The NBA All-Star break begins on Friday, with every team getting a much-needed rest after playing over half of the 2012-13 campaign.
It’s a perfect time to break down where every franchise stands, as there will be no games played until Feb. 19, when things return to normal and the season winds to a close.
Let’s take a look at how the big picture looks across the league in our latest power rankings.
1. Miami Heat (35-14)
LeBron James has been on an absolute tear as of late and it’s a large reason why the Heat look absolutely unbeatable.
The team made a smart free agent acquisition with Chris Andersen and continues to reload for another title run. There’s not another squad on this list that looks like they can beat the defending champs in a seven-game series right now, and for that, the Heat are No. 1 in our power rankings.
2. San Antonio Spurs (42-12)
The Spurs have been giving some rest to their superstars to freshen their legs around the All-Star break, which is another stroke of genius by coach Gregg Popovich.
They are going to need all the energy they can muster if they are going to get past this next team come the postseason.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder (39-13)
OKC is once again dominant, and Kevin Durant is still the best scorer the NBA has to offer. They should be competing with the Spurs down the stretch for the top seed in the West, and look likely to meet them once against in the conference finals.
4. Los Angeles Clippers (38-17)
Now that Blake Griffin and Chris Paul are healthy, this team is back on track and once again winning games.
CP3’s extended rest gave third-year guard Eric Bledsoe a chance to shine, as the backup performed admirably and put his trade stock through the roof.
There’s still a chance team brass decides to flip him by the Feb. 21 trading deadline to acquire a veteran piece for a championship run, but they could do worse by keeping him around.
5. Denver Nuggets (33-21)
Without a bona fide superstar on the roster, Denver has still found a way to succeed. They absolutely dominate opponents at home and have the athleticism to run anyone out of their gym in the Mile High air.
It’ll be interesting to see if that can translate into playoff victories.
6. New York Knicks (32-18)
Injuries to key role players have set the Knickerbockers back a bit, but Carmelo Anthony and the rejuvenated Amar’e Stoudemire have the Big Apple buzzing about a potential championship.
If their core of aging veterans can remain healthy for the postseason, they have a chance to challenge the Heat in the East.
7. Indiana Pacers (32-21)
Even without superstar swingman Danny Granger in the lineup, Indiana has been able to win games by playing incredible defense and relying on All-Star Paul George to score points.
They need to get better contributions down in the low post from Roy Hibbert if the Pacers are going to emerge as a legitimate contender in 2013.
8. Memphis Grizzlies (33-18)
The Griz decided to dump salary prior to the deadline, avoiding a potential nightmare scenario in the coming seasons with their payroll.
However, they are still hanging in there without Rudy Gay and look like a dark horse contender in the loaded Western Conference—in large part due to the play of Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and Mike Conley.
9. Golden State Warriors (30-22)
While the Warriors have been struggling to win games, they have shown the ability to beat the best teams in the league and they still deserve plenty of credit for that.
When fully healthy, the core of Andrew Bogut, Stephen Curry, David Lee, Klay Thompson and rookie Harrison Barnes can be absolutely deadly, plus Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry make up one of the top bench tandems around.
10. Chicago Bulls (30-22)
Bulls fans are praying that superstar point guard Derrick Rose can return from injury sooner than later, as he is the only person on the planet that can push them from token playoff team to a legitimate championship threat.
The latest news on him is concerning, as he hasn’t given a timeline for a return and will not come back until he is “110 percent” healthy.
11. Boston Celtics (28-24)
The C’s have suffered a rash of injuries to some of their most important players, including All-Star starter Rajon Rondo, rookie sensation Jared Sullinger and backup guard Leandro Barbosa.
Regardless, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are soldiering on, winning games and proving that they have the veteran savvy and craftiness to put together one last run, even with Rondo out for the year.
12. Utah Jazz (30-24)
Utah is in a unique situation where they have far too many capable big men and not enough prominent guards to be a real threat come the postseason.
If they can find a way to flip soon-to-be free agent center Al Jefferson into a legitimate point guard, things could drastically change for the better in Salt Lake City.
13. Houston Rockets (29-26)
No one could have predicted the Rockets would be this deadly with Jeremy Lin, James Harden and Omer Asik forming a new “Big Three” in the Western Conference.
While it’s not even guaranteed that the Rockets will make the playoffs, it’s doubtful anyone would be looking forward to playing this youthful run-and-gun squad in a best of seven.
14. Brooklyn Nets (31-22)
After finding initial success with coach Avery Johnson’s dismissal, the Nets have hit a rough patch under P.J. Carlesimo.
Unless Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace step up and play at an All-Star level, this team is not going to hang around long in the playoffs.
15. Atlanta Hawks (29-22)
The Hawks have been struggling and there’s plenty of talk that Josh Smith, arguably the team’s best player, could be on his way out at the deadline.
J-Smoove is set to become a free agent this summer and will have plenty of suitors, but Atlanta apparently is not sure he is worth a max contract. It’ll be interesting to monitor his situation over the week or so.
16. Los Angeles Lakers (25-28)
Kobe Bryant has done everything from score in bunches to putting on his point guard hat to try and lead these Lakers to a postseason berth.
Until Dwight Howard steps up and plays through his shoulder pain consistently, Pau Gasol returns from injury at full strength and Steve Nash gets this offense clicking, there is still a serious chance that L.A. is watching the 2013 playoffs from home.
17. Milwaukee Bucks (26-25)
The Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis experiment is working to mixed results, but no one is pretending that Milwaukee is a serious threat this spring.
This is an under-the-radar franchise to watch around the trade deadline, as GM John Hammond could swing for the fences and move one of the superstars.
18. Portland Trail Blazers (25-28)
Portland struck gold with point guard Damian Lillard in the 2012 draft and is finding some great success in handing him the keys to the offense in his rookie year.
With LaMarcus Aldridge named to the All-Star team in the stacked West, the future is bright once this club adds a few more talented pieces.
19. Dallas Mavericks (23-29)
If O.J. Mayo can round back into form, the Mavericks aren’t in as deep of a hole as they seem to be at the All-Star break.
Dirk Nowitzki is playing more consistently—but still prone to some off nights—and the team isn’t a legitimate contender, but there’s an outside chance they at least make a push into the playoffs late in the season.
20. Philadelphia 76ers (22-29)
Jrue Holiday has put this team on his back with Andrew Bynum still sidelined, but the big fellow’s potential return is what this team will sink or swim with.
There’s just too many question marks surrounding this organization, and it’s not a good sign for the coming summer when Bynum is free to choose where he wants to play.
21. Detroit Pistons (21-33)
With star rookie Andre Drummond out for a few weeks, there’s not much a chance the Motor City-based club makes any real noise.
While Jose Calderon was a great addition as part of the Rudy Gay trade, it remains to be seen if he will stick around as a free agent this July.
22. Toronto Raptors (21-32)
Speaking of Gay, his presence has Raptors fans excited for the future for the first time in a long time.
If General Manager Bryan Colangelo is able to find a taker for Andrea Bargnani and ownership is willing to venture into luxury tax territory to nab another star, Toronto will be talking playoffs in 2014.
23. Washington Wizards (15-36)
John Wall’s return has made a significant impact on this team, and not only on the offensive end.
Washington is playing solid defense and is moving the ball well, two great signs for this rebuilding franchise.
24. Minnesota Timberwolves (19-31)
The T-Wolves direly need a competent shooting guard to augment Ricky Rubio in the backcourt, and Kevin Love’s injury woes have set back a franchise that was projected by many to make the postseason in 2013.
There’s always next year, as Minnesota president David Kahn can hopefully strike gold with a SG in the 2013 draft.
25. New Orleans Hornets (19-34)
If Eric Gordon and Anthony Davis can stay healthy next year, the Pelicans are going to be quite a pesky opponent to deal with.
The team even has a potential answer at the point guard position, as Grievis Vasquez is surprisingly capable of handling the starting job. One or two more key players and NOLA will be back near the top of the league for the first time since CP3 left town.
26. Cleveland Cavaliers (16-37)
Kyrie Irving is a bona fide superstar, which is easy to tell considering he’s appearing in the Rising Stars Challenge, Three-Point Contest and the main All-Star Game during NBA All-Star Weekend.
The young point guard has quite a busy schedule down in Houston, but it should finally give the world some more exposure to a great player stuck on a mediocre Cavs club.
27. Phoenix Suns (17-36)
In their first year without Nash in quite a while, the Suns are understandably struggling.
There are a few good players on the roster, including the vastly underrated Jared Dudley, but this organization has only begun a long and arduous rebuilding process.
28. Sacramento Kings (19-35)
With the Kings currently in limbo and possibly going to Seattle next season, the on-court play of this team seems to be the last thing on fans minds right now.
However, DeMarcus Cousins is still one of the most talented young bigs in the association, which should give this struggling franchise some hope for the future.
29. Orlando Magic (15-37)
The Magic have tons of young assets and draft picks as a result of the Dwight Howard blockbuster this summer, meaning that they shouldn’t be down in the basement for too much longer if GM Rob Hennigan can make smart selections and savvy deals.
30. Charlotte Bobcats (12-40)
Surprise, surprise—the Bobcats are once again last on this list.
Kemba Walker is about the only bright spot right now for this franchise, but there is some hope that Bismack Biyombo, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and a few of the other youngsters pan out and form a core that can contend a few years down the line.