NBA Power Rankings, Week 4 (We missed the first three, sorry)
Just about a month has passed in the NBA season and the standings are beginning to more or less pan out as expected. The Washington Wizards are once again trudging through a dreadful season in which they have yet to nab a win while the San Antonio Spurs continue to amaze basketball fanatics by proving that youth and athleticism are no substitute for experience and chemistry. Starting this week, we will begin a weekly edition of NBA Power Rankings where we list our picks for the current top ten teams in the league and three other teams that are on the verge of making the list. The top ten will be listed from 1-10 with 1 being the best team in the league. And so, let us begin Fantasy Sports Locker Room’s first ever NBA Power Rankings:
1. San Antonio Spurs (12-3 overall, 4-1 in the past five)
This week the Spurs have been cruising on a four game-win streak including
some wins over tough opponents such as Boston and Indiana. As usual, Tony Parker has
proceeded to put the team on his back, scoring more than 26 points in three of the four
wins this week. The rest of the lineup has been putting up solid numbers to complement
his play on offense, but their typically sound defense has been absent (they have allowed
90+ points in every game dating back to November 13).(1) But for the defensive statistics,
the Spurs have been on a roll and are heating up this week.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder (11-4 overall, 4-1 in the past five)
On Monday, the Thunder recorded one of the most resounding wins of the
season: a 114-69 drubbing of the Charlotte Bobcats. Although the Bobcats have been the
laughing stock of the league for the past year, the Thunder played exemplary basketball.
They held the Bobcats to a 29% field goal percentage while shooting 51% from the field
themselves and 48% from downtown. The Thunder lead by 40, yes, 40 points at
halftime. (2) To not only be able to score more than 110 points in a game, but to hold the
other team to below 70 as well is unbelievable. For that, the Thunder are right up at the
top of teams in the league.
3. Memphis Grizzlies (10-2 overall, 4-1 in the past five)
The Grizzlies have lost just two games all year and have beaten plenty of elite
teams such as the Heat, Thunder, Knicks, and Lakers. And these were solid wins (win by
18 over the Heat, wins by 10 over the Thunder and Knicks). (3) The Grizzlies are no
pushovers and they have one of the most formidable starting line-ups top to bottom in the
league. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph have been unstoppable in the low post, Mike
Conley has been a wizard at point guard this year, and Rudy Gay has been his usual self
averaging 20 points a game. Their team works so well together and everyone plays off of
each other, a key component to being successful in the NBA (ask the #1-ranked Spurs).
These guys will be sitting near the top of the rankings for most if not all of the season. Look for the Grizzlies to be a mainstay in our power rankings over the course of the year.
4. Miami Heat (10-3 overall, 4-1 in their past five)
The Heat are obviously one of, if not the most dominant teams in the league
without a doubt. They are first in the eastern conference, but have just narrowly scraped
out wins against weak opponents (110-108 win vs. Cleveland and 113-106 win in
overtime vs. Milwaukee). (4) Lebron James has been shouldering too much of the load and
the Heat have virtually no bench production but for Rashard Lewis and Ray Allen.
Attrition could be their Achilles’ heel by the end of the season, but their starting line-up
is too good for them to be dismissed. Once Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade begin to
consistently bring their A game, the Heat will be on their way to their second straight
5. Atlanta Hawks (8-4 overall, 5-0 in their past five)
Somehow, with Joe Johnson gone and Al Horford and Devin Harris injured, the
Hawks have proceeded to stun the league by completely stymieing opponents and
running their win streak to five. The key to their success has been their defense, which is
the third best in the league, allowing an average of just 92 points a game. (5) Though they
tend to fade away against quality teams, it is hard to downplay a five game win streak.
Once Horford and Harris return to the starting lineup, the Hawks should be an even more
6. Brooklyn Nets (9-4 overall, 3-2 in their past five)
At this spot, the decision came down to the Knicks or the Nets, and after their
encounter on Monday, the Nets have prevailed. After the Nets defeated the Knicks, they
proved that they are a valid team to fear. Deron Williams and Brook Lopez have
established themselves as a great core for the team, and Joe Johnson has been a great
acquisition. But the root of their success, like the Hawks, has been their stellar defense,
averaging a league best 91 points allowed. (6) The Nets are looking to be a potent Eastern
7. New York Knicks (9-4 overall, 2-3 in their past five)
Through the first nine games of the season, the Knicks were sporting an
unprecedented 8-1 record. They’ve dropped to 9-4 over the past week, but are still
posting great team numbers. They rank third in the league in points averaging 102 per
game while also allowing just 95 points a game, good for 9th in the NBA. (7) Carmelo
Anthony has responded to last year’s criticism of being selfish exceptionally well and has
carried the team on his shoulders. Coupled with the outstanding play of breakout point
guard Raymond Felton and veteran Tyson Chandler, the Knicks have been looking better
than they have in a long time.
8. Denver Nuggets (8-7 overall, 4-1 in their past five)
The Nuggets have overcome a rough start to raise their record above .500 (8) and
from the way they are playing, it does not look as if it is to cease any time soon. Andre
Igoudala and Ty Lawson have combined brilliantly to provide the Nuggets with one of
the most dangerous backcourts in the game. Second-year player Kenneth Faried has
cranked up the energy of his play and it has resulted in his rebound total skyrocketing.
Denver has a very strong bench and the rest of their lineup fills out nicely with Javale
McGee and Danilo Gallinari. If the Nuggets can consistently perform and avoid being
streaky, they should end up with a very successful season.
9. Utah Jazz (8-7 overall, 4-1 in their past five)
Like Denver, Utah has turned it on as of late and has achieved some solid
victories in the past two weeks over Denver, Sacramento, and Houston. One thing to
marvel at is their 6-0 record at home, something that is very important to make it to the
playoffs. But what is even more vital to a team’s success is its road record. And the Jazz
have a 2-7 record when away from home. (9) As of right now, the Jazz are scoring about as
many points as they give up and their roster does not look strong enough to be a real
contender for the title. They should make the playoffs, but they look as if they will fade
later on in the season.
10. Philadelphia 76ers (8-6 overall, 3-2 in their past five)
Philadelphia’s young core has been nothing short of fantastic this year even
without the inside presence of seven-footer Andrew Bynum. Guards Jrue Holiday and
Evan Turner have played spectacularly and sixth man Nick Young has been terrific off
the bench. The 76ers gel together very well and when they are at their best, hardly any
team can stop them. As long as Holiday continues to drive the team and the rest of the
roster can supply sufficient production, the team will enjoy a season of success.
On the Cusp (And How They Can Make It In, Without Bribing Us):
11. Boston Celtics (8-6 overall)
If the Celtics can reduce the amount of times they lose to poor teams, they could find a spot in our power rankings.
12. Los Angeles Clippers (8-6 overall)
If the Clippers steer themselves out of their recent rut and play fundamental team basketball, the Clippers can rise in the power rankings.
13. Golden State Warriors (8-6 overall)
If the Warriors show up to play every day and increase their work rates, they will find themselves among the top ten teams in the league.
Highlight of the Week:
Yes it is of Blake Griffin. Yes it is amazing. Although the Nets get the last laugh as they are ahead of the Clippers in our weekly Power Rankings.