Seemingly recovered from injury, Chris Paul is playing at a high level as he chases his first championship ring (Verse Photography/Creative Commons).
We’ve reached the final day in a historic NBA season packed with nearly unprecedented statistical seasons by some players, monstrous single-game outbursts by others and a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs for almost all of the teams in the league. On Wednesday’s final 14-game slate, six playoff seeds are still yet to be determined: 1, 2, 7 and 8 in the East and 4 and 5 in the West. Thirteen teams have already been eliminated from further contention, and the rest hope that their fortunes will be on the rise. This will be the final edition of our power rankings this season, but as a reminder, you can chart how every team has fared in our rankings over the course of the season with the interactive graph atop the Power Rankings landing page.
Biggest Jumps: Atlanta Hawks (+8), Minnesota Timberwolves (+6), Los Angeles Lakers (+6)
Biggest Falls: Philadelphia 76ers (-7), Denver Nuggets (-6), Dallas Mavericks (-5) Continue reading
Coach Brett Brown and his Sixers are finally starting to see results, with wins in seven of their last nine games (TastyPoutine/Creative Commons).
With every team at or beyond the midpoint of its regular-season schedule, it could not be a better time to assess how each squad measures up. Some teams will be celebrating All-Star starter selections just named, while many others are confronting serious injuries. Amid this crazy time, the 76ers jumped nine slots, leaving the league’s cellar thanks to a mighty strong start to 2017. Meanwhile, the Charlotte Hornets, Sacramento Kings and Orlando Magic have experienced the league’s steepest declines in recent weeks.
Biggest Jumps: Philadelphia 76ers (+9), Washington Wizards (+4), Detroit Pistons (+4), Denver Nuggets (+4)
Biggest Falls: Sacramento Kings (-8), Charlotte Hornets (-8), Orlando Magic (-7)
Danilo Gallinari (left) is one member of the Nuggets who could find himself on the move this trade season. (Matthew D. Britt/Flickr)
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The Denver Nuggets have had their fair share of struggles so far this season, with a new head coach, a bottom-tier defense and numerous injuries to key players. We were joined this episode by Justin Faudree, a lifelong Denver Nuggets fan and periodic contributor to ESPN TrueHoop’s Roundball Mining. He takes us through all the reasons why this team has gotten off to such a poor start this season, with only one win so far against a winning team. Despite that, he is still optimistic for the future and believes that with a young core of Mudiay, Jokic and Nurkic, there are good times ahead.
Choice cuts are highlighted below:
4:45-5:40: “[Will Barton’s] been the team’s most consistent player. He’s basically taken mostly the entire offensive burden, especially when Gallinari went out with injury and Mudiay has missed 14 straight games… For what he’s had to carry and do everything so efficiently, it’s crazy, especially for someone who basically came out of nowhere for the most part.”
7:25-8:25: A possible silver lining for Emmanuel Mudiay’s ankle injury: “[Mudiay] might benefit from taking a step back and taking some time to observe the game because he’s the kind of guy who will do that. He’s a very, very hard worker. He takes his job very seriously even at 19. And he has, off the court, the right kind of attitude in order to overcome his problems, I’m sure. So, when he gets back from injury, we’ll be able to see more what he processed and if he was able to gain anything from that, and I’m betting that he did.”