Monday, February 20, 2012

NBA Consensus Power Rankings, Week 8

Over the weekend, John Trifone wrote about the odds to win the Western Conference and Eastern Conference based on futures from

The team that he liked (likes) the most is the San Antonio Spurs, who have 5/1 odds to win the Western Conference.

San Antonio is a dangerous team. As John put it yesterday, "Many, including myself, had written off the Spurs going into the season, as a team that was just too old to be a factor in the shortened season," but they are "poised to prove everyone wrong."

Not only are they are a 10-game winning streak, point guard Tony Parker is quietly having a great season. He's playing as well as anyone in the month of February: 25.8 points, 7.9 assists, 1.1 steals and 8.8 free throw attempts per game this month.

That said, the Spurs are still fourth in our power rankings and the top three teams have been there the entire season (although the order has not always been the same): Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder and Chicago Bulls.

Here are some more stats about this week's NBA Consensus Power Rankings:

- Biggest jump from last week: New York Knicks (+4.50)
- Biggest drop from last week: Denver Nuggets (-4.00)
- Team with widest difference between high and low ranker: Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors (4)

[See our full NBA Consensus Power Rankings.]

Each week, we respond to one roundtable question and here's this week's question: Of the teams currently seeded 9th (or lower), which team has the best chance to make the playoffs?

John (follow on Twitter): Portland Trail Blazers

I think that the Eastern Conference is actually set the way it is. There may be some swapping of position, but I don't see one of the teams on the outside looking in making a serious run at the playoffs. Milwaukee had a chance, but when Bogut went down and Jeremy Lin showed up in New York, I think that pretty much sealed it for the Bucks. I'd also be very surprised to see any of the other bottom feeders in the East get in. The West is a little more open, with some pretty decent teams currently out of the playoffs. Utah, Portland, and Minnesota all have a reasonable chance to dislodge either Memphis, Houston, or Denver. I'd give Portland the best shot at it. They're playing relatively mediocre ball at the moment, just 4-6 in their last 10 games and only a game above .500 for the season, but they have the talent to make a push down the stretch. Denver has severely cooled off since over-achieving in the first month of the season and is currently the eight seed, although they are actually tied with Houston and Memphis in record. Portland is just a game back from all three teams, so they are certainly right in the mix. I think LaMarcus Aldridge and Company have the best chance of any team currently on the outside looking in to make the playoffs.

[Note: John sent this to me before the Nuggets lost a thriller in Oklahoma City last night.]

Kevin (follow on Twitter): Minnesota Timberwolves

One of the teams that I think could surprise some folks is the Minnesota Timberwolves. They are a deep team -- only three players are averaging more than 30 minutes per game this season: Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio and Luke Ridnour. They have 12 players that are averaging more than 15 minutes per game. While Love is a double-double machine, Rubio has been the biggest difference from last year to this year. He is averaging 8.5 assists per game, which ranks fifth in the NBA, and 2.3 steals per game, which is tied for second in the league with Chris Paul.

[Note: Dan is on a cruise through Central America and won't participate in our consensus rankings this and next week. Sean had to travel unexpectedly and will miss this week only.]

To see where all 30 teams fall in our power rankings going through Week 8, click here.

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