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NBA power rankings: James Harden, Rockets emerging as contenders

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community news, NBA power rankings: James Harden, Rockets emerging as contenders

The Lakers are currently the favorite for the Western Conference crown, though they’re by no means unbeatable as we approach the season’s penultimate month. Who could challenge Los Angeles? The options are dicey. Both Denver and Utah have questions regarding their late-game scorers, while the Clippers battle bouts of inconsistency. Perhaps the Rockets are worth a closer look.

Houston has won seven of its last nine entering a matchup with the Knicks on Monday, and its small-ball experiment has worked wonders since jettisoning Clint Capela for Robert Covington. The former Timberwolves forward is wreaking havoc in passing lanes on a nightly basis. P.J. Tucker is an absolute brick on the low block. As Russell Westbrook and James Harden hit their stride, the Finals returning to Houston for the first time since 1995 doesn’t seem so far fetched.

As we roll into the season’s final stretch, let’s dive into The Crossover’s power rankings with notes on all 30 teams.

30. Warriors – Steph Curry appears on target for a March 1 return, and calls to shut down the two-time MVP for the season appear increasingly foolish. Golden State will be well served to see how its youngsters fare alongside Curry, especially new addition Andrew Wiggins. Besides, Curry suffered a hand injury, not exactly a knee or Achilles. The Warriors are in the Western Conference cellar, but it’ll be nice for Curry to perhaps gain some momentum heading into 2020-21.

29. Cavaliers – The John Beilein era (or, error) is over in Cleveland, granting the Cavaliers their wish after a disastrous half season. So what progress could we hope to see in the season’s final stretch? Improved guard play would certainly be encouraging. Darius Garland is finding his shooting stroke after a concerning start, and Collin Sexton is rounding into a solid young guard. Expectations are low, but Cleveland isn’t completely devoid of talent. With another high lottery pick on the way, perhaps the Cavaliers could find a shred of stability at some point in the 2020s.

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