Sunday, November 24, 2013

NBA Power Rankings: Week 3

Since last week, the top teams in the NBA have, for the most part, stayed the same. Although, the Bulls have fallen out of the Top 10 and now Derrick Rose has injured his other knee, so their future is looking foggier by the minute. The mirage that was the Phoenix Suns has come back to reality, now only 6-6, and continues to look worse. The Sixers and Celtics have both fallen even out of contention for spots on the rankings while the Mavericks and Warriors have capitalized on their chances and have each gained Top 10 rankings. If the Hawks and Grizzlies make the most of their opportunities, they could do the same next week. Here are the rankings:

1.  San Antonio Spurs (11-1) [Last Week: 2]: Only one loss, first place in the Western Conference, and now first place in our rankings. The Spurs just never cease to amaze you, as they keep winning despite being the 5th oldest team in the NBA (28.3 yrs). They still are allowing the 2nd-fewest points per game in the league (89.3), with the highest differential of points scored to points allowed per game (+10). Currently on a 9-game winning streak, tied for highest in the league, they are showing no signs of slowing down.

2.  Indiana Pacers (11-1) [Last Week: 1]: Their one loss came to the Bulls, who have the size and defensive capability to keep up with the Pacers, but other than that have been dominating their competition. They allow the fewest points per game in the league (86.9) and are third in differential of points scored to points allowed per game (+9.6). The Pacers are also allowing a league-best 40.2%  field goal percentage by their opponents. However, the question has always been if they can offensively match other teams with good defenses, as evident by their loss to the Bulls. Only time will tell.

3.  Miami Heat (9-3) [Last Week: 3]: The Heat are fourth in points scored per game (107.1) and 2nd in differential of points scored to points allowed per game (+9.9).  As a team, they are shooting a whopping 45.9% from three-point range, a rate that, although ridiculous, they might actually be able to sustain for most of the season (see: Ray Allen, Shane Battier, and, oh yeah, LeBron James).  The Heat also are amazing at turning their defense into offense, and are able to because the force an average of 18.8 turnovers per game, which is first in the league.  They should be fighting for a third straight NBA title and it would be disappointment if they didn't make the finals.

4.  Portland Trail Blazers (11-2) [Last Week: 7]: The Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge led Blazers are currently on a 9-game wining streak. At this point, although early in the season, they seem to be for real. A 41.9% three-point percentage is third-best in the league and has certainly helped get them to the record they have now. However, they play the Warriors, Pacers, Thunder, and Mavericks all within the next 8 games, so they will have an opportunity to prove their legitimacy.

5.  Oklahoma City Thunder (8-3) [Last Week: 4]: Kevin Durant averages 12.5 free throws per game, and he and Russell Westbrook are currently carrying the Thunder to a 3-game win streak. They should be better defensively, however, with Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins down low, but are allowing an average of 101.1 points per game, which is 10th worst in the league. The Thunder are winning on the talent of Durant and Westbrook, but will need to improve defensively if they expect to win the Western Conference.

6.  Los Angeles Clippers (8-5) [Last Week: 5]: Chris Paul is still averaging career highs in points per game (19.3 now, 18.6 career), assists per game (12.5 now, 9.9 career), and rebounds per game (5.2 now, 4.4 career).  DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin together form the best front court the Clippers have had in years and have been hoping for it since they drafted him in 2008.  Doc Rivers is still settling in to the team, and while it seems as Los Angeles is finally embracing the Clippers as their team, as evident by their 5-1 record at home, they have only a 3-4 record on the road.  That should change as the season progresses and these Clippers will be going places.

7.  Dallas Mavericks (9-4) [Last Week: On The Verge]: The Mavericks have surprised a lot of people this year, as last year it seemed that as Dirk Nowitzki began to decline, the team would also. However, they are riding a 4-game winning streak and Dirk is a huge reason why. He averages 20.4 points per game, as opposed to 17.3 last year. Monta Ellis is also having a career year, scoring an average of 23.5 points per game (19.5 career) and averaging 5.7 assists per game (4.7 career). His field goal percentage (48.9%) is also much higher than last year (41.6%). This improved efficiency has certainly been aided by the much higher level of talent around him this year than last, and has lead to an average of 7.3 free throws attempted per game, which is 7th in the league. Look for the Mavericks too keep on rolling, but eventually settle for the 6-8 spot in the Western Conference.

8.  Houston Rockets (8-5) [Last Week: 6]: The Rockets score an average of 109.7 points per game, which is the highest rate in the league. However, defense and ball security have kept them from being an elite team. They give up 105.9 points per game, which is second-worst in the league, and turn the ball over at a rate of 18.7 time per game, which is worst in the league. There is no way that the Rockets can expect to go anywhere in the playoffs with those numbers, and with the James Harden and Jeremy Lin constantly handling the ball it will be hard to fix them. Just to point out another major flaw of Houston's game: Dwight Howard averages 11.5 free throws per game, which is the second-most in the league. He is shooting 54.4% at the line, which is the fourth worst rate in the league.

9.  Golden State Warriors (8-5) [Last Week: On The Verge]: The Warriors are all-around solid.  hey are fifth in the league in differential of points scored and points allowed per game (+5.7) and have incredible 3-point shooting (44.6% as a team, which is second in the league). Andre Iguodala has given the Warriors another big-time option to keep defenses from over-playing Stephon Curry. But, Iguodala does run hot and cold, and has only scored a total of 15 points in the last two games combined.  They lost both games, and will continue to lost if Iguodala cannot find some consistency.

10.  Minnesota Timberwolves (8-6) [Last Week: 10]: Kevin Love. 24.8 points per game (4th in the league). 13.5 rebounds per game (2nd in the league by only 0.2 rebounds, behind Dwight Howard with 13.7). 4.7 assists per game (1st among power forwards). 0.9 steals per game. 8.0 free throw attempts per game (4th in the league). He is the team and as he goes they go, for without him they wouldn't be even close to being in these rankings. He is that good. Period.

On The Verge: Atlanta Hawks (8-5) [Last Week: Unranked],
Chicago Bulls (6-5) [Last Week: 9], Memphis Grizzlies (7-6) [Last Week: Unranked]

1 comment:

  1. It got a lot harder to like the Clippers after Doc went there, even harder to read your blog and realize that the Celtics aren't going to make your top ten the entire year. Haven't heard the latest on Rose's knee, but they won''t go far without him either. the Heat's three point field goal percentage is whattttt?? That is crazy. I would be amazed if they were able to keep that up the entire year, but that inside - out game is so balanced, they could do it. That makes them so hard to defend, your D just gets extended so far out.