Because of the lyrically inspired tweet from one, Peter Vecsey, I have decided to base this weeks Power Rankings on a few song choices of my own. So, to start things off, lets look at the teams at the top of the Power Rankings…
“They say what goes up, must come down, but I ain’t reached my cruising altitude. Take a look at what I did but can you imagine what I’m about to do?” -B.o.B
1) Boston Celtics – The Celtics have won 13 in a row. They are playing terrific defense while winning. Jayson Tatum has been a highly impressive rookie. Semi Ojeleye and Aron Baynes are already making headlines, and Kyrie Irving is playing in a face mask. This team is fun to watch and they’re outplaying their expectations thanks to the coaching job of Brad Stevens.
2) Golden State Warriors – The Warriors have won 7 in a row after their loss to the Pistons at home. The Warriors offense has been clicking on all cylinders thanks to Klay Thompson especially. Thompson is scoring 1.49 points per possession in transition. The Warriors also have a 30.9+ net rating on the season. This team is still the clear-cut favorites in the NBA and Thursday’s game against the Celtics will affect the Power Rankings in some shape or form.
3) Houston Rockets – James Harden is at it again. He leads the Rockets with 30.7 points per game. The Rockets also have found a gem in Clint Capella. Capella is averaging 11.5 rebounds per game and 1.7 blocks. Chris Paul is scheduled to return soon, and this will throw a curve into the Rockets game plan. So far, the Rockets have looked dominant with Harden running the point guard.
4) Detroit Pistons – Detroit did lose on Wednesday night to the Bucks, but they are one of only four teams with double digits in the win column. Reggie Jackson is taking a backseat this season to Tobias Harris and Andre Drummond. With Harris scoring 19.8 a night and Drummond grabbing 15.8 rebounds per night, the Pistons are flourishing. I don’t believe this team will advance past the first round of the playoffs though. But, I am enamored with the way they have been playing of late.
5) Minnesota Timberwolves – The Timberwolves have a lot of key wins this season over Western Conference foes: Oklahoma City (twice), Utah (twice) and the San Antonio Spurs. This team is still a work in progress but Karl Anthony Townes PER of 25.1 has me highly invested in this team. Not to mention, Andrew Wiggins and Jimmy Butler are playing solid as well. They still have issues to address on the defensive side of things, but from what we have seen so far, this team is a threat in the Western Conference.
6) Washington Wizards – Washington has won 4 in a row by a 15.5 point differential. Now granted, those teams were three of the bottom teams in the league. Regardless, the way this team is playing, I am expecting them to strive all season long. They will be a threat for the Eastern Conference Finals.
7) San Antonio Spurs – Without Tony Parker or Kawahi Leonard playing a game for them this season, posting a 9-6 record is big. LMA has delivered for the Spurs posting 22.0 ppg, 8.3 rpg and a PER of 25.7. Despite their early season hot streak though, the Spurs have failed to really take down a team in the Top 10 of the Power Rankings. I still believe that when Leonard and Parker are 100% healthy, this is the biggest threat to the Warriors.
8) Toronto Raptors – Toronto has won four of their last five, with their only loss being a one-point game to the Irving-less Celtics. The Raptors got a huge win on the road against the Rockets Tuesday evening and followed that up with a nice win over the New Orleans Pelicans. There is speculation that Kyle Lowry isn’t happy being there and that the new offense the Raptors are running is hurting his production. We will find out sooner or later if this is a problem for the Raptors going forward, but for now, I am not too concerned.
9) Milwaukee Bucks – Since trading for Eric Bledsoe the Bucks are on a 4-game winning streak. These 4 wins come over Memphis, San Antonio, the Lakers and the Detroit Pistons, who is a Top-4 team right now. Folks around the NBA have been saying the Bucks need a point guard, and well, those prayers were answered. Milwaukee will be even more dangerous once they get Jabari Parker back as well. This is a team that can land in the Top 4 in the Eastern Conference and they even have a shot at making it to the Eastern Conference Finals.
10) Cleveland Cavaliers – The Cavaliers are now 8-7 and on a 3-game winning streak. They almost lost to New York on Tuesday, but after rallying from a 23-point deficit, LeBron showed fans (and Enes Kanter) that he is still the King of the East.
“Hey, don’t write yourself off yet. It’s only in your head you feel left out and looked down on. Just try your best, try everything you can.” -Jimmy Eat World
11) Philadelphia 76ers – The 76ers might be the most fun team to watch in the NBA. The future is bright with Embid and Simmons. They don’t even need Fultz. Redick has been a nice addition and Robert Covington is looking like the glue that will hold this team together. It will be important to monitor Embid’s long-term health. When healthy, he can dominate games like he did Wednesday evening in the Staples Center with 46 points, 15 rebounds while shooting 70% from the field. They have won 6 of their last 8.
12) Portland Trailblazers – The backcourt in Portland’s starting unit is averaging 47.0 ppg, 9.1 apg while shooting above 40%/. This team has been at the bottom of the West’s standings for the past couple of years. I think they have the talent to fall anywhere from the 5th to the 8th seed, but they are a definite playoff team in my book. With Lillard and McCollum, this team is too good to get outplayed by teams like Memphis, New Orleans or Utah.
13) Denver Nuggets – I am still trying to get my feel on the Denver Nuggets. There is a lot to like here but there is a lot that could happen too. They could hit a nice winning streak and solidify their playoff chances, or they could go on a bad losing streak and be on an uphill battle the rest of the season. My stock is high on Jokic and Millsap working together. I love Gary Harris too. Jamal Murray has played well at the starting point guard, but that position will always be an area of concern for me until the Nuggets prove me wrong.
14) New Orleans Pelicans – New Orleans has the most dominate front court in the NBA today. DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis are averaging 53.6 ppg, 25.1 rpg and 8.6 apg. The Pelicans have a weird roster make up, but Rajon Rondo is back. I think Rondo could help, but I am also nervous to what element he adds to this team. Will he have a positive effect or a negative effect? I would say right now that verdict is 50-50 and I am intrigued to see where this goes. I still have them making the playoffs.
15) New York Knicks – New York lost a heartbreaker on Tuesday to the Cavaliers but I was a huge fan of Frank Ntilikina and Enes Kanter letting LeBron James know they don’t care for his opinions on the makeup of their roster. Rivalries in the NBA are a GREAT thing. The rest of the month will be a semi-difficult challenge for the Knicks, but I think right now, the Knicks are in 7th-10th range as far as Eastern Conference standings go.
16) Oklahoma City Thunder – The Thunder are on a three-game winning streak thanks to the terrific play of Paul George. In the Thunder’s three wins, Paul George and Russell Westbrook have led the team in shot attempts, not Carmelo Anthony. This is how it should be and how it must be for the Thunder to climb their way back into the of the Western Conference.
17) Orlando Magic – Orlando Magic fans, I sincerely apologize for undervaluing your team and their success last season. Having them in the early twenties was a bit extreme and I hope you will forgive me for that horrible selection. I have the Magic as the 17th best team in the NBA right now. They have lost 5 of their last 7 games, although to good teams. They’re not going to be a top 5 team in the East like they showed in the first few weeks of the season, but they do have a legitimate shot at making the playoffs. The Hornets and Heat have not lived up to preseason expectations and that is leaving a gap for teams like Orlando to get into the playoffs when many had them on the outside looking in.
18) Memphis Grizzlies – The Grizzlies have lost four of their last five games and are coming back down to earth. I didn’t have this team making the playoffs, but I didn’t feel good about it. They have what it takes to be a playoff team (even if they are in the West), but overall there are a lot of teams that will be pushing to eliminate Memphis from playoff contention. This is a team that is going to need productive play from Mike Conley Jr. and Marc Gasol every night.
19) Indiana Pacers – The Pacers are my favorite team in the NBA and they have a lot of interesting aspects to them. Myles Turner is looking to settle into his role after being thrown into a funk with his concussion. You have an enlightened Oladipo who is looking to elevate his game to another level. They have a bench Mon-STAR (paying homage to Space-Jam if you didn’t catch the reference) in Sabonis, and the young core is surrounded by hardworking veterans. This team is unselfish and they play a fun brand of basketball. Indiana fans have a lot to be happy about with this team after losing Paul George.
“You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometime you find you get what you need.” -The Rolling Stones
20) Los Angeles Clippers – Losers of 6 in a row, I am highly concerned with this team. I think they will miss the playoffs because they’re too inconsistent and Doc Rivers has wore out his welcome in Los Angeles.
21) Utah Jazz – Without Dante Exum and Rudy Gobert, this team is being placed in the hands of rookie Donovan Mitchell. Quinn Snyder is still one of my favorite coaches in the league, but there is only so much he can do with a limited offensive roster. Still though, the absence of Gobert will only raise the stock of one, Derrick Favors.
22) Charlotte Hornets – The Hornets are a team that should be a playoff contender in the East. Their recent struggles have to be because they’ve been without Nic Batum for the majority of the season. With Batum returning Wednesday night, I expect the Hornets to have a mid-season winning streak that catches the league by notice.
23) Miami Heat – The Heat haven’t been fully healthy all year long, but I am still disappointed with their early season struggles. Goran Dragic has been fantastic, but outside of that, they haven’t been consistent.
“Let the future lead your way, all you gotta do is stay. ‘Cause tomorrow’s not today and there is a better day. Be strong, the future is so bright.” -C Block
24) Los Angeles Lakers – In reference to the lyrics above, the Lakers squad of the 2017-2018 is not about the now, but the future. I don’t like seeing Luke Walton leaving Lonzo on the bench late in games. This season is all about growing pains. They will show themselves how talented they can be at times, but also show their weaknesses. If the Lakers are trying to make the playoffs this season, I applaud them. However, I think player development should be their main concern.
25) Brooklyn Nets – I was devastated by the news that D’Angelo Russell will be missing a significant amount of time with an injury. The Nets’ plus/minus with Russell on the floor is at an all-time low, but I also think that just tells you a lot about the roster makeup of this Nets team.
26) Phoenix Suns – I have heard the positive and negative comments about Devin Booker and I can see both sides. However, give me all the Booker stock you have and let me invest in it. This is a young star in the making. It isn’t his fault he is on probably one of the worst franchises in the league. They need to get this guy some talent, so he can show you his true colors. I feel as if the negative comments are due to the fact that Booker is shooting the ball too much. If he had more help, the shot attempts would go down.
27) Sacramento Kings – The Kings future is bright with De’Aaron Fox. They have so much young talent and they are going to use this season as a development period. I like that they brought in vets to help this team grow, but they paid too much for George Hill and they’re still playing Randolph too much.
“And when you’re dreaming with a broken heart, the waking up is the hardest part.” – John Mayer
28) Dallas Mavericks – I love Dennis Smith Jr. but as far as the rest of the roster, I want to see some serious trades. The fact that Carlisle is not a fan of Noel is frustrating as well. Noel has talent and I believe playing Dirk at center is a horrible idea for the Mavericks going forward. Still though, DSJ is the real deal and this team needs to make sure that they get talent around him.
29) Atlanta Hawks – The Hawks are not a good basketball team, at all. I have zero confidence in them going forward but their head coach leaves room for some optimism.
30) Chicago Bulls – The Bulls are the worst team in the league as many predicted. I like some of the players the Bulls have (Portis, Dunn and Lavine) but this front office has not been one that I can invest in. They don’t seem to have an identity and they will forever be a team that lives in a big city that misses out on big free agents.
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