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NBA Power Rankings Part One

30: Milwaukee Bucks
Did I actually once say that Bucks forward Khris Middleton was a poor man’s Kevin Durant?
Unfortunately I did. That was when Middleton was at Texas A&M though, so does it really count? It does? Damn it! Oh well, we all say and do things we’re not proud of and luckily Middleton as the poor man’s Durant is one of my worst. By the way, Middleton is averaging 30 minutes per game for the Bucks this year. Your Milwaukee Bucks, ladies and gentlemen!

29: Philadelphia 76ers
Are the 76ers going to make a trade that launches them into blatant and unapologetic tanking?
You can count on three things out of Philadelphia over the next two months:
1: They will most certainly trade away Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes or Thaddeus Young and get back no more than draft picks and Gatorade.

2: Nerlens Noel won’t be able to sniff the floor in a regular season game even if it were doused in gasoline and Icy Hot.

3: The same guy who took out Nancy Kerrigan in the 1994 Winter Olympics will assault Michael Carter-Williams with a pipe after an mid-March practice, shelving him for the rest of the year.

28: Boston Celtics
Are the Celtics the karmic favorites to win the NBA Draft Lottery in May?
It’s tough to say because the Celtics had a six year period of relevance and success (2007-2013) that most teams in the lottery this year have been scratching and crawling and tanking for. On the flip side, you could say that Boston is owed one because they missed out on Durant in the 2007 Draft and the death of Len Bias is still hanging over the franchise. Those are the karmic reasons. But let’s look at the big picture reasons why Boston would be the favorites to win the Lottery, and by “big picture reasons” I mean the Lottery would be rigged. The 2014 Draft class was a bit overhyped from the start, but it seems as though the consensus feeling about it is there is still a ton of talent out there to be found. The popular opinion among basketball fans is that the NBA is best when the big market franchises are winning. That’s why the Celtics and the Lakers seem like the obvious Draft Lottery favorites to me, you know, if you believed that some crooked shit could go on behind the scenes. Some additional thoughts on the draft lottery:

-It will be interesting to see if Cleveland’s luck with the lottery balls will continue, or if number one pick privileges have been officially revoked after they struck out badly with Anthony Bennett last year.

-The Orlando Magic are one draft pick away from being a playoff team, and they will more likely than not get that player in the 2014 Draft as long as they don’t continue stealing wins from Oklahoma City and Indiana.

-I don’t care if Milwaukee doesn’t win another game this year and retroactively all nine of their wins are taken away by new commissioner Adam Silver… there isn’t even a sliver of a chance they win the Lottery. They nabbed Lew Alcindor back in 1969. They have to wait until 2069 to win the lottery again.

-I don’t care where Marcus Smart ends up going and I definitely don’t care about the incident at Texas Tech, I still think he’s the best player in the 2014 Draft class. Actually, that’s a lie. I do care about the Texas Tech incident. I’m so pissed off that Smart is catching as much heat as he. Why is it even remotely acceptable that a grown man can yell things like “You’re a piece of crap” to a college student-athlete? Why all of the sudden is Jeff Orr off the hook just because he supposedly didn’t use a racial slur? That immediately disqualifies him from being considered a huge jerk? No, Marcus Smart shouldn’t have pushed a fan, but to challenge his character because of this incident is ridiculous.

27: Los Angeles Lakers
Is the Lakers roster the most random assortment of individuals in NBA history?
It’s right up there. There is no way to answer this question definitively because it’s all open for interpretation. The 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers and 2011-12 Charlotte Bobcats stick out, and so do this year’s version of the Milwaukee Bucks actually—remember, that Midwest team Khris Middleton is logging 30 minutes a night for. So far, the Lakers have started fifteen different players, including Ryan Kelly, Shawne Williams, Robert Sacre, Xavier Henry and Jodie Meeks. That’s just incredible. Do Swaggy P and Ryan Kelly go out to clubs together? Has Kobe come close to killing anybody yet? Is Pau Gasol literally on his knees in front of the Lakers front office begging for a trade? These are just a few of several dozen questions I have about this team.

26: Sacramento Kings
25: Utah Jazz
Shouldn’t the Kings be better than 18-35? Shouldn’t the Jazz be worse than 19-33?
I’ll answer yes for both questions, but do either of these teams make any fricking sense at all? Three players in Sacramento are averaging over 20 points per game; Utah has none. After DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay and Isaiah Thomas, nobody else in Sacramento is averaging double figures in points; seven guys in Utah are averaging over 10 points per game. Somehow, despite such drastic personnel and schematic contrasts, the Jazz and Kings are separated by 1.5 games in the standings.

24: Detroit Pistons
Where do I apply to be the next Head Coach of the Detroit Pistons?
I understand I’m not really qualified for the job, but I’m not really expecting to be there long term. I just need Joe Dumars to sign me to a ten day coaching contract so I can pay off my college loans, purchase the WWE network and have some extra flash money to take my girlfriend out to dinner a few nights a week.

23: Cleveland Cavaliers
What are the current odds that LeBron James will return to the Cleveland Cavaliers?
I would say there is a 5 percent chance LeBron James takes his talents back to the Q at the conclusion of the season. It wasn’t always that low though. Let’s go back one year and track the progress of LeBron’s potential return to Cleveland.

February 2013- Rumors begin to swirl over All-Star weekend that Kryie Irving’s “people” talked to LeBron James’ “people” and all of those people agreed it would be fun if they played together in Cleveland. Or something like that. The details never totally emerged, but I’d say it was a 30 to 40 percent chance right then that LeBron was returning to Cleveland.

May 2013- Cleveland wins the Draft Lottery for the second time in three years. The logical move would’ve been to draft Nerlens Noel, stock him away for a year like he was some long-named Croatian that couldn’t come to the NBA yet because of contractual obligations to his European team, tank yet another season away and grab the best college prospect again. Meanwhile, Miami was locked in a battle with Indiana in the Eastern Conference Finals and would soon be on the ropes against San Antonio in the NBA Finals.

June 2013- Miami wins the NBA Finals and LeBron James wins a second straight NBA Finals MVP. One week later Cleveland surprisingly selects UNLV forward Anthony Bennett with their number one selection. The schism between the two sides likely grows here.

October 2013- Cleveland gets a lot of buzz as a potential playoff team in the Eastern Conference. I, like most others, thought it was warranted buzz.

November 2013- Rumors circulate that Dion Waiters and Kyrie Irving got into a fist fight during a players only meeting. For what it’s worth, these are the two most talented Cavaliers. So, at least they have good chemistry to lure LeBron with.

January 2014- The Cavaliers trade Frederick Douglass, I mean Andrew Bynum, and three future draft picks for Luol Deng. Just bewildering all the way around considering Chicago cut Bynum and Cleveland might turn around and trade Deng again.

February 2014- Cavaliers General Manager Chris Grant—who I just found out today is 6’10… how did I not know this—is fired after overseeing all of this mess that will eventually cost Cleveland a shot at landing LeBron James over the summer, if they ever actually had one.

22: Orlando Magic
Was the Magic’s last second win against the Thunder on February 7th the craziest finish of the year?
Absolutely! Has there ever been a fast break game-winning dunk, ever? I searched “Game-winning fast break dunk” on YouTube and the Tobias Harris winning slam against Oklahoma City was the only one to be found. That was just an incredible play to watch live as it was happening and even more incredible when you watch it on replay over and over again. The more you watch it, the more things you pick up on. When it happened live I didn’t realize exactly how fast Victor Oladipo was getting to the long rebound, somehow beating Thabo Sefolosha and Reggie Jackson to the ball. I also didn’t catch how Kevin Durant just stood still after he missed the shot and didn’t run back on defense. And how about Tobias Harris? Give him credit for not only finishing the dunk at the buzzer, but also for having the presence of mind to run the floor hard even though Oladipo and Maurice Harkless were ahead on a two on one break. Fascinating all the way around. Even more fascinating is the Magic’s win two nights later over the Indiana Pacers. The Magic, although sitting 13th in the Eastern Conference standings, aren’t too far away from being a playoff team.

21: Denver Nuggets
Who has possession of the Denver Nuggets voodoo doll right now?
The honorable mention guesses are Masai Ujiri—currently turning Toronto into the third best Eastern Conference team overnight—and Carmelo Anthony, who probably wouldn’t have been so jazzed up about going to New York if he knew exactly how it was going to turn out. But Melo and Ujiri each left Denver on their own terms. George Karl can’t say the same. Karl was canned after yet another 1st round playoff exit, even though he was named Coach of the Year less than one month earlier. Seriously, how do you fire a guy nearly immediately after he won Coach of the Year? That’s just cold. Can’t you just see George Karl sitting on his couch jabbing a pin into the knee of a voodoo doll with a generic Denver Nuggets jersey on, watching gleefully as Nate Robinson injured his ACL?

20: Charlotte Bobcats
On a scale of 1 to 10, how excited am I for the Charlotte franchise to become the Hornets next year?
Let’s just say that if the Bobcats were the Hornets, they’d be five spots higher and I would already have an Al Jefferson jersey and matching Hornets hat.

Look for Part Two tomorrow!

sonnygiuliano