Week 7 Power Rankings

1. San Antonio Spurs 17-4
While all the talk was about Pop benching his stars in Miami, a game they almost won despite being undermanned, the real story is the spurs continued dominance over the rest of the league. 17-4 to start the year. Not too shabby for a bunch of old guys. (AL)
2. Oklahoma City Thunder 17-4
The best team in the league in my opinion. They have the highest point differential which most stat heads will tell you is the best predictor of a team’s ability. They play elite defense, have two players that can get a bucket in clutch situations. They have players that allow them to compete against the bigger teams, they have players that allow them to compete against the smaller faster teams. Their trade of Harden didn’t help but the improvement of their younger stars will trump the loss of this trade. (EJ)

(You’re allowed to dress like this when you have played at well as Russell has lately.

3. New York Knicks 13-5
All cylinders are firing in NYC these days. Melo and smith providing the offense while chandler mans the paint on defense. This team looks to be getting hot as the weather gets cold. (AL)
4. Memphis Grizzlies 14-4
One of the more electric teams to watch, Memphis has a dominant front court. Zach Randolph has had a double double in all but three games so far this year. He’s been outstanding and the continued progression of mike Conley makes this team dangerous. (AL)
5. Los Angeles Clippers 14-6
-Two weeks ago everyone was worried how the injured veterans would fit in and whether Blake Griffin was going to make another jump in his career. Six straight wins later, and no one is wondering anymore. A test on the road against Chicago’s defense should give us a good idea of just how well this offense is gelling. (BF)
6. Miami Heat 13-5
-Losses against the Wizards and Knicks proved troublesome for our previous top team. It showed that they can’t play this small ball all year long, and have a HUGE problem in giving up wide open threes. While they have showed in the past they can turn it on whenever necessary, that was also when Dwyane Wade wasn’t underachieving. The Heat are also currently 2nd to last in the league in rebounding. Can LeBron continue to do everything? (BF)

7. Atlanta Hawks 12-5
-Grantland’s Zach Lowe wrote a great piece on the Hawk’s early success(see it here), and he is one of the few who is noticing. The Hawks seem to be fine with it. Just a half game behind the Heat for first in the Southeast, tonight’s matchup would be the perfect coming out party for this team. (BF)
8. Golden State Warriors 13-7
-The fact that the Warriors are playing this well without their franchise center has to go down as one of the top surprises a quarter of the way through the season. Even better, Klay Thompson is starting to round into form, who has averaged 18 points in his last 10 games. An east coast road trip which includes games at Miami and at Atlanta will show us how playoff ready this team is. (BF)

9. Chicago Bulls 11-8
Of course they miss Derrick Rose he is not only their best player but one of the best in the league. While without Rose they don’t have flashy names what they do have is the thing that wins championships, defense. They play a brand of basketball that is what every coach dreams of. They play great defense with every player attached by an invisible string. They share the ball and make sure they get the best shot possible. They know that the best shot you get is not necessarily taken by the best player on the court. (EJ)
10. Utah Jazz 12-10
They are big, they are athletic and they are physical. They also happen to be very young. Despite their inexperience their a few teams that can match up with their front line rotation of Milasp, Jefferson, Favors and Kanter. They look like they have a very good player in the making in Gordon Hayward. Mo Williams is playing very good ball and playing on this team he is back to being underrated (after being wildly overrated in Cleveland). If their young players continue to develop they could vault themselves to a surprising high playoff seed. If not they will sell off Jefferson and Milsap (both in the last year of their contract) and strengthen their already solid young core. (EJ)
11. Brooklyn Nets 11-8
The Nets have five players averaging in double digits.  Their balanced attack make them difficult to defend.  Deron Williams will need to play near an MVP level for them to challenge for the top spot in the Atlantic.  Interior defense continues to be a weak point for them. (AL)

(The Nets need their big man back ASAP.)

12. Philadelphia 76ers 11-9
Andrew Bynum’s continued knee troubles are worrisome, but Jrue Holliday and Evan turner are taking the primary scoring roles and succeeding. Thaddeus young has also been impressive (15ppg, 7.4rpg). (AL)
13. Boston Celtics 11-9
The C’s are yet to hit their stride.  With Avery Bradley’s return looming and the team starting to show some continuity, this team’s improvement should be noticeable in the near future. (AL)
14. Milwaukee Bucks 10-9
They are about what their record indicates, a .500 team.  On a given night they can beat most teams with hot shooting from Monta Ellis or Brendan Jennings. However, on most nights they have a back court of two gunners that are not conducive to winning basketball. On the bright side Larry Sanders has started living up to the promise he showed in college as an athletic rebounder, defender and post player. If Skiles can get Ellis and Jennings to consistently share the ball they are a playoff team. (EJ)
15. Minnesota Timberwolves 9-9
Right now they are a .500 team but their ceiling is much higher than that. They are currently missing Ricky Rubio, Adrei Kirilenko and Brandon Roy. Who happen to be their best passer (and the engine that makes their team go), their best defender and their best scorer off the bench respectively. Combine those three with a top 10 player in Kevin Love and the most underrated center in the league in the Nikola Pekovic. They are currently an
elite rebounding team and surprisingly the 4th best defensive team in the league (in regards to points against). (EJ)
16. Dallas Mavericks 10-10
Dallas is biding time until Dirk comes back, this team needs more than Vince carter isolation plays to make a run. Collision has been up and down this year. Mark Cuban has no choice but to be patient and wait for the big Germans return. (AL)
17. Los Angeles Lakers 9-12
-The Lakers are simply running out of excuses. While the loss to OKC could have been predicted, they were simply outplayed in every fashion. The Lakers aren’t running through picks, they aren’t rushing the ball, and they aren’t taking good shots. As of now, they are a pick up team with a ton of talent who simply doesn’t know how to play together. The talent can beat the bad teams, but they are not a team who will go far in playoff basketball, if they get there. (BF)

(The Lakers continue to say Nash will fix all that is wrong in LA. That‘s alot to fix for one man.)

18. Indiana Pacers 10-11
Last season this team looked like a young tough team that was on the precipice of greatness. Now they look like a middling that simply cannot score. When looking at what has went wrong you need look no further than Roy Hibbert. Now he won’t be the last big man to be great in a contract year then fall off the face of the map but for some reason no one saw this coming (myself included). A reason for optimism, they are currently ranked first in defense and rebounding. On top of that David West is reverting to the player he was before his injury. (EJ)
19. Denver Nuggets 10-11
While Denver is currently under .500 their talent speaks to a team that is much better than that. They play very good defense (if you adjust for pace), and play with maximum effort all the time. They sometimes have trouble shooting jumpers which can really hurt their floor spacing and offense as a whole. However, their athleticism and defense will mitigate their poor shooting and turn them into the elite team that they can be. Reason for optimism: so far they have played 6 home games and 16 away games. This will even out and their win total should sky rocket. (EJ)

20. Portland Trailblazers 8-12
Portland is in rebuild mode. At least the future is bright. LaMarcus Aldridge is an elite power forward. Damian Lillard is a future star at the point guard position (if you want to see how hard he worked to get there watch these series of videos documenting his first year http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3My0KilXj0). They have Batum who is a very good wing and Wes Matthews who is a solid player.(Ed note: Recent injuries to these two dropped them a few spots.) As of right now they are one good core player away from being a very good team in the future. (EJ)
21. Houston Rockets 9-10
After a hot start James Harden has cooled off somewhat. Asik has been a huge bright spot for them, but they’ll need Lin and Harden to pick up their play and more of the scoring burden as the season goes on. (AL)
22. Orlando Magic 8-12
-The Magic have had one bright spot in this otherwise sad season, Andrew Nicholson. The Canadian first rounder is averaging 10 points and four rebounds in just 16 minutes of work a game in the month of December thus far. With not much else to play for, it might be time to get the future some more minutes and see what he can do when playing the 25-30 range. (BF)

(Nicholson has proved he deserves more minutes in Orlando.)

23. Detroit Pistons 7-15
Recently they have shown us what they actually are when playing well, a .500 team (5-5) in last 10. The problem is they need to be playing near the top of their game to be a .500 team. They will go through droughts (like the one they went on early in the year) again. They do have solid young players at the two most important positions in Greg Monroe and Brendan Knight. If Drummond ever uses his athleticism to actually learn to play basketball they will be in good shape. (EJ)
24. Sacramento Kings 7-12
-Sacramento has quietly won three straight with wins over the Raptors, Magic, and a convincing win over Portland on the road. This team plays much better when it spreads out the scoring besides trying to let Cousins, Salmons and Evans do it all. The only trouble is that you don’t know if anyone else(or all three of the aforementioned for that matter) will show up every night. (BF)

25. Phoenix Suns 7-15
-The Suns need to start looking at what they can get on the market for Gortat. He is playing well enough(11 & 7 with two blocks a game as well) where he value is high at the moment. Their are plenty of contenders who could use a stable big man and would be willing to give up draft picks to win right now. Boston, Miami, and Atlanta are three teams without a true center who all would be happy to have Gortat in the paint in May. (BF)

26. Charlotte Bobcats 7-12
-Ohh Charlotte, you tease. Just when everyone thought this young group had started the gel and were going to compete for an 8 seed, they have lost seven straight since the promising start. The schedule shows no mercy, with games against Golden State, the Clippers, and Atlanta up next. (BF)

27. New Orleans Hornets 5-14
With Anthony Davis and Eric Gordon hurt, it’s been a tough start for the Pelicans (might as well start now). Davis has been limited to 6 games but should return in the next ten days. Austin Rivers has been terrible; shooting 31% to start this season. That’s just not going to get it done Austin, we need to see more from someone with so much ability. (AL)

(Get ready for it. He looks pissed.)

28. Cleveland Cavaliers 4-17
Cleveland is without Kyrie Irving which is why they are this far down on the list. If you have no one to get your team good shots you will not succeed. You can expect a trade of Anderson Varejao if this continues. With Kyrie’s injury they will have a very high pick this year which could set them up to have a good collection of high draft picks to build around. (EJ)
29. Toronto Raptors 4-17
The doormat of the Atlantic, the Raptors have a big uphill climb. This teams best bet is to hope a high lottery pick next year helps turn them around. Sorry Raptor fans. (Canadians also have no NHL so it’s been a rough end to 2012 for all you Canucks. Keep on keepin on eh). (AL)
30. Washington Wizards 2-15
-The Wizards number one priority here is to put a good stretch together to convince John Wall he can have a future here. With eight out of their next eleven against teams with losing records, even a 4-7 outcome would be something to build on. (BF)

Until Next time, here is your NBA YouTube Clip!



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