1. Miami Heat (49-14) – This very well could be the best team since Jordan’s ’96 Bulls. Clearly the favorite to take the NBA title – which would be their second in a row — they are only fourth team in history to win 20 straight. Three more wins and they’ll only trail the 1971-21 LA Lakers that won 33 straight.
2. San Antonio Spurs (50-16) – Struggling a little bit lately with an injured Tony Parker, but still elite. In the six games since Parker was injured, five different Spurs have led the team in scoring; this after Parker had led the team in scoring 34 out of 59 games.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder (48-17) – OKC ranks first in the league in point-margin with an average of plus 9.7. Kevin Durant still gives this team a slight chance to win it all.
4. Memphis Grizzlies (44-19) – On a 15-4 surge since trading leading scorer Rudy Gay last month. This might be one of the hardest working teams in basketball.
5. Los Angeles Clippers (45-21) – They’re flashy. They provide the best dunks ever known to basketball. And oh ya, they play good D. They’re not your daddy’s Clippers.
6. Denver Nuggets (44-22) – Denver has won 32 of 42 games and Ty Lawson has been a monster since the All-Star break, averaging 23.1 PPG.
7. Indiana Pacers (40-24) – Have scored 97 or more points in 13 of the last 20 games. They won’t challenge the Heat, but they’re the second best team in the conference.
8. New York Knicks (38-25) – They’ve been bitten by the injury bug something fierce and it doesn’t get any easier with a majority of their remaining games on the road. J.R. Smith needs to continue to be a key role player.
9. Chicago Bulls (35-29) – Derrick Rose needs to return; it’s that simple. They’ve lost seven of their last eleven games. With Rose, they’re No. 2 in the conference.
10. Golden State Warriors (37-29) – Held the Knicks to just 63 points Monday night. Stephen Curry is the best non All-Star in years.
11. Brooklyn Nets (38-27) – Welcome back Deron Williams. The point guard has finally been playing like his old All-Star self and could lead the Nets to a No. 4 seed in the playoffs.
12. Boston Celtics (35-29) – Kevin Garnett moved up to 15th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list while Paul Pierce moved up to 20th Wednesday night. With Rondo out, the pair of future Hall-of-Famers is all Boston has left.
13. Atlanta Hawks (35-29) – They just knocked off the Lakers and Al Horford is extremely underrated.
14. Los Angeles Lakers (34-32) – As soon as Dwight Howard shows a glimpse of health, Kobe Bryant goes down with a sever ankle sprain. The Lakers stock is steady at best.
15. Houston Rockets (35-30) – At least the Rockets have one good thing going for them; of the six teams realistically fighting it out for the last three playoff spots in the West, it’s Houston that has the easiest remaining schedule.
16. Milwaukee Bucks (32-31) – Monta Ellis has been playing out of his mind lately, scoring more than 26 PPG. They’re most likely first-round exit playoff team, but the addition of J.J. Redick is interesting.
17. Dallas Mavericks (30-34) – Only three games behind the Lakers for the final playoff spot, the Mavs still have something to play for. They lost to the Spurs by one point Thursday, which means they’re still hustling.
18. Utah Jazz (33-32) – 2-8 in their last 10 games, the Jazz are falling faster than you can say ‘ouch!’
19. Portland Trail Blazers (30-34) – 10-19 since their solid 20-15 start. The only thing holding this team together is Damian Lillard, who is having one of the best rookie seasons by a point guard in history.
20. Toronto Raptors (25-40) – Lost seven of their last nine games. Looks like the Rudy Gay addition hasn’t helped much.
21. Sacramento Kings (23-43) – Another team simply going through the motions, unsure if they’ll even still be in Sacramento by the end of this summer.
22. New Orleans Hornets (22-43) – The soon to be ‘Pelicans’ can’t end this season fast enough.
23. Philadelphia 76ers (24-40) – Lost their last 13 of 15. Jrue Holiday is a stud, but the disappointment of the major flop who is Andrew Bynum has been substantial.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers (22-42) – Star point guard Kyrie Irving is likely out with a shoulder injury the rest of the season. That’s not good news. The Cavs beat a bad Wizards team Tuesday without him, but they were 5-10 without him earlier this season.
25. Detroit Pistons (23-44) – The only way this team makes the highlights is if one of their guards gets posterized — cough! Brandon Knight — unlike any poster dunk we’ve ever seen. Thank you DeAndre Jordan.
26. Washington Wizards (21-42) – Bradley Beal, the team’s 19-year-old leading scorer, is still out with an ankle injury. Even without him, they’ve been playing .500 basketball.
27. Minnesota Timberwolves (22-40) – (In my ‘Houston, we have a problem’ voice) You know, ‘Minnesota, we have a problem,’ when Ricky Rubio leads you in almost every offensive category. The team has been shooting less than 40 percent in a majority of their games.
28. Phoenix Suns (22-43) – On pace for their worst season since 1987-’88.
29. Orlando Magic (18-47) – Still reeling from the Dwight Howard saga. Only one of two teams without 20 wins.
30. Charlotte Bobcats (14-50) – The Bobcats only make the news when they actually win a game. 1-9 in their last 10 games, it is amazing how Michael Jordan — best player in the history of the game — could be the worst owner in all of sports.