Tha Sports Junkies 101

NBA Power Rankings Update #2

nba, Power rankings, Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors


NBA Power Rankings Update #2

It’s been over 3 weeks since the last power rankings update so things have definitely changed a bit in the standings. We’re only about 20% into the season but most of my predictions have already been proved incorrect. No biggie, at least with the power rankings I can change how good I think teams will be.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers (12-2) – Previous Ranking: No. 1 (=)

The Cavaliers are quietly solidifying themselves as the best team in the league. The Cavs are ranked second in both Points Per Game (112.0) and Offensive Rating (115.1). Kevin Love is fitting himself nicely in the offense for the first time and Lebron is quietly a top 3 MVP candidate.

2. Golden State Warriors (14-2) – Previous Ranking: No. 3 (+1)

The Warriors are one of 3 teams in the NBA ranked in the top 10 for both Offensive Rating (1st) and Defensive Rating (8th). Kevin Durant has been on fire lately, seemingly putting Steph behind him in terms of “who’s a better player”. The Warriors are on a 10-game win streak, brushing off their “slow” 4-2 start.

3. Los Angeles Clippers (14-3) – Previous Ranking: No. 5 (+2)

If I made this list a couple days ago, they would be above the Warriors, but a recent loss to the Pistons moves them to 3. The Clippers are ranked 3rd in both Offensive and Defensive Rating. The team that has never been able to get it done is looking like the most well-fueled machine in the NBA. Chris Paul is having a career year and Blake Griffin is playing the smartest brand of basketball I’ve ever seen from him.

4. San Antonio Spurs (13-3) – Previous Ranking: No. 2 (-2)

Kawhi Leonard is officially a superstar and he’s been playing like one for the Spurs. The Spurs are on an 8-game win streak and Kawhi is the main reason, his defense is still superb but his offense, mainly his jumpshot, has seen an increase in production and consistency as well.

5. Toronto Raptors (10-6) – Previous Ranking: No. 10 (+5)

Demar Derozan is making his case for MVP this season with the way he has commanded the Raps offense. Derozan is averaging over 30 PPG while shooting (what seems like) exclusively mid range jumpers, and he’s doing so at a clip of almost 49%. All of the Raptors losses have been within 8 points and 4 of their 6 losses were against either the Cavs, Warriors, or Clippers.

6. Atlanta Hawks (10-6) – Previous Ranking: No. 4 (-2)

The Hawks are one of, if not the best, defensive teams in the NBA, posting a defensive rating of 99.3, good enough for first in the NBA. After winning 6 straight, they would lose 4 of their next 5, including a bad 68-95 loss to the Jazz. Even still, the Howard/Millsap combo is working well down low, they just need to find a more fluid offense if they want to make some noise in the East.

7. Memphis Grizzlies (10-6) – Previous Ranking: No. 13 (+6)

The Grizzlies recently followed up a 6 game win streak by losing to a bad Miami Heat team. That being said they are still performing well at every position. Ranked 2nd in defensive rating and getting very good minutes from JaMychal Green and James Ennis while Conley is having his best year as pro.

8. Houston Rockets (10-6) – Previous Ranking: No. 15 (+7)

The new Point God in the NBA and my current MVP pick, James Harden, has been absolutely excellent running Mike Dantoni’s high powered offense, averaging 28/12a/8r. The Rockets are ranked 5th in both offensive rating and points per game. This team displays plenty of shooting and a new found talent in Clint Capela, who is quickly making his way up the list of the NBA’s top centers

9. Chicago Bulls (10-6) – Previous Ranking: No. 6 (-3)

The Bulls have come back down to earth a bit after their unbelievable (literally, I thought I was being messed with) hot start from deep, down to around 34%, good enough for 18th in the league. However, the Bulls are ranked 7th in both offensive and defensive rating and Jimmy Butler is the MVP candidate that no one is talking about. Their schedule has been relatively easy so far, something that isn’t their fault, but they’ve taken full advantage of it.

10. Charlotte Hornets (8-7) – Previous Ranking: No. 14 (+4)

Probably one of the bigger surprises in the NBA had been this Hornets team, but more specifically, Kemba Walker. Walker is averaging 24/5a/5r while shooting over 41% from deep. The return of MKG has helped the team defense tremendously but a recent 4-game losing streak has me wondering if their success will be short-lived. The Hornets need to clean up the sloppy play first, as they lead the NBA in total turnovers while also totaling the second most fouls amongst NBA teams.

11. Boston Celtics (9-7) – Previous Ranking: No. 11 (=)

The Celtics have been without Al Horford for some time but his recent return shows how much he’s worth to this team as they are 5-2 with Horford and 4-5 without him. The trio of guards; Thomas, Bradley and Smart is averaging around 56 PPG combined but Horford is what makes this team work. Expect this ranking to only rise if Horford can remain healthy.

12. Utah Jazz (9-8) – Previous Ranking: No. 12 (=)

The Jazz have not exactly played to their expectations but injuries have had a lot to do with that. Hayward and Favors have both missed 6 games while George Hill has missed 8. The Jazz are currently on a two game win streak with a favorable schedule ahead of them. If they can get healthy, they will be fine. The trade for George Hill is only making the Jazz’s Front Office look smarter each and every day.

13. Oklahoma City Thunder (9-8) – Previous Ranking: No. 8 (-5)

There isn’t much more to say about this team other than the name Russell Westbrook. Westbrook is averaging damn near a triple-double 32/9.8a/10.9r, leading this team solely by himself. Unfortunately, I don’t see how this team will be able to push themselves to 7 or 8 games above .500 and earn a good playoff seed. Westbrook is doing a lot, most of it really, and he has to continue his for another 70ish games if the Thunder want a fighting chance to even make the playoffs, but if anyone could do it, my money is on Russell.

14. Los Angeles Lakers (8-9) – Previous Ranking: No. 25 (+11)

The Baby Lakers have been the most pleasant surprise of the season. Luke Walton has these kids motivated and its easy to see that Russell, Ingram, Randle, Clarkson and Nance Jr. are getting better each and every game. Even Swaggy P is having a great season. I’m not sure if they can keep they’re stellar play going (They’re still ranked 29th in defensive rating) but the bottom line is, the future is bright in LA.

15. New York Knicks (8-7) – Previous Ranking: No. 21 (+6)

Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis have been playing some really good basketball lately and the Knicks are playing better than I expected but it feels like they could be a lot better. Joakim Noah is not playing anywhere near how he was only a couple of years ago and Derrick Rose isn’t even close to returning to MVP form (just a heads up, he never will). Simply put, the Knicks play better when Brandon Jennings comes in and facilitates (It sounds weird when I say it out loud but I only state facts) but Rose has the Knicks above .500, so keep it going, I guess?

16. Portland Trail Blazers (9-9) – Previous Ranking: No. 7 (-9)

Dame and CJ still make up one of the top 2 scoring backcourts in the NBA but the poor play from the frontcourt has them falling below their expectations. The Evan Turner deal is turning out to be a tragic one as ET has one of the worst +/- in the league. While the Blazers are 8th in offensive rating, they’re dead last in defensive rating.

17. Detroit Pistons (8-9) – Previous Ranking: No. 9 (-8)

The Pistons have been without Reggie Jackson this season but havent played terribly. They have 5 players averaging 10 PPG (6 if you count Ish Smith’s 9.9 PPG) and Andre Drummond has continued to beast on the boards. The problem is, they average the most 2 PAs per game in the NBA while taking the 29th most 3-point shots per game. In a league dominated by perimeter shooting, they simply cannot outscore teams, even if they have more talent.

18. Indiana Pacers (8-9) – Previous Ranking: No. 16 (-2)

The Pacer have tons of talent, yet they havent been able to find even an ounce of rhythm. The defense has been okay but the offense has a tendency to loss focus. Jeff Teague’s stats look nice on paper, but it’s very obvious how much this team misses the chemistry and leadership that George Hill took with him to Utah (I’m a big George Hill fan, if you haven’t already noticed).

19. Denver Nuggets (6-10) – Previous Ranking: No. 20 (+1)

The Nuggets aren’t very good, but they are fun as hell to watch. Mudiay has been getting some deserved criticism with how he runs the offense and it’s making for an interesting scenario as Jamal Murray has been shooting lights out and the return of sharp shooter Gary Harris is making the need for Mudiay become less and less important. Jokic is showing off his ability to handle and pass the basketball better than Mudiay has this season. They’ve had a rough schedule to start the season but they do lead the league in total rebounds.

20. Milwaukee Bucks (6-8) – Previous Ranking: No. 23 (+3)

Giannis isn’t exactly averaging the triple-double I predicted in my #HotTake article a couple weeks back (Although 22/8/6 for a 21-year old is phenomenal) and Tony Snell is somehow their third highest scorer. The Bucks don’t have enough scoring to compete with most teams and some questionable frontcourt contribution has this team stalled for the time being. By the way, Dellavedova is still not a good NBA player, sorry, Bucks fans.

21. Sacramento Kings (6-10) – Previous Ranking: No. 17 (-4)

The Demarcus Cousins saga continues to be the center of NBA trade talk yet he is still averaging nearly 28/10. Through 16 games, the Kings have had two separate, 4-game losing streaks. They are ranked in the bottom half of the NBA in nearly every category except free throw rate. Until the Kings deal Boogie, they’ll continue to be less than mediocre.

22. Orlando Magic (6-10) – Previous Ranking: No. 22 (=)

The Magic are one of the worst offensive teams in the NBA. Their trio of frontcourt players has caused a massive clog and Evan Fournier cannot be relied on as the team’s go-to scorer if they want to take that next step. They need to deal away Vucevic and get themselves some offense.

23. New Orleans Pelicans (6-11) – Previous Ranking: No. 28 (+5)

A horrendous start for the Pelicans but a great start for Anthony Davis, who is averaging 31/11. The return of Jrue Holiday has the Pelicans on a 4-1 run but with constant injuries to key role players, their doesn’t seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel.

24. Miami Heat (5-10) – Previous Ranking: No. 18 (-6)

The Heat have quietly been one of the best defensive teams in the NBA, ranking 5th in defensive ranking and 4th in opponents points per game. On the flip side of that, they’re ranked 27th in offensive ranking and 28th in points per game, which makes that 5-10 record make a ton of sense. Whiteside is still beasting but with very little guys who can consistently come out and score, they cant do much. Maybe they should tank the season? If they haven’t already started.

25. Minnesota Timberwolves (5-10) – Previous Ranking: No. 19 (-6)

Honestly, this team has not been terrible so far the season. The young guys are improving, Wiggins is shooting 41% from deep, LaVine is doing 360 dunks from the free throw line, you know, regular Minnesota stuff, but there is one thing that points to their poor record and that is their third quarter production. It has been absolutely terrible, like a hot fire of garbage. They are last in the NBA in third quarter net rating and it’s as hard to watch as you might think. They need to play all 48 minutes before they can take the jump that I and many others predicted.

26. Washington Wizards (5-9) – Previous Ranking: No. 29 (+3)

The dysfunction in the team’s chemistry continues to be an issue. The Wizards are in the bottom half of the league in PPG, OPPG, ORTG, DRTG, and Pace. Not good, Bob. The roster isn’t terrible (although it definitely isn’t good), they simply just cant play together.

27. Phoenix Suns (5-12) – Previous Ranking: No. 27 (=)

Some bad losses recently to the Wizards, Sixers and T-Wolves have done this team no favors in terms of confidence. The solid play from TJ Warren has continued but there has still been no sight of Dragan Bender.

28. Brooklyn Nets (4-11) – Previous Ranking: No.  24 (-4)

Without Jeremy Lin, the Nets have been a mess. They don’t have control of their offense and poor Brook Lopez has to do everything on a team where Sean Kilpatrick is the team’s best shooter. Until Lin returns from injury, this rank may somehow manage to fall another spot.

29. Philadelphia 76ers (4-12) – Previous Ranking: No. 30 (+1)

There is hope, there is life. Philly basketball will soon gain back their national prominence, but they’re still a ways away. Embiid’s minutes restriction is doing him a lot of good and the players seem to be genuinely having fun on the court.

30. Dallas Mavericks (2-13) – Previous Ranking: No. 26 (-4)

With Dirk missing over half of their games so far and Harrison Barnes (who is shooting 29% from 3) as their best player, the Mavs are the worst team in the NBA and it really isn’t close. The Mavs rank dead last in the NBA in offensive rating and points per game while also ranking 28th in pace. The Andrew Bogut deal has not worked out, as he’s only averaging 3 PPG. They’re currently on an 8-game losing streak that could very easily continue another 4 or 5 games.


(Stats via Basketball-Reference)