It's that time again for Fantalyst rankings. I play the role of the critical fanalyst, and Miami Heat Blogger, Miami Heat Index, plays the part of the asshole fan. You can view his Eastern Conference Rankings along with my replies HERE
1. OKC Thunder: (Last week #1, 27-7) This is the beast in the West. It was even more evident in Thursday night's win over the Lakers, which had Harden jawing at Kobe, the Lakers are old news. However, there has to be something said that this team, at times, is barely beating teams by single digit numbers, teams, in all likelihood, they should obliterate. As much flack as Russell Westbrook gets for his selfishness, he is vital to this team. Example: Their historical game in which Russ snagged 40 points, Durant, 52 points, and Ibaka a triple-double... all within the same game. They rank 3rd in scoring, rank 8th in defensive rebounds and when scoring 100+ points they are 19-3. Durant + Russ + Harden + Ibaka is a strong base, granted Russ and KD are the offense, Harden is vital to that team.
MHI: Imagine how good the Thunder would be if they had Tyson Chandler instead of Kendrick Perkins. That could be the difference between them winning a title and losing one.
2. San Antonio Spurs: (Last week #2, 24-10) The only reason the Blazers are in 8th place in the West is because Popovich, who is the smartest coach in the NBA, sat out Parker and Duncan, which turned out to be a total yawn fest. Popo gave up an 11-game win streak just to give his stars a break, that my friends, is a clever stinker. I am the first to admit, I thought (and wished as well) that San Antonio would be in the bottom 5-8 place in the west. I was completely wrong, but at this point, this team is as serious as the Thunder. Thunder just has Durant and Westbrook. However, the Spurs have young talent, Green, in it's midst. The three point prowess in Bonner, damn you gingers, and Jefferson while still having the veteran-ness in Parker and Duncan. All this success without Manu (There were the handful of games he played, yes).
MHI: Can Kawhi Leonard get some shine? He's the best young player on the Spurs and second-most productive rookie this seaon, according to the NBA Geek website. If Ginobili's healthy for the playoffs, then they can upset the Thunder.
3. Los Angeles Clippers: (Last week #3, 20-11) With Chris Paul and Blake Griffin nothing much can go wrong for the Clippers, these two lead the franchise in every statistical category except blocks, which goes to DeAndre Jordan, and free throw attempts which is held by the injured Chauncey Billups. Clippers are still working on items, but the only downfall to this team is the coach. Let's be honest about Del Negro, c'mon now. However, the talent on this team is immense; Clippers vs. Thunder WCF, anyone?
MHI: Clippers are the 3rd-best team in the West, but don't put them in the Western Conference Finals over the Spurs just because they beat the Nuggets before the All-Star break. Did you see the 30 and 10 Tony Parker gave Chris Paul? With their hole at shooting guard, the Clippers can't beat the Spurs with a healthy Ginobili.
4. Dallas Mavericks: (Last week #4, 21-13) Minus the loss to the NYK, the Mavericks are making a run, they are a tightly ran defensive team, maybe not to the level as the Miami Heat, but they are ranked 5th in the league in defensive statistics. Post Dirk's 4-game hiatus, he has made his offensive presence known. Sure, they will make playoffs, but the team seeing the WCF again, is limited.
MHI: This is usually where I predict the Mavs will go out in the first round, but the bottom half of the West is looking pretty weak so I'll resort to a Tupac-style rant: Fuck the Mavs as a team, franchise and a motherfucking crew.
5. Los Angeles Lakers: (Last week #5, 20-14) Yes, they had an embarrassing loss against the Thunder last night, but as we all know, their offensive presence is limited outside of Kobe. The reason they HAVE this spot is defense alone. They have a premier defense in the league, which isn't surprising considering Coach Mike Brown. How far will they go?? Second round at best, UNLESS they make HUGE moves before the trade deadline.
MHI: WTF is going on here? Did the Lakers beat the Nuggets in a scrimmage last week or something? Any team that considers signing Rasheed Wallace does NOT belong in the Top 5 of the West. It's just a matter of time before Kobe breaks Bynum's kneecap and chokes out Mike Brown in frustration, thus killing their season (but not Mike Brown).
6. Houston Rockets: (Last week #8, 20-14) This is a team that Rockets coach, Kevin McHale, believes in, and it's a consistent team... and also consistent on flopping. They may have surprised Sixers fans when they trumped over that team, this week, which resulted in a win. Lowry, Scola, Martin, while immense FLOPPERS, still get the job done.
MHI: Fuck the Rockets. Despite their record, they only have the 8th-best schedule-adjusted efficiency differential in the West and reportedly, the players and Kevin McHale don't get along. Denver will make the playoffs before the Rockets, you fake ass Nuggets fan! Your season tickets should be REVOKED!
7. Memphis Grizzlies: (Last week #6, 19-15) Gasol has thrived without Z-Bo in the mix, which may change considerably once he is back. This team is yet another defensive giant in the west. Conley, Gay and Allen are among the league's leader in steals, the energetic Mayo is a spark that ignites the Memphis squad. Will this team surprise in the post season again?? Time will tell.
MHI: Unless Ginobili breaks his arm again, the Grizzlies won't surprise anyone in the first round of the playoffs.
8. Minnesota Timberwolves: (Last week unranked, 17-17) How can I not put in a team that has such an athletic young core like Minnesota?? Who is #4th in the league in scoring outside of Kobe, Bron and Durant?? None other than Kevin Love, who is averaging 25 PPG and 14 RPG, second in the league. This team may just surprise many come April.
MHI: WTF? So now teams don't even have to beat the Nuggets to jump in the rankings, they just have to play them close? I went to a Timberwolves game this week and they didn't look like a playoff team, but I'd rather see them make it than the bitchass Rockets. Rubio's got to get his shit together, though. His play has fallen off the last few weeks.