NBA Western Conference Power Rankings 3-1

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By Andy Weise

Ten days past the trading deadline, each team’s decision to move salary, acquire a missing piece, or stand pat is starting to create a clear picture of what to expect for the rest of the season. Winners and losers can only be determined on a limited scale the day after the NBA trading deadline, so we’ve decided to bring you a more up-to-date look at how each team is faring so far in the power rankings in the deadline’s aftermath.

1. Los Angeles Lakers (43-15)
The defending champions clearly feel comfortable with the current roster they have. The crazy rumor of Chris Bosh to the Lakers for Andrew Bynum never really got too much steam. There were some rumors surrounding Sasha Vujacic in a multi-team deal with the Lakers landing someone like Kirk Hinrich. Point guard is the only area where the Lakers could maybe use an upgrade.

2. Denver Nuggets (37-19)
No deals and not many rumors to go with it. The Nuggets weren’t expected to make a deal and certainly have a team built for the postseason but acquiring one more veteran piece would have been nice. Changes likely happen if they don’t advance to the Western Conference Finals again.

3. Dallas Mavericks (37-21)
The Mavericks positioned themselves for a big playoff run this spring with the trade deadline move of acquiring Brendan Haywood and Caron Butler for Josh Howard (among others). They have enough to beat the Nuggets but can they get past the Lakers?

4. Utah Jazz (37-20)
They continue to be one of the hottest teams in the league right now but they’ve dealt some young talent in Eric Maynor and Ronnie Brewer this season. Miami was supposedly asking about Carlos Boozer before the deadline but the Jazz will let the season play out. Boozer probably doesn’t stay with the Jazz but they do have Paul Millsap locked up.

5. Phoenix Suns (36-23)
Amar’e Stoudemire stayed in Phoenix and it doesn’t surprise me. J.J Hickson and an expiring contract just doesn’t sound like enough for Stoudemire. While there’s no for sure thing when it comes to Stoudemire playing in Phoenix next year, he’ll at least be with them for one more playoff run with Steve Nash.

6. Portland Trail Blazers (34-26)
Last power rankings I predicted the Blazers would try to acquire a big man for a wing or guard. Getting Marcus Camby for Outlaw and Blake was a hell of a deal for Portland. While losing two quality centers, they still had enough to acquire a player like Camby.

7. Oklahoma City Thunder (33-23)
Apparently the Thunder are ready to go forward the rest of the way with the very, very young roster. They still will have some cap room to play with this summer and likely will target a power forward or center.

8. San Antonio Spurs (32-23)
The Richard Jefferson move was supposed to put the Spurs back into the title hunt. At the deadline they dealt Theo Ratliff to the Bobcats for a 2016 second rounder. The Spurs will face plenty of criticism if they go out in round one, or even crazier yet, miss the playoffs.

9. Memphis Grizzlies (29-28)
The Grizzlies are still battling for the playoffs and made a sneaky, good move by acquiring Ronnie Brewer from the Jazz for a future first-round pick. This deal allows the Grizzlies to think about a sign-and-trade deal involving Rudy Gay this summer.

10. New Orleans Hornets (30-28)
No moves but they do have some rookies in Marcus Thornton and Darren Collison playing well right now. Wouldn’t surprise me to see them shop Peja, Okafor and David West this summer.

11. Houston Rockets (28-28)
The winners of the trade deadline (unless the Knicks land two max free agents this summer). The Rockets deal Tracy McGrady’s monster contract along with Landry & Dorsey and they end up with Kevin Martin. The Knicks also gave first round pick Jordan Hill to the Rockets. With Yao returning next year, Brooks/Martin/Ariza/Battier/Scola/Hill/Yao, not too bad. Rockets should be at the top of the West next year.

12. Los Angeles Clippers (24-33)
This season was lost long ago but trading Marcus Camby is still tough to swallow considering how he was playing this year. Travis Outlaw replaces Al Thornton who was also dealt but he will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. The Clippers can afford a big time free agent but this isn’t like you’re signing with the Lakers.

13. Sacramento Kings (18-39)
Kevin Martin was dealt and the Kings landed Carl Landry, Joey Dorsey and Larry Hughes who has already been waived. Good deal? Not really. Sure they free up a lot of cap room but Landry isn’t a player Kings fans will get excited about.

14. Golden State Warriors (16-40)
The Warriors always seem to be a team of trade discussion but the direction always seems to be unclear. Rumors had them turning down an offer of OJ Mayo and possibly Hasheem Thabeet for Monta Ellis. Ellis has had a hell of a season but again, who knows what’s going on for Golden State.

15. Minnesota Timberwolves (14-45)
David Kahn stuck to his word saying he wouldn’t deal any of the core players. He ended up dealing never-used forward Brian Cardinal for mega-bust Darko Milicic. Darko actually has so far given the Wolves a capable defensive big man but it’s clear he’s out of shape. While some Wolves fans have optimism for the 2003 second overall pick, I don’t know how this guy doesn’t go back to Europe next year.

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