NBA Power Rankings: Where Every Team Stands in Final Week of March

Alex Kay@AlexPKayCorrespondent IMarch 25, 2013

MIAMI, FL - MARCH 24:  Forward LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat reacts after a dunk against the Charlotte Bobcats at American Airlines Arena on March 24, 2013 in Miami, Florida. 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 Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Marc Serota/Getty Images

While the Miami Heat are absolutely dominating the NBA with their 26-game winning streak, it’s worthwhile to remember there are 29 other teams in the league.

These teams are still vying to improve playoff seeding, finish off a mediocre 2012-13 campaign strong or possibly even tank some games in order to improve draft position this June.

With only a few days left in March and April heralding in the last month of regular season play, our power rankings are going to focus on where every franchise stands at this moment.


1. Miami Heat

As if it needs anymore attention, the Heat are at the top of our power rankings for their incredible win streak and look to be clear favorites to repeat as champions in 2013.

There is no one on earth playing better basketball than LeBron James on a nightly basis. and he recently proved that he doesn’t even need Dwyane Wade in the lineup to keep Miami rolling.


2. San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs are leading the pack of contenders trying to lock up the No. 1 overall seed in the Western Conference, but the Thunder, Nuggets, Clippers and Grizzlies are all within five-and-a-half games of snagging the coveted position.

It’ll be an interesting race to watch down the stretch, especially if Tony Parker continues playing at a high level after returning from injury.


3. Denver Nuggets

Denver’s win streak is now at a ridiculous 15 games, but isn’t getting the proper hype due to Miami’s epic stretch.

This organization has proven that a star player isn’t necessary to win during the regular season, but it remains to be seen how the Nuggets will fare come the playoffs.


4. Oklahoma City Thunder

While OKC hasn’t been at its best since the All-Star break, especially against the top opponents in the conference, the team is still on the cusp of surpassing San Antonio for the top seed.

You can never count out a roster that features Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Co., and we believe the Western Conference Finals will go through this squad.


5. Memphis Grizzlies

After the Rudy Gay trade, many predicted the Grizzlies would fall off the map.

Quite the opposite has happened, as the squad has rallied and looks to be a dark horse this spring.


6. Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers have to use these last few weeks to tune-up and get more consistent, as they have gone just 5-4 over their last nine games.

Unless this group wants the year to be remembered for nothing more than some highlight dunks and an early exit in the postseason, it needs to get better sooner rather than later.


7. Indiana Pacers

The Pacers should be able to nab the No. 2 seed in the East and will once again be looking to dethrone the Heat come playoff time.

They have some road woes and scoring issues, but a healthy Indiana roster—with its immense length, athleticism and defensive capabilities—could be the only chance the league has to eliminate Miami.


8. New York Knicks

After a four-game slump on the road, the Knicks have responded by winning four straight, a stretch that includes two wins away from the Garden.

As long as Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith are nailing buckets, this group can hang around with anyone offensively. It’ll be interesting to see how their aging veterans hold up on defense when the rotation tightens up and minutes increase.


9. Brooklyn Nets

The Nets are an intriguing organization to watch, as they could definitely put up a fight against most teams in a seven-game series.

If Deron Williams strings together a few elite performances and the rest of the lineup follows suit on both ends of the floor, Brooklyn is going to be a tough out in the playoffs.


10. Golden State Warriors

It’ll great to see Golden State back in the playoffs, as they should be able to hang around for at least a round or two thanks to their explosive offense.

If Stephen Curry can stay healthy and knock down shots, the Dubs could be extremely dangerous.


11. Los Angeles Lakers

L.A. is still fighting hard for a spot at the bottom of the West’s postseason picture.

If the Lakers are able to secure a seed, they could be the biggest X-factor this spring. Any roster with Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard on it cannot be counted out—no matter how poorly they’ve looked at times during the 2012-13 campaign.


12. Boston Celtics

Speaking of grizzled, veteran teams, the C’s are ramping up to make another run at a championship, despite the loss of superstar PG Rajon Rondo.

While they haven’t been as hot over the past week (losing four straight), the Celtics are going to be tough to eliminate, and could easily make a run back to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2013.


13. Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks are an interesting team that has been doing well lately, but it’s hard to see them finding much success in the postseason, as the guard play is lackluster and rebounding is poor.

General Manager Danny Ferry has his work cut out for him this summer, as superstar forward Josh Smith is an impending free agent and could be playing for a different organization next season.


14. Houston Rockets

This is perhaps the most entertaining team to watch in the league, but they are still a few years away from actually contending for a title.

Expect Jeremy Lin, James Harden, Omer Asik and the rest of these young guns to give a powerhouse a run for its money, but ultimately fall short in the first round.


15. Chicago Bulls

Until Derrick Rose returns and shows that he hasn’t lost a step, the Bulls are nothing more than a token playoff team awaiting a first-round exit.

The defense is there, but the scoring is just too inconsistent without the superstar point guard in the lineup.


16. Milwaukee Bucks

Milwaukee added a nice piece at the deadline in J.J. Redick, but the Bucks are likely going to face the Miami Heat at the start of the playoffs.

They’ll be lucky to avoid a sweep, and have plenty of tinkering to do in free agency this coming offseason.


17. Dallas Mavericks

The Mavs have improbably surged into the West’s playoff picture, and a strong finish to March could put them even closer to nabbing the No. 8 seed in the conference.

It’s not likely they’ll do much, but it would be quite an impressive feat considering how poorly this group was faring at times during the 2012-13 season.


18. Utah Jazz

The lack of a great point guard has hurt the Jazz, who inexplicably chose to forego moving one of their numerous frontcourt pieces at the deadline.

Utah will likely pay the price of not making the playoffs for that inaction.


19. Portland Trail Blazers

Until this squad can find some suitable players to bring off the bench, they are going to be stuck in a late-lottery limbo.

The starting lineup is excellent, but the second-unit direly needs some new blood if this team is going to return to prominence.


20. Washington Wizards

The young Wizards experienced some growing pains early on, especially without John Wall in the lineup.

Now that he’s returned and Bradley Beal is becoming more experienced, the future looks bright in Washington.


21. Toronto Raptors

Rudy Gay was a great addition for this franchise, but it has to rid itself of Andrea Bargnani and add a legitimate big man to take the next step.

If the Raptors are able to do so this summer, they’ll be talking playoffs in Canada come 2014.


22. Cleveland Cavaliers

Cleveland’s most notable achievement in March was nearly ending the Heat’s winning streak, but they squandered a 27-point lead in the second half.

Regardless, this team is positioned to earn another great lottery pick in the 2014 draft. If GM Chris Grant can hit another home run, the Cavs will be back in contention before you know it.


23. Philadelphia 76ers

The Sixers dismal 2012-13 season is almost over, and then it will be time to decide what to do with Andrew Bynum, who sat injured on the team’s bench for the entire campaign.

This will certainly be a franchise to keep an eye on over the summer, as they could go a number of different directions in order to get back into contention next year.


24. Sacramento Kings

The Kings roster is a mess and practically incapable of playing defense.

While they are able to steal some games by outscoring opponents, Sacramento has to majorly overhaul this roster if it’s ever going to make it back to the playoffs.


25. Phoenix Suns

The Suns rebuilding effort began in earnest this season, the first without Steve Nash since 2003-04.

It obviously went poorly, but they’ll be able to rebuild through the draft and cultivate young talent over the next couple of years.


26. New Orleans Hornets

The Pelicans are going to be a fun team to watch if they can stay healthy in 2013-14.

With another lottery pick joining the roster, Anthony Davis maturing a year and hopefully having Eric Gordon close to 100 percent, they could make a bit of noise and surprise a few folks.


27. Minnesota Timberwolves

It’s a shame that injuries destroyed this squad’s chances of making the playoffs this year, but they should be able to get that under control this summer.

As long as the key pieces remain on the roster, things are looking up in Minnesota.


28. Detroit Pistons

Detroit has completely unraveled, which is actually a boon for a franchise that had no shot of making the playoffs.

The Pistons will have a good chance of nabbing a top pick in the upcoming draft and could find an impact player to help reverse their fortunes.


29. Orlando Magic

Speaking of imploding, the Magic were downright terrible throughout the 2012-13 campaign.

However, it was to be expected after swinging a megatrade for Dwight Howard this past summer. With so many draft picks and young pieces on the roster, Orlando is well on its way to rebuilding a promising team.


30. Charlotte Bobcats

The Bobcats are once again at the bottom of our power rankings. Unless they land a legit superstar in the draft, we expect they’ll be back here again in 2013-14.


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