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NBA Power Rankings: Thunder Striking

After 12 weeks, the Oklahoma City Thunder and Cleveland Cavaliers show signs while the Toronto Raptors falter.

Moke Hamilton profile picture
Updated 10 months ago on
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As we approach the All-Star break, a hearty congratulations is in order for Mike Budenholzer of the Atlanta Hawks. By virtue of his Hawks entering play on January 22 with a six-game lead over the Washington Wizards for the top seed in the Eastern Conference, Budenholzer and his staff have clinched the honor of coaching the Eastern Conference All-Stars in Madison Square Garden.

Meanwhile, out West Steve Kerr has become the first Golden Warriors Head Coach to lead the Western Conference All-Stars since Don Nelson did the honors way back in 1992. Congrats to him, as well.

After 12 weeks of NBA action, the Oklahoma City Thunder seem to be showing a pulse after turning in some impressive wins over the last week, while the New York Knicks have suddenly put together consecutive wins for the first time since November. Carmelo Anthony has helped that in a major way, but so has a neophyte named Langston Galloway.

In Cleveland, the return of LeBron James and the thriving of J.R. Smith seem to be paying major dividends for the club, all while their division rival Chicago Bulls seem to be dealing with some questions about the future of Tom Thibodeau—long known as one of the league’s toughest head coaches.

But still, last but not least, soaring high above everyone in the Association is Budenholzer’s team. The Hawks have won 14 games in a row and 28 of their last 30. It’s pretty amazing that even after going 28-2, they STILL trail the Warriors for top record in the league, but they have closed the gap considerably.

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

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