2012-13 NBA Power Rankings: Grizzlies, Knicks, Heat on Top; Bulls, Lakers, Celtics Dip
Here are the teams that are looking great right now:
1. Memphis Grizzlies (9-2): While other teams are winning games in flashier fashions, the Grizzlies are just playing quality basketball. Consecutive wins against the Heat, Thunder, and Knicks proved the Griz are at the top of the league thus far.
2. New York Knicks (8-3): No other team started the season as hot as the Knicks did, and New York has continued to play well. On average, the Knicks have the highest margin of victory in the league at roughly 10 ppg.
3. Miami Heat (9-3): A 20-point loss to the Knicks and an 18-point loss to the Grizzlies do not make the Heat look like the best team in the league thus far. But LeBron, Wade, and Bosh are still doing their thing and will face a test next week against San Antonio on Nov. 29.
4. San Antonio Spurs (10-3): Tim Duncan—18 ppg, 10 rpg—and Tony Parker are leading another very deep Spurs roster, featuring nine players averaging seven or more points a game. Two-thirds of the Spurs’ losses came to the Clippers, but Gregg Popovich’s squad can boast wins over the Thunder, Lakers, and Celtics.
5. Oklahoma City Thunder (9-4): Adding to this glut of teams at the top, OKC looks to have no shortage of firepower with the trading of James Harden. Kevin Martin has stepped in to average 18 ppg, whose efforts alongside Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka helped the Thunder pick up an overtime victory against the Clippers Tuesday night.
6. Los Angeles Clippers (8-4): If there was a team one would expect to look like a title contender in Los Angeles, the Clippers wouldn’t be your first guess. But Chris Paul has led a deep, talented, versatile roster to a hot start so far including wins over the Grizzlies, Lakers, Spurs, and Heat.
7. Atlanta Hawks (7-4): The Hawks haven’t been one of the flashiest teams in the league so far, but have certainly played like some of the better ones on the strength of solid defense. Atlanta took down the Thunder, and lost close games to the Heat and Clippers.
8. Dallas Mavericks (7-6): Even without Nowitzki, the Mavs are still scoring nearly 102 ppg. Wednesday, Dallas knocked off the Knicks in a shootout, 114-111.
9. Philadelphia 76ers (7-5): The Sixers have not allowed Andrew Bynum’s injury saga deter from their on-court play, especially in their league-leading defense allowing 83 ppg. Jrue Holiday—18 ppg, 9 apg—leads an athletic, young backcourt featuring five players scoring 11 or more points per game.
10. Denver Nuggets (7-6): After an 0-3 start, Denver has gone 7-3. Seven players average 9 ppg or more in the Nuggets’ high-powered offense, which has finally started to come in to form.
11. Brooklyn Nets (7-4): Another team with a high-powered offense, Brooklyn is also playing some solid defense, allowing only 92 ppg. Brooklyn lost a couple tough games to the Lakers and Warriors, but rebounded nicely with a win over the Clippers.
12. Milwaukee Bucks (6-4): With the Pacers and Bulls dealing with injuries to their star players, the Bucks capitalized early. Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings are working well so far, averaging a combined 37 ppg and 13 apg.
13. Boston Celtics (7-6): Boston had a rough go of things to start, but heated up since as evidenced by a recent win over the Thunder. No floor general has been better than Rajon Rondo so far, who is putting up 14 ppg and leading the league with 13 apg.
14. Utah Jazz (7-6): Despite a three-game losing streak earlier, the Jazz rebounded well to play some quality basketball the past few weeks. Utah notched quality wins over the Lakers, Rockets, and Mavericks so far and should start stringing together wins here soon.
15. Golden State Warriors (7-6): The Dubs have meshed pretty well early on, and it has shown in wins against the likes of the Clippers, Mavs, and Nets. Stephen Curry leads the team with his 19 ppg and 6 apg.
16. Los Angeles Lakers (6-7): The Lakers finally seem to be putting it all together, now that Mike Brown was fired. But two consecutive losses to Sacramento and Memphis dropped the Lakers back to below .500.
17. Portland Trail Blazers (6-6): Portland has been hot and cold to start, but recently picked up some quality wins against Minnesota and Houston. Damian Lillard is garnering some early Rookie of the Year talk, putting up 20 ppg and 6 apg.
18. Charlotte Bobcats (6-5): The laughingstock of the league last season is the one laughing now, with the Cats over .500 through 11 games, including a couple of quality wins against Dallas and Milwaukee. Kemba Walker looks much-improved since his rookie campaign, averaging 19 ppg and 6 apg.
19. Houston Rockets (6-7): With Jeremy Lin and James Harden manning the backcourt, the Rockets and their potent offense seem to finally be starting to find their mojo. Houston picked up two solid wins recently, over the Bulls and a drubbing over the Knicks in which Houston posted 131 points.
20. Chicago Bulls (5-6): Chicago started pretty well to begin the season without Derrick Rose, but have dropped their past four games. In those games, the Bulls failed to top 100 points each night and gave up nearly 100 points a game.
21. Phoenix Suns (6-7): Phoenix has faced a tough slate of games so far, but still dropped some winnable contests against Orlando, Utah, and Chicago. The Suns are scoring over 100 a game, but are also giving up over 103 per contest, which coach Alvin Gentry will need to primarily address as the season progresses.
22. Minnesota Timberwolves (5-6): With the return of Kevin Love, the T’Wolves immediately become a better team. But Minnesota has also lost four in a row against Charlotte, Golden St., Denver, and Portland, leaving much to be desired.
23. Indiana Pacers (6-8): The Pacers are staying afloat while Danny Granger recovers, but will need to step up their play. Losses against the likes of the Toronto Raptors will not bode well moving forward.
24. Orlando Magic (5-7): After starting 2-0, the Magic dropped five in a row. But, Orlando hasn’t been as bad as expected so far with six players averaging nine ppg or more.
25. Sacramento Kings (3-9): The Kings have struggled early, but recently knocked off the Lakers—who were coming off the front end of back-to-back, but still—and there is a chance the Kings could get close to .500 with their offensive potential. Now only if they could defend anyone…
26. New Orleans (3-8): Not much has been easy in The Big Easy for the Hornets early on, with both Anthony Davis and Eric Gordon dealing with injuries. New Orleans’ offense is suffering as a result, averaging only 93 ppg.
27. Detroit Pistons (3-10): Things haven’t gone well in the Motor City so far, with the Pistons struggling to score at only 92 ppg. After starting 0-7, the outlook has gotten a little better with the Pistons going 3-2 in their last five games.
28. Toronto Raptors (3-10): Toronto become better with the return of Kyle Lowry, but still haven’t been able to get everything working so far. This was on full display when Toronto dropped its last contest to Detroit.
29. Cleveland Cavaliers (3-9): With Kyrie Irving out, the Cavs have little, if anything at all, to be hopeful about right now. With him out, don’t expect much of anything out of Cleveland through December.
30. Washington Wizards (0-10): No team has been in the category the Wizards are in right now, having not won a single game.