Star power and balance separates playoff teams from lottery teams in the NBA. This week’s Fanalyst Rankings uses the 2013 All-Star ballot to identify strengths and weaknesses in the backcourt and frontcourts for the best teams in the league.
There are two sides to every NBA Power Ranking: the Fanalytical and the Fanatical. As a Miami HEAT blogger living on the east coast, MHI plays the fanalyst for the Eastern Conference. As a Denver Nuggets fan living west of the Mississippi River, Mrs. NBA plays the fan and provides the slander. The roles are reversed for the Western Conference.
1. Miami HEAT (8-3, prev. rank: 1)
MHI: The HEAT are 1 of 5 teams in the Eastern Conference with at least 2 guards and 3 frontcourt players on the All-Star ballot. They needed all that talent to exceed expectations and go 4-2 on last week’s road trip but won’t need that much talent to go 2-0 at home this week against the Bucks and the Cavs.
Mrs. NBA: YOU ONLY PUT THEM FIRST BECAUSE THEY FINALLY WON IN DENVER AND YOU WANT TO BE A BITCHASS ABOUT THE RANKINGS AND YOU SECRETLY STROKE YOURSELF TO DWYANE WADE.
2. New York Knicks (7-1, prev. rank: 2)
MHI: The Knicks had starpower in the frontcourt last season, but the additions of Jason Kidd and Raymond Felton have given them some balance in the backcourt, too. That balance helped them beat the Spurs in San Antonio last week and they’ll need it to wrap up their road trip with a 3-1 record this week @Hornets, @Mavs (2nd night of a back-to-back), @Rockets and vs. Pistons.
Mrs. NBA: They lost to the Grizz, doe, and we may just see them in in a brawl this season.
3. Milwaukee Bucks (6-2, prev. rank: 7)
MHI: The Bucks are loaded with 7-footers in the frontcourt but thin on the all-star ballot. All the name recognition on the Bucks is in the backcourt with Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis. They were good enough to go undefeated last week but it will be difficult to repeat that feat this week with the HEAT and the Bulls on the schedule. A 2-1 record this week will still be good enough to stay on top of the Central Division and plenty reason to #FearTheDeer.
Mrs. NBA: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
4. Brooklyn Nets (6-2, prev. rank: 8)
MHI: The entire Nets starting 5 is on the all-star ballot but they haven’t all been on the court together. Gerald Wallace returns to the lineup this week as Deron Williams struggles with ankle and elbow issues. They caught a break playing the Celtics without Rondo and went undefeated last week. With all of their talent, the Nets should go 2-2 this week @Lakers, @Warriors, vs. Clippers and vs. Blazers, but they could easily go 1-3 if all their stars aren’t healthy.
Mrs. NBA: Get these CLOWNS off of your list!! THEY HAVE A POWER RANGER FOR A MASCOT! THEY ARE IRRELEVANT!
5. Chicago Bulls (5-5, prev. rank: 3)
MHI: The Bulls backcourt is their weakness on the all-star ballot and it was exploited on the court last week when Rondo sent them on their annual circus trip with a triple-double and a blowout. The frontcourt will have trouble over-compensating for the backcourt this week with games on the road against the tough frontlines of the Rockets and Bucks on the schedule while the guards will be under pressure from talented guards like James Harden, Jennings and Ellis. Could be an 0-2 week for the Bulls.
Mrs. NBA: Poor wittle tink tinks. Their defense is aight, but they still struggle more than Boozer struggles with being relevant.
6. Atlanta Hawks (4-4, prev. rank: 6)
MHI: The Hawks have the least star power on the all-star ballot of any team in the East Fanalyst Rankings. That’s what happens when the GM clears the roster for cap space. They handled their business on the road and went 2-1 last week, but will need one of their unsung players to step up this week if they want to go 3-1 against the Magic, Wizards, @Bobcats, Clippers and get above 0.500.
Mrs. NBA: It's the Hawks. Their one fan doesn't care about their sub-par asses either.
7. Boston Celtics (6-5, prev. rank: 5)
MHI: The Celtics join the HEAT, Knicks, Pacers and Nets as the only East teams with at least 5 players on the all-star ballot and they’re the most disappointing. At least the Pacers have Danny Granger as an excuse. The Celtics have been healthy. They held their own and went 3-2 against a difficult schedule last week, but they’re going to drop back down to 0.500 after going 1-2 against the Spurs, Thunder and @Magic this week.
Mrs NBA: LOOK AT THE OTHER TEAM THAT LOST TO THE PISTONS!! 20 POINT LOSS, BUT HEY, RONDO KEEPS HIS STREAK ALIVE!
8. Philadelphia 76ers (6-4, prev. rank: 4)
MHI: The Sixers only have 1 guard on the all-star ballot. Jrue Holiday did his part last week, but it wasn’t enough and the team went 2-2 when they should’ve gone 4-0. The Sixers play a pair of back-to-backs next week vs. Raptors, @Cavs, vs. OKC, @Suns. Looks like 2-2 again since Holiday isn’t going to get any help from Andrew “The Bowling Pimp with a Limp” Bynum any time soon.