Blakely's NBA Power Rankings: Dec. 9, 2014
Blakely's NBA Power Rankings: Dec. 9, 2014
BOSTON — We have a new contender in the Don't-score-for-(Jahlil) Okafor sweepstakes besides Philadelphia which has now won not one, but two games (confetti streamers can begin to pour from the ceiling ... right ... about ... now).
As for the rest of the league, things are starting to get a little congested near the top which is great for fans. It means more and more meaningful games will be coming to a town near you. But of course there are some teams that seem quite comfortable in the NBA basement -- and for a change we're not talking about just Philadelphia, either.
Here's a look at this week's power rankings:
BACK OF THE PACK
30. Detroit (Record 3-18. Last week 29) - Taking a page from the Sixers, if you're going to be bad you might as well be historically bad as the Pistons are off to their worst start in franchise history.
29. Philadelphia (Record: 2-18. Last week 29) - Like ice cubes tossed into a burning fire, the two wins last week will have no impact on where this team goes from here.
28. Los Angeles Lakers (Record: 5-16. Last week 26) - It's not a stretch that Kobe Bryant (32,230 points) will surpass Michael Jordan (32,292) this week for the No. 3 spot on the league's all-time scorer's list.
27. New York Knicks (Record: 4-18. Last week 25) - Trying to put players in a system rather than create a system tailored for those players leads to the kind of struggles we're seeing with the Knicks.
26. Minnesota (Record: 4-16. Last week 25) - High-flying rookie Zach Lavine has had a solid rookie season thus far with 8.9 points, 2.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game.
25. Utah (Record: 5-16. Last week 23) - Opponents have shot 50 percent from the field against Utah in its last nine games - all Jazz losses.
TRAILING THE PACK
24. Charlotte (Record: 5-15. Last week 28) - They move up only because there are teams actually playing worse than they are.
23. Indiana (Record: 7-14. Last week 22) - Transition defense has been a problem during their five-game losing skid, giving up 17.6 fast-break points per game which ranks tied for third in the league during that span.
22. Orlando (Record: 9-14. Last week 21) - Tough stretch coming up with games against Washington, Atlanta (twice) and Toronto.
21. Denver (Record: 9-12. Last week 14) - Lose six in a row, win seven of eight, then lose four straight. Hard to know what to make of this team other than they are really streaky.
20. Brooklyn (Record: 8-11. Last week 19) - When they lose, they really lose! Seven of their 11 losses this season have been by double digits this season.
19. Boston (Record: 7-12. Last week 24) - Marcus Smart breaks out with a big game while Rajon Rondo sits from the sideline. That can only add more intrigue and speculation to what the Celtics will do with Rondo between now and the trade deadline.
MIDDLE OF THE PACK
18. OKLAHOMA CITY (Record: 7-13. Last week 19) - The Thunder are 2-1 since Kevin Durant returned. But the wins don't say much when you consider they came over Detroit and Philadelphia, two of the worst teams in the league.
17. NEW ORLEANS (Record: 9-10. Last week 18) - Blowout losses to the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State this week served as a reminder of just how far the Pelicans have to go to become one of the elite teams in the NBA.
16. Miami (Record: 9-11. Last week 15) - Have lost four straight by 17.8 points per game while opponents have shot better than 55 percent from the field during that span.
15. Sacramento (Record: 11-10. Last week 16) - With five of their next six at home, Kings have a great opportunity to inch closer to a playoff spot.
14. Milwaukee (Record: 11-11. Last week 13) - Prepare for a hard crash, Bucks fans. The team begins its first trip out West next week.
13. Phoenix (Record: 12-10. Last week 11) - Tough losses of late for the Suns with their last three defeats coming by a combined nine points.
RUNNING WITH THE PACK
12. Chicago (Record: 12-8. Last week 6) - The Bulls' defense is off to a slow start in December, ranked among the league's worst this month in a number of categories such as points off turnovers (27th).
11. Dallas (Record: 16-6. Last week 10) - Dirk Nowitzki is no longer a one-man scoring machine in that Mavs frontcourt, evident by them averaging 66.1 frontcourt points per game which ranks No. 2 in the NBA.
10. Cleveland (Record: 12-7. Last week 17) - Great week to see just how much the Cavs have grown as they take a seven-game winning streak into games against Toronto, Oklahoma City and New Orleans with the latter two on the road.
9. Washington (Record 14-6. Last week 7) - Playing with a heavy heart on Monday, John Wall showed us all why he should be one of the first names that comes to mind when discussing the game's best point guard.
8. Atlanta (Record 14-6. Last week 12) - I will beat this drum all day long. Jeff Teague is an All-Star.
7. Portland (Record: 16-4. Last week 4) - Lots of impact scorers, but getting it done during their four-game winning streak with a defense that's giving up a league-low 6.7 fast-break points in their last four games.
LEADERS OF THE PACK
6. Los Angeles Clippers (Record: 15-5. Last week 9) - Short three-game East coast trip should yield positive results and extend their winning streak, currently at eight games, into double figures.
5. Toronto (Record: 16-5. Last week 5) - One of the NBA's best at attacking the offensive glass, Toronto averages a league-best 15.7 second-chance points.
4. Memphis (Record: 16-4. Last week 2) - One of six teams (Golden State, Houston, Portland, San Antonio and Washington are the others) with an offensive rating (points scored per 100 possessions) above 100 (106.5) and a defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) below 100 (99.4).
3. San Antonio (Record: 15-5. Last week 3) - If there was ever such a thing as homecoming week in the NBA, this would be it for the Spurs who will host New York and the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday and Friday, respectively.
2. Houston (Record: 16-4. Last week 8) - The Rockets have many of the pieces in place to contend for a title, but those 17.9 turnovers they commit per game become potential season-killers if Houston isn't more careful.
1. Golden State (Record: 18-2. Last week 1) - They aren't just beating teams; they're bashing their brains in. Currently riding a 13-game winning streak, all but four of those wins have been by double digit margins.