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NBA Power Rankings: Thunder Shower

The fall of the Portland Trail Blazers and the thriving of the Phoenix Suns and Oklahoma City Thunder leads the league-wide discussion in this week’s Power Rankings.

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With All-Star Weekend upon us, over the last week, the Association’s lifers have spent considerable time dissecting the performances of some of the most notable snubs from this year’s festivities. As a staff, Basketball Insiders correctly predicted 13 of the league’s 14 reserves, with the Indiana Pacers’ Lance Stephenson being the lone exception.

As the Pacers continue their unprecedented reign atop the NBA, at least in terms of the standings, it is the Oklahoma City Thunder who remain the apple of our eye. The improbable rise to the top of the Western Conference as well as last Wednesday’s improbable drubbing of the Miami HEAT have us quietly wondering if an NBA Finals featuring the small market teams of the Thunder and Pacers is possible.

We think it is, even if the Thunder’s 10-game win streak came to a screeching halt on Saturday night in Washington, D.C.

Obviously, before we get to the Finals, though, we have to cross the NBA’s trading deadline. Both Evan Turner and Pau Gasol have re-emerged as pieces that may be moved, and their placement could affect the hierarchy of teams in either conference.

And speaking of either conference, a round of applause is due to both Jason Kidd and Dave Joerger. Not too long ago, both the Brooklyn Nets (10-3) and Memphis Grizzlies (12-3) were thoughts to be a pair of lost causes this season, but the two coaches have respectively won the Eastern and Western Conference Coach of the Month Award for January after leading their teams to improbable turnarounds. Though the Grizzlies are still outside of the playoffs, they are right back in the thick of things.

Last but not least, love is due to Kyle Lowry and Goran Dragic—perhaps two of the most notable All-Star snubs. After neither deserving guard was selected by the coaches to book tickets to New Orleans, last week, Lowry turned in 25 points, 8 assists and 2.3 steals per game while Dragic gave his Suns 26.8 points and 6 assists per game while also leading his troops to an improbable win at the Pacers last week.

With February now here, trade chatter promises to dominate the conversation over the next few weeks, but it will be interesting to see if it dominates more than Durant’s Thunder currently are.

Have a question or comment on Moke’s Weekly Power Rankings? Feel free to ask him a question in his Weekly NBA Chat, held each Friday afternoon.

Moke Hamilton is a Deputy Editor and Columnist for Basketball Insiders.

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