What an awesome trade deadline. Goran Dragic is now on the Miami Heat, Isaiah Thomas is on the Boston Celtics, Aaron Afflalo is on the Portland Trail Blazers, along with many other notable names on the move. Most moves strengthened the weak Eastern Conference developing an interesting playoff race to end the season. Alec Walt (@alecwalt) does teams 1-15. Alfonso DeFalco (@FonzyDeFalco) covered 16-30. Let’s see how the trade deadline shook up the power rankings.
Alec Walt (@Alec.Walt)
1.) Golden State Warriors: The Warriors have won four games in a row. Their competition was weak playing the New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers, and Minnesota Timberwolves. They did last play the defending champion San Antonio Spurs and made them look old. No additions were made to the roster at the deadline.
2.) Atlanta Hawks: The only move the Hawks made at the deadline was Adrian Payne to the Minnesota Timberwolves for a protected 1st-round pick. The Hawks currently lead the league in three-point efficiency. Four players were represented on the Eastern Conference All-Star team; the most in the NBA. The only thing that worries me is their rebounding. This season they have averaged 41.1 rebounds per game which is 27th in the league. As the roster stands, this team is championship ready.
3.) Memphis Grizzlies: 95.7 points per game is the least amount of point given up by one NBA team. You guessed right, it is the Memphis Grizzlies. No moves were made on deadline day and the Grizzlies didn’t need to. Jeff Green and Zach Randolph turned Memphis’ defense from great to elite. I have been telling everyone, the Memphis Grizzlies will represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals.
4.) Portland Trail Blazers: Portland desperately needed scoring depth, and Aaron Afflalo is about to solve all of their problems. Everyone knows what to expect out of Damian Lillard, LaMarcus Aldridge, and quietly Wesley Matthews, but outside of them Portland has struggled. Aaron Afflalo averaged 14.5 points per game on a bad Denver Nuggets team. My player to watch post All-Star break is Nicolas Batum. I am very excited for Sunday night’s Memphis Grizzlies vs Portland Trail Blazers game.
5.) Cleveland Cavaliers: The Cavaliers are the most explosive team in the NBA. LeBron James has been incredible this season and his teammates are starting to play to his level. Kevin Love has been a difference maker behind the arc and the two Knicks additions of JR Smith and Iman Shumpert are on the rise. LeBron knows what failure feels like which has motored this team. If the Cavaliers keep consistent, they are the scariest team in the NBA.
6.) Dallas Mavericks: Amare Stoudemire is now a Dallas Maverick. The only trades Dallas made was in mid-December when they acquired Rajon Rondo from the Boston Celtics. These two additions make them a contender. Stoudemire gives them big depth down low. The Mavericks are starting to lose strength on the low post dropping to 20th in the NBA is rebounds per game. Chandler Parsons is out for about a week bot isn’t an injury anyone should worry about. Rondo is healthy again, and I expect the Mavericks to kick it into gear heading into the playoffs.
7.) Toronto Raptors: The Raptors have one of the most fun offenses to watch. Their offense is so good, we all seem to forget that that’s all the Raptors can do. Their defense isn’t the strongest and they struggle around the boards. There are some big teams in the Eastern Conference and the Raptors biggest weakness is power forward which they will regret not improving at the trade deadline. But, their offense is so goof they can beat any team on any night.
8.) Houston Rockets: Dwight Howard is injured and all of the pressure is now on the shoulders of James Harden. With Howard out of the lineup, the Rockets defense is shaky. This defense is average, and the offenses in the Western Conference is elite. James Harden still leads the NBA in points and has the potential to score 30+ points per night. In the last three games against top Western Conference teams, the Rockets lost all three of them.
9.) Los Angeles Clippers: The Clippers have been on a nice four game winning streak without Blake Griffin. Griffin is scheduled to be out for an extended period of time. The Clippers made no moves on deadline day. Austin Rivers has been producing with his father as the coach scoring 29 points Saturday against the Sacramento Kings. Chris Paul has never won a playoff series in his career. Doc Rivers experience in the playoffs gives the Clippers credibility.
10.) Chicago Bulls: Chicago’s win against the Cleveland Cavaliers right before the all-star break proved to me that they are still contenders. No moves were made at the deadline. The Bulls need to find consistent production from all of their star players in Jimmy Butler, Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah, and Derrick Rose. With the Milwaukee Bucks, Charlotte Hornets, and Minnesota Timberwolves to be played next, look for the Bulls to try to come out hot post-deadline.
11.) Oklahoma City Thunder: The Thunder are currently the hottest team in the NBA winners of five in a row. At the deadline they added Enes Kanter, Kyle Singler, and DJ Augustin. In return they lost Reggie Jackson who didn’t want to be their to begin with. This team wants to win. They finally have bench scoring which was the goal heading into the deadline. Even though Kevin Durant is always in-and-out of the lineup, their is enough talent on the roster to make the playoffs.
12.) Milwaukee Bucks: I am a huge fan in the acquisition of Michael Carter-Williams. He is a lengthy, athletic point guard on a lengthy, athletic team. Jason Kidd is a great point guards coach who already turned around the career of Brandon Knight who they traded to the Phoenix Suns. So far this season the Bucks went from 2nd pick in the 2014 NBA draft to seven games over .500. Milwaukee is only 1 1/2 games behind the Washington Wizards for the 5 seed in the Eastern Conference.
13.) San Antonio Spurs: I’m starting to lose faith in the San Antonio Spurs even though they are still a very good team. The Golden State Warriors made the Spurs look old. As expected, no moves were made at the trade deadline. The Spurs only lost 21 games last year. This season they currently have 21 losses with 37 games left to play this season. The Western Conference is too good for the Spurs to repeat on top.
14.) Washington Wizards: The Wizards are starting to fade away in the Eastern Conference. With the improved play of the Atlanta Hawks and Cleveland Cavaliers, no one speaks of the Wizards as contenders anymore. The Wizards have only won two of the last ten games. Their offense fell to 18th in the league in scoring. The 127-89 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers Friday night is a huge cause for concern.
15.) Phoenix Suns: Phoenix made too many big changes on the roster at the trade deadline. They lost point guards Goran Dragic Isaiah Thomas, and Tyler Ennis, but added Brandon Knight and Marcus Thornton. The Suns game revolved around consistent production from the point guards. I don’t believe their is enough time in this stacked Western Conference to adjust to without Goran Dragic.
16.) Detroit Pistons: The acquisition of Reggie Jackson I think will definitely help them out this year. Now that he is starting its time for him to show the organization and the league that he is worth starting point guard money. Andre Drummond has been playing great with averages of 12.7 points and 13 rebounds per game. I expect them to make the playoffs with the dominant frontcourt they have of Drummond and Greg Monroe along with Jackson running the point.
17.) New Orleans Pelicans: Every year it seems like New Orleans looks to make a playoff push until one of their key players go down with injury. Not only is Jrue Holiday still out, but also Ryan Anderson is out, who has been key for them off the bench. Anthony Davis just recently has been bothered with a bad shoulder. This team is struggling with the injury bug again and I do not see them making the playoffs.
18.) Miami Heat: The recent acquisition of Goran Dragic I think is the answer for them at the point guard spot. Bad news for Chris Bosh as he will miss the season with a blood clot in his lungs. Their playoff window is closing unless they find a replacement for him. Is Thomas Robinson the answer? He has been recently bought out of his contract with the Denver Nuggets two days after been traded from the Portland Trail Blazers.
19.) Indiana Pacers: Circle your calendars everyone, Paul George is expected to play March 1st against the Philadelphia 76ers 9 months after breaking his leg in a Team USA inter squad scrimmage. If he comes back and plays great they do have a shot at making the playoffs in a weak eastern conference, but then again, it was a serious injury so we have no clue how well he can performance.
20.) Brooklyn Nets: Another trade deadline has passed and Brook Lopez has still in a Nets uniform. Kudos to Lopez for never saying a word these past couple of years about possibly being traded. Currently the 8th seed, I see them dropping out of the playoff race and completely overhauling the roster over the summer with the names of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez being the first guys gone.
21.) Charlotte Hornets: This team has been nothing but a disappointment. Lance Stephenson has not lived up to the expectations after having a stellar season a year ago in Indiana. Kemba is still hurt and Al Jefferson is slowing getting healthy again. It will be an interesting rest of the season for this team.
22.) Boston Celtics: When the C’s traded for Isaiah Thomas i was shocked, what I found more shocking was that Boston only traded away Marcus Thornton and a 2016 1st round pick owned by Cleveland for a guy that can drop 20 a night no problem. I’m not entirely sure what their plan of attack is for the rest of the year, but will see how it plays out.
23.) Utah Jazz: When they traded away Enes Kanter, it was a sign that Rudy Gobert would be the starting center for Utah for years to come. We keep saying this every week and I mean it when i say i see bright future for this young core
24.) Sacramento Kings: The hiring the George Karl has great for this franchise. Now with a stable coach, they Kings have no excuses now and they need to play a lot better. It may not be this season but when the offseason hits that when Sacramento needs to hit it big in either the draft of free agency.
25.) Orlando Magic: Really shocked that the Magic did not make any moves. Nikola Vucevic is still playing like a beast with a double double every game. Every year with say the same thing that they have potential but eventually they have to show it on the court with wins.
26.) Denver Nuggets: Denver has never seemed to get it on track this year. There is a lot of questions with team with the future of Ty Lawson, Kenneth Faired… actually everybody on that entire team is available for trade when the offseason comes. I also think that Brain Shaw will be on the hot seat for the remainder of the year.
27.) Los Angeles Lakers: Interesting point to be made here. If the Lakers 1st round pick falls out of the top 5 it goes to the Suns. I expect them now to lose and by the looks of this roster it looks like that will happen.
28.) Minnesota Timberwolves: The trade for Kevin Garnett shows that they wanted to have a veteran presence on the team and someone to teach Andrew Wiggins how to be a professional. It could definitely be helpful for the possible 19 year old rookie of the year candidate.
29.) Philadelphia 76ers: To be honest, I was shocked when the Sixers traded away former rookie of the year Michael Carter-Williams because of how well he has played for them. It will be interesting to see what this team does once the season is over as they try to continue to rebuild.
30.) New York Knicks: The only highlight from the Knicks after all star weekend was trading away Pablo Prigioni to Houston for 2 second round picks. They are also officially in tank mode now with shutting down Carmelo for the rest of the year.