Cappers Picks NBA Power Rankings – April 15th, 2013

Larry’s NBA Power Ratings

Are the Lakers ready to turn the team over to Dwight Howard?
Is Kobe Bryant, who succeeded in banishing Shaquille O’Neal from Los Angeles because Shaq was claiming too much of the spotlight, willing to play understudy to Howard when Bryant returns from his Achilles injury?
Lots of palace intrigue will take place at Staples Center shortly after the Lakers are tossed to the curb by either the Thunder of Spurs in Round 1 on the playoffs. Howard will probably take a tour around the NBA and get wined and dined as a free agent. Ultimately he will come to his senses and take the bigger deal that the Lakers will offer him.
Then what? There won’t be a lot of money to spend – especially if Bryant comes back, as everyone figures he will. Will it finally be time for Superman to mature and be The Man, and will Bryant even countenance that?
To the end of the year rankings:
1. HEAT (64-16) – Really, the only concern here is that Dwyane Wade gets his rhythm and groove back by the time the Heat run into any opponent of consequence next month.
2. THUNDER (59-21) – Anyone else notice that the Thunder have won their last five road games by double digits?
3. SPURS (58-22) – Red flags everywhere as the Spurs’ vets gird for another playoff run. Ginobili has now missed 48 regular season games over the past two seasons.
4. NUGGETS (55-25) – George Karl coach of the year. You got anyone better?
5. GRIZZLIES (54-26) – OK, maybe Lionel Hollins. Management was right that the train would not leave the tracks after dumping leading scorer Rudy Gay in mid-season.
6. KNICKS (53-27) – Pretty simple, really. In theory, anyway. Double-team Anthony every time he puts it on the floor, and wait for him to get cold from outside. He may stay hot, in which case you’re screwed. But that’s your best chance.
7. CLIPPERS (54-26) – If the Clippers don’t make it to the Western finals they’ll take some heat for not pushing harder to nail down the Kevin Garnett deal.
8. NETS (47-33) – It ain’t Chamberlain, West and Goodrich, but the Nets’ own troika of Williams, Johnson and Lopez had their best combined game (81 points) in a win over Indiana that clinched the No. 4 playoff seed in the East.
9. WARRIORS (45-35) – Injuries are starting to pile up for Andrew Bogut, who has played only 45 regular-season games over the past two seasons. They need him if they plan to go more than one round in the playoffs.
10. PACERS (49-31) – Something’s missing here. The Pacers haven’t covered the number since April 1 and have lost four of their last five.
11. ROCKETS (45-35) – Caution, caution, caution: Houston will be the only team in the West to start the playoffs without a winning record against conference opponents.
12. HAWKS (44-36) – Reports out of Atlanta indicate that the Hawks offered Josh Smith $45 million over 3 years. Who’s crazier? The front office for putting it on the table or Smith for turning it down? [ad-6571516]
13. BULLS (43-37) – A. Derrick Rose was cleared to scrimmage on Feb. 18. B. He hasn’t played yet. C. He won’t be back this year. Forget the knight on the white horse, Bulls fans. Ain’t happening.
14. LAKERS (44-37) – OK, the Spurs weren’t exactly going belly button to the wall. But that victory over San Antonio sans Bryant was like a drink of cool water.
15. JAZZ (42-38) – Looks like the Jazz are going to miss the playoffs, and they’ll have a long time to look back at that 3-12 February/March stretch that basically tore the liver out of this team.
16. CELTICS (41-39) – So one of the reasons the Celtics let Ray Allen go is that they thought he couldn’t stay healthy. Now Allen is healthy and the rest of the Celtics are banged up. C’est la vie.
17. MAVERICKS (40-40)
18. RAPTORS (32-48)
19. BUCKS (37-43)
20. 76ERS (33-47)
21. TRAIL BLAZERS (33-47)
22. WIZARDS (29-51)
23. TIMBERWOLVES (30-50)
24. PISTONS (28-52)
25. KINGS/SONICS (28-52)
27. CAVALIERS (24-56)
28. SUNS (24-56)
29. MAGIC (20-60)
30. BOBCATS (19-61)

By Lawrence Paul

Lawrence Paul is back in the saddle as a regular contributor to the Cappers Picks Blog. He's got an AMAZING knack for predicting when a team will have a letdown! Stick with our resident gambling experts sports betting tips all season long!