NBA Power Ranking Heading Into 12/12
A quarter of the NBA season is behind us. What have we learned so far? The Warriors are great. So are the Spurs and Cavs. The rest of the league is playing catch up. The Hawks are nosediving, the Bucks suddenly look dangerous, the Knicks might be pulling it together, and yeah, a solid chunk of the league ranges from inconsistent to bad. Still with so much of the season to be played. Lets hold off on judgement until the Christmas day slat of NBA action arrives. Meantime, let’s take a look at this week’s power rankings.
1. Golden State Warriors ( 20-3) : The Dubs are awesome. The Warriors have three guys who are capable of scoring 60 points on any given night. One of them recently did, but forget about that. These guys have averaged about 132 points per game over the past week and very quietly, through 22 games, are on pace to win 71. The Warriors have scored at least 125 points seven times already this season; no team in the NBA universe did so more than five times in its first 20 games of the season since the 1990-91 campaign.
2. San Antonio Spurs (18-5) : The Spurs won their first 13 road games of the season but fell short in Chicago. One more win would have tied the Warriors for the best road start to begin a season, but the Spurs managed just 91 points—17 below the 108.1 they’ve averaged on the road thus far this season. Still, it’s tough to complain, especially since this was the third game in four nights.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers (16-5) : After dominating the Knicks on Thursday night to the tune of a 126-94 beating, the three-game losing streak is a distant memory. When these guys are dialed in, no team out East has a chance. That includes the Raptors, who are nipping at their heels but yield their top 4 spot from last week after losing to the Cavs on Sunday. Kevin Love is averaging 21.4 points per game—a full five points higher than last season. Expect the Cavs to continue the water bottle challenge against most of the Eastern Conference all season long.
4. Los Angeles Clippers (16-7) : Will the real Clippers please stand up? Last week’s win at Cleveland was impressive. Then on Thursday night, the Clippers were embarrassed by the Warriors in Wednesday night’s 115-98 loss, but that doesn’t mean much since the Dubs are clearly the top dogs in the Association. Sunday’s loss to the Pacers bothered me much more than the one to the Dubs. The Clippers also Have been outscored by 20 points or more in the paint in the previous two games.
5. Houston Rockets (16-7) : The Rockets are playing some good basketball right now. There was no letdown for the Rockets this week, as they went a perfect 4-0 after finishing the last ranking with a big win over the Warriors. The Rockets have made 10 or more 3-pointers in 22 consecutive games. Patrick Beverley had a 12-assist game this week and also brought his typical defensive tenacity; and Eric Gordon is filling it up. James Harden continues to play on an MVP level. The defense is still a major question mark, and the Motiejunas debacle could become a distraction. But Houston’s resume is that of a top-five team so far. That’s why it’s here. Patrick Beverley has been on the floor for 96 of the 109 minutes that James Harden has been off the floor, and it’s in those minutes where the Rockets have shown incredible improvement.
6. Toronto Raptors ( 16-7) : A six-game win streak came to an end on Monday when the Cavs rolled into Toronto, but Thursday’s 124-110 win over the visiting T-Wolves means they’ve won seven of eight. Jonas Valanciunas’ 20-point, 10-rebound double-double went a long way toward pulling that one out, as well. Toronto is the second most accurate shooting team in the league making 47.5 percent of their shots per game.
7. Memphis Grizzlies (16-8) : Marc Gasol’s season-high 36 points helped the Grizzlies outlast the Blazers on Thursday night, but it was the newly signed Toney Douglas’ two clutch free-throws that made the difference in the 88-86 victory. They’ll need more of these epic efforts without Mike Conley, even if they’re 5-1 without him so far. The Grizzlies Are 12-0 in games decided by three points or less.
8 Charlotte Hornets (14-9) : Winners of three of their last four, Team Kemba begins a five-game road swing on Saturday and will pay visits to the Cavs, Celtics and Hawks along the way. They lead the struggling Hawks by 2.5 games out in the division as Walker closes in on what will likely be his first All-Star appearance.
9. Oklahoma City Thunder (14-9) : The Thunder’s six game winning streak came to an end on Friday night. Still, the Thunder are playing some impressive basketball on both ends. Let’s be honest here, as impressive as Russell Westbrook’s seven straight triple-doubles are, what’s more impressive is that the Thunder are 6-1 in those games. He’s averaging 31 points, 10.9 rebounds and 11.3 assists per game and has 11 triple-doubles in 22 games. That puts him on pace for 41 for the season, which would tie him for Oscar’s single-season record. Russell Westbrook streak of seven straight triple doubles is the most in the NBA since Michael Jordan had seven straight in 1989.
10. Utah Jazz (14-10) : Gordon Hayward missed Thursday’s 106-99 loss to the Warriors, ending the club’s three-game win streak. They’ll see the Kings, Thunder and Mavericks to end the five-game home stand. When they see the Thunder (on Wednesday), they could actually be playing for the division lead, so that’s one worth watching. The Jazz are holding opponents to 96 points a game, which is tied with Detroit for the lowest in the league.