Image greatness by Anthony Bain
It’s All-Star Week in the NBA and that means we’re basically at the halfway point of the season for most teams. Instead of giving out MVP, DPOY, ROY, COY and any other of the year awards at the halfway point, I thought it might be better to get an All-Star Weekend theme into this week’s Power Rankings.
For all of the teams, I’ll be naming the team’s All-Star so far this season. I’ll also find a Slam Dunk champ or 3-point champ or some way to fit in a Skills Competition type of highlight or breakdown of a player. At no point will Kenny Smith be yelling “Let’s go home” so don’t worry about that. Just be glad I’m not writing more poetry.
Onto the rankings (and yes I’m trying to kill your computer with all of these videos)! Big thanks to Get Banged On for a great reference point.
If you’re going to be bad, be historically bad so we have a reason to pay attention to you
30. Charlotte Bobcats (4-27, 2-11 home, 2-16 road, -14.3 differential, 30th last week)
All-Star of the first half: It’s difficult finding an All-Star for this team, considering the leaders in PER for this roster are Kemba Walker, DJ Augustin and Derrick Brown with a 15.4. Kemba has been beyond streaky with his shooting, Augustin has tailed off considerably from his good start, and Derrick Brown just doesn’t do enough to make a difference on this team. So I’m going to give the All-Star selection to Ben Swanson (@cardboardgerald) from RufusOnFire.com. The fact that he’s held it together this long while covering the team is Herculean on all levels.
Skills Competition moment: Oh Corey…
Dunk Champ: I can’t even tell you how hard it is to find a dunk involving the Charlotte Bobcats doing the dunking. I found Matt Carroll missing a dunk. There’s a Blake Griffin windmill dunk and the Derrick Williams’ dunk over DJ White. But we’ll go with this Chris Bosh dunk against Charlotte as the best, I guess.
Games this week: home to Indiana
Thank you for being historically hysterical
29. Washington Wizards (7-25, 4-12 home, 3-13 road, -9.0 differential, 27th last week)
All-Star of the first half: It’s John Wall. Not that there was much competition on this team, but we need to stop saying he’s having a horrible year. Is he having a great year? Not really, especially with the way some people expected him to improve. Sure, the turnovers are high but he’s rebounded from his rocky start and has been incredible in the month of February. This month, he’s averaging 17.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 8.3 assists and shooting 47.6% from the field. He’s also made 43.2% of his jumpers from 16-23 feet this month. John Wall Revival is in full effect!
Skills Competition moment: You knew this was going to be the one. Getting back on defense is a skill, even if you’re still on offense.
Dunk Champ: Lot of nice John Wall dunks, but I’m going with Nick Young’s baptism of Kosta Koufos.
Games this week: home to Kings
Don’t have to worry about guys getting warn out at ASW
28. New Orleans Hornets (7-24, 3-14 home, 4-10 road, -5.3 differential, 29th last week)
All-Star of the first half: Created player or not, Gustavo Ayon has been really good this season and is easily the best player for the Hornets. He really doesn’t play outside of his abilities, which is rare for most new big men. He has a team-leading PER of 19.4 and doesn’t turn the ball over at all. His defense is extremely solid and he seems like he’s good enough to allow the Hornets to attempt to trade Carl Landry to a contender. NBA 2K12 does it again!
Skills Competition moment: Marco Belinelli has all of your skills!
Dunk Champ: Carl Landry throws it down hard on Nene before landing hard.
Games this week: 2/3 back-to-back-to-back (at Indiana, at Cleveland)
27. Sacramento Kings (10-21, 7-5 home, 3-16 road, -8.3 differential, 24th last week)
All-Star of the first half: Let’s give it to DeMarcus Cousins. Ever since the Paul Westphal firing, Cousins has been on a tear. His PER is over 20 and he’s turning the ball over a lot less with his usage rate going up. He’s third in the NBA in rebounding rate and he’s scoring a lot more effectively. DMC is the key to this team. Turn him into a can’t miss building block and this team will finally have a direction moving forward.
3-point shootout: If Jimmer will stop worrying about fitting in on a team that doesn’t fit and just start playing, we’ll see a lot more of this.
Dunk Champ: This is the most DeMarcus Cousins play of the season.
Games this week: back-to-back (at Miami, at Wizards)
26. New Jersey Nets (10-24, 3-12 home, 7-12 road, -6.4 differential, 25th last week)
All-Star of the first half: Deron Williams, of course. He’s turning the ball over like a rookie point guard, but he really has to force the action every night with the supporting cast he’s sporting. I know he’s another guy that started out slow and we’ve sort of written him off, but he’s actually had a good season. Is it All-Star worthy like the coaches thought? That’s up for debate. He’s done it all over the past month as the Nets have been surprisingly competitive (for them).
3-point shootout: There is no doubt in my mind Anthony Morrow will have a perfect round in the shootout.
Dunk Champ: Deron Williams will still drop one on you if you don’t step up early.
Games this week: home to Orlando
25. Toronto Raptors (9-23, 4-11 home, 5-12 road, -5.5 differential, 26th last week)
All-Star of the first half: Andy Bargs! Bargnani has not only learned how to be a more efficient scorer and player, but his defense hasn’t been terrible this season. He still rebounds far less than you’d want a big man to do, but overall he’s been an All-Star caliber player in the NBA this year. If he hadn’t been hurt after his great start, this Raptors’ team record would be a lot better than it is and he may have even pushed for an actual ASG selection by the coaches. Nice to see Bargs step up this year after his good summer showing in the FIBAs.
Skills Competition moment: Jose Calderon is a good passer from any position.
Dunk Champ: This is the most Bargs dunk of all time.
Games this week: home to Detroit
24. Detroit Pistons (11-22, 8-10 home, 3-12 road, -6.7 differential, 28th last week)
All-Star of the first half: On a team of bloated contracts, it seems fitting that by far their best player would be on a rookie deal. Greg Monroe was a legitimate All-Star candidate in the first half of this season and has been one of the better big men in the league. Rebounding numbers are phenomenal, his scoring has been efficient and he might be the best passer on the team. His defense is a work in progress but he isn’t a saloon door. Might even end up being the rare double-double averaging second-year player.
Skills Competition moment: Bad quality video of a high quality pass by Brandon Knight
Dunk Champ: How many Nets players does it take to block a Monroe dunk?
Games this week: back-to-back (at Cavs, at Toronto)
So many potential All-Stars, so few actual selections
23. Cleveland Cavaliers (12-17, 7-8 home, 5-9 road, -3.7 differential, 23rd last week)
All-Star of the first half: I don’t know if you’ve heard of this rookie guard for the Cavs. His name is Kyrie Irving. Ever heard of him? He’s one of the most efficient scoring rookies in NBA history and he is regarded by many as the Rookie of the Year in the first half of the season. His body control around the basket is already elite for anybody in the league and he’s only going to get better running the team as he gets better teammates. Highly recommend watching him as much as you can.
Skills Competition moment: Cleveland, don’t ever say I don’t love you.
Dunk Champ: Just YouTube Alonzo Gee and have fun, but this is my favorite so far.
Games this week: back-to-back (home to Detroit, home to Hornets)
22. Phoenix Suns (14-19, 7-8 home, 7-11 road, -2.5 differential, 22nd last week)
All-Star of the first half: Steven Bartholomew Nashua. Okay, that’s not his full name but it could be. Nash is old, way too old to be doing what he’s doing. And yet, he’s as good and as efficient as ever. There are three players that have ever had shooting percentages of 55% FG, 40% 3FG and 90% FT in NBA history. There has never been anybody who did it with more than four 3-pointers attempted in the season. Nash is currently at 54.2%, 39.8% and 87.0%, respectively.
Skills Competition moment: Steve Nash is ridiculous. While you’re at the YouTube Machine for Gee dunks, search Nash passes too.
Dunk Champ: Marcin is an ambidextrous hammerer.
Games this week: home to Warriors
21. Golden State Warriors (12-17, 9-9 home, 3-8 road, -1.6 differential, 20th last week)
All-Star of the first half: Monta Ellis is always so close and yet so far with the All-Star Game. He’s become much less of an albatross over the last couple years and has legitimately tried to reverse the bad parts of his game. But he’s a scorer that needs to take a lot of shots. He makes things happen but great and bad. I’d argue this is the best season of his career but it still doesn’t seem to be enough to get his team over the hump most nights.
Skills Competition moment: Steph Curry is so fun. His passing is so fun.
Dunk Champ: It’s kind of weird that this is probably the best dunk of the season for Monta so far.
Games this week: at Phoenix
20. Milwaukee Bucks (13-19, 7-8 home, 6-11 road, -1.7 differential, 21st last week)
All-Star of the first half: Brandon Jennings has been the swaggiest player who has ever swagged in a swag contest. His ability to swag jump shots left and right allows the team to swag out in ways that keep them in the swag playoff hunt. Don’t worry that his shooting percentage has swagged to 40.6% and 33% from the 3-swag line. His ability to swag with coach Skiles may have hurt the team’s swag but it’s kept his swag appealing to big markets. Maybe if we all pretend this is a word and overuse it even more, we can get swag out of our swagging lexicon.
3-point shootout: Brandon Jennings did go off against the Heat though.
Dunk Champ: Miss you, Bogut. Miss you so much.
Games this week: at Chicago
You’re fading like Shannon Brown in a dunk contest
19. Utah Jazz (15-16, 12-6 home, 3-10 road, -1.5 differential, 16th last week)
All-Star of the first half: Paul Millsap probably should have been on the West squad and most likely would have been if Dirk didn’t take a spot on the roster. It’s kind of weird to compare his numbers against Al Jefferson’s and not consider Al an ASG candidate as well, but Millsap just seems to impact the team and their runs much more. The problem for Sap this year is it will only get harder to make the team going forward with Pau and Z-Bo bouncing back next season. He may end up as one of those Mike Bibby types that was very good but just missed out each year.
Skills Competition moment: Earl Watson has been one of the best lob throwers this season and yes, this is an excuse to get multiple JEREMY EVANS dunks in here.
Dunk Champ: Don’t care that it was preseason. Don’t care that it didn’t count. Only care that JEREMY EVANS should be in the dunk contest in some way.
Games this week: at Wolves
18. Boston Celtics (15-16, 11-8 home, 4-8 road, +1.4 differential, 13th last week)
All-Star of the first half: I know Paul Pierce made the All-Star team but I still contend that Ray Allen has been the best player for the Celtics this season. He was helping carry them before Pierce became Pierce again and his efficiency on shooting is just historically astounding. He’s attempting to be the 11th player in NBA history to shoot at least 45% from the 3-point line while attempting four or more 3-pointers per game. He’s a sniper that you have to keep track of in the clutch. He’s only shooting 57% from 3 in those situations.
Skills Competition moment: Rajon Rondo is a great passer and Mickael Pietrus is not a great catcher.
Dunk Champ: I guess this is their best dunk of the season?
Games this week: at OKC
You are SO on the verge of being dangerous
17. New York Knicks (16-17, 9-9 home, 7-8 road, +1.2 differential, 17th last week)
All-Star of the first half: Tyson Chandler. I bet you thought I was going with Jeremy Lin, didn’t you?! Chandler could have just as easily made it over Roy Hibbert in the East and if he had decently performing teammates for most of the season, he would have. His defense as helped turn the 22nd best defense in the league last year into the sixth best defense in the league this year. He keeps them spaced properly on offense and plays free safety for the Knicks on defense. He makes the case for hard work and tenacity over sexy stats.
Skills Competition moment: Jeremy Lin highlights!
Dunk Champ: Shump Shump going to jump jump over the competition ASW.
Games this week: back-to-back (home to Atlanta, at Miami)
16. Minnesota Timberwolves (16-17, 9-10 home, 7-7 road, +1.2 differential, 19th last week)
All-Star of the first half: Kevin Love. Last year, he was on a losing team so his accomplishments were discounted. This year, the team is winning and his efforts have been even more impressive, considering how he’s actually playing some defense. His PER is somehow higher than it was last year and he’s living at the free throw line. By the way, nobody has averaged 25 points and 14 rebounds per game since Moses Malone did it in 1981-82.
Skills Competition moment: Ricky Rubio has all of your skills.
Dunk Champ: No offense to Derrick Williams, but I need an excuse to show this clip.
Games this week: home to Utah
15. Memphis Grizzlies (18-15, 12-5 home, 6-10 road, +0.9 differential, 18th last week)
All-Star of the first half: Marc Gasol. I’ve gushed over him a lot on here and even claimed in HoopSpeak Live that he’s the second best center in the NBA. I really think they would have been worse off this season if he had gone down rather than Zach Randolph. This squad wins as a unit and so it’s hard to say one guy is definitely more important than the other, especially when Z-Bo is the star. But Gasol’s ability to affect all facets of the game keep him gush-worthy all year long.
Skills Competition moment: Mike Conley is really incredible with spins and passes. Surprised he doesn’t have more of these.
Dunk Champ: Rudy Gay just does this stuff all the time.
Games this week: home to Philly
Definitely would win the untrustworthy contest at ASW
14. Atlanta Hawks (19-13, 9-5 home, 10-8 road, +2.2 differential, 9th last week)
All-Star of the first half: Josh Smith. I know Joe Johnson got the All-Star nod and I really don’t feel like Josh is the big snub that some people make him out to be. His defense is awesome and it means a ton to this team. But his offense is still a problem and he’s easily one of the least consistent per talent capita players in the NBA. He gets by on raw ability more than any other player in basketball. That’s both a gift and a curse for Smoove.
Skills Competition moment: It’s off the mark a little bit but this pass by T-Mac shows he still has flashes.
Dunk Champ: Too afraid to not put Ivan over Josh Smith.
Games this week: back-to-back (at Knicks, home to Orlando)
It is a shame they couldn’t find a way to honor you in the ASG with one of your own
13. Denver Nuggets (18-15, 9-7 home, 9-8 road, +3.0 differential, 12th last week)
All-Star of the first half: Danilo Gallinari. Even though he’s hurt and won’t be back any time soon, Gallo has easily been the best player on one of the deepest TEAMS in the NBA. This TEAM is showing how much they need him and Nene with their latest slump. Gallo may even be more important than Nene for the future of this TEAM. He attacks like nobody else can on the roster and he’s become a pretty decent defender over the years. Hopefully he can be back 100% healthy when this TEAM tries to make an unprecedented run through the playoffs.
Skills Competition moment: Rudy Fernandez is one of the best fun lob throwers in the league.
Dunk Champ: Nene, this was just rude.
Games this week: back-to-back (at Clippers, home to Spurs)
12. Houston Rockets (19-14, 13-4 home, 6-10 road, +1.5 differential, 15th last week)
All-Star of the first half: KLOE. Kyle Lowry has as strong of a case for the All-Star team as Russell Westbrook and was penalized because he’s not on a better squad. He does everything for this Rockets team. He leads them, he directs them, he produces points for them, he plays bulldog defense for them and he carries them when they need to be carried. I understand his shooting percentage dropped immensely but it’s not like he has an awkward 1.27 assist to turnover ratio like some people.
**fake cough that is designed to bring attention to this disparaging name drop** Russell Westbrook **fake cough that is designed to bring attention to this disparaging name drop**
Skills Competition moment: KLOE
Dunk Champ: Chase Budinger is going to surprise some people this weekend.
Games this week: home to Philly
Sort of getting sick of waiting for you guys to set yourselves apart from the few behind you
11. Portland Trailblazers (17-16, 12-5 home, 5-11 road, +4.3 differential, 14th last week)
All-Star of the first half: LaMarcus Aldridge was named to the All-Star game this year for the first time and it’s hard to be more deserving. It would have been very easy for him to mosey along over the last year and just feel sorry for himself and the team with Brandon Roy and Greg Oden’s injuries. Instead, he decided to step up and be the franchise player. It’s fun watching a guy put the team on his back doe like LMA has done for Portland. He’s virtually impossible to stop in the post and he has one of the quickest spins out of the post and into an alley-oop that we’ve seen in a long time.
3-point contest: Nic Batum went OFF one night.
Dunk Champ: Craig Smith always gets priority for highlights.
Games this week: home to Spurs
10. Indiana Pacers (19-12, 9-4 home, 10-8 road, +2.4 differential, 8th last week)
All-Star of the first half: Roy Hibbert made it over Danny Granger and I couldn’t be happier for him. Hibbert started out last season as the MIP favorite before fading hard down the stretch. This year, he’s been able to keep his fantastic play on both ends going through the rigors of this tough schedule. You get such a greater appreciate for the presence he is on the floor when you see him in person. His wingspan and height make him look like a funhouse mirror creation and it has to screw with your head and vision as an offensive player going against him.
Skills Competition moment: Any excuse to show Paul George lobs
Dunk Champ: If fan voting didn’t exist, I’d probably pick Paul George to win it.
Games this week: back-to-back (home to Hornets, at Charlotte)
You’ve got some weird losses lately that make me uneasy
9. Philadelphia 76ers (20-12, 13-6 home, 7-6 road, +7.5 differential, 4th last week)
All-Star of the first half: Andre Iguodala. Another great and deserving All-Star selection in the East. Iggy’s offensive numbers aren’t ever going to be sexy with the way he dedicates his time and energy to the defensive end of the floor. He’s locking up the best scorers in the world every night and forcing them into forcing the action at all times. He’s one of those guys that has to make you just want to quit playing against him. He’s too quick for you, long enough to bother every shot, way more athletic than most and he’s more tenacious than the combination of Jack Black and Kyle Gass.
Skills Competition moment: Iggy is one of the more underrated playmakers in the league.
Dunk Champ: Like so…
Games this week: back-to-back (at Memphis, at Houston)
8. Los Angeles Lakers (19-13, 14-2 home, 5-11 road, +2.2 differential, 10th last week)
All-Star of the first half: Kobe Bryant was the first vampire to ever be selected for the All-Star Game and it is extremely deserved. His scoring still hasn’t fallen off. Yes, his usage rate is still stalking 38% but his scoring numbers and field goal percentage are still very respectable. Getting to play next to Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol is been huge because it allows him to not exert as much energy on defense and save it for offense. But look at his supporting cast outside of that and figure out how this team is six games over .500. Oh, it’s probably because they’re good at home. Ah well…
Skills Competition moment: Who says Kobe doesn’t pass? (Lots of people)
Dunk Champ: Ron Artest or whatever you want to call him
Games this week: back-to-back (at Dallas, at OKC)
7. Los Angeles Clippers (19-11, 11-4 home, 8-7 road, +2.5 differential, 5th last week)
All-Star of the first half: Christopher Paul Blake Griffin brings the highlights like none other, but Chris Paul is the straw that makes the engine cross that bridge every time we get to it. I know the argument for Derrick Rose and it’s a very good argument. Chris Paul is still the best point guard in the game in my opinion. He’s been pretty healthy this season and showed just how much he does for a franchise with his leadership and clutch play. I’m so glad he’s finally able to show what he does in a big market because he deserves as much attention as possible every game.
Skills Competition moment: Everybody is playing Checkers and Chris Paul is playing basketball
Dunk Champ: Guess who?
Games this week: home to Denver
How did you guys get all the way up here?
6. Orlando Magic (21-12, 12-6 home, 9-6 road, +2.0 differential, 11th last week)
All-Star of the first half: Dwight Howard. He may not be long for this city or he may decide he wants to stay and attempt to finish what he started. Regardless, he’s still the best big man in the game and he shows it on a nightly basis. He’s the best defensive big man we’ve seen in a long time. His offense game around the basket and in the post continues to grow. He still can’t shoot free throws but he’s finding ways to help put their opponents away early so it doesn’t become an issue late in games. Really hope Dwight figures out how to stay in Orlando.
Skills Competition moment: JJ Redick passes!
Dunk Champ: Guess who part 2: Electric Bugaloo
Games this week: back-to-back (at Nets, at Atlanta)
5. Dallas Mavericks (21-12, 13-5 home, 8-6 road, +3.8 differential, 7th last week)
All-Star of the first half: Would it be nuts to give it to Shawn Marion over Dirk Nowitzki for the first half of this season? What’s that? It would? Okay, I’ll give it to Dirk. Dirk wouldn’t be on my All-Star team for this season, but he’s still been the focal point of a very good team, even when he’s not performing up to his usual standards. He’s been on track the last couple weeks and that shooting percentage is starting to climb. Even bad Dirk is better than a lot of big men in this league and he still draws the attention away from his teammates, which gives them a better chance of getting the job done.
Skills Competition moment: This is for Peepin’ James Herbert
Dunk Champ: Sean Williams, ladies and gentlemen!
Games this week: home to Lakers
4. San Antonio Spurs (23-9, 13-1 home, 10-8 road, +4.7 differential, 6th last week)
All-Star of the first half: Tony Parker. Sacre bleu! Parker is a legitimate MVP candidate this season and has been one of the best players on one of the top teams in the league. Manu has been out with a broken hand. Tim Duncan has been trying to keep from becoming a complete shell of his former self. The role players aren’t what they once were. Doesn’t matter. Tony still has them winning and winning a lot. I was worried this team was going to be slammed by this Rodeo Trip because of their lack of true depth and skill. Popovich and Parker have made that look completely asinine. They’ve won 11 straight and haven’t dropped a game on this trip. He’s averaging 25.5 points per game this month on 48% shooting. He’s impossible to guard right now.
Skills Competition moment: Manu, never leave us.
Dunk Champ: Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a Spurs dunking highlight?
Games this week: at Portland, at Denver
Hey now! You’re All-Stars. Of the League now. I hate myself for semi-quoting Smashmouth
3. Oklahoma City Thunder (25-7, 13-1 home, 12-6 road, +5.9 differential, 3rd last week)
All-Star of the first half: Kevin Durant. He’s still pretty good. There are some people that think Russell Westbrook is the best player on this team. It drives me nuts. Westbrook is very good and probably takes more heat than he should for what happens on the court, but KD’s presence opens everything up for him, James Harden and anybody else that gets relatively easy shots because of the defensive focus of their opponents. Durant seems to be getting more and more unfair each season, as evident by his 50% success rate on jumpers from 16-23 feet.
3-point shootout: Never forget.
Dunk Champ: I don’t blame the Kings. I wouldn’t want to step up against Russ either.
Games this week: back-to-back (home to Boston, home to Lakers)
2. Chicago Bulls (26-8, 12-2 home, 14-6 road, +9.2 differential, 1st last week)
All-Star of the first half: Derrick Rose. His scoring numbers are down, but this seems like a much better version of the player that won MVP last year. This doesn’t mean he should be MVP this season because it’s a new season with a new context. His playmaking seems better to me and he’s shooting a higher percentage from the field. He’s cut down on his turnovers and might even be conserving energy for the playoffs in the process of all of this. We might see a completely unleashed Rose come playoff time and this excites me.
3-point shootout: Noah Gunz!
Dunk Champ: Taj MaCzechMeowt
Games this week: home to Bucks
1. Miami Heat (25-7, 13-2 home, 12-5 road, +9.1 differential, 2nd last week)
All-Star of the first half: LeBron James. Pretty self-explanatory, yes? I know everybody is now hoping for the continued downfall of LeBron because you don’t want him to be the best player in the world or you do want him to be the best player and prove it through a team accomplishment, but let’s make sure not to lose sight of just how amazing his season is so far. It doesn’t mean you have to love him or buy his shoes. Just respect what he’s doing on the basketball court at the moment.
Skills Competition moment: How do you even choose with these guys?
Dunk Champ: LeBronathon
Games this week: home to Kings, home to Knicks
- Roses are red, violets are blue; here are some Week 6 Power Rankings for you
- Let’s get perturb-ed in here: Week 2 Power Rankings
- Check out these stupid rankings: Week 3 Power Rankings
- Let’s get SUPER positive with these: Week 4 Power Rankings
- Q & A time in which I talk to myself: Week 5 Power Rankings