NBA Trade Deadline: Power Ranking The Western Conference After Big Trades
The NBA has been shaken up by the trade deadline, with several marquee players heading to different homes.
Big names like Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams have switched teams while a handful of role players will look to reestablish themselves in their new digs.
Heading into the second half of the season, it appears a shift of power to the Eastern Conference has occurred. LeBron James would agree.
However, the Western Conference is still strong and we are in store for a race to the finish.
The recent trades should affect the make-up of the top eight playoff spots. With the current standings aside, here are the up-to-date Western Conference power rankings.
15. Minnesota Timberwolves
The Timberwolves are a perfect example of how one player can no longer dominate an entire game.
Kevin Love is a double-double machine, but he has a weak supporting cast.
Corey Brewer was dealt to the Knicks in the 'Melo trade as well.
Minnesota will continue to bring up the rear in the Western Conference.
14. Sacramento Kings
The Kings have some good young talent, but they haven't been able to click together.
Their star player, Tyreke Evans, will be sidelined the next three weeks with a foot injury.
Rookie DeMarcus Cousins was recently fined for fighting with a teammate during a game, and he has had several instances of questionable behavior this season.
The Kings traded Carl Landry to the New Orleans Hornets for Marcus Thornton. Thornton averaged 7.8 points per game for the Hornets off the bench.
Sacramento is still a few years away.
13. Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers traded Baron Davis to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Mo Williams and Jamario Moon.
Williams averaged 13.3 points and 7.1 assists for the Cavs. Davis had similar numbers with the Clippers, but he was also starting to develop a connection with All-Star Blake Griffin.
Griffin's performance in the dunk contest was legendary and could propel him through the remainder of the season.
Barring a miracle second half run, the Clippers will likely miss the playoffs this year but they are a team that's on the verge of success.
12. Houston Rockets
The Rockets currently sit in 11th place in the West. This team has the makings of a perennial contender, but the one main key to their success just can't stay healthy: Yao Ming.
Luis Scola and Kevin Martin are putting up big numbers, and Kyle Lowry is establishing himself as an impact player.
The Rockets traded Aaron Brooks to the Phoenix Suns for Goran Dragic and a first-round pick. Brooks was enjoying a breakout year in Houston.
Shane Battier is heading to Memphis for Hasheem Thabeet and a future first-round draft pick. The Rockets will miss Battier's leadership and three-point shooting.
Houston lost two key pieces and will have to wait for next season.
11. Golden State Warriors
The Warriors are another team right on the verge of greatness.
This team can score with anyone in the Western Conference, but they lack the defensive skills in keeping their opponents from scoring.
Monta Ellis, Stephen Curry and David Lee have all had breakout seasons.
Golden State acquired a familiar face in Troy Murphy as they shipped Brandan Wright and Dan Gadzuric to the New Jersey Nets. Murphy didn't play much for the Nets, but he can still score in a variety of ways.
A hot finish may lead to contention for the eighth spot.
10. Utah Jazz
The Deron Williams trade was actually a smart move for the Jazz. While they lost their team's offensive leader, they received two talented young players in Devin Harris and Derrick Favors.
Williams likely wouldn't have re-signed in Utah anyway, so the Jazz made a good decision in getting value for him now.
Utah also recently lost Jerry Sloan. I wonder if Sloan comes back now that Williams is gone. The two were said to clash repeatedly which led to Sloan's resignation.
Harris should give the Jazz a burst of energy and should team up nicely with Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson, Andrei Kirilenko and Raja Bell.
The final two spots in the Western Conference will come down to the wire, and the Jazz may find themselves in the mix if they can adjust to a new point guard and new coach.
9. Denver Nuggets
Following the Carmelo Anthony trade, the Denver Nuggets have an array of players who can contribute immediately.
However, trying to make up Anthony's production will be difficult.
The Nuggets are currently in sixth place in the conference, but there's a chance they can slip out of playoff contention.
Denver had plenty of depth. J.R. Smith and Nene, as well as Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler and Raymond Felton, all remain with the team.
Trying to get all these pieces involved will certainly be an arduous task for George Karl.
In their effort to rebuild, it might cost Denver a playoff berth this year.
8. Phoenix Suns
The Suns can capture the eighth spot, especially since Steve Nash isn't going anywhere. Phoenix had been fielding offers for Nash prior to the deadline.
The team has a nice mix of veteran talent (Vince Carter, Grant Hill and Nash) and some high-energy young players (Jared Dudley, Channing Frye and Hakim Warrick).
Denver and Utah's trades may allow Phoenix to slide up the standings. However, the Suns can not sit back and rely on the other teams to fail.
The recent addition of Aaron Brooks for Goran Dragic will give the Suns a jolt offensively.
A late run by the Suns should get them back into playoff consideration.
7. Memphis Grizzlies
The Grizzlies should be another team that is directly affected by the mega-deals in the Western Conference.
Memphis currently holds the eighth spot but will look for the Nuggets to decline without 'Melo.
Zack Randolph has returned to form and is a great compliment to Rudy Gay.
The Grizzlies acquired their former veteran stand-out point guard Jason Williams. He may not put up the stats like he once did, but he can certainly provide leadership to the young team.
The Grizzlies further established their bench by acquiring veteran forward Shane Battier for Hasheem Thabeet and a first-round pick. Battier can provide good bench scoring and the ability to hit the big shot.
Memphis reportedly shipped out troubled guard O.J. Mayo to the Indiana Pacers for Josh McRoberts and a first-round pick.
McRoberts would have provided depth behind Marc Gasol and Randolph, keeping those two fresh for a playoff push.
However, the deal was not in on time and fell through. Mayo can still be a talented player for Memphis.
6. Portland Trail Blazers
Portland has been mentioned in a variety of trade deadline deals.
They have acquired Gerald Wallace from the Charlotte Bobcats for Joel Pryzbilla and a second-round draft pick.
This is a great deal for Portland. Wallace is a shut-down defender who is also enjoying a strong offensive season.
Rudy Fernandez, Marcus Camby, Andre Miller and Nicholas Batum all came up as possible trade chips, but all will remain with the team.
LaMarcus Aldridge has been spectacular this season. Brandon Roy returned last night after missing two months due to a knee injury. He only scored five points in 16 minutes, but patience will be important for him moving forward.
Portland could be a middle-of-the-pack team that has the ability to upset one of the top seeds in the playoffs.
5. New Orleans Hornets
The Hornets made some noise at the trade deadline, acquiring power forward Carl Landry from the Sacramento Kings.
Landry had been averaging 11.9 points and 4.8 rebounds per game this season.
He will be able to spell David West and Emeka Okafor to keep them fresh for a playoff run.
The Hornets are another sort of middle-of-the-road team who can be capable of an upset.
Chris Paul will have to continue leading his squad like he's done throughout his career.
Winning in New Orleans will be the key to Paul staying put after next season so, for the Hornets, the time is now.
4. Oklahoma City Thunder
Kevin Durant's performance in the All-Star Game easily and firmly established him as one of the top-five players in the NBA.
Durant can do anything on a basketball court, and the Thunder will look to ride his talent deep in to the playoffs.
Durant and Russell Westbrook form one of the most explosive tandems in the NBA.
In other Thunder news, OKC sent Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic to Boston for Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson. This is a balanced trade that should benefit both teams.
Perkins will provide some punch on the offensive and defensive glass, while Robinson can spell Westbrook at point guard.
The Thunder were done there as they also added Nazr Mohammed from the Bobcats for Morris Peterson and D.J. White.
A trip to the conference semi-finals seems likely.
3. Dallas Mavericks
The Mavericks made a subtle trade that should help them down the stretch. Dallas acquired veteran sharp-shooter Peja Stojakovic to provide some instant offense off the bench.
Dallas is currently second in the Western Conference, and they should keep up their pace.
Though the Mavericks may be one of the oldest teams in the NBA, they are also one of the most experienced.
Dirk Nowitski, Jason Kidd, Caron Butler, Tyson Chandler, Brendan Haywood, Shawn Marion, DeShawn Stevenson, Jason Terry and Stojakovic all have at least eight years of NBA experience.
Nowitski and Kidd will hold the keys to success. The Mavericks would be wise to ensure these players are well-rested heading into the playoffs.
Dallas decided to stick with their guns rather than make any more deadline deals.
2. Los Angeles Lakers
Kobe Bryant's All-Star Game MVP performance shows that he still wants to win more than anything else.
In just an exhibition game, he put up 38 points and 14 rebounds in the Western Conference's victory.
The Lakers went through a stretch where they weren't playing with much energy, but Kobe should lead a rejuvenated bunch in the second half.
They should be able to pass Dallas for the second spot in the conference.
Though trade rumors surrounded Andrew Bynum and Ron Artest, these players should thrive in LA and look to prove that the Lakers made a good decision in keeping them. Artest put up 24 points in the Lakers recent win over the Trail Blazers, his highest point total since 2009.
Until a team unseats the NBA champs, the Lakers will still be the team to beat in the Western Conference.
1. San Antonio Spurs
The San Antonio Spurs have everything going for them.
They've been playing so well that Gregg Popovich has been able to rest Tim Duncan for entire fourth quarters because his team is up by so many points.
The Spurs hold a six game lead over second-place Dallas, and they should easily cruise to a first place finish in the conference.
Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Duncan are possibly the most underrated big three in the game. They go about their business each night in a very methodical manner and without too much flashiness.
Their test will come in the playoffs. The Western Conference is packed with talented teams, so the Spurs will have to keep up the pace.
They appear to be the favorite as of now to represent the west in the NBA Finals, but the Lakers, Mavericks, Thunder, Hornets and Trail Blazers may stand in the Spurs' way.
It should be an exciting finish in the NBA.
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