NBA Power Rankings 11/11/2015 (from The Midweek Exception)

In another installment of “The Midweek Exception NBA Power Rankings”, Jon and Grant took a look at teams in the NBA and ranked them 1-30 accordingly. Our criteria included current winning and losing streaks, comparing records from our last installment to currently, and look at teams recent wins and losses to gauge the strength of who they may have won or lost to. As we look for a more efficient and aesthetically pleasing way to present our rankings, please feel free to offer suggestions. In the next few weeks, our goal is to present all of this in a way that looks really nice and makes it easier to find the team you’re looking to find on the ranking. Jon and Grant both contributed in writing up blurbs about each team.

  1. Golden State Warriors (8-0): Who is shocked to see the Golden State Warriors at the number one spot of the rankings for a second week in a row? For a team that is currently missing their head coach, they haven’t shown any sorts of signs of fatigue early into this season. They’ve managed a perfect record thus far into the season and haven’t just been winning games, but rather winning them with confidence behind each win. The Warriors look to be a consistent top-3 team in our power rankings, something that truly wouldn’t surprise me. (Previously: #1)
  2. Cleveland Cavaliers (7-1): After dropping the first game of the season to the Chicago Bulls, the Cleveland Cavaliers have responded by putting up 7 solid victories. In the time of Kyrie Irving being absent from the team, backup point guard Mo Williams has stepped into a starting role that he’s mostly succeeded in. LeBron James and Kevin Love both continue to look good early in the season, despite the mentions of LeBron’s recent back pains. (Previously: #7)
  3. San Antonio Spurs (5-2): After losing a heartbreaking loss to the Washington Wizards by way of a Bradley Beal 3-pointer (and Kelly Oubre fine), the San Antonio Spurs bounced right back picking up back to back double digits wins. They currently have the NBAs number one team in defensive rating, something that makes sense when you have so many fundamentally sound defenders and also last years reigning DPOY, Kawhi Leonard. Leonard continues to lead in scoring for the Spurs, averaging 22 points per game and shooting 52% from the field. (Previously: #5)
  4. Detroit Pistons (5-2): The talk of the team and the NBA lately has been Andre Drummonds monster stat-lines, averaging 19.4 points per game and 19.6 rebounds per game, but realistically this entire team continues to deserve praise for surprising NBA fans early on this season. Reggie Jackson has definitely earned the contract he wanted, as he’s become such a versatile point guard for the Pistons. Their bench looks a bit thin, but the addition of Brandon Jennings (anticipated to return in December) should help their bench unit nicely. (Previously: #6) 
  5. Los Angeles Clippers (5-2): The Los Angeles Clippers have taken a 3 place drop on our power rankings, but by no means is it anything for fans to be concerned about. The Clippers still look great early on in this season. Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, J.J. Redick, and DeAndre Jordan continue to work well in Doc Rivers system. Their only two losses thus far have been against teams in the West that are due to make noise around the playoffs (Golden State Warriors, and the Houston Rockets). (Previously: #2)
  6. Atlanta Hawks (7-2): Admittedly, it was bizarre to see the Hawks have such a sloppy game against the Minnesota Timberwolves a few nights ago, but one poor performance following a stretch of solid ones isn’t enough to knock them out of our top 6 teams. The Hawks continue to resemble the Atlanta Hawks of last season, a team that moved the ball outstandingly well and had unselfish players who were always looking for a teammate with a better shot. We’re already questioning our judgement in saying they would regress this season. (Previously: #10)
  7. Utah Jazz (4-3): What a massive leap for the Utah Jazz. The Jazz have looked solid so far this season, and are continuing to validate analysts thoughts that they could sneak into the bottom two seeds in the West. The Utah Jazz currently hold opponents to only 89.7 points per game, the best in the NBA. (Previously: #14)
  8. Houston Rockets (4-3): We all knew having the Houston Rockets in the bottom half of the NBA wasn’t going to last, right? James Harden and the Rockets have cooked up a solid four game win streak after dropping 3 consecutive games by 20 points. There are still plenty of questions surrounding this team, but for now they are looking pretty solid. (Previously: #22)
  9. Minnesota Timberwolves (4-3)If anyone had told me going into the 2015-2016 NBA season that the Timberwolves would pick up wins against the Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks, I would laugh in their face. I (Jon) am admittedly a huge fan of this Minnesota team, but they’re already exceeding fans expectations this season with the amount of heart and effort they play with on the court. Karl-Anthony Towns is a favorite to win Rookie of the Year, and Andrew Wiggins is starting to get back on track. Sam Mitchell isn’t necessarily a good coach, but praise needs to be given for the confidence that he and the other veteran players helped instill in this young team. (Previously: #13)
  10. Chicago Bulls (5-3): Despite some early season hiccups that can be explained by players still learning a new offensive system under coach Fred Hoiberg, the Chicago Bulls have shown flashes of brilliance from their starting five throughout the season. Hoiberg also has taken interest in adjusting his starting five to better match opponents, as he had intended to start Joakim Noah against the Philadelphia 76ers, but couldn’t due to knee soreness. The Bulls still have shown a tendency to allow teams to battle their way back into games that the Bulls should have on lock, but with the way every player on the roster has managed to step up in a given match-up, the Bulls seem to fit the top 10 relatively well. (Previously: #11)
  11. Portland Trail Blazers (4-4): Everyone said Portland was doomed. Everyone said they need to tank this year. After losing most of their starting five in the off-season, the Trail Blazers somehow resemble a basketball team that can pick up some wins and are flirting with the idea of slipping into the bottom seeds in the West. C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard continue to impress, but contributions from Aminu cannot be discredited when looking at this teams decent start to the NBA season. (Previously: #18)
  12. Toronto Raptors (5-3): Despite looking great out of the gates with a 5-0 record, the Toronto Raptors have dropped 3 games in a row, including a 20 point loss to the Miami Heat. The team continues to look impressive outside of these blemishes with a dominant back court starring Kyle Lowry and Demar DeRozan, but also with Jonas Valencuinas having a great season so far. With DeMarre Carroll injured as of right now with plantar faciitis, we’ll have to see if the Raptors can bounce back regardless of his absence. (Previously: #4)
  13. Miami Heat (5-3): The Miami Heat enter this weeks power rankings on a 2 game winning streak, which is really positive news. Prior to this win streak, they hadn’t managed to string together two back-to-back victories yet. They look to continue to build upon this success throughout the season and in addition, are looking for Goran Dragic to develop some sort of consistency. In addition, it should be noted that the team has suspended Gerald Green due to a conflict. (Previously: #8)
  14. Oklahoma City Thunder (5-3): Thunder fans must have released a sigh of relief when commentators and analysts reported Kevin Durant’s recent injury (strained hamstring) isn’t anything serious. The team is performing relatively well this season, but managed to drop 3 games in a row to the Golden State Warriors, Toronto Raptors, and Chicago Bulls. Billy Donovan’s coaching thus far has looked suspect as well, but he’s still regarded as a nice upgrade over former coach Scott Brooks. I’d like to see some better play calling that involves players outside of Durant and Westbrook, though. (Previously: #3)
  15. Milwaukee Bucks (4-4): Ball movement and great passing continues to be a theme when discussing the Milwaukee Bucks, but the return of Jabari Parker is absolutely worth noting as well. This allows the Bucks to play a multitude of different line-ups, something Jason Kidd has expressed interest in doing throughout the off-season. The Bucks strung together a nice 4 game winning streak, but have had issues keeping games at least close in their losses, dropping 3 of their 4 games in double digit deficits. (Previously: #21)
  16. Indiana Pacers (4-4): Since our last power ranking was posted, the Indiana Pacers have managed to beat two teams that we’ve ranked well in our rankings (Detroit Pistons and Miami Heat), and in addition beat the Boston Celtics and the Orlando Magic. C.J. Miles has finally returned from a brief injury, which should add some additional offense for a team that is looking for consistent contributors outside of Paul George. (Prevously: #26)
  17. New York Knicks (4-4): Holding onto their spot in this weeks power rankings are the New York Knicks. No doubt Carmelo Anthony has been fun to watch this season, but not enough praise can be given to Kristaps Porzingis. Not only has it been great to see him make put-back plays, but he’s proving that he’s not necessarily going to be a project player who will take time to pan out, rather that he’s a year or two away from being a trending player in the NBA. (Previously: #17)
  18. Washington Wizards (3-4): The Washington Wizards want nothing more than for people to shut up about the current Kevin Durant-to-Washington saga that just won’t seem to go away (well, at least Beal wants people to stop discussing it), and focus on their current team. The Wizards have now dropped 3 games in a row after their last big win against the San Antonio Spurs and are looking to get back on track soon. They rank number one in pace, but have allowed teams to drop an average of 110 points, the 3rd worst in the league. (Previously: #9)
  19. Dallas Mavericks (3-4): The Mavericks are lucky that the return of DeAndre Jordan against them tonight (11/11/15) has been taking priority over discussing the Mavericks rough start to the season. In all fairness, expectations for the Mavericks this season haven’t been particularly high, with very good reasons. (Previously: #12)
  20. Boston Celtics (3-3): Brad Stevens ragtag group of players has managed to look okay starting off this year, but I don’t anticipate they do very much in the Eastern conference. They just haven’t managed to find any players who can consistently score great, outside of Isaiah Thomas. Regardless, great coaching from Stevens has managed to keep this team afloat at .500 for right now. (Previously: #24)
  21. Orlando Magic (3-5): Magic seem to be a team that’s right on the cusp but not there yet. They’ve shown flashes of brilliance, and proven they can hang with top tier teams. However, they just don’t seem to be able to close out games yet. Definite bright spots include, Oladipo, Payton, and the quiet concise swagger of Hezonja. (Previously: #21)
  22. Phoenix Suns (3-4): Suns came out to a solid start, but seem to be falling back into the lull of a .500 record. If this play continues they’ll remain in basketball purgatory for another year. Although they have some promising pieces, there seems to be a lack of cohesion across this team. (Previously: #22)
  23. Memphis Grizzlies (3-5): Powered by a lackluster Marc Gasol shooting a paltry 45% this Memphis team continues to struggle. It appears for now Joeger’s job is safe. It’s promising that the GM is already trying to make moves, but a slow start in the Western Conference can make all the difference. (Previously: #16)
  24. Charlotte Hornets (4-4): Charlotte is another team with a lot of different pieces that have not been able to work together. This could be a very different team with a healthy Michael Kidd-Gilchrest, but he does not look to see the court anytime soon. It’s looking more and more like the Hornets could seriously benefit from bottoming out into the lottery for one more year. I only plan on tuning into these games during the ten minutes Frank Kaminsky sees the court, because you can never have enough Frank the Tank. (Previously: #27)
  25. Denver Nuggets(3-4): Aside from the Nets the Nuggets look like the strongest candidate to have a fire sale at some point this season. They’ve started stronger than most expected, and they do retain some solid pieces. However, with Mudiay running the show look for Denver to get rid of valuable pieces to pair young draft picks with him. (Previously: #23)
  26. Sacramento Kings (1-7): Yes Boogie missed a few games, but one win? That’s unacceptable, this is a team that was supposed to be a dark horse eighth seed candidate. Boogie’s now resigned to calling players only meetings in the hopes to light a fire under his teammates ass’. (Previously: #19)
  27. New Orleans Pelicans (1-7):  Not all one win teams are created equal. The Pelicans have been an embarrassment to start the season. Anthony Davis has shown some spark as of recently, but this team needs to figure it out quick. The climb back to .500 began yesterday, and it looks pretty steep. (Previously: #25)
  28. Los Angeles Lakers (1-6): Is any coach as delusional as Byron Scott? I seriously hope that he’s being paid under the table by Jim Buss to look like the dumbest member of the Lakers organization. I’ll keep this short and sweet, let Russell and Clarkson play. (Previously: #29)
  29. Philadelphia 76ers (0-7): Not much to say here other than the tanking continues. At least they seem to be hitting on their top draft picks with Nerlens and Okafor playing well. (Previously: #28)
  30. Brooklyn Nets (0-7): I think Billy King listened to our last podcast when I pleaded with him to trade everything and find a way to rebuild. He acknowledged the buck stops with him, and he dug himself the hole with the Celtics trade. The real question is can he dig himself out. A successful season at this point is trading everything of value for draft picks, with the unfortunate gift to the Celtics on lottery night. (Previously: #30)

Jonathan Slusar

Jonathan Slusar is a podcaster, NBA analyst, and post-game writer for the Chicago Bulls on MultipleSources.net. He graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a degree in English, and is an avid opponent to radio jingles.

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