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NBA Power Rankings: Warriors take top spot, ahead of Cavs, Spurs 12.01.16 at 10:02 am ET
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The Warriors are currently the best team in the NBA. (Kyle Terada/USA Today Sports)

The Warriors are currently the best team in the NBA. (Kyle Terada/USA Today Sports)

Here are this week’s NBA power rankings (as of Nov. 30).

1. WARRIORS (16-2): The collective fears of the 29 other NBA franchises upon Kevin Durant’s signing have all seemed to be well founded. This team looks superior to the 2015-16 version that set the NBA regular season wins record. The dubs have ripped off 12 straight wins, and sit firmly atop my power rankings.

2. CAVALIERS (13-3): The defending champions certainly have a strong argument for the top spot in the power rankings. Kevin Love has had a basketball renaissance of sorts, averaging 22.3 points per game, six points higher than last season. This team is far and away the class of the Eastern Conference.

3. SPURS (15-4): The retirement of Tim Duncan has had seemingly no affect on the Spurs in terms of them being right in the thick of the best teams in basketball conversation. Kawhi Leonard is a top-five player in the NBA, and few players can impact the game on both sides of the ball like he can.

4. CLIPPERS (14-5): The Clips hot start has taken a hit with a three game road losing streak, including an inexplicable double OT loss to the lowly Nets. Despite that, the Clippers have too much talent and are too well coached to not bounce back.

5. RAPTORS (12-6): Demar Derozan has come back down to Earth a little bit after a torrid scoring start to the season. The Raptors boast perhaps the second best backcourt in the NBA to the Warriors, and will go as far as Lowry and Derozan can take them.

6. ROCKETS (11-7): The James Harden point guard experiment is off to a rousing success. The Beard is averaging a league best 11.9 assists per game, and scoring in the top-five as well. The problem for Houston though is after Harden, the cupboard is pretty bare.

7. THUNDER (12-8): Oklahoma City’s success begins and ends with Russell Westbrook. Fortunately for them, Westbrook is in the midst of what could be a historically great individual season in the NBA. Westbrook is averaging a triple-double, something that has not been done this late into a season since the great Oscar Robertson in the 1963-64 season.

8. CELTICS (10-8): An up-and-down start to the season due mostly to injuries to Al Horford and Jae Crowder seems to be turning itself around as the C’s have won four of their last six games. Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley are enjoying career years, but the Celtics inability to rebound could prove to be this team’s undoing.


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NBA Power Rankings, 2012-13 10.29.12 at 7:19 pm ET
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It’s almost Halloween, another NBA season is upon us and the league’s landscape changed once again, but the Celtics are title contenders and so too are their most heated rivals. Let’s get right to the 2012-13 debut of our semi-regular NBA power rankings. Here’s the wrinkle: What’s the scariest aspect about each team this year?

1. MiamiLeBron James set the Celtics, Thunder and entire world on fire during his run to a first NBA championship and second gold medal, proving doubters wrong in every corner of the globe (including this cubicle). And he and the Heat only seemed to figure it out midway through the Eastern Conference finals, which means they could be even better, especially with Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis in tow.

2. L.A. Lakers: A starting five of Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard is terrifying, but so is their bench. The Lakers won’t get 82 games from any of those starters, so how close each comes to that number will determine if they can unseat the Thunder beyond arbitrary power rankings.

3. Oklahoma City: After reaching the NBA finals last season, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook got their first taste of what it will take to earn the Larry O’Brien trophy, so they’ll be hungrier than ever. They’ll just have to set the table for Kevin Martin coming off the bench instead of returning Sixth Man of the Year James Harden.

4. Boston: If the Celtics can reach Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals on grit and balls alone, imagine what they can do with a rotation deeper than six. Once Avery Bradley returns, coach Doc Rivers can go 12 deep and weather most injury storms, which have been downright Hurricane Sandy-esque in recent years.

5. San Antonio: Before losing four straight to OKC in the Western Conference finals, the Spurs won 20 straight and 31-of-33. That’s the value of a deep roster. But I’m still buying more stock in Kevin Garnett, Paul PierceRajon Rondo & Co. than Tim Duncan, Manu GinobiliTony Parker Inc.

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NBA Power Rankings, 1/3 01.03.12 at 10:54 pm ET
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With the Celtics, Lakers, Mavericks and Spurs all hovering around .500 through the first two weeks of this shortened season, has the balance of NBA power officially shifted? The way I see it, a team can own any of three distinct advantages after an abbreviated training camp and during a season in which they’re playing every other night: 1) an experienced core; 2) young, athletic talent; and 3) depth. The Celtics own one of those advantages.

In the early going, the power picture remains blurry, so I’m taking a new approach to the rankings: Who would win a seven-game series if they played right now? For example, I’m of the opinion the C’s would lose a playoff series to any of the five teams ranked higher than them and defeat any of the 24 teams ranked lower. Got it? Good.

1. Miami (5-1): The Heat returned an experienced core, possess a ton of talented young athletes and got deeper with the additions of free agent Shane Battier and rookie Norris Cole. There’s a reason Dwyane Wade & Co. are better than 2-to-1 favorites to win the NBA title. This season is so short, LeBron James might not even have time to figure out a new way to choke.

2. Oklahoma City (5-1): The Thunder won five of their first six games, and Russell Westbrook (38.0 FG%, 10.0 3P%) hasn’t even hit his stride yet. They’re incredibly young, incredibly talented and incredibly deep. And they also have Kendrick Perkins. I kid. I kid.

3. Chicago (4-1): Good news: Derrick Rose is still pretty good. Bad news: Rip Hamilton is still pretty old.

4. Dallas (2-4): Without Tyson Chandler holding down the paint, the Mavericks rank 27th in the league in both rebounding and points allowed. Meanwhile, Lamar Odom‘s field goal percentage (19.5%) is almost as bad as his success rate in getting Khloe Kardashian pregnant (too soon?). Yet, the Larry O’Brien trophy remains in Dallas — probably on Mark Cuban‘s pillow, but still.

5. L.A. Lakers (3-3): Even after Andrew Bynum‘s four-game suspension combined with Kobe Bryant‘s wrist injury and a back-to-back-to-back to start the season, the Lakers emerged 3-3. It could be worse. Don’t forget: It’s never a good think when Black Mamba has a chip on his shoulder, and he might lose a cool $75 million for allegedly cheating on his wife Vanessa (who woulda thunk it?). Read the rest of this entry »

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NBA Power Rankings, 11/18 11.18.10 at 12:50 pm ET
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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. Read the rest of this entry »

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