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Power Rankings

Spurs already back on top

By John Schuhmann,
Posted Nov 5 2012 10:56AM


Real basketball played by the best players in the world, in games that actually count!

It's great to have the season under way, but the first six days did little to help us figure out where these teams will stand come April, May and June. There were big performances and let-down performances, bad teams playing well and good teams playing bad. And every team but the Spurs and Knicks showed some flaws.

So have a little patience as we sort these rankings out. For now, it's San Antonio and New York on top, but things will be very fluid over the next month or so.

Still, the first 40 games of the season gave us plenty to talk and write about. So keep reading...

• Last week: Harden trade shakes up the top

Hero Team of the Week: New York (2-0) - Red hot from the start.
Zero Team of the Week: Detroit (0-3) - And it could get uglier this week. Check out their upcoming schedule below.

Plus-minus Studs: Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol (LAL) were each a plus-39 in four games last week.
Plus-minus Duds: Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey (DET) were each a minus-49 in three games last week.

High jumps of the week: New York (+9), New Orleans (+7), Orlando (+6), Portland (+6)
Free falls of the week: Denver (-10), Detroit (-10), Minnesota (-7)

East vs. West: The East went 8-6 (.571) against the West in Week 1.

Pace: Possessions per 48 minutes (League Rank)
Off: Points scored per 100 possessions (League Rank)
Def: Points allowed per 100 possessions (League Rank)
The league averaged 96.2 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 100.1 points scored per 100 possessions in the preseason.'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, contact him via twitter.

1 San Antonio (3-0)
Pace: 94.9 (24), Off: 103.3 (9), Def: 98.3 (12)
Breaking news: The Spurs and that Tim Duncan guy are still very good. The execution on Tony Parker's game-winner was sharp, but maybe more encouraging was that they were able to win ugly against the Thunder offense, which they couldn't stop in the last four games of the conference finals. Just don't ask Gregg Popovich if he's happy with his team's defense. Happy?
Last week: 3

2 New York (2-0)
Pace: 91.4 (30), Off: 111.2 (3), Def: 92.2 (4)
No team looked better in Week 1 than the Knicks, who had easy victories over last season's champs (the Heat) and the preseason champs (the Sixers), even though Tyson Chandler hasn't been 100 percent. Carmelo Anthony has been more than 100 percent, and while it's obviously early, it's still painfully obvious that Anthony and his team are better without Amar'e Stoudemire.
Last week: 11

3 Miami (2-1)
Pace: 95.2 (20), Off: 114.3 (1), Def: 113.3 (30)
Scoring a combined 139 points against Boston and Denver and getting a ridiculous game-winner from Ray Allen can make up for the worst defense in the league. Miami's starters have actually been fine defensively, allowing just 98 points per 100 possessions in 44 minutes. But other lineups have allowed 120 in 100 minutes. Compared to Mario Chalmers, Allen is a liability on that end.
Last week: 1

4 L.A. Clippers (2-1)
Pace: 99.5 (4), Off: 104.8 (7), Def: 101.8 (19)
After big wins over the Grizz and Lakers, the Clips suffered a serious letdown, especially defensively and on the glass, against the Warriors on Saturday. They gave up 16 offensive boards to what was the worst rebounding team in the league last season. Blake Griffin's work with shooting coach Bob Thate has yet to bare fruit, as he's made just two of his 13 shots from outside the paint.
Last week: 7

5 Oklahoma City (1-2)
Pace: 94.4 (26), Off: 101.1 (13), Def: 99.2 (15)
The Thunder are struggling a bit offensively to start the season, but James Harden's departure doesn't have much to do with it. The starting lineup has been the biggest problem, scoring just 90.5 points per 100 possessions in 49 minutes so far. OKC has actually been pretty potent offensively (106.9) with Kevin Martin, who is 12-for-17 from 3-point range, on the floor.
Last week: 4

6 Boston (1-2)
Pace: 95.5 (18), Off: 99.9 (17), Def: 105.6 (26)
New bench, same old issues. The Celtics have allowed 99 points per 100 possessions with Kevin Garnett on the floor (86 minutes) and 116 with him on the bench (58 minutes). Starting Jared Sullinger for Brandon Bass on Saturday in Washington sure seemed to help, as Boston allowed the Wiz to score just a single bucket in the first eight minutes. We'll see if that's a permanent change.
Last week: 6

7 L.A. Lakers (1-3)
Pace: 94.0 (27), Off: 109.1 (4), Def: 103.6 (22)
We now know that the Lakers won't be going 0-90 this season. We don't know yet if their bench can defend well enough to keep their team in the game against teams better than the Pistons. Mike Brown still has some work to do in regard to finding the right combinations once the starters begin to step off the floor, and Wednesday's visit to Utah will be a great test of his team's depth.
Last week: 2

8 Indiana (2-1)
Pace: 95.1 (21), Off: 92.3 (26), Def: 91.5 (2)
As we wonder if or when Danny Granger is going to be healthy, the Pacers are playing some pretty ugly basketball. Seriously, they didn't crack 100 points until the 57th minute of Saturday's double-OT win over the Kings. But you know who has looked pretty good at times? Lance Stephenson, who hit a big three in that win and scored 15 points off the bench a night earlier in Charlotte.
Last week: 9

9 Brooklyn (1-0)
Pace: 101.1 (1), Off: 101.6 (11), Def: 103.1 (21)
It was a historic night in Brooklyn on Saturday, but we won't be making any grand judgments from one game. The defense looked awful at times, the offense had plenty of weapons (against a good defensive team), and Reggie Evans grabbed a ton of rebounds. Most encouraging was the play of Brook Lopez, who scored 27 points and took 13 of his 17 shots from inside the paint.
Last week: 10

10 Atlanta (1-1)
Pace: 96.2 (16), Off: 108.8 (5), Def: 104.4 (23)
Atlanta's win in Oklahoma City on Sunday without Josh Smith was clearly the most impressive victory by any team last week. Al Horford had the big numbers, Lou Williams sparked the big run, DeShawn Stevenson hit the big shot, and Jeff Teague threw down the big dunk. If they didn't win that one, it might have been an ugly start for the Hawks, who face the Pacers, Heat and Clippers this week.
Last week: 15

11 Chicago (2-1)
Pace: 96.5 (13), Off: 100.8 (14), Def: 90.0 (1)
The Bulls' starting lineup has played 48 minutes together over three games and has yet to make a 3-pointer. In fact, it has only attempted seven. But the bench (Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli in particular) has provided just enough of an offensive boost to support Tom Thibodeau's always-stout defense. It's a change from years past, when the bench was the defensive unit.
Last week: 14

12 Dallas (2-1)
Pace: 98.4 (6), Off: 106.0 (6), Def: 104.6 (24)
In the absence of Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavs' have had a pretty good ensemble offense. Darren Collison (17.3 points and 7.0 assists per game) and O.J. Mayo (30 points against the Bobcats on Saturday) have done the heaviest lifting, but already, eight different Mavs have scored in double-figures in at least one game. Mayo gets to see that Charlotte defense again on Saturday.
Last week: 16

13 Memphis (1-1)
Pace: 99.6 (3), Off: 97.9 (20), Def: 98.4 (13)
We've wondered if the Grizzlies have plateaued after their breakthrough season two years ago. But what if Mike Conley, now 25 years old and in his sixth season, can take his game to another level? After an ugly opener against the Clippers, Conley scored 21 points on just nine shots in Friday's win at Golden State. His perimeter shooting is especially critical to the Memphis offense.
Last week: 8

14 New Orleans (2-1)
Pace: 93.2 (28), Off: 98.4 (19), Def: 94.4 (6)
They had no Eric Gordon and no Anthony Davis after halftime on Friday, but the Hornets still picked up impressive wins against the Jazz and Bulls over the weekend, with Greivis Vasquez providing the heroics. Davis is the future of the franchise, but when he was replaced by Ryan Anderson, the Hornets had a lineup that outscored its opponents by 19 points in 25 minutes.
Last week: 21

15 Denver (0-3)
Pace: 97.1 (10), Off: 95.1 (23), Def: 105.9 (27)
If it weren't for the Lakers, the Nuggets would be the most disappointing team of the first week. Their offense was absolutely anemic in Philly and Orlando, and then Corey Brewer took his eyes off Ray Allen in Miami on Saturday. Denver's offensive problems could be traced partially to the fact that Brewer (30 percent from beyond the arc in his career) has attempted 19 threes in three games.
Last week: 5

16 Utah (1-2)
Pace: 95.4 (19), Off: 104.8 (8), Def: 101.8 (20)
Alec Burks was a Lottery pick 16 months ago, and he had a pretty strong preseason last month. But he played just two minutes in Utah's first three games. Now, Tyrone Corbin says that his rotation isn't yet set, but it makes you wonder if the Jazz would be better off packaging some of their assets to acquire some star power and thin out their rotation, a move that could raise their ceiling.
Last week: 12

17 Portland (2-1)
Pace: 96.4 (14), Off: 100.3 (16), Def: 100.3 (17)
Yep, Damian Lillard is the real deal. The rook averaged 21.3 points and 9.0 assists as the Blazers went 2-1 last week, scoring eight of his team's 14 points in overtime against the Rockets on Saturday. After matching up with Steve Nash, Russell Westbrook and Jeremy Lin in Week 1, he faces Darren Collison, Chris Paul and Tony Parker in Week 2. Not a bad introduction to the league.
Last week: 23

18 Houston (2-1)
Pace: 97.1 (9), Off: 98.4 (18), Def: 97.9 (11)
It didn't take long for James Harden to make us all regret our picks for the league's leading scorer. It didn't take long for Harden to cool off either. It's just a surprise that it came against the Blazers' defense, who held Harden to 8-for-24 on Saturday. Not so surprising is that the Rockets didn't have anybody who could pick up the slack. They need him to carry them every single night.
Last week: 22

19 Philadelphia (1-1)
Pace: 94.6 (25), Off: 89.5 (29), Def: 91.7 (3)
The offense that ranked No. 1 in efficiency in the preseason has been pretty awful in the regular season. Philly's shooters - Jason Richardson, Dorell Wright and Nick Young - are a combined 7-for-26 from 3-point range, and nobody's getting to the free-throw line. Spencer Hawes' mullet did have one heck of a season debut, dropping 16 points, 12 boards and five blocks on the Nuggets.
Last week: 13

20 Milwaukee (2-0)
Pace: 99.9 (2), Off: 101.2 (12), Def: 96.0 (8)
Though the Monta Ellis/Brandon Jennings pairing doesn't look any better than it did last season, Jennings himself is off to a strong start. He scored 21 points in Friday's win in Boston, hit the game-winner on Saturday against the Cavs, and dished out 13 assists each night. Mike Dunleavy carried a huge load (29 points, 12 boards and six assists) off the bench against Cleveland.
Last week: 24

21 Toronto (1-2)
Pace: 96.3 (15), Off: 103.2 (10), Def: 96.3 (9)
The Raps had double-digit leads in each of their first three games, but couldn't hold on to two of them. Their backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan (42.7 points per game on 54 percent shooting) has been terrific, but their frontline of Landry Fields, Andrea Bargnani and Jonas Valanciunas (21.3 points per game on 31 percent shooting) has not. Bargnani is 0-for-6 in the restricted area.
Last week: 18

22 Golden State (2-1)
Pace: 98.2 (7), Off: 100.4 (15), Def: 101.2 (18)
It was great to see Andrew Bogut back on the floor for the first time in nine months and to see Stephen Curry healthy and making two huge plays down the stretch of Saturday's win over the Clippers. But it was not great to see Brandon Rush's nasty knee injury on Friday. Now without both Rush and Dorell Wright, the Warriors' 3-point shooting isn't quite the weapon it was last year.
Last week: 19

23 Orlando (2-0)
Pace: 96.8 (12), Off: 111.7 (2), Def: 94.9 (7)
One of the most eye-opening stats of the first week was the number of shots (47!) that Glen Davis attempted in just two games. J.J. Redick was much more efficient (45 points on 25 shots) and threw in 12 assists for good measure. Though it's just two games, the Magic's overall efficiency is eye-opening in itself. But it will be seriously tested when they visit Chicago on Tuesday.
Last week: 29

24 Minnesota (1-1)
Pace: 95.0 (22), Off: 93.4 (24), Def: 97.6 (10)
If the Wolves' injury issues weren't bad enough, they lost J.J. Barea, who was their best player in Friday's win over the Kings, to a concussion in Toronto on Sunday. So get ready for a lot of Alexey Shved, who is this year's winner of the "NBA player who least looks like an NBA player" award. After a solid preseason, Brandon Roy is off to a slow start, shooting 4-for-17 in the first two games.
Last week: 17

25 Charlotte (1-1)
Pace: 98.9 (5), Off: 96.9 (21), Def: 107.2 (28)
The Bobcats may have had the worst record in NBA history last season, and they may have got smoked by 27 points in Dallas on Saturday, but they're undefeated when Kemba Walker scores 30 points or more. They face the Mavs again this week, but four of their other five games over the next 10 days (against the Suns, Hornets, Wizards and Wolves) are very winnable.
Last week: 30

26 Cleveland (1-2)
Pace: 96.9 (11), Off: 96.8 (22), Def: 104.7 (25)
Anderson Varejao didn't waste any time in showing everyone what the Cavs were missing last year, averaging 13.7 points and 15.0 rebounds in the first three games. But the Cleveland reserves get the award for Worst Bench of the Week. The starters were a plus-23 in 67 minutes together over their three games, but all other lineups were a minus-45 in 77 minutes.
Last week: 27

27 Phoenix (1-2)
Pace: 97.6 (8), Off: 92.9 (25), Def: 99.0 (14)
The Suns had a shot at going 2-1 on their road trip that started Sunday in Orlando and ends Wednesday in Charlotte. And their defense was looking pretty good, allowing just 90 points per 100 possessions, through their first 2 1/2 games. Then they got scorched by the Magic to the tune of 69 points in the second half. And now they have to try to stop the Heat offense on Monday.
Last week: 26

28 Washington (0-2)
Pace: 92.9 (29), Off: 90.8 (28), Def: 99.2 (16)
Maybe Bradley Beal is going to need more time than originally thought. He took just two shots in the paint in 44 minutes last week, and going back to the preseason, he's made just two of his last 19 shots overall. The good news for the Wiz is that Kevin Seraphin was a beast in the post against Kevin Garnett and the Celtics on Saturday, scoring 19 points on 8-for-9 from the field.
Last week: 28

29 Sacramento (0-3)
Pace: 96.2 (17), Off: 85.8 (30), Def: 94.4 (5)
On the road for their first three games, the Kings are off to a pretty brutal start. When your starting frontline (Jason Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins) is shooting a combined 39 percent, you're in trouble offensively. But now they're home for 12 of their next 15 games, with two beatable opponents (Golden State and Detroit) visiting Sleep Train Arena in the next three days.
Last week: 25

30 Detroit (0-3)
Pace: 94.9 (23), Off: 91.7 (27), Def: 108.3 (29)
Migraines are reportedly to blame for Rodney Stuckey's ugly 1-for-23 shooting so far, or at least partially to blame. Either way, the Pistons need Stuckey untracked, because their backcourt depth is suspect. Wednesday's visit to Sacramento could be important to this team's psyche, because their other four games over the next eight days are against Denver, OKC (twice) and Houston.
Last week: 20

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