The Warriors remain at the top in this week's rankings, followed by the Cavaliers, Spurs and Clippers. I don't see that top four changing in the near future, but we still have plenty of basketball left. For NBA news and fantasy advice, click here to follow me on Twitter!
1. Warriors (15-2) Previous Rank: 1
The Warriors have won 11 straight games and beat the Pacers, Wolves and the Lakers twice in Week 5. They have now won 10-straight games in each of the last four seasons (Warriors PR) and they set a new franchise record with 47 assists against the Lakers on Nov. 23. Kevin Durant is averaging 27.2 points per game with an effective FG percentage of 63.8 — that would be the highest in league history for a 25 PPG scorer via Marc Stein of ESPN.
2. Cavaliers (13-2) Previous Rank: 2
The Cavs grabbed three wins in a row against the Blazers, Mavericks and 76ers in Week 5 and are currently on a four-game winning streak. LeBron James posted two triple-doubles in that span and is now up to 45 in his career — he’s currently one ahead of Russell Westbrook. LeBron also became the first Cavaliers to reach 1,000 3-pointers, while Kevin Love’s 34-point first quarter against the Blazers was the second highest in NBA history.
3. Spurs (14-3) Previous Rank: 4
The Spurs have won nine straight games, including wins over the Mavericks, Hornets, Celtics and Wizards in Week 5. We knew Kawhi Leonard was going to step up with Tim Duncan no longer around, but his evolution as a leader has even caught the eye of coach Gregg Popovich. "He’s never going to be a towel waver," Popovich said. "He speaks to me about things that he sees now. He comes into timeouts, if he’s not happy with what’s going on on the court. That’s all good.” Leonard has been special, posting career-highs in points (24.8), assists (3.2), 3-pointers (2.0) and FT percentage (92.5) while having the eighth best player efficiency rating in the NBA.
4. Clippers (14-4) Previous Rank: 3
The Clippers picked up wins over the Raptors and Mavericks early on in Week 5, but dropped consecutive road games against the Pistons and Pacers. They were held to 71 points against Indiana on Sunday, the first time that the Clippers have been held under 80 points since Doc Rivers took charge. If there was one positive to take away from the week, it’s that DeAndre Jordan hit 21 out of his 33 free throws, good for 63.6 percent.
5. Raptors (10-6) Previous Rank: 7
After a tough loss against the Clippers, the Raptors rebounded with two straight wins over the Rockets and Bucks. DeMarre Carroll is finally playing better with a combined nine 3-pointers in his last three appearances, and coach Dwane Casey said he could be cleared to play in both games of back-to-back sets around the new year. The Raptors have the third best offensive efficiency rating in the NBA and get a date with the 76ers on Monday without Joel Embiid to slow them down.
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6. Rockets (11-6) Previous Rank: 9
The Rockets beat the Pistons, Kings and Blazers in Week 5, with their only loss coming against the Raptors. Houston is in the top five in offensive efficiency, assists and rebound rate, and James Harden is the first player since Michael Jordan in 1989 to have six games with 30+ points and 10+ assists in a month per @statmuse. The Rockets also set an NBA record when they attempted 50 3-pointers on Nov. 25, connecting on 21 of them.
7. Bulls (10-6) Previous Rank: 6
The Bulls just wrapped up their long six-game road trip and have to be thrilled to come away with a 4-2 record in that span. They did lose to the Nuggets in Week 5 by three points, but predictably took care of business against the 76ers with a 16-point win. Jimmy Butler has arguably been the second best player in the East this season and his team has the fourth best net rating in the NBA.
8. Celtics (9-7) Previous Rank: 10
The Celtics picked up wins over the Nets and Wolves, but fell just short against the Spurs by six points. The Celtics are 5-2 with Al Horford in the lineup and 4-5 with him on the sidelines, so they are obviously thrilled to have him back from his concussion. However, he will be away from the team on Monday vs. the Heat because his wife just gave birth to their second baby.
9. Hawks (10-7) Previous Rank: 5
Their only win of the week was against the Pacers, as they dropped three games to the Pelicans, Jazz and Lakers. The Hawks are still leading the league in defensive efficiency, holding teams to 97.3 points per 100 possessions. Dwight Howard has been inconsistent, but he’s the first Hawk to grab 20 rebounds in a game (Nov. 23) since Al Horford had 22 on 2/25/13 per Hawks PR.
10. Grizzlies (11-6) Previous Rank: 13
The Grizzlies beat the Hornets and 76ers and split a series with the Heat, and they have now won seven out of their last eight games, including their last six road games. Mike Conley is living up to his lucrative contract and has impressed head coach David Fizdale. “People are going to have to really recognize Mike Conley as an elite guard in this league,” Fizdale said. “I’m just letting his play do the talking. He is a different player right now. I love seeing his growth.”
11. Thunder (10-8) Previous Rank: 12
The Thunder got off to a rough start in Week 5 with losses to the Kings and Lakers, but bounced back with two straight wins over the Nuggets and Pistons. Russell Westbrook triple-doubled in both of those wins and now has four games in 2016-17 with at least 30 points, 15 rounds and 10 assists. The only player with more in a season is Oscar Robertson, who had 10 in the 1961-62 season (Elias Sports Bureau).
12. Jazz (9-8) Previous Rank: 15
The Jazz are 23 points better than their opponents per 100 possessions with George Hill and Gordon Hayward together in the lineup per NBA.com and the Salt Lake Tribune, so it’s not a surprise that the Jazz beat the Nuggets and Hawks in Week 5 with Hill back in the lineup after an eight-game absence due to a thumb injury. Rudy Gobert deserves a shoutout as well, as he’s shooting 64.2 percent from the field and is averaging 2.47 blocks per game, trailing only Anthony Davis and Hassan Whiteside.
13. Hornets (9-7) Previous Rank: 8
It was a tough week for the Hornets as they lost three straight games against the Grizzlies, Spurs and Knicks before ending their week on a positive note with some revenge against New York. Kemba Walker has scored 20+ points in 13 out of his last 15 games, and Jeremy Lamb became only the 12th guard in NBA history with 18+ points and 17 or more rebounds in a game vs. the Knicks on Sunday. Marvin Williams is going to miss at least a week of action with a knee issue, so we’ll see what Frank Kaminsky is made of.
14. Pacers (9-9) Previous Rank: 14
After losing to the Hawks and Warriors, the Pacers got back on track with two wins over the Nets and Clippers without Paul George (back) and C.J. Miles (knee). Luckily for the Pacers, they found a diamond in the rough in Glenn Robinson III, as the 22-year-old forward posted averages of 18.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.5 triples during the two-game winning streak.
15. Blazers (9-10) Previous Rank: 11
The Blazers have lost six out of their last eight games and Week 5 wasn’t kind to them, as they lost to the Knicks, Cavaliers and Rockets — their only win was against the Pelicans. Portland ranks dead last in defensive efficiency, allowing 110.5 points per 100 possessions. On a positive note, Damian Lillard (18 games) scored 500 points in a season faster than any player in Trail Blazers history per Blazers PR — Geoff Petrie and Clyde Drexler needed 19 games.
16. Lakers (9-9) Previous Rank: 16
The Lakers are going to be missing D’Angelo Russell for a couple weeks due to some soreness in his left knee, but Jordan Clarkson and Lou Williams have been keeping the teem afloat — Lou Williams has scored at least 20 points off the bench 6 times this season after accomplishing that five times in 2015-16. The Lakers dropped two games to the No. 1 ranked Warriors in Week 5, but grabbed two impressive wins over the Thunder and the Hawks. They are fourth in the NBA in pace and coach Luke Walton is becoming a Coach of the Year candidate.
17. Knicks (8-8) Previous Rank: 18
The Knicks picked up two wins over the Blazers and Hornets, but lost a rematch to the Hornets on Saturday. As my colleague Tommy Beer pointed out, the Knicks are 7-2 at home this season which is second best in the league behind the Cavs, but they are only 1-6 on the road which is the second worst in the league — Philly hasn’t won on the road. At least we know Carmelo Anthony has still got it after dropping this impressive game-winner over the Hornets (link).
18. Bucks (7-8) Previous Rank: 20
The Bucks are back on track after picking up two wins over the Magic in Week 5, but they dropped a close one to the Raptors as well. Giannis Antetokounmpo recorded his first triple-double of the season on Nov. 21, becoming one of three players to ever record 20 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, five steals and three blocks, joining Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon (Bucks on Twitter).
19. Pistons (8-10) Previous Rank: 17
They lost to the Rockets and Thunder, but picked up wins over the Heat and the Clippers. It’s been an underwhelming start to the season for Detroit, but Reggie Jackson (knee) returned to full practice on Monday and could even make his season debut on their three-game road trip this week.
20. Nuggets (7-10) Previous Rank: 21
The Nuggets were able to beat an impressive Bulls team in addition to the Suns, but lost to the Jazz and Thunder. They have been dealing with several injuries for the past few weeks, but Wilson Chandler has stepped up with career-highs in points (18.8) and rebounds (7.7).
21. Pelicans (6-12) Previous Rank: 23
The Pelicans were on a roll early in the week with wins over the Hawks and Wolves to give them a four-game winning streak, but then they dropped two games against the Blazers and Mavericks. Jrue Holiday has been as good as advertised since returning, while Anthony Davis is making a case for the league MVP Award, registering six games with 35+ points and 10+ rebounds. That’s the most for any player through 17 games in 30 seasons per Marc Stein of ESPN.
22. Kings (7-10) Previous Rank: 25
The trade rumors are swirling, but the Kings calmed the storm a bit in Week 5 with two wins over the Thunder and Nets, with their only loss coming against the Rockets. DeMarcus Cousins has scored 30+ points in eight games this season, and he passed Chris Webber for third place in team history with 8,846 points.
23. Wizards (5-10) Previous Rank: 30
This is quite a jump for the No. 30 ranked team last week, but the Wizards beat the Suns and Magic and even gave the Spurs a scare. The Wizards are playing with fire by giving both John Wall and Bradley Beal heavy workloads, but the “trending” story of the week around Washington is that Wall lost a 1-on-1 scrimmage to undrafted SG Sheldon McClellan (link).
24. Magic (6-11) Previous Rank: 19
The Magic lost four straight games to the Bucks (twice), Suns and Wizards, so the No. 24 ranking feels generous. The Magic are only scoring 95.4 points per 100 possessions, the worst mark in the NBA. Coach Frank Vogel tried to shake things up by benching Elfrid Payton and Nikola Vucevic in favor of D.J. Augustin and Bismack Biyombo, but he’s just grasping at straws at this point. The Magic have never been further away from a championship and may have one of the worst front offices in the league.
25. Heat (5-11) Previous Rank: 24
The Heat lost to the 76ers and Pistons in Week 5 before splitting a pair of games against the Grizzlies. This season, the Heat are 2-7 in the clutch and 1-7 in games decided by seven points or less as pointed out by the Miami Herald. Only the Timberwolves have a winning percentage worse than the Heat’s in the clutch (1 of 6, 14.3 percent). To be fair, the Heat are banged up right now with both Goran Dragic (elbow) and Justise Winslow (wrist) on the shelf, while Hassan Whiteside (knee) also popped up on the injury report.
26. Wolves (5-11) Previous Rank: 22
The Wolves lost to the Celtics, Pelicans and Warriors in Week 5, and narrowly escaped with a victory against Phoenix thanks to an epic fourth-quarter comeback — the Wolves outscored the Suns 31-10 in the final period. Ricky Rubio hasn’t payed well this season (neither has Kris Dunn to be fair), so you have to wonder how much patience Tom Thibodeau has left before he makes a trade.
27. Suns (5-13) Previous Rank: 27
Their only win of the week was against the Magic, as they lost three more games to the Wizards, Wolves and Nuggets. They are going to be without T.J. Warren (head) four a couple weeks, but the team welcomed back Tyson Chandler last week. Player development should be the focus the rest of the way and some Brandon Knight trade rumors have started circulating.
28. Mavs (3-13) Previous Rank: 28
They predictably lost to the Spurs, Clippers and Cavaliers in Week 5, but did snap an eight-game losing streak against the Pelicans on Sunday. Despite their brutal start, Mark Cuban insists that his team won’t tank. "Haters gonna hate. We think that you always compete," Cuban said. ”If you're competing when the league is better, like it is this year, if you don't do well, you'll be in a position to get a good pick. Which, remember, even if you have the worst record in the NBA, there's a 75% chance you're not going to get the top pick.” Whatever you say, Mr. Cuban.
29. 76ers (4-13) Previous Rank: 29
They started the week with a win over the Heat to give them a two-game winning streak, their first streak in two years… After that, they lost their next three games against the Grizzlies, Bulls and Cavs, but they just need to Trust The Process. Speaking of Joel Embiid, he became the first rookie since Lamar Odom to hit 53 free throws through his first 10 games (@SixerStats).
30. Nets (4-12) Previous Rank: 26
They are actually a joy to watch because they compete every night, but they have lost seven straight games and look a little lost without their floor general, Jeremy Lin. The Celtics have the ability to swap draft picks with Brooklyn this season, so it looks like the Celtics will be adding a top-5 pick to their already impressive core.