NBA Power Rankings: New York Knicks and Teams That Will Rise in Second Half

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 27, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 21:  Amare Stoudemire #1 , and Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks talk during their pre season game  against the New Jersey Nets at Madison Square Garden on December 21, 2011 in New York City. 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 Al Bello/Getty Images)
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Now that All-Star Weekend is over, it's time for NBA teams to start thinking about the season's second half. After a first half that saw several squads thought to be contenders struggle, it will be interesting to see who steps up and who fades into the background before playoff time.

Here are three teams that will make a move up the standings over the next few months, followed by a full power rankings list.

New York Knicks

ORLANDO, FL - FEBRUARY 24:  Jeremy Lin #17 of the New York Knicks and Team Shaq looks on during the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge part of the 2012 NBA All-Star Weekend at Amway Center on February 24, 2012 in Orlando, Florida.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly a
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Jeremy Lin's transition from unknown bench filler to overnight superstar has thrust the Knicks back into the spotlight. The team also added J.R. Smith recently, who adds some much-needed depth to the equation for the second half.

It's going to take some time before all of the team's pieces gel together, but an extended hot streak is on the horizon. There's simply too much talent on the roster to remain under .500, especially now that everybody should be close to full strength.

The key moving forward will be Lin striking a good balance between remaining aggressive while still deferring to Carmelo Anthony when the situation warrants. Anthony's track record of success is a lot more extensive than Lin's, and he needs to remain the Knicks' top offensive option.

Boston Celtics

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BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 06:  Kevin Garnett #5, Ray Allen #20 and Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics react in the fourth quarter against the Indiana Pacers on January 6, 2012 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Indiana Pacers defeated the Boston Cel
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There's been a lot of talk about Boston's roster getting old, perhaps even too old to compete with the younger Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls. When you look at the numbers, however, you see it's actually the supporting cast members who have struggled in the first half.

Outside of Brandon Bass, the Celtics haven't received enough support for their four stars. It's an issue that will have to be addressed before the trade deadline, but they are really only one or two pieces away from being viewed as contenders again.

Everybody will have plenty of time to talk about the future of the franchise in the offseason. Now is not to the time to talk about breaking up the core because of a sluggish start. The second half will be significantly better in Boston.

Portland Trail Blazers

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 20:  Nicolas Batum #88 of the Portland Trail Blazers dribbles past Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the game at Staples Center on February 20, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknow
Harry How/Getty Images

The Trail Blazers haven't been getting much respect on the national level quite yet, but that should change soon. LaMarcus Aldridge is the legitimate star every team needs, and the rest of the roster is young and athletic.

Those types of teams are the ones everybody wants to avoid in the playoffs. That's going to ring true again this season due to the condensed regular season schedule. Youth will play to Portland's advantage as the campaign wears on.

One player to watch in particular is Nicolas Batum. He's always possessed the talent to become a star, but over the past few weeks has really shown signs of putting it all together. If he can maintain that high level of play in the second half, the Blazers will be a force.

Tim Daniels' Week 9 NBA Power Rankings  
1. Miami Heat
2. Chicago Bulls
3. Oklahoma City Thunder
4. San Antonio Spurs
5. Indiana Pacers
6. Los Angeles Clippers
7. Dallas Mavericks
8. Orlando Magic
9. Houston Rockets
10. Portland Trail Blazers
11. Philadelphia 76ers
12. Los Angeles Lakers
13. Atlanta Hawks
14. Memphis Grizzlies
15. Denver Nuggets
16. Minnesota Timberwolves
17. New York Knicks
18. Golden State Warriors
19. Boston Celtics
20. Utah Jazz
21. Phoenix Suns
22. Milwaukee Bucks
23. Cleveland Cavaliers
24. Toronto Raptors
25. Sacramento Kings
26. Detroit Pistons
27. New Orleans Hornets
28. New Jersey Nets
29. Washington Wizards
30. Charlotte Bobcats


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