Warriors Overtake Rockets in Dominant Fashion
With another week in the books, we see much of the same within our weekly power rankings. We do, however, get to crown a new top gun in our rankings, as the Warriors have finally assumed their rightful spot atop the league. If beating your opponents by an average of nearly 20 points in the last seven games isn’t dominant, then I don’t know what is. Other news and notes include: The Celtics winning 12 in a row, the Clippers huge fall (8 to 15), Eric Bledsoe traded to the Bucks, and the Pistons continuing to be the surprise team no one saw coming.
30.) Atlanta Hawks (29) (2-11) 29.) Dallas Mavericks (30) (2-12) 28.) Chicago Bulls (27) (2-9) 27.) Sacramento Kings (28) (3-9) 26.) Los Angeles Lakers (24) (5-8) 25.) Phoenix Suns (26) (5-9) 24.) Brooklyn Nets (25) (5-8) 23.) Miami Heat (21) (6-7) 22.) Indiana Pacers (22) (6-8) 21.) Charlotte Hornets (16) (5-7) 20.) New York Knicks (23) (7-5) 19.) New Orleans Pelicans (19) (7-6) 18.) Utah Jazz (14) (6-7) 17.) Philadelphia 76ers (17) (6-6) 16.) Milwaukee Bucks (18) (6-6) 15.) Los Angeles Clippers (8) (5-7) 14.) Oklahoma City Thunder (15) (6-7) 13.) Portland Trailblazers (10) (6-6) 12.) Orlando Magic (13) (8-5) 11.) Cleveland Cavaliers (11) (6-7)
10.) Denver Nuggets (18) (8-5)
After a less than stellar start to their season the Nuggets have improved their play dramatically over the last few weeks (with exception of a lost to the Warriors). Led by postmen Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap, and one of the deeper benches in the league, the Nuggets have assumed the lead in Northwest division. With only a few tough games on their upcoming schedule, look for the Nuggets to make their way up the rankings.
9.) Minnesota Timberwolves (5) (7-5)
The Timberwolves ran into the buzz saw known as the Golden state Warriors last week, with not so desirable results. They took a 24-point loss and huge slice of humble pie after winning five in a row. The Timberwolves followed up that performance by losing to the lowly Phoenix Suns, which again showed the glaring defensive holes we saw earlier in the season. The Wolves play four games this week, including two top-ten opponents, so it’ll be interesting to see which Timberwolves team will show up.
8.) Washington Wizards (12) (7-5)
The trio of John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter Jr. continue to lead the Wizards up the power rankings into the top ten for the first time this year. This Wizards team has been awesome when its starters have been on the floor (plus-72) and awful when the bench takes over (minus-38), which has led to much of their up-and-down play thus far. If head coach Scott Brooks ever figures out how to stagger his lineups, we could see many more wins from this unit.
7.) Toronto Raptors (9) (7-5)
The Raptors have been one of the most consistent teams in terms of giving themselves a shot to win every game (only two double-digit losses). They lost a heartbreaker to the Boston Celtics 95-94, which would have likely propelled them into the top five if they’d won. Their schedule now has a stretch of winnable games against opponents ranked in the bottom ten.
6.) Memphis Grizzlies (4) (7-5)
After a hot start, the Grizzlies have gone 2-4 in their last six games and looked to have lost some of their offensive mojo. The Grizzlies have had one of the tougher early year schedules, but despite the recent struggles are still playing above preseason predictions. Looking ahead at their upcoming schedule, it doesn’t get any easier, with their fourth matchup against the Rockets and another matchup with the pesky Trailblazers.
5.) San Antonio Spurs (6) (8-5)
Despite their loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, the Spurs have been playing on a different level after their loss to the Warriors. The Spurs are one of the most injury-laden teams thus far, but remain one of the top teams without star Kawhi Leonard and all-time Spurs great Tony Parker. If and when they get healthy, look for the Spurs to challenge the Rockets for the second spot.
4.) Detroit Pistons (7) (10-3)
Week after week, the Detroit Pistons continue to surprise everyone in the NBA with their 10-3 record. Andre Drummond continues to look like a man amongst boys in the post, grabbing over 15.6 boards per game and jamming over everybody. The Pistons have a couple tough weeks schedule-wise, with 5-of-7 games being against top-ten teams.
3.) Boston Celtics (3) (12-2)
Kyrie Irving and Al Horford have become one of the NBA’s hottest duos, leading the club to their 12th straight victory on Sunday. While their success is likely to continue, an upcoming tilt with the Golden State Warriors will truly test whether they’re worthy of a top three spot.
2.) Houston Rockets (1) (11-3)
Although they haven’t lost any games since the last power rankings, the Rockets have fallen out of the top spot due to the Warriors absolute torrid play the last few weeks. Behind the incredible play of James Harden and Eric Gordon, the Rockets continue to roll through their opponents with a barrage of threes. The Rockets face three top-ten teams in their next four games, which will likely test their ability to stay at the number two ranking (Toronto, Memphis, and Nuggets).
1.) Golden State Warriors (2) (10-3)
The Warriors have been flat out dominant lately, beating their opponents by an average of nearly 20 points during their seven-game winning streak. The Warriors appear to be in mid-season form, and looking at their upcoming schedule, it’s tough to see any losses happening any time soon. Perhaps their toughest opponent could be the 12-2 Boston Celtics (play on Wednesday) in what could be an early season preview to the NBA finals.