The NBA trade deadline is in just 10 days, and many of the decisions teams will make about whether to uproot their rosters or not will be based on expectations. But it's important to remember it's not just about expectations vs. this year, but over different time spans and how they evolve.

For example, the Bucks weren't thought to be a serious playoff threat this year. Instead, they were in the mix for a possible postseason spot. Then they got off to a great start in December and looked like a legit playoff team. Then they fell to pieces. So do you make decisions on the roster trying to get back to that team you were in December, or do you acknowledge that December was likely their outlier and this team probably is what most people thought it would be, slightly below average, with the ability to be slightly above average if things go right?

Read More

The Thunder got waxed by the Warriors for the third straight time on Saturday, which created a lot of consternation about their roster. But you have to remember this is Year Zero, After-Durant. They have only really begun to scratch the surface of where they're going. They're still figuring out where to go from here. So yeah, they're short on firepower, but there's no reason to mortgage their long-term future for short-term improvements that won't put them ahead of Golden State anyway.

That's key, here. You can't make decisions based on your team's ability to beat Golden State or Cleveland, because one is a historically dominant team with a once-in-a-lifetime collection of talent, and the other has LeBron James. You should be building based on whether or not you are producing the best team you can with the talent you have, and if the talent you have is the best you can get.

So the Nuggets traded Jusuf Nurkic and a first-round pick they didn't need to get Mason Plumlee because he's a better player, not because it gets them into the 8th seed. And teams will look to deal when they see opportunities to improve. Don't get caught up in expectations. Teams like the Timberwolves will tell you they can only hurt you in the end.

Here are this week's power rankings.

Biggest Movers
7 Pistons
5 Spurs
Rk
Teams
 
Chg
Rcrd
1 Warriors Saturday night was probably hard for Kevin Durant emotionally, but he handled it in the most Warriors way possible: by having a super game, trash talking his former teammates and getting a blowout win. You want an insane stat? Golden State's magic number for a playoff spot is five. Five, as of February 13. They're going to have home-court advantage in the first round locked by mid-March. They'll be able to cruise for most of the last month of the season. 1 19-4
2 Cavaliers So much for their struggle mode. They've rattled off seven wins in their last nine since their three-game slump (which featured two losses in overtime), and their loss to the Thunder was a rest night for LeBron. It took us a long time, all the way to the All-Star break, but the Warriors are No. 1 and the Cavs are No. 2 just like we've thought about the season overall all year. 3 13-11
3 Wizards This is going to sound weird, but the win against the Nets actually impressed me. The Nets are the worst team in the league, but they've snuck up on a bunch of teams. It was a letdown game after the loss to the Cavs, and they still managed to win it. Finding those kinds of wins is a mark of a good team, as crazy as that sounds. -- 14-10
4 Celtics Jae Crowder hasn't gotten enough recognition for how he's playing this season. He's their best perimeter defender (yes, including Avery Bradley) and shooting 42 percent from 3 while making constant hustle plays. Crowder doesn't get enough credit for his contribution to the Celtics' winning formula. -- 13-11
5 Rockets January ended, and so now the Rockets are good again. They shot 33 percent in January, and they're already back up 37 percent in February. That was honestly the biggest reason for their slide. They look back on track and are coasting toward a top-3 seed. 4 7-16
6 Spurs The Memphis loss was a whatever game, mainly because Kawhi Leonard was out. The loss to the Knicks was random. It's odd. Their resume is impeccable and yet there's something about this team that isn't quite as trustworthy as when Tim Duncan was around, even in a limited role. 5 8-13
7 Heat The streak finally ended Saturday night with a loss to the Embiid-less Sixers, but Miami was on the road, on a back to back and playing their third game in four nights. So I'll give them a pass since, once they regress, I don't expect to see them back in the top 10 in a long, long time. 1 14-10
8 Grizzlies The Grizzlies have a pretty winnable schedule from now until mid-March. They'll probably struggle unexpectedly, that's what they do, but this team will not face Golden State in the first round, so their odds of a second-round appearance remain strong. They have no reason to fear anyone above them. There are clearly better teams (the Spurs) but no one Memphis can't find a formula to beat if things go right. 1 13-10
9 Jazz If it weren't for the collective failures of most of the teams behind them, they would have taken a big dive this week. The Jazz had the Mavericks and then the Celtics on a back to back and lost both of them. They cannot afford to squander opportunities to put distance between themselves and the three teams behind them, because Utah's schedule gets harder as those other teams' schedules get softer. They need bounce-backs against the wounded Clippers and mediocre Blazers before the All-Star break. 1 16-7
10 Thunder I don't get the hand-wringing about their roster. They have good players. Andre Roberson is bad offensively but worthy of second-team All-Defense honors. Their roster is well built for the playoffs. No, they don't have the firepower yet, but they need one good addition, not an overhaul. An inability to score with the best offense in NBA history should not be some sort of damning limitation. 3 6-16
11 Mavericks It looked for a minute like the Mavs were going to regress, but then they popped off two wins. Seth Curry's having a great season. His defense makes me queasy just like his brother's does, but he's creating so much right now. Dallas has so many guys who can create offense, which is why it's shocking they're 18th in offensive efficiency. 1 11-11
12 Hawks The Hawks are that song on the album that you will listen to, it's fine. But you're not nodding your head to it, you're not humming it later and you're not blasting it at parties or in the car. It's just a filler song. It's good. It's just nothing special. That's Atlanta. 2 12-12
13 Pistons The Pistons should not be eight points better defensively when Andre Drummond is on the bench. That just can't happen. It would be one thing if they were good with Drummond on, and then great with him off. But it's not that. It's that they go to pieces when he's on the floor defensively. Either the scheme is busted, or Drummond's not having the impact he should, because that just cannot happen with that kind of rim protector. 7 4-18
14 Pacers Well, the Pacers have lost three in a row but at least they face the Spurs, Cavs, Wizards, Grizzlies and red-hot Heat next. Enjoy that All-Star break as a salve on the searing burns, Pacers. 3 9-16
15 Clippers They're over halfway done with Chris Paul's injury timeframe. It sure doesn't seem like they intend to make any major changes at the deadline, the Melo trade hanging overhead as the exception. This may be the last three months of this core's existence so fans that have enjoyed it should really soak it up. Even with the injuries the Clippers are still sixth in offense this season, which is a credit to Doc Rivers. 1 12-12
16 Kings Three wins, two over Eastern Conference playoff teams has them back within 1.5 games of the 8th seed. That's a better run than the teams behind them, so they wind up here. Willie Cauley-Stein deserves credit for not getting down when he was out of the rotation and just keeping his work ethic up. He's been back to doing the great rim running he's capable of. He's going to be a good player in this league. 3 10-14
17 Raptors Please wave to the Raptors on their way down in freefall. Don't try and catch them, they'll just pull you down with them. The panic is real. 2 11-13
18 Nuggets The Mason Plumlee trade gets rid of a headache in Jusuf Nurkic while adding a better player in Plumlee. They didn't need the draft pick. But Plumlee doesn't solve their biggest issue, which is defense. They still need wing upgrades on the perimeter if they want to secure a playoff spot. But man, alive, casual fans need to start caring about Nikola Jokic because he's insane. Go watch that 40-spot against the Knicks if you want proof. 1 11-11
19 Trail Blazers Since January 28, they've played six times in 16 days. In one stretch in mid-March, they play 10 times in 16 days. It's going to be touch and go for their hanging onto the playoffs. One key injury and they're done. The Jusuf Nurkic gamble was a smart one on their part, however. 1 11-13
20 Bulls In their last three games, mostly without Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade, the Bulls have been outscored 355-278. That, if you were wondering, is indeed bad. The Bulls have ducked and weaved around the idea of a rebuild for years and this feels like the basketball gods having an intervention with them. 4 16-8
21 Bucks The Jabari Parker injury was just brutal. Hope he can get back, for a second time. Meanwhile, we probably should have known the defense was smoke and mirrors. Milwaukee uses a trap and overload scheme which in today's NBA just runs the risk of being too vulnerable to teams that can reliably reverse the ball, which is most of them. It was a risky idea, but the Bucks might have been better served with more traditional concepts. They should be looking for deals at the deadline to shake things up. 2 15-9
22 76ers My favorite indie TV series right now is "T.J. McConnell Does Things" in which a player who you would look at and think has no place in the NBA consistently makes things happen to create wins for a franchise without its best player. It stars T.J. McConnell and can be found exclusively on League Pass. 1 12-11
23 Pelicans The Pelicans are now 2-5 against the teams above them in the chase for the 8th seed. As if they don't have enough problems, they also face a daunting tiebreaker set if they do somehow manage to get their play together. It's hard not to believe the best thing for the team, and Anthony Davis, is a hard reset of management, coaching and roster. 3 7-19
24 Timberwolves The Wolves' schedule between now and the end of March includes the Cavaliers, the Spurs twice, the Rockets, Jazz and Warriors. That part of you that held out hope for a late-season playoff run? Bury it deep down inside like those feelings you wish you'd never felt. 4 11-12
25 Lakers "Oh, good, Magic's in charge now. That'll fix everything," said no one. 4 12-12
26 Knicks I feel like the end result of this is that one of these days, a visiting team is going to show up to MSG for a game and just no one will be there. The players, fans, coaches, management, ushers, everyone will have to quit. It'll just be the opponent, shooting in an empty gym and still running up the Knicks. 4 11-12
27 Hornets They are an industrial magnet for attracting and capturing L's. Losses just fly across the room to find them. It's uncanny how a team with this talent and coaching could go this far south this fast. 2 14-11
28 Magic I'm not going to lie. I'm irrationally angry at them for fooling me into thinking they weren't the worst team in the league with their brief spate of decent play in December. Should have trusted my instincts instead of believing in hope for the Magic. 4 5-19
29 Suns They have so much exciting young talent, I can't wait to see what the players on this team look like on the teams they're inevitably traded to because Phoenix continues to burn like some sort of horrible chemical accident. 2 19-4
30 Nets Is it weird that for as bad as this team is, they're still more enjoyable to watch than the 2015 Nets that made the playoffs? Because they are. -- 16-7