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NBA Power Rankings: Warriors Rising, Lakers Believing

Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Times

Golden State Warriors have seven wins in a row, the Spurs are like always, one of the best teams in the NBA, but what's happening with Dallas Mavericks and Washington Wizards?

Check the NBA Power Rankings.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers 10-2 (Previous Rank: 1)

The Cavs continue to look like the best team in the league. Their second loss of the season came this week in a game that saw LeBron James and JR Smith rest. The team has played very well thus far and is obviously the strongest in the east. LeBron still playing at a very high level, and averaging career highs in rebounds and assists while Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love are both putting up over 20 points per game to help the scoring.

2. Los Angeles Clippers 12-2 (Previous Rank: 2)

I was almost ready to move the Clippers into the top spot this week, but then they lost at home to the Grizzlies. The team is still playing at a very high level, and their defense continues to be one of the best in the league. DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul rank 1st and 3rd respectively in defensive real plus-minus, showing how good they are both playing on the defensive end.

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3. Golden State Warriors 11-2 (Previous Rank: 4)

The Warriors are currently on a 7 game win streak and playing very well together. They are leading the league in points per game and assists per game, which is no surprise considering how they play. Kevin Durant and Steph Curry are both scoring at will on opposing defenses, but the team needs Klay Thompson to get out of his slump soon so they can step up their offense another level. Crazy to think that this team can step up the offense with already the best one in the league.

4. San Antonio Spurs 7-3 (Previous Rank: 5)

Spurs are starting to look like the team we all thought they would be. With a healthy lineup, the team played well this week. Kawhi Leonard is still playing at a high efficiency on the offensive and defensive end, and making everyone on the team better. Pau Gasol has started to play well in the role he has been given and helps to fill the void that Tim Duncan left.

5. Toronto Raptors 8-5 (Previous Rank: 3)

The Raptors seem to have had a game stolen from them against Sacramento. The two losses before this don’t mean much because they were both such close games in a back to back with last year’s finals teams. DeMar DeRozan is still dominating other teams in the midrange and isn’t showing many signs of slowing down, which is much needed with Kyle Lowry still in a shooting slump.

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6. Atlanta Hawks 9-4 (Previous Rank: 6)

The Hawks 6 game win streak ended this week with losses to the Hornets and Knicks. They played well but lost two close games. The team struggled to score at times in these games, but still has a lot of firepowers and will likely start playing well again soon, especially with their next game coming against the Pelicans.

7. Charlotte Hornets 8-4 (Previous Rank: 9)

Kemba Walker is leading this team very well so far this season. He needs to sustain a high level of play if this team can keep up their winning ways. We still don’t know how good the team really is yet because they only have one win against a winning team, but three of the four losses have come against very solid teams (Cavs, Raptors, and Celtics). If they can beat the Grizzlies, Spurs, and Knicks this week, we’ll know they are good.

8. Oklahoma City Thunder 8-6 (Previous Rank: 8)

Westbrook keeps messing around and getting triple-doubles. He leads this team in points, rebounds, and assists, with almost triple-double averages. Someone besides Westbrook or Victor Oladipo needs to step up soon for this team or their winning ways won’t last long.

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9. Chicago Bulls 9-5 (Previous Rank: 11)

The Bulls continue to surprise me this year. They pulled out wins at the Blazers, Lakers, and Jazz on their western conference tour, and almost beat the Clippers on the trip as well. Jimmy Butler is proving that he can score the ball at a high level, and Dwyane Wade is continuing to shoot the ball well. The shooting struggles I expected them to have just has not been there this year.

10. Memphis Grizzlies 8-5 (Previous Rank: 16)

The Grizzlies have turned their season around after a slow start. The team is riding a four-game win streak after taking games in Utah, Los Angeles, and Dallas. Mike Conley is currently shooting a career-high 47% from long range, and Marc Gasol continues to show that he can also shoot the long-ball after hitting the go-ahead three with just 14 seconds left against the Clippers.

11. Houston Rockets 8-5 (Previous Rank: 13)

The Rockets have been very good on offense so far, as you would expect a D’Antoni team to be. They still haven’t lost to a team under .500 so far, and have beaten a number of teams above .500. James Harden has been playing at an MVP level and making it look easy. Harden won’t have trouble keeping this up because of the style, and the team will benefit greatly from it.

12. Boston Celtics 7-6 (Previous Rank: 12)

The Celtics have been somewhat of a disappointment this season, but that is partly due to injuries. The team finally got Al Horford back from a concussion, and Jae Crowder back from an ankle injury in their win over the Pistons. With the Celtics back at full strength, they will likely start playing at a high level like last season soon.

13. Portland Trail Blazers 8-7 (Previous Rank: 13)

The Blazers have continued to look solid, but not great. Role players have played well for them, while Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum have carried much of the scoring load. The team has still only beaten two winning teams, so they need to figure something out in order to beat the better teams in the league.

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14. Utah Jazz 7-8 (Previous Rank: 7)

The Jazz have stumbled hard without George Hill. The team has gone 3-5 without him, and have been struggling to find extra shooting without him. Regardless, Rodney Hood and Gordon Hayward have been playing very well. If George Hill is out for an extended period of time, the Jazz might fall into another injury-plagued season, but let’s hope that isn’t the case for this talented team.

15. Los Angeles Lakers 7-7 (Previous Rank: 14)

The Lakers continue to show a lot of fight in games under Luke Walton’s leadership. Coach Pop praised Walton’s ability to change the team’s mindset in such a short time after their close game this week. The team needs to get some wins over quality teams to prove that they are good, otherwise they’ll just be another young team with potential.

16. Indiana Pacers 7-7 (Previous Rank: 19)

The Pacers continue to have very inconsistent play after beating the Cavs, losing to the Suns, and then beating the Thunder on the road. The team must get their chemistry down soon in order to play better. This team has a good mix of players to get into the playoffs, but the chemistry hasn’t been there so far and they haven’t played like they should be.

17. New York Knicks 6-7 (Previous Rank: 20)

The Knicks have started to look like the team I thought they would be. Their defense is still an issue, but is likely to get better with time. Kristaps Porzingis has stolen Dirk’s signature move and is torching teams with it. When the Knicks ball movement is there, they are hard to stop. Phil Jackson needs to stop trying to force the triangle on Hornacek, and stop making comments about players because neither have been good for him.

18. Detroit Pistons 6-8 (Previous Rank: 15)

The Pistons have lost three straight, but all three losses have been against quality teams. Tobias Harris and Andre Drummond have played very well so far, and carried the load for this team. They need to get Reggie Jackson back soon in order to step up to the level they played at last season.

19. Milwaukee Bucks 5-7 (Previous Rank: 17)

The Bucks have lost five of six after starting 4-2. The team’s young players have shown a lot of promise, but the depth just isn’t there right now. The Greek Freak and Jabari Parker have continued to play well, but without Khris Middleton, the Bucks just don’t have the shooting they need to win games this season.

20. Orlando Magic 6-7 (Previous Rank: 22)

The Magic have played well on defense so far this season, but their offense has been terrible. They rank 29th in the league in scoring and 23rd in assists. Frank Vogel needs to find a way to utilize the big men they have in order to put more points on the board or this team will continue to be below average.

21. Sacramento Kings 5-9 (Previous Rank: 18)

The Kings ended their five-game losing streak with a controversial win over Toronto. Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins continue to be the only good players on this team. Trade rumors over Cousins have appeared as of late, and I haven’t seen anything about them being shut down, so maybe the Kings trade him and tank for yet another center?

22. Minnesota Timberwolves 4-8 (Previous Rank: 25)

The Wolves continue to play badly against good teams but have beaten the teams they should be beating. The team doesn’t have enough firepower on offense or defense to compete against the better teams but has a lot of potential for the future. Hopefully, they can harness some of that so we can see it this season.

23. Denver Nuggets 5-8 (Previous Rank: 23)

The Nuggets young big men have continued to play well, helping the team lead the league in rebounding. Jokic and Nurkic both played well against the Jazz and Rudy Gobert’s massive arms. Rookie Jamal Murray has started to play better for the Nuggets, hitting 11 threes over the past 4 games, exactly what the team picked him to do.

24. Brooklyn Nets 4-9 (Previous Rank: 21)

The Nets have lost five of their last six, with the lone win coming against a bad Suns team. Without Jeremy Lin, the team hasn’t been playing well on offense. Lin’s 6.2 assists per game lead the team, and Hollis-Jefferson is second on the team with just 2.8 per game. The Nets need to find someone who can pass the ball until they can get Lin back.

25. Phoenix Suns 4-10 (Previous Rank: 24)

The Suns have been able to score a lot of points this season, but can’t play any defense. They are currently last in points allowed, with almost 115 per game. Earl Watson needs to figure out this end of the floor soon, or the Suns will do the same thing to him as they did to former coach Jeff Hornacek.

26. New Orleans Pelicans 4-10 (Previous Rank: 29)

The Pelicans figured out how to win some games! They managed to beat three good teams in the Celtics, Blazers, and Hornets behind stellar play from Anthony Davis. The Brow has put up over 30 points in seven games this season. Hopefully, he can get some help from his guards soon so they can win some games.

27. Miami Heat 4-8 (Previous Rank: 24)

The Heat followed their six-game losing streak with two wins over the Bucks and Wizards. Hassan Whiteside continues to dominate teams in the paint, pulling in 16.2 rebounds per game and blocking 2.8 shots per game. The team’s defense has been stellar thus far, but they can’t score the ball and haven’t been winning because of it.

28. Washington Wizards 3-9 (Previous Rank: 26)

The Wizards have been a huge disappointment so far. Their three wins have come against decent teams, but they have also lost to the Sixers, Heat, and Magic. The starters have put up solid numbers, but the team has no bench to help them out and will keep losing because of this.

29. Philadelphia 76ers 3-10 (Previous Rank: 30)

The Sixers make it out of the lowest rank for the first time this year! Joel Embiid has been a major bright spot for this team and looks like he will be a force in the league for a long time. Sadly, the team won’t be good for a few years, so don’t expect them to get much higher on this list anytime soon.

30. Dallas Mavericks 2-10 (Previous Rank: 28)

I didn’t think the Mavs would be this bad, but they are. The Mavs rank last in points, rebounds, and assists per game, and their record shows it. Bringing in Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut hasn’t translated into any wins for the team, and likely won’t help them out much the rest of the season.