NBA power rankings: second edition


Chris Warner

The Warriors have continued with historic dominance and stay atop our board this week, while teams like the Hornets (+4), Thunder (+5) and Grizzlies (+5) are all on their way up.  The Wizards (-11) took the biggest tumble in this week’s rankings.

1 (-)  Golden_State_Warriors_logo.svg 18-0 No change this week as the  No.1 team in the NBA continues their dominance over the rest of the league. 18-0, on a 22-game winning streak, the list goes on. An injury to Harrison Barnes will have him sidelined for about 3 to 4 weeks, making his return right around the time of Christmas. If this team can continue their streak, it will be against the Cleveland Cavaliers to set an NBA record 34-game win streak. They would also have a record of 30-0 if this happens. Hard to bet against them, though. (CV)
2 (-) 200px-San_Antonio_Spurs.svg 14-3 The Spurs finished off a perfect week and have won 11 out of their last 12 games. If it weren’t for the undefeated Warriors, more people would probably be talking about the Spurs as the team to beat. San Antonio hasn’t allowed more than 88 points since their last lost and are currently first in the league in points allowed. If anybody has a chance to beat the Warriors, San Antonio is the team to do it. (JH)
3 (-) cle 13-4 LeBron pulled off late game magic to squeak out a 90-88 win over the Nets on Saturday, but it’s been the standout play from Kevin Love that sets this team apart in the East. Without star Kyrie Irving and key rotational players like Iman Shumpert, the Cavs have continued their winning ways and don’t look to be slowing down. They don’t need a complete team effort to reel off wins in the East. (CW)
4 (+1) heat  10-5 The Heat are sitting pretty tied for second best record in the Eastern Conference with the Indiana Pacers, thanks in large part to vintage, euro-stepping Dwyane Wade. However, it’s the Heat’s second-ranked defense that has them poised to compete for the number one spot in the conference. (BC)
5 (+2) Indiana_Pacers.svg  11-5 The Pacers are now 11-5 after dismantling the Lakers Sunday night. Indiana appears to be a threat in the East — two of their five losses have been decided by fewer than five points. Paul George is averaging 26 points per game paired with eight rebounds, a scary player for opposing teams to face. (BG)
6 (+5) Oklahoma_City_Thunder.svg  11-6 With Durant back, this team looks like a force to be reckoned with. Only San Antonio and Golden State are playing better than the Thunder right now in the West. (CV)
7 (-1) Chicago_Bulls_logo.svg 9-5 Chicago only had a two-game week in which they beat the struggling Blazers and then lost to the Pacers. The Bulls have still been highly inconsistent and Derrick Rose looks nowhere close to the player he was before all his injuries. The Bulls have some big games coming up and it will be a test to see where they stack up against the best teams. (JH)
8 (-) tor 11-7 Impressive victories over Eastern Conference playoff contenders Washington and Cleveland illustrate why Toronto belongs near the top of the league’s power rankings when healthy. However with forward Jonas Valanciunas sidelined for over six weeks with a hand injury, Lowry and DeRozan will be counted on even more to shoulder the offensive load. (BC)
9 (-5) Atlanta_Hawks_2015_Logo.svg 11-8 Atlanta currently ranks seventh in the Eastern Conference standings and their season has been defined by mediocrity and inconsistency. The Hawks big three continue to provide solid contributions, but their 20-point loss to the San Antonio Spurs defines the gap between good and great. The Hawks are a good team, but not a threat right now. (BC)
10 (+4) cha  10-7  The Hornets are 5-1 on their current home stand, and 7-2 at home on the year. They also boast a top-5 offense to go along with an already above average defense. It’s fair to say that no one saw this coming. However, with the loss of Al Jefferson to a calf strain, it will be interesting to see how they adjust going forward. (LS)
11 (-2) Dallas_Mavericks_logo.svg  10-7 The Mavs are a middle of the pack Western Conference team that’s rankings will fluctuate on a weekly basis depending on whether they pull out a marquee win or not. Last week they dropped games to OKC, Memphis and San Antonio before picking up a win against Denver. It’s far too early to tell if this team is a legitimate playoff team or not, but having Dirk always helps. (CW)
12 (+5) Memphis_Grizzlies.svg 10-8 After their bizarre start, the Memphis Grizzlies look to be regaining their competitive form. Mike Conley is quietly having another solid year, while the lethal combo of Gasol and Randolph are up to their usual tricks. If the Grizzlies continue to trend upward, don’t be surprised to see them crack the top 10. (BC)
13 (+4) i  9-8 The Clippers appear to be gaining some type of pulse after seeming to tear apart. With one loss to Utah this week, the Clippers have scored more than 107 points in their last three wins and haven’t allowed over 100 points in those wins. Blake Griffin seems to be carrying this team, and if they gain any more confidence, they will be hard to stop. (JH)
14 (+4) uta  8-7 A loss to a fully healthy Thunder team isn’t so bad, especially when you bounce back with convincing wins versus the Clippers and New Orleans. The Jazz get Golden State on Monday, Orlando on Thursday and Indiana on Saturday. Those teams have a combined record of 36-13. (CV)
15 (-2) bos  9-8 It’s still hard to tell if the Celtics are actually a playoff contender or not. After having a chance to be three games above .500 for the first time in four years, Orlando defeated them and their last three wins have come against the struggling Wizards and the lowly Nets and Sixers. Many questions still remain for Boston. (JH)
16 (-) phx  8-9 Before winning on Sunday against the Raptors, the Suns lost four straight games and were allowing an average of 117 points per game. They lost two games against the struggling Pelicans and Phoenix still seems that they can’t find a defensive identity. (JH)
17 (+5) Orlando_magic_logo 9-8 Orlando has won three in a row, bringing them above .500. Evan Fournier continues to impress, averaging close to 18 points per game, as the Magic continue to work together to rack up some easy wins. (BG)
18 (-6) nyk-logo  8-10 Those three games against Florida teams didn’t pan out very well for the Knicks, as they lost all three.  The defense is still there, but the depth of this team is starting to show. (CV)
19 (+2)  Minnesota_Timberwolves.svg  8-9 The Timberwolves are perhaps the most surprising team of the year. It seems like every game they play is close, and with Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns playing the way they are, there’s no excuse for the games not to be. (LS)
20 (-5) Detroit_Pistons_logo.svg  8-9 Just when people started to believe in Andre Drummond and the Pistons, they begin to show their true colors once again. The Pistons lost to the Nets and Bucks in their last five games, inexcusable losses for a team with any playoff hopes. Drummond and Reggie Jackson can’t be the entire team. (CW)
21 (-11) Washington_Wizards_Logo.svg  6-8 The Wizards have lost four straight games. John Wall shot 6-for-25 against the Raptors Saturday night and now travel to face the Cavaliers on Tuesday. Things could get ugly for Washington. (BG)
22 (+4) Portland_Trail_Blazers.svg  7-10 Portland takes a big jump after winning three of their last four games, all of which featured huge performances from their collection of guards in Lilliard and McCollum. Yes, the three wins all came against LA teams, but at least the Clippers are starting to show signs of life again. This team lacks overall ability, but they’re at least entertaining with their ability to light it up from 3-point land. (CW)
23 (+2) 200px-Houston_Rockets.svg 7-10 The Rockets are struggling as whole, and the coaching staff and players are buckled in for a rough year. James Harden continues to be the only offensive weapon for the team. Dwight Howard is playing at his expectation level, but the Rockets need a new face to emerge that can step up and offer help offensively and defensively. Currently, Houston only has one offensive star and one defensive star — that needs to change if they expect to make a playoff run. (BG)
24 (-1) 200px-Sacramento_Kings.svg 6-12 The Kings go as Boogie goes. Right now Demarcus Cousins isn’t going, having been sidelined with a bad back. It’s no coincidence that the Kings have struggled without him. Rudy Gay can’t consistently knock down the looks Rondo is able to give him and Rondo couldn’t shoot a decent percentage from the field if his life depended on it. (LS)
25 (-5) Denver_Nuggets.svg  6-11 The weather isn’t the only thing ice-cold in Denver. The rebuilding Nuggets have now dropped six in a row and aren’t showing signs of turning it around any time soon. Highly touted rookie Emanuel Mudiay recently got in a shouting match with head coach Mike Malone (maybe over the fact that Mudiay ranks 82 out of 83 in ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus statistic). Essentially, Mudiay has posted decent numbers but isn’t helping the Nuggets win ball games. (BC)
26 (-2) Milwaukee_Bucks_logo15  6-11 This team looks bad. Apart from Giannis Antetokounmpo making a bigger leap than expected, the Bucks aren’t what they thought they would be. Jason Kidd has resorted to slapping balls away from refs and Michael Carter-Williams has been sent to the bench. Things need to turn around before Christmas if Milwaukee wants to get serious about making a playoff push. (LS)
27 (-) nop  4-13 I’ll say it again: This team can’t do anything until they get healthy. They don’t have the depth at guard to compete in the West or the East at this point. Anthony Davis might be a generational talent, but he’s easy to stop if the defense has no one else to focus on. (LS)
28 (-) 200px-Brooklyn_Nets_newlogo.svg  4-13 Even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while, and the Nets found theirs with a four-point win over the Pistons over the weekend. They’re only No. 28 because the Lakers and 76ers are that much worse.  (CW)
29 (-) lal  2-14 The Lakers became the team the Warriors set their NBA record-shattering win against last Tuesday. Byron Scott has said the team doesn’t trust each other, and some fans and experts are going as far as to say Kobe Bryant should retire right now. Things aren’t going well for Los Angeles. (CV)
30 (-) Philadelphia_76ers_Logo  0-18 The Sixers have matched the record for the worst start to an NBA season. With an injury-prone team, there is very few things Sixers fans can look forward to besides Okafor. (BG)

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