Another crazy week in the NBA is now in the books and it had some interesting things happen. The Houston Rockets currently have the longest winning streak in the NBA. The Oklahoma City Thunder suffered the largest loss in NBA history. Stephen Curry is closing in on history by having the most made three-pointers in NBA history, further solidifying his claim as the greatest shooter in basketball history. The Warriors, the Jazz, and the Suns further separated themselves from the top of the pack in the NBA. It is almost Christmas time and the NBA season is really starting to heat up.
30. Detroit Pistons (+0)
The Pistons remain the worst team in the NBA for now. Due to Houston winning and Oklahoma City saving face after the embarrassing Grizzlies loss, the Pistons hold on to the NBA’s lowest honor. The losing streak reached double digits and Detroit has one of the worst offenses in the NBA. The only thing that Pistons fans probably care about is that Cade Cunningham is starting to show why he was the number one overall pick. Detroit missed an opportunity to get a win over the Thunder this week.
29. Orlando Magic (+0)
The Magic were close to slipping to the last spot in the power rankings, but the dismal play of the Pistons saved them from that. The Magic have the worst point differential in the NBA and the only negative point differential in double digits in the NBA. Orlando suffered losses to the Rockets, Kings, and the Warriors this week, but it was not due to the play of Cole Anthony. Anthony has been impressive over this week and is a bright spot for the Magic.
28. Oklahoma City Thunder (+0)
The Thunder were dangerously close to moving to the last spot in the rankings this week after a 73 point loss to Memphis. Oklahoma City saved itself by getting victories over the Pistons and the Raptors. Two guys that have been great players for the Thunder this week have been Luguentz Dort and not surprisingly, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Both players have been solid this week and it is unlikely that the Grizzlies win that game by 73 points if Gilgeous-Alexander plays.
27. New Orleans Pelicans (-1)
The Pelicans seem to be inching closer to Zion Williamson‘s return and it can’t come soon enough. Brandon Ingram has done a nice job of scoring for the team, but he is going to need some assistance. New Orleans has been playing decently this week, winning against the Mavericks and having close losses to the Rockets and Nuggets. Some more bad news for the Pelicans is guard Kira Lewis is likely out for the year with an ACL tear.
26. San Antonio Spurs (-1)
The Spurs got a huge victory over the Warriors this week and had a nice winning streak going, but suffered a pair of losses to the Knicks and Suns. The Spurs continue to have a point differential of a team that has a better record than they do, but they are still finding ways to lose too many close games. Dejounte Murray is playing at an All-Star level and Derrick White is another guy that has been playing better for San Antonio.
25. Portland Trail Blazers (-6)
The Blazers continue to plunge down the power rankings and are on the verge of becoming completely irrelevant in the NBA. Damian Lillard is set to return this weekend, but Portland is going to have to deal with the loss of CJ McCollum instead. Rumors continue to fly about Lillard’s future and it is seemingly becoming a distraction for the Blazers. This team continues to lose games and fall further out of the playoff picture in the Western Conference.
24. Houston Rockets (+3)
Houston moved three spots up in the power rankings last week and did the same thing this week. This is the hottest team in the NBA and it is shocking after a 15 game losing streak earlier this season. Christian Wood is still leading the way, but guys like Eric Gordon and Jalen Green continue to have a scoring impact for the Rockets. This team is probably a little lucky right now, but they are winning games and continue to do so.
23. Sacramento Kings (+0)
Sacramento scored some important victories this week over the Clippers and Magic and are playing better after appearing to be in a free-fall earlier. Some of that has to be due to the unlikely play of Terence Davis, who has come out of nowhere to be a key piece for the Kings. De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton are also doing their fair share for the team and helping keep the Kings in the playoff hunt.
22. Indiana Pacers (+0)
Another team that did not move in the rankings this week was the Pacers. Most of the news around the Pacers had to do with the reports of the team ready for a potential rebuild. Now, the futures of guys like Caris LeVert, Domantas Sabonis, and Myles Turner are in doubt and this team might be ready to call it quits this season. The reports of this move make sense, but it begs the question of why a coach like Rick Carlisle was hired and this team was not blown up in the offseason. Things appear to have reached a crossroads and it appears it is on its way to a resolution.
21. Toronto Raptors (+3)
The Raptors get a small bump this week due to some other teams in front of them having bad and distracting weeks. Toronto scored big wins over Washington and Milwaukee but took a slight stumble by losing to the Thunder. Scottie Barnes and Pascal Siakam have carried this team over the past week and those guys are keeping this team in contention for a playoff spot.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves (-6)
Going winless in a week is a surefire way to drop down six spots in the rankings. Minnesota lost to the Nets, Hawks, and the Jazz and while those are not bad teams, going winless is never a good thing. The defensive side of the court for the Timberwolves was horrible, letting the Hawks hit 25 three-pointers, which was a franchise record. This team is still in the playoff hunt but had a really bad week.
19. Dallas Mavericks (-7)
Dallas has been one of the most frustrating teams to watch over the past week. The Mavericks lost to the Pelicans, Nets, and Grizzlies, but did win in a rematch against Memphis. There have been concerns about Luka Doncic and his conditioning, only adding to the tough week they had. The offense has been bad and that has been a major theme throughout the season for the Mavericks.
18. New York Knicks (-3)
The Knicks did get a win over the Spurs, but that is the only piece of good news to come out of New York this week. The Knicks lost three games to the Bulls, Nuggets, and the Pacers this week. The defense, which was among the league’s best last season, has slipped in a major way. This team appears to be dysfunctional at the moment and could be in danger of slipping even further down the rankings.
17. Boston Celtics (-6)
The Celtics had a tough week, losing to the Clippers, Lakers, and Jazz. The lone win came against the Blazers. Jaylen Brown has had an issue with a hamstring and that has been terrible for a team that needs the boost that he brings on both ends of the floor. The defense as a whole has been an issue as well. Jayson Tatum has been a bright spot for the Celtics and likely will remain that way throughout the season.
16. Los Angeles Lakers (+1)
It was a bit of a short week for the Lakers, beating the Celtics and losing to the Clippers. LeBron James appeared to return to form a bit by having one of his best weeks of the season. The defense has also been better, something that has been missing for the majority of the season. Anthony Davis is going to have to return to MVP caliber for this team to reach its ceiling.
15. Denver Nuggets (+5)
The Nuggets had a loss to the Bulls but beat the Knicks and the Pelicans to round out a solid week. Nikola Jokic continues to be one of, if not the best player in basketball and is the only guy keeping this team on the brink of playoff contention. This team should stay in the play-in race, but the ceiling is lower without Jamal Murray or Michael Porter Jr.
14. Memphis Grizzlies (+7)
Somehow, someway, the Memphis Grizzlies have been able to stay winning without their star player in Ja Morant. Memphis got the largest win in NBA history over the Thunder this past week and got their winning streak to five games before losing to the Mavericks. Memphis has been getting better on the defensive end of the court, which has led them to be playing better.
13. Atlanta Hawks (-4)
The Hawks had a pair of tough losses in the last week. Atlanta blew a game against Philadelphia by scoring only nine points in the fourth quarter and lost to Charlotte while they were missing LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier. The Hawks are missing some guys due to injury, but the late-game execution and the defense have been bad this past week. Atlanta did score a nice win over Minnesota and Cam Reddish and Onyeka Okongwu appear to be getting closer to returning to the court.
12. Charlotte Hornets (-2)
Charlotte got dealt a bad hand by having to miss Ball and Rozier this week, but the team has outperformed expectations yet again. After going on the road and getting a nice win over the Hawks, Charlotte lost a pair of tough games to the 76ers. Kelly Oubre Jr and Ish Smith have been a big reason why Charlotte has still been playing well and they would not have beaten Atlanta without Oubre.
11. Los Angeles Clippers (+7)
One of the biggest movers in the power rankings this week was the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers went 3-1, beating the Lakers, Celtics, and Blazers. One of the reasons for this performance was Marcus Morris finally started to play as he did in last year’s postseason. Morris is not the biggest star of the week for the Clippers, however. That would be Brandon Boston Jr. Boston Jr has been the biggest story for the Clippers and he is playing fantastic for a second-round pick.
10. Washington Wizards (-3)
The Wizards have been slowly declining in play the past couple of weeks, but this was their worst week of the season. It took an overtime win against Detroit to keep this team from going winless. Bradley Beal continues to struggle shooting the ball and that has been a reason for the Wizards slumping in the last few weeks. The only bright spot might be the continued solid play of Kyle Kuzma.
9. Philadelphia 76ers (+7)
With a great win against Atlanta and back-to-back wins over the Hornets, Philadelphia took a big leap up in the rankings. Joel Embiid has been playing MVP level basketball for a few weeks now and he is the main catalyst for the 76ers big week. This team has had trouble finding any consistency this season, but maybe this last week can be the one that turns things around for the 76ers.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers (+5)
The Cavs just continue to play great basketball. Cleveland is back in the top ten of the power rankings and appears to be a legit threat to go to the playoffs. Getting Evan Mobley back has done wonders for this team on the defensive end. It has not seemed to matter much that the offense still does not seem to be clicking just yet. Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen continue to play well. Cleveland had two great wins over the Wizards and Heat this week and appears to be ready to do damage in the Eastern Conference.
7. Miami Heat (+1)
The Heat had a steady week, going 2-2, and that should be an accomplishment given this team’s injuries. Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler have both missed time and it is testing this team’s questionable depth. Kyle Lowry and Tyler Herro have picked up the slack up on the defensive end and keeping this team from slipping outside of the top ten.
6. Milwaukee Bucks (-1)
Milwaukee had a 2-2 week, losing to the Raptors and the Heat, while also winning a game against Miami and picking up a win over Cleveland. This team had been one of the hottest in the NBA but had a bit more of a balanced week. Giannis Antetokounmpo had an off-week, but Jrue Holiday was there to pick up the slack and played great this past week. Some good news for the Bucks this week was that Donte DiVincenzo seems to be getting closer to returning since injuring himself in the playoffs last season.
5. Chicago Bulls (+1)
The Bulls and the Bucks swap spots this week due to Chicago going 3-1. DeMar DeRozan had to miss their loss to the Cavs due to COVID protocols, but this team has kept up their pace even without DeRozan. The whole team had to step up in his absence and they did. Chicago seems to show no signs of slowing down and remains a threat in the Eastern Conference.
4. Brooklyn Nets (-1)
Brooklyn had a solid week, but they are still waiting to appear like the juggernaut most thought they would be. James Harden had been showing signs of getting back to playing like a top-ten player, but this week was really rough for the former MVP. Kevin Durant saved the Nets against the Mavericks this week and the team also gained a win over Minnesota. Losing to the Rockets and Bulls this week were the other negative things. This team is still one of the favorites in the Eastern Conference, but they appear vulnerable.
3. Utah Jazz (+1)
Utah appears to be locked into the third or fourth spot at the moment given how Golden State and Phoenix are playing. This team is playing great basketball and appears to be title contenders given the uncertainty some teams face. The Jazz got wins over the Celtics, Cavs, and Timberwolves this week and got their winning streak to five. This team has the second-best point differential behind only the Warriors at the moment. The offense is playing at an unbelievable level right now and hopes to keep that rolling all season.
2. Golden State Warriors (+0)
The Warriors did get revenge on Phoenix, but because that victory came with the Suns not having Devin Booker, Golden State remains at number two spot. This team is still playing at an elite level and Curry remains the favorite for the MVP trophy. Golden State did lose to the Spurs but got good wins over Orlando and Portland to have another very good week. There are not enough good things to say about this team right now and they remain among the NBA’s elite.
1. Phoenix Suns (+0)
Phoenix gets to stay at the top despite their eighteen-game winning streak coming to an end. After losing to Golden State, this team bounced back and found some wins over the Pistons and the Spurs. This remains one of the most well-rounded teams in basketball and they will remain in the top five for most of the season.
Follow Jackson Caudell on Twitter @jacksoncaudell
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