NBA Power Rankings for February 23rd, 2013

serge-ibakaThe defending champion Miami Heat have really started to take form in February. They’ve now won nine straight games, including victories over the LA Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Atlanta Hawks and Chicago Bulls. The hot streak doesn’t look to end any time soon either because Miami has some easy home games coming up. This being said, we had to put the Heat on top this week in our NBA power rankings. However, there were a couple of other teams who are right on Miami’s trail for the best overall ranking so let’s discuss all of this below.

1. Miami Heat (38-14) – LeBron James has definitely been the biggest catalyst in the Heat’s great month. He’s averaging 30.2 PPG in February, which is up three points from his season average of 27.2 PPG. The big challenge come playoff time will be finding reliable bench production. Ray Allen has averaged 10.8 PPG off the bench, but he’s only scoring 7.6 PPG this month and is shooting 31.1% from the field.

2. San Antonio Spurs (44-13) – It’s hard picking a number one team when you also factor in how successful the Spurs have been lately. They’ve gone 16-2 since early January and have held the league’s best record for two weeks. And they’ll finally be ending a nine-game road trip in Phoenix tomorrow night, which means a friendly home stretch is coming up. Tony Parker is quite possibly having the best season of his 11-year career with 21.1 PPG, 7.6 APG and 53.6% shooting.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder (40-15) – The Thunder finally ended a three-game losing streak by beating the Minnesota Timberwolves at home. Based on their recent struggles, Oklahoma City has now fallen behind the Spurs by three games in the Western Conference race. So it’ll be interesting to see how they respond over the final 27 games of the season. Serge Ibaka has really improved his offensive role with the team in averaging 13.3 PPG and shooting 55.6% from the field. Of course, he’s still providing excellent defense too with 3.0 BPG.

chauncey-billups4. Los Angeles Clippers (39-18) – After suffering through a terrible stretch from mid-January to early February – where they lost 8 out of 11 games – the Clippers appear to be back on track. They’ve now won four out of the past five games, with the lone loss being to the Spurs. Chauncey Billups returned from a long injury layoff during this stretch and is giving the team a big boost with 10.4 PPG and 44.4% three-point shooting.

5. Indiana Pacers (34-21) – Just last week, we predicated that the Pacers would soon take over the Eastern Conference’s number two spot. And this came true in a major way after Indiana thumped New York by 26 points. Paul George (17.7 PPG) was huge in this game as he scored 27 points and carried the Pacers to victory. David West (17.2 PPG) has also come up big in plenty of games this season, giving Indiana a nice one-two punch.

6. Memphis Grizzlies (36-18) – Who’d have thought that the Grizzlies would be firmly entrenched in the West’s number four spot after trading away their leading scorer, Rudy Gay. They’ve now grabbed six straight tony-allenvictories and are getting more offense out of starting SG Tony Allen, who’s averaging 11.6 PPG and shooting 57.5% in February. Traditionally known for his defense, Allen is having a career revival in Memphis.

7. New York Knicks (32-20) – The aforementioned 26-point loss to the Pacers isn’t the only problem that the Knicks have had lately. They’ve dropped four straight games and fallen out of the Eastern Conference’s top two spots for the first time this year. Unfortunately, Amar’e Stoudemire’s return hasn’t quite provided the boost New York has been looking for in the win-loss column – although he is averaging 13.3 PPG and 5.0 RPG.

8. Denver Nuggets (34-22) – The Nuggets continue to fall down our power rankings after losing four out of the past five contests. Losses to Toronto and Washington have really hurt Denver’s bid to grab home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Of course, you can’t really blame any of this on PG Ty Lawson (16.2 PPG) since he’s played incredible and is averaging 23.0 PPG and 9.0 APG in February.

9. Brooklyn Nets (33-23) – Brooklyn recently went on a good run after beating Indiana, Milwaukee (twice) and Denver – before finally losing to the Rockets last night. Brook Lopze continues to impress in his fifth season with 18.9 PPG, 7.3 RPG and 2.1 BPG. He’s especially stepped up his scoring production in February after contributing 20.1 PPG this month. You can bet that Lopez is still carrying a chip on his shoulder after not making the All-Star team.

10. Chicago Bulls (32-23) – As more and more reports surface regarding Derrick Rose’s return, it’s looking like he won’t be back this season. The thinking here is that the Bulls don’t want to rush their franchise player back onto the court – especially when the supporting cast is doing an admirable job already. Center Joakim Noah has really stood out this year by averaging 11.3 PPG, 11.7 RPG, 20.6 BPG and 1.29 SPG.

NBA Power Rankings for February 17th, 2013

lebron-jamesThe San Antonio Spurs continue to roll, despite being in the midst of a 9-game road trip. They’ve won 14 out of the last 15 games and are firmly entrenched atop the NBA standings. However, the defending champion Miami Heat have also played well as of late and are starting to take control of the Eastern Conference. So which team is number one in this week’s power rankings? Here’s the answer…

1. San Antonio Spurs (42-11) – The Spurs have truly broken away from the pack over the past five weeks. Once sitting behind the Clippers and Thunder in the West, San Antonio has now bolted out to a 2.5-game lead over Oklahoma City for the league’s best record. Second year player Kawhi Leonard (10.5 PPG) is really doing well during this stretch and he’s scoring 16.6 PPG over the past five games. This has supplemented the already-high and expected production from Tony Parker (20.8 PPG), Tim Duncan (17.2 PPG) and Manu Ginobili (12.3 PPG).

2. Miami Heat (36-14) – Miami cemented their second place spot after winning their past seven games. In fact, we were really debating about whether to put the Heat above San Antonio – especially after a 10-point victory at Oklahoma City. That makes Miami winners of seven straight games and places them four games ahead of second place New York in the East. LeBron James has really taken the team on his back lately and is averaging 31.5 PPG in February.

russell-westbrook3. Oklahoma City Thunder (39-14) – The Thunder have had a rough week after losing to the Heat by 10 and the Utah Jazz by 15. However, they’re still in second place in the West and are getting excellent play out of stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Kevin Martin is also in line for a Sixth Man of the Year award since he’s scoring 15.0 PPG and shooting 43.6% from 3-point territory.

4. L.A. Clippers (39-17) – Up until a couple of weeks ago, L.A. had lost 8 out of their past 11 games. However, they’ve since won four straight games and move up a spot from our last power rankings. Three of these victories have come on the road – with one being a 14-point win against the Knicks. The Clippers have a very well-rounded team since six players are averaging in double figures with Blake Griffin (18.5 PPG) and Jamal Crawford (16.8 PPG) leading the way.

5. Indiana Pacers (33-21) – After winning 6 out of their last 8 games and beating Miami, Chicago and Atlanta during this stretch, Indiana moves up a couple of spots. Now this team gets a week to rest up before taking on New York in a big Eastern Conference showdown. Based on how they’ve been playing over the past two months, we really like the Pacers chances of moving up to the East’s number two seed soon.

amare-stoudemire6. New York Knicks (32-18) – New York opened this year with the league’s best record and held the top spot for weeks. However, they’ve stumbled somewhat as the season has dragged on and have lost three out of the past four games. What’s particularly disheartening about these losses is that two of them came to Eastern Conference bottom-feeders Toronto and Washington. Perhaps the Knicks will get back on the winning track as their team chemistry gets more used to having Amar’e Stoudemire (13.6 PPG) in the lineup.

7. Denver Nuggets (33-18) – Denver had been a fast-climbing team in our rankings after winning nine straight games in late January/early February. However, they hit a big roadblock by losing their last three contests. If there’s any silver lining with the losses to Boston, Toronto and Brooklyn, all of the contests have come on the road. Plus Ty Lawson (15.8 PPG) has really stepped up his game by averaging 22.0 PPG throughout February.

8. Memphis Grizzlies (33-18) – After the Grizzlies traded away Rudy Gay, the common reaction was that Memphis would fade away and have trouble earning a playoff spot in the West. However, they’re hanging onto the West’s fourth seed and have grabbed three straight victories. It’ll be interesting to see how the Grizzlies replace Gay’s 17.2 PPG as the season rolls along.

brook-lopez9. Brooklyn Nets (31-22) – Sometimes it’s hard to figure out where Brooklyn fits among the league’s top teams. One week they’re beating Indiana and Denver, the next week they’re losing to Washington and the L.A. Lakers. In any case, it’s all combined to leave the Nets sitting at fourth place in the East. Brook Lopez continues to lead this team with 19.0 PPG, 7.4 RPG and 2.17 BPG.

10. Chicago Bulls (30-22) – Chicago drops two spots in our rankings after losing five out of their past seven games. Now all of these losses have come to good teams, but they’re still losses nonetheless. For this reason, we thought of putting Golden State (30-22) at the number 10 spot. However, we like how complete of a team the Bulls are with Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, Nate Robinson, Joakim Noah and Richard Hamilton all in this lineup.

NBA Power Rankings for Feb. 7th, 2013

tony-parkerOver the past couple of years, NBA analysts and fans have questioned if the San Antonio Spurs are too old to compete with the league’s best teams any longer. And the Spurs have responded to this questioning by winning 11 straight games and grabbing the NBA’s best record. This being said, it was a no-brainer to rank San Antonio number one in our latest power rankings. As for how everybody else fared, take a look below.

1. San Antonio Spurs (39-11) – While the Spurs haven’t played any truly elite teams over the last two weeks, they did grab quality victories over Golden State, Atlanta (road) and Memphis during their 11-game win streak. A primary catalyst behind San Antonio’s recent surge is improved play by C Tiago Splitter (10.8 PPG, 5.8 PG) and SG Danny Green (10.0 PPG, 41.9% 3P). Overall, seven Spurs are averaging at least 9.7 PPG.

2. Miami Heat (32-14) – LeBron James and company have had a fair amount of success since mid-January. They’ve won 8 out of the last 10 games, including road victories over the Lakers, Nets and Warriors. James (26.8 PPG) has stepped up his scoring production in February and is averaging 30.3 PPG this month. Unfortunately, Ray Allen (10.7 PPG) has seen his scoring dip down to 3.3 PPG during the same span.

kevin-durant3. Oklahoma City (37-11) – The Thunder have stumbled from first to number three since our last power rankings. They’ve won 5 out of the last 9 games, which is pretty mediocre for this team. Furthermore, Oklahoma City lost to the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers just three games ago. One big culprit for the average play of late involves the Thunder playing 12 out of their last 17 contests on the road.

4. New York Knicks (31-16) – After going through some rough patches in December and January, the Knicks appear to be back on track. They’ve won five out of the past six games and are chasing Miami for the East’s best record. Amar’e Stoudemire seems to be working his way back into the New York lineup nicely following a long injury recovery. He’s averaging 14.2 PPG and 4.2 RPG, which is far better than what he was doing a couple weeks ago.

5. Los Angeles Clippers (35-16) – Once the story of the season after winning 17 straight games, Los Angeles has struggled worse than any other NBA team lately. They’ve lost 7 out of the last 10 contests, which includes dropping games to bad teams like Phoenix, Toronto and Washington. Much like Oklahoma City, the Clippers appear to be victims of a rough road schedule, which includes playing 11 out of the last 14 games away. Things won’t get any easier since four out of the next five contests will be played on the road.

danilo-gallineri6. Denver Nuggets (31-18) – The Nuggets are definitely the league’s hottest team right now. They have been victorious in the last 13 out of 15 games and are quickly climbing the Western Conference ladder. This has truly been a team effort since nine Denver players are scoring 8.0 PPG or more. Danilo Gallinari (17.1 PPG) has really been doing well as of late since he’s averaged 21.8 PPG over the past five games. Rumor has it that Denver may be trying to further bolster their lineup by adding Kevin Garnett.

7. Indiana Pacers (31-19) – Indiana went through a three-game losing streak towards the end of January. But they’ve since rebounded by winning five straight contests, including wins over Chicago, Atlanta and Miami. Paul George (17.6 PPG) is really backing up his first All-Star selection by averaging 20.6 PPG during his team’s five-game undefeated run. David West is also pitching in 17.2 PPG and some crucial late-game baskets.

joakim-noah8. Chicago Bulls (29-19) – The Bulls have done a decent job of battling through some tough road games recently and are still looking good in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Derrick Rose still isn’t back from injury, so SF Luol Deng (17.2 PPG) continues to lead this club. C Joakim Noah has also been a force since he’s averaging 12.3 PPG, 11.3 RPG and 2.1 BPG. Assuming Rose can come back soon and get in shape for the playoffs, he’ll definitely have a nice supporting cast.

9. Brooklyn Nets (29-20) – While the Nets are certainly a strong playoff-bound club this year, they’ve yet to truly crack that elite team barrier. Don’t tell this to PF Reggie Evans though, who downplayed how good King James was and questioned the Heat’s lockout-shortened season title. LeBron responded scoring 24 points, grabbing 9 boards and dishing out 7 assists. Looks like Brooklyn still has a ways to go before they can back up Evans’ boasting.

10. Memphis Grizzlies (30-18) – We don’t expect Memphis to be ranked this high throughout the remainder of the season. After all, they just traded away their leading score, Rudy Gay, in a move that many people called ‘panicky.’ They did get Tayshaun Prince (10.3 PPG) in the deal; however, he’s unlikely to match the production that Gay put out. It certainly doesn’t help matters that Zach Randolph’s scoring has dropped by over a point in the last month.

NBA Power Rankings for January 25th, 2013

This past week wasn’t exactly the best for the NBA’s top teams. Oklahoma City is struggling on their six-game road trip, the Clippers have hit a low point, and Miami has played just one game over the past eight days. San Antonio is about the only team that’s done anything noteworthy lately, but is it enough to vault them to number one in our power rankings? Here’s a look at the answer…

1. Oklahoma City Thunder (33-10) – The Thunder have lost two out of their last three games, but it’s understandable since they’ve been on the road 10 out of the last 12 contests. Plus one of these losses was a three-point overtime game at Denver, and the other was a five-point road loss to Golden State – both solid teams. Taking all of this into account, the next few weeks should get easier for Oklahoma City and see them remain atop the standings.

2. San Antonio (34-11) – In our last NBA power rankings, the Spurs were sitting at number four. But they’ve since ascended to the second spot (almost first) following a six-game winning streak. Their best victories during this stretch include beating Memphis, Golden State, Atlanta (road) and Philadelphia (road). Tony Parker has boosted his scoring average over the past month, and is now pouring in 19.8 PPG.

3. Miami Heat (27-12) – We had Miami ranked third last week, and it’s hard to move them up after playing just one game since then – a 123-116 OT victory over Toronto. After a home game against Detroit tonight, the Heat run into a much tougher part of their schedule by going on the road against Boston, Brooklyn and Indiana. LeBron James leads this team in four categories, including points (26.5 PPG), rebounds (8.2 RPG), assists (7.1 APG) and steals (1.6 SPG).

4. LA Clippers (32-12) – The Clippers seem to win and lose in streaks since they lost four straight games earlier in the season, rattled off a 17-game win streak, and have now lost their last three contests. One of these losses was particularly bad because Los Angeles dropped a game to the Western Conference’s worst team in Phoenix. Things don’t look to get any easier either with 9 out of the next 10 games being played on the road.

5. New York Knicks (26-14) – The Knicks are busy trying to work Amar’e Stoudemire (11.3 PPG) back into the lineup. In terms of wins/losses, this hasn’t been the smoothest of transitions because New York is just 5-5 in the 10 games he’s played. Will Stoudemire’s return from injury hinder the chemistry that Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, J.R. Smith, Jason Kidd and Raymond Felton built? It’s difficult to say for sure, but we’re convinced that a team without him can’t beat Miami in the playoffs.

6. Brooklyn Nets (26-16) – The Brooklyn surge continues as they’ve now notched wins in 10 out of the past 11 games. Brook Lopez (18.6 PPG), Joe Johnson (17.4 PPG) and Deron Williams (17.0 PPG) are quite the fearsome trio. Backup PF Reggie Evans has been a terror on the boards (8.9 RPG), despite playing only 21.9 MPG.

7. Memphis Grizzlies (27-14) – Following three straight blowout losses last week, we were particularly low on Memphis. However, they rebounded this week by winning three out of the past four games, including a thrilling OT victory over the Bulls. C Marc Gasol (13.2 PPG, 1.8 BPG) and PF Zach Randolph (16.1 PPG, 11.6 RPG) have been a tough inside duo this year.

8. Chicago Bulls (25-16) – While Chicago has won five out of their past six games, we have trouble ranking them ahead of Memphis after the Grizzlies beat them at home. But on the other hand, that loss was the third overtime contest in a row for a drained Chicago team. Derrick Rose still isn’t back from an ACL injury, but he’s expected to return very soon. He’s had more time to heal since Nate Robinson (10.6 PPG) and Kirk Hinrich (5.2 APG) have been capable replacements.

9. Golden State Warriors (26-15) – Golden State moves up a spot after winning their last three games, including back-to-back victories over the Clippers and Oklahoma City. PF David Lee has seen a small dip in his points (19.6 PPG) recently, but he did make his first All-Star game after being selected last night. Teammate Stephen Curry (20.9 PPG), on the other hand, got snubbed.

10. Indiana Pacers (26-17) – Despite falling from 6th to 10th in our power rankings, Indiana hasn’t played particularly bad. However, they’ve been pretty mediocre after going 3-3 over the past six contests. Indiana grabbed recent victories over Memphis and Houston though, which puts them pretty close to the 6th-9th teams in our book. Paul George (17.3 PPG, 7.8 RPG) was recognized for his outstanding play by being tabbed as an All-Star.

NBA Power Rankings for January 18th, 2013

There’s been a lot of jostling around in our NBA power rankings this season with the LA Clippers, Miami Heat, New York Knicks and San Antonio Spurs all holding the top spot at some point. Interestingly enough, a fifth team will be added to this list after sweeping a three-game road trip. And the best club from last week’s power rankings falls out of the top two for the first time this season….

1. Oklahoma City Thunder (31-8) – Throughout the early part of the season, our big qualm with Oklahoma City was that they hadn’t really beaten any top-caliber teams. Then, when the Thunder did start beating elite clubs, the LA Clippers went on a huge run and held down the top spot for a while. But now, after winning three straight road games, the Thunder are definitely worthy of number one. Kevin Durant scored over 40 points on the road twice during this stretch, and Oklahoma will need plenty more of this with an upcoming five-game road trip.

2. LA Clippers (31-9) – Despite winning six out of their last seven games, LA falls to number two after a recent home loss to the Magic combined with Oklahoma City’s hot run. However, the Clippers are only behind the Thunder by the slimmest of margins in our eyes. On an interesting side note, Chris Paul’s assists have steadily increased from 9.1 APG a couple of weeks ago to 9.7 APG now.

3. Miami Heat (26-12) – January has not been kind to the Heat since they’re just 5-4 this month. That said, they’ve dropped out of the top two for the first time in this year’s power rankings. But do keep in mind that Miami is coming off of a six-game road trip, and the schedule gets easier next week with home games against the Pistons and Raptors. LeBron James has to feel pretty good about the next five off days since he just scored 39 points last night in a win over the LA Lakers.

4. San Antonio Spurs (30-11) – Compared to what we’ve seen from the Spurs in November and December, January has been a pretty mediocre month for San Antonio at 5-3. They’re still keeping pace with the Clippers and Thunder though, so that’s a good sign. Strong bench play has enabled Tim Duncan and Tony Parker to play 30-32 minutes a night and stay fresh.

5. New York Knicks (25-13) – After three straight losses to the Celtics, Bulls and Pacers, New York rebounded with a couple of wins against New Orleans and Detroit. Okay, so these aren’t exactly powerhouse teams; but they’re wins nonetheless, which was needed after Carmelo Anthony’s one-game suspension. C Tyson Chandler (12.4 PPG, 11.0 RPG) continues to be a catalyst in the paint for the Knicks.

6. Indiana Pacers (24-16) – Indiana had a recent hot streak squelched after losing two out of the past three games. A tough four-game road trip to the West looms ahead, which will truly test this young team. F Paul George has done it all by posting a stateline of 16.9 PPG, 7.8 RPG and 1.7 SPG up to this point.

7. Chicago Bulls (22-15) – Chicago has grabbed some really nice wins this month, which include road victories over New York and Miami. What’s impressive is that the Bulls are sitting in fourth place in the East without Derrick Rose. Seeing as how he’s been in the gym lately working on his shooting, we could see Rose suit up for Chicago some time in February. When that happens watch out!

8. Memphis Grizzlies (24-13) – The last three games have been a disaster for the Grizzlies since they’ve been blown out by at least 21 points each time. Sure two of these contests were against the Spurs and Clippers; however, that’s no excuse for a team trying to prove it belongs with the elite contenders. A lack of bench scoring continues to plague Memphis and their strong core of Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley.

9. Brooklyn Nets (23-16) – Winners of seven out of their last eight games, Brooklyn is the NBA’s hottest team right now. And this stretch includes impressive wins against Oklahoma City and the Pacers. The Nets are loaded in the front court with a number of solid contributors in C Brook Lopez, PF Andray Blatche, SF Gerald Wallace, PF Kris Humphries and PF Reggie Evans.

10. Golden State Warriors (23-14) – Golden State has far exceeded preseason expectations up to this point. However, they’ve hit a rough patch after dropping four out of the past five games. If there’s any solace to take out of the recent bad run, it’s that all four losses have come against great/good teams. The next six games won’t offer any relief since upcoming opponents include the Clippers, Spurs, Thunder, Bulls and Bucks.

NBA Power Rankings for Jan. 10th, 2013

In our last power rankings, we discussed how the Los Angeles Clippers have been on a pretty torrid pace. They won 17 straight games at one point and have ascended to the league’s top record. However, the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs aren’t far behind the Clippers since they’ve both been playing some pretty good ball too. But have any of these teams passed the Heat for our number one ranking? Here’s a look at the answer…

1. L.A. Clippers (28-7) – At the beginning of the season, most people thought the other Los Angeles team might be in this spot. However, the Clippers are not only the best team in L.A., but they’re playing better than anybody in the NBA right now. Chris Paul has upped his assists over the past month and is averaging 9.5 APG on the season (second best in the NBA).

2. Miami Heat (23-10) – The Heat drop a spot in our rankings after losing three out of their past seven games. This certainly doesn’t bode well for the team either because they’re now departing for a five-game, West Coast road trip. While Miami is still our favorite to win the title in June, other players besides LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh (scoring 60% of team’s points) are going to have to step up.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder (27-8) – The next couple of weeks will be extremely challenging for the Thunder since they go on the road for 9 out of their next 10 games. But at the moment, they’re only a half game behind the Clippers’ league-best record. Serge Ibaka (2.86 BPG), Kevin Durant (1.31 BPG) and Kendrick Perkins (1.03 BPG) are definitely making it difficult for opponents to shoot over this team.

4. San Antonio Spurs (28-10) – San Antonio continues to play really well after winning 9 out of their last 11 games. The Spurs are currently scoring the third most points in the league with 104.95 PPG. That said, it’s no wonder why seven Spurs are averaging at least 9.0 PPG or better. Tony Parker (19.2 PPG) and Tim Duncan (17.4 PPG) lead this charge.

5. New York Knicks (23-11) – The Knicks opened the year hot and quickly grabbed the NBA’s top record. However, it’s been rough sailing for New York lately after dropping 6 out of the past 11 contests. They’ll be without superstar Carmelo Anthony for tonight’s road game against the Pacers. He’s been suspended for waiting outside the Celtics’ locker room for Kevin Garnett following heated in-game exchanges between the two.

6. Indiana Pacers (21-14) – Just a few weeks ago, Indiana was struggling and looking nothing like the team that went 42-24 last season. However, things have changed in a hurry and the Pacers are coming off a win against the Heat. What’s interesting is that Indiana is second-to-last in team scoring with 91.23 PPG; however, they’re also holding opponents to just 89.46 PPG, which easily counteracts the lack of scoring.

7. Memphis Grizzlies (23-10) – Memphis climbs one spot from last week after winning their past three games – all of which were on the road. Backup PF Marreese Speights (10.8 PPG in January) has been a nice spark off the bench this month for the Grizzlies, which have previously lacked much bench production.

8. Golden State Warriors (22-12) – Having dropped their past two games, the Warriors fall one spot in our rankings. However, it should be
mentioned that one of these losses was on the road to the Clippers, which they’d previously beaten the game before at home. Golden State definitely has a nice bench led by PG Jarrett Jack (11.9 PPG, 5.0 APG) and PF Carl Landry (12.3 PPG, 6.6 RPG).

9. Houston Rockets (21-15) – Houston continues to climb the standings on the strength of James Harden’s scoring (26.5 PPG). He’s not the only one tallying points either because this team leads the NBA with 106.0 PPG, and eight players are averaging 8.9 PPG or better. If they can keep this up, Houston will definitely be in the postseason come May.

10.  Denver Nuggets (21-16) – Denver marks the seventh Western Conference team to appear in our top 10 this week. They’ve gotten here by winning 6 out of the past 8 contests – including one game against the Clippers. This has truly been a team effort since six Nuggets are averaging double figures in scoring. Danilo Gallinari leads the team with 16.2 PPG while Ty Lawson is chipping in 14.1 PPG.