NBA Power Rankings 11/20/16

By Sam Agnitsch

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers (10-2) – The champs start our rankings at the top thanks to a 10-2 record and a kid from Akron named Lebron James. Two wins against east contenders Toronto and a win against the Hornets put an early stamp on what is clearly still Cleveland’s conference to lose. Lebron is off to a strong start averaging 23 points, 8 rebounds, and 9 assists per game. He’s the best player, on the best team in the world right now. Also strengthened his case for the douche power rankings with his Phil Jackson tiff earlier this week.
  1. Los Angeles Clippers (11-2) – Are the Clippers finally living up to the expectations? So far it would appear so, especially after a demolition of the Spurs in San Antonio during a 7 game win streak. Chris Paul has early MVP vibes and Blake Griffin continues to expand his game but most surprising has to be the 95 PPG they are holding opponents to defensively. Raptors coming up Monday at home should be a nice test.
  1. Golden State Warriors (10-2)-Too much was probably made about that Spurs beat down in the opener but can you blame us? It felt really good. Unfortunately the truth always comes to light and the truth is this team has enough talent to beat 95% of the clubs in the league, no matter how they play. Despite confusing Klay Thompson trade rumors, the Dubs find themselves in the middle of a 6 game win streak. Look for them to continue streaking with favorable matchups next week.
  1. San Antonio Spurs (10-3)-The Spurs continue to win playing a team-centric style of ball that deserves its own category on Pornhub. Despite integrating new piece Pau Gasol and the added responsibilities of youngsters like Jonathon Simmons, Pop’s crew hasn’t missed a beat. Appearing to fly under the radar for the millionth consecutive season is right where they prefer to be and with only 4 upcoming opponents over .500, until 2017 begins, the schedule looks sexy indeed.
  1. Atlanta Hawks (9-3) – The Hawks are rebounding after a mediocre 2015 thanks to the resurgent home-comer Dwight Howard. Budenholzer has found a way to successfully mesh center with hybrid big Paul Milsap and combined with the emergence of guard Denis Schroeder, Atlanta looks primed for a return to the eastern top 3. Wins like the one against Cleveland will keep the Hawks climbing.
  1. Toronto Raptors (8-4)-DeMar DeRozan is on fire and appears to be developing into that “main guy” they’ve been desperately craving to close out games scoring 30 points 10 out of 12 games so far. Once embattled coach Dwane Casey seems to be finally off the hot seat and has given the Raptors a sense of consistency. Unfortunately Drake’s Darlings have picked up 2 losses against Cleveland already so the Raptors might not be thinking finals trip unless something drastically changes.
  1. Chicago Bulls (8-4)-One of the better looking East teams on paper, Chicago has gotten a well-rounded team effort to open Fred Hoiberg’s second season with almost 6 players averaging double figures. Rondo is pretty much a shell of his Boston self at this point but D-Wade has definitely surprised some people with his energetic start. There’s no question this is Jimmy Butler’s team, but if they falter as the season progresses (and the schedule gets tougher) will he eventually be on the trading block?
  1. Charlotte Hornets (8-3)-The Hornets have taken advantage of a relatively weak early schedule, building a nice start to the season. However, a task like shaking off the loser Kharma of the Bobcats is going to require a lot more than just wins against Boston or a Dwight-less Hawks squad. Kemba Walker pushing for his first all-star bid has been a nice surprise, but losses against Toronto and Cleveland early aren’t sending any earth-shattering messages to the rest of the conference.
  1. Oklahoma City Thunder (8-5)- That might be the only word to describe the Thunderers at this point. In what has been the basketball equivalent to a bad cocaine habit, we basically went from championship contenders to this team sucks, to pretty much back where we started before the year tipped off. We confirmed Russell Westbrook is a freak of nature that can make even Air Jordan swoon, but we also learned he carries too much of a load. Victor Oladipo has found his rhythm as of late and has even developed a nice pick and roll game with Thunder bigs but continue to struggle when teams pack the paint. Coach Donovan has done a remarkable job as of late figuring out spacing, unfortunately there’s only so much you can do with a current roster devoid of fear-inducing shooters. Until this problem finds it solution, we will continue to see results like the loss to Detroit. On the other hand Russ’ sheer testicular beastitude will also deliver big wins like we saw at the Clippers. Up and Down we go.
  1. Memphis Grizzlies (7-5) – Ah some good ol’ fashion nostalgia. The Grizz have been a throwback punch in the balls answer to the trend-happy NBA for awhile now and until Z-Bo hangs it up or they trade Marc Gasol this will not change. The problem is other than two games against the Clippers, the schedule has been pretty soft. If they are unable to take advantage of this fact and as more dust gathers on Z-Bo, Vince Carter, and Tony Allen, you’ll continue to see the Grizzlies slide into mediocrity.
  1. Utah Jazz (7-6)-Jazz fans should be feeling pretty good where they’re sitting currently. After 7 games early against over .500 teams and without the services of Hayward, 7-6 is legit. Of course this team had dreams of first round victories to begin the year, this shouldn’t damper that hope one bit. Once the schedule eases up and Scoutmaster Gordon returns, there’s a lot of room to move higher for the young underachievers. Biggest bright spot has to be defensively, holding teams to 93 PPG, tops in the NBA so far.
  1. Houston Rockets (7-5)-Harden is challenging Westbrook in the ridiculous stat line category, which is entertaining as hell. That’s basically it. They’ve had some good results, but until they become invested defensively it’ll be the same old Mike D’antoni jack fest. It just isn’t sustainable with this roster and will no doubt catch up with them eventually.
  1. Portland Trailblazers (7-7) – It’s been a rough start, even Damien Lillard is attesting to that. The Blazers are getting beat in multiple facets of the game, even with Lillard and McCollum playing well which isn’t a good sign. Until the supporting cast finally makes an appearance this season, look for more struggles and more blowout losses.
  1. Boston Celtics (6-6)- Similar to Utah, the C’s are still waiting on the concussed Al Horford to return to action after a much-touted summer signing. Ugly losses have put a damper on expectations early and even though Brad Stevens is a great coach, it’s hard to win the Derby without thoroughbreds, much less a home blowout loss to the Nuggets.
  1. Los Angeles Lakers (7-6) – There’s a scene in the movie The Shining where Jack Nicholson makes out with a dead woman and then notices a gentlemen getting blown by a person in a bear costume down the hall. It’s confusing, shocking, and unexplainable. Ladies and Gentlemen I give you the 2016-2017Lakers. Although not as perplexing as costumed oral sex, it comes close. I have no idea how they are over .500. Nick Young has rebounded from a terrible season last year and even managed to somehow patch up his relationship with immature rat Deangelo Russell, to really ignite this team forward. However there’s no way they can keep this up in Laker Land. Right?
  1. Detroit Pistons (6-7) – Stan Van Gundy has a lot of talent at his disposal, the probably is Ish Smith is the starting point guard until Reggie Jackson overrates his way back onto the court. Once he returns we could see this team jettison itself or tragically underperform and waste another year of Drummond dominance in the paint.
  1. Milwaukee Bucks (5-6)-We figured this weird Wisconsin experiment would take some bumps early but this group is still more gimmick than substance. Until they figure out what the hell they are doing with Greg Monroe it’s gonna be tough sledding and the schedule doesn’t get any easier with GS coming to town next. The Greek Freak continues to be mesmerizing and it is nice to see Parker off to a great start so it’s not all gloom.
  1. Indiana Pacers (6-7) Another team that seems to always underachieve whether by injury or overall play. Another team that also appears to be on the verge of a blowup with Paul George rumors escalating by the loss. Myles Turner however, looks like a steal and could be a dark horse candidate for most improved player and they also did have a win against the Cavs.
  1. New York Knicks (5-7) – When the GM is making more waves off the court than the team on the court, you have problems. This isn’t 2008 anymore Dorothy.
  1. Minnesota Timberwolves (4-7) – This team clearly isn’t ready to make that next step with all of its young talent. The scary thing has to be that most of the problem seems to be effort related, historically a strong suit of Tom Thibodeau teams. It could get real messy in Minny come all-star break.
  1. Orlando Magic (5-7)-Frank Vogel has done a nice job considering the schizophrenic nature of the roster. Elfrid Payton once again isn’t convincing anyone he’s a starting caliber PG and the Magic still seem like they have no idea what to do with Aaron Gordon. Shaking things up via trade could open some doors.
  1. Sacramento Kings (4-9) – When they are competitive, it’s almost virtually on DeMarcus Cousins existence alone. Please trade him.
  1. Denver Nuggets (4-8) – Young team feeling the bumps of a tough west. Scotty Brooks has them playing hard and the frontcourt has proven itself early, they just aren’t ready to compete just yet.
  1. Phoenix Suns (4-9)-This two point guard thing is ridiculous. Pull the plug and build around legitimate stud Devin Booker before the 2-8 conference record gets worse.
  1. Washington Wizards (3-8) – The Wiz just keep getting worse. John Wall is a solid player but the backcourt combo with Beal clearly isn’t working. The only silver lining has been the rough early schedule but losses to the 76ers shouldn’t be happening at this point.
  1. New Orleans Pelicans (3-10) – Jesus Christ please get Anthony Davis some help. Please?
  1. Dallas Mavericks (2-9) – The Mavs sitting at 2-9 has to be one of the bigger surprises to start the year. Injuries have played a large part as well as the lack of a bench but my ego refuses to let me believe this team is that bad.
  1. Miami Heat (3-8) – Every time I watch this team, my heart breaks a little more for Dion Waiters. A young team built around Hassan Whiteside? Sure, what could go wrong there?
  1. Philadelphia 76ers (2-10)-I still don’t understand why Sam Hinkie got so much hate during his tenure, it was the teams plan all around to tank and build through the draft. So why is the front office getting a pass this season? This team was supposed to actually make a few waves with Embiid and Saric joining the other young pieces.
  1. Brooklyn Nets (4-8) – At 4-8 the Nets are completely over performing. Ken Atkinson has done a nice job getting his team to buy in effort wise but let’s be blunt. This team is Brook Lopez and a bunch of no-names that should be playing somewhere back in New Jersey, not Brooklyn.

 

 

 

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