NBA Power Rankings: Examining Outlook for All 30 Teams

Patrick Clarke@@_Pat_ClarkeCorrespondent IJanuary 27, 2014

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - January 21, 2014 : Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder handling the ball during a game against the Portland Trail Blazers at the Chesapeake Arena on January 21, 2014 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. 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. Mandatory Copyright Notice:  Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Richard Rowe/NBAE via Getty Images)
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The second half of the 2013-14 NBA season has officially begun.

A handful of teams, including the defending NBA champion Miami Heat have dominated the league and many of the top storylines to this point, but the upcoming February All-Star break and trade deadline promise to shake things up.

Below we'll examine the outlook of all 30 teams heading into the final week of January.

*Top championship contenders are italicized.  

 

1. Indiana Pacers (34-9)

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 25: Paul George #24 of the Indiana Pacers looks on during the game against the Denver Nuggets on January 25, 2014 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/o
Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images

The Pacers, who currently boast the NBA's best overall record and scoring differential (plus-8.4), have lost two of their last three games. However, both losses have come on the road outside of Indianapolis, where the Eastern Conference powerhouse is 21-1 this season.

What's more, the Pacers haven't lost more than two games in a row this season, playing hard night in and night out. 

Given just how dominant the Pacers have been at home, if Indiana can lock up the No. 1 seed in the East and secure home-court advantage throughout the playoffs, the Heat's hopes for a third consecutive title could be in real danger. 

 

2. Oklahoma City Thunder (36-10)

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 25: Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder putting up a layup during a game against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center on January 25, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowle
Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

Oklahoma City's seven-game winning streak is the longest active winning streak in the NBA. And with recent wins over Portland and Golden State, the Thunder have proven to be the class of the Western Conference to this point.

If Russell Westbrook can return to the mix and team with Kevin Durant to form one of the league's best 1-2 punches, the Thunder will have legitimate championship aspirations in 2014. 

So long as Oklahoma City can continue to score, defend and rebound at its current rate, there's no team too talented for Scott Brook's squad to overcome. 

 

3. Miami Heat (32-12)

MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 26: LeBron James #6 and Ray Allen #34 of the Miami Heat look on during a game against the San Antonio Spurs at American Airlines Arena on January 26, 2014 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The two-time defending champions have rebounded following a sluggish start to the new year to win three in a row. Miami will close out the month against Oklahoma City in a 2012 NBA Finals rematch before playing seven of their next eight on the road. 

Unsurprisingly, Miami has played its best basketball at home this season, going 19-3 at AmericanAirlines Arena. But the Heat will have to step up their play on the road and find more consistency behind enemy lines if they're to avoid missing out on home-court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs. 

At the moment, Miami's biggest weakness is on the boards, where the Heat rank dead last in the NBA in rebounds per game. The problem: The Pacers are among the league's top rebounding units. 

 

4. San Antonio Spurs (33-11)

SAN ANTONIO, TX - JANUARY 17:  Tony Parker #9 of the San Antonio Spurs drives to the basket against the Portland Trail Blazers on January 17, 2014 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by down
Chris Covatta/Getty Images

A tough stretch of schedule has seen the Spurs drop three of their last five games to fall behind the Thunder in the Western Conference playoff race.

Injuries to key role players have hurt the Spurs of late, but veteran point guard Tony Parker won't be making any excuses anytime soon, per The Associated Press:

"Everybody has injuries. You have to deal with them during the season. Obviously, it's hurting us but they're going to come back. We just have to keep pushing and try to get better."

The good news for Spurs fans is that no team is traveling better than San Antonio this season. The Spurs are 16-4 on the road, including their loss at Miami on Jan. 26. 

 

5. Portland Trail Blazers (33-12)

Like San Antonio, Portland has dropped three of its last five games. In order to turn things around, the Blazers will have to start getting it done defensively. 

Portland's 109 points per game lead the NBA comfortably. However, 26 NBA teams are allowing fewer points per game than the Blazers this season.

 

6. Los Angeles Clippers (32-15)

The Clippers are a much different team at home than they are on the road this season but have the offensive firepower to beat any team anywhere. Their Feb. 5 showdown with the Miami Heat will be telling.

 

7. Golden State Warriors (27-18)

OAKLAND, CA - JANUARY 20: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors in a game against the Indiana Pacers on January 20, 2014 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or usin
Rocky Widner/Getty Images

Golden State is struggling to close out January the way it began the month, going 3-5 over its last eight games following a 10-game winning streak. 

The Warriors can feel good about the fact they're just one of four Western Conference teams holding opponents to less than 100 points per night.

 

8. Houston Rockets (29-17)

Back-to-back losses to Memphis have Houston staring down pivotal division showdowns with San Antonio and Dallas to conclude the month. 

Assuming they can right the ship, the Rockets' dominance offensively and on the boards has them eyeing a deep playoff run. 

 

9. Phoenix Suns (26-18)

PHOENIX, AZ - JANUARY 22:  Leandro Barbosa #10 of the Phoenix Suns awaits a free throw shot during the NBA game against the Indiana Pacers at US Airways Center on January 22, 2014 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Pacers 124-100. NOTE TO USER: Us
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The surprising Suns are just 7-7 in the month of January, but are still in the mix for a playoff spot. If the Suns' best player, Eric Bledsoe was healthy, Phoenix could be sitting on 30-plus wins at this point. 

 

10. Dallas Mavericks (26-20)

The Mavs are just 3-4 over their last seven games and preparing for a stiff test this February with seven of their 12 games on the road, where they are just 11-13 this season. 

 

11. Memphis Grizzlies (22-20)

MEMPHIS, TN - JANUARY 25:  Dave Joerger head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies draws up a play against the Houston Rockets on January 25, 2014 at FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and
Joe Murphy/Getty Images

While the Grizzlies' record doesn't indicate it at first glance, Memphis has been coming on strong to start 2014, winning eight of their last 10 to get above .500 and back into the playoff race. With recent wins over Houston, Oklahoma City and Phoenix, this Grizzlies team is starting to look more like the one that reached the Western Conference finals last spring.

 

12. Brooklyn Nets (20-23)

The Nets are 10-2 in the month of January and have posted signature wins over the Thunder, Warriors and Heat over that time.

If Brooklyn can sustain its current form, it could become the third championship contender in the Eastern Conference this coming spring.

 

13. Atlanta Hawks (23-21)

The Atlanta Hawks have been all over the place to start 2014, going 5-7 in the month of January. It likely won't matter come playoff time, though, as they lack the star power to truly challenge in the Eastern Conference. 

 

14. Toronto Raptors (23-21)

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 20:  Terrence Ross #31 of the Toronto Raptors dunks the ball against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center on November 20, 2013 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that
Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

The Raptors have been a completely different team since starting 6-12 and trading Rudy Gay to Sacramento. Toronto is currently leading the Atlantic Division and coming off an impressive win over the scorching-hot Nets.

 

15. Chicago Bulls (22-22)

Chicago has won 10 of 14 to get above the .500 mark. However, the Bulls have beaten up on bad teams over that time, losing to the Clippers and the Wizards twice since mid-January.

 

16. Denver Nuggets (22-21)

Denver's defense has let it down this season but thanks to a wealth of offensive talent, the Nuggets have climbed above. 500 this January. But in the ultra-competitive Western Conference, the Nuggets will need to continue their ascent. 

 

17. Minnesota Timberwolves (22-22)

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 18:  Ricky Rubio #9 and Kevin Love #42 of the Minnesota Timberwolve stand on the court against the Portland Trail Blazers on December 18, 2013 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges
Jordan Johnson/Getty Images

Close games have been the Minnesota Timberwolves' Achilles heel all season long. But perhaps the Wolves have turned the corner as a recent three-game winning streak saw Minnesota edge Golden State by one point on the road. 

 

18. Washington Wizards (21-22)

The Wizards have failed to get above. 500 on five separate occasions this season, including three times since Jan. 18. Until they finally get over the hump, it's hard to take the Wizards seriously when it comes to making noise in the postseason. 

 

19. New York Knicks (17-27)

NEW YORK - JANUARY 24:   Carmelo Anthony #7 and Raymond Felton #2 of the New York Knicks talk during the game against the Charlotte Bobcats on January 24, 2014 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees
David Dow/Getty Images

Despite Carmelo Anthony's individual brilliance over the past two games, the Knicks are still 10 games below .500 and 5-5 over their last 10 games. 

 

20. New Orleans Pelicans (18-25)

Anthony Davis has been the lone bright spot for an otherwise disappointing team. The Pelicans would be a playoff team in the Eastern Conference, but unfortunately play in one of the league's toughest divisions.

 

21. Charlotte Bobcats (19-27)

It's hard to believe the Bobcats are in the mix for a playoff berth after winning just 28 games combined over the previous two seasons. 

But the play of Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker has been fantastic for the Southeast Division sleepers.

 

22. Cleveland Cavaliers (16-28)

CANTON, OH - OCTOBER 15:  Anthony Bennett #15 and C.J. Miles #0 of the Cleveland Cavaliers battle for rebound position against Cody Zeller #40 of the Charlotte Bobcats at the Canton Memorial Civic Center on October 15, 2013 in Canton, Ohio. NOTE TO USER:
David Liam Kyle/Getty Images

It's safe to say that the Eastern Conference playoff race is wide open. But unless the Cavaliers make a dramatic addition before the trade deadline or can land LeBron James this winter, this is a team with little hope of getting past the first round, let alone making the playoffs come April. 

 

23. Detroit Pistons (17-27)

Detroit has dropped four in a row to fall to 3-8 in the month of January. If the Pistons can't end their losing skid against the Orlando Magic on Tuesday, Jan. 28, it could be a while before they return to the win column.

 

24. Los Angeles Lakers (16-29)

PHOENIX, AZ - JANUARY 15:  Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on January 15, 2014 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Suns defeated the Lakers 121-114. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Lakers, who have gone 3-16 over their last 19 games, are in full-on free fall mode at the moment. And with L.A. set to host the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday, Jan. 28, it's unlikely to get any better for the short-handed Lake Show.

 

25. Sacramento Kings (15-29)

The Kings are likely headed back to the lottery following another sluggish start. The individual play of DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay and Isaiah Thomas has been awfully impressive, but as a team, Sacramento can't earn enough stops to win on a consistent basis. 

 

26. Utah Jazz (16-29)

Surprisingly, the Utah Jazz are only 10 losses away from tying their 2012-13 season total.

While the Jazz have played winning basketball over the past month-plus, a dismal 4-19 start has this team destined for the lottery. 

 

27. Boston Celtics (15-31)

BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 26: Phil Pressey #26 of the Boston Celtics drives against Deron Williams #8 of the Brooklyn Nets during a game at TD Garden in Boston. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photogr
Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

Boston has lost 17 of its last 20 games and the team's offense has been nonexistent for much of the year. Rajon Rondo's return is encouraging, but unlikely to spark serious change in Beantown.

 

28. Orlando Magic (12-33)

The Orlando Magic are 2-13 since New Year's Eve and 6-24 over their last 30 games. Therefore, few people are aware that Arron Afflalo is averaging 20.4 points per game on 42 percent shooting from beyond the arc this season.

 

29. Philadelphia 76ers (14-31)

PORTLAND, OR - JANUARY 4:  Michael Carter-Williams #1 and Brett Brown of the Philadelphia 76ers talk during the game against the Portland Trail Blazers on January 4, 2014 at the Moda Center Arena in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowled
Sam Forencich/Getty Images

A season that began with tremendous promise has gone sour for the Philadelphia 76ers, who are 2-9 over their last 11 games. On top of that, the Sixers' minus-8.5 scoring differential is the second-worst in the league behind only Milwaukee. 

 

30. Milwaukee Bucks (8-36)

Milwaukee currently owns the worst record and scoring differential in the NBA. Even worse, the Bucks are 1-12 in the month of January, suffering a handful of blowout losses since the start of the new year.

 

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