NBA Power Rankings, 11/18
|11.18.10 at 12:50 pm ET|
As a general rule of thumb, 10 games in the NBA is a decent time to start making some conclusions, such as:
A. The Lakers and Celtics will have ebbs and flows, but barring injury, they remain the class of their respective conferences until further notice.
B. The difference between the team ranked fifth in this week’s power rankings (Dallas) and the one ranked 12th (Oklahoma City) is as small as former Northeastern star J.J. Barea.
C. The back end of the Eastern Conference is really soft.
D. Speaking of soft, the video by The Basketball Jones, ‘Like a Bosh’ defined the Chris Bosh era in 108 seconds.
This may be my only chance to do the Power Rankings, so without further delay, here they are:
1. Lakers (10-2) Los Angeles lost two games this week, which caused a minor freakout in LA. Since then, they won two games on the road by double digits. The Lakers are back in cruise control for the rest of the month, but their December could get rough with seven straight road games and a three-game stretch starting with Miami on Christmas Day and then New Orleans and San Antonio.
2. Boston (9-2) Here’s the thing that concerns Doc Rivers: The Celtics have been good defensively, but they haven’t put it all together and become dominant for 48 minutes. Rivers said they’ve played their defense “in spurts,” which is good enough to win most nights, but not what they’re after long-term. It’s all part of the process, etc.
3. New Orleans (9-1) The Hornets lost their only game of the season to Dallas earlier this week and then got the better of the Mavs in the rematch. They’re getting help from a number of different sources, but did you know Marco Belinelli is their fourth-leading scorer? Did you know Belinelli was even on the Hornets?
4. San Antonio (9-1) Before we get into that other story, we should point out that the Spurs have been the hottest team in the league, winning eight straight and playing good old Spurs basketball in the process. Pause. Tony Parker got divorced this week after his wife, Eva Longoria, allegedly found hundreds of texts from another woman, a story that was covered by outlets from MTV to the Hindustan Times. And people thought the Spurs were boring.
5. Dallas (7-3) The Mavs had won four straight before dropping the second part of a home and home with the Hornets. Actually six of their 10 games have been against just three teams: New Orleans, Denver and Memphis and they split against all of them. That’s not really that noteworthy, but they are the only team with wins against two of the four teams at the top of the rankings. It’s quality, not quantity that we’re after here.
6. Utah (8-4) The Jazz’s tendency to fall behind and then rally for wins isn’t out of the Jerry Sloan school of strategy, but they have oddly become one of the league’s most entertaining teams. Are they as good as their record? Probably not, but when was the last time you stayed up late to catch the Jazz on League Pass?
7. Miami (7-4) We need the Heat for the comedic value alone. They have already made this season infinitely more enjoyable by living up to every ill-conceived notion of what could possibly go wrong in South Beach. Oh, and Bosh said after their big win against the Suns that their coach wants them to work but they want to chill. Don’t ever change CB4, don’t ever change.
8. Orlando (7-3) The Magic lost a couple of weird games last week to the Jazz (after building a big lead) and the Raptors (which still makes no sense), but Orlando always goes through strange twists in its season. Three of the Magic’s next four games are against Phoenix, San Antonio and Miami so we’ll know if this was a momentary blip or something more serious.
9. Chicago (6-4) The Bulls have won four straight and are taking care of business while Carlos Boozer gets ready to work his way back into the lineup. Boozer is still a few weeks away, but the Bulls have done solid work in his absence.
10. Atlanta (8-4) No one believes in this team. They won six straight, lost four in a row and rebounded with a couple of wins against bad teams. They get a chance to make a statement this week with home games against Dallas and Boston.
11. Phoenix (6-5) The Suns beat the Lakers, which earned them some serious credibility. Then they got destroyed by the Heat, which exposed their lack of an interior game. Still, they have won five of seven.
12. Oklahoma City (7-4) This might seem low for the Thunder, but they are part of a pack with about 10 other teams who have been decent, but not great this season. Jeff Green and Nick Collison are coming back from injuries and we won’t be able to judge them properly until they get settled.
13. Portland (7-5) This is getting ridiculous. Greg Oden is out for the year. Again. But that might not even be the worst of it for the Blazers who dropped a couple of games and are dealing with the latest status update on Brandon Roy’s knee. Short version: It’s not good. But on the positive side, Nic Batum continues to be the West’s best kept secret.
14. Denver (6-5) The Nuggets beat the Lakers last week, lost to the Suns and beat the Knicks by two. They are as up and down as the Carmelo Anthony trade talk, which picked up steam again thanks to a visit to New York. They remain the NBA’s great wild card team.
15. Milwaukee (5-6) The Bucks won three straight before losing to the Lakers on Tuesday. Things are starting to come together for Scott Skiles‘ crew, but it didn’t help that Andrew Bogut banged his injured shoulder. The feeling here is they will be one of the tougher teams in the East before it’s all over, provided Bogut is able to play.
16. Golden State (7-4) New owner Joe Lacob cut his NBA teeth as part of the Celtics ownership group and he and partner Peter Guber are in the process of removing the dark clouds from the Chris Cohan regime. Lacob has emerged as the power in the operation and it will be interesting to see if he can breathe some life into what should be an up and coming franchise. The Warriors have been living off a soft schedule, but at least they’ve taken advantage of it.
17. Houston (3-8) The Rockets are the best 3-8 team in the league, which isn’t saying much but they did win three of five after a ridiculous opening stretch of games. All of this raises the inevitable question of what should they do with Yao Ming, who is hurt again.
19. Memphis (4-8) Zach Randolph wants a new contract and who in Memphis doesn’t after seeing Mike Conley and Rudy Gay cash in? This has mid-season trade written all over it and it would be interesting to see what the Grizzlies could get for him. The Grizz got off to a decent start, but they’ve dropped four straight against good teams. Tough decisions are on the horizon.
20. Cleveland (5-5) The Cavs were never going to be as bad as people projected, but they have suddenly become just good enough to be slightly overrated at this point. Four of their five wins have been against teams ranked lower on this list, but wins are wins in this league. The order of the next five teams in the rankings is basically interchangeable.
21. Charlotte (4-7) The Bobcats have been showing signs of life, winning three out of four last week. They haven’t really established anything yet, but they haven’t slid out of the conversation either. They just are.
22. New Jersey (4-7) Avery Johnson said he wanted the team to be tougher around the basket and Devin Harris complied with a takedown of Blake Griffin. Harris won’t get suspended, which is obviously good news for New Jersey. Of more concern: when did Brook Lopez decide he wanted to be a jumpshooter?
23. Detroit (4-8) Tayshaun Prince fought with coach John Kuester during a game this week. Rip Hamilton got thrown out in the first half in a loss to the Lakers. The Pistons are resembling the 90′s Nets famous for Chris Morris writing messages on his sneakers like, “Trade me,” and “Get me out of here.”
24. New York (4-8) The Knicks seem like they’re due for a decent stretch. They’ve lost a number of close games and are still acclimating themselves to Mike D’Antoni’s system. That’s the company line anyway. Things better turn around quickly, because the expectations were much higher.
25. Washington (3-7) John Wall was in a walking boot and then on crutches. There goes the only interesting thing about the Wizards, unless you count Gilbert Arenas, which is more sad parody than redemption story at this point.
26. Minnesota (4-9) Kevin Love had 31 points and 31 rebounds in a game last week. That’s probably the best thing that’s happened to them since they traded Kevin Garnett. Also: Michael Beasley’s hair needs to have its own regular segment on TNT.
27. Toronto (3-9) The Raptors beat Orlando last week, which still seems like a misprint. They’re awful defensively and they can only get so much mileage out of blaming Bosh for everything. It’s time to start taking stock of this mess.
28. Philadelphia (2-10) The Sixers rank surprisingly higher in a most power rankings that go directly be numbers. That’s partly due to playing a tough schedule and playing seven of nine on the road. Of course, the Sixers don’t have much of a homecourt advantage these days either. At least they won’t be tempted to re-sign Allen Iverson.
29. Sacramento (3-7) Things are getting ugly fast in Kingsville. Fanhouse’s Sam Amick delved into the Kings’ issues late last week in a pretty thorough portrait of a young team in disarray. There’s time to right the sinking ship, but this may not end well.
30. Clippers (1-11) This story did nothing to change the perception that Donald Sterling is the worst owner in sports and an even worse human being. On the court, Chris Kaman is hurt and the Clips keep losing games.