NBA

NBA Power Rankings: Mavs, Spurs, Celtics, Heat on Top, Lakers Fall

| by Hoops Karma

The Hoops Karma Power Rankings examine how comparatively powerful or dominant each NBA team is right now (for clarity’s sake – this is how I think the team’s would finish in a giant round-robin tournament this week with no injuries or fatigue between games).

Obviously more recent contests and happenings weigh heavier than those in the past, but a look at how the clubs have progressed throughout the season is necessary to get a sense of patterns that will continue or possibly change. Unlike college rankings, these are re-evaluated each time; no one has to wait for someone else to lose in order to move up if they’re doing well. Again, these look at how powerful a club is RIGHT NOW. Here are last week's rankings.

1. Dallas Mavericks (16-4): Current 9-game win streak includes big W’s over Utah, Miami, San An, and OKC.

2. Utah Jazz (15-6): Rolling, rolling, rolling – not only winning, but finally stringing together double-digit victory margins. A loss to the Mavericks at this point isn’t very damning. Upcoming consecutive contests with Miami, Orlando, and Dallas will be good ones for the we-think-they’re-finally-actualized Jazz.

3. San Antonio Spurs (17-3): Drop a lackluster-in-all-ways turd down in LA to the Clippers, and then take it out on the Hornets four days later in a 25-point drubbing. They have the chance to put Denver in place a couple times before Christmas (16th, 22nd). The Spurs are the only team other than Miami that’s top-7 in both offense and defense.

4. Miami Heat (13-8): Spent the week annihilating four relative nobodies, with an average margin of victory of 19 ppg – not too bad considering two of those were LeBron’s emotional Cleveland homecoming and against the 13-8 Hawks. Could/should win at least 7 of their next 8 contests, which covers the next two weeks. They’re way underperforming and have faced one of the league’s hardest schedules to date, and they’re at a 62% winning clip.

5. Boston Celtics (16-4): Went on their Rondo-is-back tear, but now he’s out again with a strained hammy. Nate Robinson isn’t exactly the same thing, so thankfully they only have one good opponent (and an upcoming 3-day gameless break) over the next two weeks.

6. Orlando Magic (15-5): The stomach flu has taken quite a toll on the Magic, who only played 8 guys in their loss to Milwaukee, including no-shows by Dwight, Jameer, J.J., and Pietrus. Everyone should be back by Friday’s Jazz game and certainly by next Tuesday in Denver.

7. Denver Nuggets (13-6): Andersen is back (sorta), and it took him five games to put up 6 blocks in one night (you’re welcome, Clippers).

8. Oklahoma City Thunder (14-7): Durant didn’t play in the loss to Toronto, but he’s back for what looks to be a fairly easy stretch until Christmas. Maybe now they’ll be consistent (don’t hold your breath).

9. Los Angeles Lakers (14-6): Their recent 4-game losing streak was against teams that are a combined 39-41. They should give their upcoming/continued cakewalk of a schedule more of what Sacramento just got (113-80 beating), but there have been a lot of should’s up to this point. A team that’s done this poorly recently has no business being in the top-10, but most of the league is looking bad right now. Keep that in mind for the rest of the rankings.

10. New York Knicks (12-9): Good: have won 9 of their last 10. Bad: the only team they’ve downed in that stretch with a winning record are the floundering 13-7 Hornets. 

11. Phoenix Suns (11-9): Won’t officially be back on track until they get to that Dallas-OKC-SA-Miami stretch from Dec. 17-23 and actually do something then.

12. New Orleans Hornets (13-7): They were just 8-0 like 15 minutes ago, but recently they’ve been losing to every good team they’ve faced (and the Clippers). CP3 needs to start taking over.

13. Indiana Pacers (9-9): Have been brought back to earth a little bit recently (theme of nearly every team that’s good or even looks good). Should win them all this week (Tor, Mil, Char, Atl) before getting Chicago and LAL early next week.

14. Chicago Bulls (10-8): Can’t blame a squad whose only recent losses are to LAL, Denver, Orlando, and Boston, especially when Boozer wasn’t quite Boozer (is he yet?) when he “played” against the Magic and Celtics. They can move up this board quickly if he gets it together.

15. Atlanta Hawks (13-8): Unless they beat Orlando, SA, or Boston (just one of those) over the next two weeks, I’m continuing to not buy them. Everything from here down is a mess.

16. Memphis Grizzlies (8-13): No one can give a rat’s rear about them (what happens when you continually float in just-under-.500 purgatory), yet they beat the Lakers while being outboarded by 13 and out-freethrowed by 9. I see more inconsistent disappointment in the future.

17. Houston Rockets (7-13): Last 5 games: close losses in Dallas and Chicago, wins over OKC, Memphis, and the Lakers. They face only one winning squad before Dec. 29, but Aaron Brooks is still hurt.

18. Toronto Raptors (8-12): They sorely lack the toughness Reggie Evans (broken foot) can add next to Bargnani, but Amir Johnson has auditioned well for the part (last 2 games: 14-9 and 22-16).

19. Detroit Pistons (7-14): At least their last three losses were to Orlando twice and Miami. Beyond that…did you really expect anything different at this point?

20. Charlotte Bobcats (7-13): Their defense is slightly above the league average, which isn’t exactly enough to make this collection of talent look good. Although they are only one game out of the #8 spot in the East right now.

21. New Jersey Nets (6-15): Consistent again – unfortunately. If they don’t beat Atlanta tomorrow, they’ll have to look ahead to next week for their next win (Philly, DC, Toronto).

22. Portland Trail Blazers (9-11): They’re not exactly sure what to do or how to play with the new Brandon Roy, which is bad bad news because they’ve hung their hats on him for a while now.

23. Los Angeles Clippers (4-17): New Orleans and then the Spurs? I guess the Lakers are going down this Wednesday (pretty sure I’m joking…I think?).

24. Philadelphia 76ers (6-14): Putting AI on the trading block is the official sign that this season is over. Doug Collins, we hardly knew ye.

25. Cleveland Cavaliers (7-13): I get it that you’re spent after consecutive thrashings at the hands of Boston and the Heat, but you follow it up with a 34-point butt-kicking by the Timberwolves? The Timberwolves!?

26. Washington Wizards (6-13): Don’t believe the hype or highlights: They have no savior.

27. Golden State Warriors (8-12): So far in the back-breaking part of their schedule, the Warriors are 0-3 (vs SA, Phx, OKC) with Dallas, SA, Miami, and Utah on deck.

28. Milwaukee Bucks (7-12): Don’t be fooled by their Orlando win – half the Magic were out with stomach viruses. Bucks continue to shoot 41%.

29. Minnesota Timberwolves (5-15): A Kevin Love 28-19, plus 18 triples (including 5-for-5 from K-Love), will allow a team to kill anybody, especially the emotionally spent Cavs.

30. Sacramento Kings (4-14): It’s starting to become clear that Cousins really was the huge headcase everyone thought he was AND that he’s so bad he’s affecting Tyreke Evans’ attitude. No joke: trade DC now for anything or send him home and tell him to enjoy the paychecks and no work.