Apr 12, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) smiles during the second half against the Boston Celtics at American Airlines Arena. Miami won 109-101. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
|It’s the final regular season Dunking with Wolves NBA Power Rankings. JJ Glenn gives his analysis of each NBA team.
|The saying goes “you are the champion until someone takes you out.” The Heat are the defending champions, and there seems to be no team that can dethrone them. Barring any injuries this team should repeat.
|The Thunder are playing for the 1 seed in the West, and their 8-2 record over their last 10 games would prove they want home court advantage through out the playoffs.
|The Spurs have been nicked up down the stretch. Manu or Parker have been dinged up. For most teams this would be a problem, but this team has been playing together for so many years and know each other so well, they just need to get all of the players back in the lineup. Even with everyone back, this roster still doesn’t have enough to dethrone the Thunder as the Western Conference Champs.
|New York Knicks
|The Knicks had a nice to start the season and showed some life down the stretch. It is enough to get people to talk about them and give Knicks fans hope. That’s about all they have is hope. You live by the Jumper you die by the Jumper. The Knicks offense is not built for post season basketball and the defense isn’t either. When they look back, they should be happy, they had a decent season.
|The Nuggets will miss Gallinari, but if Ty Lawson isn’t right, they will miss him much more than “The Roster”. Lawson has emerged as the teams 1A. Or at least the best 1A option on a team that plays together very evenly up and down the roster. Should Lawson be right, the Nuggets will be tough for any team to knock out of the post season.
|The Grizzlies offense has continued to get better since the Rudy trade. But, as Z-Bo has been missing some games down the stretch, the Grizzlies will NEED him to carry this team if they are to get past the hump they’ve experienced in the post season the last 2 years.
|If defense wins championships then this team has a chance. Since offense can be hit or miss, defense is pretty constant. The Pacers will give you effort every night and the offense can out score opposing teams just enough to pick up W’s. And come playoff time that is all you need to do is just pick up W’s.
|The Clippers are much like many thing in LA, flashy with little substance. All of the depth that did them so much good in the beginning, has had little impact down the stretch. The Clippers are better than last season, but still not good enough to be considered a legitimate contender for the Western Conference.
|The Nets have been grateful to see the D-Will of old continue to emerge down the stretch of the season. A healthy D-Will can make the Nets a completely different team, the type of team that everyone was expecting to see since the beginning of the season. No matter how much better they have been, it is still not enough to take out the Heat.
|The Rockets can run and put up points. They can do it quickly. But for as flashy as their offense has been, their defense has been far from good at times this season. In the post season you need defense, and the lapses this team encounters will be their downfal in the playoffs.
|The Warriors are scrappy and will give a great effort every night. Problem is they depend on the 3 far to much, especially considering they have Bogut and Lee down low. Once the outside shots stop falling, the Warriors become very pedestrian very quickly.
|The Bulls have ended 2 streaks this season, the Heat’s and the Knicks. The Bulls play defense first, and if they get any offense, this team is tough to beat. Defense is constant and that will continue to be this teams calling card in the post season.
|The Hawks have been better through the regular season than most people would of ever though at the beginning of the season. Danny Ferry will have his work cut out for him this offseason if he will be able to put another playoff team next season.
|The Celtics are hoping to have everyone healthy come play off time. This team has shown flashes that they can beat anyone, problem is consistency. If they can get consistent the Celtics could push any team in the Eastern Conference. Problem is they can only push the opposing team.
|The Utah Jazz are the beneficiaries of an injury which will allow them to squeak into the playoffs. The Jazz will more then likely get the Thunder in the 1st round, and that is a terrible matchup for them. The first round playoff exit will prolong the tough personnel decisions they have to make this off season.
|The Lakers were poised to make it to the playoffs, until it happened. Kobe went down with an injury he couldn’t come back from. A ruptured Achilles tendon not only took out Pau, but put Kobe on the shelf and that will cause the Lakers to go on the shelf this post season.
|The Mavericks fell short of the playoffs this season, and with only 4 players returning next season for sure, it is looking yet again the Mavericks will be piecing together a team this off season. He Mavericks will be making a huge push to acquire Dwight Howard. But, this team will need more than 1 center to pair with Dirk if they are to return to Championship contenders again.
|The Bucks will be the sacrificial lamb in the first round of the playoffs this year in the 1-8 matchup. The Bucks have so many questions going into the off season. Jennings and Redick are both free agents, Ellis has said he will take his early termination, and Marquis Daniels is a free agent also. Toss in Mike Dunleavy this team has serious questions on who is going to be a Buck next season.
|The Blazers were surprised to see how good Lillard turned out to be. With Batum, and Aldridge there is a lot to like about this teams future. The Blazers will have to add depth and scoring off the bench going into next season.
|The Raptors yet again failed to make the playoffs, they made a splash at the trade deadline, and it has proven to add some excitement to the court, but it hasn’t translated into wins. Toronto already has $73 million tied up in salaries going into next season. Which means the same roster will be back next year with almost 6 million more in payroll. Great job Bryan Colangelo.
|The Timberwolves really have a decent team assembled. They just haven’t had any of them healthy at the same time to see what it looks like. There are many questions surrounding the team this off season. Most of them don’t include players. It is Kahn and Adelman. Will both, one or neither of them be back next season. It starts with them before any players can be discussed.
|The Sixers are no where close to where they were this time last season. It is so far from last season, that now there is talk about Doug Collins out of favor with in the organization. It doesn’t matter who the coach is, the real issue would seem to be GM Tony DiLeo. He is the one responsible for this roster and the players on it.
|Washington’s play after John Wall got back should have Wizards fans feeling pretty good about the future of this team. They have a chance to add some more talent this off season, and be ready to contend for a playoff spot next season.
|The Pistons look to have their front court of the future with Drummond and Monroe. That is about all they have. This team needs EVERYTHING ELSE. Knight may prove to be the point guard of the future and getting to play with Calderon can only help. Kyle Singler has shown he can play in the NBA. Other than that this team has lots and lots of needs.
|The Kings really can’t be evaluated until the ownership dilemma is taken care of. Until that happens, there is really nothing else this team can do. Once the ownership issue has been resolved, then it is time to get the front office into shape. Once that happens the organization can map their plan and future direction they want to go with players and talent.
|The Cavs are still not very good, that was expected. Cleveland will more than likely be the surprise team next year. It will all depend on Kyrie Irving and his health. Chris Grant has built a team for the future and there are a lot of draft picks and cap space moving forward.
|With their 2 draft picks last year New Orleans were supposed to be in full rebuilding mode. They signed Ryan Anderson, traded for Lopez and already had Eric Gordon. Suddenly this team was supposed to content for a play off spot. That was not the case with this team. They are really young still and they just need some time. Next season should be a true sign of if this team is going to work or not.
|The Suns seem to be a team with no direction. Other teams may be bad, but at least with those teams you can see the direction of the franchise. With the Suns they are bad and there is no visible direction of the franchise. This team needs so many things and the most important is a new front office. Once they start there, they can develop the direction of the franchise and then they can start building for the future. Sorry Suns fan, things aren’t going to get better anytime soon.
|The Magic may be able to get over the Dwightmare sooner than expected. Rob Hennigan got ripped for what they received back in the trade. But with a draft void of superstars, and just a lot of talented players, the Magic should be able to address some concerns. With Harris and Vucevic starting to emerge as players for the future and toss in Harkless showing some glimpses, there is some promise for a team that still needs a lot.
|The Bobcats will finish with the worst record in the NBA for the second straight season. MKG, Kemba and hope is what the Cats have for the future. They need a lot, and this off season will truly test if Rick Cho is going to get this team in the right direction.