NBA Power Rankings: March 2019

AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer

 

Rankings updated through all games completed on March 3rd, 2019

 

30. Suns (13-51)          Down 3

This young Phoenix team has dropped 13 of 15 games since losing T.J. Warren (second leading scorer at 18 PPG) to an ankle injury. The Suns are in position to land a high lottery pick yet again and have no interest in rushing players back.

 

29. Knicks (13-49)          Up 1

Rookie center Mitchell Robinson averages 2.3 blocks (trailing only Myles Turner and Anthony Davis) in under 19 MPG. He also shoots nearly 70 percent from the field. The second-round pick gives the organization something to be optimistic about should he keep his conditioning up to par.

 

28. Cavaliers (16-48)          Up 1

The Cavs have won five of the last six games Kevin Love has played in. The wins came over Phoenix, New York and Memphis. Nevertheless, it’s a positive sign that he and emerging rookie point guard Collin Sexton (39.2 3P%, 15.1 PTS) are finally getting acclimated to one another.

 

27. Bulls (18-46)          Up 1

Remember all the hype Lauri Markkanen received coming out of Tucson, Arizona? We’re now starting to see why: Since the beginning of February, the stretch big man is averaging 26.5 points on 48.7 percent shooting. The Bulls are 6-6 during that time.

 

26. Grizzlies (25-40)          Down 1

The Grizz are playing for pride with Marc Gasol out of the picture. Oh yeah, and also their first round pick which is top-eight protected. The pick will go to Boston should it fall outside that range. The Grizzlies currently have the sixth-worst record in the league.

 

25. Hawks (22-42)          Up 1

Trae Young (18.3 PTS, 7.8 AST) may not be the favorite to win Rookie of the Year but he is putting himself in the same elite company as Michael Jordan and Allen Iverson as rookies. He and John Collins form a promising duo, one that is worthy of more attention moving forward.

 

24. Pelicans (29-36)          Down 3

The Pels are in all-out tank mode with Anthony Davis likely to be shipped elsewhere this upcoming summer. Effective immediately, this is now Jrue Holiday’s team. This roster raises some major questions in young players with unfulfilled expectations: Jahlil Okafor, Stanley Johnson, Elfrid Payton, etc.

 

23. Mavericks (27-35)          Even

Newly acquired Tim Hardaway Jr. is getting paid a generous amount – over $54 million the next three years. T.H.J. is shooting the ball with a bit more efficiency (41.9 FG%, 16.9 PTS) since joining the team. Even without a healthy squad, it’s important he shows what he can bring to the table for future purposes.

 

22. Wizards (26-37)          Down 2

Bradley Beal has developed into an all-NBA caliber player and finished the month of February averaging 30.9 points and 6.8 assists. The rest of the roster has been fairly inconsistent all season long with up-and-down play from guys like Tomas Satoransky, Jeff Green and Thomas Bryant.

 

21. Heat (28-34)          Down 2

Though it’s unclear how much his presence will bolster the team’s status in the Eastern Conference, Goran Dragic is finally back on the floor after missing 30-plus games. As of today, Miami is on the outside looking in while trying to climb its way up into the playoffs for the third time in five years.

 

20. Hornets (29-34)          Down 3

Buzz City has dropped five of its last six home games. Jeremy Lamb is averaging a career-best 15.2 points per game. Coach James Borrego recently moved him to the second unit and Lamb has wasted no time using that to his advantage when Kemba Walker is resting.

 

19. Wolves (29-34)          Down 1

Karl-Anthony Towns (51.8 FG%, 23.9 PTS, 12.4 REB) was named an All-Star for the second consecutive year. He’s been the superstar they need him to be but the team doesn’t seem to be jelling as a unit. That’s especially the case on defense where the Wolves consistently struggle year after year. Robert Covington needs help.

 

18. Magic (30-35)          Up 6

It’s an exciting time for fans in Orlando where the team is actually serious about qualifying for the postseason (something that hasn’t happened since the Dwight Howard days). The Magic has piled up a few impressive wins (three vs. TOR, two vs. BOS and one vs. GS) that have made up for the worse losses.

 

17. Kings (31-31)          Down 2

Sacramento has one of the toughest schedules remaining including road contests with BOS, PHI, LAL, HOU, SA, UTA and POR. The Kings have showed resiliency away from their home floor as both De’Aaron Fox (47.7 FG%) and Buddy Hield (47.3 3P%) shoot the rock at a higher clip outside of Sac-Town.

 

16. Lakers (30-33)          Down 3

As unbelievable as it may sound, a LeBron James-led team has its work cut out in order to capture a playoff spot. The Lakers will likely be fighting with LAC, SAC and MIN for eighth seed in the West. While there is still such a thing as the LBJ treatment from officials, the West is obviously a whole different beast.

 

15. Nets (32-33)          Up 1

Although they have exceeded expectations through all the rough patches, it’s about time the Nets had their whole roster healthy. Joe Harris (47.2 3P%) has been one of the league’s pleasant surprises as not only a lethal outside shooter but also a well-rounded player with his strong ability to play off the ball.

 

14. Pistons (31-31)          Up 8

Motor City is one of the hottest teams in the league, having won nine of 12 games since the beginning of February. Thon Maker was a notable addition to the squad. Other than that, there weren’t any major roster adjustments with the exception of swapping Stanley Johnson for three-point specialist Wayne Ellington.

 

13. Clippers (36-29)          Up 1

It’s only been 10 games but L.A.C. has not fared all that bad (6-4) since trading its previous leading scorer Tobias Harris. Does that change things? It certainly does. However, Lou Williams (19.8 PTS, 5.4 AST) and the Clips had already set the tone as an overachieving group with intentions of making the postseason.

 

12. Spurs (35-29)          Down 2

San Antonio would really like for combo guard Derrick White to regain his swagger from the month of January in which he averaged 15.3 points on 59.7 percent shooting. Jakob Poeltl, who was expected by many to have a larger role, may have a greater window of opportunity with Pau Gasol no longer around.

 

11. Jazz (36-26)          Even

Utah has suddenly come around as the team it was last year: a defensive juggernaut with the leadership to keep up offensively. Rudy Gobert’s (64.7 FG%, 15.3 PTS, 12.8 REB) monstrous impact in the interior is a given and Donovan Mitchell (over 26.0 PPG in 2019) has been orchestrating the offense more freely.

 

10. Pacers (41-23)          Up 2

No Victor Oladipo, no problem? I wouldn’t go quite that far but Bojan Bogdanovic seems to have taken over as the team’s primary weapon (about 22 PPG on over 51% shooting) since Oladipo went down. Even a healthy Pacers squad wasn’t a true contender but that doesn’t stop them from challenging the contenders.

 

9. Celtics (38-26)          Down 3

Now about three quarters into the season, Boston still finds itself struggling to spread the wealth while integrating key players like Gordon Hayward (43.2 FG%, 10.8 PTS) and Jaylen Brown (31.5 FG%, 12.7 PTS) into the attack. The Celtics (currently fifth seed) will have no pushover of an opponent in the first round.

 

8. Blazers (39-24)          Up 1

Rip City has won six of its last seven contests including victories over Golden State, Philly and Boston. Every year, Damian Lillard (36.8 FG%, 25.9 PTS, 6.4 AST) and the Blazers embrace the highs and stick together through the lows. They just need to find a way to eliminate those lows altogether.

 

7. Rockets (38-25)          Up 1

Houston is in full swing now that it’s big three of Chris Paul, James Harden and Clint Capela is completely healthy. In a bloodbath of a Western Conference, there is really no room for a team like this to be that concerned with seeding as it’s already proven it can hang with the elite.

 

6. Sixers (40-23)          Up 1

Apparently Tobias Harris (52.2 FG%, 21.7 PTS, 7.9 REB since joining team) needed only a couple practice sessions to adapt to a new system located across the states. The new big four hasn’t spent much time on the floor together as Joel Embiid has missed the last few games. It will be interesting to see if they can coexist.

 

5. Thunder (39-24)          Even

It’s far from just the Russell Westbrook show this year. Paul George’s MVP-type season (39.8 3P%, 28.6 PTS, 8.1 REB) has lingered on. Utah recently surpassed OKC as the third most efficient defense in the league. Let’s hope the Thunder can keep up its defensive prominence and not get caught playing strictly run and gun basketball.

 

4. Nuggets (42-20)          Even

Denver has allowed more points to opponents over the past month or so. Isaiah Thomas is finally back in action although guard play is not where the team needs help. Nikola Jokic (20.6 PTS, 10.7 REB, 7.7 AST) is the magician-like point center on offense and Jamal Murray helps to create a solid one-two punch.

 

3. Raptors (46-18)          Even

The Raptors were already a dangerous playoff team and the addition of Marc Gasol validates that even more. Toronto is deep at every position plus it has players like Pascal Siakam (55.1 FG%, 16.3 PTS, 7.0 REB) who can play basically any position.

 

2. Warriors (44-19)     Down 1

DeMarcus Cousins (45.7 FG%, 15.8 PTS, 8.1 REB) has settled in as the full-time center and seems to be just fine playing with such superior talent. Stephen Curry (28.4 PTS) is the high scorer for the Dubs over Kevin Durant (27.6 PTS). Will that change down the stretch as we approach playoff time?

 

1. Bucks (48-15)          Up 1

The Bucks are officially the first team to clinch the playoffs. Milwaukee has outstanding balance throughout the roster with four players averaging more than 15 points per contest. Recent additions to strengthen its finals hopes include Nikola Mirotic and Pau Gasol.

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