Updated: February 16, 2015, 5:08 PM ET
Power Rankings: Warriors No. 1 again
By Marc Stein
Monday, Feb. 16
Your NBA Power Rankings committee (of one) isn't as rigidly autocratic as it is reputed to be.
Once a season we draft in contributors from all over the ESPN map to give you a closer-to-home perspective on the league's 30 teams ... at least in the comment space.
This week's 1-to-30 order, as always, is aranged exclusively by the committee, but we've continued our relatively new annual tradition of soliciting comment contributions from 30 different writers as we inch away from the All-Star break.
And here's the big news: Golden State, thanks to Atlanta's first truly bad loss since November (an unexpected defeat at rebuilding Boston on Wednesday), has reclaimed the No. 1 overall ranking for the first time since Dec. 29. The Warriors entered the longest All-Star break in history as the league's only team with a single-digit loss count and return to work as our top team for a league-leading seventh Monday this season, bumping the Hawks -- after a six-week reign -- down to No. 2.
We'll delve further into this week's order on Stein Line Live. You can comment below on the latest ladder, which as always was compiled with data and research assistance from our friends at ESPN Stats & Information and the Elias Sports Bureau. Or you can rank the teams yourself here.
|Best record, best point differential ... and yet something seems a bit off lately. The Dubs eked out W's over the Wolves and Sixers, so the break comes at the right time for a team that's No. 1 in pace, No. 1 in defensive efficiency and No. 2 in offensive efficiency. They needed a breather. (Ethan Strauss, ESPN.com)|
|The Hawks, despite a 3-3 stretch and a bad loss at Boston before the All-Star break, are still riding high with a 6 1/2-game lead in the Eastern Conference. They need to play only .600 ball for the rest of the way to clinch the first 60-win campaign in franchise history. (Bo Churney, HawksHoop)|
|If the Grizz can go 18-11 from here, they'll post their best win total in team history. They're also enjoying the longest break of any team in the league, with no game until Sunday night at Portland. Which is a nice respite for Mike Conley and his two bad ankles. (Kevin Arnovitz, ESPN.com)|
|They've battled injuries, age and the nightly frustration of life in the loaded West. But the reigning champs recently played their first game all season with a full squad ... just in time for the famed Rodeo Road Trip. As is custom, write them off at your own risk. (Andrew McNeill, 48 Minutes Of Hell)|
|The Raps score freely despite a predictable offense, endure long stretches of struggles on D and oscillate between great and terrible every few weeks. But it's probably the best Toronto team ever, so Raps fans can cope with inconsistency, having endured much worse. (Blake Murphy, Raptors Republic)|
|The Cavs went into the break on a 14-2 hot streak or losers of two out of four ... depending on your glass-gauging technique. Thursday's loss to the Bulls with Kevin Love out and Timofey Mozgov shelved by foul trouble underscored their need to find a backup big. (Dave McMenamin, ESPN.com)|
|The up-and-down Bulls are on a high after a four-game win streak, headlined by that big W over LeBron's Cavs. D-Rose is showing flashes of his old MVP form, Joakim Noah is getting healthier and now Tony Snell is contributing in support of All-Star center Pau Gasol. (Nick Friedell, ESPNChicago.com)|
|The Rockets continue to weather the injury storm, relying on Donatas Motiejunas, Josh Smith, Corey Brewer and, of course, top MVP contender James Harden. But they're under no illusions: Houston knows it needs a healthy Dwight Howard to make a serious title run. (Rahat Huq, Red94)|
|The Clips' top five players didn't miss a game this season until J.J. Redick and Blake Griffin went down. Yet it still often seemed like something was missing. Let's see if adversity actually helps these guys, who could well have a couple of new faces on the roster soon. (Arash Markazi, ESPNLosAngeles.com)|
|The Blazers have parlayed an unexpected jump into the top five defensively and OKC's injuries into an eight-game lead in the Northwest Division. So Portland can spend the next two months focusing on seeding ... and trying to get the slumping Nicolas Batum healthy. (Kevin Pelton, ESPN Insider)|
|Nobody needs the extended All-Star break more, with Rajon Rondo (facial fractures), Tyson Chandler (sprained ankle) and Monta Ellis (strained hip) ailing and Dirk Nowitzki fighting Father Time. Is there enough time for these vets to get healthy (and clicking)? (Tim MacMahon, ESPNDallas.com)|
|Are they finally making the playoff push we've all been waiting for? Three straight wins -- including an impressive rout of Memphis -- left OKC just a half-game behind Phoenix with 29 to go. Some long-awaited sustained health for Kevin Durant is obviously crucial now. (Royce Young, ESPN.com)|
|Lightly regarded when the season began, Milwaukee has thrived as an underdog. So let's see how the Bucks handle protecting their playoff spot from the chasing pack. Of course, given where they were last season, Jason Kidd's crew will surely relish the challenge. (Jeremy Schmidt, Bucksketball)|
|Here's the good news: Phoenix has held firm in the top eight for weeks. Here's the bad news: Phoenix has the fourth-toughest schedule in the West down the stretch while OKC has the fourth-easiest. On top of all that, trade winds are swirling all over the desert. (Amin Elhassan, ESPN Insider)|
|The Wiz want to be patient and flexible for the future but also want to contend right now in an open East. Do they have enough for the latter without making some sort of low-risk move at the deadline or in the buyout market? That's what they're wrestling with now. (Kyle Weidie, Truth About It).|
|The Pels entered the All-Star break on a low note, with Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson and Jrue Holiday all hurt. But if they can get all three back this week, don't rush to write New Orleans off in the battle for No. 8 in the West headlined by Phoenix and OKC. (Mason Ginsberg, Bourbon Street Shots)|
|With no Boston attractions at All-Star Weekend -- save for glimpses of the injured Kelly Olynyk -- Celts fans spent the break debating the merits of playing for pingpong balls. But a 7-5 uptick, including that thrilling win over Atlanta, has some folks rethinking things. (Chris Forsberg, ESPNBoston.com)|
|The Pacers have been a new team over the past two weeks. They've gone 5-2 with a plus-5.2 point differential, sparked by a healthy George Hill. After losing close games all season, Hill's clutch buckets against the Cavs and Hornets earned Indy two much-needed wins. (Jared Wade, TrueHoop Network)|
|The Hornets are in the playoff hunt again, but it feels much different this season with Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Al Jefferson having all been out for stretches. Acquiring Mo Williams will change the offensive dynamic, but getting healthy is obviously the key. (Spencer Percy, Queen City Hoops)|
|The floundering, then overachieving, then ... wildly erratic Pistons? They aren't as bad as their start or as good as they looked winning 12 of 15 after waiving Josh Smith. Now they're figuring out whether they can stay close enough to the latter to end a five-year playoff drought. (Patrick Hayes, TrueHoop Network)|
|Despite lingering frustrations from LeBron's departure and numerous injuries, Miami should still have enough punch and pride to snag a playoff spot. Look for D-Wade and Chris Bosh to emerge from the break reinvigorated alongside Cinderella story Hassan Whiteside. (Michael Wallace, ESPN.com)|
|This team plays in the East, so the playoffs remain possible, but the $90 million Nets have underachieved. Is a trade on the horizon? They need to make the playoffs to keep their lottery pick out of Atlanta's hands thanks to the Joe Johnson deal. (Mike Mazzeo, ESPNNewYork.com)|
|The All-Star break couldn't come soon enough for a disintegrating Kings team. Three head coaches in one season is a recipe for disaster. But now George Karl has 30 games to get DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay to buy in and build a foundation for next season. (James Ham, Cowbell Kingdom)|
|The Jazz are in a weird place: Not bad enough to draw the ire of the anti-tank brigade, but not good enough to get in the mix for No. 8 in the West. Yet they remain must-see if only for Rudy Gobert and his two sensational nicknames: Stifle Tower and French Rejection. (Adam Reisinger, ESPN.com)
|With 60 percent of the Wolves' starters just back from missing around 60 percent of the season, they're far better than the record suggests. The trick now is building some chemistry among the vets and rising star Andrew Wiggins without jeopardizing a top-three draft pick. (Steve McPherson, A Wolf Among Wolves)|
|Denver came into the season with the humble hope for a playoff bid. But the Nuggets, with a roster that seems as mismatched and incompatible as ever and a coach who seems to have lost the respect of his team, appear to be heading in the opposite direction. (David Walker, Roundball Mining Co.)|
|A lack of progress led to Jacque Vaughn's dismissal just a few games before the break. Will the Magic rush out to make a name hire or let interim coach James Borrego have his shot for the rest of the season? Not much else to discuss in the Magic Kingdom at the moment. (Eddy Rivera, Magic Basketball)|
|Nerlens Noel is emerging. The Sixers are No. 12 overall in defensive efficiency ... one spot ahead of the Thibodeau Bulls. And, following its 0-17 start, Philly has made the leap from historically awful to run-of-the-mill lousy. It's not exciting, but it is progress. (Tom Sunnergren, Hoop76)|
|The Knicks return to reality after hosting All-Star Weekend with the league's worst record. Melo will likely opt for surgery soon and their longest-tenured player -- Amar'e Stoudemire -- is on his way out. So, no, things haven't gone according to plan for Phil Jackson. (Ian Begley, ESPNNewYork.com)|
|The Lakers are 16 losses shy of a franchise record ... with 29 games to go. There was a time they fretted about finishing out of the top five in the lottery and forfeiting their pick to Phoenix, but now it looks like they'll be in decent position to land the No. 1 overall selection. (Baxter Holmes, ESPNLosAngeles.com)|