Heading into All-Star Weekend, it’s the Warriors’ league to lose. This week’s ranks.

  1. Golden State Warriors (46-4) —
    Golden State put away two more games this week, including a convincing late victory over the Thunder. The sky’s the limit for Dub City, whose 46 wins through 50 games is tied for the best all-time. Oh, also Steph Curry very casually had a 7-for-8 3-point shooting 1st quarter this week, but, you know, it happens.
  2. San Antonio Spurs (43-8) —
    Despite temporarily losing Tim Duncan, the Spurs racked up some wins this week and remain undefeated at home this season. Even better, LaMarcus Aldridge is looking the best he has all season. Everybody’s waiting for the inevitable Spurs-Warriors Western Conference Championship, unless the Thunder have something to say about it.
  3. Cleveland Cavaliers (36-14) —
    Injuries to Kevin Love and Matthew Dellavedova likely impacted two straight losses for the Cavs this week, and the Raptors are still right on their heels. However, Kyrie Irving is now back in full force and Cleveland looks extremely competent. They’ll take Sacramento and the Lakers before the All-Star Break – both should be confidence boosters.
  4. Oklahoma City Thunder (38-14) +1
    OKC has topped 105 in 10 straight, despite losing a close one to Golden State on the road – an eight-point loss that isn’t easy to come by. Durant is having a monster season, as is his partner-in-crime Russell Westbrook, who continues to put up triple-doubles. How are there two teams better than the Thunder in the Western Conference?
  5. Toronto Raptors (34-16) -1
    Toronto continues to rack up wins and is just two back of Cleveland in the East. This is all due to an impressive backcourt that is very likely top-three in the league. Kyle Lowry will go head-to-head with another member of a top-three backcourt Steph Curry in the three-point contest over the All-Star Break.
  6. Boston Celtics (31-22) +5
    Winners of four straight and nine of their last 10, the Boston Celtics are meandering their way to the top of the East. Isaiah Thomas is the clear leader of this charge, but the Celtics are truly built on teamwork, as they own a top-10 offense and defense. They’re making the case for dark horse come the second half of the season.
  7. Los Angeles Clippers (34-17) -1
    Don’t let the prior Blake Griffin moments distract you: the Clippers, despite being the definitive fourth-best team from the West, are having an impressive season – and right now, that season is improving through the efforts of Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, and a revitalized bench. After a 16-13 start, they’ve gone 18-4 in their past 22.
  8. Memphis Grizzlies (30-21) —
    Weird as it sounds, the Grizz have won nine of their last 11. And while convincing wins are hard to come by in Memphis, something has to be said about this team’s resiliency – even with few major scoring options, they’re getting it done. The -1.2 point differential needs to be fixed, though – a team like this can’t rely on tight wins so late in the season, or a collapse will surely come.
  9. Miami Heat (29-23) -2
    With a couple of exceptions, no team is lacking an identity as much as the Miami Heat. Defense is their mantra, as they’re 1-6 in the last seven games in which they’ve given up 100 points. With Hassan Whiteside back, there’s room for improvement, although a Tuesday night matchup with the Spurs looms.
  10. Dallas Mavericks (29-25) -1
    A banged-up Dallas team lost three straight before knocking off the pesky Grizzlies in overtime. It was exactly what was needed after a very rough week – injuries are plaguing the Mavs right now, and that includes Dirk. Chandler Parsons has made a nice recovery though, and is shooting extremely well from three-point range.
  11. Atlanta Hawks (30-23) +1
    The Hawks continue to take care of business in the East, which is more than can be said about many of the teams immediately below them in the standings. They recovered nicely from a cold stretch with three straight wins before falling to the Magic in a tight game. Good news, though, as they’ll get them again at home on Monday night.
  12. Indiana Pacers (27-24) +1
    Paul George is doing an outstanding job leading the Pacers back to relevancy after a down season – one that was likely caused by his absence. Still, the Pacers are hanging on by a thread in the East and need to start winning games against bigger names – recent tests against the Warriors, Clippers, Cavs and Hawks have all come up short.
  13. Utah Jazz (25-25) +5
    The Jazz are rolling right now, winning six in a row by allowing opponents only 85 PPG in that span. They’ll need it, as they’ve been jockeying for the eight-spot in the West all season. If they can secure a winning record, it’ll be their first over-.500 season since 2012-2013.
  14. Houston Rockets (27-26) +3
    More than midway through the season, it’s clear that this team needs much more than a coaching change. There’s just not a lot of rhythm in Houston right now, as evidence by an ugly 96-79 loss at home vs. Portland on Saturday. Worse yet, the Rockets will travel to Golden State on Tuesday to face a team that hasn’t lost at home all season.
  15. Charlotte Hornets (25-26) —
    A big confidence booster came at home this week vs. Cleveland, as the Hornets took down the defending Eastern Conference Champs on Wednesday night. While currently out of the playoff picture, Charlotte is stringing together wins and when playing their best, they’re as hard to beat as any. Kemba Walker (20.4 PER) continues to perform very well.
  16. Portland Trailblazers (25-27) -2
    Portland has won six of its last seven, the only loss coming at home to a red-hot Raptors team. Expect to see fierce jockeying for position between the Blazers and the Jazz for the rest of the season, as its seems they’ll be the two competing for the eight-spot with the recent downfall of Sacramento.
  17. Detroit Pistons (27-25) -1
    Since a win over the Warriors, the Pistons are 5-7 with its best win coming in Houston. Although they’ve exhibited consistency, Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond remain the only significant players making an impact night in and night out.
  18. Chicago Bulls (27-23) -8
    It just keeps getting worse for Bulls fans. After Joakim Noah got injured, Nikola Mirotic and Jimmy Butler both hit the deck and the team is left relying on the used bookmark of the NBA, Derrick Rose. The Bulls are 5-11 in their last 16 and are not being favored against teams they would have easily taken down earlier in the season. Perhaps the return of Mike Dunleavy will spark something – the Bulls need it desperately.
  19. Denver Nuggets (21-31) +6
    The Nuggets have gone 4-2 in a recent stretch, and all of those games came against opponents with a better record than their own. Something is to be said for the coaching job done by Michael Malone, who’s led a band of misfits to an applaudable level of play. Danilo Gallinari, Will Barton, Kenneth Faried, and Nikola Jokic all have a PER above 18.
  20. Washington Wizards (22-27) -1
    The Wizards are struggling, losing eight of their last 11 and really plummeting in the East. Now 3.5 games out of the playoffs, they’ve got to find a spark fast. John Wall is playing close to his best right now, and he needs a supporting cast behind him if Washington is going anywhere.
  21. Sacramento Kings (21-30) +1
    It was promising for a stretch, but now the Kings have lost seven of their last eight and are exposing their weak spots. DeMarcus Cousins is nearly single-handedly getting this team the minimal wins they have, with 27 PPG and a PER of 23.8. The team is waiting on the return of Ben McLemore, who’s nursing a wrist injury.
  22. Orlando Magic (22-28) +1
    The Magic got absolutely eaten alive by the best of the West, and after starting 19-13, they’re 3-15 since. No reason to frown, though – Orlando is playing better than projected and has some really valuable pieces in their young system. Nikola Vucevic (16.6 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 20.4 PER) is evidence of that.
  23. Minnesota Timberwolves (16-36) +3
    After losing fight straight close games, the T-Wolves have won back-to-back contests against the Clippers and Bulls. This team won’t make the playoffs, but with another good draft pick or a decent trade, they’ll be headed somewhere. Towns is playing like an ROY candidate should.
  24. New Orleans Pelicans (18-32) -3
    This season never really got on track for the Pels, who, after four straight losses, are starting to accept their fate in the West. Anthony Davis is still hauling this team on his shoulders, and that’s absolutely taking a toll on him. If he’s going to be MVP in the future, he’ll need a supporting cast that is, well, more supportive.
  25. New York Knicks (23-31) -5
    The only win in their last ten came to the ineffective Suns at home, so the Knicks have really had a bad stretch recently. That bad stretch led to the firing of Derek Fisher, as interim coach Kurt Rambis will try to turn this season back around.
  26. Milwaukee Bucks (20-32) -2
    Eight games ago, the Bucks were 19-25, not too far out from the bottom of the Eastern playoff picture. Unfortunately, they’ve gone 1-7 in those last eight and have not been finding their touch. With 30 games left of the season, the management really needs to look at where they see Milwaukee going in the future – either a high draft pick or a blockbuster trade may be in the works.
  27. Brooklyn Nets (13-39) —
    The latest victim of the 76ers, Brooklyn is ready for this season to be over. Only Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young hold PERs above the league-average 15, leaving the team with the third-worst offense in the NBA. The worst part about the Nets, though? Little to no assets outside of those two players.
  28. Philadelphia 76ers (8-43) +1
    Suns, Magic, Blazers and Nets – in the last 10 games, the 76ers have beaten these teams, doubling their win total on the season. Sure, there are a ton of problems in Philly, but you have to appreciate how Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel are playing. Whether or not they can be the foundation for a future team is yet to be seen.
  29. Phoenix Suns (14-38) -1
    With Eric Bledsoe done for the season and Brandon Knight ailing from a groin injury, the Suns are missing a huge chunk of their scoring core. It’s showing, as Phoenix is now the perennial NBA-wide punching bag that teams such as the Knicks, 76ers and Timberwolves have loved to take advantage of. It is not inconceivable that the Suns could finish with the worst record in the league.
  30. Los Angeles Lakers (11-42) —
    The Lakers actually did pick up two straight this week, a high point of the season. But Julius Randle and Roy Hibbert are both ailing now, and Kobe certainly can’t save this team (despite recent play that might suggest otherwise).

    Photo: NBA.com