The 30-16 portion of the list welcomes some new ball clubs to the league including two Atlantic Division teams, the Nets and Celtics. With many teams beginning to face issues concerning injury and chemistry, they will continue to slide and become accustomed to their spot in the bottom half of these weekly rankings.
30. Charlotte Bobcats
Well they ended 2012 on the right note—the Bobcats knocked off the Bulls to end their putrid 18-game losing streak. This young squad is going to try and rebound from their awful year in the year 2013. With talent their and a clear leader, Kemba Walker, this team is looking in the right direction past this season. With games against the Cavilers and Pistons in the opening week of the year, Charlotte will look to get their year off on the right foot against fellow underachievers.
Last Week: 28
29. Washington Wizards
Nene has not played in many games this season, only 16 of the Wizards 28, but he has been very effective in the ones he has been a part of—posting a PER of 23.6. His great play was showcased on Friday when he scored 23 points and grabbed 11 rebounds leading the Wiz over the Magic, snapping their eight game losing streak in the process. Their best player though has been Jordan Crawford— the fourth-year pro has seen him post career highs in points, rebounds and assists along with three-point percentage and field goal percentage. The injury plagued Wizards have seen these two players play above their expectations this season though.
Last Week: 30
28. Cleveland Cavilers
The Cavs fell victim to two competitive teams, the Hawks and Nets, but they did beat Washington in a battle of underachievers. In their contest against the Nets, Cleveland had a comeback effort fall short despite the great play of C.J. Miles off the bench. Miles poured in 33 points including eight three-pointers, 11 of those points came in the fourth during their comeback. The reason the Cavs fell in this one and against Atlanta have been mainly because of the absence of Anderson Varejao. The NBA-leading rebounder has been out with a bruised right knee but is expected back soon. Without Varejao this team is clearly lost and it showed with Brook Lopez’s 35-point 11-rebound outing against backup Tyler Zeller.
Last Week: 27
27. New Orleans Hornets
So that is what this Hornets club has been missing. Recently activated Eric Gordon played his first game on Thursday and did not disappoint in a winning effort. Gordon posted 24 points and seven assists against the Bobcats in only 25 minutes of action. A team that had high hopes with a nucleus of Ryan Anderson, Anthony Davis and Gordon is finally at full strength and could be one of the more productive teams in 2013.
Last Week: 29
26. Phoenix Suns
Phoenix came close to having a season-turning week in the final one of 2012. The Suns fell victim to J.R Smith and his buzzer beater that left them bitter at home. As well, they lost to Indiana by six and Minnesota in a high-scoring battle by four, both on the road. All in all, this team has dropped five in a row, despite how close the contests may have been. Not one player is averaging more than 15 a game and they rank 26th in points allowed, allowing an awful 101 points a game. The Suns should be one team that is looking to move around the likes of Michael Beasley at the trade deadline.
Last Week: 25
25. Dallas Mavericks
This was not the result many believed the Mavs would be posting when Dirk Nowitzki returned to the lineup. Dirk was ineffective in their overtime loss to the Thunder, which negated Darren Collison’s career night. In their following two performances, the Mavs lost by an average of 23 points and scored just 85 and 86 respectively. With the likes of Dirk, Collison, and O.J Mayo in the lineup these point totals are unacceptable and Rick Carlisle has to try something to get this team going in the right direction before it is to late.
Last Week: 22
24. Sacramento Kings
Sacramento blew a 27-point lead to the Knicks, an embarrassing development despite winning the game at the buzzer. Although Sacramento showed signs of greatness in their beat down of the Celtics at home that saw six of their players score in double digits. With a deep rotation that has seven players playing at least 20 minutes on a nightly basis, things seem to be looking up for this Kings squad. However, the only thing holding them back is Demarcus Cousins and his terrible attitude.
Last Week: 26
23. Orlando Magic
It was almost the perfect ending to what was one of the worst years for any franchise in league history—the Magic blew a double-digit lead to the defending champion Heat and fell in overtime. Besides that, the Magic continued to slide back down to where their expectations had them—the bottom. They fell to the Wizards and lost to the Raptors by 35 points. As expected, the team is missing Glen Davis, even if Nikola Vucevic puts up performances like the one he had against Miami—20 points and 29 rebounds, a team record.
Last Week: 21
22. Toronto Raptors
Andrea Bargnani is still out, and the Raptors are still playing better without him—coincidence? I don’t think so. The Italian big man who is known for his offense has not been missed this past week. Toronto posted totals of 104 and 123 points in two of their three outings this week. A player who has picked up the missing seven-footer’s slack is Ed Davis. The former Tar Heel is scoring 11 points a game in his last ten, four more than his season average, as well nearly two more rebounds and one more block then what he has been averaging this year. The reports that Bargnani is as good as gone in Toronto is the best news for the organization, as he is clearly holding them back from success.
Last Week: 23
21. Detroit Pistons
The Pistons did knock off the Dwyane Wade-less Heat on Friday by ten, does that mean this team is prepared similar results against the elite of the NBA, no. Although, this team has showed great signs over the past week, including great offense. Even in their loss to the Hawks on Wednesday, the Hawks shot 51 percent from beyond the arc and 63 percent against the Heat. With great perimeter shooting it will only benefit the likes of electric rookie Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe.
Last Week: 24
20. Utah Jazz
The Jazz performed admirably against the seemingly unbeatable Clippers, clearly the closest to knocking them off. Although, they followed up this great performance on the second half of their home and home with LA in a double digit defeat that saw Paul Millsap play as quiet as ever, scoring only nine points and grabbing just a meager 3 rebounds. The Jazz have high prospects for this season, but thus far they have only generated trade rumors involving their big men. With a below-average defense, the Jazz need to find a consistent perimeter scorer, for Randy Foye can not be the answer to this issue, with these trade rumors maybe that scorer can come as soon as this February.
Last Week: 20
19. Portland Trail Blazers
The Blazers were looking to make a statement on Friday against the streaking Lakers at the Staples Center, trying to prove that they belonged in the West. However, Portland failed in this contest, and it was not pretty. Damian Lillard, the clear frontrunner for Rookie of the Year was a ghost in this one—scoring 11 points on four of 17 shooting. If this ball club wants to be recognized as a competitor in the West, they need to prove it against the more talented teams in their conference.
Last Week: 17
18. Philadelphia 76ers
Philadelphia got a great morale victory over a very talented Memphis team, but past that this club continues to slip further and further into irrelevancy in the East. Philadelphia stands ninth in the conference after falling to the Warriors and the Blazers. In both of their losses this week, Philly failed to get over the 90-point mark and continue to show how much they need Andrew Bynum back in the lineup. This team can not win without the center they traded for this past summer and until someone else steps up for the Sixers past Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner their season will end before the postseason begins.
Last Week: 16
17. Brooklyn Nets
How much worse can it get for the Nets? Not much more. Their star point guard they just signed this summer is shooting a career worst, after he called out his coach, and a couple of losses on national television, they fired their coach, Avery Johnson, and opened up a Christmas Day marathon with a blowout loss to the Celtics. As well, on New Years Eve this reeling Brooklyn squad lost by 31 to the Spurs, scoring a franchise worst five points in the third quarter. Now flirting with going below .500, after their 11-4 start, something has to give because this team is on the fast track back to the bottom of the league.
Last Week: 12
16. Boston Celtics
This team may have beaten the Nets on the road convincingly in front of a national audience, but that has been one of the only positive notes for this team not only this week but all year. The Celtics have fallen to under .500 and lost their other three games after their victory by totals of 29, 18, and 22. Expect Danny Ainge to make a move come the trade deadline—with a team that is lacking intensity at the moment and every day they continue to get older a move seems necessary to continue to compete in the depleted Eastern Conference. If the Celtics could rejuvenate their season, and it is still possible despite all this poor play, they can get right back into contention in the East, but their window is closing faster than any other teams with their elderly core.
Last Week: 14
Active as of January 1