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Shaw Sports NBA Power Rankings March 2015

We’re about one month away from the NBA playoffs and it’s a great time to check in on where teams stack up as the postseason looms. Back from the depths of hell  in the east are the Indiana Pacers while the Cleveland Cavaliers are looking like favorites despite Atlanta’s dominant season.  Out west the Warriors are on cruise control at the top while the Thunder and Pelicans have no chill in their hunt for the final playoff spot. Here is where all 30 teams rank in the midst of March madness.

  1. Golden State Warriors::They aren’t even playing David Lee anymore that’s how good this team is. They can be found in the top 10 in almost every significant category on both ends but the fact they lead the league in blocks is most surprising… thought they weren’t a physical team?
  2. Cleveland Cavaliers: Kyrie Irving seems like he’s ready for the big stage of the playoffs and you already know about that LeBron James fellow. This team is ripping and running.
  3. Atlanta Hawks: A lead so big in the east they can’t be caught for the top seed. They just have to stay healthy while not letting their foot off the gas too much.
  4. Memphis Grizzlies: Started to sputter after a tough stretch of 7 games in 10 days but still one of the league’s best. Mike Conley’s ankle is a concern but the rest of the group seems healthy outside of the usual wear and tear of the season.
  5. Portland Trail Blazers: Wesley Matthews is done for the year with the Achilles tear but he’s still contributing to the locker room environment. Now Arron Afflalo has a chance to make a big splash alongside Aldridge, Lillard and the resurgent Nicolas Batum.
  6. San Antonio Spurs: Was there ever any doubt they’d be back playing championship level basketball? Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard are poised for the stretch run while old man river walk Tim Duncan has held things down the entire season.
  7. Houston Rockets: How the Rockets continue to play at this high a level without Dwight Howard is truly remarkable. Terrence Jones is something special and he’s supported James Harden’s M.V.P. candidacy by keeping Houston in the western conference elite.
  8. Los Angeles Clippers: Just last season it was Blake Griffin holding things down while Chris Paul was injured, not it is Paul aided by some monster DeAndre Jordan lines keeping the Clippers afloat. Still need to see them do something big in the playoffs.
  9. Chicago Bulls: With Derrick Rose, Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler sidelined the Bulls are developing guys like Nikola Mirotic and Doug McDermott. They look to be very formidable assuming everyone can come back healthy but that’s one hell of an assumption given the roster’s track record. Where would they be without Pau Gasol though?
  10. Oklahoma City Thunder: It’s been the Russell Westbrook show for the better part of three weeks now and that has treated fans to some incredible eye-popping basketball. Still, for this team to get into the playoffs and have success the healthy return of Kevin Durant is needed.
  11. Dallas Mavericks: Remember at the beginning of the season when they had all those lofty offensive stats? Things are a bit different now and the addition of Rajon Rondo hasn’t gone exactly as planned. Dirk Nowitzki is shooting the worst he has since his rookie year but there seems to be a feeling this team is just playing out the string and the ship will be righted.
  12. New Orleans Pelicans: It seems as if the Pelicans are going to finish above 500 and give OKC a run for that final playoff spot. This team will never be fully healthy it seems but as long Anthony Davis and Tyreke Evans can continue to play at high level with some help from Eric Gordon…things seem to be manageable.
  13. Indiana Pacers: Storming to the finish of the season is Indy with some major contributions from Rodney Stuckey as of late (you read that right). This is the best team since the All-Star break and you have to wonder if Paul George does return if that helps or hurts a team that seems to finally have hit their stride.
  14. Toronto Raptors: Kyle Lowry’s play fell off a cliff after the All-Star break and he took some time off to regain his form. They are coasting in the Atlantic division and that lack of pressure seems to have made them comfortable.
  15. Washington Wizards: Just who are these Wizards? Are they the exciting everybody touches the ball team that scores 104.5 in their wins or the stick in the mud turnover-prone squad that scores 91.9 in their losses?
  16. Phoenix Suns: They still have a puncher’s chance at the playoffs but have quickly been surpassed and overlooked as a result of their myriad of moves at the deadline. Now they have to integrate some new parts and give guys like Markieff Morris more touches which really could go either way. T.J. Warren looks like a keeper though.
  17. Utah Jazz: If you are in the west you really don’t want any part of this team who seem to have figured out something in the latter part of the season. Rudy Gobert is the league’s best pick and roll defender currently according to Synergy while Dante Exum is carving out a niche as an on-ball defender. Oh and they have Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors both having career years combining for 36 points, 13.2 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 2.2 steals and 2.1 blocks per game.
  18. Milwaukee Bucks: From a financial standpoint they came out ahead with the trade of Brandon Knight and the acquisition of Michael Carter-Williams. It did shake their chemistry and team has been sluggish as a result. The cobwebs are starting to dissipate and with the Raptors and Wizards floundering, home court advantage in the first round isn’t out of the question yet.
  19. Boston Celtics: Isaiah Thomas has been a godsend but much credit should be given to the job Brad Stevens has done with this team. They rarely turn the ball over despite having one of the league’s highest paces. Couple that with some precise clutch execution in the closing minutes of recent games and you have team green scrapping for a playoff spot in a year they probably shouldn’t be.
  20. Miami Heat:Dwyane Wade is playing like an elite shooting guard while trying to mentor the very testy Hassan Whiteside. Goran Dragic is banged up as many on the roster seem to be, but there’s just enough talent and cohesion to make the playoffs we think.
  21. Charlotte Hornets: Mo Williams was the hero they needed in the absence of Kemba Walker. Now they have to contend with an injury to Al Jefferson but with the consistent play of Gerald Henderson this team has come back from the dead in the east.
  22. Denver Nuggets: All they needed to do was fire Brian Shaw apparently but something still stinks in Denver. Ty Lawson seems to have lost his edge offensively but maybe he’s deferring to Danilo Gallinari and Kenneth Faried who both have been different players since Shaw’s firing.
  23. Brooklyn Nets: Joe Johnson at power forward? Deron Williams and Brook Lopez back in the starting lineup? It’s a circus in Brooklyn as Lionel Hollins searches for anything that will work with his underachieving squad.
  24. Sacramento Kings: It was once a promising season but that seems like ages ago. With Darren Collison sidelined for the year at least they can get another extended late season look at Ray McCallum.
  25. Detroit Pistons: To put it bluntly Stan Van Gundy may have over-tweaked the roster. They have been awful with Reggie Jackson at the helm but their schedule hasn’t done them any favors either. Regardless, it seems like the Pistons are lottery-bound and decisions on Greg Monroe and Brandon Jennings loom this summer.
  26. Orlando Magic: Victor Oladipo is coming along nicely and they have a gem in Vucevic but wins will be on the agenda for this team next year with Brian Shaw possibly entering the coaching fold.
  27. Minnesota Timberwolves: You can see the talent of Andrew Wiggins is for real and Ricky Rubio is a real live NBA point guard. Experience is the only thing holding this team back from making some noise next season.
  28. Los Angeles Lakers: Um…they are bad. Hope the reports of Julius Randle progressing will have him on track for next season.
  29. Philadelphia 76ers: Slowly but surely Nerlens Noel has put together a good rookie season. Should be an interesting summer as everybody is still unsure as to what this team wants to do both short-term and long-term.
  30. New York Knicks: Alexey Shved all the time for the rest of the season. Really wish Tim Hardaway Jr. and Cleanthony Early would have had better seasons. C’est La vie.



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