December 5, 2021 | 8:16 am
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Shaw Sports Power Rankings Pre-trade deadline

The NBA All-star break has come and gone and it’s time to check in on each team’s power ranking. Injuries took most of the headlines before the break but some players are due to return to help their teams in the season’s final 30 games (or so).

Check out where we ranked all 30 teams as the season winds down in a few short months:

  1. Oklahoma City Thunder: Playing unreal basketball behind Kevin Durant and now they are getting Russell Westbrook back. Scary…
  2. Indiana Pacers: Like many of the top teams kind of skidded into the all-star break but should be poised to finish at the top of the East. The Andrew Bynum experiment begins soon too.
  3. Miami Heat: Just waiting for April to come and playing well despite lineup changes as guys miss games with multiple injuries.
  4. Houston Rockets: Seem to have figured out how to play with Dwight Howard on the post and picking their spots with the three ball in recent weeks.
  5. Los Angeles Clippers: Blake Griffin is a dark horse MVP candidate and now Chris Paul has returned to guide the ship. Can they get one more front court player to solidify a playoff push?
  6. Portland Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard said the team needed the all-star break to recoup and he expects everybody ready to “turn up” in the second half. Portland will need the bench to give some quality minutes in order to keep the starting lineup fresh for the playoffs.
  7. San Antonio Spurs: As the injuries mount the Spurs are considering changes to the roster to give them depth. But if everybody is reasonably healthy, they are still one of the best in the west.
  8. Phoenix Suns: Belief in their accomplishments to date have them looking to be buyers as the trade deadline approaches. Still lack some basic defensive principles but as fun a team as there is in the league to watch. They could be dangerous if Eric Bledsoe comes back to full strength.
  9.  Dallas Mavericks: Finally seem to be healthy and Dirk was vintage entering the break. Rotations seem to be set and this team is playing its best basketball of the season.
  10. Golden State Warriors: Starting to slip and struggle on defense but still very potent offensively. They would never admit it but Andre Iguodala has been a bit disappointing which has them on the hunt for depth off the bench.
  11. Memphis Grizzlies: Seem to have righted the ship simply by Marc Gasol’s presence alone. He himself is struggling to get up to speed but the team has come together in recent weeks. Mike Conley has been efficient and the trade for Courtney Lee has worked thus far.
  12. Toronto Raptors: The Suns east in terms of the story of overachieving. They will probably stand pat unless significant draft picks come their way for Kyle Lowry.
  13. Chicago Bulls: The story about them using the movie Major League as inspiration is just about as classic as it gets. Joakim Noah has shaken off his early season rust to lead the team in their unexpected resurgence post Luol Deng.
  14. Washington Wizards: A good mix of youth and veteran presence has this team surprising some folks in the east. They are looking to add a veteran (Andre Miller?) behind Wall to bolster their realistic playoff chances this season.
  15. Minnesota Timberwolves: Injuries and a lack of defense have plagued the T-Wolves for three consecutive seasons. If and when that ends they may be able sniff the post season. In the meantime they mire in mediocrity in the loaded west.
  16. Atlanta Hawks: Slippage in recent weeks has the team management thinking about changes. Jeff Teague has fallen out of favor and Paul Milsap has been the only consistent player on the roster.
  17. Brooklyn Nets: A successful January got them back in the hunt of the playoff race. But can Deron Williams return to viable level of prominence to lead them down the stretch?
  18. Denver Nuggets: Probably the streakiest team in the league. A consistent second scorer has yet to emerge on this do-it-by-committee roster.
  19. Charlotte Bobcats: Al Jefferson has been lights out since the beginning of the new year but it would be nice if their wing players contributed more. They are rumored to multiple players as the trade deadline approaches and should have enough to be a playoff team this year.
  20. New York Knicks: The entire origination seems to be a question mark this season. Is Woodson on the hot seat? Should they trade Carmelo Anthony? Is a deal on the horizon to unseat or help Felton with the point guard duties? Time is running out to get the proper answers.
  21. New Orleans Pelicans: If they can find a taker for Eric Gordon he is as good as gone. The wholesale changes they made haven’t worked and the injuries have mounted to keep them out of the running for a playoff spot.
  22. Detroit Pistons: Mo Cheeks was recently fired and new rotations need to be established. Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings need to find consistency and become leaders on the floor.
  23. Sacramento Kings: Just trying to find themselves on the court and gain chemistry. They desperately need to limit the minutes of Isiah Thomas however.
  24. Cleveland Cavaliers: Somehow Mike Brown still has his job. The team has disappointed but still hopes to make moves before the deadline to salvage the season.
  25. Boston Celtics: With Rajon Rondo back the trade machine is an overdrive with rumors in Boston. This team is performing as well as they can under the circumstances.
  26. Utah Jazz: Trey Burke may have hit the rookie wall and Gordon Hayward doesn’t hit that many shots. The year of development continues in Utah.
  27. Los Angeles Lakers: Kobe Bryant is pondering his basketball mortality while various other Lakers are still on the mend. Looking like a lost season in Tinsel Town.
  28. Orlando Magic: Despite a couple of signature wins at home against the Pacers and Thunder they still lack the experience and understanding to win games regularly.
  29. Philadelphia 76ers: They have been getting the wood put to them and it appears it is time to break up the band. Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes and Thaddeus Young are all on the block as the 76ers attempt to rebuild through draft picks.
  30. Milwaukee Bucks: Brandon Knight has enjoyed some moderate success while the rest of the starting lineup has been a revolving door at each position. They are probably the most unbearable team to watch this season.

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