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Pre-Playoffs NBA Power Rankings

The conference standings in the NBA are constantly shifting with decisive victories and defeats from key teams. Here we will assess the ranking of each team with ISH’s first NBA Power Rankings. 4 of our ISH writers, Daniel Zimmermann, Mitchell Koch, Hank Stichter, and Kris Westgaard, will give their pick on each power ranking.



DZ: Philadelphia 76ers

KW: Philadelphia 76ers

MK: Philadelphia 76ers

HS: Milwaukee Bucks

The 76ers are just awful. They have not won but 2 games since January 29th vs Boston. This was a team that traded their whole core (except Thaddeus Young) away before the deadline. It has been obvious that tanking is the goal this season. With Nerlens Noel still not playing and Michael Carter-Williams the only bright spot, the 76ers look lost. But maybe that is the point. Noel and MCW could still form a great tandem and with the 76ers looking to have a top 2 pick in the draft, they could easily grab Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins. That would be a young core to build around. While the 76ers are awful now and belong at the bottom of these power rankings, I expect a quick turnaround for this team next season and beyond.



DZ: Milwaukee Bucks

KW:Milwaukee Bucks

MK: Milwaukee Bucks

HS: Utah Jazz


The Bucks have been awful as well this year, but they did not try so hard to be awful. With a projected starting lineup of Larry Sanders, Brandon Knight, O.J Mayo, Ersan Ilyasova, and John Henson/Zaza Pachulia at the beginning of the season, Milwaukee looked like a solid team that could win some games. They even had a bench with rookie Gianis Antetokounmpo, Gary Neal, Carlos Delfino, and others. It has not played out for the Bucks. Depending on where they draft, Milwaukee could be in some trouble the next few seasons if they miss on this pick. - photo source – photo source




DZ: Los Angeles Lakers

KW: Utah Jazz

MK: Utah Jazz

HS: Philadelphia 76ers

While the Jazz and Lakers have both been awful, I disagree with the Jazz being 28 for one reason. Talent. Utah has plenty of young talent that has grown this season. The Lakers have Nick Young, Jodie Meeks, and a beat up Pau Gasol. They just do not have the power to win games without the other team playing awful. At least Utah has a chance for young players to take over games.

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DZ: Orlando Magic

KW:Orlando Magic

MK: Orlando Magic

HS: Detroit Pistons

Orlando has a bright future ahead of them, but for right now, most of us agree that they are not even a top 25 team in this 3o team association. Detroit is an interesting pick by Hank Stichter, but the Pistons are playing some of their worst basketball.


DZ: Utah Jazz

KW:  Boston Celtics

MK: Los Angeles Lakers

HS: Orlando Magic

All playoff teams just a few seasons ago, all these teams are headed into some huge rebuilding this summer.





DZ: Detroit Pistons

KW: Los Angeles Lakers

MK: Boston Celtics

HS: Boston Celtics

Even with Rondo back and the young players playing well, Boston cannot find a way to win, embarrassingly losing to Philadelphia recently. Good thing for them is that they do not feel pressured to win right now, as the likes of Andrew Wiggins, Dante Exum, and more sound more and more appealing. - photo source – photo source



DZ: Boston Celtics

KW: Detroit Pistons

MK: Sacramento Kings

HS: Sacramento Kings

Sacramento has shown huge strides this season. The great play from Rudy Gay and Isaiah Thomas as well the All-Star (snub) play of Demarcus Cousins has Sacramento looking at a good path.




DZ: New Orleans Pelicans

KW: Sacramento Kings

MK: Detroit Pistons

HS: Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets have really fallen off this year. This team could be headed for a long stretch of mediocrity and no fans want to see that.

Detroit has also shown huge disappointment this season.




DZ: Sacramento Kings

KW: New Orleans Pelicans

MK: New Orleans Pelicans

HS: Atlanta Hawks

The Pelicans have been a huge disappointment this season, decimated by injuries. Holiday and Davis will still be great together next season, but it looks like the Evans experiment as well as Gordon and Anderson’s tenures are likely to end soon.


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DZ: Atlanta Hawks

KW: Cleveland Cavaliers

MK: Cleveland Cavaliers

HS: New York Knicks

The Cavs and Knicks may be fighting for that last Eastern conference playoff spot, but all season long they have been fighting each other for another thing. That is the biggest mess in basketball. While its entirely possible both teams miss the playoffs and both end up in a firesale this summer, NY actually looks like they will make the playoffs. Not bad for a 21st ranked squad.




DZ: Cleveland Cavaliers

KW: Denver Nuggets

MK: Atlanta Hawks

HS: Los Angeles Lakers – photo source

LA is a interesting pick right here, considering they are the last in the Western Conference, but the rest all seem pretty surefire hits at #20. All underachieving teams that had playoff hopes at the beginning of the season, these team’s futures are mysteries.



DZ: New York Knicks

KW: Atlanta Hawks

MK: New York Knicks

HS: New Orleans Pelicans


New York has played great as of late, but still cannot contend with the best teams out east. Atlanta is also competing for that last eastern playoff spot. Its a bit of a testament to how awful the east is that it has the #19th ranked team fighting for the playoffs.



DZ: Denver Nuggets

KW: New York Knicks

MK: Denver Nuggets

HS: Charlotte Bobcats

Charlotte is a little low here, considering they have clinched the playoffs while the other teams have not. New York is playing well right now though, so maybe this pick #18 is not far fetched for this team.


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DZ: Minnesota T-Wolves

KW:Minnesota T-Wolves

MK:Minnesota T-Wolves

HS: Cleveland Cavaliers

Minnesota has so much young, exciting talent in Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio as well as veterans like Kevin Martin, Corey Brewer, and J.J. Barea. They should really be winning more games. A 17th rank is a bit high for them, but they have proven they can contend with some top teams on some nights.

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DZ: Phoenix Suns

KW: Charlotte Bobcats

MK: Washington Wizards

HS: Minnesota Timberwolves

Hank puts Cleveland very high here, over Charlotte who just beat them to clinch the playoffs. Charlotte, Phoenix, and Washington all have exciting offseasons coming their way after great campaigns in 2014. Also, if Phoenix gets into the playoffs, than all these teams have a shot at climbing the final power rankings.




DZ: Charlotte Bobcats

KW: Washington Wizards

MK: Charlotte Bobcats

HS: Memphis Grizzlies


Charlotte is pumping right now with their playoff clinch and climbing over .500 for the first time in a while. Washington and Memphis are great teams and also deserve to be top 15 teams, Charlotte scales themselves into this top 15.

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DZ: Washington Wizards

KW: Brooklyn Nets

MK: Phoenix Suns

HS:Washington Wizards



DZ: Memphis Grizzlies

KW: Phoenix Suns

MK: Brooklyn Nets

HS: Toronto Raptors

All these teams are fringe contenders, despite being possible 8 seeds (Memphis, Phoenix). This spot is up for grabs for the rest of the season.


DZ: Toronto Raptors

KW: Toronto Raptors

MK: Memphis Grizzlies

HS: Phoenix Suns




DZ: Dallas Mavericks

KW:Memphis Grizzlies

MK:Toronto Raptors

HS: Brooklyn Nets

Barely missing the top 10, I have Dallas here. Dallas has played very well, but I just do not think they have the pieces and fit to contend this April to June.

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DZ: Brooklyn Nets

KW: Dallas Mavericks

MK: Dallas Mavericks

HS: Dallas Mavericks


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Brooklyn in the top 10 just seems right. Everyone has wanted Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to succeed in what looks to be their last stop on their NBA tour. Finally they are playing like a top 10.


DZ: Chicago Bulls

KW: Golden State Warriors

MK: Indiana Pacers

HS: Chicago Bulls

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Indiana here is very bold, taking their recent cold streak very seriously. Although I don’t agree, Indiana definitely has taken a step back in the rankings and in title hopes.


DZ: Golden State Warriors

KW: Chicago Bulls

MK: Houston Rockets

HS: Houston Rockets



DZ: Portland Trail Blazers

KW:Portland Trail Blazers

MK: Golden State Warriors

HS:Portland Trail Blazers

3 votes for Portland here says a lot about their improvement this season. No one truly felt that they had it in them to be a title contender, but a chance at Houston in the first round could spell a second round trip for Portland.



DZ:Houston Rockets

KW: Houston Rockets

MK: Chicago Bulls

HS: Golden State Warriors

The Rockets may not get enough credit for being a true contender. They have built a pretty nice team out in Texas and have a real chance at dethroning OKC.




DZ: Indiana Pacers

KW: Indiana Pacers

MK: Portland Trail Blazers

HS: Los Angeles Clippers

Both Kris and I agree that Indiana has fallen off a bit in this recent losing stint, but not as far as Mitchell believes. Portland is a sneaky pick here, going off the chance that they could pull off a first round upset.



DZ: San Antonio Spurs

KW: Miami Heat

MK: Los Angeles Clippers

HS: Miami Heat

My pick of the Spurs here is perhaps risky, but I just do not believe in the Spurs in the playoffs. They have shown inconsistency from losing to an 8 seeded Memphis Grizzlies and then reaching the finals the next season. Until they win the finals, I cannot bet for them.

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DZ: Los Angeles Clippers

KW: Los Angeles Clippers

MK: Miami Heat

HS: Indiana Pacers

The Clippers have found themselves in this top 5 – top 3 range all year, and have played consistently to stay in it. Showing constant great play all season for three seasons in a row, it is time for the Clippers to take the next step in the playoffs.




DZ: Miami Heat

KW: San Antonio Spurs

MK: San Antonio Spurs

HS: San Antonio Spurs


With Spurs being the most constant pick here, I disagree. I already mentioned my disproval of the Spurs being this high, but now it is time to talk about the Heat. This superteam has another title run in them and, after recently gaining the #1 overall in the eastern conference, they should  feel the momentum swing their way for the playoffs.



DZ: Oklahoma City Thunder

KW:  Oklahoma City Thunder

MK: Oklahoma City Thunder

HS: Oklahoma City Thunder

The only pick we all agree on, this #1 pick is pretty simple. Recently taking down the Spurs, the Thunder are on a roll. Kevin Durant is on a roll. The supporting cast (including Russell Westbrook) has been on a roll. Durant has taken this team as his own and showed that they can be successful with both Westbrook and Durant playing.


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