FOXSports.com’s NBA power rankings
1. Trail Blazers 16-3 +3
Facebook just offered $1 billion to buy the Blazers. Kidding, of
course, but Portland’s stock is sky-high right now and there’s no
indication the bubble will burst. Yes, they look to be “for real.” An
early-season statement win against the Pacers has lifted Portland to the
2. Pacers 17-2 -1
After Indiana lost to Portland, Roy Hibbert hopped on the Twitter
machine with LaMarcus Aldridge to proclaim a Pacers-Blazers Finals.
There’s no news yet as to whether or not David Stern has fined Hibbert
for his anti-NBA remarks.
3. Thunder 13-4 +3
Russell Westbrook is quickly regaining his reputation as one of
the elite players in the league. Don’t overlook just how fast Westbrook
has recovered to full speed from his playoff injury. Oklahoma City has
now won seven in a row, and that motor of Westbrook’s is responsible —
oh, and Kevin Durant of course.
4. Heat 14-4 -1
It feels like Dwyane Wade is eternally questionable, yet he has
played in 14 of Miami’s 18 games. When he plays, Wade is an efficient
53.8 percent shooter for 18.5 points and 5.4 assists per game. His
absence does hurt though, as it did when Detroit snapped Miami’s 10-game
5. Spurs 15-3 -3
You didn’t think Tim Duncan was going away, did you? Duncan, who
has never shot below 49 percent in his career, shot just 43.5 percent
for 13.1 points per game in November. He’s bounced back in his last
three games though, shooting 63 percent and averaging 20.6 points,
including a game-winner against the Hawks.
6. Rockets 13-7 +1
What a buzzkill. The Rockets were riding a five-game win streak,
including a road win in San Antonio, before Houston fell in Utah. The
Rockets’ offense leads the league in scoring, and don’t be misled by
their defense. Though they allow the second-most points per game
(103.1), opponents are shooting just 42.7 percent against them, fourth
best in the league.
7. Nuggets 11-7 +2
So much for that Nuggets’ collapse without George Karl. Brian Shaw
is learning what this team is capable of accomplishing. The Nuggets are
on one of those streaks again, having won seven consecutive and 10 of
their last 12.
8. Clippers 12-7 -3
Losing J.J. Redick for up to two months will hurt the Clippers’
offense in the short term, but its long-term effect will be more
damaging. The loss hurts LA’s ability to come together after an
offseason tinkering of the perimeter. Willie Green, who’s averaged just
11.2 minutes in six games, will be asked to carry the load.
9. Warriors 11-8 -1
Growth comes from learning to win in a variety of ways. But then
again, there’s always just launching three-pointers. The Warriors came
back from down 27 points in the third quarter to beat Toronto, and shot
8-of-11 from three-point range in the fourth quarter to do it. That’s so
10. Mavericks 12-8 +1
Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant was in the Mavs locker room
following their recent win against the Bobcats. There’s no report yet on
how much Mark Cuban offered him to bring some athleticism to his team.
11. Grizzlies 9-8 -1
Add “ingrown toenail surgery” to the list of injuries you didn’t
expect to read about this season. Zach Randolph has missed a pair of
games with the bad nail situation, joining Marc Gasol on the injured
list. Memphis will need Randolph this week, however, for two tough ones
against the Clippers and Warriors.
12. Pelicans 9-9 +5
The Anthony Davis injury is frustrating for New Orleans and not
just because of wins and losses. It’s hard for the Pelicans to gain
momentum and gauge where they are without their young centerpiece,
Anthony Davis. Even without him though, a string of wins moves the
13. Lakers 9-9 +2
A Kobe Bryant scrimmage!? It’s time to start following those
Lakers again now that the league’s always-intriguing storyline is set to
return. The Lakers have held serve so far without him, but what will
Los Angeles look like in his return? Don’t expect Pau Gasol to be the
leading shot taker much longer.
14. Wizards 9-9 +5
Generally you don’t throw a party for your child when he or she
gets a C on his progress report. But when you’re grading on a curve, the
.500 Wizards look mighty good as the third-best record in the East.
15. Timberwolves 9-10 -3
And just like that, Minnesota has the third-worst record in the
West. Things can turn quickly in the competitive West standings, and the
Wolves proved vulnerable against top teams in a five-game stretch that
included losses to Houston, Indiana, Denver and Oklahoma City.
16. Suns 10-9 —
Phoenix was a surprise team for the first couple weeks of the
season because of its defense. In their first 10 games, the Suns allowed
opponents to shoot just 43.3 percent and score 95.9 points per game. In
their last five games, however, Phoenix has allowed 49.8 percent
shooting and 107.2 points per game, losing three of the five.
17. Hawks 10-10 -3
Some guys just have to be part of that in-crowd. Atlanta, losers
of five of six, is doing its best to fit in within the disappointing
Eastern Conference. There are now just two teams remaining in the East
with a winning record.
18. Pistons 9-10 —
Paying Josh Smith added to Detroit’s already-potent front court
of Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. But it left one big question mark:
where’s the perimeter threat? There’s nothing to help stretch opposing
defenses, as no Piston is shooting higher than 33 percent from
three-point range other than Rodney Stuckey at 38 percent.
19. Bulls 7-9 -6
Luol Deng is trending right now. No one has been more highly
publicized for a five-game stretch since Jeremy Lin in New York. Since
Derrick Rose went out, Deng is averaging 27.4 points, 6.2 assists and
6.0 rebounds. The Bulls, meanwhile, are trending downward.
20. 76ers 7-12 +2
The Rookie of the Year battle raged against Orlando, as both
Michael Carter-Williams (27 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists) and Victor
Oladipo (26 points, 10 assists, 10 rebounds) each tallied a
triple-double. MCW still holds a sizeable lead.
21. Celtics 8-12 +3
Prepare for this. There’s soon going to be a stretch, following
the return of Rajon Rondo, when the Celtics will be considered one of
the best teams in the East. Sadly, that’s not going out on too much of a
22. Bobcats 8-1 -1
Since starting 7-7 (making them studs in the East), the Bobcats
have gone back to being the Bobcats. Worse news came that Michael
Kidd-Gilchrist suffered a fractured hand on Tuesday.
23. Magic 6-12 —
Arron Afflalo and Glen Davis put up a combined 76 points in the
double-OT loss to Philadelphia. So, who wants to trade some draft picks?
24. Cavaliers 6-12 +1
The Cavaliers have been awful, but they remain a solid pick for a
second-half surprise in the East. With developing young talent, and a
historically weak conference, the Cavaliers are the right fit to grab a
lower seed. Only two players in the East average 20 points and five
assists: LeBron is one, Kyrie Irving is the other.
25. Raptors 6-11 -5
The Raptors allowed the largest comeback by an opponent in
franchise history when they blew their 27-point lead in Golden State to
drop their fourth in a row. The real shock for Raptors fans, however,
was witnessing that teams are allowed to pass that much on offense.
26. Nets 5-13 —
It’s getting even uglier in Brooklyn. Paul Pierce’s broken hand
is a small issue when compared to the atrocity that is the coaching
staff. Jason Kidd is failing in his first steps as a head coach
(purposely spilling water, really?). Now, he’s removed his experienced
guide, Lawrence Frank.
27. Kings 4-12 —
The Kings’ 0-3 week began with an overtime loss to the Clippers
followed by back-to-back, two-point losses to the Warriors and then
Thunder. Learning how to win isn’t just some cliche; the Kings’
youngsters truly must learn how to overcome adversity in the final
28. Knicks 4-12 —
The Knicks have yet to beat a team with a winning record — and
it’s December. Remember when this team was still considered a legitimate
contender? But hey, they’re still just 3.5 games out of the playoffs.
29. Jazz 4-16 +1
Check out the Jazz. Utah has won consecutive games for the first
time and Trey Burke is proving a fantastic pick. It’s enough to climb
from out of the abyss. Their reward? A matchup in Indiana.
30. Bucks 3-15 -1
There’s always a basement, and the Bucks are the not-so-proud new
owners. Milwaukee did snap an 11-game losing skid with a win against
Boston this past week before losing in the rematch in Boston on Tuesday.