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NBA Energy Rankings: The Pelicans have soared into contender territory

The New Orleans Pelicans have been mostly on the outside looking in in the Western Conference this season. From an outside perspective, the team’s season has been mostly unremarkable. Most people probably just remember the team getting blown away by the Lakers in the NBA In-Season Tournament. Other than that, most conversations around this team

NBA Energy Rankings: The Pelicans have soared into contender territory

The New Orleans Pelicans have been totally on the skin trying in within the Western Convention this season. From an out of doors perspective, the crew’s season has been largely unremarkable.

Most individuals most likely simply keep in mind the crew getting blown away by the Lakers in the NBA In-Season Tournament. Aside from that, most conversations round this crew have surrounded Zion Williamson’s weight and a weird Stephen A. Smith internet tiff.

However I’m right here to let you know in the present day that the Pelicans are true contenders. New Orleans is enjoying the most effective basketball of its season on the proper time and is inching nearer and nearer to the Clippers, who can’t appear to maintain a decent grip on the No. 4 seed. The Pelicans are solely half a recreation again on L.A. for a homecourt playoff spot.

There’s nonetheless loads of basketball left to be performed this season. The Pelicans nonetheless have an extended approach to go. However it is a crew that it’s worthwhile to be careful for when April and Could roll round. We could even be speaking about them as we go into June.

Necessary Credit score: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports activities

A nightmare season continues to worsen for the Wizards. Rookie Bilal Coulibaly is out for the season after fracturing his wrist. In the meantime, the crew is on tempo for a 70+ loss season. Dangerous occasions in D.C.

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Necessary Credit score: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports activities

This season isn’t about profitable for the Spurs — it’s about determining how far alongside Victor Wembanyama is and find out how to construct round him transferring ahead. If his incredible game against the Nets is any indication, he’s forward of schedule. The dude is a strolling 5-by-5.

Necessary Credit score: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports activities

Brandon Miller’s season could be greater than adequate to win Rookie of the 12 months in a traditional 12 months regardless of the crew’s failures. He’s received Jap Convention Rookie of the Month twice to date this 12 months and, whereas it received’t get him headlines, he appears to be on a gentle path to stardom.

Necessary Credit score: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports activities

It’s been a fairly tumultuous season in Portland to date. A lot of the calamity has been pushed by Scoot Henderson’s up-and-down play all season. It’s onerous in charge him — between accidents and his totally different roles, consistency has been onerous to develop. However his offensive recreation isn’t the place it must be proper now. That shall be Portland’s focus this offseason.

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Necessary Credit score: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports activities

The Raptors are losers of seven straight video games and have gone 4-9 for the reason that NBA All-Star break. This crew is actually not the place it needs to be proper now. Fortunately, it appears like Toronto may have two stable draft picks between their very own choice and the Pacers’ decide from the Siakam commerce to work with this offseason.

Necessary Credit score: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports activities

The Grizzlies are lastly wholesome once more with Desmond Bane lately returning to the lineup. This can be a misplaced season in Memphis, however the Grizzlies have managed to come across some new constructing blocks for his or her crew as soon as the trio of Bane, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Ja Morant are again and wholesome once more subsequent season.

Necessary Credit score: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports activities

The Nets have misplaced 4 straight video games, together with a blown result in the Spurs behind a merely phenomenal efficiency from Victor Wembanyama. This crew is in shambles proper now. Sean Marks and crew may have some choices to make this summer season.

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Necessary Credit score: Peter Joneleit-USA TODAY Sports activities

Utah is true the place it needs to be. No, this crew isn’t aggressive proper now — the Jazz sit 6.5 video games again of the 10-seed. There’s a sliver of hope for the Play-In Event, however it’s most likely not occurring. Regardless of that, Utah is getting some large play from Keyonte George as of late, with the rookie scoring at least 20 points in each of his last four games.

Necessary Credit score: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports activities

Talking of misplaced seasons, the Atlanta Hawks are in a precarious spot proper now. They’re on the backside of the Play-In Event because the 10-seed within the Jap Convention, however they’re additionally with out Trae Younger for the immediate future as he recovers from hand surgery. I’m simply unsure the place that is going.

Necessary Credit score: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports activities

Chicago is floating round .500 and, surprisingly, solely 4 video games again on the 76ers for the No. 6 seed within the East. It’d take quite a bit to get there and possibly received’t occur, however Chicago has been enjoying some aggressive basketball. This can be a stable play-in crew.

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Necessary Credit score: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports activities

The Rockets are the most well liked crew within the NBA, people. Even after Alperen Sengun went down for the season with an ankle injury, Houston has stored the wheels turning. The Rockets have received six in a row and 4 with out Sengun. Jalen Inexperienced has merely been unimaginable throughout this stretch, together with a 42-point outburst towards the Wizards.

Necessary Credit score: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports activities

Each time you are feeling like Golden State is on the brink of go on a run, this crew will get humbled. The Warriors have misplaced 4 of the final six video games, together with two stinkers towards the Knicks and the Spurs. It’s onerous to map the place this crew really is and that’s been the case all season lengthy. It appears they’re simply destined for the play-in.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports activities

The Lakers are in the identical boat the Warriors are in. Simply when issues begin to simmer up a bit, one thing cools issues down. Accidents to LeBron James and Anthony Davis have flared up this season, however that’s not the issue right here. The Lakers simply aren’t adequate.

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Necessary Credit score: David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports activities

Miami sometimes performs its greatest basketball because the season goes on. That’s not the case proper now. Miami is 4-6 in its final 10 video games and it’s taken some absolute miracles from Bam Adebayo to get the Heat there. I get that each one bets are off on Jimmy Butler and Erik Spoelstra as soon as they get into the postseason. However, man. Now could be a good time to flip that swap.

Necessary Credit score: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports activities

Tyrese Haliburton goes by the worst stoop of his life proper now, according to him. He’s capturing 17 % from 3-point vary in March to date, which has slowed down Indiana’s normally high-powered offense fairly a bit. Regardless of that, the Pacers are 5-5 within the final 10 video games. As soon as he finds his shot once more issues ought to be superb.

Necessary Credit score: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports activities

The Phoenix Suns have really performed fairly properly these days — the crew’s web ranking during the last 10 video games is a wholesome +2.5, and its protection has held steady. However Phoenix has additionally run into the Boston Celtics twice and the Bucks as soon as during the last 5 video games. If not for them, we’d most likely be speaking in regards to the Suns as a darkish horse out West in the present day.

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Mar 17, 2024; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) reacts after scoring during the second half against the Denver Nuggets at American Airlines Center.

Necessary Credit score: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports activities

Kyrie Irving’s unimaginable game-winner over Nikola Jokic may propel the Mavs within the path the crew must go. Dallas is 6-4 in its final 10 video games and has received two straight, together with a stable win over Wembanyama’s Spurs.

Necessary Credit score: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports activities

Sacramento is simply three video games behind the Clippers for the No. 4 seed within the Western Convention. There’s an upcoming matchup with L.A. on April 2 that might get very fascinating if the Kings can achieve a bit extra floor right here.

Necessary Credit score: Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports activities

Joel Embiid doesn’t have a precise date for a return fairly but, however there’s a goal time interval. The 76ers are hoping to get the big man back for the second week of April, which is true earlier than the playoffs begin. That’d be good timing for Philly.

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Necessary Credit score: Jessica Alcheh-USA TODAY Sports activities

A number of weeks in the past the Clippers had been proper there within the thick of issues on the high of the West enjoying for the No. 1 seed. Now, it feels just like the No. 4 seed might be the crew’s best-case situation after dropping 4 of the final 5 video games. Issues have been going haywire between Kawhi Leonard’s injury flare up and Paul George’s contract talk. The Clippers have to get proper.

Necessary Credit score: Jeremy Reper-USA TODAY Sports activities

After falling down so far as the No. 8 seed within the East, the Magic are again as much as No. 5 and solely 3.5 video games again on the Milwaukee Bucks for the No. 2 seed. With eight wins within the final 10 video games, it actually feels attainable for Orlando.

Necessary Credit score: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports activities

Simply after we thought the Knicks had been lastly wholesome once more, OG Anunoby has to return on the mend due to an elbow tweak. It’s additionally unclear when Julius Randle will return after dislocating his shoulder. Within the meantime, although, Jalen Brunson has held issues collectively — simply as he has all season lengthy.

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(Photograph by Jason Miller/Getty Pictures)

With Donovan Mitchell out for at the very least the following week after nasal surgical procedure, it’s truthful to surprise how the Cavaliers will maintain up over these subsequent few video games. Cleveland will play Miami twice over the following three video games and likewise has a matchup towards the Timberwolves as Minnesota tries to reclaim the West. Dropping your greatest participant — even for a little bit of time — down the stretch is hard. We’ll see if the Cavs are adequate to get by it.

Necessary Credit score: Rob Grey-USA TODAY Sports activities

Anthony Edwards has held down the fort as greatest as he can within the absence of Karl-Anthony Cities. However the reality for the Wolves is that the offense was already a battle with the All-Star large man in hand. Now that it’s unclear when he’s coming again after a meniscus damage, it’s onerous to imagine the Wolves’ offense will maintain up in the long term.

Necessary Credit score: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports activities

Whereas Minnesota is slowing down a bit, the Pelicans appear to be peaking. As I discussed within the lead, the Pelicans are enjoying their greatest basketball proper now. New Orleans is 8-2 within the final 10 video games and Zion Williamson appears like probably the greatest 5 or so gamers on the planet. Be careful for the Pels.

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Necessary Credit score: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports activities

After a sluggish begin to the Doc Rivers period, the Bucks have managed to search out some stability. Milwaukee is 7-3 in its final 10 and Damian Lillard is enjoying his greatest basketball of the season. Giannis Antetokounmpo’s nagging accidents are a bit worrisome, however it doesn’t appear as in the event that they’re something to fret about long-term. A minimum of for now.

Necessary Credit score: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports activities

The Thunder are the No. 1 seed within the Western Convention and definitely really feel like a risk to win all of it this 12 months regardless of the dearth of playoff expertise on the roster. Shai Gilgeious-Alexander is enjoying adequate to win MVP this season.

Necessary Credit score: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports activities

The rationale the Nuggets are right here forward of the Thunder regardless of being behind them is the standings is straightforward: It’s championship pedigree. We are able to belief the Nuggets a smidge greater than we will belief OKC at this level. These two groups are neck and neck, although.

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Necessary Credit score: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports activities

The Celtics have been the creme of the crop within the NBA all season lengthy and that hasn’t modified. Shift the lineup round nonetheless you need. Take somebody out due to damage. Do no matter. It doesn’t matter. These Celtics are simply that good.

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