NBA Power Rankings/Fantasy Focus

by Brad Shulkin (ChicagoSportsWeekly 2012)
1. Chicago Bulls– So, when is the contract extension coming for Tom Thibodeau? The depth the Bulls possess has helped them overcome the mounting injuries that have accumulated over the season. They have the best record in the NBA and have achieved it with Derrick Rose, Luol Deng and Joakim Noah all being out for parts of the season.

2. Miami Heat– Even with Dwayne Wade out, the Miami Heat is still one of the best teams in the league. Mike Miller is finally healthy and Chris Bosh is forming into the complete player we always knew he was.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder– The Thunder’s success this season is based off of one question: can Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook coexist on the same team?

4. Denver Nuggets– It was great move locking up Danilo Gallinari to a new $40 million dollar contract; he’s not Carmelo Anthony, but he sure is playing like him.

5. San Antonio Spurs– Tim Duncan is aging, Manu Ginobili has been out with a broken hand, and oddly enough, the Spurs keep winning.

6. L.A. Clippers– Attention Los Angeles: you can finally breath now. Chris Paul is back in the lineup. The Clippers are young, athletic and have the potential to earn a high seed in the playoffs considering how open the Western Conference is.

7. Atlanta Hawks– For some reason, the Hawks’ unpredictability and erratic play really scare me. They are tied for the best home record in the Eastern Conference at 8-1 and don’t appear to be slowing down any time soon. The erratic play of Josh Smith, along with the consistency of their bench, should take them into at least the second round of the playoffs. Not bad considering Al Horford wont be apart of any of it.

8. L.A. Lakers– Lets get straight to the point: When is Dwight Howard, aka Superman, going to come and save the day? Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum have been playing at another level, but where has the rest of the team been?

9. Philadelphia 76ers– How can a team have 15 wins and their leading scorer is averaging 15.3 points per game? With the emergence of Jrue Holiday and the consistent play of Andre Iguodala, the 76ers look to be in pretty good shape atop the Atlantic Division, especially with the way Boston is playing this year.

10. Indiana Pacers– After years of agony, the Pacers are back. Roy Hibbert has emerged as one of the best young centers in the league, averaging close to a double-double a game. But, the Pacers have a lot of learning to do. Beating the Bulls might have been a nice task considering the effort they put up in the playoffs, but one things for sure: Derrick Rose is out for revenge.11. Boston Celtics– Just like everyone else, I had a lot of doubt about how much the “big three’ had left in the tank. But after their unbelievable 27 point comeback performance against the Magic, I have to believe that they have one last shot to win a championship.

12. Orlando Magic

13. Memphis Grizzles

14. Houston Rockets

15. Dallas Mavericks

16. Utah Jazz

17. Portland Trailblazers

18. New York Knicks

19. Minnesota Timberwolves

20. Milwaukee Bucks

21. Phoenix Suns

22. Sacramento Kings

23. Golden State Warriors

24. Cleveland Cavaliers

25. New Jersey Nets

26. Detroit Pistons

27. Toronto Raptors

28. Washington Wizards

29. New Orleans Hornets

30. Charlotte Bobcats

Fantasy Focus
Kevin Love (Power Forward, Minnesota Timberwolves)- Coming into this season, there was a lot of doubt if Love could repeat the numbers he had a year ago. But after posting 19 double-doubles to open the season, we all knew he could. Averaging 25 points per game (ppg) and 14 rebounds per game (rpg), Love is easily a top five fantasy option in any league. His unbelievable three-point shooting makes up for his lack of steals and blocks.Kyle Lowry (Point Guard, Houston Rockets)-

There has been only one player in NBA history to average a triple-double for the season: Oscar Robertson. Averaging 14.8 ppg, 6.6 rpg and 8.3 assists per game (apg), Lowry has the chance to be added to the list if he can keep up his numbers. Although his field goal percentage is not great, shooting 38.2 percent from the floor, he still puts up good numbers in the steals and free throw categories, making him an all around excellent fantasy option.Ricky Rubio (Point Guard, Minnesota Timberwolves)-

Rubio has done something many didn’t think he could do: be a good NBA point guard. Averaging 8.8 apg and 2.4 steals per game, Rubio ranks in the top five in the league in both of those categories. With Kevin Love and Derrick Williams in place to go alongside Rubio, the Timberwolves look to be more then set for the future.Roy Hibbert (Center, Indiana Pacers)-

Drafted in the tenth round in most fantasy leagues, Hibbert has looked like a true steal this season. Averaging 14 ppg and 10 rpg, Hibbert can easily be categorized as a top five center in the Eastern Conference. He is averaging over 50 percent from the field and adds great value in the blocks and double-doubles categories.Top 10 fantasy players of 2012

1. LeBron James
2. Kevin Love
3. Kyle Lowry
4. Kevin Durant
5. Kobe Bryant
6. Dwight Howard
7. Deron Williams
8. Marc Gasol
9. Rajon Rondo
10. Andre Iguodala

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