26. Washington Wizards (Down 1)

(9-20) Last week: 1-2

Washington closed out their pre-Christmas schedule with a win over the Knicks. That might not seem like much, but an already thin Wizards lineup was missing Thomas Bryant, Davis Bertans, Rui Hachimura and Isiah Thomas. Short of Bradley Beal going off for 60, somebody needed to step up and Troy Brown did, scoring 26 points with 9 boards and 7 assists.

The Wizards are young and developing. Despite the poor record, they have a plan to evolve through that youth and – for once – they're sticking to it.


25. Cleveland Cavaliers (Up 1)

(9-21) Last week: 2-0

Whilst we were all waiting for a resolution to the Kevin Love situation, the Cavs went and made a trade, selling high on bench spark plug Jordan Clarkson to bring in a pair of 2nd round picks, also taking a low risk flyer on Aussie Dante Exum.

The former #5 pick has done 3/5 of nothing through his injury marred NBA career, and it's those injuries that muddy the waters with Exum. Is he good, but unlucky? Was he no good to begin with? Have the injuries robbed him of the quickness that made him such a highly touted prospect?

For the Cavs, this is a no brainer. Clarkson isn't going to be a long term building block, and if Exum doesn't work out, you get a pair of picks.


24. Memphis Grizzlies (Down 1)

(11-20) Last week: 1-2

Memphis are a young side and play like a young side, with a strong win over the Heat balanced by a loss to the Cavaliers. Still, the losses don't matter quite as much as the process for this seasons Grizzlies.

To that end, Jaren Jackson Jr has looked impressive with 21.3 points, 4 made 3's and a pair of blocks per game over the past week. Young Canadian guard Dillon Brooks has put up 15.3 points, 5 boards and 3 assists per match this week.


23. Detroit Pistons (Down 2)

(11-20) Last week: 0-3

It's hard to be too harsh on Detroit for their winless week, let alone their run of 6 losses in 7.

They've played and lost to Philadelphia, Boston, Dallas and Toronto through that stretch, and beaten the Rockets. They've done it without Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond, Luke Kennard, Christian Wood and Derrick Rose for parts of that run.

Just as things were starting to come together, they fall apart again. The poor Pistons just can't get out of their own way.


22. Chicago Bulls (Up 2)

(12-20) Last week: 1-1

The Bulls are slowly righting the ship. After last weeks statement win over the Clippers, the Bulls backed up by finally beating some teams that they should be beating in the Pistons and Wizards. They did of course lose to Orlando 103-95 in the most Orlando game ever – it was brutal to watch – but baby steps.

Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine are both starting to get back to their regular selves. The Finnisher is putting up 16.4 points and 7.8 boards in his last 5 games. LaVine is averaging 30.6 with 5.2 made 3 pointers per game over the same period.


21. Charlotte Hornets (Down 1)

(13-20) Last week: 0-2

Charlotte lost to Boston and Utah in the Christmas lead in – not unexpected – but the loss to the Cavs prior to those will have hurt.

Devonte Graham has cooled off considerably in the last week or so as the league catches up to him scouting wise.

They'll hope to get back on track, closing 2019 with a home date against the Thunder and a trip to Memphis.