The truly great thing about rankings, especially in sports, is that there is nothing more controversial to the fan, even the casual ones, than the stacking of team names one on top of the other. Depending on where your team lands on the pile you feel great joy, anger, disbelief, or maybe a little of both. Even when you see your team, and even if you like the ranking, you scan the rest of the list to find these little controversies.
And thats what we have here.
The same day that the NBA All Star Reserves were announced, featuring Tim Duncan, the ESPN Power Rankings were updated.
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These rankings show the total lack of respect the league has for the Eastern Conference. Only three teams from the East are in the top 10, with the Atlanta Hawks landing at number two.
On the other hand, ESPN is in love with the Southwest Division. Positions 4-7 belong to the Division. And there is a particular affection thrown to Gregg Popovich’s team. Despite their up and down, ok mostly down, season, the Western Conference’s sixth ranked squad, shows up with the sixth overall rating due to their recent winning trend.
Only those Atlanta Hawks have a better winning percentage in their last 10 games (10-0) then San Antonio Spurs (8-2).
Being quite pleased with the rating (I actually think it’s quite fair), I have to scan over the rest of the list- with a Top 10 focus.
- Golden State- yeah, we get it, they’re good.
- Atlanta- The “New-Spurs” look terrific, and are deserving of the spot.
- Los Angeles (Clippers)- No way. Good record against bad teams. Great coach. San Antonio will have their shot at proving that LA is overrated this Saturday.
- Memphis- This makes sense. The class of the Southwest Division so far.
- Houston- While they have no shot in the Playoffs due to a lack of depth, right now they are more than holding their own.
- San Antonio- The Spurs are trending up. They are making a run through the East which is improving their record. In February they start the Rodeo-Roadtrip, which should yield even more wins.
- Dallas- Dirk and team, despite acquiring Rondo, have lost their last 4.
- Portland- A less than 100% LaMarcus Aldridge results in a very limited team. The backcourt is coming up huge for Portland but they will need more.
- Toronto- They have had a great first half of the season. But, it’s the East. In a series they wouldn’t beat Phoenix.
- Cleveland- see the above on Houston. No real depth. Big names, no real depth.
So, my impression of ESPN’s latest ratings are that they are mostly fair. Aside from an overrated, LA-biased, rating for the Clippers, and Toronto getting the benefit of their East heavy schedule, these ratings make sense.
The Southwest Division makes up the middle of the pack. That jumbled mess could land any team as high as number three by the end of next week. Here’s to the Spurs making that leap.