NBA Power Rankings: Assessing Each Team's Position as Playoffs Inch Closer

Sean ODonnellContributor IIIMarch 20, 2014

The 2014 NBA Playoffs are now under one month away. The league's top teams are still fighting for position heading into the postseason, while others continue to flounder in the bottom of the standings and have their sights set on the draft.

This year, plenty of top-notch teams have legitimate chances of reaching the promised land; however, some of these teams are riding high at the moment, while some have faltered as the postseason approaches.

Let's take a look at each of the NBA's 30 teams and rank them from the strongest to the weakest based on their overall performance through this point of the regular season.


1. San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs continue to dominate a very good Western Conference. At 51-16, not only do they hold the league's best win-loss record, but the Spurs are on, as of this writing, an impressive 11-game winning streak. Ever since the return of Kawhi Leonard, the team has looked fantastic, winning all 10 of their games with him back on the court.


2. Los Angeles Clippers

Blake Griffin and Co. have put together a great stretch of near-flawless performances. Despite dropping Monday's contest to the Denver Nuggets, the team is still 9-1 over its last 10 games. Griffin has been dominant lately and could potentially be an MVP candidate.


3. Indiana Pacers

Indiana lost home-court advantage to the Miami Heat for the moment, having gone 5-5 over its last 10 games. Still, there is no denying the talent and depth of this team. If the Pacers can get back on track quickly, they will be one of the most feared teams entering the postseason.


4. Oklahoma City Thunder

Despite a sluggish 10-game stretch in which the Thunder won just six games, the team still holds a solid 29-12 conference record and have notched several significant victories against winning teams. Kevin Durant looks to be the favorite in the MVP race, and with a favorable schedule on the horizon, this team is poised to get back to its winning ways.


5. Miami Heat

The Heat continue to lose to sub-.500 teams which drops them slightly in the rankings. However, Dwayne Wade is currently playing on a limited basis in order to stay fresh for the playoffs. This strategy will make the Heat one of the postseason's top contenders as long as LeBron James doesn't get worn out at the end of the regular season.


6. Houston Rockets

After dropping three-straight games to the Thunder, Bulls and Heat, the Rockets took a dip in the power rankings. Still, the team showed its impressive depth, defeating the Jazz on Monday, 124-86, without Dwight Howard.


7. Golden State Warriors

The Warriors are on a nice 10-game stretch, winning seven contests over that span. On Sunday, they came away with an impressive road victory over the Trail Blazers. This come-from-behind win was one of many this season, proving that this team can flourish in the face of adversity.


8. Portland Trail Blazers

The Trail Blazers are in a bit of a rough stretch right now, as the team has cooled off in recent weeks. Sure, they can light up the scoreboard, but without any defense to speak of, things could get dicey going forward. The team's upcoming schedule is favorable, which should help right the ship.


9. Memphis Grizzlies

Memphis has now won six of its last seven games. Marc Gasol has made a huge impact for the Grizzlies, as their defense has improved in a big way. That's extremely important heading into the waning days of the regular season. The team's upcoming schedule—at the Heat and against the Pacers—will be huge in determining how competitive the Grizzlies can be in the postseason.


10. Dallas Mavericks

The Mavericks are well on their way to a 50-win season, currently holding a 41-28 record. Dirk Nowitzki continues to be the team's driving force despite criticism from owner Mark Cuban. Dallas has been putting up some major points of late, and showed that it can hang with the league's top teams.


11. Chicago Bulls

Sure, the Bulls' record could be partially credited to being in a very weak division, but the team has put together some quality wins as well. Joakim Noah is one of the league's hardest-working players, averaging a double-double for the season, with 11.3 rebounds per game and 12.3 points per game.


12. Toronto Raptors

How surprising have the Raptors been this season? Since trading Rudy Gay, the team has been on a tear. The Raptors put up over 100 points in seven of their last 10 games, going 6-4 in that stretch. They will face a tough test on Friday against the Thunder, but have a favorable schedule thereafter.


13. Phoenix Suns

Phoenix hasn't exactly been dominant of late; however, that can be partially attributed to the absence of Eric Bledsoe. Now that he's returned, the team looks energized and poised to get back into the playoff picture. A very favorable upcoming schedule will help the Suns' cause.


14. Brooklyn Nets

Watch out, the Nets are surging. Winning eight of their last 10 games, Brooklyn surpassed the Wizards for the fifth spot in the East. Kevin Garnett continues to miss time; however, the team is winning in his absence. This could be a blessing in disguise, as Garnett's missed time will allow him to be rested for the playoffs.


15. Washington Wizards

Washington had a chance to overtake the Nets here; however, after falling to the Kings on Tuesday, the Wizards also fell in the rankings. Washington is clinging to the sixth seed in the East right now; although, it will be tested on an upcoming four-game road trip out west.


16. Minnesota Timberwolves

A big win on Thursday against the Mavericks brings Minnesota's winning streak to two games. The team has also won seven of its last 10. Kevin Love and Co. are doing everything they can to end the team's playoff drought. Unfortunately, the Timberwolves play in the West, and that drought doesn't appear set to end this year.


17. Charlotte Bobcats

Despite a 33-36 record, the Bobcats are poised to make a trip to the playoffs. Al Jefferson has been a revelation late, averaging 24.8 points per game in the month of March. With Jefferson's scoring heating up, and a well-rounded defense in place, the Bobcats will see postseason action this year.


18. Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets may not have a shot at the playoffs, but they are actually playing some solid basketball of late. The team emerged victorious over its last two games in decisive fashion, beating the Clippers 110-100 and the Pistons 118-109. This isn't a team that anyone wants to see on their schedule right now.


19. Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks are riding a five-game winning streak and seem likely to claim the East's final postseason seed. That comes with good news and bad news. Certainly, its a great feat to make the playoffs; however, having to face either the Pacers or Heat in Round 1 doesn't bring about a warm, fuzzy feeling.


20. New York Knicks

Phil Jackson has arrived in New York and the Knicks are on a seven-game winning streak.

Coincidence? Yes. However, with Jackson in the fold, Carmelo Anthony is likely to stick around, and the Knicks future suddenly looks bright.


21. New Orleans Pelicans

It's been a rough go for the Pelicans this season. The team has been devastated by injuries, will miss the postseason and aren't guaranteed a top-five draft pick. On the bright side, Anthony Davis is averaging 26.9 points per game and 11.8 rebounds per game in March.


22. Cleveland Cavaliers

After dropping two-straight games to the Clippers and Heat, as well as looking at the Thunder and Rockets next up on the schedule, it looks as though Cleveland will be without yet another postseason berth. Things aren't getting any better for this team, as they lost Kyle Irving to injury for an undetermined period of time.


23. Detroit Pistons

There's not much silver lining in the Piston's 2013-14 season. The team is struggling on both sides of the ball and recently lost Andre Drummond to a neck injury. Saturday's 112-104 loss to the Pacers really sums up the Pistons' season, as the team couldn't hang on to a 25-point lead.


24. Sacramento Kings

DeMarcus Cousins isn't exactly making things easier for the 24-44 Kings. His outbursts have overshadowed his potential in a big way. He is averaging 22.0 points per game and 13.3 rebounds per game in March; however, a better attitude would go a long way for a team looking to turn around its bad fortunes.


25. Orlando Magic

Well, the Magic are now on a seven-game losing streak. This team is currently holding a 19-50 record, and its players seemed to have given up for the season. In the team's 109-93 loss to the Suns, Orlando combined to shoot just 40.0 percent from the field while allowing Phoenix to connect on 50.6 percent of its attempts.


26. Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers must be thankful for the Utah Jazz. If it weren't for Utah, Los Angeles would find itself in the basement of the Western Conference. Things don't look to be getting any better for this team. Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash are out for the season, and the team's hopes of getting Phil Jackson back in the fold have been dashed by the Knicks.


27. Boston Celtics

Oh, are the Celtics bad right now. After getting bludgeoned in five consecutive games, the team finally managed a quality win over the Heat on Wednesday. At least with a 23-46 record, the Celtics look like they may be in line for a top-three draft pick.


28. Utah Jazz

Sure, the Western Conference is very tough. However, the Jazz make it look even tougher than it is. Holding a 22-47 record, and currently riding a six-game losing streak, the Jazz will finish this season in the West's gutter.


29. Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks have the honor of holding the NBA's worst overall record at 13-55. Milwaukee has lost eight of its last nine games and earns the second-to-last spot in the power rankings simply because the Philadelphia 76ers have found a way to be even more terrible of late.


30. Philadelphia 76ers

A 22-game losing streak is all that needs to be said regarding the 76ers dead-last ranking here. This team has not shown any drive to even compete in recent contests, suffering embarrassing losses at the hands of teams around the league.

Here's looking to the draft, Philadelphia.


All team records and player stats current as of 7 p.m. ET on Thursday, March 20.


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