NBA Power Rankings: One-Time Playoff Locks in Danger of Not Qualifying

David Daniels@TheRealDDanielsSenior Writer IJanuary 13, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 06:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers waits for play in the game against the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center on January 6, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.   NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

No, several playoff contenders aren’t missing from the NBA power rankings.

Keep looking, they’re there—just much lower than they were expected to be at this point in the season. Here are three teams that were, at one point in time, considered postseason locks, but are in danger of missing it entirely.

3. Dallas Mavericks (15-23)

After the Mavs began the regular season with a record of 4-1 without Dirk Nowitzki, they seemed guaranteed to make the playoffs for the 13th straight time. After all, they were winning without their best player, and O.J. Mayo, who averaged 21.6 points over the first five games, looked like a legitimate star.

Well, Nowitzki didn’t return to the lineup until two days before Christmas, and Dallas couldn’t maintain its hot streak without him. After far more losing streaks than winning streaks over the past two months, the Mavericks are closer to the first overall pick than the No. 1 seed in the West.

2. Philadelphia 76ers (16-22)

After the 76ers acquired Andrew Bynum, they looked, on paper, like they could contend for a top-four seed in the East. Well, Bynum is in Philly, but he isn’t on the court. Still hampered by knee issues that never seem to end, he hasn’t played a second in a Sixers uniform this season.

Philadelphia is now the ninth seed in the East. And while just four games behind the Boston Celtics for the final playoff spot, playing catch up is easier said than done—especially when it’s lost seven out of its last 10 games.

1. Los Angeles Lakers (15-21)

L.A. is the worst NBA team with four future Hall of Famers ever. It was supposed to compete for a championship this season. But injuries have forced every one of the Los Angeles stars besides Kobe Bryant to miss playing time.

They’ve shown flashes of brilliance this season. But now riding a six-game losing streak and five games behind the Houston Rockets for the eighth seed, nearly every Lakers fan in the nation has their hand on the panic button.

NBA Power Rankings

1. Oklahoma City Thunder

2. Los Angeles Clippers

3. Miami Heat

4. San Antonio Spurs

5. New York Knicks

6. Indiana Pacers

7. Memphis Grizzlies

8. Golden State Warriors

9. Brooklyn Nets

10. Denver Nuggets

11. Atlanta Hawks

12. Portland Trail Blazers

13. Chicago Bulls

14. Houston Rockets

15. Boston Celtics

16. Utah Jazz

17. Milwaukee Bucks

18. Minnesota Timberwolves

19. Los Angeles Lakers

20. Toronto Raptors

21. Philadelphia 76ers

22. Detroit Pistons

23. Dallas Mavericks

24. Sacramento Kings

25. Orlando Magic

26. New Orleans Hornets

27. Phoenix Suns

28. Charlotte Bobcats

29. Cleveland Cavaliers

30. Washington Wizards

David Daniels is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.


    NBA Auctioning JR's Gm 1 Jersey

    NBA logo

    NBA Auctioning JR's Gm 1 Jersey

    Scott Polacek
    via Bleacher Report

    Would OKC Fans Welcome Back KD?

    NBA logo

    Would OKC Fans Welcome Back KD?

    Jon Hamm
    via Bleacher Report

    Every Team's Realistic Dream Draft Target 😍

    NBA logo

    Every Team's Realistic Dream Draft Target 😍

    Adam Fromal
    via Bleacher Report

    Report: LA Teams Concerned About Kawhi's Injury

    NBA logo

    Report: LA Teams Concerned About Kawhi's Injury

    Rob Goldberg
    via Bleacher Report