30. Cleveland Cavaliers (Last Week’s Ranking: 30): Even the new year couldn’t seem to provide some hope for the lowly Cavs, whose downward spiral continues after they lost arguably their best player, Anderson Varejao, for the rest of the season to an injury. Losers of 10 straight, they are simply playing for the most ping pong balls come May.
29. Minnesota Timberwolves (26): They almost knocked off the Spurs last night, and Kevin Love’s double-double streak remains intact at 24 consecutive. Unfortunately for them, the T-Wolves should be more concerned on how they are going to keep Love in Minny past 2012. Beasley undoubtedly has a very bright future, but if they are banking on Darko’s potential as an all-star, Love is already packed.
28. Sacramento Kings (29): They’ve lost seven of their last ten, and trade rumors continue to swirl around their roster – including everyone not named Tyreke Evans – but a 20-point win over the Nuggets on Thursday night at least shows that they aren’t Cleveland status … yet
27. Washington Wizards (27): While John Wall may not be a walking highlight reel like fellow rookie Blake Griffin, it’s hard not to gush over his potential. What’s even better for the Wizards’ present? They are showcasing a much more comfortable Rashard Lewis, who is finally playing in at his natural position of small forward. At the same time, the amount of immaturity on their roster will be the Wizards’ Achilles heel down the stretch.
26. Toronto Raptors (25): Andrea Bargnani isn’t Dirk Nowitzki, but his scoring numbers aren’t much different than Dirk’s at 25 years of age. Dirk in 03-04: 21.8 PPG on 46.2 percent shooting from the field; Bargnani this season: 21.5 PPG on a 47.3 percent clip. However, his rebounding numbers (5.8 RPG) are suspect for a seven-footer who plays 35 minutes a night.