Oklahoma City Thunder: A+: Having the best record in the league sure silenced the whole ‘Westbrook vs. Durant power struggle’. Reggie Jackson seamlessly filled Eric Maynors shoes after his season ending injury and Harden is making a strong case for 6th man of the year. The only concern in OKC right now is the fact that their starting center, Kendrick Perkins, looks 37 and not 27. With no decent backups this could present a matchup problem in the playoffs should the Thunder run into the Grizzlies or Lakers. Right now though they are enjoying life on the top of the standings.
San Antonio Spurs: A+: Another year, another dominating regular season when everyone thought they were finally finished. They’ve been doing this without Manu Ginobili. Greg Popovich has been rationing the older players minutes which not only makes his players fresh for the playoffs, but also develops the younger talent on the team. He remains one of the best/underrated coaches in the league. It also helps that Tony Parker is having one of the best seasons of his career.
Los Angeles Clippers: A: Lob City has been living up to the hype. Chris Paul has stayed healthy and Griffin continues to get better. They are also in a decent cap situation and have a chance of getting Eric Gordon back once he becomes a free agent after this season. Everyone was wondering why they kept four PG’s on the roster, but now that Billup’s season (career?) is over they don’t look so crazy now. They don’t have the deepest bench but they’re starting lineup is as good as anyones.
Los Angeles Lakers: A: This grade is more what they are playing with then how they are playing. They gave Odom away for basically nothing and lost Shannon Brown via free agency. Ron Artest also got replaced by Metta World Peace, which so far has been a huge downgrade. Kobe refuses to lose even after the 6th man of the year was replaced by Troy Murphy and Josh McRoberts and Brown was replaced by Jason Kapono. He’s pretty much willed the Lakers to multiple victories this season while also conveniently gaining ground on the all time scoring title, moving up to 5th all time earlier this season. I guess whatever experiments were done on his knees in Germany worked.
Memphis Grizzlies: A: They’re a game out of the top 4 with Zach Randolph and Darrel Arthur out for most of the season. Randolph will be back soon which will make this team even more dangerous. If he looks anything like his former self, no one is going to want to see these guys in the playoffs, especially the Spurs.
Houston Rockets: B+: They’re in 6th place despite having no center and having half the roster pissed off that they were almost traded at the beginning of the season. Kyle Lowry is a big reason for their success. They still have no center and, like Andrew Bynum, Kevin Martin hasn’t had his annual injury yet. I’m skeptical that the Rockets will be a playoff team by the end of the season. B+ for the first half but I have a feeling I’ll be giving them a very different rating in a few weeks.
Dallas Mavericks: C: Dirk showed up out of shape and Lamar Odom didn’t show up at all. They also let Butler, Barea and Chandler walk so that they have enough cap space to sign Williams and Howard next season. I still think if Odom starts playing well they have enough to challenge for another title. You can’t go from 6th man of the year to completely washed up in a span of a few months, can you?
Denver Nuggets: C+: A few weeks ago they were in 2nd place in the conference. Then half their roster got injured. Nene and Gallinari will be back very soon and they’ll most likely add Wilson Chandler too. Look for Denver to shoot back up the standings once that happens. They are a very dangerous team with their full roster. If healthy in April they will make a deep playoff run.
Portland Trailblazers: D+: They lost Oden and Roy before the season started and Matthews and Felton have been demoted to the bench after sucking for a half a season. Now they have Jamal Crawford as the starting PG, not exactly known for his passing and a 37 year old center. Not quite the season Blazer fans were expecting.
Minnesota Timberwolves: B-: Rubio is the real deal. Rubio is also out for the season. Hopefully Ridnour can step it up, but this really puts the damper on what was a great season in Minny so far. Rubio isn’t the only player that has made TWolves fans so excited, this guy Pekovic has been averaging a double-double for about a month now. As for their SF’s Beasley and Williams……who knows. They each scored 27 against the Clippers and then combined for 9 agains the Suns two nights later. That kind of inconsistency is why they are just outside of the playoffs right now. Seeing Rubio and Love in the playoffs would be a lot of fun so lets hope they can get it together and/or upgrade the SG position. Everyone in Minny right now wishes they were in the eastern conference where they’d probably have home court advantage in the 1st round.
Utah Jazz: C: Man the west is deep. The Jazz are the 11th place team? That’s just crazy. It’s also crazy that management thought having an entire team of power forwards was a good idea. Keep an eye on them to make a move before the trade deadline.
Phoenix Suns: C-: There’s only so bad a team run by Steve Nash can be, who’s putting up numbers eerily similar to his MVP season by the way. There’s also so good a team with Gortat as the 2nd best player can be. #freestevenash
Golden State Warriors: D-: What’s the point of starting someone when they play 12 minutes a game? Biedris is doing just that at the low low price of 9M a year! Curry’s ankles are apparently made out of paper machete. Their bench stinks too. Our first terrible western conference team shows up at #13. They’d be 9th in the east though.
Sacramento Kings: F: They’ve stunk for years and there’s nothing to make me think that will change any time soon. 4 ball hogs in the starting lineup will do that.
New Orleans Hornets: D-: The original Chris Paul trade was vetoed because it wasn’t bad enough. The owners want a #1 pick so they took the Clippers worse offer which was made even worse by the fact that Gordon has been injured all season and the Timberwolves pick isn’t going to be a good one. So every time they win a game and have less of a chance at #1 I smile.