The NBA hits its first big day of the season, Christmas Day. It is an opportunity to look back at the season thus far—and realize how different this season from the norm. Teams that have lost superstars, a la the Orlando Magic, have excelled while teams like the Wizards have truly missed their star guard John Wall. Let’s see where the bottom half of the league stands and who their Pre-Christmas day MVP is.
30. Washington Wizards
Even when Jordan Crawford completes a triple double on Tuesday against the Hawks the Wizards fall. As well, this lowly Wizards squad lost to the Pistons by a disgusting 32points Friday on the road. The Wizards are posting a league-worst 88 points a game with only four players posting an average of over double digits a night. With a 3-22 record, it may already be time for Washington to look into prospects for the 2013 draft.
Last Week: 30
Pre-Christmas MVP: Jordan Crawford
29. New Orleans Hornets
Even with Anthony Davis returning to the lineup, this Hornets team is amongst the worst in all of the NBA. The Hornets are riding an 11 game losing streak. Some positive news out of New Orleans—Eric Gordon has been cleared for contact practice and could be back in the coming games, finally giving the Hornets a fully healthy squad and we will see what they can do.
Last Week: 29
Pre-Christmas MVP: Ryan Anderson
28. Charlotte Bobcats
How bad has this 15 game losing streak been for Charlotte? Well, in their past 13, they have allowed over 100 points and are losing on a nightly basis by an average of 13. Clearly this team had their spurt of the season in their first 12 when they started 7-5, and they are not the contenders that we thought they were for some time early in the season.
Last Week: 28
Pre-Christmas MVP: Kemba Walker
27. Cleveland Cavilers
Many thought at full strength that Cleveland would become one of the more productive teams in the league—so far not good for the healthy Cavs. With Kyrie Irving back in the starting lineup, the Cavilers have stumbled with a 1-4 record. With Irving back, the Cavs were thought to become much more efficient on the offensive end, even though they have only surpassed 100 points in one game. Maybe there are more issues in Cleveland than their health.
Last Week: 27
Pre-Christmas MVP: Anderson Varejo
26. Sacramento Kings
The Kings continue to confuse the hell out of all followers of the NBA. Demarcus Cousins was suspended yet again by Coach Keith Smart, but it seems that he will be reinstated by the team. Besides that disciplinary decision, they took down the Warriors in a shootout, and a double-digit victory over the Trail Blazers. It is tough to see how great Kings team could be with such volatile players and underachievers on this roster. The talent is there, but the mind but mentality to win is not.
Last Week: 25
Pre-Christmas MVP: Jason Thompson
25. Phoenix Suns
This week the Suns posted 121 on the Bobcats, but then only got off 77 on the Clippers that led to their 26-point defeat. The Suns are stuck in the middle as an average team and are by no means great and by no means bad and it looks like they will remain in this state for the next couple of years with this rotation. Get used to it Phoenix because this is going to be the way of life for a while.
Last Week: 23
Pre-Christmas MVP: Goran Dragic
24. Detroit Pistons
Detroit has definitely shown signs of improvement from their 0-8 start, going 9-13 since that awful beginning. This week, they knocked off the Wizards twice, one by 32, and have seen Andre Drummond finally begin to mold into the athletic big man many expected him to be when he was drafted by Detroit. On Friday in their 32-point rout of Washington, Drummond grabbed 14 rebounds to add to his 11 points on five of seven shooting. This a great sign for Detroit as they try to build themselves into a contender.
Last Week: 24
Pre-Christmas MVP: Greg Monroe
23. Toronto Raptors
Toronto has quietly been on a hot streak—after falling to number thirty on these power rankings two weeks ago, they have been 5-1 and have shown that Andrea Bargnani is clearly not a necessary player in Toronto. However, Jose Calderon has been a staple to this Raptor club and should not be shopped like many believe he should. Calderon has been averaging 7 assists a game and has enabled Kyle Lowry to put up career high in points, nearly 16 points a game.
Last Week: 26
Pre-Christmas MVP: Jose Calderon
22. Dallas Mavericks
The waiting game is up in Dallas—Dirk Nowitzki has returned from his knee injury and it is time for the Mavericks to see what they are made of this season. In his first game back Sunday, he came off the bench in their 38-point loss to the Spurs. Nowitzki needs to come back to the starting lineup and give them another scoring threat to add to O.J Mayo’s talent that he has had this season if this team wants to compete in the postseason.
Last Week: 22
Pre-Christmas MVP: O.J Mayo
21. Orlando Magic
The Magic lost two games this week by a total of 7 points, one to the streaking Raptors and the other to the competitive Jazz. The scariest moment from this week came from their lone win—Glen Davis suffered a shoulder sprain in the final moments and is out for about four to six weeks. Without Davis, clearly the leader of this ball club, the Magic seem to have trouble, losing the next two, and seem to lack the intensity that Big Baby brings to the floor.
Last Week: 19
Pre-Christmas MVP: Glen Davis
20. Utah Jazz
The Jazz got an impressive comeback victory over the Nets on Tuesday, but then ran into trouble at the end of the week falling to the Heat and Pacers by double digits. The inconsistent play of the Jazz makes the February 21st trade deadline, trading away the likes of Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap and other, a necessary move for Utah to restore their contender status. You could see more on this trade here.
Last Week: 17
Pre-Christmas MVP: Al Jefferson
19. Milwaukee Bucks
Larry Sanders has officially joined the “Extremely Improved Big Men” group for this season. Sanders grabbed 20 rebounds along with his 17 points in a big victory over the Celtics. Over three blocks a game finds Sanders tied with Serge Ibaka tied for the league lead in blocks. Overshadowing Sanders’ great play for the Bucks is Monta Ellis and his horrific shot selection. Most notably, Ellis shot a horrific 1 for 14 against the Grizzlies and is clearly an issue for this ball club down the stretch. Ellis’ shot selection will hold back Milwaukee’s development as a playoff contender and could lead to them losing the star in the making that is Brandon Jennings.
Last Week: 16
Pre-Christmas MVP: Larry Sanders
18. Indiana Pacers
Frank Vogel’s club is finally starting to turn into the contender that we thought they would be this season. They have feasted on the defensive end, ranking first in the league allowing just under 90 a game. With the leagues easiest schedule, the Pacers are 16-12 and 7-3 in their past ten. Even though they may not claim a top three seed like they had last season they could be dangerous throughout the season.
Last Week: 21
Pre-Christmas MVP: David West
17. Portland Trail Blazers
The Trail Blazers had their five game winning streak snapped on Sunday in a loss to the Kings. Portland should be satisfied with their 13-13 record, but there is room for improvement for a team that includes the clear front-runner for the Rookie of the Year. The Blazers are 4-9 on the road and rank 21st in points allowed. If the playoffs started today they would be on the outside looking in, but only a half game out of the playoffs so the Blazers have a chance at being much more successful than they could have hoped this year.
Last Week: 18
Pre-Christmas MVP: Damian Lillard
16. Philadelphia 76ers
The Sixers are at a crossroads in their season. The injury of Andrew Bynum has finally caught up with them and Jrue Holiday is not prepared to be the leader of a playoff team just yet. With not many offensive threats this year, they rank 25th in points per game. Losing six of their past seven, the Sixers seem bound for the lottery despite the strong play by Evan Turner and Holiday this year.
Last Week: 13
Pre-Christmas MVP: Jrue Holiday
Updated as of 12/24