20. Indiana Pacers (19): Once upon a time, Danny Granger was a prolific scorer, however, those days appear to be gone. Fortunately for the Pacers, a .432 victory percentage in the Eastern Conference will get them into the playoffs.
19. Phoenix Suns (18): If their 106.2 PPG isn’t enough to outscore their opponent more than 44.7 percent of the time, does Phoenix do anything well? They don’t play defense (allow 109 PPG), they don’t win on the road (6-12 when not playing in Phoenix) and they don’t rebound the ball (39 RPG). I’m thinking no.
18. Golden State Warriors (17): On talent and offensive firepower alone, the Warriors should be a playoff team. Curry, Ellis and Wright might be the deadliest 1-2-3 combo in the league. However, for a team that averages 9.4 steals per game (second in the league), the Warriors don’t play that much defense (they allow 106.3 PPG on 46.9 percent shooting).
17. Houston Rockets (16): After hitting .500 on the last day of 2011, the Rockets have taken quite the tumble in the loss column, dropping five of seven in the month of January. As the trade deadline nears, watch out for the Rockets as a legitimate trading partner. Kyle Lowry and Aaron Brooks are both quality point guards, but they can’t play together and 24 minutes a night isn’t enough for both. Don’t be surprised to see one of them on their way out to bring in bigger bodies.
16. Los Angeles Clippers (21): What did the Clippers do this past week? Just knock off the Heat and Lakers while watching Blake Griffin extend his double-double streak to 26 games and DeAndre Jordan decide to become one of the league’s most intimidating post defenders. They are only 14-25, but they are 4-2 in 2011 and have a very easy January schedule. Don’t be surprised to see them at 20 wins by the end of the month.