Welcome to the second-to-last edition of the NBA Power Rankings, which will also serve as the official "Adios, playoffs!" Phoenix Suns Edition. With their loss to the San Antonio Spurs, Steve Nash and the Suns are out of the postseason picture (even though Nash didn't play that game, and that likely contributed heavily to the outcome). It would be great to say this was a memorable season for Phoenix, but it wasn't. In fact, it was pretty miserable overall outside of the acquisition of Marcin Gortat, the development of Channing Frye, and that's about it. There are only five players left from last year's Western Conference Finals roster. Insert sadness here.
As a result of Phoenix's disappointing play (including losing five of their last six games), the Suns have slid down most of the Power Rankings, generally into the bottom halves with the rest of the lottery teams. Another fun Suns stat: Phoenix has only been to the lottery four times since 1988. That's a lot of successful that serves to emphasize just how unsuccessful this season has been. They're also entering the lottery in a consensus weak draft. Anyway, that's probably enough purple-and-orange pessimism for this edition of the Power Rankings.
In a somewhat shocking turn of events, the San Antonio Spurs' once-insurmountable lead in the Western Conference standings is dwindling, thanks to the Spurs losing half of their games in March and the Los Angeles Lakers winning all but one of theirs. The Lakers are unlikely to actually pass the Spurs, but it just illustrates how swiftly a team's fortunes can change heading into the postseason. While the Spurs' big men have struggled, Lakers center Andrew Bynum has been playing relatively inspired basketball. If he can stay on the court, this may be the year he finally has a huge impact in the playoffs.
Perhaps the biggest post-All Star Break shocker, however, is how well the Denver Nuggets are playing without Carmelo Anthony. They were left for dead after the trade, but they decided not to cooperate and are 15-4 since. The Nuggets, the fifth seed with a clinched playoff berth, are hovering in the top five in most rankings thanks to their hot streak.
Sorry, back to the woes of the Phoenix Suns: departed free agent All-Star Amare Stoudemire helped the New York Knicks get back into the playoffs (oddly enough, in spite of the Anthony acquisition), though the team is hardly considered a powerhouse, currently sitting at .500 and having their recent three-game winning streak preceded by an embarrassing six-game losing streak.
On to the rankings:
SBNation.com | NBA Power Rankings: Bulls Lead, Heat And Lakers Chase
The Chicago Bulls maintain their reign over SBNation.com's NBA Power Rankings as we move into the final week of the regular season. The Spurs recovered with a win Sunday to snap a six-game losing streak, but the Bulls, Heat, Lakers and Celtics have got to be feeling as if the NBA Championship is within reach. Can the Nuggets join the party? Are the Mavericks toast? Let's sort it all out.
NBA.com | Nuggets earn a spot in the top five
At this point last year, the Chicago Bulls trailed the Toronto Raptors by a game for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Right now, things are a little different. The Charlotte Bobcats, Milwaukee Bucks and Houston Rockets are technically still alive, but the 16 teams making the playoffs are very close to being set.
ESPN.com | Power Rankings: Lakers still have top spot
There is no change at the top in the season's second-to-last batch of weekly NBA Power Rankings at ESPN.com. The rest of the top 10, though, has been given a good shuffle.
SI.com | NBA Power Rankings: 'Melo-less Nuggets surge to No. 4
The Nuggets' resurgence is the best story in the NBA, and there is the tantalizing prospect that it is going to get much, much better in the weeks ahead.
CBSSports.com | Power Rankings: Celebrating season's biggest disappointments
So as we embark on the first full week of April, it's appropriate that we celebrate ... the losers. Yep, it's time to identify the NBA's 2010-11 Most Disappointing Team. Here are the candidates.