Carmelo Anthony Trade: Power Ranking Every NBA Team After the Blockbuster Deal
We can finally put an end to all the Melo-Drama.
Carmelo Anthony is headed to the New York Knicks, along with Chauncey Billups and several other players, while Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chander can now officially call themselves Denver Nuggets.
The man known as Melo got his wish and is now a Chris Paul or Deron Williams signing away from forming another super-team in the East.
But that'll be far down the road, so what about right now? How does Melo-to-NY change the balance of power in the NBA?
Well, even though the new-look Knicks haven't played together yet, let's take a look at where they'll land in this week's NBA Power Rankings.
30-21. Cleveland Is King
30. Cleveland Cavaliers (10-46)
I'm still waiting on Dan Gilbert to deliver on his infamous comic-sans promise.
But, hey, all the Cavs have to do is win their final 26 games to sneak in as the eighth seed.
29. Sacramento Kings (13-40)
The Kings are 1-7 in the month of February. Ms. Cleo tells me that a Javaris Crittenton/Gilbert Arenas-esque incident involving DeMarcus Cousins could be on the horizon.
28. Washington Wizards (15-39)
JaVale McGee got robbed at the Slam Dunk Contest, and the Wizards only have one road win.
But at least John Wall has sparked a nationwide dance craze.
27. New Jersey Nets (17-40)
Mark this date down: March 30. That's when the new-look Knicks take on the Nets, and Mikhail Prokhorov realizes he's managed to deliver on exactly zero of his promises so far.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves (13-43)
Relax, Wolves fans. Anthony Randolph and Eddy Curry are coming aboard. A 10-game winning streak isn't too far away.
25. Toronto Raptors (15-41)
Quick—try and name Toronto's starting five.
Can't do it, huh?
24. Detroit Pistons (21-36)
Detroit is 4-4 in its last eight games, so maybe the Pistons aren't a total lost cause.
Then again, they're 7-21 on the road, so maybe they are.
23. Milwaukee Bucks (21-34)
Michael Redd is nearing his return after shredding his knee a little more than a year ago. Too bad that means absolutely nothing for a Bucks team that probably won't even make the playoffs.
22. Los Angeles Clippers (21-35)
I wonder how long we're going to ride the "Clippers are so talented" train before we realize that the supposed talent doesn't translate to many wins.
The Clippers are 2-7 in February.
21. Charlotte Bobcats (24-32)
Somebody better prevent Michael Jordan from trading away Stephen Jackson or Gerald Wallace for Ron Artest. The Bobcats have at least been a .500 team (7-7) over their last 14 games.
20. Houston Rockets (26-31)
Even if you're like me and think that Yao Ming was never the player he could have been, it's pretty clear that the Rockets can't do much without him in the middle.
They rank 24th in points allowed and are just 3-8 in divisional play and 11-18 on the road, thanks in large part to the team's dysfunction and lack of cohesion on the court.
Luis Scola is a nice player and Kevin Martin is a heck of a scorer, but the Rockets' Aaron Brooks looks more like the New Orleans Saints' Aaron Brooks as of late and Houston could really use some help in the frontcourt.
19. Golden State Warriors (26-29)
The Warriors can score, score and score some more, and sometimes it even results in wins over quality opponents.
Golden State has beaten Utah (twice), Chicago, Denver, Oklahoma City and New Orleans just over the course of the last three weeks.
That's an indication this team is headed in the right direction, but the Warriors still need to find a way to defend on a consistent basis.
They rank 27th in the NBA in points allowed at 105.5 per game.
18. Phoenix Suns (27-27)
When Phoenix gutted its roster this offseason, I honestly don't think many Suns fans expected their team to be at the .500 mark this late in the season.
But, lo and behold, the Suns have gutted it out and are still at least alive in the Western Conference playoff race.
They just can't lose to teams like Sacramento—as they did nine days ago—if they want to have any chance at playing past the regular season.
17. Denver Nuggets (32-25)
It's incredibly hard to evaluate the Nuggets right now, who lost a superstar in Carmelo Anthony, but added three very nice pieces (Gallinari, Felton and Chandler).
They should still hover around or slightly above that .500 mark, but they're going to have a tough time hanging on to their current No. 7 spot in the West.
If the new Nuggets can adjust their games quickly, however, I'd still expect Denver to be a playoff-caliber team.
16. Philadelphia 76ers (27-29)
I can't remember the last time I even saw the highlights of a 76ers game on TV, but I'm sure Doug Collins doesn't mind that his team has gone largely unnoticed this season.
But, Philadelphia is 14-9 in 2011 and is one of the league's tougher teams to beat at home, with a 17-9 mark in the Wells Fargo Center.
Though the 76ers aren't scaring anyone right now, maybe they should be.
15. Indiana Pacers (24-30)
Frank Vogel taking over as interim coach was the best thing that could have happened to Indiana, as the Pacers are 7-3 with him at the helm (including a 7-1 start).
None of their wins during that 10-game span came against the NBA's elite teams, but two of their three losses came against the Miami Heat.
The Pacers now have a stretch of games coming up that features matchups with the Jazz, Thunder and Mavericks, so we should learn whether Vogel's early success indicates a bright future or was simply beginner's luck.
14. New York Knicks (28-26)
With the acquisition of Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks traded three starters (Chandler, Felton and Gallinari) for two (Billups and Anthony), which leaves New York with a pretty big hole at the center position.
It's likely Ronny Turiaf will slide in as the team's starting center, while Amar'e Stoudemire will move to power forward.
That leaves the Knicks starting five looking like this:
PG: Chauncey Billups
SG: Landry Fields
SF: Carmelo Anthony
PF: Amar'e Stoudemire
C: Ronny Turiaf
Sure, having Melo and Amar'e playing alongside each other is nice, but there's no way that team cracks the top four in the East.
13. Utah Jazz (31-26)
The All-Star break couldn't have come at a better time for Utah, as the Jazz had gone a terrible 4-13 in their last 17 games and had lost four games in a row.
So what in the world is wrong with Utah? Well, they're getting killed on the boards.
The Jazz rank 28th in the league in rebounding, and giving Jerry Sloan the boot isn't something that's going to solve the team's rebounding woes.
Utah better find a way to clean up on the boards, or they could be on the outside looking in come playoff time.
12. New Orleans Hornets (33-25)
With Emeka Okafor being sidelined over the last couple of weeks, the Hornets have really struggled, going 2-8 in their last 10 games after winning 10 in a row in January.
As a Hornets fan, it's pretty clear how crucial Okafor is to the team's success. But, his absence doesn't give the team any excuse for its extreme lack of offense.
New Orleans ranks 27th in the NBA in scoring at just 94.7 points per game, which just isn't going to cut it. The team has to get more scoring production from its bench and role players like Trevor Ariza.
If not, it doesn't really matter how good the Hornets defense is (fourth in points allowed)—they won't be able to stay on pace with the top-tier offenses in the Western Conference playoffs.
11. Portland Trail Blazers (32-24)
Blazers fans can thank LaMarcus Aldridge for keeping Portland afloat in the West.
With Brandon Roy sidelined, Marcus Camby shelved and Greg Oden out for the season, Aldridge has been a monster for the Blazers, racking up 22.3 points, 8.9 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and 1.1 steals per game this season.
He's helped lead Portland to six straight wins, including big victories over playoff contenders Chicago and New Orleans.
10. Memphis Grizzlies (31-26)
Ain't nobody in Memphis singing the blues right now, except maybe every team who plays against the Grizzlies.
Memphis is 12-3 since January 21, with victories over Oklahoma City, Orlando and Denver. Not to mention, the Grizzlies have lost just one home game during that stretch.
It appears all of the team's young talent is finally meshing and is able to get plenty of "Ws" on a consistent basis.
Look out for Memphis as a team with the potential to pull off a monumental upset in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.
9. Atlanta Hawks (34-21)
Since a five-game winning streak at the beginning of January, the Hawks have been the definition of up-and-down.
They haven't won more than three games in a row since snapping that five-game winning streak on Jan. 12, and have swapped wins and losses like a materialistic woman swaps Christmas gifts.
Their current spot as the No. 5 seed in the East is more of an indicator of the extreme gap between the No. 4 seed (Orlando) and the No. 6 seed (NY Knicks) than of Atlanta's recent play.
The Hawks could make a move—any takers for Marvin Williams?—to turn their fortunes around.
8 Orlando Magic (36-21)
Here's the thing about Orlando: When the Magic beat the L.A. Lakers on Feb. 13, that was the team's first win over a playoff-caliber opponent since way back on Jan. 8 (Dallas).
It's still unclear at this point whether Orlando is the schoolyard bully who picks on the weaker kids and shies away from the bigger ones, or is a team that just doesn't completely turn it on until playoff time.
I'm not sure Stan Van Gundy's team should want to fit into either one of those categories, but the latter is definitely the better option.
I don't think Orlando wants to see Atlanta in the first round of the playoffs, as the Magic are 1-2 against the Hawks this year, with their lone win coming by four points at home way back in early November.
7. Los Angeles Lakers (38-19)
Since snapping a seven-game winning streak on Jan. 14, the L.A. Lakers seem to have forgotten who they are: the defending NBA champs.
Los Angeles has gotten some quality wins since then—over the likes of the Thunder, Hornets, Celtics and Knicks—but also lost to the Kings, Bobcats and Cavaliers.
In fact, the Lakers lost their last three games (at Orlando, Charlotte and Cleveland) by an average of 16.3 points per game, which is shocking to say the least.
It would still benefit the Lakers to move Ron Artest, but that's looking less and less likely, as the trade deadline is almost upon us.
6. Oklahoma City Thunder (35-19)
Though Oklahoma City's play has been all over the place since the clock struck midnight on New Year's Eve, the Thunder seem to have gotten back on track with a 7-3 mark in their last 10 games.
And I don't think anyone wants to play them come playoff time.
Kevin Durant and company are 19-8 at home, have one of the league's better road records at 16-11, and rank fifth in the league in scoring.
This team's biggest issue, however, will be defense. One of the best defensive teams in the entire NBA last season, the Thunder have fallen off considerably this season, ranking 20th in points allowed.
5. Dallas Mavericks (40-16)
The Mavericks have done an excellent job weathering the storm known as the injury bug, but they're still a bit too streaky for my taste.
Since Jan. 6, Dallas has a six-game losing streak and a 10-game winning streak, and also won its final three games before the All-Star break.
But you can look at that one of two ways—either you don't want to play the Mavs when they're hot, or they'll be an easy out if you catch them when they're cold.
Which one is it, though?
I guess we'll find out come playoff time.
4. Chicago Bulls (38-16)
Derrick Rose for MVP?
I think so.
With both Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah sidelined for large chunks of the season, Rose has led the Bulls to a 38-16 record, the current No. 3 spot in the East, a 17-6 mark since Jan. 1 and a four-game winning streak heading into the All-Star break.
Now that Noah's back in the fold too, we'll finally get to see a fully healthy Bulls team.
And the Eastern Conference should be scared.
So should the Bulls, though. They're 25-4 at home and just 13-12 on the road, so they need the highest seed possible to get that coveted home-court advantage.
3. Miami Heat (41-15)
After a shaky start, the Heat have proven that they'll be a force to be reckoned with for the next several years.
But even with a 41-15 record (21-10 on the road, 20-5 at home), there's always a silver lining for Heat haters: Miami cannot beat Boston.
The Heat are 0-3 against the Celtics this season and have struggled against the league's better teams in general.
If Miami can't get another team to do its dirty work and beat Boston in the playoffs—maybe a team like Orlando?—then the Heat likely won't be playing in the NBA Finals.
Plain and simple: They need to find a way to play with the big boys.
2. Boston Celtics (40-14)
You know what you're going to get out of Boston.
The "Big Three" has become the "Big Four," and no team in the East is a more cohesive unit than the Celtics.
Miami, Chicago and Orlando are all new-look squads, while Boston's has played together for a few years now, and has developed the chemistry that takes years to build up.
The Celtics are 15-9 on the road and have the league's second-best home record at 25-5.
There's no reason why we shouldn't expect to see them playing in the Eastern Conference Finals again this season...at the very least.
1. San Antonio Spurs (46-10)
Any which way you slice the NBA pie, the Spurs have been the league's best team all season long.
San Antonio ranks in the top 10 in rebounding, assists, points allowed and points scored, and has the league's best road record (21-8) and best home record (25-2).
I'm still not sure this team is built to win in the playoffs, but not many people expected the Spurs to be this good in the regular season, either.
If they can keep up their stellar play, they'll be standing tall at the end of June.