10. Denver Nuggets (11): I don’t think a week can go by without a “MeloDrama” joke being made. Until Carmelo Anthony gets traded or the deadline passes and he’s still sitting in the Mile High City, the Nuggets are going to be plagued with uncertainty and anticipation. Unfortunately for them, the uncertainty surrounds losing the face of their franchise for likely nothing; and the anticipation is built around them becoming less-than-garbage following the trade. Lose-lose situation right now for the Nuggs.
9. Orlando Magic (6): The Magic have played three games so far in February. Their opponents: Miami, Washington and Boston. Their record: 1-2. While they Magic are by no means a bad team, and Howard is likely on his way to his third-consecutive DPOY award, the Magic just simply don’t have the talent on the perimeter to contend with teams such as Miami and Boston.
8. Atlanta Hawks (10): Yes, the Hawks have had the luxury of an easy schedule lately. Nevertheless, they are doing what successful team’s must do: beat up on all the weak teams, so that they can afford a loss to stronger teams every now and then. The Hawks are often overlooked for their lack of star power, but their trio of Josh Smith, Joe Johnson and Al Horford (not to mention Jamal Crawford off the bench) is pretty tough in its own right. They’ve won seven of 10, and with a fairly easy schedule for the rest of the month, don’t expect the Hawks to slide any time soon.
7. Oklahoma City Thunder (7): The Thunder have won all three of their games so far this month and Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook continue to be the yin to each other’s yang. KD and Russ are tied with LeBron and Wade for the highest scoring duo in the NBA (51.5 PPG), but with their fountain of youth and freakish athleticism – they cause massive problems night in and night out for their opponents.
6. Los Angeles Lakers (4): An OT win over the Rockets was nice, and so was a road victory over the Hornets. However, it was the buzzer-beating loss to the Spurs at home in between those games that makes you just want to shake your head. The Lakers allowed three offensive rebounds on the last possession of the game, and it’s tough not to get frustrated with the fact that, if one ball had ended up in a Lakers player’s hands, the Purple and Gold would be riding a three-game winning streak into their seven-game road trip. They play in Memphis on Friday, but the game everyone’s thinking about is their road matchup with Boston on Thursday evening. I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t either, but the Lakers need to take each game one at a time, especially on long road trips – if they don’t, they will fall flat onto their faces.