We are half-way through to what has been an exciting 2014-2015 season. This year so far we have seen high-risers like the Atlanta Hawks taking big steps forward and also teams that have taken giant leaps back like the New York Knicks. This time instead of dividing the rankings 1-15 and 16-30, Alec Walt (@AlecWalt) and I (@FonzyDeFalco) will combine our views in terms of who is ranked above who. The rankings this week are based on what the team has done through the beginning till now, rather than based off the past week. Our mid-season rankings are:
1. Golden State Warriors (32-6)
Did you know that the Warriors have been in only one game decided by 3 points or less? which by the way they won. This team just knows how to win with Steve Kerr’s leadership and with Stephen Curry being our early early season MVP candidate, the Warriors should not be taken lightly.
2. Atlanta Hawks (33-8)
In the beginning of the year, we expected the team to be fighting for a lower seed in the Eastern conference to now being the mid-season favorites in the East. All 5 of the Hawks starters are averaging double figures in points and Kyle Korver is shooting a ridiculous 53.6% from the 3 point line. Last time I checked defense wins championships and the Hawks are only giving up 96.6 points per game, which is 1st in the league.
3. Memphis Grizzlies (29-11)
Adding Jeff Green is huge to an already first place team in the Southwest division halfway through the season. Now they have a 4th option in scoring behind Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley. Tony Allen, known for his perimeter defense now added shooting to his game. The Grizzlies are a complete team ready for the spotlight.
4. Portland Trail Blazers (30-11)
Portland has always been looking for that third scoring option to compliment Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldrigde, and now they have found one in Wesley Matthews. Nicholas Batum has had a down year and Robin Lopez has definitely been missed since being sidelined one month ago. Consistency will determine how far this Trail Blazers team will go.
5. Dallas Mavericks (28-13)
Rajon Rondo and the Dallas Mavericks have been a match made in heaven. Their offense scores 108.5 points per game which is second in the NBA. The Mavericks management owes a huge thank you to Dirk Nowitzki for accepting a lower contract to stay in the star city.
6. Houston Rockets (28-13)
You know the cards have been played right when Josh Smith works out for an organization. James Harden has been a scoring machine with 26.6 points per game which is an NBA lead. To be a contender the Rockets need to improve their 8-9 record against teams above .500.
7. Washington Wizards (28-13)
The Wizards are the two seed in the Eastern Conference. All five starters average double figures in points per game. When games are on the line, the Wizards are 6-1 when the final score ends three points are less. The Wizards are also 8-9 against teams above .500 which must be improved to contend.
8. Chicago Bulls (27-15)
I will give you three factors which will determine if the Bulls represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals:
a.) Derrick Rose
b.) Derrick Rose
c.) Derrick Rose
Pau Gasol and Jimmy Butler have over-performed everyones expectations. If you are a Bulls fan pray for a healthy Derrick Rose.
9. Los Angeles Clippers (27-14)
They have the depth but the question still remains, how far will the Clippers go in the playoffs? The talent is there but we will see what happens come playoff time.
10. San Antonio Spurs (25-16)
This seems low for the defending champs but they have been playing most of their reserves because of coach Popovich’s usual tactics of resting key players. With that being said when the playoffs come around the Spurs will still be a team to watch.
11. Toronto Raptors (26-13)
The Raptors fell off since their hot start in the beginning of the year. They still are the 3rd best scoring team in the league, however they are 22nd in rebounds which needs to be improved. Its a good time for DeMar DeRozan to be back with them.
12. Phoenix Suns (24-18)
Isaiah Thomas is an early candidate for 6th man of the year averaging 14 points a game. They are also a high scoring team, with five of their players averaging double digits in points, three of them being regular starters and two coming off the bench. They are a fun team to watch and with them competing for the 8th seed in the West it’ll be interesting to see how this young group of players compete in primetime.
13. Oklahoma City Thunder (19-20)
Currently the 11th seed in the West, this might be the best team to not make the playoffs. Losing Durant for a period of time did hurt but now that he is back you can definitely expect them to be a force. But with a really stacked West it’ll be hard for them to make a playoff spot.
14. Milwaukee Bucks (21-19)
The Bucks last year had 15 total wins. They have been surprising doing a lot better than expected despite not having Jabari Parker. Jason Kidd has done a fantastic job with this team, having multiple starting and also 4th quarter lineups. I believe that they can make the playoffs but not very far.
15. New Orleans Pelicans (19-20)
Anthony Davis has been out of his mind this year, averaging 24 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks per game. The problem with them is that is the lack talent after Davis. Jrue Holiday is decent, but after him they don’t have another guy to look at consistently. Pay attention to Monty Williams and see if he is still the head coach for them.
16. Cleveland Cavaliers (21-20)
In the beginning, everyone predicted the Cavaliers to be top in the Eastern Conference and even win the NBA Finals. Now, they are fighting for a 6th seed. David Blatt has been on the hot seat for a while now with rumors that him and players to see eye-to-eye. With Kevin Love also wanting to become a free agent, this team is just a mess right now but they will still make the playoffs.
17. Denver Nuggets (18-22)
The Nuggets have a lot of depth, but the question is who can be their main go-to guy? They may have found him in Ty Lawson, who is quietly having a good year with 17 points and 10 assists per game.
18. Detroit Pistons (16-25)
Ever since Detroit let go of Josh Smith, they have been 11-2. It goes to show you that one roster move can make a significant impact on your team. I can definitely see the Pistons making the playoffs as a 7th or 8th seed with the way they are playing.
19. Miami Heat (18-22)
Miami hasn’t been good this season, but yet they still have the 7th seed in a very weak Eastern Conference. They have low stats across the board, 28th in scoring, 25th in assists and LAST in rebounds.
20. Brooklyn Nets (17-24)
Another team that really has not been playing well but still has a chance to make the playoffs in the East. It would be interesting to see what they do at this point of the season, either trade away players that have been rumored to be on the trading block (Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez) or try to make the playoffs and go on a run. We should know what Brooklyn plans to do when the trade deadline rolls around.
21. Sacramento Kings (16-24)
They needed to find a good coach when they had a chance to make a top seed in the West, but since they are the 12th seed in a strong Western Conference I do not see them making a playoff spot.
22. Charlotte Hornets (16-25)
At the beginning of the season Charlotte had been my sixth best team in the Eastern Conference, but they currently stand at nine. Lance Stephenson’s inconsistency and the injury of big Al Jefferson has not helped this season. A winning streak can easily put this team back in the playoffs, as they only trail Brooklyn one game for the eight seed.
23. Orlando Magic (15-28)
Nikola Vucevic’s 24 double-doubles leads the NBA. The Magic have a plethora of young talent, but are 5-16 against teams above .500. Evan Fournier, Victor Oladipo, Tobias Harris, and Nikola Vucevic average 10+ points per game this season. It is not the Magic’s year this year, but it will be in the years to come.
24. Utah Jazz (14-26)
The Jazz have one of the youngest teams in the NBA averaging an age of 24.3 years. Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward have taken steps up this season but Alec Burks injury, Dante Exum readiness at the NBA level, and an inconsistent starting five has hurt this team. This fan base needs to be patient, this team will take time.
25. Indiana Pacers (15-27)
At the beginning of the year I thought a Paul Georgeless Pacers team would be average. Now they are way below average. Their offense is horrible. 94.9 points per game is 26th in the NBA, The only bright spot is David West and Roy Hibbert who have anchored a defense who is 4th best in the NBA in rebounds. Paul George will make this team a contender next season of West and Hibbert accept their pending player options.
26. Boston Celtics (13-25)
After trading Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green, and Brandan Wright, the Celtics have entered the list of tanking teams. This defense is loose, giving up 104.2 points per game, 27th in the NBA. Danny Ainge said this draft class wasn’t strong, but expect him to wheel-and-deal to acquire assets for the future.
27. Los Angeles Lakers (12-29)
All Kobe Bryant wants is one more ring and the Los Angeles Lakers organization has clearly failed to deliver his final want. The Lakers can’t pass the ball or stop anyone on defense. Julius Randle being out for the season after game one made this developmental process even tougher. This team can’t wait for the offseason.
28. Philadelphia 76ers (8-32)
In every major offensive and defensive category, the 76ers are in the bottom 20 of the NBA. Michael Carter-Williams is shooting .388 from the field and Nerlens Noel has been inconsistent. Philadelphia still has to worry about the health of Joel Embiid. More losses are expected to come this second half.
29. Minnesota Timberwolves (7-32)
The Timberwolves have been atrocious this season, but Andrew Wiggins has displayed flashes of his potential. His 15.2 points per game leads the Timberwolves and all NBA rookies, and Wiggins even dropped a career-high 31 points the other night against the Denver Nuggets. This young team has a lot of work to do, but has an advantage in knowing who they will build this franchise around.
30. New York Knicks (5-36)
There is tanking and then there is TANKING. The Knicks are 28 games back from the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference, and there is still 41 games to be played. The worst team ever won nine games in one NBA season and the Knicks could equal that porous mark.