NBA Power Rankings -Dec. 6th

By Sam Agnitsch

  1. Golden State Warriors (18-3)-As annoying as it is, the Warriors are playing some pretty frightening basketball at the moment. Steve Kerr isn’t the only thing that’s high as the increased tempo has led to a ridiculous 120.2 PPG average resulting in blowouts by 30+ points in the last two games. The only flaw at the moment still seems to be the defense, but even giving up 106 PPG seems like grasping at straws considering they are top-2 in both opponent FG percentage and opponent 3-pt percentage. Huge matchup at the Clippers next will either bring the critics back out of the woodwork or be a really depressing confirmation of what we all feared coming into the season.
  2. San Antonio Spurs (18-4)-Spurs have won 13 of the last 14, mostly consisting of teams under .500 so it’s been pretty much standard operating Spursian procedure. San Antonio has an excellent opportunity to make their mark on seeding this month as the relatively weak schedule continues.
  3. Cleveland Cavaliers (14-5)-The champs bounced back after a three game slide rounding off the last 10 games at 6-4. Not a very impressive stretch, which got downright embarrassing with J.R. Smith’s mid game uh…tribute (?) to Jason Terry. Honestly though there’s not much to worry about here. It happens every season around this time when Lebron, frankly, just gets disinterested. He’s like that nerd in school who spent the summer studying so when school is back he’s unchallenged and bored shitless. The win over the Raptors only proves it’s still the Cavs conference, by far.
  4. Los Angeles Clippers (16-6)-Still wildly inconsistent despite all the athletic talent. Three losses in a row, followed by two impressive wins (one being in Cleveland), followed by a bad loss at home to the Pacers. Maybe it’s just the dog days of a long season but it’s not a good place to be entering a possible WCF preview mega-showdown against the Warriors. The defensive numbers are solid with the Clips holding teams at 99 PPG, but they are underperforming inexplicably on the glass coming in at 15th in the league despite the array of athletic bigs. Madness.
  5. Toronto Raptors (14-7)-Tough loss to the champs in what could’ve been a statement win, otherwise not a bad week for Canada’s Cagers. DeRozan has cooled off a bit but mostly due to lack of aggressiveness/attempts but despite this the team has been strong, winning 6 of the last 7 games, only one of the wins coming by less than double digits.
  6. Oklahoma City Thunder (14-8)-OKC is streaking again, taking their cue from Russell Westbrook and his triple-double absurdity. What’s been amazing about Russ’ run, is it feeds perfectly into his role and what the Thunder need him to do to be successful, he’s not going out of his way to stat hunt but just doing what the team needs. 6 triple-doubles, 6 wins. My biggest question however, is can he continue this level headed approach when the opponents get tougher? In other related streaking news, how about Anthony Morrow? His continued resurgence is critical if OKC wants to define itself as a contender.
  7. Houston Rockets (14-7)-The good news? Houston has won 11 out of the last 15 games, with wins against the Spurs, Jazz and Warriors. James Harden is playing at an MVP level and they have found a way to win without him having the go nuts scoring. The bad news? The Rockets are taking an insane amount of 3-point shots, even dropping 50 attempts on the Kings. There’s no way to sustain an offense on that many attempts, much less a defense with all the quick run-outs it affords teams when they miss. Between this and the laughable defense they play, these win streaks are nothing more than fool’s gold when thinking playoff success.
  8. Utah Jazz (14-9)-The Jazz seem to be finding themselves after Hayward’s return to the lineup and it couldn’t have come at a better time with injuries/poor performances from potential playoff rivals. Getting a healthy Hayward back, who’s averaging 28 PPG on 50% from 3-point range the last 8 games, to go along with Rudy Gobert’s paint domination and an array of wing contributors could lead to an early seeding push from Utah.
  9. Memphis Grizzlies (15-8) – Mike Conley’s back injury puts a depressing touch to what was a very good couple weeks for the Grizzlies. Memphis looks for 5 in a row against the Trailblazers next and will desperately try to stay afloat during the 6-8 Conley-less weeks ahead.
  10. Boston Celtics (12-9)-Meh. That’s pretty much the sentiment lately with the C’s. They beat the teams they are expected to, and lose to the teams they should lose to, for the most part. Horford has been up and down since his return so getting him back into the flow is definitely a positive but people expecting Boston to close the contender gap with just Horford and Brad Steven’s coaching are coming back down to earth a little bit. I’d be shocked if the trade rumors don’t really pick up the closer we get to the New Year.
  11. New York Knicks (12-9)-The Knicks are playing better since the “clear the air” closed-door team meeting last week but until they actually beat someone, they’ll continue to be nothing more than a basketball eye-roll. Kristaps Porzingis is obviously a phenom but at what point does the lack of on-court chemistry start hindering his development? Sometimes you have to just look in the mirror, admit that you suck, and trade Carmelo Anthony.
  12. Portland Trailblazers (12-10)-Portland has won three straight and appear to be playing better the last couple weeks. However appearances can be deceiving as the only real strong win has been against a Chicago team that’s also struggling. Damian Lillard has had 8 double-digit 4th quarters (second in the league) but when Lillard is going off in the 4th and you still aren’t winning games it’s a bad sign. Evan Turner still isn’t producing like they hoped, Ezeli is still hurt, and that coaching seat is heating up.
  13. Chicago Bulls (11-10)-Interesting week starting with a nice win at home over Cleveland…then immediately followed by 3 straight losses. Jimmy Butler has been on fire as of late, they are 2nd in the league in rebounding and a top-10 defensive team, so what gives? A lot of the blame has to go on management and 2nd-year head coach Fred Hoiberg. Instead of being an offensive guru he was hailed to be the Bulls are stagnant, dull and repetitive on offense. They are middle of the road averaging 103 PPG and are 24th in the league in assists, which says a lot when passing is basically all your point guard can do, that and piss off coaches. In his defense, it’s hard to space the floor when you have a short supply of shooters. Doug McDermott hasn’t been the player they’d hoped so far and the higher ups need to figure out how to point this schizophrenic roster into some kind of a direction.
  14. Charlotte Hornets (12-9)-Charlotte still finds themselves top of the division thanks to the current Atlanta meltdown, but It’s not been an inspiring couple weeks with losses at home to Minnesota and Detroit. Kemba Walker has struggled facilitating the offense lately and hasn’t been able to find a consistent running mate to take some of the scoring burden off his shoulders. Charlotte desperately needs Batum to start shooting better.
  15. Milwaukee Bucks (10-9)-Coming off a tough one point loss to the Spurs, the Bucks have pretty much taken care of business without any glaring problems winning 7 of 9. The cold reality is that this team has great players in Giannis/Parker but they still lack a direction and aren’t scaring anybody at the top of Lebron’s conference. It’s “the island of misfit toys” with some old broken ones thrown in.
  16. Detroit Pistons (12-11)-Reggie Jackson is working his way back into game shape and the Pistons are finally at full strength. They have found a defensive identity in his absence and continuing that will be a priority for Stan Van Gundy, especially with the combination of size/athleticism on the wings. Can Reggie be that facilitator Van Gundy needs? The east is wide open beneath the Cavs.
  17. Indiana Pacers (10-11)-There are blowouts and then there are Klay Thompson dropping 60 must’ve felt like water boarding to Larry Bird but it actually was a productive week or two for the Pacers. Wins against the Clippers twice, and the Thunder were the highlights but unfortunately Paul George can only do so much. This team has a lot of talent and Nate McMillan has to share a lot of the blame for such a disappointing start.
  18. Orlando Magic (10-12)-Orlando finished out the week winning 4 of 5 and even pulling some David Blaine shit by getting a W at San Antonio. Does it really mean anything? Probably not. It’s hard getting into a rhythm when you constantly have a “blow up the roster” cloud over your head. Vogel deserves credit for thinking outside the box by thinning out his starting unit in favor of a bolstered bench but with D.J. Augustine as your starting PG and Serge the best offensive option on the first unit you aren’t going to get very far.
  19. Atlanta Hawks (10-12)-After winning six in a row, the Hawks have now dropped 10 out the last 11 games. Despite the massive collapse, they can still make up ground in a weaker by the minute eastern conference but until they get more contributions from people not named Schroeder or Millsap don’t count on it.
  20. Los Angeles Lakers (10-13) The fairy tale seems to be over, the Lakers are back to sucking and Nick Young won’t be traveling on game winners anytime soon with a bum calf. To be fair, they are just finishing a brutal stretch that featured Utah, Memphis, Toronto and Golden State (twice).
  21. Washington Wizards (7-13)-John Wall is calling out teammates and already fantasizing about a possible team-up with DeMarcus Cousins while on-court chemistry continues to fizzle. Scotty Brooks has got to be wondering what he got himself into.
  22. Denver Nuggets (8-13)-Some upcoming relief in the schedule but that’s no guarantee Denver can capitalize. The problem here is Denver has brought in a very good veteran support group around the young core, the kids just haven’t been alright. Mudiay is looking more and more like a bust, whereas Nurkic and Murray have shown flashes, just nothing consistent.
  23. New Orleans Pelicans (7-15)-Anthony Davis is like watching someone from the future play the game, it’s really unfortunate we have to watch him play with what amounts to a d-league roster. It’s the stupid name.
  24. Miami Heat (7-14)-The Whiteside investment seems to be paying off at least? I don’t know what else to say, I watch the Heat and feel nothing.
  25. Sacramento Kings (7-13)-The NBA version of Caligula.
  26. Minnesota Timberwolves (6-15)-So what do you do when the coach already loses the team at the quarter-mark? I almost feel bad for Thibs, he was probably the wrong guy and system for this roster but the players don’t seem to even be taking it seriously. When Ricky Rubio is the vocal leader of the team, you know you’re soft. Biggest disappointment so far.
  27. Phoenix Suns (6-15)-So how much longer do the Suns want to keep doing this before its trade time? And can someone explain to me why Len doesn’t get more minutes?
  28. Dallas Mavericks (4-16)-Harrison Barnes has been the only bright spot, averaging 18 and 6 through the last ten games. Dallas pretty soon is going to have to ask some hard questions involving Dirk and his future.
  29. Philadelphia 76ers (4-18)-Dario Saric has been impressive as of late but Hinkie’s Abortion continues losing. Have now lost 8 in a row.
  30. Brooklyn Nets (5-15)-Hey they’re trying I guess? At least they’ll have a great draft pick next year, oh wait….

 

 

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