New Orleans Hornets (14-28)
Like the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Hornets have seen their fleeting postseason hopes fall by the wayside on account of injuries, namely to rookie Anthony Davis and newly paid guard Eric Gordon.
The difference, though, is that New Orleans looks like a competitive outfit with some serious potential for 2013-14. The soon-to-be Pelicans are 7-4 with Gordon in the lineup and, at the very least, have the chops to play spoiler in the Western Conference for the remainder of the campaign.
Playoff Chances: 4.7 Percent
Toronto Raptors (15-27)
Under normal circumstances, a team like the Raptors would look to sell, sell and sell some more at the trade deadline in pursuit of better results in 2013-14.
But Toronto came into the season with its sights set on the postseason and has some reason to think such is still a possibility. The Raps are five-and-a-half games back of the eighth-seed Boston Celtics in the East and are still awaiting the returns of Andrea Bargnani and rookie Jonas Valanciunas. Those absences didn't stop T-Dot from taking the defending-champion Heat to overtime in Miami on January 23rd.
Realistically, though, the Raptors can look forward to trying to offload Jose Calderon before the Feb. 21 trade deadline and watch as the Oklahoma City Thunder cash in their lottery pick in June.
Playoff Chances: 19.4 Percent
Detroit Pistons (16-26)
Slow starts seem to be the norm for the Pistons under Lawrence Frank. They lost 20 of their first 24 games before posting a .500 record (21-21) the rest of the way in 2011-12.
This season, Detroit dropped its first eight games and fell as far into the ditch as 7-21. But a recent run of nine wins in 14 tries has the Pistons sniffing the playoff picture in the East. They're just four-and-a-half games back of the final berth with a team of talented youngsters (Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight, Andre Drummond) who are learning how to play together.
Another lottery for the Pistons still seems to be the most likely outcome, though not one with quite the same conviction as in years past.
Playoff Chances: 28.4 Percent
Philadelphia 76ers (17-25)
The 76ers season was always going to hinge on the health of Andrew Bynum, and the results thus far have only confirmed that suspicion. Not even an All-Star-caliber campaign from Jrue Holiday (19 points, 4.2 rebounds, nine assists) and strong performances by Evan Turner (14 points, 6.7 rebounds, 4.5 assists) and Thaddeus Young (14.9 points, 7.3 rebounds) have been able to keep Philly from going 7-19 over its last 26 games.
Help may be on the way, though. According to Marc Narducci of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Bynum says his knees are pain-free and that a post-All-Star-break return might still be in the cards.
Still, Bynum alone may not be enough to save this squad. The Sixers have played one of the 10 easiest schedules in the league thus far, which means the competition only figures to get tougher from here on out. Consider, too, that Doug Collins' club, which has relied on its defense in the past, is merely middle-of-the-pack in defensive efficiency.
That wouldn't be so bad if Philly's offense weren't the fifth-least productive.
Playoff Chances: 8.2 Percent
Los Angeles Lakers (17-25)
What isn't there to say about the Lakers? Once a shoo-in for the Western Conference Finals, the Lakers are now nearing the brink of collapse, and not even for the first time this season.
L.A. is about to start its third season re-set, per Dwight Howard (via Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles), about whom trade rumors are swirling. Pau Gasol has been sent to the bench, which brought Mike D'Antoni's judgement into question for the umpteenth time. Kobe Bryant already seems to be losing steam from his first-half attempts to keep this struggling squad afloat. And the Lakers, as a whole, have hardly played a lick of defense all season.
Other than that, they're right where they should be.
Playoff Chances: 18.5 Percent
Dallas Mavericks (18-24)
The Mavericks are finally starting to get their collective act together now that Dirk Nowitzki is rounding into form. They've won five of six since falling a season-high 10 games below the .500 mark in early January.
The playoffs are still a ways off for this ragtag bunch of aging All-Stars (Dirk, Vince Carter, Shawn Marion) and short-term signees (O.J. Mayo, Darren Collison, Elton Brand, Chris Kaman). But this team has the requisite talent and experience to make some noise now that they have all hands on deck.
And if the Mavs somehow extend their postseason streak to an "unlucky" 13 seasons, expect head coach Rick Carlisle to get Coach of the Year consideration.
Playoff Chances: 20.7 Percent
Minnesota Timberwolves (17-22)
Somebody get the Timberwolves some insect repellent because they can't seem to avoid the injury bug. Kevin Love's turn on the operating table (for a broken bone in his shooting hand) was just the latest in a long line of visitors to the infirmary, along with Ricky Rubio, Chase Budinger, Andrei Kirilenko, Malcolm Lee, Brandon Roy and Nikola Pekovic, among others.
In fact, Luke Ridnour is the only member of the team to have played in all 39 games.
Kudos to Rick Adelman for keeping the T-Wolves competitive amid all the adversity, but this bunch will be hard-pressed to make a push out West unless/until K-Love comes back strong.
Playoff Chances: 9.4 Percent