Skyhook NBA Power Rankings: Week 7

Dec 14, 2012; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; The Oklahoma City Thunder and the Sacramento Kings observe a moment of silence before their game at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in honor of the victims of the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

After a Week 6 hiatus, the Power Rankings are back in business. Keep in mind, since we last positioned these teams, there has been a 2-week period in between, with plenty of guaranteed shuffling.

The Thunder, Clippers have MAJOR win streaks (10 and 9 respectively), the Knicks are still on fire and the Bobcats and Hornets, well, they have streaks going in the opposite direction. The Warriors know how to take care of business on the road and the Jazz are still stingy at home. Rubio’s back to resume his Minnesota love affair and the Lakers, who knows?

So welcome back to The Skyhook’s NBA Power Rankings, where any given week, things can change faster than a James Harden trade.

Previous weeks: Preseason | Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5

Week 7 – December 17, 2012

Biggest jump: Timberwolves (+7) | Biggest drop: Lakers (-7)

Photo courtesy: Yahoo.com1. Oklahoma City Thunder | 19-4 | Last rank: 4

With 10 straight wins (by an average margin of 13.8 points), there’s zero debate that the Thunder are the league’s hottest team and easily take over the top spot in the rankings. Their battle with the Spurs Monday night will be slightly lacking with Ginobili on the shelf, but will still be testing.

Photo courtesy: Yahoo.com2. New York Knicks | 18-5 | Last rank: 5

Just when you think the new “beast of the East” is ready to slow down with an injury to Carmelo, they string together 4 straight wins and 9 of their last 10. I still the most underrated element to this Knicks team isn’t the shooting, but their lack of turnovers (10.6 per game = 1st in the league).

Photo courtesy: Yahoo.com3. San Antonio Spurs | 19-6 | Last rank: 1

We ain’t mad at cha Spurs, but a 2-2 week is enough to drop you down behind the league’s current scorchers. Not many teams could successfully weather an injury to a player of Ginobili’s caliber but the Spurs are deep. Don’t worry, Pop’s got this.

Photo courtesy: Yahoo.com4. Los Angeles Clippers | 17-6 | Last rank: 6

The Clips are still undefeated in December (8-0) and are in the midst of a 9-game win streak themselves. With the Pistons, Hornets, Kings and Suns up next, they could (and should) get this thing to 13 games. Eric Bledsoe’s 24.1 PER in only 18.6 minutes is very impressive.

Photo courtesy: Yahoo.com5. Miami Heat | 15-6 | Last rank: 2

Losing to the now-rival Knicks and Warriors at home carries more weight than them exacting their revenge on the lowly Wizards. Based on the numbers to date (19.4 pts, 3.7 rebs, 4.4 asts), I would not be voting for Dwyane Wade to be on the East All-Star squad.

Photo courtesy: Yahoo.com6. Memphis Grizzlies | 15-6 | Last rank: 3

Knocking off the Jazz at home (9-2) can always be considered an accomplishment, especially after losing 3 straight games, but since their amazing 12-2 start, the Grizz are only 3-4 in December. Maybe a guy like John Hollinger in the front office can add value… er, wait.

Photo courtesy: Yahoo.com7. Golden State Warriors | 16-8 | Last rank: 9

These aren’t your father’s Golden State Warriors. I love this team. What they just did on their 7-game road trip, going 6-1 with wins over the Heat, Nets and Hawks, is the most impressive run by any team at any point this season, especially given their history. And David Lee better make the damn All-Star team.

Photo courtesy: Yahoo.com8. Atlanta Hawks | 14-7 | Last rank: 8

I have to admit, I’m still surprised by the start the Hawks have had with such an extreme roster turnover in the offseason. Perhaps it’s the boring, quiet defense that keeps them in most games? If the Hawks didn’t play the Heat or Warriors, they’d be sitting at 14-3.

Photo courtesy: Yahoo.com9. Chicago Bulls | 13-9 | Last rank: 13

This Bulls team sure can grind. While weathering injuries to their backcourt (Hamilton, Hinrich), they’re still at 6-2 for December. As great as Deng and Noah are playing with their extended minutes, the likelihood of injury keeps rising, which would derail their season.

Photo courtesy: Yahoo.com10. Minnesota Timberwolves | 12-9 | Last rank: 17

The return of Rubio has the T-Wolves flying high and rising up 7 spots in the rankings. This is a dangerous team, especially if they can get something out of the sporadic Derrick Williams.

Photo courtesy: Yahoo.com11. Brooklyn Nets | 13-10 | Last rank: 7

December has not been kind to the Nets, who are 2-6 so far in the month. The bright spot however, is that they are finally seeing signs of old Joe Johnson, who’s been sneaking in some game-winners recently.

Photo courtesy: Yahoo.com12. Denver Nuggets | 13-12 | Last rank: 14

The only thing this team does consistently is be inconsistent. However, a 3-1 week (including a win against the Grizz) earns them a slight bump up again. The Nugs can look forward to January where they play 12 of their 15 games at home.

Photo courtesy: Yahoo.com13. Boston Celtics | 12-11 | Last rank: 11

The C’s offensive looks horrible right now. When Rondo’s not in the game to facilitate every play, they just toss the ball around until someone forces up a shot. Pierce looks really old. I also thought they’d get more from Courtney Lee.

Photo courtesy: Yahoo.com14. Indiana Pacers | 13-11 | Last rank: 19

The Pacers were extremely impressive with their 3-0 week last week, beating the teams they should beat (CLE, PHI, DET) by 15, 10 and 11. David West has easily been one of the most consistent players in the league this season.

Photo courtesy: Yahoo.com15. Utah Jazz | 13-12 | Last rank: 16

Getting beat up by the Suns and Grizz (at home) hurt a bit, but they’ve won 4 of their last 6. Shoutout to Mo Williams for that dagger against the Spurs. We know he had NO problem taking it. Is it time to start considering a story on Jamaal Tinsley’s return to relevance?

Photo courtesy: Yahoo.com16. Milwaukee Bucks | 12-10 | Last rank: 15

After dipping below .500, the Bucks came back with 4 straight wins to get them back over. With his 16 point, 14 rebound (in 24 minutes) performance against the Kings, could we be on the verge of an Ersan Ilyasova resurgance? The Bucks sure hope so.

Photo courtesy: Yahoo.com17. Los Angeles Lakers | 11-14 | Last rank: 10

Though they have played slightly better recently, we still can’t trust the Lakers. The return of Gasol, and of course Nash, can’t come quick enough. Haters gon’ hate, but Metta World Peace is quietly having a solid season. He’s playing 35 minutes per game, giving about 13 points, 6 rebounds and some solid D.

Photo courtesy: Yahoo.com18. Philadelphia 76ers | 12-12 | Last rank: 12

It’s only a couple of games, but it’s easy to see what Jrue Holiday means to this team. When he’s not in the lineup, the Sixers are a bit like Spencer Hawes’ hair… a mess. After Bynum called out Kobe about “stunting his growth,” Mamba responded by dropping 34 and dealing them a loss at home.

Photo courtesy: Yahoo.com19. Portland Trail Blazers | 11-12 | Last rank: 21

The Blazers are such a frustrating team to love. Their talent is unquestioned, but they lack consistency. Hopefully their 3-0 week last week (TOR, SAN, NOH) will be the start of that. J.J. Hickson quietly having a breakout season averaging 12.0 points and 10.5 rebounds.

Photo courtesy: Yahoo.com20. Dallas Mavericks | 11-13 | Last rank: 20

The Mavericks age was clearly showing last week in dropping all three games of their mini road trip to the C’s, Raps and Wolves. As the current heart and soul of this team, O.J. Mayo is completely deserving of an All-Star nod. Maybe Cuban will go off is he gets left out?

Photo courtesy: Yahoo.com21. Houston Rockets | 11-12 | Last rank: 18

Not surprisingly, James Harden ranks 2nd in the league (Dwight Howard) with Free Throws Attempted per game (9.6), a prime chunk of his scoring. Jeremy Lin’s 38 against the Spurs was fun to watch, even if it didn’t come with a Rockets win.

Photo courtesy: Yahoo.com22. Orlando Magic | 10-13 | Last rank: 23

You really have to give it to the Magic, they have marginally exceeded expectations so far this season, an example of which, was a 14-point beatdown of the hot Warriors last week. J.J. Redick is becoming lethal and Nik Vucevik is averaging a near double double (10.0 pts, 9.4 rebs).

Photo courtesy: Yahoo.com23. Phoenix Suns | 9-15 | Last rank: 24

For the Suns, a successful week looks like: Knocking off both the Grizzlies and the Jazz. Michael Beasley is proving to be one of the most inefficient players in the league. Will his name come up during trade talks?

Photo courtesy: Yahoo.com24. Detroit Pistons | 7-19 | Last rank: 25

That little glimmer of promise that the Pistons showed is all but gone as they’ve managed to put together another losing streak. With the Raps and a back-to-back with the Wizards coming up, surely they can snap it. However, Brandon Knight continues to impress.

Photo courtesy: Yahoo.com25. Sacramento Kings | 7-16 | Last rank: 28

The Kings have had losing streaks of 3, 5, 3 and 4 (and counting) so far this season. He won’t be entering the Hall of Fame anytime soon or anything, but Jimmer Fredette is averaging 7.6 points per game in only 12.3 minutes per game. Turn The Jimmer loose!

Photo courtesy: Yahoo.com26. Toronto Raptors | 6-19 | Last rank: 26

First Dallas, then Houston. See what some home cookin’ can do for the Raps? Injuries to Bargnani and Lowry will be costly in the short term, but trust me when I say that Jose Calderon (leading the league in triple doubles with 2) has got things under control at the PG position right now.

Photo courtesy: Yahoo.com27. Charlotte Bobcats | 7-16 | Last rank: 22

At 11 straight losses and counting, the ‘Cats have to take a tumble. Kemba Walker won’t make the All-Star team, but should definitely be tossed into the immediate conversation for Most Improved Player. Nothing wrong with 18.5 pts, 6.1 asts, 2.0 stls and an improved (for him) 43% from the field.

Photo courtesy: Yahoo.com28. New Orleans Hornets Pelicans | 5-18 | Last rank: 27

After a heartbreaker in Portland, the Hornets have now dropped seven straight games. Ryan Anderson (almost 19 points per game) is becoming one of the most dangerous scorers in the league and has to be the odds-on favorite to win the 3-point challenge at All-Star Weekend.

Photo courtesy: Yahoo.com29. Cleveland Cavaliers | 5-20 | Last rank: 29

About the only thing(s) rocking in the city of Cleveland right now are Kyrie Irving and Anderson Varejao. Wearing a black Phantom of the Opera mask in his second game back, Irving dropped 41 as MSG in a 1-point loss to the Knicks. I guess I can finally get over my “I didn’t think he’d be this good” feeling already huh?

Photo courtesy: Yahoo.com30. Washington Wizards | 3-18 | Last rank: 30

Has anyone checked in on John Wall lately? He’s still alive through all this right? Another great question… could the Wiz make a run at the Bobcats losing history of last year? I vote “Yes.” Oh, the tragic fall that is Jan Vesely. Chin up Washingon, your Redskins could still win the NFC East.