No big, flowery introductions to our Power Rankings this week.
25. Detroit Pistons (Down 2)
(17-32) Last week: 0-4
A very poor week for the Pistons, losing all 4 games, with nary a true quality opponent in sight.
From here on in, this season should be all about assessment of the young talent for Detroit. To that end, they've quite openly explored trade scenarios for star centre Andre Drummond, and you would fully expect Detroit to move on from the resurgent Derrick Rose. Rose's ability to create offense out of thin air should see him land on a contender before the trade deadline expires. Given his relatively meagre $7.3 million salary and a contract that runs a season beyond this one, he should be a hot commodity. The Lakers would be mad not to find a way to bring him aboard.
24. Minnesota Timberwolves (Down 2)
(15-32) Last week: 0-3
Minnesota have now lost 10 straight games and we can officially pronounce the patient dead.
Even with Karl Anthony Town back in the fold, the team has struggled. Much of that has to do with defense – the team as a whole, but especially Towns individually. Since the start of December – so we're looking at a reasonable sample – the Wolves have a 121.7 defensive rating with Town on the floor, against 105.1 when he is out of the lineup. With defensive ace Robert Covington in seemingly every trade rumour, the Wolves defense could be about to get worse – Wizards level worse.
In the best Obi-Wan voice I can muster: Towns is not the superstar you seek.
23. Charlotte Hornets (Up 2)
(16-31) Last week: 1-1
SOUND THE MALIK MONK KLAXON!!!
The 3rd year guard out of Kentucky erupted this week, going off for 31 points in the Hornets loss to the Bucks in Paris. He's scoring 21.3 points over his last 3 contests. Is this a flash in the pan, or is Monk going to make himself a part of this promising young Hornets core? The team could do worse than to force feed him minutes to try and find out. Charlotte's win over the Knicks snapped an eight game skid. That bright start to the season seems so long ago.
22. Sacramento Kings (Up 1)
(17-30) Last week: 2-1
An interesting shake up in Sacramento this week, as coach Luke Walton moved Buddy Hield to the bench in favour of Bogdan Bogdanovic. The move has certainly brought the best out of Buddy Love, who has averaged 25.3 points on 54% shooting overall (52% from deep) in the last three games. For what it's worth Bogdanovic has hovered around his usual numbers. That begs the question: Is this the Kings putting Bogdan in the shop window?
21. Chicago Bulls (Steady)
(19-31) Last week: 2-2
Zach LaVine is often – rightly – depicted as a remorseless gunner. However this week he posted nine assists against Indiana, a couple of games after recording 8 dimes versus Cleveland. In addition to his undoubted scoring ability and fearless late game shot making, a play making LaVine could be a real leader for the young Bulls. That's of course assuming he ever actually tries on defense.