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NBA power rankings: third edition

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NBA power rankings: third edition

Chris Warner

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What a week in the NBA! The Warriors win streak ends at 24, the Thunder begin a five-game win streak of their own and the Hornets crack the top 10 in overall offense and defense, while the 76ers and Lakers continue to slump.

THE APPALACHIAN NBA POWER RANKINGS: THIRD EDITION
RANK TEAM RECORD COMMENTS
1 (-) Golden_State_Warriors_logo.svg

24-1

What a start! 24-0 to begin the season and a 28-game winning streak dating back to last season before finally tallying an L.  The reigning MVP is averaging 32.3 points per game and playing just under 35 minutes (34.9).  He’s also shooting 45.8 percent from 3-point land. The Bucks who defeated the Warriors were also the same franchise that beat the Lakers teams the Warriors were chasing in 1972: that Lakers team that went on to win the title. The Warriors are still the team to beat and Harrison Barnes should be returning from injury within the next five games. (CV)
2 (-) 200px-San_Antonio_Spurs.svg

20-5

The Spurs are surprisingly only four games back from the Warriors now that Golden State has finally lost. LaMarcus Aldridge seems to finally be clicking with the offense as he had a huge outing again the Lakers this week. With only one close loss to Toronto this week, San Antonio is arguably the second best team in the league and they have only allowed 100 points once in the last month. Watch out for the Spurs. (JH)

 

3 (-) cle

15-7

Irving and Shumpert are finally getting healthy, LeBron is playing like himself, and Kevin Love is averaging a double-double like his days in Minnesota. Effort is fleeting on a nightly basis with this team, but that’s really just because their mind is already on the postseason. Regardless, they’re the top team in the East. (CW)
4 (+2)  

Oklahoma_City_Thunder.svg

 

16-8

The Thunder have won nine of their last 11 games and currently boast a five-game winning streak.  They post the fourth best record in the league and have the third highest point differential in the league at 7.0 points per game.  The bigger question for the Thunder is whether or not Durant will stay if this team doesn’t win a championship. (CV)
5 (+3) tor

16-9

After a barn burner loss to the Golden State Warriors, the Raptors have reeled off four straight wins and are continuing to look like one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. Kyle Lowry has been the best point guard in the Eastern Conference this season with per game averages of 21 points, five rebounds and six assists. (BC)
6 (-1) Indiana_Pacers.svg

13-9

Indiana had a solid start to their season but have recently struggled. The Pacers have lost four out of their five past games including a blowout loss to the Pistons. On the bright side, Paul George continues to play above his expectations after dropping 48 points in a close loss to the Utah Jazz. (BG)
7 (-3) heat

13-9

The Miami Heat had dropped three straight before a gutsy come-from-behind win against Memphis on Sunday. Wade is continuing his stellar season while the front court tandem of Josh McRoberts and Chris Bosh has given the Heat great spacing and ball movement. However, not much has changed as this team’s success will hinge on which Goran Dragic shows up to play — 20 points and nine assists versus Washington, or eight points on 3 of 14 shooting against Memphis. (BC)
8 (+2) cha

14-9

This bears repeating: the Hornets are top 10 in both offense and defense. The other teams that are top 10 in offense and defense? San Antonio, Golden State, Cleveland and Indiana. This Hornets team is the best team Charlotte has seen in a long time, and blowout wins this past week over Miami and Memphis help back that. (LS)
9 (-2) Chicago_Bulls_logo.svg

13-8

Chicago still seems unable to find any consistency and it is very possible a rebuilding situation will begin at the end of this season. The Bulls are right in the mix with all of the Eastern Conference teams but their offense is struggling and they are losing close winnable games. Fred Hoiberg was hired as coach this offseason to fix the offense and he hasn’t done a good job so far. (JH)
10(+3) i

14-10

Somehow the Clippers are back in the top four of the struggling Western Conference. Los Angeles is beginning to click as a team after looking like they would turmoil just a couple of weeks ago. A big game against San Antonio this week will show where LA actually stacks up against the top Western teams. (JH)
11(+4) bos

14-10

It feels like the Celtics are losing and winning every other night. One night fans feel like Boston is the best team in the East and other nights it seems like they are still mediocre. Boston came close to giving Golden State their first loss on Friday (which Milwaukee did on Saturday) as they went to double overtime with the Dub’s. Boston bounced back with a win against the Hornets on Saturday. We are only a quarter into the season so there is still time to see where the Celtics stack up. (JH)
12 (-3) Atlanta_Hawks_2015_Logo.svg

14-11

The Hawks continue to be a conundrum. On given nights, Atlanta has defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder, only to be steam rolled by the Spurs a few days later. Although they’ve performed admirably at home this season, winning five out of their last seven games, the Hawks will have to find a stronger defensive presence to truly compete. (BC)

13  (+10)

200px-Houston_Rockets.svg

12-12

The Rockets have finally turned things around and have won five out of their last six games. James Harden is shooting 41 percent from 3-point range, compared to his 32 percent in November. Overall, this team has found a formula that works and are sticking to it. (BG)
14 (+6) Detroit_Pistons_logo.svg

14-11

Detroit has won six of their last eight games, and were a point away against Memphis from making it seven of eight. Andre Drummond has been flat out unstoppable, averaging a double-double in points and rebounds, while also leading the team in steals per game (1.9) and blocks per game (1.6). Reggie Jackson is earning his keep, too. Pistons are on the rise. (CW)
15 (-4) Dallas_Mavericks_logo.svg

13-11

Dirk, at age 37, is shooting almost 50 percent from the floor and leads the team with 17.4 points per game. That said, Deron Williams and Wesley Matthews production aren’t enough for this team to be anything but middle of the pack, even in a weaker Western Conference than usual. (CW)
16 (-2) uta

10-12

The Jazz are in the midst of horrible scenario.  Rudy Gobert, the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year candidate is out with a sprained MCL and the timetable for that injury is about six to eight weeks.  The Jazz have since gone 2-4 in those games he has missed, allowing 103.6 points per game. To put that into perspective, the Jazz were only allowing 93.2 points per game before his injury.
17 (-) Orlando_magic_logo

12-11

The Magic are still over .500 and have had a very mediocre season so far. Victor Oladipo now comes off the bench which has benefited the team with winning six of their last nine since Oladipo’s transition. Nikola Vucevic leads the team with 15 points per game which reflects how desperately this team needs a point scorer. (BG)
18 (-6) Memphis_Grizzlies.svg

13-12

Memphis is determined to live and die with Marc Gasol. The big Spaniard has been solid this season in leading the Grizzlies back to contention after their dreadful start. However, Memphis has dropped four of their last six due in large part to the fact that they can’t make a 3-point shot — the Grizzlies rank 29th in the league in 3-pointers made per night. To truly compete in the West, the Grizzlies must pose some sort of threat from behind the arc. (BC)
19 (+2) Washington_Wizards_Logo.svg

10-12

This team is average at everything, with no progress from their past seasons. John Wall continues to be the only player that shines while Bradley Beal shoots 39 percent from the floor in December. The Wizards need their young players to step up quickly if they want to have any chance of reaching the playoffs. (BG)
20 (-4) phx

11-14

Phoenix is beginning to struggle after looking like a playoff contender to begin the season. Luckily for the Suns, a struggling conference has them right in the mix for the playoffs with an 11-14 record. The defense is still awful and Bledsoe and Knight haven’t fully been able to function on the court together.  (JH)
21 (-3) nyk-logo

11-14

The Knicks depth is really showing its ugly face right now. The team is in a huge slump going 3-8 in their last 11 and losing to teams like the Jazz, Bucks, and Kings. (CV)
22 (+4) Milwaukee_Bucks_logo15

10-15

The streak stoppers! Someone was going to stop the Warriors eventually. That someone just happened to be a struggling Milwaukee team trying to replicate their defensive success from last season. They finally found some success, holding the Warriors to 21.6 percent from the 3-point line. Hopefully this will be what finally jump starts their season. (LS)
23 (-1) Portland_Trail_Blazers.svg

10-15

This team continues to rise and fall with the production of their guards Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, their No. 1 and No. 2 point scorers, but outside of those two this team has almost nothing else. When Al-Farouq Aminu is your third option in the offense, what more can you really expect from these rebuilding Trailblazers? (CW)
24 (-) 200px-Sacramento_Kings.svg

9-15

This team is still an enigma. They have all the talent in the world to succeed and all the drama to stop them. Rondo and Cousins love playing with one another, that much is certain. If both could stay on the court at the same time, perhaps they would win a few more games.  (LS)
25 (+2) nop

6-17

Beware the Pelicans. Now at full strength, the Pels are finally winning some games. The return of Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holliday have bolstered the back court, finally giving Anthony Davis some help. If things finally get into high gear, they could make a surprise playoff push provided that things fall their way. (LS)
26 (-1) Denver_Nuggets.svg

9-14

It continues to be a rebuilding effort in the Mile High City. Top draft pick Emanuel Mudiay will be kept out of action for at least a couple games with a sprained ankle. A bright spot for the Nuggets this season has been the play of Danilo Gallinari, who looks like he’s finally harnessing the potential everyone saw when he was a young player for the Knicks. (BC)
27 (-8) Minnesota_Timberwolves.svg

9-14

The young Wolves have cooled off and have slunk back towards the bottom of the Western Conference standings. Perhaps the brightest news to come out of Minnesota this past week was their matchup with the Lakers. Both teams saw their prized young players perform well, offering hope for both franchise’s future. (LS)
28 (-) 200px-Brooklyn_Nets_newlogo.svg

7-16

Teams have figured out how to stop the Nets mediocre offense: Trap Brooks Lopez. Despite being 2-1 in their last three games, Lopez has posted 16 turnovers. Oh, and those wins were over the 76ers and Rockets. Rookie Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is out eight to 10 weeks with an ankle injury, and the team will need more than the aging Joe Johnson and Thaddeus Young to rake in a few W’s. (CW)
29 (-) lal

3-21

D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle getting benched seems like the worst possible idea. Many fans are talking for Byron to be fired, but why not keep him around if it means keeping their top-three protected pick? #LoseForSimmons (CV)
30 (-) Philadelphia_76ers_Logo

1-24

This team lost to San Antonio by 51 points and that alone sums up Philadelphia’s season. The Sixers maintained to earn a win against a struggling Lakers team as there appears to be no hope of success for this franchise anytime soon. (BG)
 Biggest Riser: Houston Rockets (+10) Biggest Faller: Minnesota Timberwolves (-8)

Contributions from: Chris Warner, Lee Sanderlin, Brent Gilmore, Ben Cogsdale, Jason Huber, Cameron Vaughn

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NBA power rankings: third edition