The Milwaukee Bucks and New Jersey Nets are making moves with the aim of making the race for the No. 8 seed in the East a bit more noble. How's that working? So long as it limits our exposure to the Indiana Pacers and Charlotte Bobcats, it's working. Meanwhile, the Atlanta Hawks continue to tread water, the Phoenix Suns slip without Steve Nash and the Cleveland Cavaliers are still completely bad.
16. Atlanta Hawks (38-28, Prev: #17) -- Marvin Williams' yo-yo career continues. A disappointment early, he played well enough to earn a fat contract extension. Now, he's barely at 10 points per game. He's not as bad as his numbers look, but that's an argument difficult to make so long as his numbers are so bad.
17. Phoenix Suns (33-32, Prev: #16) -- The Suns' three-game skid shows how important Steve Nash has been. Aaron Brooks is a two-guard trapped in a point guard's body (at least Contract Year Aaron Brooks), and Phoenix's big men desperately need to be fed in order to score.
18. Milwaukee Bucks (26-39, Prev: #20) -- Who's ready for the Bucks to slip into the playoffs and take the No. 1 seed to seven games? ... Who let all of these crickets in here? I, for one, would love to see Scott Skiles, Brandon Jennings and Andrew Bogut At 70% make life hell for an elite squad. America loves an underdog, especially one who's Australian.
19. Utah Jazz (35-33, Prev: #18) -- If the Nets somehow sneak into the playoffs and the Jazz don't make it, Deron Williams will earn a stray vote or two for MVP. And it wouldn't be completely wrong. (Just mostly wrong.)
21. Golden State Warriors (30-37, Prev: #21) -- Getting to .500 looks impossible with a tough schedule remaining, and I understand that critics find the Warriors to be capped out and treading water. But there's just one really awful contract (Andris Biedrins) on the books, and he's a 24-year-old center who does one thing (defensive rebounding) very well. Things aren't that bad.
22. Los Angeles Clippers (26-42, Prev: #22) -- How much room is there for Blake Griffin to improve this summer and next season? Griffin is the early favorite for Mild Disappointment of 2011-12, as ridiculous as that sounds. Just as was the case with the Dunk Contest, expectations are too high. We expect this kid to walk on wine and turn the Santa Monica Harbor into the Champs Elysses.
23. Charlotte Bobcats (28-38, Prev: #23) -- If nothing else -- and trust me, there's not much else -- this will be the season Charlotte realized it found its next point guard in D.J. Augustin. He might never be an All-Star, but Augustin's a solid starter going forward.
24. Detroit Pistons (23-44, Prev: #24) -- The Pistons went on the road to the Spurs, Thunder and Nuggets. Detroit lost each game, and by a combined 48 points. But Greg Monroe is averaging 14 points and 10 rebounds per game over his last 10.
25. Minnesota Timberwolves (17-51, Prev: #27) -- That the Wolves, with that bizarre roster and glaring lack of knowledge of what to do on offense or defense, certainly aren't the worst team in the NBA and probably aren't the worst team in the West says something. What? Other than "Kevin Love is awesome, and Wes Johnson ain't too shabby," I don't know.
26. New Jersey Nets (22-43, Prev: #25) -- Swapping Jerry Sloan for Avery Johnson seems like a push, in terms of freedom. But Deron Williams has a real bounce in his step, averaging more than 15 assists per game in March. Brook Lopez (21 ppg in his last 10) and Anthony Morrow (16 ppg since the trade) have been the beneficiaries.
27. Sacramento Kings (16-49, Prev: #26) -- If not for Blake Griffin, we'd have a real race for Rookie of the Year, and DeMarcus Cousins would be a real option. March has been brutal for the Kings, but Cousins is (before Monday's game) averaging 20 points and 11 rebounds on 45 percent shooting.
28. Toronto Raptors (18-48, Prev: #28) -- I'm still trying to figure out how anyone (let alone someone in charge) can justify signing Bryan Colangelo to an extension. I mean, if you canned Sam Mitchell, how can you, with a straight face, keep Colangelo and Jay Triano?
29. Washington Wizards (16-49, Prev: #29) -- How many players away from being good -- around .500, a solid playoff bet -- are the Wizards? In John Wall and JaVale McGee, the two most vital positions are solid. (Point guard is soon to be a major plus; center is a minor plus right now, and perhaps better soon.) Can Rashard Lewis and Andray Blatche be minor plusses too? Is that enough?
30. Cleveland Cavaliers (12-57, Prev: #30) -- If the Cavaliers don't beat the Kings in Sacramento on Wednesday, they could very well lose out, given continued injury/disinterest issues. That'd be a second 20-game losing streak. Anyone willing to bet against that?