25. New Jersey Nets (28): The status of acquiring Carmelo seems to fluctuate every five minutes, but until that happens, the Nets should be focusing on picking up more wins like their 96-94 over Chicago, in which former Laker Sasha Vujacic stole the show.
24. Detroit Pistons (24): The Pistons have arisen as a possible third-team facilitator in many proposed Carmelo deals; and while those deals would finally see Richard Hamilton on his way out, it doesn’t seem to do much for their future as the Pistons rumored acquisitions would be Troy Murphy and Johan Petro – not the additions most Pistons’ fans are looking for.
23. Charlotte Bobcats (23): Paul Silas has breathed new life into this team, which has won four of its last six – who did those four wins come against? Detroit, Cleveland, Minnesota and Washington – who just happen to be four of the six teams ranked below the Bobcats. Although DJ Augustin and Gerald Henderson starting to prove their worth as former lottery picks, the trade status of team captains Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson remain uncertain.
22. Milwaukee Bucks (17): Yes, they are missing Brandon Jennings and his 17.9 PPG, but 91.3 points per game as a team? Come on, you have to average more than that with John Salmons, Andrew Bogut and Corey Maggette on your roster. They’ve been plagued by injuries, but if they don’t start scoring more points, they might slip too far out of playoff contention after being projected as a lock for the postseason by most.
21. Los Angeles Clippers (22): They are so, so close to busting out. Even with Chris Kaman out, this team is for real. DeAndre Jordan is a shot-swatting machine, Eric Gordon is becoming more and more of a consistent offensive threat. Oh yeah, they have that one rookie – Blake Griffin – he’s not so bad either. Look for them to continue playing well and maybe even challenge for a playoff spot. Even if they don’t, they will unquestionably be one of the most hyped teams heading into next season.