NBA Power Rankings: Warriors ride Curry to top while erratic Kings tumble
NBA Power Rankings (1.1.18)
Welcome to another week of Power Rankings, courtesy of Kings Insider James Ham!
30. Magic (12-25)
Fools gold. This team looked like they had turned the corner early in the season. Now they are a hot mess. 1-9 over their last 10 games. Losing Nikola Vucevic to a hand injury is bad news.
29. Hawks (10-26)
Worst record in the NBA, but this is what happens when you purge your roster. They’ve had some quality wins, but overall, this team just doesn’t have the talent to compete on a nightly basis.
28. Lakers (11-24)
Lots of hype. Not a lot of wins. Kevin Kuzma is good. Lonzo Ball is out with a shoulder sprain. Carrying the weight of the Ball family on his shoulders is treacherous work. LA took Houston to double overtime on Sunday, but came up short for their six straight loss.
27. Nets (13-23)
The Nets still paying for the mistakes of the past, but they play hard and the brand of basketball is fun. They’ll get D’Angelo Russell and Jahlil Okafor back this month. Maybe the second and third overall selections from the 2015 NBA Draft can help build something in Brooklyn.
26. Kings (12-24)
Erratic. A win over Cleveland was huge. Losses to the Clippers, Suns and Grizzlies in the same week leaves you scratching your head. Bogdan Bogdanovic is adjusting to the NBA game. Vince Carter turned back the clock for a big game over LeBron James. But overall, a very disappointing week for the Kings
25. Grizzlies (12-25)
After a dramatic start to the season that included the firing of head coach David Fizdale, things have calmed down in Memphis. Tyreke Evans is flourishing without Mike Conley Jr. in the lineup. A win over Sacramento on New Years Eve has Memphis moving up a few spots.
24. Mavs (13-25)
Break up the Mavs. Winners of four straight over playoff caliber teams, Dallas is starting to find a groove. They have an interesting mix of youth and veterans and an very good coach in Rick Carlisle to piece it all together.
23. Hornets (13-23)
Charlotte hasn’t strung together back-to-back wins since mid-November. They have a veteran team that is spinning their tires. They play the Kings, Lakers and Mavs this week, giving them a shot to move up. But this is looking like a train off the tracks.
22. Suns (14-24)
Having Devin Booker back makes a big difference. The Suns can score. They can’t guard anyone, but they are a fun team to watch.
21. Bulls (13-23)
We’ve got a runner! After an abysmal start to the season, the Bulls have gone 10-3 over their previous 13. Markkanen is developing and Nikola Mirotic is averaging over 18 points per game on 48 percent shooting from long range. Chicago’s cornered the market on the stretch four position.
20. Philly (17-19)
Disappointing or were expectations just too high? Embiid is a dream. Simmons is a star in the making. They need more time to develop on the court. They are 4-10 over their last 14 games. Expect a late season surge from this talented young group.
19. Jazz (16-21)
Donovan Mitchell is a star. But without Rudy Gobert, this team is mediocre or worse. Ricky Rubio has regressed to the mean. Someone else has to step forward if this team is going to jump back into the discussion.
18. Knicks (18-18)
Before taking down the Pelicans on Saturday, the Knicks had dropped four straight, including losses to the Pistons, 76ers and Bulls. Porzingis brings it every night. Scott Perry has his work cut out for him as he tries to build around his Latvian star.
17. Clippers (16-19)
The injury bug hit the Clippers hard early. They’ve survived without Griffin, Gallinari and Beverley. Griffin is back and Gallinari isn’t that far out. This team might be able to make a late run up the standings.
16. Pelicans (18-18)
.500? Really? This team still can’t figure it out despite running two of the best bigs in the game out onto the floor every night. Rondo’s 25 assist performance was nice. 70 points a night from Cousins, Davis and Holiday is a start. But wins are all that matter.
15. Pacers (19-18)
Kevin Pritchard is in the running for Exec of the year. Turning an unhappy Paul George into Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis was genius. He has plenty of moveable trade pieces if a good opportunity presents itself.
14. Heat (19-17)
Erik Spoelstra is pushing all of the right buttons. Eight players average double-figure scoring for the Heat. They’ve climbed back into the playoff picture despite having an injury report as long as your arm.
13. Trail Blazers (18-17)
This team appears to be doomed as nothing more than a 6, 7, 8 seed in the Western Conference and an early exit from the playoffs for the foreseeable future. There is talent, but they can’t squander cap space and get away with it in the NBA.
12. Nuggets (19-17)
There are a lot of team floating just over the .500 mark and they are all playing mediocre basketball over their last 10 games. Michael Malone’s crew is on top of the heap, but they could fall five or six spots by the next time the rankings come out.
11. Bucks (19-15)
It’s hard not to like what the Bucks are doing. Antetokounmpo is a star, but Middleton is nice and the Bledsoe move was huge. If Jabari Parker can give them a lift after the All-Star break, this might be a sleeper team.
10. Wizards (21-16)
The Wizards aren’t good enough to be bored, right? This team acts like they are a seasoned one or two seed looking to get through the regular season healthy before making a run at a ring.
9. Thunder (20-17)
Here they come. After struggling with chemistry early, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and Paul George are finding their stride. OKC is 8-3 over their last 11, including wins over Utah, Toronto and Houston this week.
8. Pistons (20-15)
Reggie Jackson is down. Are the Pistons better or worse with him on the floor? Stan Van Gundy fortified his bench in the offseason with guys who can step right in and play. It’s time for a couple of these guys to earn their paychecks.
7. Timberwolves (23-14)
The loss of Jeff Teague stings. This team is top heavy with talent, but their bench is being tested. Tyus Jones needs to be a legit fill in for this team to keep pace in the West.
6. Cavs (24-12)
Cleveland’s lost three straight and four out of five, but Isaiah Thomas’ return is imminent. The dynamic point guard will need time to fit in, but LeBron James needs help and he needs it now.
5. Spurs (25-12)
Kawhi and Tony are back in the fold for an aging, but still dangerous Spurs team. Rudy Gay’s heel issue is concerning, but this team is deep with talented veterans that know their role.
4. Rockets (26-9)
Losing five straight coming into Sunday is an issue. Chris Paul has quickly become a catalyst for the Rockets and his health is paramount to any chance they have of dethroning the Warriors. Daryl Morey better search his rolodex for a plan B, just in case his 31-year-old point guard can’t stay on the floor.
3. Raptors (24-10)
The Raptors boast a league-best 13-1 record at home. They’ve changed up their offensive style and still have some of the best on court chemistry in the league.
2. Celtics (30-10)
He likely won’t get the credit he deserves, but Brad Stevens ability to mix veterans and young players is some next level stuff. The Celtics have the best record in the East. Kyrie is the real deal, even if he believes the Earth is flat.
1. Warriors (29-8)
Stop the presses! Steph Curry is back! 10-of-13 from behind the arc in his first game is a reminder to every team in the league - the Warriors are the team to beat. It doesn’t even look that close right now.