Week 9 Power Rankings

(Editor’s note: These rankings were made before the Christmas games began.)

1. Los Angeles Clippers 21-6
-The Clippers currently own the league’s longest win streak at 13 games. Chauncey has fit in just like they thought he would, and the bench is scoring on starting units at will. Plus, Blake and Chris are killing it in commercials(more to come). (BF) 

(What is scary is that the Clips are just as good when these guys are in warmups.)

2. Oklahoma City Thunder 21-5
Despite losing one game to Minnesota the Thunder are still one of the best teams in the league. Make sure you watch out for Reggie Jackson, Eric Maynor and Jeremy Lamb. Their development will fill the only holes they have; bench scoring, and back up point guard play. (EJ)

3. Miami Heat 18-6
-The Heat have won four straight and are still the team to beat, but Dwyane Wade admits that they aren’t the team they can be. Everyone who watches basketball knows that the game that will reveal all is on Christmas day against the team one slot above them. (BF)

4. San Antonio Spurs 21-8 
The Spurs look to be getting back on the right track after a pair of losses at the beginning of the week were forgotten by demolishing the Mavs on Sunday.  The Return of Kawhi Leonard provides a huge boost in the athleticism that this team needs to match up against the elite teams of the West. (AL)

5. New York Knicks 20-7
The Knicks looked less than stellar for the first time this season during this past week.  They have injuries all along the front lines, although they look to be getting back Amar’e and Camby for their Xmas day tilt. The Biggest difference is the long ball isn’t falling quite as much as the team is now shooting below 40% from distance (still third in the NBA but no longer are they first at 42%). (AL)

(J.R. Smith and the Knicks have regressed a bit, but are still the best in the Atlantic by far.)
 

6. Memphis Grizzlies 18-7 
Memphis played well this week, bouncing back from 3 losses the previous week to win 3 of 4 games. Zach Randolph has to be talked about in the MVP race starting yesterday. (AL)

7. Atlanta Hawks 16-9
-The Hawks rebounded from back to back losses with a big win over Chicago at home. Al Horford is currently averaging career highs in points, rebounds and assists, which makes Josh Smith a little more dispensable. The problem with that is that he is playing really well, too. (BF)

8. Golden State Warriors 18-10
-The Warriors have cooled off a bit since being dubbed road warriors, but have proven themselves worthy around the league of being able to fight for a playoff spot. Even in a loss to the Lakers you could tell that this is a team who is maturing and becoming better every game they play. (BF)

9. Indiana Pacers 16-12
The Pacers have won 3 in a row and 6 of 7. Their defense has been elite this entire year but recently scorers have stepped up giving them enough to win. Green, George, Hibbert and Hill have all stepped up recently to lead their team to a win. A big game looms against the Bulls this week for Central positioning. (EJ)

10. Chicago Bulls 15-11
Big win this week against the New York, in a very physical game. Then came out flat against Atlanta. This team is very good when they are clicking defensively, but without D Rose they need to bring it every night to win. (EJ)

(There have been a few Derrick Rose sightings so far this year, and they are becoming more frequent.)
 

11. Houston Rockets 14-12
This team continues to be so much fun to watch on a nightly basis. They are number 1 in scoring at 105.4 a game.  The tempo they play at is blinding.  Reach for a beer and you’re likely to miss a length-of-the-court outlet pass for an easy two.  Seriously, it’s happened to me multiple times now. (AL)

12. Milwaukee Bucks 14-12
To this point in the season they have beat who they are supposed to beat and lose to who they should lose to (except for being 3-0 against Boston). Larry Sanders has showed himself to be a very good player who will only get better. I expect them to make a trade to move out of the purgatory that is the middle of our rankings. (EJ)

13. Denver Nuggets 15-13
The Nuggets look to be finally hitting their stride, winning four of five with big wins against San Antonio and Memphis. Lately they have put an emphasis on getting out and running, almost using their athleticism to outscore teams as well rather than just defend. (EJ)

14. Minnesota Timberwolves 13-12
With the return of Ricky Rubio, Minnesota is a contender. They showed this against OKC in their biggest win of the season. As Rubio gets more healthy and his minutes increase, you can expect the T-Wolves’ stock to soar. (EJ)

(Minnesota basketball is must watch an LeaguePass once again.)
 

15. Utah Jazz 15-14
The Jazz have not played their best basketball yet. They should improve as their youngsters get better. They are probably a playoff team in the east but in the Northwest division they could end up finishing last. (EJ)

16. Boston Celtics 13-13
They got swept by the Bucks this season 3-0, and have lacked execution on both ends of the floor.  Not what you want from a veteran group. After a thunderous comeback in the final minute to force OT, which included clutch shots from the continuously underrated Paul Pierce, this team went ice cold in the extra frame. The return of Avery Bradley this week should provide an energy boost to this team. (AL)

17. Los Angeles Lakers 13-14
-Don’t blink, but Steve Nash is back, and the Lakers have rolled off four straight. With their actual roster in place, it is not judgement time in LA. Does a move need to be made to fill the promise of a playoff run? (BF)

18. Brooklyn Nets 14-12
Will the real Deron Williams please stand up? This past week he shot over 50% from the floor but his season number still sits below 40%.  If he plays to his capabilities then this team can be the real deal. (AL)

19. Portland Trailblazers 19-19
The Blazers are about as hot as any team in the league. All their big name players are producing at around the level you would expect. The difference during the win streak has been the athleticism and energy of JJ Hickson combined with the calming influence of Damian Lillard. This team is difficult to gauge, could be anywhere from second to last in their division. (EJ)

20. Toronto Raptors 9-19
Five wins a row have me eating my words of calling them the NBA’s worst.  No Bargnani, no Kyle Lowry, no problem for the Raptors. DeMar DeRozan, Jose Calderon, Ed Davis, and co. are actually playing good balanced ball over the past week. (AL)

(Calderon is helping the Raptors in multiple ways including improving his trade stock.)
 

21. Philadelphia 76ers 13-15
This team is not plying well right now.  Outside of Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner, and Thaddeus Young, no one seems to be playing with any sort of consistency, including Jason Richardson who has cooled off(27% from three in December).  Who on the bench will step up!? (AL)


22. Orlando Magic 12-15
-The injury to Glen Davis is a sad one. As much as I make fun of him, he was slowly turning in a career year, and there was a grassroots campaign in Orlando to get him some all-star votes. The silver lining of this however is that Orlando can see what it has in some of it’s young bigs. (BF)

23. Dallas Mavericks 12-16
Dirk has returned! This team should start rolling soon.  With Nowitzki back and the vets playing well, this team is a dangerous opponent who will win or lose depending on defensive execution. (AL)

24. Phoenix Suns 11-17
-The Suns have come up alot in our trade discussions throughout our division roundups. They have alot of moveable pieces, but Alvin Gentry is set on trying to make his current team better. Seven of eleven of their next games are on the road, so this should be a great test to see what they have, and what they can get rid of. (BF)

25. Detroit Pistons 9-21
Break up the Pistons! The good news, the Pistons are currently winner of two straight, the bad news they were against the lowly Wizards. They do have a solid young core to build around, and should look to deal any veteran that has value by the trade deadline. (EJ)

(The Pistons are slowly realizing who is worth it and who isn‘t.)

26. Cleveland Cavaliers 6-23
This team is destined for the basement, but they have some solid pieces to build around. Tristan Thompson has played well this week showing he belongs in the discussion of the building blocks. With Varejao out he recorded three double doubles in a row. If he continues to give them solid minutes I wouldn’t be shocked if they moved Varejao. (EJ)

27. Sacramento Kings 9-18
Check out my piece on Demarcus Cousins from last night here. Until they finally make a decision on what to do with him, that is always going to be storyline number one for the Kings.(Oh yeah, the Kings won their first game without him where six guys were in double figures.) (BF)

28. New Orleans Hornets 5-22
This team continues to find it hard to score the ball, second to the last in the league in scoring at 91 points a game.  The only team worse is the Wiz.  Yikes! Hopefully as Anthony Davis continues to adjust to the NBA game, he can take this team on his shoulders a bit more. (AL)


29. Charlotte Bobcats 7-20
-The Bobcats were once 7-5. They are now 7-20. It’s pretty much as bad as it can get in Charlotte, and then have Miami and Brooklyn coming up next. (BF)

20. Washington Wizards 3-22 
-Oh wait, this is as bad as it can get. Lebron has to be recruiting John Wall right? Along with 28 other teams? (BF)

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

 

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