NBA Power Rankings, 11/25
|11.25.10 at 3:18 pm ET|
Obviously, we’re going to release a Thanksgiving Day version of the NBA Power Rankings, taking a look at what teams should be thankful for one-sixth of the way through the season. So, without further ado, here they are:
1. L.A. Lakers (13-2): The two-time defending champion Lakers can still be thankful for Memphis Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace for deciding to deliver Pau Gasol to them. Statistically, Gasol is the most efficient player in the NBA right now, cementing himself as the best big man in the league.
2. San Antonio (13-1): The Spurs can be thankful that Richard Jefferson is still alive, Tony Parker has a renewed focus solely on basketball and Manu Ginobili is healthy. Surround those guys with the ever-productive Tim Duncan and a nice core of young talent, and you’ve got a championship-contending formula once again.
3. Boston (11-4): The Celtics can be thankful that they didn’t land the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft that turned into Greg Oden. As a result, the C’s decided to go another route, trading for Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. As an aside, it’s a shame that Delonte West broke his wrist on Wednesday night; after overcoming some personal issues, he was truly embracing this season.
4. New Orleans (11-3): The Hornets can be thankful Chris Paul hasn’t gone completely insane over their inability to surround him with enough talent to contend. I’m not sure how they’re doing it this season, but they’re winning with a group of guys that — outside of David West — aren’t exactly household names. You can’t argue with their success against a tough schedule.
5. Dallas (10-4): The Mavericks can be thankful that Dirk Nowitzki was still available with the ninth pick in the 1998 NBA Draft and that their owner is a bazillionaire who is willing to spend money to surround him with the talent to win 50 games a season year in and year out.
6. Utah (11-5): The Jazz can be thankful that Paul Millsap became Carlos Boozer 2.0, Jerry Sloan is still sitting on the bench after all these years and Timberwolves general manager David Kahn was willing to part ways with a young Al Jefferson, who is capable of putting up a 20 and 10 on any given night.
7. Orlando (10-4): The Magic can be thankful that they picked Dwight Howard over Emeka Okafor, Hakeem Olajuwon wanted to mentor Howard during this offseason and Vince Carter hasn’t decided to fake an injury to spend more time on the bench.
8. Oklahoma City (10-5): The Thunder can be thankful that the Trail Blazers picked Greg Oden first overall and that they have a general manager like Sam Presti, who has surrounded Kevin Durant with great young talent and has avoided handing out terrible contracts to mediocre players.
9. Chicago (8-5): The Bulls can be thankful that Luol Deng decided to play like Luol Deng this season and Joakim Noah turned into a top-five center despite having a shooting form that looks like the breast stroke.
10. Miami (8-7): Outside of the fact that they have Pat Riley as their head coach waiting in the wings, the Heat don’t have much to be thankful for. So far, their Big Three experiment hasn’t turned out the way they expected, and the loss of Udonis Haslem is a big blow to their success going forward.
11. Portland (8-6): The Trail Blazers can be thankful that Marcus Camby was available for pennies on the dollar, Brandon Roy even still has knees to speak of and Nic Batum has turned into a great third or fourth option on a good team.
12. Denver (8-6): The Nuggets can be thankful for George Karl’s return to health, the fact that Carmelo Anthony hasn’t been traded yet, that the Pistons were willing to deal Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson and that Nene can actually play basketball well.
13. Atlanta (8-7): The Hawks can be thankful that everybody on the roster hasn’t decided to kill each other, Jamal Crawford turned into the NBA’s best Sixth Man and they get to say Zaza Pachulia at practice all the time.
14. Phoenix (7-8): The Suns can be thankful that Steve Nash can still be the same leader at 36 years old, Grant Hill is somehow still in the NBA and Hakim Warrick is turning into the player people thought he might when he came out of Syracuse.
15. New York (8-8): The Knicks can be thankful that the Suns got rid of head coach Mike D’Antoni and general manager Donnie Walsh didn’t make a horrible, horrible mistake by bringing Isiah Thomas back into the fold.
16. Golden State (7-8): The Warriors can be thankful for the exciting Monta Ellis/Stephen Curry backcourt duo, Dorell Wright’s emergence as a solid contributor and Andris Biedrins’ amazing golden-tipped hair.
17. Indiana (7-6): The Pacers can be thankful that they get to have Larry Legend as part of their organization, Roy Hibbert is emerging as one of the league’s best centers and the Hornets were willing to part ways with Darren Collison.
18. Memphis (6-9): The Grizzlies can be thankful that Marc Gasol isn’t so bad after all and Zach Randolph hasn’t decided to do something stupid in a while.
19. Milwaukee (5-9): The Bucks can be thankful that Drew Gooden shaved that weird hair patch on the back of his neck and that they have a lot of pretty good players on their roster, even if that hasn’t translated into too many wins yet this season.
20. Houston (4-10): The Rockets can be thankful that general manager Daryl Morey is able to find diamonds in the rough, Luis Scola has turned into a dominant big man and Yao Ming hasn’t suffered a season-ending injury … yet.
21. New Jersey (5-10): The Nets can be thankful they have an awesome Russian owner who films himself jet skiing, Devin Harris decided to play well again this season and Anthony Morrow is somehow shooting the lights out.
23. Cleveland (6-8): The Cavaliers can be thankful for owner Dan Gilbert’s tremendous letter that ripped LeBron James‘ “Decision” and that they’ve somehow won six games with Anderson Varejao as they’re starting center.
24. Toronto (6-9): The Raptors can be thankful Sonny Weems can actually be an NBA team’s second-leading scorer and that they’ve beaten the Magic and Celtics already this season, because it’s all downhill from here.
25. Charlotte (5-10): The Bobcats can be thankful that Stephen Jackson hasn’t shot anybody and Shaun Livingston has actually played in all 15 games after that devastating knee injury a few years ago.
27. Detroit (5-10): The Pistons can be thankful that Joe Dumars was ever considered one of the best general managers in the NBA and that Ben Gordon is back to playing some good basketball after a terrible 2009-10 season.
28. Sacramento (4-9): The Kings can be thankful they haven’t been contracted by the league and that they have young talent like Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins, even if they’re the same reason the team is struggling to find its identity.
29. Philadelphia (3-12) The Sixers can be thankful that they have a pretty good coach for their young talent in Doug Collins and Elton Brand somewhat resembles the player that made a pair of NBA All-Star teams.
30. Clippers (2-13): The Clippers can be thankful they get to watch Blake Griffin on a nightly basis and that they can watch with excitement every year as the ping pong balls are drawn to determine the NBA Draft lottery order.