DA's Morning Tip

DA's Top 15 Rankings: Undefeated week fuels Washington Wizards' ascent

David Aldridge reveals which teams, to him, are the Top 15 squads in the NBA at this moment.

(last week’s record in parenthesis; previous ranking in brackets)

1) San Antonio Spurs (3-1) [1]: They insist they don’t care if they have homecourt in the Western Conference finals against, say, the Warriors. I don’t know how that could be true, especially this year.

2) Houston Rockets (2-2) [4]: Houston has looked very comfortable beating the Warriors, Spurs and, now, Cavaliers this season.

3) Golden State Warriors (1-3) [2]: Tough having to depend on production from rookie Patrick McCaw (0 of 12 Saturday against the Spurs) right now, but that’s the deal.

4) Cleveland Cavaliers (1-3) [3]: Number that jumps out and should concern a Cavs fan this morning: just 13 free throw attempts against the Rockets Sunday night.

5) Utah Jazz (2-1) [5]: Huge win at Houston last Wednesday gives Jazz the season series over the Rockets, on the off chance that Utah can make up a 3 ½-game overall deficit to third-place Houston in the Western standings.

6) Washington Wizards (4-0) [8]: Their mental toughness is exemplified by this: they’ve now won five straight games on the second night of a back-to-back, including Saturday’s insane OT comeback win in Portland, where the Wizards trailed by 21 at the half.

7) Boston Celtics (2-2) [6]: I keep seeing Jaylen Brown making big plays in the second half, which is pretty impressive for a 20-year-old rookie.

8) Atlanta Hawks (3-1) [9]: Tim Hardaway, Jr., having a monster month so far (19 ppg, 47.2 percent on 3-pointers).

9) Toronto Raptors (1-2) [7]: Predictably, DeMar DeRozan finding navigation a little harder without Kyle Lowry.

10) Oklahoma City Thunder (2-1) [11]: Taj Gibson in the starting lineup in place of rookie Domantas Sabonis gives balance to both Thunder units.

11) LA Clippers (3-1) [12]: Just when you’re ready to count them out as legit contenders, they produce a solid, defense-first win on the road in Memphis.

12) Memphis Grizzlies (0-3) [10]: A coach opting for a lot of different starting lineups this late in the regular season is not a good sign.

13) Indiana Pacers (2-2) [13]: They’re hanging in and hanging on because their defense has found some traction — 10th best in the league in defensive rating since the All-Star break. http://on.nba.com/2lhYuMB

14) Miami Heat (3-1) [NR]: What coach Erik Spoelstra is doing this season is remarkable. All credit to him for walking the walk of winning with guys few wanted or in whom few saw potential.

15) Detroit Pistons (3-1) [15]: Reggie Jackson showing signs of life (18.6 points, 52.9 percent shooting, 5.2 assists) in last five games.

Dropped out: Chicago [14]


Milwaukee (4-0): Hold opponents to average 92.8 in four wins; have won six straight to blow past Chicago into eighth place in the East. But the Bucks play 12 of their last 16 on the road, where they’re just 12-17 this season, starting with a massive six-game western road trip beginning in Memphis tonight.


Memphis (0-3): Had to double check, but it’s true: Grizz opponents shooting 44 percent (58 of 132) on 3-pointers in the last four games, which would go a long way toward explaining overall five-game losing streak.

Longtime NBA reporter, columnist and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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