2016 NBA Power Rankings: Post-Trade Deadline Standings for All 30 Teams

Grant Hughes@@gt_hughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistFebruary 19, 2016

2016 NBA Power Rankings: Post-Trade Deadline Standings for All 30 Teams

0 of 30

    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Though the 2016 NBA trade deadline didn't feature many high-profile exchanges, there were still some moves that made an impact on this week's power rankings. And that's a relief, because all that time off for the All-Star break meant only three games fit into the evaluation period.

    We needed something to shake up the order a bit, and we got just enough.

    Two main themes contributed to the general stasis. First, many upper-tier teams in positions to add talent seemed to look at the dominance of the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs before concluding something along the lines of "Eh, what's the point?"

    Second, some of the biggest names on the market (at least in theory) lost appeal because of their looming free agency. That explains Dwight Howard, Al Horford and Mike Conley staying put. Nobody was interested in a possible rental—perhaps because of that "Eh, what's the point?" justification above.

    As always, stats, recent play and gut instinct factor into these rankings, which seek to organize all 30 teams into an order that reflects how good they are right now. The difference this week: We've got some trades to weigh.

30. Phoenix Suns

1 of 30

    Matt York/Associated Press

    Last Week: 30

    The Phoenix Suns got marginally better in an emotional sense by sending away Markieff Morris just before the deadline, getting Kris Humphries, DeJuan Blair and a top-nine-protected first-round pick from the Washington Wizards, per Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical and Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic.

    Morris agitated for a trade over the summer and mailed it in under former coach Jeff Hornacek. Getting a first-rounder in 2016 is a heck of a haul for a player who did everything in his power to destroy his own value.

    Assuming Morris actually tries in Washington and the Wizards are good enough to convey that pick, the Suns will enter the 2016 draft with three cracks at the first round: their own selection, one from the Cleveland Cavaliers and one from the Wiz. That's not a bad way to start a rebuild, which the Suns desperately need.

    Phoenix has a little more hope for the future, but it's still terrible in the present. With nothing but incentive to lose, we should expect the Suns to stay in the bottom three for the rest of the year. 

29. Los Angeles Lakers

2 of 30

    Danny Moloshok/Associated Press

    Last Week: 29

    It would have been nice to see the Lakers jettison some of their vets for picks or younger players on cheap deals, but the market apparently didn't have much interest in Roy Hibbert, Nick Young or Lou Williams.

    Can't imagine why…

    The task going forward—the only one that matters—is making sure that top-three-protected pick doesn't wind up in the Philadelphia 76ers' hands. The Lakers need to complete this semi-intentional tank job over the upcoming two months. If they can't, this season will have been an unmitigated disaster.

    A home game against the Spurs and three straight road games to begin the post-break schedule should get things off to a sufficiently unsuccessful start. Here's hoping the Lakers ride that momentum to something like a 2-25 record the rest of the way.

28. Brooklyn Nets

3 of 30

    Mike Stobe/Getty Images

    Last Week: 28

    The trade deadline came and went, and the only thing the Brooklyn Nets acquired was a general manager. Sean Marks, late of the San Antonio Spurs front office, is now the head personnel man in Brooklyn.

    "I am very excited to be named the general manager of the Brooklyn Nets, and to become a member of the vibrant and dynamic organization that represents Brooklyn," Marks said in a team release, his optimism bordering on lunacy.

    Without control of a first-round pick until 2019, Marks won't have to do much draft research. And the fact that Brooklyn couldn't move either Brook Lopez or Thaddeus Young at the deadline indicates there might not be a whole lot Marks can do to improve the team's future prospects via trade.

    The Nets, winners of 14 games on the year, get two games at home to start the season's unofficial second half. A nine-game road trip comes afterward, and things could get ugly during that stretch.

27. Philadelphia 76ers

4 of 30

    Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

    Last Week: 27

    Despite the midseason addition of Jerry Colangelo in an executive role, the trade deadline proved Sam Hinkie is still in charge of the Philadelphia 76ers.

    Philly took on Joel Anthony, who won't help much in the short term, to get a 2017 second-rounder from the Houston Rockets, the 76ers announced. That's vintage Hinkie—swooping in to absorb unwanted players into the Sixers' cap space in exchange for future considerations.

    Between now and 2021, the 76ers own or have swap rights on an incredible 18 draft picks (not including this latest one) from other teams, according to RealGM.com. That's in addition to their own war chest, which, if things keep going like they have been for the past couple of seasons, will include some high lottery options.

    With a league-low eight wins and a remaining February schedule in which five of seven games come on the road, the Sixers are in good shape to hit the stretch run in optimal tank mode. They'll have to be careful, of course, as three teams have been performing worse in recent weeks. Winning a game here or there will be tough to avoid.

    Remember, though, we've just reconfirmed that Hinkie's still in charge. He'll handle this.

26. Sacramento Kings

5 of 30

    Brian Babineau/Getty Images

    Last Week: 26

    The Sacramento Kings stood pat at the deadline, which counts as a win for an organization that has turned the words "trade" and "mistake" into synonyms. Lately, everything the Kings have done in the personnel department has been questionable at best and disastrous at worst.

    So, um, congrats?

    Don't worry, though: Sacramento at least fired assistant coach Vance Walberg over George Karl's objections, per Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee, further driving the wedge between front office and bench. The Kings know how to stay on brand.

    At this point, it feels very much like the team thinks it can antagonize Karl enough to make him resign, which would save the organization from paying yet another fired head coach.

    The Kings got some time away from each other over the break, which was probably good. They'll return the same team that has lost eight of its last 10, and given the persistent internal strife, a turnaround seems nearly impossible.

25. Milwaukee Bucks

6 of 30

    Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

    Last Week: 25

    The Milwaukee Bucks return from the break with two consecutive wins and a better sense of how their rotation should look.

    That's a start.

    After deciding to keep both Greg Monroe and Michael Carter-Williams through the trade deadline, Milwaukee must now approach the rest of the season as an experiment. If Monroe and MCW are better off as bench players, which they've been since a Feb. 9 win against the Boston Celtics, the Bucks need to determine the quality of their starters.

    Are Miles Plumlee and O.J. Mayo viable long-term options in the first unit?

    We know the answer is a resounding "no," but the Bucks need to find out for sure.

    Milwaukee, facing the final two months of a lost, disappointing campaign, needs to glean some value. If it comes in the form of developing young players, great. If it means facing the fact that Carter-Williams and Monroe aren't the needle-movers they once seemed to be, that's fine too.

24. New York Knicks

7 of 30

    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Last Week: 24

    The New York Knicks were spiraling, having lost 10 of their last 11 heading into the break. Kudos to them for not making any panicked moves to pull out of that dive.

    Embracing the failure makes sense here because getting the kind of veteran who might have helped stabilize a fading playoff chase probably would have cost a young talent. And with their 2016 first-round selection owed to the Denver Nuggets as part of a pick swap, the Knicks can't afford to lose any of their limited up-and-coming assets.

    There'll be time to pursue a Carmelo Anthony move in the future, assuming Melo will be open to waiving his no-trade clause. For now, New York should evaluate the youth on the roster, see if Kurt Rambis is worth keeping around next season as a head coach (he's not) and do whatever it can to keep Kristaps Porzingis from getting discouraged by all the losing.

23. Minnesota Timberwolves

8 of 30

    Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

    Last Week: 22

    Winners of three of their last four games, the Minnesota Timberwolves also had success in All-Star Weekend's various exhibitions. Zach LaVine won the dunk contest and collected the MVP award from the Rising Stars Challenge, while Karl-Anthony Towns improbably took home the trophy in the Skills Challenge.

    They slip this week because a very active team used the trade deadline and made enough marginal improvements to climb a spot, and it's a little disappointing the Wolves couldn't find takers for Kevin Martin or Andre Miller on the market.

    Frank Isola of the New York Daily News reported Ricky Rubio was on the block, but the Wolves wisely didn't ship him out. There's value in keeping an unselfish, high-character point guard around such a young team—even if he can't shoot.

    Minnesota has no incentive to win games going forward, so there's a good chance we don't see it climb into the top 20 again. That's fine. The Wolves need to pull off the tricky develop-and-lose double dip for the rest of the year.

22. Orlando Magic

9 of 30

    Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 23

    The long-term logic of trading Tobias Harris for Ersan Ilyasova and Brandon Jennings, which the Orlando Magic did Tuesday, is suspect.

    Harris was in the first season of an affordable four-year, $64 million deal that declines in annual value going forward, and at 23, he was still young enough to develop into one of those skilled, undersized power forwards everyone in the league covets.

    Jennings' contract expires this summer, and only $400,000 of Ilyasova's $8.4 million salary is guaranteed in 2016-17. So it's conceivable that Orlando freed up roughly $16 million in guaranteed cash.

    But what's it going to do with that money this summer—besides spend it in an inflated market where replacing Harris with a similar talent will cost more?

    This was a big-picture mistake.

    Maybe you could make the case that Ilyasova's long-range shooting and Jennings' low-turnover offensive stewardship could help the Magic improve a bit down the stretch this season. But that would have been an easier argument if Orlando hadn't traded away Channing Frye, who'd been shooting better than Ilyasova from deep on the year.

    Still, perhaps the Magic will make the playoffs…and get smoked by the top-seeded Cavaliers.

    Orlando moves up a touch after a shortsighted move.

21. Denver Nuggets

10 of 30

    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Last Week: 20

    D.J. Augustin lost his job to a rookie in Oklahoma City, so it's difficult to get too excited about what he'll provide for the Denver Nuggets—especially with Emmanuel Mudiay playing much better than he did earlier this year and Jameer Nelson already filling the undersized backup point guard quota on the roster.

    Maybe he's better than Randy Foye, whom the Nugs sent to the Thunder in the bargain, per Wojnarowski, but that's not saying much.

    Underwhelming swaps notwithstanding, Denver is looking good lately. Winners of three of their last four games before the break, the Nuggets have some nice momentum built up around Danilo Gallinari's bounce-back and Nikola Jokic's breakout.

    Also positive: Denver gets the Portland Trail Blazers' pick if they make the playoffs, and the Blazers didn't sell off any assets at the deadline. If Portland is serious about staying in the top eight in the West, that's great news for the developing Nugs. 

20. New Orleans Pelicans

11 of 30

    Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    Last Week: 19

    "What I've always done is that I go on the assumption that this is the team that we have," New Orleans Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry told John Reid of the Times-Picayune. "If it changes, it changes. But that's who we have right now, that who were in practice today."

    Nothing changed.

    That's bad for the Pels, who needed to find a way to add picks or young players to surround Anthony Davis. Now, Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon can leave as free agents without New Orleans getting anything in return.

    We know first-round picks were available for far less desirable talents than Anderson because we saw Morris moved for one from the Wizards. And we even know impending free agency isn't a deterrent, as the Los Angeles Clippers proved by dealing a first-rounder for free-agent-to-be Jeff Green.

    The Pelicans missed an opportunity here. So staying the same is actually a step backward.

19. Houston Rockets

12 of 30

    Bill Baptist/Getty Images

    Last Week: 17

    Donatas Motiejunas is an intriguing player—one who has shown the ability to hit shots from long range (36.8 percent from three last year), score on the block and even pass the ball a little. He's also 25 years old and seven feet tall.

    But he also had nagging back problems, and the Houston Rockets didn't want to deal with potentially overpaying him as a restricted free agent. So they shipped him along with Marcus Thornton to the Detroit Pistons, per ESPN's Calvin Watkins (h/t ABC7 NY), for a sweet little top-eight-protected first-rounder in the 2016 draft (score!) and Joel Anthony (meh!).

    We'll get deeper into this on the Pistons slide, but from Houston's perspective, the move suggests a re-evaluation has taken place.

    The Rockets exit the break in the No. 9 spot in the West, and both Thornton and Motiejunas would have helped any effort to improve that spot in the standings. It seems Houston understands this isn't its year.

    That's commendable, and it's duly impressive that the Rockets spun that realization into a valuable asset.

    Per ESPN.com's Zach Lowe, the pick Houston acquired was a "better return than what Utah got for [Enes] Kanter, and what OKC got for [Reggie] Jackson—RFAs traded last year."

    Houston is a little worse today, and things could get really ugly if Dwight Howard ups his crankiness after not being traded. But the Rockets are now positioned to be better down the line.

18. Chicago Bulls

13 of 30

    Gary Dineen/Getty Images

    Last Week: 18

    Kirk Hinrich's numbers look better than they did last year, but that won't keep many Chicago Bulls fans from celebrating his exit. Mostly injured and ineffective after a decent start, Hinrich, dealt to the Atlanta Hawks for Justin Holiday and a second-round pick, per K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, wasn't going to help the Bulls much down the stretch.

    Holiday, a young wing who showed flashes in spot duty with the Warriors two years ago before losing minutes with the Hawks, might yet amount to something.

    On balance, the Bulls aren't appreciably better after the deadline. And they begin the second half facing the same injury issues and declining play that plagued them in the weeks leading into the break.

17. Washington Wizards

14 of 30

    Aaron Gash/Associated Press

    Last Week: 18

    Let it never be said the Washington Wizards were afraid to gamble. Taking on Morris, who is unquestionably talented and fits a need as an athletic power forward for a team that wants to run, is a move that still carries huge risk.

    What if the switch he flipped after Hornacek's firing in Phoenix is only temporary? What if he's ticked off the Suns didn't trade him to the Pistons so he could reunite with his twin brother Marcus? What if he misjudges the weight of the towels in Washington and hits John Wall instead of Randy Wittman when he flings one in frustration?

    These are real concerns.

    If this works out and Morris looks like the player he was last year, it could mean a playoff berth for the Wiz. But if it doesn't, losing a first-round pick in the bargain will be a total catastrophe.

    For the moment, we'll assume Morris helps, and we'll move the Wizards up.

16. Indiana Pacers

15 of 30

    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Last Week: 15

    The Indiana Pacers didn't make any moves, and they don't move anywhere in this week's power rankings.

    Paul George's unabashed gunning for an All-Star MVP award was fun to watch, even if he fell short because the only defense the West played came in the final seconds and was designed specifically to stop him from netting a record 42 points.

    He'll return to a team that needs him to show better discretion on offense going forward. After a hot start, George is down to 41.2 percent from the field on 18.2 attempts per game. If his shot selection doesn't improve, he'll register the lowest field-goal percentage in any full season of his career. And worse, the Pacers' No. 22 offensive rating could sink even lower.

    Making the playoffs, let alone winning a series, is hard if you can't score.

15. Memphis Grizzlies

16 of 30

    Brandon Dill/Associated Press

    Last Week: 9

    You've got to hand it to the Memphis Grizzlies for hanging on as long as they did. Compensating for a cramped, outdated offense with chemistry and heart, they stayed sub-contender competitive for much longer than they should have.

    But Marc Gasol's broken foot was a disaster, robbing the team of its best overall player and offensive fulcrum. And when the Grizzlies sent away Courtney Lee (their only reliable three-point shooter) for what amounted to four second-round draft picks, it was clear the Grit and Grind era was coming to an end.

    It had to, really. Tony Allen and Zach Randolph, who defined the team's identity, have declined. Allen will be a free agent after this season, and his offensive shortcomings make him obsolete in today's NBA.

    Punting Jeff Green in exchange for Lance Stephenson and a protected first-round pick, as first reported by Dan Woike of the Orange County Register, was a terrific long-term move—albeit one that ups Memphis' quotient of volatile personalities to a nuclear level.

    After the Gasol injury, we dropped the Grizzlies only a few spots, mostly out of sympathy. Now, with Lee gone and Memphis looking like a team that'll be lucky to win half of its games the rest of the way, it's time to accelerate the slippage.

14. Charlotte Hornets

17 of 30

    Brandon Dill/Associated Press

    Last Week: 14

    Though it's been mostly apparent since they traded Noah Vonleh in a package for Nicolas Batum in the offseason, there's now no question whatsoever that the Charlotte Hornets want to win now.

    Enter Courtney Lee, acquired in a three-team trade from the Memphis Grizzlies. He steps in as a sort of replacement for Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, lost for the season to a torn labrum. Lee isn't the defender MKG is, and he lacks his size on the wing. But as is the case for most sentient bipeds, Lee (38.3 career accuracy rate from long range) is a much better perimeter shooter than Kidd-Gilchrist.

    On balance, it's hard to argue Lee makes Charlotte better than it was with MKG. He may help the team hold steady, though, so we'll leave it where it was last week.

    The Hornets hit the All-Star break on a tear, winning five of six games and pushing back above .500 after a rough January. Lee cost the Hornets a second-round pick, PJ Hairston and Brian Roberts, and he can leave as an unrestricted free agent this summer.

    But he'll help Charlotte push for the playoffs this season, and that's been the goal all along.

13. Detroit Pistons

18 of 30

    John Raoux/Associated Press

    Last Week: 16

    It's entirely possible Harris is a younger Rudy Gay: a tunnel-visioned, talented, oversized wing who always passes the eye test, puts up numbers and never helps his team win games.

    If that's the case, we were too harsh on the Magic earlier, and we shouldn't be all that enthused about Detroit snatching him up. 

    Most likely, though, the Pistons have themselves an affordable, athletic forward who fits into the style head coach Stan Van Gundy wants to play. Harris should benefit from better spacing in Detroit, and if he sees most of his time at power forward, he'll almost always have a matchup advantage on offense.

    The Pistons need a backup for Reggie Jackson, and maybe they'll miss Ilyasova's shooting. But Harris feels like a good fit.

    A second move brought in Motiejunas and Thornton for Joel Anthony and a top-eight-protected first-round pick in the 2016 draft, as first reported by The Vertical's Wojnarowski. That's a sizable toll for a big man with persistent back problems, but there's a tiny chance Motiejunas (a restricted free agent this summer) could still develop into something close to a star-level player.

    Thornton will get the green light to chuck (his specialty) off the bench, and Motiejunas injects a lot more offensive skill, if he's healthy, to Detroit's second unit.

    The Pistons got better at the deadline, and if Harris acclimates quickly, they could push toward a top-four seed in the East.

12. Miami Heat

19 of 30

    LM Otero/Associated Press

    Last Week: 11

    The Miami Heat had the league's 24th-ranked offense with Chris Bosh.

    And though the concerns surrounding his second bout with blood clots and uncertain status going forward are far more serious than questions about who'll score for this team, they're still relevant to our rankings.

    "Obviously until we play in the game, we're not going to really understand the void of missing Chris," Dwyane Wade said, per Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. "So we've got to get out there in the game a little bit and you understand you're missing 20 points a game right now. So we've got to figure it out."

    The Heat shipped off enough salary to get themselves under the tax line for this season, which is a real positive. Unfortunately, that's not a factor here. Bosh isn't replaceable, by committee or otherwise, so his health status weighs heavily on his team's prospects.

    Miami slips a little, but a more dramatic fall could be ahead if Bosh is lost for any significant length of time.

11. Dallas Mavericks

20 of 30

    Brandon Dill/Associated Press

    Last Week: 13

    The Dallas Mavericks benefit from the Grizzlies' decline, moving up in the rankings and probably feeling a lot better about their chances to secure a top-five seed in the West.

    "We like this group, and we want to give them a chance to grow together," general manager Donnie Nelson said, per Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News. "It's really not the time to make changes. It's time to give them a chance to grow together and see what they’re capable of."

    Dallas' post-break schedule is tantalizingly soft, so there's potential for more upward mobility if Nelson is right about his team's potential chemistry.

    And if we see continued progress from Chandler Parsons and Wesley Matthews in the health department, maybe the fourth-seeded Los Angeles Clippers start getting a little nervous.

10. Portland Trail Blazers

21 of 30

    Brandon Dill/Associated Press

    Last Week: 12

    The Blazers put their cap space to good use, getting stretch-provision candidate Anderson Varejao and a top-10-protected first-rounder from the Cavaliers in the Frye trade. The move illustrated the benefits of cap room that often go unmentioned: Instead of signing free agents, you can also take on unwanted salary and demand picks for the trouble.

    If there's a criticism to be made here, it's that the Blazers didn't do anything to weaken themselves in the short term. Making the playoffs means losing their own first-rounder to the Nuggets.

    Still, that's only a valid complaint if you believe a lottery pick is worth more than the experience a young roster would gain in the postseason—which is a debatable position to take.

    Portland will look to continue its recent hot streak and power-rankings climb against tough competition. Golden State and Utah are their first two post-break foes.

9. Atlanta Hawks

22 of 30

    Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

    Last Week: 10

    Exit Shelvin Mack and Justin Holiday. Enter Kirk Hinrich.

    Please, contain your excitement.

    Currently fourth in the East but nursing two ugly losses to the Magic before the break, the Atlanta Hawks didn't revamp their roster. Though Jeff Teague and Al Horford were both featured prominently in trade talks, neither changed teams at the deadline. And in case it was unclear, the minor moves Atlanta made won't have an impact on the team's prospects going forward.

    The Hawks clearly value continuity (either that or nobody wanted to rent Horford just to watch him leave in free agency), and maybe we'll see this team find itself in the final two months of the season.

    The No. 2 seed in the East feels out of reach, but maybe the familiar core will play better without the specter of trade talk hanging overhead. If that happens, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Hawks overtake the Boston Celtics, who also stood pat, for the No. 3 seed.

8. Utah Jazz

23 of 30

    Ned Dishman/Getty Images

    Last Week: 8

    It's not a good look to drop your first post-break tilt to the shaky and still Markieff Morris-less Wizards, but we're not going to skewer the Jazz for one game. Besides, deciding not to acquire Ty Lawson in a trade with the Rockets, as Chris Broussard and Marc Stein of ESPN reported, stands as a monumentally good decision.

    So we'll reward Utah by leaving it at No. 8.

    With Memphis hurting, Portland not adding anyone significant and Houston getting marginally worse, the Jazz's shot at a playoff berth looks better than ever. They have the most defensive potential of the bunch, so all that stands between Utah and a playoff seed as high as No. 5 is a shaky scoring attack.

    One suggested fix: Just play teams close until Gordon Hayward hits a game-winner.

7. Boston Celtics

24 of 30

    Rocky W. Widner/Getty Images

    Last Week: 6

    Pushing its way up the standings over the past few weeks and clearly in need of a top-end star, it seemed like the Celtics might pull the trigger on a franchise-altering trade.

    No such move materialized,which is a bit of a surprise, and we'll have to wait until the draft for the Celtics and their pile of picks to finally take that next step.

    A David Lee buyout seems certain, which could open up a roster spot in case another paid-to-go-away option emerges. Though guys like Varejao and Joe Johnson, two potential buyout candidates, don't feel like fits on Boston's roster.

    The Celtics are patient, and they're good enough on defense to win at least one playoff series. But that big swing has to come eventually. No matter how deep and young their roster is, the Celtics can't expect to climb much higher in these rankings or in the East without a big-name leader.

6. Los Angeles Clippers

25 of 30

    Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 7

    Stephenson was giving the Clippers a conspicuous heap of nothing, so moving him made sense for coach/GM Doc Rivers.

    The problem is this: Jeff Green, whom L.A. acquired in the exchange, is a specialist in giving similar-sized heaps. The only difference is Green passes the eye test often enough (he's a great athlete who looks like a true difference-maker once in a while) to fool teams into thinking he's actually providing something.

    But Green can't consistently hit threes, doesn't defend and has generally helped his former teams improve by leaving. And to get him, the Clips also gave up a future lottery-protected first-round pick. That's a bad look, but not a surprising one.

    Anyone who played for or against Doc's Boston teams seems to wind up in L.A. eventually—even if they weren't productive.

    "Doc watched Jeff Green up close for 100-plus games and just said, 'I want that,'" SB Nation's incredulous Tom Ziller tweeted.

    Credit the Clips for being one of the few upper-tier teams to attempt a win-now move. There's a tiny chance Green, in a contract year, makes an impact in Los Angeles. So we'll move the Clips up ever so slightly. Just know that if he improves his new team, it'll be a first for him.

5. Toronto Raptors

26 of 30

    Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

    Last Week: 5

    It's a little disappointing that the only top-five team with a glaring weakness didn't do anything to address it, but it's also easy to understand why the Toronto Raptors held firm.

    Patrick Patterson and Luis Scola haven't been great this year, but if the asking price for someone like Thaddeus Young was a first-rounder (plus Patterson and filler), the Raps were justified in declining to upgrade the power forward spot.

    And based on the first-rounders involved in the Morris and Green trades, we should probably assume that's exactly what it would have taken to add Young.

    Toronto is in a similar spot to many sub-contending teams: Under normal circumstances, it might be right to think it's only one player away from a title shot. But with the Warriors, Spurs, Cavs and Thunder looking so potent, this year's circumstances are far from normal.

    Better to wait it out, hope to get lucky this season and then build more deliberately over the summer.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers

27 of 30

    John Raoux/Associated Press

    Last Week: 4

    Channing Frye is a useful player in a vacuum, but it's difficult to see how he makes sense for the Cleveland Cavaliers, who acquired him from the Magic at the deadline, as first reported by Frank Isola of the New York Daily News.

    If the goal is winning a title, which it is as long as LeBron James is around, it's unclear how Frye makes much of a difference. Playing him alongside Kevin Love against good teams is a nonstarter, as Cleveland's defense would be unsustainably bad. And if that means one of Love or Frye can only play without the other, there's nothing Frye does better than Love.

    So what's the point?

    Moving Varejao's contract saved some money, but attaching a future top-10-protected pick (to Portland) means that savings came at a cost. Interestingly, Cleveland now has another trade exception, $9.6 million according to ESPN's Brian Windhorst, though it still hasn't used the one it got for Brendan Haywood last year.

    Cleveland is still the fourth-best team in the league, and it'll still probably make the Finals. Nothing has changed on that front.

    It's just tough to see what Frye adds in the short term beyond insurance for a hypothetical frontcourt injury.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder

28 of 30

    Elsa/Getty Images

    Last Week: 3

    We've spent most of this season (and plenty of words in this space) wondering what it would be like if the Oklahoma City Thunder could combine Andre Roberson's defense and Anthony Morrow's shooting to create a viable two-way option at the off-guard spot.

    OKC didn't do that, but it did acquire Randy Foye from the Denver Nuggets for D.J. Augustin and a couple of second-round picks, per Wojnarowski.

    Foye is a career 37 percent shooter from long range, and he can handle the ball pretty well for a shooting guard. But he's a defensive negative, according to ESPN's Real Plus-Minus and Basketball-Reference's Box Plus-Minus. So it's unclear what new dimension he provides.

    It is clear, however, that Foye and the rest of OKC's role-fillers don't matter much. It's still all about Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, the league's top one-two punch. The Thunder, as always, will go as far as those two take them.

    Oklahoma City remains the biggest threat to the Spurs and Warriors, regardless of what Foye might put on or take off the table. And we'll get two looks at how this team matches up against the Dubs—Feb. 27 and March 3—in the near future.

2. San Antonio Spurs

29 of 30

    Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week: 2

    The San Antonio Spurs know where they are right now. And even if there's a bleakness to their prospects you wouldn't normally associate with a team on pace for 70 wins, at least there's also a sense of perspective. And resolve.

    In his column for Argentine newspaper La Nacion (via Jesus Gomez of Pounding the Rock), Manu Ginobili wrote:

    I don't know if there's a way to beat [the Golden State Warriors], but for now I don't care. I would in May or June. Beating them now only counts as one win, nothing more. They are going through a great stretch, playing truly extraordinary basketball and showing tremendous confidence and team spirit. But we'll try to figure out how to beat them only when it's do-or-die time.

    When presented with do-or-die situations in their historic two-decade run, the Spurs have done far more often than they've died.

    This year feels different, of course, as they're up against what might be the best team we've ever seen. But anyone thinking the 30-point drubbing Golden State laid on San Antonio earlier this year is representative of how a seven-game series would play out is selling Ginobili and friends short.

    The Spurs didn't make any deadline moves, and as long as they're healthy when it matters, they'll be the Dubs' biggest threat.

1. Golden State Warriors

30 of 30

    Ben Margot/Associated Press

    Last Week: 1

    When the team you've built hits the deadline at 48-4, you're probably not feeling a whole lot of wheel-and-deal urgency.

    So while most executives around the league spent deadline eve speed-dialing and mainlining syringes of espresso, Golden State Warriors general manager Bob Myers played pickup hoops, per Ethan Strauss of ESPN.com.

    Must be nice.

    Seriously, though: What could the Warriors possibly do to improve the roster? Even the hypothetical addition of a superstar (something they'll probably have to consider this summer when Durant is a free agent) might screw up the chemistry. When you're this good, there's really nowhere to go but down.

    So you don't tinker.

    Golden State begins the stretch run, which kicks off with a six-game road trip, in full stride.

    Follow @gt_hughes on Twitter.

    Stats courtesy of NBA.com and Basketball-Reference.com. Current through games played Feb. 18.

slash iconYour sports. Delivered.

Enjoy our content? Join our newsletter to get the latest in sports news delivered straight to your inbox!