Blakely's NBA Power Rankings: Paint it gold
Blakely's NBA Power Rankings: Dec. 16, 2014
By A. Sherrod Blakely
BOSTON — When it comes to shelling out big dollars on NBA offseason signings, there's no such thing as satisfaction guaranteed.
Because if there was, you would see a decent amount of movement by teams looking to return players they acquired or re-signed in the offseason that haven't quite worked out as well as anticipated.
The Charlotte Hornets would love a re-do on their signing of Lance Stephenson. And you have to wonder if the New York Knicks are having a bit of buyer's remorse on the five-year, $124 million contract for Carmelo Anthony.
Golden State may have actually gotten the steal of the summer when they came to terms on a four-year, $70 extension with Klay Thompson that'll kick in next season.
He has emerged as one of the best two-way shooting guards in the NBA this season and a big reason why the Warriors have been so successful this season.
But Golden State isn't the only team that's playing extremely well this season.
Here's a look at this week's power rankings:
BACK OF THE PACK
30. Philadelphia (Record: 2-22. Last week 29) - Robert Covington a bright spot, has 20 or more points in four of last six games.
29. Minnesota (Record: 5-18. Last week 26) - Scoring remains challenging; have been held below 100 points in each of last four games.
28. Detroit (Record: 5-20. Last week 29) - The return of Jodie Meeks has helped spark wins in two of last three games.
27. Utah (Record: 6-18. Last week 25) - Losses in 11 of last 13, won't get any easier with six of next seven on the road.
26. Los Angeles Lakers (Record: 8-17. Last week 28) - Kobe delivers tongue-lashing in practice that's caught on tape. Lakers start winning games. Yes, Kobe makes it look that easy.
25. New York (Record: 5-21. Last week 27) - Carmelo Anthony and that (sometimes) gimpy knee has left him day-to-day which is the last thing this struggling franchise needs right now.
TRAILING THE PACK
24. Charlotte (Record: 6-18. Last week 24) - Scoring remains major issue for Hornets who are 2-14 this season when they score less than 100 points.
23. Indiana (Record: 8-17. Last week 23) - Poor starts have hurt the Pacers all season, averaging a league-low 22.6 points in the first quarter of games.
22. Orlando (Record: 10-17. Last week 22) - The Magic are 6-4 in games decided by five points or less this season.
21. Brooklyn (Record: 10-12. Last week 20) - Andrei Kirilenko is the first of what's anticipated to be multiple trades made by Brooklyn in the coming weeks.
20. Boston (Record: 8-14. Last week 19) - Great opportunity awaits the Celtics with five straight games against sub-.500 teams.
19. Miami (Record: 11-13. Last week 16) - The Heat's frontcourt dealt a couple of tough blows with injuries to Chris Bosh (calf strain) and Josh McRoberts (right knee).
MIDDLE OF THE PACK
18. Denver (Record: 10-14. Last week 21) - Attacking the paint is what Ty Lawson does best, leading the NBA with 13.5 drives to the basket per game.
17. Sacramento (Record: 11-13. Last week 15) - A healthy DeMarcus Cousins - not getting rid of head coach Mike Malone - is what will make things better in Sacramento.
16. New Orleans (Record: 11-12. Last week 17) - The Pelicans continue to be a .500 team which is progress, but falls well short of making them a playoff team.
15. Phoenix (Record: 12-14. Last week 13) - Riding a six-game losing skid, opponents are averaging 50.7 points in the paint during that span which is tops in the league.
14. Milwaukee (Record: 13-12. Last week 14) - Bucks fans are on pins and needles awaiting word on Jabari Parker's left knee sprain.
13. Chicago (Record: 15-9. Last week 12) - Following game against New York on Thursday, tough stretch for the Bulls with games at Memphis and Washington mixed in with home game versus Toronto.
RUNNING WITH THE PACK
12. Cleveland (Record: 14-9. Last week 10) - Cavs poised to keep climbing with a five-game homestand that began with a 97-88 win over Charlotte - the league's worst road team - on Monday.
11. Oklahoma City (Record: 11-13. Last week 18) - One of the hottest teams in the NBA, Thunder have stormed back with wins in eight of their last nine games.
10. Dallas (Record: 17-8. Last week 11) - Monta Ellis (20.7 points, 4.5 assists, 2.6 rebounds) is playing his way into the conversation to be an All-Star this season.
9. Atlanta (Record: 17-7. Last week 8) - Hawks have won 10 of last 11, fueled by some stingy defense that has allowed a league-low 88.2 points during that span.
8. Portland (Record: 19-6. Last week 7) - Have been strong in the fourth quarter of games, giving up 23.1 points in the fourth which is the third-lowest mark in the league.
7. Los Angeles Clippers (Record: 17-7. Last week 6) - He's not one of the Clippers' biggest stars, but the absence of Spencer Hawes (left knee, bone bruise) will be felt by the Clippers.
LEADERS OF THE PACK
6. Toronto (Record: 19-6. Last week 5) - Lou Williams continues a strong campaign for the league's Sixth Man of the Year award, averaged 19.7 points during Toronto's current winning streak.
5. San Antonio (Record: 17-8. Last week 3) - Four of the Spurs' stiffest challengers out West - Memphis, Portland, Dallas and the Los Angeles Clippers - are on tap this week.
4. Houston (Record: 18-5. Last week 2) - One of the more pleasant surprises for the Rockets this season has been 7-foot big man Donatas Motiejunas (10.4 points, 6.1 rebounds).
3. Washington (Record: 17-6. Last week 9) - Beating the Clippers last week was huge for this team's confidence.
2. Memphis (Record: 19-4. Last week 2) - Big. Strong. Great play on the perimeter. The Grizzlies are poised to be one of the last teams standing in the NBA this season.
1. Golden State (Record: 21-2. Last week 1) - In what should be the game of the season thus far, Warriors and their 16-game winning streak take on the Grizzlies in Memphis. #mustseetv