Where Warriors sit in post-All-Star break power rankings

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The Suns and Mavericks went all in. The Clippers are coming hard. The Warriors are checking their collective pulse. And the Nuggets, sitting atop the Western Conference, realize faith can’t come until the postseason.

The NBA stretch run has arrived, and the thoroughbreds are lined up particularly deep in the Wild West, reconfigured to blow minds around the globe.

The East is deep, yes, but the pecking order is much more defined. There are real ones, wannabes, “tough outs” and those longing for the draft rights to a certain 7-foot-2 teenager in France.

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Which brings us to the NBA power rankings, post-All-Star version. We wish freshly dismissed Nate McMillan well in the future:

30) Spurs (14-45): The last victory was 37 days ago. The losing streak is at 14 – and counting. The one-page questionnaire awaiting Victor Wembanyama includes a request for hat and boot size.

29) Hornets (17-43): Miles Bridges, who in November pled “no contest” in a domestic violence case, said this week that he “might be back in March.” He’s not certain, nor should he be.

28) Pistons (15-44): We anticipate James Wiseman, assuming good health, will put up nice numbers over the final 23 games. A good runway to next season when Cade Cunningham will be back to run the show.

27) Rockets (13-45): This energetic squad is proof that young and exciting can equal erratic and infuriating. It is amazing, though, that coach Stephen Silas’ hair has not already zoomed past gray directly to white.

26) Bulls (26-33): They’re rated 24th in offense despite that being the specialty of Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic. They really miss Lonzo Ball, and bringing in son of Chicago Patrick Beverley is not the answer.

25) Magic (24-35): This energetic squad is proof that young and exciting can, with proper discipline, equal a bright future – particularly if Paolo Banchero is the centerpiece. A year away from .500 and possible playoffs.

24) Pacers (26-34): A decent squad when fully healthy, they love Tyrese Haliburton and they’ve (seemingly) re-committed to Myles Turner. This is not their year, but they’re onto something.

23) Jazz (29-31): Team architect Danny Ainge has done a tremendous job of walking the tightrope, with juuust enough competitive credibility to shield his actual motive. Bright is the future.

22) Wizards (28-30): Waiting for success, Bradley Beal says he’s running out of patience. Not sure he’d want to know the response of a DC fan base that hasn’t seen a 50-win season since Jimmy Carter was president.

21) Thunder (28-29): Watching Shai Gilgeous-Alexander become a certified star brings hope to OKC. SGA and Josh Giddey are why these guys are dancing with a play-in berth that could lead to valuable playoff experience.

20) Raptors (28-31): They’ve won one playoff series since Kawhi Leonard left. Too good to miss the playoffs and too bad to be a contender, Canada’s finest is facing the prospect of another long offseason.

19) Trail Blazers (28-30): Dame has been aflame, averaging 37.1 points over the last month on 51/40/95 splits. We’ve seen those movies before, but the cast around him is different. Not appreciably better, though.

18) Lakers (27-32): Good trades ensure they will rise. The climb is underway and will continue over the final six-plus weeks – if Anthony Davis is healthy for most of the remaining games. Yes, we know that’s a big “if.”

17) Hawks (29-30): We’re not sure Nate McMillan was the problem, but GM Landry Fields hopes firing the coach will “light a fire” under the roster. Interim coach Joe Prunty is widely respected. Can he play defense?

16) Nets (34-24): Signing Jacque Vaughn to a long-term contract is a good move after what he has done since taking over for Steve Nash – a 32-19 record – but also because he’s ideal for a roster in transition.

15) Pelicans (30-29): A promising team with a very thin line between being scary good or distinctly ordinary, and it can only be the former with Zion alongside CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram. A sight too rare.

14) Timberwolves (31-30): As the KD-Kyrie hookup fizzled in Brooklyn, so did the KAT-DLo pairing in Minny, proof that friendship is no indicator of success. They’re better off because the trade will improve the defense. 

13) Mavericks (31-29): The rough start of the Luka-Kyrie connection is a short-term issue. That will change. Look out when it does. Meanwhile, the Mavs finally have the goods to stay afloat when Luka takes a breather.

12) Heat (32-27): Kevin Love had options and chose the NBA’s tropical dungeon, where “the grind” is practically trademarked. His shooting and rebounding can only help an offense rated 26th in the league.

11) Grizzlies (35-22): This team’s potential will be limited to a vision until they realize they don’t need Dillon Brooks’ bully tactics and YOLO shot selection. They’d be top-10 if they could beat the team in front of them.

10) Warriors (29-29): Draymond Green’s plea for a determined defense was authoritative but at least six weeks overdue. They are this high only because they’re 6-2 over the last eight against Memphis.

9) Kings (32-25): Mike Brown deserves Coach of the Year for pulling the Kangz out of the wilderness and back to NBA civilization. The offense dazzles, the defense not so much, but they have the look of a “tough out.” That’s progress.

8) Knicks (33-27): Yes, Jalen Brunson has been wonderful. But the breakup in Brooklyn makes the air lighter for this bunch. Still, it’s bizarre to look up and see a Tom Thibodeaux team with the third-best offense in the East.

7) Cavaliers (38-23): Won seven of eight before the break, beating mostly inferior teams before losing at Philly. The defense is special – Evan Mobley is a future DPOY – but the offense still has room to grow.

6) 76ers (38-19): They might be top-five. But we must remind ourselves that this is not about the playoffs. It’s just hard for us, even in the regular season and with Joel Embiid crushing it, to dismiss The Beard’s postseason meltdowns. 

5) Suns (32-28): Want to create a sonic boom? Add Kevin Durant to Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton, with Chris Paul stirring the pot. The offense is frightening, almost enough to offset the defense lost in the swap.

4) Clippers (33-28): They got deeper at the deadline. Kawhi has missed only one non-back-to-back game since Dec. 3. With one back-to-back over the next three weeks, they’re about to get real.

3) Nuggets (41-18): Best offense in the league, No. 3 in net rating and the reigning two-time MVP. While others were dealing, these guys are more imposing than any team in the West if Jamal Murray’s knee holds up.

2) Celtics (42-17): Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are better for their NBA Finals experience. No contender in the East did more to improve its roster. It’s impossible not to imagine them reaching at least the conference finals.

1) Bucks (41-17): They dodged disaster with Giannis’ sprained wrist, for there is no more valuable individual in the NBA. The only thing that could keep them away from the NBA Finals is less-than-optimal health.

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