The final week before the All Star break brings us a time to reflect on the season that has passed so far. There have been many injuries to star players on the 30-16 teams such as Kevin Love and Pau Gasol. There has only been one trade up to this point with the trade deadline within a week after the All Star break. In this edition of the power rankings, I pick out each teams MVP as we head into the mid-season break—if you think it should be someone else let it be heard in the comments section.
30. Charlotte Bobcats
The Bobcats continue to have issues this week as they missedan opportunity to maybe put the final nail in the coffin in the Lakers season, but they blew what was a 27-point second half lead and lost by 7. It only ensued into the next night were they could only put up 76 points against the Sixers in another loss. However, they did grab a surprising win over a Celtics team that went to triple overtime the night before. The Bobcats have still been awful since their 7-6 start, going 5-34 in their last 39.
Last Week: 29
Pre-All Star Break MVP: Kemba Walker
29. Orlando Magic
Orlando snapped their woeful 12-game losing streak with a win over the Trail Blazers on Sunday. During that skid, the Magic lost by double digits in eight of those games and allowed their opponents to score over 100 in the same amount of games. Orlando simply rises in this weeks rankings by one because the Bobcats are playing even worse, which is saying something because Orlando just went through one of the worst stretches that any team will go through all year long. With their season going nowhere but the lottery, Orlando should make a move at the deadline to shoot some life into their season. J.J Redick seems like the prime candidate to be dealt, the Bucks seem to be a prime candidate for the former the guard, and the Magic could try and get some future picks for him to continue and rebuild from their awful offseason last summer.
Last Week: 30
Pre-All Star Break MVP: Nikola Vucevic
28. Phoenix Suns
The Suns did keep up their string of recent upset with their win over the Grizzlies, but after that, it was back to reality for Phoenix. The Suns dropped a nine-point game to the Hornets that saw them shoot one for fifteen from beyond the arc. Following that dud, the Suns lost by 31 to the Thunder, giving up 127 points in the process. In the second half of their home-and-home, the Suns lost again to OKC by 28, scoring just 69 points in the contest. Phoenix has lost all offensive efficiency with Steve Nash out of the equation, averaging less than 95 points per game on the season. The reports that the Suns are trying to acquire Iman Shumpert is great for the team, the second-year pro can be a spark plug for this team and could excel with a team that gives him more focus than the Knicks.
Last Week: 26
Pre-All Star Break MVP: Goran Dragic
27. New Orleans Hornets
This Hornets team may not be good now, but in about two years, the Pelicans will be a playoff contender if they don’t blow up the roster. Anthony Davis, if still healthy has proved he can be a true big man and defensive force. Although, as seen this season, the Hornets are wary of his ankle, giving him only 28 minutes a night. As well, Ryan Anderson is one of the best face up fours that can shoot from beyond the arc in the league today that will add to the emergence of Greivis Vasquez. Vasquez, who just recorded his first triple double, has become a serviceable point guard this year, averaging 14 and 9. The big question is whether or not Eric Gordon will remain in New Orleans, Gordon who has said how badly he wants out of NOLA should think twice as this team has something special brewing despite their issues this season.
Last Week: 25
Pre-All Star Break MVP: Greivis Vasquez
26. Sacramento Kings
After a rough week, the Kings responded with two strong performances against two playoff contenders, the Jazz and Rockets. The Kings failed to score in their past five going into their game against Utah, but they scored 120 in that one and then 117 in their game against Houston on Sunday. DeMarcus Cousins’ trade chatter has been silenced as of late and for good reason. Despite being a poor locker room guy, Cousins has been the best player on this Kings squad and has a lot of talent as he is a great scorer and rebounder—he has a career average of 16.2 points and 9.7 rebounds. With the team’s future location bound to be Seattle despite it not being clear at the moment, Cousins can be the center of the franchise with the abilities he possesses.
Last Week: 28
Pre-All Star Break MVP: DeMarcus Cousins
25. Cleveland Cavilers
When a team like the Cavs gets two opponents that are worse then them this year, they need to win, and that is exactly what they did. Cleveland ran past Charlotte and Orlando, but then came up short against a true opponent, the Nuggets. In this one, the Cavs got yet another great performances from Kyrie Irving, 26 points and 7 assists, but also Alonzo Gee, 20 points on 8-8 shooting. If the Cavs could just get great performances from more than just two players on a nightly basis they may just be a threat in the bottom half of the East some day.
Last Week: 24
Pre-All Star Break MVP: Kyrie Irving
24. Washington Wizards
The great basketball continues in Washington as the Wizards won all three of their contests against quality opponents each by double digits. First, the Wizards forced the sharpshooting Knicks to shoot 32-percent from beyond the arc. Following that up, the other New York team, the Nets, who were outscored 30-11 by the Wiz in the second quarter in a game that the Wizards took by 15. Lastly, The Wizards capped off their best week of the year with a 12-point win over the Bucks that saw Bradley Beal score a career high 28 points. John Wall is the team MVP at the moment because look at what he has done for them—they are 10-7 with him as opposed to 5-22 without him.
Last Week: 27
Pre-All Star Break MVP: John Wall
23. Minnesota Timberwolves
Minnesota has been plagued by injures all year long as has been noted here, but Ricky Rubio finally seems to have fully recovered from his torn ACL. Rubio is averaging 14 points and 10 assists for the T’Wolves in his last five, which unfortunately the team has went 1-4 in that stretch. The Timberwolves seemed bound to grab a great win against the Knicks, but then collapsed down the stretch—the Knicks outscored the Timberwolves 30-18 in the fourth in their six-point win. It is to bad that Kevin Love has been injured for much of the year as he will not know how well this team could have played with him completely healthy.
Last Week: 23
Pre-All Star Break MVP: Nikola Pekovic
22. Philadelphia 76ers
The Sixers offensive woes continued this week where they only managed to post 69 points against the Pacers, 87 in a win against the Bobcats and lost by 17 to the Clippers. The Sixers continue to play the waiting game with Andrew Bynum, for the seven-footer, who seemed close to returning several weeks ago, has still yet to hit the floor with the team in a full contact practice. On Monday, Bynum experienced a lot of pain in his knee after seeming close to returning to the floor. As long as Bynum stays in street clothes the Sixers have gotten robbed in the Dwight Howard deal that saw them essentially give up Andre Iguodala for Bynum.
Last Week: 19
Pre-All Star Break MVP: Jrue Holiday
21. Detroit Pistons
To start, Detroit received bad news this week that Andre Drummond will be out for four to six weeks with a back injury. This is a shame as Drummond has taken the league by storm with his athletic plays and potential if he continues to mature as a player. Despite the bad news, Detroit actually had a solid week were they almost took down the Nets and then beat the Spurs by double digits the following night snapping the Spurs 11-game winning streak. Even without Drummond, the Pistons kept up their fine play with a win over the Bucks, but then they fell to the Hornets on Monday.
Last Week: 21
Pre-All Star Break MVP: Greg Monroe
20. Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers are running out of time, plain and simple. They remain three and a half back of the eighth seed and with the pace teams are on right now, they need to go 20-10 down the stretch to make the postseason. The Lakers got blown out by the Celtics and were handled the Heat during their Grammy’s week road trip and more reports of tension become Dwight Howard and the Lakers surface. Now, Howard’s father has chimed in on the Lakers struggles, critiquing Mike D’Antoni and the way he has handled the Lakers this season. A win over the Nets and comeback over the Bobcats showed signs of maturity by the Lakers, but they need a consistent stretch if they want to make the playoffs.
Last Week: 20
Pre-All Star Break MVP: Kobe Bryant
19. Dallas Mavericks
The Mavericks seem motivated to make one last run at the postseason, or at least .500, for several players are refusing to shave until they get back to even on the season. Dallas made great progress to shave their beards with quality wins over the Warriors and the Blazers. However, this team is still seven games below .500 and their playoff hopes seem shot at the moment. Dirk Nowitzki continues to play mediocre basketball; that is unexplainable at the moment considering Dirk is still thought to be the teams best player.
Last Week: 22
Pre-All Star Break MVP: Shawn Marion
18. Toronto Raptors
Toronto has been playing much better since they acquired Rudy Gay, with some credit due for his fine play. Although, Gay is still shooting subpar for a score-first small forward, 41-percent for the Raptors, despite his average of 23 points. With a defensive-inept Gay on the floor for most of the time, the Raptors should be looking for a defensive-minded big man at the trade deadline in exchange for Andrea Bargnani and others. Bargnani has been rumored to be traded all season long, and has been out of the lineup due to several injuries and illnesses—the former number one pick is not in this budding Raptors future and he is nothing but a burden at this point. The teams MVP should be Jose Calderon or Ed Davis, but both are no longer with the team, so DeMar DeRozan gets it by default, but do not overlook his emergence as a primary score for this team.
Last Week: 18
Pre-All Star Break MVP: DeMar DeRozan
17. Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks went winless this week in three games they should have taken, a road game against the Jazz and then two at home against the Pistons and Wizards. The most shocking result of the three is their 12-point loss to Washington, one that saw the Bucks get one of their best performances from Monta Ellis of the year, 24 points, 8 assists and 7 rebounds. It is a blow for the Bucks to get such a great performance from Ellis in a losing effort because they probably won’t get such an balanced one again. Milwaukee should begin to breathe a little heavier now that they are the eighth seed in the East and are slumping because if a team behind them gets hot, Milwaukee will miss the playoffs yet again.
Last Week: 15
Pre-All Star Break MVP: Larry Sanders
16. Utah Jazz
Utah continues to hang tough in that tight Western Conference playoff race; right now they stand at seventh despite a poor showing this past week on a back-to-back. The Bulls and Kings each beat the Jazz in two different ways—Chicago took it to the Jazz by allowing them to shoot just 25-percent from beyond the arc and the Jazz can only manage to score 89. While the Kings forced the Jazz to shoot poor from the three once again, 26-percent from three-point land, but the Kings shot 51-percent from the field and scored 120 points against a solid defense team in the Jazz. If Utah wants to remain in the playoff hunt they must address their issues in the backcourt, as they can’t survive if they continue to shoot as poor as they have in these past two contests.
Last Week: 17
Pre-All Star Break MVP: Al Jefferson
Updated as of 2/11/13