paper the trade doesn’t look terrible for the Clippers but it is likely the start of more trades to come and an eventual rebuild for the Clippers.
19.Los Angeles Lakers 19-30 Prev:22
*Since their nine-game loss-streak,the Lakers have gone on a roll with 8 wins in their last 11 games and regaining relevance.
*Eleven games under .500%, it will be tough for the Lakers to make a playoff run, but their recent stretch should give them hope going forward.
20.Detroit Pistons 22-26 Prev:18
*On an eight-game loss-streak, the Pistons had to make a move to stay in the playoff picture.
*The trade is risky for Detroit. Blake has made the All Star game before but he does have a history of injuries.
*Without Avery Bradley, rookie Luke Kennard will have an increased for the Pistons.
21.Charlotte Hornets 20-29 Prev:19
*Charlotte’s disappointing season didn’t get better as the Hornets lost 3 of 4 games last week.
*Dwight Howard’s free throw problems have not gotten better. At .550% he is last in the NBA among qualifiers for free throw percentage.
22.New York Knicks 22-28 Prev:24
*Frank Ntilikina has not had an impressive rookie campaign. Averaging 20.4 mpg off the bench, he averages just 5.3 ppg and a brutal 1.8 turnovers per game.
*While Lebron isn’t in the position to say who the Knicks should pick, he is not wrong: Dennis Smith Jr. would have been a much better selection by the Knicks.
23.Chicago Bulls 18-32 Prev:20
*After a 15-8 stretch over the course of two months, the Bulls are back to being an underwhelming team, having lost four in a row.
*Kris Dunn remains out with a concussion and that is a huge loss for Chicago. *Many players have seen an increase in minutes due to the injury, including former Villanova star, Ryan Arcidiacono.
24.Brooklyn Nets 18-32 Prev:23
*The trade back in December that sent Jahlil Okafor and Nik Stauskas from the 76ers to the Nets has not been beneficial for Brooklyn.
*After sitting the bench in his first month with the Nets, Okafor finally played relevant minutes, scoring a season-high 21 points on Saturday.
25.Dallas Mavericks 16-35 Prev:27
*Dallas lost all four of their games last week.
*Their three point shooting has been a problem lately. In a loss to the Heat last week, the Mavericks shot 8-29 from deep.
26.Memphis Grizzlies 18-31 Prev:26
*Memphis’ awful season became even worse as Mike Conley was ruled out for the season with a heel injury.
*Former Kentucky star, Andrew Harrison, will gain some playing time as a result of Conley’s injury.
27.Sacramento Kings 15-34 Prev:30
*As it looked like Sacramento’s eight-game losing streak would extend further, De’Aaron Fox said no more as he sprinted down the lane for the game winning putback dunk against the Heat.
*Fox looked better last week, with 26 points in the loss to the Spurs.
28.Atlanta Hawks 15-35 Prev:28
*Atlanta came back on Monday night to defeat the Timberwolves in a nailbiter. *Despite Atlanta’s lack of success, Dennis Schroeder has had a good season, averaging 19.6 points and 6.5 assists per game this season.
29.Phoenix Suns 17-34 Prev:25
*The Suns are on a five-game win-streak and young players, Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss, don’t look good.
*The exception to the Suns’ bad season is Devin Booker, scoring 24.7 ppg at the age of 21.
30.Orlando Magic 14-34 Prev:29
*Orlando had another bad performance as they blew a 21 point lead to lose to the Pacers on Saturday night.
*The Magic don’t have a future with their current roster, so many players including Nikola Vucevic and possibly Aaron Gordon could be on the move at the trade deadline.