The Golden State Warriors have won games in every way imaginable this year.
The Warriors earned its second World Championship crown in three seasons in June. And they have the best winning percentage this season.
Golden State returned to No. 1 in my last NBA Power Rankings and are still there in this seventh edition.
1. Golden State Warriors (29-8), no movement
The Warriors went an NBA-best 13-2 in December. They posted an 83-19 record overall in 2017 which includes going 68-18 during the regular season.
Steph Curry, who returned to court for the first time since Dec. 6, lit up the Grizzlies for 38 points as he made 10-of-13 shots from beyond the arc in 26 minutes. Curry has now made 10 triples in a game on nine occasions which is an NBA record. He had missed the prior 11 games.
Curry and fellow splash brother Klay Thompson ranked first and second in three-pointers as they have made 363 and 330, respectively, in the just-completed calendar year. Curry also topped the list in plus/minus.
Kevin Durant had a fabulous December. The 6-9 forward averaged 27.0 points along with 7.1 rebounds and 5.9 assists though he only shot 47.8% from the field. He dished out six or more assists in nine of his 15 contests in the month.
Draymond Green, who has 10 technical fouls this year, was ejected for the second time this season in the game against Memphis (Sat.).
Since 2014-15, Golden State is 40-7 following a loss including 8-0 this year.
2. Toronto Raptors (25-10), +2 spots
The Raptors started the New Year in fashion with an exhilarating 131-127 overtime victory over the Bucks on New Year’s Day. DeMar DeRozan set a franchise record with 52 points in the game as he made 17-of-29 shots from the floor and 5-of-9 from beyond the arc. DeRozan, the first player in NBA history to score 50 points on Jan. 1, added eight assists and five boards.
DeRozan has been tearing it up lately. The 28-year-old wing is averaging 29.1 points and 4.3 assists while shooting 50.3% from the field over his last ten games. He has scored 30 or more points four times during this stretch.
Vince Carter and Terrence Ross have also reached the half-century mark as members of the organization.
Toronto has won 12 of 15. The Raptors also have won 12 straight at home where they are an NBA-best 14-1. The victory over the Bucks was also their ninth straight over Eastern Conference foes, improving their record to 14-4 over their fellow conference foes.
3. Houston Rockets (26-7), -1 spot
The Rockets snapped a five-game losing streak with a 148-142 double-overtime victory over the Lakers on Sunday. The Rockets are now 15-3 in their last 18 games that have gone into an extra period. They also have won six straight games that went into double-overtime, which dates back to 2008.
Houston went 51-23 in 2017, including 6-5 in the postseason.
James Harden and Chris Paul combined for 68 points and 28 assists on Sunday against the Lakers. Harden, who tweaked his hamstring in the game, stuffed the stat sheet with 40 points along with 11 assists, two steals and two blocks. He was 11-20 from the field.
Harden will miss at least two weeks with the hamstring strain per the Houston Chronicle.
Harden finished the month of December compiling 33.6 points along with 8.1 assists and 4.6 rebounds. The combo guard was extremely efficient as he produced 1.57 points per shot. Harden, who attempted 12.4 free throws a game in the month, shot 45.0% from the field as well as 36.7% from beyond the arc and 86.8% from the charity stripe for the month.
In the meanwhile, Paul finished the game with 28 points along with 10 dimes and six rebounds. It was Paul’s sixth double-double of the season.
Recently signed Gerald Green has scored in double-figures in two of his three games with the team. He has totaled 28 points on 10-of-17 (58.7%) shooting from the field.
Harden joins Luc Mbah a Moute (shoulder) and Troy Williams (knee) on the shelf. The Rockets did get Clint Capela back. Capela, who returned for the Lakers games, had missed the five of the previous eight games with an eye injury.
4. San Antonio Spurs (25-12), +2 spots
The Spurs went 11-5 in the month of December for the fourth-best winning percentage at 68.8%. They finished 2017 with a 67-35 record including 8-8 in the postseason.
LaMarcus Aldridge, who posted his sixth double-double in December with 15 points and 11 rebounds in a loss to the Pistons, has led the team in scoring 28 of 36 games he has appeared in. Aldridge has scored at least 20 points in four of his last five games, while also hauling in between six and 14 rebounds in 10 of his last 11 contests.
San Antonio is 2-4 in six games the Kawhi Leonard, who is on a minutes restriction, has played. Leonard has scored in double-figures in five of his six appearances, averaging 13.5 points along with 3.8 rebounds while shooting 46.9% from the floor and 35.0% from beyond the arc.
Leonard is listed as probable for the Spurs game against the Knicks on Thursday. In the meanwhile, Rudy Gay is out for at least two weeks with a foot injury according to Spurs.com.
5. Boston Celtics (30-10), -1 spot
The Celtics, currently on a three-game winning streak, posted a 63-25 regular season-record as they closed the 2016-17 regular season by winning 33 of their final 48 games
Terry Rozier is playing perhaps his best basketball of his young career. Rozier dropped 14 points in Sunday’s victory over the Nets to give him four straight games of at least 13 points. He is producing 14.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists over the last four contests. Rozier has made at least five field goals and two treys over this stretch, shooting 58.3% (21-of-38) from the field and 51.2% (11-of-21) from beyond the arc.
6. Cleveland Cavaliers (24-12), -3 spots
The Cavaliers lost four of five to finish December with a 9-5 record. Since Dec. 19, LeBron James —who turned 33 on Saturday— is averaging a league-high 5.6 turnovers a game. Isaiah Thomas is expected to make his Cleveland debut on Tuesday; he will be on a minutes restriction and will not play back-to-back games.
7. Minnesota Timberwolves (24-14), +1 spot
The Timberwolves have won two straight and are 7-1 in their last eight. With their victory over the Lakers on New Year’s Day, Minnesota improved 11-2 when holding its opponents under 100 points.
Jimmy Butler and Karl Anthony-Towns have carried the Wolves since December 1. Butler, who has made at least 50% of his shots in 12 of his last 16 games, has topped the 20 point plateau 14 times during this stretch. In the meantime, Towns has posted 12 double-doubles during this 16-game period, he now has 30 double-doubles on the season.
Minnesota, second in the league with 13.2 turnovers a game, is just 12-10 in games in which they have fewer turnovers than their opponents.
8. Detroit Pistons (20-15), no movement
The Pistons closed December by winning six of eight games to finish the month with a 6-9 record. Andre Drummond posted his fifth-straight double-double in Saturday’s victory over the Spurs as he finished with 14 points and 21 rebounds, marking the fifth time he has grabbed 20 caroms in a game this year.
9. Washington Wizards (21-16), +2 spots
The Wizards won four of their last five to finish December with a 10-6 record. Bradley Beal, who tied his career-high with nine assists in win over the Bulls, scored 39 points on Sunday for his third game of at least 30 points in the month. Washington’s 10 losses to teams with a losing record is a league-high.
10. Oklahoma City Thunder (20-17), +2 spots
The Thunder have lost two straight though they still managed to earn the second most wins in December (12-5). Paul George has been stroking the ball well over the last four games, averaging 27.0 points on 57.4% shooting from the field and 61.3% from beyond the arc as he is draining 3.8 triples a contest. OKC fell to 8-2 in games on New Year’s eve following its 116-13 setback to Dallas on Sunday.
11. Indiana Pacers (19-18), -5 spots
The Pacers are currently on a four-game losing streak, which ties a season-high. Leading scorer Victor Oladipo has missed the last three games with a right knee injury. Indiana, 11-9 at home, scored a season-low 90 points in a loss to Minnesota (Sunday) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse though they still average 106.5 points a game in 20 games this year which ranks 15th in the league.
12. Miami Heat (19-17)
The Heat finished tied for the seventh most wins in December as they went 9-6 in the month. Tyler Johnson, who has scored in double-figures in five straight games, scored 22 of his 31 points in the third quarter on Saturday. Saturday’s victory over Orlando was Miami’s first win in 14 games (1-13) when trailing after three quarters.
13. Milwaukee Bucks (19-16), +2 spots
The Bucks have lost six of 10. With the loss to the Raptors on New Year’s Day, Milwaukee fell to 7-10 on the road and 9-10 against teams with a .500 or better record. They also drop to 7-11 against Eastern Conference teams, which is the worst record among the top-8 conference teams and second fewest wins of all-conference squads.
Eric Bledsoe has given the Bucks a competent third scorer but has been disastrous on the defensive end. Bledsoe tallied 29 points, including 11 in overtime, and seven rebounds while making 9-of-15 shots from the field and 5-of-7 from long-distance. It was the 11th time he has scored 20 or more points in 25 games with Milwaukee. Bledsoe is compiling 18.6 points, 4.4 assists and 4.2 rebounds while shooting 45.9% from the floor and 32.3% from beyond the arc with the Bucks.
Milwaukee saw its 17-game streak of scoring 100 points, the franchise’s longest streak since topping the century mark in 22 consecutive games from 1986-87, end with its 97-95 victory over OKC on Dec. 29.
14. Denver Nuggets (19-17), -4 spots
The Nuggets have lost two in a row. Jamal Murray is averaging 22.0 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists over his last four games. Denver is 12-5 when leading at halftime.
15. Portland Trail Blazers (19-17), -2 spots
The Trail Blazers have won three of four. Portland evened its record at 1-1 in overtime games following its victory over Chicago on New Year’s Day.
Shabazz Napier, who is averaging 9.7 points a game this year, has scored in double-figures in seven straight games which include 20-points in three of his last four contests.
Portland, which is currently sixth in the Western Conference, is the only playoff conference team that has more victories on the road than at home (11-to-8). Among teams currently in the top-8 of the Western Conference, the Blazers also have the fewest victories against teams with at least a .500 record (8-14) and the worst record when their opponents score at least 100 points (6-13).
16. New Orleans Pelicans (18-18), no movement
The Pelicans have lost two straight to finish December with a 7-8 overall record. Rajon Rondo, who doled out 25 assists in win over the Nets (Wednesday), is the oldest of the seven players that has dished out at least 25 dimes in a game at the age of 31 years and 308 days. DeMarcus Cousins has had three games with at least 30 points and 20 rebounds this season, becoming the first player to accomplish the feat since 2010-11.
17. New York Knicks (18-18), no movement
The Knicks snapped a season-high four-game losing streak with a 105-103 road victory over the Pelicans (Saturday) for just their third victory away from MSG in 15 contests. Kristaps Porzingis, who scored seven of his game-high 30 points in the final 90 seconds, was 11-of-22 from the field against New Orleans --marking the first time in six games that he made at least 43% of his shots. New York went 7-8 in December.
18. Philadelphia 76ers (17-19), No movement
The 76ers are 10-10 away from home after finishing their just-concluded four-game road trip with a 3-1 record. Dario Saric, who is averaging 19.0 points over his last four games, has been red-hot from beyond the arc in his last three contests -- making 12-of-his last 18 attempts (66.7%). Philadelphia, which has won two straight, is on its first winning streak since winning three in a row (Nov. 20-25).
19. Los Angeles Clippers (16-19), no movement
The Clippers are 11-8 in their last 19 games. Lou Williams dumped in 40 points in a win over the Hornets to give him two 40-point games this season, which equals the number of times he accomplished the feat during the first 12 years of his career. Blake Griffin played for the first time in almost a month (Dec. 29) and has produced 49 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists in two games.
20. Chicago Bulls (13-24), no movement
The Bulls, who had the ninth-highest winning percentage in December (10-6), have lost two straight.
The Bulls are 10-4 since Nikola Mirotic made his season debut. Mirotic had 18 points and 10 rebounds in overtime loss to Portland on Jan. 1 to give him three double-doubles of the season. He has scored in double-figures 11 times and is averaging 18.3 points and 7.3 caroms while shooting 50.3% from the field and 46.6% from beyond the arc this year.
Chicago had its seven-game home winning streak snapped with its New Year’s Day loss. The Bulls are now 9-9 at the United Center this year.
21. Utah Jazz (16-21), no movement
The Jazz have won just three of their last nine games, all three wins coming against teams with at least a .500 record improving their record to 10-15 in those games this season. Rookie Donovan Mitchell, who tallied 29 points on 10-of-17 shooting versus the Cavs (Sat.), produced 27.5 points as he shot 62.5% shooting from the floor and 41.7% from beyond the arc in two games against Cleveland this year. Utah is 13-3 when leading after three quarters.
22. Phoenix Suns (14-24), +3 spots
The Suns have won five of eight. Devin Booker, who missed nine games in December, is averaging 30 points a game over his last three contests as he has surpassed the 30-point mark twice during this stretch. Phoenix, which ranks last in scoring defense (112.4) and second to last in defensive rating (108.7), is 9-22 when permitting its opponents to reach the century mark.
23. Dallas Mavericks (13-25), +6 spots
The Mavs are on a season-high four-game win streak. Dennis Smith, averaging 20.0 points along with 8.0 assists and 7.0 rebounds over his last two games, picked up his first triple-double of his career on Friday. Dallas is committing a league-low 13.0 turnovers a game.
24. Sacramento Kings (12-24), -2 spots
The Kings have lost four of five. Willie Cauley-Stein, in his third NBA season, has improved his production each month this season -- averaging 13.1 points along with 6.4 rebounds while shooting 50.8% from the field in December. Sacramento, 6-10 at Golden 1 Arena, has lost two of its first three games during its current six-game homestand.
25. Charlotte Hornets (13-23), +1 spot
The Hornets have split their last four games. Kemba Walker, who is averaging 22.6 points over his last six games, has made multiple three-pointers in six straight games and is shooting 38.4% from long-distance during this stretch. Charlotte shot 42.7% from the field, the second-worst mark, though they grabbed 46.9 rebounds, the second most, in December.
26. Brooklyn Nets (14-23), -2 spots
The Nets are 3-4 in their last seven games. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who posted his sixth double-double (Sunday) has scored in double-figures in eight straight games. Jefferson is having the best season of his career, averaging 15.0 points along with 6.5 rebounds and 2.1 dimes.
Brooklyn’s 98-95 win over Orlando (Jan.1) was their first win in games decided by three points or fewer. With the win, the Nets improved to improved to 9-0 this season when holding their opponent under 100 points and 7-0 when holding opponents to less than 40% shooting. The Nets are also now 3-5 in the second game of back-to-backs.
Brooklyn, the third worst shooting team in the league (44.1%), is attempting the second most three-pointers in the league (34.1). However, the Nets are just 27th in three-point percentage at 35.1%.
27. Atlanta Hawks (10-26), +3 spots
The Hawks, who have won three of four, had by far their best month of the season in December as they posted a 6-9 record. Dennis Schroder, who contributed 22 points and eight rebounds in win over the Blazers on Saturday, has compiled at least 14 points and seven assists in each of his last four games. Atlanta is 4-15 when trailing at halftime and 1-22 when trailing at the end of three.
28. Memphis Grizzlies (12-25), no movement
The Grizzlies have won three of five to finish the month of December with a 5-12 record. The Griz went 35-54 during the 2017 calendar year.
Memphis has averaged 112.6 points while shooting 47.8% from the floor and outscoring their opponents by 3.2 points a contest over the last five games. For the season, the Grizzlies are averaging 98.7 points a game while shooting 44.5% from the field and being outscored by 3.4 points a game.
Tyreke Evans and Marc Gasol have carried the team this season. The duo is averaging 19.6 points along with 14.6 rebounds and 8.5 assists a game. Evans, who has led or tied for the team’s scoring lead in 16 games this season, has tallied 25 points, five rebounds and five assists in four of the last five games -- which is the longest such streak in franchise history.
Gasol has struggled with his shooting this season. Still, he is contributing 18.5 points, 8.5 caroms and 3.9 assists this year. The leading scorer in franchise history, who 15 double-doubles, has four 25 points and 10 rebounds games.
29. Los Angeles Lakers (11-25), -6 spots
The Lakers have lost a season-high seven straight and 10 of 11. They now have the worst record in the Western Conference.
Julius Randle, who has started the last three games, produced a season-high 29 points and 15 rebounds in double overtime loss to the Rockets (Sunday). He has two double-doubles and has reached double-figures in scoring in each of his last three games.
Los Angeles has played in a season-high five overtime games this season and are 1-4 in those games.
30. Orlando Magic (12-26), -3 spots
The Magic have lost 11 of 12 with its New Year’s Day loss to Brooklyn. The loss to the Nets was the Magic’s first in games decided by three or fewer points (1-1). Orlando, which led Brooklyn 93-90 with less than two minutes left, is now 6-10 in clutch situations and has been outscored by 1.9 points a game in these situations.
Aaron Gordon picked up his first double-double, since coming back from injury three games ago, against the Nets tallying 20 points and 12 rebounds. Gordon, who has seven double-doubles overall, has poured in 73 points and grabbed 26 rebounds while shooting 51.9% from the floor including 42.9% from beyond the arc.
Orlando, 5-16 on the road, has lost seven straight games away from the Amway Center. Their last road victory came against the Knicks on Dec. 3.