Our NBA Power Rankings: It’s Player Hatin’ Time

  • Eric Goldschein

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Can you believe it was just 22 weeks ago that the NBA season began? Back then, everyone had an equal shot at the playoffs. Well, some chances were more equal than others, but in October it looked like the Sixers would run the table and the Timberwolves would make the playoffs for the first time since Kevin Garnett left town.

Things are different today.

But the playoff picture is far from settled in either conference, and as Nick Young puts it, it’s player hatin’ time. The Lakers beat the Suns last night, for example. Teams like the Cavs, Sixers and Jazz have chances to dent the playoff hopes of the Hawks or Knicks, who are now separated by just one game.

There’s not much for the NBA’s worst teams to play for at this point besides pride. But as the Sixers — who ass-whupped the Pistons on Saturday to avoid a record-breaking 27th straight loss — demonstrated, pride can be a hell of a motivator.

Beware the bottom-feeders, playoff-bound and playoff-hopeful teams. They’re gunning for you, and overlooking them could be the difference between home-court advantage or a road Game 7; a playoff spot or a seat on the couch.

As for the rest of the league?