Power Rankings: An Eventful Four Days
Nov. 24, 2008 -- If you haven't been tuned in to NBA news since Friday morning, you've missed quite a few interesting developments.
Donnie Walsh put his stamp on the Knicks roster, as well as an open invitation to the free agents of 2010 to join his team then. And he helped the Clippers and Warriors shake their rosters up in the process.
The Thunder named a second coach before they got their second win. And as of this morning, Washington Wizards coach Eddie Jordan is out of a job.
What a few days it has been. And that's just the off-court stuff! On the court, there have been developments as well. And if you think all the basketball news out there is about that summer of 2010, the Power Rankings will be your refuge for the stuff that matters at this point. After all, we've got two champions to crown before LeBron and the gang make their moves, and this space is about figuring out who's going to be kissing Larry O'Brien come June.
Right now, the Los Angeles Lakers sure look like the favorite, don't they? Of course, when the Lakers were bumped down to No. 2 last week, plenty of venom was delivered to the Power Rankings inbox.
"You must be out of your mind! The Cavs stink! How could you bump the Lakers down when they still had the best record in the league? They're head and shoulders above everyone else!"
My simple response: Hey, they lost.
Further, the Cavs hadn't lost since the fifth day of the season and had won seven straight at the time. Do I think that Cleveland is a better team? No. But what fun would it be if the Lakers or Celtics stayed at No. 1 all season long? No fun at all. And as it says below, these rankings are just one man's opinion. Essentially, they mean nothing and you're free to disagree. The stuff on the right side of the table below is where the real work goes in anyway.
• Last Week: The Big East
McKey Team of the Week: Boston (4-0)
Analeigh Team of the Week: Oklahoma City (0-4)
High jumps of the week: Dallas, Minnesota, New Jersey, San Antonio, Utah (+5)
Free falls of the week: New York (-7), Chicago, Milwaukee, Toronto (-4)
East vs. West: East leads 36-25 (.590) in inter-conference games. The West was 10-5 this week.
Off: Points scored per 100 possessions (League Rank)
Def: Points allowed per 100 possessions (League Rank)
The league averages through Sunday are 90.6 possessions (per team) per game and 106.6 points scored per 100 possessions.
As always, the stats don't determine the rankings, but they help us evaluate each team and provide a picture of where they stand on both sides of the ball.
NBA.com's Power Rankings are just one man's opinion and are released every Monday during the season. If you've got an issue with the rankings, or have a question or comment for John Schuhmann, send him an e-mail.
|TEAM (LAST WEEK)||REC.||BREAKDOWN|
|1||L.A. Lakers (2)||11-1||Off: 111.8 (3),
The Lakers are cruising so far with Kobe Bryant averaging less than 34 minutes per game, Andrew Bynum getting more consistent and Vladimir Radmanovic hitting 10-for-13 from downtown in the last three games. It's time to start talking about the '95-96 Bulls, because the schedule looks pretty easy for the next few weeks.
|2||Boston (3)||13-2||Off: 106.5 (17),
We're ready to take back what we wrote about the Celtics' offense last week. They've got a 115.3 rating over their current five-game winning streak, and that's with Kevin Garnett missing one game and Paul Pierce scoring just 32 total points over the last three.
|3||Cleveland (1)||10-3||Off: 115.0 (1),
Multiple sources have told NBA.com that LeBron James still plays for the Cavaliers and, not coincidentally, they're a pretty good team. LeBron struggled a bit offensively in Detroit on Wednesday and the Cavs' winning streak came to an end at eight games. That loss also makes them 0-2 against the Celtics and Pistons, but the schedule over the next few weeks promises another winning streak.
|4||Houston (4)||9-5||Off: 105.3 (20),
The Rockets had a pair of injury scares this week and clearly missed Yao Ming in Wednesday's loss to the Mavs, but the big man was back two nights later. Then he kept Dwight Howard in check and hit a huge shot down the stretch as Houston picked up a nice road win in Orlando on Saturday.
|5||Orlando (7)||9-4||Off: 106.6 (16),
Is everybody overlooking the Magic, or are they still on that second level of Eastern Conference playoff teams? Their improved defense, thanks in part to Dwight Howard blocking 1.85 more shots this year than last, shouldn't be ignored.
|6||Denver (8)||9-5||Off: 105.5 (18),
The Nuggets couldn't handle the Lakers on Friday, but they continue to look like one of the West's stronger teams with Chauncey Billups in the fold. Thursday night's matchup with the Hornets should be a good measuring stick for both teams.
|7||Utah (12)||9-5||Off: 110.2 (7),
The Jazz may have lost to the Wizards and Bobcats along the way, but it's hard to complain about being 9-5 (and tied for second in the Western Conference) when Deron Williams has played in only two games so far and Carlos Boozer has missed the last two. Williams has targeted Wednesday's game against Memphis to make his return while Boozer may not return until next week.
|8||Phoenix (5)||9-5||Off: 110.3 (6),
While the numbers above tell us that defense is more of an issue, the Suns' offense has failed them more in their five losses, including two to the Jazz and Lakers this week. Steve Nash (averaging just 13.5 points and 7.6 assists) is clearly uncomfortable with the new style and slower pace that the Suns are playing.
|9||Detroit (6)||8-5||Off: 108.3 (12),
It's interesting that Antonio McDyess decided to return to Detroit on the day that the Pistons lost to the Timberwolves by 26 at home. They're the only team to beat the Lakers and they ended Cleveland's eight-game winning streak, but the Pistons have now lost three of their last four, and all by 18 points or more.
|10||New Orleans (9)||7-5||Off: 111.3 (4),
Back-to-back games with the Thunder are good for what ails you. Starting your three-game trip out west with the Clippers (Monday night) should be a nice remedy as well. But Peja Stojakovic is shooting .370 for the season and .324 in his last seven games. Slump or age?
|TEAM (LAST WEEK)||REC.||BREAKDOWN|
|11||Portland (10)||8-6||Off: 113.9 (2),
For the second straight year, the Blazers have started out 4-0 at home, but this time, they've actually won a few road games along the way. A short, three-game homestand this week should allow them to stay above .500 and also allow Greg Oden to recover from his humbling experience against Shaq on Saturday.
|12||Atlanta (11)||8-5||Off: 110.2 (8),
Having lost four straight going into Wednesday, the Hawks got home games against the Wizards and Bobcats right when they needed them. They took advantage and righted the ship a bit before losing in Cleveland on Saturday. Their struggling defense is going to have to do without Josh Smith for another few games.
|13||Dallas (18)||6-7||Off: 105.4 (19),
That comeback and OT victory in New York has sparked a four-game winning streak, which included their first win at home, for the Mavs. The defense has improved dramatically (which just may be a result of playing some pretty bad offensive teams) and Dirk Nowitzki is averaging 30.0 points and 11.5 boards during the streak.
|14||San Antonio (19)||6-6||Off: 107.2 (14),
After a few narrow wins and a 10-point loss to the Nuggets on Wednesday, the Spurs had an offensive explosion against the Jazz on Friday with Roger Mason and George Hill combining for 52 points. But there's no truth to the rumor that both Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are now on the trading block.
|15||Philadelphia (17)||7-6||Off: 104.1 (23),
After losing in Minnesota on Wednesday, the Sixers escaped with narrow wins over the Clippers and Warriors over the weekend. Wins are wins though, and Philly is now over .500 for the first time this season. Games against the Magic and Celtics this week will be much tougher challenges.
|16||New Jersey (21)||6-6||Off: 110.4 (5),
After a sub par performance against the Cavs on Tuesday, Vince Carter came with the goods and then some Friday in Toronto: 12 points in the final 44 seconds of regulation, a near-impossible three to send it OT and the game-winning throwdown. The Nets are playing well, but hit the road for four out west this week.
|17||Toronto (13)||6-7||Off: 108.4 (11),
If you're entertained by the misery of others, check out some of the Raptors message board threads from Friday night. Blowing a seven-point lead in less than a minute to Vince Carter of all people is a great way to inflame the Toronto fan base. Getting spanked by the Celtics two days later keeps the fire burning.
|18||Miami (22)||7-6||Off: 110.1 (9),
The Heat have alternated wins and losses over their last nine games.They'd like to break the pattern Monday night against the Rockets before departing for a five-game trip out west. One consistent, of course, is Dwyane Wade, who is simply the most electrifying player in the league right now.
|19||Chicago (15)||6-8||Off: 103.8 (24),
The Bulls are 1-3 on the circus trip so far, including a nasty 42-point defeat at the hands of the Blazers on Wednesday. With injuries and his young bigs struggling, Vinny Del Negro has used a different starting lineup in each game of the trip, and eight different starting lineups so far this season.
|20||Milwaukee (16)||7-8||Off: 103.5 (26),
The Bucks took advantage of the depleted Knicks and the just plain bad Bobcats to pick up a pair of wins this weekend. Things get tougher in the coming days as their road trip continues with visits to Orlando, Atlanta and Detroit. Michael Redd will likely miss the entire trip.
|TEAM (LAST WEEK)||REC.||BREAKDOWN|
|21||New York (14)||7-6||Off: 108.1 (13),
Enough has been written about the (potential) long-term effects of Friday's trades. In the short-term, the Knicks will probably take a step back. In recalling his mid-season trade to Golden State two years ago, Al Harrington said, "It took us about a month before we were able to get on our feet."
|22||Indiana (20)||5-7||Off: 105.2 (21),
With their offense struggling (and Mike Dunleavy is still not close to returning), the Pacers have lost four of their last five. The one win in that stretch came Tuesday against Atlanta when Danny Granger went off for 34 points and the underrated Rasho Nesterovic added 21.
|23||Minnesota (28)||3-9||Off: 104.4 (22),
The T-Wolves won two of three this week, including Sunday's shocking 26-point drubbing of the Pistons, and their defense has been showing improvement. Al Jefferson is certainly playing like an All-Star, but he'll need more help from his teammates to get him to Phoenix.
|24||Sacramento (23)||5-10||Off: 108.7 (10),
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the new worst defense in the league. When you allow the Grizzlies to shoot 54 percent from the field, you've earned that title. Congratulations to Reggie Theus and the rest of the Kings organization.
|25||Golden State (24)||5-8||Off: 107.0 (15),
Thanks to another big game from that Anthony Morrow guy, the Warriors got a nice win over the Blazers to start the week. But they then lost to the Bulls at home and began their five-game road trip with an ugly loss in Philly. Jamal Crawford should take the floor Tuesday in Washington and could help tread water until Monta Ellis' return.
|26||Memphis (26)||4-9||Off: 100.4 (28),
The good news is that Mike Conley is starting to put his early-season struggles behind him, scoring 14 points in each of the last two games and dishing out eight assists on Saturday. The bad news is that the Grizz have lost six of their last seven.
|27||Charlotte (25)||3-9||Off: 100.9 (27),
The Bobcats have had a nice home-heavy November with 11 of their 15 games at Time Warner Cable Arena, but they haven't been able to take advantage, 3-6 at home so far. D.J. Augustin impressed in his first start with 26 points, seven dimes and just one turnover (although it was a costly one late in the game) Friday in Atlanta, but struggled (4-for-13) the next night against the Bucks.
|28||L.A. Clippers (29)||2-11||Off: 99.0 (29),
Ricky Davis, shooting .272 for the season and 2-for-14 since the trade, isn't quite filling in for Cuttino Mobley. And now, the Clippers have a log-jam on the frontline with Marcus Camby, Chris Kaman and Zach Randolph. At least they beat the Thunder this week.
|29||Washington (27)||1-10||Off: 103.7 (25),
Talking before Saturday's loss in New York (and before he was fired), Eddie Jordan blamed his team's struggles more on the absence of Brendan Haywood than that of Gilbert Arenas. "Brendan made a difference defensively for us," Jordan said. "He's 7-1 and very effective back there defensively."
|30||Oklahoma City (30)||1-13||Off: 95.4 (30),
Scott Brooks' first game as head coach was the Thunder's 11th straight loss. It was also their best offensive game, worst defensive game, and slowest paced game of the season.