The Warriors played five times in Week 7 with just one loss to an impressive Memphis team, so I'm going to cut them some slack this week and keep them at the top. The Cavaliers are surging again and picked up some noteworthy wins this week, while the Rockets continue to climb up the rankings all the way up to the No. 4 spot with six straight wins. For NBA news and fantasy advice, click here to follow me on Twitter!
1.) Warriors (21-4) Previous rank: 1
How impressive was Klay Thompson’s 60-point performance against the Pacers on Dec. 5? According to Elias Sports, that’s the most points any player has scored in fewer than 30 minutes during the shot-clock era, and the 2nd-most through three quarters in the last 20 seasons, trailing only Kobe Bryant (62 in 2005). What’s even more ridiculous is that he touched the ball for a total of 90 seconds...
2.) Cavaliers (17-5) Previous rank: 4
The defending champs had a strong Week 7, racking up four straight wins over the Raptors, Knicks, Heat and Hornets. LeBron James dropped a season-high 44 points in the win over Charlotte and is now tied for 5th all-time in 40-point, 10-assist games with Michael Jordan. He also became the first NBA player with 27,000 career points and 7,000 career assists, and passed Elvin Hayes for 9th place on the all-time scoring list. Not a bad week.
3.) Spurs (19-5) Previous rank: 2
The Spurs stumbled against the Bulls in Week 7, but picked up three more wins over the Bucks, Wolves and Nets to keep them in the top three of my power rankings. Patty Mills has given them a spark off the bench, scoring 15+ points in three straight games with a combined 10 3-pointers and seven steals.
4.) Rockets (17-7) Previous rank: 6
The Rockets have won six straight games including wins over the Celtics, Lakers, Thunder and Mavs in Week 7. They might be the hottest team in the NBA right now and it only seems fair to place them ahead of the Clippers on this list. James Harden has been unreal, but Eric Gordon has also stepped up, hitting an average of 4.8 triples per game over his last nine. They have the fourth best offensive rating in the league and are currently the third best rebounding team. Your thoughts, Dwight Howard?
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5.) Clippers (17-7) Previous rank: 3
The Clippers only played twice in Week 7 and got off to a rough start with a 17-point loss to the Warriors. They bounced back in style against the Pelicans with a season-high 133 points, and Chris Paul led the way with 20 points, 20 assists and zero turnovers — he joined Norm Nixon as the only other player to record a 20-point, 20-assist line in under 30 minutes, and he’s the only player to do it in that span without a turnover.
6.) Raptors (16-7) Previous rank: 5
Their six-game win streak was snapped with a loss to the Cavaliers early in Week 7, but they responded with two straight wins over the Wolves and Celtics. The Cavs may be the best team in the East, but the Raptors are certainly the deepest. When DeMarre Carroll was rested against Boston, Norman Powell stepped up with 20 points, five steals, three treys, three rebounds and two assists.
7.) Grizzlies (17-8) Previous rank: 11
They’ve had the worst possible luck when it comes to injuries, yet they are on a six-game winning streak and look like one of the top teams in the West. They beat the Pelicans, 76ers, Blazers AND Warriors in Week 7 with Marc Gasol leading the way — Gasol is averaging 27.3 points per game over his last four which is the highest 4-game scoring total of his career (h/t Grizzlies PR).
8.) Thunder (15-9) Previous rank: 8
The Thunder lost by three points to a red-hot Houston team, but still had a solid Week 7 with wins over the Celtics and Hawks. Russell Westbrook’s streak of triple-doubles ended at seven in the win over Boston, tying him with Michael Jordan and Oscar Robertson for the second longest streak in history. He’s still on pace to match Oscar Robertson's single-season record of 41 triple-doubles which is beyond ridiculous.
9.) Hornets (14-10) Previous rank: 12
The Hornets move into the top 10 following wins over the Mavericks, Pistons and Magic with their only loss coming at the hands of the Cavaliers. Kemba Walker has scored 20+ points 18 times this season, but had an injury scare in the loss to Cleveland when he suffered a left knee contusion, the same knee that he had offseason surgery on. Luckily, the star PG is not expected to miss any time.
10.) Jazz (15-10) Previous rank: 10
Similar to Memphis, the Jazz are staying afloat in the West despite several key injuries. They beat the Lakers, Suns and Kings in Week 7, and their only loss was to the Warriors with three of their studs on the sidelines including Gordon Hayward. Rudy Gobert has become one of the most dominant centers in the West, averaging 14.7 points, 13.4 rebounds and 3.4 blocks over his last 10 games. He also became the 5th player over the last 20 seasons to record at least 20 points, 15 rebounds and shoot 100 percent from the field in a single game in the loss to Golden State (h/t ESPN stats and info).
11.) Bulls (13-10) Previous rank: 9
The Bulls dropped two straight games early in Week 7 to the Blazers and Pistons, but got back on track with two wins over the Spurs and Heats. Jimmy Butler now leads the NBA with 8.9 free throws made per game and has solidified his case as the best shooting guard in the NBA (Harden is a point guard now).
12.) Celtics (13-11) Previous rank: 7
Week 7 was rough for Boston, as their only win came against the Magic and they dropped three games to the Rockets, Raptors and Thunder. Isaiah Thomas went down with a groin injury and has missed the past three games, and coach Brad Stevens hinted that we may not see him for another week despite Thomas saying that he wants to play.
13.) Knicks (14-10) Previous rank: 15
The Knicks got a wake-up call in their loss to Cleveland in Week 7, but other than that they had a solid week with wins over the Heat, Kings and Lakers. Kristaps Porzingis had three 3-pointers and seven blocks in Sunday’s win over the Lakers, becoming the third player since the 1985-86 season to accomplish that feat (h/t Justin Kubatko).
14.) Hawks (12-12) Previous rank: 19
The Hawks lost to the Thunder early in Week 7 which was their seventh straight defeat, but they finally turned things around (for now) with two straight wins over the Heat and Bucks. They have to be thrilled that Paul Millsap is back from his hip injury, as the big man is averaging 22.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 2.0 blocks, 2.7 steals and 0.7 triples in his last three games.
15.) Pacers (12-12) Previous rank: 14
The Pacers were embarrassed against the Warriors with a 36-point loss, but that’s what happens when you let Klay Thompson get loose for 60 points. They also lost to arguably the worst team in the league right now in Dallas, but they were able to beat the Suns and Pacers to keep them in the middle of the pack of my rankings.
16.) Pistons (13-13) Previous rank: 18
The Pistons are only 2-3 since Reggie Jackson has returned, and they split four games in Week 7 with two wins over the Bulls and Wolves with two losses to the Hornets and 76ers. The home loss to Philly was humiliating, as they shot 39.0 percent from the field and lost by 22 points even though the 76ers were missing Joel Embiid and their top two point guards. If there was one bright spot it was Andre Drummond, as he had two 20-point, 20-rebound games in Week 7 to give him a total of 11 in four years — no other player has done that more than eight times in that span.
17.) Blazers (12-13) Previous rank: 13
After beating the Bulls, the Blazers lost three straight games to the Bucks, Grizzlies and Pacers. They blew a 20-point lead in the loss to Indiana despite getting a career-high seven 3-pointers from C.J. McCollum. On a side note, Damian Lillard has 695 points through the first 25 games of the season which is a franchise record, passing Clyde Drexler (681) per Trail Blazers PR.
18.) Bucks (11-11) Previous rank: 16
Only one player leads his team his points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks and his name is Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Bucks took a step back with just one win over the Blazers and three losses to the Spurs, Hawks and Wizards, but they have the potential to sneak into the playoffs this season even with Khris Middleton (hamstring) watching from the sidelines.
19.) Lakers (10-16) Previous rank: 17
The Lakers have lost six straight games including four losses to the Jazz, Rockets, Suns and Knicks in Week 7. Luckily, reinforcements finally arrived over the weekend with D’Angelo Russell and Nick Young returning to action. Lou Williams has been on another level and scored 137 points in the span of four games, the most points off the bench in 4-game span since starts were 1st recorded in 1970 per Elias Sports.
20.) Wizards (9-13) Previous rank: 25
The Wizards are slowly turning things around and picked up three wins over the Nets, Nuggets and Bucks in Week 7, but fell short in an eight-point loss to the Magic despite a career-high 52-point game from John Wall — he became the first Wizard with a 50-point game since Gilbert Arenas on Jan. 15, 2007 (h/t ESPN stats and info). The Wizards have been using second-year forward Kelly Oubre next to Otto Porter for stretches of the game and it has given their defense a boost.
21.) Nuggets (9-15) Previous rank: 23
They remain a work in progress, picking up two wins over the 76ers and Magic with two losses to the Nets and Wizards. Kenneth Faried might be in the doghouse and even had a DNP-CD in Week 7, but he did respond with a 19-point, 10-rebound double-double against Orlando. Still, it seems like it's just a matter of time before the Nuggets trade him. On a more positive note, the Nuggets have to be relieved that both Nikola Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic are finding their form again.
22.) Magic (10-15) Previous rank: 20
After beating the Wizards, the Magic lost three straight games to the Celtics, Hornets and Nuggets. Ranked second to last in offensive efficiency, rumors have started to circulate that the Magic are looking to add a scorer via a trade, and they are apparently willing to part ways with Mario Hezonja to make a deal work. Struggling GM Rob Hennigan is feeling the pressure to win now and might sacrifice a key building block for the sake of a few more wins. He’s in over his head.
23.) Pelicans (8-17) Previous rank: 21
The Pelicans lost to the Grizzlies, 76ers and Clippers in Week 7, but snapped a five-game losing streak in an overtime win over the Suns on Sunday. Jrue Holiday and E’Twaun Moore both returned from three-game absences in the win due to toe injuries, while Tim Frazier became the first undrafted player to record a triple-double since Jeremy Lin in 2014.
24.) Kings (8-15) Previous rank: 24
They beat the lowly Mavs in Week 7, but then dropped two straight games to the Knicks and Jazz. Expect a ton of trade rumors surrounding DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay with the deadline just a couple months away.
25.) Heat (7-17) Previous rank: 22
The Heat have lost five games in a row including four losses to the Knicks, Hawks, Cavaliers and Bulls in Week 7. It’s no secret that they are rebuilding and this will be an important week for them, as eight of their offseason signings become eligible to be traded on Dec. 15. Those players are Hassan Whiteside, Wayne Ellington, Derrick Williams, Udonis Haslem, James Johnson, Dion Waiters, Willie Reed and Rodney McGruder.
26.) Suns (7-17) Previous rank: 27
Their only win of the week was against the Lakers and they dropped three more games to the Jazz, Pacers and Pelicans. The good news is that Eric Bledsoe has found his form, as the PG has scored 30+ points in two straight games for the first time in his career (h/t @SunsBballComm).
27.) Wolves (6-18) Previous rank: 26
To be fair to the Wolves, their schedule was brutal in Week 7. They lost four straight games to the Spurs, Raptors, Pistons and Warriors and now have the second worst record in the West. Ricky Rubio's assist rate has dropped from 41.4 percent to 29.3 percent which is a career-low (h/t Adi Joseph), so you have to wonder how much longer they wait before pulling the trigger on a trade.
28.) 76ers (6-18) Previous rank: 30
They started the week with two losses to the Nuggets and Grizzlies, but bounced back with two straight road wins over the Pelicans and Pistons — It’s the first time the 76ers have won consecutive road games since Dec. 21-23, 2014 (h/t @Sixerstats). I can’t talk about the 76ers without mentioning Joel Embiid, so check this out: The only player since 1973 with a higher Usage Rate in his age-22 season than Embiid was Michael Jordan (h/t Basketball Reference). Stud.
29.) Nets (6-16) Previous rank: 29
The Nets lost to the Wizards and Spurs in Week 7, but did pull one back against the Nuggets. It’s been a brutal month for the franchise, but things can only get better with Jeremy Lin (hamstring) returning to action on Monday.
30.) Mavericks (5-18) Previous rank: 28
They are now in full-tank mode with Andrew Bogut (knee) out several weeks and Dirk Nowitzki (Achilles) still out indefinitely. They lost to the Hornets, Kings and Rockets in Week 7 with their only win coming against the Pacers. Harrison Barnes has played fantastic and Dwight Powell is showing great potential, but Wesley Matthews has been carrying them with 4+ 3-pointers in five straight games.