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NBA Power Rankings

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⅓ of the way into the 2016-17 NBA regular season, and it’s still hard to make sense of everything. As basketball is a game of confidence, we’ve seen teams reel of long winning streaks before suffering an embarrassing loss and doing a complete 180.

Because of inconsistency, it’s hard to project where teams should be ranked and how well they will do over a given period of time. Chemistry issues and inadequate coaching can doom a team while injuries to a rivaling team’s best player can present a great opportunity for a team to rise in the standings.

So, without further ado, let’s get into the power-rankings.

  1. Dallas Mavericks (6-20)

The Mavericks should’ve been good. But they aren’t and now they’re in a limbo, They aren’t actively tanking and don’t have many young players or valuable veteran trade assets, but at least they’ll likely have a very high draft pick in what is considered one of the best draft classes in recent history. At the moment, I recommend avoiding their games at all costs.

  1. Philadelphia 76ers (6-20)

Joel Embiid has been the Sixers’ best player so far this year as well as the league’s best rookie. He’s still coming off of a two year absence due to foot injuries and has to compete will fellow young centers Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel, whom the team is mainly playing to increase their trade value come February. Dario Saric has been solid, but the team’s third rookie, Ben Simmons still hasn’t played yet. Nik Stauskas is finally playing like an NBA-level player and TJ McConnell is awesome as always. Trust the Process, everyone.

  1. Brooklyn Nets (7-18)

The Nets have been strangely fun this year, consisting of Brook Lopez and about a dozen players no one has ever heard of. He and fellow center Justin Hamilton are now shooting threes apparently, and shooting guard Sean Kilpatrick is the next Stephen Curry (not really). The Nets and GM Sean Marks seem to be good at spotting overlooked talent, which is good considering the fact that they don’t own their own first round draft pick until 2019.

  1. Phoenix Suns (8-19)

The Phoenix Suns are another fun young team that should be good… eventually. The future looks bright with young stars Devin Booker, Alex Len, Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender, and Tyler Ulis (please give him more minutes), and potential trade assets in Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight. Their situation is similar to that in 2013, just before their breakout season. Let’s just hope for their sake that they don’t mess it up again.

  1. Miami Heat (9-18)

So… maybe Pat Riley should’ve just given Dwyane Wade the contract that he asked for, but hindsight is 20-20. The Heat have gone from being one game away from the Eastern Conference finals to 13th in the East. They, just like the Mavericks, are stuck in no man’s land, with young players such as Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson, highly paid fringe all-stars Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic, and assorted role players Dion Waiters, Tyler Johnson, and Josh McRoberts. They can only go… or down from here, but really who knows?

  1. New Orleans Pelicans (9-19)

Anthony Davis is probably regretting signing that contract extension. His team is terrible and Tim Frazier is arguably their second best player (he’s not bad though). Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans have not played a lot due to injuries but could help Davis a bit when they return to form. Rookie Buddy Hield has disappointed greatly, perfectly representing this team’s past two seasons.

  1. Minnesota Timberwolves (7-19)

The NBA’s top “League Pass team” hasn’t met expectations, but we should have never expected them to contend for a playoff spot as they’re still so young, but the Timberpups, led by future stars Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and Zach Lavine are still fun to watch. Ricky Rubio, Kris Dunn, Gorgui Dieng, Shabazz Muhammad, and Nemanja Bejelica have formed a nice young supporting cast. They struggle late in games as most young teams do, but they’ve still knocked off a couple of good teams. Look for them to do the same all season.

  1. Los Angeles Lakers (11-19)

The Lakers are not a good team. They just aren’t. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t fun to watch, especially during their 10-10 start. They’ll be good eventually, just not this year. In the meantime, it’s still incredibly fun to watch D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Brandon Ingram, and Julius Randle play together. Luke Walton is a good coach and they, as well as other young guys, Tarik Black, Larry Nance Jr., and Ivica Zubac will improve under him. Look out for these guys one day, or as Russell says, next year.

  1. Sacramento Kings (10-16)

DeMarcus Cousins has been the lone bright spot for a Kings team that once again finds itself in the proverbial “no-man’s land” of not being able to make the playoffs but not being bad enough to tank. Cousins is surrounded by miscellaneous pieces such as Rudy Gay, Ty Lawson, and Ben McLemore. If they were smart, they would trade Cousins at the deadline to get as much value back as possible instead of letting him walk in free agency this summer (which he will definitely do).

  1. Orlando Magic (12-16)

The Magic have been an incredibly frustrating team, misusing potential future Aaron Gordon (playing him at small forward instead of power forward) and trying to play two centers (Bismack Biyombo and Nikola Vucevic) at once as well as power forward Serge Ibaka instead of Gordon. They’ve also given Mario Hezonja little run despite being a rebuilding team. Overall, the team is a mess right now, trying to expedite their return to prominence instead of patiently rebuilding as the Nuggets and Timberwolves are doing.

  1. Denver Nuggets (11-16)

The Nuggets have exploded the past two games, finally playing their “death lineup” (Emmanuel Mudiay, Gary Harris, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, and Nikola Jokic) They’ve also got other great young guys coming off the bench (Jamal Murray, Juan Hernangomez, Jusuf Nurkic), supplemented by veterans Kenneth Faried and Jameer Nelson. Just like the Golden State Warriors, they’re capable of switching everything on defense and are extremely versatile offensively. Their main issue is that they’re young and inexperienced, often giving up leads or playing inconsistently.

What kinds of volunteer activities can you do over winter break?

  1. Portland Trail Blazers (13-16)

The Blazers have disappointed this year despite adding several new players. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum have still been great forming one of the league’s best backcourts, but the rest of the team hasn’t stepped up consistently. Point forward Evan Turner has been played mostly off the ball which is not where he’s best suited. Noah Vonleh is simply looking like a bust. Moe Harkless and Allen Crabbe have been solid at times, but have been inconsistent. Still, the Blazers can only go up from here.

  1. Chicago Bulls (13-13)

The Bulls have done a complete 180 since the start of the year. They started off strong, especially on offense but have won just two of their last eight games. One of their losses was by 25 points to the league-worst Dallas Mavericks. Their starting lineup of Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, and Robin Lopez, despite shooting well to start the season, was doomed to fail as none of those players are consistent three-point shooters, creating spacing issues. The supporting cast has also only stepped up sporadically. Due to their inconsistency, it’s really hard to see where they’ll go from here.

  1. New York Knicks (14-13)

This team hasn’t been great, but it’s had stretches where it looks like a playoff team. Kristaps Porzingis (or PorzinGOD) has been the lone consistent bright spot, taking a huge leap from his rookie year. The rest of the team has been a mixed bag. Derrick Rose has had one of his best seasons statistically since his injury-shortened 2011-12 season and still looks explosive, but is likely never to return to anywhere near his peak form. Joakim Noah hasn’t looked great and Carmelo Anthony’s played at the same level as he has over the past few seasons. Like the Bulls, and many of the middling Eastern Conference teams, there’s no knowing how well they will finish.

  1. Washington Wizards (11-14)

John Wall has played well, as has his backcourt partner Bradley Beal. Overall, the rest of the team has been unremarkable. Marcin Gortat has been okay. Otto Porter and Markieff Morris have been solid. The team has played well enough the last few games to warrant a spot in the top 16, but will likely miss the playoffs this year.

  1. Detroit Pistons (14-15)

The Pistons were supposed to be one of the best teams in the East this year but have really not lived up to expectations. Point guard Reggie Jackson has been out for most of the year, but this year’s bench was supposed to be deep enough to carry the burden while he was gone. Andre Drummond is still a BEAST, and Tobias Harris, Kentavious Caldwell Pope, and Marcus Morris have been solid, but second-year player Stanley Johnson has really been disappointing. Ish Smith has been solid as a backup point guard. Overall, the team hasn’t played that great this year, but they should be better once they get into a rhythm.

  1. Indiana Pacers (14-14)

The Pacers were expected to challenge the Cleveland Cavaliers for the top seed in the east this year after adding Jeff Teague, Thaddeus Young, and Al Jefferson. However, they have underperformed greatly, especially on the defensive end. Paul George and sophomore Myles Turner have been solid, but Monta Ellis looks like he’s on the decline. Trading away George Hill and letting Ian Mahinmi walk in free agency looks to have been a bad idea.

  1. Atlanta Hawks (13-14)

The Hawks started 9-2 before going 1-10 in the next 11 games and then flipping the script once again, going 3-1. The Hawks also perfectly represent the inconsistency of the NBA’s middle class, having beaten the top two teams in the Eastern Conference, the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers and the 2016 conference runner-up Toronto Raptors on the road, but also having lost to league bottom-feeders New Orleans Pelicans and Orlando Magic by double-digit deficits at home. Paul Millsap has been solid, but replacing Al Horford with Dwight Howard and Jeff Teague with Dennis Schroeder has not worked out well.

  1. Charlotte Hornets (15-13)

The Hornets started off strong, but have stumbled as of late. They’re a deep team, led by Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum and supported by guys like Frank Kaminsky, Cody Zeller, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. They are still fourth in the East, but any extended period of struggle could doom them considering they’re only one game ahead of the eighth ranked Bulls and three ahead of twelfth ranked Magic.

  1. Boston Celtics (14-12)

The Celtics have had to deal with injuries to pretty much every major player except Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley. Bradley in the meantime has emerged as one of the best shooting guards in the league and one of the best rebounding guards as well. Marcus Smart has improved his passing and shooting and though he remains limited on the offensive end, he is still excellent on defense. Isaiah Thomas remains solid and Jae Crowder is still excellent in every area of the game while remaining severely underrated. Al Horford has been good, but not worth $30 million a year.

  1. Milwaukee Bucks (13-12)

The Bucks have started off slow, but have broken out as of late. Led by Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker, they’ve improved to 5th in the East. Khris Middleton is still injured, but the Bucks don’t seem to miss him too much. Matthew Dellavedova and John Henson have been solid at point guard and center respectively. Let’s see if they can keep it up and get into the playoffs after missing it last year.

  1. Oklahoma City Thunder (16-11)

Led by Russell Westbrook who is AVERAGING A TRIPLE DOUBLE, the Thunder have remained in playoff contention. Without him, they would be among the league’s worst, no offense to Steven Adams and Victor Oladipo who are good players, but could not lead this team like Westbrook is. As long as Westbrook continues to tear up the league, the Thunder should make the playoffs.

  1. Memphis Grizzlies (18-10)

Injuries don’t seem to phase this team at all. Starting a bunch of D-League guys and Marc Gasol. They somehow managed to beat the Warriors by 20 points. Point guard Mike Conley is back, but he still hasn’t lived up to the massive contract he received this offseason. Chandler Parsons has rarely played and has been replaced by James Ennis in the starting lineup. Tony Allen is still a great player, but doesn’t do much on offense. The Grizzlies could make the playoffs and possibly ruin some team’s day this year.

  1. Utah Jazz (17-10)

Just like the Jazz, the team has been able to survive injuries. They even nearly beat the Warriors only playing one of their usual five starters. George Hill has been great and Rodney Hood continues to impress. The “Stifle Tower” Rudy Gobert is averaging nearly 70% on field goals and remains stellar on defense. Trey Lyles has played well in Derrick Favors’ absence. Somehow I’ve forgotten to mention Gordon Hayward who has been their best player so far this season. Despite the relatively unimpressive record, look for this team to contend for a championship this year.

  1. Los Angeles Clippers (20-7)

The Clippers started out extremely hot, playing league-best defense despite being known more for their offense. Due to fatigue brought on by an incredibly rigorous early schedule, they’ve slipped to fourth in the west. They’ve done everything the past five seasons or so, but the group led by Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan still haven’t made it past the second round. Who knows if they’ll be able to do it this year.

  1. Toronto Raptors (18-8)

Kyle Lowry’s been good despite a slight decline and DeMar Derozan and Jonas Valanciunas are having career best years. DeMarre Carroll has been solid. Overall the team has been good and will compete for a championship this year, but it still doesn’t seem like they’ll get past the Cavs. If they struggle, look for them to unleash their secret weapon: Norman Powell.

  1. Houston Rockets (21-7)

James Harden has been an absolute BEAST this year and is my favorite for NBA MVP. He’s leading the league in assists despite formerly being called a “ball-hog.” and he’s actually playing defense. Former Pelicans Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson have had resurgent seasons and Trevor Ariza has been solid. The bench has stepped up too and the team has now won ten straight games. No one even considered it, but now, the Rockets look like title contenders.

  1. San Antonio Spurs (21-5)

The Spurs have been on autopilot the entire season, nearly losing to bottom-feeders several times. Kawhi Leonard is even better (although his stats don’t reflect this). Tony Parker is slowly fading, as is Manu Ginobili. Pau Gasol is probably the worst defensive player in the league but is still solid offensively. LaMarcus Aldridge is chugging along, but if the Spurs want to challenge the Warriors or the Cavs for the championship, the young guys (Kyle Anderson, Jonathan Simmons, Dewayne Dedmon) are going to have to step up.

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers (19-6)

The Cavs aren’t really trying yet, just like the Spurs. Lebron James has been great, but it’s obvious he’s trying to conserve energy. Still, he’s one of the top MVP candidates. Kevin Love is finally comfortable and has been great. Kyrie’s still Kyrie and the Cavs are getting solid contributions from their role players. They are my favorite to win it all this year.

  1. Golden State Warriors (24-4)

Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, Kevin Durant. Nuff said.

 

ALL RECORDS ARE ACCURATE AS OF SATURDAY DECEMBER 17, 2016

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1 Comment

  • AManNamedMrs.

    This took an insane amount of time to do, good job 🙂

     

    [Reply]

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NBA Power Rankings