We have reached the final installment of this season's NBA Sour Rankings and it's been a wild ride.
Of the 30 NBA teams, 28 appeared on the list at some points in the season. I inversed each ranking and turned it into a point value to tally up the most prominent members. The Los Angeles Lakers (134 points), Sacramento Kings (117), New York Knicks (113) and Portland Trail Blazers (99) were the highest point-getters, and continuously peppered the rankings since they each disappointed at consistent levels throughout the year.
Who never touched the Sour Rankings? The San Antonio Spurs and Orlando Magic. I bet you didn't expect them. Those squads had the combination of extremely low expectations and frequent flashes from young talent. Despite those franchises never being on top of the NBA sphere, I never felt frustrated by by either team because there was always a silver lining after every game.
So we arrive at the final ranking with several playoff contenders sputtering to the finish.
If you're new to the Sour Rankings, here's a refresher: Unlike the typical "power rankings" that are so common throughout sports media, Sour Rankings are a bizarro-world counter. These rankings highlight the top-10 most frustrating NBA franchises throughout the season, and they are updated every week to match the twists and turns of the league.
This is not merely a bottom-10 of your typical best-to-worst outlooks. You will see championship contenders and playoff hopefuls mixed in with struggling squads. Teams well under .500 may never touch the Sour Rankings because they are on track with their respective processes. Injuries, drama, transactions and generally underwhelming play will earn you a spot on this list.
The central question is ultimately this: How good should you feel about the direction of each franchise? Let's get going.
Escaping the Sour Rankings: The Dallas Mavericks have climbed up to fourth in the Western Conference standings and flipped to home-court advantage against the Utah Jazz, who they'll likely play in the postseason. The Chicago Bulls have somewhat righted the ship and maintain a hold on fifth place in the Eastern Conference. The Knicks may be out of the playoff picture, but they've suddenly been hit with a wave of developmental flashes from the young core. Immanuel Quickley leads the way.
10. Boston Celtics (47-28)
ESPN Sources: Celtics C Robert Williams has suffered a meniscus tear in his left knee and will minimally miss several weeks. Further evaluation today will help provide a timetable. Boston moved into first-place Sunday, and Williams has been immense part of NBA’s best defense.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 28, 2022
Man... that is pain. What else is there to say?
(Last week: Unranked)
9. Brooklyn Nets (39-36)
Brooklyn boasts the league's fourth-ranked offense over the past two weeks, and that was before the New York City vaccination policies changed, allowing Kyrie Irving to play in home games. The Nets can end their season with some positive momentum, as they face just three more teams at .500 or better.
One of those teams is the Atlanta Hawks, who Brooklyn is currently slotted to play in the Play-In bracket. The race for the eighth seed is dead even between the Nets and Charlotte Hornets, and that's a battle within a battle to get at least two extra shots at a playoff spot. Should the Nets lose, do they want to face a dominant Trae Young with their not-so-dominant defense?
(Last week: 8)
8. Golden State Warriors (48-27)
The Warriors have lost 5 of their last 6 games and just took a 123-115 defeat against the Wizards. They are 6-10 since the All-Star break, and while those losses have come with a mix of injured absences involving Stephen Curry and Draymond Green, it's concerning that the rest of the cast can't keep things together — even against bad teams. Golden State is currently two games up on the Mavericks for the third seed, but only four games separate the team from the sixth-place Denver Nuggets. This is a sneaky-close middle tier with the Warriors holding little momentum.
(Last week: 10)
7. Atlanta Hawks (37-37)
As mentioned, the Hawks face a potential playoff preview with the Nets. But they'll likely have to meet both Brooklyn and Charlotte in some order in the postseason. Atlanta went 2-2 against the Hornets in the regular season, and is 0-2 vs. the Nets prior to this coming Saturday's matchup. That doesn't inspire much confidence that the Hawks, as the No. 10 seed, can storm through both to the playoffs.
(Last week: 7)
6. Utah Jazz (45-30)
Utah received a quality playoff test this past week with games against the Nets, Celtics, Hornets and Mavericks. The Jazz lost all four games, though they missed Gobert. Their perennially stalwart defense is down to 20th over the past two weeks, and against the Celtics in particular, they couldn't seem to contain anyone. Donovan Mitchell is averaging 26.4 points per game since the All-Star break, but even that isn't mattering when the defense doesn't show up beyond Gobert.
(Last week: Unranked)