2012-13 NBA Power Rankings: Thunder, Spurs, Grizzlies on Top; Lakers, Wizards Dip

| by Hoops Karma

These are the teams doing really well:

1. Oklahoma City Thunder (17-4): In their last 10 games, the Thunder are 9-1 and have won seven in a row, the league’s longest active win streak. In that time, the Thunder have jumped into the lead in points per game (106), point differential (+9.5), and three-point FG% (42).
2. San Antonio Spurs (17-4): Also 9-1 in their last 10 games, the veteran Spurs trail only the Thunder in point differential at 8.7. San Antonio also ranks second in terms of the Simple Rating System, with a 9.2.
3. Memphis Grizzlies (14-4): The Griz dropped two tough contests to the Spurs and Hawks last week, but are still 7-3 in their past 10 games. Zach Randolph is averaging 18 ppg and 13 rpg through the first quarter of the season, featuring a 38-point, 22-rebound performance against Phoenix.
4. New York Knicks (15-5): The Eastern Conference’s first-place team has continued its winning ways early in the season, primarily on the back of its high-powered offense even with Amare Stoudemire hurt and Carmelo Anthony missing the Knicks’ contest Thursday against Miami. A game which, in an exhibition of New York’s depth, the Knicks won by 20 behind 27 points and seven assists from Ray Felton.
5.Los Angeles Clippers (14-6): The Clippers have established themselves as “the” team in the City of Angels so far this year. Chris Paul and Co. enter this week of competition hot, riding a six-game win streak.
6. Miami Heat (13-5): The Heat had a rough week, losing to the previously-winless Washington Wizards, and then getting blown out by the Knicks for the second time this season. Still not much cause for concern, however, as the Heat got back to their winning ways with a 106-90 romp over New Orleans.

Looking Good

7. Atlanta Hawks (12-5): After starting the season 3-4, Atlanta has got things rolling going 9-1 in the team’s 10 recent games. Josh Smith leads a young Hawks group, scoring 17 ppg and pulling in 8 rpg and delivered a 24-point, eight-rebound performance against one of the West’s top teams, Memphis.
8. Golden State Warriors (13-7): Another young team performing extremely well early, the Warriors have won eight of their last 10 contests. Stephen Curry has dealt with concerns over his knee, but that hasn’t stopped him from topping 20 points in Golden State’s past seven games.
9. Chicago Bulls (11-8): Even without Derrick Rose, the Bulls still remain in the top tier of teams in the East. Tom Thibodeau’s squad ranks second in the East in scoring defense, allowing only 91 ppg.
10. Brooklyn Nets (11-8): The Nets got really hot lately, winning 10 of 12 games. But a recent four-game losing streak has dropped their stock, with defensive issues surfacing as Brooklyn allowed an unsightly 106 ppg in those four losses.

Looking Average

11. Boston Celtics (11-9): The Celtics’ new pieces seem to be meshing well with those in place, as six Celtics average over 9 ppg. Boston delivered a solid, all-around performance in a recent win over the Philadelphia 76ers.
12. Philadelphia 76ers (11-9): No team in the league has been better defensively than the Sixers so far, with Philly holding its opposition to just under 90 ppg. Additionally, Jrue Holiday has continued to play as one of the league’s best guards, putting up 18 ppg and 9 apg.
13. Utah Jazz (12-10): The Jazz are another team exceptionally deep in scoring, with six players averaging in the double-digits. Al Jefferson is putting together a strong season, averaging a double-double with 17 ppg and 11 rpg.
14. Denver Nuggets (10-11): Everyone knows Denver can score, with the Nugs posting over 100 ppg. But Denver notched an impressive win founded on defense against a tough Pacer team Friday, with a 92-89 victory.
15. Indiana Pacers (10-11): Without Danny Granger in the lineup, Indy’s offense has suffered as the Pacers are scoring roughly 91 ppg. On the flip side, Frank Vogel’s unit is defending very well to the tune of a little under 92 ppg scored by Indiana’s opposition.
16. Dallas Mavericks (10-10): O.J. Mayo has played a huge role in helping the Mavs stay afloat, highlighted by his 40-point outburst Saturday against Houston. He will need to keep up his performance, as Dirk Nowitzki’s knee will keep him out likely until January.
17. Minnesota Timberwolves (9-9): Things are looking up in Minnesota, with Kevin Love returning to the lineup and playing just as well as ever with his 21 ppg and 14 rpg. Ricky Rubio also is close to returning, as he hoped to play Friday but was a late scratch against in Cleveland.
18. Houston Rockets (9-10): Houston’s offense has been performing well, ranking fourth in the league at over 103 ppg. Unfortunately for the young Rockets, the defense needs to meet the offense’s performance, as Houston allows a league-worst number at roughly 104 ppg.
19. Los Angeles Lakers (9-12): If only the Lakers could make free throws as well as they acquire talent. Los Angeles ranks last in the league from the charity stripe at 67.4%, and their misses from the line have directly contributed to a number of losses so far.
20. Milwaukee Bucks (10-9): After reaching 6-2 ten games ago, not much has gone right for the Deer as they are 4-7 since. But a 97-88 win against the Nets Sunday should help to return Milwaukee to the right track.
21. Orlando Magic (8-12): The Magic delivered two solid wins in California against the Lakers and Warriors, but followed that up with disappointing losses to Utah and Sacramento. Four players average over 13 ppg for the Magic, who have seen players like J.J. Redick and Glen Davis step up.

Looking Bad

22. Sacramento Kings (7-12): For a young team with as much offensive potential as the Kings have, one would think they’d average more than roughly 94 ppg. On the bright side, DeMarcus Cousins continues to have a semi-breakout year, putting up 17 ppg and 10 rpg.
23. Portland Trail Blazers (8-12): Portland has gone ice cold lately, going 2-6 after sitting at 6-6 through 12 games. Less encouraging for Blazers fans is the team’s defense, near the bottom of the league allowing 102 ppg.
24. Phoenix Suns (7-15): Yet another team in the West that has struggled to defend the basket, Phoenix’s defense ranks above the Rockets’ league-worst group at only a few tenths of a point per game. The Suns have enjoyed some success at home, going 5-5, but cannot win on the road with 10 losses in 12 road contests.
25. Detroit Pistons (7-15): Like the Kings, Detroit cannot figure out how to put the ball in the basket despite its young scoring talent. But encouragingly enough, Brandon Knight did post a career-high 30 points in a Piston win over the Cavs Saturday.
26. Charlotte Bobcats (7-12): After matching their total win mark from all of last year at seven, the Bobcats have lost seven games in a row. Most of the problem derives from the Bobcats defense, allowing over 103 ppg and coming in as the worst in the Eastern Conference thus far.

Looking Terrible

27. New Orleans Hornets (5-14): New Orleans has struggled mightily in the absence of Anthony Davis, going 2-9 in the last 11 games he’s missed. But, there is something to be said for the Hornets playing the league’s most difficult schedule thus far.
28. Toronto Raptors (4-17): A common theme between the other teams in the area, the Raptors also cannot defend well. As of now, Toronto is ranked as the worst team in the East defensively, with a Defensive Rating of 109.4—contributing heavily to the Raps losing 9 of their last 10.
29. Washington Wizards (2-15): The Wiz did beat the Heat last week and picked up a decent win against the Blazers the week before to register their first two wins of the season. But Washington still ranks as one of the league’s worst offensive units at just under 92 ppg, which won’t change much until the return of John Wall—or will it?
30. Cleveland Cavaliers (4-17): If anything, the Cavs have gotten some quality individual performances so far—Anderson Varejao leads the league in rebounding at 15.2 rpg, and Dion Waiters has been scoring well even with Kyrie Irving out, putting up 15 ppg. But as a unit, Cleveland has little to write home about having lost five straight, andof their last 10.