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NBA Power Rankings: LeBron Gets Blocked, Lou Williams Comes Up Clutch and More Poetic Moments


On Sunday, I witnessed something truly remarkable as the Lakers and Clippers both found ways to end their games in ways that sum up their seasons. LeBron James getting a potential game-winner blocked was as shocking and jaw-dropping as Lou Williams hitting a walk-off three was appropriate and expected despite never happening before.

It’s always cool when sports create poetic moments like those. And that left me inspired to make this week’s Power Rankings more symbolic than ones in the past.

So let’s reflect on each team’s season and project a bit into their futures by using some poetry, and a handful of cliffnotes for those of you who hated the Shakespeare unit in English class.


30. Knicks | Last Week: 1-2 | Overall: 14-56 | Previous Ranking: 30

An Owner of the People

Ban the fans and shirts.

But if Zion doesn’t come,

nowhere will be safe.

Additional notes:

Mario Hezonja just needs to cross up James Harden or pull up from 30 against Stephen Curry and he will have have the greatest season of highlights for his career.

Both wins over the Lakers this season stopped eight-game losing streaks.

29. Lakers | Last Week: 1-3 | Overall: 31-39 | Previous Ranking: 28

When a King Leaves His Palace

The most wonderful

playground we have ever seen.

Host of tragedy.

Additional notes:

Since the start of February, the Lakers have gone 4-14.

LeBron James is on track to average 27-8-8 for the second time in his career. The first instance was last season.

28. Cavaliers | Last Week: 1-3 | Overall: 17-53 | Previous Ranking: 29

A Land Without a Ruler

A new chapter that

feels familiar. Brighter, but

no comeback awaits.

Additional notes:

Collin Sexton has scored at least 23 in five straight games and is shooting 55.7% (49-for-88) and 47.2% (17-for-36) from three.

Kevin Love is shooting more threes (6.8) than twos (6.3) for the first time in his career, and he’s only shooting one percentage point better from two (39% on twos vs. 38% on threes).

27. Bulls | Last Week: 0-3 | Overall: 19-52 | Previous Ranking: 26

How Far We’ve Come

What GarPax had started has since transformed

Now Hoiberg is gone and Boylen has the reins

Lauri’s looked great after early season pain

LaVine and Otto have the wing reformed

Kris is still growing, but he’s underperformed

If he and those others can get on the same plane

Next season is one that could be insane

With a healthy Wendell who is more informed

And less likely to mutiny over practice time

Combined with continuity from playing together

There should be no trouble starting the climb

They must rise from their position of nether

One day these young guys will all reach their primes

And GarPax will be praised for battling through the weather

Additional notes:

The Bulls have lost five straight since beating the 76ers by one.

Robin Lopez posted consecutive 20-point games for the first time this season against the Lakers and Clippers.

26. Mavericks | Last Week: 1-2 | Overall: 28-41 | Previous Ranking: 27

The Future is Present

Pass the torch for growth

Step back and then fade away

to the place greats go

Additional notes:

Dirk Nowitzki is likely passing Wilt Chamberlain for sixth on the scoring list Monday

Luka Doncic missed Saturday’s game with a knee contusion. After playing so much before the start of this season, it will be interesting to see if the Mavericks look to rest him a bit more to not wear out his legs in now meaningless games.

25. Pelicans | Last Week: 0-3 | Overall: 30-42 | Previous Ranking: 23

From C-Webb to AD

No timeouts left to

think this all over again.

Take the T and L.

Additional notes:

The Pelicans have matched a season-high six-game losing streak.

Julius Randle went for a career-high 45 in a loss Friday to the Trail Blazers.

24. Suns | Last Week: 1-2 | Overall: 17-54 | Previous Ranking: 25

Burn Stronger Over Time

Make them respect you.

Close out the season fighting,

growing together

Additional notes:

Kelly Oubre Jr. has been averaging 16.9 points with Phoenix, which is four more than he was posting with the Wizards this season.

At 5-4 so far in March, the Suns have the chance to finish a month above .500 for the first time this season.

23. Grizzlies | Last Week: 0-2 | Overall: 28-42 | Previous Ranking: 22

Play in Transition

All grit and no gloss.

A fan favorite remains

to show them the way

Additional notes:

A 21-point loss in Atlanta snapped a three-game winning streak.

Joakim Noah’s three-straight games with double-digit scoring is his second best stretch of the season and marks the first time all season his scoring output has increased in three consecutive games.

22. Hornets | Last Week: 1-2 | Overall: 31-38 | Previous Ranking: 21

What Happens to a Star in Charlotte?

It started so strong,

then went downhill ever so slow.

Away Kemba goes.

Additional notes:

The Hornets lost the fourth quarter by 17 points in their 18-point loss to the Heat Sunday that tied the season series.

Charlotte is now closer to the Wizards in 11th in the East (1.5 games ahead) than it is to Miami in the eighth seed (two games behind).

Jeremy Lamb is averaging 16.2 points in 11 games off the bench.

21. Timberwolves | Last Week: 0-3 | Overall: 32-38 | Previous Ranking: 19

Some Things Never Change

With Ryan Saunders in charge

There is more hype for next season

This team can play large

Or get small for a reason

When RoCo gets back

The defense will improve

And the three-point attack?

It should get in a groove

With Dario and Okogie

The bench should be deep

But if health is still lowly

Not even peak KAT will change *bleep*

Once again we project about what the future holds

For the young TimberPups: a basketball story that might never unfold

Additional notes:

Minnesota has lost eight straight on the road but has won six straight at home.

Karl-Anthony Towns has continued his dominance of late and also averaged more than four assists per game this past week.

20. Wizards | Last Week: 3-1 | Overall: 30-40 | Previous Ranking: 24

Change is Brewing

A questionable summer

And then a tragic injury

But the season isn’t a bummer

Mostly cause of No. 3

Build around Beal

Start with Bobby, then others

Have you seen the highlight reels?

Maybe they’re just my druthers

Either way we all know

If this offseason resembles last

Scott Brooks will be next to go

And from there will be an overcast

A cloudy sky filled with hopes of a heaven

But in reality, it’s tape from Kelly O in Game 7

Additional notes:

Bradley Beal might mess around and win a scoring title next year.

With games remaining against Utah, Denver, San Antonio, Miami and Boston, Washington could play a big role in the playoff picture despite not heading to the postseason.

Jabari Parker’s 60.4% effective field-goal percentage in 16 games marks arguably the best and easily the most efficient shooting stretch of his career.

19. Hawks | Last Week: 1-2 | Overall: 24-47 | Previous Ranking: 20

Old Dogs Teach Young Pups

A strong young core can

inspire hope in the stands.

As can an old man.

Additional notes:

The Hawks welcome the Rockets, Jazz and 76ers into Atlanta this week. Expect them to steal one of those games.

And after a few games below his assist average, look for Trae Young to be an aggressive facilitator in those matchups against playoff teams.

18. Kings | Last Week: 1-3 | Overall: 34-35 | Previous Ranking: 16

Experience Is the Best Teacher

Young legs don’t tire out

Minds wear down before bodies

But a Fox will learn

Additional notes:

The Kings are about as far back of the Clippers as the Clippers are of the Nuggets. Sacramento suffered three close losses to close out a four-game east coast swing. Marvin Bagley III returned from injury to put up 14, 15 and 21 in his first three games back.

17. Nets | Last Week: 1-3 | Overall: 36-36 | Previous Ranking: 14

Where Brooklyn At?

Ice veins and big fros

Plus returns from injuries

Equals playoff ball

Additional notes:

The Nets have started their West Coast trip 0-3 after letting Sunday’s game slip away.

Caris LeVert is still looking to get acclimated after returning from injury. He’s yet to score 20 points in the 16 games since his return.

Brooklyn has had two three-game losing streaks in its last 10 contests and a four-game winning streak sandwiched between.

16. Magic | Last Week: 2-1 | Overall: 33-38 | Previous Ranking: 18

What Are Clouds in a Drought?

March has had meaning

for the first time in a while.

But will it matter?

Additional notes:

After losing four of five, the Magic are now on a two-game winning streak to pull a game behind the Heat for eighth in the East.

Nikola Vucevic went for 27 and 20 in a win over the Hawks.

Orlando has three more games in a five-game homestand before starting a four-game road trip in Miami and Detroit.

15. Heat | Last Week: 2-1 | Overall: 33-36 | Previous Ranking: 17

A Just Ending

A final dance that

seeks to bring Justise to a

city deserving

Additional notes:

The Heat hit six threes and got 12 points from Dwyane Wade and 10 from Goran Dragic in the fourth quarter against the Hornets Sunday.

After getting wins over the Pistons and Hornets, Miami still gets to face off against the Magic and Nets to bolster its playoff standing.

14. Pacers | Last Week: 2-1 | Overall: 44-26 | Previous Ranking: 15

The Dipo Effect

More talent than star

Power to the committee

Making it work out

Additional notes:

The Pacers came back from down 19 to top the Thunder on Thursday

Indiana is still a game up on the Celtics for the fourth seed and has two games left against Boston.

13. Pistons | Last Week: 2-2 | Overall: 36-33 | Previous Ranking: 11

Coach of the Year

Dwane Casey revenge

games are the greatest part of

a successful year

Additional notes:

The Pistons swept the Raptors on the season thanks to Sunday’s win.

Blake Griffin will not be getting any MVP love this season, but depending on the matchup, he might guide Detroit past the first round of the playoffs.

After scoring in single digits in back-to-back losses, Reggie Jackson has gone for 20 in consecutive wins.

Sacramento Kings v Boston Celtics

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

12. Celtics | Last Week: 2-1 | Overall: 43-27 | Previous Ranking: 12

How Does This End?

Does this last until

June and end in a parade?

July will bring change

Additional notes:

Al Horford and Gordon Hayward were banged up in Saturday’s win.

Winners of five of their last six, the Celtics will face the Nuggets, 76ers and Spurs this week.

Kyrie Irving averaged 30.5 points, 10.5 assists and 10.5 rebounds in his last two and posted his second career triple double.

11. Thunder | Last Week: 2-2 | Overall: 42-28 | Previous Ranking: 5

LA Boys in OKC

MVPG is

the ideal complement to

Triple Double Russ

Additional notes:

The Thunder will be without Westbrook Monday against the Heat after he picked up his 16th technical foul on the season.

Oklahoma City is 5-8 since the All-Star Break and now fifth in the West.

10. Spurs | Last Week: 3-0 | Overall: 41-29 | Previous Ranking: 13

Clockwork

The playoffs are near

Popovich has his squad hot

At the perfect time

Additional notes:

The Spurs are riding an eight-game winning streak that includes five wins over playoff teams.

San Antonio’s next four games are also against likely playoff teams, but seven of its final eight are against likely lottery teams.

The team is 34-21 with Derrick White in the lineup and 7-8 without him.

9. Trail Blazers | Last Week: 2-1 | Overall: 42-27 | Previous Ranking: 8

Concerned With the Top

Lurking in the packing

Looking to cause an upset

But cannot get swept

Additional notes:

C.J. McCollum has a knee strain that will be re-evaluated in a week, but the injury could have been much worse.

Jusuf Nurkic once had Kobe cuss at him in Bosnian because of course Kobe would do that.

8. 76ers | Last Week: 3-0 | Overall: 45-25 | Previous Ranking: 10

Still Processing …

In a plan you had trusted

Now it’s coming to fruition

A few picks might have busted

But you nailed the two needed for the mission

With Jimmy and Tobias and J.J. on the wing

This might be the groundwork

Or just a one season fling

Fans are sure to go berserk

No matter how this season ends

They’ll wait for an Embiid tweet

Remember the headbanded best friends

Who were a delightful defensive treat

But if they topple Boston, and play late into May

“Elton Brand is a genius” is what Philly will say

Additional notes:

Jimmy Butler scored 14 of his 27 points on Sunday against the Bucks in the fourth quarter.

The 76ers have won four straight since Joel Embiid returned to the lineup.

7. Raptors | Last Week: 1-2 | Overall: 49-21 | Previous Ranking: 3

Now or Never

Something new awaits

This April and May. Or else

Nobody will stay

Additional notes:

The Raptors lost by 25 in Cleveland but beat LeBron by 13 points this week.

After shooting 27.6% on threes in February, Kawhi Leonard is now shooting 45.9% from deep in March and went 13-for-24 last week.

6. Jazz | Last Week: 3-1 | Overall: 40-29 | Previous Ranking: 6

Playoff Prep

Weaker opponents

down the stretch should be good news

as they tighten screws

Additional notes:

The Jazz are on their second three-game winning streak since the All-Star Break

Utah plays 11 straight against teams under .500

The Jazz showed their fan base is better than a pair of obnoxious guys who hate Russell Westbrook and showing a human proper respect by banning two men who have no business attending another NBA game in their lives.

5. Nuggets | Last Week: 3-0 | Overall: 46-22 | Previous Ranking: 9

What Is Meant to Be

Power through the pain

Injuries cannot contain

destiny’s big plans

Additional notes:

The Nuggets play six of their next seven on the road, including a four-game trip East this week.

With one more win, Denver will exceed last season’s win total and it will mark a franchise-record fourth consecutive season with an improved record.

Brooklyn Nets v Los Angeles Clippers

Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

4. Clippers | Last Week: 3-1 | Overall: 41-30 | Previous Ranking: 7

A coach with success and a breadth

Of low outside expectations for the year

He leaned on his depth

And banked on rookies to lack fear

They traded their top scorer

Put more faith in role players

Many projected horror

They were foolish naysayers

Now with the game’s greatest bench threat

Shai, Landry, Pat Bev and Gallinari

They are flying like a jet

But they have the swagger of a Ferrari

Together as one they will claim a great city

“But that’s where The King resides.” Oh? What a pity.

Additional notes:

Lou Williams is the officially the most prolific bench scorer of all-time and I think it’s time to have a conversation about what that should mean to Hall of Fame voters.

Just two games out of the four seed and with six games left against teams under .500 and a contest against Utah waiting for the season finale, this team still has a great shot at homecourt for the first round.

3. Bucks | Last Week: 2-1 | Overall: 52-18 | Previous Ranking: 2

Sculptures

Greek gods will bow down

As Antetokounmpo slams

His way through trouble

Additional notes:

Giannis went for a career-high 52, but the Bucks lost to the 76ers.

Malcolm Brogdon on the shelf for six to eight weeks could be a big issue depending on Milwaukee’s second round playoff matchup.

But D.J. Wilson, who went for 13 (3-for-6 from three) against Philadelphia could be a boost to the lineup.

2. Warriors | Last Week: 2-0 | Overall: 47-21 | Previous Ranking: 4

The Next Evolution

Speed kills, as do threes.

Boogie on the break will bring

Defenders to knees

Additional notes:

The Warriors avoided getting swept by the Rockets, and then washed the Thunder, all without Kevin Durant.

Andrew Bogut could be making his return on Monday against the Spurs with DeMarcus Cousins dealing with a sore right foot.

1. Rockets | Last Week: 3-1 | Overall: 44-26 | Previous Ranking: 1

To Be the Best

A climb to the top

That started in a dark place

Must end in revenge

Additional notes:

After winning the season series 3-1, you don’t want to put too much emphasis on Wednesday’s loss to the Warriors, but it has to sting.

Chris Paul made his first six threes in Sunday’s win over the Timberwolves.

P.J. Tucker is shooting 10 percentage points better on right corner threes vs. left corner threes.

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