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.