After the Wizards endured a 115-95 thumping at the hands of the
Grizzlies, Spencer Dinwiddie was pretty candid
with reporters about his leadership approaches not really
working out in the early going of the season. That comes after a
previous report from Bleacher Report's Eric Pincus on
the imperfect chemistry between Dinwiddie and Bradley Beal.
So that, plus a five-game losing streak with some epic moments
of failure, gives Washington the edge in this week's Sour
If you're new to the Sour Rankings, here's a refresher: Unlike
the typical "power rankings" that repeat themselves 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 will be 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
power rankings. 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 Atlanta
Hawks have taken flight and won their last seven straight games to
vault back into the Play-In race. The Los Angeles Clippers have not
reeled off a winning streak, but continue to fight hard with an
undermanned cast and have snuck up to seventh in the Western
Conference standings. They're a fun team to watch and a fun team to
root for with this ragtag bunch.
10. New Orleans Pelicans (18-31)
The Pelicans are mired in a three-game skid, though all three of
those losses came without Brandon Ingram and Jonas Valanciunas.
They're still one of my personal favorite squads to watch in the
NBA and still worth praising for how they've remained competitive.
But we're hitting the NBA trade deadline on Feb. 10, and that
brings some anxiety for a squad that is too far outside the Play-In
race as things stand but too good of a team to fold.
New Orleans could certainly make a splash to push to the
postseason, but is that the right move? What happens if they don't?
Every loss makes the claw toward contention more challenging.
(Last week: Unranked)
9. Boston Celtics (26-25)
The Celtics do not break out of the Sour Rankings because
there's too much of a roller-coaster track record. But the past
week is a massive confidence-builder for fans of the current
starting lineup. The Marcus Smart-Jaylen Brown-Jayson Tatum-Al
Horford-Robert Williams III group is outscoring opponents by 23.7
points per 100 possessions, according to Cleaning the Glass. They
helped Boston eviscerate some lesser teams this past week. The real
tests begin on Monday against Miami.
(Last week: 6)
8. Brooklyn Nets (29-20)
This is the first Sour Rankings appearance for Brooklyn since
the early weeks of the season. The Nets have lost four games in a
row to the Minnesota Timberwolves, Los Angeles Lakers, Denver
Nuggets and Golden State Warriors, all while Kevin Durant rehabs an
MCL injury. James Harden also missed Sunday's defeat at Golden
State with a hand sprain.
Harden dominated headlines this week
after reports surfaced that he would consider "exploring other
options" outside of the Nets this offseason with significant ties
to Philly. That's simply not the news Brooklyn wants with the Big
Three finally (partially) back together.
(Last week: Unranked)
7. Portland Trail Blazers (24-27)
The Blazers went 1-3 this week, but maintain a comfortable hold
on 10th in the West because the teams behind them fared poorly as
well. Portland got beat out narrowly by Minnesota and less closely
by the Dallas Mavericks and Chicago Bulls, though it did take care
of business against the lowly Houston Rockets. Sadly, much of the
week gets overshadowed by the season-ending shoulder injury to
Nassir Little, who was having a breakout third year with the
(Last week: 8)
6. Utah Jazz
Yes, the Jazz have missed Donovan Mitchell over the last six
games, and also Rudy Gobert for the last four. Yes, they've played
a brutal recent schedule that included the Warriors, Phoenix Suns
and Memphis Grizzlies. However, this current five-game losing
streak has only exposed how serious the depth question is for Utah
ahead of the trade deadline.
The team is 1-7 with bottom-10 efficiency ratings on both ends
over the past two weeks. Now, according to ESPN's Adrian
Wojnarowski, Utah fears Joe Ingles has torn his ACL. When the Jazz
inevitably deal with injuries in the postseason, is there enough
confidence that the next man up can help them win?
(Last week: 10)
5. New York Knicks (23-27)
It was just a two-game week for the Knicks and they got smacked
in both with two double-digit losses to the Heat and Bucks.
According to ESPN's Brian
Windhorst, New York is open to trading Kemba Walker, Evan
Fournier and Alec Burks. "Open to" feels like some generous
phrasing at this stage. It can't feel great that the two marquee
offseason additions are both on the block. Oh, and Cam Reddish isn't in the rotation,
(Last week: 5)
4. Indiana Pacers (18-33)
The Pacers are 4-14 dating back to Christmas. A mediocre defense
has fallen apart, and that probably isn't helped by Myles Turner's
extended absence due to a foot fracture. But you know what? Isaiah
Jackson's been interesting. The 2021 first-round rookie most
recently had 12 points, 6 rebounds, 3 blocks and a made
three-pointer against the Mavericks.
Did the Pacers lose that game by 27 and did Jackson also foul
out? Who's to say? But there's a nice little silver lining for a
team that has very little going for it right now.
(Last week: 4)
3. Los Angeles Lakers (24-27)
I'm glad Russell Westbrook had a fun second half in what ended
up being a three-point Laker loss to the Charlotte Hornets. The
discourse around him will never be fair, so it feels good to see
him be successful through all the criticism.
... And that'll do it for this week's positive Lakers talk! They
lost all three games this week to the Hornets, Atlanta Hawks and
Philadelphia 76ers. Anthony Davis is shooting 18.0% from long range
on the season, by the way.
(Last week: 1)
2. Sacramento Kings (18-33)
Kings-related conversations are rapidly turning from "How good
is Tyrese Haliburton?" to "Free Tyrese Haliburton!" and that's not
a great sign. The second-year combo guard put up 38 points on
Saturday and Sacramento still lost that contest to the 76ers. He's
built off a stellar December and is averaging 16.3 points, 8.4
rebounds and 3.8 assists per game while shooting 42.0% from beyond
the arc in January. Yet, the Kings are 3-11 this month.
(Last week: 2)
1. Washington Wizards (23-26)
I listened to a couple of different social media conversations
after the Wizards lost in meltdown fashion against the Clippers
last Tuesday. In that game, Washington had a 30-point halftime lead
before giving up 80 second-half points to the Clippers and
ultimately losing on Luke Kennard heroics, 116-115. Those poor fans
circled around the same phrase: "Why does this always
Washington had a three-day layoff and then promptly lost by 20
to the Grizzlies. The Wizards' upcoming schedule? In order:
Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Miami, Brooklyn. This is going to
get really ugly.
(Last week: 1)
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