NBA Power Rankings: A new No. 1 for third straight week
The re-shuffling atop the power rankings continues this week with a third different number one team in as many weeks. The rankings reflect the topsy-turvy nature of the NBA at the front of the pack in what’s shaping up to be a season in which there won’t be one or two teams running away with this thing.
Instead, we have a handful of teams that we’re seeing get hot for a week, cool down for another but in the end, do enough things to let you know that when all is said and done, they will be among the top teams in the NBA.
Here’s a look at the latest NBA power rankings.
30. Golden State Warriors (3-13)
Rank last week: 29
The losses just keep on piling up for the Warriors, losers in seven of their last eight games with no signs of improvement anytime soon.
29. San Antonio Spurs (5-10)
Rank last week: 15
The Spurs have had some tough stretches from time to time, but nothing like what we’re seeing now in this post-Tim Duncan era.
27. Cleveland Cavaliers (4-10)
Rank last week: 17
Not only has Cleveland lost four in a row, but one of the defeats came against the Miami Heat who got a career-high 29 points out of Duncan Robinson, a former player for Cavs head coach John Beilein when he coached at Michigan.
26. Detroit Pistons (4-10)
Rank last week: 24
With the Pistons off to yet another bad start, there’s a sense that it’s a matter of when — not if — they will start seriously taking calls and looking at ways to acquire assets for Andre Drummond who is having an All-Star caliber season with 18.6 points, 16.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists through 14 games.
25. Portland Trail Blazers (5-10)
Rank last week: 19
Adding Carmelo Anthony certainly helps the Blazers offensively. But thus far, it has done little to change the fact that this Blazers team — for whatever reason — can’t seem to win games consistently.
24. Memphis Grizzlies (5-9)
Rank last week: 27
It has been a while since a loss to the Golden State Warriors becomes a walk-of-shame moment for an NBA team. But the Grizzlies, even in their current rebuild are a better team than the current, significantly depleted crew of Warriors.
23. Chicago Bulls (5-10)
Rank last week: 18
The Bulls continue to struggle when healthy. Tack on injuries like the most recent foot injury to Otto Porter Jr. that’ll keep him out for another two weeks, and you have a team that’s steadily firming up its place among this year’s lottery-bound clubs.
22. Washington Wizards (4-8)
Rank last week: 26
The Wizards have been a team of high-top wearing EZ passes on the court, allowing teams to score a league-high 121.1 points per game. But at least they’re keeping things mildly interest in getting a ton of points themselves; like, a league-high 119.7 per game.
21. Atlanta Hawks (4-10)
Rank last week: 16
You know you’re in trouble when one of the biggest strengths of your roster is your depth at the wing position and you still rank among the NBA’s worst teams in 3-pointers made per game (9.6, 26th in the league) and three-point percentage (.308, 29th in the NBA).
20. New Orleans Pelicans (5-9)
Rank last week: 25
If the Pelicans are going to weather the storm of the NBA season until Zion Williamson returns and still be a playoff contender, they will need Jrue Holiday to carry them the way he did last week in helping New Orleans win three of its last four games.
19. Oklahoma City Thunder (5-9)
Rank last week: 22
The Thunder making the kind of history they would prefer not to in a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in which LeBron James tallied a triple-double and with it, he became the first player in NBA history to have at least one triple-double against every team in the NBA.
18. Charlotte Hornets (6-9)
Rank last week: 21
Devonte’ Graham continues to be the one bright spot for the Hornets this season, recently becoming only the fourth different player in NBA history to tally 50 made 3-pointers and 100 assists through the first 15 games of the season, a group that includes Baron Davis, Stephen Curry and James Harden. Yeah, Graham has been ballin’ out like THAT this season!
17. Sacramento Kings (6-7)
Rank last week: 20
Buddy Hield came into the NBA as a shooter, but he’s showcasing a much more balanced game offensively, which has the Kings on the rise and his play looking more and more like an All-Star.
15. Orlando Magic (6-8)
Rank last week: 25
Winners in three of their last four games, the Magic’s scoring has increased to better than 111 points in the span compared to their league-worst 101.9 points per game average.
14. Minnesota Timberwolves (8-7)
Rank last week: 14
This team is looking more and more like those Kevin Garnett teams of the 2000s: good enough to get to the playoffs, but won’t do much once they get there.
13. Indiana Pacers (8-6)
Rank last week: 12
The Pacers should move up in the rankings this time next week having concluded four straight at home with only one (Utah, Nov. 27) against a team with a winning record.
12. Phoenix Suns (7-6)
Rank last week: 13
They are still one of the feel-good stories of the NBA season, but they still use another reliable scorer on those nights when teams like the Boston Celtics blitz Devin Booker repeatedly on pick-and-rolls, which forced him to pass rather than shoot more times than he would have liked.
11. Utah Jazz (9-5)
Rank last week: 3
You figure at some point, the struggles the Jazz have had scoring all season would come back and bite them, which is one of the chief culprits behind their current two-game losing skid.
10. Dallas Mavericks (9-5)
Rank last week: 11
Luka Doncic is the most promising young player this league has seen since LeBron James. Period. The kid is that good!
9. Toronto Raptors (10-4)
Rank last week: 9
The continued success of the Toronto Raptors will soon result in Nick Nurse being mentioned as a potential Coach of the Year candidate considering how well he has the Raptors playing now.
7. Miami Heat (10-3)
Rank last week: 6
Jimmy Butler returns to Philly for the first time since leaving, which should open a Pandora’s Box of petty back-and-forth trash talk and social media trolling … CAN’T WAIT!!
6. Milwaukee Bucks (11-3)
Rank last week: 8
Kudos to Giannis Antetokounmpo and head coach Mike Budenholzer for successfully navigating this far through the injury to Khris Middleton (left thigh contusion) that’ll keep him out for at least another couple more weeks.
5. Boston Celtics (11-3)
Rank last week: 1
They’ve lost two of their last three on this current West coast trip, losses that were both decided by the final possession. It says a lot about how close they are to being a top-shelf team in the NBA this season, home and on the road.
4. Denver Nuggets (10-3)
Rank last week: 5
Quality win over Houston to snap the Rockets’ eight-game winning streak. They’re starting to figure out just how good they are as a team, and playing more edgy which they need to do in order to successfully navigate the treacherous waters of the Western Conference.
2. Houston Rockets (11-4)
Rank last week: 4
You keep hearing about how you can’t win big with all that scoring power the Rockets and yet this season, all they seemingly do more times than not is win games.
1. Los Angeles Lakers (12-2)
Rank last week: 2
LeBron James is a bona fide league MVP candidate again, putting together big numbers but more importantly, impressive wins for a Lakers team that’s playing well enough to where you can see why they are on the short list of many as a potential holder of the Larry O’Brien Trophy in June.