NBA power rankings: Where all 30 teams stand to start December
NBA Power Rankings
Our Coach of the Month for November is Nick Nurse, edging out Monty Williams.
Our Rookie of the Month is Eric Paschall, nipping Ja Morant.
Our Player of the Month is Giannis, no surname needed, over a host of candidates including the surprising Pascal Siakam.
Our Best in Show is Luka, whose surname won’t be needed by, oh, next week.
Our early December Power Rankings are as follows:
30: Warriors (4-18)
Sorry, Warriors fans. There is no faster trip to the bottom than to score 79 points against Atlanta’s 29th-ranked defense and lose by 25 to a team that had lost 10 in a row.
29: New York Knicks (4-17)
Keep blaming Coach Fiz if you like, but he’s not part of the front office that decided to add four power forwards last summer. That is not brain trust. It is brain drain.
28: Cavaliers (5-14)
25 turnovers against the Magic. Winless against teams .500 or above. John Beilein is getting a close look at the real NBA, and it’s taking a hammer to his hopes.
27: Hawks (5-16)
Still haunted by the John Collins suspension that will last another three weeks. Until then, the losses will continue to mount for Trae’s team.
26: Bulls (7-14)
They were supposed to be better. They’re not. They won’t be unless somebody finds a way to help Zach LaVine, who does too much because he has to.
25: Pelicans (6-14)
It is expected that Zion Williamson will suit up sometime this month. Until then, the injury list will continue to have folks in N’awlins weeping in their gumbo.
24: Wizards (6-12)
They averaged 115.6 points over the last five games and won once. Mind-boggling. It’s as if the defense is expanding the circumference of the hoop.
23: Grizzlies (6-14)
Ja Morant’s back soreness. Brandon Clarke’s tender hip. And now Jonas Valanciunas is ailing. They’re not interesting at all right now, and they won’t be until Ja returns.
22: Hornets (8-14)
Arguably the league’s longest rebuilding project still shows no sign of progress. When did Nic Batum, a solid player in Portland 23 years ago, retire to cash checks?
21: Magic (8-11)
Dead last in points, they’re padding records of good teams and giving hope to bad ones. It will get better when Nikola Vucevic returns later this month.
20: Spurs (7-14)
If ever there were a season when Gregg Popovich needs his broad perspective, it is this one. The woeful Pistons are the latest team to paint graffiti on the NBA’s gold standard.
19: Pistons (7-13)
Offsetting the win over San Antonio, Detroit had successive games against Charlotte last week – and lost both. That, we believe, is the definition for NBA despair.
18: Thunder (8-11)
They beat bad teams, lose to good ones. The head-scratcher is that the media relations staff lists eight names on the pronunciation guide but not Shai Gilgeous-Alexander?
17: Kings (8-11)
They were 8-5 in November and without a bad loss since October -- until Monday, when they raced out to an 11-point lead in nine minutes before giving it all back to the unmighty Bulls.
16: Timberwolves (10-9)
With the D improving and KAT and Wiggs playing well, shouldn’t they be better? Not really, because there is not enough balance to keep upright.
15: Nets (10-10)
They’re doing OK without Kyrie, whose return timeline has not been established. Our guess is that he will let them know when the mood strikes.
14: Suns (9-10)
He can be immature, even childish. He also is fearless and often highly effective. Joining the list of candidates for least publicized quality player is ... Kelly Oubre Jr.
13: Trail Blazers (8-12)
Three straight wins are less about a revival than a soft spot in the schedule, so we’re not yet convinced. Welcome back, Melo, and count us among those who didn’t think you were ready to contribute as much as you have.
12: Pacers (13-7)
While the world awaits the return of Victor O, Nate’s crew is stacking wins. Well, V.O. has progressed to G League practices, so his NBA comeback, barring a setback, is a week or two away.
11: Jazz (12-9)
Oh, so unkind to the Jazzmen is the road. They’re 4-8 away from Salt Lake and coming off a 1-4 trip. They’re limping home, literally, as Mike Conley’s hamstring is barking.
10: Heat (14-5)
Third in field-goal percentage, third in 3-point field-goal percentage, defying their reputation as gritty grinders with little more than defense and guts. They can bury you beneath buckets.
9: Mavericks (13-6)
Most breathlessly heralded young athletes do not live up to the hype. Luka Doncic already is. At age 20, he’s a legit MVP candidate and must-see TV.
8: Celtics (14-5)
Kemba is doing Kemba things, producing when the lights are hottest. We’re hearing Gordon Hayward could make a mid-month return. If Marcus Smart is OK, they’ll be back in the top five.
7: 76ers (15-6)
Best home record in the NBA (10-0) and Tobias Harris is not close to peak form. If Ben Simmons can't shoot, why is he at 52.2 percent from the field? And playing nasty D.
6: Rockets (13-6)
James Harden is on pace to make 400 3-pointers. He’s on pace to jack up 1,140 -- more than 100 more than last season. Yeah, he’s hunting that MVP award.
5: Raptors (15-4)
After 19 games last season, with Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green on the roster, they were 15-4. Check their record now without Kawhi and Green. Nick Nurse is the new, improved Tom Thibodeau.
4: Nuggets (13-4)
Michael Malone has spent the better part of a decade trying to coax defense from his guys. The sermons are taking effect. The Nuggets have the NBA’s top defensive rating.
3: Lakers (17-3)
The first 20 games were fun for Bron and Brow, but it’s about to get real. Eight of the next 11 are on the road, with all but three games against teams above .500.
2: Clippers (15-6)
Winning eight of nine, twice scoring at least 150 points. Wow. Kawhi and PG are grooving, and Trez is a blue-collar beast. The upcoming 10-day road trip will tell a story.
1: Bucks (18-3)
They’ve won 12 in a row. One of their three losses was by three points, another in OT. Giannis had 29 and 15 on Monday. In 22 minutes. That’s nuclear, even against the Knicks.