Blakely's NBA Power Rankings: Bear necessities
Blakely's NBA Power Rankings: Bear necessities
BOSTON — We're still working with a relatively small sample of games, but there are some clear trends that are worth noting.
Memphis is playing as if every game is a playoff match. It's great to see but you have to wonder whether they're expending too much energy now and won't have enough to take it to another level in the playoffs.
Houston has a great record, but there's something about that team that makes me very leery of putting them into the conversation as a legit, title contender.
The Eastern Conference is shaping up for the most part how most expected, although who would have guessed the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Milwaukee Bucks would have near-identical records at this point?
Those are just some of the teams we'll take a closer look at in this week's Power rankings.
BACK OF THE PACK
30. Philadelphia (Record: 0-9: Last week 30) - Would anyone be shocked if the Sixers' first win came over Boston?
29. Los Angeles Lakers (Record: 1-9: Last week 29) - So how about those Clippers?
28. Minnesota (Record: 2-7. Last week 24) - This is the part about being the number one pick (your team isn't very good) that Andrew Wiggins had to experience in order to fully understand.
27. New York Knicks (Record: 3-8. Last week 26) - There's practically no inside scoring off the drive or via post-ups, evident by their league-worst 30.7 points in the paint.
26. Detroit (Record: 3-8. Last week 28) - Talk of this week will be about the Palace Brawl's 10-year anniversary, taking some of the spotlight on how bad this team is playing now.
25. Boston (Record: 3-6. Last week 16) - So much for gaining momentum as Boston drops three straight - all at home.
TRAILING THE PACK
24. Oklahoma City (Record: 3-8. Last week 22) - Aside from wins, nowhere is the absence of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant more noticeable than the Thunder's league-worst 5.2 fast break points per game.
23. Denver (Record: 3-7: Last week 27) - Keep an eye on Brian Shaw, because he's likely to be the first coach to get the axe this year.
22. Orlando (Record: 5-7. Last week 25) - Victor Oladipo's back, so look for the Magic to steadily rise up the rankings this season.
21. Charlotte (Record: 4-7. Last week 20) - Hornets struggling to regain that defensive mojo they had last year, having dropped four of their last five games.
20. Indiana (Record: 4-7. Last week 23) - Coming off huge 99-90 win at Chicago, Pacers should build off of that with next two games at home.
19. Brooklyn (Record: 4-6. Last week 13) - The further removed we are from the Paul Pierce-Kevin Garnett trade with Boston, the more lopsided this deal looks.
MIDDLE OF THE PACK
18. Utah (Record: 4-7. Last week 19) - Derrick Favors has been solid this season, averaging 16.9 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game.
17. Atlanta (Record: 5-4. Last week 17) - Should be a good week with home games against the Los Angeles Lakers and Detroit.
16. New Orleans (Record: 5-3. Last week 18) - Enter the paint at your own risk against the Pelicans who lead the NBA in blocks with seven per game.
15. Milwaukee (Record: 5-5. Last week 21) - They are beating teams with a surprisingly stingy defense that's rendering a league-low 8.8 points per game via fast breaks.
14. Miami (Record: 6-5. Last week 6) - Dropped three of last four in large part because they have taken a league-low 71.8 field goal attempts during that span.
13. Cleveland (Record: 5-4. Last week 15) - The title drought will continue in Cleveland if the Cavs don't improve their defense which is giving up 103.1 points per game, the seventh-highest point total allowed per game.
RUNNING WITH THE PACK
12. Sacramento (Record: 6-4. Last week 11) - Have won three in a row at home, including a 94-91 win over San Antonio.
11. Phoenix (Record: 6-5. Last week 12) - Started their five-game East coast trip with a solid win in Boston.
10. Los Angeles Clippers (Record: 5-4. Last week 7) - Still lots of games to play, but Clippers continue to play disappointing basketball.
9. San Antonio (Record: 6-4. Last week 9) - Spurs having their own late-game challenges with three of their four losses coming by five points or less.
8. Dallas (Record: 8-3. Last week 14) - Rick Carlisle is quietly making an early case for the league's Coach of the Year award.
7. Washington (Record: 7-2. Last week 8) - Wizards have been feasting off the East all season, with their first Western Conference foe this season being Dallas at home on Wednesday.
LEADERS OF THE PACK
6. Portland (Record: 8-3. Last week 10) - The hottest team in the NBA, the Blazers have ran off five straight wins.
5. Houston (Record: 9-2. Last week 4) - Talent is there; toughness? Not sold on this crew.
4. Chicago (Record: 8-3. Last week 5) - Have held last four opponents below 100 points scored. #orderrestored.
3. Golden State (Record: 8-2. Last week 2) - Tough stretch ahead with five of next six on the road.
2. Toronto (Record: 8-2. Last week 3) - Under-rated bench that's averaging 35.9 points per game which ranks eighth in the NBA among bench scoring.
1. Memphis (Record: 10-1. Last week 1) - They have depth, a strong first unit and they defend like no one in the NBA. They're going to stay among the elite teams in the league all season.