A. Sherrod Blakely's NBA Power Rankings: Raptors rise, Rockets fall
BOSTON -- Beyond the Black Friday sales and the turkey with all the fixings - and the tryptophan-induced naps to follow - this time of year serves as a reminder for many just how fortunate they are.
Especially in the NBA with several teams - the Boston Celtics included - having lots to be thankful for this season.
Boston has been among the top teams in the Eastern Conference despite a slew of injuries and illnesses to key players and a roster full of youthful, inexperienced players who have collectively played with a maturity beyond their years.
Because of their play and the growth of the team’s young-vets like Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, the Celtics are poised to remain among the top teams in the East with seemingly someone new stepping up whenever one of their core players goes down.
But by no means are the Celtics in exclusive company.
There are a number of teams who can relate to how Boston has managed to overcome less-than-ideal circumstances.
And for those teams near the back of the pack or stuck in the middle, there’s a lot of season left to play which for them is indeed something to be thankful for.
And with that, here’s the Thanksgiving edition of the NBC Sports Boston power rankings.
30. Golden State Warriors (4-15)
Rank last week: 30
Looking at all these college basketball holiday tournaments has me thinking … “Which one of these top-5 studs is gonna be ballin’ in the Bay next year?”
29. Atlanta Hawks (4-14)
Rank last week: 21
Riding a seven-game losing streak, key injuries (Kevin Huerter) and suspensions (John Collins) have factored heavily in the Hawks falling well short of expectations this season.
28. New York Knicks (4-14)
Rank last week: 28
The Knicks’ wishlist is a long one for sure, but near the top of it has to be finding better scorers for an offense that ranks next-to-last in scoring (102.0) and offensive rating (103.4).
27. Memphis Grizzlies (5-12)
Rank last week: 24
Even as the losses mount, the Grizzlies seem intent on holding on to (trade asset) Andre Iguodala with no indications that a buyout is, at this point, getting any consideration.
26. Cleveland Cavaliers (5-13)
Rank last week: 27
The two-point guard plan has been among the many things not working all that well for the Cavaliers, losers in four of their last five games in part because of a league-low 20.6 assists per game average in that span.
25. Charlotte Hornets (6-12)
Rank last week: 18
The gravitational pull of being who many of us thought they were is starting to kick in for the Hornets who are riding a five-game losing streak.
24. San Antonio Spurs (6-13)
Rank last week: 29
You keep thinking, ‘the Spurs will get it together. The Spurs will get it together.’ And you look up at the standings and they just keep sinking further and further in the West.
23. New Orleans Pelicans (6-11)
Rank last week: 20
Anthony Davis returned to New Orleans for the first time with the Lakers, and was - no surprise - soundly booed all game. With or without Davis, the Pelicans were and still are, a bad team.
22. Chicago Bulls (6-13)
Rank last week: 23
Every year there seems to be an all-star on a really bad team. Zach LaVine is playing his way into that conversation.
21. Washington Wizards (6-10)
Rank last week: 22
Defense. Defense. Defense. At some point, the Wizards are gonna start playing some right? Right?
20. Portland Trail Blazers (6-12)
Rank last week: 25
The addition of Carmelo Anthony hasn’t exactly sparked the Blazers in terms of wins. But the interest level? Definitely on the rise, big time.
19. Oklahoma City Thunder (6-10)
Rank last week: 19
The 3-point shot has not been kind to the Thunder who are among the bottom-10 in the NBA, at 10.6 made 3’s per game.
18. Orlando Magic (7-10)
Rank last week: 15
The Magic have no longer have the dubious distinction of being the lone remaining team in the NBA without a road win as they beat the Cavs on Wednesday after having lost their first seven road games this season.
17. Detroit Pistons (6-11)
Rank last week: 26
The Pistons’ bench has been one of the team’s bright spots this season, averaging 43.6 points per game which ranks third in the NBA among second units.
16. Sacramento Kings (7-10)
Rank last week: 17
Buddy Hield is making that subtle but important shift from being a guy known as a shooter to a professional scorer, capable of getting buckets in a multitude of ways.
15. Phoenix Suns (8-9)
Rank last week: 12
The red-hot Suns have cooled off considerably of late, losing five of their last six games.
14. Minnesota Timberwolves (10-8)
Rank last week: 14
The transition game has been an issue for the Timberwolves all season, averaging a league-low 9.6 fast-break points per game.
13. Brooklyn Nets (9-9)
Rank last week: 16
Strong play from Spencer Dinwiddie and Jarrett Allen a big factor in the Nets actually thriving in terms of wins and losses, with Kyrie Irving sidelined.
12. Houston Rockets (12-6)
Rank last week: 2
The Rockets get a quality home win over Miami doing winning (another) wild shoot-out where both teams shot better than 46 percent from the field.
11. Utah Jazz (11-7)
Rank last week: 11
The Jazz have been one of the worst road teams in the West this season, with only four teams (New Orleans, Portland, San Antonio and Golden State) racking up more road defeats than their six losses.
10. Indiana Pacers (11-6)
Rank last week: 13
Domantas Sabonis continues to come up big for the Pacers, delivering another double-double (18 points, 12 rebounds) in 19-point win over Utah Jazz.
9. Philadelphia 76ers (12-6)
Rank last week: 8
The Sixers are still trying to find that balance between Joel Embiid getting enough “load management” time, and winning games without him.
8. Miami Heat (12-5)
Rank last week: 7
With three tough road games (Toronto, Brooklyn and Boston) coming up, we’ll have a better sense of how well this Heat team stacks up at this point to the top teams in the Eastern Conference.
7. Dallas Mavericks (11-6)
Rank last week: 10
It’s still early in both players careers, but the Luka Doncic-Trae Young argument is definitely in Doncic’s favor now in terms of his individual play and the success that his presence has had on his respective franchise.
6. Toronto Raptors (13-4)
Rank last week: 9
How crazy would it be for Raptors head coach Nick Nurse to get an NBA title as a rookie head coach, and follow that up with a Coach of the Year award? It’s early, but he has to be on the shortlist of candidates at this point in the season.
5. Boston Celtics (13-4)
Rank last week: 5
Five days after being carted off the floor on a stretcher, Kemba Walker returns to drop a season-high 39 points on the Brooklyn Nets. That’s legit toughness right there.
4. Milwaukee Bucks (15-3)
Rank last week: 6
The Bucks are in a good groove now with Giannis Antetokounmpo leading the way and behind him, a nice group of contributors at both ends of the floor.
3. Denver Nuggets (13-3)
Rank last week: 4
Balanced play at both ends of the floor has fueled the Nuggets’ six-game winning streak that has them very much in the thick of things for the best record in the NBA.
2. Los Angeles Clippers (14-5)
Rank last week: 3
There are others with a higher winning percentage, but we’re starting to see with more consistency during their current seven-game winning streak why they are the odds-on favorites to advance to the NBA Finals and once there, be favored to win it regardless of who emerges from the East.
1. Los Angeles Lakers (15-2)
Rank last week: 1
Good teams. Bad teams. It doesn’t really matter who the Lakers are playing these days. They are doing exactly what they need to do in order to keep winning games in what is once again a top-heavy Western Conference in terms of title contenders.