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Jason Jones: Ranking the NBA

Published: Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014 - 11:07 pm
Last Modified: Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014 - 12:36 am

(Records and statistics through Friday)

More than halfway through the season, Kevin Durant has established himself as the favorite to win the league MVP award, highlighted by a spectacular January. Durant scored 30 or more points in 12 consecutive games, a streak that ended only because the Thunder were routing Brooklyn and Durant did not stay in the game to pad his statistics. There’s still a lot of season left, but Durant has shown whether it’s against contenders like Miami or losing teams, he’s going to be at his best every night.

• 1. Oklahoma City Thunder (38-10, Last week 2): The eventual return of Russell Westbrook from knee surgery might make the Thunder the favorite to win the West.

• 2. Indiana Pacers (35-10, LW 1): How will Andrew Bynum’s attitude play in the locker room?

• 3. Portland Trail Blazers (33-13, LW 4): Dropped their last two games but hardly the team in the West with the most problems.

• 4. Miami Heat (32-13, LW 5): Don’t count LeBron James out of the MVP race just yet.

• 5. Los Angeles Clippers (33-16, LW 6): DeAndre Jordan has played like one of the NBA’s most improved players this season.

• 6. San Antonio Spurs (33-13, LW 3): Manu Ginobili joins Kawhi Leonard among the many injured Spurs.

7. Houston Rockets (31-17, LW 7): James Harden could go from All-Star Game reserve to starter with Kobe Bryant injured.

• 8. Phoenix Suns (28-18, LW 9): Suns made scoring against Indiana look easy twice in sweeping the season series.

• 9. Golden State Warriors (29-19, LW 8): Harrison Barnes remains in a sophomore slump but was invited to the Rising Stars Challenge.

• 10. Dallas Mavericks (27-21, LW 10): Dirk Nowitzki posted back-to-back efforts with 30 or more points last week.

• 11. Toronto Raptors (25-21, LW 11): Kyle Lowry might be the biggest East snub from the All-Star Game roster.

• 12. Memphis Grizzlies (25-20, LW 12): On a five-game winning streak and back in the mix for a playoff spot.

• 13. Atlanta Hawks (24-21, LW 13): Jeff Teague could argue he should have been an All-Star, too.

• 14. Chicago Bulls (23-22, LW 15): Bulls average 92.8 points and give up 92.8 points per game, so it’s a close game most nights.

• 15. Washington Wizards (22-23, LW 14): Addition of Marcin Gortat could help the Wizards make the playoffs.

• 16. Brooklyn Nets (20-24, LW 16): Lost their last two, but the latter defeat was to OKC. Nets are still winners of 10 of their last 13.

• 17. Minnesota Timberwolves (23-23, LW 17): Can this team put together a string of games to get a few games above .500?

• 18. Denver Nuggets (22-23, LW 18): Nate Robinson (knee) is out for the season.

• 19. Charlotte Bobcats (21-27, LW 19): Al Jefferson (40 points) had a good time against the Lakers’ defense on Friday .

• 20. New York Knicks (19-27, LW 21): Have won four in a row – a big deal in the East.

• 21. New Orleans Pelicans (19-26, LW 24): Might Anthony Davis be an injury replacement in the All-Star Game hosted by New Orleans?

• 22. Detroit Pistons (18-27, LW 22): Has to be angst, considering the high expectations.

• 23. Utah Jazz (16-30, LW 26): The Jazz has been going small with Derrick Favors at center.

• 24. Cleveland Cavaliers (16-30, LW 20): The addition of Luol Deng hasn’t helped yet.

• 25. Kings (15-31, LW 23): No DeMarcus Cousins has led to six losses in a row.

• 26. Los Angeles Lakers (16-31, LW 25):Could start getting some healthy guards back.

• 27. Philadelphia 76ers (15-32, LW 27): Does Spencer Hawes become more valuable to contenders near the trading deadline?

• 28. Boston Celtics (15-33, LW 28: Losers of their last four as Rajon Rondo works his way back from knee surgery.

• 29. Orlando Magic (13-35, LW 29): Arron Afflalo believed he should have been an All-Star, but the Magic’s record didn’t help his case.

• 30. Milwaukee Bucks (8-38, LW 30): The latest losing streak is five games.

Read more articles by Jason Jones

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