NBA Power Rankings: 12/6/10

San Antonio Spurs


Another great week of NBA action is upon us, but before it gets started, let’s first take a look at our NBA Power Rankings for this week. Not many surprises in this set of rankings, although a few teams have certainly improved their stocks (Knicks and Mavs), while others have struggled mightily recently (Kings and Clippers).

But without any further ado, let’s get right to the rankings:

1. San Antonio Spurs (17-3) – At this point, I don’t think anyone is underestimating the Spurs, as they just keep on rolling. They are extremely efficient on offense right now, as they are just passing the ball really well. Their on-court chemistry has a lot to do with that, and they get three winnable home games on the schedule this week.

2. Boston Celtics (16-4) – The Spurs and the Celtics are doing the same thing to teams, and there is a reason why experience is such a huge factor in this league. Watching Rajon Rondo distribute the ball is a thing of beauty, and as long as he’s running the show, this team is going to continue to get great shots. And their outstanding defense has become such an obvious aspect of this team that you just pretty much know the other team is gonna struggle to get 90.

3. Dallas Mavericks (16-4) – As a huge fan of Dirk Nowitzki, I’ve been waiting for the Mavs to play this way. It’s not just about offense anymore for this team, as they are just taking teams out of their game with their excellent defense. Rick Carlisle has this team playing the way he wants them to play, and that has turned into them being the hottest team in the league.

4. Los Angeles Lakers (14-6) – The defending champions have had a few bumps on the road as of late, specifically on the offense end. But have no fear, this team still has Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson, so they’ll probably bounce back with at least three wins this week. It’ll be interesting to see how their offensive flows against the physical defense of the Bulls on Friday.

5. Orlando Magic (15-5) – If it wasn’t for the stomach bug going around in the Magic locker room, this team would likely be 16-4 right now. But instead, they had key players sitting out in Milwaukee, and they fell 96-85. Orlando is pretty darn good defensively, and that’s why they are this high on the list. Though the Heat are making strides, they are still the team with the tools to challenge Boston in the East.

6. Utah Jazz (15-6) – Despite losing that big game to Dallas, the Jazz are still one of the best in the West, as Deron Williams is playing at a very high level. He’s making everyone around him better, which is what a great point guard is suppose to do. However, this certainly won’t be an easy week, with the Heat, Magic, and Mavs on the schedule.

7. Miami Heat (13-8) – It was good to see the real LeBron James for the first time this season, as the Heat rolled over the Cavs on Thursday night. I’ve speculated as to whether that win will propel them towards a nice little streak. They’ve got four on the road this week, with the contest in Salt Lake City being the biggest challenge.

8. Oklahoma City Thunder (14-7) – Everyone is still aware of the lack of an inside game for the Thunder, but they’ve managed quite well thus far this season. Tough road games await them this week against two teams with a large inside presence (Bulls and Hornets), so we’ll see how well they handle it.

9. New Orleans Hornets (13-7) – This team has fell off quite a bit from their fast start, and there are even some who are blaming Chris Paul for passing too much. Well, Paul obviously needs to score for them to win, but if he’s finding the open man and they aren’t making shots, that’s another thing. Their defense fuels them though, and they should get two wins against the Pistons and Sixers this week.

10. Chicago Bulls (10-8) – Perhaps the Bulls should be higher up on this list. They’ve improved a great deal on defense, and are starting to get nice production out of role players like Taj Gibson and Kyle Korver. They’ve got big games against the Thunder and Lakers in Chicago this week.

11. Denver Nuggets (12-6) – The Nuggets are flying under the radar big time this season, as most of the conversation surrounding this team has been about the potential Carmelo Anthony trade. On the floor though, they have been very good, but face a tough four game eastern swing this week.

12. Atlanta Hawks (13-8) – I’m still trying to figure out the Hawks. They’ve beaten the Knicks and Pacers, but everyone else they’ve won against have losing records. They are still probably the third or fourth best team in the East by default, and they play some good defense. Still though, I wouldn’t label them as a true contender just yet.

13. Phoenix Suns (11-9) – The formula for Phoenix is simple. Score a lot of points and give up a lot of points. OK, so maybe the latter point of that equation isn’t entirely true, but that’s the breakdown of this team. They are first in the league in scoring (109.8 PPG), and last in the league in points allowed (110.4 PPG). It doesn’t matter how you do it, as long as you win.

14. New York Knicks (12-9) – The Knicks still have stretches where they are completely awful, but for the most part, the Knicks have improved a great deal in two areas that plagued them early in the season: defense and shot selection. I still want to see them beat one of the top teams in the league before I seriously start looking at them as one of the best in the East.

15. Indiana Pacers (9-9) – They still need to get some more games under their belt before they can consistently be as good as we’ve seen them be against the better teams in the league. This week’s schedule (Raptors, Bucks, Bobcats, and Hawks) is pretty friendly though.

16. Memphis Grizzlies (8-13) – If they can find some consistency on the defensive end, this team could be pretty good. They have the pieces of offense to score night in and night out, but their defense is what could keep them from reaching their potential.

17. Portland Trail Blazers (9-11) – I’m not really sure what you say about the Blazers right now. They struggle to score. They struggle to rebound. They just struggle. They lost six straight before they won against the lowly Clippers last night, and didn’t reach 80 in three of those games. It will be hard to beat the Suns twice this week with that type of offensive output.

18. Golden State Warriors (8-12) – The Warriors are one of those teams that you think may eventually break out…..but then there is always a glaring weakness that makes you rethink that stance. We know they can score, but we also know that they can give up points in a hurry. It’s gonna be hard for them to be considered a threat when they simply can’t stop anybody.

19. Toronto Raptors (8-12) – The combo of Jerryd Bayless and Amir Johnson could be pretty scary as the season progresses. The Raptors aren’t great, but if they can play solid defense, they could certainly grab a 6-8 seed in the East if their young talent continues to progress.

20. Milwaukee Bucks (7-12) – I honestly believed that the Bucks could be as high as the fifth seed in the East before the season started. Now…..well, not so much. They better win two of three this week before they head off to face the Western Conference powers.

21. Houston Rockets (7-13) – It doesn’t seem like the Rockets are as bad as their record shows, but nonetheless, they are still six games under .500. Injuries have certainly been the big issue for this team, as their defense has suffered from not having a quick guard like Aaron Brooks and the paint-presence of Yao Ming.

22. Charlotte Bobcats (7-13) – You never know what to expect from this team, but they do tend to be in most of their games. Problem is, the best win of the season for them has been against the Suns. And aside from a win against Toronto, the rest of their wins have come against teams at the bottom of their respective divisions.

23. Cleveland Cavaliers (7-13) – Boy, the Cavs probably should have dropped even farther after that display against Miami, but hey, let’s cut them some slack. But wait. Then they came off of that game with a 129-95 loss to the Timberwolves. And then they lost to the Pistons. Yeah, things aren’t exactly great right now for this team.

24. New Jersey Nets (6-15) – I keep waiting for the Nets to start making some type of run, and some type of significant progress. I thought they would be a playoff team, and obviously, they still could be. Things might not get better this week though, as they get the Hawks, Mavs, and Lakers. They better get more efficient on offense, or those three could get ugly.

25. Philadelphia 76ers (6-14) – Some people have said that the Sixers aren’t as bad as their record shows. Well may be true. But they aren’t exactly screaming “Eastern Conference champions” either. It’s going to be interesting to see if they consider trading Andre Iguodala sooner rather than later.

26. Detroit Pistons (7-14) – Speaking of trades, I’m still just waiting for the Pistons to go into full rebuilding mode. Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince‘s stock probably isn’t gonna keep rising if the Pistons keep losing, so why not go ahead and get as much for them as you can?

27. Washington Wizards (6-13) – If you can’t win a road game, chances are, you’re probably not gonna be a playoff team. This team is fun to watch at times because ofJohn Wall‘s progression, but other than that, they don’t have much going for them. Just like with the Pistons’ scenario with Hamilton and Prince, you would think the Wizards will eventually trade Gilbert Arenas for someone that fits better with Wall’s style. But Arenas’ ridiculous contract may stop that from happening.

28. Minnesota Timberwolves (5-15) – It’s hard to see things getting much better for this team, as seven of their next nine are on the road. The T’Wolves obviously have younger players with a lot of potential, but it is gonna take some time before they are a threat to anyone in the Western Conference.

29. Los Angeles Clippers (4-17) – I feel like the Clippers are better than this, but when your record is only 4-17, it’s hard to make much of a case for that. It’s not gonna happen for them this year, but if Eric Gordon and Blake Griffin can continue to get better, and they make some smart moves in the off-season, they have some potential.

30. Sacramento Kings (4-14) – Heading into the season, I honestly believed that the Kings could make the playoffs. They got the new and improved frontcourt, and I thought Tyreke Evans‘ progression would make them even better. But now they’ve lost seven in a row, and are simply atrocious on offense. They take terrible shots, and seem like they have no clue what they want to do on that end of the floor. On a positive note, they get the Clippers and Wizards this week before taking on the Heat.

Any team too high? Any team too low? Let your voice be heard in the comments section below!

Hardwood Paroxysm