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Eastern Conference Power Rankings: Trade Deadline Edition

We had less basketball to rank this week, so instead we dive into each East team's trade deadline moves alongside the usual power rankings, and we say goodbye to two East stars.

Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

Hello! The power rankings are back after a week-long hiatus during the NBA All-Star break. In that time, much has changed. In the six days that teams have been back on the floor, we've seen some predictably weird results, with teams getting back into the swing of things and guys getting back to action after resting up from injury, lying on the beach somewhere, or randomly waking up in a new city on a new team because HOLY CRAP, THIS TRADE DEADLINE, YOU GUYS.

The trade deadline was absolutely bonkers, and several Eastern Conference teams got in on the fun, either selling off spare parts, Acquiring fun new core pieces, or being the Philadelphia 76ers! Since it was a short week game-wise, we'll be doing dual power rankings this week: Our usual on-court analyses will be bolstered by a ranking of how each team faired at the trade deadline.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers (2)

Atlanta lost to Toronto by 25, and Cleveland was only busy making a mockery of their biggest pseudo-rival and sleepwalking through wins over the Knicks and Pistons. Atlanta relinquishing the top spot might be a surprise, but they've lost three of five now, and the Cavs look like they benefitted greatly from the All-Star break's rest. They're the best team in the East for at least this week.

Trade Deadline: Signed Kendrick Perkins

I love the fit of Perk on the Cavs. In 10-12 minutes per game, he can protect the paint, rebound, set bone-crushing screens for LeBron and Kyrie to run around, and will totally fight Tyler Hansbrough or Joakim Noah in the playoffs. The Cavs did more for $400,000 than many teams did in massive player swaps at the deadline.

Rank: 3

2. Atlanta Hawks (1)

How you gonna drop by 25 to the Raptors at home, ATL? Look like they're crashing back to Earth slightly, but we'll see if they can hold off the Mavericks tonight to be sure.

Trade Deadline: Shipped Adreian Payne to Minnesota for a future 1st

Payne's barely played for the Hawks this year, and they were able to grab a 1st-rounder from Minnesota that could end up being quite valuable for them. Smart play on Minnesota liking Payne's potential.

Rank: 5

3. Toronto Raptors (3)

9- fantastic in beating Atlanta, but then lost three straight games to Houston, New Orleans, and Dallas. Their offense has looked problematic at times, especially last night, when they shot just 9-26 on three-pointers and looked lost against the Mavs' defense.

Trade Deadline: Stood Pat

May have been able to use another wing player, but they have zero trade assets right now, so no big deal. They really need a necromancer for Terrence Ross's season to solve both of those issues.

Rank: 11

4. Chicago Bulls (4)




Well, it's Aaron Brooks's time to shine, I guess. Seeing how Chicago deals with this is going to be interesting, but man, Rose's injury woes are continually tragic. At this point, you have to worry about long-term health here. Rose might need a knee replacement at 35.

Trade Deadline: Stood Pat

No real glaring weaknesses besides consistency, and there wasn't anything available that they needed. Can't blame them for doing nothing, even though now that looks like a biiiiiiit of a problem.

Rank: 10

5. Milwaukee Bucks (5)

Would have dropped them, but Washington has been dying a slow death recently and I can't put a team below .500 above them. Their losses were at least to Atlanta and Chicago, so that's not an awful look.

Trade Deadline: Sent Brandon Knight and Kendall Marshall to Phoenix, received Michael Carter-Williams from Philadelphia and Miles Plumlee and Tyler Ennis from Suns, bought out Larry Sanders

I don't really get what Milwaukee's plan was at the deadline, but MCW should thrive for them defensively, and if anyone knows how to get MCW to be an effective NBA point guard with an atrocious jumper, it's Jason freaking Kidd. If they liked MCW and didn't want to pay Knight, I can accept that plan.

Rank: 4

6. Washington Wizards (6)


Trade Deadline: Swapped Andre Miller to Sacramento for Ramon Sessions

Miller was clashing with Randy Wittman, but seriously, you couldn't find another bench wing or a guard better than Ramon Sessions? At least Sessions/Garrett Temple backcourts are gonna be performance art for us to watch.

Rank: 13

7. Indiana Pacers (8)

Even though they lost to the Thunder on the road last night, given the rest of the Eastern Conference right now, a win over the Warriors gives them an automatic edge.

Trade Deadline: Didn't trade David West

There were some rumors with Indiana possibly making deals at the deadline, but they decided not to pull the trigger on any. They've been playing great and Paul George might be back at the end of March, so they played it safe.

Rank: 6

8. Detroit Pistons (10)

Had a decent showing this week with a win over the Bulls, and Reggie Jackson is assimilating well. However, sometimes Kevin Love just gonna drop 8 threes on you, and that keeps them behind the Pacers.

Trade Deadline: Acquired Reggie Jackson from OKC, for D.J. Augustin, Kyle Singler, and a 2017 2nd (to Utah); Shipped out Gigi Datome and Jonas Jerebko to Boston for Tayshaun Prince

I get they wanted the cap space, but really, did you need to let Jerebko go just to get to buyout Tayshaun? He's been playing well for them in the Post-Smoove afterlife. The Jackson move is also weird, but they get points for trolling the Nets.

Rank: 7

9. Brooklyn Nets (7)

Walked through wins over the Western Conference dregs in the Lakers and Nuggets this week. No idea what to make of them now, because they're still ohhhhh so sad to watch, but they're actually winning.

Trade Deadline: Traded Kevin Garnett to Timberwolves for Thaddeus Young, about a million other things that didn't actually happen

I am foaming at the mouth at the prospect of Thad and Mason Plumlee cleaning up missed Jarrett Jack threes, and for them, Thad's probably an upgrade over KG. But they really missed an opportunity to get interesting with the Brook Lopez-to-Thunder deal falling through.

Rank: 8

10. Miami Heat (12)

Instead of reading anything into wins over the Knicks and 76ers, let's just take another moment to wish Chris Boshfull recovery. Bosh is one of my favorite players in the league, and a fantastic human being to go along with being one of the most underrated players of the last decade. The Heat, as well as myself, are really going to miss him.

Trade Deadline: Acquired #2Dragics from Phoenix, traded two 1st-round picks and Danny Granger to Suns, traded Norris Cole, Shawne Williams, and Justin Hamilton to Pelicans

If Goran Dragic re-signs in Miami, it feels like only giving up two 1sts, Granger, and Norris Cole's three-point percentage is a robbery for them. They won the deadline, even with Bosh going down.

Rank: 1

11. Boston Celtics (11)

Losing to the Kings and Lakers is a bad look, but they did beat the Suns, so all is not lost. Plus, their trade deadline gives them bonus points.

Trade Deadline: Sent Marcus Thornton and the Cavs' 2016 1st to Suns for Isaiah Thomas, Picked up Jerebko and Datome for Tayshaun

Marcus Thornton, a 1st that's going to be in the mid-20s tops (YOU'RE WELCOME, GUYS!), and Tayshaun Prince nets you Jerebko and Isaiah Thomas? There's a reason Danny Ainge has been in the game for this long.

Rank: 2

12. Charlotte Hornets (9)

Have lost five straight, though to be fair, games against OKC and Dallas aren't the easiest when your starting point guard is Mo Williams.

Trade Deadline: Picked up Mo Williams from Timberwolves for Gary Neal

Their starting point guard is Mo Williams. Kemba needs to come back ASAP.

Rank: 14

13. Orlando Magic (14)

Still riding that post-imcompetent coach firing wave! Well, until they hire Scott Skiles, at least.

Trade Deadline: Didn't hire Scott Skiles or Mark Jackson


Rank: 12

14. Philadelphia 76ers (13)

Weirdly when Robert Covington is thrust into your "number one scoring option" role, things don't go well! Losses to Indiana, Orlando, and Miami this week.

Trade Deadline: *inhales* Sent MCW to the Bucks, got the Lakers' top-5 protected pick from the Suns, got Javale McGee and OKC's 2015 1st from the Nuggets, claimed Thomas Robinson off waivers, Shipped K.J. McDaniels to Rockets for Isaiah Canaan and a 2nd *exhales*

I have no super-hot takes about the 76ers' deadline moves. I think whether they made smart trades or not really depends on where that Lakers pick falls and what happens with Embiid. I know exposing Embiid to Javale is not a good thing, but I also know I'm very much on the contract-year T-Rob and Isaiah Canaan hype trains, so overall, pretty average dealing.

Rank: 9

15. New York Knicks (15)

There was at least a 20-minute stretch in their game against the Cavs where Lou Amundson was leading them in scoring. And we were worried the Sixers weren't fielding an NBA roster at the beginning of the season.

Trade Deadline: Dealt Pablo Prigioni to Rockets for Alexey Shved and two second round picks


Rank: 15

Trade Deadline Rankings:

1. Heat

2. Celtics

3. Cavs

4. Bucks

5. Hawks

6. Pacers

7. Pistons

8. Nets

9. 76ers

10. Bulls

11. Raptors

12. Magic

13. Wizards

14. Hornets

15. Knicks