San Antonio Spurs' Tony Parker
The Memphis Grizzlies traded their leading scorer this week.
They were contending for the Western Conference title when the move was made.
The Toronto Raptors, conversely, were on a direct plunge into the draft lottery before Rudy Gay found his way north of the border.
Does Gay make Toronto a playoff team in the Eastern Conference? Does Memphis plummet out West because of this move?
And who is this team on top of the standings that only gets talked about when their coach gives a star player a night off?
Do they employ the best point guard in the NBA?
Those questions—as well as identifying which three Western Conference teams are better than everyone else—are identified in these latest power rankings for all 30 teams.
Charlotte Bobcats' Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
The Charlotte Bobcats beat the Minnesota Timberwolves by one point this past Saturday.
It was their third win this month, two more then they totaled in all of December.
This represents a major up-tick in improvement when you only win one time in December. Especially when that win last month ends an 18-game losing streak.
Michael Kidd-Glichrist and Kemba Walker are the only two players that Bobcats fans should hope survive all this losing.
Walker is averaging 17.8 points and 5.7 assists, while MKG is at 9.7 points and 5.9 rebounds. They're both good young players. Their teammates, however, are not.
Cleveland Cavaliers' Kyrie Irving
The Cleveland Cavaliers went on a three-game winning streak recently.
It was every bit of awesome you thought it might be, too.
Kyrie Irving was named to the All-Star team and then buried a three-pointer to beat the Toronto Raptors at the buzzer on Saturday.
This excitement carried over into the announcement that Tyler Zeller, Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters were named to the Rising Stars game during All-Star weekend and near-pandemonium broke out amongst Cavs' fans as a result.
Then, the Cavs were blown out by the Golden State Warriors at home—sans Stephen Curry—and the week-long celebration came to an abrupt end.
Orlando Magic's J.J. Redick
Apologies to J.J. Redick, but his team has just been terrible lately.
While Redick has been playing well enough for his name to circulate in trade rumors as a player that teams would like to acquire for the right price, his current team continues to lose.
The Orlando Magic have lost their last seven games in a row, in fact, and are 2-8 over their last 10.
Defensively, the Magic rank 25th in terms of efficiency and there appears to be no way for this team to fix that issue.
The losing will only continue in the second half as a result.
Washington Wizards' John Wall
The Washington Wizards have lost their last two games.
They are still living off the residual of going 6-5 overall in their last 11, though, since John Wall's return from injury on Jan. 12.
Wall has been averaging 14.1 points, 6.5 assists and 2.5 rebounds. All things considered, he's in a better spot at the All-Star break than most people anticipated two months ago.
Bradley Beal has stepped up his game alongside Wall, too. Despite missing Wednesday's loss to the Sixers, Beal is shooting 48.4 percent in his last 10 games from the field to average 13.2 points.
New Orleans Hornets' Eric Gordon
The rookie / sophomore game doesn't necessarily mean all that much.
It is still discouraging for New Orleans Hornets' fans to consider that Austin Rivers wasn't invited despite being drafted 10th and averaging over 20 minutes per game as a rookie.
There's no way he could've been, though, based on how poorly his NBA career has begun this season.
Meanwhile, Eric Gordon is back and the Hornets have won seven games that he's played in while losing six since his return on Dec. 29.
He sat out three games during that stretch, however, and continues to sit on the second game of a back-to-back, according to Jimmy Smith of NOLA.com.
Phoenix Suns' Michael Beasley
Michael Beasley made sure that Steve Nash's homecoming to Phoenix was not a pleasant one this week.
Beasley exploded off the Suns' bench to score 27 on his way to leading his team to the 92-86 win.
On the season, Beasley is shooting just over 40 percent to average 10.5 points for a Suns team that is currently built to go nowhere but the lottery.
No offense to Goran Dragic, of course, who's been solid.
The win over the Los Angeles Lakers was a great time, though, I'm sure.
Minnesota Timberwolves' Ricky Rubio
I really miss Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love.
It's really not fair we can't watch those two on the floor right now for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Good news is that Rubio is back on the floor. He's only averaging 5.1 points and 5.2 assists through 17 games, though, and he may need the rest of this season to get back into playing shape.
Andrei Kirilenko and Nikola Pekovic continue to be pleasant surprises this season for the T-Wolves, though, at 16 and 13.7 points, respectively.
Sacramento Kings' DeMarcus Cousins
I really don't enjoy piling on the Sacramento Kings.
Watching organizations pick up and move is the worst, and I can't imagine how difficult it would be to play with the possibility of that infusing your locker room on a daily basis.
That said, the Kings are an extremely poor rebounding team who is tied for the worst rebounding rate in the NBA.
They do a lot of other things poorly as well, but I think DeMarcus Cousins is turning the corner. Don't want to jinx that right now though by saying anything else.
Detroit Pistons' Andre Drummond
Somewhere, in a land high, high above the rim, Andre Drummond is about to catch a whole lot of lob passes from Jose Calderon.
Or something like that, anyway.
The end result of the Tayshaun Price / Austin Daye for Jose Calderon trade will make the Pistons marginally better this season while also allowing cap space this summer.
Calderon's ability to create for others will benefit the Pistons' tandem of Drummond and Greg Monroe. He will also allow Brandon Knight to play more of a shooting-guard role and that could help in the win column as well.
Still not enough to make the playoffs, but the Pistons will be more competitive on a nightly basis.
Toronto Raptors' Kyle Lowry
The ball is officially in Kyle Lowry's hands for the Toronto Raptors.
While the contracts may not stack up favorably for the Raptors beyond this season, the trade that shipped Jose Calderon out—and Rudy Gay in—makes this team better for the short-term.
Gay's shooting percentages aren't good this season, but it's a clean slate in Toronto moving forward.
Personally, I'm intrigued by the trio of Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay. I don't think it will be good enough to move Toronto into the playoffs, but it should be fun to watch at times from an offensive standpoint.
Philadelphia 76ers' Jrue Holiday
Jrue Holiday is heading to Houston for the All-Star Game.
It's a much-deserved reward and we're all excited to see the continued growth from the Philadelphia 76ers point guard.
If Holiday is going to head to the playoffs, though, he's going to need his All-Star teammate Andrew Bynum to join him out on the court sometime very soon.
Holiday's scored 30 or more points three times this month and is averaging 20.9 points for January. His 19.4 points and 8.9 assists on the year also lead Philadelphia, but he cannot be expect to keep doing everything himself.
Not if the end goal is winning basketball games, anyway.
Dallas Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki
Things were starting to look up for the Dallas Mavericks.
Then they dropped their last two straight and have now only won six of their last 10.
Dirk Nowitzki has been back for only 18 games, though, and is averaging 14.8 points and 5.5 rebounds during the stretch. He should only get better the longer he plays and as Dirk goes, so do the Mavericks.
But if Dallas is going to make a run towards the postseason, that needs to start immediately.
At 19-27 overall, there is a whole lot of ground left for the Mavericks to make up.
Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant
Things should be so much better than they are for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Only they're not, despite Bryant's scoring numbers, because this team does not play any defense.
They just lost to the Phoenix Suns too in Steve Nash's homecoming game, getting torched by Michael Beasley in the process.
Boston Celtics' Paul Pierce
The Boston Celtics were playing below their abilities as a collective unit before Rajon Rondo was injured.
That wasn't Rondo's fault, and while it will be difficult to win now without him, there is certainly room for everyone on this roster to improve moving forward.
I expect Boston to make enough of those improvements to hold onto the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.
In order to do even that, however, they must start rebounding the basketball. Through Thursday, the Celtics are tied for the lowest rebounding rate in the NBA.
Jared Sullinger should've been invited to the rookie / sophomore game too, but Boston has much bigger issues than that to worry about at the moment.
Portland Trail Blazers' Damian Lillard
The Portland Trail Blazers employ the most dynamic starting five in basketball this season.
Their bench, however, remains as unproductive as it gets.
The Blazers are up over the .500 mark and a half game back of the eighth-placed Houston Rockets in the Western Conference despite that lack of help off the bench.
Damian Lillard is this season's NBA Rookie of the Year at 18.1 points and 6.5 assists and LaMarcus Aldridge will make a return trip to the All-Star Game this season as well
J.J. Hickson continues to be one of the biggest surprises in the NBA this season as well, currently averaging the seventh-most rebounds in the league.
Houston Rockets' James Harden
James Harden will be representing the hometown Houston Rockets as they play host to the 2013 NBA All-Star Game.
He'll do so as the league's fifth-leading scorer through Thursday at 25.9 points per game.
Harden leads an offensive attack for the Rockets that ranks in the top 10 in terms of pace as well as offensive efficiency.
The Rockets don't play much defense, though, which is their biggest problem.
They've lost six of their last 10 games as a result, but they still occupy the eighth seed in the Western Conference.
Milwaukee Bucks' Brandon Jennings
Brandon Jennings was almost named to the All-Star team for the first time in replacement of the injured Rajon Rondo.
Instead, it's Brook Lopez who'll be going in Rondo's place, but Jennings deserved every bit of the consideration he received.
Jennings scored 20 in the third quarter earlier this week, on his way to netting 30, in a Bucks blowout of the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday.
For the season, he's averaging 18.8 points per night while coexisting effectively on the offensive end with Monta Ellis in the same backcourt.
The Bucks expect to be a playoff team this season. Brandon Jennings is the biggest reason why.
Atlanta Hawks' Josh Smith, Al Horford
Spurned from inclusion on the Eastern Conference All-Star team, the second half of this season is all about how Josh Smith and Al Horford respond for the Atlanta Hawks.
Despite a general lack of respect, the Hawks have surprisingly managed the sixth-best record in the Eastern Conference through Thursday.
They've split their last 10 games, however, and are in a near limp towards the midway mark of the season, but all of that could change for the better in a hot-Atlanta-minute.
Assuming, of course, General Manager Danny Ferry doesn't blow the roster up by trading Josh Smith somewhere like the Phoenix Suns, who are reportedly interested in Smith, according Hoopsworld.com's Alex Kennedy.
Utah Jazz's Al Jefferson
If the regular season ended today, the Utah Jazz have played well enough to earn a matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
If that's what they're going for, congratulations.
Behind a veteran frontline led by Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, the Jazz have won seven of their last 10 through Thursday.
It will take a run I don't really think they have in them to move past the Denver Nuggets and into the top six out West by season's end, but they will be in the postseason for the second straight season regardless.
For at least four games they will be, anyway.
Brooklyn Nets Brook Lopez
Brook Lopez deserved to be an All-Star this season.
While it is very disappointing that Rajon Rondo had to suffer the injury he sustained, it's still good to see Lopez recognized for the work he's been putting in this year.
Lopez is still not a double-digit rebounder, but his 7.3 boards per game are a nice complement to the team-best 18.6 points he's scoring through Thursday.
Teammates Deron Williams and Joe Johnson have stepped up around Lopez as well, improving their play since the departure of Avery Johnson.
Indiana Pacers' Paul George
The Indiana Pacers are winning exclusively with defense this season.
Heading into the weekend, the Pacers own a league-best defensive efficiency rating of 96.2.
This is especially important when you consider their offensive efficiency number is the third worst in league.
Paul George is an underrated All-Star this season, though, and Danny Granger could be back soon.
If Granger can co-exist with the 17.7 points per night George is scoring, the Pacers could improve dramatically on the offensive end.
It's an improvement they will need to make, one way or another, as the second half of the season unfolds.
Memphis Grizzlies' Zach Randolph
The message sent to your locker room when your leading scorer is traded is that you're not really trying to win as an organization this season.
Even if that leading scorer was shooting career-low percentages from the field.
Regardless of financial statements, luxury taxes or even expectations of how Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye might fit into the role vacated by Rudy Gay's trade to the Toronto Raptors.
This season, specifically, moving past that aspect of this deal for Zach Randolph and Co.—on a team that was in contention in the Western Conference—will be difficult to overcome.
Maybe the Memphis Grizzlies aren't concerned with actually being in contention right now, though, and that's why the move was made in the first place.
Chicago Bulls' Joakim Noah
Joakim Noah and Luol Deng have stepped up to become All-Stars themselves in place of their injured superstar teammate Derrick Rose this season.
Without Rose, the Bulls have defended their way to the third best record in the Eastern Conference.
They rank second in the NBA in terms of defensive efficiency, specifically, and fifth in rebounding rate through Thursday.
If Rose can return to even 80 percent of his natural form, Chicago will be scary-good as the second half of the season unfolds.
According according to Nick Friedell of ESPN.com, Rose is back taking full contact at practice this week.
That's a good sign, as is the pleasant surprise that Carlos Boozer has been for this group all season long as well.
Golden State Warriors' Klay Thompson
The Golden State Warriors traveled across the country and won a road game without Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut this week.
Sure, that win might've come against the Cleveland Cavaliers—who despite winning their previous three heading into the contest are one of the NBA's worst teams—but it's still a road win in the NBA under difficult circumstances.
Klay Thompson exploded for 32 points in that win on Wednesday and followed up with 27 more on Thursday in a home date with the Dallas Mavericks.
On the season, Thompson is now averaging 16.7 points per night in support of David Lee and Stephen Curry. The more he improves, the better Golden State's chances of contending in the Western Conference this summer become.
Denver Nuggets' Andre Iguodala
The Denver Nuggets have now won five straight games and eight of their last 10.
The road record of 10-15 that featured a number of early-season losses has since been matched by a home mark of 19-3, and the Nuggets are on the rise heading into the weekend.
Their balanced attack offensively ranks sixth in the NBA in terms of efficiency. Defensively, led by Andre Iguodala on the perimeter, the Nuggets grade out as the 12th most efficient unit on that end of the floor as well.
Danilo Gallinari is pacing a group that features six players who average double-figure points with 17 per night. Kenneth Faried is leading the way on the glass with 9.7 rebounds.
That depth should allow Denver to only improve the further we go into the regular season.
New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony is a legitimate MVP candidate, J.R. Smith could've made the All-Star team and the New York Knicks own the second-best record in the Eastern Conference as the midway point in the season approaches.
Those are three statements I didn't believe would be factual way back in August.
Thanks to the 29.1 points per game from Anthony, the maturity off the bench from Smith and a New York roster that's balanced from top to bottom, however, all three of those statements are true.
The only way this Knicks team could become more entertaining is if each player took a cue from Iman Shumpert and grew out a high-top fade of their own as they continued to win.
Miami Heat's LeBron James
The regular season matters less for the Miami Heat than it does for any other team in the league.
It seems they coast at times while knowing this collectively, too, and have dropped four of their last 10 games as a result.
Regardless, LeBron James is still playing as well as anyone else in the league and his Heat team does own the Eastern Conference's best record through Thursday.
They will need to improve their 11-10 record on the road in order to maintain that conference-best mark moving forward, though, and start rebounding more effectively as a collective unit as well.
Through Thursday, the Heat rank 22nd in the NBA in terms of rebounding rate, which cannot carry over into the playoffs.
Good news is there's still plenty of time to improve in that department. Maybe the newly acquired Chris Andersen can eventually even help.
Los Angeles Clippers' Blake Griffin
After dropping the first three of those games, the Clippers have since rallied to wins over the Portland Trail Blazers and Minnesota Timberwolves this week to maintain the NBA's third-best record through Thursday.
Over the last 10 games, specifically, Blake Griffin has improved his scoring average to 20.8 points per night during that stretch.
He continues to be extremely efficient as well, grading out with the ninth highest PER in the NBA heading towards the weekend.
Despite the All-Star nod, that aspect of Griffin's production this season is often overlooked when discussing the exploits of both Paul and the Clippers' bench this year.
Griffin has been a major reason—in his own right—for why Los Angeles is winning the way they are right now.
Oklahoma City Thunder's Kevin Durant
The Oklahoma City Thunder have split their last six games heading into the weekend.
While two of those losses were to the Golden State Warriors and Denver Nuggets—by a combined total of eight points—the third loss was at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers.
That's not a good look for anybody these days. Even if you are only one game off the NBA's best record through Thursday like the Thunder are.
Led by the 33.4 points that Kevin Durant's averaged over his last 10 games, Oklahoma City is leading the league in offensive efficiency.
Durant is the NBA's leading scorer at 29.6 per game and Russell Westbrook is seventh at 22.5.
Defensively, the Thunder also rank sixth in efficiency as well, and Durant could be the MVP for the first half of the season.
San Antonio Spurs' Tony Parker
Tim Duncan has now sat the last four games for the San Antonio Spurs.
Manu Ginobili, meanwhile, is returning from a stretch of four games that he missed himself just prior to Duncan being sidelined.
Despite that, the Spurs have managed nine straight wins heading into the weekend and are playing like the best team in basketball.
The one constant they've had, despite those injuries, is the play of All-Star Tony Parker.
Earlier this week, according Dan McCarney of Spurs Nation, coach Gregg Popovich said—with good reason—that Parker has played better than every point guard in the league this season.
Heading into their matchup with the Washington Wizards on Saturday, Parker's PER ranks seventh in the NBA overall. The 7.5 assists he's dishing out on a nightly basis also rank seventh and Parker's 20.1 points are the 11th highest scoring total in league.
More importantly, however, his team is also winning at a higher rate than anybody else. Regardless of who's in the lineup that night.