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.

NBA Power Rankings for January 2nd, 2013

We’ve moved past the quarter point of the 2012-2013 NBA season, and the Western Conference is really looking good at this point. In fact, the NBA’s best three records belong to the West as three teams out there are really streaking. But does this mean that we think a West club is a shoe-in to win the championship? Keep reading to see what we think about the number one team and the rest of the top 10.

1. Miami Heat (21-8) – Miami may only have the league’s fifth best record at this point, but they’re still favored by many to repeat as NBA champions. Furthermore, the Heat defeated the league’s current number one club – Oklahoma City – just a few days ago. LeBron James (26.3 PPG), Dwayne Wade (20.4 PPG) and Chris Bosh (18.0 PPG) are scoring over 60% of the team’s points right now.

2. L.A. Clippers (25-7) – After winning 17 straight games, the Clippers finally dropped a contest on the road to Denver. Based on this red-hot streak, we like the Clippers better than anybody in the crowded West. Five Los Angeles players are averaging double digits with Blake Griffin leading the way at 17.8 PPG.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder (24-6) – Following back-to-back road losses against Minnesota and Miami, the Thunder have rebounded by winning three straight games. With the West so muddled, Oklahoma City is really going to need their mediocre bench to step up more.

4. San Antonio (25-8) – The Spurs have kept pace with the NBA’s best clubs after winning their last six contests – most of which were blowouts. San Antonio’s balance is definitely impressive since seven players are averaging at least 9.5 PPG; Tony Parker leads them all with 19.3 PPG.

5. New York Knicks (21-10) – The last eight games have been rough on the Knicks since they’ve lost five of these contests. What’s particularly bad about this is that only three of the games have been on the road – and none were against truly elite teams. Things don’t get any easier since the Knicks will face San Antonio on Thursday.

6. Atlanta Hawks (20-10) – Atlanta has been seesawing in December, but lately, they’re doing pretty well. The Hawks are winners of four out of their past five games. This team doesn’t score a lot of points – Josh Smith paces the scoring with 16.6 PPG – but they do play some pretty good defense. A healthy Horford has been difficult for opponents to deal with this year (15.9 PPG, 9.8 RPG).

7. Golden State Warriors (21-10) – Thus far, Golden State has been the surprise of the year. Few people picked the Warriors to make the playoffs, but they’re currently fifth in the West right now. Both Stephen Curry (20.0 PPG, 6.5 APG, 1.5 SPG) and David Lee (20.1 PPG, 11.0 RPG) are propelling this team to success.

8. Memphis Grizzlies (19-9) – Memphis drops a couple spots from our last power rankings after losing three of their last four contests. Memphis is really going to need some increased scoring production since they’re averaging just 94.7 PPG. Unfortunately, the Grizzlies don’t have much bench production since Quincy Pondexter leads non-starters with 6.7 PPG.

9. Indiana Pacers (18-13) – One of the NBA’s hottest teams right now is Indiana. They’ve won eight of the last 10 games and are starting to resemble last year’s team which went 42-24. The Pacers have especially victimized below .500 teams since they’re 15-2 against these clubs.

10. Houston Rockets (17-14) – The Rockets stay in our power rankings for the second week in a row – despite losing two out of the last three games. However, it is worth noting that both losses came against San Antonio and Oklahoma City. James Harden is having a career year with his new team as he’s scoring 26.1 PPG.